Friday, February 18, 2011

Unrest and revolution in the Arab world and Europe is cheering.

For the past few weeks we've seen an amazing expression and desire of ordinary people throughout the Arab World, for democracy and prosperity. One by one, people in countries in North Africa and the Middle East rise, protest and even managed to overthrow regimes that have been established for decades.

From Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and now Bahrain, Libya and Yemen we watch pictures and videos of a real revolution that is taking in the Arab world and it was about time too.

The region has been ruled by totalitarian regimes for decades, plagued by corruption and lacking of any progress, freedom, prosperity and jobs. Many of the region's citizens were migrating to Europe, and this situation seemed to be unchangeable. Our leaders did business with the leaders of the region and perhaps even supported them. Possibly this political balance suited them and favored many in Europe and the wider region, but not the people living in it.

Suddenly we witness an uprising in the Arab world. And while the European media feast on the news that come from those countries and the European public are watching with fascination, our leaders remain observant. Could such mass uprising ever happen in Europe, or are they unsettled by the change of the status in those countries? For the moment they seem to just observing for the outcome.

Europe itself is gripped by an ongoing crisis. Most European countries suffer still from the recession and we witnessed two Euro-zone countries receiving a bail out from the IMF. Many more EU and non EU European countries have already received similar loans. People in Italy are protesting against their ruling elite demanding the resignation of PM Berlusconi. In Greece, Iceland,Ireland and many eastern European states we saw protests over the economic crisis, the cuts, the IMF loans and the oppression of the working force.

In Belgium too the people are protesting over the failure of their leaders to agree and form a government. So Europe at the moment is not a very different place to be than the Arab World. What fascinates us though is that in North Africa people have actually managed to oust their leaders and their governments.

The similarities between Europe and North Africa are much more that we would like to believe. We also have well established political elites that rule us since the WW2. The fact that we do not have them in the form of juntas or regimes like the one in Libya, I guess comes down to the history of decolonization in North Africa and the US influence. When the European powers left the region, they helped those regimes to be established and their dominance lasted until now.

Europe always meddled with the affairs of this region. The question is, who is behind all this, and why now? Recessions came and went in the past but the Arabs did not protest as passionately. Hopefully the developments are for the best of the people of those countries and they will get the freedom and democracy that they are fighting for.

It is inspirational what is happening right now in the southern coast of the Mediterranean  and beyond.When it was the last time that we saw people seizing power? But there is no doubt that these developments will have an impact to Europe too. So far we only see a rise of illegal immigrants from the region coming to our continent, but perhaps in the future we will be affected in other ways too.

Recently the British PM David Cameron stated that multiculturalism has failed in Europe, echoing the German Chancellor's Merkel similar remarks about a year ago. The remarks came soon after protests of the far right in Britain against the spread of Islam in the UK. In fact all three main European Powers' leaders (Cameron, Merkel, Sarkozy) made the same remarks.

If Europe is turning against its multiculturalism agenda then what next for Europe's Muslims? Perhaps the riots and democratization of the Arab world is coming on the right scheduled time. For decades the region was dipped in poverty, deprivation and the trend of emigration into Europe.

Now with the establishment of new political elites will this reality continue, or will we see a total change in the region and its economy among other things? Stabilizing democracy in Europe's neighbors, may cap emigration into Europe from the region. It is not by chance that we see a constant change in the Euro-Mediterranean area in all aspects from social to financial, foreign to energy, immigration to employment policies.

We are living in exciting and challenging times, perhaps even more than when the Berlin wall fell and Europe reunited. The changes that will follow will perhaps not only affect Europe, but North Africa, Middle East and all the near regions.The question is who will be the winners of such political and social shake up in the region and who will benefit from this.

Europe can not remain an observer in the events but if it get's involved, its engagement must be constructive for the region, or it will bring us in a further class with the Arab nations. We do have a terrible history of meddling and making things worse after all.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Greek culture of the Druids..A second home coming for me!

