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Greek Nationalism : Case Study


Greeks in the Ottoman Empire

Nihan Yuksel

Ottoman Empire separated its people according to Millet system which focused on the differences of people according to their religious beliefs rather than their ethnical background. Greeks under Ottoman Empire therefore composed the Orthodox Millet with the rest of Orthodox believers under the Ottomans such as Serbians , Bosnians , Bulgarians all were tolerated as People of the Book. Tolerance to Non-Muslims highlighted by Gellner as The impossibility of a modern policy ( Cyprus ) not being able to tolerate two autonomous communities with the ease with which Ottoman Empire tolerated many more communities through its millet system.. The authority of Patriarch was given to Greeks which was the head of the Orthodox Church and Orthodox Millets within the empire. The Patriarch was a symbol of preserving the Orthodox elements and prevented Orthodox Millet to intermingle with other religious groups thus preserved their Identities different than the Ottoman Muslims which later on helped to create their National Identities. Paradoxically Patriarch stayed as a symbol of Traditionality and was hostile to all the modern,secular and revolutionary ideas such as Nationalism therefore it banned the revolutionary Greek intellectuals such as A.Koreas and Rhigas Velestinlis both of whom absorbed the ideas from Enlightenment, French Revolution and struggled to overthrow the tyrannical Ottoman Empire and instead created a republic in which all the people can be equal. The revolutionary intellectuals like Koreas and Rhigas which played important role on Greek Independence War were mainly Diasporic lived or educated in abroad. Here we can apply the theory of B.Anderson whom stated nationalism as an Imagined Community like the people in Diaspora The members of the nation would never know each other but in their minds there is the image of a communion. First Greek newspaper Ephemeris ( 1784 - Vienna ) , the secret organization founded for independent Greece Philike Hetairia (1814 Odessa ) were all Diasporic. Moreover Greek Orthodox Merchants should be given as an example for Greek Diaspora whom contributed to the economic revival of their communities and by trading and communicating with the west they were modernized and brought not only goods from abroad but revolutionary liberated, modern ideas which contributed to form their national identities. Their prosperity due to their merchandise activities resulted in emergence of rich families and ship owners in the once uninhabited islands of Hydra, Psara, Spetsai which contributed to the Greek War of Independence. Finally Language also played an important role in creating National Identity , Greek was the language of the Orthodox religion and culture,it was the language of the trade as most of the merchants although had different ethnical backgrounds and languages such as Orthodox Albanians were using Greek in their maritime activities and Greek Phanariots whom were the wealthy Greek families of Constantinople ( Istanbul ) contributed to Hellenisation process though language as they financed Orthodox schools and contributed to spread of Greek Language among other ethnicities.(Print Capitalism,Use of vernacular language-B.Anderson) Phanariote Families had control over commerce, they supported merchants financially , control over the Patriarch as it was a way of gaining a social status for example they played an role in the abolishment of Serbian Patriarch , and they were also worked as a governor ( Hospodar, Prince) at Moldavian and Wallachian Principalities of Ottoman Empire. As oppose to the wealthy , high class Phanariot families the peasants in rural areas had restricted life under Timar System during 15th ,16th centuries and Ciftlik System afterwards. They had to pay extra taxes as contrast to Muslims and had to gave their child as a Child tribute. The only means of education was though church. According to Gellner Nationalism can only appear due to its functionality within the modern states. In Agrarian societies nationalism cannot appear as the peasant communities cannot identify themselves with the social groups and nor with other peasants due to the absence of communication. However although Ottoman was an Agrarian society still the nationalism appeared due to the circumstances I have explained such as Phanariot, Merchants,Intellectuals. A. Smiths Ethno-Symbolic approach can be applied to understand growth of Greek Nation as he stated Its dual heritage of Byzantine imperial Orthodoxy and classical democratic antiquity shaped the patterns of Greek Nationalism in 19th century. As his theory suggests etho-symbolic approach invites masses into history,it politices them and their culture,it is not just about he material benefits like Gellner claimed that gave a way to Idea of Nationalism.



The Great Idea and irredentist politics. The Asia Minor Catastrophe.

