The Concept of an Orthodox Christian Commonwealth

Delivered on May 29, 1886 (anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks).

Today the spoken word comes to strike the ears of the descendents of 1821, and, like the sound of a blasting trumpet, to awaken those heroes’ offspring who are sleeping (as should not be the case) the dishonorable sleep of apathy. Today the spoken word comes to remind us of our responsibility toward our beloved motherland and to infuse into our souls an indomitable eagerness to discharge that responsibility. Today the spoken word comes to clarify the vitally important problem that faces our nation so that we may come to understand its most simple and practical solution and then fulfill that solution to the joy and glory of our race which has suffered so much.

But what is the issue and what is the course which will lead us­ing the quickest and best manner possible – to its desired solution? The question can be stated briefly as follows: what is the quickest and best way to complete the Greek Revolution of 1821? To demonstrate the direction which will lead us in the most fitting manner toward the desired goal requires further elaboration. We can now proceed to consider the elucidation of the problem by first craving the earnest attention deserving of the subject.

The desired solution of the question already set before us is subject to two conditions: first, we must not rush to embark on the task before understanding its nature with exactness. Secondly, once we under­stand what needs to be done, let us not put off for a moment its realization. A flawless prudence and a dynamic judgment – the one commanding, the other executing – these are the two means which alone can complete, as quickly and as well as possible, the task which the valiant fighters of 1821 began, and the glorious completion of which was handed down to us their descendents to accomplish.

The principle of knowing before acting is based upon the very nature of man. If we violate human nature, we regress to the order of irrational animals and plants. Every animal and every plant naturally does what it must without previously receiving knowledge of it. It is a different case with man, however. Knowledge of a deed is necessary for its practice, and no man can do anything unless he first receives and retains knowledge of it in his mind. The apple tree, e.g. produces apples, and a builder constructs a house. The apple tree neither was taught, nor did it learn anything, nor does it have any knowledge of the production of apples. The builder, however, was taught; he learned, and is knowledgeable in construction; he carries out his own work according to the knowledge he possesses. Every apple tree produces apples. Not every man is a builder, however, but only be who has been trained in that skill. The honeybee makes honey and the sugar-maker, sugar, i. e. artificial honey. But while the honeybee does its work without thinking about it, the sugar-maker produces sugar by first coming to understand what he is doing. The sheep grows fleece, while the weaver makes doth. The sheep, however, grows fleece naturally, while the weaver makes cloth by having been taught his trade. The acts of plants and animals are stable and always the same, but those of men are progressive and variable. The reason for this is that while man acts knowingly, animals and plants function unknowingly. Persons apply themselves to the accomplishment of acts to the degree that they progress in knowledge. Good learning and comprehension is followed by successful performance and happiness.

Why is it that from the very introduction I dwell upon the compari­son of the law of man’s functioning with that of plants and irrational animals? Because it is necessary to understand that we must first learn and then proceed to act; that we must enter the battle as rational men, and not dash into it as irrational animals or beasts.

But there is also another reason. I am fearful of slander and calumny which covetousness and ill-will contrive for the purpose of misconstruing and distorting the truth of the matters. Today I took up the feat of 1821 as the subject of my speech while proposing to indicate how it might be perfected as quickly and as well as possible. It is not strange, therefore, that this subject should perturb the em­bassies and the ministries. I may well be slandered as a self-seeking demagogue who is jeopardizing the peace and the welfare of the nation by stirring up the people to an untimely and injurious struggle, and by thus usurping another’s rights, namely that of the king and of his government to whom the law has granted the right to keep the peace and to declare war.

