Electoral workers prepare ballot boxes in a warehouse in Thessaloniki on July 2, 2015, ahead of a controversial bailout referendum. Greece's radical left government suggested it would resign if it fails to get its way in a make-or-break referendum July 5 that could decide the country's financial future.   AFP PHOTO / SAKIS MITROLIDIS        (Photo credit should read SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Electoral workers prepare ballot boxes in a warehouse in Thessaloniki on July 2, 2015, ahead of a controversial bailout referendum. Greece’s radical left government suggested it would resign if it fails to get its way in a make-or-break referendum July 5 that could decide the country’s financial future. AFP PHOTO / SAKIS MITROLIDIS (Photo credit should read SAKIS MITROLIDIS/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sunday 5th July the Greek people will vote on a non – existing issue, whether we accept or not the proposal of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, a proposal that is no longer on the table, as the framework for the agreement, the second agreement between Greece and her creditors, has expired on the 30th June 2015.

But absurdity is not the issue here. The issue is that we Greeks live in a society where discourse is dead. Democracy is also dead. The new government claims to be democratic, but I have serious doubts. The European Union claims to be democratic, but they do not convince me. Words no longer have meaning, it depends on what you are going to vote . Language is split, people are split. And this split is between good and bad, and this may not be a temporary split.


What follows is an imaginary dialogue of two Greek citizens, one is identified as a «YES» voter, and the other as a «NO» voter.

Bu there is a catch.

Each voter is not an individual, but a member of a set.

There are two sets.


Set A is the set of individuals who will vote  ‘YES’.

Set B is the set of individuals who will vote ‘NO’.

Therefore, in each turn of the dialogue, we may have different members of each set participating. I will not try to identify ‘who is who’. It does not make sense any way.

The format of the dialogue is very simple. Each set member (voter) in turn makes a statement. There are no interruptions. I will freely comment on the statements, using the identity of «CHORUS». This is the result of exercising some sort of a poetic license, and it therefore totally arbitrary. In addition, I claim to express my personal views and therefore I have the responsibility for these views. Unfortunately, in spite of my best efforts, I could not convince Moses to give me the secret of receiving instructions from God. I have climbed many mountains without success. At the same time, my recent trip to Delphi was also fruitless. No God was willing to speak to me, and the priestess on duty treated me with silence.


There is another catch.

There are various ghosts who participate in the dialogue. No one can prevent ghosts from intervening.

Political prisoners.

«CHORUS»: Even if Hellas does not fall the big fall today, she will remain dangerously close to the edge of the abyss for a long and unknown period of time.

«YES»: I will vote «YES».

«NO»: I will vote «NO».

«YES»: You are an  opportunist!

«NO»: You are a traitor!

Prime Minister Gounaris with other officials in Minor Asia, 1921. Gounaris was executed in Goudi, on the 15 November 1922.

Prime Minister Gounaris with other officials in Minor Asia, 1921. Gounaris was executed in Goudi, on the 15 November 1922.

CHORUS: Memories of the 1922 Minor Asia Disaster emerge. At that time traitors were the leaders of the Greek Government and Army and their supporters and followers, who were accused and executed as being responsible for the disaster that ended the presence of the Greeks in Minor Asia and Western Thrace. What remains from this period in the imagination of the Greek people is the word ‘Goudi’, the Athenian suburb where the ‘traitors’ were executed following a brief trial. You, Greek voters, you need to decide on who the traitor is! There can be no resolution of this conflict without a clearly identified traitor side! This can be resolved with the use of the State machinery, State is by definition coercion.


«YES»: You are a Communist Bandit! You are against the Nation!

«NO»: You are a Quisling! A cooperator of the Germans! A black marketeer!

«YES»: The Nazi party of ‘Golden Dawn’ is your partner in the ‘NO’ vote. What are you talking about?

«NO»: You cannot escape from grim reality: you are the new ‘partners’ of the modern Nazi, the Merkel – dominated European Union.

«CHORUS»: The statues are not the ruins—we are the ruins (Giorgos Seferis)

Τα κεφαλια του Βελουχιωτη και του Τζαβελα στην πλατεια των Τρικαλων το 1945

The heads of Aris Velouhiotis and his lieutenant Tzavellas, in the square of the city of Trikala, 1945

CHORUS: Memories of the 1945-1949 Civil War are still alive. Back then, it was the communists who formed an army, the Democratic Army, and took control of mountainous territories of Greece. Against them was the newly formed National Army, with English and American support. Whereas during the Occupation by Axis forces (Germans, Italians, Bulgarians) the Greeks were united, most of them under the umbrella of the National Liberating Front (EAM), including the communists, when the Civil War broke, the Communists became isolated. People who fought the Germans under the wings of EAM, joined the National Army and fought against the Communists.The Communists were expecting – or their leadership had said so – support and help from the Soviet Union, which never materialized. Stalin remained faithful to the Yalta accord and abandoned the Greek Communists.


«NO»: I want justice.

«YES»: Get real! Justice exists only among equals! Fight for something you can achieve!

«CHORUS»: How easy it is for desperate people to follow the leaders who promise to them everything they do not have, only to be bitterly disappointed later.


«YES»: We must find a way to work with the Europeans. They are the best option for Greece. Who else? Putin?

«NO»: We must show them that we do not succumb to blackmail.

«CHORUS»: When you have a knife on the table and instead of slicing your steak you stick it into your guts like Mishima did, you get a sense of belonging to the «beyond», verging on megalomania (George Veltsos).

Kader Attia, Ghosts, 2007

Kader Attia, Ghosts, 2007

«Ghost1″: Greek people, vote «YES»!

«YES»: George Papandreou, you are one of the people who brought the country where we are today. How dare you?

«Ghost2″: Greek people, vote «YES»!

«YES»: Kostas Karamanlis, you are one of the people who brought the country where we are today. How dare you?

«Ghost3″: Greek people, vote «YES»!

«NO»: With this wonderful show of ghosts we have secured the win!

