Πέμπτη, 1 Φεβρουαρίου 2018

Is Western Civilisation age-restricted?

After finding out that BBC posted nudity photos and video, or that was the opinion of Facebook, now youtube says that following video is age-restricted.

Age-restricted content
Some videos don't violate our policies, but may not be appropriate for all audiences. In these cases, minors or logged out users may not be able to view the content.

When evaluating whether content is appropriate for all ages, here are some of the things we consider:
Vulgar language
Violence and disturbing imagery
Nudity and sexually suggestive content
Portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities

So Western Civilisation is age-restricted? The Manchester Art Gallery incident points to that direction.

Δευτέρα, 29 Ιανουαρίου 2018


The Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes (YSEE) has written a very good presentation of the problem the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) causes to Greece. FYROM is called Skopje by the Greeks after its capital. Their language, which they call "Macedonian" is a Bulgarian dialect, which the Yugoslavians tried to make look Serbian as much as possible.
Press Release 345/15-1-2018
It is by now well known that the Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes (YSEE) is the organization representing the Hellenic Ethnic Religion and not a political organization or party. For this reason it doesn't get involved in political arguments nor does it partake in public debates stemming from pseudo-ideological polarities such as left - right wing politics, communism - fascism, nationalism - internationalism.
In matters of major national importance, though, like the one about the name of our neighboring country of Skopje, we are obligated to present the historical aspects of the issue, calmly and prudently, contributing in a solution that will not harm our national interests nor will it undermine our territorial integrity and the welfare of our future generations.
There can be no debate about the Hellenic identity of the Macedonians simply because the widespread Hellenization of the known world for at least two centuries after the death of Alexander the Great had the Macedonians at the forefront. This fact is well documented by numerous historical sources as well as innumerable archaeological finds. Thus any attempt to discuss the national character of the Macedonians under any pretenses and by anyone is by default at least suspicious.
The geographic area, that the whole debate is about, was named by the Romans as Macedonia Secunda, after their conquest; in the same way they named the entire Peloponnese as Achaea despite the fact that this was especially insulting to the Spartans. This was done as a purely administrative choice of a name for the wider area of modern day Skopje, in a time when the Slavs were nowhere near the Balkan Peninsula.
In the 19th century CE, while the Ottoman Empire was collapsing the Orthodox Russians after the treaty of San Stefano in 1878, provocatively pushed the creation of a Greater Bulgaria aiming to control the entire Balkan Peninsula and the temperate waters of the Mediterranean. In this Greater Bulgaria they incorporated areas of Macedonia that belong today to Greece as well as areas that belong to Skopje and Bulgaria. In all of these newly annexed areas preexisted strong and vibrant Greek communities. With the consent of the Turks they created the Bulgarian Exarchate in opposition to the Patriarchate and caused strife in the population of the area, because those that followed the Exarchate were considered automatically Bulgarian while those that remained with the Patriarchate were thought to be Greeks. The Patriarchate of New Rome and more so the Church of Greece which had its own shortsighted interests, equated Hellenic identity to Orthodoxy, in an effort to retain its influence on the populations of the area, managed to intensify the conflicts by considering as Greeks only those that followed the Patriarchate.
It was during this time that the ideological construct of "Macedonianism" which posits that the Macedonians are not Greeks, first appeared and the dialect of the bilingual Macedonians was dubbed "Macedonian" language.
