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Nationalism semantics Nationalism semantics
by Christos Mouzeviris
2013-02-02 12:07:00
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I often get very embarrassed by the rise of nationalism in my home country, Greece. Somehow, a bunch of misguided airheads and the youths that fell for their doctrine of hatred believe that they are true Greeks and they represent Hellenism or protect it from the “corrosion” of immigration.

I feel so ashamed that the Greek nation became synonymous with xenophobia, neo-Nazism and far-right nationalism. In a country that suffered so much by the Nazi occupation and that had experienced mass emigration to Europe, the Americas and Australia, to have now groups of skin-heads beating up any immigrant they find is disappointing.

How can they ever call upon the ancient Greek ancestors of theirs, to justify their brutality and ignorance? If they had ever read the speech of Alexander the Great at Opis, where he famously claimed that he does not classify people according their descendance or race but their virtue, I wonder why then they think they honour his memory by beating immigrants.

Have they ever understood the teachings of many ancient Greek philosophers, especially of the Stoic movement and those of Zeno of Citium? They promoted cosmopolitanism and believed that all people are manifestations of the one universal spirit and should live in brotherly love and readily help one another.

So if the Greek mind has in the past given birth to those ideas, how on Earth their descendants believe that with their actions are protecting and promoting Hellenism and “Greekness?”

Yes, Greece has an immigration problem that must be solved soon. And indeed people are angry and rightly so, because they were let down by their politicians. But why is that the immigrant communities are used as scapegoats for all the country’s difficulties?

I am also a proud Greek and a bit of a nationalist. I love my country and I want it to shine, to be prosperous and its people to have the same living standards as any other country in Europe. I also want to promote and preserve our culture and heritage, while making Greece an example for other countries to aspire and follow.

Now how can we achieve all the above if we want to close the borders, deport all immigrants and allow such groups like the Golden Dawn to exist? What is the example we give to the rest of the world? Where is the preservation of the Greek culture that these brutes are claiming they are promoting?

Yes Greece right now has too many immigrants and cannot cope with the crisis, the unemployment, the economic collapse and the immigration issue. But that is not a reason for violence or hatred; it is a reason for better and more functioning immigration and integration policies. Why hasn’t the Greek state promoted those, while it relies on those bullies to offer a solution to the problem by promoting a fizzling of the public’s anger?

This can have disastrous consequences for the social order in the future, as well for the country’s reputation in the world; funny how the supporters of the Golden Dawn think that this is what the country needs right now.

When trying to compare Greece with the country I live Ireland, one can draw interesting conclusions. Not that there are not any racism incidents here. But Ireland has managed to attract a right mix of immigrants that come both from poorer developing countries and richer, developed ones. In that way Ireland has managed to benefit more than Greece from its immigrant population.

Socially Ireland changed drastically and it all comes down to one factor: the Irish came in contact with other cultures, either by travelling or by interacting with them at home. When the Irish became wealthier, they started travelling a lot and that was a positive factor. At home too, many students or immigrants from the rest of Europe, USA, Japan, Australia, Canada and many other developed countries arrived, bringing new ideas and way of thinking with them.

In that aspect Greece is lacking behind. My wish is to create an open country, modern, cosmopolitan and wealthier, both in an economic level but also in a cultural. If we manage to attract the right workers with the right skills and do not use them only as workers and exploit them, but also integrate them totally in our society, the ones who will be benefiting in the long term will be ourselves.

If we become a cosmopolitan society, groups like the Golden Dawn won’t be able to thrive. The old established elites, either the religious or political ones, won’t be able to manipulate or blind us with their outdated ideologies, holding us ransom to achieve their goals and promote their interests. We won’t fall as easy for their propaganda.

And there will be economic benefits as well. When a lot of these immigrants eventually return home, provided of course they have a positive experience in our country, they will form strong links with Greece that will ease trade and cultural exchanges. They will become what most of the Greek Diaspora have become: ambassadors of Greece in far and away places. If we beat them up and abuse them of course, that will never happen.

Yes there are challenges to face with immigration and we should learn some lessons of the failures of many other European countries like Britain, France and Germany in integrating their immigrant population. Most of them still have problems. But we should normally have the advantage to learn from their mistakes. Do we have this ability; are we mature enough or we get what we deserve in the end?

Greece is lacking behind for the exact reasons that we have made no effort in benefiting whatsoever from the presence of foreign nationals in our country, apart from exploiting them. And we have made no effort in attracting the right skilful workers, or students from other countries and enrich our culture with theirs and through their active participation in Greek social and political happenings.

