Saturday, July 28, 2012

Greece's ruling class

Much has been said about the so-called "help for Greece" in the 3-digit BEUR figures. Personally and from a financial standpoint, I take a rather sarcastic view: one has used Greece's balance sheet (and tax payers' money) to bail out banks and to allow the Greek ruling class to entrench itself. Some argue that common folk in Greece have never been given a real chance.

I agree whole-heartedly with the latter assessment: common folk in Greece were never really given a real chance by their ruling class. Not since the Euro --- and not really before, however far one goes back in modern Greek history. Common folk moved their bodies to Northern countries in the time of guest-workers, worked incredibly hard there, built up a tremendous reputation for themselves, sent the money back to Greece and contributed to the rise in living standards of their families. Parallel to that, the ruling class moved the money back to the North and used it to enjoy a quality of life which one doesn't see so quickly elsewhere.

Not since my time in Argentina have I seen a nation where the ruling class did so little for the country, their own country, which offered them a wonderful lifestyle.

Perhaps one change has occured: in the "good old times", the ruling class may have been a limited group of oligarch-type families and in later years it became, at least financially, a relatively large sector of the country which Petros Markaris calls the "Profiteers and the Molochs".

Personally, I still think - at least I would like to think - that common folk are still the majority, albeit a majority without real and/or effective representation in the democratic process.

Interestingly, when I am in Greece (and that is about half the year), it seems like I only run into common folk (admittedly, I am never in glittery Athens). I know the other folk primarily through what one reads and hears in the media about them.

There is a theory (i. e. "How nations fail") which says that the dominance of a ruling class with its corrupt ways as in Greece is almost impossible to change. Certainly not when the country is a sovereign country on its own.

From that standpoint, Greece has the advantage of being part of a union which, despite having its own ruling classes, does not culturally support the kind of ruling class which exists in Greece. Thus, I continue to hope that, one day, common folk in Greece see the light and strike alliances with that union to help them change and/or get rid of their despicable ruling class.

This is not a matter of saying "we don't belong to the West; we belong to Greeks!" Instead, it's a matter of asking what type of a society do we want to be and who can help us get there?


  1. "There is a theory (i. e. "How nations fail") which says that the dominance of a ruling class with its corrupt ways as in Greece is almost impossible to change. Certainly not when the country is a sovereign country on its own."

    Ah, here is the flaw. It can change, after the politicians are punished. It arrives a moment where the people can become very angry. Such a moment was 1922. There are 6 graves in Athens, of these gentlemen:

    Τhey were tried and shot. This served as a reminder for a period to be more virtuous.

    But who did that? A "non professional" politician:

    what the article didn't say, is that contrary to today's politicians, he wasn't corrupt. He was giving good portion of his wage to the poor without calling journalists and cameras to show it, he refused to give a state job to his unemployed brother and he died in his family's house in a Karditsa village, his only personal property,poor.

    Today Greek politicians have stashed some milion euros each and about a dozen houses inside and outside Greece. The memorandum was their last hope to avoid "catharsis". Think that PASOK and ND alone owe the banks 220 milion euros.

    You are also mistaken in another thing. The european have no "culture" other than money. For example, they knew all too well how the greek politicians were being bribed all the time. Even common Greeks had this sense, specially about big contracts in constructions and army. But it was also in their profit to "go along" with this situation.

    As you say, three digit figures came to Greece. Three digit figures also left from Greece for weapons deals alone. It was win-win for all the elites, greek and europeans (and americans), while it lasted.

    As for Mr. Markaris, a non greek by his admittion, but rather a cosmopolitan, he is also part of the "deaf-blind" intellectual elite of the left, which was seeing only what was cosy for her. You should know that SYRIZA before the crisis was taking its highest percentages in Athens' northern suburbs (the ones of the wealthy greeks), which is where Mr. Tsipras runs as candidate too. This elite cultivated this "tollerance for anything left" ideology, as well as, ignored the "poor bastards" downtown in Athens, who were screaming for help for years now because of high crime rate in neighbourhoods flooded with illegal migrants. Guess what these "poor bastards" voted at the end. Yes, the only ones that were listening to their cry for help: Golden Dawn.

    If you want to find a real greek intellectual, seek if you can find something in english from Christos Yannaras (he is sparingly writing in Kathimerini), philospophy professor (with studies in Sornonne and Bonn). Leave Mr. Markaris to his mediocre novels, which though for the outsiders, for the lack of strong story plot, counterbalances by what they think as a journalistic description of modern Greece. Admittedly, you won't find him so easily, because he isn't part of the leftist intellectual elite that has co-ruled in the past 30 years and unlike other pseudo-intellectuals, he is not one-sided and blind to what his ideological side does.


  2. But as i said in other post, i am exhausted and Greece is far too complicated for an outsider to understand. Even mr. Markaris i doubt if he will ever understand a country that doesn't regard as his homeland, in a kazantzakian sense of the term. If anything, Markaris is the anti-Kazantzakis.

  3. " does not culturally support the kind of ruling class which exists in Greece. "

    Something else. Mr. Kastner, are you familiar with the name Christoforakos? He is the man Siemens was using to bribe greek politicians. He fled to Germany (he has dual citizenship). He was asked to be extradited. The Munich Court accepted, but the appeal Court, rejected to extrdite him. Also in the german Siemens trial, no names of greek politicians were asked. Mr Christoforakos paid a fine that i am sure he could easily afford and lives happily in Munich.

    In the bribes concerning weapons deals. Our judges, to this day have concluded that 2 bln euros (yes, bln) have been given from all sources (russians too) and Mr. Tsohatzopoulos can't be possibly the only one to have taken them.

    What i find bizzarre, is that again, from german trials, the companies admitted to have given bribes to greek politicians, but no names again! They were fined and all well.

    I find all this very weird. It is if i had killed someone, and the judge asked "did you assassinate"? "Yes". Ok, you are convicted. Shouldn't the judge ask "WHO i assassinated, how and where?".

    The common perception in Greece is that PASOK and ND gave mr. Tsohatzopoulos, now retired, as a piece of useless meat for the crowd.

    Culture is good, but in today's Europe money is better.