Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Harsh Greek Self-Critique

I had come across this article by Spyros Kitsinelis in Protagon (in Greek) through Twitter. The English cover line suggested to me that the article might be of interest to my Greek wife, so I sent it to her iPad. And then I heard an explosion from my wife. The best article she had ever read, she said. Greek expatriates like herself who had worked hard abroad and achieved a lot are ashamed of what their compatriots 'at home' had made out of her beloved country, she cried. How they had turned the most beautiful country in the world into a mess.

I sort of got the gist of the article through my wife's emotional outbreak. I then ran it through GoogleTranslate which gave me a poor translation but confirmed the gist. So I decided to publish it here and see what the reaction of Greek readers will be.


  1. You are Great Man Mr. Kastner,

    ....And to find such brain ticklers, but the specific article opens a new load of can of worms. It is not somthing to be discussed in a blog.

    There are good, bad and neutral points which can be argued forever. The writer is like many frustrated greeks of how the country has been run into the ground by ourselves and his negatitivty has surfaced to no extent. And alittle help from foreigners to run itno the ground as well. (Because there is foul play from foreigners..... and i won't open this can of worms.)

    First comment to the writer. It takes two to tango and if Greece was the the bedground for the most corrupt part of Europe than we were in bed with someone. Not just ourselves.

    Second, there is an ongoing debate of which greeks are more loyal to Greece. Expartiate Greeks or Local Greeks in Greece. I can tell you the list and the disucssion is long. As half my life i have lived on both sides i can easily conclude that all greeks from within or outside of Greece equally praise Greece and its culture regardless of the certain circumstances. The both equally love to the bone anything that is greek. How that love is expressed is another can of worms.

    Thridly, we love to destroy heros. We are champions at that. The list is huge. Unfortunately we can follow for a while but when we get bored we throw our heros in jail or to their death. Only after a minimum of 100 years need to go by before realise what an important role they played in our life.

    Finally, it is every greeks responsibility to help their mother country all in their way reach its greatness once again. Whether they live within or without. To do this you need to support and take action. Each person each day must make some action and in time things will improve and we will become alittle more civilized. This action is again whether you live in Greece or not. I will bring you one example. When a Foreigner greek comes to greece with 30,000 usd and does not declare them and finishes off that pool at his summer home, which is paid in cash, both foreign and local greeks are at fault.

    PS: The more i read and educate myself of our ancient civilization and our greatness the more and more i conclude that We Modern Greeks are slightly more civilized than our ancient forefathers. Almost no difference though. (This is another can of worms.) :-) It is throuh strife that the greatest ideas are born. I am a strong believer that this latest strife will lead many greeks to new greatnesses.



  2. One would think that in a period of severe crisis in which Greece finds itself at the moment the country would need a national unity government, rather than a combination of radical leftists and ultranationalist, leaving the whole center of politics without influence.
    In Sweden we had a couple of national unity governments in times of crisis, for instance during parts of WW2.
    As greeks often use war metaphors to describe their current situation such a solution should be quite plausible.
    Unfortunately the trenches that have been dug between most parties in Greece, the egocentrism of most politicians in the country and the ideological fixation of Syriza and other parties seems to make this kind of cooperation impossible.

    1. Dear Seukel,

      Tsipras right now is enjoying a 78% approval rating in his positioning toward the EU. Greeks well know that his pre election plees are partial or white lies. Most know he will have to accept most of what has been enstilled on us but as long as we gain some improvements. not lying down to what was ORDERED! and without thought.

      Tsipras has thus far handled the situation quite well. I also belive Varoufakis has backed down on the whole debt dealing because as an econmist he knows it is unsustainable, but as a politician he probably was informed that Eu is probably already making measure to avert this crisis. A deal will be made and in 6 months some kind of debt restructuring will be released for the whole of the eu. Varoufakis is simple fast fowarding the slow moving eu beauracrats. Greece alone can not get a debt restructer alone. All countries must restructure. Otherwise it is unfair and we know this, regardless how we got the retarded 200BEUR loans. Jesus! I can't wait to read my grandchildrens history books of what not to do in a monetary crisis.

      When Tsipras succedes in this and gain 30% improvement and does some more govenment restructuring his approval rating will be over 80%. Essenitally, his popularity if successful internally and externally, will force other parties to have a unity governement withi him whether they like it or not. Just like Metaxas in WW2. He said no to Italy and Germany, but he had no choice. A determined people and decisive will get what they want at all costs.

      In periods of crisis the people speak and choose. The party who can express the most will gain the approval and other parties will follow as to not go quietly in the night.

      I currently have a 1-5 odds bet that tsipra will make it to his 3rd year of office. It will happen.

      Seukel, things will change. The crisis has changed us all on Europe. Tell me it hasn't. The euro is still a young union. It is not a United States where the leaders of the first governement ideological where the best leaders of all time. They took the best of history and formed a new country from scratch. Eu is harder. we are not a melting pot. We are 27 different pots tring to outweigh each other. When we stop that we will move foward together.

      The greeks as a people made their decision. We want Euro and we want to stop the crisis. Do other people of europe clearly know what they want?

      Best Regards,


    2. "Greeks well know that his pre election plees are partial or white lies. Most know he will have to accept most of what has been enstilled on us but as long as we gain some improvements. not lying down to what was ORDERED! and without thought."

      Greeks might know that, but Tsipras does not seem to know it. He wants all or nothing, and he wants other European taxpayers to give him the money.

      I think they should give him the money, but only under one condition:

      The government has to transform the Greeks into guardians of the country as a huge ecological vacation park for holiday-makers from other European countries. A nature park with clean beaches, nudist areas, clean water, clean air, safe walking paths, picturesque villages and town, and friendly people.

