OPINION

Tinderbox

There was something new about the scenes we witnessed around Syntagma Square on Thursday. The so-called ?black block? — the grouping of self-styled anarchists — has for years been hijacking protest rallies, reducing them to clashes between its members and the riot police.

This time, the clashes were between hoodies and the block of Greece?s Communist Party, KKE. The latter has so far kept clear from such engagement. KKE rallies were held away from potential hot spots. The decision by Communist protesters Thursday to remain in front of the Parliament and keep the area under their control signals a change of strategy, as they knew that clashes would erupt. This change was not random. It was probably motivated by concerns that given the highly volatile environment, things could spin completely out of control.

The black block is by no means just a bunch of individuals receiving orders from above. For these people, clashing with the riot police is their raison d?etre. These youths are not ideologues. They are attracted to the aesthetics of disaster. They have no ideological platform, no ideological boundaries. They are faceless, dark, risk-prone, and tough as nails when it comes to street fighting.

In other words, they have everything it takes to become a star in a television-based democracy thirsty for spectacle. With their violent acts, they are stealing the show and thereby obscure the message of the demonstrations.

In previous years, hoodies acted in a volatile political and social landscape. For that reason, the only thing they managed to accomplish was sporadic riots and distraction. These days, however, the landscape is unstable and volatile. For that reason, mass protest rallies like the ones witnessed yesterday and the day before, could trigger the accumulated and compressed momentum of social indignation.

You have to be blinded by fanaticism to fail to see that the country is losing its grasp on public order. The successive packages of fresh austerity measures have led to an economic as well as a social deadlock.

Meanwhile, some people are playing with fire. We are lucky that only one person lost his life. Even members of the crumbling Socialist government admit that the situation has come to a head.