Monday, November 18, 2013

The outdated ideologies that hold Greece and Europe back.


http://exiledonline.com/photo-essay-austerity-athens-street-art/
During the economic crisis, Greece has become the epicenter of the European and global media attention, turning the country into a scapegoat for the euro-zone's and Europe's failures.

A lot of things were wrong in the country, but the real causes of the problems in Greece have never been addressed of dealt with by the austerity measures.

The very purpose of such measures was not to deal with them anyway, rather make sure that the bond holders of the European and Greek banks got their money back.

If Europe really wanted to change Greece then austerity is obviously the wrong way. What the Greeks need more than anything is not to be the black sheep in the European family, resulting in the rise of nationalism and extreme, radical political parties.

Greece is a country with a very volatile recent history and an unstable political balance. Because of the country's geopolitical and strategic location, the result was its involvement in every European war or ideological struggle.

And so Greece suffered more than many other European nations did, sometimes because of the country's elites ambitions, or of pure meddling from other European powers. The Greeks are a passionate race with an excellent memory of their history, which they hold with pride. Sadly this emotional engagement with their country's politics sometimes is not for their benefit.

What would be a much preferred solution to Greece's problems, is political stability and financial security, than only a strong, truly united Europe can offer to the Greeks and all other nations. By forcing one more generation of Greeks into poverty and political instability, Europe is only making things worse.

It destroys the overall pro-European attitude that the Greeks had until recently and it also helps the rise of blind nationalism, that is in no way helping in reforming Greece.

The Greeks must overall abandon the outdated ideologies that hold them back, from creating a modern European state. These ideologies are partly a remnant of Europe's political ideological struggles, than in Greece took a more serious dimention, resulting in the Greek Civil War.

Both the Left and the Right movements in Greece are polarizing the Greek people's psyche, purely and solely for the love of a power grab and victory of one over the other. This polarization starts within the country's very higher educational system, its universities where students are subjected to it and often are recruited by student political parties that reflect Greece's political establishment.

Every Greek university is a hub of intense political activism. This tradition is a remnant from the youth's struggles against the junta that ruled Greece for almost a decade during the late '60s and '70s. These struggles are still commemorated annually on the 17th of November, the day of the Athens Polytechnic uprising.

The uprising began on November 14, 1973, escalated to an open anti-junta revolt and ended in bloodshed in the early morning of November 17, after a series of events starting with a tank crashing through the gates of the Polytechnic. (Wikipedia)

The universities in Greece are since then a no-go area for the Greek police, as a law hailing from the Polytechnic uprising forbids them from doing so. The law exists nowhere else in Europe, but it has been sacrosanct in Greece since the fall of the military dictatorship. (The New York Times).

But recently there is a debate in Greece, especially among the country's academics, on if this law must eventually be abolished. The lack of police interference has resulted in the existence of radical anarchist political groups, that brainwash a number of youths to engage in violent protests and other activities.

Such move would be very favorable and beneficial, as it is certainly not good for the country to have its younger citizens, radicalized by either ideology. What Greece needs is new ideas, not being stuck to outdated political ideologies. The deep divisions between Greece's population starts in its universities, but follows them throughout their political life.

How can a country move forward and find solutions to its problems or modernize, when it remains loyal to old ideological struggles but fails to follow the changes that take place in the world and Europe.

On the other hand the Greek Police, Army and Government that represent the establishment must also go through serious reforms. The police force in Greece often uses an unjustified amount of violence towards any dissident political groups who want to challenge the establishment, or another favored victim of theirs, the immigrant communities of Greece.

There have been many incidents of police violence towards the newly arrived immigrants, either they are legal or illegal. This level of violence in the Greek police, is another remnant of the violent recent history of the country, when it was turned into a police state during the junta years.

Also during and after the civil war, the Greek police and army were major factors of suppressing the freedom of speech of any dissident voices that could challenge the Greek establishment, that the European elites favored in the country. How can we have an open debate on the future of Greece, when there is still fear among the majority of the Greek population of challenging the establishment?

The immunity of the Greek Parliamentarians, is another an issue that must be addressed, if we want to deal with the large corruption levels that exist in the country. Corruption is rife in Greece, because the political establishment not only allows it, but also it promotes it. If they wanted to deal with corruption, they would have done so by now and ideally they should have started by lifting the MP's immunity.

The Greek Members of Parliament are immune from criminal prosecution, arrest or detention while in office. They are also immune from having to provide any information to any authority regarding their legislative functions and deliberations. However, both the Constitution and the Standing Orders allow for the Public Prosecutor's Office to request from Parliament to lift an MP's immunity for a particular crime, with MPs deciding though secret balloting. (Wikipedia)

This did take place recently in the case of the Golden Dawn members and rightly so. But such practice must be extended for all politicians, either they are members of the Greek Parliament or local government. Greater political accountability and transparency will result in reduction of corruption.

The problem is that how will the Greek political elite will be convinced to lift their immunity, since it will expose their mishandling of Greek public money and national issues. They are favoring the Greek and European industrial and economic establishment, that finance their political campaigns after all.

So if their immunity is lifted, the secret deals that shaped Greek policies for the past decades will be exposed, something that no one representing the establishment in Greece and Europe would want. The European elites are closely linked to the Greek one after all, as they helped to its establishment.

Besides, it is well known that Europe is governed by intergovernmental-ism, meaning that the governments of all European states are more or less cooperating with each other in ruling Europe and its populace.

The Greek public's relations with the Greek Orthodox Church must also change. The Orthodox Church, like that of the Vatican, is a hub of corruption and a major factor in Greece's lack of reforms and progress.

They have repeatedly tried to block any progressive and liberal reforms, like the removal of the religious status from the Greek identity cards. They also hold a large amount of land in the country and any  plans for development that includes part of it, must somehow find a way around the Church's objections. They do not pay any taxes though to the Greek state, for holding such vast amounts of land.

The Orthodox priesthood often openly holds back any progress in the rights of the LGBT community in Greece and in many cases, parish priests have protested against events or developments that they personally considered against the Orthodox ethos.

The Greek people must realize that there is a huge difference between believing in God and accepting without judgement, the ideas of an ultra conservative and male dominated clergy.Our traditions can still be kept and respected, even if we accept influences from Europe and other regions of the world. That is the driving force behind the shaping of any culture in history, even ours: cultural exchanges.

We as a race, used to be one of the most out-going, diverse, adaptable and free thinking nations on the planet, but the indoctrinations of the Greek Orthodox Church have made us in one of the most backward looking, conservative countries in the world.

Being Greek to me is not synonymous with being a devoted Greek Orthodox Christian. There are numerous other Orthodox nations in Europe, like the Russians, the Bulgarians and the Serbs. What should be distinguishing us as a nation, is what has been for centuries: our ability to adapt and survive, but also be pioneers and creative, influencing and shaping Europe and the world.

That can not happen with blind ideology and religious doctrine. Europe and Greece need a new vision and reality.The European and Greek establishment resist this new reality because it will hurt the balance of power within their institutions, but also among them.

The best way in achieving change in our country and continent, is by thinking freely and openly, engaging in our country's but also in European politics with new fresh ideas. The change must first happen in our view of ourselves as citizens, as political and social animals that we supposedly are us humans. Then we can change Greece and in extend, Europe itself.

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