Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Cultural Challenge

Yannis’ Trilogy

Volume one: In Bed with Madness
Volume two: The Greek Inheritance
Volume three: The Future of the Past

Yannis Andricopoulos

The Cultural Challenge, a trilogy first published in 2008 by Imprint Academic in both the UK and the US, was a humble citizen’s warning. Liberal imperialism, corporate greed, global injustice and environmental degradation are destined, Yannis Andricopoulos argued, to lead us to a broad and evastating crisis of authority.

The financial crisis that erupted in the same year, accompanied by growing inequality, illegitimate international military interventions, the rise of the jihadis and the migrant crisis, all of which tarnished the moral credentials of capitalism, alienated many people from the élites and led to the rise of know-nothing populism have only validated his prediction.

But they have also reinforced his argument that the reinstatement of Justice as the supreme principle to which everything is subordinated should turn into humanity’s primary goal. The establishment of an ethical society and also of political institutions that provide for the horizontal spreading of power require, however, nothing less than a cultural revolution. This is the subject the author focuses on particularly in The Greek Inheritance and The Future of the Past sections of his Trilogy, which is now also available on kindle.

In-Bed-with-MadnessIn Bed with Madness: Trying to Make Sense in a World that Doesn’t
Globalism endowed us with McDonald’s,‘the world’s local bank’ and English football teams without English players. It has also given us an irrepressible desire for more as enough is never good enough – the blanket is always too short. Meanwhile, our personal world as much as our social and political realities seem to have blithely surrendered to the madness of a civilization which views anything from corporate greed and global warming to military adventures as a door banging in the wind. The destructive capabilities of our age, Yannis Andricopoulos holds, have run too far ahead of our wisdom. However, the process is not irreversible if our thinking can postpone its retirement. In Bed with Madness is ‘a well-argued, powerful and profound indictment of contemporary culture’, stylishly and humorously written.

The-Greek-InheritanceThe Greek Inheritance: Ancient Greek Wisdom for the Digital Era
The culture of ancient Greece, a culture of joy, was replaced by the Judaeo- Christian culture of faith and then by the capitalist culture of profit. Yet, it is the only culture worth fighting for if we want a world run by humans rather than theocracies, nanotechnologies or private equity funds. Yannis Andricopoulos views the Greek culture as the front line of the battle against individualism, materialism, authoritarianism and religious extremism. In a world turned into the corporations’ playground, this is also the battle for human values, civic virtues and an ethical society. The Greek Inheritance traces the conflict between the Greek values and those of the repressive, religious or capitalist order throughout the millenniums. The book is challenging and well-written with a light, humorous touch.

The-Future-of-the-FacistsThe Future of the Past: From the Culture of Profit to the Culture of Joy
Universalism in its old forms has, just like door-to-door milkmen, gone for good. But the search for some universally accepted ethical standards cannot be abandoned – values are not colourless as the wind and odourless as thoughts. Looking into our world from the classical Greek point of view, Yannis Andricopoulos wonders whether we cannot place Justice again at the heart of our morality, look forward to the happiness of the individual rather than the upgrading of his or her consumer fantasies, and endeavour to create, not more wealth, but a just and honourable world. The Future of the Past, noted for its elegance and humour, is written in ‘a lively, challenging style guaranteeing to stimulate debate’.

‘This is tangible, compelling, driven and heartfelt writing at its best. Andricopoulos, who thinks of our world as being “…as fragmented as a broken mirror, as perverse as fighting for a place in the hell- express, as bland as a portion of Kentucky Fried Chicken,” has a Ph.D. in Diplomatic History and worked as a journalist in London’. – Kathryn Adams, Leonardo Online – The International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology

‘This is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read. It is the sort of book that makes the works of Oliver James, Deepak Chopra or Tom Hodgkinson fade into insignificance. Why more people haven’t heard of this guy is beyond me. Seriously. You’ve got as far as the Amazon page. I highly recommend you get it.’ – O’Neale

‘This is basically a breath-taking whistle-stop intellectual and cultural history of the Western world, where to adapt Pythagoras, not ‘Man’ but Ancient Greece is the measure of all things. Certainly whetted my appetite for Greekness.’ – Rodger Kibble

‘These books, which are full of soundbites that snap at the heels of your conscience, are a well-argued, powerful, profound indictment of contemporary culture, that end paradoxically with hope.’ – Crysse Morrison

‘This trilogy is impressive. Yannis’ background is somewhat intense and arguably “rigorous”. All of this comes to bear in this trilogy of books, which outperform De Botton by streets and are as well written and closely argued as anything of Comte-Sponville. Go for them as a set and make Philosophy relevant to your and other people’s lives.’ – Oliver W. Davies

‘Erudite and provocative, these books are ultimately hopeful and help open up a new dialogue that potentially expands our human capacity’. – David Lorimer

‘This is a thought-provoking work written with good style. What Andricopoulos made me realize was that a world which is run by greed will doom us all. It is a world in which people are alienated from their work, where everything is for sale and where everything is valued in terms of profit. In this world there is no concern for the well-being of others, there is no concern for environment. It is a selfish world. But, self-deceptive or not, I like to cherish the idea that all is not necessarily lost. Except that, as Andricopoulos writes: “the challenge is not practical…it is primarily spiritual and cultural. It is a challenge for our psyche. To meet it, we need to rediscover who and what we are — indeed, what is the essence of being human.”‘ – Antti Kuusela, Metapsychology

The books are at once witty and thought-provoking. Writers’ News

Would you like to read The Trilogy? You can buy a range of Yannis’ titles from Amazon, Blackwells, Book Butler, Imprint Academic or by calling Skyros Holidays on 01983 865 566.

