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Did the movie "Brazil" predict today's Greece?

The similarities between the Orwellian, dystopian classic “Brazil” (1985) and the Greece of Alexis Tsipras are striking.

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Following a recent cabinet reshuffle, one of the “new” faces which prime minister Alexis Tsipras introduced to his roster of ministers is one which is actually all too painfully familiar for the Greeks.
Fotis Kouvelis, often referred to mockingly as “Old Man Fotis” by ordinary Greeks, was named deputy defense minister as part of the reshuffle. Kouvelis had previously served as the leader of the “leftist” Democratic Left (DIMAR) party, which participated in the governing coalition which was established following the parliamentary elections of June 2012, alongside New Democracy and the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). This government helped usher in the painful austerity measures of the second memorandum between Greece and the “troika,” which had previously been agreed to by the highly unpopular non-elected government of European Central Bank technocrat Loucas Papademos.
DIMAR resigned from the governing coalition in June 2013 in the aftermath of the then-government’s shutdown of state broadcaster ERT, but the damage was done. DIMAR has all but disappeared from the electoral and political landscape of Greece. Apparently though, the same cannot be said of Kouvelis himself, who has now re-emerged in Tsipras’ government despite not having been elected.
Amazingly though, the classic Orwellian film “Brazil,” released in 1985, may have unwittingly “predicted” the Greece of 2018. Depicting a terrifying and dysfunctional retro-dystopian society at some unspecified point in the future, one of the film’s main protagonists was the “deputy minister” Eugene Helpmann, a man whose terrifyingly sinister side was camouflaged by his pathetic and “folksy” public stature.
As if Brazil’s director had a vision into the future, the side-by-side photo pictured above shows an incredibly eerie resemblance between deputy minister Helpmann (played by Peter Vaughan) and Fotis Kouvelis. However, is this the only resemblance?
The dystopian society depicted in “Brazil” was stiflingly bureaucratic and remarkably dysfunctional on the one hand, yet ruled by an iron fist by an unseen (but presumably “leftist”) government, of which the aforementioned “deputy minister” was the highest figure shown or even named to the audience. No one was at the controls. Yet the overbearing state was everywhere — as was the brutally efficient police force.
Is this really much different than the Greece of 2018, ruled by an “anti-austerity” government that introduced the third and most onerous memorandum agreement and set of austerity measures, which will remain in place long after Greece’s purported “exit from the memorandum” this August, and long after the expiration date of the current regime?
The Greek state is both purposely incompetent, with no shortage of horror stories of Greek bureaucracy and the Greek “justice” system, yet terrifyingly efficient. Elderly venders selling chestnuts on the street without a permit are harassed, intimidated, and arrested by the police, while even the smallest of debts to the Greek state are digitally confiscated from the bank accounts of the elderly and unemployed.
The riot police (MAT), which SYRIZA pledged to abolish in one of its many pre-election promises, remains fully operational today and has not hesitated to break apart demonstrations and to physically attack protesters, cracking the heads of elderly men who have the audacity to protest the continuous cuts to their pensions.
The state itself is overbearing and “paternal,” and in reality essentially inescapable. Establishing a business or corporation can be a nightmare. If a Greek owns a property which may have been inherited from relatives, or owns a car which may in fact have been purchased during better economic times, the system of taxation implicitly presumes “tax evasion” and levies a tax based upon an assumed income threshold which may not actually exist. Guilty even if proven innocent. For years, Greek households had to save receipts even for the smallest of expenses, in order to “prove” they were not evading taxes. Today, Greeks are encouraged to conduct all of their expenses electronically and with plastic cash, and are promised some paltry tax breaks for reaching a certain spending threshold using such methods of payment. Meanwhile, the state tracks all of your expenses, all in the name of fighting “tax evasion,” not much different to the universal surveillance state depicted in “Brazil,” created in the name of “fighting terror.”
For the privilege, Greeks enjoy one of the most stifling and regressive tax systems in Europe. Even staples such as orange juice are taxed at 24 percent. Instead of getting social services, health care and pensions one can live on, Greeks get a bigger, fatter state, rife with patronage hires (such as at the reopened state broadcaster ERT). Wealthy Greeks, however, simply move their money to offshore tax havens and are not investigated by the authorities, who are too busy harassing chestnut vendors and putting on a dog-and-pony show with the politically motivated Novartis scandal, which “coincidentally” rose to the forefront after the massive Macedonia rallies, to care.
Meanwhile, like his big screen counterpart Eugene Helpmann, Fotis Kouvelis is a pathetic public presence, one who exudes a timid aura even whilst supporting the most savage and onerous of austerity measures, such as those which his party helped prop up during their period of co-governance in 2012 and 2013. And it is this man who is now Greece’s deputy defense minister, at a time where Greece is facing unprecedented threats and provocations from Turkey, Albania, and FYROM, as well as an ongoing influx of migrants which is destabilizing Greek society and which may pose a national security threat.
While social media had a field day with Kouvelis’ political re-emergence and his appointment to this particular ministerial post (via the circulation of memes such as the one pictured on the left), the threats Greece is facing are no laughing matter, except perhaps for the clowns masquerading as the “leftist” Greek government.
It seems, therefore, that Brazil’s director Terry Gilliam may have unwittingly had an image of the future when producing Brazil back in the mid 1980s, an image which he then masterfully depicted on the big screen, a vision of the crisis-ravaged Greece of 2018.

