Greece in danger March 28, 2010Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Yunanistan.
Tags: Danger, debt, Greece
There’s little doubt that at the dawn of the twenty-first century Greece is facing an existential crisis. Suddenly, in 2010, external and internal enemies are closing in. The countrys external enemies are scheming its dismemberment while some powerful Greeks in Greece, doing the bidding of foreigners, are undermining the historical continuity and cultural identity of the country, telling their fellow Greeks they are not Greeks.
Cracks in Western civilization
The trouble started in the 1990s when the American air force blasted Yugoslavia supposedly to protect Yugoslavian Moslems from Yugoslavian Christians.
The first product of the dismemberment of Yugoslavia was the independence of a Yugoslavian province neighboring Greek Macedonia. Most of the people of this province are Bulgarians and Albanians. Yet they have been calling themselves “Macedonians” and their tiny country “Macedonia.” In addition, this small country has the audacity of claiming the Greek province of Macedonia. Its anti-Greek slogans and the rewriting of history, memorized during its communist past, have outraged the Greeks but don’t seem to bother America or the countries of the European Union, which recognized it as “Macedonia,” the name it stole from Greece.
This American and EU indifference towards the theft of Creek culture makes mockery of Western civilization, which came into being from the ancient Greek legacy of science, democracy and the arts of civilization.
Starting during the Renaissance of the fifteenth century, Westerners incorporated the Greek legacy into the pillars of their own culture.
Second and no less menacing, Turkey provokes Greece almost on a daily basis, its warplanes flying over the Aegean. Again, Turkey’s blatant and provocative violations of international law at the expense of Greece cause no problems to America or its NATO partners or to the 27 countries of the EU. All these countries are officially allied to Greece with Greece being a member of both NATO and the EU.
This is another example where America and EU operate beyond Western civilization, burying the common culture they share with Greece for the “strategic” delusion they have invented for Turkey.
Despite the 400-year occupation of Christian Southeastern Europe by this Moslem country, her genocides against Greeks and Armenians, America and EU have been rewarding Turkey for decades.
First, they did that supposedly to keep Turkey against Russia when Russia was dressed in communist clothes. America was so obsessed with communist Russia that it forced Greece to deny its strategic national interests in the protection of its territorial integrity, including the protection of Cyprus. Turkey must have told America that unless it muzzled Greece, Turkey would be neutral in the cold war or, worse yet, Turkey would join the empire of the Soviet Union-Russia.
After the “end” of the cold war in early 1990s, America continued the same charade of why Turkey was indispensable to its strategy of fighting its “war on terror.” This time Turkey was important because the government of Turkey is so successful in playing on the fears of America of a resurgent Islam. Turkey has an Islamic government, but the Turkish military convinces the American military and government that Turkey is a secular society. Besides, Turkey is a huge military base for America’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and, possibly, a future war against Iran.
In its turn, the American government through NATO is pushing the EU to open its ranks to Turkey. Strangely, EU obliges and has even been carrying out conversations with Turkey about possible Turkish membership to a European club designed by Europeans for Europeans.
Turkey also occupies 40 percent of the Greek island of Cyprus, which is a member of the EU. The United Kingdom and America are not innocent of the Turkish violent conduct against Cyprus. In 1974, they encouraged Turkey to occupy Cyprus, so it is not surprising that the EU is not complaining that Moslem troops control part of its territory.
Under these circumstances, one would expect Greece and Cyprus to oppose the EU-Turkey political discussions. On the contrary, Greece and Cyprus are the warmest advocates of Turkey’s inclusion to the EU. Greece no doubt follows America’s directives that undermine its independence. It’s also possible that Greece and Cyprus naively hope or want to believe that Turkey in the EU will be a trustworthy and peace-loving country. However, such a dramatic transformation is not in the cards.
Moslem Turkey is not about to wear the mask of Western Christian civilization, her enemy for centuries. Turkey is fast returning to her imperial Islamic past. Turkey does not seem to care whether EU can accommodate her or not. She is becoming an unchecked threat in both Aegean and Mediterranean. Turkey is even downgrading her trusted relationship with Israel, America’s oversight agent in the Middle East.
