This article will try to explain to those unfamiliar with the current situation in Greece the root causes of the current Greek drama -- By Alexios SynodinosTranslations: French, German
By Alexios Synodinos*
This article will try to explain to those unfamiliar with the current situation in Greece the root causes of the current Greek drama.
Despite the widely promoted idea that Greece’s problem is mainly financial, that could not be further from the truth. What this ancient country is facing nowadays is its total collapse as a nation-state. The alleged economic crisis is in reality to a large extent fictitious, and it is used by the current government and by outside forces as an excuse and as a tool in order to promote the economic exhaustion of the Greek middle class and the eventual disintegration of the state.
My main thesis is that shortly after the end of the Cold War a plan was designed and implemented for the effective dismantling of Greece and the eradication of the national identity of Greeks which would mathematically lead to their disappearance as a homogenous group of people. The reader should not be bewildered by such claims; the article will present to him all the necessary evidence to support that thesis. The first part of the article will focus on a necessary crash-course in the political history of Greece, from the end of the Second World War to the election of the current Greek government.
The defeat of the communists was a major blow for the Greek Left. Their terrible crimes, which varied from mass executions of non-communist civilians to the abduction of thousands of children sent to the Soviet bloc for brainwashing, led the country to a peculiar Right-wing regime in which anyone who refused to glorify the royal family was suspected of being a communist sympathizer. The Right was dominant but it became clear that such a Manichean view of politics would sow the seeds of its future destruction. The masses of the people who belonged to the Centre, and they were never affiliated with the illegal Communist Party and the other Left-wing groups, were designated by the regime’s propaganda as leftists, crypto-Communists or as dangerously leaning to the Left. In an extraordinary process that I assume it is hard for the reader to comprehend (and by the author as well) the centrists slowly but steadily accepted their categorization as Leftists, which the Right-wing regime gave them. At the same time the illegal communist party funded by the USSR and having organised an important underground network was spreading its propaganda and contributing to the political instability of the country by fomenting strikes, clashes with the police, and riots. The aforementioned blunder of the Right to designate anyone who wasn’t Right-wing as enough to be classified as a Leftist, was of course exploited by the Communists. In short, the Right and the Left worked simultaneously in order to move the Centre to the Left. Thus the patriotic Centrist people who had fought against the Communists a few years earlier, started to identify themselves more and more with the Left and became increasingly receptive to Leftist propaganda. At the same time the clashes were continuing in Greece, the elected government of the popular centrist party (Enosis Kentrou) was overthrown when a group of its deputy members decided to leave the party and the government. Instability continued until a group of Αrmy officers decided to impose a military, authoritarian regime on the 21st of April, 1967.
The Cyprus invasion had cataclysmic results in Greek politics. The military regime fell, and democracy and parliamentarianism were restored. Konstantinos Karamanlis (the elder), freshly returned to Greece, cynically ignored the Cyprus issue and by signing a truce with the Turks he offered them the crucial time to reorganise and prepare for a second attack against the island which eventually led to the Turkish occupation of 38% of Cyprus. K. Karamanlis (the elder) could not care less about the Greek-Cypriots, the internal matters of the Greek state was his immediate concern. He punished harshly the officers involved in the 1967 coup as well as their collaborators. In a process similar to the de-nazification of 1945 in Germany, military and police officers who were sympathetic to the military regime were slowly being replaced by more democratic officers. A large number of the later may have been incompetent or inexperienced, but that meant nothing for the new government; the issue was the total eradication of anyone capable of imposing a new Junta.
The most significant decision of K. Karamanlis (the elder) was to silently allow uninterrupted the spread of Left-wing propaganda, in the frame of which the Right (and its alleged patrons, namely the USA and the UK) were responsible for the 1967–1974 military Junta, the Cyprus tragedy, and pretty much for every negative aspect of social and political life in Greece since the creation of the modern Greek state in 1829. The Right was demonized, and that demonization still exists in Greece. Moreover, the Left embarked on a gigantic effort to assume control of the universities; and it did succeed in that, since K. Karamanlis (the elder), though being the traditional leader of the Right, consciously offered no resistance. Politically Greece was leaning day-by-day closer and closer to the Left. The communist party, which was now legalized, was an established political force, capable of influencing a much larger audience than its constituency.