Even after the Macedonian guerrilla clashes (1904-1908), the Balkan Wars and the final border agreement with the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913, the issue is continuously brought up at various times.
Before the Second World War, when the powerless Communist Party of Greece decided to become a member of the Communist International their Bulgarian and Yugoslavian counterparts demanded as requirement for its inclusion, to declare its agreement for the creation of an independent communist state with the name Macedonia which it would had incorporated the entire Northern Greece.
At the end of the Second World War the communist Yugoslavia was formed and Tito gave the name Macedonia to the southern part of his country that until then it was known as Vardaska. Tito was hoping that in the future a chance will present itself for the borders of his country to reach all the way to the Aegean Sea.
Unfortunately at the same time, Greece was embroiled in a bloody civil war, during which all governments were besieging the western powers for their support in the conflict. These western powers were unwilling to displease Tito and Yugoslavia in expectation that he will break his relations with Moscow that were not as cordial as other communist states. For this reason the Greek governments never officially complained while the international community was well aware that Tito by using the name Macedonia was aiming at the creation of a "Macedonia of the Aegean".
It was during this period that the myth of the ancestry of the people of Skopje from Alexander the Great was first created together with irredentist ideas that have unfortunately become the prevailing ideology with which several generations have been brought up. During the 1990's when Yugoslavia was being partitioned the rhetoric from Skopje, with support from the United States, developed a very aggressive character. The United States saw Skopje and the geopolitical space as a chance for further strategic control of the Balkans.
On the Greek side, the all-powerful Orthodox Church, still trapped in the mentality that Greeks are only those that identify as Orthodox, became part of the problem and further blurred the issue by organizing massive protests. Having wide coverage and unlimited access to the Greek media it supplanted the Greek state in the eyes of the Greek people. This is the same church for which the Roman Catholic Greeks of southern Italy, the Muslim Pontians of the Black sea and the Kalash of Pakistan are not part of the Greek Nation. Its rhetoric on the subject has nothing to do with any sensibility for the promotion and protection of Hellenism (which was always hostile to) but rather it is wasted in shows aimed for internal consumption and the creation of a wider political sphere of influence.
As for the Greek State, its government and most of its political parties, the sediment is that even a solution with a geographical qualifier that includes the name Macedonia will suffice as long as the matter is settled in a timely manner. This dismisses people of Hellenic ancestry that still inhabit Skopje and more blatantly ignores the anti-Hellenic propaganda and irredentist attitudes that certain circles coordinate that ceaselessly claim that the capital of Skopje is Thessalonica.
If the people of Skopje feel Macedonians they are automatically Hellenes and the only realistic solution to the issue will be the bilateral and peaceful unification of Skopje to Greece. If on the other hand they do not want to be Greeks and do not wish to be part of a unified state then let them chose a name that does not insult History, logic, and the aesthetic sensibilities of educated people around the world.
Considering the present circumstances the acceptance of any name with the geographical, temporal, or any other prefix that uses the name Macedonia (Northern, Upper, New , Slavo- etc) does not solve the problem but rather complicates it and postpones for the future any real solution with many negative consequences.

