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The author was a long-time correspondent for Greek newspapers and TV based in Washington, now works for the Athens newspaper Kathimerini. More news is available on the paper's English edition website: This commentary was published in the paper today in Athens. Sounds grim.

Greece in self-destruct mode

By Alexis Papachelas

I feel a deep sense of despair as I watch my country roll down an endless hill. A good friend put into context well: "You remember the euphoria we felt when we won the European soccer championship or in the summer of the Olympic Games? Well, today I feel the absolute opposite."

The fatal shooting of the teenager in Exarchia and the destruction that followed struck a vein of rage and has created a wave of senselessness that has choked all reason. Teenagers are taking to the streets because they are disillusioned with the legacy they have inherited and know how hard it will be to maintain their standard of living in the future. They are also getting the message that right now, anything goes.

The middle class despairs because it feels the government is totally incompetent and fears what lies ahead in terms of the economy. Policemen cast their eyes to the ground because they feel lost and don't know exactly what their job is or how to do it. The government has lost the plot, living in its own ivory tower and looking for conspiracies, or squads of well-rested riot police. The opposition has failed to grasp the gravity of the situation and does not realize that if it ever does get elected, candles and words won't cut it because the people, and especially the young, have run out of patience.

It is difficult to discern any logic in such a situation. This is a country with a state that is in shambles, a police force in disarray, mediocre universities that serve as hotbeds for rage instead of knowledge and a shattered healthcare system. It is also on the brink of financial ruin. And now, here we are, debating whether we have a police state, turning back to 1974 and having the same conversations again and again.

The government bears a tremendous responsibility, because a string of scandals, mistakes and bad decision-making has resulted in a leaderless state and in a debate not about what needs to be done to move ahead, but about the same stupid things that have held us back for so long.

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