Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Saga Has Begun

Based in Athens, The Paragraph offers an informed and humorous perspective on Greek and Global affairs, born of a longstanding relationship with the Russell Foundation (the 'Northern Garrison'). It suggests some ways in which people outside Greece can help in the long struggle to reverse austerity and all its ills.  


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Hello dear Paragraph readers,

We that hope all of you, here and abroad, are doing OK. We apologise for the delay in informing you about the atmosphere here in Athens after the recent election, the resounding SYRIZA victory, and the formation of the new patriotic coalition government in Greece. Why the delay? There were, as you shall see, many events taking place and also we were (as most of the Greeks, regardless of what they voted for) somehow overwhelmed by emotion. What would come out would be (very mediocre) poetry, but not a good report...


In order to make our report more useful we decided to divide it into segments, each of them focusing - as much as possible - of one particular aspect of the situation. The segments we envision now are:

On Hearts and minds -- How did the Greek people react to the election outcome.
On Politics -- What do we think of the composition of the new governing coalition and it's very first moves.
Regading the stakes -- Which are the main fields of honour in the ensuing Saga?
About alliances -- The geopolitics, the alliances with other states and also with popular movements, etc.
Outcomes -- What are possible outcomes? Maybe a Greek - and European - renaissance? (small r - modesty)


But our first segment - this one - is a tribute: We thank the many thousands of people all over our planet, in all continents, and especially y'all, who throughout the dark years stood firmly by our side, encouraged us in our perils, sincerely exchanged opinions - from a friendly stand - with our leaders, and in all possible ways supported the cause. We shall certainly need you in the future, since now the time of restoration has come.

Clue: In addition to informing the public in their countries, a VERY specific field our foreign friends can help is to assist us in overcoming our traditional (since the Homeric days), and potentially catastrophic, flaw - the flaw of 'an army composed entirely of officers', to use a humoristic expression: The tendency to easily slide from bickering into in-fighting (frequently for ego reasons) rather than focusing on defeating our adversary.

Do not take me wrong, there are no signs of such things in these happy days - on the contrary the signs are POSITIVE. (See 'Hearts and Minds' segment); but us History buffs do not read History just for the fun of it.

Tip to our friends, for such an unwarranted eventuality: In our greatest hours - i.e. in adversity like now - we Greeks have 'a sense of the dramatic' - as all peoples, of course, but maybe more than many peoples. Thus, we are MUCH better if we know that the world is watching. ('The eyes of Texas are upon you' as they say at UT Austin.) So, rather than taking sides, remind Greek friends that the eyes of the world are upon them all. You will offer a great service to us; and if the cause of Greece against austerity is indeed a pan- European cause, it will be important for humanity. You will serve all humanity; you all know that already.

Historical example: Byron spend the last months of his life in besieged Misolongi not so much fighting the Ottoman Pashas surrounding it but reconciling with each other the Greek Captains defending it. Result: His memory is still loved, almost revered, in Greece; yes, that Byron, the romantic sinner, the "mad, bad and dangerous to know" - at least for fellow English aristocrats. Kids are christened 'Byron'/Βύρωνας here; his name is so closely intertwined with the notion of fighting for Freedom that a Greek Popular Liberation Army (ELAS, 1942-44 anti-Nazi resistance) elite company composed entirely of college students was called "Lord Byron Company" - Λόρδος Μπαϊρον, λόχος ΕΛΑΣ/ΕΠΟΝ-  even if its young fighters were communists.

This 15' film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bul5Ton3AaM&index=6&list=PL68CD7DBB206A72F9 is all VERY good - and relevant with today, in a very poetic way. The Byron segment is between 1:22 to 7:57.

From Byron to modern Philhellenes: Byron's mansion was close to Nottingham, where the attached photo of brave Britons demonstrating for Greece comes from. Is it not clear that this indomitable Celtic contingent is our steadfast Northern Garrison, having a great time in front of the statue of Brian Clough? (Brian Clough - the famous soccer coach who took Nottingham Forest from B-league and raised it to conquer, twice, the European Championship - a great symbolism!) Thank you dear friends, and thank you BRPF, for everything!
Har-har-har!
(inspired by the stance of the pirates on the right side!)

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