Thursday, October 18, 2012

Peace in our time

Readers of this blog will recall that the European Union received its Nobel Peace Prize for, among other reasons, bringing peace and prosperity to Southern Europe, after years under authoritarian dictatorship and civil war. Well, how is that shaping up, one wonders.

Two items of news provide some sort of partial information as it is difficult to get a clear picture of what is going on in the country as a whole.

The Daily Mail gives us a story with suitable pictures of young neo-Nazi gangs attacking immigrants, their homes and businesses and daubing swastikas on walls. I presume these are not the same gangs of young people who greeted Chancellor Angela Merkel with jolly Nazi uniforms and pictures of her as Hitler. The Greeks really do have to make up their minds whose victims they are. (Answer: their own and, especially, of their politicians but they do keep electing them.)

Meanwhile, Golden Dawn, which has representatives in Parliament, denies that they are neo-Nazi (all a misunderstanding, guv) but proclaim that they are Greek nationalists who want Greece to be reclaimed by Greeks. That, of course, is a laudable aim but it is not entirely clear how they propose to do it beyond getting rid of all immigrants.

One of the complaints voiced by those attacked by the gangs is that the police proclaim themselves to be too busy to investigate them. Given how often we hear that in this country, I am not sure that is necessarily sinister but the BBC has gone after another story that also demonstrates that there is peace and love and joy across the European Union, even its southernmost members.

There is, according to this, evidence that some of the police are in collusion with Golden Dawn, the anti-immigrant party that uses neo-Nazi symbolism purely for aesthetic reasons. In parenthesis, let me add how odd it is to see the Daily Mail and the BBC going after the same story from the same point of view. They usually do it only if there is something anti-American involved.

It is hard to tell how wide-spread the problem is and whether it is true that Greeks are preparing for a civil war. Golden Dawn undoubtedly has 18 members of Parliament, which indicates electoral success and support. How much of that is protest voting is hard to tell. Given the venality and incompetence of most Greek politicians, protest voting is quite understandable though, for some reason, it did not go to any party with more or less liberal (in the real sense of the word) policies.

That the situation is extraordinarily difficult there one cannot deny; that there seems to be no solution proposed beyond pleas to the EU (or the German government) to lighten the burden is also clear. I don't exactly believe stories of people starving as they are usually produced by organizations who hope to raise money for themselves on the back of those stories. But that there are extremist groups hoping to benefit from the mess is certain. Will that lead to a civil war in the near future? Given modern Greek history, the chances of that are very high.

I suppose they could take this advice from City AM: Greece must stop hitting snooze and wake up to economic reform. Somehow, I don't think they will. Decades of national victimhood are not easy to overcome.

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