Monthly Archives: July 2015

Alle Menschen werden Brüder

I had tears in my eyes as I walked away from Syntagma Square tonight. It wasn’t because of the big No-rally that was going on there, nor was it because someone from Spanish Podemos had just been speaking. It only slowly dawned on me that it had been teargas. It seemed to affect me more than it did others around me, but thankfully the pain didn’t last long.

Oddly enough, I hadn’t seen any riots, though I later learned there had been a few. There was quite a bit of riot police surrounding both demonstrations tonight, but they looked bored and uninterested as Greek riot police tends to do.

As I walked towards the ‘Kallimármaro‘ (the stadium used for the 1896 Olympics), ‘ΟΧΙ’ posters along the roads gradually made way for those saying ‘ΝΑΙ’. Two American tourists concluded that ‘ΝΑΙ’ must mean ‘no’.

When it comes to locations for your rally, the Kallimármaro is hard to beat — even if it’s slightly less central than Syntagma. Chants of ‘Greece! Europe! Democracy!’ were chanted and the atmosphere of the Yes-rally was very friendly and even felt quite optimistic.

As I walked away after about half an hour of immersing myself in the crowd, they played Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ — the European anthem — through the speakers. Most people blew whistles in support. Now I had tears in my eyes again.

The European family has had better moments, but it has also seen much worse. It is good to remember that. We’ll be alright.
Alle Menschen werden Brüder. All men become brothers. Όλοι οι άνθρωποι είναι αδέλφια.

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Understanding Modern Greece

It is hard to understand the current Greek crisis without understanding the country’s recent history. SYRIZA for example, is not just a party that was founded to protest the recent austerity measures (like Podemos in Spain). Rather, it traces its roots to the communist resistance against the German occupation in the Second World War. One of the first things Alexis Tsipras did when he was elected as Prime Minister was to visit a monument dedicated to 200 (mostly communist) resistant fighters, a move he himself admitted was symbolic.

The reactions of many Greeks to foreign nations whom they believe are meddling in the country’s internal affairs go back even further, to the beginning of the modern Greek state almost 200 years ago.

I’m currently reading a book on Modern Greece by Yale professor Stathis Kalyvas. I wanted to share this quote:

Most Greeks see Western Europe (and the United States) as unwelcome meddling foreigners, even though they have largely profited from their interventions. Conversely, Europeans (and Americans) are exasperated that Greeks have failed to see those benefits, even though their inverventionism has been driven primarily by their own self-interest and has been imposed over the Greeks – their discourse about the importance of ancient Greek civilization notwithstanding.