Modern Greece’s real problem? You, dear sir.

Last month, the Washington Post published an article entitled “Modern Greece’s real problem? Ancient Greece.” by one George Zarkadakis, who unlike most Greeks is rich enough to divide his time between Athens and London.

It begins like this:

Greece is the cradle of democracy, but, as the world saw this past week, a financial crisis is no time to put important questions to the people. Prime Minister George Papandreou’s proposed referendum on the country’s loan deal with the European Union, called off quickly after intense international opposition, illustrated that perfectly. Plato and Aristotle would have approved of dropping the referendum. They didn’t like democracy of the direct kind. Neither trusted the people that much.

It’s a peculiar opening sentence, one that initially made me wonder whether it is meant ironically or not. Surely it had to be? Surely the anti-democratic mindset implied, while held by many in the elites of the world, cannot be something that one actually dares admit to? “No time to put important questions to the people” – there was a time not too long ago when anyone would have been booed for speaking in such a paternalistic, dismissive way of the right of the people to govern themselves. And people would have booed from both sides of the political spectrum.

I would also like to point out that Plato and Aristotle, whose opinions are presented here without context or meaningful details, do not constitute the totality of Ancient Greek thought. Thank you.

Sinking deeper into the gravest economic crisis in its postwar history, Greece is no nearer to finding an exit from its woes, despite the vote of confidence that Papandreou narrowly managed to win Friday night. A toxic mix of anxiety and fear hangs in the air in Athens.

Papandreou is gone by now, replaced by a new, unelected government of “national unity” that includes several outright fascists (in the Hitler-was-a-good-man, Let’s-kill-foreigners, Jews-are-evil sense), but I suppose the rest still applies: Greece is mired in crisis and nowhere near an exit. The measures imposed by the European Union and the IMF, instead of helping, have caused the crisis to deepen – as they have done in every single country where they have ever been applied.

The ordeal shows that living up to lofty idealism is never easy.

Now one wonders – is the author speaking of the lofty idealism of the International Monetary Fund? The idealism of believing that austerity measures can take a county out of crisis when this idea has lost ground even with conservative, pro-capitalist economists because of the very simple fact that it has never – let me repeat this, never – worked?

Modern Greeks know that well, for we are, in many ways, the imperfect reflection of an ideal that the West imagined for itself.

This would appear to be the text’s central thesis, one which I hope raises alarm bells in anyone who has spent some time studying racism and colonial discourses. In a single sentence, Greece is robbed of any kind of real identity, of cultural selfhood, and becomes nothing more than a Western fantasy. We’ll go into detail about this in a bit.

When the Greek crisis began two years ago, a popular German magazine printed an image of Aphrodite of Milo on its cover. She was depicted gesturing crudely to German readers, with the headline: “The fraudster in the euro family.” The story led to protests in the streets of Athens. In the article, modern Greeks were described as indolent sloths, cheats and liars, masters of corruption, unworthy descendents of their glorious Hellenic past. The irony of the article, and of the angry Greek protests against it, was that modern Greece has little in common with Pericles or Plato. If anything, it is a failed German project.

Here we see a paragraph that contains the seeds of its own destruction. While the author is trying to imply that what made the Greek people so angry was the implication that they aren’t “proper” Greeks (because German tabloids get to define what is proper culture), it glosses over the fact that Greeks were described as, in its own words “indolent sloths, cheats and liars, masters of corruption.” Would you not get upset at such an accusation? Would you not get very upset at such an accusation if you lived in a poor country with next to no social security, in which people work extremely hard and still have a quality of life much lower than that of countries like Germany?

There’s more to it than that, though. The cultural aspect does come into play, because the Focus article claimed that Greece has no modern culture and that the Greeks cling to the glories of the ancients to whom they are not related. (The racist undercurrent of “they do not have the same blood, they are not true Greeks” is one that crops up again and again. The implication seems to be that the modern Greeks have interbred with other people, especially those nasty Turks, and are now impure. It is, of course, never stated in these words, but if one does not believe in racist pseudo-science, why bring it up at all?) This dismissal of modern Greek culture – of which there is a great deal – is very important, and another thing to keep in mind as we go on.

