Matthew 24: 7 Nationality against Nationality, ethnic group against ethnic group… | January 3, 2013
Matthew 24: 4-8
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom (or Nationality against Nationality and Ethnic group against ethnic group). There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Do you suppose these problems in Greece could happen in America too because of jobs, could people born in America clamoring for jobs, blame immigrants for taking those jobs? Recently I was in San Francisco where I was doing security at nursing strikes. I spoke with someone I met on the street, they complained that our nursing schools were being over run by people coming from other countries, and also taking the jobs of people that were born here. My daughter, who was born in California, who has been an RN for years, said there are not many jobs for RN’s now in her area of San Francisco, yet they continue to school more young girls. Can all Americans unite and pull together in ‘hard times’? What would the ‘uniting’ factor be?
Greece has not faced up to the ghosts of its past
As Angela Merkel makes a futile attempt to prop up Greece’s political class, the country is on the brink of self-destruction
Protesters hold anti-German banners during protest against Angela Merkel’s visit to Athens. Photograph: Aristidis Vafeiadakis/Zuma Press/Corbis
Angela Merkel and her new act – Deutsch-Griechische Freundschaft – played a gig in downtown Athens this week
. Billed as the launch of Merkel’s new album “Ich bin eine Athenerin”, critics already insist that much of the material is recycled from previous works. They point to the painfully monotonous riffs which set the teeth on edge to suggest that Merkel may well get sadistic kicks out of taunting its listeners. Merkel touched down for six hours. She gave a solid, no frills, no nonsense set. She came, she saw, she played. It didn’t set the house on fire – but then again, we Greeks are quite capable of doing that ourselves
One of the forseeable blowbacks of the wildfire that swept through Greece in 2009 has been the corrosive rise
of xenophobia and racism, directed both inwards towards immigrants and outwards towards Europe, especially Germany. The latter was expressed at its most vulgar at this week’s anti-Merkel protests in Athens, where images of a Fourth Reich
enslaving the country, belittling its people, ripping off its (as yet undiscovered) oil reserves and annexing western Thrace to hand back to the Ottomans played heavily to the collective imagination.
These days, sordid conspiracy theories abound in Greece. Sane considerate folk espouse bizarre political narratives. Old middle-class sureties have given way to gloom, idiocy and self-mutilation. Those already on the edge have tipped over into self-destruction and turned against the vulnerable.
The problem is that, as a society, Greece never made peace with itself. Nor did it engage in a truthful dialogue about the ghosts of its past. It has never enforced self-evident codes and norms of behaviour. The fundamentals of a liberal order were never fully in place. So when the financial tsunami hit, it fell apart.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the country’s metropolitan heart. Greek residents stranded in the wasteland of central Athens are turning on “immigrants” who have been in the country for 20 years. Second-generation Albanian kids are venting their jobless fury on Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Afghans their own age. The faultlines of the old civil war are reappearing. Militias of far-right thugs do battle with immigrants and gangs of leftist youths.
Earlier this week it emerged that anti-fascists were imprisoned illegally for days
at the Attica General Police Directorate (Gada), the Athens equivalent of Scotland Yard, where they were tortured by officers who, to all intents and purposes, were card-carrying members of Golden Dawn. A slate of attacks on gays in the street may hint at what is yet to come. Yet the minister of public order talks of “zero tolerance”, to the accolades of the respectable bourgeois press.
The death of the old political order is all too apparent. Scandals come to light every day and the sums involved, if true, are staggering. This only excites the febrile minds of a ruined petit bourgeoisie, which is turning furiously against the old authorities. Justice proceeds at a snail’s pace and the mob bays for blood and everyone is guilty till proven innocent.
The hardline Stalinist CP, for years the bulwark against the rise of fascism in plebeian neighbourhoods, is now openly taunted in parliament by far-right MPs about its terminal decline.
The Syriza left
is now a mass electoral movement attracting the old socialist clientele who jumped ship, discredited union bureaucrats and radicalised youth. It promises to roll back the neoliberal onslaught personified to them by Frau Merkel, to halt austerity measures, but also to stay in the euro and the EU. It generally promises to create a brave new world, even if it is a bit coy in spelling out what exactly that world may look like.
The imminent danger for the country is social implosion. Some talk of a postmodern Weimar. Others of a black hole like Kosovo. The purpose of Merkel’s visit, on a symbolic level, was to bring the country back into the mainstream European fold and prop up a mercurial and discredited political class. Yet can the people so centrally implicated in the country’s fall take on the role of its saviour?
If the European and domestic elites do not quickly change their plan to “manage” this crisis, then the centre will not hold. Then the political economy of pain will truly come into its own.