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Friday, February 9, 2018

Greece Through Irish Eyes

In this article, a xenos describes a book which he has written about Greece. Aptly, he calls the book "Greece through Irish eyes". After reading the article, I believe I will buy this book. Here are my favorite paragraphs:

"One would have to be an imbecile or a politician to love Greece without realizing how grievously it suffers as much from self-abuse as from the cruelties of others. So we tolerate the imperfections amid which we live our lives."

"What is there to love about Greece? For me, the unchangeable keywords are: 'filotimia,' 'oikogenia,' 'estia,' 'oikonomia' and above all 'eleftheria.' These constitute 'Greekness' – 'ellenikotita.'"

And particularly this one:

"A Westerner, trained in linear thinking, will be exasperated by the difficulty in making connections between cause and effect. Quite often, what I see does not correspond to what I would call 'reality.' The West still does not understand Greece, because it insists that Greece belongs to them, when in fact it is a pivotal joint between East and West."

41 comments:

  1. I prefer this paragraph....

    "But the callous and inappropriate way in which the European Union and the International Monetary Fund attempted to address the economic collapse was unforgivable. The chicanery employed by the highest authorities in Europe to evade their responsibilities to Greece remains culpable, while the Eurocrats’ inability to understand the lack of systemic reforms shows how incapable they are of recognizing the qualitative difference between the cultures of Europe."

    For West and East... we belong to neither. Consider us the Switzerland of the Med.

    And there is no Greek that does not believe that at some point in time the Greatness of the past will return to the present.


    Sincerely,
    V

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    1. I have to chuckle when I read that Greece belongs neither to the West nor the East. Reminds me of the elder Karamanlis in parliament when he emphatically stated that "Greece belongs to the West!" And the elder Papandreou deadpanned him by exclaiming "Greece does not belong to the West; Greece belongs to the Greeks!"

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    2. "The Switzerland of the Med"? In what respect? Neutrality? Economic stability? Greece the failed and bancrupt NATO, EU and EZ member state?

      Urs (from the Switzerland of the Alps)

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    3. "What is there to mourn about Greece? First, the self-delusion that Greece can somehow regain its classical glory – a form of irredentism that just isn’t credible or realistic. Second, the way in which politicians, especially Andreas Papandreou and PASOK, created a “welfare state” based on clientelism and cronyism. How do I recognize it? Because we have it in Ireland too."

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    4. Like Switzerland we are a non aggressive state and people. Greece is always attacked handled and oppressed. Makes think as to why. The roots are not as much as the geopolitical that most label it. The is an underlining.

      Anonymous 6.02 made a nice reference below.

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    5. Exactly Mr. Partner. And I never heard that phrase before. We may be as a country in a variety of clubs but it is more out of modern necessity that we be a part of those clubs.

      V

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  2. The West is a colony of Greece. By definition a colony is not a metropolis. So the only thing the West needs to understand is abundant and unending respect for its mother culture with is the concept we call Greece.

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  3. First, background info:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pine

    Smashing hit worldwide, Durrells in Corfu:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khiNh3zIYKg

    Finally, putting it all together:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIOjaroRfEI

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  4. Quite frankly, you are failing to classify things properly.

    There is an enormous love affair and admiration of Greece by all British people (perhaps because they also are people of the Sea and therefore understand the Greeks better than anybody else). Correspondingly, there is an enormous debt owed by the Greeks to the British.

    Greece is a free country today because a British admiral disobeyed Whitehall's orders in the Battle of Navarino and sunk the Turkish fleet and forced Ibrahim of Egypt to withdraw his troops after ravaging Peloponnese beyond recognition. Furthermore, it was the irregular forces of Greek fighters under the command of British officers which following the Battle of Navarino cleared Attika and Sterea Ellada (Central Greece) from Ottoman troops and therefore formed the basis of a very small initial state which was to grow over time.

    Each time the state grew in territorial expansion it collapsed its economy and lead to bankruptcies.

    On the other hand, the German influence in Greece is the exact opposite and always associated with major negatives and gigantic setbacks. From a discredited Bavarian Otto who was kicked out because he establish oppressive Vavarokratia (Kratos of the Bavarians) to a Danish-German family who succeeded the Bavarians whose only job was to restrain and control Greece (see Asia Minor catastrophe which was 100% the product of a Germanophile foreign King promoting the interests of Germany against Venizelos - the only statement quality politician ever produced by Greece and a Cretan nonetheless meaning uber anti-conservative and anti-monarchist).