Now we get a very compressed history of modern Greece, which I will not quote in its entirety:

The year was 1832, and Greece had just won its independence from the Ottoman Empire. The “Big Powers” of the time — Britain, France and Russia — duly appointed a Bavarian prince as Greece’s first king. His name was Otto. He arrived in his new kingdom with an entourage of German architects, engineers, doctors and soldiers — and set out to reconfigure the country to the romantic ideal of the times. […] Otto saw to it that modern Greece lived up to that romantic image. Athens, at that time a small hamlet of a few goatherds, was inaugurated as the new national capital. The architects from Munich designed and built a royal palace, an academy, a library, a university and all the beautiful neoclassical edifices that contemporary Greek anarchists adorn with graffiti. […] Modern Greece was thus invented as a backdrop to contemporary European art and imagination, a historical precursor of many Disneylands to come.

This version of Greek history is peculiar, in that it seems to occur solely from the top down, and to start with Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. Yes, the article will get to the difference between the rulers and the people, but you cannot simply assert that Greece was “invented” as a European fantasy when Greece already existed – with a strong, vibrant culture, including poetry and literature. And while the influence of the Great (not Big) Powers was no doubt massive, the picture Zarkadakis paints is one that utterly infantilizes the Greek people, as if the War of Independence had happened without them and as if no politicians or intellectuals had emerged from it. It is precisely this kind of image of history – uncomplicated, lacking in local detail, to be seen only as it affects us – that is the real fantasy of the West.

It is also quite telling that Zarkadakis refers to Greece as a kind of Disneyland – a shockingly offensive image to those who know the country’s long history of poverty and starvation. A couple of stylized buildings do not define a country – besides, any tourist knows that Greece does not have the infrastructure of Disneyland.

Equally telling is the reference to anarchists – because graffiti is a uniquely Greek problem, and one that will clearly contribute to the downfall of the country.

Despite the Bavarian soldiers who escorted him, King Otto was eventually expelled by a coup. But the foundations of historical misunderstanding had been laid, to haunt Greece and its relations with itself and other European nations forever.

And how exactly could this happen? Did the Greeks suddenly change their minds, losing their history and culture as it existed at that point? Did they suddenly start believing what they were told by some inbred Bavarian whom they hated enough to kick out of the country?

No matter what Otto may have imagined, the truth was that my real forefathers, the brave people who started fighting for their freedom against the Turks in 1821, had not been in suspended animation for 2,000 years. Although their bonds with the land, the ruined temples, the living Greek language, the names and the myths were strong and rich, they were not walking around in white cloaks wearing laurels on their heads.

This is actually true. Though one does wonder about the portrayal of Otto as a kind, wonderful royal who just thought the Greeks were better than they are. But wait a second – if the Greeks had remained Greek but also greatly evolved and changed, how did this historical misunderstanding come to be?

They were Christian orthodox, conservative and fiercely antagonistic toward their governing institutions.

Because the Enlightenment is just something that happened to other people? What about, you know, the Modern Greek Enlightenment? The heroes of that time, like Rigas Feraios, were inspired by the French Revolution. Some of their religious ideas may seem old-fashioned now, and though conservatism surely existed and much can be criticized about these individuals, the sentence quoted paints a highly misleading portrait of the Greek population and its culture. As for “fiercely antagonistic toward their governing institutions” – a sentence clearly designed to make the reader think of the modern day – what exactly is strange about this antagonism when their governing institutions consisted first of the old imperial power that had conquered them, then of a monarchy imposed by the new imperial powers?

In other words, they were an embarrassment to all those folks in Berlin, Paris and London who expected resurrected philosophers sacrificing to Zeus.

Of course, had they actually sacrificed to Zeus, the Greeks would have been branded heretics and barbarians, but never mind that. Do note, however, how the lack of “resurrected philosophers” fits so well with the assertion that Greece had no culture, when in fact a great upsurge of cultural activity had begun in Greece even before independence.

The profound gap between the ancient and the modern had to be bridged somehow, in order to satisfy the romantic expectations that Europe had of Greece. So a historical narrative was put together claiming uninterrupted continuity with the ancient past. With time, this narrative became the central dogma of Greek national policy and identity.

Now we’re getting into dangerous territory, because this is a half-truth, and we all know that that’s the worst kind of lie. It is certainly true that Greek nationalists have constructed a narrative that attempts to present an ethnic purity that does not exist – not because Greece is impure, but because this kind of “purity” is simply a myth invented at the birth of the modern nation. Not a Greek myth, mind you, but one that every single European country has claimed for itself in the process of turning interconnected but not identical groups into a political unit. This kind of discourse is dangerous and foolish, and also rather sad – for example, the city I come from, Thessaloniki, has a rich transcultural history which it would be a great loss to forget.

