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The Problems of Drug Criminalization in Greece – The need for a New Approach

The issue of drugs is not a new one in Greece. Although it has troubled Greek society since the late 1970s, a political initiative was not taken until the 1990s when the political scene assisted in the establishment of an organisation which would assist those in need. However, approximately a decade after the establishing of the first institutions, it was widely accepted that the core of the problem was the Greek national policy against drugs. The inability of the policy to address the issue of drugs caused the drafting of a new plan, which would tackle the issue appropriately. The new strategy would decriminalise drugs and increase funding for harm minimisation methods. Despite the rather warm welcome the policy had from the public, the conservative parties of Greece stood firm against its proposal, which lead to its rejection in August 2011 when it was first raised in parliament. Nonetheless, this was not the end of the much promising strategy as in May 2012, with the change of government, a small “window” of opportunity was opened and it is now expected to be voted on by the end of 2012. The old strategy had many limitations, only the main of which will be explored. The old drug policy exacerbated the problem of racial discrimination in Greece, forcing minorities to feel excluded and targeted by the social system. It did not accommodate for the wellbeing of drugs users and general public. On the contrary, it forced the promotion of dangerous and unhealthy practices. It increased tensions in the relations with neighboring countries while it increased dramatically the rates of both economic and systemic crime. It diminished the civil liberties of Greeks and operated as a conductor for corruption.

The constant dramatic picture that the reports of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) had been presenting since 2002, in conjunction with the publication of negative essays by OKANA, which in Greek is the acronym for Organization Against Drugs, created a momentum, which brought the drafting of a new national strategy against drugs in Greece. The previous, punitive drug policy had a “tough on drugs” approach and was highly police-centered. As a result, the imprisoned population rose with explosive rates, reaching an outrageous 40% of the people behind bars to be charged on drug charges (doc.tv, 2011). The problematic incarceration ratio and the numerous weaknesses of the old drug policy; which will be explored later in detail, forced the Ministry of Justice to take a very different approach. The continuous consultation of OKANA, colored the draft with opinion and insights of a plethora of experts including criminologists, sociologists, psychologists, doctors and social workers (ΟΚΑΝΑ, 2012). According to the new legislation, the use of drugs will be completely decriminalized, whilst the purchasing, the possession and the growing of cannabis on amounts which can only excuse personal use will be downgraded to a misdemeanor (Press Time, 2012). Whilst the new legislation cares and “goes easy” on drug users, it is harsh on the “Big Fish” who supply death for profit and endanger the well being of the public (Παπαιωαννου, 2011). The Minister of Justice, Mr. Roupakiotis, also said that the new national policy on drugs will provide to those who are already convicted on use and possession of drugs. He said that the extensive amount of money that will be saved from the narcotics police will be invested on the treatment of those who use drugs problematically and seek help (Η Αυγή, 2012). At the same time, despite the financial difficulties, funding will increase for the free distribution of condoms and needle and syringe kits. With the old drug policy, similar programs existed as well. However, they were seriously underfunded and were only provided by OKANA’s “street workers”. The new legislation would increase funding to OKANA and provide condoms, as well as needle and syringe kits to police officers for distribution (Παπαδόπουλος, 2011).

The newly drafted legislation is a much more promising one. It is reasonable to Political Bankruptcy wonder why this strategy was not implemented in 2011, when it was first introduced to the Greek parliament. The story behind this shows the political bankruptcy and abjection, which exists in Greece and demonstrates the reasons which have brought the nation to the state of desperation that it is today. In August 2011, the former Minister of Justice, under the government of the PanHellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), Mr. Papaioannou, introduced the drafted legislation to the parliament, where he was the recipient of heavy criticism, especially from the two conservative, right-wing parties: New Democracy (ND) and the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) (Press Time, 2012). This started a rather fierce debate with all three parties presenting different perspectives. In November of 2011, when the PASOK government fell, due to the loss of legitimacy over the austerity measures (Παπαδοπουλος, 2012). The result was that a government of national unity was formulated, in which the three parties agreed to provide members to comprise the new government. The three contributing parties were the three main parties of the parliament at the time: PASOK, ND and LAOS (skai.gr, 2011). Mr. Papaioannou, a PASOK member, was in the new government as well and continued to push for his new policy against drugs and met the same resistance by the other two participating parties in government. The resistance was so intense that LAOS threatened to withdraw its support from the new government, in essence causing another government to fall again in less than two months. In fear that the government might be lead to another political dead-end, the proposed legislation was “put aside” in December 2011. A few months later, at the programmed public elections, a new government was formed and Mr. Roupakiotis was sworn as the new Minister of Justice under the newly elected ND government (Υπουργός – ΒΙΟΓΡΑΦΙΚΟ ΣΗΜΕΙΩΜΑ, 2012). Mr. Roupakiotis, who had always been in favor of the decriminalization of drugs, despite his party’s conservative views, reintroduced the proposed legislation by Mr. Papaioannou without any modifications. This move of Roupakiotis ensured that the ND government would not reject the legislation again as it would be introduced by a member of their administration this time around. Moreover, PASOK, which had always been in favor of the decriminalization of drugs, was supporting Roupakiotis’ move and the new national strategy against drugs will, more than likely, be voted-in by the end of 2012.

The Problems of Criminalisation     The previous drug policy of Greece, similarly to most drug prohibiting policies around the world, was characterized by disadvantages and limitations, which were rather counter-productive. Although there are many tribulations with drug criminalization, in the section that follows, the most problematic issues will be explored.

