The Greek Riots Explained

The Excuse: On December 6th a 15 year old school boy was shot dead by a policeman in Athens. Apparently, the policeman had not legitimate reason for doing so.

The Aftermath: For five days now groups of young men, self-described anarchists, have been spreading mayhem in the streets of Athens and other cities throughout the country. The damages are estimated to be more than €100 million so far. More than 400 stores and other businesses have sustained damages in Athens alone. 
The Cause: Extremely high tolerance for illegal and anti-social behavior. The coverage in the international media has often cited Greece’s economic and social challenges due to the high involvement of government into the economy as the cause of the present crisis.
It’s a serious issue and it will be the cause of the most important problems that Greece will face in the future but it has little to do with the present crisis. Greece is one of the countries in the European south that had its democracy restored relatively recently, in 1974. In the period between 1967-74, the country was governed by a right leaning military dictatorship. 

In the period before that most often the country was governed by rightist governments which often acted in an authoritarian way, usually harassing, arresting and imprisoning their leftist political opponents. With the restoration and full establishment of a democracy in 1974 the forces of the left (represented by the Socialists, Communists and the Democratic Left) started to gain the upper hand in politics. The gains of the left were not limited only to the political arena. As in the rest of Europe, the left started to dominate the universities, the media and other cultural institutions. The history of the country went for a rewrite and the cultural norms took a shape and form according to the interests and ideology of the new leftist establishment. 

Now institutions that were associated with the exercise of authority of the old rightist state, especially the police, became tainted and tame. Notions like that of law and order have lost legitimacy. These days if anyone utters the thought that the police must impose law and order is immediately accused of being a crypto-fascist. 

On an almost daily basis Athens’s traffic is clogged by demonstrations of special interest groups. The universities are closed for long periods of time during the year because are often occupied by small groups of students who protest some government policy. High schools face the same problems as they loose many days during the year because students choose to protest any changes in educational policy no mater how trivial they are. 

The culture of protest has been inculcated in the minds of young people as one of the highest expressions of civic virtue. As Alekos Alavanos said, the parliamentary leader of the Coalition of the Left, there are the couch potatoes and there are citizens who hit the pavement and revitalize the democracy. The tragedy of Greece is that there is no opposition to this kind of rhetoric. The nominally conservative party, New Democracy, is perpetually on the political and intellectual defensive by having accepted most of the ideological promises of the leftist establishment. 

There is not an epidemic of police violence in Greece. The last incident that was similar in circumstances to the death of the 15 year old on December 6th, was back in 1985. That hardly qualifies as a wave of state violence. These riots are not like the French ones of the recent past, since in the Greek riots the participants are most often native young people from middle and upper middle class families. Groups of illegal immigrants though tend to the stores after the rioters have burst the doors open or have broken the windows. 

Thanks to the glorification of the culture of protest/disorder and the general incompetence of police to control riots and crime in general, we are witnessing an Athens that in many places looks like a war zone. 

The voice of the streets (2)

One thing is for sure, IF what you say is true and the angry and violent "voice of the streets" is a natural and understandable response to perceived social injustice, pacifism is clearly an unnatural response to it. It's encouraging to see you finally waking up to this reality.

The voice of the streets

Stones, Molotov-Cocktails, eggs, shouts or insults, the differences of the anger occupying the streets of Athens, Paris, Lisbon, Rome, Copenhagen and more cities, are not enough to camouflage basic assimilations. Directed by accountants without other ideology than the most anti-ideological vacuum of the 'end of History' (or of 'Third Ways'), incapable bureaucrats to form an idea or a minimum mobilizing ideal; European democracies, many times under the doctrine of the party politburos with the designation of 'socialists', 'liberals' or 'christian' converted to a bunch of managers of interest and clientèle, became holdings of no motivation of hope whatsoever, and where the army of excluded in rising numbers live with the scandalous wealth, splendour, ostentation and corruption of the elites.
In this social environment, an incident, just like the one happened with the assassination of a youngster in Athens, may inflame the whole prairie. After that, to label the spectre of a Civil War with nuances of 'anti-democratic', it's enough that at some corner appears a populist. That is what the European leaders do not understand.

No Cause?

I think shooting anarchist thugs while they are committing crimes is reason enough.  I think the Greek police don't shoot enough people as evidenced by the continuing violence.

Greek leftists

N.Linardatos: "The tragedy of Greece is that there is no opposition to this kind of rhetoric."

Maybe, after all, the rampage by young idiots will help normal people become less tolerant of cretinous leftism.


Give to the people opportunity to vote and they will elect socialists. While the left once in power could be removed nearly always by force only.They will abuse democracy to push certain policies based on their ideology that even ignorant people would reject if asked.


