Correspondence: “Democracy” in Greece

Dear Sirs,
In your April issue, commenting on Andreas Papandreou’s Democracy at Gunpoint, you said that the situation in pre-1967 Greece was different from that in other places with “a workable, though limited, political democracy” because “parliament in Greece did not control the coercive side of the state machine”. This is so, but there are one or two other points which I think should be stressed.
Mr. Papandreou’s party was not a Socialist party as we understand it, and although they used the usual slogans of the Left never intended to establish Socialist Democracy in Greece. The Centre Union was very authoritarian in its structure and its policies were by far more conservative than those of the Labour Party here.
The trouble with Greece is that all those who pose now as “liberators”, “democrats” and God knows what (including Mr. Papandreou) failed to realize or did not want to realise that you cannot hope for Socialism unless you have the conscious consent of the majority.
Greek society is a non-democratic one. This is apparent not only in the structure of its political but also of its educational and religious institutions and the family.
That is not to say that I accept the colonels’ argument that they will teach the Greek people democracy(!). Their régime is a ruthless dictatorship and democratic principles can only be learnt by living in a democracy and perhaps making the inevitable mistakes. What I mean is that Greece does not need failed bourgeois opportunists, but Socialists who will work seriously for Socialism.
D. M., Swansea.

In general terms we would agree with the views expressed by our correspondent, providing it is understood that Socialism — a democratic society based on the common ownership of the means of life with production solely for use not sale or profit — could not be established in a single country like Greece but must be world-wide. And of course our review of Papandreou’s book did make it clear that his Centre Union party was the party for modern capitalism in Greece. We would agree that what the workers of Greece need is Socialism, not a government under such “failed bourgeois opportunists” as Papandreou.


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