Saturday, May 26, 2012

Constructing the Greek state - part 2

The Ioannis Metaxas regime (1936–1941) was the high-water mark of Greek nationalism. It sought to create an emotional bond between Greeks and their nation that they had previously felt only for their families and immediate kin. In this, Metaxas was trying to replicate a process of nation-building that had happened over a much longer time in Western Europe. (source)

Greece is a young nation. This statement may seem absurd, since the Greeks have a long history that goes back thousands of years. For most of that time, however, they existed as an ethnic community within larger multicultural states that were often ruled by non-Greeks. This was especially so during the centuries of Muslim rule under the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottoman Empire allowed its subject peoples much freedom to manage their affairs, but this self-government seldom rose above the local level. It was at this level that the Greeks were accustomed to running their lives—within the family, at the church, and among fellow villagers.

Above the local level, there was only a weak sense of common identity. And this broader identity was more religious than ethnic. While people were almost always sure of their religion, they were often less sure of their ethnicity. Many Orthodox Christians would alternately identify themselves to census takers as either Greeks or Macedonian Slavs (Jelavich & Jelavich, 1977, p. 208). Slavs became “Greek” by attaining a certain level of education, which typically was dispensed in that language (Jelavich & Jelavich, 1977, pp. 14-15).

In addition, a common ethnic identity could not easily develop in a land where Greeks had to live with other people. This was the case over most of present-day Greece. Almost half the population of Crete was Muslim, and the same was true for Western Thrace, and parts of Macedonia. Elsewhere, Christian Slavs or Albanians often predominated. Co-existence with Muslims was possible, but it came at a high cost. As Jelavich and Jelavich (1977, pp. 5-6) note:

In the decaying Ottoman Empire individual Muslims often suffered as much as their Christian counterparts did from bad government, but they still enjoyed important basic privileges, such as a far better chance in court, fewer taxes, and a recognized superior status. […] Christians, however, usually were supposed to observe certain prohibitions that were as galling to their personal pride as to their material interests. For instance, in theory they could not bear firearms, wear conspicuous or rich clothes, or don the color green, sacred to the Muslims. They were supposed to dismount when passing a Muslim on horseback; their houses could not be richer than or overlook those of their Muslim neighbors. Christian churches could not have bells or belltowers; new churches were not to be built, but old ones could be repaired.

Just as ethnic identity often extended no farther than the fields around one’s village, the same little world also circumscribed one's zone of relative peace and security. People disliked venturing too far from home, for fear of bandits. Many of these outlaws were Greeks, but the most powerful ones were Muslims—in general, discharged soldiers for whom banditry was little different from soldiering. Some of them ruled over large stretches of territory and commanded their own private armies. In time, especially during periods of weakness, the Ottoman Empire would regularize their existence by appointing them to official posts. There was thus no fine line between banditry and State power. The State itself ruled by virtue of force, and not by consent of the governed.

Constructing the Greek state

This old order ended with the War of Independence (1821-1829) and the creation of a Greek state. Nation-building would take place over a shorter time than it had in Western Europe. It would also be a more deliberate process. Finally, it would involve a more explicit rejection of the old order—a time when Greeks didn’t have their land all to themselves.

Initially, the new state was Greek only in name, being a protectorate of Great Britain, France, and Russia under a Bavarian king with a foreign-staffed civil service and army. Greeks would not run their own country until the late 1830s, and a democratically elected legislature would not be formed until 1844.

As citizens and as voters, the average Greek would now have to assume responsibility—especially financial responsibility—for a much larger circle of people who were neither family members nor neighbors. The only common denominator was a sense of shared citizenship. The result?

In 1838 Greek finances had been put under a French supervisor, Artemonis de Regny. By 1843 the entire financial situation of the country was disastrous. With the exception of a single year the state had been run on deficit spending. Payments on the loan had been suspended for four years. (Jelavich & Jelavich, 1977, p. 75)

Greece’s finances remained precarious. A second debt crisis occurred scarcely a half-century later:

The financial problem became increasingly serious. By 1892 the service on the debt took a third of the budget. In the next year Greece was bankrupt. (Jelavich & Jelavich, 1977, p. 173)

The problem wasn’t that Greeks were financially irresponsible. The problem was that they had previously exercised financial responsibility within the confines of a small community, or simply an extended family. A bad decision would primarily impact close relatives, who could easily retaliate. There was thus a system of checks and balances that just did not work in the new Greece.