It is immaterial whether every last European is as arrogant toward the Americans as the majority of Europeans are; if those few who are not insufferably arrogant keep silent, the effect is the same.  In his most recent book Bruce Bawer recounts the sort of insults that his Dutch and Norwegian "friends" deliver to his face, demeaning his intelligence and -- bizarrely -- his English skills (he is one of America's most skilled literary critics, whereas his detractors speak English as a second language).  This sort of behavior persists only in a culture where the natives reward each other for their boorishness, while those who might disagree are too cowardly to speak up.

Ph...Dutchman # 3

@ Capodistrias

No. Spelling has nothing to do with it. 'Politics' does, but it is too complicated to discuss here, and unrelated to the subject of Greek riots.

Philhelline Dutchman # 2

@ Capodistrias

For your information, Mr Vanderheyden is Flemish, which makes him a Dutch-speaker, but a (Northern) Belgian citizen.

Riots in Greece: The undercover news

Interesting article but he may only be skimming the surface. Read the article by Ioannis Michaletos at on the Greek riots. Some excerpts:

The riots were orchestrated since late summer 2008. There were reports within the Greek police that the riots would commence by the Christmas period at the latest; the location and the justification was not known, but any event could have caused them. This is a copycat case of what happened in France in October 2005.

The culprits in the higher level are Islamic networks in the Middle East, hand-in-hand with corrupted Western officials that are selling their services for the highest bidder.

The purpose is to destabilize Greece, since it is the “Weakest link” of the Eurozone countries. The ultimate goal is the creation of a European space suitable for expansion of the Middle Eastern networks. For the moment the latter use a variety of techniques to bolster their aims:

Terrorism, disinformation, Psy Ops, bribing officials. They are trying to throw USA against Russia from one side and disintegrate the bonds between EU-USA from the other side. They are the ones that burned Greek forests in summer 2007, in an operation some call “Ibrahim Project”, thus reminding of the same damages in the same region by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt during the Greek revolution in the summer of 1827.

Quite a few Greek “radical groups” have adopted Arabic "Noms de Guerre", promote illegal immigration of Muslims into Europe and call in for the destruction of Western civilization. They are part of an almost global network that acts as a “Soft power” element of the hard one as envisaged by Al Qaeda.

Quelle surprise # 2

1) Come on, Frank Lee, admit that not all Europeans are as arrogant as you think, although I agree with you that - deep down - a lot of them truly are.  But PVDH is not one of them, and being a Brussels Journal reader he has manifestly made significant intellectual 'progress' over recent years.  Perhaps, your experience with European 'wifes' of your fellow academics, may have slanted your opinion somewhat?  Your first comment under this thread was very satirical, which I consider more 'European' (certainly very Belgian) than American.  In my experience, Americans are much more direct/straightforward in their way of speaking and writing than Europeans typically are.

2) Of greater interest is the issue raised by Mr De Bruycker. He suggests that the riots in Greece have a lot to do with immigrants.  This is contrary to what the author of the article, Mr Linardatos, is saying: "...participants are most often native young people from upper and upper middle class families".   I am inclined to agree with Linardatos, and look for explanations in the welfare state mentality, the anti-democratic mentality of much of the contemporary European left (and part of the right as well) that is reflected in a general lack of respect for rule of law and for 'earned' and/or legitimate authority.   I see parallels between the riots occurring regularly in major European cities today and the riots in black American inner cities that were common in the 1960's and 70's.  In both cases, absurd victimisation theories are/were being propagated by the major naive-left media, and the idea of personal responsibility for one's own behavior is/was not being inculcated in the educational system.  There is hope for Europe's cities, if the American experience (societal reactions) of the past 30 years can be relied upon to be followed in Europe (with the usual 'decalage' of 15 years or so).  

Bad Sign

Mr. Vanderheyden,

"Leave the Greeks to us," you wrote.  Didn't the Europeans at first also tell the Americans, "Leave the Bosnians to us"?  Then, after a quarter million had been slaughtered, you expected us to rescue you from a disastrous situation that you couldn't handle.  You'll have to excuse me, but when a European writes, "Leave X to us," I brace myself for what's coming next.  ("Leave Srebrenica to us," said the Dutch.)


By the way, I did not assert that American ways are superior.  I merely implied that the notion (spread by the Europeans) that European ways are superior is quite obviously bunk.  If only a single European would admit as much to me, I'd fall over from shock.  But if my denigration of European arrogance "is not to [sic] much appreciated," as you suggest, that's fine:  my wish is that you become so irritated that you never ask us for assistance again, and that when things explode in Europe in the coming decades you do not come to America.  So please remember this feeling of displeasure you have toward me right now, apply it broadly to all Americans, and kindly seek refuge elsewhere.


Finally, I realize that I'm expected to defer to continental Europeans about everything, including my native language, but the phrase "to boost off a little" makes absolutely no sense in English.


"If only a single European would admit as much to me, I'd fall over from shock."