And the more we become xenophobic, the more we ruin any chance of ever achieving change and progress in our country. Now I love Greece and I want change and progress. I do not think that these “nationalists” have Greece’s best interests in mind. If fact I am more of a patriot than they are, and I want quite the opposite of what they do. Time to rethink as a nation our priorities I guess!


Christos Mouzeviris is the writer of the blog: The Eblana European Democratic Movement


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Nikos Laios2013-02-03 14:02:26
As noble as your dislike of jingoism is, which i whole heartedly agree with;which is an ugly form of nationalism - your attack on the Greek phenomena is simplistic and misguided ( with all due respect) For the rumblings of socio-political discontent is rising right across Europe: through right wing fascist groups, and nut job socialists, or crazy communists whose time has come and gone and who have destroyed half of Europe and who belong in mental asylums,or to the destructive anarchists. All of the above mentioned movements are the emanations of the valid subconscious fears of the every day EU man, whose society is ageing,whereby nations are accruing increasing public debs to pay for the increasing social bills, at the disintegration of European society under the weight of this stress, and the loss of social cohesion,and of the unwanted illegal immigration. So the the everyday concerns of the everyday European man cannot simply be dismissed as the simple rantings of uneducated 'Lumpenproletariat ',some great sociological changes are occurring in Europe at the moment, and people are scared , so before attacking a single nation, lets widen our scope and see what's occurring EU wide...

Christos Mouzeviris2013-02-03 22:33:38
Niko I agree, but is beating up and stabbing immigrants the solution? Instead of a responsible response from our governments?

Nikos Laios2013-02-04 03:50:37
Christo, I agree that violence is never the solution of course, yet the incidence of violence that is occurring in Greece is being undertaken by a very small hand full of people; whereby in the context of the grand scheme of things,is actually being vastly overshadowed by the incidences that are occurring elsewhere in Europe. But to demonise - like you have in your article - a whole nation due to the actions of a handful of youths is being misrepresentative. All partisan movements of Europe at the moment, both of the left and right, are merely reacting to the grand macro-soliological changes and convulsions that are occurring,and the concerns of the everyday person, be it whether they support SYRIZA or Golden Dawn are both valid psychological reactions of the Greek citizens subconscious fears and insecurities.. For while I agree with you that some of the views espoused by Golden Dawn are absolutely abhorrent, so is the existence of the KKE (the Greek Communist party) who have caused more violence and bloodshed in Greek history than any other party; who sided with Greece's enemies during World War Two, and whose actions and manifestos acted against Greece' interests, and caused so much deaths after World War Two, including my grandfather Georgos Voutsinas, who was shot in the side of the face for his tongue to fall out and die. All because he was a Royalist guard of the palace, and he was killed by the violent barbaric KKE, and it is a wonder to me - or it shouldn't - that Greek universities in the past thirty years have been flooded by leftist philosophies and propaganda, rather than the promotion of true Rennaissance, post modernist European thought, of the sharpening of the mind into a sharp tool of intellectual inquiry. So as you see, the international embarrassment of Greece is not Golden Dawn, but that fool Tsipras and his SYRIZA cronies, doled with Maoists and Trotskyites,, along with the antiquated KKE. The left-right political dychotomy that has been at the centre of western politics since 1917 is now long gone and irrelevent. Europe and Greece needs a new vision and reality; and not the same latte sipping beret wearing pseudo-intellectual critic of the everyday concerns of the EU citizen by the leftist intelligencia, for the leftist intelligencia don't know it yet, but their time has come and gone - they are dead and irrelevent now ......so in respect to your article, whilst I agree that violence is abhorrent, you are only commenting one one of the many small threads of a symptom that is affecting Europe and rather than commenting on the grand over arching cause of the Europe's ills.Yet, it is contributions like your article that can start a valuable dialogue that can hopefully be a catalyst for a positive change in Greece.

Christos Mouzeviris2013-02-04 22:30:36
Niko I agree with everything that you said above.. But the article was focusing only on the certain aspect. I have written other articles in the past for other issues that affect Greece and Europe..

This article was a part of a thematic publication for OVI, that focuses on the mistaken understanding of nationalism. The rise of the far right and the violence against all immigrants. The purpose was not against the right or for the left, its purpose was to make us think where are we going as a nation and how best to deal with the immigration problem that we face, that in my opinion is not by supporting groups like the Golden Dawn.

Or any other extremist political party, either this comes from the "left" or from the "right". We need leaders with ideas in Greece and in Europe, not with ideologies.

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