A multicultural Greece?
This external danger complements an internal danger threatening the remaking of Greece on alien models.
In Greece, there are some Greeks who want to see a different, radically different, Greece, a country made up not just of Greeks but also of several nationalities, resembling the multicultural society of America or France or the United Kingdom.
For convenience, I will call these Greeks “pro-American Greeks” only because many of them were educated in the United States and their ideas emerge from studies funded by American institutions.
Curiously, the vision of the pro-American Greeks about Greece is resurrecting the communist policies of the 1940s where being Greek nationalist or making connections to the Hellenic legacy of modern Greece were bad things to be avoided at all costs. Greek communists, like the Christians whom they imitate, have never liked ancient Greeks.
Greek communists looked for ideology and support to Soviet Russia.
Now, some 70 years later, America provides the ideology and support for another version of what Greeks ought to think of themselves. This includes a revisionist Greek history that rejects Greek historical continuity, charging that Greek romantics in the nineteenth century invented Greek historical continuity as a weapon for nationalistic expansion.
The problem with this fancy story is that it is fictional.
The Greeks never lost their consciousness as a people connected to the ancient Greeks. They still speak Greek, the mother tongue of Western civilization.
During the dark days of Christian excess against Hellenic culture, Greeks kept copying the ancient Greek texts that we have today. Those texts and the Greeks who brought them to Italy sparked the Renaissance, which sparked the Scientific Revolution and made our world.
In the first half of the fifteenth century, George Gemistos Plethon, a Platonic philosopher in Mistras, Peloponnesos, headed a lively if small Hellenic Renaissance. He urged Constantine Palaiologos, the last Greek Byzantine Emperor, to declare himself king of the Hellenes, discard Christianity for the many gods of the ancient Greeks, and replace his mercenary guard with a Greek national army.
Even during Turkish occupation, 1453-1821, the Greeks did not forget their origins or common purpose to regain their freedom. Adamantios Koraes, 1748-1833, the father of the Greek Revolution, got his ideas and inspiration from the ancient Greeks and the Western Europeans who became free and powerful because they had internalized the ideas of the ancient Greeks. Finally, the Greek victory against the Italian invaders on Mt. Pindos in Epiros in 1940 was no less glorious that the victory of Athenians and Plataeans against the Persians in Marathon in 490 BCE.
The revisionists, however, ignore this historical continuity and insist, instead, on a narrative that almost civilizes the Turks: cleansing their crimes and atrocities; making the four dark centuries of Turkish tyranny over Greece an era of prosperity and amity between Turks and Greeks. The hope of the pro-American Greeks is that their fictional theories would become readings for Greek children.
In addition, the practical result of this made-up Greek past is to prepare the ground for a new generation of Greeks completely cut off from their authentic past. Such Greeks would be obedient in executing the demands of America, not merely in allowing the radical alteration of the country’s population, but in accommodating the ambitions of Turkey in the Aegean, Thrace and Cyprus, essentially handing Cyprus to Turkey and dividing the Aegean between Greece and Turkey. That way, these new pro-American mandarins expect, Turkey will stay in the American camp and, therefore, control the damage America has already caused in the Moslem Middle East because of its lunatic “war on terror,” which it is still prosecuting with religious fervor in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Greece is paying the price of America’s imperial politics in her neighborhood: America’s enormous and hardly subtle influence is, first, forcing pro-Turkish policies on Greek governments and, second, is pushing multiculturalism on the Greeks. Both of these policies are deadly to Greece.
Greeks have never been racists, but, in general, they did not mix with non-Greeks whom they called barbarians. Even when the Greeks controlled the Middle East for 300 years after the spectacular conquests of Alexander the Great, they kept to themselves, neither proselytizing nor marrying barbarians.
