Monday, 22 February 2010

Statistics and immigrants

I heard a couple of things on BBC World Service Radio this morning that attracted my attention.

First, there was an interview with Dr Emmanuel Kontopirakis, the former secretary general of Greece's National Statistical Office, who, in typical Greek fashion, denied all responsibility for the inaccurate economic data Greece had been presenting to the EU for years and which has so damaged the country's credibility in the eyes of its 'partners'. Listen to interview below in MP3 player.

(There was a similar 'not me, guv' interview given last week, again on the BBC, by Giorgos Alogoskoufis, who was Greece's finance minister from 2004 to 2009 – see here).

Second, there was a report from Israel on how that country's government is cracking down on illegal immigrants and is even deporting children born in Israel to foreign mothers, children who speak no language other than Hebrew and claim Israel is their home. The Israeli government is worried that the flood of non-Jewish immigrants to Israel will damage that county's national cohesion and social fabric. Greece, of course, has recently decided on the opposite course of action and is planning to grant Greek citizenship to children born to foreign mothers, even if they are illegal immigrants. (For more on Israel's policy on illegal immigrants, read


Hermes said...

Greece has no national ideology. We gave that up after the Cyprus disaster and then during when we joined the EU. This process was accelerated when the Cold War ended. Greeks believed that by joining the EU, not only would economic problems be solved, but gradually also political ones. A cursory reading of history shows that History never ends. Thucydides and then later Kondylis warned us about this but we have become child-like in our naivety. A parasitic state, not only in the economic sense, but also in a cultural one. We simply import foreign ideas without filtering them through the current Greek reality and history.

Christos Yannaras admires Turkey and Russia because they have a national ideology which flows through most of their policies regarding education, the economy, society, military etc. We do not. And without a national ideology the immigrant issue is impossible to manage. Why? Because we cannot define who belongs in Greece anymore because we cannot define A Hellene or Hellenism. And if someone is to become naturalised, on what criteria do we judge their suitability if we have no ideology. And then once they become naturalised what do they assimilate too if we are unsure of who we are?

By the way Karabelias has written another good article:

Hermes said...

Perhaps we must withdraw into literature and the deeds of our heroes until better days come along. Some fine words from the great Lesbian writer, Stratos Myrivilis:

"Όμως ένας άνθρωπος, ένας λαός, ένα έθνος, δεν εξαφανίζεται μονάχα με τη φωτιά και με το σίδερο. Δεν εξαφανίζεται μονάχα με το χάσιμο της ζωής του. Εξαφανίζεται πιο σίγουρα, πιο τελειωτικά με το χάσιμο της ψυχής του της ψυχής του της ατομικής, της ψυχής του της ομαδικής. Χάνω την ψυχή μου θα πει: χάνω την ουσιαστική μου ύπαρξη. Χάνω την αίσθηση της ατομικής μου τέλειας ψυχοπνευματικής σύνθεσης, που αποτελεί ένα μόριο από την μεγάλη, την πλατειά κοινωνική και εθνική σύνθεση, από την οποία αντλώ και ανανεώνω αδιάκοπα τα φυσιογνωμικά στοιχεία του πνεύματος μου και της ψυχής μου. Kαι αυτή η εθνική φυλετική ιδιομορφία της ψυχής μου είναι ακριβώς εκείνη που με εντάσσει φυσιολογικά μέσα στην πανανθρώπινη κοινωνική σύνθεση. Αλλά για να μη χάσω τον εαυτό μου, πρέπει να γνωρίσω τον εαυτό μου. Το «γνώθι σαυτόν» είναι η πλουταρχική πηγή της γνώσεως. Αυτό λοιπόν πρέπει να είναι η βάση της γενικής παιδαγωγικής προσπάθειας Έθνους, του οποίου εντολοδόχος είναι το Kράτος και η Εκκλησία. Όργανα γι' αυτή την συνειδητοποίηση είvaι το Υπουργείο Παιδείας, ο Κλήρος, ο Τύπος, ο καλλιτέχνης που εκφράζει την εθνική ψυχή και ολόκληρη η τάξη των διανοουμένων, που είναι υπεύθυνη για την πνευματική συγκρότηση του λαού."

John Akritas said...

It is a terrifying thought that Greece has no 'national ideology': terrifying but true, as is the fact that those agents Myrivilis identifies as being responsible for imparting a national credo – the church, the ministry of education, artists, the press, intellectuals – have become part of the problem, are in large part responsible for the problem. Who knows: a little austerity, the end of that unsustainable consumerist model Karambelias talks about, may encourage Greeks to concentrate their efforts on other endeavours and re-evaluate their priorities, particularly if they have noticed the sheer hatred directed towards Greeks recently, and realised that it's about time Greeks stopped sleepwalking towards extinction, with foreigners guiding us by the arm.

Maybe it is a waste of time, LG: but also remember Dragoumis: «Ο καθένας πρέπει να φαντάζεται πως αυτός πρέπει να σώσει το έθνος του. Να μην κοιτάζω τι κάνουν οι άλλοι και να φαντάζομαι μόνον πως εγώ έχω το μεγάλο χρέος της σωτηρίας. Δεν είναι εύκολο να πείσεις ένα έθνος. Εγώ βλέπω τόσα πράγματα που πρέπει να γίνουν και όμως οι άλλοι Έλληνες τα βλέπουν αλλιώς. Αν είμαι δυνατός θα τους πείσω».

Although reading this quote again, it sounds horribly over-optimistic. Never mind. Even if you are the last Greek, Last Greek, it's better than not being a Greek at all.

Hermes said...

John, I disagree slightly with you. The agents of the national credo i.e. Church, intellectuals, press, artists and Ministry of Education have become THE problem. They have ceased to be Hellenocentric. Some Greeks often accuse the Diaspora of becoming Australianised, Americanised, Germanised; however, the Greeks in Greece are rapidly becoming Europeanised with catastrophic consequences. Better we get thrown out of the EU and all international organisations. Fifty years in the wilderness would do us good. Perhaps then, in our utter destitution and isolation, the only resources we will have left will be our literature and history - which can act as a catalyst of regeneration.

John Akritas said...

Good thinking, H.

lastgreek said...

On a lighter note, J, how many Mossad agents does it take to assassinate a single Hamas operative? :)