Monday, 8 March 2010

Albert Camus: The New Mediterranean Culture

Below is the text of a lecture Albert Camus gave on Mediterranean culture at the Maison de la Culture in 1937, and indeed the reflections are very much of their time, with concerns over the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, the Spanish civil war and the rise of Nazi Germany. They are also, of course, the product of a Pied-Noir, a European born and raised in French colonial Algeria. The lecture is not so much interesting for its commitment to internationalism and collectivism; but for its attempt to describe a distinct Mediterranean culture and physical way of life, under threat from joyless northern Europeans, ‘buttoned right up to the neck’. Camus is, of course, one of the twentieth century's great exponents of Greek civilisation and there are many observations he makes here and elsewhere that remind us of the poet Odysseas Elytis and his Hellenism. Indeed, Elytis could have come up with the phrase 'nationalism of the sun' to describe his own aesthetics, which Camus invents to stress the unique humanism of Mediterranean culture. Also, Camus' thoughts on the ontological differences separating the Mediterranean from northern Europe seem pertinent given the small cultural war that has resurfaced between Germany and Greece in which the economic crisis afflicting Greece has been portrayed by Germans as a consequence of southern European 'laziness and propensity to corruption and thievery'; while Greeks have responded to the hostility by depicting Germans as soulless bullies and mass murderers.

The New Mediterranean CultureI. The aim of the Maison de la Culture, which is celebrating its opening today, is to serve the culture of the Mediterranean. Faithful to the general directions governing institutions of its type, it seeks within a regional framework to encourage the development of a culture whose existence and greatness need no proof. Perhaps there is something surprising in the fact that left-wing intellectuals can put themselves to work for a culture that seems irrelevant to their cause, and that can even, as has happened in the case of Maurras, be monopolized by politicians of the Right.

It may indeed seem that serving the cause of Mediterranean regionalism is tantamount to restoring traditionalism with no future, celebrating the superiority of one culture over another, or, again, adopting an inverted form of fascism and inciting the Latin against the Nordic peoples. This is a perpetual source of misunderstandings. The aim of this lecture is to try to dispel them.

The whole error lies in the confusion between Mediterranean and Latin, and in attributing to Rome what began in Athens. To us it is obvious that our only claim is to a kind of nationalism of the sun. We could never be slaves to traditions or bind our living future to exploits already dead. A tradition is a past that distorts the present. But the Mediterranean land about us is a lively one, full of games and joy. Moreover, nationalism has condemned itself. Nationalisms always make their appearance in history as signs of decadence. When the vast edifice of the Roman empire collapsed, when its spiritual unity, from which so many different regions drew their justification, fell apart, then and only then, at a time of decadence, did nationalisms appear.

The West has never rediscovered unity since. At the present time, internationalism is trying to give the West a real meaning and a vocation. However, this internationalism is no longer inspired by a Christian principle, by the Papal Rome of the Holy Roman Empire. The principle inspiring it is man. Its unity no longer lies in faith but in hope. A civilization can endure only insofar as its unity and greatness, once all nations are abolished, stem from a spiritual principle. India, almost as large as Europe, with no nations, no sovereignty, has kept its own particular character even after two centuries of English rule.

This is why, before any other consideration, we reject the principle of a Mediterranean nationalism. In any case, it would never be possible to speak of the superiority of Mediterranean culture. Men express themselves in harmony with their land. And superiority, as far as culture is concerned, lies in this harmony and in nothing else. There are no higher or lower cultures. There are cultures that are more or less true. All we want to do is help a country to express itself. Locally. Nothing more. The real question is this: is a new Mediterranean civilization within our grasp?

