REFLECTIONS ON THE AFTERMATH OF THE CELEBRATIONS FOR THE 200th ANNIVERSARY OF 1821

The anniversary year 2021 and the celebratory events organised during it are now over. In the difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic, the planning of events was mοderated and the final celebrations were reduced. Nonetheless, a revival of historical memory has taken place and further opportunities for reflection have been created. Let us hope that we will use this anniversary in order to reflect deeper on the origins of the fighting spirit for freedom of our long-enslaved ancestors and also that we will draw essential messages for the future course of our country. Ιn the following paragraphs, we will present some of our own reflections.

            The strongest message of 1821, as already identified by the first National Assemblies and promoted throughout the revolution, was the demand for the creation of a Greek state independent of the Ottoman Empire. This demand gradually upset the balance of power between the mighty countries of Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Τhe Greek demand was finally accepted in 1828 thanks to the diplomatic initiatives of Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias. The modern Greek state, crammed into a few of the Greek regions, was constantly looking for opportunities to expand into territories which were still subjugated. It finally succeeded not only in its expansion into a sizeable geographical area, but also in its homogenisation. The modern Greek state was founded on democratic principles, as they had been determined by the decisions of the National Assemblies of the revolution (such as citizen rights, universal suffrage and non-recognition of nobility titles). However, the way that today’s Greek citizens treat their own state is a cause for concern. Since the citizens are the ones who elect the government, it is self-evident that they have an obligation to accept and observe the laws that are voted in Parliament by their representatives, the members of Parliament. The right of personal choice in the observance or not of state laws or their misinterpretation cannot be justified. These obligations are becoming particularly relevant in the present difficult phase of the pandemic, in which a significant part of the population objects to the implementation of the legislative measures for protection against the pandemic.

            The modern Greek state was finally founded thanks to the pressure, military and political, exerted by the three great powers (England, France, Russia) on the weakened Ottoman Empire, in recognition of the great sacrifices of the Greeks during their long revolution. Consequently, Greece was ruled for many decades by politicians belonging to one of the three parties. The first rulers of the modern Greek state were largely dependent on the three great powers and were promoting some of these countries’ policies without, of course, dismissing national ideals. The introduction of a Constitution by King Otto, after the uprising of the Greek people on September 3, 1843, significantly mitigated these dependencies. Finally, in the place of the three foreign parties that were ruling until then, gradually and little by little, personal parties were created. Politicians provided services to their local representatives who in turn influenced significant groups of voters. Despite the modernisations imposed by the ideological currents that flooded the European continent during the last century, in Greece we have not been able to create parties of principle with substantial and active participation of the party members in the selection of their executives and leaders. This applies not only to the parliamentary parties but also to all the groups that are active in the self-governing structures of the state.

            The above-mentioned reflections lead us to the following conclusions and proposals: The democratic operation of the parties, without of course being a panacea, can significantly reduce the disobedience of the citizens to the institutions of the state. The more directly citizens participate in political events, the more they feel consciously obliged to implement what is decided at a higher level. The distancing of governments from their pre-election promises and the autonomy of their members of Parliament fuel the voters’ distrust and the tendency for disobedience.

            In our area of ​​Mani, these situations are more promiment, mainly in the few existing structures of the wider public sector. The traditional patriarchal family compositions and the local military and political rallies that prevailed before the revolution of 1821, have evolved over time and have left strong imprints throughout the two centuries of the modern Greek state. Some of these characteristics keep appearing to this day and do not easily allow the synthesis of needs on a unified, reliable and universal basis, a condition that is a prerequisite for successfully moving to a higher -executive- political level. The homogenisation of demands and the democratic and meritocratic election of local representatives could be a safe path to the effectiveness and prosperity of the region, as our heroic ancestors/fighters of 1821 would have wished.

                                                                                               THE EDITORIAL BOARD

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