Thursday, December 11, 2008

Creating Reality: What's the deal with Greece these days?

Don't know if you've heard, but there have been quite violent street clashes in Greece over the last days. I've read it first on BBC and I had a hard time understand what was going on. Why were the youths on the street? In what context did the police shoot to death one teenager? The story talked about 'groups of youth' and 'anarchists' and 'rioters', and I couldn't get my heard around that. A few hours later, a friend over in Europe spoke of the situation using yet another label: it's the hooligans. Mind you, I've heard about 'hooligans' taking the streets before in many politically sensitive and complex situations (May 1968 Paris is a good case in point). But it did make me realize that:

1. I do not have all the context information I need to understand what is going on in Greece. I mean, why were young people on the street anyway? Are we talking about 10-20 young people coming from a soccer game, filled with adrenaline and ready to pick a fight? Are we talking about an organized protest? Who were the supporters, why were they on the streets, how come the police resorted to violence? Just what is the context?

2. What I do know from media are in fact labels: depending on my political orientation, 'anarchists' can be good or bad, welcomed or threatening. The label implies an explanation of the situation by appealing to that complicit information between the media outlet and the readers - or, better said, that complicit information that the media outlet assumes readers to share with it, by virtue of reading/ listening to that outlet.

I wish there would be more about the social context in Greece, about the frustration with transnational capitalism, with the 'Great Powers' and their control in/of the European Union, with the economic situation, with the centralist state and so on and so forth. I wish there would be more context about xenophobia in Greece. As a friend put so rightly, should there have been a Roma people killed by the police, nobody would complain about the interventionist, totalitarian police or state. Double standards.

I do not know what's my position. But I do know it is hard to take a position because things are more complex than the media depicts them. And I do know that there are things to which I will agree and support, and things to which I cannot adhere. In the end, it all comes down to one's ethical commitments.

Photo credits: ethanlindsay

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