The below is a "must read" email on Greece sent to Morton Blackwell of the Leadership Institute from a young Greek who interned there last year.
Tea Party WDC
To Morton Blackwell, Leadership Institute
From Alexandre Skouras
"The complexity of our times simply means that everything that happens around us is somehow related to what happens, or will happen, to ourselves.
I would like to share with you my take on how Greece and the European Union have come to the point of no return. Also, I have included my prediction on the electoral outcome at the end of this letter.
Describing the political atmosphere at the birthplace of democracy is very hard without a historical context. There are four periods of modern Greek history that are directly related with today's political environment. The liberation from the Ottoman Empire (1821), the Civil War (1946 - 1949), the military dictatorship (1967 - 1974), and the rise to power of the socialists (1981 - 1988). Every period has added something unique that in my humble view led to the current collapse that the Greek society is facing and I will to attempt to briefly describe the key points for each and every one of them.
The Greek people were oppressed for four centuries by the Ottomans. From 1453 AD (the fall of Constantinople) till 1821 AD (Declaration of Independence), Europe and later on the Americas, experience philosophical and scientific movements that changed the course of humanity. The Renaissance, the European and American Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, changed the way that the world was operating. Unfortunately, the Greeks didn't have the chance to be a part of those movements. As slaves to the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire they would study only the Bible, and for many years in secrecy, in order to preserve their language.
Suddenly, and with the support of foreign powers (primarily Russia and France), in 1821 AD they got their own nation. It is admirable that the first Greek Constitution was fine tuned with the prevalent liberal (in the classical sense) rhetoric of those times. Among others, it was one of the first Constitutions to abolish slavery.
However, the complete lack of any form of political establishment meant that only two things could happen in the near future. The state would be controlled by foreign powers or by the already existing (and in almost all cases) corrupt political elite of the Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately these two took place at the same time and since the beginning of the Greek State corruption has been synonymous with its existence.
In other words, the fundamental problems that Greek face today are directly related to the way the state was founded.
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek government army--backed by the United Kingdom and the United States--and the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), the military branch of the Greek Communist Party (KKE), backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania. In my view it is the exception to the rule that the victors write the history of every war. In this case, the dominant opinion is that the leftists were beaten by the foreign powers that intervened which automatically victimizes the left and criminalizes the right. As I said before, Greeks after the early days of their state are very intolerant of foreign countries that mingle in their internal affairs. The Greek left is not exception to the general rule that they are politically savvier and better masters of political technology than the right. The fact that the story of this war would favor the losers will be a significant turning point for the political discourse until this day. As an anecdote, I can simply say that every political discussion between the left and the right can be deduced to the implications of this war and the UK, US involvement.
In 1967 and until 1974, Greece suffered from a dictatorship that banned communism from any political discussion, arrested and imprisoned hundreds of communists and took away the fundamental freedoms (speech, press) of the Greek people. This era completely destroyed the brand of the Greek right simply because it again victimized the left. Although there were many conservatives who opposed the junta, including major conservative leaders like Constantine Karamanlis (first prime minister and historical figure of the movement), the defining reference point of that era was that the right persecuted, once again, the already victimized communist left.
From 1975 till 1981 the father figure of Greek conservatism, Constantine Karamanlis, managed to restore growth and prosperity while achieving an amazing transition from an authoritarian to a liberal democratic regime. He legalized the communist party and achieve the accession of Greece in the EU. Back then the EU was named EEC (European Economic Community) and the country's accession would secure a stable political environment under which the Greek economy would be able to compete in a free(er) common European market.
In 1981 the Socialist Party, under the guidance of its charismatic and extremely populist leader Andrew Papandreou, came into power with the promise to restore the terrible injustice that the left had suffered all this years since the civil war. It was one of the worst evolutions of the century in my humble opinion.
Karamanlis had left the country with a 28% debt/gdp ratio and with huge prospects thanks to the EEC membership which would automatically mean that the public sector and other areas of the economy would receive adequate funding in order to achieve modernization. (note: though I am highly critical of the EU's central planning, I will admit that at that time it presented a unique opportunity for the purpose of development). Papandreou off course understood that his campaign promises of getting the country out of the EU and NATO would be disastrous for the future of the tiny nation. Instead he increased taxation, empowered the unions, dramatically increased the size and scope of the government, engaged into long term loans, tripled the debt to gdp ratio and made cronyism the golden standard of business and professional practice.
Since then we had governments that followed that "growth" model regardless of partisan affiliation with the exception of the Mitsotakis era. During his term as prime minister he tried to free the economy, deal with unionism, reform the public sector through privatizations and deal with the public insurance funds that were bound to collapse. Unfortunately his government didn't last thanks to the actions of the current conservative leader, Antonis Samaras. He caused the loss of the parliamentary vote of confidence by resigning from the party and forcing other MP's to withdraw their confidence to the Mitsotakis government.
Since then, the combination of cronyism, corruption, unionism, and cheap credit (after the eurozone membership) is what brought the Greeks to their current status.
My thoughts on the country's future are very scary. I honestly believe that everything is on the table right now (including regime changes, geopolitical changes or even worse).
I reckon that the changes in the people's perception that would suggest a better future are not anywhere close. Without education on free-markets, individual freedom, and conservatism, there is no hope. The Greeks are used to blame others for their grievances and right now the "others" are the capitalist predators, the markets, the lendors, the EU, the chancellor of Germany, anyone but statism and the leftists who dominated the political discourse for decades.
I hope I kept your interest throughout this long personal account on the Greek Tragedy.
My prediction for the Sunday Elections is that the radical left will win. If not, they will stop the government from making the necessary reforms and will lead the country to another election in 2-3 months."