    So it comes down to this: the(most of) British understand us and therefore accept us. Germans never understood us (their land based culture is the antithesis of the Greek culture by definition) and they only produced disasters for Greece leaving behind a trail of oppression and disrespect for the obvious superiority of the Greek culture to the almost non-existent German one. The German-Greek relationship is based on the dark pathology of jealousy and desire to harm the essence of Greek culture.

    In summation: everything that has its roots in Britain (minus the disgusting Saxon element) is very good for Greece. Everything that is aus Deutscheland is to be avoided like the plague. You people belong in a different universe and please stay as far away from us as possible. The chasm in our ways of thinking is unbridgeable and it better stay this way.




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    1. I refer to Stathis Kalyvas' "The history of modern Greece" as regards the Otto-time and to C. M. Woodhouse's "The struggle for Greece" regarding the civil war. The former leads me to the conclusion that Otto did a lot more for Greece than he is being credited for and the latter suggests that the British more or less messed up Greece in the 1940s.

      Kalyvas: "Most Greeks today have come to see this period in a very negative light, a little more than thinly disguised colonialism, the trading of one foreign rule for another. However, such a negative perception should not distract us from recognizing the extensive amount of groundwork that was accomplished during a very limited time (a new legal system, a new regular army, the new Church of Greece subordinate to the government, compulsory primary education, mass schooling, the first university, etc. etc.). Rather than seeing these efforts as pathetically inadequate, we should recognize them instead as the messy and painful initiation of nothing less than a formidable enterprise."

      According the Woodhouse, the British put their money on the monarchy - its rescue and its continuation. And as we know today, that bet has damaged Greece to this very day. Their question was not so much what was good for Greece and the Greeks but, instead, was was good for Great Britain. They messed up the ELAS/EDES relationship and when the going got rough, they bowed out and handed the problem over to the Americans (who, thankfully, assumed responsibility).

      And, finally, the British did absolutely nothing by way of support for Greece since 2010. Not being a member of the Eurozone, they didn't have to put up any money for the rescue operations while, at the same time, British banks got bailed out by EZ-tax payers.

      I am not in any way suggesting that the Germans did a lot of good things for Greece. On the contrary, they rather destroyed Greece in the early forties and never made up for that. But to put the halo around the British is a bit far-fetched in my opinion.

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    2. Kleingut:

      I have to honestly tell that a never ending list of "connecting nodes" with no rhyme or reason are more indicative of a tormented soul rather than someone which you need to take guidance from.

      I am not impressed at all and I fail to see what is this guy's specialty. Civil wars? We have Thucydides for that:

      https://stathiskalyvas.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/cv_kalyvas.pdf

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    3. Mr. Kastner.
      Yes but at least the gentlemany
      I prefer the Brits over Germans any day of the week.
      V

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    4. The worst effect the Brits have on present day Greece is through this left leaning demand-side oriented Keynesians they trained at some of their smaller universities who now run the show in Greece.

      Urs

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    5. To Urs February 10, 2018 at 12:30 PM

      Damn! I was under the delusion that the French-educated socialist that run the show (you know… defeated in '68, they got their "revenche" first in Academia and then proceeded to weasel their way into the state apparatus and all that…) were to blame! I guess Nikos Dimou, the philosopher, didn't get this one right! Damn them for chasing off the sane Teutonic influences of ordoliberalism!

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    6. Urs:

      I do not think that the UK's Telegraph (from which I get all my inspiration and ideological satisfaction) is run by Keynesians. Are you confusing the Telegraph with the Guardian and Tony Blair with Boris Johnson? Because I can assure you they are not the same. We are for Brexit here in Greece. We want the Gwemanic construct called the EU to be reduced to ashes and then some.

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    7. Urs,
      When I state I prefer the Brits. It is in there relation to us in mannerisms. Not there economical models.

      Keynesian model though was a model that brought a huge amount of growth and proper in a period where the majority of the planet needed it. It served it's purpose so don't bash it. The future model is yet unclear as it will need to consider many aspects aside economics.

