George Iordanou Politics, Philosophy and (not much) Real Life
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Articles in English

The enosis fiasco signified a new low

What I find most disappointing is not that the whole enosis debacle almost led to the collapse of the negotiations, though it is deeply disheartening to see two leaders almost giving up on a joint Nobel peace prize for the sake of satisfying the extremists within the bounds of their respective communities. Rather, what I find most disconcerting is that mainstream political parties decided to support a bill promoted by the self-professed sister party of the Greek Golden Dawn. And let’s not kid ourselves – it is by now evident to anyone possessing the slightest sense of dignity and reason, that the Golden Dawn, and by extend, ELAM, are full-blown neo-nazi parties and not the mere nationalists they so desperately portray themselves to be. Whereas in other countries mainstream parties form...

Setting red lines

​Setting red lines is really not a good idea. When one sets a red line, he proclaims that some options are off the table. He specifies how much he is willing to go in relation to a contested issue, effectively showing off all of his cards at once. Sometimes red lines are genuine, other times they are symbolic or a product of political maneuvering. Proclaiming something as non-negotiable is costly and should be done only with full awareness of the potential cost. Red lines are maybe useful when discussing the terms of the negotiations; that is, the conditions and the format of the negotiations, especially when there is room for getting once’s own prior to the actual diplomatic process. Otherwise, red lines render one vulnerable to the label of the aggressor; you become the person to...

Indestructible

How a common injury triggered existential concerns I went to the doctor with E. I used to make fun of my parents who went to these things together, but here I am, sitting in front of a doctor, the universal secular authority figure, telling him about the increased pain in my lower back. He examined me. “You most likely have some sort of dicopathy, a problem with one of your lower discs,” he said. “As you are young and fit, it might be a good idea to have an MRI in order to decipher what exactly is causing your pain.” A week later, the MRI results were in, and my phone rang. It was the doctor. “You have discopathy at L5 S1. A surgery is not necessary but you will need physiotherapy. Give me a fax number to send you details”. I asked him a few questions...

Making sense of #brexit resignations

The political landscape in post-#brexit U.K. reminds of the creation and subsequent destruction of Buddhist sand paintings, known as sand mandalas. This is the process whereby coloured sand is strategically placed on a surface through an extremely laborious and time-consuming process in order to create a lovely and detailed sand painting, only to be ritualistically dismantled soon after completion. Like the sand mandala takes weeks of round-the-clock work to create only to be destroyed in mere minutes, the U.K. is experiencing a rapid dismantling of its political and social order, which was moulded over decades of cooperation within institutions such as the E.U. A multiculturally-oriented Britain is rapidly transformed into an inhospitable place, with political campaigns reminiscent of...

The rest of us and #brexit

The UK was never a hospitable place for “foreigners”. Not outside London and university campuses, at least. Nonetheless, I care about the place and its people, I have an attachment to it, having lived there for nearly a decade. The referendum results are devastating. Racism, nationalism and xenophobia prevailed. My heart goes out to my many friends who work in the UK and help make it one of the world’s stronger economies. The British people have spoken. They very clearly sent the message that you’re unwelcome to *their* country. And this is so very sad. However, it’s time for the rest of us to show moral superiority. British people must and will remain welcome to our countries all across Europe. We need to be better than them, to contain the racism and...

Is being a hypocrite so bad?

Recently in the UK a conservative peer of the House of Lords was caught by the Sun, using an illegally installed hidden camera, snorting cocaine from the breasts of a sex-worker. Notwithstanding the illegality of using a class A drug, the accusation that was levelled against the married Lord was that of “staggering hypocrisy.” He was, after all, head of the Lords standards watchdog, the body responsible for judging peers who misbehave. On first instance, the Lord is surely a hypocrite. However, we should not have acquired knowledge of his immoral behaviour. After all, whatever one does in the privacy of their own home is really none of our business. But now we know, and we judge. For better or worse, his indiscretions are now a matter of public record, and the public should...

What is nation-building? Rousseau might have the answer

We do not live in monocultural states. Our modern states are multicultural and include people with different life-plans, comprehensive doctrines, and perceptions of the good-life. As such, the concept of the nation-state is outdated and so are nation-building policies. If ever states were monocultural, they no longer are. Now states are multinational. But how did the now outdated idea of the nation-state came about? By reading the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau we can get an insight into the thinking that established what we today describe as nation-building policies. The state and the nation are two concepts that have been combined, creating the modern understanding of the nation-state. The theoretical origins of the nation-state are found in Rousseau’s idea of the general will...

The precariousness of ‘gig’ economy

The article “New ‘gig’ economy spells end to lifetime careers” published in the FT by Mr John Gapper, romanticizes precarious employment and caricatures the notion of stable employment, despite the author’s best intentions to balance the benefits and the worries generated by ‘gig’ economy. Precarious employment is often characterised by lack of healthcare and pension benefits (briefly mentioned in the article) and by the inability of the part-timer and/or the contractor to make long-term plans. How can one lead a life worth living if temporariness is a constant and major source of insecurity? The article not only discounts the adverse effects of precarious employment, it also caricatures stable employment by reducing it to the concept of “lifetime careers.” The opposite of precarious...

