Aristotle Onassis Knew that Greeks Were Not Ready for Democracy



Aristotle Onassis, the shipping colossus of Greek descent, could not be absent from his homeland’s political and financial developments.

In the early 1970s, he commented on Greek Democracy in a small dinner party at Mrs Jacqueline Onassis’ Fifth Avenue apartment in New York. One of the attendants, Bernadette Carey Smith, describes this conversation between the prominent shipping owner and the other guests.

Imagine 10 people in Onassis’  luxurious apartment. Among them were, of course, Aristotle,  a.k.a. Ari and his wife Jacqueline, Ari’s Greek godson and his wife, Jackie’s cousin Nina Steers, Gianni Agnelli of Italian origin along with his sister Susanna Rattazzi and the writer’s date David Frost- all of them rich and famous.

As one might expect, Greece’s then financial, social and political situation was a critical issue and thus, friends of Onassis started commenting it. Ari appeared somehow annoyed, writes Mrs Smith, but still attracted them with his stories about trials and perils of doing business in Greece.

His Greek godson made also several remarks on the situation and both men ended up talking about Greek government, which was essentially useless according to Onassis, since “they knew nothing about business or the financial world. In fact, they knew nothing about democracy.”

“The Greeks aren’t ready for democracy,” he added and his friends, surprised by his statement, stopped talking for a while. But taking into account that Greeks had invented democracy, Mrs Smith wondered that if the Greeks weren’t ready to govern themselves, then who on earth was ready?

Everyone laughed back then but this statement reminds us, modern Greeks, that Greece is not ready for democracy even in 2012. No matter how many years after this dinner, Greek governments remain as useless as those decades ago and our ancestors’ “invention” means truly nothing to Greek politicians.


3 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Marianna Tsatsou, Aristotle Onassis is correct in his statement describing Greeks aren’t ready yet for democracy even in 2012. Unfortunately, some are ill informed and It will take decades for them to well understand that democracy is the freedom of expression without causing harm to either humans or properties.