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Old 07-21-2009, 03:03 AM   #1
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Default Modern Greece and the Macedonian Heritage – Part 29 – My fascination with Greeks?

Modern Greece and the Macedonian Heritage – Part 29 – My fascination with Greeks?

Risto Stefov

July 19, 2009

A lot of you have written to me over the last six months asking "what is my fascination with the ´Greeks´, why do I write ´denigrating´ things about them and am I jealous of them or something?"

Let´s say that I know more about the "real" Modern Greeks than the average person and I can tell you that if writing about them is "denigrating" then so be it! As far as being jealous, how can one be jealous of a "fictitious" identity such as the Modern Greek one?

Being fascinated with the Greeks? Is that a "Greek wish" to have "outsiders" even your opponents, be fascinated with your "fictitiousness"?

"It was never my intention to delve into the modern history of Greece, but the Greeks kept on and on with their bull-crap about who I am and who I have the right to be so I felt it was time to discover who these fanatics were, and lo and behold I found they were not who they pretended to be, but I still don´t care, I am happy for them to claim they are Greek all I expect in return is they afford me and my people the same rights they claim for themselves." (Osiris from

What can I say; Osiris beat me to the punch! He expressed exactly how I feel! There is no fascination, only the necessity to fight back and defend our Macedonian identity the only way Greeks can understand; by attacking theirs!

Greeks, your identity is not as solid as you think; it is not a solid sphere made of stainless steel as you portray it to be; your identity is more like a fruit, a polished "dark-red" apple with an amazing tantalizing shiny red skin and all rotten inside. When you bite into it you think you are going to get a sweet juicy alluring apple-taste but instead you get a brown rot filled with bitterness! No thank you. I´d rather be "real" and take my chances at being who I am; Macedonian, no matter how difficult it has proven to be!

Here is another excerpt from yet another "Westerner" and "impartial" observer on the formation of your "artificial" Greek identity;

"Within the context of romanticism, the term ´Philhellenism´ refers generally to a love of Greece, foundational to which were the beliefs that Greece had a direct cultural link to Western Civilization as a whole, and that, concomitantly, the ´modern Greeks´ (that is the Greeks of the Ottoman and modern periods) were the direct descendents, biologically and culturally, of the ancient Greeks. In its most specific sense, philhellenism refers to the nineteenth-century historical phenomenon of western Europeans (largely British, French and German) rallying behind the Greek struggle of independence from Ottoman rule (1821-30). The link between philhellenic sentiment and the Greek War of Independence was evident in the numerous cases of western Europeans contributing money, materials, and in some cases manpower to the Greek effort. In the specifically Romantic context, it was evident in the turn-of-the century efflorescence, of paintings, works of literature, and musical compositions with a central Hellenic theme.

A famous visual instance of this Romanticist artistic fascination with Greece is the frontispiece to Marie Gabriel, Comte de Choiseul-Goufier´s 1782 voyage Pittoresque de la Grece, an engraving entitled ´Greece in chains´, in which Greece, allegedly as a beautiful but manacled woman, reclines upon a tomb in a cemetery dotted with monuments to such great men of antiquity as Lycurgus, Miltiades, and Themistocles. The image captures perfectly the Romantic vision of Greece as noble but faded, glorious yet much reduced, enslaved but poised to be free once more. Also quintessential of Romantic Philhellenism is the explicit link the image draws between the modern Greeks of the late Ottoman period and the Hellenic greats of antiquity.

In the years just prior to and during the Greek War of Independence, countless such images were in wide circulation in Western Europe – the most famous perhaps, being, those of Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863), the consummate representative of French Romantic philhellenism.

This cultural trend worked hand in hand with the political development in the Ottoman Empire to fuel growing interests within Europe for Greece and the modern Greeks. While the travel accounts penned by ´grand tourists´ were hugely popular, the apparent military and economic decline of the Ottoman Empire commanded huge attention, particularly in Britain, which felt that British imperial fortunes were tied to the political status quo. While the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), which concluded the Napoleonic Wars, emphasized the need to keep the Ottoman Empire intact, growing numbers of Philhellenes felt that the special cultural link between Greece and the West demanded intervention on behalf of the Greeks under Ottoman rule. In this debate, philhellenic position would ultimately dominate, with Britain ending up a major backer of the Greek struggle and the subsequently formed Greek state.

