Why are Greeks so extreme nationalist?

By: | Post date: 2016-12-13 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Modern Greek

OP is Albanian, and I’m not surprised he got attitude from Greek-Americans.

Dimitris Almyrantis is a Greece Greek, and I’ll presume he hasn’t spent time in Australia or America.

That is not intended as a veiled attack on Dimitris, whom I esteem even when I disagree with him. (Especially when I disagree with him!) But I think he’s doing presentism. Any attacks I make on Dimitris are overt, after all; and he usually ends up convincing me I’m wrong. 🙂

Nationalism inside Greece has quietened down significantly in the last two decades, and is now a minority rather than a majority thing. (Still a sizeable minority thing, I dare say.) But I was in Salonica in 1995, when Turkey and Greece were last genuinely about to go to war over Imia/Kardak. And it truly felt like I was in a country gone insane (even my beloved Μαλβίνα Κάραλη), with no respite to be had for me but Beavis and Butthead. And the flagwaving was nothing if not nationalist. It involved militaries and flags, after all.

I was in Melbourne in the early 90s, when Macedonians and Greeks were blowing up each others’ community halls. That was the Balkan hostilities playing out in Australia, which Greece Greeks had the luxury of assuming were long settled in situ. If that’s not nationalism to Dimitris… well, I can see how diaspora Greeks would assume it is. Their codeword for these kinds of disputes, after all, has remained εθνικά ζητήματα, “issues of national interest”.

(Why yes, Greek uses the word ethnic to mean national. And yes, of course that’s part of the problem.)

These issues play out in the diaspora more readily than in the homeland; see for example Nick Nicholas’ answer to Has Melbourne been the financial center of activities for advocates of annexing Greek Macedonia to FYROM? In OP’s case, there’s likely a whole lot of people for whom the ethnic conflicts in Çamëria and/or Labëria are not ancient history, and are not hushed up by their national government.

The diaspora believes they are safeguarding the interests of the homeland. The diaspora was intellectually formed in a Greece where petty ethnic rivalries were regarded as integral to nationalism. So the diaspora does tub-thumping, in a way that is no longer mainstream in the homeland. And Dimitris can thank his lucky deracinated stars that this is not the Greece he was formed in.

(I’m grateful for it too. A Greek teenager with such a keen interest in the Ottoman Empire was simply inconceivable a generation ago. I’m being serious: I was there.)

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