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August 14, 2003 by AK

Eenuffe whyneinge! Back to business as unusual.

An intriguing post on Greek idiosyncrasies at C.Bloggerfeller’s. I’m reprinting my chaotic comments here, out of passion and vanity.

I guess Greeks feel they are an ancient Christian nation betrayed by the Protestant/Catholic world and disliked by the Moslems. They have nowhere to go, no one to hook up with. Britain propped up the hopelessly sick Ottoman Empire throughout the 19th century, and let Turkey continue as a state after WW1, when the Entente could reduce it to an insignificant statelet with Greeks and Italians colonizing its European part and Anatolia. Britain didn’t do much to help Greece win independence in the 1820s. Without British (and French — remember the Crimean war) interference, Russians would have grabbed Constantinople, so it would revert to Orthodoxy, presumably to the Greeks’ delight. Not to mention the Greek treasures in Britain’s museums. Greece is an ancient country, so these grudges are relatively fresh.

Serbs probably feel much the same. And many Russians (even myself, to a strictly limited degree) perceive Serbia as a proxy for Russia — i.e., when NATO bombed Belgrade, one couldn’t help thinking the only thing that prevented them from bombing Moscow (say over Chechnya) was Russia’s nukes. Although there is no linguistic affiliation between Greeks and Serbs, both nations are Orthodox and share a long history of what Russian historians call the Ottoman yoke. It wouldn’t surprise me it Greeks felt for Serbia much like Russians do. The trouble is, they are indeed inconsistent and unable to ally themselves, at least temporarily, with larger and more politically important nations, especially those who are naturally predisposed towards Greece. What’s the point, for instance, of the Constantinople Patriarch struggling with his Moscow counterpart for primacy over Orthodox parishes in the Baltic? The intervention in Kosovo has played straight into Albanians’ hands to the detriment of Serbs — but Greece still refuses to recognize Macedonia, a Slavic, Orthodox nation with its own Albanian problem. Perhaps they are afraid of Macedonians’ ethnic similarity to Bulgarians, who are getting pro-American? Puzzling.

I don’t think Byzantia is that far away in time for devout Orthodox Christians. It’s a living memory. Also, Greece is, roughly speaking, small, and has never risen to the glory of the Eastern Roman Empire. And small losers are a thousand times more nationalistic and paranoid that big winners.

[Added later]

Based on hearsay, I daresay Norwegians still bear hard feelings against Germans (although the former were technically the winners, and Norwegian resistance was real, it was not quite a clean win), while I haven’t met a Gentile Russian overtly hostile to Germany. Moreover, “our” Germany (the Eastern one) was even admired and envied.

The true successors to the Byzantine Empire are, of course, [skipped out of modesty].


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