The real problem of cultural appropriation

Hellenes face the colonial attitude, which is characteristic of Anglo-American paganism, almost every day. For example, Hellenes are criticized for their ethos, the way they live and think and practice their ancestral religion. Paganism or Neopaganism hungers for indigenous cultures, it buys, sells, consumes, uses, utilizes and exploits their religions, and ultimately disposes of them when they no longer satisfy the hunger for the exotic. Pagans want us to think like them, live like them, behave like them. Be like them. And if we refuse, they judge us with reference to the norms, mores and ethics of their very own culture. That is pure ethnocentrism.

We are tired of the totalitarian expectations and demands by foreigners towards Hellenism. But we are not perplexed. Paganism is an emanation of occultism, which is western Christianity’s superstition system. And where Christianity is, totalitarianism and missional zeal are not far away. They decide what is or rather should be important to us, what we should decide for our own culture, for us, how we should think and live our lives. It’s Christianity all over again, just in different terms. We don’t need some kind of «modernization» of our culture from the outside by strangers with no connection to our language, culture and land. «Modernization» is a cute euphemism for assimilation, and we are certainly not interested in any kind of assimilation into the west. We have repeatedly emphasized this position, sometimes politely, sometimes less politely. Nevertheless, we still experience, in a real and tangible manner, how cultural colonialists try to infiltrate our community, speak on behalf of Hellenism and change our ways into their way, in effect making a stereotypical caricature of Hellenism — against our explicit will and in violation of our right to self-determination under international law.

Therefore I would like to take this article as an opportunity to send our clear message to all kinds of colonialists, political, cultural and religious: let people be themselves, and if you cannot handle that, leave them alone. Stop stalking or harassing their culture for what it stands for. They have every right to be what they are, to make decisions for their own culture and defend their ways. After all, this is what sovereignty is about. You don’t have to understand nor like it, just accept it and let it go.

We are not here to satisfy your desires, to be your mascot or play a role in your RPG. We are here for ourselves, have our very own interests, goals, and values. If you cannot accept this, if you are not able to tolerate alterity, and you are obsessed by the idea to «correct» us into… you, stay away from us, our children and our culture in general.

Because, if you appropriate our ethnonym, colonize our history, commercialize our religion and deny our people’s genocide, you are our enemy, and as such we will treat you. Anyone who dares to infringe upon our collective dignity, should be ready to face and endure what’s coming. So you better keep your ethnocentrism, the corresponding labels, the racism and hate to yourself and go ahead with your life. Because if history has taught us anything, it’s that Hellenism is not a «turn the other cheek» tradition.

We survived Byzantium. We survived the Ottoman empire. We survived the Nazis. So trust me, we will survive paganism too, and the same, of course, goes for the other by-products of religious, cultural and political monotheism.

Common Hellenism. Copyright holder: Angelo Nasios