OPINION

The ‘nothing’ revolution

Leftist blogs reporting Monday on the way that riot police intervened when a group of protesters stormed Athens University said things like: “Police were called in and surrounded the country’s foremost university without any provocation and without anything having happened. Police proceeded to arrest Athens University students who had previously tried to prevent a meeting of the administrative council,” as described by blogger RedNotebook.

Societies around the world see a logical paradox in the phrases “Police were called in without any provocation and without anything having happened” and “Students tried to prevent a meeting of the administrative council.”

In reaction-happy Greece, preventing a meeting of a democratically elected body because the left doesn’t like it is an everyday occurrence. Even if they had walled the professors into the building it would still have been seen as “nothing” and any police intervention deemed as “unprovoked.” There is even a precedent. In October 2009, a court in Xanthi, northern Greece, cleared six young men after they walled in the vice rector of the University of Thrace, Thanasis Karabinis, in his office. The prosecutor confirmed that the crimes of violence and disturbing the peace had been committed, yet the court said that the six youths were innocent because they were ignorant of the law. Obviously they believed that the law is the right of the student to wall rectors into their offices.

Even a member of the leftist SYRIZA party traveled to the Xanthi for the trial and, according to a party press release, “praised the stance of the students, who defended the public character of the university, and spoke against the prosecutor who victimized the six students, who were acting on a decision by their council, because he indirectly defied the campus asylum law.”

This kind of logic is why every police intervention in Greece is deemed “unprovoked.” Even if the “kids” had barged in and sent the rector to hospital, as was the case at the University of Athens in December 2009. According to media reports from that time, a large number of protesters tried to occupy the rector’s office. They clashed with riot police and injured both the rector and a security guard. They went on to occupy the office and climbed onto the roof, where they took down the Greek flag and replaced it with a flag representing the anarchist movement.

Nothing happened then either. Even the assault on the rector was seen as nothing. The “kids” played at revolution for a few hours and then went home, leaving a big mess behind them. If they burn someone to death, as was the case with the Marfin Bank branch in 2010, then things change, at least for a while. Cases like that end up as “nothing” as well, or in what the authorities call their archive. And the revolution of “nothing” just goes on and on.