Saturday, June 2, 2012

Greece's finest hour ... and after

American editorial cartoon from 1940 (source). Today, Greeks remember Ioannis Metaxas for his defense of Greece from Italian invasion in 1940. Few remember his refusal to enter the broader conflict of World War II. His death marked the end of his country’s isolationism and the start of its gradual absorption into larger supranational entities: NATO, the Common Market, the European Union and, finally, the current system of globalism and post-nationalism.

If Ioannis Metaxas is today remembered, it is as the Greek David who fought off the Italian Goliath back in 1940. In that year, Greece was the only country that not only repelled an Axis invasion but actually drove deep into Axis-occupied territory. Metaxas is thus remembered as the man who heroically led Greece into World War II and into partnership with the Allies.

Yet that last detail is false. Metaxas was never an Allied leader. He actually kept Greece out of World War II by maintaining peaceful relations with Germany and by spurning British offers of assistance. At the time of his death, he was hoping that Germany would broker a peace deal between Greece and Italy.

Metaxas was an isolationist with a long history of isolationism. He had opposed Greece’s entry into World War I and was one of the few who had publicly opposed the 1921-1922 campaign that sent Greek forces deep into Turkey … and ultimately to a humiliating defeat. Even when war became unavoidable, in 1940, he sought to contain it as much as possible.

Greece would eventually enter World War II, but standard history texts gloss over the actual sequence of events: Metaxas’ death in January 1941, his replacement with a pro-British prime minister, and the landing of a British expeditionary force—ostensibly to counter an imminent German invasion.1 The Germans did invade, in April, and it was only then that Greece entered the broader European conflict.

Why, then, is Metaxas praised as an Allied leader? There are different reasons. For some, this myth diverts attention from his fascist ideology. For others, it justifies a postwar narrative in which the Greek people realize they can no longer be an island unto themselves. Greece must be part of the larger world: first NATO, then the Common Market, then the European Union and, finally, the current system of globalism and post-nationalism.

Postwar Greece

World War II was followed by civil war between Royalists and Communists (1944-1949). There then began a long period of sustained economic growth and rising incomes—similar to the postwar boom elsewhere. When older Greeks feel nostalgic, this is the time they think back to.

These better times owed much to the intense nationalist culture that had reached almost totalitarian proportions under Metaxas. People were now more likely to view fellow Greeks with empathy, the result being a society more conducive to trusting relationships and, hence, productive endeavor. Meanwhile, opportunities for productive endeavor grew as economic relations intensified with Western countries.

This was the basis of Greece’s newfound prosperity, but it was an unstable one. As incomes rose, people developed a wider range of socially defined needs, and these new needs tended to crowd out the old ones of family, church, and ethnos. People also found it easier to acquire individual tastes and lifestyles, and the more hardened individualists gravitated toward the arts and entertainment to indulge their need for sensation, interaction, and adulation. They were thus well positioned to reshape the ambient culture in their own image. Finally, increasing contact with the West—through trade, tourism, and foreign films—brought more contact with modern Western values. For younger and better educated Greeks, the West became the cultural model to follow.


1. Was Germany planning to invade Greece before the landing of the British expeditionary force? This is doubtful. The invasion of Greece forced the Germans to postpone their invasion of the Soviet Union—an indication that the decision had been made at short notice. It’s likely that the death of Metaxas, and the landing of British troops, raised fears on the Axis side that the Allies would use Greece for an invasion of Central Europe, much as they had back in 1918.

Had it not been for the British intervention, Greece would have probably stayed out of the war, like neighboring Turkey.


Metaxas Project – Inside Fascist Greece

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

Wikipedia. Ioannis Metaxas


Dienekes said...

Your idea that the Greeks developed a sense of national solidarity because of the Metaxas regime is false. The Metaxas regime lasted for only 6 years and had no lasting effects on the Greek psyche. If anything had a unifying effect on the Greek psyche it was the fight against Italy and Germany in which Greece was dragged into against its wishes.

This idea of national unity has much deeper roots in Greece. In fact the Metaxas regime was divisive (communists were of course persecuted, but so were anti-royalist Venizelist officers who were decommissioned from the Armed Forces). The Metaxas regime did in fact have a popular base, but it did not unify Greeks as you suggest.

The idea of common belonging is not antithetical to substantial internal discord. In fact, internal discord can very well be one of the defining characteristics of Hellenism, since ancient times, at least; it is no accident that the victorious leaders of the Persian Wars ended up in prison or exile.

In fact, the emblematic symbol of the Greek nation in antiquity (the Olympic games) was at the same time a respite from fratricidal conflict. Greeks had a sense of common identity which in no way stopped them from hating each others' guts.

The idea that people tended to trust their fellow Greeks more during the post-WWII period is also false. This was a period of intense social division between Loyalists and Leftists and not at all a period of widespread trust. Many people who participated in the Civil War on the losing side could not go back to their villages because of the intense hatreds stemming from that war, and the 50s-60s were a period in which a police state ruled supreme against both real (many communists were indeed spying for their Soviet paymasters) and imagined dangers.

