YUHS protests as riots seize Greece

FOR MANY Greek citizens, last month’s shooting of 15 year -old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was the straw that the broke the camel’s back. A nation already troubled by a struggling economy, mass unemployment and corruption in Parliament reacted with horror to what they saw as an unprovoked and tragic loss of life.
The Athenian district of Exarchia where the shooting took place is notorious for police clashes with so called ‘anarchist’ groups who repeatedly show their resentment of the government through violence. Such clashes, typically with young citizens on the extreme left, have left the area in a tense state where police and youth view each other with suspicion.
Rioting is all too familiar for Athenians living in this area and most of the adult population still remember the rioting associated with the shooting of Michalis Kaltezas (also 15) in 1985. In this respect the majority of peaceful Greek citizens view the current riots with a grim sense of déjà vu.
The shooting of Alexandros has raised serious doubts about the relationship between some sectors of the police and the Athenian youth due to the lack of provocation involved. The incident was not a response to violence but, according to several eyewitnesses, a response to a merely verbal dispute.
The York University Hellenic Society (YUHS) expressed disappointment with both the police force and the violent reaction of Greek citizens. Nikos Andreadis, president of YUHS, told Nouse that “by turning to violence protesters not only worsened the situation but overshadowed the real frustration of the majority of Greek citizens who expressed their protest peacefully.”
By launching a campus leafleting campaign at the end of last term YUHS aimed to protest both the shooting and the violence that followed in a peaceful way. Their aim was to express that violence is not the Greek way and that it is only the practice of extremists.
The society issued a petition to Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and the Minister for the Interior Prokopis Pavlopoulos expressing disappointment and a desire for change. Part of the statement read: “We strongly feel that such violent acts, coming from the country where democracy was born, are not only unreasonable but also relegate Greece worldwide… We promise to play a role in improving Greek society, by accepting our responsibilities as citizens, so as to never again witness similar events of cruelty in our country.”


  1. The York University Hellenic Society I presume that is constituted by wealthy greek boys and girls that their parents pay for their studies. many people in Greece are not as privileged as them and they have to work without any isurance and for 700 euros per month. The YUHS will be the new generation of bosses that will take advantage of the cheap labour of other educated Greek workers. We do not care about their opinion, simply because the killing was just the pretext for an uprise in a state that the majority of people works for the benefit of a small minority, that is so determined to promote its interests that may use even killings, as in the case of a Unionist immigrant who was thown acid in the face. YHS live in your fictional reality of paid university fees and high lifestyle and let us live the rel thing of fight for equal rights.

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  2. I believe that most of YUHS members are studying here with scholarships or on student loans and there is absolutely no chance that the majority of them (like most Greeks studying in the UK) are ‘..wealthy Greek boys and girls that their parents pay for their studies..’. Moreover, if they choose to return back to Greece most of them will belong to the 700euro generation. I guess that that makes them concerned. Whatever the case might be, I believe that in a healthy democracy every member of the society has the right to freely express an opinion. Consequently, we cannot choose to selectively ignore opinions because simply they contradict our own, as this is no different from authoritarian and fascist ideologies. It is a fact that after these violent acts, police presence/suppression in the Greek streets became more prominent than before. Moreover, international mass media focused primarily in the violent acts and distractive behavior caused by a minority of citizens with specific political background, and didn’t manage to convey the magnitude of the genuine frustration against the police, the government and the system originating from the majority of Greek citizens that protested in a peaceful, but extremely dynamic way during these days. Violence can only result in more violence. I do not believe that we can change our societies by burning universities and destroying shops mostly owned by middle class citizens. This is my opinion expressed freely and I am confident that it would not be ignored by any real democratic citizen.

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  3. “violence”?

    What violence? Does ‘breaking stuff’ constitute violence now?

    As far as I am aware, the only actual violence, in the uprising and before, came from the part of the police.

    Maria, I am sure you are well aware of the situation with the police in Greece.

    For those who are not, however, let me sum up a well known reality in a few words; racist, extremely violent, uneducated, untrained, running on a power-trip syndrome, linked to dangerous nationalist groups, supported the dictatorship, accused of torture, accused for ‘mysterious’ deaths of several immigrants, accused of deep corruption, has systematically harassed and even raped prostitutes, highly intolerant, reported from international human rights groups, has viciously beaten protesters ranging from 14 year old students to pensioners.

    The incidents are numerous. Besides, this is not even the first time that the Greek police murders in cold blood; have we forgotten the teacher Temponeras? Have we forgotten Kaltezas? Have we forgotten all the “isolated incidents” of extreme police repression, that you would only expect in a third world state?

    Let us just watch some of the most well publicised videos about the greek police.

    Greek policemen forcing two immigrants to hit each other:


    Greek policemen harassing a prostitute:


    Harassing a journalist, for recording them beating up 15 year olds.


    Finally, the infamous “zardineria” incident. A Cypriot student was viciously beaten up by a group of policemen FOR WALKING IN CENTRAL ATHENS. The Home Minister denied this ever happened. He was actually shown the video in a television channel, but he still claimed that the student in question just “ran and fell on a zardineria [decorative appliance]”. He is the same minister that had previously called the riot police “the modern Praetorians of our political class”


    Sadly, I agree 100% with Angelos. Let’s be honest with ourselves; how many Greeks do you know who are studying here with scholarships and student loans?

    I have not met A SINGLE ONE yet and I know very well quite many of us.

    The riots were the only logical reaction of a society deeply disenchanted with its political class, with staggering inequality and deeply entrenched corruption in every aspect of social life.

    So, let us not just try to fool ourselves and others. Some people want things to change, others simply do not.

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  4. the hellenic soc needs to get a grip… a letter to the greek prime minister? really now?

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  5. ki egw simfwnw me 700g kai Angelo. Zitw i anarchia. Oi mpatsoi einai oloi dolofonoi kai to sistima thelei fwtia kai katastrofi.

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  6. What about the dead police officers in Crete who were shot dead by drug dealers? What about the beating up of a police officer by anarchists in Lycavitos who was left paralysed? What about the police officers that testified against a member of the parliament who provided cover for drug dealers in Crete? And finally what about the 21-year-old police officer who was shot by terrorists and is now in a severe condition?

