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Notes of a curious mind

Category: History (Page 1 of 3)

Ο Αγνωστος Καραμανλής του Κωνσταντίνου Τσάτσου

«Δεν νομίζω ότι υπήρξα μεγάλος. Φαίνομαι ίσως μεγάλος, γιατί δεν είχα άξιους αντιπάλους.»

Κωνσταντίνος Καραμανλής

Πρωτοδιάβασα  το  Ο Άγνωστος Καραμανλής του Κωνσταντίνου Τσάτσου το 1984. Ο Κωνσταντίνος Καραμανλής έκτιε την πρώτη του προεδρική θητεία (μέχρι το 1985 που τον  διαδέχθηκε ο Χρήστος Σαρτζετάκης). Δεν είμαι σίγουρη ότι είχα τότε αξιολογήσει σωστά ούτε το βιβλίο, ούτε ειχα σκεφτεί αρκετά για τον Κ. Καραμανλή. Κάποια πράγματα απαιτούν μια  απόσταση και  μια ωριμότητα, τόσο χρονική όσο και συναισθηματική.  Το να  διαβάζεις για έναν πολιτικό, όταν ακόμα αυτός βρίσκεται εν ζωή, σε μια εποχή έντονων μεταβολών τόσο σε επίπεδο κοινωνικών συμπεριφορών όσο και σε επίπεδο πολιτικών και διοικητικών θεσμών, ίσως  να μην ειναι και  ο καλύτερος τρόπος να αποτιμήσεις την πορεία, το πολιτικό έργο και τον χαρακτήρα ενός πολιτικού.

Οι αυταπάτες, οι παλινωδίες και οι λαϊκίστικες εξάρσεις των τελευταίων χρόνων, με έκαναν να γυρίσω πίσω,  να ξαναδιαβάσω για το παρελθόν, όχι τόσο για να καταλάβω το παρόν, αλλά περισσότερο για να θυμηθώ και να ξαναγνωρίσω έναν από τους ανθρώπους που διαμόρφωσε την νεώτερη πολιτική πορεία της χώρας και που ξεχώρισε για τον πολιτικό πραγματισμό του, αλλα και για τα στοιχεία, θετικά και αρνητικά, που συνέθεταν την προσωπικότητα του.

Η φιλία και η εκτίμηση του Κωνσταντίνου Τσάτσου προς τον Κωνσταντίνο Καραμανλή είναι γνωστή. Παρόλο που Κ. Καραμανλής δεν ταυτίστηκε απόλυτα με τη φιλοσοφία του Κ. Τσάτσου η εκτίμηση ήταν αμοιβαία και ο Τσάτσος υπηρέτησε ως υπουργός στις κυβερνήσεις του. Ο φόβος του κομμουνισμού αποτελούσε τον κεντρικό άξονα των πολιτικών και θεσμικών επίλογων του  Κ. Τσάτσου, ενώ ο Κ. Καραμανλής δεν πίστευε στην ιδεολογική απομόνωση και δεν είχε μιλήσει “για κομμουνι­στική απειλή ούτε για ανάγκη να περιορισθούν τα δικαιώματα των μη εθνικοφρόνων.” [1]

Ο Άγνωστος Καραμανλής  είναι ένα δοκίμιο που αποβλέπει σε μια ενδοσκόπηση της προσωπικότητας του Κ.  Καραμανλή. Μελετά τον Καραμανλή σαν προσωπικότητα, τον εσωτερικό άνθρωπο, το ήθος και τον χαρακτήρα. Πως, αυτός άνθρωπος, με αυτόν τον χαρακτήρα, έρχεται σε επαφή  και πως συνεργάζεται με τον κόσμο γύρω του.

To βιβλίο δεν είναι ιστορικό, ωστόσο o K. Τσάτσος αναφέρεται σε ορισμένα ιστορικά γεγονότα, κυρίως των ετών 1955-1967 που συνδέονται με το πρόσωπο του Καραμανλή, για να γίνει πιο πλήρης η σκιαγράφηση της προσωπικότητάς του και για να εξηγήσει την θέση του Καραμανλή μπρος στην Ευρώπη και τον κόσμο. Στο δοκίμιο περιλαμβάνονται και κάποιες επιστολές του Κ. Καραμανλή όπου εμφανίζεται η πολιτική σκέψη του.

Απόσπασμα από επιστολή του Κ. Καραμανλή το 1945

Δυο πράγματα στον Καραμανλή εντυπωσίασαν τον Κ. Τσάτσο. Πρώτα ότι η πολιτική πορεία του Καραμανλή ήταν ευθύγραμμη. Οι βασικές του αρχές και σκέψεις  ήταν οι ίδιες από την νεαρή του ηλικία, στην περίοδο της Κατοχής και ήταν πολύ προοδευτικότερες από εκείνες που επικρατούσαν στην παράταξη από την οποία προερχόταν.  Δεύτερον, την ενδεχόμενη πολιτική άνοδό του την αισθανόταν σαν κάτι φυσικό.