The prohibition of drugs in Greece has caused social discrimination and exclusion of migrant minorities. This is not a trend noticed only in the European region. Drug policies worldwide have criminalized substances, which are predominantly consumed by the relatively powerless social groups (Mustro, 1999). However, in the Greek context, it comes as no surprise that the word xenophobia derives from ancient Greek. Xenophobia translates to the “fear of the foreign”, a phenomenon, which has highly been exacerbated in the landscape of the economic depression that surrounds the county. Immigrants have been used as a political scapegoat upon which many of the reasons for the country’s current situation have been “thrown”. This is portrayed through the country’s national strategy of dealing with drugs. The overwhelming 93.4% of drug-users in Greece are Greek nationals, whereas only 6.6% were of non-European countries (REITOX, 2011, p. 62). However, despite this vast difference and the use of drugs predominately by the Greeks, members of minority groups are far more likely to be arrested, prosecuted and processed through the criminal justice system (PoliceNET, 2008). The argument exists that the policy is not biased; rather minority communities and lower socio-economic classes in general are characterized by high criminality (Ελληνική Αστυνομία, 2011). As Douglas Husak describes such circumstances ‘drugs are more devastating in neighborhoods where people are struggling’ (2002, p. 136). Even under the assumption that this might be the case, minorities still feel “targeted” by the policy. When the “response” against the 6.6% is more “immediate” than the response towards the 93.4%, then a perception emerges that immigrants are punished for what locals are allowed to do; strengthening, emphasizing and reinforcing the dichotomy between Greeks and migrants. This perception creates disrespect and mistrust towards the criminal justice system and government authorities. The state has a responsibility to show that it does not condone such bias and owes to remove all feelings of mistrust and disrespect since such emotions fragment the social structure of Greece. By decriminalizing the use of drugs and removing the prohibitions that surround it, the Greek government will be taking a major leap towards eradicating racism from the criminal justice system and repairing all prejudiced and negative perspectives minorities have towards state mechanisms.

The prohibition of drug-use raises a plethora of health issues, which endangers the wellbeing of not only users but non-users as well. The rates of drug-related deaths in Greece have steadily decreased. In specific, in 2010, 153 people lost their lives directly from the use of drugs (2011, p. 77). Nevertheless, these numbers increase significantly, if we include deaths by HAV, HBV, HCV and HIV/AIDS (REITOX, 2011, p. 68). Within both categories exist crucial benefits and advantages, which urge the decriminalization of process. The main problematic aspect of the first category, the 153 drug-induced deaths, is the issue of purity. From the 153 drug-induced deaths, 98 of them were from the use of heroin (REITOX, 2011, p. 78). Carney et al argues ‘despite its popular image as a drug of destruction, heroin is almost without toxicity in its pure form’ (1991, p. 3). The criminal charges that apply to the mere use of drugs have established an underground drug market, which is unknown how deep it spreads in the Greek society as well as the European community (Duyne, 2005). The illicit drug-market has a catastrophic impact on the health of drug users as they cannot have confidence in the quality of what they are buying. As Douglas Husak writes, ‘even sellers rarely know the exact contents of the substances they distribute’ and more often than not ‘street drugs contain deadly impurities’ which can rather easily “distribute” overdose death (p. 137). Admittedly, this argument lies on the legalization side of this debate, meaning that not only the use would need to be decriminalized but the production and sale of drugs as well; something which is not the contention of this analyses. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the issue of purity is a vital one, especially when considering that the drugs trafficked, in underground markets, are subject to no quality controls. Furthermore, the old drug policy of Greece forced users to do drugs in ways, which can only be labeled, as dangerous. Injecting substances increases the risk of accidental death as well as the ‘dangers of spreading the AIDS virus, HIV, by sharing needles’ (Carney, 1991, p. 3). The free provision of syringes and needles, as well as condoms, could not only prevent but also control the spreading of such diseases, not only amongst the drug-using population, but also the general public. Husak writes that ‘researchers have consistently found that needle and syringe exchange programs reduce HIV transmission among those who inject drugs, as well as their sexual partners and children’ (2002, p. 137). The needle-sharing practices of drug users constitute a constant threat in any country’s public health (Authority, 1989). ‘International Organizations including the World Health Organization and the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS have strongly supported the developments of such programs throughout the world’ (Husak, 2002, p. 137). Unlike some countries around the world, who deny the development of such programs, Greece was on the front line of this battle. Nevertheless, the fiscal crisis has resulted in cuts on funding allowing the further spreading of these diseases. Whilst decriminalization is essential, the new strategy needs to increase funding of such programs to put an end to the spreading of aforementioned killer-diseases.

There is no doubt that the issue of drugs is an international problem and for that reason any worthy solution can arrive only through international co-operation. Many countries around the world work side by side to provide decisive answers to the common issue that troubles their societies. Characteristic examples of this are the relationships of the United States with most countries of South America as well as the relations of the EU with all its member states. Similarly the foreign policies of Greece with its neighboring countries are affected by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) suggest that for the year 2009, 28.95% of the seized quantity of heroin derived from Turkey (European Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2011). Meanwhile, the newly established state of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) witnesses the dramatic expansion of heroin trade (BBC News, 2012). At the same time, 70.2% of the seized raw cannabis is of Albanian origin and is transported into Greece both by land and sea (European Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2011). It is thus imperative that the drug policy of Greece is one, which does not have a detrimental effect on its foreign affairs. Over the years, Greece has had a very negative history with Turkey, FYROM and Albania and all available steps need to be taken to salvage these relationships. The removal of prohibitions around drug-use is definitely a positive step in that direction, as it would remove numerous tensions from all sides. By decriminalizing the use of drugs, Greece would manage to decrease the fiscal benefits of drug trafficking and ultimately discourage drug trafficking overall. The decriminalization of drugs would attack the drug market at its core, without Greece coming into a negative and counter-productive nexus with its neighbors. Moreover the eradication of criminal charges from drug-use could initiate a rather positive decriminalization movement in the Balkan region, where most of the drug issues of Europe originate (Estievenart, 1995). Greece could step forward to the forefront of a movement and in collaboration with Turkey, FYROM, Albania and other Balkan countries which themselves suffer internally from the issue of drugs, bring the decriminalization concept to the entire European region. As Carney argues, the criminalization of drug-use, in countries such as those in the Balkan region distorts their industrialization and undermines their state structures (1991, p. 3). This is argued because the criminalization of drug-use allows them to become black market suppliers and ‘thereby stalling their industrial development and undermining their democratic structures’ (Carney, 1991, p. 3). Based upon this decriminalization movement, the relations of Greece with its neighbors can start repairing due to the common point of interest for all parties. However, none of this will happen, if Greece does not decriminalize the use of drugs first.

