HELLENISM AND GLOBALIZATION

05/02/2017

“Dreadful are the masses when governed by malignant demagogues” (Euripides’ Orestes 772)

There comes a time when every thinking human being concludes that life, for the most part, is a series of disillusionments. Truly enough, our gradual disenchantment of our world begins in childhood as we strip toy after toy of its novelty; then comes the disenchantment of our elders, to be later followed by that of the material world, which eventually culminates in the very demystification of ourselves. And all that, because everything seems to crumble and collapse before our eyes, as perhaps one day will the very planet. On contemplating, therefore, that everything about us is temporary we may be led to fatalism and to a feeling of futility in everything we do.

All civilizations and religions of our world have flourished around this existential insecurity of ours and our need for a solid point of reference in a world where everything is in perishable flux. Meanwhile, despite the grandeur of many ancient civilizations, most of them have proven just as perishable, as their nucleuses were not able to survive the onslaught of time. This is so because they were founded on the volatility of the material world and the worship of monstrosity. However, over two millennia ago there surfaced a civilization built on the eternity of things and humankind's participation in infinity, since man summarizes and represents the world both materially and spiritually. And whilst everything flows, Greek civilization is imperishable, because its nucleus is nourished with the incessant study and quest for beauty and truth and whose focus point is the human being. Through this quest, the intelligentsia of this civilization interpreted everything poetically and humanely, establishing the axiom that everything is in perpetual movement without a beginning and without an end and that the forms that comprise the universe are assemblages of a unifying force called Eros (from the particle er- which is used in Greek to mean 'stimulate'). Eros is propelled by the desire to combine elements that are of opposite, yet compatible, nature so that harmony (joining) may be established, that is to say, the absolute synthesis within which all living creatures may thrive. The greater the differences between the compatible elements, the greater the attraction and therefore the healthier and stronger the Harmoi (joints).

Hellenism is in itself a golden harmos between all the systems that once flourished or were to flourish around it, because it recognized the primary importance of Eros and that man is the only living creature that functions as an harmos mediating between the material and spiritual worlds. It is this axiom that renders Hellenism as the sole spark to rekindle any Renassaince/Rebirth leading to human excellence in both science and the humanities as it did 600 years ago in Northern Italy, consequent to the Greek scholars streaming there from Byzantium during the Ottoman expansion.

As members of this anthropocentric civilization we may boast greater lucidity and optimism in that there is no futility as, through our human experience, we can discern eternity in an ever-evolving world through our relationship with the enduring values ordained by the ultimate uniting force. Through the prism of Eros we acknowledge that beyond our basic survival, what really matters is our Eros-like desire to connect with the material and spiritual elements that produce happiness; and that this is only achieved through all the forms of love, health, physical and mental activity, the warm embrace of family and society and the institutions that secure all these elements; that is to say, justice, democratic aristocracy (from 'aristos' - he who excels) and philosophy. Only as adherents to these values can we lead a prosperous and happy life, as they comprise a civilization conducive to human development.

In the present era of globalization all these values are being threatened because there are forces at work stripping the planet of both its economic and cultural diversity. In fact this trend is gaining an ever-increasing number of supporters as on the surface the idea of a "global village" strikes the most whimsical chords of utopia amongst the naïve and the incapable of processing history, civilization and human nature through their imagination. They simply do not understand that behind the whole scheme essentially lies the homogenization of everything under the lowest common denominator of human manipulation and exploitation in every field. This holds true simply because in a homogenized world there will be no differences for any kind of harmonious synthesis, for devoid of dissimilarities Eros is rendered impotent, based on the rule that "opposites attract, whilst parallels repulse each other."

Therefore, globalization does not mean a natural fusion of compatibly opposite elements, but rather an indiscriminate "mixing" of elements whose motley product produces anything but harmony. The outcomes of such fusions are readily evident in the ongoing clashes between incompatible cultures, mentalities and religions which have left untreatable wounds in various regions. Renowned are the unpleasant consequences of multiracial and multi cultural melting pots in societies like those in the United States of America. At this point it is worth our while to once again refer to American thinker and writer Henry Miller, who expressed his doubt as to the course of his country by stating that "The Western world, we say .... jumping from the Middle Ages to the discovery of America, as if this bastard bloom on the North American continent marked the continuation of the line of true development of man's evolution."

And truly, there, in the absence of harmoi between compatible opposites, after a day's work, people withdraw to their private spaces to shelter themselves from the dangerous ill-assorted elements that act unrestrainedly and that manifest themselves in various malignant forms. Snipers, who perch themselves on rooftops and indiscriminately shoot innocent passers-by and gangs which terrorize city neighbourhoods sing loudly of a very unsafe world. Consequent to all this, the abstinence of would-be active citizens from public affairs leaves their environment defenseless against uncontrolled economic systems which expand like gluttonous cancer cells. What's worse is that their expansion develops beyond the borders of their origins, hence the process of globalization.

Such economic systems are rooted in unchecked materialistic consumption, the latter of which thrives within socially withdrawn human masses that must fill the void of their loneliness subsequent to their quest for 'privacy' through their acquisition of material goods. Populations that delve in traditional ways of life offering the warmth of healthy social hearths pose an obstacle to the expansion of such systems, simply because material wealth is not in their priority. Such ethnically oriented economies hinder the growth of voracious financial organizations by not allowing the natural wealth of their regions to be exploited by a foreign power. To deal with such obstacles, these 'carcinogenic cells' grow tentacles functioning as mixer blades that uproot these societies and add their pieces to the globalizing melting pot. The foreign policies of the U.S.A., which are centered exclusively on these carcinogenic financial systems, methodically and selectively stir tension and military conflicts in various regions that drive populaces to emigration forcing them to mix with others. In this manner not only do the societies of the immigrants dissolve, but also the cultures of the countries that host their overwhelming numbers. If we consider that the development of a civilized culture demands centuries of fermentation within stable societies (just like must requires time in a steady environment to brew into good wine), the drastic demographic shifts of the latest decades produce the opposite result, that is, cultural disintegration.