I would give an account to such a possible charge in the following manner: the knowledge and understanding of a deed is one thing, while the undertaking of it is quite another. The opportune time for teaching and learning is one thing, while the time for action and practice is quite another. The former naturally precedes the latter. He who fails to recognize this necessary order of things reaps only the bitter fruits of failure. Since I am a teacher and not a demagogue, I propose to convey the knowledge of the task of 1821 to the descendents of the heroes of 1821. But look to others for the study of weapons, strife, and warfare. I well know that no citizen has the right to undertake deeds appropriate only for the king or his government. No Greek government, however, has the right to stop a Greek in free Greece from intending to speak about the distinction and the happi­ness of the Greek race. If anyone sees me providing arms and weapons and arming people to set into disturbance and confusion neighboring provinces, let him deliver me up where he should in order that I may receive due punishment for my foolishness. But, as long as I live, I will never cease to think and to teach the descendents of 1821 what is the nature of the undertaking of 1821, and how it might be perfected as well and as quickly as possible. No power, however great and formidable, can ever deprive me of this sacred privilege.

It would be inconceivable that the Greek government should ever dare prohibit in Athens that which the Turkish government permits freely in Constantinople. There I spoke, published, and announced in the newspapers three orations concerning what task can glorify the Greeks today above all the nations of the earth. This task consists of the abolition of the anti-Christ authority of Mohammed and the propagation of the Christian Civilization both in the East and the West. And yet I was neither harrassed nor persecuted. It seems to me quite impossible that I should be condemned to silence in opposi­tion to the existing laws by Greek ministers of state. I cannot believe that Greek ministers provide for and are concerned for the Turks more than the Turks are for themselves.

After this preliminary clarification, therefore, let us fearlessly seek out what is the nature of the work of 1821. Once this is done, we shall consider how it should be carried through. The work of 1821 is a political undertaking of men desiring to live in an independent and sovereign state or polis, in no way tolerating the rule of a tyranni­cal and inhuman will over our country. In order that we may well understand this objective, we must above all know what a polis is. For in not knowing the nature of the polis, we could never know the nature of a political goal such as that of 1821. For this reason we seek out what constitutes a polis.

We are investigating what a polis is, and behold we have a polis before our eyes, a famous and glorious polis called Athens. One wonders whether to see a Greek polis and to understand what a Greek polis is are the same thing. Indeed, far from it. The polis which is seen is one thing, while that which is understood is quite another. The vision of the eye is one thing, while the contemplation of the mind is quite another. Seeing this Greek polis, therefore, is quite distinct from understanding what a Greek polis is. But since our mind is assisted by the eye, and cognition is effected through vision, and noumena are easily apprehended through things per­ceived by the senses, let us consider thoroughly the noetic polis by means of the visible one.

In this polis I see four forms of construction of which the visible polis mainly consists. I see houses, temples of worship, palaces, archives, and schools. A house, however, can neither exist nor can it be comprehended without the citizens who inhabit and possess it. Neither can a temple of worship be understood and exist without religion, nor palaces and archives without the state; nor schools with­out the truth which is taught therein and which is the pursuit of what we call philosophy. The visible polis thus is comprised of homes, temples of worship, palaces, [NOTE: The author makes reference to palaces because the form of the government in Greece at that time was a Constitutional Monarchy] and schools, while the noetic polis consists of religion, the state, and philosophy, i.e. of religious, political, and philosophical laws and principles by means of which the inhabitants of the polis are born, nourished, and educated. The visible polis has a logos relationship with the noetic polis, the logos relationship which our visible body also has with the noetic soul within it. And just as our body dies and disintegrates when the soul has departed, so too does the visible polis fall and fade away when religion, the state, and philosophy are taken away. These three entities stemming from one source, aiming at one goal, and indivisibly understood, have the logos relationship of the soul with reference to the polis. And just as the soul without the body neither moves. nor functions upon the stage of the world, so too the noetic polis without the visible one neither reveals itself, nor is known, nor produces its results.

Destroy, theoretically speaking, all the structures of the polis 􀀚nd the polis suffers whatever every man undergoes when his body is slain and falls. Leave the structures intact, but take away the one and triune soul of the polis, viz. religion, the state, and philosophy. You kill the polis, just as each of us dies when the soul departs from the body. Thus just as the soul has need of the body, and the body is nothing without the soul, so too does the noetic polis need the visible one, and the latter separated from the former is reduced to nothing and vanishes. Religion has need of the temple of worship, the state has need of the archives, and philosophy, the schools, just as a citizen requires a house and the soul, the body. Just as the body without soul is worthless, so too is a house without the citizen, the temple of worship without religion, the palace without the state, and the school without philosophy.