Greeks were now interacting within a large social and economic environment while maintaining the mental reflexes of a much smaller one. People thought long and hard before dealing with strangers (and for good reason). They instead preferred to deal with other family members, even when a non-relative might be more competent. The worst part was that these family networks would conspire to plunder collectively owned goods, starting with the public treasury and extending to almost any space of social interaction. Beyond the world of one’s immediate kin, Greece was still a low-trust society, and a low-trust society is necessarily a poorer one.

To overcome this problem, Greek nationalists sought to strengthen national identity—to extend to the entire nation the sort of trust and emotional bonding that was normally felt towards one’s family. In short, they wanted to replicate the cultural evolution that the West had gone through. They wished to create a large nation-state with a correspondingly large society where one could easily interact with, and trust, complete strangers.

To this end, it was felt necessary to assimilate the country’s Christian minorities and expel its Muslim minority. This process had already begun during the War of Independence, with massacres of Muslim civilians being among the first acts of the Greek rebels (Jelavich & Jelavich, 1977, p. 440). It continued through a process of Turkish reprisals and Greek counter-reprisals, culminating in a mass exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in 1922-1923.

Meanwhile, a national educational system was designed with a common curriculum. The Greek language was standardized, and steps taken to replace Turkish and Venetian loan-words with terms of Greek origin. Historic sites were made accessible to the public and used to instill national pride. In all this, Greece was following the example of Western nation-states.

Metaxas and the high tide of Greek nationalism

Greek nationalism reached its height under the Ioannis Metaxas regime (1936–1941). This period saw the use of organized youth activities, modern media, and popular art to promote national sentiment. By 1941, over one sixth of all Greeks were wearing the dark blue uniform of the national youth movement (EON). Metaxas himself became the focus of a personality cult that presented him as the “First Peasant,” the “First Worker,” and the “National Father.”

Metaxas blamed the failures of the past 100 years on Greeks pursuing narrowly defined self-interests at the expense of the nation as a whole. This pursuit of personal freedom impoverished Greek society and actually made everyone less free. His political philosophy is summarized by Sarandis (1994, pp. 151-152):

The individual must merge with the whole, and his own will was to be submitted to that of the nation. No one would be absolutely free and no individual could exist outside the state. Everything constituted part of the state, through which alone the will of the Greek people would be expressed. And this collective national will transcended the present and was independent of the living components of the nation, since it represented the volition not only of this era but also of the people of previous generations through thousands of years of history. Furthermore, individuals would subordinate their interests and suppress their own appetites and selfishness before the national collective welfare; only thus could they be powerful and consequently free.

This was clearly a Greek variant of fascism, even though Metaxas would later defend his country against fascist Italy. Today, such thinking might seem absurd, especially the notion of gaining freedom by suppressing freedom. Yet Metaxas was addressing a real problem. He wanted to stop the plundering of collective resources and turn Greece into the kind of high-trust society that older nation-states took for granted.

Metaxas’ legacy would last long after his untimely death in 1941. As growing numbers of tourists flocked to Greece during the postwar era, they were enchanted to find a nation with a strong sense of history and shared identity. They assumed this Greece was age-old, when in fact it had scarcely existed a half-century before. 


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.

Metaxas Project – Inside Fascist Greece

Sarandis, C. (1994). The ideology and character of the Metaxas regime, in R. Higham & T. Veremis (eds.) The Metaxas Dictatorship: Aspects of Greece, 1936-1940, (pages 156-157), Sunflower University Press.

Wikipedia. Ioannis Metaxas


Beyond Anon said...

He wanted to stop the plundering of collective resources and turn Greece into the kind of high-trust society that older nation-states took for granted.

I think there were serious genetic issues there ...

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the Ottoman empire staggered along for a further 100 years after the Greeks revolted.

Beyond Anon said...

The State itself ruled by virtue of force, and not by consent of the governed.

I think you draw a false dichotomy.

The consent of the governed has never been sought.

There are three groups, I suspect:

1. The governing classes. They would have been the Royalty and the administrative layer during Ottoman times,

2. The capable, perhaps the middle class,

3. All the rest.

That third class has never really had any say and really has never consented.