During the same period, a highly charismatic figure, after having returned from his “exile” in Sweden, was getting his first steps to control the weakened Centre. His name was Andreas Papandreou, the offspring of the previous leader of Greece, Georgios Papandreou and his Jewish wife, Sofia Minejko. A. Papandreou not only managed to unite the Centre under his party, PASOK (Panellinio Sosialistiko Kinima [= Panhellenic Socialist Movement]) but started gaining large support from the Left as well. Without abandoning his patriotic profile he adopted all the Left-wing slogans, even the most extreme. The communists were puzzled; they did not know how to react. For years they were fighting against the Right but now they had a new, much more vicious enemy. An enemy that was promising the Greek people social justice and prosperity but without the imposition of a communist dictatorship. The self-flagellating Right was an easy target for the Left, but A. Papandreou was not. The bright ascending star of Greek politics was also smart enough not to alienate the traditional Centrist politicians. He did not offer them positions in his new party but calmed down their fears about his strong Left-wing rhetoric. He clearly explained to them that the Left would sooner or later prevail politically in Greece and in that eventuality none could imagine what would be the results—from aligning Greece with the Soviet bloc to a bloody civil war and total chaos. He was the only credible and capable force in Greek politics able to prevent that, he confidently argued. The Greek people were abhorred by the actions of NATO and the USA regarding the Cyprus invasion and thus were easy targets for the propaganda of the Communists. A. Papandreou also explained that only by adopting the rhetoric of the Left could support be gained from the masses and the tide turned. The old Centrist politicians were amazed by the sharpness and cunning of A. Papandreou and most of them wholeheartedly supported him.
At that point I would like to point out that despite the anti-American, anti-NATO, and anti-European Economic Union (EEU) rhetoric of A. Papandreou, he had spent decades in the US, held a US passport, and had taught Economics at several American universities. Moreover, he had served in the US Navy during the Korean War. It is very interesting too that the USA never took any measures to prevent A. Papandreou’s rise to power in Greece. In fact one of the leaders of the military junta still alive today (General Stylianos Pattakos) has repeatedly stated that American diplomats showed a strong interest in the well-being of A. Papandreou and lobbied so he could get out of Greece.
Eventually A. Papandreou won the elections of 1981, crushing everything in his path by gaining 48% of the votes. Despite the hopes of his more Left-wing supporters, Greece remained in NATO, it never abandoned the EEU and of course never broke its ties with the US. However, A. Papandreou was honest in his promised social transformation. He completely reorganised Greek society and the economy to a form which to a large extent still stands today. He nationalised dozens of key industries and imposed a state-centric economic model. His supporters were rewarded with a good salary and a position somewhere in the rapidly expanding public sector. Most of them were the traditional voters of the Centre, but not all. A large number of them were a mix of people who for various reasons (political views or simple incompetence) were never able to be financially assured or to get a stable job. Nevertheless, with the assistance of PASOK, they jumped from working class status to middle class easily. Their employment by the State had as the result a radical change of their lives. They bought cars, built houses for their families, and were able to afford prolonged vacations. PASOK’s socialism was in reality the revenge of the average oppressed Centrist or Leftist but, above all, the revenge of the incompetent person. Meritocracy was abolished; for what mattered under A. Papandreou’s regime was only whether one was a card-holding member of his party or not. However, A. Papandreou had to deal with a key problem in Greek society, which he recognised as a crucial factor for his aspiring continuous reign. A large part of the bourgeoisie was still supporting the Right and never forgave his Left-wing rhetoric.
