Modern Greeks are neither genetically nor intellectually related to the ancient ones. They are a mixture of races and tribes from Eastern Mediterranean, the Balkans, Northern Africa and Europe. In other words, modern Greeks are the descendants of Albanians, Wallachians, Francs, Venetians, Slavs, Tunisians, Eastern Mediterraneans, Galatians, Goths even Celts. The ancient Greeks were “finished” by the Byzantines and the ones who survived were either butchered by pirates (mainly the Saracens) or died of pestilence.
Just before 1821, modern Greeks had no idea that they were walking on the same land that the ancients had walked on before them. They knew nothing about Greeceʼs past, nothing about the ancient state of Athens or Sparta and surely nothing about the ancient Greek philosophers, scientists, mathematicians and politicians. It goes without saying that the Modern Greeks knew nothing about democracy which was called “Civitas Diaboli” (the State of the Devil) by the Christian priests.
The history of ancient Greece ends before Alexander the Great and not after him. Before Alexander the Great, we had city states in Greece. They were all called “Hellenes” but they lived in independent states which occasionally fought each other viciously. However, the citizens of the Greek city States were Civilian-Hoplites and had a direct involvement in the statesʼ affairs.
When Alexander forcefully united all the Greek States, there were no longer free and independent civilians but liegemen, mere subjects of the emperor. Alexander was succeeded by the Romans and then the Byzantines who constituted a multinational society. Latin was the official language of the Byzantine Empire and only during the last 300 years of the Byzantine rule, did Greek become the official language of the empire. The Modern Greek language is mainly based on the Hellenistic Alexandrian version of the ancient Greek one but it contains hundreds of Albanian, Wallachian, Turkish and Italian and Frankish words.
After the collapse of the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman occupation of the territory, no Greek was spoken in this land. Most people spoke Albanian and some Slavic languages. The supposed rebellion of Modern Greeks against the Ottomans in 1821 had one main motive that Modern Greeks will never admit. The warlike Albanian-Wallachian tribes and their chieftains (the real ancestors of Modern Greeks) wanted to steal the property of the wealthy Ottomans. In the Greek schools, students are taught that the Greeks fought for their independence in 1821. This is basically what most people (not just the Greeks) believe in and out of Greece. This is a big lie and there are plenty of historical sources that prove it. The Modern Greeks and the Ottomans lived peacefully together for hundreds of years and had an amiable relationship. The supposed “four hundred years of occupation and slavery” is just a Greek ethnic myth.
The rebellion would have drowned in blood if it werenʼt for the European superpowers which wanted to break apart the Ottoman Empire and create some protectorate states. The sea battle of Navarino put an end to the Ottoman Empire and led to the formation of the Modern Greek State which has been functioning as a protectorate of the superpowers since then.
During the years of the Greek rebellion, Europe was experiencing the impact of Renaissance enriched with heavy dosages of romanticism and passion for the ancient Greek world which inspired many European intellectuals. It is quite funny if not sad what happened to many romantic Europeans who wanted to help Greece liberate itself from the Ottomans. They arrived in Greece carrying money and ammunition to help the revolted Greeks but ended up being robbed and naked as the Albanian chieftains (the supposed revolutionaries) stole everything from them including their clothes!
Once Greece was “liberated” the superpower controlled rulers devised a way of giving to this amalgam of races some sort of unity. The Greek Orthodox Church, the biggest landowner of Greece even today, was one of them. The second was the language. The Greek public schools managed to suppress all the local non Greek languages spoken here. Students of Albanian, Slavic, Wallachian extract were severely punished if they dared to speak their own languages and dialects. The third was the common ethnic origin. The peoples (not people) of this land were taught that they were the direct descendants of the ancient Greeks. They were told that their only difference was that the ancients were pagans while they were orthodox Christians. Many national myths were created and one of them was the “400 years of Ottoman slavery”. The Modern Greeks were made to believe that they are a superior race with an ultra glorious past and the whole world owes them their culture and development. That was a disastrous endeavor that completely altered the psycho-synthesis and the idiosyncrasy of Modern Greeks.