During more modern times (ie, under the so-called Democracies) their votes have been purchased, often with nothing more than pretty words and distractions.

Anonymous said...

Greeks own a lot of diners in the US.

Chris Crawford said...

Peter, this is an excellent piece and really illuminates the core problem underlying Greek politics. If you'll forgive me for grinding my axe, the core problem was low social capital (which you refer to as 'low trust'). And the basic social structure that underlies Greek failures is still predominant over much of the developing world -- which is now the primary factor limiting growth.

For example, China is still struggling with this problem. Even though it has a strong central government that is genuinely committed to eliminating this problem, it simply cannot disabuse its lower-level officials of their tendency to favor relatives. The problem is deeply cultural and will take generations to correct.

It is instructive to compare modern Greek history with modern Turkish history. The Greeks had a hundred-year head start on the Turks, yet Turkish political progress seems to have been more rapid than that in Greece. Perhaps this is only because the Turks were starting from a weaker base. Perhaps it is due to the remarkable leadership of Ataturk, a truly visionary leader. In any event, Greece, the cradle of democracy, is put to shame by Turkey, with no history of democracy prior to 1923.

I wonder how important to Western political progress was the period of conflict between monarchs and aristocracy? The kings of western Europe were in frequent conflict with their aristocracy, leading them to claim greater legitimacy because they represented the entire realm, as opposed to the parochial interests of the nobility. The Church supported this claim, largely because the monarchy was more likely to support the Church's financial interests against the nobility. What was at first a convenient political fiction actually started sinking in, ultimately leading to the established belief that the king served to protect the people. The democratic revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries simply replaced a national king with a national democratic government.

Something like this also existed in China for much of its history, but the emperor was too weak to overawe the nobility. Hence the common lament: "If only the Emperor knew..."

So, is it possible for a monarchial polity to evolve into a functioning democracy without undergoing an intermediate phase of conflict between the monarch and local lords? If not, then the outlook for political progress in much of the world is grim. Consider countries like Russia, most of sub-Saharan Africa, and most of East Asia -- they have made little political progress in the last 50 years.

Still, there are enough exceptions to give us cause for optimism. Latin America has made slow, steady progress for its nearly 200 years of independence. Japan's democracy is vibrant, and both Korea and Taiwan have evolved from outright dictatorships into reasonably effective democracies. India evolved from political nothingness just 60 years ago into a solid democracy. So the Western model is not the only way to increase social capital politically.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

I would like to comment on Crawford's end goal of democracy:

is it possible for a monarchial polity to evolve into a functioning democracy without undergoing an intermediate phase of conflict between the monarch and local lords?

Did not Socrates and Plato both say that Democracy is the worst forms of government? Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn also backed that up in his book Liberty or Equality. Democracy is inherently dysfunctional. Democracy always moves into Tyranny. It must. The kyklos can not be stopped. The economic turmoil is a sign of the political turmoil/chaos. People clamor for order--the need for another Metaxes. The Vulgar class can not rule itself. Nature teaches so.

What the Greeks need is another Metaxes, or the Royal Family to get involved. But Greek culture has so imbibed the principles of socialism and democracy that most of the young people have devolved into anarchists and atheists, which can NOT be governed! Greece has become ungovernable! Because as Socrates has stated, it is the character of the people that drive the government.

There are so many reasons for the Greek debacle. And Turkey is much better off than Greece because Turkey is 5 times as large as Greece and has much more arable land! Greece is nothing but rocks.

Greece is a basket case from A-Z.

Chris Crawford said...

Mr. Wheeler, I don't share your disdain for democracy; I consider regulated democracy (that is, a democracy restrained from violating certain absolute rules) to be the best form of government. However, you seem to have strong feelings on this question, so I doubt that you and I can achieve anything by discussing the matter, so I will not offer any arguments against your statements.

Sean said...

Peter, the account is similar to Nowak in his book Super Cooperators, he says a society where the rule of law is not respected will be one where there will be a lack of civic mindedness. He mentions a different aspect of why people are reluctant to contribute to public goods in such societies: antisocial punishment (freeloaders actively punishing cooperators).

Greece is a domino that Germany's politicians, totally committed to the EU-project, can't allow to fall, and they'll sweeten the deal, if it looks like Greece is really toying with the idea of leaving the eurozone.

