Monday, February 9, 2015

we enthusiastically failed

It’s been about 10 months since my last post. What kept me away? Lack of hope, lack of inspiration… Not that suddenly I am feeling hopeful and inspired… but the international spotlight is upon us once again and I recently came across something that summarizes how I feel exactly. And so, I am borrowing Nikos Dimou’s words and sharing them with you, in English. This article appeared here on Feb 6, and I took the liberty of translating it, as I think it captures the essence of what is happening in Greece right now.  

we enthusiastically failed
 by Nikos Dimou

In our country, failure is often celebrated as success. All it takes is a bit of a nationalistic breeze to blow, and our heads inflate. As is the case with the super stars of our new government and their latest tours in Europe. The only concrete result of their tours is that we have been cut off of the ECB’s cheap liquidity.  

However, we have gathered all the good words put in for us by various leaders (which were expressed for reasons of courtesy and civility), we added all the encouraging opinions articulated by various journalists, economists, leftist politicians, semi-revolutionaries, etc and we summarized them – coming to the conclusion that the international public opinion is in support of us.  Combine this with the remarks in regards to Yanis Varoufakis’ wardrobe and his sense of style and we come to the following comment by a very serious friend of mine:

“Kudos [to the new government]! They managed to put us on the front pages of all the big newspapers!”

You can become front-page news for many reasons – even for a heinous crime. Surely if we were aiming for an Oscar, the publicity would mean something. But the market is not moved by it, in fact - it rebukes such publicity.

However, nothing more was needed and the Greeks’ emotional reflex was roused:  from Mikis Theodorakis and Metropolitan Amvrosios, to my sworn anti-leftist friend who told me that next time he’ll vote for Tsipras because he made him feel proud to be a Greek.

And so the story of our “noble blindness” begins and is established again; we were swept away by it in 1897, in 1920-22, in 1974, and it caused us to take to the streets in 1992 over the “Macedonian issue” – resulting each time in defeat: losing wars, battles, territories, and international prestige.  

It is this sense that a Greek has, of damned sentimentalism which causes him to view international relations as a family feud or a spar over a girl, which causes him to divide nations (and its people) into either Philhellenes or ‘anti-Greeks’, which causes him to cuss Schäuble and Merkel as if they were personally responsible for all of our mistakes.

We consider populism as the reason for most of our problems. But populism is based on our sentimental immaturity.  This is what’s being exploited.

It seems like it will take some time before we are mature enough to judge people and situations rationally. Enthusiasm and passion make bad advisors.  We are reminded that “There are no national rights, only national interests” by the shadow of the great Greek negotiator Eleutherios Venizelos…


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