Features

The secrets of London's Athenian golden age

Democracy and competition – the spirit of the best of ancient Greece – are what make my city great

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

13 September 2014

9:00 AM

I had a misspent youth. During the period when most normal adolescents were playing Grand Theft Auto or discovering ten interesting facts about Pamela Anderson, I am afraid that I would take the tube by myself — aged about 13 — and visit the British Museum.

I would walk through the cat-headed Egyptians and the cloven-hoofed Babylon-ians and the typewriter-bearded Assyrians, and all the other savage and ludicrous Near Eastern divinities, until I penetrated the innermost and holiest shrine of London’s greatest cultural temple, the Duveen galleries.

And there, like so many before and since, I would give thanks to the slightly dim–witted 7th Earl of Elgin. Yes, I would mentally congratulate that reviled but blameless Scottish diplomat who in 1803 spent a stonking £75,000 of his own money to rescue those treasures from the Ottoman lime kiln, and who thereby allowed me and every other Londoner to form a glimmer of understanding of that revolution which took place in Athens in the 5th century bc.

You go in that room, and you feel you are in a new and better world.

You have left behind the totalitarian tyrannies, with their rigid and robotic processions of prisoners, their undifferentiated armies, their scenes of humiliation and massacre and headless corpses chucked (plus ça change, alas) in the Tigris. You notice a change in the mood.

It’s not just the quality of the sculpture; it’s the attitude towards the subject.

You look at the riders of the Panathenaic frieze, and you see that this one has boots on, this one has chosen sandals for the big day, this one is tapping his head, this one is having difficulties with an obstreperous cow; and you realise that in the swivel of the hips and the unique articulation of the neck the sculptors were trying to say something new: that these people were meant to be the real people of Athens, just as important as the Olympian gods themselves.

After centuries of abject quivering before fishgods and cowgods and skygods you are seeing the arrival of the individual — centre stage at last in the story of humanity.

I was vaguely capable of understanding this as a teenager, and to the Athenians it was very clear that something wonderful was going on. The world is full of amazing things, says Sophocles — who had fought with Pericles in the same military campaigns — and nothing is more amazing than mankind.

Not Zeus with his thunderbolts, not Poseidon with his earthquakes, not even Apollo with his plagues: man is the strangest and scariest thing on the planet. Man is the measure of all things, said Protagoras of Abdera, who was also the teacher of Pericles; and the Greeks were the first really to try to take the measure of all things.

When you look at that supernova of classical Athenian intellectual activity — the blasphemous inquiries of the philosophers, the scatological satire of the comedians, the pervy psychological probing of the tragedians, the cynicism of the historians, the musings of Aristotle on the sex life of the cuttlefish — you have to ask yourself: why then? Why did it all come together in Athens?

Yes, it helped that they were relatively prosperous. They had found a huge silver mine at Laurium in Attica and in 483 they took the crucial strategic decision to invest in transport infrastructure, and with the biggest fleet in the entire Mediterranean they were able to impose a tax on virtually every boat afloat.

But it wasn’t just a question of economics. Look again at those friezes and metopes.

What do you notice — or, rather, what absence do you notice? Who is not there among the Athenians? As with the Near Eastern friezes, there are some animals with human heads — the centaurs, though they are being defeated and not worshipped. There are scenes of battle, though there is no horror. There are no headless bodies (well, there are loads of headless people, including one poor lapith whose head is in Athens and whose body is in London; but no intentionally decapitated people).

Who is missing? That’s right: there is no king, no pharaoh, no Basileus having his boots licked by fawning chamberlains. There is an absolutely explicit ideology at work — a celebration of people power. This Parthenon is a gigantic painted jewel box that exalts the triumph of the Athenians over the barbarians, a reminder that they have twice in living memory prevailed over the swarming hordes of the Persian king, and the reason they won was not that they feared the king or death at the hands of his slave-masters — like their opponents.

They won because they were fighting for an idea, for eleutheria, for freedom, for rights that were conferred 60 years before when Cleisthenes, the great-uncle of Pericles, had instituted a system of government that had never been tried before and by which we claim still to be governed today, and which we call democracy.

Of course Athenian democracy was very far from perfect, and when we say Pericles was a democrat we need to qualify that, as Thucydides does, by pointing out that he exercised supreme power in Athens for a very long time, and he didn’t devote himself just to Keynesian programmes of public works.

The reason he wore a helmet on his head was not just that he was bald or that he had a dolicocephalic skull but because he led his troops in war, and when Pericles and his hoplites went to suppress a rebellion, as happened with the people of Samos, they could behave with oriental savagery — allegedly crucifying the ringleaders in the market-place or branding their skins with symbols of subjection.

It was Pericles who converted the Delian league to the Athenian empire, who took the treasure from Delos to Athens, and in the run-up to the ultimately disastrous Peloponnesian war he behaved like a superhawk. He dismissed any suggestion of some UN-style peace initiative; he told the Athenians they could win; and he got them to subordinate their interests to those of the state — so that they evacuated their farms and allowed them to be ravaged by the Spartans, while the population of Attica — maybe 400,000 people — was penned up behind the long walls, with the result that huge numbers succumbed to the terrible plague that killed both Pericles’s sons and the man himself.

Periclean Athens exacted tribute and ruled by force. It was a slave state, with perhaps as many 50,000 of them: men and women who could be beaten by their owners or used as sexual partners with little concept of consent; and as for the lives of so-called free women, they had virtually no formal political power or rights. And just because the system was called a democracy, that did not stop the Athenians taking dreadful decisions — like the sending of ships to massacre the entire population of Melos in 416, by any standards a war crime.


And yet for all its faults it was a democracy — the first time in history that they took power, and that is hard power: kratos, force, not just arche or leadership, and gave the right to exercise that kratos to the demos, the first time ever that as many as 10,000 ordinary people were brought together to vote, as they were on the Pnyx; the first society to have a parliament — 500 people who prepared the business and drafted the laws; the first society to subsidise attendance at the theatre; the first society when you could not only elect people — and don’t forget Pericles was elected, year after year, for 15 years — but where you could get a bit of broken pot, scratch a name on it and you could send any politician you didn’t like, no matter how powerful, into exile.

Ostracism could happen to anyone. It happened to Themistocles, even though he had defeated the Persians at Salamis. It happened to Pericles’s father. You just needed a quorum of 6,000 people to vote on their pet hates, and ka-pow, you were spending the next ten years twiddling your thumbs in Bulgaria. You can imagine the sense of personal power that gave to the people who scratched on the potsherds.

We rightly dwell today on the imperfections of Athenian democracy; and yet no modern democracy is perfect. We only gave women the vote in 1928 — after Belgium and after Turkey — and we still have not just unelected hereditary but unelected religious representatives in our legislature. As for the Americans, they didn’t give full civil rights to all races until my own lifetime, and the views of the Athenians on the Melians were mild by comparison with the views of, say, Presidents Andrew Jackson or Theodore Roosevelt on the subject of native American Indians.

All democracies fall short of the ideal. The important point about 5th-century Greece was that it was the first time and place that this ideal was so clearly and beautifully expressed. Read that great speech Pericles made in the winter of 431/430 BC, after the first year of that war he thought Athens would win.