"In the next article we read that there may have been Greek Migration to Ireland since the ancient times, and not just from any region of Greece, but specifically from Macedonia that I also come from. 

And not just migrated, but also heavily influenced as we will discuss further down. It makes me proud!"

The term Druids (Druids), indicate the fair priestly class in ancient Celtic societies, which lived in Western Europe, North and beyond the Alps and later the British Isles.

The customs of the Druids were part of the culture of all racial groups called 'Celts' and 'Galatai' by Greeks and 'Celtae' and 'Galli' by the Romans, names which have evolved into today 'Celtic' and 'Gaulish'. The Druids took their name from the Oak (Oak) and were priests and philosophers and legislated and bestowed justice.

The oak was also the "sacred" tree of the Greek royal houses of Macedonia, which is historically proven and archaeological findings to the number found in the royal Macedonian tomb with its famous royal crowns.

There is perhaps no coincidence that the Druids took their name from the oak tree (oak), one tree was sacred to the Greeks from the depths of antiquity. Let us not forget the prophetic oracle in sacred oak of Dodona, the oldest oracle in the world, the sacred tree of Gaia and later Jupiter.

The most important references to the Druids are described in ancient documents, especially  in the Latin language. The most important books, perhaps mainly because of the author's personal prestige and his access to the latest knowledge and his own perception of events, are the writings of Julius Caesar with the title "De Bello Gallico". A series of books that he writes about geography and society of the Gauls or Celts, himself the emperor of Rome. ( Gaius Julius Caesar, 13 Ιουλίου 100 BC - 15 March 44 BC )

Translated from Latin, in some of his writings here we read: "There are throughout Gaul two classes of people of specified importance and honors. In these classes, one is consisted by the Druids, the other  the Knights."

"It is reported that schools of Druids, taught by heart many verses. Some druids stayed for twenty years in education (discipline). And they did not consider it appropriate to write these speeches, although in almost all cases, both public and secret reports they use the Greek language (Greek letters) "

The same book says:  "The main point of ideology is that the soul does not die and after death passes from one body to another" (Transfiguration).

This observation led several ancient writers to the conclusion that the Druids might have influenced by the teachings of Pythagoras. The Caesar also notes that the druidic meaning of the guardian spirit of the race, translates as Dispater (Dispater-> Zeus - father).

The Greek origin of the Druids

In the mythological book Lebor Gabála Érenn [Book of Invasions-Book of Intrusion] we read about the Greek Partholona who came to Ireland after the flood. It is said to have originated from the Middle Macedonia or Greece, with his wife, three sons with their wives and three Druids, all brothers between them, their names  Fios, Aiolos and Fomoris, (FiOS, Eolas, Fochmarc), names that etymologically mean , "Intellect, Knowledge and Research. Holders of this wisdom was the Druids, Greeks adepts as we conclude from the ancient texts.

In the same book we read that the Partholon was a Greek prince who killed his parents hoping to inherit the kingdom. The incident costs him his one eye and a string of bad luck.He was nevertheless master of every major art. He had a total of 7 sons. After 30 years of residence in Ireland, he died near the town that is now called Tallaght, where 120 years after his descendants perished by an outbreak of plague.

DP Perdikaris, Dora Spyridou

De Bello Gallico, Julius Caesar
These are the Greek, Theodore Petropoulos
Julius Caesar, Wikipedia
Kuno Meyer, 'Partholón mac Sera', Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, 13 (1919), 141-2;
Anton G. van Hamel, 'Partholón', Revue Celtique, 50 (1933), 217-37;
Henry Morris, 'The Partholon Legend', Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries, 67 (1937), 57-71.
Christiane L. Joost-Gaugier, 'Measuring Heaven - Pythagoras and His Influence on Thought and Art in Antiquity and the Middle Ages', (2006), 112-113

Source: ,

Sunday, February 6, 2011

How corruption in Greece works.

