by Ramin Mazaheri
How hard is it to be the coolest guy in a room full of economists? Isn’t that an award which would embarrass any truly cool guy?
Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has a new book out, and it’s been criticized as being self-aggrandizing and self-serving. I haven’t read it – this book review is about his 2016 book, “And The Weak Suffer What They Must?”. His new book is more of a memoir, while his 2016 book analyzes the pan-European project and the history of its construction.
On this book’s back cover he includes quotes which describe him as a “rock star” and, “The most interesting man in the world.”
Those are appropriate quotes for Keith Richards’ autobiography, but Varoufakis is the guy whom many Europeans hoped would save them from years of poverty and decades of blocked futures. I would have thought that his blurbs would have only lauded his work, and not his personality: personality is what reality TV stars rely on, not finance ministers.
So it was a curious start, but I read it anyway.
For an economist, Varoufakis writes like your average mainstream journalist: More Muzak than rock and roll, bland retelling of history, predictable national stereotyping (without the virtue of humor) and the refusal to passionately acknowledge that a socialist alternative is a genuine option.
I thought ‘Marxists’ actually liked Marx?
You sort of get tossed out of leftism and into the ignorant, phony center when your book about economics in Europe contains perhaps a sum total of 5 references to the USSR which are not passing historical allusions…and they’re all negative. Here’s the recap:
“…the Soviet Union was collapsing under the weight of its moral and economic decline….”
“Religious dedication to contradictory rules economic forces have no respect for has brought powerful empires down in the past – the Soviet Union most recently.”
“False dogmas are condemned to be found out eventually, in Europe as they were in the Soviet Union and elsewhere.”
“…Stalinism, warned us that the true object of propaganda….”
“…just as representatives of the soviets were expected to raise their cards during meetings of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.”
That’s about all there was from the West’s pre-eminent “Marxist economist”…. Varoufakis described himself as an “erratic Marxist”, but there’s nothing erratic about those quotes: they are totally, unambiguously anti-communist.
I would like to rebut only the first quote:
Any true Marxist, or even an erratic one, would say that the reason for the USSR’s economic decline was Gorbachev’s introduction of capitalist perestroika (restructuring) measures into the economic system. The so-called “Fatal Error” was made in December 1987: to immediately reduce the state’s purchase of all products of industry from 100% to 50%. This huge shock was motivated by a capitalist-influenced desire to end central planning of the economy; the introduction of pricing by supply and demand; the attempt to formally legalize the capitalist Second Economy (Black Market/Black Economy) and to tax its profits instead of controlling these obvious corruptions of a communist state’s resources. This plunged the economy into chaos and created shortages for the first time since WWII. By 1990 production had plunged, while inflation hit 80% in 1991.
So the fact that Varoufakis does not only not mention this but that he may not even be aware of it, should certainly prove that he is not any sort of Marxist economist at all.
As far as its “moral decline”: A Marxist would at least mention the idea that it was caused by the (state-encouraged) growth of the Second Economy: i.e., selfish, cutthroat, short-sighted, individualistic, poorly-regulated, inadequately taxed, “normal” capitalism.
I would also say another reason was Gorbachev’s moral gutting of communism in September 1988, when he effectively declared an end to the class war; the Central Committee of the Communist Party affirmed the supremacy of “universal human values” over the class struggle. These values are, of course, European and not universal, and this is the clear forerunner of the “Humanitarian Intervention/Responsibility to Protect” fig leaves for the Western military interventions which followed.
Varoufakis’ uninformed recitation of the alleged causes of the fall of the USSR are found in every mainstream broadsheet and TV news channel in the West. Nobody can claim to be a leftist and support these false notions. All economists – but especially Varoufakis – should know more about what was one of the world’s largest, most dynamic and most unique economies, and at least attempt to present a more complete analysis.
So, Varoufakis is lacking Marxism in both economic analysis and moral analysis – form and spirit. To claim to be a “leftist” and then to reject leftist economics…makes you a fake leftist. For some leftists, revealing his antipathy to the USSR is enough – for others it is not, and Varoufakis’ book affords plenty of proof.
But there is a much more interesting phenomenon to explain first, and for those who don’t want to read this whole article I will address that right away.
So why is Varoufakis so hugely popular?
First of all: he isn’t in Greece!
“Most of Greek people fail to understand the international star appeal of Yanis Varoufakis,” per Greek media. Greeks have not forgotten that the results wrought by Varoufakis were an undemocratic train wreck; rock stars do actually need to “rock” and not just pose in a black leather jacket.
But the reason he is so adored in the English-language media is precisely because he is a fake-leftist: He is someone who completely supports capitalism, who decries the abuses of sovereignty committed by the European Union, and who also warns of the structural dangers of the euro.