«CHORUS»: Ghosts, Ghosts, we live in a country full of Ghosts!!! Not only they are still alive, they do not let the living take positions in the political process. The ghosts keep the political process hostage. The ghosts occupy vital space. We need to get rid of the ghosts! But how!


«YES»: The SYRIZA government and Tsipras have failed the country. They are incompetent and have totally screwed up the negotiations. For five months they were just fucking about, playing the «catch me» game with the creditors. Shocking and childish. People who voted for SYRIZA in January 2015 are now voting «YES».

«NO»: The government and Tsipras stood their line. What you say is propaganda of the power mongers and the rich.

«CHORUS»: There is no longer discourse in the country of Socrates. People do not speak, they make announcements. People do not listen to what the other is saying. They only listen to the echo of their own words.


«YES»: If we win, and we will win, Tsipras and his government must resign on Monday and a National Unity Government should be formed.

«NO»: You are the agents of anomaly! The Tsipras government were elected in January 2015 and they will stay in office for 4 years.

«YES»: This would be the case, if they were not totally incompetent. Now that they have almost destroyed the country, they must leave.

«NO»: Dream on! Political anomaly will not be allowed!

«CHORUS»: How sad one feels to see that people cling on to power without regard for the implications of their actions.


«NO»: We will win!

«YES»: We will win!

«CHORUS»: «Win win» as the Americans call it, but how good a win is, when society is full of hatred? How good a win is, when the country continues to be run and represented by the guard that brought it up in flames? When the hope of January 2015, Mr. Tsipras failed miserably in his first (and may be the last) major challenge?








on razor’s edge…

Δευτέρα, 15 Ιουνίου, 2015

athens-flag_1538667i επί ξυρού ακμής = στην κόψη του ξυραφιού…

on razor’s edge…

Greece is on razor’s edge.

The fact that Greece is bankrupt is not only the result of the «hubris» of the Greek State, the Greek politicians and, inevitably, Greek society. No matter how much they wanted to borrow money in order to spend and spend and spend, they would have not been able to do so unless someone lent them the money.


The Greek State, the Greek politicians, and the Greek society at large did not build a creditworthy profile on their own. Greece became a member of the Eurozone on 1st January 2002.  Without this membership there would have not been any of the huge loans made to the country.

Back in 2009, one of the architects of this mess, Kostas Karamanlis, had the courage to announce that he fucked up and that the country is in deep trouble. Nobody listened. The paramount issue in the other politicians’ minds was to capitalize on this rare instance of honesty and directness.

George Papandreou won the 2009 elections and propelled the already bankrupt country into receivership.

The problem is that Papandreou did not have the guts to find a solution. He found the easy way out. Complete surrender to the IMF, the European Union, and the European Central Bank.
watermarked-amr_diab_nammos_mykonos_18-8-2013_065-600x359The so called troika came to Greece and implemented an austerity program that could not have worked even in a healthy economy.

Five years later, Greece is a destroyed country. And there is no future in sight.

There is a new government in Greece, led by SYRIZA, a left-wing party. But since they were elected in January 2015, they have done very little to give even an indication of a solution in sight.


Instead they have wasted huge amounts of time trying to arrive at a «honorable» compromise with Greece’s creditors.

Greece has no future as things are today. The debt cannot be paid back. The economy is in shambles. The State is a huge mechanism that spends money and produces very little. The tax regime is flawed and discourages any investment. The judicial system is antiquated and ineffective.

It is not only the economy. It is a lot more.

The problem with Syriza is the key problem of the Greek society.


They want to use a magic wand to rectify the problems of the past without paying any price. The price in this case is the Greek State. Ironically enough, the Greek State, the edifice built by the Americans after the Greek Civil War of 1945-1949, has been the primary instrument of the populist governments which ruled Greece. An instrument of power, control, and absolute neglect of any rules of an open economy. In this respect, Greece has never had capitalism. Greece always had (since 1945) State Capitalism.

We all know that in real life there is not magic wand.


Syriza are so much dazed by the vision of the rejuvenation of the corrupt and inefficient State, that they forgot to try and find a solution to the Greek problem.

They have been repating the non-sensical statement that Greece belongs to Europe, but have not elaborated a policy to address the crisis of the country.

Today we find ourselves yet again on razor’s edge, with the creditors trying to push Syriza in a corner «take it or leave it». More taxes will be applied if the creditors have it their say, taxes to be paid by the usual suspects, the pensioners and the salaried citizens, who have no ability to paid all these additional taxes, let alone the ones already in place.

Replicating George Papandreou’s lazy approach (let the others do the work, I only bring them in), Syriza have discovered that this only lets the fox in with the chickens.


Too little too late.

The irony is that it is not only Syriza who have no plan whatsoever for Greece to recover. The same applies to all the other political parties. Firstly and mostly New Democracy, led by Mr. Samaras, who today screams that Greece is going back to the Drachma. The fallacy of accepting the Euro as a given is the capital offence committed by Mr. Samaras. Of course he is not the only one.


And the people?

We have reinvented «Deus ex machina» and named her «Pride».

No more than that.

Just so that I do not give to the reader the impression of criticism without any view on what to do, I believe that Greece does not belong to the Eurozone and we should get out. The sooner the better.

One might ask «what is the plan? are you prepared?» and so on.

Given what has already happened in the country, both as a result of the creditors plans and the plans of the local politicians, one might be tempted to follow the well-established Pirandello plan.

«Tonight we improvise!»

But this would be unnecessary. The potential pitfalls and risks are known. It does not take a genius to put things together. All that is needed, is something we have not had in the last 40 years. The desire and determination to achieve a collective goal that will eventually improve our situation, without having unreal expectations.


A lamb offal dish for daring souls

Κυριακή, 3 Μαΐου, 2015

Spring time is a good time to cook dishes with lamb offal.

I buy lamb which less than one year old, and weigh no more than 12 kilograms.

Of course you can buy offal separately if you wish.

The most typical dish we cook is a lamb offal soup the night before Easter. I like this dish, but I wanted to try something new this time.


Lamb offal - marinated and ready to cook

Lamb offal – marinated and ready to cook

So  I marinated the offal (liver, lung, heart, sweetbreads) in red wine and oregano just to moderate the strong odor of the material, and then diced it finely.

