"The Society of People in the Time of Post-Neoterism, of Holisticity and of Globalizaton"1/1/1999
The end of the century and the millennium finds the world in unprece- dented confusion, since the period of the collapse of ideologies was succeeded at this transitional point in time, about which contradictory theories and opinions are formulated, such as i.e. "clash of civilizations", or "the end of history", which instead of dissolving the confusion, tend to extend it. The result is already starting to appear as the new climate within which all of us soon will be obliged to live, the main characteristics of which appear to be the decline of humankind’s value, his submission to authority and his enslave-ment to electronic technology. The society of persons is preparing to yield its place to the society of information. This barrage of information conceals great suffering for the political freedom of man and plans to establish a complete system of governing the world based on information. More so, in other countries and less in Greece, we realize the creation of a new order of things that is gradually but steadily forming and is determined by three basic starting points, which are Post-neoterism, Holisticity and Globalization.
All three of those pivots tend to mark the ideological developments of our times. Post-neoterism recently became the main tide on the level of ideas of our times, starting with Art as post-modernism and passing quickly to the more systematic forms of word and expression. Post-neoterism expresses the philosophy of the ending of everything, even of God. According to it, every- thing is valid relatively, and no one or any thing has the right to project principles of universal validity. In that way the enterprising theories, the utopias, the programs of collective transformation of society are pushed aside to the margin, and "the open society" of tolerance is sought. Besides which, another end, the end of History, is drawn back up by the Hegelian thinking of the 19th century in order to interpret the situation of the end of the 20th century. Related is also the end of politics, because of the first place that economics rank in postmodern time. The domination of the economic model becomes completely independent in the internationalized capitalistic society at the end of the 20th century and dominates in all the manifestations of society life, putting aside to the margin the sphere of politics. Besides, accor-ding to the theoretical directions of economic liberalism, politics must breathlessly follow the commands of the financial market and free commerce that mechanically overcome the problems they have created and that lead to the production and reproduction of community life. In this new order of things, the national and culturalistic differentiations provoke a temporary disorder that are threatened either with violence or with the procedure of culturalistic personification in the dominant model.
And the reason about end has no end. Recent prophecy foresees the end of employment. The increasing amounts of unemployment that appear in all the developed western societies, as the consequence of re-connection of economics and the reformation of companies support that interpretation. And so comes the end of our civilization that had as the base the Newton- Cartesian example of analytical rationalism. Perhaps in that order of end, the end of God can be placed. Around 1900 God had gone "into retirement". The modern urban program had managed to demolish the pyramid’s tip of the medieval – scholastic universal idol and then in the post modern times, God and the Absolute had not even slightly become the object of curiosity. In that way, since the word was used to tear down God from the heavens, now he himself is torn down and is self-destroyed. The word promised freedom and brought totalitarianism; it linked with civilization and led to barbarianism, into the margins, and to the complete annihilation of civilization.
Finally, the word about the end arrives also to the end of Man, of the human subject as a dissimilar, unique, self-conscious and free personality. "If the problem is that God died", states Erich Fromm, "during the 20th century, the problem is that Man died, that Man is dead". Today every human of postmodern society experiences his end within the "metal cage of rationalism and bureaucracy" in the society of isolation that transforms him and his fellow man into numbers, to statistical sizes that are interchangeable between them. In that way, Post-neoterism, despite its gaudy and pompous title, brings with it, the known from ancient myths and ancient religions, the subject of the end of the world, and so meets with ancient eschatology. But that word has its contra-diction. Intellectuals exist who support a continuation rather than the end. That contradiction directs the word about the end of ideologies, as well as the very optimistic word about the "magic" abilities of modern technology, whose applications is believed will be the solution and the panacea for all the problems of man. Society and the times must cease to be determined by all the creations of man and to begin to be determined by men themselves. That is, we must transfer from a manufacturing society, not to a society of informa-tion, but to a human society.