PS: Your post also makes it sound that Metaxas did not seek and receive Allied assistance. He did in fact do so, and while it is true that he would not have considered himself as part of the Allied side prior to the Italian provocations leading up to the invasion of Greece, he nonetheless quickly realized that once Greece had been attacked, it had de facto been forced to pick sides on the European conflict.

Beyond Anon said...

It is not yet clear to me what issues you are looking at, but it seems to be about the manufacture of culture within large groups of people.

It might be of interest, then, to look at Hegemon: China's Plan to Dominate Asia and the World.

While the author seems stunningly hypocritical (or at least, unable to appreciate that his pro-Western Democracy as instanced in the US makes him look hypocritical) there is useful info in the book, and it might reflect the position of some of the elites.

Sean said...

Going into a war while Hitler's ideology dominated the country had effects on how Germans saw each other. Given that Metaxas was trying to get Greeks to pull together for the good of all, and war is likely to forge shared feelings of national identity, separating the effects of Metaxas's regime and the war that he led the country into seems arbitrary.
"common belonging is not antithetical to substantial internal discord. "
You can dislike someone's views but still think they are likely to be honest.

Chris Crawford said...

Peter, this third part confuses me. I was under the impression that your prime objective was to explain the anthropological foundations of the current Greek economic crisis. But this third part doesn't seem to address that issue. Have you more entries in mind for the future, entries that will pull the pieces together?

I certainly have no problems with your representation that Metaxas was trying to encourage Greek nationalism and made some progress in this regard, but ultimately was overwhelmed by World War II, which triggered centrifugal forces. War tends to erode a people's sense of respect for the rule of law.

Anonymous said...

"But this third part doesn't seem to address that issue."

Greece is very familial with the good and bad consequences of same.

I'm guessing the thesis is, was that familialism over-ridden temporarily by a sense of national unity created by war / metaxas / something, and then gradually regained dominance thus triggering the current economic problem.

I have no knowledge of that.

However it's important to note there was a giant credit bubble that started with the Greenspan put in 1987 which burst with the credit crunch in 2008. The twenty-year wall of cheap credit produced by that bubble allowed the structural flaws in the EU/euro to be temporarily hidden.

This is Peter F said...


I was waiting for you to comment.

No, I'm not saying that Greek nation-building took place solely under Metaxas. It happened over a much longer period, going back to the founding of the Greek state in 1829. Many key developments took place before Metaxas, i.e., the expulsion of Muslim communities, the creation of a national educational system, the use of historic sites for inculcation of national pride, etc.

But, yes, the Metaxas regime was a big factor. It lasted only 6 years, but its influence lasted much longer. Unlike its predecessors, it was a totalitarian regime that sought to condition how people think and behave, primarily through the schools and the national youth movement. The young "graduates" went on to become the schoolteachers, functionaries, and popular writers who dominated Greek life for the next twenty years.

"This idea of national unity has much deeper roots in Greece"

Dienekes, you're confusing reality with imagined reality. In 1829, most Greeks had only a shadowy understanding of ancient Greece. Their world view was informed primarily by Orthodox Christianity and by family traditions that went back no more than several generations.

So there was no living cultural link between ancient and modern Greece. In the 19th and 20th centuries, nationalists resurrected the memory of ancient Greece to build a nation state from scratch.

I'm not trying to romanticize the Metaxas regime. But I'm not trying to demonize it either. He was faced with the difficult task of creating a secure, high-trust society where none had existed previously. Did he succeed totally? No, but that's not my argument. By the 1950s, Greek society was functioning much better than it had before. There were people, like the Communists, who were intent on not making it work, but that had been true before Metaxas took power. In fact, that was one of the reasons why he took power.

On your last point, Metaxas repeatedly refused offers of military assistance from Great Britain. British military personnel were limited to the islands of Crete and Lesbos and were excluded from the mainland, apparently to avoid provoking Germany. Why did he follow such a policy if he felt that war with Germany was inevitable?


In a nutshell, my argument is that Greece went through a period of deliberate nation-building that culminated under Metaxas and then plateaued during the postwar era. This process then went into reverse for reasons that were initially unconscious (people wanting to do their own thing) and then became increasingly conscious and deliberate.

Anonymous said...

Someone else arguing for historical parallels ...

Nanonymous said...

Greece, Serbia, Russia = the countries with the highest and most effective level of resistance to Axis powers' occupation and the only ones that freed themselves without direct and immediate military help from others. All three Orthodox Cristian.

Chris Crawford said...

"All three Orthodox Cristian."

Interesting coincidence. I doubt that there's any causal relationship here, but if you think there is one, I'd like to hear the hypothesis.

Kiwiguy said...

OT, I thought this John Hawks manuscript submitted for publication might be of interest.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

I want to contest your adjective of "fascist" regarding the Metaxas and his regime.

First, fascism is leftist. The word "fascist" was coined by Leftist Italians in the 19th century.

Second, Fascism is "Nationalism + Socialism". Now, was Metaxas a Socialist?

One of the ingredients to being a socialist is being an "Idealist" (Elements of Socialism Fargo, 1925. Metaxas was a nationalist but not a socialist. Idealism requires a progressive ideal of society, a novus ordo, a chialistic/millenium outlook. I don't see that in Metaxas who was a hardcore realist.

