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LETTER FROM ATHENS: INSIDE THE GREEK CRISIS WITH ANARCHISTS AND THE RADICALIZED EX-MIDDLE-CLASS By Alexander Zaitchik, MARCH 14, 2012

Greeks are not in the mood for insult on injury. Everywhere you turn you see signs of a country in collapse. On the day I arrived, a state mortgage agency had just closed around the corner from my hostel, and an employee was threatening to jump from the top floor, screaming about losing her insurance and being unable to care for a sick child. A couple days later, thieves waltzed into the Olympia Museum in broad daylight and stole dozens of ancient artifacts. The Minister of Culture offered to resign, but nobody cares anymore about the Minister of Culture.

Walk around Athens with a local, and within a few minutes they'll point at something and say, "That's new -- you never used to see that before." Usually it's a sight Americans have long grown inured to, but in Greece still causes pain and wonder. Like an old woman rummaging through garbage for food. Often these "That's new" moments are the spark behind the new forms of mutual aid and self-organization spreading throughout Greek society. This was the case of a 47-year-old former Internet marketer that I met one afternoon named Kostas Polychronopoulus. I found him in a downtown park called Klafthmonos, or Square of Tears, while he was giving away food to the newly hungry.

In December, Polychronopoulus had been unemployed for more than a year when he came upon two young Greek boys fighting over scraps of rotten food in a garbage can. The sight was too much for him. He went home and made ten sandwiches and tried to hand them out in the streets. He discovered that hungry people were often too ashamed to accept the handouts, so he got some friends together and started cooking communal meals on the streets. Slowly, people began to gather and join. Now he cooks almost every day in different places around city, including overcrowded refugee centers. His kitchen is part of a widening network of street aid institutions.



There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 19th, 2012 at 09:46:41 AM EST
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