Five Macro Trends At Work In 2012

There are a number of macro forces at work in the world that are impacting the Movement and Progress we expect. Those are covered here. From those, we predict a number of Sightings to expect in 2012 that can inspire brands and businesses to move and progress themselves forward, as well.

The Youth Movement

Over the last year, a tide has been growing among the world’s youth, from the streets of Spain to the downtowns across the globe. There is growing discontent amongst this group, because while today’s youth tend to be more educated than prior generations and thus have growing aspirations, many are facing a less promising future, one they aren’t responsible for creating, and in some cases, one dictated by governments through which they have no influence.

Take for instance the many young people who are educated and saddled with college tuition debt (in the U.S. on average $23,000), yet are unable to find work in this economic downturn (on average 20 percent around the globe, double the national average; almost as high as 50 percent in Spain and Greece). In November, London students protested high education fees, and as a result of the civic unrest and high unemployment, the government is now looking to institute subsidized work and training programs. In June, about 80,000 students protested in Chile to demand changes to the education system, the first uprising of its kind since the 1980s. The Arab Spring activities that started late 2010 and continued throughout 2011 have been evidence of the power of youth declaring their dissatisfaction. Then came the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is in part fueled by youth taking up the protest around the world wherever countries allow such protests.

In the face of this we do see two sides forming. One side was referred to as “youthquake” by a university professor of Oman, Al-Najma Zidjaly, aptly naming the movement to suggest youth literally shaking things up through protest. Yet, there are also youth around the world that are creating change in a different way-still moving things forward, but with a view towards possibility. Be it in countries that are prospering today with newly growing economies, such as China, India, Brazil, and Russia, or in those countries with high unemployment where young people are overcoming the obstacles, being creative, and becoming the innovation generation.

Regardless of the side, the youth movement will continue its momentum and have an impact this year and in the decades to come.

The World’s Middle Class

The middle class of developed, industrialized countries is no longer the main focus of businesses that relied on their consumerism to fuel growth in past decades. While these constituents might be attracting the attention of politicians, a broader middle class-the world’s middle class-has caught the attention of businesses and is the cornerstone of many of their growth initiatives.

With The Economist back in 2009 reporting that over half the world’s population was now middle class and forecasting its continued substantial growth through 2030, businesses around the world started to focus more attention outside their traditional markets. It’s no wonder when you have reports such as those from the Brookings’ researcher Homi Kharas who estimates that by 2020 more than half the world’s middle class will be in Asia, and Asian consumers will account for over 50 percent of global middle class consumption.

Yet, as one tries to understand who makes up this middle class-in essence, who businesses are trying to target-there is no clear, set definition. The World Bank defines the global middle class as those earning $10-20 per day, or roughly the average between Brazil and Italy, respectively. More simply, some describe the middle class as those in a society who are not the poor or the rich, or not the working class nor the upper class. A study done by the World Policy Journal in Summer 2011 provides a good example of how a middle class definition based on income varies across the globe. They considered a middle class person in Liberia with a per capita annual income of about $400, in Indonesia with $4,000, and in the Netherlands with approximately $40,000. They are all considered middle class in their respective countries, but at very different income levels, which implies very different consumer needs.

This suggests meeting the needs of the world’s middle class presents different challenges and opportunities the world over, both in emerging and established markets. So while the world’s middle class deserves and will command attention, a one-size fits all model will not work. In 2012, we can expect businesses to dig deeper into their understanding of this diversified group to develop customized business models and product solutions appropriate for all the different definitions and requirements of the growing global middle class.


Across the globe, the concentration of people living in cities is expanding at an exponential rate. In fact, for the first time in history more than 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in cities and metro areas, and this is projected to grow to more than 70 percent by the middle of this century. Take for instance:

• China has 130 cities each with more than 1 million people.
• Shanghai has 19 million people, and Beijing has 17.5 million.
• The Mong Kok district in Hong Kong has the highest population density in the world, with 130,000 people per one square kilometer.
• Greater New York City has 20 million people.
• Tokyo is that much more dense with 35 million people.