Before him under a sacred tent he has the bones of those who have died, and he has to explain to the grieving people — the mothers, the fathers, the widows and orphans — what they are fighting for, and in words that leap off the page, and that sound so modern and yet so much better than any modern political speech, he tries to sum up the difference between Athens and the rest of the world.

‘We enjoy a form of government that does not emulate the institutions of our neighbours; indeed we ourselves are more often the model for others than their imitators. Democracy is the name we give to it since we manage our affairs in the interests of the many, not the few, but though everyone is equal before the law in the matter of private disputes, in terms of public distinction preferment for office is determined on merit, not by rank but by personal worth; moreover, poverty is no bar to anyone who has it in them to benefit the city in some way, however lowly their status. A spirit of freedom governs our conduct, not only in public affairs but also in managing the small tensions of everyday life, where we show no animosity at our neighbours’ choice of pleasures, nor cast aspersions that may hurt even if they do not harm. Although we associate as individuals in this tolerant spirit, in public affairs a sense of respect makes us the most severely law-abiding of people, obedient to whoever is in authority and to the laws, especially to those established to help the victims of injustice and those laws which, though unwritten, carry the sanction of public disgrace.’

The reason those words strike such a chord is that this is still what we believe in and aspire to in London today, a city where we are prospering mightily because unlike so many other places in the world we actually adhere to Periclean principles.

He speaks of the rule of law, and above all the impartiality of the law; and I might remind you that crime in London has come down by 18 per cent over the last six years, and that we patrol this city with such a sense of equality that the police recently detained the Duke of York for loitering in the shrubbery at Buckingham Palace, and we jail our MPs for so much as trying to pass their speeding points on to their wives, and jail the wives. It is the visible adherence to the rule of law that attracts confidence and investment to London.

‘Furthermore,’ says Pericles to the Athenians two-and-a-half thousand years ago, ‘we have provided many diversions from work to refresh the spirit; there are regular public games and festivals of sacrifice throughout the year, while in private we have lovely things at home to delight us every day and drive away our cares.’

There is no need to enlarge on all the lovely things that modern Londoners have at home or do in private to drive away care. But in the public arena we have more live music venues than any other city, twice as many theatres as Paris, twice as many bookshops as New York, and there could be no greater festival of sacrifice than the 2012 Olympics where we sacrificed £9.3 billion on the greatest public games the world has ever seen (and whose benefits are yielding a hundredfold in east London).

It is worth noting that we followed the Periclean example. He was fast. It took them only nine years, from 447 to 438, to plan, finance and build the Parthenon, with all its sublime sculpture and statuary — the same time it took London to clear and decontaminate the site and then build the Olympic venues, on time and on budget.

And then Pericles comes to some of the most critical points of comparison between his world and ours. They are both gigantic centres of free trade and free enterprise. Pericles says: ‘Because of the importance of our city the products of the whole world flow in here, and it is our good fortune to enjoy with the same familiar pleasure both our home-produced goods and those of other people.’

You only have to glance at the exotic stuff in our supermarkets to see what he is talking about there. Above all, there speaks a man who understood the importance of transport infrastructure — the need to be able to move goods and people in and out of the great emporion as fast and efficiently as possible.

In the early 5th century the Athenians made the strategically vital decision to abandon the shallow and congested Phaleron harbour and build a new three-harbour multi-dock 24-hour superport at Piraeus; and that was how Athens became the greatest economic power in Greece, and that is how she achieved commercial dominance of the Aegean — not just enough ships but a big enough port to cope; and I am sure that I don’t need to spell out the lesson for our modern debate on London’s airports.

 

Add all this up: the rule of law, good transport, fantastic entertainment, a culture based on merit and opportunity, and you can see why people flocked to ancient Athens as they come to modern London. They wanted to live there, to work there — and it was in the matter of immigration that there was a fundamental difference between Athens and her Spartan enemies.

Now we should be very clear that neither Pericles nor his electorate were remotely soft on immigration, in the sense that they made a sharp distinction between native Athenians and everyone else. They held that the very first Athenian, a chap called Erichthonius, had not even arrived there; he had sprouted from the soil, after Athena just managed to avoid being raped by Hephaestus, wiped off the mess on her dress with some wool and dropped it to the ground.

Pericles built on this chauvinist sentiment, and in 451 passed a decree that you could only be a full Athenian citizen if both your mother and father were born in Athens — with the result that thousands of people suddenly found themselves facing huge fines as they were reclassified as resident aliens.

If you were one of these resident aliens, or metics, as they were called, you faced many disadvantages. You could not vote or own land. You faced the risk of arbitrary arrest and a swingeing non-dom tax. And yet they came in huge numbers, at all levels of society. There were probably as many metics in Athens as there were citizens — 50 per cent foreigners, in other words.

There were millionaire arms dealers. There was Pericles’s own mistress, the gorgeous and brilliant Aspasia. He loved her. He kissed her when he got home from work every day and he wept when she was prosecuted for allegedly running a high-class knocking shop; and yet she was officially a metic because she came from Miletus in what is now Turkey. There were the foreign intellectuals — rhetoricians like Gorgias of Leontini in Sicily, mathematicians like Theodorus of Cyrene in what is now Africa, doctors like Hippocrates of Cos.

And then there were the builders, the plumbers, the plasterers, the potters, the tanners. Look at the Erechtheum, one of the greatest buildings in the history of architecture, whose porch of the Caryatids — the pillar women with baskets on their heads — is echoed everywhere including the Euston Road, and which has the first example of the egg and dart motif that you find all over buildings in London.

Who built the Erechtheum? Of the 86 workmen whose status is identifiable, 24 are citizens, 42 are metics and 20 are slaves. It was mainly done by the equivalent of the Poles and the South Africans, in other words.

We look back from the vantage point of 21st-century London — where 40 per cent of the city was born abroad — and we see in our spiritual prototype the same anxieties about immigration, the same patriotism and nationalism, but also the same willingness to welcome energy and talent.

Now Pericles comes in his speech to that crucial difference in attitude between the Athenians and their rivals: ‘We keep our city open to the world, and do not ever expel people to prevent them from learning or observing the sort of thing whose disclosure might benefit an enemy.’

Here he draws the great contrast with the Spartans, whose wretched xenophobia meant that every year they expelled every foreigner in a ritual known as the exelasia. Yeah, you may say: and who won the Peloponnesian war?

It is true that long after Pericles had died, and after his successors had made a series of catastrophic mistakes, the war came to an end with a Spartan victory; but it was a short-term victory. If you seriously wonder which was the more far-sighted policy, openness or xenophobia, then ask yourself when you last read any Spartan poetry or Spartan philosophy, or who were the great Spartan tragedians or Spartan painters; or go to Sparta and stand amid the ruins — if you can even find those few pathetic courses of stone — and compare them to the miracles still to be seen in Athens today.

It was that openness to the world that created the extraordinary willingness of Athenians to consider new ways of thinking and speaking. It was an irreverent society, where leaders could be mercilessly lampooned. It was an intellectually curious society, where people fearlessly postulated that the sun was actually a stone or that the earth was round. And as Pericles shows in that amazing passage about the Athenian ‘spirit of freedom… where we show no animosity at our neighbour’s choices of pleasures’, it was a world where people could enjoy themselves nearly naked at alcohol-fuelled parties in a way that is abundantly depicted on X-rated vases.

The Athenian approach to pleasure — exuberant though bound by conventions — is the precursor of the innocent hedonism of the modern Londoner at the end of the working day. It is that sense that you can express yourself and have fun and not be judged, not be gossiped about, that draws people to a successful metropolis.

And then there is one final element that these cities share; the nuclear rod of fuel the makes the whole pile vibrate and go critical. Of all life’s desires, said Pericles, ‘the love of honour, alone, never grows old’.

The Greeks competed for honour, for prestige, and so have Londoners down the ages. Shakespeare didn’t become Shakespeare by sitting alone in a garret in Stratford with his quill in his ear. He came to London and competed to put bums on seats with Dekker and Marlowe and Fletcher and the cyclotron quivered and he became the greatest writer ever. And in the 17th-century scientific revolution you had the same throbbing coffee-house competition between Boyle and Hooke and Newton and Flamsteed, each spurring the other to a breakthrough, and again between the London rock and roll bands of the 1960s. You have enough venues and enough bands and zoink — you have the Rolling Stones or the Kinks.

Athens had twice as many festivals as any other city; and when Sophocles and Euripides put on their plays at the Dionysia, they weren’t just hoping to entertain; they were hoping to win the top prize.

In the end it was that love of honour that did for Athens. The war with Sparta was essentially about who was top dog, who had the prestige of being called the leader of Hellas, and the competitive urge that made Athens great was also therefore her downfall. She ended that long war diminished and weakened — much as London was at the end of the long cycles of violence that began in 1914 and ended in 1945.

And yet 70 years after the end of those wars, this is the amazing thing: that London is once again the education of the planet, and that is because we have upheld those essential Periclean ideals of democracy and freedom; and the reason that funeral speech is so arresting is that when we look around the world today we see that these ideals are so very far from trite and very far from being universally accepted.

Even in Hungary, a country that has only lately joined the EU, we hear of the advantages of so-called ‘illiberal democracy’; we see the autocracy of the Kremlin; we see the vertiginous rise of our friends in China — defying Fukuyama by embracing the market while maintaining the sole supremacy of the Communist party, politely and gently damping down the voting power of the people of Hong Kong, and whatever you say about the merits of that approach, as a keeper of stability it is certainly not the heir of Periclean democracy.

We see the increasing centralising power of a European Union that is paradoxically eroding the sovereign rights of the people within it. Across the Middle East we see the growing strength of people who would not only execute gays and oppress women but who would smash virtually every sculptural treasure in the Duveen gallery as a matter of so-called religious principle.

There are people around the world who in one way or another reject Periclean ideals, and so it is more vital than ever that we uphold them here in London. Let us keep the flame alive, protect the owl of Pallas Athena that still haunts the squares of Bloomsbury; fight off those who would fulfil Hitler’s agenda and rip the Parthenon marbles from their place in the heart of our culture.

Let us teach our children the Latin and Greek classics and the derivation of the egg and dart motif and let us continue to show the rest of Europe that here in this city we keep alive the ancient skill of those soldiers we see on the Athenian friezes who were trained to board and alight from a moving chariot; and let us defy the health and safety fanatics of Brussels by mounting and dismounting the open platform on those beautiful new Routemasters with the freedom and grace of the hop-on hop-off hoplites of Periclean Athens.

And that is just a tiny part of what I mean by that spirit of freedom that Pericles exalted, a spirit of democracy and tolerance and cultural effervescence and mass political participation. That is what we believe in. That’s what makes London great. In the Thucydidean phrase, let’s keep it as a possession for ever.

This is an edited version of a lecture delivered to the Legatum Institute. Boris Johnson is a former editor of The Spectator.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • rtj1211

    London is organised mafia criminality and any sane person knows it.

    That does beg the question as to what Mayor Johnson is doing outside of a funny farm, but there we are…….

  • Johnny Cyprus

    AS B says, in the UK women were not able to vote on equal terms with men until 1928, but in Athens they had to wait until 1952; some democracy!

    The same ‘democracy’ executed Socrates, perhaps the author should be careful.

  • Paddy Kilshamus

    Dangerously naïve that chap. So many false conceptions in the whole article, like an anachronistic projection of todays mechanistic, deracinated democracy onto the past. I am sure Roger Scruton would give a very different reading of that history. He has no idea of the disintegrating forces at play in todays democracy

    • wow some big words here, you must be clever!

      • Paddy Kilshamus

        Sorry, I shall try to dumb it down next time so I can fit in with your mindset. At least you are not using the racist word to attack any expression of dissent. Shall I simplify that last bit for you?

  • will91

    Been to Minaret Hamlets recently?

    Not too sure Democracy is alive and well there.

    • Kaine

      Strangely the electoral commission and DCLG, despite their best efforts, have been unable to find any vote rigging. Kudos on succeeding where they have failed, I assume you’ll be taking the irrefutable documents down to your police station forthwith?

  • Jess_gr-au

    Sod the long winded waffle, Boris, and send the Marbles back to Athens, where they belong!

    • Archibald Heatherington

      Why? They’re better off here, where we can look at them.

  • Diggery Whiggery

    “I had a misspent youth. During the period when most normal adolescents were playing Grand Theft Auto or discovering ten interesting facts about Pamela Anderson, I am afraid that I would take the tube by myself — aged about 13 — and visit the British Museum.”

    Boris, bless your cottons, but you were 13 a full 10 years before GTA came out and Pamela Anderson was 10 at the time.

    How old do are you in your head?

    • FootLong

      Washington is Rome, so London today is more like the Visigoths taking over parts of Gaul.

    • it’s poetic licence diggery. did you really think Boris’s peers were playing GTA?

      • Diggery Whiggery

        FFS, there’s always one.

        Of course not.

  • Damaris Tighe

    The broken pot method of getting rid of politicians is very attractive.

  • Every democracy is eventually hijacked by rabblerousers, pullpeddlers, clans of kleptocrats, bumptious bugaboos, busybodies, butterbabies, nabobs of nepotism, cranks of cronyism, pusillanimous pussyfooters, riffraffs of rascals, socialist sophists, and Machiavellian mafiosi. Democracy tends to kleptocracy. Anarchy should replace democracy.

    venitis@gmail.com, http://venitism.blogspot.com

    • Paddy Kilshamus

      Anarchy? Surely you mean Autarchy? We live in a plutocracy which is enabled by democracy (the demos are slaves to the illusion of freedom). Autarchy would mean an end to globalisation and a routing of all the poisonous elements and self-destructive energies.

      • I mean Anarchy!

        SMASH THE STATE

        Government will collapse under its own weight. Government is the
        #1 enemy of the people and the source of all major problems of humanity. Anarchy is the best political system.

        It
        is simply not possible to be a little bit pregnant. One must be for government,
        or one must be against it; one thing or the other. The choice is binary. Human
        nature demands nothing less than a complete elimination of government.

        In
        an anarchist society, harmony would be obtained, not by submission to law, or
        by obedience to any authority, but by free arrangements concluded between the
        various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake
        of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite
        variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.

