Thursday, July 26, 2018 ... /////

North Macedonia is a great name

Greeks trying to rob Macedonians of their name are brain-dead fascist filth

For many years, Greece was preventing Macedonia, a post-Yugoslav country, from joining NATO and the EU where – as far as I am concerned – Macedonia belongs much more than Greece does. Why did they do it? They didn't like the name.

Days ago, prime ministers of Greece and Macedonia Tsipras and Zaev agreed to solve the dispute by renaming Macedonia to "North Macedonia" – or "Northern Macedonia"? It's a great solution which recognizes that the current republic of Macedonia doesn't cover the whole territory that has been associated with that name. On top of that, this "new name with an adjective" is of a geographic character which means that it doesn't provoke anyone with ethnic suggestions.

The Balkan peninsula is full of hate and fanaticism about trivialities that Central European people such as myself find totally baffling. So even this solution faces a significant backlash in both countries. A nationalist Macedonian party finds the addition of "North" to be too big a sacrifice. And lots of Greeks claim that the Macedonians shouldn't have the right to use the root "Macedon" anywhere at all.

I find the latter group to be especially, stunningly nasty. Something is really wrong with a nation in which a Bolshevik moron such as Alexis Tsipras ends up being of the more reasonable guys in questions that the life actually brings every day. It's pretty crazy that we belong to the same EU with these Greeks – a union that many people would love to turn into a superstate.

OK, let me review the relevant history of Macedonia, starting from the ancient kingdom of that name.

The word "makednos" means "tall" in Greek and for quite some time, it was used for some tribes or seeds of kingdoms in the region. I think it remains uncertain whether "tall" referred to their physical characteristics or to the mountains in Western Macedonia where they lived.

What was much more important was one student of Aristotle (a student of Plato who was a student of Socrates if you forgot, thanks, Pepe and Steven) who lived some 2300 years ago and who was called Alexander the Great – well, he wasn't born as "the Great" but that adjective was added when he was turning into one of the world history's most successful commanders.

He's never lost a battle, unified Greece, and turned it into a huge empire. He became the boss of the whole Greek civilization but technically he started as a leader of a smaller territory, the Macedon, so he was technically Alexander III of Macedon. The number III suggests that he didn't start that kingdom but he made it so important – it was the kingdom that allowed Greece to become such a glorious empire.

The ancient Greek civilization was one of the cradles of the West. To achieve many things, they found slaves useful. Here you can see additional double standards. The political correctness expects all white Americans to be ashamed of being the descendants of slave owners. For some reason, Greeks – who have been the textbook templates for slave owners – are never criticized for that. They aren't expected to be humble because of this heritage.

OK, the Greek civilization was going to be incorporated into the Roman civilization which still treated Greece as its cultural heart. At some moment, the Western Roman Empire started to deteriorate. The Eastern Roman Empire i.e. the Byzantine Empire – which was run by the same old Greeks – outlived the Western Roman Empire by many centuries. Its glory was fading away as well and it was heavily reduced already around 500 AD but if you're strict, the Byzantine Empire only ended around 1500 AD.

Sometime around 500 AD, some 8 centuries after Alexander the Great and when the Western Roman Empire was already gone, Slavs arrived to the Balkans – possibly from an ancestral homeland somewhere between Belarus and Ukraine. Almost all other groups were moving as well, it was the Migration Period, stupid. They were self-evidently people from an underdeveloped, not too civilized realm, but these immigrants from the East (or Northeast) managed to replace the older ethnic groups in a few centuries.

They did so rather peacefully and they actually didn't disrupt the system of the Byzantine Empire. Instead, they were really "immigrants from the East who got assimilated rather smoothly", much like the Ukrainians who are migrating to Czechia these days. Because Christianity already existed, these Slavic savages were gradually educated and Christianized. In 626 AD, Slavs and two other retarded groups performed a siege of Constantinople, then a Byzantine capital. But that siege has failed, the Greeks won, and the Slavs became much more humble and started to officially recognize the Byzantine rule in the region (well, at the unofficial level, it could have been more ambiguous).