Modern Academia like to throw around the Fascist label upon anybody who is nationalist. Even a Monarchist nationalist would be considered by modern academia a fascist! Stalin called anybody that was not a doctrinaire Stalinist a fascist. Menshevists, even though communists, were considered "Fascist", for "fasict" became a smear word.

I would like for you to reconsider using the term "fascist" for Metaxas. To be a fascist, one has to be anti-clerical, egalitarian to an extreme, idealist. That can not be said of Metaxas.

Moreover, many Greeks are communists and they would label their enemies "fascist" regardless of if they were or not.

Metaxas was not a fascist in any stretch of the imagination. Neither was Franco who was as about pro-clerical as it comes.

Chris Crawford said...

Mr. Wheeler, you can redefine terms as much as you like, but that doesn't change how other people use those terms. You can define "fascist" in any way you wish, but most of the world uses a definition that applies reasonably well to the Metaxas regime.

The term "fascist" is derived from Mussolini's regime and its use of the fasces (bundles of rods) that were a symbol of the authority of the classical Roman state.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Mr. Crawford, if everybody jumped off the bridge, would you follow? Have you done personal research on the subject---or do you go with the flow and act like a herd animal?

The term "fascism" does NOT come from Mussolini's regime!

It was first used in this sense in the 1870's by groups of revolutionary socialists in Sicily, to describe themselves. The most famous of these groups was the Fascio Siciliano during 1895-96. (4) (REFERENCE: A History of Fascism 1914-1945, Stanley G. Payne, University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. pg 81)

"In 1925, George Valois founded the first non-Italian fascist movement, Le Faisceau and he defined it as 'Nationalism + socialism = fascism'. (15) (REFERENCE: 15."Fascist Ideology", Zeev Sternhell, Fascism, A Readers Guide, pg 326)

Now, those two quotes come from articles I've written which are referenced. How many books have you read on fascism and national socialism? My library contains some 40 books on the subject. Not counting the library books I've checked out.

Here is the first article: Fascio and the second is National Socialism

At least I can say that I am knowledgeable about the area I talk about. I don't have an opinion but knowledge. The way I interpret it is quite different from the controlling Leftist hegemony of colleges and universities.

Sean said...

Metaxas, Women, and the Nation."elevated motherhood to a national priority and, by extension, boosted their cultural status and the standards of health care...led to a heavy investment in the welfare infrastructure".

But there is no evidence that all this actually managed to raise the birthrate. Even the Third Reich's most indoctrinated subjects, the SS, had no more children than other Germans (according to Tooze, 'Wages of Destruction'). The fall in the birth rate doesn't seem to be a result of any particular conscious ideology or deliberate policy, yet even highly authoritarian regiemes couldn't reverse the birthrate trend in the 30's. Given that Globalism/post nationalism got going subsequent to the falling birthrate in advanced societies perhaps post nationalism is an inevitable consequence of post-natalism. I don't see how anything could make the process go into reverse. It's a tectonic shift.

Chris Crawford said...

Mr. Wheeler, if you want to be strictly correct about it, the original fasces term comes from the Roman Republic, where a lictor carried the fasces before important magistrates as a symbol of the power of the state. The term was later transferred to high officials in general, and the image was a symbol of state power throughout Western history. The symbol has long been used here in America, even showing up on the dime. Thus, the concept of the fasces as symbolic of state power long predates the nineteenth century.

The more specific term 'fascist' was given international currency by the Mussolini regime. That term is now used to describe political beliefs exemplified by the Mussolini and Nazi regimes, and has also been applied to the Franco regime. That is its common meaning and that is how it was used to describe the Metaxas regime and that application is apropos.

A word means whatever people think it to mean. Your use of the word conflicts with the common usage. It irks me that people use 'arrogant' to mean 'proud', but I'm no so pigheaded as to insist that the earlier meaning is "correct" and the current usage is "incorrect". In linguistics, prescriptivism has long since been obsolete.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

A word means whatever people think it to mean.

And are not the mass of people deceived? So we should follow deceived people instead of trying to correct their misperceptions? Misperceptions is now a criteria to define words. That is just brilliant.

One part of Fascism is socialism. Point to where Metaxas is a Socialist? If Metaxas is NOT a socialist, he is NOT a fascist.

Meaning is NOT subjective. Meaning must be scientific. It was coined to mean the conjunction of nationalism and socialism and a movement of the Left! Metaxas was a nationalist---but NOT a socialist!

Chris Crawford said...

Mr. Wheeler, language is what people use; it is defined by usage. Let me expand on my earlier example of the meaning of the word 'arrogant'. It is derived from the verb 'arrogate', which means to take for oneself privileges and powers that one does not properly deserve. However, most people now use it to mean 'proud' or 'vainglorious'. If an interlocutor uses that word in the common way, I do not correct them, because in fact, that's what the word has come to mean, much to my chagrin.

The mass of people cannot be deceived when it comes to the meanings of words: they are the ones who DETERMINE the meanings of words! You can use a word to mean whatever you want to, but if your meaning differs from the meaning other people use, then you're not speaking the same language they speak.