II. Obvious facts, (a) There is a Mediterranean sea, a basin linking about ten different countries. Those whose voices boom in the singing cafes of Spain, who wander in the port of Genoa, along the docks in Marseilles, the strange, strong race that lives along our coasts, all belong to the same family. When you travel in Europe, and go down toward Italy or Provence, you breathe a sigh of relief as you rediscover these casually dressed men, this violent, colorful life we all know. I spent two months in central Europe, from Austria to Germany, wondering where that strange discomfort weighing me down, the muffled anxiety I felt in my bones, came from. A little while ago, I understood. These people were always buttoned right up to the neck. They did not know how to relax. They did not know what joy was like, joy which is so different from laughter. Yet it is details like this that give a valid meaning to the word 'Country.' Our Country is not the abstraction that sends men off to be massacred, but a certain way of appreciating life which is shared by certain people, through which we can feel ourselves closer to someone from Genoa or Majorca than to someone from Normandy or Alsace. This is what the Mediterranean is – a certain smell or scent that we do not need to express: we all feel it through our skin.

(b) There are other, historical, facts. Each time a doctrine has reached the Mediterranean basin, in the resulting clash of ideas the Mediterranean has always remained intact, the land has overcome the doctrine. In the beginning Christianity was an inspiring doctrine, but a closed one, essentially Judaic, incapable of concessions, harsh, exclusive, and admirable. From its encounter with the Mediterranean, a new doctrine emerged: Catholicism. A philosophical doctrine was added to the initial store of emotional aspirations. The monument then reached its highest and most beautiful form – adapting itself to man. Thanks to the Mediterranean, Christianity was able to enter the world and embark on the miraculous career it has since enjoyed.

Once again it was someone from the Mediterranean, Francis of Assisi, who transformed Christianity from an inward-looking, tormented religion into a hymn to nature and simple joy. The only effort to separate Christianity from the world was made by a northerner, Luther. Protestantism is, actually, Catholicism wrenched from the Mediterranean, and from the simultaneously pernicious and inspiring influence of this sea.

Let us look even closer. For anyone who has lived both in Germany and in Italy, it is obvious that fascism does not take the same form in both countries. You can feel it everywhere you go in Germany, on people's faces, in the city streets. Dresden, a garrison town, is almost smothered by an invisible enemy. What you feel first of all in Italy is the land itself. What you see first of all in a German is the Hitlerite who greets you with 'Heil Hitler'; in an Italian, the cheerful and gay human being. Here again, the doctrine seems to have yielded to the country – and it is a miracle wrought by the Mediterranean that enables men who think humanly to live unoppressed in a country of inhuman laws.

III. But this living reality, the Mediterranean, is not something new to us. And its culture seems the very image of the Latin antiquity the Renaissance tried to rediscover across the Middle Ages. This is the Latinity Maurras and his friends try to annex. It was in the name of this Latin order on the occasion of the war against Ethiopia that twenty-four Western intellectuals signed a degrading manifesto celebrating the 'civilizing mission of Italy in barbarous Ethiopia.'

But no. This is not the Mediterranean our Maison de la Culture lays claim to. For this is not the true Mediterranean. It is the abstract and conventional Mediterranean represented by Rome and the Romans. These imitative and unimaginative people had nevertheless the imagination to substitute for the artistic genius and feeling for life they lacked a genius for war. And this order whose praises we so often hear sung was one imposed by force and not one created by the mind. Even when they copied, the Romans lost the savor of the original. And it was not even the essential genius of Greece they imitated, but rather the fruits of its decadence and its mistakes. Not the strong, vigourous Greece of the great tragic and comic writers, but the prettiness and affected grace of the last centuries. It was not life that Rome took from Greece, but puerile, over-intellectualized abstractions. The Mediterranean lies elsewhere. It is the very denial of Rome and Latin genius. It is alive, and wants no truck with abstractions. And it is easy to acknowledge Mussolini as the worthy descendant of the Caesars and Augustus of Imperial Rome, if we mean by this that he, like them, sacrifices truth and greatness to a violence that has no soul.

What we claim as Mediterranean is not a liking for reasoning and abstractions, but its physical life – the courtyards, the cypresses, the strings of pimientos. We claim Aeschylus and not Euripides, the Doric Apollos and not the copies in the Vatican; Spain, with its strength and its pessimism, and not the bluster and swagger of Rome, landscapes crushed with sunlight and not the theatrical settings in which a dictator drunk with his own verbosity enslaves the crowds. What we seek is not the lie that triumphed in Ethiopia but the truth that is being murdered in Spain.