    Yes indeed, there are many incidents of bad police officers but generalising arbitrarily is dangerous. Racism is born like that.

    Angelos, 700G and Kwstas we have already experienced enough violence in our societies, we do not need more. And YES ‘breaking stuff’ was and will always be considered violent behaviour.

    We do not need any self-appointed defenders of our interests either in terms of our national identity (Nationalists-Fascists) or in terms of our social rights (Anarchists).

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  7. Setting a garbage bin on fire and breaking a glass display is violence against whom, precisely?

    Let us not be confusing the words “wrong” and “violent” please. Nobody is trying to justify the destruction of public and private property. What we are trying to say, however, is that this kind of behaviour did not have somebody else as a target, it did not intend to physically harm innocent people, and so it cannot be described as violence.

    Lina, you made quite a few sweeping statements. Let’s clarify a few things; you can’t just be equating hundreds of thousands of protesters, most of Greece’s youth, with terrorists and common offenders of the criminal law.

    All of the acts of violence against policemen that you described were NOT by any means carried by protesters; they were carried by COMMON CRIMINALS and TERRORISTS and had absolutely nothing to do with the current social uprising. The fact that a bunch of drug dealers shot a policeman in Crete last year is simply irrelevant to the discussion.

    And quite frankly, dealing with criminals and terrorists is a policeman’s job.

    What’s NOT a policeman’s job is to beat the shit out of defenseless 14 year old kids and 80 yeard old pensioners, as you know it happens. What’s also NOT a policeman’s job is to be bullying citizens and shooting them in cold blood, as it happened with Temponeras, Kaltezas, Alexis and god knows how many immigrants and drug addicts.

    And no racism is not born like that. We didn’t say that ALL policemen are like that. We said that there is a very big problem with the greek police. It’s you who’s making assumptions there.

    We also said that there are chronic issues with Greek society that spark righteous anger and need to be resolved. And given that the entire political system is believed to be rotten to the core, this is the only logical consequence.

    Lastly, nobody is trying to defend your rights. If you do not feel that they are being infringed, feel free to support whoever you will. People are standing up FOR THEIR OWN SELVES, against the future that our rotting system has prepared for them.

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  8. Angelos, the place of study does not categorise or distinguish people to those leaving in fictional reality or fighting for equal rights. Fictional reality is everywhere. And the most recent sample of it, is all those people who believed that fighting for equal rights, means destroying other people’s property and commiting violence actions towards anyone. Thus the right of fighting for equal rights is the same for everyone no matter the place of leaving. I accept the fact, that sometimes the place of living restricts the options you have in the ways that you can fight for those rights. But in any case, if you are under a democratic state, you still having a voice and you are still able to raise it and state your opinion. The fact that the YUHS, did raised its voice and expressed its beliefs in any possible way, contrasts what you say about living in fictional reality. Although YUHS is not in Greece, YUHS reacted in any possible way and this fact indicates that its people are not of the kind you describe.
    Perhaps you should search better for those living in fictional realities, you may find a lot of them around you!

    700G: I am also a YUHS and I know many YUHS members who are here with student loans and scholarships. I don’t know what you mean by “very well quite many of us” , perhaps your sample is not an accurate one.

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  9. have you considered the possibility that perhaps YOUR sample is not an accurate one?

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  10. “And the most recent sample of it, is all those people who believed that fighting for equal rights, means destroying other people’s property and commiting violence actions towards anyone.”

    yeah, I am sure the French revolution was pretty peaceful..

    and could we please stop with the “violence” thing.. repeating it again and again does not somehow make it true.

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  11. Unfortunately, it was not merely a garbage bin that was set on fire, although this also constitutes violence. I do not know where you derive your arbitrary definition from, but violence is a word to describe any form of aggression, not merely physical harm to a person.
    “# an act of aggression (as one against a person who resists); “he may accomplish by craft in the long run what he cannot do by force and violence in …
    # ferocity: the property of being wild or turbulent; “the storm’s violence”
    # a turbulent state resulting in injuries and destruction etc. ”
    These are the definitions of violence according to Princeton university.

    And innocents were harmed – stores were broken and damaged, public transport was made unsafe etc.
    So please, try not to be ignorant – no matter what happens, such violence and destruction of property is by no means acceptable.

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  12. I am studying in the UK as well and I can ensure you that most of the Greek students are the most spoiled in Europe, just compare them with your colleagues from other EU countries.
    Now as 700 G told us tell me a revolution that did not have violence. After all, what about the state violence/ And I am not talking only about police violence, but the fact that they are deleting the debts on the part of the banks in a moment of economic crisis, whereas other people owing minor amounts of money are going to prison. What about Kouneva who was recently attacked with acid because of her unioinist action?
    One thing I know some people are so rich just because others are so poor and if they want to continue their lifestyle it is normal for them to condemn any form of reaction.
    However, our stance towards these issues will be judged by our kids and the generations to come. Hope not to hear some of you in the future to talk about your ‘past fights against injustice’ as many Greeks that collaborated with junta still do.

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  13. As a new politics student i wanted to become politically active and aware and so was downtown Athens amongst the protesters the majority of the time. You can choose whether to believe what i will say or just use arguments you heard about or found on the internet to contradict it:
    Most of the protesters consisted of an angry, insecure youth as you all previously said, protesting against the corrupt government and their bleak appearing future. The rest of the protesters can be grouped into the “dissatisfied, angry, average Greek”. The rest, and i will categorize them separately, were the ANARCHISTS. The A’s, to put it bluntly, took this national protest and MADE IT THEIR OWN. Under the umbrella of Anarchists, exist students as well, as well as very extreme-viewed men and women, one of which openly told me that ‘he would be honored to kill a policeman’. I would not like to categorize people and especially accuse a group of people with similar traits for all the damage to private property, but the A’s stood out amongst the crowd and graffitied their sign on the national library, and lived for weeks in the universities, seemingly making the most of and adding as much havoc as possible to the existing protest. The anarchists were mostly responsible for damage to private property and this was done in the name of anarchy and not for the reasons the rest of Greece was protesting. An example of this was when hundreds were marching past Sydagma, with ‘Grande Bretagne’ to their left, when suddenly 3 men with black hoodies appeared from nowhere and started breaking the glass doors and windows of the hotel. To my great surprise and pleasure, everyone stopped shouting at the police and turned around and started shouting at the Anarchists, ‘stop them!’ and ‘this doesn’t represent us!’. They dragged them away.
    It would also be fair to say that many young people were influenced and perhaps even excited and intrigued by the feeling of lack of authority and the full blast of rebellion. Therefore, some of these people contributed to the damaging of the universities. When i was in A.S.O.E, I saw a guy hammering on the marble stairs in order to cut off pieces to throw at the policemen. I told him to stop and he turned around and told me ‘on vous aide!’. A random French.
    The angry Greek citizens look for someone to point their finger at and blame them for our failing democracy. Yes, our government is corrupt and unfair, yes, many of our policemen exploit the power given to them. But the people leading these professions are citizens just like the rest. Therefore, perhaps people should turn their finger round and point it at everyone around them and themselves as well, because policemen and politicians are a mirror-image of society as a whole. They are corrupt because they have secret deals with citizens all over Greece and these citizens re-vote the same people in order to secure their interests. People are corrupt in a corrupt world.