But Zarkadakis is wrong on two levels. First of all, the conservative narrative of Greek history, as fictional as it is, doesn’t claim quite as much of a connection to ancient Greece as he says it does. Why? Because modern Greek conservatives are Christians, and Christianity pretty much destroyed ancient Greek culture. The nationalists may go on and on about Alexander the Great, but there’s always an uncomfortable (and at times hilarious) divide between their supposed admiration of the Greek (pagan!) past and their devotion to the Greek Orthodox Church.

More importantly, there is uninterrupted continuity with the ancient past. Zarkadakis said so himself! The Greeks “had not been in suspended animation for 2,000 years. Although their bonds with the land, the ruined temples, the living Greek language, the names and the myths were strong and rich, they were not walking around in white cloaks wearing laurels on their heads.” Greek language and culture changed and evolved, but stayed recognizably Greek (a fact noted by linguists and historians for decades now). It would be absurd to claim that the modern Greeks are identical with the ancient Greeks, because that would mean that time had not passed. It has. But there is no break – there couldn’t be, or the language would not have survived as it did. Greece was conquered, not eradicated or destroyed. It was influenced greatly by other cultures – but then again, that is nothing new or unique.

In fact – though that deserves a longer exploration elsewhere – I would argue that it is precisely the ability of Greek culture to learn from others and improve that which is learned that is Greece’s greatest strength. The alphabet was not invented by the Greeks, but it was the Greeks who took it and turned it into the highly flexible tool that it is today. Similarily, the Greek philosophers did not exist in a vacuum, but were influenced by older, non-Greek theological traditions – but they took what they learned there and turned Greece into a centre of thought unlike anything the world had seen. There is much to admire there, but very little that is good for nationalism. Invention has always been a transcultural process, and it was precisely the openness of the Greeks to other people’s ideas (even religions) that led to their glory.

Anyway, Zarkadakis goes on:

As a kid growing up in Greece in the 1970s, I had to learn not one, but three Greek languages. First, it was the demotic parlance of everyday life, the living words people exchanged at the marketplaces and in the streets. But at school, we were taught something different: It was called “katharevousa” — “cleansed” — a language designed by 19th-century intellectuals to purify demotic from the cornucopia of borrowed Turkish, Slavic and Latin words.

Katharevousa was a disaster, but the divide between the “official” language and the language of the people was actually the expression of a much, much older problem going back centuries; and the article forgets to mention that this nonsense is no longer taught in schools.

Finally, we had to study ancient Greek, the language of our classical ancestors, the heroes of Marathon and Thermopylae. We were supposed to learn “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey” in the original, by heart, in case some time machine transported us back to Homeric times.

I’ve been ambivalent about the teaching of Ancient Greek in schools. (To clarify, I went to the German School of Thessaloniki, so I didn’t have Ancient Greek lessons.) I used to think it was simply a dead language and something that pupils shouldn’t be tortured with, but I cannot deny the value of understanding the roots of a language, especially when that language has been so very influential in the development of other languages. Furthermore, though I wouldn’t be opposed to having a time machine, such a device is not required to read the foundational texts of Western culture in their original language. All that is required is being able to speak that language; something which is a lot to learn when you already speak a language that is quite similar to it. It may be right or it may be wrong to teach Ancient Greek, and if it is taught it will certainly require a better educational system to do it properly, but it is not half as ludicrous to teach it as Zarkadakis claims it is.

As it happened, most of us managed to learn none of the three, ending up mixing them in one grammatically anarchic jargon that communicated mostly the confusion of our age.

By “most of us” I must assume that the writer is referring to his close circle of intellectually-challenged friends, who were mocked by everyone else for failing to speak understandable Greek. The implication that most Greeks cannot even speak regular modern Greek surely is the result of the writer having difficulty understanding them due to his Frankenstein’s monster of a linguistic background; the only other explanations are either that he is a half-wit or that he is deliberately portraying the Greek people as uncultured peasants.

