Tradition for sale

Tradition for sale

The beauty of human creativity in Greece is tied directly to the limits placed by the environment and political-economic conditions. For example, the very marketable narrow streets of Mykonos and other islands were shaped to deal with the dangers of wind and piracy. From the grand mansions of Mount Pilio to the almost “communal” sense of space in the Cyclades, traditional homes in the country were built with locally sourced stone and lumber, with the particular skills of local artisans, reflecting the space – or lack thereof – available in each particular community. This unique beauty is threatened today, not by traditional poverty but by impunity, not from raids by pirates and robbers, but from the great selling-off, from the mentality that everything is for sale, that everything can be built, that everything is permitted. The wearing down of treasures, the destruction of the landscape through uncontrolled construction, and the rise of dark forces (with beatings, murders and a general sense of injustice) are the results of greed and the lack of regulation. Just as the landscape and human works “spoke” of the always difficult times which shaped them, their destruction today stresses the degeneration and corruption of our time, which “invests” in the overexploitation of the traditions and land which are our heritage. 

This arrogance is not limited to the traders of beauty. It is endemic in our society and politics, where some always frowning know-it-alls wield “tradition” as the people’s identity, as code for “real Greeks.” This is how they maintain influence, through networks of like-minded people, through manipulating opinion. Their primary concern is to score political points easily by questioning the patriotism of others, by creating narratives in which, on the one hand, flatter their supporters, and, on the other, frighten them with a variety of threats. They cover up the fact that their “ideological purity” did not crown their own past with glory (the real past, not the one they imagine). Nor do they acknowledge that times change and new challenges demand new approaches, new thinking, even new failures. For what is tradition, other than what has survived – adapting with craft and flexibility – against never-ending challenges? 

Just as the scalpers in the real estate market are indifferent to the damage that they cause, these preachers of political “tradition” find in the struggle for national survival an opportunity for profits that are ephemeral, divisive and dangerous.

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.