However, Greek politicians could balk at a debt deal if mass antisocial punishment from the populace targets them for wanting to accept the EU deal.

Kiwiguy said...

The former German central banker and author of Germany Abolishes itself, Thilo Sarrazin, has a new book out. He is critical of the Euro and suggests Germany's commitment to it is based on WWII guilt. Probably not a novel idea, but it has generated a bit of controversy. Also, Sarrazin's credentials in finance make his arguments that Germany hasn't benefited more difficult to dismiss.

Sean said...

Kiwiguy,. I think Germany is a super high trust country where people have a predisposition to "merge with the whole" and submit their will, Even when the ideology ostensibly is to be unregimented they are going to follow orders - without argument or comment. That's what makes Germany so effective, and leads to the divergent competitiveness within the eurozone, that's why they were able to almost conquer the 'world island' (twice). When Germany saw territorial aggrandizement by military force as the key to security it didn't listen to serious people who were naysayers. Now Germans are convinced only a blitzkreig of 'soft power' can make them safe. They're far more interested in clowns like the Pirate Party than Sarrazin or Gunnar Heinsohn.

Kiwiguy said...

***They're far more interested in clowns like the Pirate Party than Sarrazin or Gunnar Heinsohn.***

I will be interested to see how well this new Sarrazin book does. His previous one sold over a million copies and seemed to influence public discourse. Merkel later said multiculturalism had failed. I emailed the publisher about a year ago to see if an English translation was planned and was told it wasn't. I'm not sure whether that is unusual or not.

Sean said...

Germany is set on constructing a European nation, forgiving Greece her debts is necessary to forge that state. Greece did something similar as mentioned in the post. Read what it says about how a Greek state was constructed by assimilating the country’s minorities.

Merkel means Germany has failed; she is talking about Germany transcending itself to reach a higher synthesis. It's a process of state constuction taken even further. "Metaxas blamed the failures of the past 100 years on Greeks pursuing narrowly defined self-interests at the expense of the nation as a whole"

Now Germany's leadership takes that thinking to the next level; assimulating immigrants and abandoning national feeling to become part of generic humanity. Given the dearth of young native Germans, there is no possibilty of populist pressure forcing a change of course.

Chris Crawford said...

"abandoning national feeling to become part of generic humanity"

Sean, that's a pretty cynical view, and one that I doubt many Germans share. Yes, Germans are the most pro-European big country in the EU. But nothing that any mainstream German politician has said supports your claim.

Moreover, their highest ambition is to form a more cohesive European political entity, not some 'generic humanity'. Western values are intrinsic and fundamental to the EU.

Sean said...

"Western values are intrinsic and fundamental to the EU."

You won't catch a German talking that kind of cultural relativism; they wouldn't claim anything for western values. Indeed Greek, German and other European values have rarely stopped peoples being aggressive when the correlation of forces was in their favour:-

"Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist forever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do" (Thucydides, Peloponnesian War).

When it was practicable for Germany to take a run at hegemony, it took the risk. Now Germans understand they can't gain from war, so they are all for peace, love and understanding.

Merkel Says Germany Is Ready to Cede Some Sovereignty to Save the Euro

Merkel Says Future Peace and Prosperity At Stake in Crisis Talks.
"No one should think that a further half century of peace and prosperity is assured. It isn't. And that's why I say if the euro fails, Europe will fail, and that mustn't happen."

'German Mass Media Pay Attention to the UN'
"For the most part, Germans appreciate the UN, even idealizing it to some extent and often expecting too much of it"

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, I don't understand what you're driving at. First you state that the Germans are abandoning national feeling to become part of some 'generic humanity'; then you turn around and say that they're hoping to achieve hegemony. Those two statements don't comport well.

As to your claim that "they wouldn't claim anything for western values", I suggest that you have a look at the basic position statement of the CDU, the party now running Germany through Angela Merkel. It states:

"The CDU Germany stands for a free and constitutional democracy, a social and ecological market economy, Germany's inclusion in the Western values and defense community, and the unification of the nation, as well as a unified Europe."

Your statements regarding Germany are all over the map and follow no clear thrust other than to challenge bits and pieces of what I write. This suggests that you simply want to argue. Please tell me this suspicion is unwarranted.

This is Peter F said...

Hi all,

We should avoid a progressive view of history, i.e. people learn a particular lesson, and then move on to the next lesson.

