A brief glance at this last week: Unidentified vandals break into the capital’s Panteion University; students are assaulted at Athens Law School; an armed robbery at the Agricultural University of Athens; shots outside the Athens Court of Appeals; a fistfight in the Attica Regional Authority’s council meeting; a cabinet minister makes an obscene gesture while attending a water polo game… And that’s before we get to the violence at Volos last week ahead of the Greek Cup soccer final.
We won’t go into further details. In any case, it wasn’t the first time that violence had broken out at universities, that public buildings had proven so vulnerable, that representatives of our political class had acted in a way we would like to forget but cannot. As for the soccer-related incident, what can we say?
For some time now, like sleepwalkers we have been witnessing one crime after another. Teaching and studying without interruption in university classes has become a rarity. Extremist actions and reactions in public life have become the new normal. Anticipating violence at soccer matches appears to be beyond us.
What is happening is not strange. But it is dangerous. And because the country’s social contract is not something unrelated to our political personnel, the plea “What can we do about this?” does not hold. Because democracy is undermined surreptitiously; when intervention is said to be useless, when the “will of the people” is allowed to express itself; when eyes are closed to criminal behavior and tolerance slips into indifference.
Fascism creeps in in many guises. We can trace it in actions that are said to express popular feelings (what is more “innocent” than a politician’s expression of exasperation?), in the constant threat of violence against others (in places of learning, no less), in the fear of attending a sports event.
Freedom is undermined in small and steady steps, from “Don’t make a big deal of it” to “It’s just hyperbole for political show,” through tolerance and opportunistic blindness, through incompetence or by being comfortable with how things are. We can interpret it in many ways, but our reality is simply unbearable.