There is significant evidence which supports that decriminalization, will decrease the criminal rates of Greece. In the past five years, the social system of Greece has changed. The European fiscal crisis has had a devastating impact on the Greek economy and has brought to its knees the lower socio-economic classes. Poverty, unemployment and desperation have become a common experience. On the ruins of their economy, the citizens of Greece have witnessed the rise of questionable behavior, perceived by the state as criminal. This is not hard to comprehend, as it is understandable that when people cannot meet their needs by legal means, they will resort to illegal acts. Due to this “criminal outbreak” the population of prisons has grown substantially. However, what is concerning about the growth of imprisoned population is that 40% of them are convicted for drug-use (doc.tv, 2011). This number rises if we include the crimes committed for the acquisition of drugs, including prostitution and theft (doc.tv, 2011). This is definitely not the solution. Putting people behind bars does not solve the issue. On the contrary, as Husak explains, ‘prisons are schools for crime; offenders become more deeply immersed in criminal subcultures and learn more sophisticated skills for committing offenses’ (2002, p. 143). This is clearly counter-productive. When drug-users are incarcerated, not only do they learn how to commit crimes in a more organized manner but they are also stigmatized to the extend that they cannot normally function in the social mainstream and cannot receive their rightful place. Citizens with criminal records are far less likely to hold a self-fulfilling and satisfying job (Albertson, 2012). This, in turn, limits their options and forces them to use the skills they acquired in prison to make their living; thus creating a fable cycle of crime production. This entire scenario can be avoided by removing the prohibitions surrounding drug-use. The long and costly “war on drugs” has failed in most, if not all, countries in the world, including the United States, Canada, Afghanistan and it has certainly failed in Greece (Friedrichs, 2008). James Wilson argues that prohibitions on drug-use do not decrease crime; they cause it (Wilson, 1990). Labeling users “criminals” forces them to maintain criminal liaisons, which can result in criminal activities. Furthermore, the decriminalization of drugs would tackle crimes, which can be either economic or systemic in nature. Prohibition of drug use raises the costs of drugs (Clutterbuck, 1990). As Lorne Tepperman writes, ‘prohibitions allows drug traffickers to create artificial monopolies, raising prices and creating the drug-dealer – consumer as a fundamental element in assuring that millions of dollars in profit go to drug lords and intermediaries’ (2006, p. 165). This raises economic crime as people who cannot afford black-market prices result to economic crimes to acquire the money to buy drugs. Systemic crime rises as well, as there is inherently more crime in illicit environments, let alone illicit drug markets. Therefore, by decriminalizing drug use, economic and systemic crimes decrease. It would also be useful to explore here the irrationality behind the application of criminal charges on drug-use. EMCDDA reports that in 2006 approximately 20% of Greek nationals had tried illicit drug substances at least once on their lifetime (European Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, 2011). As Tepperman argues, ‘drugs is not by itself a social problem’ (2006, p. 165). It is irrational to criminalize a practice when 20% of the population performs it; especially when it is unproblematic in nature. Drug use is a problem when it results in crimes and health risks; all of which are results of drug-criminalization and not drug-use itself.

Drug-use prohibiting policies severely diminish civil liberties. This is not only witnessed in Greece but all over the world. In an era when efforts to destroy drug trafficking networks have intensified, civil liberties become victims to the gathering of information and intelligence. An example is that the criminalization of drugs has excused extensive wiretapping in most of the Western world (Dorn & South, 1991). This in turn has resulted in the expansion of police powers, which is evident in our everyday life. Although there is little doubt that more, if not everyone, of the law-abiding citizens desire the demolition of trafficking networks, it is essential to know where the distinctive line lies that protects and defines individual freedoms and autonomy. Thurgood Marshall said himself that in drug cases, he did not even read the warrant petitions, as he would never be lenient to drug dealers (Haupt & Neary, 1987). On the shrine of drug criminalization, civil liberties are sacrificed. As Douglas Husak points out, this is a trend to worry about as with every ruling that criminalizes drug users and favors law enforcement, the freedoms of the individual are limited and the powers of the state are expanded (2002, p. 147). By decriminalizing drug-use, the rights of individuals are protected. Morris and Hawkins take this argument further and suggest that each individual should have the right to do as he pleases as long as no one is hurt directly in the process (1970). In fact, they say that each person has the right to go to hell in their own way (Murji, 1998, p. 54). Although, it is a really misplaced parallel that is drawn between “using drugs” and “going to hell”, their argument still stands, as each individual should have the ability to do anything that does not directly hurt or damage anyone else. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, ‘the right to swing my fist ends, where the other man’s nose begins’ (Holmes, 2011). Indeed, drug use, depending on the dose and the social circumstances within which it takes place, can only hurt the user. The criminal law, as John Stuart Mill argues, can only be rightfully exercised on members of a society to prevent harm upon others (Mill, 2011). The decriminalization of drugs, internationally, not only in Greece, would be a positive move towards strengthening, reinforcing and safeguarding the civil liberties, not only of drug users but of every individual as well; as John Kennedy said ‘the rights of every man are diminished, when the rights of one are threatened’ (Kennedy, 1963).

