By Evaggelos Vallianatos
Scholar and author of several books, including , “Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA” (with McKay Jenkins)
The international torture of Greece continues. The lenders — European and American banks, the European Commission, and America’s International Monetary Fund — demand Greece privatizes everything. This translates into selling Greece to foreigners.
China is now in charge of the country’s largest port of Piraeus; Germany owns the airports; Italy the railroads. Beaches and the gorgeous coastline are also threatened by privatization.
The tragedy of the country is overwhelming. The economy is in tatters. Greek scientists and physicians are leaving the country in droves. Poverty is spreading like a cancer. Yet taxes are increasing. The lenders forced the government to set up a special agency for confiscating the homes from those who cannot pay their taxes.
Greek politicians are the only beneficiaries of this calamity. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras demonstrated his irresponsibility with a “no borders” policy, which made Aegean islands like Lesbos and Athens camps for Moslem “refugees” and potential jihadists.
The Tsipras administration is vigorously indoctrinating Greeks to dislike Greece. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. The Greeks who proudly say they love their country or praise Greek nationalism are denounced as fascists.
Children are reading state-published books with anti-Greek bias. They learn about a Greek past without heroes, gods, military victories, and the outstanding achievements of ancient Greece.
Even the Greek Revolution of 1821 against the Turks is toned down to an insignificant rebellion. The Turkish genocide against the Greeks of Turkey in early twentieth century and the Turkish atrocity of 1923 against the Greek population of Smyrna are mythologized to minor unpleasant incidences. And the ceaseless Turkish interference in Thrace is ignored.
In other words, the rulers of Greece, servants to globalization or afflicted to self-hatred, have rewritten Greek history to make Greece no different or better than Albania and Turkey. It’s this doctored story that threatens the future of Greek children. They are growing up without patriotism. Their country is a borderless tourist utopia.
Another major tragedy comes out of the universities.
Universities and other technical institutes educate free of charge about 90 percent of all Lyceum graduates. However, thousands of annual graduates, technically very competent, have no place to go but work for a company or state bureaucracy. In a collapsing Greece both bureaucracy and private business are shrinking. So the tremendous investment of Greece on educating almost all of its citizens brings few positive results. The best of the university graduates leave the country.
But there’s a more fundamental problem with the graduates of Greek universities. Stavroula Pantazopoulou says the graduates dream of being hired but not of hiring themselves. Pantazopoulou received her doctorate in Greece and taught at the Democritus University of Thrace. She is now a professor of civil engineering at York University in Canada. She told me “Greek universities produce excellent bureaucrats, not independent and inventive scientists with business skills. They solve intricate technical problems but cannot create start-ups.”
This insight complements the other habit Greeks picked from foreigners during the urbanization of their country: distaste for hand labor.
I see this all over Greece. Here’s a country with lots of sunshine and a great tradition of small family farming for self-reliance in food and rural life. And yet indebted Greece imports thousands of tons of food from all over the world. In 2011, Greece even imported olive oil from Germany. Meanwhile, coffee shops are full of unemployed young college graduates living with their parents, with little prospect of having their own families. Yet, they resist working with their hands.
The other fact undermining Greek universities and Greece is the 1982 asylum law. This law forbids the police from entering university grounds. In 2009, Daniel Speckhard, an American diplomat reporting from Athens, described the university asylum law as “nothing more than a legal cover for hoodlums to wreak destruction with impunity…. Campuses have become havens for criminals… [and] a war zone where police are afraid to show up, administrators are afraid to stand up and students are afraid to speak up.”
Speckhard is right. The trouble starts with some students being funded by political parties. Thugs join those students and the universities become houses of terror and illegal commerce. Hoodlums wear masks and beat up professors or students who express ideas inimical to the interests of those who fund them. Foreigners, some of whom may be jihadists, are also invading the classrooms and buildings of the National Polytechnic University of Athens and the University of Thessalonike without any resistance from local authorities. These foreign thugs champion Tsipras’ “no borders” slogan.
I asked Stavros Anagnostopoulos, professor of civil engineering at the University of Patras, why professors fail to insist in the repealing of the asylum law. He said to me, “Many of the asylum critics remain silent for fear some of their colleagues and leftist students will denounce them.”
These grave national Greek crises cause enormous damage to Greece. Foreigners probably see the asylum horror as another justification for selling Greece to non-Greeks. Universities giving hoodlums a free hand lose their legitimacy and — and defames Greece. Without violence, education becomes the engine of innovation and economic development.
In the fifteenth book of the “Iliad” of Homer, the Greek hero Ajax shames the Argives-Greeks to fight back against the Trojans. Take the Trojans on by hand-to-hand combat, he tells them. Fight them, live or die.
The Greeks are now fighting another war. They must overthrow both their government and the stealing of their country. This need not be a violent upheaval. A victory would honor Greek traditions, teach Greek children Greek history as it happened, and bring respect back to Greece.
An outraged Greek political movement should abolish all parties and exile the politicians who have signed the humiliating memorandums with the EU and IMF. If the EU-IMF insists on business as usual, Greece should exit the euro zone and return to its own currency.
With hard work and love for their country, Greeks can return Greece to greatness.