History, Politics & Dreams

A Gripping and Entertaining Story

Reviewed by Ari Badaines

HPDAri Badaines is a clinical psychologist - here he reviews Yannis Andricopoulos‘ book, History, Politics and Dreams.

When I was a kid (in the USA) one of my favorite TV programs was entitled ‘You are There’ and it brought to life major U.S. historical events such as the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Actors in full costume would represent the major people involved, and none other than Walter Cronkite (who would in later years become America’s most trusted newscaster) was the ‘reporter/commentator’.

Reading Yannis Andricopoulos’ book,History, Politics and Dreams reminded me so much of that program because with his personal comments, perceptions, and erudite commentary, it is very much as if you are there in 20th century Greek historical and political events. And not just hearing it from an objective reporter, but from one who adds his own interpretation with an often humorous and very personal emotional colour as well. It comes alive as does Yannis in the description of historical events of recent years in Greece and England and their influence on each other and Yannis’ life. He provides glimpses and entertaining stories of how history and politics shaped his own personal journey and his view of how society could be.

It is also a journey of personal survival in a world that often lacked caring and resources – he vividly describes his economic struggle led to feelings of despair as a new husband and then father.

Politics Begins with the Family

The author’s deep and far ranging historical and philosophical knowledge of Greece’s Golden Age allows him to bring references from that period’s culture, mythology and philosophy that illuminate the current political and cultural crisis in Greece and in the West with a very sharply focused bright light.

One of the strengths of the book lies in these literary references and his ability to bring the wisdom of ancient Greece into current Greek/UK/EU relationships and events; but, even greater power derives from the author’s own voice. And part of the richness of that voice is that it speaks openly and honestly, with a sharp eye for enriching anecdotes:

‘The Greek student movement in Europe at the time was in shambles, just like all the other Greek democratic political forces. The blow the dictatorship had administered was devastating, the omnipotence of silence deafening, and the prospect of a quick return to what would approximate normal conditions looked as unlikely as God’s chance to make a four-sided triangle. ‘’God’’. Paracelcus said, ‘’can make an ass with three tails, bu not a triangle with four sides.’’

Andricopoulos points out that Aristotle said that politics begins with the family. The individual has to be good, because the polis depends on it, but the goodness of all is necessary for the goodness of each. Thus individual goodness was not the task of the individual alone. The polis also had to ensure that a man becomes and remains a good man. In contrast, his experiences with student unions and other groups with high ideals but were consumed by their own selfish or limited views. His view was that in recent times in the West a society emerged where ‘Greed is Good’, and selfishness and superficiality prevailed. ‘Politics, as seemed from its adytum (Go, ahead – I had to look it up too!! – A. Badaines), was based on the most immaculate conception of self interest. The politician did of course, have a view of the world in line with some convictions, commitments to some fundamental articles of faith and well-articulated concepts of the right and the good. But the whole some of their policies was almost always compromised by calculations of self-interest.

Quoting Darius, Herodotus made this point beautifully. ‘’Men’’, the Persian king said, ‘’lie when they want to profit from deception and tell the truth for the same reason’’.

A Country Drained of its Blood

In 1989 there was a significant in flow of money from the EU, but rather than leading to wise investment that would benefit (in the case of Skyros Island) the island, the money was used to buy property in Athens. It also led to an increase in corruption and when Yannis spoke out against this on Skyros island, a local took him aside, put his arm around him as if he ‘needed sympathy after a near-death experience following an Al-Qaeda terrorist attack.’ He said to Yannis, ‘It’s all ok…..Don’t worry’.

At the end of this chapter (‘The Looting of Greece’), Yannis concludes that the bailout ‘on the one hand saved a few European banks from bankruptcy, but, on the other stifled the Greek economy and drained the country of its blood.’ And to make matters still worse, he quotes the niece of a former prime minister as saying ‘The political and financial elite is corrupt to the bone and responsible for our fate.’ But Yannis has the final touch, the final words of the chapter: ‘This as if all the others had been nice and innocent bystanders familiar with sports, food, sitcoms and children.’

The book in some ways is about history, politics, and the dreams of a better future, socially and culturally based on a new way of relating which became the foundation upon which the now well-known and highly-regarded Skyros Centre was established. It was born out of his struggle to overcome a cynical and uncaring world. He traces its philosophical underpinnings out of his wish and belief that there can be more justice, voice, and equality in society with an emphasis on being and becoming rather than the usual definitions of success.

A Cultural Revolution

The final chapter of the book is entitled A Cultural Revolution and in it Yannis gives his concise answer when asked to define his core ideas. He turns again to the classical period of Greek history and provides the same answer as did Athene to the Athenians: ‘Let your State hold Justice as its chiefest prize.’ He adds: ‘The Greek perception of Justice had its roots…in the belief that everything in the universe was interconnected within a whole’. And in a personal communication, Mr. Andricopoulos reminded me:

‘We still need to look both inwards, into our own selves that keep pulling us apart from community and nature, and outwards into the culture and the socio-political institutions that express but also fortify our disengagement from the world of values. The journey inwards is necessary as undependable individuals can never contribute to a meaningful change. Inner and outer are not two sovereign republics. They are part of the One, in constant dialogue with each other, affecting each other even when the dialogue seems to be conducted between the deaf.’

I expected this book to be a difficult read in the sense that I would have to concentrate heavily and move slowly, a bit at a time. Instead, it reads smoothly, is gripping and entertaining and I did not want to put it down – something about the personal with the historical, and the integration of ideas from Greece’s Golden Age that becomes compelling reading. Enjoy!

Would you like to read ‘History, Politics and Dreams’? You can buy a range of Yannis’ titles from Amazon, Foyles, Wordery, Blackwells or by calling Skyros Holidays on 01983 865 566.