Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Greek Protests, Strike, and Riots

The 48 hour general strike has seen its second day. While most of the demonstrators have been peaceful and voicing their concerns about recent austerity measures ( and probably the slipshod manner in which the nation was run prior to the crisis) many have again begun to attack police, government buildings, and even the sentry post at the country's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 14 police officers were hospitalized.

The strike included the collection of garbage, so refuse is lying in heaps in the streets, presenting a public health hazard.

There is no doubt that, as with many nations, the government could and should have ran things better. Corruption has been suspected to be, if not widespread, frequent in Greece. Tax evasion is a constant problem and the public sector is reported to employ as much as a third of the population. An entire article would probably not be anywhere near sufficient to treat this subject.

The most tragic part of the situation is the violence, particularly that of the anarchists. In a country that many would view to be the birthplace of the orderly civil society of free people, it is a terrible shame to see so much barbarism. Greek cities established societies where defense, the arts, teaching, public speaking and involvement in political affairs were at a level to be emulated. Their culture was the first where a free citizen was an integral part of a highly developed government. Their ideas provided inspiration to many other societies like Rome. Their culture was something to which the nations of Western Europe aspired and desired to, if not duplicate, return to time and again to at least draw from it the best elements, especially in the Renaissance. It is no secret that the Medieval West always saw itself as sort of a country bumpkin-type of society in comparison. The repeated accusations of writers from that period that refer to the Byzantines as soft and effeminate may very well have stemmed from a sense of inferiority. Today the West can gain little from the examples of this nation

Later added note - same day: Having endured the occupation of the Ottomans for four centuries (Greece fell prior to the siege of Constantinople) one wonders if the cultural state of that nation would have been significantly different today had they not had to undergo the depredations, forced removal of sons and daughters, corruption, and general humiliation of living under the rule of a Moslem Sultan and his provincial governors for such a extended period of time. No other nation that suffered under the Ottoman yoke has been able to produce a people that had the vitality, industry and personal accountability of a free society.
That sort of culture seems to impart a sort of 'Communist Block' mentality - people avoid individual responsibility and are much more likely to retreat inwards in order to get the best deal that they can obtain for their immediate families and generally forsake the common good.

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