OPINION

Message sent

The wave of parcel bombs sent to foreign governments and embassies resulted in no victims but the political impact must not be underestimated. History teaches that acts of terror do not undermine but rather strengthen the establishment. Fear cultivates a climate of insecurity which pushes people to fall in line behind the government of the time. This time, a climate of terror could discourage voters from sending a strong message of disapproval against the ruling political elite. In other words, it will work to the advantage of Premier George Papandreou’s artless PASOK-or-mayhem dilemma. All that, of course, feeds into the theory that terrorists are guided by dark forces which aim to influence the political climate and manipulate public opinion and voter preference. This theory, however, is a convenient way of sidestepping the problem. One cannot exclude the possibility that the ranks of armed guerrillas include agents who, indirectly, dictate actions and targets. But it would be a mistake to interpret the terrorist phenomenon in terms of conspiracy theories and simply incriminate the government of the time. The fact is that the so-called anti-state movement has recently witnessed the emergence of a violent, media-savvy core of guerrillas. As the 2008 protests following the police shooting of a teenager abated, this inner core was injected with the dream of keeping the movement alive. When romanticism meets nihilism, the results can be very destructive. It comes as no surprise that fringe elements took up arms. The economic crisis has reinforced that trend. Terrorism is not a child of the economic crisis but the crisis provides the ideological fuel. This is why terror survives despite the arrests. Terror group November 17 was a closed, almost professional organization with ideological underpinnings and a certain code of conduct. The current groups are more reminiscent of Italy’s myriad semi-clandestine armed autonomy groups in the 1970s. Their attacks are more regular and not so well planned; they are often blind attacks. Their lack of professionalism makes them more vulnerable but also more unpredictable. Political parties and the media will not admit this but as long as armed groups maintain their operational capability, terror will continue to play a political role in the country. This was after all made evident by the fuss caused by the parcel bombs – which would have been far greater had it been deadly.