During the mid-1970s, after the overthrow of the military regime, a terrorist organization named “17th of November” appeared. Its first targets were officials of the military regime involved in interrogations and persecutions of anti-regime activists. Soon though, the group culminated its actions by killing industrialists, businessmen and newspaper publishers. Along with the “17th of November” a few other terrorist groups emerged forming the peculiar matrix of Greek Left-wing terrorism. In spite of their true or alleged differences, those groups struck hard against the Right-wing bourgeoisie. What A. Papandreou couldn’t do with the nationalizations, was accomplished by the bombs and bullets of the terrorists. The old Right-wing upper middle class was no longer a force in the economic and political life of the country. Of course, no solid proof was ever found that PASOK was connected to the Left-wing terrorism in Greece, and perhaps such claims, mainly presented by the Right-wing newspapers of the time, were mostly exaggerated. Nevertheless, PASOK now had the power and the opportunity to create a new upper middle class friendly to its cause and ideas, and A. Papandreou acted accordingly. New businessmen appeared who, assisted by the State, grew their businesses larger and swallowed the remnants of the old economic elite. New media lords were created and fanatically supported the regime of A. Papandreou. That power complex formed in the 1980s and 1990s still exists in Greece, and it is largely responsible for the extraordinary support PASOK enjoys in the media and among the rich and the powerful. In short, what A. Papandreou did was what the Ottoman sultans had been doing for ages. As soon as they seized the power, they eliminated the old elite and created a new one, friendly to them. That way none would be able to challenge their authority.
The absolute reign of A. Papandreou continued throughout the 1980s. The people (mainly his supporters) were happy since he used all the money EEU offered to Greece not for economic development but to pay salaries and pensions. In order for the reader to understand the orgy of public spending he needs to consider the issue of the pensions for “national resistance” acts during the German occupation of Greece. More than 200,000 people were recognised as resistance fighters and acquired a pension by the State. It is important to note that at the same time that 200,000 resistance fighters were allegedly fighting against the Germans, the German army in Greece counted merely 30,000 men, and most of them were non-combatants. How exactly with a ratio of 1:7 the Germans stayed 4 years in Greece and with minimum casualties is beyond understanding! But in the 1980s none seemed to care much about trivial things such as mathematics and history. At the same time the high-ranking party members of PASOK had their time with the public money. In less than 8 years people who had previously zero bank deposits were found with huge sums of money in Swiss banks. Dozens of political scandals were exposed, and the controlled media could not avoid mentioning them. A large number of people became disillusioned with PASOK, and the Right, though severely weakened, began to appear as the only political force competent to put some order in the chaotic situation the scandals and the extraordinary public spending had caused.
After a ludicrous period of political instability followed by a brief period of a government of cooperation between the Right and the Left, the Right-wing party of Nea Dimokratia (ND) came to power. ND of course was not the Right of the past. For the party elite avoided the term “Right-wing” like the plague. Its leader at the time Konstantinos Mitsotakis tried to present ND to the voters not as a Right-wing party, but as a party of technocrats ready to save Greece from 8 years of PASOK’s irresponsible and catastrophic governance. He also took active steps in order to ensure that traditional Right-wing ideas (e.g. patriotism, respect of religion and the family) became unfavourable with the party’s rank and file and especially among its youth members.
The K. Mitsotakis administration is not remembered for much—apart from his formal recognition of the state of Israel and some failed attempts to send Mr A. Papandreou and senior figures of PASOK to jail for the economic scandals of the previous government. His economic policies were disastrous while the way he handled the national interests of Greece and the multiple crises in the Balkans puzzled even his most devoted supporters. Eventually, he lost the parliamentary majority when a group of members of parliament from his party decided to abandon it. In the next elections K. Mitsotakis lost, and PASOK came back to power. But, A. Papandreou’s third term in office was brief and marked by his rapidly deteriorating health. He was eventually succeeded by an unpopular member of his party called Konstantinos Simitis, who became the new leader of PASOK and the prime minister of Greece.
There is an interesting story about K. Simitis, which the reader should be interested to know. When during the period of the military regime he tried to escape from the country, he used a fake passport with the Jewish name Aaron Ventura. Even more intriguing is the fact that K. Simitis has publicly admitted that his grandfather’s original surname was the very Jewish-sounding Avouri, which was later changed to Simitis (Simitis = Semite in Greek).
Despite his affiliation with the socialists, his views on the economy proved to be neo-liberal; moreover, he was an open and firm supporter of globalisation and of the breaking down of borders and nation-states. Although his weird appearance and his characteristic sneer made him unpopular, he nevertheless had a serious academic aura about him. He looked like the kind of individual you may dislike and would not want your daughter to marry, but you could safely trust him to form your business plan; and indeed Greeks did trust him twice.
