Paradise for lowlifes

One of Athens’s neighborhoods, one of those included in the government’s «spruce up» and «renovation» programs, has recently seen a plethora of new bars and restaurants spring up. And the residents of the area have to suffer the noise and the blare of music through the morning hours, especially during the summer. The residents occasionally mobilize themselves and appeal to the – ostensibly – responsible authorities where they also confirm that half of the clubs either have no legal permit or they do have one but for limited use. Will the residents’ suffering ever come to an end? It is rather unlikely. In order to impose the law on wrongdoers, we would, first, have to resolve the question of the shared responsibilities between ministerial, municipal and police authorities and, second, curb the strength of the underworld which has all sorts of access to the state mechanism. «Procedures» take time, and the jointly responsible authorities find it hard to communicate. In effect, reaching a solution is no easy task. But even when, at some point, a responsible agent – after a huge amount of effort – finally manages to close down one of the night clubs, it does not necessarily mean that the case is closed also. A few days ago, deputy mayor Evangelia Velentza stated in a radio interview that many problems of this sort have emerged in the «upgraded» Psyrri area. In one particular case, a club was shut down and subsequently reopened 17 times. Some lowlife type was obviously stronger than a number of the responsible officials. Minor everyday stories of the clandestine and the illegal. Greece is rife with entanglement. The record of the victories by ethical state officials, municipal advisers and police officers over the wrongdoers is minimal. There is too much protection and the outlaws triumph. The ailment has penetrated everything, vertically and horizontally. There is, as yet, no political agency capable of fighting this lawless activity. Pledges, meetings and declarations mean many words but that’s about all. The small, medium and large networks of corruption remain well in place. Politics, lack of courage, idleness, indifference, connections, political cost, all these together make up the rules of the game in Greek society. Powerful Greece is a paradise for lowlifes. But I wonder for how much longer?

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