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SELF-HATING GREEK FTW

UPDATE: I've noticed an unsympathetic and unhyperlinked citation of this page here. They seez me LOLin, they hatin. Not sure why these folks get so exercised; History is on their side, is it not? Anyway, I've written a response in Greek, here.


I realise that, as the named author of this blog and by writing what I do, I risk being accused of being one of those self-righteous, self-hating Greeks. If you aren't sure what this might refer to, here are two characteristic posts from people I know on Facebook – I reproduce them with apologies to their authors who, in fairness, may not have been thinking of me at all:

If I become like those Greeks living abroad who fly in for five days at a time to deprecate and then leave again, do take me to task.  [translation mine]

As long as I don't read any more of those "ashamed to be Greek" statuses and articles borderlining [sic] hysteric pseudo-morality lectures with endless sarcasm and anger against our country and people.”

In fairness, I know that many people discussing the Greek fiscal crisis, especially since the notorious Focus cover, are being deliberately controversial. Some do this in order to provoke debate, some in the hopes of gaining a following among people searching for 'edgy' pundits, and some because they are basically sad attention seekers. I hope I am one of the former, but then we don't always know ourselves as well as we'd like to.

The impression some people have of bloggers like me is a combination of the following:

a) we believe we were 'chosen' for a life abroad due to some personal virtue and the failure of a country we imagine having to cope without people 'like us' confirms this prejudice – hence we're willing it to happen so we can feel better about ourselves.

b) Life abroad has not delivered the kind of returns we were hoping for. We therefore need to justify our choice to settle here by reassuring ourselves that our peers who stayed at home can't be having a better life than us.

c) We have developed a ridiculously simplistic model of economic and social progress based on the differences between our poor and confused birthplace and our wealthy and upright adopted homeland; one that involves an idealised version of the host country and a straw man version of the home country, both tailored to our political prejudices. As our social circles back home will typically include few foreign residents, we have some degree of monopoly over this 'theory' and cherish this sad quantum of power.

With regards to a) my writing should demonstrate that I've got several friends with enviable careers back home and I make a point of citing them on this blog when I can. I cherish these people because I think there's opportunity in Greece, even now, for the brave and intelligent. I'm here and they're not for one of three reasons: money (which can go either way actually), timing, and sheer chance. I wish them well.

You can judge me against theory b) because the information on this blog will lead you directly to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, both of which are open to the public. You don't need to be convinced that I have a perfect life (I don't) but you can probably tell it's not a very sad one either. You can also rest assured that, as an Athens College graduate, I benefit from a well-heeled Greek peer group who would do well even if (perhaps especially if) the country were to go to the dogs. On the other hand, I also have a brother working back home and two pensioner parents – a Greek default would wide out their earnings and possibly their savings if they're not careful.

As for c) what I try to do is roll out as much evidence as I can in favour of my arguments. I believe the true power of blogging is precisely this ability to reference one's sources; which makes me potentially as persuasive as Krugman, or the FT or the Economist but better, because if I'm wrong you really can tackle me head-on. For the same reason, I will also approve and respond to any comments I receive. I particularly welcome well-referenced comments. Anyway, spend two minutes on this blog and you'll know what my politics are, so you should be able to filter out my prejudices. If you're having trouble guessing (because you've never heard of a libertarian before, or perhaps don't really believe we exist), read this.

It is true that many of us who are accused of being 'self-hating Greeks' are not overly patriotic by the standards of the average Greek. Neither am I. But I do wonder what our detractors are precisely. Some romanticise our country's foibles as evidence of a 'vibrant', 'resisting', 'non-sterilised' society. They'd be even happier if they woke up to find they live in a favela, if only for a couple of hours. They imagine we're like Asterix' village, where it's OK for everyone to get high on drug-laced broth and bash at each other with iffy fish as long as it keeps those square-ass, killjoy Romans at bay. Others use any dismissive remarks aimed at our country as an excuse for not addressing the underlying issues – or engage in what I think of as Yo-mama-nomics. Other still think that, however great Greece's problems are, they are ours to deal with and must not be discussed with people who can't put them 'in context'. Kind of like a disabled son locked up in his parents' cellar. People just won't understand.