With Holisticity, enlightenment of details is pursued with generalities. This means that the diverse components of cultures resign when facing gene-ralities, and the particulars of traditions that mould self-awareness concede their place to more general principles that are commonly accepted by most. In other words Holisticity, as a philosophical current leads to a gradual de-composing of every characteristic, and pollutes the worth of man, who by his nature is placed by his exclusiveness and uniqueness and only with those presuppositions consists of the foundation of every civilization. Finally it appears that the new philosophy of our life, since it denies the details, plans for a mass grouping that we have already begun to accept. The equalization that is being tried for everything is the necessary consequence of that logic. Persons today are directed toward spiritual castration and the only thing that is left for them is to protest without anyone listening. They have been changed into unapproachable individuals.
Besides with Globalization the necessity of the individualism of peoples is withdrawn permanently from the stage of history, and not only the walls of ideas are abandoned, that at other times separated and distinguished cultures and the peoples, but also their individual characteristics. This new tendency is strengthened more and more, and cultivates the leveling of everything, and creating conditions of insignificance of all the characteristic signs of cultures and ideologies. Globalization means a common vision and outlook based on the choices of the powerful. Withdrawal and perhaps the disappearance of localization, that exits within our daily lives and traditions that nurture the trees of our lives with their juices. Holisticity, in that way, and Globalization are removed from local traditions, religions, languages, forms of expression of all people, and foresee in the construction of a New Age where none of these will be distinguishable by the people anymore. It has to do with syncretism, the merging of religions, cultures, traditions that existed in history as the forerunner of the abolition of the entire world. It has to do with the projection of a one-dimensioned new order of things in the nations probably, rather than globalization.
And of course, at the base of this pursuit is said – to prevent anticipated reactions- that the search for unity of all in a single community as a way of life and understanding of the world. The lure of unity induces the uninformed, but the paralytic threat against individuality and self-consciousness is clear. The entire world thus becomes not only a neighbor-hood in many other ways of communication, economy, politics, but also a family in a cultural aspect. This is already a desirable pursuit for Europe with the establishment of the 4th Portal, as a spiritual basis for the unity of its peoples. And this is because man as we know him up to now does not have many hopes of survival.
And here arises the question, what must be done? How can man hope today that he will not become pulp within the melting pot of his remodeling? How can people keep their individuality, the substantive elements of their entity? Can we hope that the self-determination of every person as his self understood individual right could become respected? Is there a report in the Christian Churches of Europe for the salvation of modern man? Can we hold on somewhere in order not to stoop down, and become swept away into the loss? Are there any chances of hope? Can the Christian Churches of Europe offer positive assistance to drowning man? Does the Orthodox Church of Greece have any possibilities of offering?
It is not easy to always give a convincing answer to those questions. Europe is going through a deep spiritual crisis, that is determined by religious syncretism or relativity and the philosophical fatigue, the absence of new things that are occurring now in the West give rise to depressing ideologies for the future of our western civilization. When “Christian” countries forbid public prayer in the schools in order not to distress those who disagree, when “Christian” universities teach theology together with satanism, when one sees the extent of child prostitution in our “Christian” societies, when discrimination finds the territory to develop there, then the need for direct confronting of the situation is understandable. The Christian Churches of Western Europe struggle to restrain the flow of alienation that’s sweeping the European Christian civilization and the European people; to keep the situation within the controlled framework; to remind about the need for the people to return to traditional values of a forgotten and pillaged civilization. I follow closely those admirable attempts, and I am saddened about the relatively small response that they have in the formation of a new image. When I spoke with western European responsible members of the church, I witnessed their anxiety for responsibility that they realize in themselves for the future of that world. Also for the expectations they rely on Orthodoxy of the East for the transfusion of new blood of Christian genuineness in the body of the wounded by the alienation of Western Christianity.