Like its language, Greek society suffers from an equal number of divisions. First, there is the political class that, for almost two centuries now, has shown great subservience to foreign masters. They discovered early that claiming to be Euripides’ relative goes a long way toward procuring handsome loans and diplomatic sympathies.

This almost sounds reasonable; “great subservience to foreign masters” is as good a description as any. But then the second sentence turns it all around – the problem isn’t that the Greek ruling class has often acted as representative of foreign powers intent on exploiting Greece, but it has tricked those poor, trusting Great Powers into being exploited by Greece! “Claiming to be Euripides’ relative” – that’s the level of stereotyping absurdity Zarkadakis descends to in order to portray the Greeks as the swindling thieves so often imagined by racists. And are we really naive enough to believe that countries give loans on that basis? That’s without considering the interconnected nature of loans and the development of European economies in the past two centuries. No, all we get from Zarkadakis is the filthy, short, balding man who speaks with a funny accent and tries to swindle poor Europeans out of their hard-earned money.

 The geopolitical position of Greece, controlling shipping routes from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, also helps. No wonder that modern Greece never became truly independent. It has always been much too easy to be dependent on foreign power and capital.

Again a half-truth that sounds almost reasonable. Yes, the geopolitical position of Greece is an important part of the puzzle, because it means it’s a key strategic location that everyone wants to have. But Zarkadakis turns it around to say that this had made things too easy. Too easy! That’s like saying “All that oil in Iraq also helps. No wonder Iraq never became truly independent. It has always been much too easy to be dependent on foreign power and capital.” The geopolitical position of Greece has made it a target for conquest and control, a pawn in conflicts between the Great Powers (greatly affecting, for example, the Greek Civil War and the military dictatorship of 1967-1974).

Although there have been periods of vigorous economic development and industrial renaissance, our economic history is one of successive defaults.

And how is this unique? How is this tied to the Greek character, if such a thing could be said to exist, and not to the patterns of uncontrolled industrial growth and their effects on a country that was exceedingly poor to begin with? Greece may be in crisis right now, but so is the rest of the economic system. And I’m sure you remember the Great Depression, and the myriad of crashes and lows in the international economy before and since?

Becoming a member of the European Union and of the euro zone, only to amass a titanic debt, has been the latest chapter in this modern odyssey.

And Greece is the only country with debt? And how does the debt have anything to do with the Greek people, who did not benefit from it in any palpable way? (Again, the Greek population is forced to work hard and long for few benefits.) And let’s not go into the details of how much money is actually owed (no-one wants to tell), where that money went (bank bailouts, German and French weapons manufacturers), or how much money Germany owes Greece (and I’m not talking about unpaid reparations, but about forced loans).

Second, the intellectuals, mostly foreign-educated and well traveled, dream of a truly westernized Greece through some miracle of economic and social science.

Foreign-educated and well travelled? What does that mean? Perhaps he’s referring to the fact that the austerity policies (which began long, long before the current crisis) have utterly destroyed the Greek university system, forcing most young people who want to study to go abroad? Perhaps by well travelled he means that it’s so hard to survive as an academic or intellectual of any kind in Greece that people have gone all over the place to work?

And what does “a truly westernized Greece” mean? I find the term “westernized” to be suspicious and more than a little reminiscent of colonial discourses. By choosing such a term he implicitly turns Greeks into the Oriental Other, who should be turned into proper civilized people but are almost too inherently childish for this to work. But maybe, just maybe, we can “kill the Greek and save the man.”

When the loan referendum was announced, like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky, most of them opposed it. Greece had to show that it belonged to the European family of nations, whatever that may mean. Rebellion was not to be tolerated, lest the country was kicked out of the euro, the symbol of Greek westernization.

Who are these intellectuals, anyway? Who is he talking about? Not everyone opposed the referendum for the same reasons. Many, for example, felt that it was simply a sham, a publicity manoeuvre designed to blame the Greek people for decisions that already been made. (Why was there no referendum when this whole mess began in the first place?) Despite everything, Greece still has a genuine intellectual world, and it contains people from all political and philosophical directions. While I do believe that there is a desire to be cosmopolitan and belong to Europe that manifests itself as subservience to the European Union (which is not the same as Europe at all), I think his references to intellectuals are rather confusing.

In the end, the intellectuals and politicians — with a lot of persuasion from angry European leaders and technocrats — had the referendum quashed. Besides, the invention of fantastical modern Greece demanded that its people, the third division of society, also remained imaginary.