        Freely
        constituted groups and the free arrangements concluded between them is bigger
        than any doctrinaire attempt to pigeonhole such groups and arrangements as
        business firms operating in the cash nexus or moneyless collectives.

        Anarchy
        is characterized above all by a faith in human creativity and agency, and an
        unwillingness to let a priori theoretical formulations either preempt either
        perceptions of the particularity and is-ness of history, or to interfere with
        the ability of ordinary, face-to-face groupings of people on the spot to
        develop workable arrangements—whatever they may be—among themselves.

        If
        we really want to understand the moral grounds of economic life and, by
        extension, human life, we must start with the very small things: the everyday
        details of social existence, the way we treat our friends, enemies, and
        children—often with gestures so tiny that we ordinarily never stop to think
        about them at all. Anthropology has shown us just how different and numerous
        are the ways in which humans have been known to organize themselves. But it
        also reveals some remarkable commonalities.

        Anarchism
        is, above all else, human-centered. It entails a high regard for human agency
        and reasonableness. Rather than fitting actual human beings into some idealized
        paradigm, anarchists display an openness to—and celebration of—whatever humans
        may actually do in exercising that agency and reasonableness. Anarchy isn’t
        what people will do after the Revolution, when some sort of New Anarchist Man
        has emerged who can be trusted with autonomy; it’s what they do right now.
        Anarchists are simply people who believe human beings are capable of behaving
        in a reasonable fashion without having to be forced to.

        At
        their very simplest, anarchist beliefs turn on to two elementary assumptions.
        The first is that human beings are, under ordinary circumstances, about as
        reasonable and decent as they are allowed to be, and can organize themselves
        and their communities without needing to be told how. The second is that power
        corrupts. Most of all, anarchism is just a matter of having the courage to take
        the simple principles of common decency that we all live by, and to follow them
        through to their logical conclusions. Odd though this may seem, in most
        important ways you are probably already an anarchist — you just don’t realize
        it.

        Let’s
        start by taking a few examples from everyday life.

        If
        there’s a line to get on a crowded bus, do you wait your turn and refrain from
        elbowing your way past others even in the absence of police?

        If
        you answered “yes”, then you are used to acting like an anarchist! The most
        basic anarchist principle is self-organization: the assumption that human
        beings do not need to be threatened with prosecution in order to be able to
        come to reasonable understandings with each other, or to treat each other with
        dignity and respect….

        To
        cut a long story short: anarchists believe that for the most part it is power
        itself, and the effects of power, that make people stupid and irresponsible.

        Are
        you a member of a club or sports team or any other voluntary organization where
        decisions are not imposed by one leader but made on the basis of general
        consent?

        If
        you answered “yes”, then you belong to an organization which works on anarchist
        principles! Another basic anarchist principle is voluntary association. This is
        simply a matter of applying democratic principles to ordinary life. The only
        difference is that anarchists believe it should be possible to have a society
        in which everything could be organized along these lines, all groups based on
        the free consent of their members, and therefore, that all top-down, military
        styles of organization like armies or bureaucracies or large corporations,
        based on chains of command, would no longer be necessary. Perhaps you don’t
        believe that would be possible. Perhaps you do. But every time you reach an
        agreement by consensus, rather than threats, every time you make a voluntary
        arrangement with another person, come to an understanding, or reach a
        compromise by taking due consideration of the other person’s particular
        situation or needs, you are being an anarchist — even if you don’t realize it.

        Anarchism
        is just the way people act when they are free to do as they choose, and when
        they deal with others who are equally free — and therefore aware of the
        responsibility to others that entails.

        An
        approach to the form of a hypothetical anarchist society is simple: take away all
        forms of domination, or of unilateral, unaccountable authority by some people
        over others, put people together, and see what they come up with.

        Anarchy
        itself, rather than a totalizing system, is just a way people interact with one
        another, and it’s all around us right now.

        The
        moment we stop insisting on viewing all forms of action only by their function
        in reproducing larger, total, forms of inequality of power, we will also be
        able to see that anarchist social relations and non-alienated forms of action
        are all around us. And this is critical because it already shows that anarchism
        is, already, and has always been, one of the main bases for human interaction.
        We self-organize and engage in mutual aid all the time. We always have.

        Anarchy
        is whatever people decide to do, whatever arrangements out the countless ones
        possible they make among themselves, when they’re not threatened with violence.
        A political movement that aims to bring about a genuinely free society, one
        where humans only enter those kinds of relations with one another that would
        not have to be enforced by the constant threat of violence.

        History
        has shown that vast inequalities of wealth, institutions like slavery, debt
        peonage, or wage labor, can only exist if backed up by armies, prisons, and
        police. Even deeper structural inequalities like racism and sexism are
        ultimately based on the (more subtle and insidious) threat of force.

        Anarchists
        thus envision a world based on equality and solidarity, in which human beings
        would be free to associate with one another to pursue any endless variety of
        visions, projects, and conceptions of what they find valuable in life.

        If
        you treat people like children, they will tend to act like children. The only
        successful method anyone has ever devised to encourage others to act like
        adults is to treat them as if they already are. It’s not infallible. Nothing
        is. But no other approach has any real chance of success. And the historical
        experience of what actually does happen in crisis situations demonstrates that
        even those who have not grown up in a culture of participatory democracy, if
        you take away their guns or ability to call their lawyers, can suddenly become
        extremely reasonable. This is all that anarchists are really proposing to do.

        So anarchism
        isn’t just a grand theory that was invented by some big-league thinker, like
        Marx in the London Museum. It’s what people actually do.

        The
        Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei, Συνωμοσία των Πυρήνων της Φωτιάς (SPF), leads the
        revolt of Greeks against kleptocracy. The SPF first surfaced on January 21,
        2008, with a wave of fire bombings against kleptocrats. Monthly waves of arson
        have been followed by proclamations expressing solidarity with arrested
        anarchists in Greece and elsewhere. In September 2009, following an escalation
        to the use of crude time bombs, four SPF fighters were arrested. In November
        2010 two more fighters were arrested while attempting to mail parcel bombs to
        embassies and EU leaders and organizations.

        SPF
        represents a third pole of anarchist thought in Greece, anarcho-individualism,
        contrasting it with social anarchism and insurrectionary anarchism. SPF
        declares its alienation and hostility to society as a web of repressive
        relations. SPF rejects class struggle and other collective categories, viewing
        the war against the state and its institutions as a battle for individual
        self-actualization. The SPF does, however, express solidarity with imprisoned
        anarchists in Greece and other countries.

        • Paddy Kilshamus

          Well I will read that tonight and reply. Thank you very much. I am aware of the ideas here but have not really looked into them in any depth. We may have common ground somewhere. I do know there is a long tradition of thought in this area.