Alexander the Great, however, married the Persian princess Roxane and encouraged his troops to marry Asian women. Alexander died young, so not much came out of his policy of Hellenization of Asia. On the other hand, he founded several poleis bearing his name, Alexandria. The most famous, Alexandria in Egypt, remained essentially Greek for centuries.
Now, in 2010, Greeks are not celebrating any recent victories. On the contrary, they are under the stress of accommodating and resisting the globalizing and homogenizing forces of a non-Greek world led by America. They resent multiculturalism, a mask of how to kill Greek traditional culture.
Greeks might benefit from selective immigration of well-educated foreigners, but not from opening their borders to all comers or to giving Greek citizenship to the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in the country.
These illegal foreigners in Greece cause tension verging on outright violence. They ought to be repatriated as soon as possible.
I was born in Greece, but received my college education in the United States. I married a non-Greek, and made America my adopted home. The country’s magnificent libraries led me to a personal Renaissance, discovering my Hellenic identity.
Despite this indebtedness, however, I am troubled by America’s militarism and perpetual wars that nullify the democratic tradition it borrowed from Greece.
Second, multiculturalism is necessary for the United States. That’s how it came into being. But American multiculturalism for Greece and US pro-Turkish policies threaten Greece.
Considering also that a sizable number of the illegal migrants in Greece are Moslems adds an explosive dimension to multiculturalism and makes the socialist government’s proposal to grant them Greek citizenship completely irresponsible and unattainable.
For example, Thrace in northern Greece has a Moslem minority, the legacy of bad policies from the 1920s. Turkey then killed more than a million Greeks and expelled close to 1.5 million more. Yet, Greece allowed Turks to remain in Thrace.
Now the Greek Moslems of Thrace undermine Greek national integrity and independence. They act like they are Turks, always embarrassing Greece for alleged human rights violations. Adding more Moslems to those of Thrace would be suicidal for Greece.
The 2004 Olympics
This and other troubles heightened after the very successful Olympics of 2004.
Greece managed the complex and large-scale Olympic games with exemplary insight, style and authentic hospitality, earning the appreciation of thousands of athletes and hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic observers attending the games from all over the world. Greece did so well with the Olympics because, deep in their consciousness, Greeks know the Olympics belongs to them.
The only major problem the Olympics brought to Greece was costs. Greece borrowed heavily to meet the “security” requirements of the George W. Bush America going haywire over its “war on terror.”
The first sign that something drastic was operating in the post-Olympics Greece was the 2007 fires that destroyed the forests of Peloponnesos, nearly burning ancient Olympia.
The fires laid bare the country’s poverty and the government’s incompetence: There were not enough fire-fighting vehicles, airplanes, and men. Greek forests turned out to be unprotected from the saws of loggers and development plans of businessmen who, after fires, would rush to build on the burned public land. The government also did not have an accurate picture of the national forests.
In late 2009, Mikis Theodorakis, the famous Greek musician and composer, accused superpower America for the Greek fires of 2007 because Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis dared say no to George W. Bush’s order to have nothing to do with Russia and China. Karamanlis instead opened the doors of Greece to China and signed a petroleum agreement with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin just before the fires broke out. Theodorakis admitted the massive fires that immolated so much of Peloponnesos terrorized him.
We don’t know what evidence, if any, prompted Theodorakis to point his finger at America. He accused Henry Kissinger for allegedly ordering, in 1974, the destruction of contemporary Greek civilization. We can dismiss this charge as part of the mythology Greeks have invented about America.
Theodorakis also said that thousands of “young Americans” occupy key positions in television, radio, and institutes controlled by the state and the Greek oligarchy. He alleged that it is these Americans working within Greece who have shut down all creative forces in the country.
It is impossible to check out the veracity or error of these charges. But one thing is certain about Theodorakis: He loves Greece. His accusations against the United States mirror a widespread sentiment or mythology among Greeks about America.