    So who is to blame? I don’t know which stance is “correct”. I think everyone would agree that inflicting such an extent of damage to universities is disrespectful for hundreds of other uninvolved students as well as for those involved. Yet Greek universities are just as corrupt as their government. Moreover, it is also true that all this violence, and i will call it violence because besides the fact that it has negative connotations, violence can bring about positive effects, brought attention to the protests and the things being protested about. Without this attention, it is most likely that in our ‘healthy democracy [where] every member of the society has the right to freely express an opinion’, our “democratic” government would brush away our complaints with a brush of their corrupt, cynical hand.

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  14. The fact that other revolutions have been violent says nothing. Whether they were successful or not is, again, irrelevant. Even in the French revolution, innocent rich people were lynched. The fact that, in the end, the revolution brought equality does not justify the death of innocents.
    The fact is that some people protested peacefully, but a significant percentage of the mob acted violently and disrespectfully. These are the people I blame. One of the reasons we have such a corrupt government is because our people are corrupt, not just our officials. And a corrupt people will elect corrupt leaders. It is all very well for us to blame each minister for being dishonest, but it is fine if they promise YOU a job in the public sector, or they treat YOU in some advantageous way.
    All this corruption starts from us, not anyone else. Would you not offer your mates positions in your company, even if you knew they would not be the most suitable candidates?
    If we really wanted efficiency and transparency in Greece, we would allow students to fail university, rather than have people attending classes in their 30s. We would dismantle the connection between student parties (DAP etc) and the university. We would assess our professors.
    But we do not want to. We want corruption as long as it benefits us, it only angers us when we do not gain from it.

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  15. 22 Jan ’09 at 3:06 pm

    George Papadofragakis

    There is one thing to take from these riots; Greece is not a functional democracy.

    The absolute majority of the Greek population considers all major political parties to be part of the same problem. Taking that into account, we realise that the opportunity that we are given to change things for the better PEACEFULLY is essentially non-existent.

    Our “democracy” has been reduced to the level of choosing between two parties that have long now proved to be just as corrupted, just as uncaring and just as inadequate to lead the nation.

    We have also seen in numerous occasions that every attempt at the formation of new parties is doomed to failure. Realistically speaking, the two major parties have vastly superior funding resources than any group of individuals can ever hope to be collecting, and they serve a wide variety of interests that work very hard to keep them in place.

    They are all deeply entrenched to our current political system; there is simply no ousting them.

    Over the last 5 years, the only thing we hear from our goverment is lame excuses why every disaster that hits the nation is not its responsibility.

    That includes; the economy, the police, the destruction of the environment (in 2007, 1/6 of Greece’s forests were burned to the ground), crime, corruption in every single aspect of social life, the failing health sector and our rotten educational system, that has forced all of us to study in the other side of Europe.

    On the other hand, the (supposedly) left-wing PASOK is trying to convince that, under its control, Greece was the closest we could get to the Garden of Eden. Until 2004, according to PASOK, Greece was a fully functional western democracy; it all started with the evil Conservatives.

    Who are we kidding? How long do we think that this farce can continue?

    Let us all face reality; we are the rock-bottom of the EU, our economy is dying on its feet (there are already rumours that we’ll be getting kicked out of the Eurozone), our schools and universities produce mindless party-political puppets, our trade unions and an assortment of self-styled “socialists” are in truth reactionist bigots seeking only to protect their own rights at the expense of everybody else, our political class is corrupted to the bone, and worst of all; we have all grown up to think that this is all natural.

    At this point, there is one motto from the French May that describes the situation; NO REPLASTERING THE STRUCTURE IS ROTTEN.

    We either adapt to the new world, through bitter struggle like every other social uprising in history, or we fall with the old one. The choice is as simple as that, and for the next few years it is ours to make.

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  16. 22 Jan ’09 at 3:59 pm

    George Papadofragakis

    Ari, although I agree with you, I think you do not realise something basic in your comment.

    Not everyone has the capacity to benefit from this situation; in fact, it’s primarily a privileged minority that does.

    You see, not everyone in Greece has companies of their own to appoint their friends and families to. Also, not everyone has connections with ministers and MPs to be granted “special favours”.

    You are correct in saying that corruption starts from us; but the issue here is how you define “us”.

    In other words, I think you are right, but from a skewed perspective. Indeed corruption does not exist in a vacuum; it is exactly this logic that you described that should be held to blame. But the fact of the matter is that it is primarily a privileged minority both causing and benefiting from this situation.

    The majority, on the other hand, have to endure poverty, dependence, unemployment, lack of meritocracy, failing healthcare and education that is free only in theory. The mix of all those is deadly, and we are only starting to see the effect.

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  17. George, the problem is not who has powerful connections; naturally, the privileged have more powerful friends, but the problem is the mindset of “meso” in general.
    And you know that 99% of the Greek population has this mindset, and everyone will try using a meso. The fact that the rich have more powerful friends, and thus benefit more from this is irrelevant. What matters is that everyone strives to use someone they know. It is this very mindset that is corrupt.
    And also, who has interests in these two parties being in power? No-one. Ship owners, businessmen and industrialists are all against Nea Dimokratia. No-one is trying to keep them in place but fanatic idiots.