        • Paddy Kilshamus

          I couldn’t accept that view of society for many reasons. I don’t agree with the basic assumptions of human nature as decent and reasonable. This seems to derive from Rousseau’s notion of the noble savage which was a romantic projection from a Western mind. Look at Haiti or South Africa or Detroit for an example of self-organisation gone awry or reverting to tribalism, superstition and leader cults. Have you been in a bus queue with people from India? It is all elbows and pushing. Only Europeans are waiting their turn. Also you ignore the differences in IQ levels between races which indicate that Society is a Racial Construct not the reverse (race is a social construct) which is what the globalists want us to believe as they ship out our jobs and ship in the Third World. I think you are universalizing a Western European nature which is embedded in a thousand years of history and culture. People may well be able to come to reasonable compromises and decent relationships motivated by altruism but only within an homogeneous group. Such an Anarchist society would be crushed by the alien races in the blink of an eye because they are not from that thousand year soil of Europe and do not share our compassion and selflessness and love of truth. The people of Greece are still a people because they have an ethnic base and as you say in other posts they are suffering the effects of a corrupt kleptocracy. Their hope lies with Golden Dawn as do the hopes of all Europeans with similar parties. The fact that the other parties in Greece unite against Golden Dawn tells me that they are the real saviours of society. A racial nationalist socialist leadership is the only answer and that is why it is demonized by all the powers that be. It was crushed in Germany after little more than ten years but if you look at the achievements and advances made in medicine, animal welfare, employment, health, environmental policies it is astounding. That was achieved by shaking off the shackles of usury and emphasizing the ethnic and human connections beyond class. Blood and Soil have a powerful resonance in people beyond abstract ideas and they can bind them together in a very real sense not in a vague ideal religious never never land. So that is where I stand at 50 years of life.At 17 I might have bought the Anarchist vision but not today, not when I see the decay of my race through the poison of universal equality which in reality is a leveling of all to an average mean mediocrity the better to serve a Kleptocracy as you call it.Thanks for the response though. I appreciated it.

          • EXITING THE SYSTEM

            Why not opt
            out of government control? From bootlegging to working off the books,
            we’ve done it many times before, and it’s getting ever-easier to exit the
            system.

            Exploit
            a market opportunity to help people escape government control, no matter the
            law. Exit an increasingly authoritarian system. In other words, to hell with
            arguing for more freedom, let’s take it. Embrace a willingness to defy
            authority.

            The
            ability to reduce the importance of decisions made by kleptocrats, in
            particular without lobbying or sloganeering, is going to become extremely
            important over the next ten years.

            We
            must give people the tools to reduce the influence of bad policies over their
            lives without getting involved in politics; the tools to peacefully opt out.

            An
            opt out from the political system and the burdens it imposes on us is a
            tempting thought. In many ways, life has never been more tolerant, cooler,
            safer (for kids and those trying to avoid crime), or richer. It’s more possible
            than ever to work from where you want to live rather than where an office is
            located, to be gay and safe (if not fully accepted) in ever-more locations, to
            enjoy cultural tastes from punk music to opera to porn without having to seek
            rare venues, to communicate with people and access information far and wide.
            But weighing on all of this like the world’s wettest blanket or a Handicapper
            General of joy is the institution of government, its smothering regulations and
            intrusive controls over our lives.

            We are now embracing not just new technology, but old-fashioned scofflawry—the
            right to ignore the state. We cannot
            choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary
            outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he
            infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop
            connection with the state—to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying
            toward its support.

            Now
            that so much of the state’s pseudoprotection consists of no-knock raids, phone
            taps, cops boldly going where only the best of friends (if anybody) ought to
            go, and the gentle cupping of your crotch at the airport, a choice to
            “relinquish its protection” seems like a mighty fine idea to many of us.

            There’s not yet a “thanks anyway, but go to hell” checkbox on tax forms, though
            maybe that’ll come along in a year or two, but we can opt out on our own. You
            can use Bitcoin, 3D printing, telepresence, and other technologies as methods
            for escaping government control without the state’s consent. But those are just
            tools. The real key is the willingness to live life as you please, without
            treading on your neighbors’ rights and without knuckling under to authoritarian
            laws or majority preferences.

            Occident is a land of bootlegging, weed-smoking, defiance of gun control,
            shrinking tax compliance, and even underground restaurants. Without doubt we’re up to the challenge.

            DON’T
            VOTE, IT JUST ENCOURAGES THE BASTARDS!

            Do not vote, as it encourages the bastards! A large turnout gives legitimacy to rulers and sedates the
            people. Voting is merely the mechanism by which the extremely
            corrupt political system fools hoi polloi into supporting it. No human has any right to rule and rob
            another. Yet government, and the voting process by which it is legalized, is in
            the exclusive business of ruling and robbing others.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            Silly me. I didn’t realise you were a spam robot.

          • The great epiphany!

  • Matthew Taylor

    So Boris’s justification for keeping the Parthenon Marbles in the UK boils down to the fact that they enriched his life as a child – therefore, if Britain keeps them, we have the potential to turn loads more children into people like Boris.
    This alone is a very strong argument for their return IMNSHO.

    • No, Matthew, his argument is that they were legitimately purchased.

      • Matthew Taylor

        If that was his argument, then it is even weaker as a point.
        Never was an agreement made to purchase them. Elgin had a permit granted by the Ottomans, to make sketches, take casts & to remove pieces fallen to the ground. Nowhere has there ever been evidence of a permit allowing them to be sawn from the building.
        Bribing local officials to turn a blind eye does not count as legitimate purchase.
        The British Government then purchased them off Elgin, but if he had no right to their ownership, then what right did he have to sell them?

  • james allen

    Wonderful essay. Many thanks.

  • Yoda

    What a selfish view. Returning the marbles would be “Hitler’s vision” and would “rip” what they stand for “from the heart of London’s culture”.
    Apparently, the culture of “democracy and tolerance” can’t live on if the Marbles are no longer there. If so, how does Boris justify keeping them from their proud ancestors? Surely they must deserve some “spirit of democracy” as well.

    • Kaine

      Given genetic mixing over time and the domination of Hellas by multiple continent-spanning empires, you or I are as likely to be descended from the builders of the Parthenon as a modern Greek.

      • Yoda

        We are likely so, but not “as likely”. Plus, national heritage isn’t defined purely by racial criteria. Not if you believe in immigration.

        • Kaine

          You mean like the current mayor of London does? In that case all the marbles are in cities ruled by Greeks.

          • Yoda

            But not lived by them 🙂

          • Kaine

            According to a report by the City of London there are between 280,600 and 300,000 Greek speakers in Greater London. That would make London the third largest Greek city after Athens and Thessaloniki.

          • Yoda

            Nice try, but Athens (where they are to be returned) has 700.000, and greater attica 4.000.000. They wouldn’t be placed at “the third largest city”.

  • RadioJockhadistan

    What about modern Greece? Was Taki never given the opportunity to broaden your horizon and inspire you?

  • NPanamevris

    In every piece of land that the white Anglo-Saxon man has set foot on & claimed as his own, he has done nothing but thieved, raped, murdered, pillaged & plundered (lol, in a democratic way off course). So, let them keep the marbles as a “proud” symbol of their “heart of culture” cause the former is nothing to be proud of.

    • Paddy Kilshamus

      Racist twaddle.

      • NPanamevris

        “Racist twaddle”?… call it what u like, this shit happened.

        • Paddy Kilshamus

          That is a very one sided reading of history.imagine if someone made that kind of total sweeping statement about another race ask yourself what the response would be?

