Sunday, 30 October 2011

The myth of Greeks as perennial revolutionaries

Unfortunately, I don’t live in Greece, which is the most compelling, heroic and beautiful country in the world, so it’s difficult for me to gauge how people are genuinely reacting to all the turmoil unfolding. All I have to go on is information gleaned from the web – newspapers, blogs, MEGA TV news (Yiannis Pretenteris makes me laugh, sometimes) – my instincts and some knowledge gained living, working and travelling in Greece, even though I haven’t been to the country for seven years.

Now, if I were to believe the Greek (and foreign) media, Greeks are in a state of such rage and despair that the country is on the brink of a popular uprising. However, I’m sceptical of such a scenario, since, however dysfunctional and iniquitous Greece has become, it is not Tunisia or Egypt; I’m aware that there is a vociferous Marxist minority in Greece that revels in notions of popular uprisings, sees them where they don’t exist, indeed has a vested interest in creating disorder and exaggerating disturbance; and, from what I know of Greeks and Greek society, I’m certain that the vast majority of Greeks aren’t interested in overthrowing global capitalism or abandoning the European Union and don't have any time for the minority that do agitate for these things.

Indeed, my feeling that the media and the Greek left – sharing an interest in the projection of violence and drama – are presenting a distorted picture of Greece and Greek public opinion, is borne out by the following poll, from today’s Vima on Sunday. It shows  that 35.7% of Greeks are in outright favour of last week’s haircut deal, while 58.9% say they are against it – and I wonder how many of those who say they are against it are just expressing opposition to austerity and tax rises rather than an opinion in favour of default and active ‘resistance’. Also, according to the poll – 48.8% of respondents regard the haircut deal as a blow to national sovereignty – which, undoubtedly, it is – though 29.8% of Greeks see it  as an unpleasant but necessary imposition in order for Greece to become competitive. Meanwhile, 72.5% of Greeks said they were in favour of staying with the euro, and only 19.5% want to return to the drachma. And asked to describe how they feel about the crisis affecting the country, 21% of Greeks said they felt pessimism and fear; 20.8% said they felt concern; 19.7% anger; and 16.9% hope.

Despondent, confused, maybe; a seething mass of revolutionaries prepared to overthrow the Greek state, strike a blow against capitalism and abandon the EU, no. Indeed, it seems that a large section of Greek society feels that the thrust of the measures being imposed on Greece, if not the measures themselves, are a necessary evil and that change in the country is long overdue.

1 comment:

Hermes said...

Not everyone stopped marching in Thessaloniki...