At this point, I would like to emphasize that the Orthodox Church, in general, continues to authentically believe that wherever Faith in God and Love for man, whatever man - despite sex, religion, nationality, race, as well as social position or financial condition - do not exist, then the Church cannot exist there. The clergy of the Orthodox Church during our 2,000 years of Christian presence in the background of history did not belong and will not belong to classes; we did not get involved with secular authority, and we did not attempt to change the Church into a secular institution. We stayed away from political ambitions, and shared the destiny of our people. Our Church, during its historical course has known great trials and persecutions, especially during the 20th century. But also during the past, here in Greece, it lived in captivity for many centuries together with its people, and its monasteries became hiding-places for freedom fighters, as well as secret schools to maintain the language and our self-awareness. That’s why in Greece, Church and State are meanings that complete one another and fit into one another. The state recognized in our Church its contribution for the maintenance of its self-consciousness, and it held within it a bright place in its heart. That explains the close ties of the Church and State in Greece. Without changing the Church to be run by the state, it ensures the possibility to act within an atmosphere of freedom because of the people, its broad spiritual mission, that embraces the whole world and spreads out to all persons without discrimination. We do not claim, nor have we ever claimed participation in the taking of government decisions. That is exclusively the right of the lawful government of the country, which in each case, prior to deciding, it dialogues freely and democratically with the interested parties. Within that same framework, we too have the right to support our opinions, when having to do with decisions from the government, for an issue or for issues that are of interest to us, and we are sorry that only for us, exceptions to the rule are made, especially when we express the opinion of a significant majority of the Greek People.
Our Orthodox Church lives always in an atmosphere of love and freedom. That’s why phenomena of discrimination or xenophobia, or intolerance or chauvinism or unhealthy nationalism that have harassed and continue to harass the people could find territory to develop. Not even phenomena of religious fanaticism, alienation of those who disagree, or the “others”, or fundamentalism could find a haven in Orthodoxy to develop and be accepted. On the contrary, discrimination was condemned as heresy even in the past century. Even I, as the head of the Church of Greece, have repeatedly given examples through word and deeds about my positions on those issues, against the heterodox and other religions that live in Greece, planting at the same time, the slogan for the need for peaceful co-existence of all of us within our democratic system, without negative prejudices and separations. At the same time, the Orthodox Church participates in the ecumenical Movement as a founding member of the World Council of Churches, the Council of European Churches and in all the agencies of the European Union. We are already participating in theological dialogue with the heterodox, and we watch with hope the vision of Christian unity. We contribute positively toward its attainment. In our country, religious freedom exists with the free practice of worship for every known religion, as required by the Constitution and the laws. Proselytism of course is not permitted, that is, the capturing of the conscious with illegal and dishonest methods, with the use of bait and methods of exploitation of the needs of others. This ban is also for the Orthodox Church. The free movement of ideas is not forbidden. Our Church was the first to give an example of a strong presence in society in order to face and solve mostly spiritual but also material problems, which trouble man. That’s why today in Greece, the Orthodox Church first lavishes on the people spiritual support and cultivation based on the Divine Revelation and the Word of God; then, secondly, has undertaken with its own funds more than 1,000 institutions of social welfare (that is, boarding houses, orphanages, homes for the aged, meals, hospitals, shelters for the homeless, pre-school stations, schools, etc.) and develops a very broad network of financial aid to persons in need, young people, university students, the sick, isolated, by giving first the example against xenophobia and offering food and protection to thousands of foreign unemployed persons, who have sought refuge the past few years in our country.
Finally, I would like to emphasize that our Church disapproves with aversion, violence as being contrary to the will of God; it dialogues with everybody in a spirit of agreement, understanding and humility; it is interested in peace, ecology, bioethics, the significant problems of our times, and it has a European orientation, just like our country. Many times I have stressed that our quality as Europeans does not revoke nor should it revoke our quality as Greeks. We are a people with a rich history and tradition, and if we have something to offer to our brothers and sisters the Europeans within our common home, it is basically, our spiritual wealth, which is a common property of mankind. In Europe we are functional not only with our participation in the developmental programs, but also because we have something to offer. Our spiritual message and our orthodox ethos, born in this place, demand a critical stance against all that is contrived today, and threaten our dignity and foundation.
