Greek historian calls Greece "a strong failed state"

Historians in the News

Rachel Donadio is the Rome bureau chief of The New York Times, who has been reporting from Greece.

...Where is the line between a weak state and a failed state?

I posed the question to Thanos Veremis, a reform-minded historian and a supporter of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, the former European Central Bank official who is now attempting to govern Greece ahead of elections expected this spring. “Greece is a strong failed state,” he answered almost cheerily. I looked around the room. We were drinking Earl Grey tea in the elegant Grande Bretagne Hotel in Syntagma Square. Across the tiled mosaic floor, the other tables were filled with politicians, former politicians, one long-bearded priest in black robes and several smartly dressed men doing business over their laptops. If this was a failed state, it functioned remarkably well....

Greece today feels very much like the front lines of something — the dissolution of an economic order, the transformation or undoing of the ideals behind the European Union. After World War II, the countries of Western Europe bound themselves together through treaties in the hope that economic interdependence would lessen the threat of war. But economics is not enough, it seems. In “A Grand Illusion?” — a prescient 1996 essay on the European Union — Tony Judt called the belief “that social and political institutions and affinities naturally and necessarily follow economic ones” a “reductivist fallacy.”...

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