This is… quite true, actually.

Naturally, they are real as anything. They despise the loss of their sovereignty, particularly to the Germans, as well as the bitter medicine prescribed by their European brethren for their “rescue.” Austerity enforced by unelected officials from the troika — the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank — is perceived not as a remedy but as a punishment, an alien and distasteful concept to the orthodox Greeks whose core value is mercy.

No, it’s not perceived as a punishment. It is seen as an act of economic conquest and colonial exploitation, which is what it is. And seeing it as a remedy would be absurd in the face of hard, empirical evidence: austerity measures intensify a crisis that was caused by austerity measures in the first place. (If taxes for the rich hadn’t been taken further and further down, and spent on corporate advertising projects like the Olympic Games or measures like the bank bailouts, Greece would have a lot of spare cash. Greece still has more income than costs per year.)

As for “the orthodox Greeks whose core value is mercy” – what a pile of Orientalist, foolish-noble-savage tosh. Survival and a decent quality of life, those are their core values – the same core values everyone else has, too. The Greeks don’t want mercy, they want to stop being exploited by international elites. They want to get rid of their government and do what the people of Iceland did: tell the markets to get lost, because democracy and quality of life are more important than the giant casino that is the modern banking system. Iceland, incidentally, is seen as now recovering from its problems, even by the IMF – because it refused to bow to the IMF and did the exact opposite of what is supposedly a remedy.

Burdened with the improbable weight of forefathers who supposedly laid the foundations of Western civilization, driven by strong cultural undercurrents that undermine the authority of the state, they long for the realization of a dream promised by their political class: that Greece can somehow be something different from the rest of the world, a utopia where mortals can live like Olympians.

See, Greek people aren’t even conscious of being opposed to the state. Decades of political thought, of organization and resistance, don’t exist. It’s a “strong cultural undercurrent” – Greeks are so childish that they are essentially only acting out of instinct, and only a few, like Mr. Zarkadakis here, can rise above the unthinking masses. That’s why people like him should be in charge – they are the grown-ups!

(I wonder if Zarkadakis would have said the same about this regrettable undercurrent that undermines the authority of the state when the Greeks were fighting the fascist invaders during World War II. Then it was seen as heroism and a dedication to freedom, but now it’s an infantile reflex.)

Wait, let’s have that last bit again:

they long for the realization of a dream promised by their political class: that Greece can somehow be something different from the rest of the world, a utopia where mortals can live like Olympians.

So the desire for fair wages, for having a roof over one’s head, for not being beaten and abused by the police, is the desire for utopia? The desire for a functioning healthcare system, for an educational system that is not sacrificed to the whims of a few bankers, is a dream of living like Olympians?

In fact, people aren’t even protesting for something as “radical” as, say, getting the same pay as Germans when they have to pay the same prices. Or working as few hours as the Germans, or having as many holidays as the Germans, or – to pick another nation – going into retirement as early as the French? (The international media consistently claim that the Greeks are better off in all these sectors, but the statistics show that the exact opposite is true. And by statistics I mean the statistics of capitalist organizations like Eurostat and the OECD, not numbers published in some left-wing blog.) All that the Greeks are protesting against is having what little they’ve got being taken away from them to enrich the very people who caused the economic crisis.

The Greek financial crisis is a crisis of identity as much as anything else. Unless the people redefine themselves, this could become the perfect catastrophe: a country designed as a romantic theme park two centuries ago, propped up with loans ever since, and unable to adjust to the crude realities of 21st-century globalization.

This sentence is so far removed from the real Greece, with its dusty country roads, its falling-apart infrastructure, its chaotic cities and its rapidly falling quality of life (the center of Athens has been declared an emergency zone by medical organizations) that it simply boggles the mind. Even the great tourist attractions, the Acropolis and the Agora and all those ancient places, are far from being anything like a romantic theme park. I was on the Acropolis just a couple of months ago, as were millions of tourists. I doubt any of them saw a theme park, there or in any other part of Athens. Unless they went to an actual theme park, of course.

