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Why Leftist Greeks have more reasons than Liberals to favour Entrepreneurship and Support Entrepreneurs

Economics / SME Apr 24, 2016 - 06:08 PM GMT

By: Submissions

Economics

Petros Diplas writes: Recently I read  it and said “There goes another myth."

"It is an indisputable fact that Leftism and Entrepreneurship in Greece are incompatible concepts."
Everybody blames the Greek Left - and I insist on Greek – to be against entrepreneurship.


But for 20, if not 30 years, during the decades of the 50s, 60s and even the 70s, Greek Leftists, oppressed by the winners of the civil war, managed to survive only through entrepreneurship, only through creating enterprises.

I know that it sounds strange but this is the sheer truth.

In Greece, entrepreneurship and especially its healthiest and most capable part of it, competitive entrepreneurship, was in the hands of the Greek Leftists for decades and not in the control of the Right Wing Party who represented crony capitalism for a long time. In Greece, competitive entrepreneurship, i.e entrepreneurship without the help of the government and the public sector, was Leftist.

In the decades of the 50s, 60s and 70s, Leftists, in order to survive, had only two options: Either migrate or become self-employed (well, three options if we also consider being a monk at Mount Athos). The rest was prohibited.

Greek Leftists and State were associated as water with fire. For 30 years in Greece, Statism and Leftism, public sector and the Left, state employees and the Leftists were opposite directions.

Unable to become civil servants, they turned to the private sector but jobs were scarce and generally Leftist employees were not welcomed.

Many fled and emigrated.

But most found refuge and assistance in the friendly entrepreneurship which did not care about political beliefs, since entrepreneurship neither looks nor wants to look at colour, gender or political beliefs. Competitive entrepreneurship is meritocratic but crony entrepreneurship is mediocratic  and it is exactly the latter which has been developing in Greece in the past 45 years, which together with statism and bureaucracy bankrupted the country.

For nearly 30 years Greek Leftist entrepreneurship grew and flourished. Thousands of Leftists were saved and protected through entrepreneurship. Many became small and medium competitive entrepreneurs and some even evolved into big ones.

As we said, the reason for such a competitive evolution was the hostility of state governments and public services against Leftist entrepreneurs. This made them really competitive. Leftist entrepreneurship flourished surrounded by adverse public services, unfriendly banks and a hostile state, without any kind of help, thus becoming competitive. They succeeded against all difficulties. It was competitiveness to the fullest.

The other entrepreneurs of the Right wing, the cronies, grew only through the support of the governments and the state.

It is amazing to see the similarities of the Greek Diaspora to the then Greek Leftists. Thousands of Greeks who fled to all corners of the Earth, survived and were helped by entrepreneurship  just as the many post-civil war Leftists of Greece. Entrepreneurship stood by the Greek Diaspora and Greek Leftists alike.

One might even say that the Leftist Greek businessmen of the 50s, 60s and even the 70s were more competitive than the Diaspora entrepreneurs, for the simple reason that  (Greek) expatriates did not face hostile public services, hostile states and unfriendly business environments, unlike the adverse conditions which Greek Leftists had to face at home.

Thus Entrepreneurship not only rescued and preserved but also strengthened the Greek Left.

Basically today, the Left Greek SYRIZA government should erect a monument to the Unknown Leftist Greek Entrepreneur: to the Competitive Leftist Greek Entrepreneur.

I always remember with great emotion my late friend and fellow Kefalonian from Kourouklata,  Daniel Papadatos who had spent many years in prison and exile, who did not speak a word of English but had managed to be the dealer of  the long-established English mattress firm 'Sleepeezee', who told me: "When I came out of prison, the only option I had was either to go abroad, become a monk at Mount Athos or be an entrepreneur..."

During the ’80s I was helping him as an interpreter on his frequent visits to England for his mattresses orders, when one day the 'Sleepeezee' sales manager asked me in confidence: «But  really, is Daniel who is such a good businessman,  a communist… as he always tells me? "

I replied: "But the vast majority of entrepreneurs in Greece belong to the Left wing because after the civil war in Greece, entrepreneurship was the only thing permitted to the Communists.”

Daniel and I had discussed many times why in the 80’s the Greek Left  swayed away from its familiar and friendly domains of entrepreneurship and private sector, and began to embrace the public sector.

I intensely reminisced these discussions back in October 2004 when the Left Communist government of Vietnam declared October the 13th as ‘Entrepreneur's Day’, a national holiday which is observed every year. (This year 'The Day of the Entrepreneur' will be celebrated for the 12th time!)
When I heard about it, I sighed: "Poor Daniel, I wish you were alive to see what the Greek Left abandoned, was continued by the Vietnamese".

And the Vietnamese Leftistss were not saved and strengthened by Entrepreneurship for 3 decades as in Greece.

By Petros Diplas

Economist

Copyright © 2016 Petros Diplas - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


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