          • NPanamevris

            Sorry, did I leave something out? Sure, the British have a rich history but the majority of it is based on my sweeping statement. If any race, country or group of people that have only this type of behaviour throughout it’s history to show for, then they shud be ashamed, not be proud gloater’s. I’ll never forget the words of my ancient history teacher at the end of our Greek history semester who said “I am ashamed to have be born a Brit”. Granted, the Greeks are not immune to such behaviour amongst themselves in civil wars but they also had many more inspirational ideas & concepts that it gave to the world that it’s descendants can today be proud of. So, my answer to ur question is… if they are descent human beings with a descent moral compass, then they too would be ashamed just as my teacher was all those years ago.

          • GraveDave

            Why should i be ashamed. I have gained no privilege or profit by being born English. Unlike some of our illustrious leaders. (Some of Dave’s wealth for instance is now known to be linked to the slave trade). Also if you look back many of the rich landowners,aristocracy and factory owners made the poor live little better than slaves.

            Check out Britain’s Child Slaves on youtube.

            The tunnel was narrow, and a mere 16in high in places. The workers could barely kneel in it, let alone stand. Thick,choking coal dust filled their lungs as they crawled through the darkness, their knees scraping on the rough surface and their muscles contracting with pain.

            A single ‘hurrier’ pulled the heavy cart of coal, weighing as much as 500lb, attached by a chain to a belt worn around the waist, while one or more ‘thrusters’ pushed from behind. Acrid water dripped from the tunnel ceiling, soaking their ragged clothes.

            Many would die from lung cancer and other diseases before they reached 25. For, shockingly, these human beasts of burden were children, some only five years old.

            Robert North, who worked in a coal mine in Yorkshire, told an inspector: ‘I went into the pit at seven years of age. When I drew by the girdle and chain, my skin was broken and the blood ran down … If we said anything, they would beat us.’

            Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1312764/Britains-child-slaves-New-book-says-misery-helped-forge-Britain.html#ixzz3DBmyje8A
            Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

            Britain’s child slaves: New book says their … – Daily Mail
            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Britains-child-slaves-New-book-says-misery-hel...
            17 Sep 2010 – Britain’s child slaves: They started at 4am, lived off acorns and had nails put through their ears for shoddy work. Yet, says a new book, their …

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            I don’t bother with people like NPanamevris. They are just inspired by anti-white hatred fed by a certain ethnic group. Slavery goes on among all the races in the Third world, suffering goes on but the focus is highly selective. There is a book by Michael Hoffman about White Slavery but it is ignored and the suffering of Russians under Communism is swept under the carpet. The list is endless and the distortions are endless. History is written by the winners.

          • NPanamevris

            Lol, Paddy I’m nothing like u, it’s ppl like u & GD that hate anyone that isn’t white… hell, u even hate ur own kind. Oh, & I’m not anti-white at all, I’m even married to a lovely Anglo-Saxon (Australian) lady. I just loathe the type of people (from any race, be it the Brits, Turks, Yanks, Russians, Germans, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc etc) that have no humility or shame & gloat about their greatness when it was mostly achieved by treating fellow human beings in such a despicable manner in order to steal & rise above… & then have the likes of GD saying that his ancestors “did it all better & far more successfully than anyone else” As I said before, invading another country for it’s riches & in the process u rape & murder it’s ppl is nothing to be proud of.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            Well we are being raped and murdered and robbed now by invaders so I suppose you are happy.

          • NPanamevris

            Paddy, u could not be more wrong with that stupid reply. I am not the one that condones or is proud of that sort of behaviour. I said it before, there is nothing to be proud of rape, murder, theft etc of another’s nation/land by invaders. What part of this do u not understand & why wud u think that this wud make me happy? Any other educated person reading my posts wud “suppose” that I am totally against it no matter which race or nation it is being done to.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            I object to your narrow reading of history. It is a narrative which is designed to cater to the victim mentality which is encouraged today among ethnic and sexual minorities in the West to use them in an assault upon not only England but Greece too and all the Western nations. You are enabling the enemy who wishes to eradicate us and has turned our history into a weapon against us. The goal is to induce self loathing and guilt in a race which gave the world far more than it ever took. You need to read history from different viewpoints and not this one sided black and white morality tale. Greece is being subjected to the same degradation and corrosion, your race has give the world some of the greatest things but I am pretty sure there is some Turkish or Muslim narrative which depicts you as looters and murderers. Is not the Eurozone raping and looting your country? Are you not subjected to mass immigration? Don’t fight the West (you and I are Western) on behalf of our enemy who loves to divide and conquer. Take the time to question this narrative so prevalent today. It is distorted on purpose. Know who the real enemy is.

          • NPanamevris

            Yes I agree Paddy, but it’s not as narrow as u may think. I’m quite sure u will have the same perspective as I do when Islam takes over completely then u too along with ur people will be playing the victim card (& rightfully so!). I am definitely not fighting the west & as a Greek, I know exactly who the enemy is. These same parasites invaded my people 3 times in the past (Daruis, Xerxes & the Ottomans) & wud hate to see it happen again. So, I am quite aware of what my country has been thru & is being subjected too once again. We Greeks don’t give a rats arse what the Turks or Muslims think as we all know how far behind they are in their beliefs & thinking… they still believe that the earth is flat cause the Quoran sais so! But to them, just as it was/is to the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, etc, they believe they’re doing the right thing.
            If ever there was a pissed off race on this planet it’s the Greeks & Arthur C Clarke sums it up in one sentence…

            “If Christianity and Turkish occupation hadn’t stopped the Greek civilization from its advanced progress in mathematics , chemistry and physics the Greeks could have been to space 600 years before the Americans”

            This is what invasion & slavery does, it slows progress down 10 fold, it spawns rebellion that leads to war because of vengeance. Unfortunately, history will always repeat!

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            Do you see how you acknowledge the complexity of your history but then turn around and simplify my history into a cartoon representation right out of a Hollywood movie? All our nations are in the same dilemma. Enslavement by the ideology of democracy, equality and multicultural harmony, shackled by the bonds of usury, and gagged by hate-speech laws. We shouldn’t nurture grievances over the past deeds and misdeeds like the Jews and Arabs in a spiral of destruction and revenge but recognise our common enemy. Until that happens somewhere among our nations we are all going under. Golden Dawn are on the right path and that is why they are in prison. The past is unchangeable lets look to the future.

          • NPanamevris

            Golden Dawn does have the right idea, it’s trying to protect it’s people & nation from being taken over by outsiders & they are paying the penalty for it. Tell me, is it right for others to walk into ur or anyone else’s nation & tell them what to do, how to live & take over? The “simple point” I am making about ur history is just that, why did the British need to walk into to so many countries in this world & do exactly that. I know it’s the past & we shud learn from this but do u see the Brits ever doing the right thing & handing back those nations to the people they belong too? NO! because that wud make the past changeable. Hell, they don’t even want to hand back the Greek marbles that were stolen from the Acropolis so many years ago. Sorry to say Paddy, but I’m afraid there is no future & mankind is doomed… the dark ages are once again upon us & our grandchildren are the ones that will suffer.