There are many (what most would say) negative impacts of all this urbanism: overcrowding, creating higher energy demands and environmental impacts; more density, making living conditions challenging; and increased numbers of poor seeking work who build informal settlements, such as slums. Yet, cities are also believed to create tremendous communities and opportunities. Because of the density and the urban environment, cities create ecosystems ripe for innovation. Consistent with this thinking, the Santa Fe Institute coined the term “urban metabolism.” It’s been found that cities exhibit faster metabolism as they become more populated, generating more innovations and, along with that, more wealth creation.

Alex Steffen, an expert in this field, expects a number of interesting developments to support the growth of cities and to deal with the challenges they’ll face-from infill development to urban retrofitting to sharing surplus capacity of infrequently used items. We can also expect innovations around transportation, new forms of communities, living spaces, and shopping venues and methodologies. This type of innovation is even expected in slum communities within cities; slums are thought to be capable of developing innovations within their own active environments just as in more affluent parts of cities. The cities’ poorest are also getting attention and innovations from the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum’s “Design with the Other 90%” program and Vijay Govindarajan, a professor of International Business at Dartmouth’s Tuck School, who is championing the development of a $300 home.

Cities may not be everyone’s choice in which to live, but they will be home to the majority and will be hotbeds of activity and human energy that produce innovation and progress.

Backlash to Capitalism and Consumerism

In the countries reeling from the ongoing economic crisis, capitalism and consumerism are coming under question. Governments are being asked to act, and consumers themselves are starting to take action on their own given their ever-growing unease with the establishment.

Part of the movement is about bringing attention to those who have less, with the accompanying desire to have “those who have” do more. The Occupy Wall Street movement, rallying for the “99%,” is the most visible example that’s taken hold across the globe, even in countries with economies that are booming. Another example is the idea of a Robin Hood Tax that would tax financial transactions (of the rich) with the intent of giving the dollars to the poor. Many political leaders in Europe along with some famous business people such as Bill Gates and George Soros have gotten behind the movement. Then you even have the Deputy Prime Minister in the U.K., Nick Clegg, a political figure, advocating for laws to control executive pay, especially during these difficult economic times. He was quoted as saying, “I believe that people should be well paid if they succeed. What I abhor is people who get paid bucket loads of cash in difficult times for failure.”

Even some consumers, who fueled part of the boom with their consumerism, are finally saying enough is enough. For the first time in the U.S., a community of shoppers protested against retailers opening earlier on Thanksgiving Day, pushing back and saying that while shopping and savings are desired, some things, like spending time with family on holidays, should be sacred. Similarly in the U.K., a Littlewoods’ commercial has caused an outcry for promoting high consumption and associating it with being a good mom and happiness, not a welcome message during these uncertain times. In contrast, a John Lewis ad with a much warmer message promoting the giving nature of the holidays was better received.

In this backdrop of growing discontent, transformation is likely and shifts will occur.

Technology Evolution

Most people in industrialized countries would today say they couldn’t live without some technological device, be it a computer, access to the Internet, or a pre-paid, feature, or smart phone. For instance, 77 percent of the world’s population, some 5.3 billion people, was expected to have mobile phone service by the end of 2010, therefore being deemed a necessity. Since the advent of these devices, technology has become ever more embedded into our daily lives and has increasingly started to shape how we behave and connect with one another.

Technology impacting human evolution isn’t new, but it is impacting us in new ways than before and is changing us faster than ever. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert W. Fogel, along with his colleagues, this year published, “The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700,” which speaks of the “technophysio evolution,” which drove technological improvements in food production and public health, allowing humans to evolve at an accelerated pace from prior centuries.

Now we’re seeing even more behavioral changes based on how technology keeps us connected to each other and to the world. Why are we so susceptible to technology and these changes? It’s partly driven by how technology impacts the brain. For example, our constant emails, texts, and tweets, continually generate dopamine hits in our brains such that the frequent “bings” become addictive. We are drawn towards such interactivity leading to a desire for more.

On one hand, all this technology is changing us in positive ways. We don’t have to keep non-essential details in our memory stores, knowing we can easily find the data, allowing us to focus on other topics of more interest or value. It helps us connect with like-minded individuals around the globe for personal reasons and for collaborative innovation. But on the other hand, there are some who believe there are negative impacts. Social networking, for example, minimizes human contact, leading to some not learning how to interact with people face to face. Some also believe that the constant distraction of devices turns us into multi-tasking, non-accomplishers unable to focus long enough to complete a task.