I prepared a mix of fresh onion, fresh garlic, parsley, dill, fresh oregano, pickled hot peppers and placed it in a big pan with olive oil, salt and pepper. If you like, you can add some sultana raisins for sweetness and pine kernels for texture. After the greens started sweating, I threw in the diced offal and let it cook for about five minutes. After that I took the offal out of the pan, added the juice of one lemon to the mix (it needs the acidity to counter the intensity of the offal) and slowly reduced the liquids of the greens so that the mix is juicy with being runny.

In parallel, in a pot I prepared sticky rice with salt and added at the last minute of big dollop of butter.

Lamb offal with sticky rice and yogurt

Lamb offal with sticky rice and yogurt

I served the rice and offal in separate partitions of the plate, and added some strained yogurt because it adds a feeling of smoothness which I enjoy after the encounter with the intensity of the offal. The red bits that you see on the plate are chili pepper flakes.

Lamb offal - detail

Lamb offal – detail

The rice and yogurt work well together to enhance and promote the offal, which dressed in its green glory is hot, aromatic and powerful. The tricky part of the dish is the offal – greens ratio. Too little offal and you have a warm funny tasting green salad. Too little, and you are over powered by the offal.

Monemvassios 2006

Monemvassios 2006

I served the dish with a red wine from the area of Monemvasia on the Peloponnese, called «Monemvassios 2006«. It is a blend of St. George’s red and Mavroudi. I liked its balance and moderate intensity.




The definition of «arete» by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics

Τετάρτη, 18 Φεβρουαρίου, 2015

Eduardo Chillida, Competition - Harmony

Eduardo Chillida, Competition – Harmony


We often talk about «arete«, or «virtue«, although the latin-based word is not coveying the full meaning. As it happens in these cases, we all use the same word, but each one has potentially a different understanding or interpretation of it.

Having just finished reading Plato’s «Meno», I was reminded of the definition of «arete» by Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics, and its interprpetation by the French-Greek philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis.

There are at least three major issues to address.

First of all, whereas Plato in Menon is so keen to arrive at a definition of virtue, it appears as if this is a strictly theoretical exercise. Aristotle, on the other hand, claims that the issue is «how to act».

Then we have the question of whether virtue is knowledge or a habit, whether it can be attained and acquired by rationality or by perception.

Finally, there is the question of the context of virtue.

I will proceed to quote from the text in the Greek original of the Nicomachean Ethics, then give the translation in modern Greek, and then provide a translation and/or interpretation in English. For the modern Greek translation I will use the translations available in the «Gate of the Greek Language» (reference 3), and on some occasions my translation. The «standard» english translation I will use is by William David Ross (reference 1).

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Picasso

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Picasso

Why define «arete»?

Ἐπεὶ οὖν ἡ παροῦσα πραγματεία οὐ θεωρίας ἕνεκά ἐστιν ὥσπερ αἱ ἄλλαι (οὐ γὰρ ἵνα εἰδῶμεν τί ἐστιν ἡ ἀρετὴ σκεπτόμεθα, ἀλλ᾽ ἵν᾽ ἀγαθοὶ γενώμεθα, ἐπεὶ οὐδὲν ἂν ἦν ὄφελος αὐτῆς), ἀναγκαῖον ἐπισκέψασθαι τὰ περὶ τὰς (30) πράξεις, πῶς πρακτέον αὐτάς· αὗται γάρ εἰσι κύριαι καὶ τοῦ ποιὰς γενέσθαι τὰς ἕξεις, καθάπερ εἰρήκαμεν. (1103b, 25-30)

Επειδή λοιπόν η παρούσα φιλοσοφική μας ενασχόληση δεν έχει ως στόχο της, όπως οι άλλες, τη θεωρητική γνώση (η έρευνά μας δηλαδή δεν γίνεται για να μάθουμε τι είναι η αρετή, αλλά για να γίνουμε ενάρετοι ― αλλιώς δεν θα είχε κανένα νόημα), είναι ανάγκη να εξετάσουμε το θέμα «πράξεις», με το νόημα (30) «πώς πρέπει να τις πράττουμε» ― αυτό, φυσικά, επειδή από αυτές εξαρτάται και το τι θα είναι τελικά οι έξεις μας, όπως το έχουμε ήδη πει. (3, μετάφραση Δ. Λυπουρλής).

Since, then, the present inquiry does not aim at theoretical knowledge like the others (for we are inquiring not in order to know what virtue is, but in order to become good, since otherwise our inquiry would have been of no use), we must examine the nature of actions, namely how we ought to do them; for these determine also the nature of the states of character that are produced, as we have said. (1)

My comment: Aristotle makes it quite clear from the beginning that his inquiry aims at determing how to act. His focus is not theoretical knowledge, but real life and what we do in it.

Eduardo Chillida, Barcelona i

Eduardo Chillida, Barcelona i

Definition of (moral) «arete» 

«…ἀρετὴν δὲ λέγομεν ἀνθρωπίνην οὐ τὴν τοῦ σώματος ἀλλὰ τὴν τῆς ψυχῆς· καὶ τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν δὲ ψυχῆς ἐνέργειαν λέγομεν.» (1102a, 15-20)

Όταν αναφερόμαστε στην ανθρώπινη αρετή, εννοούμε την αρετή της ψυχής, και όχι του σώματος. Και η ευτυχία εξάλλου είναι ενεργούμενο της ψυχής.

By human virtue we mean not that of the body but that of the soul; and happiness also we call an activity of soul. (1)

Διορίζεται δὲ καὶ ἡ ἀρετὴ κατὰ τὴν διαφορὰν ταύτην· λέγομεν γὰρ αὐτῶν τὰς (5) μὲν διανοητικὰς τὰς δὲ ἠθικάς, σοφίαν μὲν καὶ σύνεσιν καὶ φρόνησιν διανοητικάς, ἐλευθεριότητα δὲ καὶ σωφροσύνην ἠθικάς. (1103a, 3-7)

Και στην αρετή διακρίνουμε δύο είδη: διανοητική αρετή, όπως είναι η σοφία και η σύνεση, και ηθική όπως είναι η γενναιοδωρία και η σωφροσύνη.

