The sea of peo­ple

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY PAN­TELIS BOUKALAS

Many words and phrases have been abused by those who see pol­i­tics as the art of lies and de­cep­tion. Among them is the phrase “sea of peo­ple.” It has been ad­mit­ted by the mas­ters of il­lu­sion that just 80 peo­ple, clev­erly placed in a cer­tain area and even more clev­erly filmed, can cre­ate a false ver­sion of the truth. With such tech­niques you can make a gather­ing of a few tens of thou­sands look like a sea of peo­ple spread across Syn­tagma and Omo­nia squares, all the way to the Pe­dion tou Areos park. But the sea of peo­ple is real. The peo­ple, how­ever, can­not be counted in terms of area (as the lead­ers of im­pres­sive protest ral­lies like to do) and will not be viewed as in­signif­i­cant and weak-willed tiles in the mo­saic of a tele­vised il­lu­sion. The tens of thou­sands who swamped the cen­ter of Athens on Sun­day gave new sub­stance to the term civil so­ci­ety, which Aris­to­tle de­scribed as all-im­por­tant and all-in­clu­sive. Like the sea that is fed by many dif­fer­ent rivers, so the sea of peo­ple at Syn­tagma Square has been made up day af­ter day by myr­iad hu­man rivers and streams, who turned up not just to be counted, but to re­in­force their col­lec­tive strength. The “weari­ness” that so many “friends” and foes of the move­ment had pre­dicted never came, and nei­ther did that sense of fu­til­ity that has poi­soned so many move­ments at their very birth. Life­long sup­port­ers of both main par­ties have turned up at the gath­er­ings held across the coun­try, join­ing those who feel cheated by a “pow­er­ful Greece,” by a “Greece that is re-es­tab­lished, de­cent and hum­ble” and by a Greece like to­day’s, which has been “re­formed,” to cite some of our prime min­is­ters, past and present. There are those who are of­fended by the ac­cu­sa­tion that “we spent the money to­gether,” that feel slan­dered by terms like “lazy Greeks” and are in­sulted by be­ing made to feel like par­a­sites on a vir­tu­ous Europe. There are those who ex­pected one thing when they cast their vote and ended up with quite an­other, those who feel black­mailed by the mem­o­ran­dum and the midterm plan and those who are kept awake at night by the thought of their coun­try’s state of servi­tude. There are those whose work has been whit­tled down to a few days a week or none at all be­cause, de­spite what is said, the laws are al­ways writ­ten by the mas­ters. There are those who see prom­ises like “crack­ing down on tax eva­sion” be­com­ing emp­tier and emp­tier, and those who see the last ves­tiges of the wel­fare state be­ing torn down. This is the sea of peo­ple, and, in the words of Aeschy­lus, “who shall ex­haust the sea?”

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