With the recent developments in Greece, the global media rushed in condemning the country painting their own picture of the situation in Greece. Apart the fact that we must examine the interests and the nationality of the journalists who wrote about Greece, I will also add that there is a smear campaign by the predominantly "Anglo-American" media for all southern European states (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain).

The naming of these nations as "PIGS", is not only humiliating, unfair and outrageous, but it also created a deep division between the European states. One that could become a real life slander and follow the reputation of those nations forever. It clearly seeks to portray their way of life and mentality as inferior, while the northern "Anglo-Saxon" way as the ideal.

Make no mistake, there is corruption in Greece and in fact I myself do not consider Greece a fully democratic country. It is an aristocracy of a corrupt elite that was established with the help of the Western Powers after WW2 and the Greek Civil War. And it is that elite that is hindering all progress and development in Greece. Perhaps serving the wishes of those powers who helped their establishment, or because they simply do not want to let go of power, allowing the country to blossom and become a rich European state.

Greece has an educated, multilingual youth that abandons the country and thrive in all other European or non European states that they find their new home. It has a very important geopolitical position and many natural resources that if exploited, they could transform the country in one of the richest of Europe.

Many have said that the Greeks are lazy to work and they prefer the customer service industries like hospitality and catering. But over the years, thousands of Greeks worked in Germany, Sweden, Belgium and other countries, contributing to the economy and progress of these nations. If there were any factories in Greece, the Greeks would work in them. They are a hard working race of people that blossom and prosper in any other country that they migrate to.

Another argument against Greece was that many civil servants can take their pension at the age of forty something. Many Europeans thought that that was outrageous, and another sign of the Greek laziness. Well if anyone in Europe had the opportunity to do the same, wouldn't he/she have taken it and did the same? It is not the people who are on the wrong, it is the system! Why Greeks abroad are law abiding citizens in their majority and they prosper, while in Greece they end up being sluggish and slow to change and adapt?

Also the Greek civil servant's absenteeism was mentioned. If I compare this with the situation I see in Ireland, that many of my colleagues "pull a sickie" every time they drink too much over the weekend or each time they can not have the holidays that they want, then I do not see how Greece is only on the spot light for this. I do not agree with it, and I do not approve it. But it is not only a Greek trend.

The hardest criticism was on the tax evading of the citizens in Greece. It is partly true, but you have to take into consideration the red tape that exists in Greece. Sometimes it is so hard and time consuming to deal with the Revenue, complicated and in some cases expensive. And it is always the ordinary citizens that are called to pay their taxes, when they see the rich avoiding them without any consequences.

 Recently the Greek public has the opportunity of doing their dealings with the revenue online, but with poor internet speed and lack of promotion for this new service, is there any wonder that is still not popular as in other countries?

The lower wages in Greece, when compared with other Euro-zone member states, lead many Greeks in working in the "black employment market." They prefer not to pay taxes for an insurance and pension fund, just so they can get higher wages.

There is also a natural mistrust and resentment of the Greek public towards their Government. When they read about so many scandals and abuses of public money by each Government, what example do they receive by their ruling elite? "The fish smells from its head" a Greek saying goes and that is the truth. In other words, it is our Government and ruling elite that is corrupt and the corruption goes down to the very last citizen.

But you can't avoid becoming part of this system! You study for years and you get lots of qualifications but there are not jobs or industries that you find a job, start a career in the subject that you studied and you loved. You got all the right qualifications but you see others to fill up positions with no qualifications just because they know the right people in the right place. When the only way to deal successfully with most public services is to bribe its officials.

Even if you are law abiding and pay your taxes, you see the rich elite evading theirs. When there are no jobs created in the state, so the only option for a secure and stable career is to get into the public sector. In other words, it is the system that is wrong and needs to be changed. But who can lead and initiate those necessary changes?

