A reader comment Pr. Tompkins article.
A reader with the username iconoclast made some intresting comments as regards Professor Tompkins article that had as subject the letter that sent from 200 world scholar to US President Obama and respectfully requested to intervene to clean up some of the historical debris about Macedonian History left in southeast Europe by the Bush administration.
My thesis is clear. The meaning of this letter has political dimesion since the receiver is a political person, but also and an academic one since this letter undersigned from top universities professors and writers like Ian Worthington, Malcolm Errington and Paul Cartledge - that involve with ancient Greek history- and the most of the content has historical material.
Political dimesion originated from the ill-conceived decision by Bush administration to recognize FYROM as the Republic of â€œMacedonia,â€ clearly became the catalyst of a more aggressive stance by FYROM that can presently be perceived as hostile towards Greece, a NATO ally of the US for many years. Obama administration should reverse Bush decision, recognize them again as FYROM, and actually block their NATO integration until a new name is found. In addition the US should condemn in the strongest terms their irredentist and aggressive behavior, as mentioned in the letter. It is imperative that a negotiated mutually acceptable solution also includes change of the FYROM constitutional name to the new agreed name, i.e. change in their passports and use of that name erga omnes.
The academic dimension is clear because the names that undersigned this letter are so huge and any comment by me will be a tom-fool thing to do.
Enjoy the comment
"This is a very unfortunate letter, inaccurate in important ways and staking out a position to the right of the Greek government's."
I suggest,if you wish to assert that this letter is inaccurate in some way, give those that are concerned with the falsification of history their due respect, and specify precisely what these supposed inaccuracies, which you have identified, are.
Linking to the fallacious retort put forward by Tompkins does not cut it.
Tompkins specious and nugatory retort does not even address one, not even one, single point raised by this letter with any intellectual rigor that would be worthy of a supposed scholar of the Greco-Roman Classical period.
Rather, he attempts to use all manner of rhetorical devices, as an attempt to derail this worthy action that has been taken by the community of classical scholars, who, in fact, play a very important and defining role in this unfortunate dispute between Greece and it's northern neighbour.
Moreover, Tompkins arguments contain all manner of fallacies, it is hard to know where to begin. I shall have more to say about this, although it is suffice to say, for now, that his arguments exhibit the fallacy of relevance, of weak induction, of presumption, and of ambiguity.
One can only conclude, inter alia, that Tompkins has only discredited himself with his attempt to deride this letter, when he has clearly stepped out side his area of expertise.
The below posting was posted with reference to Professor Miller's letter on the following site http://archaeoastronomy.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/macedonia-from-bad-to-worse/comment-page-1/.
I believe it would be worthwhile being posted here as well.
Alun, you make some valid points. Although, I must correct you on parts of your analysis, before I begin in earnest.
"As far as I know, no-one is suggesting that the southern part of Italy should be in the modern state of Greece. No-one contests that the region was Greek."
As far as I know, no one is suggesting that the FYROM, or any of its constituent parts, should be in the modern state of Greece either! You, infact, have it the wrong way around. Greece has no modern territorial claim over the FYROM. Rather, the irrdentist activity by the Government of the FYROM, and its denizens, have openly displayed their territorial claims over Greek sovereign territory, and these territorial claims are, but one, of a number of concerns, to us Greeks.
"Itâ€™s simply that the ancient history isnâ€™t relevant to modern territorial claims. Why is it therefore important in Macedonia?"
Alun, relevance is a two place predicate. That is, relevance is relvant to something. Relevance is a symmetrical and reciprocal relationship. If A is relevant to B, then B is relevant to A.
Your statement of relevance must, therefore, also equally apply to the case of the Slavs, of the FYROM. It is the Slavs that are the protagonist who are attempting to use ancient history to establish modern day territorial claims, not the Greeks!
Let me by way of analogy, posit the following as an attempt to, possibly, lift the fog of uncertainty that has mired this polemic controversy, and bring some clarity to this discussion. My reasoned analogy is founded on the meme.
A meme can be defined as cultural characteristics or artifacts that are passed down throughout generations. Moreover, a meme can be defined as any characteristic of a culture, be it, for example, memories, language, ideas, toponyms, inscriptions, peoples names, norms, customs, sensibilities, religion, festivals, dance, rituals, codes of behaviour, history, myths and story telling, and social gestures. These characteristics can be considered as mimetic markers of a society/civilization. These markers can be transmitted from one generation to the next in a way, analogous to the transmission of genetic information. A corpus of mimetic markers together form a mimetic strand, or thread, which, as a single unit, identifies a society/civilization.
