OPINION

Democracy and the draw

One way is to pretend we saw nothing and that nothing even happened. This is approximately what the state media did in deciding to play down the protests of some of the candidates in the lottery for homes at the Olympic Village at the presence of foreigners in their midst. There might not have been time, of course, as the microphones were in the hands of the bureaucrats who wanted to sing the praises of the government, as if the draw was not long scheduled as an obligation by the State, but a personal decision to be generous. The other way, just as unfair, is to generalize, to lump the protesters in with all the candidates. The only honest route is the middle road – some Greeks, the have-nots, criticized the presence of foreigners, also have-nots, who, as the protesters well knew, had every right to participate in the draw due to the years they have been working legally in Greece and the social security stamps they have amassed. In any case, the foreign workers who benefited from the draw comprised merely 2.5 percent of the total, although they comprise 10 percent of the country’s work force. So theoretically, if one overlooks the difference of ethnic origin, language or color, what we have is an informal civil war within a group whose members have a great deal in common. Instead of a spontaneous outburst of sympathy, understanding and solidarity, what emerged – just as spontaneously – was displeasure and rivalry, making the slogan «the proletariat has no homeland» sound particularly optimistic. Tolerance that does away with color or race is the result of education, ideology and political perception, even religion, in the rare cases where these are not nationalistic or racist. This is difficult to achieve and often undesirable, just like the Athenian democracy of the draw.