What is learned can be unlearned. More exactly, a particular mindset or behavior has to be continually reinforced, or else it will gradually disappear. High-trust societies result from willful effort and a particular set of circumstances. They're not like something you can build and then leave untended.

I agree with Sean's observation in the sense that nationalism can pave the way for internationalism. During the 20th century, and especially after WWII, many people subscribed to the view that internationalism was a logical next stage that would build on the progress made by nationalism.

This is, at best, wishful thinking. Modern nationalism was produced by a semi-totalitarian environment -- youth movements, patriotic curricula, propaganda, etc. Internationalism would require even stronger methods, if only because it's even harder to get people to believe that everyone is "just like family." You can easily pull that stunt when everyone already looks and behaves similarly. It's a lot harder when they don't.

In any case, the rise of internationalism has coincided with the rise of individualism. These parallel trends are the universal acid of high-trust societies.

Sean said...

"And the basic social structure that underlies Greek failures is still predominant over much of the developing world -- which is now the primary factor limiting growth. "
You cite Turkey, saying that after 1923 Turkey showed Greece how it's done, but Atatürk headed a military dictatorship that terrrorised opponents of his reforms. That example supports a powerful state that brainwashes and coerces people to pull together for the nation. It sounds very much like Metaxas's Greece, or modern China.

Germany is high trust, it was close to a democracy before WW1, a full democracy after WW1, then it moved to a dictatorship with a radical ideology that demanded use of military force for territorial aggrandizement. So Germany shows conclusively that there is no connection between a modern economy, high trust and democracy. Countries evolve toward the type of political systen that seems likely to make it powerful and secure.

Today Germany knows it it has no possibility to conquer and rule over other counties. They have internalised that perception, and now their country is the least nationalist of any major state; they will stop at nothing to make the EU work. Germany is a very dynamic country because of Germans' willingness to make sacrifices for their received ideology (whatever that happens to be at the time). I think they will accept the Greek bail-outs as necessary.

Chris Crawford said...

Peter, let me remind you that the USA is one of the most nationalistic countries in the world, and it never required youth movements or totalitarian government to get there. French nationalism certainly wasn't the result of totalitarianism, although Napoleon had no scruples about using that nationalism to advance his career. Nationalism is not necessarily tied to totalitarianism.

Sean, you point out, correctly, that Ataturk was a dictator; that military dictatorship continued after his death. However, it later evolved into a democracy, and is easily the most democratic Islamic nation in the Middle East. That's my point: that Turkey evolved into a functioning democracy more quickly than Greece did.

You claim that Germany is high trust and argue that it has been so throughout the 20th century. You overlook the fact that the hyperinflation of the 20s and the economic disasters of the 30s greatly eroded German trust. Hitler offered Germans an alternative to a society based on mutual trust under the rule of law, and the Germans, desperate for something that might actually work, seized the opportunity Hitler offered. I remind you that the 30s were a time when trust and confidence in liberal democracy fell dramatically, triggering the rise of extremist political movements in all the Western nations.

Hence, Germany was building its social capital, but then lost much of that gain, turned to Hitler, extremism, and war. That failed, too, and they had no choice but to go back to liberal democracy. But the second time around, the Marshall Plan helped them get back on their feet.

Did you know that no two liberal democracies have ever gone to war with each other?

Anonymous said...

Did you know that no two liberal democracies have ever gone to war with each other?

What we refer to as "liberal democracies" today are basically post-WW2 regimes established by the US and under American aegis. Many of them have been and are occupied by US military forces or have subordinated their militaries to the US and NATO. And they have ceded independence in other aspects to the US and US founded international institutions and frameworks.

Chris Crawford said...

Anonymous, you overlook the liberal democracies that existed before World War II: the UK, the Scandinavian countries, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Australia, and Canada. You also overlook the many countries that became liberal democracies without any American involvement. (Believe it or not, there really ARE some countries we never got around to invading).

There are plenty of borderline cases, to be sure. But the basic principle remains solid: liberal democracies don't fight each other.

Anonymous said...

Australia and Canada were not really independent before WW2. The Statute of Westminster was passed by the UK in 1931, and not adopted by Australia until 1942.

