The future of Greece
By Evaggelos Vallianatos
Economy and society
With the sole exception of shipping where Greece owns the largest merchant fleet in the world, Greece has pretty much stayed out of industrial development, manufacturing nearly nothing and exporting very little outside of students, emigrants, olive oil and cheese.
Growing up in Greece in the 1950s and 1960s, I remember admiring the Yugo, a small car imported from Yugoslavia. I never ceased wondering why Greece failed to manufacture her own cars.
And this is the country that invented science and created the Antikythera Mechanism, the world�s first computer 2,100 years ago.
We must admit, however, that the Greeks paid a horrendous price for their inventiveness and unparalleled originality in the arts of civilization.
Starting in the forth century, the Christians and barbarians smashed the infrastructure of the country and killed or converted the Greeks to an alien religion that buried science and technology.
That process of violent colonization included 400 years of Turkish military occupation that made the country into a concentration camp. In fact, when the Western Europeans, led by Italian scholars, launched the Renaissance in the fifteenth century, the Turks were swarming all over Greece.
So while the Europeans enjoyed the wisdom of the rediscovered Greek texts, the Greeks were cut off completely from that intimate contact with their ancestors.
When, finally, the Greeks won their freedom in the 1820s, the Europeans intervened and imposed a Bavarian king on them. This monarchy caused more than a century of political instability in Greece.
The other serious crisis that brought the Greeks face to face with extinction was World War II and the civil war that followed the killing fields of the global conflict.
The experience of the wars of the 1940s was deleterious for Greece, the life and death struggle of communists and capitalists against each other. Both of these camps were alien to Greece, one funded by Russia and the other by England and America. The residues of this civil war constitute the main influence on the current Greek political class.
These are the reasons why Greece is still a colonized country, being a field for foreign military bases and tourist boarding room for rich Europeans and Americans searching for a meaning in their lives.
Hellenizing the country
Greece could reverse this decline by becoming a model for green development and environmental protection. Adopt biological farming for the entire country, for example. This would breathe new life in hundreds of villages and make Greece self-reliant in food. In addition, tourists, who are the mainstay of the Greek economy, would also benefit from healthy food and live nature. They would become the best ambassadors of Greece.
Greek politicians must be made accountable for what they do, outlawing nepotism and self-enrichment.
The Athenians used ostracism for banishing politicians with hostile or greedy ambitions. Referenda could do the same thing in Greece, exiling for 10 years without the loss of property politicians who threaten the well being of the country.
The political parties of Greece are still agents of foreign influence. They are in line with the first post-independence parties that had the names of their foreign protectors: Russian, British and French.
Greeks ought to experiment with the norms of direct democracy, not extreme democracy. They would do well in forming one or more Hellenic parties representing all Greeks and only Greek interests.
This or other reforms are unlikely to bring about the abolition of class divisions, but they have the potential to bring the Greeks to work from the same agenda, which would be pro-Greek rather than pro-rich or pro-communist.
If the ancient Greeks, especially the Athenians, could govern themselves without parties, there is no reason why the Greeks of 2009 could, at least, design their political system to incorporate more Greek elements that would fit with their character.
Greek national security
Second, the Greeks must make their country strong. Being green is next to heaven but being able to maintain their freedom is life itself, nothing is higher than that.
The Greeks have enemies who will not cease until they dismember their country. In fact, some theorize that the ferocity of the December 2008 “protests” came from foreign enemies of the country at the pay of “intelligence” services attached to embassies in Athens.
The case of Cyprus where Turkey – inspired by the UK and the US — is occupying 40 percent of the island since 1974 is telling of the geopolitical danger circling Greece. The tragedy of Cyprus shows that neither Britain nor America is a trustworthy friend of Greece.
In addition, the case of Cyprus illustrates the superficial nature of the EU. What kind of union is the EU when one of its members, Cyprus, is partly occupied by Turkey?
The Europeans of the EU know that Turkey, a vociferous Moslem country with a past of conquest, genocide and plunder of southeastern Europe, has been at war with Christian Europe for about a millennium. So why is the EU ignoring this history? Could it be that the EU is afraid of Turkey? Or should we assume that the US is behind such a dishonest and dangerous policy? If the US is running the EU, why the pretense of a European union?
In these conditions, Greece is alone; her only pillar of strength is her military, which she must make even more powerful. Greece has an obligation to seek alliances and alignments outside the conventional system of the post-World War II and cold war arrangements. The United States can no longer play with the fate of Greece. In 2004, the George W. Bush administration recognized the former Yugoslav province of Macedonia as the Republic of Macedonia, thus inflicting a blow against Greece. America was also behind the making of Kosovo, a province of Serbia, an independent country.
These measures are designed to destabilize Greece and Serbia as well as all of southeastern Europe.
Why is president Barak Obama standing by such shameful and insane policy? He is willing to terminate America�s criminal folly in Iraq; he should be able to side with Greece. He may be in a position to bring justice in the relationship between America and Greece.
This is another case where Greek Americans can make a difference by using the politics of their adopted country to educate Americans about the wisdom to stay by the democratic values they inherited from the ancient Greeks.
Thomas Jefferson recognized that debt when during the crucial Greek War of Independence he advised Adamantios Koraes, the father of Greek independence, how to build a republic.
For the Greek Americans, it�s not enough to pay thousands of dollars to merely take pictures with the president. It�s necessary to lobby Congress and the president and present documentary evidence of the cause of Greece, which also becomes the cause of America.
In general, the Greeks are responsible for their own fate. They must resolve the anger of their youth, giving them the universities they deserve. Hellenic paideia is the first step of national security.
Great universities could rekindle a belated Renaissance that would bring the Greeks, finally, to face their ancestors. Second, the Greeks must guide their development to reflect their rich culture, defending their freedom with their lives.
Evaggelos Vallianatos is the author of “This Land is Their Land” and “The Passion of the Greeks.”
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