Think a moment and perhaps reread that formula: Did I not just describe a person who perfectly mirrors a huge section of mainstream and elite opinion in the United Kingdom? At least half of them felt this way – they voted for Brexit, after all.
Papers like The Guardian adore Varoufakis because prior to the Brexit vote he very effectively warned that the European Union was an undemocratic danger to be avoided; he made the case for Brexit – even though he opposed Brexit – but he did it without opposing capitalism or using communist reasoning.
So Varoufakis was a match made in heaven for the English-language media. Throw in his unjust claim to be a leftist and you have a media creation which Fleet Street couldn’t have concocted any more effectively.
And because Varoufakis was tapped as the “leftist European economist nonpareil” the US media – necessarily more ignorant of the Eurozone’s true situation – gladly deferred to the judgement of their British cousins and comrades in capitalism. Furthermore, Varoufakis’ book explicitly espouses a “United States of Europe”; he also disastrously believes that, “Bretton Woods was meant as a balanced system of international trade and financial flows,” and not American dollar domination. So for America’s elite he never posed any problem or opposition.
Britain was never in the Eurozone, and we cannot conflate that with the EU as they are two separate issues .What’s certain is that the euro’s near “lost decade” is hindering the US and UK economies as well (at least for the 99%). So we see another reason why Varoufakis is so popular in the English-language media: aside from making the case for Brexit, he is supremely effective in criticizing the Eurozone from his perch on the inside. His criticisms here are invaluable insider ones, yet they are not anti-capitalist.
So, if one accepts that Varoufakis is a fake-leftist who does not want to replace capitalism, who does want to maintain the unjust and corrupt Eurozone with only minor changes, and who can unjustly distort the meaning of “a Marxist analysis of the Eurozone”…one can see how he was just such a perfect propaganda fit.
And that is clearly why we have so much Varoufakis despite such disappointing political results from Varoufakis.
But it takes more than just distorting Marxism to make a modern fake leftist….
The smugness of aristocratic fake-leftism is plastered all over his book
It is a fundamental tenet of fake-leftism that the real problem is: “Everyone is dumber than I am.”
A core belief of their adherents is enlightened technocratism over ideology: Hillary was the “most qualified presidential candidate ever”… who cares that she was on the far right of the economic and imperial spectrum? Did you vote for Brexit? Then you must not know anything about economics, politics or history. Did you support Le Pen over Macron – why are you single-handedly reviving neo-Nazism?
For such elitists in the West, democracy is too important to be left to a vote…as the majority of us voters are the “basket of deplorables” whom they hold in contempt and at a distance. For them, the danger to the West is not capitalism – even with its guaranteed cycles of depression, with the most corrupt succeeding the most, with its lack of grassroots democracy, with its permanent inequality – the danger is the “deplorables.” Or that’s what they want us to believe.
But what is so different about Varoufakis is that the deplorables are not only Greek peasants (although they are, and one of his (two) human-interest stories describes an encounter with a Nazi-supporting Greek hillbilly) but his fellow aristocratic/technocratic leaders.
“And so, when in 2008 the vast pyramids of financial capital came crashing down, Europe’s social democrats did not have the mental tools or the moral values with which to combat the bankers or to subject the collapsing system to critical scrutiny.”
If only Europe’s centrists had recourse to Varoufakis’ “mental tools” and “moral values”, they could have at least subjected the “system to critical scrutiny”. This is not the only time he makes this bourgeois “great man/rule of aristocrat” type of argument – I simply don’t have space to list all the other times. I can assure you that nowhere does he make a Marxist-inspired call like “our teaching of socio-political ideology excludes half the spectrum”, or “we need more direct democracy”, or “more grassroots groups in Parliament instead of rich lobbyists” because Varoufakis is a firm believer in rule of the elite. He is, after all, no Marxist, and he is quite thrilled to be the “rock star” of that elite.
I note that an emphasis on “critical scrutiny” is great, but it’s also a common emphasis for a technocrat in an ivory tower – everyone else caught in the muck of the street wants systemic changes now, even if they have to vote for a Trump or a Le Pen to do it.
One of the moral call-to-arms of his book is summed up by: “One thing is certain: Europe is too important to be left to its clueless rulers.” Couldn’t one imagine a bourgeois silk factory owner from Lyon making the same argument about the monarchy’s coteries in the 18th century?
Indeed, Varoufakis’ new book seems to be based around this very idea, as it’s titled “Adults in the Room”. Varoufakis is, assumedly, one of those adults. The subtitle is, “Mein Kampf With Europe’s Deep Establishment”.
Oh wait, it’s “My Battle With Europe’s Deep Establishment”. By the way, the subtitle for this 2016 book I am reviewing reflects its more analytical/less personal nature: “Europe, Austerity and the Threat to Global Stability”.