This fantasy Greece, so unrelated to actual facts, reveals more about the author than about the actual country. It reveals a great deal about his political sympathies, his economic allegiances, and his position in society and culture. It is extremely telling that he mentions Greek resistance to authority, but fails to mention the US-supported dictatorship that terrorized the country for seven years. It is extremely telling that he mentions ancient Greek culture, but neglects to mention modern Greek culture – neglects or rather chooses not to mention giants like Mikis Theodorakis, Odysseas Elytis, Giorgos Seferis; the thriving Greek musical scene which includes everything from powerful and political hip-hop to some of the most accomplished and internationally renowned classical composers of our time, the long and complex and very much alive poetic tradition, and all the other artforms that are both thoroughly Greek and thoroughly modern. Because, you see, Greek culture doesn’t fawn over ancient history – some crazy right-wingers do, sure, but where don’t they do that? Modern Greek art concerns itself almost not at all with the ancients, but with the themes that have shaped modern Greece: exile, war, poverty, resistance, immigration; and of course love and humour in the face of the difficulties of life. That’s not to say that there isn’t a ton of painfully idiotic kitsch; but Greece has, in the last two centuries, produced a remarkable amount of extraordinary art.

No, I’m not going to say it’s the only country to do so. That would be silly. But what is rare, though certainly not unique, about all this art is the degree to which it is connected to the people. This is especially true of the music, much of which treats themes that are highly relevant today, much of which was written in opposition to dictatorship; and much of which is known to everyone. I don’t want to overly romanticize this, or pretend that every Greek person is born singing hymns to freedom. But there’s something there, something powerful in the culture of the people, not of the elite few. The most renowned of all the composers, Mikis Theodorakis, perhaps one of the greatest musical geniuses ever to walk the earth, wrote music that people know; that the people know. That kind of overlap between the classical, the epic, the traditional and the spirit of common people, is rarely seen. And it’s more than just this one composer. It is also not accidental that Theodorakis, whose opposition to the military regime inspired people so profoundly, has spoken out eloquently against the new economic dictatorship.

But all that – the idea that there is a modern Greece, with its own culture and its own ideas, its history of struggles informed by but not defined by ancient Greece, is completely ignored by Zarkadakis, in favour of a patronizing and simplistic explanation based on a Western fantasy of identity.

There’s a great deal wrong with Greek society and culture – the power of the military and the church, corruption, nationalism – but a longing for utopia has little to do with it. The Greeks are angry, and the Greeks want change – but what you’ll hear in every corner of the country, from the streets to the beaches to the slums, is people talking about politics. They disagree with each other, and many of their ideas are probably terribly wrong, but they’re talking about the real world, the world of today, the world that they have to deal with it. They’re talking about market stability and odious debt and the dangers of deregulation, not Euripides or Plato or Aristotle.

By infantilising the Greek population, Zarkadakis is trying to distract us from the systemic problems faced by the modern world, blaming instead the uncivilized Other, the noble savages who will either have to adapt to harsh modern realities (i.e. destroy themselves) or cling to their old-fashioned ideas (i.e. be destroyed). It’s sad, he’s telling us, but that’s simply the march of civilization – it’s inevitable. I think we’ve heard the same ideas before, and they were just as wrong then as they are now.

It is precisely this sort of thinking that is the problem. Instead of forcing us to confront the complex reality of a fatally outdated economic system coupled with a thoroughly corrupt political system, making us think about why the whole world is in crisis, about how extremely unpopular parties can cling to power, how a supposedly democratic system fails again and again to represent the will of the people, or how people were so often duped into supporting a system that exploited them, this kind of thinking shifts the blame from practical reality to vague notions of cultural inferiority. And of course it makes sure it is the population, the supposedly unthinking masses, that is really at fault – and thus perfectly deserves having to pay for the reckless gambling of a tiny plutocracy. But thank God there’s a tiny percentage of wise, enlightened upper-class people like Mr. Zarkadakis, able to see all this from above, able to act as middlemen for those who are making a killing helping the Greeks help themselves.

Mr. Zarkadakis, incidentally, is the Editor-in-Chief of the Greek version of Focus, the tabloid masquerading as a popular science magazine, and thus intimately related to the people who published the racist article he mentions in the beginning. Thus it should come as no surprise that he defends this mindset: it is the mindset of the class of people he belongs to, the lapdogs of the elite eager to prove themselves to their masters. But he is right about one thing: the Greek people do need to redefine themselves. They need to redefine themselves as not including people like him. Because the problem isn’t the Germans or the French or the Turks: it’s you, dear sir.

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