Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The social, economic and political basis of Greek Neo-Ottomanism part 1

Antipodes has made reference to, or written about, the ideology Neo-Ottomanisn before. Indeed, the last post provided a summarised translation of the November-December editorial of Greek magazine, Ardin. The editorial defined the concept of Neo-Ottomanism, some of the forces which have contributed to its formation and its implementation across the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia.

However, Neo-Ottomanism is not only an external threat. Despite 400 years of Ottoman occupation, the darkest, bloodiest and most unproductive period of Greek history, unbelievably there are some people in Greece, Cyprus and the Diaspora which promote the ideology of Neo-Ottomanism.

In the same edition of Ardin, the very important Greek sociologist, economist and historian, George Karabelias also contributed an article titled,
The Socal Basis of Neo-Ottomanism” which provides a historical analysis of the social, economic and political factors that have led to Greeks supporting Neo-Ottomanism. Karabelias begins:
.......various interest groups which have in their core the internationalized and parasitic bourgeoisie of Greece; but also many other parties, from groups of intellectuals and artists to progressive political parties and religious interests, either by voluntary servitude or by material factors (e.g. the very large number of discs which certain musicians sell in the Turkish market) promote a Greek-Turkish friendship with a view to profit.

Karabelias then writes about the formation of this "parasitic elite" amongst certain sectors of Greek and Cypriot society and its visible signs of Neo-Ottomanism, including:
......the support of Turkey in the EU, the acceptance of a fait accompli regarding the occupation in Cyprus, the sermons that the Ottoman occupation was less than harmful. Since the time that a Neo-Ottoman Turkey returned as a "strong power" in the region, whilst at the same time the influence and power of Anglo-American interests has waned, a growing segment of the Greek elite are readying themselves to take on a role of modern Phanariotes, accepting the domination of the new power.

Karabelias then goes back in time to identify the roots of this Phanariotism. He believes the double occupation of the Greek world from 1204 onwards, by the West and the Ottoman Turks, did not allow the Greek bourgeoisie to create a system of domestic production but rather turned the lands on which Greeks lived into a semi-colony exporting raw materials such as cotton, grapes and tobacco:
For the Greeks and the Armenians, the only role that was permitted was that of the intermediary between the West and the Ottomans, and this is why the Greek middle class developed as a commercial or commercial-naval power. Hence, from the 18th century the Greeks became more active in the Danube, southern Russia, Austro-Hungary, Smyrna and Constantinople as traders, and on the islands, as seamen.

One of the consequences of Ottoman rule and the "transit-trade" character of Greek business were similar developments in the intellectual and ideological field. The spiritual "modernization" of modern Hellenism was cut from the Byzantine tradition and stuck to ancient Greece and Western modernity - dependent entirely on Western universities and publishers - and Byzantium was only identified with the religious aspect of Greek spirituality…..

To be continued......

Source: Ardin (George Karabelias), Antipodes

1 comment:

  1. it is great that a new history about the ottoman empire is being written. Greeks may not have created so many great achievements under the Ottomans compared to Ancient Greece but 400 years of Ottoman rule gave birth to most peaceful time in Greek history as well as the greater Balkan region.