Πέμπτη, 4 Ιανουαρίου 2018

Greece's Gods and reporters' mistakes!


(There are no sacrifices taking place. Just offerings and libations. )
Hellenism — the ancient religion built around Zeus and his pantheon — was finally recognized by the Greek government in 2017. Here’s what its followers have been up to.

Sarah Souli
(Well there are some inaccuracies in the text.)
JAN—04—2018 09:09AM EST

It all started with some genitals. Specifically Poseidon's facsimile, plaster ones.
In April 1976, Augoustinos Kantiotes, a monk from the Greek Orthodox Christian sect in Mount Athos, penned a furious article “concerning the genitals of the pagan God and the shame of Athens.” Particularly incensed by a replica of the sea god Poseidon residing erect and nude at the entrance of the Ministry of Education, Kantiotes drove across Greece to take a sledgehammer to the statue. Guards were unable to control the single-minded frenzy of an Orthodox hell-bent on protecting Christianity, and Kantiotes succeeded in smashing the statue’s extremities.
(The monk's name who destroyed the genitals of a statue of Zeus at the entrance of the Ministry was Nestor Tsoukalas. Augustinos Kantiotis was a leader of a Christian fraternity that was so powerful that as a mere preacher he forced the newly elected Archbishop of Athens and whole of Greece to resign. The Archbishop was against Christian fraternities, because they immitated Protestant entities. Kantiotis was elected as an Archbishop of Florina five years later. )
“Why do they have the idol in the Ministry?” one reporter asked the monk after police apprehended him. “Do they want to restore paganism, as did Julian the Apostate?”
“No,” the monk retorted. “They will not succeed in that.”
Vlassis Rassias was a teenager when Kantiotes’ (Tsoukalas') act of vandalism hit the Greek news. “I got a hint that Christianity was something bad,” he told me. Now the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes (commonly referred to by its Greek acronym, YSEE), he is one of 2,000 active followers of the polytheistic Hellenistic religion Kantiotes (Tsoukalas) was so afraid of.
Ancient Greek religion, on which modern Hellenism is based, was a thousand-year polytheistic theology void of clergies and sacred texts. Devotees believed in 12 anthropomorphic gods — you remember Aphrodite, Hades, and their peers — under one almighty god, Zeus. Their sacred home was Mount Olympus. While proselytizing was completely unknown, atheism was rare, as the only requirement for ancient Greeks was to believe in the gods’ existence, and to perform in ritual ceremonies and sacrifices. They did not concentrate on the afterlife, as they did not believe in rewards or punishments post-mortem. Instead, they believed their dues would come in this life, and the relationship between deities and mortals was based on gift-giving.
(If one counts the Gods together, they are more than 12. 12 is the number of wholeness. They represented them as perfect humans, because humans cannot perceive something higher than an ideal representation of themselves. Mount Olympus is the highest Greek mountain so it was sacred for all Greeks as many other places, but all mountains and hills were sacred for the local Greeks. Priests are the representantives of the society towards the Gods and not the other way round as in Christianity. Proselytizing didn't make any sense. Philosophy is thinking over the afterlife.)
“Hellenism is something that supports life, and puts order to the beauty,” Vlassis said. Aside from having an encyclopedic knowledge of paganism, his duties as Secretary General include publicly representing the YSEE and coordinating any legal administration. “We have a different perception of gods. Whatever gives power to life is god, even death is god. Our perception of god is not an immortal person that does things to us.” He delivered this last statement with a chuckle.
(Gods do not need our food, drink, fragrances, etc. It is part of human nature to want to give presents.)
As Christianity began to forcefully spread in Greece, Hellenism declined. Historians point to the reign of Constantine II in the fourth century A.D. when Christianity became spread more earnestly, and prosecution against paganism began.
(Constantine II died three years after Constantine I and the latter was doing everything he could to preveledge the Christian Church and to harm the Ethnic Religions.)
In the centuries that followed, pagans were effectively wiped out from Greece. Today, Christian Orthodoxy is the official religion of Greece, enshrined in the constitution, and a fundamental aspect of Greek identity. But still, many of the things that are a source of pride and national identity for modern Greeks — architecture, literature, the Olympics, theater, philosophy, the very concept of democracy — comes from the ancient Greeks. But until this past April, worshippers were still, in a sense, discriminated against.
The YSEE was unofficially established in 1997, and is often presented as a totally modern representation of ancient Hellenism. While there were brief moments when Hellenistic believers did publicly worship, for most of Greece’s history the Orthodox Church has had a firm hold on the country’s religious identity. A firmly entrenched conservative and traditional institution, it has furiously spoken out against any pagans. “We are the modern point of a very long chain,” Yannis, a fifty-three year old geologist and modern Hellenistic believer told me. “There was no interruption to our religion, it just wasn’t on the surface of society. It went underground.”
Now, they are firmly — or at least, legally — in Greek society. On April 9, 2017, the Greek government officially recognized YSEE as a “known” religion, granting it the right to openly worship, build temples, perform marriages and funerals, and write their religious beliefs on birth certificates. It’s a huge legal step for the religion — until recently, the Greek state did not recognize any non-monotheistic religion, and even non-Orthodox Christian religions, like Protestantism and Roman Catholicism faced challenges. Greek Muslims are still struggling to build a mosque.
(Greek Muslims do have plenty of mosques in Thrace. Muslims in Athens are foreigners with no official status. As long as they have a job they are allowed to stay, but their status is not that clear.)