IV. The Mediterranean, an international basin traversed by every current, is perhaps the only land linked to the great ideas from the East. For it is not classical and well ordered, but diffuse and turbulent, like the Arab districts in our towns or the Genoan and Tunisian harbors. The triumphant taste for life, the sense of boredom and the weight of the sun, the empty squares at noon in Spain, the siesta, this is the true Mediterranean, and it is to the East that it is closest. Not to the Latin West. North Africa is one of the few countries where East and West live close together. And there is, at this junction, little difference between the way a Spaniard or an Italian lives on the quays of Algiers, and the way Arabs live around them. The most basic aspect of Mediterranean genius springs perhaps from this historically and geographically unique encounter between East and West. (On this question I can only refer you to Audisio).

This culture, this Mediterranean truth, exists and shows itself all along the line: (1) In linguistic unity – the ease with which a Latin language can be learned when another is already known; (2) Unity of origin – the prodigious collectivism of the Middle Ages – chivalric order, religious order, feudal orders, etc., etc. On all these points, the Mediterranean gives us the picture of a living, highly colored, concrete civilization, which changes doctrines into its own likeness – and receives ideas without changing its own nature.
But then, you may say, why go any further?

V. Because the very land that transformed so many doctrines must transform the doctrines of the present day. A Mediterranean collectivism will be different from a Russian collectivism, properly so-called. The issue of collectivism is not being fought in Russia: it is being fought in the Mediterranean basin and in Spain, at this very moment. Of course, man's fate has been at stake for a long time now, but it is perhaps here that the struggle reaches its tragic height, with so many trump cards placed in our hands. There are, before our eyes, realities stronger than we ourselves are. Our ideas will bend and become adapted to them. This is why our opponents are mistaken in all their objections. No one has the right to prejudge the fate of a doctrine, and to judge our future in the name of a past, even if the past is Russia's.

Our task here is to rehabilitate the Mediterranean, to take it back from those who claim it unjustly for themselves, and to make it ready for the economic organistation awaiting it. Our task is to discover what is concrete and alive in it, and, on every occasion, to encourage the different forms which this culture takes. We are all the more prepared for the task in that we are in immediate contact with the Orient, which can teach us so much in this respect. We are, here, on the side of the Mediterranean against Rome. And the essential role that towns like Algiers and Barcelona can play is to serve, in their own small way, that aspect of Mediterranean culture which favors man instead of crushing him.

VI. The intellectual's role is a difficult one in our time. It is not his task to modify history. Whatever people may say, revolutions come first and ideas afterward. Consequently, it takes great courage today to proclaim oneself faithful to the things of the mind. But at least this courage is not useless. The term 'intellectual' is pronounced with so much scorn and disapproval because it is associated in people's minds with the idea of someone who talks in abstractions, who is unable to come into contact with life, and who prefers his own personality to the rest of the world. But for those who do not want avoid their responsibilities, the essential task is to rehabilitate intelligence by regenerating the subject matter it treats, to give back all its true meaning to the mind by restoring to culture its true visage of health and sunlight.

I was saying that this courage was not useless. For if it is not indeed the task of intelligence to modify history, its real task will nevertheless be to act upon man, for it is man who makes history. We have a contribution to make to this task. We want to link culture with life. The Mediterranean, which surrounds us with smiles, sea, and sunlight, teaches us how it is to be done. Xenophon tells us in The Persian Expedition that when the Greek soldiers who had ventured into Asia were coming back to their own country, dying of hunger and thirst, cast into despair by so many failures and humiliations, they reached the top of a mountain from which they could see the sea. Then they began to dance, forgetting their weariness and their disgust at the spectacle of their lives. In the same way we do not wish to cut ourselves off from the world. There is only one culture. Not the one that feeds off abstractions and capital letters. Not the one that condemns. Not the one that justifies the excesses and the deaths in Ethiopia and defends the thirst for brutal conquests. We know that one very well, and want nothing to do with it. What we seek is the culture that finds life in the trees, the hills, and in mankind.

