Democ­racy in pub­lic squares

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Spon­tane­ity is one of those things many peo­ple like to praise and em­brace, but not nec­es­sar­ily when it no longer con­cerns words, but ac­quires a real, po­lit­i­cal di­men­sion that in­volves the masses. Rhetoric re­gard­ing peo­ple acting spon­ta­neously, tak­ing mat­ters into their own hands, and get­ting them­selves grouped and or­ga­nized al­ways sounds great when the ac­tion is not there, or when it be­longs to the past. The stu­dent up­ris­ing at the Athens Polytech­nic in 1973, for ex­am­ple, gained a lot more fans once it be­came le­gend than it did when it was a mere chap­ter in his­tory. While it was go­ing on, many of those who praise it to­day lam­basted the move­ment as be­ing lit­tle more than provo­ca­tion. The spon­ta­neous protest gath­er­ings in Greece’s pub­lic squares that we have seen over the past few days can be de­fined as be­ing some­what lack­ing in cohesion as even the most pop­u­lar slo­gans shouted are not to the lik­ing of ev­ery­one and not ev­ery­one is happy to make rude ges­tures at Par­lia­ment in an ef­fort to let off some steam. The fact, how­ever, is that it could be no other way given that peo­ple reach a state of in­dig­na­tion through the same route (that is the one-way street of the EU-IMF mem­o­ran­dum), but they don’t all see the same exit, if they see one at all. In any case, at these ral­lies we see a large part of so­ci­ety come to­gether, most of whom will say that they don’t see any of our politi­cians as be­ing fit to gov­ern in opin­ion polls and who will opt to ab­stain from gen­eral elec­tions. Their phys­i­cal pres­ence, even if it is with­out a state­ment, is au­then­ti­cally po­lit­i­cal. Of equal in­ter­est to the ac­tual gath­er­ings is the sense of dis­com­fort they have in­spired in Greece’s politi­cians, who fear that they may not be able to take the heat, es­pe­cially when it is also com­ing from their usual al­lies in the me­dia. They can’t re­ally con­demn the protests since they have no overt po­lit­i­cal agenda, are not vi­o­lent and do not have a neg­a­tive ef­fect on busi­ness in the city cen­ter or re­ally on traf­fic. Of course those po­lit­i­cal par­ties and me­dia pun­dits who be­lieve that theirs is the only truth were quick to con­demn the slo­gans at the gath­er­ings as shal­low, in an ef­fort to hog all the in­dig­na­tion for them­selves. Then there are those who like to as­sign the gath­er­ings with con­tent, their own kind, through deeply con­de­scend­ing state­ments. Where this mass in­dig­na­tion will lead is still open. But the fact that some­thing re­mains open when ev­ery­thing else looks so dis­mally shut and de­cided is a rea­son to re­joice, as is the peace­ful na­ture of these ral­lies and the fact the in­dig­nant are stick­ing it out.

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