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  18. To those of you who think that we should not point our anger towards the privileged ones, namely the greek businessmen, I am telling you that what they proposed a week before the uprising was, working flexibility, lay offs, and working without social security. If you think that they are not responsible for the situation in Greece then you are deluded. As far as the responsibility of all of us, I agree. We are responsible because we do not fight hard to extinguish all of these worms. Passivity is complicity. As far as the anarchsts, as one friend mentioned them in a deragatory way, I do not belong to them. At least though these people are dreaming of something more radical instead of just becoming a manager in a big company that keeps on polluting the environemnt, taking advantage of the workers and trying to pay less taxes for the state.

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  19. Ah, I see, you are one of the people who blame everything on the rich. Have you ever considered where Greece would be without its industrialists? They are the ones who established unemployment benefit, they have built schools, communities, supported their workers…
    I trust you are just repeating banal arguments like “the rich only care for profits and their well being”. However, most industrialists and businessmen are hard working individuals, not celebrity icons. I bet you do not even know the greatest industries/companies in Greece and the names of their owners, so how can you blame them?

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  20. 23 Jan ’09 at 2:52 pm

    George Papadofragakis


    Ari, I think the article above covers your point about the grossly generalising statement “greek businessmen care for their workers”.

    Obviously, some of them will be good people. Only a fool would deny that. The fact of the matter however is that others do not care about the kind of conditions that their employees have to work in, and never will do.

    Sadly, is the latter who have imposed exactly what Angelos has said, which, had it been less generalising, would be 100% accurate.

    Instead of questioning Angelos’ personal knowledge of particular businessmen, would you rather explain which part of his following statement was wrong?

    “I am telling you that what they proposed a week before the uprising was, working flexibility, lay offs, and working without social security.”

    And that’s hardly a month after the government gave 28 billions to the bankers.

    Do you seriously think that this reality does not contribute to people’s anger and sense of injustice?

    If you work 48 hours a week, you’re paid 650 euros a month, you do not even get social security by your employer, and see all these things around you, in short if you were an average Greek of our age, what would you think and how would you react to all this?

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  21. Ari, I do not blame the rich for everything, I blame society’s tendency to evaluate profit above evrything else. That’s just a form of alienation for me. As far as the goodness of the rich, I have no more to say and when it comes to their ‘charitable’ activities, then what can I say?You must be so fool to be duped by such actions Have you ever wandered whether this happens so as to get tax benefits?
    You might have to read Marx or Nietzsche (if you havr the intellectual capacity, that I doubt) and their ideas on charity to get a broader insight into the topic.

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  22. I wonder how you can challenge my intellectual abilities, when your text if full of grammatical, syntactical and typing errors.
    To answer your point however, get your economics straight. If you do charity as an individual, you do not get any tax benefits. Only costs of business are tax deductible, and this only aplies to coorporations.
    And George, when people like Angelos make such comments, all they have in mind is the image of a corrupt businessman, which is inacccurate. Which is why I challenge him, asking if he can name any, besides the occasional celebrity-status idiots.

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  23. By they way, the government did not give money to bankers, but to banks. There is a huge difference between the two, hope you are able to understand this.
    This money is meant to ensure that banks will not go bankrupt, which would result in thousands of jobs being lost, like it happened in the U.S.

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  24. Ok then, I agree the businessmen in Greece have no responsibility for the situation in the country!!!! However, if you check the internet even the bourgeois European newspapers such as Liberation, The Guardian, times Online say how corrupt businessses are in Greece. And if you want to know, it happens that I know the laws quite well, together with some big Greek families that according to your opinion are ‘working for the benefit of the country’. Well these families not only they do not pay their taxes as they should, but they even get benefits for charities that they do not do!!! Check online for some scholarships that they are meant to go to poor students that they simply do not exist!!Now as far as your intellectual capacities are concerned what can I say about somebody who says such an inacurrate thing as that Greek businessmen give unemployment benefits!!!!First of all the benefits are given by the Greek state and they are the worst in the EU. Check the EU report for 2008. Also, some of the Greek businesses are making more profit than any other EU ones and they still pay their workers less. Again check the EU report.If you think that they are saints then that’s your problem, but it seems that the young people that they dream of a better world do not give a damned about your ideas. If you think that it’s just me having problem with them then tell me who were the ones who made profit out of the scandals that talanised the countries the last 20 years. According to your rationale it must be the workers that they are responsible. And as far as my grammar mistakes etc, trust me it’s because I do not think much of you and that type of dialogue.
    However, I am letting you know that my work here in the UK as a doctoral candidate is well respected and all of this is not because of my parents’ money as I presume it is in your case, but because of my work. I am one of the few Greeks that comes from a working class family and is self-funded not as most of the ‘mammy’s greek boys and girls’ like you.
    However, have in mind that as Brecht said neutrality is complicity, and those who do not take sides now, will be judged by history.

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  25. First of all, I hear lots of crap about democracy and other shit. If you know ancient Greek, democracy stems from demos, which means people and cratos which means power. Power to the people and not to the companies or 300 appointed idiots every 4 years. Democracy does not mean leading a stupid radical individualist- ipod and facebook-lifestyle and voting every 4 years. On the contrary, democracy means intervening (even with violent forms) to change any problems (read some Thucydides, because you remember ancient Greece only when it suits you. And just a few of foreign links so that you can see how good and functional is the government that you support so firmly. Thank God they are in English so that other people can read your governmnent’s achievements:





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  26. Greek banks were never exposed to subprime mortgages, it is arguable whether they even needed the amount of money that they were given.

    Let us not forget that we are talking about banks that chose to make a profit out of the decreases in the European interest rates by keeping loan payments the same for borrowers. The goal of those decreases by the European central bank was supposedly to help the poor not go bankrupt and lose their houses.

    So, frankly, if they go bust that’s their own fault. Besides, there’s no guarantee as to how they will be using the money, so I will not buy the whole ‘its for the greater good’ thing that you seem to be suggesting.

    Also, about the unemployment benefits. You seem to think that the fact that greek businessmen lobbied the state to pay the unemployed is somehow a noble and selfless act. Well the cold hearted truth is that:

    a) it’s not them paying. I am willing to be as generous as you wish with other people’s money.

    b) they only tried to do that to be allowed to fire people.

