For nearly 2000 years, Western civilization has lived in the shadow of Rome. Everything has revolved around that. The dreams of tyrants inevitably centered upon her restoration. Rulers were Emperors or Tsars, both undeniably Roman terms. Translatio Imperii defined European politics for 1500 years. Every age has produced ambitious generals and seductive politicians bent on the culmination of this.
“…the papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof: for so did the papacy start up on a sudden out of the ruins of that heathen power.”
The Catholic Church is, in effect, the only surviving Roman institution, and it provided the unifying meta-culture of the Medieval Age. If it were not for the Church, it is likely that learning may have been extinguished and the notion of “Western Civilization” would have died, trampled upon by the Germans, speared in its heart by the Muslims and extinguished completely by capricious kings. Today is no different. East and West remain separate. Christianity is dying in the West, maligned and hated by the political Left, and the West’s cultural unity is dying with it. If the Church could save the civilization, its destruction can also ruin the same.
The Greek government has betrayed its own people, though we shouldn’t be surprised overmuch at this development (this is what governments do, after all). When Rome permanently split in Eastern and Western halves in 395AD, a situation most people thought temporary, the two spheres of influence parted ways, creating divisions that continue to this day. Greece is on the other side of this division. Betrayal is necessary to keep it tethered to the West.
After that split, the West soon fell to the Germans. The East sought, with some limited success, to reassert control over the West at various points in Late Antiquity and the early Medieval Age, but slowly the West slipped away. For much of the Middle Ages, Byzantium, the Eastern Empire, was the ascendant superpower. It converted the Russians and the Serbs into its fold, just as the West brought the Germans and Scandinavians into its own fold. It fought the Muslims for the better part of 1000 years. By 1054AD, the division was great enough that even the Church was no longer considered a unifying factor between them.
The language, culture and history of the Eastern Empire were fundamentally Greek. The Greeks invented Cyrillic and the Armenian alphabet, derived from their own. They converted the Russians, the Serbs and others in the region. This notion of Greece as a member of the European Union, as a fundamentally Western power is very new, and dates back to the British infatuation with Greek independence from the Ottomans in the 1820s. Prior to this, it wasn’t just considered a part of the East. It was the East, since the days of Alexander.
The conflict today between the European Union and Russia can be seen as a reversal of the status quo of the Middle Ages, where the East was the stronger power. America, a descendant of the West, and Europe are set against Russia, the only remaining Great Power of the East. Ukraine and Greece are the battlegrounds (as Serbia was until recently, also). Even the Cold War can be looked at through this lens, with the two descendants of Rome fighting for control over the world.
But the West is falling, in terminal decline. America was her last gasp for supremacy. Ascendancy seems to be passing eastward again, and in this context, I don’t see Greece remaining with the European Union much longer. Links to Russia and Serbia are ancient, deep, and forged in blood. Only the banks hold Greece for the European Union, and they are failing.
For a time it seemed as if Russia had been defeated, with the collapse of the Soviets, and that the old Roman Empire would be reunited under European and American leadership. With Europe and America at odds, the West culturally weak, and Russia culturally ascendant, it seems that this won’t happen. Like the days of Justinian, Charlemagne and Napoleon, Rome shall not be reunified in our time. East and West shall not meet. Brussels shall not achieve what Belisarius could not do.
Iron shall not cleave to clay.