Me, I would like to think that that my patriotism is limited but healthy. Love for one's country to me should be like the love for one's mother: there will always be an instinctive, visceral bond and you will always feel compelled to stick up for your mother, but with healthy people this bond should evolve. When you're an infant it's natural to think your mother is the prettiest, the kindest, smartest and most amazing woman – in fact the only worthwhile woman – in the world. As you grow it becomes clear that she is none of these things (not to that extent anyway) and that you like to spend time with other women, doing different things – your love for your mother is rooted in affinity, gratitude and shared experience, not a lack of alternatives.

Being Greek right now is the equivalent of being the youngest son of a woman who was once a happy-go-lucky socialite with a love of wine. One who, after years of people turning a blind eye to her escalating binges, partly in order to avoid social embarrassment and partly in order to avoid losing a generous drinking partner, has finally tipped over into full-blown alcoholism. You're not a villain if you advocate treatment for her. You're not a villain if you discuss her condition with people outside the family, or if you say she needs professional help; you're not a villain if you advise people not to give her alcohol or give her drinking money. You're not a villain if you criticize her friends and your older siblings for not getting help earlier. You're also not a hypocrite if you claim the social workers on her case are inept, or if you want her off the programme and back home ASAP.

That's all I'm doing. Greece has enough tripping Gauls and frothing patriots and neither managed to keep us from getting where we are. Why not try this way?

21 comments:

  1. Manos εισαι ελληνας;

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  2. ??? Γιατί βαριέστε να κάνετε scroll down ρε παιδιά; Όλες οι πληροφορίες εκεί βρίσκονται...

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  3. oooh man...i found your blog. now i have to improve my english so that i can understand what the hell u are saying. :-)

    From what i ve seen u re doing a great job.keep it up.

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  4. What a load of crap. Your non a self hating Greek. Your as "Greek" as G-Pap.

    Jews don't assimilate.

    http://chastitywolf.pblogs.gr/2011/07/the-greek-crisis-the-full-truth-in-chronological-order.html#c796867c3626708?1311682449

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  5. @chris: As per the comment policy I am happy to entertain comments that are critical of my writing or myself. Kindly try not to spew hate speech on my comments area though. I have never deleted a reader's comment to date and I'd rather keep it that way.

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  6. @ Manos

    So in this day and age honesty and directness are constituted as hate. Sounds familiar. I'll stick with my "non-progressive" out dated values thank you very much.

    Rather then saying Greeks are the sons of drunken prostitutes how about pointing them towards an honest resolution to the mess the "Greek" leaders got them into.
    Publications such as Modern Money Mechanics by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago or The Talmud. That's of course if you are Greek.

    Chris

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  7. @Chris,

    twice now you've dropped your "honest and direct" hint that I'm somehow not Greek (and presumably also Jewish). Tell me, O Great Arbiter of Greekness, what evidence do you need of the contrary? Unless of course being Greek is just a matter of agreeing with you, in which case I will have to pass.

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  8. You're a disgrace.

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  9. It's fine and actually desirable to point out problems. Subscribing to the Pangalos logic that "because I did not do my job, i.e. have been vooting for over 30 years for deficit after deficit before finding out that debt is a bad thing, been appointing incompetent party members and friends in key position to stiffle everything, been throwing taxpayer money out of the window, with bribes, overpriced and unnecessary projects, the olympics and now, in the midsts of the crising throw away another 15 million for a mosque plus some muftis to run it, done nothing for public administration and tax evasion to the point of being ridiculed by others for the undeclared pools one can check on google earth), it's EVERYBODY's FAULT and YOU must pay." is not acceptable. I will agree to sacrifices ONLY when the people who brought us here pay FIRST, and I mean confiscate their property.