    If you are trying to argue that all (or even the majority) of modern Greek businessmen are being moral and fair towards their employees, then I am afraid you will be putting yourself in an undebatable position.

    I am sure that you do know that Greeks

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  27. are among the lowest paid workers in the EU. That is true even for highly profitable firms, where apparently the benign rulers that control them do not really care more about their employees than they care about their new yachts.

    I am also sure that you do know that the cases of ‘flexible’ work agreements (i.e. no social secutity, salaries lower than the minimum wage, being paid for fewer hours than you actually work etc.) are all pretty commonplace, and are pretty much enforced on young people who (rightly) fear the extent of unemployment in greece.

    You see not everyone can put mom and dad to pull a few strings and land them a comfortable whit=collar position.

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  28. Alright, I have rarely seen a doctoral student misuing English to the extent you do.
    Secondly, everyone who can avoid paying taxes does so in Greece, not just the rich.
    Thirdly, taking this argument to a personal level is hardly helpful.
    Fourthly, you ask me to verify that rich families offer fake scholarships to avoid taxes, without offering any evidence.
    Finally, I never stated that industrialists pay the unemployment benefits. But it is them who established them in Greece, and even funded the “tameio anergias” when it first operated in Greece after WWII. Reading some history does not harm.

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  29. My previous comment was not posted properly for some reason, so I apologise if this appears twice.
    Right, firstly, I have never seen a doctoral student abusing the English language as much as you have.
    Secondly, you ask me to verify that wealthy families use charity as a means of tax evasion, without providing any evidence.
    Thirdly, I never claimed that businessment pay for the unemployment benefits. What I said is that it is the Union of Industrialists that established the Tameio Anergias, with their own funds initially, after WWII. Read some history please.
    Finally, I never blamed any workers of anything. If I blame someone for the situation in Greece, it the socialist regimes we had in the 80’s, namely PASOK. If you check the statistics of Hellenic Economy, our growth declined in that era.

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  30. afieromeno stous gialantzi ntolmades ths YUHS pou koimatai:


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  31. αλε φωτιά σ’ ό,τι σε καίει σ’ ό,τι σου τρωει τη ψυχή
    Έξω οι δρόμοι αναπνέουν διψασμένοι ανοιχτοί
    Τα λόγια μου είναι μια γλυκιά προσευχή
    Κουρνιάζουν έξω απ’ το κλεισμένο σου παράθυρο
    Κι αν τα άφηνες θα ανοίγαν μια ρωγμή
    Απ’ το μικρό κελί σου ως το άπειρο
    Μα εσύ σωπαίνεις και θρηνείς σαν τον κατάδικο
    Πάνω απ’ τη στη στάχτη που σκεπάζει τον παράδεισο
    Πάνω απ’ τη στη στάχτη
    Βαλε φωτιά σ’ ό,τι σε καίει σ’ ό,τι σου τρωει τη ψυχή
    Έξω οι δρόμοι αναπνέουν διψασμένοι ανοιχτοί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από γιορτή σε γιορτή
    Ζήσε μαζί μου στον αέρα στη φωτιά στη βροχή
    Μας περιμένουν άδειες μέρες ραγισμένοι ουρανοί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από πληγή σε πληγή
    Βαλε φωτιά σ’ ό,τι σε καίει σ’ ό,τι σου τρωει τη ψυχή
    Έξω οι δρόμοι αναπνέουν διψασμένοι ανοιχτοί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από γιορτή σε γιορτή
    Ζήσε μαζί μου στον αέρα στη φωτιά στη βροχή
    Μας περιμένουν άδειες μέρες ραγισμένοι ουρανοί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από πληγή σε πληγή

    Τα λόγια μου είναι μια ανέλπιδη ευχή
    Σβησμένα φώτα μέσα στο άχαρο δωμάτιο
    κι αν τα άφηνες θα καιγαν τη σιωπή
    και θα διαλύαν το κρυμμένο σου παράπονο
    Μα εσύ σωπαίνεις και θρηνείς σαν τον κατάδικο
    Πάνω απ’ τη στη στάχτη που σκεπάζει τον παράδεισο
    Πάνω απ’ τη στη στάχτη
    Βαλε φωτιά σ’ ό,τι σε καίει σ’ ό,τι σου τρωει τη ψυχή
    Έξω οι δρόμοι αναπνέουν διψασμένοι ανοιχτοί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από γιορτή σε γιορτή
    Ζήσε μαζί μου στον αέρα στη φωτιά στη βροχή
    Μας περιμένουν άδειες μέρες ραγισμένοι ουρανοί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από πληγή σε πληγή
    Βαλε φωτιά σ’ ότι σε καιει σ’ ότι σου τρώει τη ψυχή
    Υπάρχει ακόμα υπάρχει κάτι που δεν έχει χαθεί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από πληγή σε πληγή
    Ζήσε μαζί μου στον αέρα στη φωτιά στη βροχή
    Μας περιμένουν άδειες μέρες ραγισμένοι ουρανοί
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από πληγή σε πληγή

    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από γιορτή σε γιορτή
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από πληγή σε πληγή
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από γιορτή σε γιορτή
    Είν’ η αγάπη ένα ταξίδι από πληγή σε πληγή

    Reply Report

  32. 25 Jan ’09 at 3:47 am

    George Papadofragakis

    “What I said is that it is the Union of Industrialists that established the Tameio Anergias, with their own funds initially, after WWII. Read some history please.”

    How is that different to what was said before? It has already been mentioned that industrialists lobbied the state to create unemployment benefits. However, this obviously happened for a reason; for industrialist to be able to fire more people, and have the taxpayers pay the burden. Reading history is definitely good, but trying to analyse it wouldn’t do any harm either.

    “If I blame someone for the situation in Greece, it the socialist regimes we had in the 80’s, namely PASOK”

    Clearly, everything was perfect before then, during the dictatorship of the 60’s and 70’s, or during the civil war and the transitory governments that hanged ‘communists’ on village squares and banned all parties to the left of center from 1945 to 1975. I am also pretty sure that all other major events of modern greek history (world wars, destruction of smyrna etc.) did not play any role in the way the greek state came to be.

    And a minor point of information, Greece has never had a ‘socialist regime’. PASOK was just the first center-left party to be allowed to take part in the ‘democratic’ elections, and won them.