Modern Hellenism is often presented in today’s Greece as a kooky revival of an ancient, dead religion.
(Not only in modern Greece. There are many kooky professors in western universities that say the same crap.)
“Careful they don’t cut out your liver for sacrifice,” a friend half-jokingly told me before I went to the YSEE headquarters.
(How funny. Probably he heard somewhere that Prometheus was tied on a mountain and an eagle sent by Zeus ate his liver everyday. Well the eagle was killed by Heracles, so there is no need for human liver, funny guy. Prometheus is a God anyway and the reporter Mrs. Souli is a mortal, even if that fellow might think she is divine. A Greek renowned writer, philologist and literary critic Renos Apostolidis once published a book with the title "What the modern Greeks know about Ancient Greece". The book had only blank pages. The even funnier thing is that Christian Orthodox worship slippers, chestnuts and whatever was touched by some monks. Communists worship the mummy of Lenin and believe that it is possible that an earthly Messiah will fulfill all their needs and modern atheists believe technology will grant immortality to the human race. However if one tells them that, they will say one should respect other persons beliefs.)
The group has faced some harassment — in the 1990s, a bookstore was burned to the ground — and for years, the Greek Church decried the “satanic” modern Hellenists. But with their new legal status, they feel more secure, though some members do face problems in Greek society.
“A lot of people call me names, or they don’t accept me as their friend. Sometimes my teachers call me crazy,” fourteen year-old Aristomohos told me.
(The lad's name is probably Aristomachos, Aristomohos makes no sense. Well the priests tell the parents with whom their children should have relations and the teachers usually do not know more than there is in the coursebook. The teachers have professors who are not scientists or scholars, but just acquire their PhD somehow and then they continue earning money otherwise, making use of their titles. To become a professor one has to be approved by Church and a party; and both need obedient followers not competent professionals.)
His whole family are worshippers, and he loves his community, but navigating through high school with any small variation from “normal” is bound to be a difficult experience. Still, Aristomohos said, summoning the wisdom of his ancestors, “that’s their problem, not mine.”
(Aristomachos is right about them. Their problem is that they feel they live in an alien, evil world. So everybody is against everybody. Like the Beduin proverb with oneself vs. his brothers, him and his brothers vs. his cousins, him with his brothers and cousins vs. the world. )
Hellenism also remains a misunderstood religion. A few years ago, Greek fascists wildly missed the mark and were drawn to what they perceived as YSEE’s nationalistic identity.
(The Greeks hated tyranny and did everything to avoid it. Fascists and Communists want to follow a leader. )
“We don’t have the place to embrace totalitarianism,” Vlassis said. “The philosophy of ancient Greek religion is not compatible with fascism,” Peter, a 21-year-old economics student told me. He came to the YSEE headquarters to change the religion on his birth certificate — not because he necessarily believes in Hellenism, but because he doesn’t want to support the Christian Orthodoxy, which he views as “hypocritical… All the Nazis and nationalists I’ve seen are Christian.”
(Yes, totally true.)
This year, the Winter Solstice coincided with the Birth of Hercules on December 23. I was invited to witness the two-for-one ceremony, which celebrated both Hercules’ birthday and the slow return to summer. It took place in YSEE’s state-recognized temple, housed in a nondescript apartment building in Athens’ Museo neighborhood. Inside, a very normal-looking group of devotees milled about: a bodybuilder in a button-down, a lipsticked grandmother, a ten year-old girl adjusting her flower crown. The wine flowed freely, amongst plates of savory cheese pies and cookies. The curtains were decorated with garlands and crimson bows. “These are winter decorations,” Vlassis corrected me when I mentioned something about Christmas. “Jesus was born in the Middle East, he didn’t have wreaths.”

For the uninitiated, the visual packed less weight inside a low-ceilinged apartment then it would in the Temple of Delphi. As Vlassis pointed out, this was a religion created under the burning Mediterranean sun — fluorescent lights don’t do it justice. “Of course we prefer to worship in nature, but this is our temple. It’s more practical here,” Sophia, a 22-year-old priestess and criminology student told me. There are no plans to relocate — they’re just happy to finally have a state-recognized temple.
The half-hour long ceremony started with a slow procession of 12 priests dressed in flowing white (“the color that brings us closest to the gods,” Vlassis explained), carrying bouquets of flowers, dried nuts, and dishes of wine — all offerings for Hercules. One priest plucked away at a small harp; another beat a drum. The offerings were placed on one side of the altar, as a priestess unsheathed a knife and pointed it in four directions, while reciting a prayer in ancient Greek. “Onmyomen,” she said solemnly. (The phrase translates to “we promise before the eyes of god.”) In a synchronized movement, all the devotees placed their right hand on their heart and loudly repeated after her, nearly everyone in the room looking radiantly happy.
It felt a bit like stumbling upon a group of happily tipsy, open-minded people in really nice robes. There was a profound respect for other religions and cultures. Many of the members I met came to Hellenism through other “ethnic” religions — Vlassis studied Mayan and Native American religions, and Yannis practiced Chinese martial arts. Since they don’t believe in proselytizing, they couldn’t care less about indoctrinating new members. Instead, curious people show up voluntarily to the ceremonies, like an Australian PhD student interested in paganism who came for the Birth of Hercules.
But while the religion’s legalized status and increasingly mainstream place in society means there are more people peripherally connected to YSEE, paid membership dues have actually gone down in the last few years. Like every other facet of Greek society, the economic crisis has also touched the Hellenists, making it impossible for some devotees to afford the 60 euro yearly fee to become official members — though in the true spirit of Hellenism (and Greek hospitality), they don’t turn anyone away at the door.
“It’s a very beautiful feeling, being connected to the deities, to the aura of the world. We worship the order of the universe, and the world itself makes you feel like you are part of something bigger,” Sophia told me after the ceremony. She had taken off her priestess outfit, and was back in jeans. “It makes me want to be a better person. With Christianity I always felt like it was humans first and then the world. Now I feel like I am truly a part of this Earth.”