To make things even better for the Greeks, it was possible to use the Slavs as slaves to help the Byzantine economy; Slavic slaves were only banned after 1000 AD. The word "Slav" is Slavic and is related to "slovo" ("a word" because Slavs are those who can say words that are comprehensible to other Slavs LOL) but you must have noticed that the word is similar to a "slave". Is it a coincidence? Well, it's not. The Greeks simply took (note that I don't say "steal" because I am not like Greeks) the nice Slavic word for themselves, generalized it, and invented a great new word for all slaves – that was later imported to all Western European languages including modern English.

In the U.S., the PC police makes it mandatory to imagine a poor black guy if someone says a "slave". But they still haven't changed the fact that "slaves" are named after a group of white people who were considered savages, the Slavs between 500 AD and 1000 AD. Now, again, tons of black activists and their white soulmates constantly whine that they need some advantages because their ancestors were slaves. For some reason, Slavs who were the slaves who have even given slaves the name ;-), never complain about that history and have never received any compensation. In fact, many of us have ironically been treated as if they were slave owners! You have a white face so you must be an evil imperialist scumbag, we constantly hear. (Bill O'Reilly recently made the same observation – it's really stupid to blame O'Reilly with similar unspectacularly powerful Irish ancestors for slavery etc.)

Great. At some point in the 7th century, the glorious old Greek civilization was sort of decomposing across the Balkans Peninsula, anyway. Now, a fun point is that it was exactly the territory of Macedonia – a territory that already had lots of Slavs in it – that was keeping the old-fashioned Greek infrastructure in place. One could argue that something similar is happening today – it's the post-communist and Slavic Europe that intends to work in a similar way as Western Europe has operated for decades and centuries while Western Europe started to prefer a "better", suicidal trajectory.

The people in Northern Macedonia are surely descendants of the groups that have existed there for 1500 years, including and especially Slavs, but also Paeonians (of Thracian origin), Illyrians (a very ancient glorious group that could be the ancestors of not so glorious Albanians and therefore non-Serbian "Kosovars"), but also Greeks, Turkish and other Turkic tribes, and others. On top of that, the Slavs in Northern Macedonia were often referred to as "Bulgarians" – there's no mathematical test that unambiguously determines whether the name is appropriate. It's surely problematic as hell – e.g. because the word "Bulgaria" is derived from "Bulgars" who were Turkic, not Slavic, tribes. Bulgarians nurture their own ideas about a combined Turkic-Slavic origin of their nation.

I don't want to discuss the messy history involving the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire because it's gone – at least so far. :-) But let's jump to the 19th century. Greece wanted to be great again so the Greek authorities started a program teaching all the Slavic-speaking people in Macedonia that they were really descendants of the Macedons. The goal was to nurture the Greek-Macedonian ties and make sure that the Macedonian territory sort of belongs to the Greek sphere of interest.

What's truly ironic is that Macedonians are sometimes attacked for daring to call themselves Macedonians and to associate themselves with the heritage of the ancient Macedonia. But it was actually 19th century Greeks who deliberately started to promote this association!

These efforts to "make Macedonians feel that they're close to us" was rather universal. Bulgarians wanted Macedonians to "feel" as a part of Bulgaria, too, and the Serbs were trying to make Macedonians feel Serbian. It's ironic that the contemporary (especially Greek) nationalists are basically trying to achieve exactly the opposite – to make sure that your neighbors think that they have nothing to do with you! Why this is supposed to be a "good idea" remains unexplained. Of course, I think that the folks in the 19th century were more rational. You want surrounding nations to "feel Greek" because it makes it possible to incorporate those territories into Greece or at least its buffer zone.

At any rate, the 19th century Greek campaign was absolutely successful – whether or not the Greeks actually believed what they were saying. The Slavic-speaking Macedonians began to consider themselves heirs to the ancient kingdom of Macedonia. In 1918, after the war, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was created and Northern Macedonia was a part as the "Vardar Banovina", a region with the capital in Skopje. In 1928, the kingdom got renamed to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In the 1940s, Yugoslavia turned the Northern Macedonia into the autonomous "People's Republic of Macedonia" and unsurprisingly, Macedonia planned to keep a similar name after the dissolution of Yugoslavia two decades ago. In my childhood, I've always considered "Macedonia" to be a part of Yugoslavia; the lessons about the Greek roots came later and were always just a cherry on a pie for me.

