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Modern Greece and the Macedonian Heritage – Part 11 – The curse of Hellenism

By Risto Stefov, rstefov@hotmail.com,  March 15, 2009

Hellenism is not a religion, it is not an ethnic entity and is not even a national identity; it is an idea, an idea designed to mold an entire country into believing and behaving the way Modern 19thcentury Europeans wanted. Hellenism began in a small part of Modern Greece, in fact to be more precise the Philhellenes created that small part of Modern Greece because they needed a cultural basis to model their idea after. The Modern Europeans found what they needed in a society that lived in that very small region of Modern Greece 2,400 years ago.

Once upon a time during the late 18th and early 19th century there were some Western Europeans who considered themselves „forward looking“ and believed they could improve the world if only they could teach it how to behave in a manner to their liking. To do that they needed a model which they found in the people of 2,400 years ago who lived in the southern part of today’s Modern Greece. The ideas and actions of these Western Europeans came to be known as „Hellenism“ and they themselves became known as „Philhellenes“ or friends of the Hellenes. The people that accepted the ideals of Hellenism thus became known as the „Hellenes“.

Modern Greece was not named „Greece“ by accident and neither was Ancient „Greece“. We all know that there is not a single ancient map showing „Greece“ because there was no „Greece“ back then. The names „Greece“, „Greeks“, „Ancient Greece“ and „Ancient Greeks“ came into use and prominence in the late 18th, early 19thcenturies. One of the reasons for giving „Greece“ a Latin name is because the Philhellenes needed „Greece“ to have a Western name in order to be part of the Western World. Another reason for coming up with this name was to, for the first time ever, group together all the ancient worlds including the City States, Achaea, Thessaly, Epirus and Greek occupied Macedonia under one „Western sounding“ name, „Greece“.

Modern Hellenism was expected to begin in the southern part of Modern Greece with the toppling of the Ottoman Empire and from there expand outwards. Not everyone however bought into the idea of Hellenism, not if it had to be at the expense of traditional values.

The idea was that in order to be a Hellene one had to not only embrace the ideals of Hellenism but had to forsake ones own culture, traditions, language and even religion. To many people Hellenism was synonymous with paganism. It is funny nowadays to hear Greek Orthodox Priests bursting with pride about being such great Hellenes unknowingly or intentionally forsaking Christianity, the very same faith they have sworn to serve. But that is not all; a Hellene is obligated to keep his or her real identity a secret not only from society but also from its offspring. The children must not know the truth, which would ensure that they would remain good Hellenes!

Surprisingly Hellenism was embraced by many people but not as many as expected. People with strong traditional values and long family roots refused to give up that which they held dear and near to their hearts. Many fought against Hellenism and many more even lost their lives. The ones who embraced Hellenism were either ignorant of their own history or wanted more out of life than what it had to offer even if it meant trading their real history, language and ethnic identity for it.

The new Hellenic identity required the Hellene to have a Hellenic name so every non-Greek personal and family name had to be changed to sound Greek. Unfortunately, as is with people receiving alias names in witness protection programs, real identities cease to exist. And since the new identities have no history, phantom histories have to be fabricated and lies propagated in order for the individuals to fit in. The „changed“ individuals then have to be instilled with pride to not only convince their neighbours of who they are but eventually to convince themselves and their children. This is why today, after 200 years of Hellenization we have so many Slavs, Albanians, Vlachs and even Christian Turks from Asia Minor bursting with pride about being „pure Greeks, direct descendants from the Ancient Greeks“.

I hope now you understand why the „real“ history of these people cannot be allowed to surface. If it does it will shatter the illusion of Hellenism and not only expose the perpetrated Philhellene conspiracy but will also alienate its willing and unwitting participants who now number in the tens of millions. If the conspiracy to create Hellenism is exposed then every Greek will have no choice but to question his or her „Greek“ identity; are they Slav, Albanian, Vlach or some other unheard of ethnicity from Asia Minor, the Caucasus or somewhere else? The Republic of Macedonia’s coming into existence has threatened to expose this Hellenic conspiracy which explains why so many paranoid Greeks negate its existence and act so suspiciously.

For many, including the vast majority of Macedonians, who valued their culture, language and traditions, the fight against Hellenism has become a relentless and never ending struggle. For them Hellenism is a course.

Following are excerpts from the book „Blood Lines form Ethnic Pride to Ethnic Terrorism“, by Vamik Volkan.