Technology and human evolution won’t stop, which most would argue is for our own good, but along with it the debate of technology’s impacts will rage, as well.

The Redemption Of A Rebel Artist

1) The March of the Modern

Perhaps it was the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley who first gave expression to the concept of an avant garde of artists on the cutting edge of innovation by asserting that “Poets are the unaknowledged legislators of the world”, although it is likely that the first use of the term in an artistic rather than military sense, was made by the French socialist philosopher Henri de Saint-Simon in 1825 in his “Opinions Litteraires, Philosophiques et Industrielles”.
Thence in the Paris of the early 1830s, in the wake of the July Revolution, there arose what could be termed a seminal artistic avant garde in the shape of the Jeunes-France, a band of turbulent young Romantic litterateurs (dubbed the Bousingos by the press, allegedly following a night of riotous boozing on the part of some of their number), whose leading figures included a fiery Theophile Gautier long before he became a bona fide classic of French literature, and who cultivated dandified and eccentric personas intended to shock the bourgeoisie, or conventional middle class, while inclining to radicalism, but that does not imply that avant gardism has to of necessity be politically radical, although it very often has been in the course of its history of defiance of what has been perceived as bourgeois tradition.

Needless to say perhaps, The prototypal avant gardists of 1830s Paris owed an incalculable debt to the earlier English and German Romantic movements, which did so much to promote the myth of the artist as tormented genius existent on the fringes of respectable society, if not as bohemian then as dandy, struggling to produce works of revolutionary genius often in the most dismal conditions, known as the vie de Boheme, the Bohemian lifestyle, and eternally pitted against bourgeois respectability.
The Bohemian was so named in consequence of being perceived as a gypsy, not a true Romany of course, but an artistic or spiritual gypsy existent in a state of picturesque poverty, Romanies having once been considered by the French to have originated from the former central European nation of Bohemia, while it is widely accepted today that the Romany people have their ancestral roots in India. The two great Parisian Bohemias of the 19th Century were the Left Bank of the Seine as a whole, including the Quartier Latin, and Montparnasse, and Montmartre, which exploded on an international scale towards the century’s end, while the first literary work to celebrate the Bohemian way of life was the celebrated “Scenes de la Vie de Boheme”, published in 1845 and which its author Henri Murger based on the Bohemia he experienced first hand in the Paris of his day. It went on to form the basis of Puccini’s opera “La Boheme”, and the contemporary musical comedy “Rent”. Later Bohemias included London’s Chelsea, and New York’s Greenwich Village.

The first wave of Bohemia ultimately produced the Decadents, and the great Symbolist movement in the arts, both of which came into being about 1880 although they had many predecessors, before the spirit of the avant garde could be said to have triumphed as never before in the shape of the massively influential and truly international artistic and cultural phenomenon known as Modernism, which existed at its point of maximum intensity from about 1890 to 1930, birthing such earth-shaking works as Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907), Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (1913), T.S Eliot’s “The Waste Land” (1922) and James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (1922), as well as movements as diverse as Expressionism, Cubism and Dada. Whenever Modernism is discussed, in addition to the arts, parallel iconoclastic developments in philosophy, psychology, science, and so on which fuelled the Modernist agenda must necessarily be taken into consideration, this agenda being significantly inimical to those Christian components of the fabric of Western civilisation according to certain authorities, and there is substance to their argument.
. Other critics have seen Modernism as actually predating the avant garde rather than arising out of it, that is as a spirit rather than a movement as such, possessing its roots in the so-called Enlightenment which initiated towards the end of the 17th Century and lasted until about 1789, the year of the French Revolution, producing great rebellion on behalf of lofty Reason against Christianity, others still go even further back into the depths of Western history, to the Renaissance and its revival of Classical Antiquity.

Modernism and the avant garde underwent a falling away in terms of intensity in the years leading up to the Second World War, while the immediate post-war age brought renewed activity on the part of such movements as the Beats of New York, San Francisco and elsewhere, and the Lettrists of Paris, Beat being the first avant garde movement to.

