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Arnold Toynbee and the Greek crisis

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posted on Jul, 6 2015 @ 03:58 PM
I think Arnold Toynbee would have predicted something like the present crisis between Greece and the rest of Europe,
His theories offer insights which may help to explain the problem, even if they don’t promise a solution.

It helps if we understand his theory of the way civilisations have developed in Europe.
The starting-point is what he called the Hellenic Civilisation- based on Greek culture and Roman rule, and centred around the Mediterranean.
When this broke up, two distinct civilisations grew up to take its place.
A Latin-based culture, centred on the western Mediterranean, spread into western Europe and developed into a Catholic or Western Civilisation.
A Greek-based culture, centred on the eastern Mediterranean, and spreading into the Balkans and Russia, developed into an Orthodox Civilisation. Though Russia was counted by Toynbee as a distinct “daughter-civilisation” in its own right.
In mediaeval times, these were almost two self-contained universes. (The whole theory of the Papacy has always been based on the psychology of “our social horizon constitutes the whole world”)

North of the Mediterranean, the religious boundary between them left countries like Poland, Bohemia, and Croatia on the western or Catholic side.
During the Cold War, this cultural boundary was submerged under the Iron Curtain, which ran further west.
In my opinion, though, the dissolution of the Iron Curtain may have allowed the old cultural difference to re-emerge.
For culture is not just about religion.
The Western Civilisation includes western political theories and behaviour and western economic theories and behaviour among the products of its culture.
It seems to me (from a distance, admittedly) that these “western” cultural patterns are more “at home” in the old Catholic countries, like Poland and the Czech Republic, than they are in the old Orthodox countries like Russia or the Ukraine or Serbia or Romania.
In a sense, they still belong to two different civilisations.

The other important concept is the “universal state”.
This is what Toynbee calls the empire which unites the territory of a specific civilisation.
Normally the last power left standing following a series of hard-fought wars, by which time the civilisation is exhausted enough to welcome an imperial peace.
Rome, of course, was the universal state of the Hellenic Civilisation.
The Byzantine Empire was the universal state of the Orthodox world.
Until recently, the civilisation of Western Europe has contained too much fighting energy to allow the creation of a universal state. No one power has been strong enough to “knock out” its last opponents, in the same way that Rome “knocked out” Carthage. Though some have tried.

Toynbee did not live long enough to see the Common Market develop into the European Union, but he would have understood what was happening- perhaps more clearly than the architects of the Union themselves.
After Europe had been exhausted by the wars of the twentieth century, this was the first draft of an attempt to create, by peaceful means, the universal state of the civilisation based on Western Europe (one of the two successors to Rome).
The problem was that they were not consciously defining their aim in this way.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, they seem to have been guided by a geographers’ definition of Europe (“everywhere rest of Russia”), and setting their sights accordingly.
Was it their historic task (as Toynbee might put it) to establish the universal state of the original civilisation of Western Europe, first Latin/Catholic, later Catholic/Protestant, and more recently rather secularised?
If so, it might have been better for them to keep within that territory, and consolidate their work within those limits, rather than expanding enthusiastically into the historic territories of the Orthodox world.

I think this could be the root of what may be a fundamental incompatibility between Greece and the European Union.
In Toynbee’s terms, they belong to two historically different civilisations.
This difference would make them alien to each other, to a degree, in thinking and behaviour.
That would account for some of the criticism which the Greeks receive in the western press. They are not living up to the standards of a culture which is not their own.
If the two parties could gently disengage from each other, with as little violence as possible, that might be the best solution in the long-term for both sides.

But there is one further complication.
Orthodox Greece has always had more in common with Orthodox Russia than with Western Europe.
We can’t discount the possibility that they might seek economic help from Russia instead, as has been threatened, and this could have an impact on the structure and strategy of NATO.
So the implications of this crisis may be as much about “World War Three” as about “Global Meltdown”.

posted on Jul, 6 2015 @ 06:44 PM
Though I appreciate your knowledge of Toynbee and it's application to the analysis of the Greek Crisis, I believe we are living in an era that no longer values analysis or philosophy. This era seems to only value the interests of the wealthy and powerful. Like nearly everything else in the news, the Greek "crisis" most likely is manipulated.

For all of our arguments, analysis, and ratiocination, it does not appear as if the "power elite" are listening or care, even we prove them wrong, rationally, scientifically, it seems as if they are decided on a set course.

Like the Roman Empire, Philosophy and abstract reasoning is not of major interest.
edit on 6-7-2015 by deloprator20000 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 7 2015 @ 03:26 AM
Interesting thread, though what about Portugal, Spain and Ireland who are close behind Greece in this default process. Martin Armstrong, 'The Forecaster' has much informed comment about all this. He is a very bright hard headed thinker, not much given to entertaining conspiratorial theories, and says Greece has to get out of the EU or be utterly destroyed by austerity and unpayable debt.
However what will Brussels do to dissuade the other hopelessly indebted countries from quitting the EU? Dissolution of the EU would be a MAJOR step back for the One World Order people who are likely behind this whole ill conceived union in the first place. I'm very pleased for the Greek people and their NO vote but worried about what desperate things the PTB will now do.
The Greeks COULD just print lots of Euros themselves to keep the banks going, or they could do what Hitler did and issue government IOUs which become a an interim currency until they can print new Drachmas. But do they have the guts to throw out the foreign banks all together? This may bring forward nasty PTB plans involving false flag events. The evil ba.tards are beginning to lose and they know it.

posted on Jul, 7 2015 @ 03:47 AM

originally posted by: Stevinipetini
what about Portugal, Spain and Ireland who are close behind Greece in this default process.

One article I've read observed that those countries have at least been more willing to knuckle down to the "austerity" regime, and so are further away from the danger of default.
And also, for the same reason, they would be inclined to resent Greece being allowed to "get away with it". So that it would be necessary to be fairly tough with Greece in order to keep those countries on board.
Their argument (I think it was the Spectator) was that a Greek bankruptcy would be less dangerous now, and much less likely to have a knock-on effect on other weak countries, than would have been the case a few years ago at the height of the crisis. So letting them go would be more beneficial for both the Greeks and the Euro, in the long term, despite the immediate pains.

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