Το πήδημα από τη θέση του υπουργού, του πετυχημένου εκτελεστή, στη θέση του πρωθυπουργού μου φάνηκε ότι το έκανε χωρίς δυσκολία, διότι μέσα του το είχε εκτελέσει ήδη προ πολλού ….. Χωρίς να το δείχνη, χωρις να το διακηρύσση, αναγνώριζε στον εαυτό του την ιδιότητα του ηγέτη, σαν να είχε γεννηθη γι’ αυτή την αποστολή.

Ο Καραμανλής έζησε μια μοναχική ζωή. Ενσυνείδητα  και προμελετημένα είχε πλάσει την εμφάνισή του, αυστηρή, αινιγματική και δυσπρόσιτη για να κρατά τον τρίτο σε απόσταση.  Πίσω όμως από τη βιτρίνα του απρόσιτου, λακωνικού, ακόμη και αγριωπού πολιτικού ηγέτη υπήρχε ένας βαθύτατα συναισθηματικός άνθρωπος, που όμως δεν επέτρεπε να ξεφύγει τίποτε από μέσα του που θα μπορούσε να χαλάσει την εικόνα του εαυτού του, όπως την ήθελε ο ίδιος να παρουσιάζεται στους άλλους.

Ουσιαστικά,  ο Κ. Καραμανλής έκτισε απο πολύ νωρίς, αυτό που σήμερα ονομάζουμε πολιτικό branding. Μια εικόνα / προιόν (brand) δηλαδή που ενισχύει το κυρίαρχο αίσθημα και την εντύπωση που έχει το κοινό ή  ο λαός για έναν πολιτικό, και δημιουργεί – παρ’ όλα τα αρνητικά χαρακτηριστικά που αυτό το  πρόσωπο μπορεί να έχει – ένα αίσθημα και μια σχέση εμπιστοσύνης μεταξύ του πολιτικού και του λαού.


[1] Ν. Αλιβιζάτος Ο Κ. Τσάτσος και το Σύνταγμα του 1952, 1947-1967.

Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe by Anne Applebaum

“For a thousand years, the geography of the borderlands dictated their fate,” writes Anne Applebaum in her evocative and well-written book, Between East and West: Across the Borderlands of Europe, which first published in 1994.

In the 1991 and 1992, an era of social, political and economic turmoil, Anne Applebaum travelled in the countries of former Soviet Union, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, across the borderlands that constitute Europe’s far east landscape. The Soviet empire had ended but nothing else had yet replaced it. Longstanding institutions, such as the Communist Party, had vanished. Corruption was rampant. New politicians constantly replacing old ones. The desire for freedom and national sovereignty had raised troubling questions about identity. In the next few years, political, cultural and military conflicts shook the territories that used to be part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union.

The end of the Soviet Union, saw the “construction of homelands”, a process in which the nationalist elites and intellectuals, mobilised the myths and the images of a homeland, in order to reinforce the depiction of a nation as an ancient community and to give people a sense of belonging. Nationalism became attractive and synonymous with decentralization and democratisation and nationalists were considered democratic and progressive heroes.

Anne Applebaum take us to a journey into the past and the post-Soviet era of Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. She travels us to an area defined throughout its history by colliding empires, cultures and religions.

“Travel here demands a forensic passion, not merely a love of art or architecture or natural beauty,” she writes.

“there are many layers of civilization in the borderlands, but they do not lie neatly on top of one another. “A traveller can meet a man born in Poland, brought up in the Soviet Union, who now lives in Belarus – and he has never left his village.”

 

1876 by Gore Vidal

I regard politics of the country as an ongoing comedy, which, this evening, has suddenly sheered of into wildest farce.

Gore Vidal was feisty, elegant, clever and witty. A prolific, versatile writer. A notorious fueder. A giant of literature. Perhaps, the last of his kind.

1876, is the third volume of Vital’s Narratives of Empire, a series of books examining the history of America. Like his previous book Burr, is set mostly in New York City. It is a novel written as a memoir with Charles Schermerhorn Schuyler, as a narrator.  Charlie has just returned to New York, with his daughter Emma, the widowed Princess D’Agrigente, after living in Europe for over 30 years.  It is the eve of the centennial year’s controversial election between Samuel H. Tilden, the Democratic Governor of New York and Rutherford B. Hayes, the Republican Governor of Ohio.

The fact that I can longer tell a prostitute from a fine lady is the first sign that I have been away [from NYC] for a very long time.

Having lost all of his money in the Panic of 1873, the financial crisis that become known as the Long Depression, Charlie hopes to rebuild part of his fortune and secure a good marriage for Emma. Working as a journalist for the New York press, he moves around in the political cycles and in the American elite and wealthy class that owns vast sums of money. He witnesses the scandals of Grant’s second administration, and the financial chicaneries that often involved the railroad barons.