One of the keynotes of late Modernism as I see it (and I am not alone I doing so) has been the progressive mass acceptance of iconoclastic beliefs once seen as the preserve of the avant garde, especially with regard to traditional Christian morality, process which could be said to have accelerated around 1955-’56, when both the Beat Movement and the new popular music of Rock ‘n’ Roll, forged of Rythym and Blues, Rockabilly, and other simple folk genres, were starting to make strong inroads into the mainstream. Some ten years thereafter, this process could reasonably be said to have underwent a further quickening, with Pop starting to lose its initial sheen of innoxiousness, and so perhaps evolve into Rock, a more versatile music which went on to run the gamut from the most infantile hit parade ditties, to musically and lyrically complex compositions owing a considerable debt to Classical music, as well as Jazz and other non-popular music forms. It could plausibly be suggested that Rock became an international language in the mid sixties, and one that went on to disseminate values traditionally seen as morally unconventional as no other artistic movement before it, to spirit the message of the new permissive society around the world, and so contribute to the refashioning of Western society, with the most powerful Rock artists attaining through popular consumer culture a degree of influence that previous generations of innovative artists operating within high culture could only dream of. That said, Rock was just one of many elements of which the social revolution, the spirit of the sixties and beyond was constituted.

2) The Spirit of the Sixties Reborn

Had things not turned out the way they did in 1993, I might have wholly immersed myself in the Bohemian culture of the enthralling new decade, because I’d already become entranced by it a year or so earlier, Hippie Bohemianism being in the ascendant again in my suburban eyes, invigorated by the Rave/Dance youth movement, although in truth it had never gone away, merely kept a relatively low profile since the early ’70s, going on to form subcultures which exist to this day.

The hip counterculture which had risen to prominence in the UK in the late 1960s had begun to lose momentum by about ’73, to the degree that some three or four years later, “Hippie” had become a term of abuse among certain members of the Punk uprising. By the early 1990s, however, it appeared to me to be back with a vengeance, and around ’92, I’d fallen for it with it with all the passion of one who had had a surfeit of the eighties.
I was ready to take my attitude of extreme revolt to a further stage of development, and the climate of the times as the century’s end loomed seemed to me to be perfect for doing so, and yet had I succeeded, I may have lost not just my life but my eternal soul, leaving a trail of unholy mayhem behind me. Thankfully, God had other plans for me.

3) Last Flight from Bohemia

I became a born again Christian towards the end of January 1993, and immediately set about divesting myself of the elements of which my pre-Christian existence had been characterised. From the outset, I began dispensing of books I deemed to be of a negative spiritual influence, while others I salvaged, either to be jettisoned at a later date, or kept indefinitely. At times over the course of the years I took things too far, with the consequence that there were books, or music albums, presenting little if any spiritual threat to me as I see it today which I unceremoniously discarded nonetheless, even going so far as to subsequently repurchase some of these. It took me some years to get the balance right.

In addition to books and albums, I set about pruning the writings I’d collected, mainly short stories and projected novels. Again in this, I went too far at times, dumping irreplaceable writings, when portions of them at least could have been preserved and recycled.

I continued writing after becoming a Christian, but from about the middle of the nineties, found it increasingly arduous to do so, and so started destroying most of what I wrote, believing at the time that through my writing I was glorifying the darkness of my pre-Christian past rather than God. By about 1998, I had almost altogether ceased writing, and didn’t seriously take up the pen again, give or take the odd literary scrap that survived my regular Savonarolan purges, until the winter of 2006 when I started contributing articles to the website.

I also destroyed hours and hours of diary-like recordings that I had committed to cassette tape since the early 1980s or earlier and which teemed with gross narcissism and decadent sensuality, as well as occasional bitter outbursts of a startling vehemence, so that I no longer recognised them as proceeding from the person of Carl Halling, as well as innumerous musings committed to paper which I deemed ungodly and more often than not with good reason. Were I to have died, I didn’t wish to leave anything behind that was of an overtly evil nature.