On the one hand, hundreds of thousands of Greeks have passed from the shores of the United States. They are grateful for making a living in America when it was very difficult to make a living in their country. On the other hand, Greeks in Greece resent American policies in their neighborhood: the creation of Moslem Bosnia and Kosovo, the insulting recognition of the Slav-Albanian enclave as “Macedonia,” and, especially, the blatant pro-Turkish policies threatening them. Many Greeks also fear that America is behind the efforts to destabilize the country, altering its history, population, and culture.
On January 30, 2010, Panos Kokkoros, a Greek American living in Sparte in southern Peloponnesos, explained the crisis of his country as follows:
“The Greek people are being inundated by propagandists who preach self-hatred. The communists / leftists have their own criminal agenda and the conservative scum are always willing to do the bidding of the American octopus….
“When it comes to immigrants I am not intolerant but there are limits. A small number of immigrants is OK but a massive deluge is something beyond reason…
“[T]he boors of northwestern Europe have never lived under the Moslem yoke of slavery. How could they understand our history and ethnocentric attitudes? We have the right to preserve our ethnic identity, culture and religion as long as we are not tramping on anyone else. The EU is not providing enough help to curtail the flow to our shores, which are the southeast shores of the EU. Perhaps we should pass the immigrants on to the rest of the EU or send them to the US. The US is already a bastard ersatz society so they will not mind, right?
“Bear in mind that Turkey is trying to Islamize all of Europe so that they can accomplish via the population bomb what they failed to do with military invasion. The young punks in Athens who demonstrate in favor of giving immigrants citizenship are fools, Bolsheviks or ethno-suicidals. They want the people of Greece to discard an ethnic identity that exists over 4,000 years…. The American attitude to patriotic displays is just showmanship for political expediency. We here in Greece are patriots especially when our homeland and identity are menaced.”
Kokkoros, born in America of Greek immigrant parents, is irreverent of both America and Greece. He is facing the Greek crisis for what it is – a mixture of hostile foreign and misguided Greek policies aiming to remake Greece for the “strategic” convenience of the EU and America. And he is right that both Western Europeans and Americans are irresponsible to push their Islamic policies towards Greece that was nearly annihilated under Islam.
The next disaster struck in December 2008 when armies of thugs, who covered their heads with paper bags, burned downtown Athens while the police stood passive. Such savagery frightened the country and undermined the Karamanlis administration.
Then, in 2009, another massive fire burned Attica all the way to the suburbs of Athens. Once again, Greece was ill prepared to put these fires out.
These calamities certainly had something to do with the defeat of the rightwing prime minister, Karamanlis, and the coming to power of the socialist prime minister, George Papandreou, who was born in the United States.
Like Barak Obama, Papandreou inherited an economic crisis, Greece being on the verge of bankruptcy. The EU will probably bail out Greece but under severe conditions of fiscal discipline that are bound to hurt both the economy and most Greeks. EU has to be careful. Spain, Portugal and Ireland are not that far behind the financial meltdown of Greece.
Greece has been living beyond its means because it has to. It has no technological or even tax-collecting infrastructure.
During World War II, Germans, Italians and Bulgarians destroyed all that Greece had. Like the Gothic barbarians the Christians imported to Greece in the fourth century to smash the temples of the “pagan” Greeks, the barbarian occupiers of Greece in the 1940s left nothing standing – bridges, railroads, government buildings, and factories. They knocked everything down or burned it. They also starved the country, killing about 10 percent of her population, the highest number of dead in any other country caught in the violence of World War II.
In addition, Germans, Italians and Bulgarians plundered the country’s gold and forced Greece to fund their occupation. Then, when the occupiers lost the war and left Greece in 1944, the Greeks, some of them inspired by communist Russia and others aided by England and America, fought each other until 1949, completing the destruction and impoverishment of the country.
In addition to this terrible legacy, Greece is under the shadow of America.
The result of that unspoken dependency, verging on colonialism, has been humiliating to the Greeks. The inevitable Americanization of the country became a spigot through which the best and the brightest left the country for Europe, including Germany, and the United States.
The American bosses of Greece picked up a few Greek families to run the country. Two of those families, Karamanlis and Papandreou, rose to the top, governing Greece for their private enrichment and the cold-war interests of their American sponsor.