Unfortunately, the element of ethnocentricism and the belief in ethnic myths is something that almost all Balkan nations have in common. You not only have the FYROM guys who believe that they are the descendants of ancient Macedonians but you also have the Albanians thinking that they are the descendants of the ancient Illyrians. All this is of course a sad farce because after so many thousands of years and so many migrations and mixed marriages, it is impossible if not completely ridiculous to lay such claims.
The geographic location of Greece has unfortunately made the country very vulnerable to the appetite of the superpowers which fought each other attempting to add Greece to their spheres of influence. Greece was basically dragged into wars by the superpowers. The Asia Minor Catastrophe as it is called, the wars with the Turks, the Balkan Wars, both World Wars, completely devastated the country. Thousands of Greeks migrated abroad and most of them prospered. However, the land was depopulated and lost its youth (it is happening now also).It took years and quite a few new generations to reach a desirable population number.
In 1967, we had the military junta. As a protectorate, we had a “made in the US” military coup. There was a great deal of political instability before the military coup and that made our “Western Allies” fear that we might become communists. That also happened right after WWII when the country was led to a civil war, something that still hurts very much modern Greeks. The military junta ended with a dichotomized Cyprus. The Turks invaded the island and the peaceful kind of living that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots used to enjoy, ended in a tragedy. However, what triggered the Turkish invasion was the Greek military junta.
As I mentioned before, if it werenʼt for the superpowers and the geopolitical games that they play, the Greeks and the Turks would have no reason to fight and to be so hostile to each other. After all, both Greeks and Turks are children of the Mediterranean Sea as the Italians, and the Southern French are. The Mediterranean Sea is the cradle of Western civilization.
I thought that it was necessary to mention all those things before analyzing the current Greek affairs since I believe that Greeceʼs default is more political and less economic.
The Economic Policies of the Modern Greek State
When you are a protectorate as Modern Greece is, it is impossible to have a fully autonomous economy. The reason is very simple. The superpowers will be the ones that will dictate the economic policy through politics. Growth and development as well as the degree of industrialization are often dictated by the protectorate rulers. Besides, Greece has always been a clan based society. The ruling class of Greece belongs to certain clans which gained the upper hand after the 1821 rebellion and obtained certain privileges. Those privileges were maintained even during the wars in which the country was engaged. Favoritism has always been the key element in every economic policy that has been implemented. The differences between conservatives, social democrats and communists a la Grecque, are minimal in reality as they are all lovers and supporters of a big fat state, a huge public sector occupied by their political clientele. That political clientele of course is not only counterproductive but also able to give its political support to the party that gives them more privileges. Ideologies donʼt really matter.
The period after the Junta
The period that started after the fall of the military Junta (1974-now) is indeed a period of democracy. The degree of personal freedom that the citizens enjoy is unquestionably unprecedented. However, the thirst for power of all political parties forced them to create a huge, bureaucratic public sector. The public servants who work there were not hired by their credentials but by their political connections. For example, when the socialists were on power, they hired public servants who were their supporters. The same goes for the conservatives, the social-democrats even the coalition governments.
Many public agencies were formed not out of necessity to serve the citizens but out of the need to house the political party clientele. Given the fact that all public servants cannot be fired since their right to employment is protected by the constitution, the size of the public sector is completely incompatible with the size of the country. A good example would be the number of teachers in grammar schools and high schools. We have more teachers than Finland does but we have the worst educational system in Europe whereas Finland is No1. Most of the strikes of the Greek teachers are for higher salaries and extra personnel. They never made any demands for better school equipment or better quality schools. They work 8 months a year and get paid for 14 not to mention the extra benefits.
In 2009, the size of the Greek public sector reached a provocatively disproportionate size. Thousands of people were hired by the conservative party and that increased tragically the government spending. In other words, right after the military junta, the political parties that came to power, spent 2/3 of the Greek GNP on salaries, benefits and pensions of their political clientele that they had placed in the public sector. The term “government spending” is a very tricky term. It doesnʼt necessarily stimulate sustainable growth as it depends on how it is spent. If the government spending goes for the consumption of imported goods, it is quite logical to expect a recession in the long run.