Τετάρτη, 29 Νοεμβρίου 2017

Greek Church ignores donors and victims

Here is the article in Greek with some attachment in Greek, however the following article is informative enough.
Church of Lesvos angers locals as it spends €100K earthquake donations in repair of churches
150,000 Australian dollars in donations were sent to Lesvos as aid for the victims of 6.4R earthquake last June. The local Metropolis decided, however, to spend the money in bricks for churches repair and not for humans in need. The outrage of the local community is big.

Diaspora Greeks in Australia generously open their wallets and responded to the donations call by the Metropolis of Australia for the victims of 6.4R earthquake in Lesvos last June. Many of the diaspora Greeks were originally from the island of Lesvos. The pictures of the devastated village of Vrisa touched them deep in their heart.

A couple of weeks later, the donations totaling 150,000 Australian Dollars, approximately 100,000 euros, were transferred to the Metropolis of Mytilini. However, the local Metropolis decided to not allocate the aid to the earthquake victims who lost their homes but to spend the donations for the repair of churches.

Rumors started to circulate on the island, local newspapers reported about the 150,000 AUD, the local Metropolis remained silent. Anger rose. Again and again the local media reported about the issue, some even posted the Metropolis of Australia call for donations for the earthquake victims.

The local church remained silent and so did the archbishops of Athens.

“Instead of allocating the aid to earthquake victims, the church is using the funds to reconstruct 23 damaged churches and chapels on the island,” athensnewsagency reported adding that on Friday, the Ephorate of Antiquities on Lesvos announced it had signed a contract with a construction company to support the Agios Nikolaos church in Plomari, which “was near collapse”.

Local media lesvosnews published a letter by the local Metropolis to the Metropolis of Australia thanking for the donations that will be used to repair the 23 earthquake-hit churches and 4 churches of the Metropolis of Mytiline. The letter is dated 13. October.

In its donation call, the Metropolis of Australia had urged the Greek-Orthodox to make a donation for the earth-quake “victims including the refugees.

Lesvosnews notes that apart from the two churches in Vrisa, no other church the Metropolis of Mytilene lists has suffered any damage. “And furthermore, the church repairs can be conducted with relevant funds from the Infrastructure Ministry.”

State broadcaster ERT published a letter by the cultural association of Vrisa residents of Athens to Metropolitan Iacovos of Mytilini. The Vrisa Association was asking for funds from the Australian gift to provide home heating for earthquake victims. The need is for “165 dehumidifiers and 70 portable heaters, totalling around 24,000 euros, as the Vrisa residents who lost their homes live in buildings only meant for the summer and have no heating,” the association said.

“Please, inform us if you intend to subsidise the purchase of these heating appliances using the funds sent by Greeks of Australia, as the purchase must be completed the soonest possible, with winter coming on,” the association’s letter concluded, attaching a list of the beneficiaries,” the Association letter adds.

So far neither the local Metropolis nor the Archbishop of Athens have responded to the letter.

The Greek-Australian donors are not happy about the relocation of the the donations for a holy purpose other than originally planned. “The call was clearly to collect donations for the earthquake victims, the people, who still suffer not being able to live in appropriate housing” a member of the Greek-Australian association told SBC Radio.

According to another local Lesvos media, Empros, the 150,000 AUD were sent on July 25th.

In July, the Pope donated 30,000 euros aiming to be spent to rebuild the school of Vrisa and another 20,000 euros for the repair of churches.

PS Apparently, the problem lies in the Greek semantics, where “earhquake-hit” (σεισμοπαθείς) is a noun used only in plural. The Metropolis of Australia wrote “earthquake-hit” in the sense of “humans”, the Church of Mytilene understood “earthquake-hit” in the sense of “bricks.”