      V

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    8. @Anonymous February 10, 2018 at 7:16 PM
      I refer to Mr. Varoufakis and Mr. Tsakalotos education.

      Urs

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    9. @Anonymous February 10, 2018 at 7:35 PM
      1) You are a member of the Syriza / ANEL government and a regular Telegraph reader?
      Give us your name please.
      2) You may support Brexit but what about Grexit?
      Urs

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    10. V,

      Yet your main problem in Greece is an economical one, right?

      I don’t think that the "Keynesian model" brought sustainable growth to Greece. Do you?
      Urs

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  5. I don't know who Stathis Kalyvas is and please don't force me to do background research on him because obviously there are a few Greeks who are so blinded about the corrosive effect of Germany in Greek history that all they see is "German friendship". Not to elaborate on the subject but all junta and Golden Dawn elements in Greece are great admirers of the Germans. Which is a very simple and easy to understand fascist connection.

    Regarding the British, yes Churchill was more anti-communist rather than pro-Greek and anything against the idea of empire did not sit very well for him. Nonetheless a very impressive patriot if you are British and a dedicated monarchist. We all know now that the House of Windsor is pure Germanic therefore uber disgusting any which way you want to look at it. Philip of Greece (husband of Queen Elizabeth) was a real Nazi piece of work sympathizer and so was most of the royal family at the time.

    When it comes to upholding traditions, I have to admit, the British might be a bit irritating about the false symbols they worship.

    But on the whole, there much more positive coming out of Britain today towards Greece and only blind people can not see it. I wish I could say the same about the Germans which is an ever slumping relationship of disgust which btw may go both ways but so much more on the Greek side.

    Bottom line: do you want to observe true Greece? then remove your German goggles and leave them at the door never to be spoken again. Then you might understand the essence of Greece which is the love of science, reason and above all justice (fair dealings with others) and freedom.

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  6. @kleingut
    Quote: Papandreou deadpanned him by exclaiming "Greece does not belong to the West; Greece belongs to the Greeks!"

    From what I learned here I doubt that the Greeks believe that Greece belongs to them. Firstly they would take much more care of something that they feel belongs to them and then they seem to be always in search of some benign foreign masters who protect and feed them or at least can be blamed for their misery.

    Urs

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    1. It's extremely entertaining how a (Germanic) Swiss feels entitled to come here and brandish the most dumbded down and hypocritical precepts of… colonialism!

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    2. That's part of the Greek genius, isn't it? Recruit a big "protector" and let him do the fighting on your behalf. Why would we shed Greek blood when an expertly manipulated protector could do precisely the same?

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    3. @Anonymous February 10, 2018 at 3:09 PM
      Nice try. Nonsensical as usual but nice. The elipsis however is a tad too melodramatic to my alemannic-swiss liking.

      Urs

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    4. @Anonymous February 10, 2018 at 4:48 PM
      Yes, it would be clever if it would (still) work. Unfortunately it doesn’t. After the end of the cold war many clever tactics of small countries became obsolete. As a Swiss I know what I am talking about.

      Urs

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    5. Urs,

      Keep reading. You couldn't be further from understand us and what we value.

      Mr kastner makes a sincere effort to throw information, pokes, and ideas to generate thought and rethinking as to build an understanding. It is this type of sincere mannerisms that is gladly welcomed even if we do not agree all the time. His thought process and continuance persistence to maintain this blog is a tribute to him and efforts of concern for the Greek welfare. If there were more such as him maybe more people would understand us and maybe we could come out of our shells a bit.

      Try to follow his example and maybe in time we can exchange ideas better. Without the nasty comments.

      V

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    6. V,

      I fully agree with everything you wrote about Mr. Kastner and I marvel his patience and persistence especially when I read some of the comments here that seem to me not welcomming at all. Unfortunately your claim that I couldn’t be further from understanding Greeks and their values lacks any arguments. My claim is based on the majority of comments here from people who indicate that they are Greeks. Their main issues seems to be:
      - What other nations should do to better the situation in Greece.
      - The responsibility of other nations wrongdoings for the misery of everyday life in Greece.
      - What countries proved to be helpful in the past to the wellbeing of Greece and Greeks.
      These are the topics that derail the commenting of Mr. Kastners blogposts time after time.
      When Mr. Soros told the Germans some years ago they should act as "beningn dictators" I expected an outcry yet nothing happened. Over the years I learned that this seems to be exactly what many Greeks dream of: A strong protector who finances their welfare state, leaves the tax dodging elites untouched and isolates Greece from the cold world of international competition. The problem is that no one wants to take play role any more: Not the Europeans, not the Russians, not the Chinese and not even the Americans.