So, when the Greek governments borrowed money to support their political clientele through employment in the public sector, it would completely irrational not to expect the country to default in the near future.
Another big problem was the Greek agriculture. The Greek farmers received huge subsidies from the European Union but they didnʼt use them to become more productive and more modernized in their line work. Instead, they abandoned their land and spent the money on Moldavian and Ukrainian women as well as gambling, luxurious cars and mansions. We have reached a point that the country no longer produces anything. It is tragic but Greece imports everything and exports almost nothing. That can partly explain why Greece has become the most hated country in Europe.
The outrageous expansion of the public sectors along with the money spent on agriculture led to the destruction of the private sector especially the small and the average size enterprises. They are the ones that paid the heavy price of the humongous size of the public sector. The corporate oligarchs of course, who did and continue to do business with the corrupted governments, thrived and will keep on thriving as they have invested their money abroad. In addition, the Greek oligarchs and tycoons have never paid any serious taxes. The Greek authorities chase the cheese pie sellers for not giving a receipt but leave the oligarchs alone when it comes to imposing taxes. Some say that the corrupted politicians as well as the high tax evasion have caused the huge budget deficit. Well, this is true but only partially. If one adds the money that has been embezzled and the money that would have been collected through a better tax system, he would realize that it is less than 10% of the deficit. Letʼs face it! The main source of the deficit is the huge public sector.
The Euro is a hard currency and in reality, it is the camouflaged German Marc. For a developing, non-industrial country that supports its population through loans from abroad, it is a disaster. Things are even worse when the fixed exchange rate is set so ridiculously high (341 drachmas =1 euro).
Before Greece entered the Eurozone, one could purchase a cheese pie for 30 drachmas. Now it is 1,5 Euros. The bus ticket was 50 drachmas. Now it is more than a Euro. With 1,000 drachmas, you could have a nice dinner including two drinks. Now you need 30 Euros. With 5,000 drachmas you could fill your shopping cart to the rim at any supermarket. Now you need 150 Euros. There is no doubt that Greece made a very big mistake by entering the Eurozone which made it lose its competitive edge.
The Germanized Europe
There is no doubt that Europe has been completely transformed. It is no longer the continent of democracy, of equality and mutual respect among the member states. Europe has been conquered by some right wing leaders who use their protestant ethics to dominate the weaker nations especially the Southern ones. Germany and its satellites call all the shots and want all the other states to blindly follow their commands. The Protestant ethics of Germany prevent it from understanding some simple economic laws. Keynes had clearly stated that during a crisis no austerity measures should be imposed. Austerity worsens the crisis and deepens the deficit. However, The Germans think that by punishing the countries in crisis through heavy austerity measures will make an example out of them so the rest of the countries will not dare to raise any objection in the future.
The Germans who are in power now seem to have a very short memory. They were twice bailed out during both World Wars. The Americans as well as other allied forces (including Greece) willingly erased all of its debts and helped the country make a fresh start. The same goes for Poland which defaulted some years ago. However, the Polish guy, Mr. Donald Tusk who is the president of the European Council said to the Greek Prime Minister “The Game is Over”, meaning that he had to accept the severe austerity measures of the Eurogroup. He surely received the reply he deserved as the Greek Prime Minister told him that “having 2 million unemployed people, 60% youth unemployment and more than 3 million people below the poverty level is surely not a game”.
It seems that Germany and its satellites do not wish to think with pure economic logic but with protestant ethics in mind. Besides that, I think the European superpowers wish to remind Greece that it is not a sovereign state but a mere protectorate with no power of its own. There is something else, however; the newly discovered Greek hydrocarbon (petroleum and natural gas) deposits. Germany is a “dry” country regarding energy resources. It would be very beneficial for the Germans to get a hold of all those energy resources. Another example of the German supremacy is the insistence of Germany on imposing a 23% VAT on the Greek hotel services. Greeceʼs “heavy industry” is tourism. By increasing the VAT on the Greek Hotel benefits, Germany becomes benefited as most of the hotels on the Turkish coast are of German interests.
