Legal Law

Andreas Papandreou: “Man of Destiny”

In Andreas Papandreou: the formation of a Greek democrat and a political maverick (IB Tauris, 256 pages, $49 and £30), Stan Draenos depicts a man torn between national identities, academic or political careers, and a complex relationship with his popular politician father. The dilemmas of Papandreou (1919-1996) are deftly intertwined in the political context involving the United States and Greece during the Cold War. Draenos, who has a Ph.D. in Political Science from York University, Toronto, tells me that Papandreou himself eventually responded in a questionnaire: “My first interest was action, politics.” If he couldn’t do that, he would be an academic and, failing that, “go sailing.”

Focusing on the early years of Andreas’ life, Andreas Papandreou it is fluent writing feat which can be viewed from various angles. Thanks to the Truman Doctrine, established in 1947 initially to support Greece and Turkey in containing the Soviet Union, American hardliners had a huge impact on the Greek monarchy, the military, and the elderly George Papandreou, the ideologically centrist father of Andreas who could keep the communists at bay. Indeed, in the 1966 election, against his son’s wishes, George worked with the palace and American forces and forged links with the dominant right-wing party, which was followed by the US-backed party. coup.

Analyzing Andreas’ decisions, including his breakup with his engaged father in the mid-1960s, one enters the realm of psychobiography. Draenos, who worked as a historian for many years at the Andreas Papandreou Foundation and knew the former prime minister personally, obviously knows that in this thorny area of ​​”psyche” scrutiny, the historian must stick to the facts and avoid speculation.

Witnessing the impotence of the resistance movement against fascism in Greece as a young man may have been one of the factors that led Andreas to emigrate to the United States. There were also other “painful, unresolved conflicts,” says the biographer, without going any further. Andreas went on to have a successful academic career, applauded by intellectuals such as John Kenneth Galbraith. He became a naturalized American in 1944, and his marriage to American Margaret Chant cemented his new national identity. Two years before the wedding, Andreas told her that she felt “homesick [for Greece]but no desire to return.

While chairing a department at the University of California, Berkeley, it became clear that Andreas was, in fact, the political “action man” he had initially not wanted to become. Under a law passed in 1950, all teachers in the State of California had to sign an anti-communist loyalty document, which included a clause requiring them to report the political leanings of their students. Andreas managed to deal with the reactionary legislators while he supported his colleagues who had been fired and got his jobs back through legal action. Meanwhile, Andreas himself voted against the law. Like his father’s, he showed his true colors as a pragmatist; but unlike George Papandreou, his son was not moderate.

Draenos remembers how George clearly expressed his support for the Truman Doctrine in an article published by the magazine. External relationships. Andreas, for his part, never spoke officially on the subject, but when he first voted in the US presidential election in 1948, his candidate was the leftist Henry Wallace, who resigned from the Truman cabinet precisely because he opposed the Trump Doctrine. Truman. However, while obtaining US research grants to test the waters, knowingly or unknowingly, and possibly enter Greek politics, Andreas chose to follow a more pragmatic moderate stance for at least two apparent reasons.

First, he had to fit the US government’s perception of him: Andreas was an American who could replace his father’s leadership of the Center Union. Second, he was the son of the grandfather of Greek politics, “the object of [Andreas’] devotion,” but also a “mixed blessing,” or, in other words, “a rival to outshine and a role model to emulate.” Predictably, there was jealousy. Konstantinos Mitsotakis, a future prime minister who hoped to succeed George Papandreou, described Andreas as a “upstartthat he was “exploiting his father”. Some called him an American, while others suspected he was also a CIA spy.

But in keeping with Greek patriarchal society, Jorge, who had always viewed his son as the perfect filial successor at the head of the dynasty he had established, tried to lure him back from the United States. We discover an emotional man, prone to psychosomatic symptoms related to a difficult past in the country of his birth. In 1953, for example, Andreas suffered excruciating jaw pain after a family reunion in Athens. On other occasions he had intestinal problems and even some illness that put his life at risk.

Following his father’s election as prime minister, in 1964 Andreas was elected to parliament and became deputy prime minister. He returned his US passport and changed his narrative, raising fears that he was straying too politically from his father’s centrist politics. One of Andreas’ trademark slogans was “Greece for the Greeks,” which seemed to make sense in a country that had been under first British and then American tutelage since World War II.

Andreas’s “social reform-oriented nationalism”, Draenos argues, was also in tune with his times, as millions upon thousands of Greeks had been leaving the country, where “a sense of alienation” prevailed. Andreas’s new discourse, which helped him return to his Greek roots, included militant communist resisters of the 1940s who had been excluded from the conservative establishment’s narrative. These days, when the reactionary group Golden Dawn, which has members in the Greek Parliament, uses the same words to incite foreigners to beat up, Andreas’s slogan sounds inappropriate. Unfortunately, nationalism has become the strength of an extremist organization.

In the end, Andreas was not going to be the “American” partner during the Cold War. He opposed the American plan to divide Cyprus between the Greeks and the Turks and, although he was a nationalist, he sensibly believed that, as Draenos tells me, “it was in the best interests of Hellenism to keep Cyprus independent and united.” Furthermore, seeing intervention from the Greek establishment and the American government as the real threats, rather than an alliance with the communists, Andreas revealed that he was not the son George hoped would replace him.

Andreas was, as Draenos says, “a man of destiny.” In Gramscian terms, the former prime minister was the “charismatic man” who appears when citizens no longer trust the hegemonic ruling class. In 1974 he founded Greece’s first social democratic party, the influential PASOK. He was the first socialist prime minister, elected in 1981.

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