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Posts Tagged ‘US politics’

 

Damn I don’t like the “this is Sparta» logo with which  people sometimes identify Greeks or even Greeks identify themselves . First I don’t endorse and like nationalism of any kind and for any nation including mine. And secondly but most importantly MODERN GREEKS ARE NOT THE ANCIENT SPARTANS!!!! Spartans existed before 2,500 years (they were one of dozens different city states so just a small percentage of the whole ancient population) and we are so much Spartans as much as Mexicans are Aztecs or as much as French are Galois or as much as Swedes are Vikings…..no identification here only a distant connection decayed slowly through thousands of years ago. A connection almost entirely mythological now.

I would say if Americans want myths they should look elsewhere and leave Spartans in the silence and respect of history and to serious scientific historical analysis.   The movie was a paradigm of glorification of military virtue and skill and a projection of the present into the past not the other way around. In fact it is more a typical adventure American Hollywood movie than a document for an ancient Greek historical reality.  The movie had some gross historical inaccuracies or even outright grotesque lies although overall it refers to a real historical incidence and had some things right according to historians.

For the childish bullshit included in the movie like the depictions of known historical normal biologically persons as deformed monsters from a freak show, the use of elpehants and rinos and some imaginative monsters by Persians, the depiction of Xerxes as a drug queen with at least an ambigious sexuality and other stuff,  any one can check these links of articles by serious professors of history which are not against the movie politically and they just point these inaccuracies:

http://www.archaeology.org/online/reviews/300.html

http://www.nowpublic.com/entertainment/cathy-schultz-dispelling-hollywood-fiction-historic-reality

But the worst thing was the sneaky propagandistic concept of the movie through a strong implied message of a dichotomy among the good west/ and bad east where the freedom loving nice Spartans (where most westerners could easily identify themselves with) collide with the tyrannical and despotic Persians. Now doesn’t anyone have the feeling   that this movie is a metaphor for the conflict among US and Middle East? Isn’t also the timing of the release of the movie strange since we are not only in a period of Middle East war conflicts after US invasions but further  during that time the US went through the process of a possible conflict with Iran. Remember that Iran is geographically and theoretically the modern historical development of ancient Persia.   I think deep down the movie 300 reveals a secret identification of Americans with the Spartans as they portrayed them, which in fact is what Americans feel their military alter ego should be at these days of war, since US feel also under “attack” from “barbarous” forces after 9/11 and needs to reply with vigorous military power.  I had the impression that the Spartans of the movie, in a deeper level, were the Americans  of today. We can replace Americans with any citizen of any West country that identifies and agree with a strong “manly”  response to real or imaginative terrorist threat.

As in most cases the important things are not so much the distortions but the implied messages that are based on a hidden agenda and the truths left out and not showed as they should. And as always a half truth is like a full lie. Also to be fair we must say that according to almost all historian the description of Persian civilization just as plain barbarous is quite unfair, just read any book or source about it. By the way, despite the high symbolical meaning of the sacrifice by the 300 Spartans,  the Persians were finally defeated in later decisive battles by an alliance of most Greeks,that  included Spartans of course.

However it is normal for most modern people to identify with ancient Greeks since they were the defenders against the attackers (although ancient Greeks have been also attackers during their history) but mainly because the ancient Greeks were the only that have developed in those times notions like democracy, science and philosophy things very valuable for the history of humanity during the next millenniums.

But the fact kept hidden through the movie, a huge historical perversion, is that Sparta it was the opposite of the values of freedom and democracy and didn’t endorsed those values as other Greek cities –states. Firstly Sparta had never given any important contribution in science, philosophy or art and of course it had no democracy as a political system.  In fact it was a political fierce opponent of democracy and tried through its history to vanish democracy in all other Greek cities. Those times almost half of the ancient Greek cities had democratic political systems, including Athens which was the opposing pole of the power of Sparta, and the rest had various types of oligarchy.  Further all those cities conflicted and fought each other continuously in various complicated continuously changing alliances.