My efforts were not in vain. By the mid 1990s, Christians of my acquaintance could not have been blamed for being of the belief that what I seemed to be was what I had always been, especially given that what I appeared to be, namely a quiet individual erring a little too enthusiastically on the side of earnest self-denial, was not too far from what I was in actuality, my former gift for deception having largely failed me, not that I wanted to be deceptive, far from it, nor to do anything liable to wound the Saviour to whom I owed so much. Of course, I feared God, but I also honoured Him, and so wanted to do good things for Him.

4) Epilogue

If I have given the impression over the course of this piece that I no longer see myself as an artist, then I have done so purely by accident. What I resolutely don’t do however, is subscribe to the theory of the automatically tormented nature of the creative artist. Could God, the Creator of the universe, possibly condone such a role, which has legendarily entailed a variety of tragic conditions deemed to be characteristic of the “tortured artist” including addiction, depression, mental instability? Perish the thought. God wants artists to work for Him, the supreme Artist, to seek refuge in His love and care, where the sensitivity that is so often their undoing can be a blessing rather than a blight to them.

I cannot deny that I am still deeply drawn to the creative genius of artists, but not in the way I used to be, which is to say, from the position of one who worshipped them at their most turbulent and self-destructive, and thence sought passionately to emulate them, but from a distance, still appreciating them, but having a heart for them at the same time. I especially feel for those artists whose sufferings have resulted in their lives being wrecked by alcohol, my own one-time near-nemesis.

I’d like to think that there were those, whether artists or not, who in consequence of reading my writings, come to the realisation that escape from alcohol addiction is possible through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Notwithstanding the occasional brief relapse, I have been sober now for nearly fourteen years, and I am convinced of the miraculous nature of this, given that there is evidence that after even as little as four years most recovering alcoholics have resumed drinking, and that among those who haven’t, deep depression and other mental conditions are common, and understandably so perhaps, given the devastating effect long-term alcohol dependency has on the neurotransmitters.

I’m not saying that my walk with God has been free of suffering, nor that I haven’t paid for my past in a worldly sense, but I’m moving on with Him, as well as creating, writing, composing, singing, hopefully all according to His will, and have everything to remain on this earth for, and all because of Jesus.

Athens – Ancient Athens

Let us try and bring to mind a picture of Athens as the ancients might have known it, drenched in diaphanous light, its arid mountains protecting it from the north winds and harsh weather, with the beauty of the Acropolis thrown into relief by the sun and the delightfully modest houses at the foot of the great rock. An Athens free of noise other than the voices of children and pedlars in the narrow streets. An Athens to be dreamed of.

That’s what it must have been like in the Age of Pericles, when the city was already very ancient. Research shows us that the area around Athens has been inhabited since the neolithic age, as testified to by artifacts found in wells near the Areopagos (Mars’ Hill) on the south side of the Acropolis, and in the Agios Kosmas peninsula near Alimos. The original inhabitants were then joined by waves of new settlers, Carians, Leleges and finally Pelasgians, mainly tribes of IndoEuropean origin. The intermingling of all these peoples contributed to shaping the Hellenes, with their contradictory temperament and frequent conflicts.

Sometime around the late 9th or early 8th century BC, Hesiod and Homer gave us the first myths, exaggerated, heroic tales which provided a glimpse of the kind of society where everything was dependent on an unknown divinity. During subsequent generations, these gods and heroes underwent many sea-changes in the service of local, often political needs. Myth may be a wonderful depiction of the world but it was also the easiest way for simple people to learn about their history. Thus the early inhabitants believed that their leaders-who sometimes took peculiar forms-were descended from the gods. Even their names can be explained in the light of societal needs.

Then gradually, over a period of time, the leaders ceased to be supernatural, and began taking on more human dimensions. And the people themselves, as they acquired knowledge of the outside world from the sea routes, stopped being afraid of the otherworldly and began to wonder about the world. It is a fascinating experience to watch myth evolving hand in hand with the development of a people and to discern historical truth through an imaginative construct.

