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International Socialism, Spring 1967


Michael Jones



From The Notebook, International Socialism (1st series), No.28, Spring 1967, p.7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Michael Jones writes: With next May’s promised elections, following the demise of Stephanopoulos’ puppet government just before Christmas, almost two years will have elapsed since the Royal Court found democracy in the shape of Papandreou distasteful and removed him. Further elections suggest no resolution to the two basic problems: whether the power is ultimately to reside with people or palace, and how the economy is to be modernised.

To become a full member of the EEC, Greece must achieve an annual economic growth rate of some eight per cent over the next ten or twelve years, yet currently the economic performance is poor. Drastic action is needed both to merge small agricultural holdings into larger economic units and to create light industry. Foreign investment has been slow to recognise the value of Greece’s cheap labour (the average rate for industrial workers is 2s 9d per hour), but recently, the US Litton Industries has proposed an investment of £300 million in the backward regions of Crete and the western Peloponnese, where wages are particularly low. However, that the development of a large part of Greece should be controlled by a private company, and American at that, has met with understandable opposition from the Left wing. But the very fact that such an initiative has come from outside suggests the failures of the past, particularly during the Karamanlis regime. Industry represented 24.1 per cent of the economy in 1951, and only 26 per cent by 1965.

The brief Papandreou regime (November 1963 to July 1965) did initiate a number of basic reforms. Perhaps the most-important for the long term were in education. Yearly registration fees, from £3 for primary school pupils, £6 for secondary, £50 for undergraduates, formerly inhibited education, and were very important in the many parts of Greece where wages total less than £10 per month; they were abolished. A new university, the third, was established at Patras, although few students reach the heights of higher education and no maintenance grants for students exist. However, even if education was adequate, there are few jobs, and people must emigrate both to earn enough to live and to learn a trade.

The loss of manpower through emigration crucially affects any potential rate of industrial growth. Out of a total population of 8,384,000 (1961 Census), about half a million have emigrated since 1960, and the rate seems to be increasing: in 1962, 84,502; 1963, 100,012; 1964, 105,569. Traditional destinations for emigrants, the US and Canada (there are 300,000 Greeks in Chicago alone), have given way in recent years to Western Europe, and particularly West Germany. Some 160,000 are employed there, and often in the worst jobs – as in Belgium, where some 20,000 Greeks worked in the mines between 1955 and 1962. Three out of four emigrants are in the age-group, 18-30, and they will not exchange a high standard of living abroad for a poor wage at home without the perspective of fast industrial development.

In the meantime, Greece relies heavily on tourism to make up its balance of payments deficit. In 1960, tourism contributed $49.3m to defray a deficit of $288.5m; in 1965, the figures were $100.7m and $645.4m respectively. Most of the modernisation which has taken place in Greece has been to cope with the needs of tourism – a reasonable road network, hotels, etc. – and the numbers can be increased; Yugoslavia received two million tourists in 1965, and Greece only 700,000. More pressing, however, is the need to create industries which will relieve Greek imports.

The political stability to tackle these problems remains elusive, but if it is not forthcoming, Greece will tend to decline relative to the rest of Europe (both Yugoslavia and Roumania have expanded more rapidly, leaving only Albania in a worse position among Greece’s neighbours). The reforms needed cannot be met within the present political framework. The task of modernising Greece must begin with a return to democracy, but the coalition of palace, police and army will ensure this is not achieved without a bitter struggle.

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