Are the Northern Macedonians linguistically close to Alexander the Great and Aristotle? Probably not. Aristotle didn't speak any Slavic language – which hadn't existed yet (our ancestors were Balto-Slavs at that time, the Slavic split from the Baltic nations was just getting started). Are the Northern Macedonians genetically close to Alexander the Great? Well, they have some small admixture of the Greek DNA and the DNA of other ethnic groups that could have been a part of Alexander's setup, too.

But can they associate themselves with the country and its name, Macedonia? You bet. Macedonia has been a name for that region – whose Northern part (about 1/2) is Northern (post-Yugoslav) Macedonia but that also has a part within Greece (formally called "Macedonia" since 1913) and a small portion inside Bulgaria ("Pirin Macedonia"). So Macedonians are just using a standardized geographic name for that region (plus additional parts in the South and East) that has been used for over 2000 years. And they name themselves after that geographic name. How could someone possibly object to that? Lots of other nations are doing exactly the same.

On top of that, they are not obliged to be "ethnically close" to the authorities they choose to worship and to use as a template for the name of their nation. The first "state" on the Czech territory was Samo's Empire in the 7th century. The inhabitants were Western Slavic but these proto-Czechs just appointed a Frankish (i.e. Germanic) merchant Mr Samo as their leader (largely due to the gratitude to this German exporter of weapons that the Slavs found helpful and reliable against the Avars). Should the Germans or Franks complain that we use the name of the Frankish origin for "our" empire? Well, that's ludicrous. That name was a fact – Samo was our "president". We respected him and he had the power – and in the sense of power, it was a Germanic empire. So what the hell are you talking about? In the same way, even if the Macedonians were overwhelmingly Slavic, they could still be more loyal to the particular Greek-speaking "Macedon" leaders. Why couldn't they feel to belong to the Macedonian statehood regardless of their DNA? In fact, history indicates that these Slavs indeed were unusually loyal to the "Macedon" leaders in the very same 7th century.

If you describe the history by saying that the cruel killers and land grabbers Slavs (who were actually humble immigrants and hippies believing in Pagan gods who assimilated and served as slaves for the Greeks) "stole" the Macedonian territory, well, it's still important that it was successful. And if they stole the territory, they surely stole it with the right to keep on using its name as well, haven't they? And they associate themselves with the heritage of the Kingdom of Macedonia. This has some reason that goes very far to the history: As I mentioned, Slavs were already there in the 7th century when that kingdom was one of the last places where the "Greek civilized structures were still alright". If the ancestors of the citizens of Northern Macedonia have associated themselves with the Greek kingdom's history already 1300+ years ago, why couldn't they do it today?

The general widespread idea that the Greeks have some "right" to prevent other nations from using words of Greek origin or related to Greece is just absolutely stunningly stupid and I think that the Greeks are the only nation in the world that is being obnoxious in this particular way. As I repeatedly discussed, Czechia got some of this medicine when Greeks whined that we can't use the good old term "Greek yogurt" for a type of a yogurt product that came from the Balkans. I think that the diaries have already surrendered – too much hassle – but just try to appreciate how insane it is for them to "ban" the term "Greek yogurt". It's been a part of the Czech language – used by regular speakers, not just TV commercials – for a very long time. Moreover, Greeks can't even pronounce "řecký" ("Greek" in Czech). It's exactly like banning the Russian wheel, Russian roulette, French fries, Brazil bands, Roman and Arabic numerals, Debrecen ham, African Americans, Turkish honey, Swedish table, and dozens of other things I could enumerate.

"Pils" is the name of 90% of the beer that is produced in the world today and this label is derived from "Pilsen" which boils down to the Czech name "Plzeň" of my hometown – and that was probably derived from "plž", a Czech word for some snails that were around (some experts say that this is a myth and Plzeň is named after the archaic Czech verb "plzěti" for "soak"). In Pilsen, the transparent (not opaque) golden lager was brewed for the first time in 1842. So 90% of the beer in the world claims to be linked to the nice snails close to my home. Is it fair? Can we get trillions out of it?