Virtue too is distinguished into kinds in accordance with this difference; for we say that some of the virtues are intellectual and others moral, philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical wisdom being intellectual, liberality and temperance moral. (1)

«Διττῆς δὴ τῆς ἀρετῆς οὔσης, τῆς μὲν διανοητικῆς τῆς (15) δὲ ἠθικῆς, ἡ μὲν διανοητικὴ τὸ πλεῖον ἐκ διδασκαλίας ἔχει καὶ τὴν γένεσιν καὶ τὴν αὔξησιν, διόπερ ἐμπειρίας δεῖται καὶ χρόνου, ἡ δ᾽ ἠθικὴ ἐξ ἔθους περιγίνεται, ὅθεν καὶ τοὔνομα ἔσχηκε μικρὸν παρεκκλῖνον ἀπὸ τοῦ ἔθους. ἐξ οὗ καὶ δῆλον ὅτι οὐδεμία τῶν ἠθικῶν ἀρετῶν φύσει ἡμῖν ἐγγίνεται·» (1103a, 14-19)

Δύο είναι, όπως είδαμε, τα είδη της αρετής, η διανοητική και η ηθική. (15) Η διανοητική αρετή χρωστάει και τη γένεση και την αύξησή της κατά κύριο λόγο στη διδασκαλία (γιαυτό και εκείνο που χρειάζεται γι’ αυτήν είναι η πείρα και ο χρόνος), ενώ η ηθική αρετή είναι αποτέλεσμα του έθους (και το ίδιο της το όνομα, άλλωστε, μικρή μόνο διαφορά παρουσιάζει από τη λέξη έθος). Αυτό ακριβώς κάνει φανερό ότι καμιά ηθική αρετή δεν υπάρχει μέσα μας εκ φύσεως. (3, μετάφραση Δ. Λυπουρλής).

Virtue, then, being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit, whence also its name (ethike) is one that is formed by a slight variation from the word ethos (habit). From this it is also plain that none of the moral virtues arises in us by nature; (1)

Eduardo Chillida, Zabaldu

Eduardo Chillida, Zabaldu

Definition and interpretation by C Castoriadis

«Ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ ἀρετὴ ἕξις προαιρετική, ἐν μεσότητι οὖσα τῇ πρὸς ἡμᾶς, ὡρισμένῃ λόγῳ καὶ ᾧ ἂν ὁ φρόνιμος ὁρίσειεν». (1107a, 1-5)

An almost literal translation of this definition in English would read like this:

«Virtue, then, is a habit or trained faculty of choice, the characteristic of which lies in moderation or observance of the mean relative to the persons concerned, as determined by reason, i.e. by the reason by which the prudent man would determine it.»

Ross translates it as follows: «Virtue, then, is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.» (1)

The French-Greek philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis in one of his seminars (2) has provided a lucid interpretation of Aristotle’s definition, and I would like to share it as I consider it brilliant and illuminating.

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Aime Maeght

Eduardo Chillida, Homenaje a Aime Maeght

«Ἔστιν ἄρα ἡ ἀρετὴ ἕξις προαιρετική»

Είναι λοιπόν η αρετή μια συνήθεια απόκτημα ελεύθερης επιλογής

Interpretation: Arete is an acquired inclination, which we do not have since birth and we follow and exercise by choice. Castoriadis discusses the possible use of the word «habitus», but opts for inclination instead, to emphasize the active element of the word, as opposed to the rather passive nature of «habitus».Not only arete is an inclination we acquire during life, but we acquire it by choice, not because we were forced to by dire circumstances. Arete is exercised by choice, and cannot be forced.

Eduardo Chillida, Aundi II

Eduardo Chillida, Aundi II

«ἐν μεσότητι οὖσα τῇ πρὸς ἡμᾶς»

που βρίσκεται στο ενδιάμεσο των άκρων που καθορίζουμε εμείς οι ίδιοι

Interpretation: Arete lies in the middle ground between extremes, in a context defined by our condition. The middle ground is not necessarily an arithmetic mean or median, and the extremes are not universal or all encompassing, but are defined in the context of «our» condition, and have no meaning without it. The community enters the definition with the «our», and shatters the strictly individual focus usually attached to arete.

«ὡρισμένῃ λόγῳ καὶ ᾧ ἂν ὁ φρόνιμος ὁρίσειεν».

και προσδιορίζεται από τη λογική που καθορίζει ο φρόνιμος άνθρωπος

Interpetation: Arete is determined by impersonal reason and defined by the man of prudence, which is the ability to reason well within the real conditions of life.

Eduardo Chillida, Zedatu IV

Eduardo Chillida, Zedatu IV

Navigating the middle position

Being in the middle ground, between two extremes, is not an easy task. And attaining the proper position is a matter of perception rather than of reason.

«Τριῶν δὴ διαθέσεων οὐσῶν, δύο μὲν κακιῶν, τῆς μὲν καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν τῆς δὲ κατ᾽ ἔλλειψιν, μιᾶς δ᾽ ἀρετῆς τῆς μεσότητος, πᾶσαι πάσαις ἀντίκεινταί πως·» (1108b, 15-20)

There are three kinds of disposition, then, two of them vices, involving excess and deficiency respectively, and one a virtue, viz. the mean, and all are in a sense opposed to all; (1)

«(20) Ὅτι μὲν οὖν ἐστὶν ἡ ἀρετὴ ἡ ἠθικὴ μεσότης, καὶ πῶς, καὶ ὅτι μεσότης δύο κακιῶν, τῆς μὲν καθ᾽ ὑπερβολὴν τῆς δὲ κατ᾽ ἔλλειψιν, καὶ ὅτι τοιαύτη ἐστὶ διὰ τὸ στοχαστικὴ τοῦ μέσου εἶναι τοῦ ἐν τοῖς πάθεσι καὶ ἐν ταῖς πράξεσιν, ἱκανῶς εἴρηται. διὸ καὶ ἔργον ἐστὶ σπουδαῖον εἶναι.» (1109a, 20-25)