The wide circulation of a number of Western works which had as their central theme the exoticisms and depravities of the Ottomans (and the plight of the noble Greeks who suffered beneath their rule) furthered the scope of philhellenism, to the extent that general sentiment in Europe gradually overcame the initial political position of European governments regarding the Greek War of Independence. Lord Byron, Francois August Rene de Chateaubriand and Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe are the best known creators of such works, but a veritable plethora of lesser-known, musical, literary and artistic figures followed the themes popularized by them.

Philhellenism is properly understood as a reflection not of any reality concerning Greece and the Greeks, but rather as the manifestation of a purely European, and not entirely magnanimous, impulse. That is to say, the passionate response with which the Greek War of Independence was met in the West was less a reflection of European love of the modern Greeks than of European love of the idea that Western Civilization as a whole could be traced back to Pericles-era Athens." ("Encyclopedia of the Romantic Era 1760 – 1850", edited by Christopher John Murray, Volume 2 L-Z index, page 872).

It is not common to create "ethnic identities" for "political reasons" in order to have a modern civilization mimicking a dead and long gone culture. Ethnic identities are living and vibrant entities that grow and evolve over time and are naturally bound together without "politically motivated" pressures. One cannot create an instant "ethnic identity" just as one cannot create an instant family by putting a bunch of strangers together and calling them grandparents, parents and children. A fake "ethnic identity" is like a fake family which has no real relationships, no real family tree and no real history. It´s made up, like the Brady Bunch on television, to serve a specific purpose! But behind the scenes each individual person belongs to a "real" family, has a "real" mother and father and a "real" family tree and history. Sort of like the various ethnic groups, the Slavs, Albanians, Macedonians, Asia Minor Christian Turks and other ethnicities constituting the fictional "Greek" family.

If there was a purpose for Europeans to "feel Greek" at one time, as per the quote above, that "feeling" is no longer there so then I ask you, "What is the purpose of Greece today?" Does it serve as a "model of Civilization for the New Europe?" Or is Greece a "remnant" of something "old and embracing" whose time has long passed and should have, like the dinosaurs, died a long time ago?

The world is evolving like it should and in more cases than not, taking steps forward, but not Greece. The more Greece moves forward the more it falls behind.

Greeks, the need to pretend to be "ethnically homogeneous" is no longer there. There is no need to pretend to be superior, arrogant, or "better" than your neighbour. Frankly nobody cares about your obsessions. Like all things in life, everything has its time and the time for "pretending" is over. It´s time to face reality and take your place with the rest of the world!

You realize that your "fake" identity would have never been revealed had you done the right thing and accepted the Macedonian identity for what it is. Through the stubbornness of your political leaders you not only "wiped out" the image of your "Greek-ness" that you spent two centuries building but you have revealed to the world your true "racist" selves which you had managed to hide for over two centuries now. But, this is only the beginning, next will come the "revelation" of the atrocities that you have committed against the Macedonian and other people who lived and died in agony in Greece since those lands became a country for the first time in 1829. After all that is revealed, how many people in the world do you think will see Greece as the "cradle of democracy" or as the birthplace of the "European Civilization" as opposed to "the cradle of oppression and racism"?

Greece was built as a country and the modern Greeks were paraded as "the cradle of European Civilization" for a single purpose; to show the world that "Western Europe" was not only "civilized" but far superior to the rest. Europeans found a model in the "Ancient City States" that not only "explained" their "imperialistic war like behaviour" but venerated it and made it "okay" to "enslave" people and "colonize" their lands.

Politically Greece, the way it is today, is an "ancient relic" whose time has expired and belongs in a museum together with "Mussolini´s Italy and Hitler´s Germany"! But it is never too late to "evolve" peacefully and bring positive change with "amends" to past mistakes!

And now I leave you with this;

Dear All,

I am drawing on my 'Macedonian experience' here to guide both my aim to end the "Name" negotiations between Greece and Macedonia immediately, and to bring to light a movement for change in Macedonia, and elsewhere.

There are issues of human rights at stake, our Macedonian nationality happens to be at stake, and issues of power at play.

It is a simple point, but one that needs to be made. The fact is that as Macedonians we are a legal entity, we have our Republic of Macedonia, and we are certainly legitimate. We are recognized by over 125 countries, and with time that number will rise. Our institutions will in time receive the due recognition they deserve, and have coming to them.

It is simply a matter of time. Both this government and UMD in Washington have over reached. The value and weight they place on "membership" is not justified. A far more sensible look at the situation suggests that the Macedonian economy and nationality can gain as much, and far more, by pursuing bilateral relations. Good economic relations will have positive political outcomes for the Macedonian Republic, but the shortsightedness of the government suggests it has panicked, or failed to consider alternative workable strategies with real long term benefits.