Under K. Simitis, Greece became a massive laboratory of social engineering. Everyone who lived during that period remembers that there was a tremendous gulf between what the vast majority of the media and the government advocated and what the people thought and believed. Views on the Greek identity that before 1996 were considered traitorous, scientifically unfounded, and on the fringe, suddenly became popular on TV and in the newspapers. The core belief of the modern Greek identity, viz. that modern Greeks are the descendants of the ancient Greeks, was relentlessly attacked. Opposition was of course silenced. At the same time the previously venerated role of the Orthodox Church in Greek history was distorted by over-presenting its negative side and by ignoring its positive contributions to the Greek nationhood.
In universities professors with traditional and patriotic views were brushed aside in order to make way for those willing to promote the ideas adopted by the government. Schoolbooks were also changed in order to eradicate any negative views on the traditional enemies of the Greek nation such as the Turks. That led to the disappearance from the schoolbooks of the majority of the crimes against the Greeks committed during the period of the Ottoman Rule of Greece (1453–1821). In other words, the views of a tiny fringe of the Greek society became the dominant views in the media, the universities, and the vast majority of the politicians. Such views were of course not popular among the populace; however propaganda works wonders, and the continuous bombardment of the masses with certain ideas and beliefs can easily change their minds.
Traditional moral values were also under scrutiny. In the mid and late 1990s Greece experienced the rise of Trash TV. Suddenly after-midnight Greek television was taken over by shows that promoted pan-sexuality, fetishism, bisexuality, and advocated an easy-going attitude towards homosexuals and homosexuality. Journalists discovered the transvestite community and were eager to share with the public its anxiety and problems. The afternoon TV zone which is mainly directed towards a female audience was filled with shows about the private lives of famous socialites and with an emphasis on their sexual performance and their lustrous life. At the same time several youth magazines began to appear and became very popular among the young Greeks. Such magazines were the print equivalent of the Greek Trash TV shows, but were far more influential among the youth, because they actively imposed a new set of values radically different from the ones the conservative Greek society had. For a man, according to those magazines, success in life meant to have a lot of money and to be able to date and have sex with as many women as possible. Equally, for a woman success meant to be sexy and attract and marry a rich man. In the pursuit of such life goals, morality was described as a ridiculous obstacle designed to hold back the “smart” and “capable” individuals. It goes without saying that every form of sexual depravity was characterized as absolutely normal. Experimentation was the key word for the young readers of those magazines and successful men and women had to try everything, especially those “forbidden fruits” traditional society despised.
Simultaneously, the Simitis Administration was going from one fiasco of its foreign policy to the other, thus severely damaging its integrity and the national pride of Greeks. The long awaited structural reforms of the Greek economy, highly advocated by the media, never came. K. Simitis privatised a few national industries but did practically very little to boost the private sector. What did happen during his administration was the popularisation of share buying. Athens Stock Market, which the vast majority of Greeks had not even known it existed before the late 1990s, became part of the life of the average Greek. The media and the government were arguing in favour of share-buying as a means for the average family to boost its income, and they were promising that the ratings would continue to rise. Those sane voices consulting against share buying by people who were totally ignorant of the market were effectively pushed to the fringe and ridiculed. Everyone was getting their share of the stock market fever. People were selling their land properties in the country in order to buy shares. Old ladies took their savings out of coffers and rushed to the first stockbroker with the hope of doubling their money in a few months. Those days, newspapers, TV and radio shows dedicated to the stock market numbered in the dozens. The message getting out was simple and clear: get your savings out of the banks and coffers, sell your unusable land in the country, and buy shares, it is easy money! The stock market fever lasted for a few years—and then the economic crash of 1999 came. The result was of course predictable: billions changed hands; the rich became immensely richer, and the low classes lost all their savings. At the same time, the debt of the country was rising without stop and illegal immigrants were flooding Greece by the hundreds of thousands. The last “achievement” of K. Simitis was to manipulate the statistics of the Greek economy and present false ones to the European Union in order to get Greece into the Euro-zone. This very decision has been described as the Waterloo of Greek economy by several analysts and recently as a mistake of gigantic proportions by Angela Merkel and other European statesmen. K. Simitis left office with a catastrophic approval rating. He was succeeded in PASOK’s leadership by the current prime minister of Greece. Elections followed and in March 2004 PASOK lost, and the ND came to power.