This is why men of the Left are here with you today, to serve a cause that at first sight had nothing to do with their own opinions. I would be happy if, like us, you were now convinced that this cause is indeed ours. Everything that is alive is ours. Politics are made for men, and not men for politics. We do not want to live on fables. In the world of violence and death around us, there is no place for hope. But perhaps there is room for civilization, for real civilization, which puts truth before fables and life before dreams. And this civilization has nothing to do with hope. In it man lives on his truths.

It is to this whole effort that men of the West must bind themselves. Within the framework of internationalism, the thing can be achieved. If each one of us within his own sphere, his country, his province agrees to work modestly, success is not far away. As far as we are concerned, we know our aim, our limitations, and our possibilities. We only need open our eyes to make men realize that culture cannot be understood unless it is put to the service of life, that the mind need not be man's enemy. Just as the Mediterranean sun is the same for all men, the effort of man's intelligence should be a common inheritance and not a source of conflict and murder.

Can we achieve a new Mediterranean culture that can be reconciled with our social idea? Yes. But both we and you must help to bring it about.

15 comments:

Hermes said...

Albert Camus wrote some decent books, The Plague or my personal favourite, The Fall. And I am also impartial to his idea of a Mediterranean culture. However, I am not sure I want to be closely associated with Algerian Muslims. In fact, few people can call the Muslim nations, Libya, Egypt, Algeria surrounding the Mediterranean humanist. Perhaps Tunisia or Morocco.

Further, he associates this so-called Med culture too closely with the Western Mediterranean. As most Greeks knew, the West lacked sophistication, it was boorish and dry. Why did Alexander the Great leave it till last? Although, I am sympathetic to the Cadiz, Provence-Cote D'Azure, Liguria, isolated parts of the Costa Brava like Cadaques, the West declines relatively rapidly after that. The real action has always occurred East of the middle of Sicily i.e. Syracuse, Sybaris, Rhegium, Crotone, Apulia, the Catapanate of Italy, Ravenna, Athens, Thessaloniki, Corinth, Mystras, Venice, Crete, Cyprus, Cyrenaica, Alexandria, Asia Minor, Byzantium.

Culturally, again almost all the action has happened East of Sicily. Compare that closet sexual deviant, Augustine with the Greek Fathers. As everyone knows all the great Italian writers are Sicilian i.e. Pirandello or di Lampedusa. Sure, Ungaretti was from Tuscany but he grew up in Alexandria. And d’Annuzio was from Dalmatia. The only exception is perhaps Pasolini. There are absolutely no Spanish Mediterranean artists with the exception of Picasso. Lorca was a writer of the dry dusty inland plateau. Perhaps the French can lay claim to some Med writers and artists, Matisse later in life?

My point is that just because we share a sea it does not mean we share a culture, outlook, civilization - Braudel drew a very long bow. Also, this is partially for the monstrous Mediterranean Union idea that Sarkozy tries to sell to us when the Germans irritate him too much.

And the other mistake Camus made was that he forgets to mention the only time the West meant anything was when it was linked to Hellenism. Go to Libya today, the only place worth visiting is the museum of Antiquities which is full of Greek artifacts. Go to Sicily, their tourist brochures are based around Greek temples. Go to Ravenna and the only place worth seeing are the Byzantine remains.

Camus should have imagined his world as radiating from Hellas rather than the Mediterranean. Odessa is closer to Greece than Algiers. Alexandria is more closely linked to Hellenism than Valencia.

John Akritas said...

I mostly agree, H. Camus' lecture – delivered when he was just 24 – is largely dated and flawed. Naturally enough, for 1937, and as a man of the left, what he wants to condemn is Nazism and fascism and this causes him to overlook how alien Islam and Arab culture in general is to the Mediterranean; and, indeed, asserting a coherent Mediterranean culture may have poetic resonance but is otherwise implausible. Also, I don't think by this time Camus had been to Greece, and again this must be why he makes little reference to the country in the lecture. The interest of the lecture is in asserting a cultural dichotomy between northern and southern Europe – between those whose way of life is shaped by the sun and the sea (by nature), and those whose way of life is processed – and, more importantly, hinting that living a more physical life is not some romantic or anti-modern ideal but the best means of progress – as Athens, a paragon of dynamism and progression, demonstrates. Camus wrote a much better essay on the Greeks in 1948, called Helen's exile, which I'll put up here shortly. In it, it becomes clearer that when Camus talks about living a physical life or living according to nature, he doesn't mean living a more sensual life but recognising our limits as humans and living with tragedy and death.