That moral virtue is a mean, then, and in what sense it is so, and that it is a mean between two vices, the one involving excess, the other deficiency, and that it is such because its character is to aim at what is intermediate in passions and in actions, has been sufficiently stated. Hence also it is no easy task to be good. (1)

«ἀλλ᾽ ὁ μὲν μικρὸν τοῦ εὖ παρεκβαίνων οὐ ψέγεται, οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ τὸ μᾶλλον οὔτ᾽ ἐπὶ τὸ (20) ἧττον, ὁ δὲ πλέον· οὗτος γὰρ οὐ λανθάνει. ὁ δὲ μέχρι τίνος καὶ ἐπὶ πόσον ψεκτὸς οὐ ῥᾴδιον τῷ λόγῳ ἀφορίσαι· οὐδὲ γὰρ ἄλλο οὐδὲν τῶν αἰσθητῶν· τὰ δὲ τοιαῦτα ἐν τοῖς καθ᾽ ἕκαστα, καὶ ἐν τῇ αἰσθήσει ἡ κρίσις.» (1109b, 20-25)

The man, however, who deviates little from goodness is not blamed, whether he do so in the direction of the more or of the less, but only the man who deviates more widely; for he does not fail to be noticed. But up to what point and to what extent a man must deviate before he becomes blameworthy it is not easy to determine by reasoning, any more than anything else that is perceived by the senses; such things depend on particular facts, and the decision rests with perception. (1)


(1) Αριστοτέλους, Ηθικά Νικομάχεια. [ed. J. Bywater, Aristotle’s Ethica Nicomachea. Oxford, 1894] translated by William David Ross. I own the «Oxford World’s Classics» 2009 printed edition.

(2) Κορνήλιος Καστοριάδης, Η Ελληνική Ιδιαιτερότητα, Τόμος Γ”, Θουκυδίδης, η ισχύς και το δίκαιο. Εκδόσεις Κριτική, Αθήνα 2011. Please note that the Castoriadis book is in Greek, and the translation into English is mine. In addition, I have not used Castoriadis’ statements verbatim, but with a sense of poetic license.

(3) Πύλη. Αρχαία Ελληνική Γλώσσα και Γραμματεία. Αριστοτέλους, Ηθικά Νικομάχεια

Following my earlier post on the January 2015 parliamentary elections in Greece, I would like to add some more thoughts regarding the second elections (March/April 2015) and the political implications for some of the political parties.

Paul Klee, Red Baloon, Guggenheim Museum, New York

Paul Klee, Red Baloon, Guggenheim Museum, New York

First of all, it is quite interesting that as we approach the 25th January, political parties and analysts alike seem to be certain that there will be no second elections. I emphasize this because it seems to me to be the epitomy of shortsightedness and hypocricy.

In order to make it appear that SYRIZA will be able to form a government, all of a sudden they are no longer the bad kids on the block. They could be right in some things, they mean well, and so on. All of these are abstract generalities of no substance, and most important there is no discussion on the political positions of the parties and the interests and concerns of the electorate. Now we are told that the electorate does not want second elections. A few weeks ago we were told that the electorate did not want any elections.

Paul Klee, The Sublime Side, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee, The Sublime Side, MOMA, New York

We are told by the Minister of Finance that if SYRIZA gets elected, our creditors will consider giving Greece an extension of two months to wrap up the troika moratorium, provided that Greece asks for it. Today this reads more like a six month extension.

All of a sudden PASOK, POTAMI and ANEL – not the Communist Party, Golden Dawn and New Democracy – are open to discuss cooperation with SYRIZA.

Paul Klee;, Flower Garden, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee;, Flower Garden, MOMA, New York

One wonders why PASOK, POTAMI and ANEL are extending a week before the election a hand of cooperation to SYRIZA.

SYRIZA, on the other hand, seem to be fully aware of the fact that their only chance of governing Greece is the 25th January 2015. If they do not get absolute majority alone or with another party they will never govern the country.

It seems to me that this change of attitude and behaviour is not genuine, but a diversion.

The parties are for different reasons appearing as cooperative and supportive of a coalition government including SYRIZA for two basic reasons. The first is that they want to divert attention form some internal developments and the other is that they want to attract more voters, by appearing as cooperative.

Paul Klee, Actor's Mask, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee, Actor’s Mask, MOMA, New York

Let us consider each of these parties, starting with PASOK.

PASOK faces serious problems. IThe formation of George Papandreou’s new political party will take many votes away from PASOK who already suffered catastrophic results in the Euroelections of 2014. A bad result (below 7%) will have major impact on the party and may lead to its disappearance from mainstream politics. This leads the leadership of Mr. Venizelos to attempt to position PASOK as the guarrantor of a coalition government and even suggest to the voters that in order for a coalition to be strong they must vote for PASOK, so that it becomes the broker of a stable cooperative effort to govern the country. This reminds me of Genscher’s Free Democratic PArty in Germany. The attempt is clear, but in my view it will remain an attempt. PASOK lacks the credibility to become the broker of a coalition government in Greece. Not only that, the position of Mr. Venizelos in the party after the 25th January 2015 is questionable. It is most likely that Mr. Venizelos will step down from the presidency of PASOK.

POTAMI are equally eager to convince the voters that they are so nice and polite guys that they will do whatever it takes to form a coalition government, provided of course that it does not go against their political programme. This opportunism is working in favour of POTAMI as they appeal primarily to undecided voters from the right to the left, who do not want to vote for the two main contenders, New Democracy and SYRIZA.

Paul Klee, Around the fish, MOMA, New York

Paul Klee, Around the fish, MOMA, New York

Something similar is also said by PASOK. We will cooperate, provided that our political programme is respected.

POTAMI threw in yesterday a variance of the coalition position. They said that they may not participate in a SYRIZA-led government, but they will give it a vote of confidence, provided that their conditions will be met.