          • Paddy Kilshamus

            Well I have to go to bed now. But I don’t think it is doom and gloom. The past is full of invasions and looting and injustice and I am pretty sure it will continue in the future. China and Japan have a lot of issues over the past which may erupt into a repetition of the same past behaviour. Life seems to be violent and unstable but there are periods of harmony which can only be appreciated in contrast to the chaotic periods. Perhaps these Empires are just natural phenomena which prevent the world of humanity from stagnating. Imagine how exhilirating it would have been to fight with Alexander the Great or join with the Romans in their conquests. Imagine if you sincerely and wholeheartedly believed that you were bringing something better and fighting in a noble cause? I believe the British Empire was inspired by that same belief, delusional as all the others perhaps and self serving etc etc from our perspective, but it is a sort of destiny which sweeps people up and carries them along and crushes others.Cruel and inhuman yes but perhaps that is preferable to a stagnant monotonous peace.We would fight today to cleanse our nations and the future would call us cruel but we would know we were doing the noble thing.Can you not see the past from inside it, understanding the context? Anyway nice chatting with you, I think we are probably in agreement somewhere.

          • NPanamevris

            Today Greece also has another threat bearing down on her that’s coming from the expansionist Slavs from Ex-Yugoslavia who want to call themselves “Macedonian’s” It’s one thing to invade & conquer ones nation but to actually try & steal it’s identity, history, culture, & claim our national historic figures (Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra etc) as their own before they do so is an even more despicable act, yet they are being helped by other nations, by pressuring Greece to let the Former Yugoslav Republic have the name “Macedonia” in order to achieve it’s goal… a future land grab!
            I can’t help but feel that just about everyone out there is against us Greeks.

          • NPanamevris

            “The goal is to induce self loathing and guilt in a race which gave the world far more than it ever took”
            I understand what ur trying to say here Paddy but one could also look at it like this;
            Take for example Michael Jackson. Lets say he was found guilty of molesting one kid, shud this one criminal act be overlooked because he has given & done so much more for the people with his music, generosity & donations ?… or is it OK with “he only did it once” attitude?

          • Sean L

            But there’s no race that doesn’t “gloat about their greatness etc”. Even subjugated peoples will find a means. Some Jamaicans revere His Imperial Majesty Haille Selassie Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah. And much of Black History consists of learning about ancient African empires. Talking of Africa, you’ve omitted from your list the most successful imperialists in world history ever, the Arabs. I say most successful not just because their religion/ideology remains a potent expansionist force today but also because their conquests are now so thoroughly Arabised/Islamised that their status as conquests has been erased from history; and those who have not converted to Islam, even though they speak the language, have either fled, eg Jews and numerous Christian sects, or are persecuted today, as with the Yazidis in Iraq, whose faith also precedes Islam.

          • NPanamevris

            Yes Sean they gloat but do U think its “greatness” when it involves rape, murder etc??? This is my whole point, people out there are delusional about what is great & what they shud be proud of. In England (& many other countries) today ur people ar facing the same treatment as the British Catholic extremists once did to others when they invaded. The Muslim & Islamic extremists today are trying to build their empire where they can teach & spread their beliefs, steal ur riches, rape & murder ur people in order to rise above & become the greatest empire in the world. Can u not see the hypocrisy of any gloating Brit that has a problem with this?

          • GraveDave

            They all hate the English.But still want to keep coming here to live. Especially all these disgruntled ‘victims’ of our horrible , evil, legacy. But what was it Trevor Philips said, if you’re black, England is the best place in the world to live today . And someone else, a certain Indian, whose name escapes me right now, that ‘if you had to be colonized, you could have done far worse than being colonized by the English.,

        • GraveDave

          And it happened long before the Anglo Saxons got in on the act, Their main crime being that they did it all better and far more successfully than anyone else including the Romans.
          Look at Boris, Old Saxon Head himself, yet he’s still fiercely proud of his Turkish roots.
          Right Bo?

          • NPanamevris

            Lol! & there’s the gloating I was referring to. U r so
            proud of the fact that ur ancestors stole, raped, murdered, & plundered better than anyone else on the planet in order to get to where their descendants are today without shame, only gloating pride.

            My turn to gloat. Whilst my ancestors were
            creating/inventing democracy, theatre, philosophy, medicine, maths, science, physics, the Olympics etc etc etc (the list goes on) including Architectural feats that the great city of London has so many buildings reminding u all of it, ur ancestors were picking fleas off each others backs whilst on a tea break when they were collecting & arranging large rocks in a large circle
            somewhere in the south of England.

    • GraveDave

      Why have you replicated this. Isn’t once enough?

    • Sean L

      Lol natives of this isle were still eking out a living in their mud huts while the Arabs were slaughtering and enslaving their way around north, east and west Africa, not to mention southern Europe. From a conquest and expansionist point of view Britons were relatively late on the scene. And according to the renowned scholar of slavery David Brion-Davis, the north European slavers in Africa were following an Arab precedent. They learnt it from the Arabs, who were trafficking African slaves centuries before the British ever set foot there.

  • Guest

    In every piece of land that the white Anglo-Saxon man has set foot on & claimed as his own, he has done nothing but thieved, raped, murdered, pillaged & plundered (lol, in a democratic way off course). So, let them keep the marbles as a “proud” symbol of their “heart of culture” cause the former is nothing to be proud of.

    • Anglo-saxon white man never claimed Ottoman Greece as his own (you’re thinking of swarthy Turk man)

  • “The final two paragraphs are pure ‘through the looking glass’. Which is closest to the Nazi agenda, Elgin’s exploitation of his imperial position to acquire the marbles or Greece’s desire to have them returned? To which cultural heart do they belong, the eclectic smorgasbord in the heart of Bloomsbury or the UNESCO World Heritage Monument from which they were amputated and whose artistic integrity will continue to be compromised until they are reunited ? And for whom did Pericles wish them to be a “possession for ever”, Athens or London?

    • GraveDave

      Does Athens still belong to Athenians then?
      See, you’re not so clever now – are yer.

    • Weaver

      They should be returned.

      But Greeece should pay us for 2 centuries of storage, security and mainainance. They would not have survived otherwise.

      • Matthew Taylor

        If that is the case, explain how the remaining Marbles Elgin left behind were well preserved & now on display in the Acropolis Museum?

        • Weaver

          Mmmm. Really, all of them? Is there any survivor bias to this statement?

          Seriously, I don’t have any strong feelings on this; except to note the world is full of expropriated artworks removed from their locality in premodern times. All very regretable to be sure but I don’t see why Elgin are different beyond special pleading?

          I suppose BM & everyone are just nervous about precedent for that reason.

    • I’m pretty sure they weren’t amputated from a UNESCO World Heritage Monument, were they BCRPM.

  • Tom Flynn

    You can take the boy out of Eton, but can’t take Eton out of the boy. London is not the Periclean paradise of democracy Boris describes, but a billionaire’s playground that excludes all but the very rich. Boris, put that in your Phidian pipe and smoke it.

  • ALL ART SHOULD BE PRIVATIZED

    Everything government does goes wrong and art is not an
    exception. That’s why all art, all
    monuments, and all cultural institutions, including museums, should be
    privatized. Even Acropolis should be
    privatized! The best way to keep art and
    culture safe is to keep it in private hands.
    Possession of art should follow supply and demand, not government orders. If the British Museum offers the Elgin
    Marbles for sale at two hundred billion euros, and you are willing to buy them
    at that price, they are yours.