A mimetic strand, carries with it, both the social structure and culture of a society/civilization. The social structure can be thought to be comprised of relationships among groups, institutions, and individuals within a given society/civilization. Whilst, the culture, composed of memories, language, ideas, toponyms, inscriptions, peoples names, norms, et cetera, provides a sense of meaning to individuals within a given society/civilization.
By way of example, in many societies the family unit is a core institutional building block of social structure. Whilst, for example, marital monogamy or polygamy, expectations of a certain number of children, manner of child upbringing, and willingness to live with in-laws are highly variable in different societies. These latter characteristics can be said to be of a cultural nature. Social structure can be thought of as a skeleton, with culture being the muscle on the bones. The two are inextricably connected, mutually dependent and reinforcing. A change in one results in a change in the other. The mimetic strand represents this unity, which is simply referred to as society/civilization.
I shall refer to the term mimetic strand, or thread, from this point on, simply as a strand, and equally, the term marker to mean mimetic marker.
Let us first take the case of Sicily, in Italy.
The contemporary Sicilian strand is one that is composed of many markers, spanning, chronologically, back through to the Sicilian primordial past. The contemporary Sicilian strand contains a marker of the classical epoch, to which you have alluded to, and this same marker, is also found in the contemporary Greek strand. However, the contemporary Sicilian strand also contains a large number of markers that are not shared with the contemporary Greek strand. The Sicilian strand has, of course, evolved over time, and continues to do so, in a manner that has never, in any way, impinged on the soma, or being, of the contemporary Greek society, such that it be considered a threat to the Greek strand. The Sicilian strand does not exhibit a desire to over-emphasize one marker in their strand, whilst de-emphasizing, ignoring, or synthesizing their remaining markers. The Sicilian strand exhibits a mature and stable state. Thus, both strands can, and do, coexist side-by-side in harmony. The Greeks would not even batter an eye-lid towards the Sicilians, if the Sicilians were to show a desire to erect an eight storey statue of Pythagoras in Siracusa, since the Sicilians acknowledge that historically, Pythagoras was part of the Greek cultural sphere and history, as you also readily acknowledge, and in *equal* measure, Pythagoras is also a part of Sicilian history.
Let us take the case of Greece.
The contemporary Greek strand, like all strands, is by definition, centered on mimetic markers, which in essence, defines, in the Greek case, Hellenicos Politismos (Greek Civilization). To the Greeks, the strand composed of the markers identifying the strand as Greek are taken to be far, far, more important than their analogous biological equivalent. This mimetic strand is what is cherished by the Greeks. That is, the social structure and culture, known simply to the Greeks as, Hellinicos Politismos, is what defines someone to be Greek, rather than their genetic make up, and consequently, gives them their right to lay claim to Greek culture, which consists of their memories, language, ideas, toponyms, inscriptions, peoples names, norms, customs, sensibilities, religion, festivals, dance, rituals, codes of behaviour, history, myths and story telling, and social gestures, et cetera.
Let us take the case of the FYROM.
The Slavic strand of Greece's immediate northern neigbour, the FYROM, on the other hand, has unfortunately attempted to impinge itself on the soma of Greek society, in a manner that is considered threatening to the Greek strand. This threat, is not something new, it is something that has been been present throughout Greece's recent bloodied history, although, this Slavic strand has metamorphosed itself overtime.
The Greeks see this Slavic strand, of the FYROM, as one that has *not* evolved naturally over the course of time, in a manner born out by the Sicilian case, but rather, it has mutated itself through a process of artificial synthesis. One can attest to this synthesis by observing all manner of propaganda, Government sponsored or otherwise, against the Greek strand over a extended period of time. The Greeks look at that this Slavic strand, of the FYROM, and see it as a recent artificial mutation, synthesized via the Bulgarian strand. Moreover, this mutant strand is attempting to enter the Greek soma, and use certain specific markers of the Greek strand, whilst, in equal time, discard other mimetic material that is also part of the Greek strand, resulting in a mutant strand that represents the society of modern day FYROM.
This attempted mimetic engineering, to create this mutant strand, using Greek mimetic material, in a selective manner, without the consent of the Greeks, is seen by the Greeks as immoral and in no way acceptable, period!
The attempted mimetic engineering, has focused on specific markers, in this case, markers that are of the Classical Macedonian epoch, and this is why the Greeks show their concern and specific focus on those mimetic markers of the Greek strand. Although, if they attempted to target and mimetically engineer other mimetic markers of the Greek strand, the Greeks would have equally been in uproar, and they would have focused on those particular markers.
The FYROM, if they so desire, to be irrational, can call themselves Macedonian, but it will have a hollow ring to it.
The legitimate Macedonians, who can attest to this assertion, through their mimetic strand, and consequently, their mimetic markers can only be Hellenes (Greeks) and never Slavs. The Slavs of the FYROM, can never assert this, for their strand does not have the necessary, or sufficient, mimetic markers to allow them to do so.