      And the government should sent home all the Albanians, Bulgarians, Georgians, etc and let unemployed young Greeks start to work in the restaurants and hotels and pensions.

    3. @Seukel: I see that you are a supporter of Golden Dawn's approach to politics -- that is, nationalist nazism. I should have guessed, with your extreme veneration of all things German.

    4. Seukel,

      He does know this but you don't go to the ngotiating table asking for 1of 10 but 10 of 10 to get 3 - 5. If you ask for 1 you get 0.

      :-) transformations and yes i uphold indeed the necessity of nude beaches. BTW, I know many if you need some guidance. :-)

      Your last paragraph is alittle bit rascist. I have no objction for any people wanting to live, work and pay taxes in greece. I know many Albanians as well whom see Greece, as europeans saw the USA after ww2. And it does not matter we are in a crisis.

      Most young greeks have higher education which in correlation to the work place there are not many "white collar" jobs. Meanwhile they do nto want to work a "handy man's" job. It is not there fault though. These young workers grew up in a period of growth and do not know what it means to be humble.

      Nice exchanging with you.


    5. @ Xenos at 11.59
      You accuse Seukel of being a Nationalsocialist. You know, that sort of accusation really has no room in this blog. But let me make some observations.

      The first thing which the Nazis did beginning in 1933 (before the exploitation of the Jews and the military investments began) was, above all, the re-instatement of a national pride, of 'German dignity' and so forth. The blaming of the others for Germany's woes; for having robbed the Germans of their dignity; for having started a humanitarian crisis with their reparations; etc. Instead of a Troika, they blamed Versailles. The resulting nationalist feelings turned into hysterics.

      Then, they told the Allies to go fly a kite and they unilaterally declared to no longer be bound by agreements. The hysteric Germans became even more hysteric.

      And then, they jumped the gun on Keynes and implemented the largest (and arguably most successful) deficit spending program the world had ever seen. Money was printed and invested in instrastructure (Autobahns, etc.) and all other things which created jobs. Unemployment went from over 5 million to practically zero within a couple of years. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, a Social Democrat totally unsuspicious of Nazi-sympathies, once said in an interview: "If Hitler had been shot in 1936 (i. e. before the cruel things began), Schacht (Hitler's Economy Minister) would have received world acclaim".

      Do these policies remind you of something?

      If I wanted to be cute, I would say, gee, there are Socialists in the new Greek government as well as Nationalist. Put these two words together and what do you get? What has worked on the right side of the policital spectrum might just as well work on the left side. At least until you get into the cruel things.

    6. Xenos, I need to agree here with Mr. Kastner.

      I have always been a strong believer that both ends of the political spectrum have many great similarities, especially the "x" reason of a cause, which whichever spectrum viewed from creates hysteria. It is why i love ideas at both ends of the spectrum and beleive myself to be a centralist.

      I am hopeful though that the main intention of Syriza is not for a witch hunt. But to improve the general society of Greece. It is golden dawn who i fear more. For some reason Eu leaders seem to fear leftist's more than extreme hard core right's. I do not know why.



  3. g moutsis ‏@gmoutsis 33m33 minutes ago

    @kleingut exactly what I've been trying 2 tell my friends for past 20 years- never found these downright apt words. Overwhelmingly true&sad

  4. @-) ‏@aBrakoulias 17s17 seconds ago

    @kleingut collective ad hominem cherry-picking negative anecdotes, blind to power structures, external policies or positive societal efforts

  5. I think the writer (never heard of him before) is aiming at provoking an emotional response. meh

    IMHO it's something that could have well been written before the 2007-2008 fracture and everything that followed after that. It's full of self-righteous indignation about an identity-I think it's (also) about identity-that is not updated since then (perhaps that timeline goes further back in time)

    His stance is more or less similar to what I'd expect to encounter in an Ayn Rand novel. I haven't read any Ayn Rand yet but from what I'm hearing, it is all about bad prose and shaky arguments.

    All in all, the text annoyed me probably-and partially-because it is a reiteration of a familiar collation of themes regurgitated here and there about how 'we as Greeks need to recognize what's wrong and passionately work towards making it right, overcoming the divisive obstacles and bridging the gap with some paradise lost or Eden denied for the sake-of course- of the younger ones'...

    With all due respect, Sir, I think it's a heap of steamy crap.

  6. ... "a heap of steamy crap". The tone here is getting worse and worse.

    Otherwise I have to agree. Greeks working "towards making it right"... bah, that's preposterous. Why should a proud nation with a glorious past do that? The Greeks are a chosen people. Why should they accept responsibility? They never did anything wrong in history. The Persians did, the Venetians did, the Turks did, the Italians did, the Germans did, the Americans did, but not the Greeks. Never. Every Greek child knows that from school (one of the best school systems in the world by the way).

    So please, do not blame the Greeks but blame the Germans, the Protestants, the Catholics. All is their fault anyhow.

  7. The tone is really mild if you compare it to that of the actual article. I'm really sorry if you find it offensive but, you know, reality rarely agrees with our sensitivities.

    Obviously the 'Greeks' are not chosen. The 'Greeks' actually do not exist. Not in the way you're implying but perhaps that's something for another discussion.

    Again, I will reiterate, my comment was about the article (of that writer I have never heard of before) and that article was not about responsibility. I actually find that article offensive, both in tone-which is the least troublesome-and in substance.

    That article was a soundbite collection, if you will, of anathema and trivial catharsis about the 'Greeks', a subject, which, equally like the one in your response, does not exist in any place besides in the reflection of the prejudices of its writer.

    ps Your comment about the Greek education system is a cheap shot. In substance, not in tone

  8. If you find that the shot at the education is cheap then. Analyse this, all the people who claim that the education system in Greece is perfect send their children abroad to study if they can afford it.