Etiquette on Outsider Commentators on #Greece

Should people who live outside of Greece express strong opinions on whether Greece should stay or exit the eurozone? I, for one, feel that I am not entitled to express such strong opinions. Having a strong opinion, of course, is one thing. Expressing it, is another. I object to the second, and this is why in all my encounters and discussions about Greece, I apologetically provide caveats of my privileged position in this debate. Outsider opinions tend to take two formats. They are either opinions expressed by experts who live and work outside of the country, or opinions expressed by laypersons. Both kinds of opinions are useful; the expert helps structure and crystallise a debate, and the layperson provides an outsider’s perspective. The picture is far from rosy, of course...

Tsipras lost me before the #Greferendum, but it’s not completely his fault

Published in the Cyprus-Mail under the title “Why I can no longer support Tsipras,” July 12th, 2015 On Saturday, a day before the referendum, I argued that I will no longer be supporting Tsipras even though I was in favour of the NO vote. Having read the Greek government’s latest proposals to their creditors, as they were submitted on Thursday night, I stick to my view. I’m glad I don’t vote in #Greferendum. I wld likely vote NO. But I wldn’t be supporting Tsipras anymore. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/YoINMUuA5C — George Iordanou (@iordanou) July 5, 2015 These are the five reasons I gave that explain why I no longer support Tsipras and his government. He called people to vote on a document that was no longer on the table. The consequences of either...

If you object to the army, you should stay true to your convictions

Published in the Cyprus-Mail under the title “Army lessons from Socrates,” June 28th, 2015. Should one support an immoral institution just because the law says so? What are the options available to those who are ideologically opposed to what is charitably called the Cyprus Army? In this article I address the brave young men of Cyprus who oppose militarism urging them to stay true to their conscience. When one objects to serving in the army for reasons of conscience he has two options: to pay 50 euros and get a note from a shrink verifying that he is not fit for service, or to declare that he will disobey the law on the grounds of conscience, which is an inalienable right guaranteed by the European Court of Human Rights. Sadly, teenagers usually opt for the first option which...

The metaphor of re-reading

These days I recall earlier times of my childhood, when I had few worries and plenty of free time. I remember summers when I was a teenager, lying on the floor of an air-conditioned room, reading books far too complicated for my age. I re-read the same books years later, only to find out that my experiences have changed, that the text now conveys something completely different. This is hardly surprising. The books do not have an essence in themselves. They live and survive through the experiences of the reader, locked within the reader’s social context, awareness and framework of understanding. Since then, I visit some books on a yearly basis, a pilgrimage of the secularly minded to the time that passes; a tribute to an earlier self, and a rite of passage to the future. The ritualistic...

The UN and the EU should use their carrots to steer towards a multicultural solution

Published in the Cyprus-Mail under the title “Role upgrade needed for EU and UN,” May 21st, 2015. Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots have not been able to solve the Cyprus problem between them. Neither have they been able to solve it through the involvement of their respective motherlands. The Cyprus problem will only be solved through the United Nations and the European Union, who are already involved in the process, and who should use the carrots that they hold in order to steer the two sides towards a multicultural solution. Bear with me, this is not yet another oft-repeated Cyprob cliché. The aforementioned intergovernmental organisations must promote the respect of diversity and the rights of all people — including non-dominant national minorities (e.g. Maronites...

Should we reconsider the “Bi” in Bizonal Bicommunal Federation?

Published in the Cyprus-Mail under the title “Reconsidering the ‘bi’ in bizonal, bicommunal federation,” May 24th, 2015. Once the dual meaning of the term “Greek-Cypriot” is deciphered, then one must proceed to understand the process of misrecognition that took place during the crafting of the 1960s constitution. Non-dominant minorities have experienced their ethnic, religious and linguistic identities denied to them in the name of their membership to the Greek Cypriot culture. This is what I describe as the process of misrecognition, where the initial classification of a cultural group conditions the demands that the group is entitled to make. Such acts of misrecognition have been legitimised with the 1960 bicommunally-organised constitution, and perpetuated in...

What it means to be a Greek-Cypriot?

Published in the Cyprus-Mail, May 17th 2015. In the case of Cyprus one must distinguish between the dual-meaning and usage of the dominant cultural identity. The identity and label of the Greek Cypriot (GC) can have two completely different meanings: there is a constitutional (civic) definition and a cultural definition. The civic definition is that which is found in the 1960 constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, where a GC is a member of the Greek national group. Nevertheless, the civic definition of being a Greek Cypriot includes Armenians, Latins and Maronites, who “chose” to join the GC ethnic group back in 1959, only months before the introduction of the new constitution, as well as recently naturalised third country nationals. As such, to be a GC in the civic sense...

George Iordanou Politics, Philosophy and (not much) Real Life

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