Opinions expressed are those of the author alone and may not reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Hellenic Insider, its publisher, its editors, or its staff, writers, and contributors.

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Archons of Greek Orthodox Church issue toothless letter about abortion law

The good news is the Archons did say some good things in reaction to the New York abortion law. But there was no consequence.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In relation to our previously published piece about Governor Andrew Cuomo signing abortion into the New York State Constitution, we noted that at the time of the article’s writing, no entities within the Orthodox Church in any jurisdiction issued any kind of statement condemning this law. Of all fourteen universally acknowledged Local Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church was particularly of note, since their Archons awarded a humanitarian award known as the Athenogoras Award to extremely liberal, pro-abortion politicians, Andrew Cuomo being one of these.

Well, the Archons did issue a statement yesterday:

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Condemns New York’s New Abortion Law

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, strongly condemns the State of New York’s new Reproductive Health Act that was passed on January 22, 2019. This new law allows abortions up to the moment of birth and gives people who are not doctors the right to perform abortions.

The Order also deplores the celebratory atmosphere surrounding the new law, as One World Trade Center was lit pink to commemorate the passage of the law, as if it represented a great advance for the rights of women. The rights of no human being are ever advanced at the expense of another. The State of New York will not truly have respect for the rights of women until it once again restores legal protections for every human being, from his or her first moment of existence until natural death.

Hailed as progress, New York’s Reproductive Health Act is not actually an advance, but a regression, a return to a time of barbarism when the weak were at the mercy of the strong and had no protection from legal structures or governing authorities.

The Order implores New York’s legislators to reconsider this dangerous new law and reinstitute protections for all human life, no matter how weak and vulnerable. Only when such protections exist can any society truly prosper.

Rev. Alexander Karloutsos
Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Is this enough?

It does not seem to be so. Governor Cuomo and his award, along with pro-abortion Roman Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, also received this award at the same time Governor Cuomo did.

What did not happen in this letter was that neither politician was named, nor were the four (out of five) Greek Orthodox politicians in the New York State Assembly that voted FOR this law.