Before Alexis Tsipras
Before the Tsipras government, all the previous coalition governments were plain “Yes-men”. They were really a disgrace for all the Greeks and what they did was to sign every agreement that was presented to them by the Eurozone. However, when it came to implementing what they had signed, they chose some alternatives so as to protect their political clientele. Instead of reducing the size of the state by firing some hundred thousand of public servants (some of them had fake credentials), they chose to impose heavy taxes on property and private businesses. That caused a further weakening of the private sector and led thousands of small size entrepreneurs to bankruptcy.
People talk about the two million people who are unemployed and the three million who are below the poverty level which is sad if you take into account that the countryʼs population is 10 million people. However, not even one of them who are unemployed and officially poor is from the public sector. All of them are either private sector employees or small business owners. The previous government caused also an unprecedented “brain drain”. More than 400,000 young Greek scientists and professionals have migrated abroad. Greece has become a country where the majority of people who live in it are over sixty years old. If that continues, the future of the country is surely destined to vanish.
Alexis “Che” Tsipras
Alexis “Che” Tsipras, is a 40 year old, good looking guy with a degree from the National Polytechnic. Although he and most of his cabinet members are what we might call “bourgeois communists”, he is a simple guy and he lives in a very simple apartment in the center of Athens. He is married and has two kids. He doesnʼt drive a fancy car, he doesnʼt live a luxurious life and he never wears a tie. His problem is that he is a romantic dreamer and he believes in a big state that would provide employment for everyone. If he could, he would nationalize all the big private companies and provide free food, shelter and employment for everyone along with free education and health care which are still free but in a very bad shape. Communist dreams that can never be materialized especially if a country is both an EU and NATO member.
Neither he nor somebody else from his party has been accused of corruption, bribery or any other scandals at least for the time being whereas such scandals are plentiful in the so called “Berlin loving” political parties. He made the mistake that he could convince the Europeans that their protestant ethics are wrong and that they should be more rational and humane. He failed. Accompanied by a group of people who have PhDs in Economics (some of them have worked as professors at UK universities), he romantically thought that he could prove that the policies implemented by the Germanized Eurozone are totally false and they will sooner or later they will lead the European Union to a disaster. He may be proven right in the long run but so far he has caused disaster to Greece. He should have been more realistic and more down to Earth.
Germanope (this is how Europe should be called) showed from the start that he was a persona non grata. They made his life very difficult from the first day he came to power. He struggled hard to reach an agreement but it took him 5 months to realize that it was a mission impossible. So, if he is interested in his posthumous fame, he should resign and let a coalition pro-German government to rule the country. No matter how hard he tries, no matter how many compromises he is willing to make, he cannot be trusted by the leaders of the Germanope.
If I were him, I would refrain from politics once and for all. He will be better off if he resorts to writing books or travel around the world giving lectures about his political experience and perhaps about how a united Europe should be.
The Referendum Joke
Alexis took a big political risk by calling for a referendum against the Eurozone austerity policies imposed on Greece. He wanted the people to decide if they wish to be members of Germanope. No referendum was necessary. The Greeks have no other option. There is a direct involvement of Germanope in the Greek politics. That is proven by the imposed capital controls and who knows what else.
Unfortunately, the referendum has no meaning since the previous Eurozone proposal has been withdrawn and the payment to IMF wasnʼt made. Greece has officially defaulted. Actually, it defaulted 5 years ago but now it is official.
It would be wise if Greece found a smooth way to abandon the Eurozone but not the European Union or NATO. After all, it is a protectorate and not a sovereign country. As far as the Modern Greeks are concerned, they should abandon all of their ethnic myths and find a way of working hard to prosper. They should also pressure as much as they can the governments that will follow to reduce the size of the counter-productive public sector and make it more civilian friendly and less bureaucratic. I know that it is hard for someone to admit that he is a citizen of a protectorate but it is the ultimate truth. The sooner the Greek people realize it, the better off they will be.
The sun will continue to shine on Greece, the beautiful sea will always be circling the country and the islands will continue to add to the countryʼs enormous beauty. Life can be good even if the country is a mere protectorate.