Well, we can't. It's morally disputable whether the "contemporary citizens of Pilsen" (let alone the current Japanese, Asahi, owners of the brewery) deserve any fame – the Pilsner beer was first brewed by Joseph Groll, a Bavarian brewmaster who was hired by the Pilsner elite and who brought some know-how from his dad, too. Most importantly, most of the rich consumers in the world think that some of the later approximate clones of Pilsner Urquell are actually better than the original from Pilsen. Is it true? I don't know but most Western consumers surely think so which is why they pay 5 times more money for a copy than the price of the original pils. So how could we get trillions just from the damn word "pils"? We just can't. No one is attempting to get the trillions. It's not really possible. It's not really decent to even try or suggest it. Instead, we may be flattered that something that is globally important enough is named after our city of 170,000. But the brand has otherwise no value, just like the Greek yogurt. We don't call it a Greek yogurt because we think that Greeks are glorious and the best producers in the world. Most of us prefer Austrian and German realizations of all the Greek (and Italian) food. "Greek" is a totally neutral label to distinguish these products from other classes of products, like our good old Czech yogurts or the Icelandic ones. Greeks can't get a penny from that. If needed, we just rename it and the loss of consumers is zero. Well, it has probably taken place.

Needless to say, the efforts to strip the Macedonians from their name – in fact, without even proposing what the alternative name could be – are much more serious and evil than some Greek whining about the Greek yogurt. Just imagine that this harassment would be applied to other countries and their names.

First of all, lots of other countries have Greek names. Ethiopia was once believed to represent "all of Africa" during the Roman Empire and "Ethiopia" comes from the Greek words for a "burned face" – try to guess the reason. "Egypt" is a Greek word, too. America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer. Just imagine that: if it were as insane as many of the Greeks, the Italian government could send a memo to Trump, informing him that they no longer allow the U.S. to use this copyrighted Italian surname, especially because Trump had nothing to do with Vespucci. You may rename your country to the United States of Šitholes or whatever you like, the Donald, and boast to be Šitholians instead of Americans but you just cannot be America any longer because America is an Italian name that celebrates the glory of the Italian explorers.

The same Italian government would send a memo to Bucharest. Romania cannot be named after "Romans", the citizens of the Italian capital. That shameful name "Romania" could also be misinterpreted as Bucharest's territorial demands and plan to conquer Rome. Norwegians would send a memo to Moscow. Russia is no longer allowed because it comes from a Viking word for some racially pure, Nordic tribes. Ankara would warn Sofia: Bulgars were Turkic tribes so some Slavic-speaking savages cannot use the name for their country. Bohemia and Bavaria would fight a bloody war who can use the name "Home of the Boii", before Ireland and Scotland would destroy both Bohemia and Bavaria, claiming that as the most accurate descendants, they have the exclusive rights for the name of that glorious old Celtic tribe. And I could go on and on and on.

Pretty much the same Macedonians have just lived on the territory called Macedonia for some 1500 years and for more than a century, they found the name and the historical connotations pleasing enough to embrace the name and the history of the kingdom as a part of their identity and their history. So they just call themselves in this way. There exists absolutely no conceivable justification for preventing them to use the word. I think it's been despicable that Greece has been harassing the Macedonians – a smaller nation – in this way for so long, especially if you realize that it's really a nation that surely contains lots of the descendants of the slaves who were owned by Greek slave owners; and if you appreciate that the loyalty of these Slavic-speaking folks to the Kingdom of Macedonia was originally a Greek invention. After those nearly 1500 years, unlike others, these local Slavs have integrated into the Kingdom of Macedonia or what was/is left of it (and they were better at this integration than others). You can't instantly reverse 1500 years of the evolution.

And there's one more point: the modern Greeks may be linguistically and genetically close to the ancient Greeks but when it comes to the values, productivity, and attitudes to life, work, and knowledge, many other nations are actually much better heirs to the ancient Greek heritage than the modern Greeks (and many people from other nations also know the ancient Greek culture and history more than many Greeks do). There are no enforceable laws that could keep the copyrights after 2300 years – all copyrights are limited in space and time. And even if copyrights worked for descendants after 2300 years, it's just debatable whether Greeks would win the lawsuit. So it's just silly for the Greeks to imagine that they have the power to strip others from their freedom of speech or from thinking about their own identity and their own loyalties. Just because the Greek language was the most important civilized language 2300 years ago doesn't mean that the modern Greeks have the power to decide about much of the contemporary world.

In fact, I think it's shameful that the other European countries and the EU haven't prevented the Greeks from harassing Macedonia in this way. I sincerely hope that this harassment will stop – and that the Northern Macedonia will escape from its partial international isolation that was caused by the unfriendliness of the Greeks.