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March 5, 2012
March 5, 2012

Listen Little Man of Greece of 2012

Author: Menelaos Voulgaris Translator: Maria Floutsakou
Source: alterthess  Category: On the crisis
This article is also available in: elespl
Listen Little Man of Greece of 2012

In 1948 Wilhelm Reich wrote his famous book “Listen, Little Man!”

In this book he was talking about the average person who awaits everything to be set for him, assigns to others the decision making, and gets by at any rate at the expense of others, who, in other words, is a small person, a little man.

Today in Greece of 2012 we find the same little man but now he has supporters and mentors. The Greek little man of 2012 is neither the one who has been well settled, has voted for PASOK or ND, is working in the public media thanks to his contacts nor the one whose salary, despite the economic crisis, has remained intact.

The little man is neither the party henchman nor the corrupt tax agent.

The little man is the average person who sees his life being destroyed but does nothing about it. The little man, who works 8 hrs a day for 500 euro, returns home and watches TV and the news. So, this little man stays at home, hangs out with his friends every now and then, discussing and saying big words. He says he cannot stand it any longer. He says that things have reached a deadlock. He says that people should take to the streets and get rid of this bloody government. He always talks and talks and talks.

The truth, though, is that this little man is really afraid. Afraid to take to the streets because he does not want to be beaten. So he waits for when people will be ready to rise up, and then he will choose to claim his rights by any means. But he is still afraid to go out because he is too small to bear the weight of going first.

But he is not the only one. The conditions in our country may now be reaching a deadlock, but this point has been reached by many families. The country may be going bankrupt now but there are many families who have already gone bankrupt, many people who are unemployed, many households that cannot afford to pay their bills, many parents who are watching their children starve. Those people have already taken to the streets. At first peacefully but when they realised they cannot take it anymore, when, on top of worrying about themselves and their children, they even reached the point of worrying about their old parents whose pension has been slashed, then they move to the next level.

One would expect to find the little man being triggered by all this and finally take to the streets to overthrow this government, to actively condemn these policies before he also reaches that point. But the little man is nowhere to be found. The little man is at home, watching TV. And you’ll say, “well, he was afraid to go first but now, there are others too, as he hoped, so why isn’t he out in the streets fighting?”.

Because the little man is turning a blind eye. He does not see people; all he sees is rowdiness and a bloody mess. He does not see unemployed men who cannot afford to feed their children or desperate students without future, he only sees parastatal mechanisms.

And in all this mess, the media are always there for the little man. They will present the person who burned down Atticon cinema[1] as a parastatal looter and not as a desperate citizen. The Atticon cinema will be on the news; it will make it to the newspapers headlines overshadowing the minimum wage of 450 euros, the elimination of labor rights, and the new brutal tax imposed by the government. But the Atticon cinema was burnt down… And the little man now is talking about all those savages who burned down this historical building.

And ok the media are captured by governments and by local notables so they have a reason. But why does the little man believe them? It was just the other day when he saw the family next door moving to a one bedroom flat because they could no longer afford a bigger house. Just yesterday his son told him about his classmate who has not eaten for 3 days. Today he got the new tax which strangely enough has increased while his salary is reduced. Why? Because in this way, the little man can stay at home a little longer. Because if he sees the truth and has a little decency he has to get out with a stone in his hand and fight for his fellow humans; fight because soon he will be in the same position. But he certainly will not join the parastatals and the provocateurs.

Who would?

BUT NO! The little man turns a blind eye because that is what he does best. All his life he has had others making decisions and taking action on his behalf. In his parents’ house he was always told what to do, in university he rebelled under the leadership of KNE[2] and all his life he has been voting for people to tell him what to do or even better to act on his behalf. The truth therefore is that the little man is not afraid of the policeman who will stand against him if he takes the matter into his own hands nor is he afraid of going to court if he is arrested. He fears the very idea of taking action.

He is scared because he does not know how to do it. So he is waiting to assign the revolution to others or better yet let the others do what needs to be done and he will simply enjoy the result always being scared and feeling so small in his home.


No little man, I will not support you no matter how much you want me to.
No little man, I will not justify your behavior no matter how much you need me to.
Because when I needed you, you were scared at home with your TV on, cursing me for burning Athens.


[1] Cinema theatre in the centre of Athens that was burnt down on the 12th February 2012 riots. It was heavily commented on because it was housed in a beautiful neoclassical building.

[2] The Communist Party Youth.

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