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Nationalism as a Claim to a State
The Greek Revolution of 1821 and the Formation of Modern Greece

In theorizing on the causes, preconditions, dynamics and internal conflicts of the Greek Revolution of 1821, John Milios's analysis tackles the issue of bourgeois revolutions in general.

This sweeping investigation of the historical emergence, and the limits of the Greek nation, calls forth the broader theoretical and historical question of the economic, political, and ideological presuppositions of nation-building. Nationalism as a Claim to a State illustrates how nationalism brings the masses to the political forefront, which the capitalist state then incorporates into its apparatuses as 'sovereign people'. Nationalism, being enmeshed within the political element, consists of the basis upon which irredentism develops, recruiting populations into the expansionist-imperialist strategies of the ruling classes.

  • "John Milios offers us a timely and important intervention in the discussions on the character and role of the 1821 Greek Revolution, a necessary antidote to the nationalist consensus which seems to have prevailed in the bicentenary celebrations of that event. Through the lens of political economy, he critically analyses the role of the emerging middle classes in the formation of the nation state of Greece. At the same time, he shows that the protagonists of the national struggle had imperial (I would prefer to call them colonial) ambitions from the very start, ambitions that were burnt in the ashes of Smyrna a century later. The book not only helps us understand the emergence and the fates of Greece as a national and political phenomenon, and its continuing role as a buffer state in global geopolitics, but it also constitutes a valuable contribution to the contemporary discussions on (and struggles towards) ideological, economic, and political decolonisation".

    —Yannis Hamilakis, Brown University, co-author of Archaeology, Nation, and Race: Confronting the Past, Decolonizing the Future.

    "Nationalism as a Claim to a State provides a groundbreaking account of the Greek Revolution and its aftermath. Opposing the myth of Hellenic continuity, Milios analyses the Greek nationalist movement in terms of capitalist interests within – and at odds with – the Ottoman Empire. He emphasises that early proclamations of Hellenic independence also included Albanians, Serbs, and Bulgars; later, the Greek state defined itself against those groups and pursued territorial expansion. Part of a broader historical movement, the emergent Greek state reveals how nationalist ideologies get twisted this way and that to avoid confronting the realities of capitalism. Carefully researched and persuasively argued, Milios's study takes us deep into the Greek Revolution and beyond, offering crucial lessons for the contemporary world."

    —Rush Rehm, Professor Theater and Performance Studies, and Classics, Stanford University, Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory Theater (SRT)

    "Who were the Greeks whom the Revolution of 1821 sought to liberate into a national-constitutional state? In this fascinating book, distinguished political economist John Milios investigates the processes of economic, social, and political-ideological unification through which, from the second half of the eighteenth century, Greek-speaking and other Orthodox capitalists promoted a broad national politicisation of large Orthodox Christian populations in the Ottoman Empire and turned them into Greek freedom fighters. He shows how the revolution of the masses demanding representative institutions led to the formation of a constitutional bourgeois state and a national capitalist social formation (1821–27) before taking a Bonapartist and, later, monarchist turn. This is the first book to consider the role of capitalism, nationalism, republicanism, racism, and imperialism in the formation of modern Greece".

    —Vassilios Lambropoulos, C. P. Cavafy Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan