After writing my open letter to Miltiadis Papaioannou, I realised that non-Greek readers may not be conversant with the traditional form of armed resistance in Greece called yoghurtification. An explanation is therefore in order.
Yoghurtification (noun) – from Greek γιαούρτωμα. The act of throwing yoghurt at one or several public figures, such as politicians, journalists and actors. [Merriam-Webster’s Standard Greek-English Dictionary]
The Encyclopaedia of Greek Popular Arts and Traditions specifies that yoghurtification may be accompanied by other projectiles, including, but not limited to, lemon rinds (λεμονόκουπες), fresh or rotten tomatoes, fresh or rotten eggs and any other relevant foodand non-food items as long as they stick, stink or stain.
In the last few months, creative forms of yoghurtification have emerged in Greece, such as yoghurtification with tzatziki. While these are considered non-canon (see An Anthropological Approach To Greek Politics Through The Ages, SYRIZA publications, 2010), the involvement of garlic presents the benefit of caring for the yoghurtified person’s blood pressure in addition to skin softness, without being detrimental in any way to the criteria of stickiness, stench or staining described above.
The multiplication of yoghurtification phenomena in Greece has led to a series of legitimate questions and concerns regarding the level of organisation of the political groups behind them. The latest edition of the Index of Political Disapproval in Modern and Contemporary Greece (Κώδιξ της Πολιτικής Αποδοκιμασίας στην Νεότερη και Σύγχρονη Ελλάδα, a joint PASOK-Nea Dimokratia publication, 2011) asserts that all instances of yoghurtification can be traced back to left-wing party SYRIZA. This point of view seems to be supported by the spread of the well-known Internet meme “it’s SYRIZA’s fault” (“φταίει ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ“, also hashtagged on Twitter as #ftaiei_o_syriza). Several researchers from the International Centre for the Study of Yoghurtification and Related Practices have pointed out however that the Index fails to determine the exact links between SYRIZA and several pro-yoghurtification groups, including:
- The Greek-American Political Yoghurtification Society
- The Association of Dairy-Friendly Indignants
- The Front for Popular Yoghurtification – General Command
- The Front for Popular Yoghurtification – Marxist-Leninist Wing
- The People’s Party for not only Yoghurtification but also Spitting and Lemon-Throwing
The Journal for Comparative Studies in Political Cultures (volume 251, June 2011) points out that the Greek practice of yoghurtification has several equivalents in other European countries. Most prominent among them is the Belgian practice of cream-pieing (entartage) promoted by the Internationale Pâtissière, notably with the double entartage of French “philosopher” Bernard-Henri Lévy in the Paris Book Fair in 2006. The Journal notes that sadly, foreign pieing organisations have undergone the same process of political fragmentation as their Greek yoghurtification counterparts, resulting in such splinter groups as the Fédération Internationale des Anarcho-Pâtissiers Diabétiques. Equally sad is the fact that no one has identified so far an effective means to fight the scourge of organisational secession. It is also unfortunate that the Journal does not discuss the popularity of yoghurtification and pieing in states with a successful and efficient political and institutional framework such as Weimar Germany.
The economic and political consequences of yoghurtification are not to be underestimated. On the plus side, the rise of yoghurtification has resulted in a net increase in dairy production in Greece and the improved popularity of Greek yoghurt, as well as expanded employment opportunities for policemen and bodyguards. However, several critics of yoghurtification have noted that its side-effects for politicians suffering from lactose intolerance have not been properly studied yet. Furthermore, the highest instances of the state in Greece have aptly pointed out that yoghurtification is part and parcel of a dangerous drift towards political violence and denotes a fascist mentality that places the very institutions of parliamentary democracy in grave danger.
No doubt this peril is the reason why the police have been trained to identify underground cells where yoghurtification plots might be in the making, even if they are camouflaged as restaurants that serve tzatziki or groceries where yoghurt and other blunt projectiles such as tomatos might be available. The government is also taking all the necessary steps to prevent vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian and ovo-lacto-vegetarian terrorists from organising on the web, in order to ensure the security of the honest citizens who somehow all happen to be working in the large neoclassical building across the road from Syntagma Square. One of Greece’s most senior political commentators, Skylakis Frankfurterakis, has gone as far as to advocate for the wholesale replacement of fascist yoghurt by democratic tear gas.
Yoghurtification is a danger that concerns all of us.
End yoghurtification now!
This post was inspired from the following tweet. Thanks to George Apostolopoulo!