ANEL, the party led by Mr. Kammenos, is the only one of the three that maintains a steady position. They say that they have major differences with SYRIZA but, they are equally opposed to the memorandum of Greece with the «troika» creditors and threfore will discuss with SYRIZA the formation of a government. Mr. Kammenos is playing a smart game. He knows very well that the only political capital he has is his opposition ot the memorandum and he is trying to cash in on it by piggybagging on SYRIZA’s win. The catch is that in spite of all good intentions, S?YRIZA and ANEL combined will not have enough seats to give the needed vote of confidence to a new government of Greece.

Paul Klee, Glueht Nacht, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Paul Klee, Glueht Nacht, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

The party of George Papandreou continues to be in the twilight zone between 2% and 3%. If things remain the same, he will not have any seats in the new parliament. But I believe that he will eventually get more than 3% of the national vote. Mr. PApandreou is not very vocal about a coalition with SYRIZA, he is very busy trying to re-establish his reputation as a politicla leader who cares for the people.

I have tried to give some explanations of the recently expressed strong desire by some of the parties to form a coalition government with SYRIZA, following the 25th January elections.

As a similar positive turn has occured amaong political analysts and journalists, I can only say that they relaised that scaremongering is not going to have an effect and decided to «keep their enemy closer than their friend».

Paul Klee, Tropische Daemmerung, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Paul Klee, Tropische Daemmerung, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Interestingly, they do not discuss the most likely outcome of the elections, which is that we will have a second round of elections following the election of the new president of the Hellenic Republic. But I will not elaborate on this, there is no need. We will soon know what will happen, without the help of the esteemed analysts.

I would like now to rurn to one of the implications of the elections of the 25th January and the failure to form a government, leading to a second round of elections. I think there will be major implications in the party of New Democracy. More specifically, a change in leadership.

All moderate politicla forces inside and outside of Greece will come to the conclusion – if they have not already done so – that the regime of Mr Samaras is over. He did what he could, but his time is over. The damage his policies inflicted on the people is so big that he cannot continue being the leader of the conservative party in Greece. A change is needed at once. Luckily for the conservatives, there are many candidates for the job. As an example, the daughter of ex-prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Dora Bakoyanni.

Paul Klee, Zeichen in Gelb, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

Paul Klee, Zeichen in Gelb, Beyeler Foundation, Switzerland

She is well educated, experienced in politics, she is moderate in her politics and has a strong following.

I do not want to elaborate further, as the key point I am trying to make is that there will be a change in the New Democracy leadership. Whoever is the new leader, will have a tough job ahead of her/him.

Following the change in leadership, New Democracy will have to work hard to re-build bridges with political forces of the center and form a coalition government. It will not be easy, but as I wrote in my earlier post, I believe it has quite a good chance for it to happen.

Parliamentary Elections in Greece – January 2015: The Outlook

Τρίτη, 6 Ιανουαρίου, 2015


The coalition government of New Democracy and PASOK led by Mssrs. Samaras and Venizelos did not survive the three rounds of voting for the new president of Greek Democracy. As a result, on the 25th January 2015 the people of Greece will vote to elect the members of the Greek Parliament, who in turn will vote for the new President of the country and form a new government.

As we approach this critical date of parliamentary elections, I consider it pertinent to embark on building some scenarios for the results of the elections and what will follow.

There are two major events that will follow the parliamentary elections.

The election of the new president of Greece and the nomination of a new government.

The Greek Parliament has 300 seats.

In the vote for the new president, there will be a maximum of three rounds.

In the first round a majority of 181 votes is required. If this is not attained in the first round, the second round can elect president with 151 votes. Should this not be attained, the third round elects a president with simple majority.

In order to form a government a party or coalition of parties needs to get a minimum of 151 votes in parliament.

At first I will present the political parties who I think will get more than 3% of the vote and secure seats in the parliament.

Following that, I will proceed to build various scenarios. These scenarios are grouped in two groups. The first group refers to the January elections, whereas the second group refers to the potential second elections in March/April.

The outlook is presented as a set of outcomes, ranked by their probability of occurrence.

I conclude the post with some remarks on the tactical and strategic implications of this analysis.

Part II is published as a separate post, and focuses on some aspects of the «coalition formation processes and attitudes», as well as potential developments following the January elections.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Color Planes 5

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Color Planes 5

The political parties

New Democracy

Orientations: Center-right, Right, Populist-right, Extreme-right

Leader: A. Samaras

Current status: Following two and a half years in government, New Democracy have made the fatal error of trying to cut the umbilical cord with Germany and the IMF too soon. In spite of that, having received many smacks on the face, they continue in my mind to be the favourites of Germany and the IMF. They will most likely not win in the January election, but this does not necessarily mean that they will not eventually govern again.

Outlook: I estimate they will get between 25 and 30 of the national vote and will be the second party after SYRIZA.


Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left, Left, Extreme-left

Leader: A. Tsipras

Current status: SYRIZA was a marginal party of the left in 2008 when the financial crisis started. In the elections of 2012 they got more than 20 % of the vote and all of a sudden they became the opposition leaders. Today they claim the leadership of the country, having attracted many of the PASOK voters who feel betrayed by the current leader Mr. Venizelos. Their leader, Mr. Tsipras has polished his ways and is more moderate in his statements compared to previous years. In terms of policies, SYRIZA want to renegotiate the huge debt of the country. Whether they can do it is another story.

Outlook: They will get between 30 and 35 percent of the national vote and be the first party but they will have less than 150 members of parliament.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray and Blue


Orientations: Fascists, Extreme-right, Right

Leader: N. Mikhaloliakos

Current status: The Golden Dawn is no longer comamnding percentages around 10%, but they continue to be strong, and over 5%. However, they are isolated by all other political parties and thus they will not be able to influence the outcome of the elections, unless they exceed 5% by a significant margin.

Outlook: They will get between 4 and 6 percent of the national vote.

KKE – Communist Party of Greece

Orientations: Communists

Leader: D. Koutsoumbas

Current status: Nothing is more stable and more predictable in Greek politics than KKE. They follow a solitary road for many years now (since they formed a coalition government with other parties in 1989). No surprises here. They will definitely not support SYRIZA under any circumstances.

