Thursday, December 11, 2008

Turmoil in Greece---frustration not ideology

"Our generation is facing a tougher future than our parents. This is unheard of because things normally get better." quote in yesterday's NYT from a 22 year old Greek college student demonstrator(or worse)

For several days it was unclear what had led to the upheaval and violence in Greece. The tragic death of a 15 year old in a confrontation with police was obviously the catalyst. The reaction, however, has been a societal tsunami. At least from this distant perspective there did not seem to be an organized, or even tacit, political movement, thought process or ideology that was leading the chaos(an oxymoronic phrase for sure). The comment above explained it all.

This college student's feelings are certainly understandable, but one could suggest that he missed his history classes. A perspective learned there would have suggested that "normal" is not a word that works well except in the short term. That said, the riots now appear to be an explosion of frustration by unemployed or underemployed teens and twenty somethings across all but the wealthiest socio-economic strata. The current conservative and free market oriented Greek government seems unable to react, as this is more spontaneous combustion than politics. A Wall Street Journal article today developed this issue and reported that Spain and Germany in particular have a similar serious problem, and that it may be endemic to much of Europe. This is one European product that we don't want to import.


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