But the Sparta was  a unique historical example in ancient Greece. It was not just oligarchic but had a political system of an absolute state dominance. All its citizens were born and trained since 5 years old and until old age for all their life  to be excellent soldiers and serve Sparta. They never occupied a profession or worked in any way except training for fighting and go to wars, so  they spent all their time and energy  just to be better soldiers and learn to collaborate in battle. The state controlled completely every aspect of their life including birth, family and sex life –in fact they were given to the authority of the state since birth. They were all equal economically and socially by law and by tradition, except of their 2 kings, since everything produced by slaves distributed equally by the state to each citizen family (isn’t this sound strangely as communism). No one was in fact “allowed” to distinct himself socially, intellectually or in any other way except only in marshal skills, something quite logical when no one was exercising any trade, science or art but did only training for war.

There was no voting by the people for governing or legislating institutions, no real decisions and choices made by citizens individually or collective for their own lifes and of course there was no freedom of speech, in fact this concepts had no real meaning since it was unimaginable to talk anything other than about accepted traditions and perceptions that stood since ancestors times. Everything in life was strictly predefined by traditions and the ancient hereditary law (not the voted law that can be changed) and complete and blind obedience in  traditions was preserved harshly by the penalty of death or permanent expulsion from society for delinquents and dissenters. Sparta was the first ancient political experiment of a state fascism in history of humanity and in fact their social organization was the exact opposite of individual freedom.

Is this a paradigm to identify with the freedom loving democratic US that fights for “human rights” against “barbarity”? Hmm I think there is something wrong here. All these reveal either a secret desire of a part of the American elite of how their society would really like to be  or as usual and more probably they are creating mythological convenient spectacles for the average viewer who as they believe, is  easily manipulated.

We can further talk of course about the inferior position of women and about slaves but these were sins of all ancient Greek cities and I think of a lot of the ancient world back then. But Strangely women in Sparta had some more authority than in other cities (not of course any political positions but just some more influence in society, mainly through influence to their men) but this was just because men were almost always absent from their homes, since even in times of peace they lived all together in training camps (isn’t this sound somehow  gay he he). So women I suppose could do their things more easily without the fear of men.  We can add as  spice, the habit of Spartans  to train new warriors by hunting down and killing their slaves, a cruelty probably also unique in ancient Greece (to be fair those times cruelty  was quite common everywhere in ancient world but this specific kind is maybe above everything else known for this era).

For sure these people had  a high code of honor, discipline and faith in their city (which had the concept of  nation then) beyond any modern concept of discipline and faith and had really amazing ground fighting war skills (they were never so good in war navy skills though) but all these were not such a wonder for people trained since small kids and for all their life to fight together as a common body and soul. However the depiction of their fighting skills in the movie was one of the few almost completely true and historical accurate parts of it, enhanced of course with the classical Hollywood special effects.  But managing being the best possible soldier at such high costs I don’t think it really deserves all these sacrifices in a society and I think most  today’s person would agree with this.

Of course I have nothing against Spartans which this was just their way of existing and probably knew or wanted no other way than this, and after all these people are long dead and belong in history. And I really enjoyed the movie when I saw it since it had amazing scenes but for me it was more of a fairytale in most parts. The movie was a good adventure with excellent effects like a marvel comic’s movie of the kind of “the 4 fantastic” or “X-men”.  In fact the movie was based in a comic book series existing quite along before the movie.

But more importantly I did not fail to see the hidden agenda of the Hollywood script writers and concept creators that produced it, the so many untrue and misleading things in it and the projection of a specific modern American (or global) mentality throughout the movie. The problem is that US cultural production uses and abuses  history for its own political interests to create a modern mythology to suit  the US interests, far away of any kind of objectivity in history. And of course the abuse of history usually helps to brings further steps away from truth and fairness in our times.

I should add that also the other ancient Greeks had of course military training since every citizen was by default a soldier all his life and went to war quite often (Socrates fought more than 3 wars in his lifetime and I think this was the harsh reality for most ancient Greeks) but they also had normal lives and professions and didn’t not spend  all their lifes in military training like the Spartans. The interesting point is that during the numerous conflicts and wars among ancient Greek cities Spartans were not at all undefeatable, more than enough times they were leveled or even defeated by other Greeks (to be precise Spartans had been defeated or leveled few times on the ground and quite often in sea battles) by people who were in their life farmers, blacksmiths, orators and artisans. Strange life huh?  I am just saying these just for the ones who would admire the Spartans for their military skills and abilities and their possible undefeatable character. Because no one is for ever undefeatable and every kind of power perishes finally as history has always proven.