    In fact, PASOK was a mildly center-left party (very much like the old labour of the 80’s) with a populist leader who broke all of his most basic electoral promises. So, let us not mistake populism with socialist politics, because we will only be making a sad error in judgment.

    Let us also not try to naively promote the belief that any of the two major parties (PASOK, ND) is better (or even different) than the other, in terms of corruption or its (in)ability to rule the nation. They have both ruled Greece for roughly two decades each; we have seen the results.

    However, even you have to admit that the latest conservative government outdid any previous administration in terms of its shamelessness and nerve while stealing us.

    Anyway, I think that taking all of Greece’s 20th century history (that included a dozen wars with our neighbours, a civil war and three dictatorships) out of the equation and blaming all our woes to a single party, whichever that may be, is pretty short-sighted.

    “If you check the statistics of Hellenic Economy, our growth declined in that era.

    The fact that ‘our growth declined’ is by no means an argument as to why our elected officials have CHRONICALLY (before PASOK even existed) been unaccountable, unrepresentative and corrupted.

    Also, Greece’s high inflation etc. during the 70’s and 80’s was by no means an isolated phenomenon. Those things were true continentally; that’s what killed Keynesian economics, the prevalent economic theory of the time. Any parallels with today?

    Truth be told Aris, what you are presenting here is not an argument, but a personal grudge against a party. This view serves no purpose and leads us nowhere.

    The fact of the matter is that our Greek peers are pretty pissed of about the current state of the nation and clearly want to do something to change it. We are either for that principle or against it. How we go around doing that is an entirely different debate in itself.

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  33. btw, can we please keep the comment language to English? I understand this is an article about Greece, but because neither myself or the other moderators can speak the language, it makes moderation of comments more difficult (having to run them through Google Translate first), and leaves us open to one accidentally getting through that should not, and putting us at risk with the Media Charter.

    Chris Northwood, Technical Director.

    Reply Report

  34. The industrialists not only lobbied the government to create unemployment benefits, but also funded them. And yes, of course they had to fire staff, as the war was just over… how could they employ the same number of people, when the nation was destroyed?

    I do not claim that ND is better than PASOK, neither that the era before PASOK was better. However, PASOK did destroy the growth of industry and economy in Greece.
    And no, before PASOK, politicians were not as corrupt. It was Papandreou who said “a small bonus is fine, just do not overdo it”, when one of his ministers was found to have accepted huge amounts of money as bribes.


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  35. Mr Katsambas your career as a future MP of LAOS or maybe Hrysi Augi if they enter the parliament is going to be brilliant! It’s because of some neo-fascists like you that we’ll keep fighting. Thanks for your existence and your ideas!Without even knowing it you instigate more reaction instead of appeasing it as you probably think. Please keep on expressing your ideas in public, to make more youngsters uprise. As long as there are extreme right-wing ideas like yours, the rebellious spirit will become even stronger!

    Reply Report

  36. 25 Jan ’09 at 5:42 pm

    George Papadofragakis

    PASOK did not “destroy the industry”. The worst that one could possibly argue is that Greece’s frail industry was already greatly weakened by several external factors and that PASOK failed to rejuvenate it effectively, despite the hundreds of millions that it spent to keep it alive (in an attempt to save tens of thousands of jobs).

    However, this is all still debatable and well beyond the scope of what we are discussing here.

    Back to the topic; saying that corruption was not as bad during previous eras is a mere assertion, which even a basic analysis of Greek political history can easily disprove.

    Weren’t the dictators corrupted and unaccountable then, almost by definition? Was it not in the 1960’s that illegal houses started sprouting by the thousands all over Greece, destroying the neo-classical character of Athens? Weren’t ministers fired before for embezzling money? Weren’t governments falling one after the other? Were Greeks content about the state of the nation (that is, those who were not hanged or exiled, and who were allowed to vote the party that they wanted)?

    It is naive to argue that one man suddenly “introduced” corruption to Greece. You know very well that lack of accountability, distrust of the state and reluctance to co-operate with it are pretty much a cultural phenomenon in our country. It did not suddenly start by a controversial politician. Its roots can be traced back to our turbulent history, even back to the turkish occupation of Greece and to the three dictatorships.

    And, for what must be the 100th time, you know very well that this is not at all what Papandreou said.

    This particular minister had in fact embezzled so much money that, when it was finally discovered, Papandreou said something along the lines of “he could at least be modest about it”.

    Don’t pull a Nouse here and take things out of context just to prove a pointless position about a supposed encouragement that never even happened. (If it was as controversial as you said, can you find a source?)

    Also, some statistical data about the PASOK era:

    “Πρέπει επίσης να σημειωθεί ότι, κοιτώντας τα στοιχεία κατά μήνα, βλέπουμε ότι η κυβέρνηση του ΠΑΣΟΚ παρέλαβε τον Οκτώβριο του 1981 πληθωρισμό της τάξης του 24,2% και παρέδωσε τον Ιούνιο του 1989 πληθωρισμό στο 13,1%, ο οποίος το 1990 [επι ΝΔ] είχε πάλι εκτιναχθεί στο 20,4% και το 1991 στο 19,5% (Μ.Ο. έτους).

    Κοιτώντας τους μέσους όρους κάθε έτους βλέπουμε ότι ο πληθωρισμός έπεφτε σταθερά κάθε χρονιά, πλην του 1985 και του 1986 (αλλά το 1987 έπεσε ξανά, και μάλιστα στα χαμηλότερα επίπεδα από το 1978).[7]

    Η επίδοση αυτή είναι αξιόλογη, αν συνυπολογισθεί και ότι η οικονομική πολιτική εκείνων των ετών είχε δώσει έμφαση στην αναδιανομή του εισοδήματος προς τα κάτω με αυξήσεις σε μισθούς και συντάξεις, πολιτική η οποία επηρεάζει αρνητικά τον πληθωρισμό.

    Η κυβέρνηση Ανδρέα Παπανδρέου παρέλαβε την ελληνική οικονομία (τέλη 1981) στο τέλμα μιας οικονομικής ύφεσης (μεταβολή ΑΕΠ,σε σταθερές τιμές, 1980: 0,68%, 1981: -1,55%) λόγω της δεύτερης πετρελαικής κρίσης που επέτεινε το φαινόμενο του στασιμοπληθωρισμού σε πανευρωπαική κλιμάκα”

    I’ll just google translate that cause I can’t be bothered.

