- Greece Prepares for the Twenty-first Century
“There is a duty in this land. And this duty is for us to study ourselves.” So said Pericles Yannopoulos at the beginning of the twentieth century. And this is what eleven scholars do a century later in this volume of analytical and critical essays, [End Page 145] presented originally at a symposium held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., in May 1992. Topics range from politics and economics to social and cultural perspectives. Diverse as they are, they have the common theme of the interaction between indigenous and exogenous (mainly European Union) forces, and the interplay between tradition and modernity. Some of the authors are optimists; others are not. Some view Greece as the Balkan exception, a historical success story in an underdeveloped region; others think of her as the West European exception that has failed to develop a strong civil society and a competitive market economy.
Nicos Mouzelis opens the debate with a critique of Greek political culture. A first-rate model builder, Mouzelis identifies three major stages in the development of political institutional structures in Greece: oligarchic clientelism, 1863–1909; centralized clientelism, 1909–1967; and clientelism-populism, 1967–1992. This development has resulted in a large but inefficient state apparatus, a weak civil society, and a political culture dominated by particularistic, partocratic orientations, with formalistic or personalistic discourses concealing substantive issues of social reform or rendering them peripheral.
Greece today has to embrace modernization and reform if the country’s resources are to be put to more effective use, while preserving its cultural identity and political autonomy within the EU. Interestingly, Mouzelis finds reforms across the political spectrum in an ideological convergence that points to the dwindling significance of class-based politics. Although right in principle, Mouzelis downplays the fact that specific political forces and parties protect the interests of those who benefit from the existing status quo. His essay does not sufficiently stress the losses that would be involved for a significant part of the population if reform succeeded. And he puts too much store in social democracy as a sensible compromise between the market and the state at a time when its validity is questioned even in Sweden. All said, however, Mouzelis’s paper is obligatory reading for anyone seriously interested in contemporary Greece.
Theofanis G. Stavrou considers an institution that, despite its importance for Greece’s political culture, has been studied neither adequately nor rigorously—the Orthodox Church. Quoting from Papadiamantis to Tritsis, he presents the widely held consensus that Orthodoxy constitutes an essential element of Hellenism. In agreement with Yannaras’s aphorism of the Church’s aphasia ever since it became a state agency, Stavrou explores the development of the church-state relationship since the 1821 revolution, and in particular since the 1833 decision of a Westernizing government to establish the Autocephalous Church of Greece. Stavrou shows how the Church was subjugated by a state that used it to acquire legitimacy at the expense of the Church’s development as a vibrant and autonomous institution of civil society. So statism brings stagnation not just to economies but even to institutions as long-lived as the Church in Greece. Stavrou’s work provides a solid historical account. However, the complexity of Church-state relations warrants multiple perspectives—political, sociological, theological, etc. In this respect, Stavrou fails to pick up the debate where Mouzelis left off.
According to Monteagle Stearns, United States Ambassador to Greece [End Page 146] from 1981 to 1985, the end of the Cold War has affected no state outside the confines of the Warsaw Pact more profoundly than it has Greece. Although Turkey, and certainly Germany, could claim to have been similarly affected, Stearns is right to emphasize the radically new environment in which Greece finds herself. Its adversarial relationship with Turkey remains Greece’s primary concern. In one of Stearns...