Anonymous said...

Camus, subconsciously, meant the European mediterranean culture. When he refers to Algeria, he means it in the context of French algerie, and not the nomads of the desert or the tuti fruti goulash of races pullulating the Arab urban centers. No one would have dared imagine, in the Camus era, that France would have , one day, divest herself of Algerie, or that the algerian would in the copurse of time invade and colonize France. Camus belongs to a distant pass, his era is no more. Realities are today the opposite of Camus wrote about.

Hermes said...

John, I just finished Petros Markaris's Defence Zone in Greek. I am not sure how it reads in English but its quite good. I am not a reader of crime fiction so I cannot make an assessment within the genre but it had enough there i.e. social comment on Greek corruption, migrants etc,. to be more than just a crime novel. The television series was aired in Greece a few years ago? Have you watched it and is it worthwhile downloading?

By the way, Stratfor (who I think is not very credible) has written a somewhat superficial piece on Germany and geopolitics. It asks some interesting questions but really does not get far in answering them:

http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100315_germany_mitteleuropa_redux?utm_source=GWeekly&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=100316&utm_content=readmore&elq=31cda3f917af433398bee9da23225bff

John Akritas said...

The thing with Markaris' crime fiction is that it's quite conventional – which is not necessarily a criticism – and he's not much of a stylist; but, as you say, his strength (as well as being entertaining) is in holding up a mirror to Greek society – his portrait of a country and people mired in corruption and decadence, coming apart at the seams. A lot of crime fiction has this sociological angle.

I don't know the series. I've noticed it's been uploaded at Greek-movies.com.

The truth in the Stratfor piece is its emphasis on Germany wanting to use the EU to maintain its economic hegemony; but the euro is not about to fail anytime soon, because it's as much a political as economic project and the EU is more likely to take measures to make sure that the disparities between inefficient and efficient economies are ironed out or don't bring the project down. Greece will just have to adapt, or perish – likely the latter.

Hermes said...

John, regarding unconventional crime fiction, you might be interested in this long two part interview (in English) of Panagiotis Agapitos, an expert on Byzantine Romance novels and literature:

http://french-italian.stanford.edu/opinions/

He has also recently ventured into Byzantine crime fiction, which from my point of view, appears to be unconventional crime fiction, at least in its setting.

I agree, Greece is likely to perish. The elites are completely decadent.

The following article has a short section on the supposed French rejection of the post-68 generation, "bourgeois intellectuals known as les soixante-huitards", by voting for Sarkozy.

http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2009/06/sarkothesexdwarf/

Perhaps, when I was younger I may have supported this generation but their gradual decay has made me sick. In parallel, I wish the post-74 generation in Greece would also die or at least be marginalised. Like their French counterparts, they have gone from glamourous revolutionaries to self seeking parasites.

John Akritas said...

I liked PA's talk and his Byzantine crime fictions sounds interesting, though I'm not a fan of historical crime fiction.

This post-74 generation of puerile Marxists in Greece is truly responsible for the crisis now facing the country, though what amazes me about Greece is the timidity of the right. I realised that Greece was done for when Karamanlis allowed rioters to take over the streets a couple of years ago – no serious right-wing government would have been so craven in defence of the state and private property. The defence of the state and private property is the raison d'etre of the right. And, still, the right in Greece shows no signs of asserting itself or its values, no talk of taking on trade unions, reforming labour relations, supporting small business, private enterprise and so on. I make no judgement on the validity of these values, just point out that the Greek right doesn't appear to believe in them – in which case, what is the Greek right for? The Marxists may have wrecked Greece, and yet no alternative to them has emerged or is likely to emerge – which is why Greece is done for.