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  10. thats true 100%...Mano epeidi eisai ekei k pou eisai, kai profanos gia na eisai ekei pou eisai kapoios se esteile me dika t lefta k oxi dika s(ksereis apo ta klemena), den ksereis tin pragmatikotita pou zoume emeis edw...oikogeneies, (OIKOGENEIES pou kindineyoun na meinoun ston dromo giati oi goneis einai anergoi, k zoun eite me daneika eite parasitika pros tous goneis tous pou einai sintaksioyxoi) dialionte sto bomo t kerdous kai t kapitalismou...den milaw gia ta parasita t dimosiou kai tous politikous pou kalofagane...aytoi den exoune anagi...exoun na fane kai oi 10 epomenes genees apo ayta p kataxrastikan k eklepsan...to thema einai oti i megaliteri merida tou laou tou LAOU oxi ton bolemenwn einai se athlia katastasi...epixirimaties na min exoun na plirwsoun tin asfalisi tous, pou einai dimosia k anagastiki kai panakribi kai den s prosferei oute to 1% apo ayta p tha prepe na perneis...me misthous peinas twn 500-600 euro pou den ftanoun gia na sindirithi ena atomo kai xwris ensima tis perisoteres fores...oxi oikogeneia...opote anti na les etsi abiasta k aneythina self hating greek, pes kalitera hate greek politicians and political system...kala na se ekei pou eisai...alla otan eisai eksw apo ton xoro den mporeis na milas, oute na exeis apopsi...ginese san ayton ton arxigo tou kratous mas, pou polemaei leei tin diafthora kai oi ellines einai lamogia, otan o pateras t itan aytos pou dimiourgise k sintirise to teratourgima tou dimosiou tomea, gia na sinexisei na trwei k aytos k oi paratrexamenoi t, kai ta idia ekane kai aytos otan itan bouleytis sto koma t patera t, kai ipourgos argotera pali sto koma t patera t, k twra ws arxigos sto koma t patera t...opote mia sofi elliniki risi einai megali mpoukia fae, megalo logo min peis...

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  11. Δύο πράματα που πρέπει να διδάσκουν στα λύκεια αντί για θρησκευτικά:

    1) Τι σημαίνει ad hominem.
    2) Τι κάνει μια κεντρική τράπεζα.

    Και ο νοών νοείτο. Μπράβο παιδιά, πολύ καλή προσπάθεια.

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    1. 3) Καθώς και το ότι ο νοών "νοείτω" με ωμέγα.

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  12. Gerassimos Touliatos, Montreal11 November 2011 at 22:49

    Excellent blog, Mano! I will keep up to date with your writings because you are a straight man and your thoughts are cool and collected. You could not have pinpointed my point of view more accurately and in an impeccable and flawless language. We need more like you, brother!