The difficult financial problems Greeks are faced with, in conjunction with the colossal amounts of money that can be made in the illicit drug market, provide prosperous ground for the growth of corruption. In fact, Charalampos Poulopoulos, head of the Therapy Centre for Dependent Individuals states that corruption comprises the biggest threat on the effort to achieve supply minimization (euMedline, 2010). Although it is impossible to measure precisely, the perception by Greeks that they live in a corrupt social structure is rather strong (Commission, 2003). Greece ranks 80th on Transparency International’s list with significant difference from countries including FYROM, Turkey and Colombia, who are some of the main suppliers of the Greek illicit drug market (Tsatsou, 2011). According to a research of Transparency International Greece, in 2011, the estimated value of corruption in Greece was 613 million Euros (PUBLIC ISSUE, 2012). It is thus rather evident that the Greek nation lacks the mechanisms, so desperately needed, to protect itself from the great temptation of drug money. Husak wrote on the topic of corruption that ‘prohibition and the huge amount of money in the illicit drug trade create irresistible temptations for law-enforcement agents to place themselves above the law’ (2002, p. 149). As mentioned above the criminalization of drug use raises the prices and thus the profits made from drugs. By removing criminal charges, the Greek government would decrease the profits of the market and eliminate the temptation of corruption. In the context of this economic crisis, when wages and salaries are cut, including policing expenditures and budgets, it is not hard to imagine that low paid officers would take part in such networks. Moreover, there is the other side of corruption. Police activities are highly funded by the seizing of drug assets. That way the police, on behalf of the state, has the right to seize any asset that is perceived to be used in drug operating networks, including cash, cars or any other property (Husak, 2002). This shows the dangerous levels police powers have reached. Police could use their powers to “fund” their precincts, something that lies far from the light shed by morality and ethos. Corruption is a problem that is hard to eliminate. This is not to suggest that nothing should or could be done about it. On the contrary, it ought to be one of the main concerns of every government and criminal justice system. Thus, the decriminalization of drugs should not be delayed any further as it manages to strike “two birds with one stone”; the desired harm minimization of drug use and the damaging effects of corruption.

The old national plan against drugs allowed the domination of racial bias in the Greek social structure. It endangered the health and wellbeing of all citizens, users and non-users alike. It amplified the tensions with neighboring countries and increased, instead of the opposite, systemic and economic crime. The previous Greek policy against drugs casually stomped on the civil liberties of citizens and provided prosperous ground for the growth of corruption. Evidently a new drug policy was needed to alter and repair the damage caused by the previous model. The harm minimization policy, despite the initial objections by the conservative parties of Greece, promises to do that and is expected to be set into motion by the end of 2012.


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A Big Thank You

I would like to seize this opportunity to thank you for your support and contribution to my effort to raise funds for Movember Australia.

Knowledge is Power

We are rather fortunate to have a cause dedicated to changing the face of men’s health.Movember is an annual campaign aimed at not only raising vital funds for men’s health (particularly in regards to prostate cancer and men’s mental health), but also the much needed awareness that is crucial in our society to combat these issues.

With your help, we stood up for our brothers and our fathers!

With your help, we became the change we want to see in the world!

With your help, we helped change the face of men’s health!

And it is with your help, that we raised $1400!!!

This is all the motivation that I need to commit to you that I will continue my effort next year, bigger and better.

You can check out the photos of the crazy night here

From you, all I ask is to help spread the word out there:










Το Σύστημα Παρα-Δικαιοσύνης

Τα τελευταία, τουλάχιστον δέκα χρόνια, ζούμε τραγελαφικές στιγμές. Στιγμές παραλογισμού και αγανάκτησης. Η άμβλυνση  του παραλογισμού αυτού όμως έχει παραμεριστεί από τις ραγδαίες εξελίξεις της επικαιρότητας και της δυσβάσταχτης οικονομικής κατάστασης στη πατρίδα μας.

Για ποιο σύστημα δικαιοσύνης και για ποιο κράτος δικαίου θέλουν να μας μιλήσουν οι άνθρωποι στις καρέκλες, που από σεβασμό στους πραγματικούς κύριους και πολιτικούς της παγκόσμιας κοινωνίας μας, δεν μπορώ να τους αποκαλέσω ούτε το ενα ούτε το αλλο;

Όρμηξαν ΟΛΟΙ να καταδικάσουν το Ρουπακιωτη, Υπουργό Δικαιοσύνης, που εξέφρασε την άποψη του ως πραγματικός μορφωμένος πολίτης, που αντίθετα με τα «κουταβάκια» των κομμάτων δήλωσε δημοσίως και αβίαστα την άποψη του. Για αυτούς που γνωρίζουν το έργο του Ρουπακιωτη τα λογία είναι περιττά. Αλλά και για αυτούς που δεν γνωρίζουν, μια απλή διαδυκτιακή αναζήτηση του ονόματος του, θα παρουσιάσει τη πληθώρα των γνώσεων του και προσφορών του.


Το δικαστικό σύστημα.

Να μην νομίζει το πολιτικό σύστημα οτι ξεχνάμε:

  1. τη κοροϊδία του 2004 με τον Γιοσακη και τον Τσεβη, που παρά την αποδεδειγμένη εμπλοκή τους σε παραδικαστικά κυκλώματα καταδικάστηκαν, ο καθένας τους, σε 14 και 12 μήνες φυλάκισης μόνο.
  2. Το Καλούση και τη Μπουρμπούλια
  3. Το Βουλγαράκη και τις offshore εταιρείες του.
  4. Τη SIEMENS και τα 100-εκατομμύρια-μάρκα που δόθηκαν σε Έλληνες πολιτικούς και δημόσιους λειτουργούς.
  5. Τη μονή Βατοπεδίου και τα Στρέμματα γης στην Ουρανούπολη.
  6. Το υποβρύχια του Άκη.