Neither did the Archons move to rescind the Athenagoras Awards they gave to Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Biden. This move appears to be still far too politically calculated, and keeping with the tragic, curious and distressing behavior of the leadership within the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Monomachos.com is a popular blog site whose editor, George Michalopulos, is undoubtedly one of the giants among those Greek Orthodox who seriously uphold at the notion that the Church ought never compromise herself. Yet, he was very happy with the letter that is shown above because for him it represented a “180-degree turnabout” in terms of the history of the Archons’ behavior, which he noted elsewhere as smacking of “the feeling that their primary job is to raise money for Istanbul.”

He neglected to mention the lack of mention of the Awards, but perhaps understandably, his surprise at any sort of traditional statement by this group was leading to exuberance where perhaps it is not deserved.

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to have an overall alignment with very liberal figures, and it is unclear as to why. But this tendency of people that are considered good and faithful Greek Orthodox churchgoers to align with liberal politics in the United States is very different than the sharply conservative tendencies of Russian Orthodox churchgoers, or Greeks or Romanians in the US.

The other rather liberal church is the US is the Orthodox Church in America, but this group does tend to involve itself in social causes in the US – especially abortion – in a very conservative, if rather feeble, manner. They do make their presence known at the annual March for Life and this is of great value.

We wish to name all the Greek Orthodox elected New York assembly members here, with their votes regarding the state abortion measure:

Michael Gianaris             (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Andrew Gounardes         (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Nicole Malliotakis           (R)                            – No. (and she is a woman!!)
Aravella Simotas             (D)                            – Yes.
James Skoufis                  (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.

This measure enshrined abortion at any point in a woman’s pregnancy as a constitutional right. The law stipulates several following procedures are now “rights:”

  • The law allows non-physicians to perform abortions.
  • The law allows abortion through the third trimester.
  • and the law repeals protections for babies that survive abortions (this means that if the baby gets delivered alive, it will still be killed.)

This is a barbaric law, and a resounding victory for people aligned with some very dark ideas about life and death. It is a tragedy, and while the Archons’ letter condemning it is at least a token statement, it really wants a full-throated response from the Christian world.

In fact, even Muslims and religious Jewish people ought to be outraged as well. All the Abrahamic religions understand that only God is the author of life. In this viewpoint, people do not themselves create life. We only cooperate with God to bring it into existence, by his blessing.

But we can cause death, and this power is influenced by forces that are not interested in God, traditional values, family, children or anything of the sort.

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Greek MPs pass Prespes deal with 153 votes in 300-seat House

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year.

The Duran

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Via Ekathimerini


Greece’s parliament on Friday ratified a landmark accord that changes the name of neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending a decades-old dispute and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who hammered out the deal with his FYROM counterpart last year, secured the parliamentary majority needed to get the accord approved with support from independent and opposition lawmakers.

“Today we are writing a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalism and conflict is giving way to friendship, peace, and cooperation,” Tsipras wrote on his social media account.

FYROM has already ratified the deal, brokered last year, and its prime minister promptly sent a tweet hailing the Greek parliament’s vote.

The settlement seeks to end a 28-year old row between Athens and Skopje over the use of the term “Macedonia” by renaming the tiny Balkan state “Republic of North Macedonia” to differentiate it from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia.

Greece’s European Union allies welcomed the ratification.

“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. “Mission impossible accomplished.”

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year. A general election is due by October, and his party is trailing the opposition New Democracy by up to 12 points.

The debate in the Greek parliament was heated, with voting almost interrupted on Friday when an MP for the right-wing Golden Dawn Party, asked to cast his vote, responded: “No to treason!”

Several MPs in favour of of the accord reported attempts to intimidate them.

Many Greeks fear the agreement could lead to territorial claims against Greece and say it constitutes an appropriation of their country’s ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Protests against the deal have at times turned violent this week, and on Thursday evening police fired teargas to disperse crowds outside parliament. Smaller groups of people braved heavy rain on Friday to demonstrate outside the parliament.

New Democracy slammed the agreement.

“This deal should never have been signed or brought to parliament for ratification,” party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament. “It is a national defeat … a national blunder that is an affont to the truth and history of our country.”

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