France, the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands were empires before WW2 with large colonial holdings and many subjects. I don't see why they should be considered "liberal democracies" as we understand the term today. No country today, no matter how liberal its rights and universal its suffrage in its home country, would be called a "liberal democracy" if it ruled and administered colonies abroad with subjects without the same rights and suffrage.

Sean said...

Napoleon was a dictator and his regime made the French far more nationalistic. Here. The USA had the advantage of being recently settled, and having this wonderful democratic constitution. Yet there was a bloodbath civil war between what were virtually different countries before it became a nation.

"Turkey evolved into a functioning democracy more quickly than Greece did."

Turkey's progress was achieved by undemocratic methods, and it still falls far short of Greece as a stable democracy (many of Turkey's top military are under arrest ). Yet Greece is the economic basket case! Comparing Turkey and Greece, I see no reason to think democracy is an effective way to foster high trust society, superior economic performance, or national cohesiveness. Atatürk set up Turkey with an explicitly secular constitution, and the military had the most popular party banned in 1997 on charges of 'anti-secular activity'. Turkey actively suppresses the language, culture and tradition of minorities like Armenians, Kurds, and Shii Muslems. I dare say Atatürk would have prefered not to use those methods, but he obviously thought democracy can not forge a state out of disparate peoples.

To make a success of the European Union they will have to emulate Turkey; there be police state controls to suppress 'local' nationalism.

The US has overthrown democracies, Iran in '53 for one. Germany was very close to being a democracy in 1914, British Empire was hardly a democracy (nice point by anon). And German objectives in WW1 were basically similar to those in 1939. Like I said, when it was practicable for Germany to try and conquer, it tried and came unstuck. After WW1 Germany turned to national socialism which was an ideology more suited to military adventures, then tried again. In both WW 1&2 (especially WW2) the German performance was far better than predicted. To me that suggests that the Germans are a high trust people whatever the ideology. Low trust people do do make good soldiers, Byron and his friends became very disillusioned "The Greeks have need of a lot of things, but more than anything of concord and discipline"

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, the methods that the Turks used to achieve their democracy are irrelevant to my point that their democracy today represents a faster political evolution than we have seen in Greece.

Your declare that "I see no reason to think democracy is an effective way to foster high trust society, superior economic performance, or national cohesiveness."

All I can do here is point to the vast number of examples from history. Sure, you can find a handful of exceptions on both sides (democracies with low social capital and dictatorships with high social capital) but the correlation between democracy and high social capital is strong. Indeed, you can't even get a democracy working without a goodly amount of social capital.

As to your comments about the US overthrowing democracies, I see no relevance to the role of social capital in political and economic progress. And military prowess is not as good an indicator of social capital as popular adherence to the rule of law.

Sean said...

" Indeed, you can't even get a democracy working without a goodly amount of social capital."

Your own chosen example supports the idea that, where a state contains contending groups, democracy and social capital have to be be kick started by punitive measures. "Turkish political progress seems to have been more rapid than that in Greece. Perhaps it is due to the remarkable leadership of Ataturk, a truly visionary leader". To me that is a claim for Atatürk's period of coercion being the cause of Turkey's current success. It follows that a state with disparate groups, like the European Union, will require a similar period of coercion to get to the democratic stage.

" And military prowess is not as good an indicator of social capital as popular adherence to the rule of law."

The law was respected in Germany and Japan before they became democratic. Both showed remarkable military prowness, and then became orderly and economicaly successful democracies. I don't think there was real change in social capital after the war. I think the transition to democracy in Germany and Japan was made so easily because Germans and Japanese have high social capital whatever system they live under. East Germany was the the most economically successful commmunist state.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, I get the feeling you're just here to argue. I'm not interested in bickering. If you'd like to discuss interesting questions, I'm all ears.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I disagree about the Nation part. Greece between 1830 and 1930 doubled in size, fought 4 wars, produced incredible writers and artists, acquired a huge merchant navy. Metaxas is not more important a factor than the millions of refugees from Minor Asia after the war with Turkey in 1922. If Greeks waited for the 1930's to become a nation would they achieve all that before? Or would they fight the fascists and the nazis, the way they did, ten years later? I'm afraid it's more complicated. Have you read Cavafy or Kazantzakis? You 'll uderstand what I mean , but, most important, you 'll love them. As to the current crisis, it seems the Greeks, as a culture, retain the right to write tehmselves a tragedy