Και μιας και μιλάμε για δικαιοσύνη γενικότερα

Να μην νομίζει το πολιτικό σύστημα οτι ξεχνάμε:

  1. Τη φούσκα του χρηματιστηρίου το 99.
  2. Τα περίφημα δομημένα ομόλογα το 2007, αξίας 1,8 δισεκατομμυρίων ευρώ.
  3. Το πελατειακό σύστημα που έχουν καθιερώσει με τους «κουμπάρους» τους


Και οποίος θέλει να πει οτι λαϊκο-λογώ, η απάντηση μου είναι απλή.

Πολλοί προσπαθούν να περάσουν την αλήθεια ως λαϊκισμό και δεν συνειδητοποιούν οτι αυτά που προανέφερα είναι απλα <Η Αλήθεια του Λαού>.

Είναι καιρός, ο λαός και η αλήθεια του, να ακουστούν δημοκρατικά. ΟΧΙ φασιστικά. ΟΧΙ ακραία.

Είναι καιρός, ο λαός και η αλήθεια του, να υπερασπισθούν από κόμματα που πραγματικά τα προασπίζουν.

Είναι καιρός, ο λαός και η αλήθεια του, να ξεπεράσουν τα κομματικά επίπεδα και συμφέροντα.

Είναι καιρός για μια Ελληνική, Δημοκρατική Πρωτοβουλία.

The Reality of the Media & the London Riots in 2011

The British summer of 2011 was indeed a “hot” period for the United Kingdom (UK). Nothing similar to the events that followed the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan by the London Metropolitan Police Officers had occurred before and thus, a very dark chapter was contributed, to the contemporary British history. The shooting, which occurred on the 4thof August, caused “all hell to break loose” and the next six days were of colossal catastrophes for all areas of London (Garry Blight, 2011). Niklas Luhmann’s theoretical framework will be used to critically analyse the media coverage of the London riots of 2011 as well as the media itself. In his book The Reality of Mass Media, Niklas Luhmann argues that media, as a sub-system, constructs a “social reality” which is vital for the operation of contemporary societies (2000). The reality constructed by the media is artificial, as the product does not incorporate the totality of reasons that caused the London riots. During the London riots, the sole liability for the anarchic behaviour of British youth was assigned to the media, the administration of David Cameron and the policing of Britain. While the aforementioned stakeholders certainly have responsibility, by closely examining the “artificial” reality of the media, the innate reasons for the riots emerge. The loss of community ties that the British youth were experiencing in conjunction with the context of the international fiscal crisis, comprise a “more accurate” reality which better indicates the causes of the London riots.

The Power of Social Media

To critically analyse the media coverage that the British protests of 2011 received, the radically different theoretical framework of German sociologist, Niklas Luhmann will be employed. Luhmann argued that the contemporary society is established on functionally differentiated systems (Kenneth, 2006). A plethora of social sub-systems, each with its own functions and operations, comprise a larger social system. The “politics” sub-system’s role is to impose and decide on power; the “law” sub-system’s role is to maintain the peaceful functioning of the entire social system; the “science” sub-system’s function is to decide on the legitimating of knowledge; and so on (Verschraegen, 2002). Each system has an organic part in this social structure, as without one sub-system the entire structure fails. For Luhmann, media has a fundamental role, as without them the social system would be unable to operate to its full capacity, which would inevitably consequent its fail (2000). Contrary to the media’s self-image, Luhmann saw their role in the social system to be neither communication nor the transferring of information (Stehr, 2011). The Luhmannean theory holds that the media’s role in society is the production of reality (Luhmann, 2000). He perceived every system to be able to communicate and transmit information, without the assistance of the media. However, he held that each system had its own “language” of communication and thus, for information to be transmitted, messages needed to be “translated” from one “system language” to another. By nature, this results in the communication only of messages that can be comprehended across “languages”, which inexorably causes the loss of information. The role of the media, according to Luhmann is to gather all communicated messages and construct a sense of reality for the social system. What is problematic about the media’s function is that, similarly to the other systems, it has its own language. This brings the media sub-system’s function in juxtaposition with its nature. The social information is no longer “gathered”; it is rather “selected”, with sole criterion the ability of the media system to understand it. This establishes the nature of the reality as artificial. The reason for that is due to every system’s inability to fully grasp the messages transmitted. Nevertheless, as Gotthard Bechmann and Nico Stehr point out, ‘although this reality is a manufactured reality that arises selectively, […] it is the socially relevant one […] if we understand how it is produced, constructed and consumed’ (Stehr, 2011).Through analysis and extensive examination, this “artificial” reality can provided a complete and authenticated reality, which is innate in nature. The “innate” reality is far more complex than the “artificial” reality, which was initially constructed by the media sub-system. It is this “innate” reality that Luhmann finds to be fundamental for the sound operation of the social system.

During the London riots, the ability of the media sub-system to construct a social reality, which is framed within selectively chosen information, was demonstrated to its full capacity. The Guardian compiled a unique database, indicating the direct influence that the media had on the riots (John Burn-Murdoch, 2011). The majority of the riots were organised and co-ordinated through the use of mass media, including Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). An extraordinarily high amount of journalistic articles, blogs and letters to the editor were able to place the blame on the mass media (Keane, 2011). David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK, during his speech in the British parliament, highlighted the “ill” purposes that the media had been used for (2011). A specific paradox emerges though this context. The media sub-system, with its vast internal operations, faces an operational crisis. Operations of the sub-system accuse other mechanisms of the same nature and function. This results in media blaming media. This paradox allows Luhmann to argue that ‘we know so much about the mass media that we are not able to trust these sources’ (2000, p. 1). When media holds responsible its own mechanisms, an “artificial” reality is established; a reality which institutes that the British protests were ‘fuelled by social media’ (Halliday, 2011). This systemically constructed reality is a rather narrow one, due to the process that communicated information was selected to comprise, in its unification, a state of affairs. This media product is oblivious to the communications that were not selected. This is not to indicate that the sub-system of the media does not have a responsibility in the way it portrays the riots. However, it is to suggest that the innate reality of the London riots is far more complex; it reaches a level of complexity that that media system cannot interpret.