1. The creation of the Greek national state

as a result of separatist war - territories cut from the Ottoman Empire in XIX cent. (1864: the Ionian Islands; 1881: Thessaly and part of Epirus; 1912.13: part of Macedonia, and the rest of Epirus, the North and East Aegean Islands, and Crete; 1949: the Dodecanese); present border - defined by the treaty of Lausanne (1923); aim to create a homogenous nation;

nation-building characterized: primary role of the state, no space for regionalism and regional difference;
2. Characteristics of Greek nationalism:

Reasons of appearance of Greek nationalism - similar to those in the Balkans, but not the same with Western Europe. Stavrianos - two features of Balkans a) particularism as the result of geography; b) problems - efforts to adjust an economically backward area to the western industrial civilization;

socioeconomic fundamentals of Ottoman world - significant effect on nature of nationalism;

Invalidity of Gellners argument: Nationalism came to the Balkans (and to Greece) not because of industrialization but in conditions of underdevelopment and uneven modernization.

Nationalist ideas influenced firstly areas/groups, which had closer contact with Western or Central Europe; Non-territorial concept of nationhood (connection of religion and nationalism religion as a driving force); 3.Defining criteria of the modern Greek nation (plasticity of Greek nationalism, irredentism) Nationalism precedes the nation and makes it;

Criteria: language (modern approach), religion (traditionalist). Two criteria combined - manipulation over the concept of nation - beginning of irredentism.
Imposing Greek identity: Greek nation under Megali Idea would lack sense of solidarity, consciousness (sentiment) as an ultimate proof of the persons identification with the community and loyalty to it. Big non-Greek speaking Orthodox population (Albanian-speaking Hydriots and Suliots, Vlach-speaking Thessalians and Epiriots, slav-speaking Macedonians, also non-Greek speaking Greeks after exchange of populations in Asia Minor). They were never differentiated from Greek-speakers, considered as Greeks who have been denied the Greek education. 3. Megali Idea ( ) Theory of the unity of all the Greeks in time and space (exterior Greece) in the territories of Epirus, Thessaly, Macedonia, the Aegean Islands, Crete, Cyprus, parts of Anatolia, and the city of Constantinople (as the capital);

became an official state ideology after war of independence; 1844 - text on the Great Idea of the Nation presented as an official parliamentary speech; Major proponent - Eleftherios Venizelos;

4. Modern Greece as a sequel of Ancient Greece and Byzantium Empire

Modern social engineering (nationalism in modernity brings political significance to cultural past) -

Historiographical school of 1850-1860 (Konstantinous Parrigopoluos): reinstatement of Byzantium in the history of Eastern Christendom and of the Greek nation, establishment of cultural continuity of Greek nation in time and space,

5. Megali Idea - Two Central Myths: 1. Modern Greece was the modern sequel of Ancient Greece (proponent - Korai), Phoenix that would reappear after centuries if foreign suppression, Athens - the capital, the Greek peninsula - national territory (within the borders established after the 1821 Revolution); B. Anderson: nations are the product of modern world, but they like to see themselves as having ancient origins. 2. Connection of Modern Greece to Byzantine past strong geographical reference (Greek ambitions to restore the Empire in Macedonia and Asia Minor; Constantinople - future capital). Related theme belief in a mission Greeks as trustees of great civilization, destined to civilize the East and lead Christians in the Balkans and Asia minor; Georgios Theotokas (19051966), described mission perspective as racial prejudice, stubborn self-absorption, collective narcissism, rejection of the other out of ignorance. 6. Megali Idea in Action Hellenisation Process creation of homogeneous environment (physical and human), restoration of Byzantium; started in 1830 (hellenisation of the territories, annexed to the original territories of the Greek Kingdom) continued to 1910-1920; Hellenisation in administration, education, cultural life.

Gellner: nation-states extend their boundaries to the limits of their culture and impose their culture within the boundaries of their power. The making of a nation often involves the imposition of high culture in a top-down fashion. Hobsbawm: nationalists often invent traditions to give a sense of historical rootness to the nation.

