FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

This Revolution Cannot Be Televised

There was no conspiracy, there was no coup, there wasn’t even any suspension of the law in the name of the law, no state of emergency. The closing down of the Greek national broadcaster, ERT, was nothing more than an ordinary item on the political agenda of a socially defiant, semiologically indifferent, politically pompous and idiosyncratically reckless Prime Minister.

Under the obscure banner of ‘streamlining’ and ‘restructuring’ in order to achieve ‘greater efficiency’ and kickstart ‘modernization’, all those hollow buzzwords from the darkest nightmares of neoliberal euphoria, the leader of the three-party coalition government in Greece blatantly shrugged off his peers’ disagreement over the issue, took matters in his own hands and in a gesture of melodramatic self-sacrificial political bravado pulled the plug on a network of radio and television channels that serves Greek-speaking (and not only) audiences in Greece and abroad.

The backstory, as it always happens, is a bit less illustrious: having failed miserably to achieve a favorable deal for the privatization of DEPA when the Russian colossus Gazprom pulled out of the impeding deal, Mr. Samaras found himself with more public servants and less money than he had promised his supervisors (the troika) and in desperate need of a bold move that would reassure them of his resolute and steadfast character. Enter ERT.

Following months of anti-statist bilge, where anything and everything ‘public’ is a priori indicted by the mainstream (read: privately owned) media outlets for being anachronistic, wasteful and deficient, where all public servants are collectively charged with being lazy, parasitic and corrupt, and where privatization and selling-off is presented not as a potentially preferable, but the only, alternative, the Greek PM, feeling warm and pepped in the cozy embrace of his autocratic ruling was (and, by the looks of it, still is) confident he could pull that off too.

But people were not as fatigued and worn out by the constant parroting of his government’s and the troika’s catchphrases, the audacious fact-bending, the reprehensible ethics or the personal and social, financial and psychological humiliation, as he had predicted – or, hoped. Late at night on Tuesday, after ERT’s signal went down, they assembled around the main building and protested Samaras’s decision to deprive them of their national broadcaster – the stress being on ‘their’.

The journalists, technically already fired, continued doing their job and ERT’s signal was broadcast through various internet websites and eventually by the EBU. By Thursday morning, an electronic missive personally signed by the Minister for Finance, Yannis Stournaras, was delivered to all stations, adding insult to injury: it warned that re-transmission of ERT’s broadcast from any other station would be faced with sanctions.

Samaras, seemingly unperturbed by opposition from his ‘allies’, from swarms of citizens, from insubordinate public employees and from official European media and information institutions and regulatory bodies that are protesting his decision, is sternly refusing to back down and has made it clear that this is a personal bet he is not intend on losing: ERT will remain shut or the government will topple. As is well known, only idiots don’t change their minds…

It is precisely this sort of political arrogance that has brought Greece to the critical state it is today. The explosive mixture that is Greece today is the result of barefaced disregard for democratic values in the name of ‘hard choices that need to be made’, of despotic ruling by officials who lack public recognition, support of legitimacy, of patronizing governing, of condescension, humiliation and wholesale repudiation. The mixture might soon ignite, and the spark will be the dreadful realization that all this will have also been, for nothing.

It is irrelevant how many Greeks actually watched ERT. A public broadcaster is not and cannot be an a la carte service, for the same old reasons that traffic lights, the police or schooling cannot become pay-as-you-use amenities. A public broadcaster is an end in itself and it must be protected as such. Discussions about the quality of ERT’s programs, the amount of advertising revenue they generated or its popularity are irrelevant and those engaging in them are deceitfully applying a commercial logic to a non-commercial enterprise.

The (domestic and international) outrage towards Samaras’s decision (and the personal reference is only because of his own insistence in making this a personal matter par excellence) is an outrage against the ever-increasing spectacles of vulgar indifference perpetrated by a discredited political elite against its own people. As such, it is not about ERT per se, it is not about Samaras per se, it is not even about Greece. It is about dignity and democracy – both of which people feel they are being deprived of.

Alex Stavrakas is the editor of Bedeutung.

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
November 11, 2019
Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider
Class War Violence: Centralia 1919
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
“Other Than Honorable?” Veterans With “Bad Paper” Seek Long Overdue Benefits
Peter Linebaugh
The Worm in the Apple
Joseph Natoli
In the Looming Shadow of Civil War
Robert Fisk
How the Syrian Democratic Forces Were Suddenly Transformed into “Kurdish Forces”
Patrick Cockburn
David Cameron and the Decline of British Leadership
Naomi Oreskes
The Greatest Scam in History: How the Energy Companies Took Us All
Fred Gardner
Most Iraq and Afghanistan Vets now Regret the Mission
Howard Lisnoff
The Dubious Case of Washing Machines and Student Performance
Nino Pagliccia
The Secret of Cuba’s Success: International Solidarity
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections
Kim C. Domenico
To Overthrow Radical Evil, Part II: A Grandmother’s Proposal
Marc Levy
Veterans’ Day: Four Poems
Weekend Edition
November 08, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Real Constitutional Crisis: The Constitution
Sarah Shenker
My Friend Was Murdered for Trying to Save the Amazon
Rob Urie
Left is the New Right, or Why Marx Matters
Andrew Levine
What Rises to the Level of Impeachability?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Enter Sondland
Matthew Hoh
And the Armies That Remained Suffer’d: Veterans, Moral Injury and Suicide
Kirkpatrick Sale
2020: The Incipient Bet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Growing Ecological Civilization in China
Conn Hallinan
Middle East: a Complex Re-alignment
Robert Hunziker
Ignoring Climate Catastrophes
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Repatriate the Children of the Jihad
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Neoliberalism’s Children Rise Up to Demand Justice in Chile and the World
John McMurtry
From Canada’s Election to Public Action: Beyond the Moral Tumor of Alberta Tar-Sands
Pete Dolack
Pacifica’s WBAI Back on the Air But Fight for Non-Corporate Radio Continues
Steven Krichbaum
Eating the Amazon
Louis Proyect
A Socialist Party in Our Time?
Norman Solomon
The Crass Warfare of Billionaires Against Sanders and Warren
Ramzy Baroud
Microsoft Should Not Fund Israeli Spying on Palestinians
Ben Terrall
Nelson Algren and the Pathologies of Life in the USA
John Kendall Hawkins
Flying Leaps, 30 Years Later
Roger Harris
Sierra Club Takes a Commendable Turn on Population, Climate Change, and Inequality
Martha Rosenberg
A New Disease Big Meat Doesn’t Want You to Know About
Dan Bacher
Illegal Loggers Murder Indigenous Forest Guardian in Brazilian Amazon
Christopher Brauchli
The Contemptible Secretary DeVos
Ralph Nader
America’s Streets and Squares Are Waiting: Massive Rallies Work!
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
New Mexico Postcard: The Call of the Sandhill Cranes
Ted Rall
Progressives Care More About Taking the Democratic Party Than Getting Rid of Trump
Philip Doe
Just Another Whitewash: the Federal Investigation of the Firestone Fracking Fire in Colorado 
Dean Baker
The Problems with the “Swiss Model”
Jesse Jackson
A Long Overdue Debate on Medicare-for-All
Brett Wilkins
30 Years Ago, American Nun Dianna Ortiz Was Kidnapped and Tortured in Guatemala, She’s Still Waiting for Truth & Justice
Mel Gurtov
From President to Autocrat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail