Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Colonels: How not to turn back the clock

The Colonels ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974. They tried to turn back the clock without knowing how a clock works (source)

In Greece, nation-building revolutionized social relations. It created a much larger web of reciprocal relationships among people who were not close kin and who often never met each other. This new environment was vulnerable to abuse, typically by individuals operating within family networks. The public treasury was especially targeted, with the country being forced into bankruptcy twice during the 19th century. The problem was not just that Greeks had to learn new rules for social interaction. They also had to feel motivated to obey them.

Nation-building had another down side. Since Greece was composed of lands that had once belonged to other countries, the Ottoman Empire in particular, the nationalist project became wedded to the idea of further territorial expansion. This all too often led to reckless military adventurism. The worst case was the catastrophe of 1921-22 when an expeditionary force pushed deep into Turkey in the hope of recreating the old Byzantine Empire. The Turks not only defeated the force but also ethnically cleansed Anatolia of its historic Greek community.

Yet the overall balance sheet was positive. Writing in 1977 about the Balkans as a whole, Charles and Barbara Jelavich concluded that the initial phase of nation-building had succeeded:

Conditions in the new nations at the end of the century were certainly greatly superior to those in the area at the beginning of that epoch. At that time the Ottoman government was unable to assure the basic conditions of civil peace in its lands. Not only were the local governors unrestrained, but bandits, groups of soldiers, and local warlords with armed retainers made life impossible for the peasant population, Christian and Muslim alike, in many areas. The national governments not only assured the establishment of an orderly system of administration, but they initiated measures directed toward the improvement of general conditions in the country. (Jelavich & Jelavich, 1977, pp. 326-327)

By the early 20th century, Greeks were living in greater personal safety than ever. But they still confined their relationships of trust to immediate kin and relied heavily on family connections to get ahead. The challenge now was to create a high-trust environment where people would treat each other as they would their own family. Only then would Greece take off economically as the West had earlier. The nationalist project thus sought to alter how Greeks viewed themselves and each other, particularly through the schools and, later, through the national youth movement of Ioannis Metaxas (1935-1941). Under Metaxas, this effort assumed totalitarian proportions with the use of propaganda, popular art, and mass public gatherings.

This social engineering continued after World War II, when a Western-style democracy was grafted on to the existing political culture. Schoolteachers, civil servants, army officers, and journalists were largely “graduates” of Metaxan nationalism. The regime was thus fundamentally nationalist and only superficially a liberal democracy.

The 1960s: a turning point

By the 1960s, however, nationalism began to give way to individualism and consumerism. This shift coincided with the victory of the Centre Union Party in 1964 and … the Swinging Sixties. A new counterculture was spreading among young Greeks. Many adopted its outward manifestations—mop hair, bellbottoms, miniskirts, and rock music—while still adhering to the norms of traditional family life. Others wanted to go further by experimenting with drugs, new forms of mysticism, and alternate sexual lifestyles.

It was against this background that the armed forces launched a coup d’état in 1967. The Colonels, as they came to be known, said they wished to prevent “communism”—a catchall term for anything that threatened the ethnos, the church, and the family. Their rhetoric echoed the ideology of the Metaxas period, when they had been cadets, and they hoped to turn back the clock to that time.

The Colonels stayed in power until 1974, a little longer than Metaxas. Yet their impact on Greece’s subsequent cultural development would be much weaker. In short, they failed to alter the course of history.

This failure had several causes:

Different circumstances

In the mid-1930s, the country was paralyzed by the Great Depression and a deadlocked parliament. Greeks were willing to go along with Metaxas if only for lack of a viable alternative. In contrast, the late 1960s were a time of unprecedented prosperity. Life had never been so good. People were apprehensive about the changing family and sexual values, but most were unsure how far the change would go. Many thought the pendulum would eventually swing the other way. In any case, the demographic implications were hardly critical. Fertility was still well above the replacement level, and the divorce rate remained stable at 6 divorces per 100 marriages.

In short, the Colonels seemed to be reacting hysterically to an exaggerated threat. Their sermonizing was not taken seriously, at least not by most of the population, and they were thus never able to build a popular movement to consolidate their hold on power. While many people collaborated with the regime, they did so largely out of fear or opportunism.  

Coming of TV

TV came later to Greece than to other European countries, and it came during the time of the Colonels. As elsewhere, it centralized the production of news, culture, and entertainment. Such central control would have especially sweeping effects in Greece because of the relative weakness of civil society:

[…] this situation has been associated with a weak atrophied civil society where the state has to take on additional politico-ideological functions. This fits the case of broadcasting. The overextended character of the state has coincided with the underdevelopment of capitalism in Greece. (Papathanassopoulos, 1990)

For the Colonels, central control was a feature, not a bug. They saw it as a way to overwhelm the cultural influence of the political Left, which had now retreated to the local level. They didn’t realize that this same central control would eventually pass into the hands of a post-national elite.

Once the Colonels were removed from power, television would make it that much easier to erase their legacy. The new medium proved to be a two-edged sword.

Beginnings of globalization

The Colonels’ years in power coincided with a general worldwide shift from protectionism to globalization. In this new global economy, Greece found itself drifting toward an uncompetitive dead zone. Wages were lower than elsewhere in Europe but still higher than in nearby African and Asian countries. Conversely, the economic environment was better than in Africa and Asia but still less secure and less conducive to trust than in Western Europe and North America.

The Colonels did little about these trends, largely because they trusted the business community and saw it as a natural ally in the fight to defend the nation from communism. The business community, for its part, had its own ideas about globalization. In 1972, the Association of Greek Industrialists called for the importation of foreign workers to fill unskilled and often seasonal jobs in agriculture, tourism, and shipping (Pteroudis, 1996, p. 163). The AGI was actually making explicit a policy that its members had already adopted:

In late 1972, there were according to the Greek government around 15,000 to 20,000 foreign workers in Greece who came mainly from Egypt and other African countries (cited by Nikolinakos, 1974:81; other authors put forward a figure of 60,000 workers, Rombolis, 1980:231). The proposals of the Greek industrialists highlighted the paradox of the situation. At a time when over 300,000 Greeks were working in European countries mainly in low-skill industrial jobs, Greece had to import African labor to meet its needs in the same sectors? For Marxist analysis, which was dominant at that time, the aim of the AGI and the government was to stabilize and even reduce the wages of Greek workers (Pteroudis, 1996, p. 163)

Some light is shed on this foreign labor program by a letter that the African student union published in a Greek newspaper in 1978 (albeit after the time of the Colonels):

We denounce the existence of a traffic in black workers from Africa by Greek industrialists and ship-owners, who promise the black workers high wages. Once in Greece, the Blacks, victims of blackmail in all its forms, accept the worst jobs for very low wages without managing to get a contract of employment. When their services are no longer wanted or when they organize and become demanding, they are fired and cannot even benefit from an airplane ticket to go home. (Abog-Loko, 1981)

The same newspaper had earlier published an article stating that a community of 15,000 African workers had become established in downtown Athens (Abog-Loko, 1981).

This time period thus saw the start of de-Europeanization and population replacement. The Colonels failed to see the long-term consequences, in large part because they conceived the threats to Greece’s social fabric in geopolitical or even conspiratorial terms. In reality, the most serious threats would come from banal sources, including supposed friends and allies.

Cold War as the first priority

The Colonels blamed the decline in traditional values on the Communists who, in turn, were said to be taking orders from Moscow. The Culture War thus became subordinated to the Cold War. There was a pervasive belief that the end of communism would bring an end to the assault on the family, the church, and the ethnos. At the very least, the Culture War would be half-won.

By committing Greece more than ever to the Cold War, the Colonels also committed Greece more than ever to NATO. This “NATO-ization” of Greece paved the way for the country’s entry into other supranational bodies, specifically the Common Market and, later, the European Union. As a result, Greek bureaucrats became accustomed to the idea of being accountable to decision-making bodies that lay outside the country.

The Cold War furthermore shifted the Colonels’ attention from their own country to more distant ones, about which they were prone to misinformation and self-deception. They were especially won over to the idea of Africa’s key role in the fight against communism, and to this end they sought to assist the continent’s anticommunist regimes by bringing its soldiers to officer training schools in Greece. Yet terms like “communist” and “anti-communist” often had no clear meaning in Africa. Many regimes sided with the West for opportunistic reasons, and more than a few tried to curry favors from both sides. In hindsight, Africa proved to be a sideshow with little influence on the outcome of the Cold War.

The Colonels would eventually be undone by military adventurism and Cold War thinking. In 1974, they backed a coup to depose the president of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, and unite that country with Greece. Makarios seemed to be an easy target. He had sought closer relations with the Soviet Union (as a counterweight to Turkey’s claims on his island), and the Colonels presumed that NATO would view the coup favorably.

Turkey, however, was not amused and responded by invading Cyprus. As in 1921-1922, Greece was now up against a much stronger opponent. And, again, the West remained neutral. The Colonels could do nothing but watch Turkey ethnically cleanse the northern half of the island. They then gave up power, having lost all credibility.


History has not been kind to the Colonels. At best, they wanted to turn back the clock without knowing how a clock works. At worst, they unthinkingly aided and abetted the very processes that were eating away at Greece’s social fabric. In all fairness, however, social conservatives elsewhere were making many of the same mistakes.

If the Colonels had played their cards right, they might have hung on to power for a while longer. But they would still have had trouble stopping or even slowing down the processes of social atomization, dissolution of the family, and denationalization. These processes had a momentum of their own that could not be easily reversed.

First, the main motor of change lay beyond the country’s borders, in Western Europe and North America. Greeks could reject foreign culture and ideology, but they had neither the resources nor the population size to create an alternate world-system.

Second, the nationalist project was at least partly responsible for the Culture War. Nationalists wanted to move Greeks away from the little world of the family and toward the big world of the nation-state. In this larger world, however, behavioral norms would be determined by elites in the arts and entertainment who were often hostile to traditional values. In this and other ways, nationalism heralded what globalism would later bring.


Abog-Loko, J. (1981). La communauté noire en Grèce, Peuples Noirs Peuples Africains, 22, 55-84

Jelavich, C. & B. Jelavich. (1977). The Establishment of the Balkan National States, 1804-1920, A History of East Central Europe, vol. VIII, Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Papathanassopoulos, S. (1990). Broadcasting politics and the state in Socialist Greece, Media, Culture and Society, 12, 387-397.

Pteroudis, E. (1996). Emigrations et immigrations en Grèce, évolutions récentes et questions politiques, Revue européenne de migrations internationals, 12, 159-189 (Espagne, Portugal, Grèce, pays d'immigration).

Wikipedia - Greek military junta of 1967 to 1974


Chris Crawford said...

Again, this essay is excellent -- it fills in many gaps in my knowledge of recent Greek history. I wonder if it's possible to draw a reasonable parallel between the efforts of Metaxas and the Colonels on the one hand, and the communist states on the other hand, where the Greek leaders were trying to do for culture what the communists were trying to do for the economy. In other words, both Metaxas and the Colonels tried to implement a centrally-directed cultural shift. Such an effort seems to me to be just as futile as a centrally-directed economy.

On the other hand, we know that a great leader can change the attitudes of the population and effect cultural shift. Ataturk certainly did so for Turkey -- but the context was a major part of his success. Hitler brought out the ugliest elements of German culture and gave them currency; but that was reversed after the end of WWII.

In general, it would seem that cultural shift is a bottom-up process, not a top-down one; but in exceptional circumstances, a leader can impose some top-down shift in a culture.

I shuddered when I read this sentence of yours:

"In the mid-1930s, the country was paralyzed by the Great Depression and a deadlocked parliament. Greeks were willing to go along with Metaxas if only for lack of a viable alternative."

With just a few alterations, it reads like this:

"In the mid-2010s, the USA was paralyzed by the economic downturn and a deadlocked Congress. Americans were willing to go along with Santorum/Palin if only for lack of a viable alternative."

Anonymous said...

In general, it would seem that cultural shift is a bottom-up process, not a top-down one

That doesn't really seem to be Peter's argument here.

The colonels lost control of the centralized apparatus for top-down cultural dissemination. Their rule paved the way for top-down cultural dissemination from sources even further away from the average Greek to foreign, transnational sources.

Chris Crawford said...

Yes, those last two paragraphs are problematic. I don't think that Peter means to suggest that recent Greek cultural change has been controlled by foreign elites; I suspect that his meaning is that foreign artistic and intellectual elites provided the most appealing alternative to the traditional cultural model, and young Greeks gravitated towards the alternative model. However, we'll have to wait to see what Peter declares as his actual meaning.

The point I'm working on is the extent to which the governors of a society can consciously change the cultural norms of that society. In the first place, you simply cannot change the cultural norms of older people; at some point in the maturation process, the cement sets for those people and they are immaleable. However, by controlling the educational process, you can influence the young. Even then, however, I am dubious that such efforts can produce dramatic change. Greece has in fact demonstrated the slow pace of such change: Metaxas did his work 70 years ago, and the Colonels about 40 years ago. There's no question that Greek culture has changed during this time, but so has culture everywhere else.

Turkey provides us with an interesting counterpoint. Ataturk's leadership resulted in dramatic changes in Turkish culture, but after 80 years, Turkish culture is drifting away from Ataturk's ideal. A mildly Islamist party is now in the ascendant, and is undoing some of the secularization that Ataturk imposed. It would seem that top-down cultural change is fragile.

Anonymous said...

There is probably variation, among individuals and population groups, in the degree of susceptibility to top-down memetic control.

Jprezy87 said...

"With just a few alterations, it reads like this:

"In the mid-2010s, the USA was paralyzed by the economic downturn and a deadlocked Congress. Americans were willing to go along with Santorum/Palin if only for lack of a viable alternative."

God help us if that ever happened lol..

W.LindsayWheeler said...

The point is the recognizing of patterns. There is a pattern here when I immediately read this OP. I am not going to comment on the Colonels period but point out a parallel.

In Spain, Generalismo Franco, due to communist influence in his own country, also seized power just like the Colonels in Greece did. He held onto power for 40 years. When he died, the country became hardcore leftist, as if Franco wasn't even there. No reactionary government has ever succeeded past its term. The Colonels, Franco, or Pinochet.

This is an anthropology blog and I think this parallel bespeaks to the general degeneracy, a sort of law of thermodynamics, if you will, within humans. The Colonels and Franco held power, but not the culture and therefore none of their culture lasted past their regime. Greece and Spain are Marxist. They are socialist.

What I see is that the introduction of "democracy" immediately leads to degeneneracy. This degeneracy leads to the financial mess.

As you can see by the following quotes:

"Democracy is the road to socialism." Karl Marx

"Democracy is indispensable to socialism." Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

"Modern Socialism is inseperable from political democracy." Elements of Socialism, pg 337.

"The view that democracy and Socialism are inwardly related spread far and wide in the decades which preceded the Bolshevist revolution. Many came to believe that democracy and Socialism meant the same thing, and that democracy without Socialism or Socialism without democracy would not be possible." Socialism, Ludwig von Mises, pg 67.

Democracy is socialism. What democracy pushes is the fulfilling of the General Will which is not compatible with reality.

Not only is Greece in deep financial trouble, ---So is Spain! Can the same thing talked about here which is a lead up to the Greek financial problems also be laid at the Spanish doorstep?

Is not the same problems that affect Greece, small work week, early retirement, huge benefit packages all very similar to the Wisconsin's recall effort of Governor Walker?

Once democracy is introduced, society crumbles. Is this not what Giovanni Gentile wrote about in his Doctrine of Fascism, (which is attributed to Mussolini) talked about was well of why Fascism rejected democracy and liberalism?

Is not the financial mess a sign of the mess society is in culturally? Would these societies be in trouble if they followed wisdom?

Chris Crawford said...

Mr. Wheeler, you are apparently using redistribution of wealth as a sufficient condition for applying the label "socialist" to any government. Using such a definition. I cannot think of any government that is not socialist. I suggest that you treat the matter as something a little more complicated than black and white (socialist or non-socialist). Are there not degrees of redistribution of wealth? Are there not governments that redistribute a greater portion of the national wealth than others?

As to your claim that democracy always leads to the degeneration of society, let me point out that the longest experiment in genuine democracy, the USA, has been ticking along for 222 years and has yet to collapse into degeneracy. Sure, it's got a lot of flaws, but has it gotten worse during that period? I think not. I also cite Switzerland as another example of a robust and long-lived democracy.

The problems that Greece is suffering are not primarily attributable to the democratic structure of Greek government -- I daresay that they'd be facing equally serious problems had the colonels remained in power. The problems are attributable to the failure of Greek society to develop a strong sense of (pick your favorite term): social trust, respect for the rule of law, or social capital.

Anonymous said...

t'Sure, it's got a lot of flaws, but has it gotten worse during that period?'


W.LindsayWheeler said...

So is it as the Germans fear? If it is about the transfering of wealth---

Transfering German Wealth to Greek ineptitude and utopianism?

Sean said...

Peter, if neither nationalism or globalism is the answer, that leaves regional particularistic culture. The contrast between regions of Italy are said to have roots going back a millennium. Putting the issue of a hereditary difference aside, what resources are there in Calabria for building a high trust society such as they have in Tuscany? It is noteworthy that though there is real pressure for seperation by the successful northern regions of Italy, it hasn't happened.

In European Union terms Germany is playing the part of the Colonels regieme. The Colonel's Greece saw communism as the universal adversary, and saw no danger in globalisation tendencies. Compare Germany's leaders thinking that their policies are the only thing stopping history repeating like a reloaded video game.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Victor Davis Hanson, the renowned classicist, observed the very same thing I mentioned:

"From Greece to Italy to California to Wisconsin to Obama’s Washington, the verdict is in: the democratic statist model of trying to provide cradle-to-grave benefits, administered by an elite technocratic class, using demonization to bully the opposition and redistribute income, not only does not work, but cannot ever work."

From The Liberal Super-Nova

The American government is 15 Trillion dollars in debt. It has an unfunded liability of 115 Trillion---And the whole world doesn't have that kind of money. At the homeless shelter that I visited, everybody was getting SSI or huge educational grants. They were passing them out like candy.

Greece, just because it is small and resourceless, was the first to fall. Today, Spain is in big trouble. This is not going to end well.

Chris Crawford said...

Well, Mr. Wheeler, you're pretty far out there on the political spectrum, and I think that your comments are not what I would consider well-reasoned, but again, I see no benefit to either of us from my offering any further comments.

Jprezy87 said...

"The problems that Greece is suffering are not primarily attributable to the democratic structure of Greek government -- I daresay that they'd be facing equally serious problems had the colonels remained in power. The problems are attributable to the failure of Greek society to develop a strong sense of (pick your favorite term): social trust, respect for the rule of law, or social capital."

I think the crisis is more about the problems of big and out of control Government spending ...which are seen in alot of countries (including ours) think Greek culture played a big part in this??

Chris Crawford said...

Yes, Jprezy87, I think that Greek culture was what led to that 'big and out of control Government spending' to which you refer. In other words, the dearth of social capital was causally upstream from the excessive government spending.

I suggest that something similar is happening in the USA. Social capital has been declining in the political system for the last 20 years or so. Without a sense of common ground, political agreement can no longer be achieved by appeals to the well-being of the country. Instead, deals are reached by buying out opposition. Think of it as logrolling with taxpayers' money. Every important bill has a long list of goodies for each and every power group. Politicians who are unwilling to compromise have to be bought.

The only workable solution is a regeneration of the spirit of democratic compromise, a willingness to accept differences of opinion and work together for the common good. Although the Democrats have been slipping down this slope of late, I'll point the finger of blame squarely at the Republicans for enthusiastically charging downward.

In general, societies need the occasional disaster to remind them of the value of social capital. Countries like the USA have enjoyed no serious problems for so long that the body politic just doesn't realize how important political comity is. Usually this kind of thing leads to some sort of catastrophe that knocks sense back into people.

Sean said...

'Europe Remains a Question of War and Peace' Merkel and the German leadership aren't balking at the cost of bailing out Greece, nor are they stressing the need to alter the economic behavior of Greece in future. Greece is the schwerpunkt for a blitzkrieg of soft power. Merkel & company's aim is to fuse Germany into a European nation state and remove the basis for future conflict.

The whole idea behind the Germans' drive to political union is that, contrary to appearances, Germany has not changed and will go beserk with fanatical nationalism at the drop of a hat. So the premise German leaders are doing all this on is that countries don't change; they expect Greece will default at Germany's expense yet again, but it doesn't matter because the Germans' primary objective is not economic.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, did you know that the Germans have already launched an entire fleet of orbiting mind control lasers?

Anonymous said...

George Soros gave a recent speech on the euro:

Here's the conclusion of the speech:

"But the likelihood is that the euro will survive because a breakup would be devastating not only for the periphery but also for Germany. It would leave Germany with large unenforceable claims against the periphery countries. The Bundesbank alone will have over a trillion euros of claims arising out of Target2 by the end of this year, in addition to all the intergovernmental obligations. And a return to the Deutschemark would likely price Germany out of its export markets – not to mention the political consequences. So Germany is likely to do what is necessary to preserve the euro – but nothing more. That would result in a eurozone dominated by Germany in which the divergence between the creditor and debtor countries would continue to widen and the periphery would turn into permanently depressed areas in need of constant transfer of payments. That would turn the European Union into something very different from what it was when it was a “fantastic object” that fired peoples imagination. It would be a German empire with the periphery as the hinterland.

I believe most of us would find that objectionable but I have a great deal of sympathy with Germany in its present predicament. The German public cannot understand why a policy of structural reforms and fiscal austerity that worked for Germany a decade ago will not work Europe today. Germany then could enjoy an export led recovery but the eurozone today is caught in a deflationary debt trap. The German public does not see any deflation at home; on the contrary, wages are rising and there are vacancies for skilled jobs which are eagerly snapped up by immigrants from other European countries. Reluctance to invest abroad and the influx of flight capital are fueling a real estate boom. Exports may be slowing but employment is still rising. In these circumstances it would require an extraordinary effort by the German government to convince the German public to embrace the extraordinary measures that would be necessary to reverse the current trend. And they have only a three months’ window in which to do it.

We need to do whatever we can to convince Germany to show leadership and preserve the European Union as the fantastic object that it used to be. The future of Europe depends on it."

Anonymous said...

Soros' 3 month window is predicated on the Greek elections narrowly supplying a Euro-compliant coalition government [Greece has suspending the legality of reporting polls, so every effort is being made by the Eurocrats to secure that outcome].

Let's put two and two together -- the International Jew of Mystery, the World's Foremost ... Financier ... has told insiders what the game plan is. Israel and the Jews will back a German controlled Europe, in return for a guarantee that euro denominated usury will be continued to pay. Have no fear: this is a new military-political-economic alliance, and it runs counter to the Anglo-American alliance that formerly was backed by the same Jews.

Germany has now given Israel submarines (capable of launching nuclear missiles) ... this means the new Jewrmany, the Israel-German Axis that is making a play for economic and political domination of the EuroZone -- in fact has a strategic nuclear deterrent, outside Anglo-American control.

Let's read the smoke signals carefully: Israel is looking for an exit strategy from being yoked to the US. This isn't surprising of course considering American decline as well as the fact that a significant element of the Jewish establishment, specifically the neocon wing, is wary of Obama and his commitment to serving Jewish interests.

Sean said...

Here is Merkel saying "we need a political union first and foremost". It's perfectly clear the aim of the German elite is to lock Germany into a huge Eurostate and forestall the possibility of future conflict within Europe or German politics taking any kind of radical nationalist turn.

"German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the EU needs a political union even if it means some countries integrating faster than others.

Speaking on German TV, she called for "more Europe", including a budgetary union, saying "we need a political union first and foremost".

"Step by step we must from now on give up more competences to Europe, and allow Europe more powers of control."

Chris Crawford said...

Wow, that's impressive! You even got Jews worked into it! But wait... you've left out the Illuminati...

Anonymous said...

This may be somewhat similar to South Korea's experience after the Korean War.

South Korea was ruled by nationalistic, socially conservative, military dictatorships until the late 80s. Like the Greek Colonels, the South Korean military regimes were focused on being anti-communist, especially vis a vis North Korea, and committing themselves to the Cold War. And like Greece, this resulted in a greater commitment to and influence from the US and other outside influences.

Sean said...

France didn't even join NATO because it didn't want to be bossed around by the US. Obviously it went into the EU with Germany in the 50's with the aim of removing any possibility of German military or economic 'hard power' dominating Europe. It should be obvious Germany does not have the voters to 'dominate' in a democratic European Union where decisions will be made by made by elected representatives fron all EU countries. Population = voters and Germany does not have the people/population over the other member countries. German leaders are happy about this prospect, that's why they are saying the predictable eurozone crisis is being used by Germany as a wedge to force other Europeans to accede to the German priority of political union.

It is very silly to claim that Germany is pursuing a policy of aggrandisement when its leaders yearn to lock the nation into a huge state where it will be outvoted. Obama will order military force to be used to destroy Iran, soon after he is reelected.

"Krastev argues that the European financial crisis is but a symptom of a deeper malaise of European political culture. Europe is troubled, he says, by insecure majorities, the national populations of EU member-states who believe themselves to be threatened both by globalization in the streets (immigration) and globalization in the law (Brussels). As Krastev puts it, national governments have politics but no policy, since important decisions are made by the EU; the EU has policy but no politics, since decisions are not made by elected representatives. ...national politicians have yielded authority to the EU. This is true not just of small and weak states, but also of the major European powers, such as Germany.

European integration [...]? The failure of the common currency was not only predictable but predicted. Everyone knew that something like the situation now faced by Greece would happen at some point. Everyone knew that a unified monetary policy (the interest rates set by the European Central Bank) without a unified fiscal policy (the ability of some recognized central authority to spend more money to revive the economy) could not endure.

Peter Fro-- said...

Chris and Anon,

In traditional societies, culture is passed down primarily within each family. In larger, "modern" societies, this task is transferred to centralized elites. Even when these elites are explicitly directed to support traditional/national values, they tend to develop a mind of their own and end up pursuing different goals.

It's easy to frame this argument in conspiratorial terms, but I think it's an almost inevitable process. People who gravitate towards the arts and entertainment tend to be loners who feel their talents are not fully appreciated by their family or by society. They differ psychologically from most people and disseminate a different set of values.


One solution is subsidiarity. If something can be done on a more local level, it should be. Education, for instance, could be much more localized. Parents could educate their children as they see fit (homeschooling, tutoring, neighborhood groups, etc.), and the children would be regularly evaluated by nation-wide exams.

We should also recognize that larger, more open societies are inherently unstable. The most stable ones are the ones that have a strong civil society. So when things collapse at a higher level, a lower level can move up to fill the vacuum.

But the problem is getting people to create civil society spontaneously. When I was in Rutland, Vermont, I noticed that almost everyone belonged to one or two community groups. Most community activities were organized without any government involvement whatsoever.

