Sunday, 31 October 2010

Return the Parthenon marbles to Greece so that Greek workers can protest against them

Thanks to the Cyprus Action Network of America for drawing attention to a recent protest at the British Museum by the Cypriot student organisation Metopo (see video above), part of the Bring Them Back campaign, which demands the repatriation of the Parthenon Marbles from London to Athens, to the new Acropolis museum.

While it’s laudable that Metopo should make the effort for this cause, personally I’ve never been able to get overly-excited by the demand for the repatriation of the marbles. What do Greeks think? That once the marbles return, Greece will be redeemed and a new Periclean age will be initiated? The whole marbles obsession – just like the Greek mania for staging the Olympics in 2004 – is a distraction. Greece needs a vibrant and creative society worthy of the marbles – capable, actually, of producing new Phidias’ – not just fancy, well-stocked museums, testament to the vanity of politicians, whose ambitions for Greeks is limited to turning them into a nation of museum curators and spectators of the past.

Moreover, while it’s undeniable that that the British are barbarians and London is a Third World Afro-Islamic city, so are the Greeks and so is Athens. And if you think it’s an exaggeration to call the Greeks barbarians, then how would you describe the behaviour of the culture ministry contract workers (see video below) who, on the national holiday of 28 October, climbed on top of the gateway (Propylaia) to the Acropolis to protest being laid off, and the justification for their actions given by their union rep Nikos Hasomeris that: 

‘The marbles on their own aren’t anything. Somebody has to put them on show. Working with these marbles are guards, cleaners and archaeologists and it is they who make it possible for all these people who spend thousands of euros to come to see this monument. Without these people [the workers], this monument can’t function.’

It should be added that, as far as I’m aware, not only were the protesters on the Propylaia not shot down, they were not even arrested or charged, i.e. there were no consequences for their actions.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Fight the power, and the Turks

It’s very difficult observing the train crash wreckage which is Greece at the moment. What pushed me over the edge was a main bulletin of MEGA news a couple of weeks ago which started with a 20 minute report on the opening by Marianna Vardinogiannis of a children’s cancer hospital in Athens. Apparently, the botoxified wife of one of Greece’s most prominent tycoons raised the money for the hospital herself and because her husband also happens to own MEGA TV, the station’s news felt obliged to run a sycophantic item portraying the inauguration – to which all of Greece’s elite turned out – as a major event in Greek life and Mrs Vardinoyiannis as a living saint and miracle worker healing the country’s stricken children.

The whole episode was an extraordinary demonstration of who has power in Greece and how they use it. Watching it aroused not only my disgust and incredulity, but made me realise just how backward Greece is. No other country in the advanced world would allow a private citizen, however rich, to use a major television station to promote the activities of his family. Clearly, Greece doesn’t need reform, it needs a revolution, to sweep away the Vardinoyiannis’ and the other mafia families that run Greece.

* Also, Greek and Turkish newspapers have been reporting the last few days that Greece and Turkey are close to agreeing a deal that would partition the Aegean 80-20 between the two countries. If Papandreou wants to go down this path, let him take it from me, a Cypriot, who knows the Turk better than he does, that you give a Turk an inch and the next thing he’ll want is a mile, i.e. you give the Turk 20 percent of the Aegean and it won’t be long before he’s asking for 30 percent, then 40 percent and, finally, all of it. If you think this is an exaggeration or nationalist paranoia, then I’m sorry, you’re an idiot.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Through the Christofias’ keyhole

Quite a bit has been written in Greece and Cyprus about President Christofias’ gauche comment at the Brookings Institute last month suggesting that in 1974 both Greece and Turkey invaded Cyprus. My take on the comment is that it was the result of  Christofias’ tragic grasp of English and his country-bumpkin mentality that makes him want to appear cleverer than he is when abroad or confronted by foreigners.

Having said this, Stavros Lygeros is also right to point out that Christofias’ stupid comment is also part and parcel of Cyprus’ unreconstituted communist party AKEL’s discourse on the Cyprus problem, which blames Greek and Turkish nationalism for the island’s fate and proposes as a resolution Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot working classes uniting against imperialism, capitalism and all the rest.

It’s a ridiculous discourse, though it does tap into some Cypriot resentment towards Greece for its Cyprus policy from 1955 to 1974. For instance, when it is said that it was not Greece but the junta that betrayed Cyprus in 1974 and that the junta were nothing more than American CIA puppets not representative of the Greek people, I personally do not buy this. Firstly, because all the junta did in 1974 when it tried to topple Makarios in order to strike a bargain with Turkey on double enosis was put into practice Greek state policy since 1964; and, secondly, it is nonsense to argue that the junta was an entirely external imposition on Greece and ignore its roots in a particular form of Greek politics that emerged after the civil war.

Still, I know it’s difficult for non-Cypriots to understand how Cyprus has a communist president and such a powerful communist party – which consistently attracts 35 percent of votes at elections; but the truth is that AKEL’s supporters are not rabid class warriors and the party’s leaders are invariably a bunch of dumb hicks who pay nothing more than lip-service to Marxist-Leninism. In fact, their Marxist-Leninism has been reduced to a form of kitsch, as revealed by the photo above, taken, apparently, chez Christofias, in which the president’s wife, Elsi, another product of 1960s Soviet education, proudly displays the massive portrait of Karl Marx hanging in their dining room.