Once the conditions for ethnic mixing have been secured in the various regions, a process of intellectual and cultural homogenization begins through the international mass media. The billions of dollars spent on satellite communications and the American film industry are now bearing fruit, as, via the catalytic effect of moving images (especially on impressionable youth), they establish predictable social and political attitudes and behaviour. Through spectacular films and television series, age-old traditions and historical facts are altered to comply with what is "politically correct" as opposed to what is humane and historically accurate. Viewers are intentionally discombobulated as to what is good or evil or as to who the hero is as opposed to the antihero so that demoralizing messages may be conveyed so as to dilute the ethical values and the national identities that once comprised the cultural diversity of the planet. For example, a confused as to his political convictions and his sexual preferences Alexander the Great and a Ptolemy who narrates the former's story closing with the phrase: "Oh what harmony! The mixing of the races!" define the desired measure for globalization.

In this manner muffled are the voices of resistance against the impending new order of things. Sceptics who oppose the degeneration of their national hearths, traditions and languages are characterized as quaint, nationalists, extreme rightists and racists and even capable of turning into terrorists. Truly enough, we are traversing an era where 'ist'-suffixed words have acquired epidemic dimensions and terrorize people with the idea that someone might label them as such. In Greece, for instance, the phrase "I am not a racist, but......." echoes throughout the country as people are hesitant to express their true exasperation regarding the plight of their societies, which within a decade saw both crime rate and domestic insecurity skyrocket due to an unprecedented influx of foreign immigrants. Meanwhile, the opportunists of the mass media industry avail themselves of the chance to raise the ratings of their broadcasts and adopt conflicting roles that cause greater public confusion. On the one hand, they rush to report the crimes committed by illegal aliens, while on the other hand they condemn the locals accusing them of xenophobia and racism against what they euphemistically call "economic immigrants."

The truth is that the immigrants themselves are not to blame as much as the conditions provoked by the "globalizationists" that drive the former out of their homes. Unfortunately, what naturally follows are the frequent extremities by locals, as they react against immigrants pretty much the way white blood cells react against viruses that invade their organism (which in itself states that discrimination is a natural phenomenon wherever there is a forced fusion of incompatible elements). Meanwhile, there are those anti-racists who raise banners against discrimination and organize human rights demonstrations, yet often resort to anarchy and violence to be heard. In other words, a vicious circle of insecurity and violence is perpetuated from all sides, which, in the long run, makes people seek refuge in the privacy of their homes. What follows is the desired state of public apathy and withdrawal that will in turn allow a carcinogenic-like consumer-oriented society to take root and expand around "home entertainment centres". Αt the end of the day, the irony is that racism is essentially practiced by the proponents of globalization who create the conditions that breakdown national identities for their homogenization.

At this point one would be justified in saying that just as "a river never flows upstream" there is no turning back. Humankind has laid out its course and all that it entails. We could also resign ourselves to the situation and become more cynical on contemplating that since so many forms of life and civilizations have come and gone, why should we be an exception? Isn't it about time, since our world has grown old anyway?

Even if it is so, if we retrieve Pandora's myth in our memory, we can take a stance against fatalism with the spirit of Hope that was released when that curious woman opened the box. On harmoscopizing conditions, we will need to make a collective effort to save the Hellenic Harmos from disintegrating, since it has always served as a point of reference for that which is imperishably beautiful and true. To achieve this, we need to look back on the time of our youth, ancient Greece, and reclaim all the elements that we have lost to the winds of time. We must stop studying ancient Greece that gave birth to the aforementioned values leading to happiness as an entity foreign to us, as its spirit lives on in our tongue and many of our traditions. Meanwhile, we should not reject our historical roots in fear of being marked as bigoted nationalists, but actually invest in them (just as should any nation invest in the elements that could make it young and culturally productive again). At the same time we should not allow ourselves to regurgitate our forefather's glory without proving worthy of its perpetuation.

Besides, things were not always full of roses in antiquity. From the Peloponnesian wars until the civil war of the 40's, we have made many mistakes from which we must learn. Let us select only the positive elements and incorporate them in our daily lives.

It has not been long since we joined the macabre dance of globalization. The memory of what we have been is still fresh; and although there are degenerating forces everywhere, even in our various governments (as it is evident in our "memorycidal" educational systems) the timeless values are grafted in our living Greek tongue. In the West, the Greek language and its literature are only studied academically and are therefore greatly distanced from reality. Conversely, a Greek who develops a conscious awareness of his speech can truly feel the semantic nuances within the works of Homer, Plato, or Aristotle, since they are more closely related to the Greek idiosyncrasy and the modern language; just as only one who has been raised to the sounds of Eros, Agapi, Philia, Storgi and philotimo can truly interpret a New Testament correctly, since it is imbued with these concepts.

Delving in all this, we may once again emit light for misguided humanity and avert the carcinogenic expansion of globalization. If we cannot convince the rest of the world of the primary role of Eros and Harmony in the universe, we can at least try to continue as a golden mean between the conflicting forces around us by resisting the incompatible elements that want to infiltrate the Greek Harmos. If we retain our healthy social contact and interaction through our conscious use of language and traditions, we will avert our absorption into a 'global village' of idiots (from Greek idiotes = private person).

(The above is an excerpt from Panagiotis Zachariou's book "Harmoscopesis," published in 2005)