In a Luhmannean argument, the “artificial” reality produced by the media is not irrelevant. On the contrary, Luhmann would argue that it is a vital reality that needs to be studied and analysed in order to find the “innate” social reality. In his aforementioned address to the parliament, David Cameron, whilst recognising the “ill” purposes that the media sub-system can be used for, he additionally identified “good” uses of the media. He elaborated that the British government would work closely with Facebook, Twitter and BBM executives to explore ways that “dangerous messages” online can be censored (Stevenson, 2011). The political implications of such actions and civil liberties infringements are not the topic of discussion here. Nevertheless, the media sub-system has mechanisms which could assist to diffuse the violently charged environment of London. As Donald Schwartz reports ‘by spying on chatter over Blackberry and Twitter accounts, London police claim that they have prevented attacks by rioters on Oxford Street and the 2012 Olympic Site’ (Schwartz, 2011). The “artificial” reality previously produced by the media, constructed operations of the media sub-system responsible for the UK riots of 2011. Its de-construction provided a more sufficient understanding of the far more complex “innate” reality. While media have a social liability, they do not hold the sole responsibility of the events that occurred in Britain during the August of 2011. As Fiona Blacke writes, ‘social-networking might be a factor in escalation, but it is not a cause’ (Blacke, 2011). The function of the media sub-system is thus an indivisible part of contemporary society. Without the provision of an “artificial” reality by the media, social events and issues cannot be explored and the ultimate rational truth cannot be discovered. The rational truth is an inseparable part of the “innate” reality which unequivocally comprehends the social systems.

A City in Chaos

In the media system’s attempt to comprehend the London riots and to find those responsible for the anarchic behaviour in the British society, the media constructed a secondary “artificial” reality. Similarly, this reality did not grasp the complexity of the situation. Jonathan Foreman shifts the responsibility for the lack of social control to London’s Metropolitan Police (Foreman, 2011). The social perception established by the media highlight the incapability of the police to maintain control of the lawless situation. By degree of association, the governance of David Cameron fell under close scrutiny as well. The prime minister’s judgement became the centre of attention as his ability to co-ordinate police efforts, and consequently the entire nation, came into the media’s interest. Mehdi Hasan, directly attacks the prime minister and his government for their lack of “good judgement” and “political initiative” (Hasan, 2011). The effect of this media product was to constitute the British government and institutions “lesser”, in comparison to the seriousness and intensity of the riots. The admission of David Cameron, in the British parliament, solidified the product of the media system. He acknowledged that the numbers of police officers that were assigned to handle the public unrest was insufficient, and conceded that the tactics that were implemented were not appropriate to diffuse the anarchy (Cameron, 2011). The result of that was the construction of a reality which did not reveal the density and intricacy of the “innate” reality.

The study and close examination of the media’s “artificial” reality allowed Camilla Batmanghelidjh to witness an aspect of the “innate” reality in a way which was previously unknown to the social system. She defends the policing authorities of London and points the finger of blame to a wider social dysfunction (2011). Balbir Chatrik writes that young people are not in need of increased policing and monitoring, but rather support, guidance and inspiration (Chatrik, 2011).  The new narrative provided is challenging to the widely accepted and solid “artificial” reality. Batmanghelidjh recognises that her readers would think that, ‘here she goes, excusing the criminals with some sob story’ (2011). The initial “portrait” which was “hanged on the wall” by the media system, for the social system to see was widely recognised. Batmanghelidjh’s perspective shows that a critical and analytical approach is vital to see that the “portrait” is truly a “mosaic”; comprised by numerous distinctive pieces. She believes that responsibility does not lie with the government’s law and order policies. Batmanghelidjh argues that the underlying reason for the British social unrest is the loss of community ties, which demonises an increasing amount of young individuals (2011). The youth of London finds that their communities have not provided them with life-essentials and that excuses their distant perception towards the social system’s legitimate structures. Fiona Blacke writes that the 23% of young people, who feel depressed and hopeless about their future, feel that ‘they have no stake in society, and that society has nothing to offer them’ (Blacke, 2011). As a result, they establish their own anti-social communities, parallel to the London social construct, and rely on peer-rules, which constitute the individual responsible for their own survival (Batmanghelidjh, 2011). The dual community memberships with contradictory morals, rules, beliefs and values cause existential dilemmas and identity fracturing for the youth of London. This side of reality was not explored by the media system and thus the reality that was produced initially was not substantial. The initial, incomplete, “artificial” reality was able to blame the mechanisms of the media, the police and the government of David Cameron, without challenging or realising that the “social picture” produced was a construct of many pieces. In this media constructed “mosaic” every piece is in need of attention and exploration to fully appreciate the complexity of the “innate” social reality.

To further  analyse the main pieces of the “innate” reality that were discovered by studying the media’s “artificial” construct, the broader context of the London riots needs to be considered. The global fiscal crisis and “the end of Europe” challenged the balance of the international arena of politics (Foroohar, 2011). The British financial cuts to social welfare policies and youth services were met with fierce resistance and were indubitably linked to the riots, despite the contrary claims of the British minister for young people, Tim Loughton (Loughton, 2011). The financial struggles added to the exacerbated sense of injustice and unfairness that was already present in the British social system. As Nathan Thornburgh reported, 34% of London’s wealth is concentrated in 5% of the British population (Thornburgh, 2011). This places Britain higher than Italy, Greece and Spain with their extraordinarily worse and well known financial problems (Thornburgh, 2011). Thornburgh writes that in the past three years, the rates of unemployment amongst British youth, rose by 6% (Thornburgh, 2011). This environment of political instability, fiscal crisis and social unfairness is setting a systemic complexity which is unfeasible to be compehended efficiently by the media system. The media constructed a portrait of the social system with the communicated information that could be apprehended. Inevitably, the product of the media was incomplete; however, it was far from obsolete. As Luhmann argues, and as proved by the study of the London riots, the reality produced by the media, once studied and and examined, can provide to the social system an “innate” reality. The “innate” reality is far more  intricate and corroborated than the “artificial”, and provides a more validated “pair of lenses” to view and understand the social structure.