    “It should also be noted that, looking at the data for each month, we see that the government of PASOK received (in October 1981) an inflation rate of 24.2% and delivered (in June 1989) an inflation rate at 13.1%.

    In 1990 [under ND] it had propelled again to 20.4% and 19.5% in 1991 (year average).

    Looking at the averages of each year we see that inflation fell steadily every year under PASOK except 1985 and 1986 (but fell again in 1987, and even reached the lowest levels since 1978).

    This performance is remarkable, if one takes into account that the economic policy of those years had given emphasis on redistribution of income to the bottom with increases in wages and pensions policy, which usually affects inflation.

    The government of Andreas Papandreou, received the Greek economy (late 1981) in the quagmire of an economic recession (change in GDP at constant prices, 1980: 0.68%, 1981: -1.55%) because of the second oil crisis which exacerbated the phenomenon of stationary inflation on a European scale”

    Let us also not forget that under the second era of PASOK (1996-2004) Greece had the largest economic Growth in the European Union.

    Anyway, enough about economics. The problem remains; Greece currently has huge problems, and playing the blame-game is not really helping the situation.

    Some things need to change, and what we should be concentrating on is how.

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  37. Vageli, very mature comments. Having a right wing approach to economics does not entail a right wing approach to social issues. I have never supported racism, like Hrysi Augi does, nor do I support populist imbesiles like Karatzaferis. You on the other hand, are probably besotted by Tsipras and his “cool” attitudes, or, even worse, support PASOK, believing there is a difference between them and N.D. Hopefully you are not so stupid as to support KKE, unless you genuinely believe that Greece would be better off outside the E.U.
    It is idiots like you, who put everyone who supports an ideology contrary to their own in the same basket. Everyone who does not agree with you is automatically a nazi scum, right? Well it is people who cannot accept any different ideas that actually give rise to racism and hatred, like you do. Instead of having a civilised discussion, you proceed with assertions and offensive comments, without providing any arguments. Is this conductive, you believe?
    And George, PASOK did nationalise a great number of Greek industries, and now only one of them, Softex, still exists. They did not try to protect workers, in fact, Papandreou’s statement was “enough with the old families of industry”. None of the companies which were nationalised were bankrupt, not even close (except perhaps Naupigia Skaramanga, I am not sure about this case).
    Most of them however, despite the economic crisis, were doing alright. You cannot nationalise a company if it does not perform well in time of an economic crisis.
    Also, here are some statistics for his government’s “success” in economics:
    Η ανεργία (με αφετηρία την πρωτοεμφανιζόμενη ύφεση απο την περίοδο διακυβέρνησης Ράλλη) υπερδιπλασιάστηκε φτάνοντας το 6,6%. Ο μέσος πληθωρισμός την δεκαετία του ‘70 ήταν 12%, ενώ τη δεκαετία του ‘80 ανήλθε στο 20%.

    Tο χρέος της χώρας ανέβηκε από 40% του Α.Ε.Π. το 1980 σε 80% του ΑΕΠ το 1990.

    He actually doubled the country’s debt!!!
    It is naive to assert that one man introduced corruption in Greece, and I am not claiming that. But if a prime minister condones it (because you misquote him, he actually said “a small bonus is fine”), then things will only worsen, as they did.


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  38. 25 Jan ’09 at 7:15 pm

    George Papadofragakis

    Vangelis, being inflammatory and rude doesn’t really help either.

    Aris is not “extreme right wing” neither is he a “neo-fascist”. He has his own views and you have yours. If you disagree so strongly, attack the arguments not the source.

    Branding everyone with whom you disagree with (either you know them or not) as a fascist does not contribute to anything other than polarising, it is a pathetic personal attack and it is nothing less than a conversation killer.

    Greeks have to move on from this kind of ‘discussion’ and this thuggish behaviour which only uses shameless personal attacks in the place of logical arguments. Sadly, this dominates much of our political sphere too, so it’s also part of the problem with our nation..

    Socratic dialogue must be turning in its grave.

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  39. 26 Jan ’09 at 4:15 am

    George Papadofragakis

    PASOK did not nationalise healthy industries, no government in Greece ever had the power to do so. Greece is not Venezuela and Papandreou was not Hugo Chavez.

    The industries that were nationalised may not have been already bankrupt, but apparently the debate at the time was whether they should be nationalised or left to go bankrupt and let thousands of people lose their jobs.

    In fact, the common term at the time for them was the ‘provlimatikes’.


    The reason why the state paid hundreds of millions to save them was exactly because keeping Greece’s industry functional was an issue of major strategic and economic importance, and one of national pride too.

    You may agree or disagree whether some would have scraped through the crisis even if they were not nationalised, but I very much doubt that one can reasonably challenge the fact that the original purpose was to save them.

    Ι quote from Vima:

    “Με υπουργούς Εθνικής Οικονομίας τους κκ. Απ. Λάζαρη στην αρχή και μετά τον κ. Γ. Αρσένη το ΠαΣοΚ έδωσε όντως μεγάλες αυξήσεις στους μισθωτούς και κρατικοποίησε όλες σχεδόν τις προβληματικές, για να ξυπνήσει μεσάνυχτα το καλοκαίρι του 1985, ευθύς μετά τις εκλογές, τον Ανδρέα ο κ. Δ. Χαλικιάς, διοικητής τότε της Τράπεζας της Ελλάδος, και να του αναγγείλει ότι έχει στο ταμείο του μόνο 200.000 δολάρια και το ισοζύγιο πληρωμών κλείνει με έλλειμμα 3,5 δισ.! «Χρεοκοπούμε, Πρόεδρε». Και ο Ανδρέας, που, σύμφωνα με τον κ. Αδ. Πεπελάση, είχε οξεία αίσθηση και του πολιτικού αλλά και του προσωπικού κινδύνου, αλλάζει άρδην πολιτική περνώντας από τις παροχές στη λιτότητα και αντικαθιστά τον κ. Γ. Αρσένη με τον κ. Κ. Σημίτη εκτιμώντας τη συνέπειά του και την ευθύνη του στην ανάληψη πολιτικού κόστους”

    “With Mr Ap. Lazari as Minister of Finance in the beginning, and Mr C. Arseni afterwards, PASOK made large increases in employees wages and nationalised almost all of the ‘provlimatikes’.

