Political evolution or political unrest?

Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Mon Mar 29 08:02:18 PST 1999

>Well I asked you, and other people have asked you, three times now, to
>either retract or prove the claim that Churchill's meddeling in Greek
>politics and the installation of a fascist-inspired and backed government is
>what led to PASOK and Greece's current crazy little parliamentary democracy...

Well, they *did* keep having elections -- a huge number of elections.

Had Churchill's little meeting with Stalin turned out differently and had Churchill traded Greece to Stalin for Bohemia and had EAM-ELAS seized control over Greece in December 1944, or had Vafiades' December 1947 proclamation of a provisional government been rapidly followed by a communist victory, then -- as you know at least as well as I -- there would have been no more elections in Greece, at least not until the aftermath of 1989. Political leaders would have been executed for treason, expelled from the Party for "deviations," purged and forced to resign in disgrace, and so forth. But there would have been no elections.

Without elections, progressive political evolution is... unlikely. (Here, by the way, is where I think your labeling of as many people as you can as "fascist" betrays you: fascists dislike elections even more than communists do -- for fascists, the people do not choose leaders, the people obey the leaders. Fascists may hold rigged plebiscites, and they may accept the unanimous endorsement of hand-picked "corporatist" bodies. But fascists do not hold elections. And that is a key difference between Italy in the 1920s and 1930s and Greece in the late 1940s and 1950s.

There was an election in 1946... a plebescite on the monarchy in 1946... an election in 1950... another one in 1951... another one in 1952... an election in 1956 (adding women to the voting rolls)... another election in 1958... another election in 1961... another election in 1963... another election in 1964... a *big* political mistake by King Constantine in dismissing Georgios Papandreou from office in 1965... an election scheduled for 1967 but preempted by the Papadopoulos-Patakos-Spandidakis coup... an appeal by King Constantine at the end of 1967 to overthrow the junta and restore democratic government... expulsion of Greece from the Council of Europe in 1969... continued military rule (in which Nixon, Kissinger, and Agnew played a destructive role...) until the disastrous military adventure in Cyprus in July 1974... Karamanlis's restoration of the constitution of 1952 in August of 1974... elections in November 1974 aqnd again in November 1975... first PASOK victory in 1981... et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

>From your perspective, all this is just an episode: "...fascism and
royalism, and the immense corruption of the current democracy" and compared to this history "Bulgarian-style politics would not have been much worse or even worse at all."

I do not think that such a position can be maintained. If the history of the twentieth century teaches us anything, it is that political democracy -- regular elections, circulation of elites, a free press that allows political debate, and so forth -- is of immense importance. When Karl Marx wrote that the Rights of Man and of the Citizen -- liberalism -- bourgeois liberties -- were not "human emancipation," he nevertheless qualified his observation by noting that they were "civil emancipation" and that civil emancipation was a very good thing.

I think that the wreck of twentieth century Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism-Maoism -- along with the wreck of Mussolinism, Francoism, Hitlerism, and so on -- has taught us that civil emancipation is much more important than Marx recognized, and that you have no prospect of getting anywhere close to human emancipation unless you take a road that leads through civil emancipation -- the liberal and social-democratic republic.

Brad DeLong

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