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.

18 comments:

lastgreek said...

[Off topic, J.]

From yahoonews (via The Daily Caller):

Greek Health System Opts for Amputation as Money-Saver

This Saturday, one of Greece’s most respected newspapers, To Vima, reported that the nation’s largest government health insurance provider would no longer pay for special footwear for diabetes patients. Amputation is cheaper, says the Benefits Division of the state insurance provider.

Looks like the austerity shit is hitting the proverbial fan sooner than I expected.

It's time for the Greeks to wake up, put aside their petty differences, and form a truly national government that puts the interests of themselves---the common Greek---ahead of the interests of foreigners.

No more talks of debt financing, debt restructuring, debt rescheduling and other such bullshit talk. The holders of Greek debt will have to take a haircut, as in "f-ck you, you're not getting another dime." No tears, folks. They the bondholders knew very well what they were getting into. They knew because they had demanded a risk premium on top of what they were getting. Hey, dem the risks.

Here's a link to an excellent article by a former Wall Street economist Michael Hudson:

http://counterpunch.org/hudson10112010.html

"Who Needs an Army When You Can Obtain the Usual Objective (Monetary Wealth and Asset Appropriation) Simply by Financial Means?"

Seriously


P.S. You know, J, a Greek (unfettered) capitalist scares me more than a Greek communist. The latter may be a dreamer, a nutcase ... whatever---but the former would sell anything for profit, including the land from under his feet (which probably explains all those foreign flags inside the gated communities along the beautiful Mani coast). Just saying...

John Akritas said...

LG. I've given up on Greece. I've never liked horror films and Greece is Cannibal Holocaust, Driller Killer and The Exorcist all rolled into one. I can't watch anymore. I have a sensitive stomach.

Being a communist nowadays strikes me as ridiculous. Where would the Greek Enlightenment have been without a Greek merchant class? Still, you are right that Greece has developed an economic model that encourages barons, cartels, beyond regulation and law, and not a genuinely innovative and free enterprise culture, and this capitalist mafia is just as bad and reactionary as the communist rump in the country that controls unions and much of the country's political discourse.

Hermes said...

Good to see a Greek win a Nobel Prize:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/oct/11/nobel-prize-for-economics-three-winners

John Akritas said...

I didn't want to say anything out of modesty; but this has been dominating the news in Cyprus all day. The man is a national hero. It's good for Cyprus and for all Greeks, though I'm a little disappointed that from what I've seen in the Greek media the coverage has been fairly muted and there's no perception that this is a Greek Nobel prize winner. He is being portrayed as a Cypriot, as if we were a different breed. Maybe economics professors aren't the rage in Greece at the moment, particularly ones that believe that Greece's public sector needs to be massacred for the sake of the Greek economy:

http://news.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_economy_2_09/10/2010_418023

Of course, our commie president also congratulated Professor Pissarides, though Christofias didn't go overboard for this bourgeois economist.

lastgreek said...

Heavens to Betsy, Hermes! For a second there I thought you were referring to either Savas Dimopoulos or Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara. (I hope our Greeks here know who they are. Shame on those Greeks who don't.)

Economics?

Okay, it's better than nothing (just barely). However, if I were on the Nobel committee, I would have awarded the Economics prize to that dude (can't recall dude's name at the moment) who said that the phrase "sustainable economic growth" (on a planet of finite resources and space) is an oxymoron.

"Finite resources." That's our Greece. We Greeks have to be careful. Unfortunately, the land is taken for granted. Very few rivers and lakes remain in Greece, yet garbage, toxic or not, is just freely dumped into them. Blue Flag beaches in Greece? Who are they kidding.

Hermes said...

John, Papandreou did talk about Pissarides's award being award for Hellenism; although, coming from him those words mean something different than what you and me mean.

http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=11379&subid=2&pubid=36576948

Ο Πρωθυπουργός, Γιώργος Α. Παπανδρέου, έκανε την ακόλουθη δήλωση για την απονομή του Βραβείου Νόμπελ Οικονομίας 2010 στον καθηγητή Χριστόφορο Πισσαρίδη:


«Η απονομή του Βραβείου Νόμπελ Οικονομίας στον καθηγητή Χριστόφορο Πισσαρίδη, αποτελεί ύψιστη τιμή και για την Κύπρο αλλά και για ολόκληρο τον Ελληνισμό», σημειώνει στη δήλωσή του ο κ. Παπανδρέου: «Όλοι μας, είμαστε υπερήφανοι για αυτήν την πολύ μεγάλη διάκριση που κατέκτησε ο Χριστόφορος Πισσαρίδης, γιατί δείχνει με τον πλέον κατηγορηματικό τρόπο τις δυνατότητες του Ελληνισμού. Και ακόμη περισσότερο, γιατί ένας επιστήμονας που αισθανόμαστε δικό μας άνθρωπο, βραβεύεται γιατί πέτυχε με το επιστημονικό του έργο που αναγνωρίζεται διεθνώς, να αναδείξει την ανθρώπινη διάσταση της οικονομικής επιστήμης. Η εργασία του για το πρόβλημα της ανεργίας δεν είναι μόνον επίκαιρη, αλλά αναδεικνύει και την συμβολή της επιστήμης στις κοινωνικές και πολιτικές εξελίξεις σε μια περίοδο ιδιαίτερα δύσκολη για την παγκόσμια κοινότητα. Στον καθηγητή Χριστόφορο Πισσαρίδη εκφράζω τα θερμά μου συγχαρητήρια και τις ευχές μου για μια δημιουργική συνέχεια. »

John Akritas said...

I missed Papandreou's comment, which is fair enough. I've just finished watching last night's Mega news and there was no mention whatsoever of Pissarides' achievement. I don't believe this would have been the case if the two physicists LG mentions – who I had to google – would have been awarded Nobel prizes. Or maybe I'm just being a chippy Cypriot.

lastgreek said...

I don't believe this would have been the case if the two physicists LG mentions – who I had to google – would have been awarded Nobel prizes.

Shame on you, J ;-)

John Akritas said...

Physics is not my strong point, LG. I can just about change a lightbulb.

Hermes said...

Off topic but an interesting article in the American Congressional Quarterly:

http://taxalia.blogspot.com/2010/10/blog-post_2551.html

John Akritas said...

Well, H. Greek-Americans have been banging on for years about the advantages of closer Hellas/Israel and hence closer Jewish/Greek lobby ties; but we'll see what it all means. Fact is that the Turks now seem so full of themselves, convinced that they're the US's equal, that they couldn't give a monkey's about Congressional resolutions on the cultural destruction in occupied Cyprus. Maybe the Americans will reward Greece for being Israel's pal by exerting pressure on the Skopjans not to overplay their hand given we've already conceded them Northern Macedonia or Republic of Macedonia Varda, or whatever it is. Generally, I don't think any one listens to what the Americans say anymore. They are increasingly an irrelevance.

lastgreek said...

Well, I just want to say hats off to the French ... for being French! :-)

John Akritas said...

I think, LG, that when it comes to revolting, the Greeks could teach the French a thing or two.

Hermes said...

LG, I agree. I have always been a Francophile. Sarkozy has been quite brave recently. Expelling Roma, banning the Burqa and ignoring the student and hooligan rabble that tries to pass itself off as a Leftist protest movement. Of course, he is a midget next to De Gaulle.

Hermes said...

I have just been re-reading Plutarch's Parallel Lives. What a great boook. Also, Plutarch demonstrates, like Plato, Thucydides, Xenophon and to a lessor extent Aristotle, what happens when charismatic leaders appeal to the rabble and their baser instincts. That is pretty much what happened in Greece over the last 40 years. France is much the same. Look at the results.

John Akritas said...

Plutarch is tremendous. I'm pretty sure William Golding's last novel, The Double Tongue, which is about the decline of the Delphic Oracle, has as one of its main protagonists a character based on Plutarch. I read this novel a while ago and liked it a lot.

On the Greek mob; it is always struck me that right up to Mitsotakis and Simitis, ordinary Greeks were more patriotic than their leaders and that in order to keep these emotions in check, Greeks were fed bread and circuses. Greeks were prepared to fight the Turks in 1974, there were a million Greeks out in the Athens streets shouting Macedonia is Greek in 1992(?) and even now, while these sentiments may have dissipated, I wonder how many Greeks go along with their political elite's wish to hand over 20 percent of the Aegean to the Turks. My point is that it is the Greek political elite and not the Greek mob that is responsible for Greece's decline. The Greek mob has often been right.

Hermes said...

John, I think you should make a distinction between middle class and working families who seek to find secure employment, educate their children and perpetuate their culture and hooligans, misfits, reprobates, scumbags, thieves, Albanians, junkies, bikers, anarchists or simply lumpen proletariat. The former are patriotic despite the propaganda thrown at them for 40 years. The latter should be beaten and locked up without a fair trial.

John Akritas said...

I agree. Greece has far too many of the latter.