Thus Kekrops and Erichthonios, the first kings of Athens, were strange creatures, half-man and half-snake, whose form portrayed how they had sprung from the Attic soil. Kekrops had brought in master craftsmen, the Pelasgians who, having built a strong Acropolis, stayed on to settle round it. Names ending in -ttos or -ssos appear to have been Pelasgian, such as the Ilissos, Kefissos, Hymettos, Lycabettos, Ardettos; they are all geographic landmarks (mountains, rivers) which remain prominent in the topography of Athens up to the present day. Likewise, it was Kekrops who selected the goddess Athena as protector of his city, after whom he named it. It should be noted that some scholars believe the name of the goddess to have been derived from the Egyptian word aten.

With respect to Erichthonios, mythology provides us with a number of illuminating details. It is said that Hephaestos, the lame blacksmith of the gods, wanted to join in union with Athena, the great goddess of knowledge, but she drew back from his loving embrace and the divine seed fell on her legs. She then rubbed her leg with a swatch of the wool she was spinning and threw it to the ground. But whereas Athena refused the seed of the god, the Earth received it and thus did Erichthonios spring forth.

The Athenians always had a particular affection for their founding father in his snakish form: they built him an exquisite temple, the Erechthion, which priests made sure was constantly supplied with offerings of honey cakes. In some myths, Erichthonios is called Erechtheas; in others Erechtheas is the grandson of Erichthonios and in a third version, Erechtheas has come from Egypt. Perhaps all these versions represented attempts to explain the successive waves of colonists inundating the Aegean during those turbulent years.

If we seek to unravel the threads of the myths, then the truth emerges in all its radiance. The name of Erichthonios shows us his origin: eriochthon means wool-earth, i.e. born of the earth and from it. His descendants intermarried with peoples from Thessaly whose genealogical tree shows their founding father to have been Prometheus. He was the wise Titan who gave mortals the gift of fire, i.e. the light of knowledge-previously the exclusive realm of the gods or perhaps of some priestly brother hood- and for this reason was cruelly punished on a rock in the Caucasus.

It was Prometheus’ son Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha who brought the human race back to life in the mountains of Thessaly after the great flood. His grandson was Hellene. Today we know that the Indo-European Aryan tribes, after discovering the use of metals somewhere in the Caucasus, learned to craft strong weapons. Some tribes spread out into central Europe and the Balkans, some remained to take advantage of the good grazing lands while others pressed on southward.

The initial root began to put forth many branches as Hellene, grandson of Prometheus, had sons who were quite different one from the other. There were Aeolos, Xouthos and Doros, who gave their names to Hellenic tribes in later years. Xouthos, which means “the fair”, was quite distinct from the early Athenians who had the darker skin of the Aegean peoples. He was to marry Kreousa, the granddaughter of Erechtheas: their children were named Achaeos and Ion, the forefathers of the later Hellenes. Another variation of the myth had Ion as the offspring of Apollo’s secret liaison with the same princess. This detail helped advance the mythic cycle from the primeval, with its demonic forms of nature, evolving into humanized deities like Apollo who led man to thought, poetry and philosophy.

Many modern historians believe that the later Hellenes came from Pindus, on the border between Thessaly and Epirus. This fits in admirably with the Attic myths about the genealogy of their kings and the various intermarriages, documenting the arrogance of the ancient Athenians toward the other inhabitants of the region, since from the very outset, gods would frequently come down and intermingle with the mortals, lending a divine dimension to many conjugal dramas.

We know that the first inhabitants of the Attic earth were cultivators, but its poor, arid soil made them turn toward the sea. The story of Theseus who volunteered to go to Crete and kill the Minotaur, delivering Athens from the terrible annual tribute of youths sent to feed the insatiable monster, may perhaps be telling us about the Athenians’ first great campaign at sea and their independence from a ruling naval power.

From then on, Theseus never stopped traveling, like all those who, having once experienced the vastness of new horizons, could never thereafter remain closed within narrow confines. He went with the Argonauts to the Pontus (Black Sea), fought against and defeated the imperious Amazons, winning their queen, and taught the spoiled Centaurs a hard lesson in good behavior. But he also took care of his own region, joining together little individual townships into a large and powerful confederacy, with temples in which gods and ancestors were worshiped and with a citadel for security against jealous neighbors.