Outlook: They will get between 4 and 6 percent of the national vote.


Orientations: Right, Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: S. Theodorakis

Current status: This party was formed a few weeks before the European Parliament elections of June 2014. They do not have any political agenda, and this will hurt them in the elections. Being unashamedly opportunistic and branding a nice smile does not get votes in a destroyed country. Many analysts predict that POTAMI will be the third strongest party in the elections, but I seriously doubt this.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, and Gray


Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: E. Venizelos

Current status: PASOK is today a party of the past without any future. the formation of a new party by Mr. G. Papandreou was in my view PASOK’s death sentence. PASOK loyalists will vote for Mr. Papandreou. In spite of that, the momentum and the inertia of more than 30 years in politics, will keep them above the 3% mark.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

KDP – Movement of Democratic Citizens

Orientations: Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: G. Papandreou

Current status: This party may very well be the joker in the pack of parties. Initially this role was attributed to POTAMI, but now things have changed. G. Papandreou continues to be popular andmay very well take more than 3% of the vote, thus entering the parliament. Initally discarded as a prank, thie move to create a new party may turn all things upside down, especially if KDP win enough votes to be able to influence the formation of a new government.

Outlook: They will get between 3 and 5 percent of the national vote.

ANEL – Independent Greeks

Orientations: Extreme-right, Right, Center-right, Center, Center-left

Leader: P. Kammenos

Current status: This is a party of protest against the «troika» memorandum, but also a party of voters displeased with New Democracy. Basically it is a party of the right. The success or failure of Mr. Kammenos hinges upon his ability to lure the voters of the right to his weakening party.

Outlook: They will get between 2 and 4 percent of the national vote.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red and Blue

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red and Blue

The scenarios

There are two sets of scenarios. One refers to the parliamentary elections of January 2015. The other to the potential repat elections sometime in late March – early April 2015.

I. Parliamentary elections of January 2015

Scenario 1: SYRIZA win and form a government 

Likelihood: 10%

SYRIZA win in this scenario, but do not have the required 151 seats in parliament. Therefore they will need to form an alliance of some sort with another party. The most likely candidate for this is the party of ANEL, assuming that they will receive more than 3% of the national vote, and that the combined seats are more than 150.

Scenario 2: SYRIZA win but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 80%

SYRIZA win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

In this case, the parliamentary elections will be repeated after the election of the president. The earliest date would be the middle of March 2015.

In this scenario SYRIZA will most likely be able to vote in a president of their liking, but failing to form a government the country will go to the polls again and a new government will not be formed until early April 2015.

Scenario 3: New Democracy win and form a government

Likelihood: 1%

In this scenario New Democracy win and they form a coalition with other parties, securing the required 151 seats.

Scenario 4: New Democracy win, but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 9%

New Democracy win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

In this case, the parliamentary elections will be repeated after the election of the president. The earliest date would be the middle of March 2015.

In this scenario New Democracy will most likely be able to vote a president of their liking, but failing to form a government the country will go to the polls again and a new government will not be formed until early April 2015.

Piet Mondrian, composition c

Piet Mondrian, composition c

II. Parliamentary elections of March 2015

The second round of elections will be the result of no party being able to form a government after the first round of elections in January 2015.

Scenario 5: SYRIZA win and form a government 

Likelihood: 1%

SYRIZA win in this scenario, but do not have the required 151 seats in parliament. Therefore they will need to form an alliance of some sort with anoth party. The most likely candidate for this is the party of ANEL, assuming that they will receive more than 3% of the national vote, and that the combined seats are more than 150.

Scenario 6: SYRIZA win but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 9%

SYRIZA win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

Scenario 7: New Democracy win and form a government

Likelihood: 80%

In this scenario New Democracy win and they form a coalition with other parties, securing the required 151 seats.

Scenario 8: New Democracy win, but cannot form a government

Likelihood: 10%

New Democracy win but do not have the required 151 seats and cannot form an alliance with another party.

Piet Mondrian, Tableau I Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray

Piet Mondrian, Tableau I Lozenge with Four Lines and Gray


On the basis of the above, the outlook for the political developments in Greece is as follows. Outcomes are sorted by their likelihood of occurrence, from high to low.

On the basis of the likelihood prercentages I attirbuted to each scenario, the most likely outcome is that SYRIZA will win the January elections, but will not be able to form a government. New Democracy will bounce back and form an alliance with one or more parties, becoming the government. The reasoning behind this scenario has to do with the declining momentum of SYRIZA. As I have already stated above, SYRIZA does not have a cohesive social support. It is an opportunistic aggregate that cannot sustain its momentum over a long period of time. The fact that there are so many other parties competing for the ever so important «middle» stratum of society, is a time bomb in the bowels of SYRIZA. Therefore, should SYRIZA not be able to form a government after the January elections, I predict it is going to deflate, lose its momentum and will be overtaken by New Democracy and the small «center, center-left» parties.

Second most likely outcome is that SYRIZA will win the January election and form an alliance with another party, ANEL and/or KDP, becoming the new government of Greece.  But in terms of probability this outcome has 10%, compared to 64% of Outcome 1.

Outcomes 3 and 4 lead to a third election that is a nightmare outcome, and one of the very good reasons that everyone will try to end the process with the second election.

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie

Piet Mondrian, Broadway Boogie Woogie

The probability of each outcome is calculated as the product of the probabilities of each of the component scenarios, except in outcome 2, where there is only one scenario.

Outcome 1: Scenario 2 and Scenario 7 (0.80 * 0.80 = 0.64)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. New Democracy win the second elections and form a government in alliance with one or more other parties. Most likely allies of New Democracy are: POTAMI, PASOK, KDP.

Outcome 2: Scenario 1 (0.10)

SYRIZA win the January elections and form a government in alliance with another party, most likely the ANEL party, although G. Papandreou’s KDP should not be ruled out.

Outcome 3: Scenario 2 and Scenario 8 (0.80 * 0.10 = 0.08)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. New Democracy win the second elections but cannot form a government. A third election will need to take place.