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  13. Μανο ακομα και σε ολα που γραφεις να εισαι 100% σωστος απο εκει που εισαι δεν προσφερεις ΣΤΗ ΠΡΑΞΗ ΤΙΠΟΤΑ για την Ελλαδα.Απο λογια εχουμε χορτασει.Υπαρχουν λες ευκαιριες ακομα και τωρα στην Ελλαδα για τους τολμηρους αλλα εσυ δεν εισαι ενας απο αυτους.Εισαι εξυπνος και το λεω ειλικρινα με τη καλη εννοια,γιατι εγω ξερω οτι ειμαι τεμπελης δεν καθησα ποτε να μαθω ουτε πως γινετε μια απλη εξισωση.Εγω φταιω γιαυτο.Αποτελεσμα να με κοροιδευουν τα εχγωρια λαμογια και οι πελατες τους.Δεν εχουμε κλιση ολοι στα οικονομικα,χρειαζονται και ανθρωποι να σπερνουν τη γη και να αλιευουν τη θαλλασα για να ευχαριστιεσε τα fish&chips σου για παραδειγμα.ΑΛΛΑ ξερω οτι ειμαι τολμηρος.Και το ξερω αυτο γιατι δεν ειμαι μεσα στο 90% του ποσοστου ιδιοκατοικησης των ελληνων,και παραιτηθηκα με αιτηση μου απο το δημοσιο στα 30 μου για να ξεκινησω απο την αρχη χωρις τιποτα.Καποιοι το τολμηρος το λενε και μαλακας.Ας ειναι.Δεν λιποψυχησα ομως ουτε ψυχανεμιστικα με μια καλυτερη ζωη απο οποιαδηποτε αποψη στο εξωτερικο γνωριζοντας οτι οπως και οικονομολογους εξω χρειαζονται και ψαραδες και γεωργους.Εμεινα εδω οχι γιατι ειμαι εθνικιστης.Το αντιθετο μαλιστα ειμαι.Αλλα απο ενα περιεργο εγωισμο που δεν με πειραζει εαν δεν το καταλαβεις να μην εγκαταλειψω τα χωματα για τα οποια δωσανε κυριολεκτικα αιμα ανθρωποι που οχι δεν ειχαν σπουδασει οικονομικα,αλλα ηταν αγραμματοι σαν τον παππου μου που πολεμησε γιαυτα.Γιατι στο τελος τελος τιποτα να μην εχουμε να φαμε,για τα γη θα παλεψουμε.Αυτο τιμαω λοιπον.Τα χωματα που παταμε.Αυτα με κανουν να νιωθω Ελληνας και οχι ο μισθος μου,η θεση μου στη κοινωνια,ο τιτλος σπουδων μου,εαν μενω στη καλυβα του μπαρμπα θωμα η στο λοφτ και ο ξεχωριστος σαρκασμος μου.Και καθομαι στις επαλξεις.Και εαν τα πονας και εσυ και νιωθεις πρωτα Ελληνας και μετα ολα τα αλλα,γιατι δεν ερχεσε εδω να πολιτευτεις?Δημαρχος στο τελευταιο χωριο 10 κατοικων να γινεις μπορεις?Μπορεις να πεισεις 10 Ελληνες να σε ψηφισουμε,και να δουλεψεις οχι για ολους τους Ελληνες,αλλα για αυτους τους 10 απεναντι σε 10 εκατομμυρια λαμογια,πελατες,πονηροβλαχους,ημιμαθεις,πουλημενους,ρουφιανους,συμφεροντολογους,παρτακηδες τιμητες της ηθικης και των παντων,εαν ετσι ειναι τα ποσοστα?Σε προσκαλω λοιπον να παρεις την οικογενεια σου και να παμε σε 1 εγκαταλελειμενο χωριο απο τα εκαντονταδες και να του δωσουμε ζωη.Δεν θαναι η ζωη στο city φυσικα...Δεν περιμενω να αλλαξεις το τιτλο σου οσο σαρκαστικος,πιασαρικος η οχι με την καλη προθεσης εννοια και να ειναι γιατι πρωτα πρεπει να αλλαξει καποιος το τροπο που σκεφτετε για τη "ρατσα" του και για τη πατριδα του.Οταν το κανεις αυτο τοτε ειμαι σιγουρος οτι θα ξαναπατησεις σε αυτα τα χωματα και θα μεινεις για παντα.Ελπιζω γιατι χρειαζομαστε περισσοτερους εξυπνους ανθρωπους στα οικονομικα ΕΔΩ που ΝΙΩΘΟΥΝ και ΘΕΛΟΥΝ να προσφερουν στη πραξη...Δεν σε ξερω προσωπικα για να στα τα λεω ολα αυτα και με το συμπαθειο αλλα βλεπω οτι στα γραπτα σου κανεις ενα τρομερο γενικο λαικο τσουβαλιασμα και η αισθηση που αφηνεις ειναι οτι μαλλον περιμενεις πρωτα να αλλαξει τροπο σκεψης η πλειοψηφια των Εληνων για να αλλαξεις την οπτικη σου η' στη καλυτερη να πεσουν πανω στο μπλογκ σου οσοι ελληνες περισσοτεροι γινετε,βασει του συσχετισμου παπανδρεου και τσεις μανχαταν...

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  14. "Αs an Athens College graduate, I benefit from a well-heeled Greek peer group who would do well even if (perhaps especially if) the country were to go to the dogs."

    Αs an Athens College graduate myself, I fully agree with your
    remark, even as I doubt the wisdom of proclaiming it so brazenly.

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    1. It is certain Athens College graduates who got us where we are. Athens College should be leveled to the ground.

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  15. I hope you don't mind sharing this on my fb. Call me lazy but since you said it all, I see no point reinventing you.

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    1. Haha thanks - and of course you may share. Besides, I haven't had hate mail for some time.

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