I woke up in Elladistan


Greek army personnel will be allowed to sew images of military patron saints onto their uniforms, according to a report in To Vima newspaper this week.

This is the latest in a series of interesting entanglements between Church and State in Greece under the ‘First Time Left’ government of Mr Tsipras and his far right side-kick Mr Kammenos.

I have complained a lot recently on this blog about the nationalist religious mania that seems to be overtaking the government after the re-election of Syriza-ANEL in September. This found expression both in education and in doing favours to the church in relation to capital controls. The disease is now spreading it seems.

What is actually the position of the church in Greek law? The economist in an article explaining the possible consequences of a left (ha!) government in Greece with an atheist (ha, ha!) as its head on the state-church relationship had noted the following. Severing the connection between church and state would presumably mean: i) stripping the Orthodox church of its constitutionally guaranteed role as the “prevailing religion” in Greece; ii) ending the arrangement where priests and many other people who work for the church are on the state pay-roll; iii) tidying up and in some cases sequestering the church’s vast and ill-defined property portfolio; iv) putting a stop to the prayers and confessional instruction which are part of the daily diet for almost all pupils at state schools; v) ending all tax exemptions for religious institutions.

Alas, the church had nothing to fear. With Mr Kammenos running the nationalist/orthodox bastion of the Ministry of Defence there is indeed little to be worried about, unless of course you are a Jew, or a Muslim or god forbid, an… atheist!

Is there a problem with saints on uniforms? To Potami (a parliamentary party) complained that after all the fuss about removing religious affiliation from ID cards, it is ridiculous that people’s beliefs will now be emblazoned on their army uniforms. I agree that it is ridiculous, but it goes beyond silliness, it is a gross violation of human rights. You may argue that the inclusion of the saint is voluntary, so it is not a problem? Sure, in the same way that opting not to have Christian Orthodox written on your ID card would lead everyone to ask every time you produced it, oh you are a Jew?

The Ministry of Defense replied with a press release that reads (see above):

«η ανακοίνωση που εξέδωσε το Ποτάμι για τις στολές των στρατιωτικών επιδέχεται απάντηση μόνο από τον Πνευματικό και τον Θεό τους, αν έχουν Θεό».

“The announcement issued by Potami about army uniforms deserves an answer only by their spiritual guide and their God, if they have a God.”

Mr Kammenos little antics are a violation of the ECHR, they are stupid, they are wrong, they belong in Iran, not in a European Greece. It is hilarious that it is the members of ANEL who fret about ISIS infiltrators arriving as refugees, while they are working full throttle to turn Greece into a theocracy.

Greece had to withstand 7 years of nationalist, religious, fanatical idiocy at the hands of the Junta colonels. Please gentlemen of SyrizANEL, spare us a re-run.




One thought on “I woke up in Elladistan

  1. Each time a population is severly hurted with the breakdown of it’s level of life, on any territory you can find on earth, the temptation to intrumentalize what remains untounched of it’s previous historical believes grow up. It’s a way to say “we still exist” for many desperated peoples, and a very good opportunity of rehabilitation for ideological defenders of all type of institutions, thanks to crisis. Religion believers know this effect for centuries : a good economic conjoncture enlarges tolerance and philosophy, a bad one offers radical manichean proposals a revival.
    Comparing France and Greek constitutions let clearly nail what is perhaps the unique societal huge rule the French can offer to all Europeans to study from them, after centuries of religion wars and xenophobia : secularity.
    Because secularity works as a very cohesive ciment, while everyone can believe in what he wants in his private mind, and defend the same right to others to be different from him in that respect. After the january attack against Charlie Hebdo several millions of French of all religions or of none were in the street not only because chocked or wanting to affirm the information freedom as crucial for a democracy, but also to show the impossibility to fragment national cohesiveness with religious hates.
    Just one party, Front National, has always tried to intrumentalize catholic saints as Jeanne d’Arc to grow up. No hazard with that : when you want to catch the power and own no serious politic proposal adapted to present situation, the simpliest thing to do is to promote the fantasm of a huge and glorious past to mobilize people. With a large preference for fighting historical figures.
    Really what happens in Greece in this association of military power and religious power has something to see with old Templar order of monk soldiers, or Teutonic knights.
    It’s simply the evidence that a society completely misses to invent adapted to times solutions when recalling completely out of use old institutions. And in all Europe, not only in Greece, you can observe stressing trends to focus on traditional local old believes, because all Europe is sick of its completely stupid decision making inefficiency to tackle the crisis : an intergovernmental confederation works hardly in good times, and never in bad times.
    Remember US secession war ! And now, look at the Schauble’s project of EU secession in two parts. Amazing point : it is in Germany you can find the first party’s name including a religious word…
    Last but not least : I fully support the idea that the greek government, in order to invert the perception of Greece in all Europe as a particularly high corrupted country, could give a good reply to lessons forgivers with a courageous constitutional reform.
    But to really recover prosperity, and then ideologic tolerance in all Europe, all european citizens aware that the gordian knot of their problems is the supreme structure of power, designed as a concurrent arena between States members and not as a responsible Democracy, have to use correctly and together in that goal huge levers : european citizenship, Fundamental Rights Chart, euro as a protective competence for all, aso.
    That’s why a network of modern civil society local movements, ready to support and participate to the Democratise Europe project is merging up. Please consider that La Vague citoyenne (the citizen wave) in France is looking for partners in that purpose.
    Friendly yours in european citizenship.


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