Will the Greek riots spread to Serbia?

by Limbic on December 14, 2008

Revolution like in Greece - scrawled onto a pharmacy wall in Belgrade, Serbia by local Anarchists inspired by massive riots in Greece. Dec 2008

"Revolution like in Greece" - scrawled onto a pharmacy wall in Belgrade, Serbia by local Anarchists inspired by massive riots in Greece, December 2008.

[Update: Greek rioters calling for Europe wide “resistance” tomorrow, Thursday 18th December – BBC]

Something has made very large number of Greek youths prepared to join a well established anarchist core in rioting intensely for over week.

They are obviously fed up – and it would appear corruption, economic stagnation and failed (or missing) educational reforms are at least part of the reason.

The riots have been described as “the first credit-crunch riots” and countries with high youth unemployment and a tradition of mass protest (e.g. France, Italy, Spain, Serbia) are being warned to prepare for the riots spreading.

Solidarity with our Greek comrades spraypained on a wall in Belgrade Serbia, December 2008, referring to recent riots in Greece.

"Solidarity with our Greek comrades" spraypained on a wall in Belgrade Serbia, December 2008, referring to recent riots in Greece.

It seems the young might have the same idea. From Belgrade to Bordeaux solidarity graffiti warns of  “The Coming Insurrection”.

So can Serbia expect trouble? I don’t think so.

Whilst It is a near neighbour with near identical problems (corruption, unemployment, slow reform) and a history of mass protest, mass political violence in Serbia is linked to the nationalist extreme right, and at that they mostly provide cover (or an excuse) to relatively tiny number of football hooligans who would riot against Teletubbies if you wrapped them in opposition colours.

I think these Greek riots are not just about economic problems 1, but are rooted in both uniquely Greek problems 2 and in the general crisis of legitimacy in Western Europe.

Today Athens, Tomorrow Belgrade! declares Anarchist graffiti on the streets of Belgrade, Serbia

"Today Athens, Tomorrow Belgrade!" declares Anarchist graffiti on the streets of Belgrade, Serbia referring to recent riots in Greece.

My personal belief is that Western Europe is entering into period of turmoil as the young push back against growing authoritarianism in the form eroded civil liberties and nanny state/Political Correctness forced on them by cynical (and corrupt) politicians peddling nightmares. Now growing economic hardship (caused mostly by elite greed and short-sightedness) is tipping the disgruntlement into fury and insurrection.

In Serbia however there is a sense of optimism and improvement. The economy continues to grow fast despite the global downturn. Reforms in all sectors are bearing fruit. The mood of the country seems to be very good.Even the nationalists seem to be calming down.

As Greece and the rest of the world struggle to deal with the coming economic and energy shocks, Serbs with their experience of economic collapse, shortages and hardship will be much better prepared psychologically and practically to deal with the new economic reality. The youths of Greece have never seen anything like the 90s in Serbia, sustained bombing or rule by a truly authoritarian government. Serbs have something to compare with (i.e. recent history)  and they see just how much better things are.

I predict relative calm.

With its low crime, strong social cohesion, food independence and energy links with Russia, Serbia might be a very good place to sit out the expected turmoil of the next few years. It is not a good place to be a rioter 3.

  1. Greece: it’s not all about the economy, stupid” – Spiked Online
  2. Like a strong leftist/anarchist tradition
  3. Unlike the Greek police the Serbian cops use rubber bullets AND tear-gas AND have a specialised riots squad. I think throwing a fire-bomb at the police here might get you a bullet in the head

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