Greeks versus the world in Athens austerity protests

Protesters and police Image copyright AP
Image caption The crowds of protesters gathered in Syntagma Square are a mixture of every class and age group

"Tramps, police informers, journalists!" That's the chant of the front line of the protest and since my cameraman and I are the only journalists here it is aimed at us.

The protestors are taking a break from insulting the riot cops lined up in front; a woman tugs my arm and says, "Get out of here".

The media is the target here in Syntagma Square for two reasons. First, because the people here believe the Greek media have sided totally with what they call "Big Capital".

Second, because quite simply we are a proxy. The men making the decisions on this country's future in Brussels and Frankfurt could not show their faces here. Indeed, I suspect the European Union decision makers have very little sense of the depth of social anger here in Greece.

Right now the communist trade union federation PAME is marching into the square - my estimate is about 200,000 people in this contingent alone. They are flanked by tough looking men carrying red flags with super-sized flag poles. This of course is to fend off anarchists, who so far have not turned up.

The square itself has been occupied for 22 days by so-called "indignados" - thousands of young people organised along the Spanish model.

Front line

The woman still tugging at my arm says, "We're not interested in media coverage. We've been here 22 days and this is the end of it. We've had enough".

An old man, aged 67, a sailor, says, "We don't want any more bailouts from the EU, we'd rather be poor and broke".

For all the leftist iconography plus the presence of that, by now familiar demographic, the Facebook youth - or "graduates with no future" - this thing has gone beyond left and right, it's no longer even a class thing. As the crowd around me erupts with the chant, "Greece, Greece, Greece!" it's clear that for many people it is the Hellenic republic versus the rest of the world.

Standing here amid a crowd that is frustrated, but not yet tense, which is hurling abuse and the occasional plastic bottle at the cops defending parliament it is strange to think this is the front line of the world's financial system. For if Greece defaults, the world leaders fear a second Lehman.