The Greeks look at the mimetic variation between the Slavic strand, of the FYROM, and the Greek strand and see a discernable difference. Equally, the Slavs, of the FYROM, also look at the mimetic variation between the Slavic strand, which is attempting to mutate, and the Greek strand and see a discernable difference. Whilst, by means of comparison, the mimetic variation between the Greek-Cypriot strand, and the Greek strand, is seen by both the Greek-Cypriots and the Greeks, to not be discernably different.
The Slavic strand, of the FYROM, is analogous to a Frankenstein creation, it may exist, but like Frankenstein was not human, they equally are not Macedonian; they are not the real thing!
The Slavs, of the FYROM, continually ramble on about their right to self declare themselves as Macadonians, but equally, the Greeks have the right to self declare themselves as the Real Macedonians!
Interested parties must recognize, that the Slavs, of the FYROM, use various tools of propaganda, although, one particular tool is one that attempts to impose "concision" as a means of silencing debate. They attempt to assert their "right" to all that is Macedonian, in an a priori manner, without debate.
Well, sorry, they do not have the right to appropriate all that is Macedonian by using fallacious arguments that skip the vital step of the *burden of proof*, and simply ask everyone to jump to their a priori conclusion.
These specious arguments that they shove down peoples throats must be vehemently rejected.
This is their dilemma, and this is the reason why they are attempting to manufacture a mimetic strand that contains markers that are, to all intense and purposes, and knowingly, synthetic and foreign to them. However, their conceited Government, blindingly continues with this unnatural social experiment, to create a Frankenstein monster, as this is the only way that they can attempt to lay claim on the mimetic markers of the Classical Macedonian epoch, and as such, lay claim to characteristics, such as the name, Macedonia, and to justify their territorial claims to the Macedonian province of Northern Greece.
Alun, this is what irks us Greeks and in a similar way, what also irks the Bulgarians. (note: The FYROM has impinged on the Bulgarian strand, as it has done on the Greek strand).
Greece and Bulgaria are attempting to protect their mimetic material against a mutated and metastasized strand, which is the FYROM strand.
This reaction to protect ones mimetic strand is not, in fact, isolated to Greek society. Similar dynamics were readily seen in contemporary US society. By way of example, I put forward the case of the Absolut Vodka launched an advertisment in Mexico, showing a map of Mexico from the 1830's; the map can be seen here http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/laplaza/2008/04/mexico-reconque.html, and here http://www.absolut.com/iaaw/blog/we-apologize?page=329. There was such an uproar in the US, because of this map that the company was forced to withdraw the commercial and apologize to the US. Now just imagine it being the sovereign Government of Mexico, and not an alcoholic beverage company making such claims towards the US. How would have the US reacted?
The Tompkins rebuttal ignores a similar social dynamic within his own society, whilst he attempts to deride Greece's sovereign right to protect herself. This guy is not to be trusted, he is an amateur.
To end this post, Tompkins chastises Greece's sovereign right to close their borders towards the FYROM during the 1990's (cf. the US embargo imposed on Cuba, since 1961, and it is still in place), and talks about its economic impact on them, whilst in equal time, he simply ignores the FYROM's recent ridicules spendthrift eight storey statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje, amongst many other delusional activities.
Further, Tompkins, in his opening address of his rebuttal letter, found here http://astro.temple.edu/~pericles/Letter.htm, puts forward the UN as an authority, in a poor attempt to legitimize his argument. However, this rhetoric, is simply absurd, since the UN is an organ created and established through a hegemonic power, that is, the US, being the victor of WWII. This political organ is neither democratic, nor is it scientific. This authority of the UN, can neither lend credibility to the FYROM's claims, nor can it say anything about this matter that is of any scientific importance, and as the Philosopher Spinoza says, numbers by themselves can not produce wisdom.
So, Tompkins argument is, simply, a fallacy of both relevance and of weak induction, specifically it is, in this case, an appeal to force and to an unqualified higher authority, respectively. So once again, Tompkins demonstrates that he can not think! An automaton could do better.
The word Macedonian as used by the Slavs, of the FYROM, does not have a sense, that is, it has no convention or meaning, and is thus, cognitively empty and can not refer, and therefore, can be ignored. 
I'm done, for now.
 Valid deductive argument form:
A word that does not have a sense, that is, it has no convention or meaning, and is thus, cognitively empty and can not refer, and therefore, can be ignored.
Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.
â€” Odysseus, when the time came to deal with the Suitors.
The man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way and at the right time and for the right length of time, is commended.
The Greeks are fully in their right to be angry at the misinformation and propaganda that has been perpetrated on them by the Slavic denizens of the FYROM.