The theoretical framework provided by Niklas Luhmann allows an empirical approach to be implemented for the understanding of the role of the media in the contemporary social system. The London riots illustrated the dual reality that the Luhmannean theory saw to derive from the media sub-system’s functionality. The selectively, media-constructed, “artificial” reality held that the social networks, British policing and political governance to be the reasons behind the riots of 2011. Nevertheless, the “innate” reality has a level of complexity that could neither be reached nor understood by the media. The critical analysis of the media’s product would reveal a reality, innate in nature, which shifts responsibility for the British protests to the loss of community ties that youth is experiencing in London as well as the broader context of the financial crisis, which has infested the international community. The “innate” reality is characterised by its vitality for the social system. Ergo, the role of the media sub-system is fundamental, given that without its “artificial” reality, the “innate” could never emerge.


Batmanghelidjh, C. (2011, 08 09). Caring costs – but so do riots. Retrieved 10 2011, 20, from The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/camila-batmanghelidjh-caring-costs-ndash-but-so-do-riots-2333991.html

Blacke, F. (2011, 08 23). Why are the riots happening now? NYA , p. 1.

Cameron, D. (2011). This is a Time for Our COuntry to pull Together. Vital Speeches International , 259-262.

Chatrik, B. (2011, 08 23). Opinions. NYA , pp. 11-11.

Foreman, J. (2011, 08 29). London Aflame What happens when you let teenagers run your country. National Review , pp. 21-22.

Foroohar, R. (2011, 08 22). The End of Europe. TIME Magazine , pp. 18-21.

Garry Blight, J. B.-M. (2011, 09 05). England riots: an interactive timeline. Retrieved 10 20, 2011, from theguardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/interactive/2011/sep/05/england-riots-timeline-interactive

Halliday, J. (2011, 08 08). London riots: how BlackBerry Messenger played a key role. Retrieved 10 20, 2011, from theguardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/aug/08/london-riots-facebook-twitter-blackberry

Hasan, M. (2011, 08 15). Cameron posed for pictures with a Tuscan waitress as London burned. New Staesman , pp. 17-17.

John Burn-Murdoch, P. L. (2011, 08 24). Twitter traffic during the riots. Retrieved 10 20, 2011, from theguardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/interactive/2011/aug/24/riots-twitter-traffic-interactive

Keane, B. (2011, 08 10). London riots: the (social) media is to blame, apparently. Retrieved 10 20, 2011, from Crickey: http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/08/10/london-riots-the-social-media-is-to-blame-apparently/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CrikeyDaily+%28Crikey+Daily%29

Kenneth, A. (2006). Social Systems and their environments. In A. Kenneth, Contemporary Social and Sociological Theory (pp. 213-237). Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.

Loughton, T. (2011, 08 23). Opinions. Children and Young People Now , pp. 11-11.

Luhmann, N. (2000). The Reality of Mass Media. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Schwartz, D. (2011, 08 16). London Riots 2011: Cyber-Snooping Helped to Prevent Two Attacks. Retrieved 10 20, 2011, from International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/198539/20110816/london-riots-uk-2011-police-blackberry-twitter.htm

Stehr, G. B. (2011). Niklas Luhmann’s Theory of the Mass Media. Society , 142-147.

Stevenson, A. (2011, 08 11). UK Riots 2011: Prime Minister David Cameron Considers Banning Rioters from Social Media. Retrieved 10 20, 2011, from International Business News: http://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/196302/20110811/uk-riots-2011-prime-minister-david-cameron-ban-rioters-social-media-twitter-blackberry-messenger-cen.htm

Thornburgh, N. (2011, 08 22). London’s Long Burn. TIME Magazine , pp. 12-15.

Verschraegen, G. (2002). Human Rights and Modern Society: A Sociological Analysis from the Perspective of Systems Theory. Journal of Law and society , 258-281.


There should not be any surprise around what is happening in our motherland at the moment.

Political Theorist, Jurgen Habermas has provided a theoretical framework of world politics which allows the
conceptualisation and exploration of the Greek crisis.

1. Fiscal Crisis
Due to the government’s bad decision making (plus obsolete, corrupt and archaic political mechanism) large
amounts of money were wasted and “lost” causing the fiscal crisis that Greece is currently undergoing.

2. Rationality Crisis
The lack of resources has forced the government to irrational decision making which simply implements policies
where the numbers, simply do not add up.

3. Legitimation Crisis
The austerity measures introduced by the Greek government and suggested/recommended/forced by the Troika
have long withdrawn the public’s faith from the government causing a plethora of problems including the public
unrest witnessed this week.

4. Motivation Crisis
Which bring me to Habermas’ last concept of crisis, the motivation crisis. According to Habermas, the motivation
crisis causes the citizens to withdraw and seize their partaking activities , like voting and sharing their opinions and
acting like the checks and balances to the government, which makes the democratic system to work.

Unfortunately his theory applies. Greek citizens in the past few years have withdrawn and in most cases “wait”
to see how this crisis is going to unfold. This is a mistake. This is what causes the widely admitted failure of
democracy in its birthplace and the domination of clientelism; a relationship between the citizen and the state that is
based on the interests of each one and not of the demos in its entirety.

The images of social unrest that we witnessed this week and many times in the recent years are images of
failing democracy, which does not provide to the people as it should. The Greek nation is experiencing a motivation
crisis at large which does not encourage them to partake in the common activities of the state and thus weakening
the democratic institutions.

The question yet remain… How do we get ourselves away from this situation?
By working the crisis backwards.
Unlike what the Greek government is trying to do and the Troika is determined is the right course of action, i believe we
need to work the other way around.