He chronicles the events, the tactics and the conflicted resolution that brought Hayes in the U.S presidency, despite the fact that that Samuel Tilden won the popular vote and led the electoral college. But the electoral votes in the three southern states of Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina were disputed as each party reported its candidate had won the state. After almost four months, from November into late February, of increased tensions, the Congress established a 15-member Electoral Commission to resolve the issue of who was to become the nation’s next president.  The commission voted 8-7 to award the votes of these three states to Hayes. Money played a big part, too.

As the deals were hammered out to settle the election, Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction in the South giving the states the ability to treat African Americans as they saw fit. After leaving office, in 1881, Hayes devoted himself to the cause of educating African-American children in the South.

1876 is daring, beautiful, witty and insightful. Just how much of the account is historically accurate we do not know. But as Charlie Schuyler says, “There is not history, only fiction of varying degrees of plausibility. What we think to be history is nothing but fiction.”

It is remarkable that in a suit filled on December 2016 by a member of the Electoral College at disrupting Trump’s path to presidency, his attorneys made a reference at the turmoil cased in 1876 after “disputes concerning electors from multiple states dragged out for months after Election Day.’

Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos by Hardeep Singh Puri

The United Nations is an international organisation created in 1945 shortly after WWII to encourage resolution of international conflicts, to uphold international justice and to promote social progress. In the words of Dag Hammarskjöld, second UN secretary general, the United Nations was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save humanity from hell.” Since 1945 the United Nations helped save millions from poverty and diseases, and from diseases and local wars and conflicts.  Today it has 193 country members and the challenges it faces are varied and vast.

Hardeep Singh Puri, an eminent Indian diplomat, Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013, is the author of Perilous Interventions: The Security Council and the Politics of Chaos. He served in the Security Council from 2011 to 2013, during which time a wave of political upheaval and civil wars swept whole regions and affected the lives of millions of people.

This book is a chronicle of the interventions the UN Security Council (UNSC) has made in the past few years, in deeply divided countries, from the perspective of an Indian diplomat, non-permanent member of the UNSC.  It deals with some of the most terrible events of our day, the overstepping of the mandate on Libya at the beginning of 2011, Russia’s unilateral decision to annex the Crimea from Ukraine, the lack of consensus among member-states in Syria, the use of force in Yemen, and finally with the doctrine Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which was endorsed by all member states of the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit.

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Thirteen Days – The Cuban Missile Crisis, October 1962 by Robert F. Kennedy

U-2 was a remarkable plane. It was designed to operate at 70,000 feet (about 21,000 metres), higher and for longer periods than any other aircraft since then. It was equipped with large-format cameras, finer that any made before, designed by Edwin Land, a flamboyant genius and Harvard dropout who had already invented the Polaroid.

In October 1962, a U-2 flying above Cuba photographed nuclear missile sites being built in secret by the Soviet Union. John F. Kennedy was stunned by the provocation. For the past year his administration was making efforts to establish better relations with the USSR. The installation of ballistic missiles in Cuba represented an existential threat to America.

It was the beginning of the Cuban crisis – a confrontation between the two giant atomic nations, the United States and the U.S.S.R which “brought the world to the abyss of nuclear destruction and the end of mankind.”

Thirteen days is Robert F. Kennedy’s personal perspective about this significant period in history. Bob Kennedy, brother and trusted advisor of the President, ovides a behind the scenes, sensitive and insightful account of the events, the tense debates and the ethical questions that took place from 16 October to 28 October, 1962. 13 dates during which the world held its breath.

On October 28, 1962, Khrushchev agreed to turn his ships carrying more arms back and to remove the missiles already stationed on the island. The world was able to breathe a big sigh of relief. After more than a half century, nuclear weapons still pose a real threat.

In this little book, Bob Kennedy remind us that a leader’s supreme quality, is the responsibility to consider the effect of his/her actions on others.

Inventing the Individual by Larry Siedentop

Is Christianity the foundation of our Liberal Individualism? In this wide-ranging and ambitious work, Larry Siedentop attempts to answer this particular question.

Siedentop’s central thesis is that Christianity was the foundation upon which liberalism was built.  Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism is a historical narrative spanning from Antiquity to the Medieval Period, 2000 years of history. Siedentop tells a remarkable story. Beginning with an overview of the Greek and the Roman world, where society was built around a patriarchal family, he goes on to examine the controversial Medieval period, generally considered as a period of cultural decline and stagnation. And yet, argues Siedentop, it was during the Medieval period that the ideas and beliefs of equality, individualism, egalitarianism, self-realization and free will, ideas that are identified as distinctively liberal, were developed and provided the space for secular liberalism to rice.

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