As mentioned earlier in this article, the Right in Greece has been self-chastised in order to be cleansed from the acts of the Right-wing post-Second World War regime and the 1967–1974 military regime. The ND party adjusted its strategy based on the fact that there was a negative notion regarding everything Right-wing among most Greeks. Instead of trying to change that notion, it thought it could take power by adopting as much of a Left-wing and liberal profile as possible. It never took a strong stance against the lawlessness and irresponsible behaviour of the trade unions nor did it ever try to create alternative media in order to get its message across. The expulsion from its ranks of the conservative and traditional-minded individuals was followed by the rise in the party of ex-Leftists, liberals, and various others who were detested by the conservative and patriotic electoral basis of the party. ND simply waited until the voters were fed up with the socialists. But such strategies never work in the long run; thus when ND came to power it could not implement any of its reforms. For it may have the support of the majority but not the support of the media and the professionally organised minorities who controlled the trade unions. Any attempts to change the status quo in the public sector and the highly ineffective structure of the educational system were eventually strongly opposed with violent protests and demonstrations. Not from the majority of course, but from the same professional demonstrators of the Left that felt threatened from the announced reforms. The media adopted a highly critical stance for the K. A. Karamanlis Administration from the beginning. By 2004 most traditional Right-wing newspapers were either high-jacked by Left-wing journalists or in a prolonged period of decline with their sales getting lower and lower. In the battle between the government and the trade unions, the vast majority of the TV networks preferred to align themselves with the later. Faced with the organised opposition and fearing that the continuous clashes and the civil unrest threatened by the far Left and the trade unions would lead to his downfall, K. A. Karamanlis backed down. All the plans for the structural reforms were scrapped and thrown away. The ND party failed its voters and everyone who hoped for a real change. On the other hand, the Left and the trade unions had won an easy victory and planned their counter-attack. Strikes and demonstrations continued unabated. To K. A. Karamanlis the Left found an enemy who could unify its fragmented pieces: socialists, trade unionists, anarchists, and communists suddenly had a common cause, to overthrow the government. At the same time the first scandals of economic mishandling by ND members started to appear and finally the media had some real ammunition to fire at ND.
As the support of the public for the ND party was diminishing, K. A. Karamanlis concentrated his efforts on foreign policy. Admittedly he did an excellent and surprising move to re-approach Russia and sought to establish a strong cooperation in regards to energy and defence. The Russians welcomed the offer with open arms. After all, since the 19th century Russia was trying to get access to the Eastern Mediterranean; Great Britain did whatever it could to prevent it. That geopolitical antagonism was what essentially saved Greece from the communist yoke during the 1940s. Churchill, who feared the complete dominance of the Balkans from the successor of Czarist Russia, the USSR, pressed Stalin into the famous percentage agreement of October 1944, which kept Greece in the western bloc. After 1945 of course, Great Britain declined to a second-class power, but it was replaced by the USA. The Americans were alerted by the sudden approach between Greece and Russia. The reader should be aware that Greece spends billions of Euros in arms in order to counter the ongoing Turkish threat from the east, and the vast majority of the arms come from American companies. A stronger relationship between Greece and Russia, apart from the geopolitical headache which it would cause the USA, could also mean that Greece may prefer to buy Russian arms instead of those manufactured in the US. Furthermore, it meant that Greece would be not so easily controllable by the US or the EU, since it would have the backing of its new strategic ally, Russia. The high mark of that very promising cooperation was the signing of the Burgaz-Alexandropole Pipeline agreement between Greece, Bulgaria, and Russia. The agreement would have multiple benefits for Greece. For the pipeline would secure Western Thrace from future Turkish encroachment; it would turn Greece into an active player in regards to global energy politics and certainly new jobs would be created, especially in an area (Western Thrace) where unemployment has been always high. As it was expected, the agreement infuriated the US; and Condoleezza Rice, then US Secretary of State, demanded the scrapping of the agreement and made it abundantly clear that its implementation would severely damage traditionally good US-Greek relations.