      Urs

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    7. Urs:

      The cold war has nothing to do with Greece. Which countries do you think are the protectors of Greece today? None of them are found in Europe. Which part of the game do you feel is not working for Greece?

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    8. Kleingut:

      If you want to follow the logical argument of where Greece belongs, it goes like this:

      Greece is the WEST, therefore the entire western world belongs to Greece.

      What most of you "europeans" are confusing is that your own versions of western values are nothing more than badly constructed knock-offs of the true original.

      So when you try to sell us versions of your imperfect understanding of values stolen from us and resurfacing millennia latter as pirated versions of our originals then the whole thing becomes hilarious.

      Are you serious? You expect us to swap the authentic (which is our true version of the west) with illegitimate and imperfect concepts stolen by the Romans( meaning people of zero moral fiber) and spun into germanic stories for the marshlands of Europe(in other words the most inappropriate geographic location for Greek ideas to flourish)?

      Could you please assume the position of unending respect for my people and stop selling us your twisted ideas of what constitutes "western civilization". You are nothing but mere students trying to out-teach your professors? What's wrong with you people?

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    9. Ridiculously arrogant, ignorant, single-minded and with a glaring lack of self-reflection as usual…

      PS. "My claim is based on the majority of comments here from people who indicate that they are Greeks". ...

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    10. Urs @ 12:47 pm.

      Nonsense. This is clear evidence that you have no idea who the Greeks are and furthermore that you have somehow appointed yourself(without any credentials or ability, I might add) as a judge of Greek behavior. But you can't do such by definition:

      1. No one has asked you to tell us what you might think is wrong with us. As far as I know, we are not into a relationship of any kind so keep your rude comments to yourself.

      2. I can assure you that you a very "small" and thus quite unlikely to pass judgement on something that is clearly superior to all of your traditions and those of your neighbors.

      3. It's abundantly obvious that we are not taking any of your criticism seriously and for the reasons explained we will never will. So why do you keep giving us feedback when none was asked? And even more to the point, why do you keep giving us feedback when you haven't established any credentials which we might respect?

      4. Therefore, the conclusion is that you are a prisoners of a sick pathology against the Greeks which is quite understandable (all you have to do is read Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche who went mad when he realized how high the bar was when one speaks or even attempts to emulate the Greeks).

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    11. @ Anonymous at 1.07 pm
      The Cold War unrelated to Greece? Since I would be a poor judge of that, I refer to Yanis Varoufakis. He once wrote an article claiming that the Cold War actually started in Greece. His point was that the Dekemvriana of 1944 was the first conflict of the Cold War. If you disagree, tell Yanis, not me.

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    12. Kleingut:

      The cold war started in 1945 and was in full place by 1949.

      The December affair in the Greek civil war had nothing to do with the cold war. In the Yalta conference Churchill had already an agreement with Stalin that Greece would belong 90% in the Allied sphere of influence. The Greek civil war happened not because of the cold war(because it clearly pre-dated the cold war). The Greek civil war which started in December 1944 was due to the fact that for whatever reasons, Moscow did not inform or did not wish to inform the Greek leftists that they have been abandoned since a deal was struck with Churchill already.

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    13. Kleingut:

      Here is a taxtbook definition of the cold war:

      "The Cold War was the geopolitical, ideological, and economic struggle between two world superpowers, the USA and the USSR, that started in 1947 at the end of the Second World War and lasted until the dissolution of the Soviet Union on December 26, 1991."

      The Greek civil war started 3 year earlier but it was never part of the cold war because Greece had already been spoken going back to the Yalta arrangement.

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    14. Is Varoufakis a historian or an economist?

      "The Percentages agreement was a secret agreement between Soviet premier Joseph Stalin and British prime minister Winston Churchill during the Fourth Moscow Conference on October 1944, about how to divide various European countries into spheres of influence. The agreement was officially made public by Churchill twelve years later in the final volume of his memoir of the Second World War. The US ambassador Averell Harriman, who was supposed to represent Roosevelt in these meetings, was excluded from this particular discussion.

