The senate of the Athens University of Economics and Business has repeatedly asked authorities, as well as the prime minister’s office, to deal with the rampant street-level drug dealing next to its premises in downtown Athens.
“Unfortunately, the problem persists. It evolves but never gets solved,” the senate said in a statement Thursday. The senate also warned the authorities that it will shut down the institution unless they act as the situation is only getting worse; new hubs where drugs are purchased and used are also emerging.
University authorities in other parts of the country face a similar conundrum. The key word in the senate’s statement was “evolves,” for it signifies a condition that is constantly deteriorating.
Lawbreaking behavior is spinning out of control. As authorities fail to take action, lawlessness is taking over the capital. Tolerance and impunity are feeding this evolution.
Recently, firebomb-wielding anarchists attacked the police station in Omonia, while members of the Rouvikonas anti-establishment group had no problem setting up meetings in a room at the Athens University’s philosophy faculty (the supreme court prosecutor on Thursday called for an investigation to determine whether the group is disrupting the operation of the institution).
Meanwhile, government officials appear to show understanding toward urban guerrillas who have taken human lives (such as convicted November 17 terrorists Dimitris Koufodinas and Savvas Xiros). And as two recent cases showed, police officials are occasionally implicated in drug dealing rackets or robberies.
Public insecurity and urban decline are fueled by a widespread anything-goes attitude, which does not always come with an ideological tag. On the surface, the facts described above are unrelated. However, the way each manifests itself is reinforced by the appearance of the other.
People who engage in wrongdoing do so because they believe that either a) they are committing a revolutionary act by harming the rest of society, b) they are committing crime from a position of power; or c) they are acting in a social environment where law and order has disappeared.
Where does all that lead? People lose faith in the institutions and instead put their trust in political opportunists, demagogues and extremists. All sorts of anti-systemic, delirious and boastful politicians grow stronger.
As the rule of law recedes or turns a blind eye, these politicians promise to fill the void by taking the law into their own hands. In this way, law and order turns from being a condition of democracy into a lever of pressure in the hands of dangerous people and usurpers.