Σάββατο, 21 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Religious fanatics protest Pessoa’s “The Hour of the Devil” in Thessaloniki


A group of some fifty people gathered outside the Aristoteleion Theater in downtown Thessaloniki on Wednesday evening in an effort to hinder the performance of play “The Hour of the Devil” by Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa. The religious fanatics and nationalists claimed the play is a “blasphemy” against Orthodoxy.
Holding Greek flags, banners reading “Orthodoxy or Death”, icons and even a wooden Jesus on the Cross, the fanatics claimed they were members of an organization using the name “Sacred Band” with reference to military troops in Ancient Greece and during the independence struggle against the Ottoman Empire.

They chanted slogans in favor of Orthodoxy and the Greek nation, sang the National Anthem and religious hymns. One of their main slogans was “Masons, get out of Greece.”
 “It is satanism a woman told me,” one of the protesters told reporters. Protesters claimed the play was showing Virgin Marycoupling the devil.
It was interesting to see among the protesters the self-proclaimed “Father” Kleomenis who called the play “blasphemy.” (Blogger's Note: Kleomenis is an Old Calendarist priest or Genuine Orthodox Christian priest. The official Church of Greece which is New Calendarist, announced that he isn't a member of them, but that's obvious.)

Kleomenis gained publicity a couple of months ago when he vandalized the Holocaust Memorial in Larissa. The Greek Church distanced from him saying he was not a priest, the prosecutor filed charges against the hate-preacher.

At some point they tried to approach the theater building. They were pushed back by police forces deployed outside the theater.

Well-known actor and protagonist Giorgos Hraniotis told local media “it is more than funny to see people protesting the play by Fernando Pessoa, it has nothing to do with satanism or similar practices.” He described the protest as “practices from the Middle Ages.”

“It is the first time I hear Pessoa was a blasphemist,” the play director said.

Members of the theater group said they have been receiving threats.

According to media, the para-religious, nationalist “Sacred Band” had attacked the Gay Pride in Thessaloniki earlier this year. Local media speak also of “nationalists organizations” and some call them “Christian-Talibans”.

Protesters did not reach their goal, the performance started as scheduled.

Nationalists website wrote about the play that it is “art in the service of the industry of darkness.”

The group plans to launch another protest today.

It is not the first time para-religious and nationalists groups protest outside theaters when they mind the plays insult the “sacred Greek ethics.”

Παρασκευή, 20 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Why did he do the exact opposite?

The prime minister who cultivated the mentality, that salaries are a human right and shouldn't be connected with productivity, ability, talent and knowledge. The prime minister who employed supernumerary public servants. The prime minister who funded 'problematic enterprises'. The prime minister, who lent money, never checked if they were invested and never asked them back. This prime minister had written an article telling following:

If Capitalism Can't, Can Socialism?

Andreas Papandreou has been Prime Minister of Greece since October, 1981. He is also the former Chairman of the Economics Department at the University of California, Berkeley.
In the following comments, excerpted from a longer discussion held in Athens with NPQ Publisher Stanley Sheinbaum and Editor Nathan Gardels, Papandreou offers some surprising observations on the virtues of capitalism and the limits of socialism.