Having said that the Greek left is responsible for Greece's current state, it's only the stupidity and cowardice of the Greek right from 1949-74 that allowed the kind of left that has developed in Greece to take root.

lastgreek said...

I have some disagreements, JA.

This post-74 generation of puerile Marxists in Greece is truly responsible for the crisis now facing the country, though what amazes me about Greece is the timidity of the right.-

In which post-74 dekaetia were the "Marxists" in political office? Since the fall of the "Made-in-America" Junta in '74, Greece has had only Tweedle-dee (ND) and Tweedle-dum (PASOK), two "puerile" parties cut from the same neoliberal cloth.

The defence of the state and private property is the raison d'etre of the right.-

There are many recent examples in history where "the left" has come to the defence of the state. What I mean is . . . what do economic beliefs/systems have to do with the defence of the state?

You know, John, that Byzantium throughout most (if not all) of its long history had a controlled economy---nothing was done without the emperor's permission.

Regarding private property, I don't have a problem with that. I DO have a problem with the uneven distribution of wealth. And I seriously have a major problem when a few individuals/corporations own most of nation's resources. For example, take that fat guy Carlos Slim of Mexico, according to Forbes now the richest man in the world. He represents everything that is wrong with Mexico. He also owns just about everything in Mexico. If a Mexican were to try to compete with any of his businesses, he/she'd be flattened like a taco.


. . . it's only the stupidity and cowardice of the Greek right from 1949-74 . . . -

And what stupidity! What cowardice! The Greek right sat idly by and watched---lest they pissed off their benafactor, the U.S.---while the beautiful isle of Cyprus was raped and pillaged.



Cheers

John Akritas said...

LG.
Fortunately, I'm no expert on Pasok; but I think you'll find its rhetoric, ideology, worldview were strongly influenced by 1960s and 1970s Marxism. Fair enough, you could argue that in practical economic and political terms Pasok's Marxism meant little – and that the corruption of the Greek state, society, economy was peculiar to the way Pasok governed – but this Marxism had a disastrous impact in other areas of society – particularly education and intellectual life, which should really be Greece's strong point. Greece must be one of the last countries in the civilised world where Marxism is still taken seriously and where large amounts of intelligent people still think in terms of socialism, capitalism, neo-liberalism and so on. Indeed, it's stretching it to call either ND or Pasok neo-liberal – if we mean by neo-liberal, low tax, privatised economies, a reduced state and state expenditure and an emphasis on free enterprise and business values. When did either Pasok or ND represent this kind of 'neo-liberalism''?

I think it's fair to say that left-wing governments are usually more reluctant to deploy instruments of state repression – the police, the law, the army – to counter civil disturbance, whereas right-wing governments regard these as legitimate tools in defence of 'public order'. You usually know when a society is close to collapse when a government can no longer rely on the law, police, army to control the population, which is why no state worth its salt would ever turn the streets over to handfuls of rioters or strikers. The fact that the Greek state still has no response to these rioters and strikers reveals the depth of Greek social decay. Again, I'm not necessarily making a judgement about the rioters and strikers, just talking about statecraft, how a 'healthy' state, interested in self-preservation, would respond to challenges to its authority.

And the extent to which we believe in private property, a fairer distribution of wealth or a more humane economic model – the Greek economy is certainly a strange mix of third world exploitation and corruption, unfettered capitalism and Sovietism – is neither here nor there. I'm talking about why Greek conservatives have consistently failed to articulate and implement a programme that is recognisably right-wing, recognisably in favour of private enterprise and property, lower taxes and less interested in state-engineered social equality.

And it is true that Greece's failure to annex Cyprus and the eventual surrender of the island to Turkey and Britain – the incredible stupidity and incompetence this represented – is where a lot of the problem Greece is currently facing – which go way beyond debts and deficits – started.

Hermes said...

George Papandreou must either be very dim (note: I met him personally a few years ago and exchanged a few words and he did not strike me as very intelligent) or he is intentionally steering Greece towards catastrophe urged on by his backers. Because I try not to fall victim to the modern Greek affliction of "conspiracy theorising" I am still leaning towards the first view but with each passing day I am increasingly entertaining the second view.

