Award 2016 Nominee
The Monster and Us
It was revealed that the direction of the school tolerated these attacks and that there had been interventions by politicians that protected the perpetrators of these attacks. On March 15, the body of the student was found although the circumstances of his death remain unclear. Taking this incident as starting point this article analyses how embedded social stereotypes regarding gender, sexual orientation, nationality, race poison the human psyche making a society diverge into a jungle condition that punishes the person that is weak or different.
Does anybody remember when Sunday was a day of rest and spent with the family; or has that memory been consigned to history? Yet more strife is announced today, on a Sunday, to shake the foundations of our humanity and oblige us to take stock of Sartre’s ‘existential Hell’. The words ‘a tragic finale’ written on a serious looking young man’s photo is hitting the headlines on all the news channels.
Silent fears for Vaggelis Giakoumakis’s safety were well- founded, as his body was discovered by the police 800 metres from the Dairy School where he was a student, in Ioannina, an institution which churned out the horror of the 20-year old’s death, the sum total of his short life consigned to history, nothing more than a by-product expelled by the rotten core of Greek society.
Vaggelis Giakoumakis’s ‘tragic finale’ had been in the making for quite some time. The plot featured his fellow students repeatedly acting out their ‘machoism’, reinforcing their pact to make his life a living hell. He was perceived to be different, and that couldn’t be tolerated, his humanity apparently degraded their stock of social values, so he couldn’t be afforded common decency, his life’s currency depreciated all the way down to being accounted for as ‘dead’ on police reports.
“Vaggelis Giakoumakis’s ‘tragic finale’ had been in the making for quite some time.”
The contemporary sociological term ‘Bullying’ that finished him off is too lenient a verdict to describe how his life came to an end. In reality this term is actually a process that nurtures social fascism, poisoning the human psyche by establishing stereotypes concerning gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race or beauty. The result is a dangerous world where any divergence from the status quo is deemed worthy of punishment.
Habitual fascist-like behaviour is so deeply ingrained that it is almost imperceptible, let’s consider, for instance: immigrant exploitation during the olive-picking season or for minding the elderly, yes, commonly acceptable, but should they lay stake to claim for a fair wage or getting on the books, best kick them out the door pronto. Run down drug support services in the city centre? Perceived to downgrade the city’s image? Solution: Close them down, and whilst we’re sight-seeing, let’s turn a blind eye to human trafficking and its tragic victims, young African girls, lost in the city centre, eyed up by veritable drooling pillars of society. Or will we ever stop to consider the consequences of unlawful parking in disabled bays? Mind you, ‘fuck it’ probably expresses in-depth reflection. Indeed, this type of behaviour has become second nature, morally unassailable.
Gender is by far the toughest existential category, as soon as you become aware of yourself, you are drawn into a strict dichotomy whereby you are either going to be a sweet and sexy lady or a macho man. And if you choose to protest that you don’t fall into either category, the cogs of the wheel of society are set in motion to teach you the lesson of compliance, admonishment is mild to start with, meted out by simply ‘taking the piss’, but, as in the case of a group of Cretan youths, it can turn nasty and barbaric, have you tied to a chair, have a strap tightened around your neck, have you locked in a cupboard.
To think that Vangelis Giakoumakis was so desperately alone, tormented on a daily basis, where were the layers or social structures that should have supported and protected him? Worse case scenario, the entire school, the entire community covered up what was going on, at best it was indifferent to the constant castigation, the constant negation of his (and those hypocrites are not allowed to say this word) ‘personality’. Maybe, despite expressing mortification, an equally macho Cretan politician – this is what we are hearing – protected the shameful gang of youths who committed this crime. For the avoidance of doubt; whatever the outcome of the coroner’s report (and many are expecting the convenient verdict of suicide), this is clearly a crime involving multiple perpetrators.
“Finally, these events led to the decriminalization of fascist-like behaviour which permeates every aspect of everyday life.”
And just about here the analysis of social pathology leads us to the economic crisis; it pardons all our sins and sanctions timely evasion of the truth. Meanspiritedness is a global phenomenon and not exclusive to Greek society (which was already bogged down by it before the economic crisis hit), however, when austerity was singled out to remedy the crisis, fascism emerged as a visible political power, not just with the rise of Golden Dawn, but as a general strategy for penalizing the weak whose evolution was expedited by the political system over the past five years. Finally, these events led to the decriminalization of fascist-like behaviour which permeates every aspect of everyday life. That is why it has become more important today than it has ever been to reconsolidate and defend democracy at every level of the pyramid.
Cue Manos Hatzidakis:
“Neo-nazisim, fascism, racism and any anti-social and inhumane behaviour does not originate from ideology, does not contain ideology, does not constitute ideology. It is the magnified expression, the manifestation of the beast within us; its proliferation is unobstructed when social or political events contribute, assist and strengthen its barbaric presence… And evil lurks, shamelessly. Neo-nazism is not a theory, it is not a concept, nor does it constitute anarchy. It is a performance. Us and them. The protagonist is death”.