The Greek oligarchy ignored national self-reliance and industrialization. The only economic activities that earn some living for Greece include agriculture, the merchant marine, and tourism. As for education, it is pitiful, always starved for money, libraries, laboratories and advanced science and technology.
The membership of Greece to the EU helped the kleptocratic elites to larger villas and thicker bank accounts. Goldman Sachs, one of America’s banks, which the US Treasury Department bailed out in 2009 because it was “too large to be allowed to fail,” has been advising the Greek government how to hide its massive borrowing. But Goldman Sachs, along with the German giant, Deutsche Bank, also manipulated the Greek debt, thus bringing Greece on the verge of bankruptcy all the while making billions from the financial woes of the country.
Like in the United States, the Greek population was left behind the private enrichment of the few – both Greek and foreign. Many rural Greeks abandoned their villages for overcrowded Athens and a few other larger cities.
More than half of the economy operates in a black market. Another substantive section of the economy, land, is another black hole because it belongs to the church. The state refuses to tax the church, though the church is the largest landowner in Greece. A responsible government ought to take that land from the church, which is thoroughly corrupt.
In 2005, government investigators charged several bishops with fraud and debauchery. Such criminal and unethical behavior, including homosexuality, is typical of most bishops who live like medieval princes. All of them are extremely wealthy from the systematic appropriation of the meager but continuous financial contributions Greeks make to their church. This is nominally a religious institution that has become a big business.
Why should the Greeks tolerate a church that is a huge hacienda?
If the government redistributed all that church land to the landless, it would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the nearly abandoned villages of the country, restoring justice, community and self-reliance in food. Besides, the state considers every cleric a bureaucrat and pays him a handsome salary. So why should these clerics be in business?
The state has no role in propping up corrupt institutions like the church. But the state has a responsibility to help its citizens out of misery, poverty, and other dangers.
The failure of the Greek government to act as a legitimate government has forced the Greeks to embrace corruption. They take advantage of the client relationships with their politicians to take hold of government jobs, many of which are do-nothing jobs. Greece has about 8 times more bureaucrats per capita than other European countries. Those who have to make a living, turn to the service industries, especially tourism. But corruption is so pervasive that, according to my Athenian friend Kostas Kalimtzes, “it has seeped into every social crevice and into most minds.”
Corruption is simply a modernized version of the corrupt way of life the Greeks learned under the life-threatening conditions of Turkish occupation. The legacy of that Dark Age is still alive in Greece.
A few things are necessary for the revival of Greece. It would help if the United Stated abandoned its imperial hubris, hence its pro-Turkish policies, treating Greece and Turkey with fairness.
Second, the EU ought to end the rapaciousness of large banks, indeed, terminate the effects of globalization, giving priority to European national and local institutions in development and culture. The US ought to do the same thing. EU must also have some self-respect, ordering Turkey out of Cyprus.
Third, in the Greek front, the Greeks must demand patriotism and honesty of their politicians. If Papandreou keeps on his defeatist path — pushing multiculturalism, following the advice of cannibalistic corporations like Goldman Sachs, failing to tax millionaires and the church — replace him with a patriot who will fight for Greece. This means protecting Greece from its external and internal enemies.
Fourth, the real antidote to any Dark Age is a Renaissance, a rebirth of traditions and culture most fitting people eager for a more honorable life guided by reason. The Greeks are surrounded by a Renaissance culture, now kept in the museums primarily for visiting tourists. They have to open up these museums to themselves, and in the process of discovery who they are, they will figure out Greek ways to get back into their own Hellenic civilization, which made Western civilization.
Once Renaissance catches on, nothing and nobody will be able to stop the Greeks from reliving their original and creative culture. A democratic, corruption-free and self-reliant Greece will restore dignity, hope, and independence to its citizens, respect to its friends, and fear and respect to its enemies.
Evaggelos Vallianatos is the author of several books, including “The Passion of the Greeks.”