The mass of people use the word 'fascist' to mean 'somebody who shares a goodly portion of the political beliefs of the Nazis'. Therefore, that's what the word means.

I suggest that, if you wish to make the point that Metaxas was not a socialist, then you do so by writing: "Metaxas was not a socialist".

Chris Crawford said...

Oh, I forgot to mention:

Your primary point here does not concern Metaxas: it is that fascism is a left-wing ideology. In this, you are a member of a very small minority which does not include many political scientists. That point is entirely distinct from the topic of this post, and really doesn't have much bearing on it. I'm sure that there are many better venues in which to argue your point.

Nanonymous said...

I doubt that there's any causal relationship here, but if you think there is one, I'd like to hear the hypothesis.

Two factors, I think:

1. Ethnic + religious animosity was definitely a factor.
2. Orthodox Christianity has more emphasis on things communal rather than individual. Helps with cohesiveness in the face of external aggression.

Chris Crawford said...

Nanomymous, your suggestion that Orthodox Christianity somehow provided the extra oomph that permitted Yugoslavia, Russia, and Greece to throw off the German invaders doesn't sit well with me. If Orthodox Christianity instills such a strong sense of community, then why was it so difficult for the Greeks to develop a strong sense of nationalism? Why were the wars following the breakup of Yugoslavia so vicious -- it wasn't just sectarian, as there was plenty of internecine killing among the Orthodox Christians. Why are Greeks today unable to pull themselves together and support a government of national unity? Why are Bulgaria and Romania still so politically disunited?

It's certainly an interesting coincidence, and there might indeed be something to the coincidence, but I can't imagine it being of substantial importance.

Anonymous said...

Why were the wars following the breakup of Yugoslavia so vicious -- it wasn't just sectarian, as there was plenty of internecine killing among the Orthodox Christians.

There is always going to be gangsterism in chaotic situations.

But most of the violence was sectarian - Orthodox Serbs vs. Catholic Croats vs. Muslim Bosniaks etc.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Mr. Crawford, I'm a student of Socrates who went to great lengths in the definition of words and did NOT accept the general meaning of them! Because thru the application of scientific principles, The Principle of Identity, the Principle of non-Contradiction, and the Principle of Consistency, he refuted much of the opinions of the day.

If words mean anything people say they mean, there can not be science.

What is propaganda, Mr. Crawford? Is it not when language is misused and abused? Can not language be abused by ideologues? We must scientifically accept what ideologues do when they butcher a language to suit their progressive agenda? Do you recognize how propaganda is used in language?

Here is a Prof. of political science, Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, in commenting on the abuse of language in the definition of the political definition of a republic:
"We may well agree that the mischief started by uneducated popularizers has already reached such proportions that a Hercules is needed to clean this Augian stable of popular misconceptions, false labels, and mispresented ideologies. Even some of the more intelligent writers have become a prey to popular pressure, and as modern intellectuals do not lead the masses any more, but follow them and subordinate their ideas and language to the demands of the market, the confusion has now reached its climax." (From The Menace of the Herd)

If there is Absolute Truth, words in describing absolute truth must be absolute. If Truth is subjective, (making "truth" and oxymoron), then we can make words mean anything we want them to mean.

This was the whole point of the Socratic Elanchus, to keep words from wandering. I'm a student of Socrates and know that there is Absolute Truth. Some people believe that there is NO absolute truth and that ALL things are Subjective, a social construct. (Which begs the question, if all things are subjective, a social construct, then language is absolutely useless.)

We have no meeting of the minds Mr. Crawford. I believe in Absolute Truth and that definitions are sacrosanct. There is a huge populace of academics who thing all things are subjective and hence a social construct and we can make reality whatever we want it to be.

Cie la vie, cie la guerre.
(I hope I spelled that right.)

This is Peter F said...


Interesting link. A post-Euro Greece may look a lot like the Metaxas regime.


Orthodox Christians can be willing collaborators. After the fall of Constantinople, the Patriarch called for submission to the Ottoman Turks. Of course, he had no choice.


The decline in cranial capacity was due to the shift from hunting/gathering to farming. Hunting and gathering require storage of huge amounts of spatiotemporal data.

Lindsay Wheeler,

The term "fascist" has become a vulgar insult nowadays, much like "bastard" or "motherf***er."

In this post, I'm using "fascist" in a historical sense. All historians agree that Mussolini's regime was fascist, and most will extend that term to other nationalist regimes in Catholic Europe of that period, e.g., Salazar in Portugal, Franco in Spain, Pétain in Vichy France, etc.

There is some debate over whether Metaxas was a fascist, but much of that debate is motivated by the highly negative connotations that this term has acquired.

The Metaxas regime was not brutal. There were no massacres or internment camps. Nor did Metaxas advocate military adventurism (Ironically, it was his "liberal" predecessor who was guilty on that count).

Ideologically, however, he was strongly influenced by the example of Mussolini's Italy and other fascist regimes. If he wasn't a fascist, then he was very close to being one.

Chris Crawford said...

Mr. Wheeler, we are so far off topic that I thank Peter for indulging us our nonsense.

I think that the mistake you make is clearly revealed here:

If words mean anything people say they mean, there can not be science.

