The following thoughts were prompted by an interesting blog post by a fellow tweeter (@pubphilosopher) that I read today:
"Are the Ottomans to blame for Europe’s poor South-East?"
Posted on November 2, 2011 in Pub Philosopher
I offered the fellow tweeter the following as food for further thought:
1) I think John Reed's 1916 book "The war in eastern Europe" has insightful narratives from his trips through the 1910s Balkans
2) My own npthinking blog post "Zeus, Ulysses, Pericles, Merkel and central bankers" of Nov. 5, 2011 where inter alia I propose that:
"IMO the paradox is that Zeus and other Greek gods and goddesses, legends such as Ulysses and Achilles, real life ancient Athenians and mostly politicians even of the Pericles era would probably be considered more "unruly" and "less EUropean and EUROpean material/stuff" than modern Greece/Greeks, in the eyes of "purists" (to say the least) such as A. Merkel, central bankers, conservative US and European media, etc etc etc and of course "some" modern Greeks"..
3) An article by Stathis Kalyvas in the New York Times of 11/11/2008: "Why Athens is burning". Dr. Kalyvas is a professor of political science at Yale and the author of "The Logic of Violence in Civil War". A key excerpt from his opinion article at the NYT is IMO: "After Greece's transition to democracy in the mid-1970s, a public discourse of resistance against authority emerged and became dominant"
I tweeted the following thoughts of mine on the subject in two long (twitlonger) tweets but then another fellow tweeter from the UK suggested that I create a proper blog post out of them. Here they are, merged into one analysis (note that my first paragraph has no full stops!!):
A challenge towards authority "culture" can be expected to be a trait of a nation that was organised in city states in Ancient times, then survived (including keeping its language) from long term occupation by Romans, then Byzantines, then Ottomans, started independence war against all odds and European trends in 1821, became a state in 1831 (same time as Belgium, way before Italy and Germany), fought as British ally in both wars, defied Mussolini, survived and resisted the Nazi occupation, wound up at the border of the Iron Block after Yalta, went thru a very painful and bloody civil war 1946-1949, the effects of which lasted until recently, and a US-supported junta 1967-1974 (Bill Clinton apologised officially for that US role) and is forced to maintain very high level of defense spending bc of threat from a NATO ally (bc NATO does not protect a member from invasion by another member).
(Plus joined the EEC and then the Euro/EMU more due to geo-strategic defense reasons that economics. And as I have tweeted a few, is one of the main "victims" of the so far absence of political (and thus also military/defense) union in the EU!)
Does not only the EU but the Eurozone need a member like this?
Thinking systemically and in terms of group dynamics, my answer is:
Desperately, as a check and balance against sclerotic thinking that often raises its ugly head in Europe.
The Euro needs the "unruly" Greeks as badly as Germany needs Merkel (but for the exactly opposite reasons).
Of course, can only afford only one Greece (ie only one such member), but there is only one Greece. It's very simple.
But Merkozy does not have the guts and maybe the wisdom to openly acknowledge that!
Ireland and Portugal are also needed and unique addition to a Eurozone that is working and not "boring", but in different ways. Their leaders were right to claim that their countries are not Greece. They are not Greece.
Merkel, CDU/CSU-FDP, the Dutch and Finn governments and others, are trying to "punish" Greece so blatantly as to discourage Ireland, Portugal and others from daring to ask to be treated as Greece.
In treating Greece this way, these continental Europe neocons are doing Greece, their countries, Europe and the world a disservice. But their treatment of Greece is starting to bite back on them. Like the Spartans in Thermopylae, the torture of the Greeks by Merkozy et al may be what will help the EU/EZ acquire a common identity. Greece is becoming a symbol for the progressive social and political forces of the EU and the EZ.
You disagree with my analysis? Keep this text and read it again in 1-2 years.