Sunday, June 28, 2009

The social, economic and political basis of Greek Neo-Ottomanism Part 4

Those who have read Byzantine history carefully will realise the events that occured on 1071, 1204 and 1453 were not really that critical to the Empire's disintegration. More important but less recognisable were the broader social forces which led to these events, such as the increasing power of the Anatolian aristocratic families and the Church at the expense of the small landholding and military classes. It is no coincidence the Byzantine Empire reached its greatest height, in terms of territorial expansion and finances, when Basil II, the Bulgar-Slayer, crushed the aristocratic elite and Church and gave back power to the small landholders, which supplied the army with most of its men and the empire with its agricultural produce and manufactures.

The last few posts of Antipodes (the last can be accessed
here) have provided a summarised translation of an article writen by one of Greece's best social commentators, George Karabelias for the magazine Ardin. Karabelias documents the changes in social, economic and political forces in Greece and elsewhere which have led to Greek Neo-Ottomanism and the weakening of a national consciousness. Much like the period after the death ofBasil II, Karabelias believes the balance of forces in Greek society has shifted in favour of a globalised "Greek" "parasitic" elite, which largely prefers its own narrow interests (in accordance with Neo-Ottomanism) at the expense of the nation.

Karabelias continues his increasingly caustic commentary with the odious figure of Costas Karras:

Typical are the views of the recently arrested (for illicit trade in antiquities) ship-owner, Costas Karras. He is a 17-year member of the secretariat of Bilderberg club, president of the Greek-Turkish Forum and the Greek section of CDRSEE (the organization that issued the history books of Mrs Koulouris) and he is a Great Archon of the Patriarchate. He is also an ecologist and acts as a mentor regarding ecological activities to Patriarch Bartholomew. Essentially, his views are that we must re-establish as the center of the Hellenism, the Phanari and the Patriarchate, and leave behind “nationalism”. This is because the Helladic nation-state and a free Cyprus are very small and insignificant for the investment and political dreams of a type of capital which is often Greek in name only.

Karabelias states that is why we witnessed representatives of Cypriot capital outbidding each other in support of the Annan Plan and the dissolution of the Cyprus Republic because it is an obstacle to their plans. Also, he believes this is why the Angelopoulos’s, the Karras’s and others slander those who support the defense of the homeland as "nationalism". These people, including educators, cultural experts and churchmen, call for the disintegration of nation-state and support abandoning arms and defense of the country. They are supporters of Greek-Turkish friendship and even if they are non-religious, are against the “nation-race” outlook of the Helladic Greek Church, as represented by the now deceased Archbishop Christodolou, in favour of the “universalism” of the “ecologist Patriarch” – in other words globalization and Neo-Ottomanism. Karabelias continues:

Furthermore, representatives of all parties, “capital” and the “Left”, co-sign the same texts in support and “solidarity” as happened with the signatures in favor of Mr. Karras, or for the pursued Mrs Repousi or for poor Costas Simitis.

To be continued.....

Source: Ardin (George Karabelias), Antipodes


  1. It's astonishing when you think about it; how a meticulous, farsighted, selfishless man like Basil II---super courageous and merciless in war, savvy and considerate in peace---did not produce or groom an heir. Upon his death it was all downhill for the Empire.

  2. Basil II not producing a heir is one of the most confounding mysteries of history. But I do not believe it was all downhill after his reign. The immediate period after Basil II can probably be characterised as a period of stagnation rather than decline; however, the relative ascent of certain Anatolian artistocratic families relative to other segments of society(sound familiar???) contributed to the betrayal of Doukas at Manzikert.

    The Komnenian period; particularly after the initial renewal of Alexios and before the Frankish tendencies and mistakes of Manuel at Myriokephalon, was certainly a period of growth. John Komnenos was an astounding figure of history. A wise, kind man but efficient in administration and war.

  3. Hi, A.

    I am thinking of the loss of Byzantine Italy, the insurgence of the (Seljuk) Turks, and the Schism---all within 50 years since the death of Basil II.

    It kind of makes you wonder what could have been if George Maniakes had not died.

  4. Of course, you are right about Byzantine Italy - a very important part of the Empire. I have also wondered about George Maniakes. He probably would have made a great emperor. Its a pity how he died.

    I do not believe the appearance of the Seljuks was that significant. If Romania was being administered effectively they would have been dealt with like we did away with other central Asian barbarian hordes like the Avars and Penchenegs.

    Treadgold is adamant the the rot had set in shortly after Basil II. Madagliano differs markedly and believes the rot set in right after Manuel Komnenos - almost two hundred years later. I cannot remember what the Russian historians believed? Do you? I tend to trust their scholarship more than Western educated historians.

  5. I have not read any English or Greek translations of what the Russian historians believed. I do know that Treadgold is in agreement with Norwich, and I firmly concur. Unfortunately, the reign of Isaac I Comnenus was very short, and his replacement by the buffoonish Constantine X Ducas---instead of a qualified general like himself---sealed the Empire's rapid decline. (No army, no defense.) We have the treacherous Psellus to thank for Ducas.

  6. I have not read Otrogorsky or Vasiliev for years and do not have copies at home so I cannnot remember either.

    The following article by Angold provides an interesting survey on the historical sources on the disintegration of the Empire before 1204.

    Ofcourse, you are referrging to an earlier period before Manzikert.