This statement is false. Here's what I have been writing:

Words mean what most people interpret them to mean.

Ancillary to this is:

The meaning of a word is not decided by any individual or small group.

You are attempting to provide your own personal definition of the word 'fascist'. You are welcome to do so, but I must insist that you cannot cram your personal definition down anybody else's throat. If we really must bicker over the semantics, then the only authority we can appeal to is the usage of the great majority of people. Sometimes we give special weight to the manner in which the word is used by "the best writers", but that's a subjective process and only works when a large number of "the best writers" are in agreement.

You are attempting to rely on Grand Principles to support your claims, but these Grand Principles are in fact just as subjective as your claim to the meaning of the words. It's a big world, and there are lots of different ideas out there. I do not believe that truth is subjective; I regard truth as so complex as to fall beyond the grasp of human mentation. Therefore, it behooves us to think in terms of hypotheses rather than absolute truth, placing greater or lesser weight on a hypothesis based upon the weight of evidence that supports it.

In any event, I again remind you that the case you really seem to be exercised over is your claim that fascism is a left-wing concept. My response is twofold: 1) most people do not accept that claim; and 2) this is not the venue to argue that claim.

Of course, this venue is also not the place to argue the basis of semantics. ;-)

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Thank you Peter F for your take. Thank you that "The term "fascist" has become a vulgar insult nowadays..." Yes. And "There is some debate over whether Metaxas was a fascist, but much of that debate is motivated by the highly negative connotations that this term has acquired."

And I would agree that Mussolini's Italy did inspire Metaxas as had it inspired many in the US around the 1920s and 1930s. Many people around the world were inspired by Mussolini without understanding its essence.

National socialism and Fascism are two different words that describe the same thing. Yes, Hitler's regime and Mussolini was Fascist.

National Socialism or Fascism was born of two streams that melded and furthermore were reactionary against Marxist International Socialism. (Mussolini was an ex-communist.) Hitler and Mussolini formed an "Anti-Communist League" showing that Fascism was against the Internationalism of Communism.

The Two Streams that made up Fascism was Nationalism and socialism. To be scientific means that we must adhere to its historical makeup. As Peter F notes above, "Fascist" has taken on vulgar meanings which the masses who are thoroughly propagandized have taken up. (For they know no better.)

Part of Socialism is its chialist/millenist character. One aspect of Socialism is its goal of creating the New Man. Mussolini and Hitler both wanted to create this "New Man". This fact of wanting a "new man" is socialistic. It is ideological. What is happening is that any nationalist is labelled "Fascist" without them ever being socialist! that is not right.

Did Metaxas want to create a "New Man"? Was Metaxas an Idealist? The answer to both questions is no. To be a Fascist requires one to have socialist ideas. To be a Fascist one has to be a socialist.

And being "...brutal. There were no massacres or internment camps", is not the definition of fascism. Italian Fascism was quite docile whereas every example of communism was brutal and mass killers.

If being "brutal and having massacres and internment camps" is the definition of Fascism, then 19th century Americans were Fascist with the massacres and internment of American Indians on reservations or the British in their conduct of the Boer War.

Christian Monarchs were sometimes brutal and were authoritarian, but that doesn't make them Fascist. Just like in a mathematical equation in order to reach 'X' one must have all the premises. Just because Metaxas was authoritarian and nationalistic does not make him a Fascist. To be Fascist requires TWO Ingredients, nationalistic and socialistic. Have those two parameters makes one a Fascist. This is the Historical development of the movement.

Metaxas acted like a Monarch. Monarchism arose out of the Patriarchical War Lord. Who led the people and won wars was "the Monarch". Metaxas acted like one, he was a military officer. Monarchs were nationalistic, military adventurous, and authoritarian but not socialistic so Monarchs were never Fascist.

As to Crawford's premise that the majority defines words, St. Maximos the Confessor said this "One man with the Truth is the majority". As Socrates pointed out, there is a difference between Opinion and Knowledge. The Masses have opinion but rarely knowledge. Knowledge is arrived at by science.

When a majority of College and university professors are leftist who believe that there is no such thing as Truth, does this "majority" have the right to define what is and what is not?

Liberals, who are the majority, use the term "Fascist" to describe anybody they don't like. Anybody who is not a liberal is a Fascist. I don't agree with that definition whatsoever.

Chris Crawford said...

Well, Mr. Wheeler, I seem to have failed to get across to you a simple, basic concept from linguistics. You keep generalizing my comments about the meaning of a word to argue about the nature of truth.

This discussion is truly pointless and a waste of time. You are welcome to consider yourself to be St. Maximos' "one man" who knows the Truth. Perhaps you should canonize yourself. Who needs the Pope when you're the one who knows the Truth?

Anonymous said...

The decline in cranial capacity was due to the shift from hunting/gathering to farming. Hunting and gathering require storage of huge amounts of spatiotemporal data.

With the internet providing instant data on virtually everything, do you suppose cranial capacity will diminish even further?

I have heard that some group of Pacific Islanders, maybe Hawaiians, I'm not sure, have the largest cranial capacity in the world. Perhaps the ocean navigation to reach these remote areas required storage of huge amounts of spatiotemporal data.