7. The Asia Minor Catastrophe Treaty of Lausanne of January 30, 1923;

Exchange of population between Turkey and Greece (in order to resolve irredentist political conflict and create homogeneous nations, first official obligatory ethnic separation, no historical precedence);

Effect of Asia Minor Catastrophe on Greek Nationalism (end of Greek irredentist nationalism);


The Greek War of Independence

Jelena Medan

The Greek War of Independence doesnt only have political connotations, but also social and cultural dimensions. The War created heavy nationalistic movement as a snowball effect over the former Ottoman Empire. The cultural past- uniformed as national and combined with the shared language of Orthodox Church- gained political significance Greek Language and Orthodox Christianity - the sign of the first nationalisation In the Peloponnese the rebellion was making progress as massive act of people and "Freedom or Death" became the motto of the revolution Will to be free Idea of Struggle New perspective of the pure history is notable: the ancient and Byzantine era were approved as roots of the new state, undermining the Ottoman past. International support for national and liberal movements during the Greek War of Independence was not missing - the Philhellenic Movement Lord Byron volunteered to fight for the Greek Idea External Audience

Importance of merchants and intellectuals - mass mobilization of the peasantry, klephts and artisans - rural strata -Horizontal Comradeship- Nation of equals The decline of the Ottoman Empire was caused by its inability to maintain or develop. It was the clear example of the traditional society that could not cope with the arrival of modern times. Modernity: -In political sense it was the organisation of state and administration, - In cultural sense the spread of literacy created the period of enlightment that was the very symbol for modernity. Roots of the Neohellenic Enlightment were well-directed Western Ideas by Greek intellectuals in Diaspora Imagined Communities Books in Greek were printed and published in various European cities - Print Capitalism Culture is directly politicised by modernity and the nation build itself through the traditional ethnicities remembering the past.


Post World War II Developments.

Tonka Kostadinova

1. The civil war in Greece, 1946-1949.

Both fighting sides (the Government Forces and the Communists) used nationalism as a main element of their propagandas. The question on the future of Macedonia was one of the main domestic reasons for the outbreak of the civil war. The communists supported the idea of the creation of autonomous Macedonia and became the betrayers of the national interests. A conflict highly ideological which polarized the Greek nation and society between nationally - minded (the National Forces) and the betrayers (EAM/ELAS). The plasticity of nationalism and its blending into communism/anticommunism - two ideologies which were not only opposite, but fighting with each other on the territory of one and the same national state. A change in the content of Greek nationalism: Nationalism becomes defensive, exclusive: its not the 19th century irredentism anymore. 2. The Colonel Regime 1967 - 1974. Ideology in Power. The 21 April coup presented as a revolution to save the nation from communism and leftwing coup. The ideology was based on anti - communism and national - mindedness. Strong identification of the Regime with the nation and the fabrication of new nationalistic terminology ethnikofron and antethnikoi - the ones who are loyal to the nation (to the Regime) and the ones who are against the nation (against the regime). Nationalism was clearly used to legitimate power. The social engineering of the Junta and the invented traditions (Hobsbawm). The two processes of invention: adaptation of old tradition to new situations and the deliberate invention of new traditions. The utopia of the Juntas ideology consisted in the creation of Greece of the Christian Greeks including those from Cyprus (the political culture of enosis) - Imagined communities. 3. Nationalism between conservatism and modernism (Right and Left). 1974 - 1989. a. New Democracys new ideology. The need of forgetting - the right wing leader K. Karamanlis came back from exile to restore democracy. He transformed his old party Radical Union into New Democracy emphasizing the break with the immediate past. The new party came up with a new political ideology in which the national ideal was regarded as supreme factor in the political life of Greece. The horizontal comradeship - New Democracy put strong emphasis on the supra - class character of the nation - the Greek nation was presented as a holistic entity uniting all Greeks irrespectively of class boundaries. The conception of the national interest became a carte blanche in Greek internal and foreign policy - Karamanlis government withdrew Greece from the military structures of NATO in 1974, successfully leads Greece into the EC etc. b. The marriage of nationalism and socialism in the ideology of PASOK.