Prepare for a shock:

a) I've a great admiration for the USA and the way they manage things. We can learn a lot of them (of them, from them?...probably bad English, but as long as we understand each other....)
b) I would certainly not advise them to copy the "European way". Being Europeans we have our own specific problems which require solutions that would be thoroughly ridiculous in the states.
c) I like a certain level of social security as implemented in most European states. I do, however see the pitfalls of the system and don’t feel the need whatsoever to lecture the states on their lack of social security. It’s up to each country to decide democratically how far they want to go in organised and thus imposed solidarity.
d) I do think the European way of diplomacy has its plusses, but the total lack of credible military deterrence is a big week spot. I think that the lack of European capacity for Nato operations is a shame, and we do owe the states. (Maybe I should add as an excuse the deep scars two World Wars have left behind on this continent.)
See, it’s not that difficult. It’s not the 100% applauding for every single thing that is American, but it isn’t a “Europe über Alles” attitude neither.
I merely implied that the notion (spread by the Europeans) that European ways are superior is quite obviously bunk.

Quelle surprise

Who would have guessed that a country like Greece, which retained an authoritarian government into the 1970s and has a chronically underperforming economy despite massive subsidies from Brussels, also has a messed up security structure and lousy schools?  If only we Americans would show some humility and learn from our European betters.  Thank God President Obama will soon be arriving on the scene, ready to suck up to the Europeans leaders and acknowledge their ideas as superior to our own.


Mister Lee, Persons like you can turn even me into a nationalist.
I suggest you’d rather deal with your “lousy cars” industry and the thousands of people who had to sell their homes and live in campers due to the financial crisis. Leave the Greeks to us. I know that your definition of patriotism means feeling superior and being denigrating towards others, but here in Europe it’s not to much appreciated. I suggest you find a local café to boost off a little.

@Greek nationalist

"Mister Lee, Persons like you can turn even me into a nationalist.... Leave the Greeks to us."

I didn't realize Vanderheyden was Greek.

@philhellene Dutchman

As an American I too feel connected to our common Greek roots (don't start WLW), so let's not build artificial barriers between us and the ocean that divides us.

The situation in Greece

Backgrounder to the situation in Greece: Extract from the October 2008 book, The Immigration Invasion(*):

In 2008, the mayor of Athens, a socialist from the left-wing Pasok party, Yiannis Sgouros, appealed to the Greek government for help in solving what he called an “explosive problem” in the heart of the capital. “Illegal immigrants are becoming pawns to local drug barons and are forming gangs,” Sgouros wrote in a letter to the Prime Minister. “Something has to change or the area will become an arena for race clashes and gang wars.”

Police figures show that most immigrants arrested on drug-related charges in central Athens in 2008 were from the Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Until two decades ago, Greece had virtually no immigrant community of any significance. In the past 20 years, that has changed considerably.

As of 2006, the number of foreigners in an estimated total of 11,148,533 people was 695,979 or 6.24 percent.

By 2008, one out of every ten residents in Greece - and almost one in five in the centre of Athens - was foreign born. The majority of these foreigners came from neighbouring Albania, but just under half came from Third World regions such as West Africa, China, Pakistan and the Middle East.

The total Third World-origin population of Greece, as of 2008, was therefore estimated to be in the region of five percent.

Turkish groups dominate illegal immigration routes and regularly import Asians to Greece. Up to 500 immigrants illegally cross Greek borders each week, and that is only in the Eastern Aegean front of the country. In 2004, it was reported that over one million illegal immigrants were in transit from Turkey towards Western Europe.

In 2007, at least 100 Turks in Greece were arrested and charged with people smuggling, along with several Pakistanis and Iraqis who appeared to be the main source of forged documents.

The extent of Greece’s ’springboard’ status is illustrated by the statistics of illegal immigrant arrests in that country. In the 15-year period up to 2000, some 2.2 million illegal immigrants were detained in Greece, along with 150,000 arrests for narcotic related offences. This figure is astounding when it is borne in mind that Greece’s entire population is a little over 10 million.

In 2006, Greek authorities estimated that about 80,000 illegal immigrants had settled in Greece that year alone, and that the total illegal population could be close to a million in total.

This influx of Africans, Middle Easterners and assorted origins, has transformed many areas of central Athens. It is not uncommon to see street fights between gangs of Afghanis, Iraqis and Africans, with the intensity of the clashes already causing ethnic Greeks to start leaving certain parts of the capital.

Attempts to legalise immigrants in Greece - residence permits were granted to 500,000 undocumented foreigners since 1997 - have failed to solve what has become an ever-growing problem.


(*)The Immigration Invasion details how all First World nations are set to be swamped by waves of Third Worlders before the end of the 21st Century. Using the very latest available official data and government projections, this book shows how, unless legal and illegal immigration is halted and reversed, European First World nations across all of Europe from Spain to Russia, North America, Australia and New Zealand -- will be destroyed and have their very culture and civilisation changed to that of the Third World.