The current line of thinking that we cannot claim to be complete as a legal and legitimate nationality, until we have attained EU and/or NATO membership, is also a dangerous, and irresponsible train of thought. It needs to be justified, or put to rest immediately, both in the government, and at the lunatic fringe of the Diaspora. What recent experience demonstrates is that we can have most of the benefits offered by these organizations, and 'not' be an official member of them, or irresponsibly risk our Macedonian nationality to get there.

I believe the time has come for another change in our approach to the "problem". The fact is that the Macedonians do not pose a military threat to Greece, and they do not pose an economic threat to Greece. The "threat" if one is to be identified here, is perhaps political, or ideological.

It is worth recalling another fact. The Macedonians respect and recognize unreservedly the sovereignty of the Greek State, and its right to self determination. Is it too much to ask the Greeks to in turn do the same? What can we glean from this fact about the nature of the current "dispute"? The "problem" if we need to identify one (and I believe we do), is an issue internal to Greece. The long standing issues Greece has with its landscape, is the issue. It is simply exporting its policies that have subjugated various communities in Greece, for 150 years over the border. But this is not intended to be a backward looking historical exercise. My point is this. For there to be peace Greece must change, not the Macedonians.

There is another key point to be made here. For Greece to change, the EU must change. That is unlikely to happen in the short term.

This last point raises the question of who or what are we up against here - Greece, or the EU, or both? There is the "system" of negation to consider here. My advice would be that it is not "smart" to engage an entire system at one point on the surface of it, believing that one can change the whole system, beneath and behind it. The political will and the power, the amount of resources Greece has mobilized to turn our "non-existence" into a metaphoric and transformative reality is vast, and old. It is a system rooted in the policies and practice of Europe, against the Macedonians going back a hundred years. Consider for example, the recent statement by an EU official, who referred to us as "Northern Macedonia". We cannot, and should not try to take on these old social structures. As long as Greece stays the way it is, we will always have problems. It would be far more sensible and logical to bring the faults of Greece to the attention of the EU (and highlight the faults of the EU in that way). But for that to happen, we need to be principled. We need to ask that our sovereignty and our rights, be respected.

I want to add another aspect in this survey for political change. Macedonian democracy respects the cultural rights of its various communities. Greece does not. The attitude in Macedonia is that these communities enrich its society, rather than threaten it. In Greece, everyone and everything is a threat. Now, given this fact - why does the EU insist on "blocking" Macedonia? If we were to measure the quality of a State by how it treats its minorities, and based EU membership on those criteria, Macedonia would be at the top of the list. The point to be made here is that the EU is not a functional organization. Its uneven-handedness, and even ridicule of Macedonia and its institutions, is about favoring Greece - not about diligence or compliance. Shouldn't there be a protocol in the EU that states that members, whose human rights practices are not up to standard, have their privileges 'suspended'? There are many possibilities we could pursue here. The EU, and the UN, have both taken positions that are contrary to their Charters, and have shown to favor aggressive, irrational member states, over obedient, compliant ones. Why would we want to be a 'member' in principle - of that?

As Macedonians, we are ideological outlaws, in a very small circle of nations. There is the rest of the world at our fingertips.

We have our nation now, and we have our nationality. Are we going to let all that generations of Macedonians have accomplished, and sacrificed, end in a terrible disaster? Why are we putting our nationality at risk? There are native movements all over the world who would love to be in our position, and defend their nationality with all of their might and power. I can think of the Palestinians, for starters. Why risk it? We have seen that individuals are willing to do that. I would call them reckless, and more dangerous than anything an enemy has been able to throw at us. The only people who can take our nationality away from us, are the Macedonians (and if it comes to a second referendum, the Albanians I am certain, will have the final say in the matter). This last event is completely lost on people, but it will eventuate.

Will our fight for a Macedonian nationality end in a historical scenario where we no longer have one?

We must rethink whether "membership" is justified and right for us, when clearly we can enjoy many of the benefits of being an EU member, without actually having to negotiate our nationality and put all at risk, to get there.

By Paul from

For those who are still not convinced that the Modern Greek identity is an artificial creation, please continue to read this series of articles.

Author´s note:

Dear Macedonians, one way to defend ourselves from the Greek onslaught and gain back our identity and dignity is to fight back to the level to which the Greeks have reduced us; that is to attack their identity as they have attacked ours. We need prove nothing to them except to expose them as the artificial identity they truly are and to uncover their design to wipe us out in order to usurp our Macedonian heritage.

To be continued.

Many thanks to TrueMacedonian from for his contribution to this article.

You can contact the author at [email protected]
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