The idea of the polis has already been clearly defined from what has been stated. Speaking of a polis we mean not only these visible buildings, but also those institutions which they represent. Therefore, house and citizens, temple of worship and religion, palace and state, school and philosophy-these comprise and constitute the polis. If you take away but one of these constituent parts, you annihilate the whole polis. The house is a necessary constituent part of the polis. For theoretically speaking, if you remove the houses from the polis, the three other parts in one way survive. One cannot conceive of a polis consisting of temples of worship, palaces, and schools without homes, or a polis consisting only of houses without a temple of worship, palace, and a school. The temple of worship is a necessary constituent part of the polis, for if this is removed, all the rest of the polis crumbles and vanishes. If one removes from the city the temple of worship, i.e. God and religion, one concurrently removes truth itself and philosophy. For if God and religion do not exist, neither do justice and the state; nor can truth and philosophy exist. Thus when the temple of worship falls, both the palace and the school to­gether with all the houses fall with it. The same dire consequence of disaster occurs whether one removes first the school or the palace. In taking away the school and the truth, one concurrently takes away God and religion, justice, and the state. For if truth does not exist, neither do God and justice. If one removes from the polis the palace and justice, the rest of the polis is utterly destroyed. For without justice it is impossible for God and truth to be understood and to exist. Therefore, the house, the temple of worship, the palace, and the school are called necessary constituent parts of the polis. In taking away any one of these, one destroys the whole polis.

From the outset I characterized my mission as that of a teacher and not that of a demagogue. But what is the difference between a dema­gogue and a teacher? This is it: the demagogue leads and sways the populace according to the dictates of his own interest. Speaking to the populace, the demagogue conceals the truth of things. He caters to the fancies and the passions of the masses, and thereby exploits them as blind instruments for his own selfish ends. The teacher, how­ever, does no such thing, but rather by logically imparting the truth to the intellect of his audience, he enables them to improve and to save themselves. The teacher enlightens the intellect of his listeners and lets them free to act either according to their own interests or against their interests. Never does the teacher sacrifice the truth upon the altar of desire and passion. Never does he speak according to the whims of the masses or according to the opinion of this or that influential person. Rather, the teacher always speaks according to the dictates of the Orthos Logos (Right Reason) which he interprets faithfully and serves eagerly. This is the difference between a dema­gogue and a teacher. While I detest and shun the work of the demagogue, I love and practice that of the teacher.

Now then, what truth did I teach you, and what benefit can you derive from it? I taught you what the polis is; what its body and its soul are and the necessary constituent parts of the polis; that the harm or the destruction of one part of the polis harms and destroys the whole polis. The benefit derived from such a truth then is as follows: if you see someone tearing down or undertaking to tear down the temple of worship in the polis supposedly to free people from a certain superstition; you readily understand that such a person is destroying the whole polis. By not permitting this, you save the whole polis and yourselves. If you see another person tearing down the palace of the polis supposedly in behalf of the freedom of the people, or tearing down the school as supposedly the cause of atheism and useless pratting, you may easily prevent the evil by understanding the coming destruction of the polis.

In like manner, realizing the necessity of the home for the estab­lishment of the polis never will you allow anyone to demolish even one home. Rather you will all be eagerly helpful both to the part and to the whole of the polis. Thus the truth imparted to your intellect makes you good citizens and saviors of yourselves and of the whole polis. Let us suppose then that all the Greeks were taught what the polis is, and having been taught, learned to be of one mind and to save themselves and the whole polis. Were the Greeks in Concord Square taught to live in concord and taught to save themselves and the polis, the feat of 1821 would be brought to a finish as quickly and as well as possible.

