Once upon a December

So much time has elapsed since December 2008 in terms of Greek politics and social history, a two-year period that saw a decade’s worth of changes. So much has changed since – almost everything in fact – and on one level it is much deeper than a simple change in government or the transformation of the party system. However, one part of our memory that remains intact is that containing the image of a dead innocent, a murdered teenager – as we can now officially describe Alexis Grigoropoulos with the approval of the justice system and in spite of the efforts of certain members of the media to cast guilt on the victim. This memory, beyond the other forms of expression in which it has been manifested, on Sunday took shape in another public arena that is, in theory at least, apolitical: at a soccer game, where fans held banners with the face of the murdered boy and others with the words «Remember December.» Everything has changed. The high school students of December 2008, who were violently thrust out of childhood, are today students at colleges and universities that have little of their old prestige. The university students of December 2008 are now trained, specialized and unemployed, and faced with the reality of their unemployed elders, parents and family friends who were sacked or signed voluntary redundancy agreements with the public services or private companies at which they once worked. In a country that is undergoing a process of «reformation,» to use the term used by the government (which it should be more wary about considering its abhorrent use during the Greek Civil War), in a country that is being led and where outside pressure is not only presented as being necessary but is also endowed with a kind of cleansing property, feelings of isolation, feelings that life holds no promise and that there is nothing we can do about it are not exclusive to Greece’s youth anymore. Together with all their other «privileges,» Greece’s young people have lost this one too. The feeling of hope being dashed is assailing one generation after another, crossing the board as the numbers of unemployed, employed but unpaid, part-timers and students with no future to look forward to continue to rise. These people are not collateral damage of the «reformation» drive, but the targets of the standard recipe of the International Monetary Fund. We can’t predict how they will react, protest and demand something more than a chance at survival once the crisis, which is still at the beginning, reaches its peak. By and large, societies are unpredictable. They don’t necessarily obey the plans laid down on paper, nor do they march in time with the beating of the political drum. If December 2008 proved anything at all, it is this.

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