Sean said...

A post-Euro Greece may look a lot like the Metaxas regime

Metaxas 'did in fact have a popular base', being able to ease things for working people through his reforms. Even the later Colonels could let farmers default on their loans. If Greece does exit the rest of Europe will help, but only so far as is necessary to avoid social chaos. Exiting the eurozone will mean no money for the government to provide economic benefits. (At least I can't think of a important sector that could benefit, relative to ther position now). Can a modern government preside over falling living standards while maintaining its popular base?

A government could take an authoritarian stance to the more globalization-friendly sector of the population though I think the fate of those who tried that before will be relevant; the Colonels were able to ban the miniskirt, but they died in jail. Even the Turkish Generals have ended up in prison for exerting interference over politics.

Chris Crawford said...

I just found an interesting paper that bears on the central issue here. The paper I was reading is Anti-Social punishment can prevent the co-evolution of cooperation and punishment. It mentions experiments demonstrating that Greek experimental subjects are much more likely than most other Western experimental subjects to engage in "anti-social punishment", which in turn suggests that Greeks don't cooperate well with other people. The original paper is cited but is behind a paywall.

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Well, well, well, will wonders never cease. Earlier in this thread I remarked that Metaxas "acted like a Monarch".

Well, I'm doing research as well on Questia and this prof. writes:

"Metaxas’ regime can be aptly described as a ‘royal bureaucratic dictatorship’." (Fascists and Conservatives: The Radical Right and the Establishment in Twentieth-Century Europe. Contributors: Martin Blinkhorn - editor. Publisher: Unwin Hyman. Place of Publication: London. Publication Year: 1990. Page Number: 205.)

And on the same page; "For much of his life Metaxas had been a fervent monarchist..."

Hitler and Mussolini were fervent haters of Monarchy. They were extreme egalitarians. Fascism is an extremely egalitarian movement. The hatred of Old Order is a factor of Fascism.

Metaxas's love of Monarchy and friendship with the king shows him not to be a fascist. As it was stated, 'royal bureaucratic dictatorship' is what the Metaxas regime was.

Now, I do tend to believe that the British had him assinated in order to open another front to spread out and exhaust the Werhmacht. It makes sense.

Anonymous said...

The "Fascism is Leftist" argument is one of the stupidest arguments ever invented.

Fascism is militarized nationalism triggered by the perception of an *internal* threat. The economic form it takes is secondary and could be either free market, socialist or a mixture.

Chris Crawford said...

Anonymous, the "Fascism is Leftist" hypothesis is a political wheeze with no significant scholarly support. It is promulgated solely for political axe-grinding. It makes some conservatives feel better about themselves; that is its only purpose and its only effect.

I suggest that it be countered with a "Communism is right-wing" movement. I'm sure that one could assemble a collection of obscure factoids to support such a claim, a collection every bit as convincing as has been presented here.

Jprezy87 said...

Thought I'd chime in here,

Crawford, anonymous is half-right..Fascism DOES have some left wing aspects to it (like heavy state regulation of the economy) and Nazism started off as a heavily socialist ideology.( Of course..these leftist aspects are tiny little morsels on an overwhelmingly rightist plate. (the blatant militarism and nationalism of Fascism will forever brand it as a far-right ideology).

Quite interesting you're writing about Greece all of the sudden..I see you started off writing about the financial crisis and how the culture of Greece played a part and how it will possibly be affected by it. I think the crisis that hit the country (and spread to all of Europe) is ultimately traceable to good old out of control government spending, corruption, high taxes, and currency integration (maybe putting ALL of Europe under one currency wasn't such a good idea) rather than culture, but hey what do I know??

W.LindsayWheeler said...

Socrates said in the Republic that to be a philosopher, one must love the Truth and Hate Lies. That is the cornerstone of True Philosophy.

The whole corpus of writings by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, an Austrian aristocrat, a polyglot, who knows Europe intimately, is about Fascism being leftist in essence and in character. His second book Liberty or Equality is the one that lays outthe argument pretty well. Unlike Americans, this man spoke several languages, was deeply read, and lived over there for some time.

Then, you have Konrad Heiden, in Der Fuhrer, Hitler's first biographer and who lived in Germany at the time, reports that "They occassionaly referred to their party as a 'party of the Left." (pg 94)

A "rightist" is a Monarchist. There are NO "rightists" in America. After the American Revolution, all the loyalists left due to persecution. There is no "right" in America. There may be 1000 monarchists in America. Pat Buchanan or David Duke are not "rightists" in the truest sense of the word. Even the word "conservative" in the Anglosphere means liberal. Liberals are leftists. American "conservatives" are really soft leftists.