Furthermore in the light of the truth which was explained above, we are able to distinguish between the evil polis and good polis, between those who exercise their citizenship well and those who abuse it. When you see a polis whose temple of worship, palace, and school are opposed to and are fighting themselves and one another, while the citizens are divided and are revolting, some aligned under the banner of the palace, still others under that of the school, call such a polis evil and wicked and its inhabitants wretched. When you see certain extreme zealots struggling in behalf of only one part of the polis and for the destruction of the other parts­ – persons who think that in this manner they are saving themselves and the polis – call such political leaders unlearned. For these people do not know what a polis is, while they think they do. They think they have become excellently oriented with political science, while they are exercising their citizenship in the worst manner. How deceived are those diplomats who, by doing injustice to the temple of worship, think that they are benefiting themselves and the polis, while not realizing that by their actions they are destructive and not con­structive!. How blinded are those fanatics who in the name of the temple of worship declare relentless war against both philosophy and the state, while thinking that they are pleasing God in fighting the truth and justice! How foolish are those academicians who, priding themselves on atheism and irreligion, nonetheless think they are beacon-lights and leaders of humanity! How wretched, then are the people who are led by deceitful diplomats, fanatical priests, and teachers who conceitedly think themselves wise! All that these people learn to do is to quarrel and to fight.

As an example of such wretchedness we have before us Western Babylon, the mother of evil political leaders and of all those who exercise their citizenship wickedly. One sees there the Papal Church opposing and fighting against the palace and the school. [NOTE: A reference to the struggle of the Roman Church in the Middle Ages for ascending over imperial authority and. over education; an allusion also to the subsequent divorce of science and the Church.] One sees the school denouncing altogether the Church, and rousing storms of protest against the state. One sees the state in an unceasing struggle against enemies on each side, and trying to control their madness. One sees there fanatics and fanaticism, egoists and egoism, sophists and sophistry, waging an unceasing war against themselves and one an­other and suffering due consequences. But what is remarkable is that being such as they are, wretched and pitiful; they think that they have reached the pinnacle of civilization, and that their light shines more brightly than the sun and the stars of the noetic firmament. We shall presently consider what the good polis is and try to give an illustration of one.

The good polis is and is called the polis of unity, equality, concord, order, and harmony. This is the polis whose temple of worship, palace, and school are in mutual agreement, constituting an entity which enjoys social felicity. The good polis has a temple of worship and a religion which promote the virtue of piety and holiness. It has a palace and a state which engender the virtue of equitable justice. It has a school and a philosophy which propagate the virtue of concord and prudence. The good polis has a good and blameless soul, one and triune, simple, harmonized, and agreeable. The good polis procreates and nourishes good offspring, and is embellished with saintly, right­eous, and prudent citizens who pacify themselves and one another and live a blessed life lacking nothing. The good polis and mother of the good citizen is by nature hostile and implacable to the wicked polis arid her evil offspring. Where does such a polis lie, and what is its visible paradigm? Such a polis lies on the holy mountain; it has been established upon the firm rock, and its name is called Ecclesia [the Greek word for Church] which is the polis of the people led by the Orthos Logos. This polis has as its head Christ, the Son of the living God. Christ then is the High Priest, King, and Prophet of this polis. Religion and all religious law stem from Christ, the High Priest. The state and political law originate from Christ, the King. Philosophy and all logical and philosophical law originate from Christ, the Guide and Teacher.

Religion, the state, and philosophy according to Christ are the soul of the Christian polis, one soul and triune, bearing the character of unity, equality, concord, order and harmony. Because of Him, the temple of worship, the palace, and the school of the Christian polis pacify themselves and one another, and work harmoniously for one and the same purpose – to create citizens who are holy, just, prudent, and partakers of the divine nature (I Peter 1:4). The citizens of the Christian polis are united, indivisible and non-rebellious. For there are not some upholding the palace, and still others, the school, while purposing the destruction of the other constituent parts of the polis; rather all the citizens champion the cause of all parts and of the whole polis. Of which polis then are we children and citizens? Of the evil one or of the good one? Obviously we belong to that polis in whose cause we fight and die: and without which there is nothing, nor without which do we desire to live. Ask: what is the motivating force behind the task of 1821? Is it not our holy faith in Christ and our country’s freedom? For every Greek sings:

“For these two things do I fight,
With these do I desire to live.
And if I do not win them
Of what avail is it for me to live?”