    In the summer of 1985, soon after the elections, Mr. Andreas D. Chalikias, then governor of the Bank of Greece, announced that the state fund held only $ 200,000 and the balance of payments deficit was close to 3.5 billion. «We are going bankrupt, President» he said to Papandreou. And Andreas who, according to Ad. Pepelasi had an acute sense of political and personal risk, radically changed his policy of benefits and replaced Mr. C. Arseni with Mr. Simitis, taking into account his consistency and accountability when weighing the political cost”

    So, if he’s to be accused of something, that’s for the subsequent bad administration, not for an unreasonable, childish and extremely dangerous grudge against the industries that provided jobs for thousands.

    And about the new quote you brought up, what Papandreou actually said is that “we should do away with the old families”, meaning the old political families that dominated Greece’s political scene for decades. This is one of his most famous quotes, and it had nothing to do with the industrialists; it has been chronically connected with his infamous ‘Allagi’, his desire to overhaul the Greek political system.

    The term he used (the old ‘fireplaces’) is still used today for exactly the same purpose; to describe the politicians that are in parliament simply because of their family’s name.



    In fact, this exact quote has been used many times against his son, George Papandreou, because of the sheer irony of the fact that his family has become an ‘old fireplace’ in itself.


    About the other quote, again you misquote him. If you can find evidence of the fact that he said something nearly as controversial as “a small bonus is fine”, please let me see a source. I am sure that if the quote was nearly as scandalous it would have been noteworthy, so there must be a reference somewhere.

    Let me also add that I resent the fact that I have almost been forced to defend a person that I’ve never even considered to be a good politician. As I’ve said, he was a populist leader who broke most of his promises, and I obviously agree that he has indebted the nation.

    My point is supposed to be that PASOK is not any more or less corrupted than the alternative of ND. And the reason I am saying is that is because they are both part of the problem here.

    So, I suggest we move on from this unproductive and pointless clash, it’d be far better if we could actually discuss what SHOULD be happening in Greece to change this sickening reality.

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  40. 26 Jan ’09 at 4:18 am

    George Papadofragakis


    “you cannot nationalise a company if it does not perform well in time of an economic crisis”

    I could probably think of about 10-15 banks at the top of my head now, but I presume you can too.

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  41. Wait, these banks were actually declaring bankruptcy. Their CEOs said, you either take us over, or we file for bankruptcy. So it is not the same.
    The term “problematics” was coined by Papandreou! Every single company in Europe was problematic at the time! Yet, no other country nationalised its industry. And he used the term “fireplaces” both for politicians and businessmen. As you said, he was a populist. The people at the time were not happy with them, so he nationalised their companies.
    And by the way, the way he managed them was as such: he fired all the old managers in the companies (not just the owners, mind you), and replaced them with government officials who had no experience what so ever. No wonder they nearly all failed.
    These companies would have easily made it through the crisis, at least most of them. Even if they had to fire a few hundreds of employees, they would have survived. And firing a few employees is better than what happened in the end, i.e. a few thousands losing their jobs.

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  42. Oh, I just noticed that according to the article you posted, it would have been better if these companies had just gone bankrupt. Like I said, I very much doubt that most of them would, but even if they had, it would have been better for everyone.

    Now we have been left with a crippled industry. We had companies which produced products raging from textiles to household appliances. Now we are only left with cement, biscuits and iron industry.

    So, since you also disagree with Papandreou as a politician, stop defending him! He was one of the worst politicians Greece has ever seen, and is only saved due to his good public image.

    P.S. I like the “don’t pull a Nouse here” pun!

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  43. You cannot be right-wing in your approach towards economy and progressive in social issues. After all, as Thatcher used to say, economy is a means of changing the soul. And I cannot see the point why all these neo-liberal ideas are better than the nationalisation of companies. After all, if companies are nationalised this means that they primarily serve a social role, which is above profit. Whereas, when everything is privatised, in a moment of crisis, such as the one we experience now, peoples’ jobs are jeopardised. And because I am sick of hearing excuses about the crisis, the crisis is a product of capitalism and not something that appeared ex nihillo.
    My point is that if all these generous people that own businesses cannot handle a crisis that they created, then yes it is preferable to nationalise these businesses and not jeopardise peoples’ jobs.
    Antonis I remind you that the right-wing approach to economy is profit no-matter what it takes. One big example is the war in Iraq, in Afganistan and in Yugoslavia, that intended to loot other peoples’ resources. Unless you are so naive to believe that it was a war on terror. That’s why a right-wing approach to economy cannot be dissociated from a right-wing approach to social issues.
    And I cannot understand how bourgeois newspapers condemn the violent demonstartions in Greece, whereas they support a system and states, whose economic efficacy depends on violence, such as wars etc.

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  44. Vangelis, once again I will ask you to read some facts before you speak.
    Nationalised companies are not any better at serving the public good than private ones are.
    Take the example of Northern Rock, which was nationalised here in England. Not only did it fire about 5000 employees, under state control, but also has the highest home repossession rate than any other bank in England. In simple terms, a bank run by the government takes away people’s homes more often than any private one!
    And yes, this crisis is created by capitalism. But do you seriously believe that there is any system that can prevent economic downturns? It is impossible to do so. And as I pointed out earlier, in Greece, the greatest wave of unemployment occurred when the government nationalised many industries, and failed to run them properly.
    And I agree, that in some cases it is better to nationalise, but only if the company is about to file for bankruptcy anyway, as was the case of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
    In other times however, when a business is completely hopeless, it should be left to fail. Instead of spending money on something non-viable, it is better to create a fund for the workers until they can find a new job.

    And finally, a right wing approach to economy is a liberal approach, so of course you can be both economically right wing and socially progressive. Let us remember that the French revolution tried to promote the free market, as well as equal human rights etc (“laissez-faire, laissez passée”). Like I said, having stereotypes such as “oh, you believe in free trade, this also means you hate minorities and are a neo-nazi” is not a very mature, nor educated, approach.

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