In the ideological battles in the early Soviet Union, the Bolshevists labeled the Mensheviks "rightists" and "fascists". The term, "right" has been hijacked in ideological battles to smear competitors. In the break up of the Old Order, Nationalism was used by the Left to break up Monarchies. International socialists in order to denigrate people against them. International Socialists who seek to do away with nations and races use words in a propaganda way in order to smear their opponents. Nationalism is Nationalism. It is neither right nor left. But Nationalism is part of the Old Order. The Natural Law is "Birds of a feather flock together". Race/nation is family writ large. Race and Nation are part of the Natural Order. Communists seek to deconstruct the Natural Order. To be a nationalist is common to all people except international ideologues and utopians. Nationalism existed before the rise of Fascism and Nationalism exists after Fascism but it isn't "rightist". A rightist is a Monarchist. If upholding the Natural Order, one may be a rightist if it is combined with acceptance of hierarchy. Fascists rejected social hierachy. Fascists are extreme democrats/egalitarians making them Leftists. The hatred towards Monarchy by both Hitler and Mussolini makes them Leftists.

Stephen said...

Right and left are completely arbitrary and useless political categories. What on earth do your views on economic policy have to do with your views on how to punish criminals or whether abortion should be allowed etc. Do not use them.

Ben10 said...

The craddle of the occidental civilization is in its latest hour, not its finest.
Exit of the EU is the best thing that can happen to the greek people, because the economic recovery is CERTAIN if they do it.

Greek people know that and by now, they all want it. But the EU elite is obviously opposed to it because ity is a seriuos drawback to the New World Order. If Greece leaves, Spain, Portugal and Ireland will follow.
It now appears in bright light how the Elite, mostly co-opted or non-elected, is ruling the citizenry. Nigel Farage is 100% correct when he says Democracy is being taken away from the EU Nations.
And that's exactly the point, the Elite doesn't want Nations because Nations mean, soon or later, Nationalism. And Nationalism means the Choosen Elite is being kicked out of the country.
If Greece then, get its freedom back, which is no way certain because the CHOOSEN will do absolutely everything to avoid it, i.e mainstream meadia showing 'nationalist' violence 24/24, 7/7, then Freedom could rebirth from Greece and spread like it did more than 20 centuries ago.
Exit the EU, Greece!

Sean said...

The current situation is untenable; the debt is never going to be paid, so either they retreat from the stated purpose of the EU or they go forward. One of two things will have to happen:-
1.Greece will exit the single currency and have a Metaxas type regieme.
2. Greece enters a reformed EU which will be a political as well as monetary union.

We all know what nationalism (1) looks like, but a European political union (2) is the unknown quantity. I think it will turn out to be a supra national version of ... Metaxas's regieme.

The European political union will promote a European identity which will largely consist of a negative ideology that repudiates the particular historical nationalisms of Europe. The former European nationalisms will be seen as basically similar to Nazi Germany. All historical and political education on Europe's past will concentrate on what the various former nationalisms had in common with the Nazis, and stress that such proto Nazi tendencies are powerful and always on the rise. Auschwitz will be the supreme European cultural icon and opposition to European nationalism in all its forms will be the supreme moral touchstone.Lead story in Britain today. (Poles get great press re fighting WW2. But stories about modern Poles in their own country stress their backward beliefs.)

The overwhelming popularity and domination of American mass culture will ensure that the US will be seen a model to be followed; able to solve all Europe's ecomonic and other problems. People who immigrated into a country will be seen as the most valuable citizens socially economically, aesthetically and genetically (especially if they marry a native). Natives will cease to be a majority of those under 40 in every major European country within two generations.

Chris Crawford said...

Ben10, can you explain to me the difference between your comments and conventional conspiracy theory?

Sean, it would seem to me that a repudiation of nationalism would be a healthy development in Europe. Imagine what this country would be like if people considered themselves to be Iowans, Texans, Oregonians, etc, first and foremost and Americans only secondarily. It wouldn't be much of a country, would it? The Europeans know that their future lies in a closer union, but they are having the devil of a time getting there. When they signed the Maastricht treaty, they really expected it to be part of a closer political union, but that fell through. It was only a matter of time before the internal stresses created by currency union without fiscal union became untenable.

Right now everything rests on the upcoming election in Greece. If the Greeks choose to defy the EU, then they'll lose any further aid and be forced to exit. They'll then suffer a huge depression from which they will emerge only slowly. If they remain in the EU, they'll pay off the debt slowly. Either way, they're in for a lot of pain for the next decade.

Chris Crawford said...

Oh, one other thing:

"The overwhelming popularity and domination of American mass culture will ensure that the US will be seen a model to be followed; able to solve all Europe's ecomonic and other problems."

While they like American movies and some American music, European attitudes towards the USA took a dive when Mr. Bush invaded Iraq, and they have not recovered much. They view Mr. Obama favorably, but they are genuinely alarmed that people like Mr. Santorum, Mr. Gingrich, and Mr. Paul were treated seriously by Americans. And the economic disaster that began in the US is widely seen as proof of the failure of what they call "Anglo-Saxon capitalism". In general, the European attitude towards America might best be characterized as wary friendship.

Ben10 said...

"conventional conspiracy theory?"
Chris, Bilderberg, Siecle, and other organisations DO NOT exist?