Theseus was possibly a historic figure who, over the passage of centuries, has become wrapped in the glory of myth to serve domestic expediencies and presented as the scion of the divine race of Ion. A hero who was also a demi-god was always more impressive than just a worthy leader; the inhabitants of the city favored with such a leader would feel special and try to emulate him. Thus the descendants of the first Athenians began their fearless exploration of the sea. As they succeeded in guaranteeing their livelihood, their numbers grew; they learned, became wealthy and expanded their activities around the Mediterranean coasts, creating bridgeheads of commerce and free thought. The colonizers of the east side of the Aegean were called Ionians; and it was there that the ideas of philosophy, the principles of human rights, ethics, metaphysics and the harmony of the universe were born.

Economic ease created a new order of things. Until then, the head of the largest family had been king; but when other men gained power through trade, they too claimed the right to a voice in government, thrusting aside the custom of the hereditary monarchy. A special place was needed for the exchange of commodities and this was how the Agora (market) grew up. The meetings of the local people with strangers made it necessary for them to learn how to develop convincing arguments; from this need sprang the art of rhetoric.

The interests of the people had to be protected. As there were already a great many people, the proper role models had to be found on whose example they could shape their behavior, which at its most sublime moment, led to the formulation of laws by Solon the Sage in the 6th century. Developments in the administrative system were accompanied by cultural progress. The local clay was used to make ceramics which, while initially serving the needs of daily life, soon became objects of trade and then developed into works of art, since men, having assured themselves of the necessities, now sought the beautiful. Athenian potters began producing enormous grave amphoras with austere ornamentation, dominated by Greek key designs and shadowy figures. Black-figured vases were the next phase, with their stylized silhouettes; these evolved into the marvelous red-figured vases which sometimes bear the craftsman’s name under vivid compositions depicting moments from the lives of gods and men.

The gods were worshiped in stately stone temples decorated with marble statues that replaced the earlier idols. The myths became overlaid by a multitude of heroic details, as gods and mortals alike came alive in a new form of ceremony which took place in the theater. Meanwhile, more and more Athenian ships were sailing to and fro in the Mediterranean, carrying new developments and provoking envy in other lands which rapidly turned into the desire of foreign leaders for conquest and expansion. The result was the Persian wars at the beginning of the 5th century BC.

The decisive military confrontation at sea and Athens’ defeat of the Persians in the battle of Salamis, promoted Athens to a position of foremost power and intellectual leader over the other Hellenes, much to Sparta’s great annoyance. The Athenians, having acquired the social comfort that accompanies economic prosperity, had by then developed the versatility of thinking people with freedom of opinion and political views. On the contrary, the strapping sons of Sparta remained products of a rigid military education and attitude. Thus, when the gold-bedecked invaders, decimated and in tatters, retreated back into the hinterlands of Persia, Athens justifiably assumed a position of preeminence, achieved greatness which culminated in the classical age, and produced works of eternal beauty which have remained vital until the present day. It caused the historian Thucydides to prophesy that if ever the two great adversaries Athens and Sparta were someday lost, everybody would know where Athens had been by its wonderful monuments whereas Sparta would have left not a trace to remind people of its once great power.

These wonderful monuments were what roused military Sparta’s ire and ultimately led to the armed confrontation. Like all civil wars, the Peloponnesian War was devastating and, unbeknownst to anyone at that time, it signalled the beginning of the end for the proud city of Athens. This was a slow decline which lasted for centuries; it saw insults and passions, tyrannies and uprisings, flaming rhetoric and objections; it saw Athens yielding to the Hellenes of the North, the Macedonians, and finally its subjugation by the Roman legions. All this occurred in the shadow of the Parthenon, at a time when the theatres continually presented works by playwrights whose names would become renowned throughout history, and when Athenians would gather under the colonnades of the Agora to listen to the wandering philosophers and discuss the current political situation.

The Christian religion which was slowly spreading hope of deliverance among oppressed peoples, began to gain followers while the philosophical schools were still full of young people seeking enlightenment on questions of rhetoric, the written word and even theology. One of the most famous students of these schools (4th century A.D.) was Julian, later the Byzantine emperor who came to be known as the Apostate because of his attachment to pagan religion; others were Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus, future Fathers of the Church. The philosophical schools of Athens functioned until the 6th century, at which point Justinian closed them by decree, perhaps because freedom of philosophic thought conflicted with the dogmatism of what had become the state religion. At this point, Athens entered the Dark Ages.