How did wise Solomon recognize the authentic mother and restore the child to her? Was it not because of her expression of maternal love? Seeing the sword which was to dissect her child, the authentic mother cried out for its life. Her cry revealed that she was the actual mother of the child the possession of which was being contested. Does not then the cry of our nation for the holy faith in Christ and the freedom of our fatherland, as well as the heroic struggle of 1821 for the obliteration of the anti-Christ authority of Mohammed attest which polis‘ children we are, and which is our authentic mother and country? When I say that I struggle and fight for the holy faith of Christ and the freedom of the fatherland; when I say that I desire to live with them and that without them life becomes unbearable for me, to what else do I bear witness but that I am a child of the good polis which has been established upon the rock, against which the gates of Hell shall not prevail? [Matthew 16:18. Another example in which Makrakis identifies the Church with the Orthodox Christian polis or commonwealth.] It is possible, however, for a Greek-hater to maintain a contrary position and to disparage our polis as being evil; that lt rather resembles Babylon, the polis of confusion and disorder. Because of this, he may reproach us as wicked citizens destitute of all virtue, since we are divided among ourselves, rebellious, and do many improper things. If such a charge be levelled against us, what account have we to give in refutation? We have an account and a very good one. This is it:

Even wholesome and beautiful bodies are subject to diseases. While they are ill, their natural beauty is lost; but it returns after the recovery from illness. If one, therefore, judges a woman who is beautiful by nature, but who is suffering from a dreadful disease, to be uncomely and homely by nature, such a person is deceived in his judg­ment. He is deceived because he does not know the woman’s true beauty, and because he takes the incidental uncomeliness as a natural and essential property of her body. In like manner, we, who while we are by nature noble and good as children of the good polis, having come in contact with the evil polis and the evil citizens of that polis, we contracted their disease. And the thence infectious disease which has covered us took away our natural virtue, and now we appear worthless, while this is not at all the case. We give the following account to that terrible accuser: Oh, you most excellent one, do not judge us on the basis of what is incidental, but rather, on the basis of our natural and essential character. Now the natural characteristic of a Greek is rationality, while it is his mission to fight for the rights of the Orthos Logos [Namely the Incarnate Logos Jesus Christ] and the sovereignty of the rational polis which is called the Ecclesia, the Church.

Although, because of the disease which has spread over us from without, we slightly forgot our nature and our destiny, nevertheless, as soon as we recover by taking the antidote for the disease, we shall shine forth much more brightly than before. But what is this salvatory antidote? Knowledge of the work of 1821. Once this antidote pene­trates the innermost self of the whole nation by means of hearing the word, and we eliminate the wicked disease, not only shall the ill rise from bed, but also the dead from their graves. What is more, when the Greeks have been healed and have risen after the manner of the resurrection of Christ, the task of 1821 will be completed very quickly and very well. Come then, by seeking to understand, let us learn what is the nature of the work of 1821 and thus swallow the antidote against the disease which has overcome us.

The patriotic song of 1821 expresses in the most excellent manner the nature of the task of 1821. If we analyze the rationale with which the nation that arose against tyranny justifies its undertaking, not only will the national problem be very clearly solved, but also the manner of achieving the solution will become obvious to all.

The Greek of 1821 affirms that he fights for two noble causes: for the holy faith of Christ and for the freedom of the fatherland. Then shall we, the inheritors of the struggle, not take up the battle for the sake of these very same noble causes? No one will contradict this. Everyone who fights, however, should well know for what he is struggling, i.e. the enemy, the strength with which he fights, and the technique of fighting. This knowledge guarantees victory, When the Greeks learn everything which a fighter must know, the task of 1821 can be completed appropriately. We shall concern ourselves with this necessary knowledge of the battle in the addresses to follow.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s