I thought that the EU would and that is why I have always supported it. But unfortunately if the big powers of Europe allow it to interfere in other countries' internal affairs, that would mean that they must allow it to interfere with theirs. I petty much doubt that Britain, France and Germany would approve that.

Perhaps the Greek Government then. But it is because of them that the system remains as such, so they will continue governing Greece with their outdated practices, to remain in power and safeguard their wealth. The people of Greece then, should do something about it.

But with so much propaganda going on since the years of the "Metapolitefsi", (The re-establishment of democracy in the country after the junta during the '70s) in order to keep the country stable and pro-Western, is there any wonder that they feel so disoriented and lacking any real motivation?

Our leaders, especially the ones of an old nation such as Greece, had centuries in practice perfecting their art of public opinion manipulation. And Greece had to endure the Byzantine and the Ottoman imperial regimes, both very efficient and brutal in many cases in suppressing any dissidents from within.

I wish my fellow Greeks would stop going to the political offices of their local TDs to beg for a job in the public sector for their son or daughter. They should go there to demand a school, a hospital, new parks, jobs and industries. Start contacting their leaders with no fear and demand a change. Be active and responsible citizens. Vote for different parties than their "family traditional" ones. Even take the initiative of creating new ones of their own.

How can we achieve all the above? Well definitely not by calling them PIGS! The change must come in a pan-European level, because the corruption is not only rooted in the southern and eastern European countries. There are many intergovernmental agreements that we are not been told of, between our ruling elites. So we, as citizens need to be active in a national but also in a European level.

Time for pan-European political parties and exchange of political ideas?

In the European Parliament's Facebook page recently I read: "Foreign coaches and players are no news in European sports, like Fabio Capello for example. Foreign politicians are still a big no-no in European politics. 

Can that change with the emergence of truly pan-European parties".

It is about time. If we want a truly united Europe, it is time to start thinking "European". 

For the good and benefit of all the Continent, not just our own little piece of land. Since we are all interconnected, bonded by the Common Market, what happens in one nation affects all others.
If we want to achieve the stability of the Continent an the equal distribution of wealth, opportunities and progress for all its inhabitants, we must start thinking in a collective way. So far, sticking to our national interests and the constant competition between us for resources and wealth, led to Europe relying on investments of foreign multinational companies and the involvement of the Markets. 

It also led to the unequal distribution of wealth, with the western part of the continent being more stable and more prosperous. Europe collectively is not "free" to decide its own social policies in this globalized word.
It is time to have a shake up in Europe's political reality. Bring in new blood of politicians, that do not bow to the national corrupt circles. That perhaps they have new ideas and are not bribed by our local established elites, creating policies that suits them. 

They will be paid to create policies that will benefit the country and its citizens, not continue the political circle that smothers all good ideas, progress and reform. Our national Governments are easily bribed by foreign investors and multinationals, or the local elites and they do not always work for the benefit of the ordinary citizen. 

Especially when the smaller nations are concerned, change can not occur if the more powerful nations do not allow or encourage it. If it is not in their interests to change the balance of power in the continent or promote changes in the country, then changes are very slow. 

The only way to achieve these changes is to promote reforms throughout Europe, in every country collectively. And that can be only done by establishing political parties that will work on that level too. Our national political parties can not serve two masters: our local elites and the benefit of all Europe.

I would love to have a Swede, a German or a Dane as Mayor of my home town Thessaloniki in Greece. The city has so many potentials, but our national politicians follow the same circle of policies that favor the very few. We need to start trusting any competent European politician, either he/she is of our own nationality or not. 

Stop voting for the same established political parties, rather for someone who has the passion, interest and competence to offer solutions and his/her work for the region. And I am sure when faced with this new competition, our national politicians will have to adapt.

By voting on power the same political parties in rotation, nothing really changes in our countries, or Europe. Our continent is suffering from this conservative political reality, but we are the ones to blame. Why not have a foreigner working to fix things in our country, than some "native" politician that will be answerable to a few close partners or supporters?