Capitalism's Contradiction Is Socialism's

As a socialist, I am very familiar with the classical Marxist view that capitalism develops social structures, such as the private ownership of production, which hold back the advance of technology and productivity and necessitate social revolution. For Marx, this was the key contradiction of capitalism and the basis of the argument that socialism was historically inevitable. But quite the opposite seems to be true. The capitalist system shows impressive dynamism and changes the perceptions long held by Marxists about the waning future of capitalism.
Capitalism, far more than socialism, has produced new inventions from microelectronics to superconductors that are improving productivity in leaps and bounds. Paradoxically, Marx's prediction is more relevant to the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc than to the capitalist West. Centralized planning, strict party control and bureaucracy have in fact held back technological change.
Now, the Eastern bloc is going through changes that approach the dimensions of a revolution. Gorbachev is undoubtedly a long-awaited reformer. He is a very impressive personality with the huge task of decentralizing the Soviet economy and introducing the market as much as possible. His reforms are a recognition that there are aspects of the capitalist structure which can be ignored only at a cost.
One of these aspects, which I am prepared to accept myself, is that the consumer side of die economy is best organized by some kind of market mechanism. A price system can clearly allocate goods more effectively to the consumer than any kind of planning. Yet, I still believe that the downsides of capitalism, such as unemployment, are best tempered by planning on the capital accumulation and investment side of the economy.
So, I would have to give a new interpretation to capitalism's problems than Marx did. Capitalism is in a deep crisis not because it is blocked from development, but because of the self-destruction caused by its dynamism. On a global scale, capitalism has to be held responsible for the more nefarious ills of human existence. Inequality in the distribution of income is growing. Technological change is causing the worst kind of inequality - the permanent unemployment of millions of workers. Even in the rich countries, a large proportion of citizens live at the margin of society. Inequality has also grown between the advanced nations and the Third World countries.
The dangerous and unplanned exploitation by free enterprise of this self-contained ecosystem we call the planet Earth has produced pollution that is not only dangerous to human life, but to all forms of life. It is exhausting what this planet has to offer for humanity's long-run survival.
The buildup of weapons, in particular nuclear weapons between the superpowers, is not the result of just a bad president or secretary general but part and parcel of the system. Elaborating on this point, I think Gorbachev realizes the problem from his side. His peace initiative is part and parcel of the internal reforms. He knows he cannot improve the Soviet standard of living without the reduction of spending on nuclear arms and the military in general. It is not only a question of Gorbachev being a man of peace. Believe me, Gorbachev is a man of peace. But for him, arms reductions are also a matter of dire necessity for the socialist system.
Technological revolutions go hand in hand with periods of crisis. While I don't think the problems I've noted will be solved in the near future, capitalism's perennial crises tend to resolve themselves and move on. My emphasis in the course of things is primarily on the dangers of survival. Environmentalism, peace and citizen participation in all processes of managing the crises are the values which

socialists share. That is our role. In Greece, we place key emphasis on empowering our citizens through a structure of decentralized planning.
Redundant Keynes

When John Maynard Keynes developed the theory of "effective demand" in 1936, he provided the solution to the problems of unemployment and underconsumption within national boundaries. If consumer purchasing power was stimulated either by tax cuts or government priming the pump, that would get industry going again to supply the surge in consumer demand, and thus increase employment.
But the new international division of labor has changed all that If we stimulate consumer purchasing power here in Greece, we create jobs in Italy and Germany. Since we are members of the European Common Market and can't protect ourselves, our consumers buy Italian shoes of the best German cars, and cause a balance of payments problem for Greece. Today a Keynesian would run Greece into bankruptcy within a couple of years!
The United States has the same problem. For whatever reason, the product basket of American goods is not as appealing to the American consumer as the basket produced by Japan. Despite the steep devaluation of the dollar, the US trade deficit has not budged. Perception is very important. In Greece, we don't even think of buying an American radio or tape recorder. We look elsewhere, usually to Japan.
To keep up today, a country would have to produce goods that not only have a domestic market, but an international market. Without minimal global economic coordination Keynesian stimulation is like banging your head against the waft.
Europe as a whole recognizes this problem and realizes it must pull together to form an effective competitive unit, particularly in the new high-value added technologies. But everyone delivers well-documented speeches. Then decisions cannot be taken or strategies realized because the EEC, Mrs. Thatcher in particular, is not prepared to make the necessary investments.
Despite the general agreement to have a united European market by 1992, the EEC is headed for big trouble. Europe cannot be a global economic challenger unless it decides to invest what is required. The resources at its disposal, particularly the Value-Added Tax levels, are not anywhere near sufficient to meet the goal of being a united world class competitor. If we do not have a significant transfer of resources and technology from the north to the poorer south of Europe, then we shall not

have a convergence but a divergence in the European standard of living. This contains explosive dangers for the future. We may end up just creating one great unified market for Japanese goods.
Profits and Productivity