Despite US opposition, the pipeline agreement was signed in March 2007, and a very hot summer was ahead for the country and the K. A. Karamanlis Administration. In late August, a few days after the government declared its willingness to lead the country to elections in September, large forest fires sprung up in Attica, the Peloponnese, and the island of Evia. Arguably forest fires are not something new in the summer time; this time, however, something was radically different. Most of the fires appeared to be part of an organised plan targeting the agricultural production and infrastructure of the country. Dozens of improvised incendiary mechanisms where discovered, and the fire-brigade stations around the country were flooded with false calls for fires in isolated places as if someone wanted to totally disorganise the fire-brigade forces. Willingly or unwillingly, the same disorienting role was effectively played by the media, which deliberately manipulated information to increase their audience. A characteristic example is the spreading of the news that the archaeological site of Ancient Olympia was burnt down due to the alleged failure of the firefighting system, and government incompetence, of course. When the fires were eventually extinguished, hundreds of thousands of acres had been burnt. Everyone realized that the country had been struck by one of its greatest catastrophes in its history. The Peloponnese had suffered the most, and in this author’s opinion for a good reason. Traditionally most parts of the Peloponnese have been a stronghold of the Right; it is the area of Greece where the 1821–1829 Greek War of Independence started and the modern Greek state was born. Peloponnesians tend to be conservative-minded, patriotic, and they live off the land. Anyone involved in the patriotic and nationalistic circles of Greece can easily notice the highly disproportionate number of Peloponnesians. Moreover, the author believes that in the coming disintegration of the Greek state if there is a place where the Greek nation will manage to survive, it will be the Peloponnese, largely due to the geographical location of the area, the morphology of the land, and the culture and nature of the Peloponnesians
In the elections that followed, K. A. Karamanlis won by a minor margin. For the next two years he did nothing more than watch indifferently as his country, his party, and the credibility of his government went down the drain. In December 2008, a hot-headed policemen shot and killed a young anarchist in Athens. Riots broke out, and the government ordered the police to keep a defensive and passive stance. In other words, to sit and watch as the anarchists and the Leftists accompanied by illegal immigrants were destroying everything in their sight. The Left, despite its pretentious claims of condemning the violence, glorified the riots, speaking of a “revolt” against the government and the capitalist system. Of course nothing was further from the truth. The alleged “revolt” was against neither the government nor capitalism. The targets of the rioters were not the highly-guarded shops owned by the multinational corporations but the businesses of small entrepreneurs who were ruined by the lack of willingness of the government to protect them. The widespread destruction was followed by looting in which illegal immigrants participated actively. The “revolt” was a devastating blow to the Greek middle class. Most entrepreneurs and small shop owners in Athens and other major cities were financially destroyed; and consequently those employed by them lost their jobs as well. The Left, taking advantage of the government’s reluctance to prevent the riots, managed in a few days to brush aside the traditional small businesses that for decades were the basis of the Greek economy. Now the way for the gigantic shopping malls of the multinational corporations was finally open.
By mid-2009 the first signs of the current economic crisis were visible, as people started losing their jobs and were unable to find a new one, the prices were rising, and at the same time the shops and small businesses were declaring bankruptcy, one after the other. At the same time, whole parts of Athens, the Greek capital, and other major cities of Greece were invaded and occupied by hordes of illegal immigrants from Asia and Africa. Greeks and most of the Eastern European immigrants were being ethnically cleansed from their areas since they were unable to co-exist with the newcomers. These no-go areas turned into lawless Third World pockets. Greece, which at the beginning of the 1990s was a country with the extraordinary homogeneity of 98% Greek population, is now rapidly colonized by Asian Muslims and Africans. Crime and especially heavy crime that was almost non-existent before the 1990s, sky-rocketed to unprecedented levels. Sensing the incoming financial collapse and the social upheaval K. A. Karamanlis preferred not to finish his second time in office and declared elections. He was of course aware that he would lose them—and even took active steps to further alienate the voters by promising more taxes and a stricter economic policy in case he was re-elected. At the night of the 4th of October, 2009, a happy and clearly relieved K. A. Karamanlis was crushed at the polls.
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Source: Ab Aeterno, no. 3, June 2010
*Alexios Synodinos was born in Amorgos, Greece in 1978. He acquired a university degree in Military History and later continued his studies with a postgraduate degree in Intelligence Studies. His primary interests are the history of terrorism, the role of lobbies and clandestine political groups in the making of history, as well as the evolution of Just War Theory. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org