ATHENS - The rebels are texting and Twittering with a message that has yet to be fully absorbed by the ruling political class: Greece is their land of lost opportunity.
Protests raged through eight Greek cities this past week, sparked by the still-unresolved killing of a teenager by police in Athens. But what keeps the turmoil alive, night and day, is a churning street debate of inequities.
People want to know what good will follow one of this country's worst spasms of violence since a military dictatorship fell over 30 years ago.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis so far has urged patience to allow a thorough evaluation of the crisis. Yet such assurances fell short, and the most visible attempt to restore order - deployment of police in riot gear on street corners and around the parliament building - underscored one edgy reality in Athens: No one, really, has much confidence in the future.
"This government now is deeply mistrusted," opposition leader George Papandreou said in an interview yesterday, on the same day that his socialist PASOK party called for the government to resign. "They can't move ahead and make decisions, and certainly not the big decisions that are needed."
Anarchists and angry youths were blamed for the first days of ruin. But other political realities have drawn middle-age and gray-haired supporters to daily demonstrations.
Greece's unemployment is rising, with 7.4 percent of the general population and about 25 percent younger than 25 out of work, figures released last week showed.
The government, in power since 2004, is awash in corruption allegations, including a scandal that surfaced in October involving a large-scale land swap with the Orthodox Church that allegedly cost the state more than $100 million.
People in Athens lament a poor education system and chat about bribery and black-market deals as daily considerations. People routinely say that they grease doctors' palms with cash to get better care in public hospitals for a sick parent or child, or slip money to bureaucrats to ease tax burdens.
"Somewhere along the way, we all feel as if we are giving power to the wrong people," said psychologist Sophia Ilia, who followed the protests and attended a peaceful vigil last night outside the parliament building. "What's happening now is not about one death. It's most about people looking at the society and seeing dead ends."
Greece has been slow to confront economic problems that were visible even in 2004, the year of glittery Olympic Games. The Karamanlis government rose to power that same year, promising to institute broad economic reforms.
But hard choices were never really made, analysts said. Since then, Greece has seen its current-account deficit rise to 15 percent of its gross domestic product - making it the highest in the euro zone. The global financial crisis has stirred dread in a country where 20 percent of the people already live below the poverty line. *