Among socialists, the notion of the welfare state has undergone some changes as we confront the realities of implementation.
We Greek socialists won our first election in October 1981. A friend in the business community came to me six months later and said, "We are facing a problem. Now that you have won, our employees are not interested in maintaining internal discipline in production."
If Greece wants a welfare state with health care, education and secure pensions, we must, at the same time, keep in mind the struggle for rising productivity. If we are to survive in this new international division of labor and production in which national competitiveness has become so fierce, we have no alternative. Unless this attitude is adopted by the working and middle classes, the consequences can be quite severe.
This does not mean we have an anti-labor attitude. But it does mean that without a very positive commitment of the labor force to improving productivity, we lose the battle.
As a mixed economy, Greece also needs more investment capital. We have experienced a "capital strike" from investors for over thirteen years. This was true even during the time of the colonels who gave investors everything they wanted. The reasons are varied; for example, Greek firms are traditionally highly debt-leveraged with equity levels of only 20%. We need to change that and we, a socialist government, are proposing the creation of a stock market.
Greece also has an overgrown public sector. Those who work in the public sector are the privileged workers of Greece. The dream of the average Greek is to be a salaried employee of the government. They have the highest salaries, pensions, medical care and good vacations.
We socialists didn't create this situation, the dictatorship of the colonels did. When we came to power, 90% of all services, from the airlines to banking and electricity, were government owned. Now we have approximately double the personnel required to produce the necessary government services.
Our situation is just like America's. You are stifling private enterprise because the public sector is overgrown. In Greece, our financial resources for investment are squeezed by the budget deficits of the public sector. It may take 10 or 15 years, but our difficult task as socialists is to get this sector under control and increase its productivity.
We are also paying more attention to the concerns of foreign businessmen as we try to attract foreign investment. Businessmen, of course, make many complaints against socialism. But, as a result of our experience since 1981, there are two complaints that I believe.
First, it is important for business to have the right to hire and fire workers. Businessmen say if they don't have this right, workers are not concerned about performing and productivity goes down as a result. This complaint obviously conflicts with the socialist notion of secure employment and is a delicate matter of policy. But I also must accept that there is something to the businessmen's concern.
Businessmen also complain that reinvested profits be tax free. I must give credence to this argument because our other policies have failed to produce new investors. We have been offering up to a 50% subsidy for foreign businessmen to establish operations in Greece. But we've had very few takers. A well known German financier told me bluntly, "We're not interested in subsidies. We are interested in profits."
The issue is profit, and it is an 'issue of the Greek economy's survival. Workers understand that. If Greece can't attract the foreign investment to finance our participation 'in the technological revolution, we are basically condemned to being a tourist country. Our young people will emigrate and we will have an old population here tending hotels.

Κυριακή, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2017

Ásatrú, the Old Norse pagan religion is the fastest growing religion in Iceland

The old Nose paganism is doing great in Iceland. According to figures from Statistics Iceland 3,583 people belonged to Ásatrúarfélagið, the pagan association, on January 1. The membership has grown by 244% since 2007, making paganism the fastest growing religion in Iceland over the past decade.
Pagans making a comeback after a millennium
The figures show that the share of Pagans in Iceland now tops 1% of the population for the first time for nearly a millennium. In the year 1000 Christianity was adopted as the national religion of Iceland by the Viking age commonwealth parliament, Althingi at Þingvellir. While it was still permissible to observe the old religion in private, the old pagan ways quickly receded in the face of Christianity. Now, 1000 years later the old Norse paganism Ásatrú is making a comeback.
Read more: Heathens against hate: Exclusive interview with the high priest of the Icelandic Pagan Association
On January 1 Ásatrúarfélagið had 3,583 members, up from 1,040 members one decade ago. At the same time as pagans have seen their numbers swell, the State Lutheran Church has seen its membership decline from 252,411 to 236,481, a drop of 6.3%. In 2007 82% of Icelanders belonged to the State Lutheran Church, but only 69.9% on January 1 2017.
While most of those who have left the State Lutheran Church have either joined other Christian churches or registered as not belonging to any particular religious denomination, Ásatrú has been growing rapidly. This despite the fact that the pagan association engages in no proselytizing or recruiting of new members.
No missionary work
Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, the high priest of Ásatrúarfélagið, told the local newspaper Morgunblaðið that he believes the reason is simply that more and more people are learning about what the association does and seeing their ceremonies.
"We hold more ceremonies each year, and I think more people are seeing first hand what it is that we do, and people like it. We don't engage in any kind of missionary work, but we do encourage people to come and join us if they are interested." Hilmar adds that all of their feasts are open to the general public.
Construction of new temple begins this spring
Ásatrúarfélagið has been working on a new temple in the southern slope of Öskjuhlíðin hill just outside downtown Reykjavík for two years, or since March 2015 when a ceremony was held to consecrate the ground where the temple will rise. Last year a ceremony was held to thank Mother Nature for the timber for the temple.
The actual construction work on the first stage of the temple a 400 square meter (4,300 sq ft) dome which will house 250 people, is scheduled to begin later this year. The temple is expected to be opened to the public in March 2018.