    A dispute
    is heating up between Mediterranean and Occident, with ancient artifacts at
    stake. On one side, Mediterranean vehemently insists museums should return
    valuable archaeological treasures that are in their possession. Occident, on the other hand, refuses
    categorically to comply, pointing out the disputed items entered Occidental
    collections legally, most of them over centuries ago.

    Much
    is being lost because Mediterranean doesn’t have an established system for
    preserving historical artifacts, as Occident does. Occident also accuses
    Mediterranean of increasing arrogance, as cultural heritage is the last thing
    they think about. Mediterranean is
    calling for the return of archaeological artifacts originating in
    Mediterranean. The objects would find a new home in new museums.

    Cameron declares UK will never return the Elgin Marbles
    to Greece. Cameron says: I don’t think
    that is the right approach. I think the right answer is for the British Museum
    and other cultural institutions in Britain to do exactly what they do, which is
    link up with museums all over the world to make sure that the things that we
    have and look after so well are properly shared with people around the
    world. I certainly don’t believe in
    returnism. I don’t think that is sensible.

    • GraveDave

      When I was a kid I thought The Elgin Marbles just another bag of glass balls. But obviously very rare and valuable.

  • Sean L

    Impartiality of the law? You mean like the police maintaining a protective cordon around men inciting murder, with “Behead Those Who Insult Islam” banners, while at the same intimidating anyone minded to confront them, leaving them in no doubt as to whose side the law was on, or at least its enforcers. Or the woman imprisoned for saying “You’re not English. This is England, this is.” Sure.

    • I think you’ll find she was shot for saying that, not imprisoned!

  • Sean L

    Or the old men prosecuted on no more evidence than the uncorroborated say-so of their accusers for decades old offences involving inappropriate touching, while gangs of men engaged in the systematic raping of teenage girls have been allowed to operate with impunity? Is that the same impartiality of the law you’re talking about Boris?

  • TAKE ACTION

    Please email appeals to

    GenSecretary@justice.gov.gr, grammateia@justice.gov.gr, info@primeminister.gr, minister.office@yptp.gr, primeminister@primeminister.gr,
    proedros@nd.gr, proedros@primeminister.gr, vassilis.kikilias@kikilias.gr, ypourgos@justice.gov.gr, xathanasiou2@gmail.com

    Calling for the immediate stop of the persecution of Basil
    Venitis.

    Stating that you believe these trumped-up charges to
    bepolitically motivated and intended to prevent him exercising his right to
    freedom of expression against political corruption.

    Seeking assurances that the civil rights of Basil Venitis will
    always be respected.

  • CISCO KID!!

    I can not explain … but … I was proud, thrilled … and light … love … =) … I remembered, among other things, the French Revolution and its ugly and disgusting pre-Marxists with its rivers of blood in the name of dubious “noble savages,” … the first world war and the near destruction of Europe, land of my ancestors … of all the past and current attempts (!) communization of the world (a, where I live, latin america is almost all taken by such totalitarian cancer, and tries to hook your main enemy today the USA … – … seems to me that communism fell in Russia not really … many people say that the Soviets changed their strategy and continue acting completely active in the cultural sector through the promotion of “principles” politically correct … sabotage the customs and traditions using Western schools, churches, show business and its ridiculous celebrities:-) … journalists, politicians, etc, etc),

    And … of course, I thought about I.S.I.S. also …

    And so we have: The Universal Caliphate, The Russian-Chinese Alliance for Socialist International (which is alive), The Bilderbergs (and their stupid financiers of world socialism – Soros, etc.), the Forum of Sao Paulo … Besides the bandits common with their wild instincts (but without intent to rule the world, are too bums that prefer to act in the vicinity of where they live) …

    VIVA ATHENS !! And your friends (and among them, LONDON … but never forget the English who, despite being well educated in youth, were extremely stupid and betrayed all in the past – Kim Philby, etc …) !!

    I will stop here …

    But earnestly desire the victory (relentless, and can only be so) light from the west … the truth …, over the darkness of other worlds. For good and freedom of everyone in the world (and you always help to clarify many things here going against the politically correct socialist).

    Thank you, Spectator !!! ;-):-)

    Ass .: Francisco, of Saint Paul (city).

  • Francisco F.

    I can not explain … but … I was proud, thrilled … and light … love … 🙂

    I remembered …, among other things, the French Revolution and its ugly and disgusting pre-Marxists with its rivers of blood in the name of dubious “noble savages,” … the first world war and the near destruction of Europe, land of my ancestors … of all the past and current attempts (!) communization of the world (to where I live, latin america is almost all taken by such totalitarian cancer, and tries to hook up your main enemy today the USA .. . – … seems to me that communism fell in Russia not really … many people say that the Soviets changed their strategy and continue acting completely active in the cultural sector through the promotion of “principles” politically correct … undermine the customs and traditions using Western schools, the churches, the show-business celebrities and their ridiculous:-) … journalists, politicians, etc, etc),

    And … of course, I thought about I.S.I.S. also …

    And so we have: The Universal Caliphate, The Russian-Chinese Alliance for Socialist International (which is alive), The Bilderbergs (and their stupid financiers of world socialism – Soros, etc.), the Forum of Sao Paulo … Besides the bandits common with their wild instincts (but without intent to rule the world, are too bums that prefer to act in the vicinity of where they live) …

    VIVA ATHENS !! And your friends (and among them, LONDON … but never forget the English who, despite being well educated in youth, were extremely stupid and betrayed all in the past – Kim Philby, etc …) !!

    I will stop here …

    But earnestly desire the victory (relentless, and can only be so) light from the west … the truth …, over the darkness of other worlds. For good and freedom of everyone in the world (and you always help to clarify many things here going against the politically correct socialist).

    Thank you, Spectator !!! ;-):-)

    Ass .: Francisco, of Saint Paul (city).

  • Roger Hudson

    How pathetic, the relatively small Demos he loves so much was serviced by a vast number of slaves , a bit like London .

  • Francisco F.

    ….sorry, posted twice my text, and I do not know how to fix …

  • Chris Hobson

    Athens was run by a ruling elite whilst the plebs were fed the scraps.

  • beenzrgud

    The Athenians had laws, that would today be described as racist and barbaric, in order to protect their way of life. We simply invite and encourage those who would destroy us. Quite the opposite of Athens really !

  • Kaine

    OK, not a fan of Boris or his policies much of the time, but that’s really rather good. And it is refreshing, for once, for a politician not to be afraid of appearing clever.

  • CRYSTAL BALLS SEE
    GREEK MILITARY DICTATORSHIP IN FEBRUARY!

    http://venitism.blogspot.gr/2014/09/crystal-balls-see-greek-military.html

  • Jeff Miller

    Here is my take on Golden Ages and how to recognize them when you’re in one, assuming they are more than just a textbook convenience.

    https://medium.com/@jeffmiller_50455/nine-ways-to-recognize-a-golden-age-while-youre-in-one-42d5e65b97cb

Close