Outcome 4: Scenario 2 and Scenario 6 (0.80 * 0.09 = 0.072)

SYRIZA win the January elections, but cannot form a government. SYRIZA win the second elections but cannot form a government. A third election will need to take place.

Piet Mondrian, Trafalgar Square

Piet Mondrian, Trafalgar Square

Tactical and strategic implications

Analyses of this sort are done because they highlight some important dynamics that must be taken into account from day one of the process leading to the elections.

I think that the analysis I presented above makes it very clear that if SYRIZA have a chance to form a government, they only have it in the January 2015 election. This means that they better try very hard to form an alliance with one or more parties in order to get the required vote of confidence from 151 members of parliament. Most likely allies of SYRIZA are the party of Mr. Kammenos, ANEL, and the party of MR. Papandreou, KDP. Both of these parties must prove their value in the electoral field.

Mr. Kammenos has been plagued by massive desertions and the polls show him below 3%. I think he will manage to get more than 3% but it will be a big struggle. Even assuming that they will enter parliament, the relationship between SYRIZA and ANEL may very well be a marriage made in hell, as Mr. Kammenos is quite temperamental and unpredictable, while SYRIZA may be unable to tolerate the extreme views of the ANEL party.

This leaves Mr. G. Papandreou as the best bet for SYRIZA to become the new government of Greece. A strong performance of KDP in the polls will legitimize Mr. Papandreou and the power broker and will force the «purists» of SYRIZA to look away while a deal between the two parties is struck. The big prerequisite here is a KDP percentage above 5%. If I am right in this, SYRIZA must be praying for the center and center-left strate of voters to vote for Mr. G. Papandreou.  Having said that, I doubt that SYRIZA have the political maturity to accept Mr. Papandreou as their ally in a new government.

For New Democracy the best tactical moves will be the ones that take votes away from ANEL and KDP, thus weakening the potential SYRIZA allies. The January elections will be a necessary evil, but not the end, because New Democracy will hope that S?YRIZA will fail to form a new government, thus opening the door to the second elections, which will be good for New Democracy. SYRIZA’s failure in January will bring the voters back to New Democracy, and make the smaller center, and center-left parties eager to form an alliance with the real winners, New Democracy. On the other hand, New Democracy will take advantage of the situation to present the new government as an alliance of political forces from a very wide spectrum of the political forces of Greece. This will be the best legitimization of the policies to be followed in the next two years.

There are other potential implications for New Democracy which are explored in Part II.

Festive Lunch – 1st January 2015 – Marathon, Attica, Greece

Σάββατο, 3 Ιανουαρίου, 2015

Today I rejoice the passage of time, culminating in the coming of the new year.


It was a chilly day with wet snow, but it felt nice


There is no better way to do that but a festive lunch, where food and drinks will have almost equal weight and pleasure potential.

menu 1 January 2015

Festive Lunch Table

Festive Lunch Table

The menu draws from Germany, Georgia, Italy and France. Greece adds the traditional cake to finish the meal, and the salad.

Bruns Raucheraal - Smoked Eel

Bruns Raucheraal – Smoked Eel

Smoked eel is one of the delicacies I will never stop craving for.

My best man, Manolis, brought me a sealed package of two smoked eels produced by Aal-Bruns, a German specialist producer.

As if I knew, I cut the eel in small pieces.

Pairing the smoked eel with a wine was a challenge.

But not for very long.

Smoked Eel

Smoked Eel

The gentle knight from Alsace came through the door and brought the solution with him. Two bottles of wine I had purchased in the Metzger winery at the beginning of the 21st century.

Metzger, Gewurztraminer Pflinz 1997

Metzger, Gewurztraminer Pflinz 1997

A late vintage of Gewurztraminer Pflinz from Alsace, produced in 1997!

I opened the first bottle, full of curiosity: Could a white wine have lasted for almost 18 years?

As you can see in the photo, the golden color of the wine gave the first answer. But this is nothing compared to the taste. Heaven on Earth!

The almost oily wine with its sublime sweetness coats the mouth and prepares it for the infusion with the smoky taste of the eel that literally melts in it. A marriage made in heaven.

Smoked Eel

Smoked Eel

I offered to my guests two options for tasting the eel. Both had as support a rectangle of whole grain bread, the first with a touch of butter on it, and the second with a spoonful of mashed pickled cabbage, beetroot, chilli pepper, celery and garlic. I personally enjoyed both, starting with the butter and then going to the pickled mix.

Needless to say, some pieces were enjoyed on their own. In the absolute magnificence of their existence. The taste is so powerful that only a small piece can be truly appreciated and enjoyed without the human being overwhelmed.

Georgian piroshki with minced beef

Georgian piroshki with minced beef

The second appetizer was a small piroshki with minced beef, a variation of a Georgian recipe.

It is smooth and spicy and tasty, while the wrapping is an ultra light and thin crepe.

The piroshki were prepared by a good friend.

Osso Bucco

Osso Bucco

The terrain is now open for the arrival of the main course, which is veal osso bucco with risotto.

I cooked the veal in a mix of carrots, celery, onions, garlic and tomatoes.

Risotto di Ossi

Risotto di Ossi

The abundant liquid of the mix I used in the risotto, which I prepared with Arborio rice from Ca Rossa.

The wine to accompany the main dish came from Toscana.

Ciacci Piccolomini di Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino, 1998

Ciacci Piccolomini di Aragona, Brunello di Montalcino, 1998

Brunello di Montalcino, 1998, produced by Ciacci Piccolomini d’ Aragona.

I had purchased both bottles in the winery’s shop near Montalcino, in Tuscany back in 2003.

The first bottle of the 16 year old wine was moderately ok, most likely due to cork problems. Drinkable, but not as rich and full as the second bottle, which gave to all great pleasure.

The risotto was the king of the main dish. It had rich flavor with considerable depth, without any of the elements overpowering the others.

The veal was tender, tasty and the rich sauce accompanied it in the best possible way.

At the end of the meal we shared the traditional «Vassilopitta», a light cake made with mahlepi (mahlab) spice. Absolutely divine in its simplicity.


Happy New Year!




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