For a good (but long) political analysis of the film: http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/3918/

And for anyone care to learn about ancient Sparta which was a unique historical phenomenon there is an excellent lecture from a Yale professor in youtube



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There are some points worth mentioning in this speech Obama made after the pass of financial reform bill.

1. Almost all Republicans voted against!! Are all those people religious crack heads, rednecks and sell outs  to big corporations in order to deny even some minor and mostly insignificant  changes? I really would like to meet them and see wtf they are.

2. Of course Obama and Democrats are not the heroes of the working Americans. The bill is a work agreed by the financial banking elite that do understand that their excessive and chaotic power  is  a danger even for themselves and  it can bring  the whole system down  something that will finally destroy  also them. Further the  law is heavily amended and adjusted and away from its initial conception and intention to try to really control the banking industry even partially. The bill is a massive document of 2,300 pages and has many loopholes. No real separation of banking and investing activities (like it was happened in the Glass-Steagall Act).  People can check this legislation that passed during 30’s after the huge financial crisis that triggered a long depression in US and was gradually abolished completely during 90’s, as a power conflict among government and banking industry with the final winner the banks.  The bill  just limits some activities in derivatives not abolish them at all (they even give to banks 7 years!! to adjust in these few limitations), it demands from bankls to increase slightly their safety capital requirements but give them  again 5 years!! to adjust to this change.  It does not link the pay of their traders and top executives to long-term performance that every one shouted about. I think bankers themselves would be stricter to their own kind. The articles that discuss critically the reform bill are plently  in the internet and reveal the real nature of this reform bill.

3. There will be regulators that would oversee the big banks but regulators are just people that can be bought out, intimidated or being unable to do their job. If someone could check the corporate law of US I think it accounts for thousands of thick volumes. There are armies of well paid lawyers by Wall Street that would exploit any loophole or legislative window. And I believe all legislations are written to have loopholes and maybe the loopholes are more important and lucrative than the laws themselves. Maybe many times a law is written to create a loophole and not the other way around, who knows. I wonder if  anyone have thought about that and it sounds funny now I think of it  but maybe it is a bitter truth of modern life. Overall the real political and institutional power of big banks left intact so nothing really change in essence in the overall structure  of US economy. Big banks will still be too big to fail and to powerful to be under any real control.

4. Obama is just a great orator. He is not a savior or a protector of people, he couldn’t be even if he wanted. No one can really protect the people except themselves through their activities and free thinking. Still Obama is not just a puppet and a staged actor of the powerful at least this is what I would like to believe. I sense that this guy has some genuine concern for the average person and this is just my instinct or maybe my wishful thinking.  But  the point is that he don’t have the real institutional power to overcome the real political power of the money elites.  He is someone that is chosen to be the public image of massive power centers that operate and sometimes collide behind the scenes. He and his speeches are just a symbolic representation of this real power struggles and processes that are taking place in Wall Street and corporate top executives’ offices and top public officers’ bureaus. So the amount of comprises he has to take is really enormous leaving no space for any real radical changes and probably he knew that from the beginning. So he is not the great agent of real change and neither a hypocritical puppet, he is mainly an actor, an agent that plays the compromising role of the pubic image and communicator to the general population of  those colossal power structures that decide about and shape the American  life and policies. But overall I believe he  is really a good guy and not just someone playing a role, at least after judging by his past before presidency.  He also probably has  enough genuine compassion for the average person considering the fact that he was, before becoming the president,  an educated middle class American and not a member of the enormously wealthy elite like Bush.  He is a good guy although he can not really deliver any real radical change (and of course he knows that). Maybe I am a little romantic here or naive but it feels good to think that there are some good guys left especially in the top stratums of the society.

This article below is also a very interesting and realistic critique of the US financial reform bill

Finance-bill-A-mountain-of-paper-a-molehill-of-reform

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