Deprived of its intellectual nourishment, the city was gradually forgotten, destined to continue its progress through time as an insignificant village, the roads of which were studded with pieces of marble from statues that had been smashed by fanatics remembering the heathen past of this once-great city. It was this past that made the official Byzantine state neglect the birthplace of art and beauty, which they regarded as a dangerous incitement to those who tended to disagree with the medieval terms of immortality. The religious exaltation of the period could in no way be reconciled with the frivolity of the ancient gods and thus Christianity’s fight for dominance was a tough one without concessions or exceptions.

In the 13th century, when the Crusaders transferred their need for expansion to the East, thinly disguised under a veil of religion, knights who had been excluded from the division of the conquered lands fanned out over the Aegean and around the coasts snatching land by brute force. During the years that followed, the Franks and Catalans established their principalities in Attica and fought to keep them safe from the rising power of Islam. All during this time, the few remaining residents of Athens were simply struggling to survive, as they sank ever deeper into the lethargy of illiteracy, poverty and obscurity. The rest of Europe welcomed the educated Byzantines who had fled after the fall of Constantinople (1453), and this infusion of new culture helped push forward the Renaissance, contributing substantially to what we now know as Western civilization. But at that time, this forgotten corner of the earth was not even called Hellas, even though from time to time, travellers would fill tour journals with notes about the monuments, carved stones and inscriptions they had seen on the ground along the pathways of Attica.

It was these descriptions which awakened the memories of Hellas and soon the travellers would start coming in earnest to look, dig and depart in order to send others in ever greater numbers. The Ottoman conquerors, gazing down indifferently from the heights of the Acropolis, where they had established themselves for security reasons, looked condescendingly upon those who came to do research, while the suspicious local population tried to make some money by helping those people whom they, in their ignorance, termed “silly strangers”. In the mid- 18th century, lists had already begun to circulate around Europe of the most significant Greek monuments; some of these lists were even accompanied by drawings. By the early 19th century a few collections of the plunder had already been established.

The French Revolution brought a different atmosphere to the intellectuals of Europe. Liberty, Equality and Fraternity became accepted values. Romantic verses by Lord Byron brought back to the Western mind the memory of Hellenic culture associated with this part of the Balkans, rather than the Greece that had become known through the wealthy Greek merchants in various cities of Europe. Thus the news that the Greek War of Independence had been proclaimed fell on fertile ground and the voice of the enslaved Greek nation was heard once again after centuries of silence, inspiring artists to paint episodes from the desperate struggle waged by the few descendants of the heroes of Marathon and Thermopylae. The scene depicting a mounted, turbaned warrior fighting against an impassioned footsoldier. In his fustanela inspired a sense of heroism and the confrontation between life and death, as well as awakening feelings of anger against the oppressors and support for the oppressed.

In June 1822, the Greeks captured the Acropolis and made it their command post, while the struggle continued with an uncertain outcome on all fronts. Five years later, Kiutahis Pasha had recaptured the citadel in a last ditch effort to suppress the revolution. But the Great Powers of the times formed an alliance -either because they wanted to bow to public opinion or because they were counting on gaining influence in the new independent state in the strategic Mediterranean region, or because they regarded the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire as inevitable-and in the decisive battle of Navarino, it was they who administered the final blow to the Sultan, which gave Greece her freedom.

As soon as it gained its independence, the newly constituted state became an apple of discord for European politicians, while the dusty village of Athens was, as a matter of courtesy, designated capital. Still reeling from their bloody fight and from the heady feeling of freedom, the Greeks were struggling to rediscover their identity, and at the same time to wipe out the taint of slavery. They wore European clothes, avoided the brigand-riddled mountains and began building mansions that resembled their monuments. The simple people were awed by the fact that their huts had been built on the settlements and graves of their forefathers and began to be aware of themselves as constituting part of a long, unbroken chain. They all started tearing down, clearing away, digging up and restoring. At last, the Attic earth was ready to surrender its treasures and ideals to humanity.

It was in this way that Greek archeology, the new science of antiquities, was born.