But can YOU explain that:"...(if they exit the EU) They'll then suffer a huge depression..."
The Grrek ARE suffering from a huge depresion. If they return to the drachme, they devaluate initially, OK, but their economy become again VERY quickly competitive in: 1) agricole production and 2) Tourism.
A free independant Greece with its own currency will litteraly kill Spain in agrumes production.
In tourism, Greece will become a major destination, by default.
Where are americans travelling these days, Merhico?, Arabistan? ahem... They wish to go to europe but the euro is freaking too expensive.
Next summer, if Greece is calm, back to its drachme, then a major tourism influx is predictible.
Heck, Greece might become attractive to occidental companies for outsourcing!

So, i persist to believe that while the initial exit of the eurozone will be painful, the recovery and path to economic growth is CERTAIN within 6 months to a year.

Then you say: "...If they remain in the EU, they'll pay off the debt slowly" NO, NO NO!
That's the opposite. Right now their economy is dead! how can they reimburse anything? They never will if they stay in the EU. Greece will default very soon, according to economists.
If they exit, their economy will grow again and they could reimburse. But my bet is that they never will and that they should not.

The EU elite/choosen fear a domino effect. True, but's that's not the greek's problem.

Chris Crawford said...

Well, Ben10, I'm glad that we have established that you're pushing conspiracy theories.

Moving right along, I agree that Greece is currently suffering a depression, but my point was that a separation from the EU will continue the depression for a long time.

You argue that the Greeks need only return to the drachma and *poof*, their economy will be just fine within 6 months to a year. You're right that the drachma will be greatly devalued, but do you realize what that means? Sure, lots of tourists will flock to Greece, and Greek products will become cheaper -- but imports will be that much more expensive for the Greeks. Everything that they currently import will suddenly become much more expensive.

Just before the crash, Greece was importing about $7 billion worth of stuff every year; now they're down to about $5 billion. This in a country with an overall GDP of about $300 billion. A sudden jump in the price of imports -- especially things like oil and other industrial inputs -- will have a devastating impact on the Greek economy as a whole. Remember also that the Greek GDP was only about $130 billion just 10 years ago; that huge growth was primarily due to improving trade. If Greece leaves the Euro area, most of Europe will be less accessible to Greek exports, so the Greek balance of trade will sharply worsen.
Leaving the Euro will be a disaster for Greece. Remaining in the Euro will be a disaster, too. The Greeks have no easy choices.

Sean said...

" If they remain in the EU, they'll pay off the debt slowly" Larry Summers disagrees with you. In or out there's no way Greece can ever pay those debts off.
People already can't get their money out of banks nationalized by Greece in the current crisis. What will their life savings in Greek Euros be worth if Greece leaves? Not much. So, if Greece actually left depositors would stampede out of Spain Portugal and Italy; capital flight will crash the entire system.

Chris Crawford said...

Sean, I agree that Greece, by itself, cannot pay off its debts. However, the trade-off they face involves staying in the EU in return for getting additional assistance that would help them reschedule their debts to something they can handle. The Germans are insisting that such assistance be conditional on further economic reforms by the Greeks. The Greeks find those reforms unpalatable. Hence the confrontation.

Ben10 said...

Chris, yes imported goods will be expensive, but that will be an additional incentive for the greeks to make those things and recreate a local economy.
So yes, that means no buying Mercedes or BMW for a while. Greeks can survive that.
I am not sure oil will be so expensive. If greece leaves the system, it becomes a dissident state with the inconvenients and advantages. In this case, Greece could, and should, get cheaper oil from Iran and Venezuela, who will be so happy to provide it.

Regarding 'conspiracy', you are just using this, now quite old, trick. Actually, a couple of days ago, Berbard Henri Levy used exactly that trick about Syria at the UN. The russian ambassador said, upset: "we are going to tell you the religion of those who give weapons to the syrian rebels" and BHL replied : "here we go again, the conspiracy theory!"
So you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

The russian ambassador said, upset: "we are going to tell you the religion of those who give weapons to the syrian rebels"

Do you have a source for this?

Ben10 said...

The ambassador is Vitali Tchourkine
BHL:"Il y a des crétins..., je lisais une dépêche AFP ou Reuters tout à l’heure, l’ambassadeur russe aux Nations unies qui dit qu’ils vont bientôt révéler la confession de ceux qui ont vraiment armé les rebelles syriens. Imbécile ! Crétin ! Toujours la même idée, le complot".

Anonymous said...

Is the ambassador saying that it's Israel supplying the weapons?

Ben10 said...

Well, the ambassador would not make a point if the religion he wanted to reveal was Islam or Christianism so...what's left?
And therefore yes, he suggests exactly what you say, althought he doesn't give any details, so we can only speculate. To his discredit, he says too much or not enough. If he has proofs, why doesn't he give them?
But BHL confirms by denying. He immediately discards the idea as the one from a nutcase idiot, but doing so, he aknowledges he and the ambassador are indeed talking about a conspiracy theory. Instead, BHL should have asked for proofs and he is acting exactly like the russian ambassador was right and he knows it....

Nick said...

W.LindsayWheeler, thank you for bringing clarity and intellectual honesty here. "A word means whatever people think it to mean" says alot about Chris Crawford; intellectual dishonesty and someone playing an angle here which I won't speculate on.

I wouldn't normally post something that might be taken as a personal attack, but other readers visiting this fascinating thread should be aware of someone who I strongly believe is intentionally misleading.