Facing the emerging new phase of developments of our societies into anonymous masses, our Church stands with resolute faith in God and in His living image man, wanting to save him from the estrangement, that post-neoterism and Globalization hold in store for him. It is clear that the danger of our estrangement and enslavement to technical methods and practices that humiliate the human person are lurking outside our door despite all the pompous hymns for human rights that are sung today from every direction. The threat of the cloning of man, the pollution of the atmosphere, the consequences of globalization, the humiliation of man; all together they have at their base intellectual litter. Pateric Orthodoxy offers and reinforces its role for the renewal of man.
The unbelievable brutal powers that threaten to destroy young people, to obliterate families, to change peoples into a total without history and without perspective. This crisis is not faced with ideological sayings or political choices that have dubious results.
And at this point the possibility of contribution by our Orthodox Church emerges here in our country, and outside of it. Orthodoxy is not a romantic notion. It is a proposal that with humility strengthens the hope of fallen man of our times. It is a proposal of life. The Greeks were always saved within Orthodoxy. Our “technocratic”, “financial” and “mass” era where the simple man is in danger of ceasing to be a non recurring value and to be changed into a code number, calls upon all of us for vigilance in order to save ourselves. The “person of the masses” of globalization is expressed in assembly line form. Starting with clothing to food, and social behavior to moral standards that are practically the same; they begin to direct our way of thinking and the activities of persons in the entire world. Man without boundaries, the cosmopolitan, is flattered into believing that he is free, progressive, and independent of ties. In truth, he belongs to the wanderings of peddlers, to lost horizons. The other, he who has religion, a country and family and values; it is he who our generation and Europe need. And it is that man that Orthodoxy shapes and supports: that man with self-consciousness and identity - the real European. The times necessitate a broad opening of our Church to the world in order to give it vision, hope and especially life.
It is satisfying that our young people are returning to our traditional values. It is not only the “adolescents” who surprise us by participating in the “Parliament of Adolescents”. It is also the other young people that the recent research of the General Secretariat of the Young Generation” brought to light. These young people (15 – 29 years old) displayed an impressive turning toward their Tradition. They embraced spiritual values of family, of faith, and country. And the love, which Greek youth demonstrated recently toward the Church, is a display of that turning.
The great problems of our times, the gigantic undertaking of the cultural annihilation of the Christian discoloring of Europe, the social opening of the gap between the rich and the poor, galloping unemployment, hunger and alienation, violence and xenophobia, discrimination and fundamentalism, the modern philosophical currents of denial and immorality necessitate in every well intentioned citizen who lives in this country and in all of Europe the recruitment to our common principles, resistance against the annihilation and action to confuse our civilization. And as first, Orthodoxy has already undertaken its tasks. And it expends in the attempt to save our people from alienation and decline, by offering the unspent wealth of its spirituality, of its tradition.
We all very well know that in Greece, religion, our Church, for many centuries linked to many solid and non-dissolvable ties with the Greeks, so that only those who want to oppose the beliefs of the people comprehend a separation of public life from Orthodoxy. This is probably true more or less also for other European countries. For us, however, it is a feeling of adequacy, strength, and endurance. Our faith is non-negotiable. We discuss when necessary in order to inform and convince. We say, that is, yes to dialogue, but no to compromise. We do not want to lose, nor should we want to lose that faith. And simple declarations, of course, are not enough. We mainly need practical measures that will tighten, not slacken that feeling. When one sees danger approaching, he seeks supports of stability. He does not weaken them; he reinforces and uses them. And for European Greeks, religion is a strong and unmovable support that we want to remain, not only for each one of us, but for all of us, for all of society, for the people and our nation to be strong and salutary. To whoever denies this, we could overturn the verses of an Alexandrian poet:
"Concerning our religious glorifications, the hollow Julian said:
" "I read it, I understood it, and I learned it." Supposedly he crushed us with his "I learned it"… Those kind of "smart" remarks have no bearing on us Christians.
"He read it, but he didn’t learn it. Because if he had understood it, he would not have learned It.", we immediately answered."