4. Motivation Crisis
We need citizens motivated to partake in the policy and decision making of Greece. We need to experience the strengthening
of a truly democratic ethos and institution that operation to serve the interest of the demos

3. Legitimation Crisis
Motivated citizens will bring about new people, new ideas and new initiatives that can help change the political landscape
of Greece. Change needs to start at a local community level. First we need to make sure that our neighbourhood is the
way, we democratically agree, is the way we want it. Then, once we ve achieved the change in our neighbourhood, we have to
try to fix our city/town/village. Then, bring the strategies and changes that we have seen work on a local level to a regional
level. and from there attempt the implementation at a national level.

2. Rationality Crisis
The successful implementation of policy on a local and regional level provide a sound basis for the implementation
of similar policies on a national level. Regardless of their final success, which will need to be documented,
analysed, researched and studies so that new, better policies can come even from the mistakes, the point to
tackling the rationality crisis is to have a reasonable reason – a logical logos…

1. Fiscal Crisis
With motivated demos, which adds legitimacy to rational policies it is merely consequent that the fiscal crisis will be overturned
with the implementation of policies that provide, care and look after the demos’ economy.

So how do we get that first step? The first motivated citizens?
By becoming ourselves the change we want to see…
By organising our community and democratically deciding what can be done on a local (at first) level
By believing that Greece has much to offer to us despite what is going on.
(at the moment we have a beautiful and great farm
that is worked by the wrong farmers. there is nothing wrong with the farm. its the farmers who don’t know how to work it so
that it gives them the delicious “fruits” that Greece, for so many years, has been producing.)
By taking initiative and seeing it through.
By being democratic and believing in the democratic ethos and principle of our homeland
By becoming ourselves a truly Hellenic and fundamentally Democratic Initiative.

Christian Raspa’s Movember 2012

Cancer is a Problem that Touches All of Us.

None of us has to think for too long to find a person who has been affected by Cancer.

This November, I will be growing a Mo to raise fund for Movember Australia, an organisation which over the the past few years has made significant contributions to the Fight Against Cancer.

So Motivate me, Sponsor me or Just Make Fun of Me by helping me grow a Mo this Movember.

Knowledge is Power

Any Contribution Big or Small, Huge or Tiny is Most welcome 🙂

To Donate Electronically to my Movember account


To Donate to Me personally Contact Me through the Link below

Contact Me

Find Out What you Can do to “Change the Face of Men’s Health”

Find a doctor and make a yearly appointment each Movember for a general health check.  Getting annual checkups, preventative screening tests and immunisations are among the most important things you can do to stay healthy.

Family history is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health. Family history affects your level of risk for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, among other illnesses. It all starts with a conversation, talk to your family and take note of illnesses that a direct relative has experienced. Be sure to learn about relatives that are deceased as well.

If you do smoke, stop! It is estimated that active smoking is responsible for 88% of all lung cancer deaths in Australian men aged over 35.

If you are not already doing some form of exercise, start small and work up to a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. Stay on the move throughout the day; long periods of sitting increases your risk for disease. Every little bit counts – take the stairs instead of the elevator or take a walk during your lunch break.

The quality of your sleep can dictate how much you eat, how fast your metabolism runs, how fat or think you are, how well you can fight off infections, and how well you can cope with stress. Keep a regular pattern of sleep, going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time is key.

Fill up with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and choose healthy proteins like lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Moderation is key, as is eating a wide range of foods to ensure you get a variety of nutrients. The best source of vitamins is from food.

More than half of the Australian population are either overweight or obese. Obesity and being overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and certain cancers. Balance calories from foods and beverages with calories you burn off by physical activities.

Stress, particularly long-term stress, can be the factor in the onset or worsening of ill health. Managing your stress is essential to your health & well-being. Take ‘time out’ each day and go for a walk or do something you find relaxing.

Alcohol can be part of a healthy balanced diet, but only if consumed in moderation. This means no more than two drinks a day. A standard drink is a can or stubbie of mid strength beer (up to 375 ml) or a 30 ml nip of spirits (37 to 40%).

Movember 2012

This year Political Gnomon will be supporting a very important cause which truly aims to change The Face of Men’s Health.

This November, I will be growing a Mo in an attempt to raise money which will be donated 100% to Movember Australia.

To Make a Contribution, To Help Men’s Health, To Be the Change you Want to See and To Make me look silly at work for a Month

follow the link below or Contact me and make a Donation.

Any Contribution Big or Small, Huge or Tiny is Most welcome 🙂

To Donate Electronically to my Movember account


To Donate to Me personally Contact Me through the Link below

Contact Me

Find Out  What We Will Be Fighting For…


  • It is expected 1 in 2 Australian men will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.
  • 1 in 9 men in Australia will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.
  • Prostate cancer is the second-most common cause of cancer-related death amongst Australian men – each year in Australia, close to 3,300 men die of prostate cancer which is equal to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually.
  • In 2007, testicular cancer was the second most common cancer among young men between 20 and 39.
  • On average, 13 men and 8 women die from lung cancer every day in Australia.
  • Tobacco smoking is the largest single risk factor for lung cancer in Australia, and is responsible for about 90% of lung cancers in males and 65% in females.
  • While not as common, men can get breast cancer. The number of men diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia increased from 62 in 1982, to 103 in 2007.
  • Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, at nearly four times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
  • The rate of melanoma incidence in Australian men rose by 18.7% between 1993 and 2003.
  • It is estimated that at least one in three cancer cases in Australia can be prevented. Smoking, sun exposure, poor diet, alcohol consumption and inadequate physical activity are significant risk factors, which can be modified.
  • For males, prostate cancer is expected to remain the most common cancer diagnosed in 2020 (25,300 cases), followed by bowel cancer and melanoma of the skin (about 10,800 cases each) and lung cancer (7,500 cases).