      Winston Churchill, not Stalin, proposed the agreement, under which the UK and USSR agreed to divide Europe into spheres of influence, with one country having "predominance" in one sphere, and the other country having "predominance" in another sphere. According to Churchill's account of the incident, Churchill suggested that the Soviet Union should have 90 percent influence in Romania and 75 percent in Bulgaria; the United Kingdom should have 90 percent in Greece; and they should have 50 percent each in Hungary and Yugoslavia. Churchill wrote it on a piece of paper which he pushed across to Stalin, who ticked it off and passed it back. The result of these discussions was that the percentages of Soviet influence in Bulgaria and, more significantly, Hungary were amended to 80 percent.

      Churchill called it a "naughty document".

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    15. Frankly, I don't give a damn about when the Cold War started because it is totally irrelevant. Never would I have thought that someone would come up with the idea that it started in Greece. That's why I remember Varoufakis' article so well. My reaction to it then was that it was a typical Varoufakis: he had to find yet one more theme which puts Greece into the center of world history and himself into the center of world historians for having discovered that.

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  7. A German retiree living in Greece, who admitted in court that he was part of a network of German and other Western European residents of Greece recruited as spies by Turkish intelligence, has been jailed for 14 years. The 65-year-old man, who has not been named, was arrested two years ago in the southeastern Aegean island of Kos. He was born in Cold-War-era East Germany and worked as a locksmith before serving for 15 years in the East German National People’s Army. From 2009 to 2012, he lived in Turkey before moving permanently to Greece.

    On the morning of October 15, 2014, the German national was arrested by Greek police, who said they spotted him taking pictures of a Greek military outpost while sitting in his parked car. The police officers confiscated his camera and searched his vehicle, finding a pair of binoculars, various camera lenses and several memory sticks. His camera contained photographs of Greek military installations and government buildings on the island, which is located less than 3 miles off the Turkish coast. More photographs of Greek defense installations, military vehicles and communications facilities were found in the man’s house on the island. Police also found there documents in the Turkish language and notepads bearing coordinates of Greek military bases, public buildings and bridges located on Kos. The prosecution claimed that the German man was also monitoring the activities of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency that maintains a base on the Greek island.

    During the trial, the accused said he was recruited by Turkey’s intelligence service, known as MİT, in 2011, when he was living in Turkey. He also told the court that he was one of many German and other Western European retirees living in Greece, who have been recruited by Turkish intelligence to spy on Greek military and civilian government facilities. He added that, in return for his services, his Turkish handlers deposited €2,000 every month to his bank account in Germany. He had also been instructed to meet his handlers in Germany, not in Greece or Turkey. A court in the Greek island of Rhodes convicted the German man to 14 years in prison, one year less than the 15-year sentence requested by the prosecution.

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    1. Uff, I am relieved! When I started reading the first sentence, I thought you were talking about me and that you caught me...

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    2. @kleingut:
      To believe that you would take this job for a paltry EUR 2'000.- per month would be the ultimate insult. I hope nobody here will ever go that far.

      Urs

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  8. I think it is more efficient to put my answers to various anonymous comments into one structered comment:

    1) Hurt feelings / Hurt national pride etc.
    Anonymous February 11, 2018 at 5:11 PM

    a) You shouldn’t read my comment as a personal insult. It wasn’t meant as such and when I write about Greece and Greeks it should be obvious that I target my criticism not at each and every person with a greek passport. Having said that it is funny to see how you validate my critique by fighting it.
    b) It is not very convincing when you claim that "we are not taking any of your criticism seriously" and at the same time write a lengthy reply full of childish name-calling but without a single argument to the contrary.

    2) Cold war
    a) Greece as a NATO member state was of course a party in the cold war like all other NATO and Warsaw Pact member states as well as some countries that were neutral only on paper like Austria and Switzerland.
    b) My argument was that after the end of the cold war smaller countries (like Greece or Switzerland) are under higher scrutiny than during the cold war.

    3) Based on what?
    Anonymous February 11, 2018 at 3:23 PM

    I struggle to understand why the fact that I base my observations on the comments to kleinguts blogposts mady by people who state or indicate that they are Greek exposes my comment as "ridiculously arrogant, ignorant (and) single-minded"? Please explain.

    Urs

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