Unfortunately, that's not how most of the world works. Most people are indifferent to the world beyond their own family and immediate kin.

You ask whether a high-trust society can be created in a resource-poor region (as in southern Italy). What about the Faeroes and Iceland? And what does South Korea have ... other than Koreans? Conversely, many of the poorest countries are resource-rich.


It's possible to have a stable and even successful society with very high levels of government spending and redistribution. The Scandinavian countries were a good example. But such a society requires a certain cultural and demographic base. That base is now disappearing in Scandinavia as a result of cultural changes within the native population and through population replacement.


I don't think anyone at the top has a clear idea of what they're doing. Germany is being pressured by France to water down its austerity package in the hope that renewed prosperity will lift all boats. It won't happen. The current crisis can be postponed but not indefinitely.


The Cold War became a distraction for social conservatives. Their attention was focused on broad geopolitical issues, and they failed to see what was happening at home.

In many ways, the Cold War actually facilitated the loss of traditional social values, since it helped spread American cultural influence among its allies. The U.S. ended up doing what the Soviet Union and mainland China failed to do.

Sean said...

Sorry, I meant social 'resources' -IE forms of civic engagement. Putnam cites choral societies ect. in Northern Italy. Michael Oakshott said communal ties loosened and individualism started in Italy first during high middle ages, yet N. Italy has numerous civic associations today while Southern Italy is locked into incivisme. EG "Because before in Palermo I was Mr. Nobody. Afterward, wherever I went, heads lowered. And this for me was worth any price"

" The current crisis can be postponed but not indefinitely."
Bear in mind that Germany is easilly underestimated. They nearly won WW2, which hardly anyone thought possible beforehand. Germany is doing all this to bail out French banks with massive loan exposure to Italy. the real problem

Anonymous said...

Good stuff

"And what does South Korea have ... other than Koreans? Conversely, many of the poorest countries are resource-rich."


"It's possible to have a stable and even successful society with very high levels of government spending and redistribution. The Scandinavian countries were a good example."

Not only is it possible countries like that are *always* at the top of the list of the best places to live.

However it requires a biological foundation - the right people.

Mr Hanson is wrong. The reason it doesn't work in America is because Americans aren't related enough. It doesn't work in Greece because Greeks are too related (at a micro ethnicity level). It only works just right in countries like Denmark or similar regional equivalents within larger countries (like some US states).

Biology > politics.

Sean said...

"For Merkel, none of this can be countenanced without full integration. Last week, with David Cameron at her side in Berlin, she spoke openly of a future with a directly elected European president, harmonised fiscal policies, a banking union, a unified foreign policy and political parties that straddle national boundaries" Here.

Anonymous said...

The Culture War thus became subordinated to the Cold War. There was a pervasive belief that the end of communism would bring an end to the assault on the family, the church, and the ethnos. At the very least, the Culture War would be half-won.

What they and many other social conservatives in the West and elsewhere didn't understand was that Cultural Marxism and Critical Theory had taken root in the US and from there was being spread to countries allied or tied to the US in the Cold War against the USSR and communism. Cultural Marxism began in Germany but its intellectuals fled to the US - mainly New York and other major cities - after Hitler rose to power, and they quickly established themselves in American academia. The Iron Curtain shielded the communist bloc from Cultural Marxism.

Anonymous said...

This is a good documentary on the origins of Cultural Marxism or Political Correctness:

Sean said...

Critical Theory may have been a foreign innovation, but even Kevin MacDonald admits there are was an indigenous 'culture of critique' or leftist cultural movement,(IE the American Tracendentalists) You can't say that style of thinking is alien to the US. It might be alien in Mississippi, but not in Vermont which is mentioned above for its extreme civic mindedness.

Anonymous said...

They're not really comparable at all. Much of the "critique" from founding stock New Englanders and Boston Brahmins in the 19th century was driven by a reactionary impulse in response to the rapid change and erosion of organic forms of life due in that era.