On pages 121 and 122 we read “Greece’s movement to build a national identity, however, contained a unique element not shared by others: external support and even pressure, for a specific kind of new identity. The British, French and Russians demanded that the modern Greek identity be Hellenic and respond to the Europeans’ nostalgia for the restoration of a pre-Christian Hellenic civilization that has been in eclipse for some two thousand years. Europeans confidently expected to see the characteristic of Homer in post liberation Greeks, in spite of the ebb and flow of history over such a great span of time. The neoclassicism that rose in seventeenth – and eighteenth-century Europe as an aesthetic and philosophical idea was to be physically embodied in modern-day Greece. The idealistic and hopeful attitudes of neoclassicism that would later be imposed on the Greeks was succinctly expressed in 1822 when American President James Monroe declared: ‘The mention of Greece fills the mind with the utmost exalted sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of which our nature is susceptible’.

In reality, however, just before the Greek war of independence, most Greeks still referred to themselves as Romans. Vlachavas, the priest rebel leader who rose against the Ottomans, declared, ‘A Romneos I was born, a Romneos I will die‘.

Some Europeans and the few Americans who came to help Greece start a new nation-state, were disappointed even indignant, to discover among Greece’s peasants there were no warrior-heroes like Achilles or Ajax, no statesmen like Pericles, no philosophers like Socrates or Plato and no poets of the caliber of Aeschylus or Sophocles. There was, in fact, little likeness between nineteenth century Greeks and the idealized Greeks from ancient history that had such hold on the imagination of European liberators.

Further down on page 122 we read „The folklore scholar Michael Herzfeld has identified three major obstacles to the project of re-Hellenizing Greece. First, the people in the new nation-state found it difficult to accept that they should resemble the long-lost inhabitants of their land; most of the common people had no idea what they were supposed to be. Second, they could not be „Hellenic“, in the old pagan sense of the word, since they strongly adhered to the Christian faith in their Orthodox church. Finally, it was hard to be Hellenic while using a Romaic language mixed with Turkish, Arabic and Persian origin.“

Even further down on page 122 we read „Hellenism was embraced, but under the three obstacles listed above, under a special way. It was made ‘intimately personal‘, identified as a mystical sensibility that could not be understood by even Western supporters. George Evlambios in 1843 declared that foreigners should not attempt the impossible by trying to fathom the mysteries of Greekness. It was ironic that the Hellenism thesis, although initially externally directed, would in practice ultimately lead Greeks to differentiate themselves from the very others who had helped to define them. Absorbing Hellenism made modern Greeks proud of their uniqueness.“

At this point I usually make my commentary about the Modern Greek hypocritical stance against the Macedonian ethnic identity and how while ignoring the fact that there is no real Greek identity, only a manufactured one, Greeks continue to be an obstacle to Macedonia’s entry into the world. But instead of making my own commentary, this time I will use quotes from the book „The Emerging Strategic Environment Challenges of the twenty-first century“ edited by Williamson Murray.

On page 17 of this book we read „Considering, for example, the contemporary notions promulgated by the Ministry of Education in Athens regarding Macedonia. Greek textbooks portray Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great as exemplars of Greek civilization and their kingdom as thoroughly Hellenized. Therefore, according to this logic, the modern inhabitants of Macedonia are a product of an unbroken cultural influence stretching back to the Greece of the fourth century BC. As a result, the present Slav-inhabited Republic of Macedonia supposedly has no right to its name nor to use the sixteen-pointed Star of Vergina, the symbol of the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, as its national emblem. Left out of this fairy tale is the absence of any proof that the ancient Macedonians spoke Greek or formed part of Greek culture.

Furthermore the undisputed fact that Philip and Alexander admired Greek culture and that Greek was spoken at their court hardly made their subjects Greek, any more than the fact that the court of Catherine the Great and Alexander I spoke French made the Russian serfs of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century part of French culture. Ignored, too, is the influence of successive waves of invasions that smashed into the Balkans between the fourth and fourteenth centuries AD.“

Then on page 18 we read „What was left of ancient Greek culture in medieval Macedonia after one thousand years of rapine, enslavement and slaughter at the hands of outsiders? Today the Greek government insists that its country has no minorities. But a traveler to Greek Macedonia or Thrace will discover that many (perhaps 250,000 or more) Albanians, Slavs, and Muslims – what precisely to call them is completely a matter of opinion – live near the Greek border with Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and European Turkey. All that these contradictions really prove is that after two centuries of independence, Greek nationalists remain insecure and self-doubting behind their boastful and touchy facades.“

And now a word to my critics;

When I first started writing these articles, you accused me of „making up stories“ and of „telling lies“, demanding to see proof and quotes from reliable sources. Now that I have produced quotes, many, many quotes from over thirty different reliable and unbiased authors, who by the way all support the Greek side while telling „your“ story, you accuse me of using „other peoples‘ words“ and of „not having a mind of my own“.

Please make up your minds!!!

Please, instead of putting blame on me for telling you the truth, admit to yourselves that you are a fake nation with a manufactured identity and instead of trying so hard to prove that „Macedonians don’t exist“ try harder and prove that „Greeks do exist“.

To be continued….Part 12