PASOKs political discourse claimed the need of national independence - Greek people should freed themselves both form external factors and from the dominance of domestic oligarchy (ND). In its program PASOK blended nationalism with demands for political and social change and a more independent political role for Greece. Even traditional nationalists voted for PASOK because its criticism of the West stroked the self - esteem of the Greeks which had been traumatized by the military dictatorship and the Cyprus crisis. The fabrication of a new class of the non - privileged. The contradiction between socialism and nationalism, yet nationalism blended successfully into PASOKs ideology - the plasticity of nationalism. Main slogan of the Panhellenic Movement was PASOK is the People. Populism and nationalism- the fusion of people and nation - example of the cohesive potential of nationalism. 4. Post Cold - War Developments. Immigration and Nationalism. FYROMs name dispute. Greek - Turkish relations: the portion of the Aegean continental shelf; civil rights for the Muslim minority living in Greek - Western Thrace; Cyprus


Macedonian question the Greek perspective

Milena Milosevic

The beginning of Macedonian question can be traced at least back to the end of nineteenth century and Congress of Berlin, which turned ambiguously defined geographical region of Macedonia and its inhabitants into convergent point of different irredentist programmes. Needless to say, in that period, Macedonia was only one of the targets of Greek Megali Idea. The end of Balkan wars can be interpreted as the end of the Greek irredentist claims toward Macedonian region, since she got something more than a half of the region. Nevertheless, old claims will be reemerging throughout the twentieth century. As far as Greece is concerned, the most vulnerable point will be the treatment of Slav Macedonian minority during the Civil war. The declaration of independent nation state under the name Republic of Macedonia in 1991. inflamed the public opinion in northern Greece and created almost unique dispute between the two nation states. The whole question from the Greek perspective is being reinterpreted as a misappropriation of its ancient cultural heritage, but also as a hidden irredentist agenda from the side of FYROM. With their nationalist ideologies by definition formulated on the basis of national continuity (the new perception of time homogenous empty time (B. Anderson)), both Greece and FYROM use the same so-called pre-existing traditions to describe historical rootedness of their nations (split tradition). In Greek case, through racionalization of history (or invention of traditions (Hobsbawm)), heritage of Ancient Macedonia has been incorporated into the one of the Ancient Greece and ever since the emergence of Greek nationalism has been one of its main pillars. On the other hand, relatively recent Macedonian nationalism, also by definition, had to make appeal to some past, and it has chosen more or less the same parts of the one that Greece uses. Projection of nations, which are according to many theoreticians, modern creations, into a distant past, is a tool used by each nationalist ideology and its descriptive function (Benedict Anderson opposes objective modernity of nations in the eyes of historians to their antiquity in the eyes of its propagators). Antiquity of each nation is problematic (primordialists versus modernists) as well as the dispute about which of the nations is more ancient. Thus, the name dispute and Macedonian question cannot be explained in terms of rationality or functionality (Gellner). What more, it is more conducted between the ideologists caught in a trap of their own rhetoric (Kedouirie). Cypriot question In relation to the Greek nationalism, phase of Cypriot question before the establishment of Republic of Cyprus (1960) is related to the post-war revival of Megali Idea. In other words, although Cypriot leaders sought self-determination against British rule, they werent seeking independence. They were either seeking enosis (unification with Greece) or taksim (Turkish side wanted partition of the island and unity with Turkey). This aspect of nationalism within the island makes it more irredentist than anti-colonial; it matches the features of second generation nationalisms more than the ones from the third generation.

Once when it was established, Republic of Cyprus with its political organization (the idea of ethnic representation) had done more to preserve ethnic nationalisms on both Greek and Turkish side, than to overcome it through an efficient form of civic nationalism. Thus, motherland nationalisms (ideological dependency on national centers among both Greek and Turkish Cypriots) remained strong in the years after 1960 until the mid-seventies for Greeks (1974. coup staged by Greek junta led to Turkish military intervention and division of the island) and until eighties for Turks (at first, pleased by the salvation by their motherland, Turks began to experience its negative side effects). Since then, attachment to ethnic communities starts to be stronger and consequently new ideologies emerge: Turkish Cypriotism and Greek Cypriotism. However, convergence between them remains and hence mutual solution hasnt been achieved yet (2004. referendum). In Cypriot society deeply divided along historical, religious and ethnic divisions, shared myths and memories continue to be distinctive criteria of national identity, and any attempt of creating mutual loyalty to political institutions of Cyprus irrespective of ethnic origin (civic nationalism, Cypriotism) so far has proven to have marginal effects.

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