The game he is playing with the EU and the Germans i.e. threatening to go to the IMF if assistance is not forthcoming, would be hilarious if the consequences were not so catastrophic. Naturally, many of the Europeans are suggesting Greece should go to the IMF. If we went to the IMF, the measures would be much stricter than those already implemented. Also, the IMF will demand decreased military expenditure further weakening Greece's ability to defend itself and Cyprus during a time of increased tensions with the Mongols.

Also, those unionists and farmers who have been shouting like madmen will not get the same sympathy from the IMF as they do from the Greek government and even the EU. They would be better served by shutting up.

johnakritas said...

I can't figure out George either. I don't reckon he's an old-style corrupt Greek politician or swindler. He appears likeable, calm and earnest and he has some idea that Greece's problems are systemic and long-term and are as much to do with deep rooted political culture as transient economic crisis. However, when he talks about Hellenism, I don't think he means it or knows what he's saying. Sarris once accused him of not knowing Greek history and this appears correct to me. His vision of Greece – and more especially Greece and Turkey and Greece and the Balkans – is dangerously naive, delusional and, as you say, more than a little dim. (It's also about time, George appointed a foreign minister too. Droutsas – possibly the only Austro-Cypriot in the history of the world – is a waste of space).

Still, even though it's hard to predict where Greece will be in four years time, I can't see Samaras beating Papandreou, so it looks like the country will be stuck with George for some time to come.

Hermes said...

Samaras has been a disapointment so far. Fair enough, it was always going to be an uphill battle after Geoffrey's honeymoon period, the Karamanlis debacle and the continuing economic crisis; but, he has not been bold enough. Perhaps we vested to much in him given some of his past deeds. If he fails to ignite at least some interest then Mitsotakis and his cabal may start their murmuring again.

lastgreek said...

Hi, JA. Please excuse my late reply . . . had a very hard last couple of days.

Indeed, it's stretching it to call either ND or Pasok neo-liberal – if we mean by neo-liberal, low tax, privatised economies, a reduced state and state expenditure and an emphasis on free enterprise and business values. When did either Pasok or ND represent this kind of 'neo-liberalism''?-

By neo-liberalism I mean un-fettered greed by the political and business elites---such greed (and corruption) that you have great disparities in wealth. And when there is a financial crisis caused by these same "elites," it is the poor and middle class who pay. (Sounds like the U.S., too.)

If i am not mistaken, the next privitazation project in Greece is Higher Education, no?

Btw, do the billionare, Greek shipping magnates pay taxes? Where do they hoard their euros?

For argument's sake, when a low income Greek (and they're plenty of them) does not pay his fair share in taxes, he doesn't stuff his "tax savings" in Swiss bank accounts---he spends it on necessary goods . . . like food and shelter; therefore, the money stays in Greece. When the rich---banksters, shipping tycoons, et al---don't pay their fair share, they "invest" their euros (isn't it lovely without the drachma?) outside of Greece, the consequences being obvious.

It's not surprising that the current "socialist" government is behaving exactly the way the "conservative" government would have behaved in the current crisis situation, i.e., falling hook, line and sinker for the ECB remedy plan---where "the cure" is so much worse than "the disease."

The Antidalarus said...

I like Camus' rant because it's an optimistic and alternative vision of how things might be.

Nevertheless, the idea of a coherent 'Mediterranean culture' seems endlessly contestable.

I think the Germany vs. Greece conflict you identified would make a superb PhD project. I'd love to delve into it if I was a rich man.

Χρήστος Παπαχριστόπουλος said...


Hello to all!

I think that you should all read the books of Camus translated in the site WWWINSENSE.BLOGSPOT.COM in Greek for the first time... you must read L' ETAT DE SIEGE in Greek!

Then, you must connect his work with Karyotakis and the STATUE OF LIBERTY THAT ILLUMINATES THS WORLD and the whole poems of Kalvos, Palamas, Solomos etc.

Thank you!