Here is the main issue: Fake-leftist are content to fume and foam over the stupidity of others, of the deplorables, of how they were unfairly passed up for promotion…instead of realizing: this is war – class war. Fake leftists reject or lack this Marxist angle to view events through.
Fake-leftists who are actually centrists – due to their inability to reject capitalism – are maddeningly unable to see that Europe’s elite is NOT stupid, that they DO understand what is going today, and that they simply do NOT care to fix it because that would hurt its dominance over the 99%.
But that requires another article, Forced recession as a tool of social war against the 99%, which is the final article in this 7-part series I have written on the troubles of today’s Eurozone. This is the first article.
It’s not like he’s wrong, it’s just that Greeks are new to being imperialized
Varoufakis does not think like a capitalist-despising 3rd-worlder perhaps because he seems to have very little familiarity with the 3rd world: Greece hasn’t been this broke since prior to Plato.
The Eurozone absolutely is an imperial project – sucking out/owning Greece’s resources. This began, officially, in order to repay the failed bank wagers in the capitalist power centers of France and Germany.
But while European imperialism has been around for two centuries it has only very recently been employed on actual West Europeans – they don’t know it when they see it, perhaps? Forcing the public governments of Greece, Ireland, Portugal and other weak countries to assume the private debts of French and German banks is…simply a repeat of what has happened all over the 3rd world:
To give just one example: The Bey of Tunisia borrowed money from the French and his autocratic ventures failed; in 1869 he declared bankruptcy and assumed the cost of the bad loans the bankers made, which meant French technocrats now ran his government and finances; 12 years of bloody usury followed (because bankers didn’t pay for their mistakes back then either); in 1881 France formally invaded, Muhammad al-Sadiq Bey ceded his sovereignty, and informal control became outright foreign domination.
You don’t have to be Tunisian to know that story; you don’t have to be an intuitive genius to see the parallels with today’s situation; but you do need to be a Marxist to see that this is how capitalism works and why it is so terrible. As any Marxist would take as a settled fact, imperialism is part and parcel of capitalism, regardless of whether the helpless natives are Tunisian, Greek, Vietnamese or whomever…and including West Europeans!
It takes some imagination for a first-worlder to identify and understand the plight of a third-worlder, but Varoufakis does not have that imagination. It’s very unfortunate that, with fake-leftists like Varoufakis, many in Greece are being forced to learn a 3rd World mentality the hard way.
However, it would be fake-leftism to assume that the non-elite of Greece – the 99%, the Greek Trash – don’t already realize what’s being foisted on them.
But this lack of true understanding of imperialism – and thus of capitalism itself – is probably why fake-leftists in the West do not see capitalism as the main enemy.
For fake-leftists, how could they ever be guilty of authoritarianism?
Varoufakis, in retelling stories of his childhood, clearly associates authoritarianism solely with Soviet and Eastern Bloc communism. Greece did not have Jim Crow, and he is selectively blind over the fact that the capitalist Allies supported Greek Nazi collaborators to keep the leftists from taking power, with the English even opening fire on them, killing dozens.
Varoufakis talks about a return to authoritarianism…when it already arrived two years ago in France with the state of emergency, and Macron plans to make it common police practice. He is also seemingly unaware that the current spy tactics of Western nations are just as comprehensive and invasive as in any Cold War communist nation, and that France will have been living one step short of martial law for two years without the communist social safety net as compensation.
Like all fake-leftists, the main psychological motivator of Varoufakis is fear – of a return to fascism; he does not promote any sort of advance.
And like all Western social democrats today he has nothing to tell White Trash because he sees them without sympathy and only as the dangerous potential kinetic energy – the unreflective fuel – of neo-fascism. The sad reality he cannot see is that White Trash does not want to live in the past any more than Varoufakis does, because their own recent past has been nothing but decreased purchasing power, decreased job stability and hopelessness.
In the next section I will show just how deep is Varoufakis’ contempt for Greek Trash and the people who lack college degrees, elite status and wealth. But his constantly errant focus on a return to authoritarianism means what everyone in the heartland and the poor urban areas of America, France, Greece, etc. already know and say: The Western Left has nothing to say to, or for, us.
Three types: Misunderstood banker ‘proletariat’, hillbilly fascists and “good” Nazi collaborators
Varoufakis employs only two “human interest” stories: I propose that they are indicative of his true sympathies, and I sure as heck know they are not Marxist choices!
The first involves an honest discussion he had on a plane with a German investment banker (Do investment bankers ever fly coach?) prior to the Great Recession: The banker was decrying how Europe’s financial institutions had adopted the dubious predatory lending practices initiated in the US.
“’Lend, lend, lend!’ was their new creed. From a relaxed purveyor of scarce money he was transformed into an angst-ridden overpaid proletarian.”
I kid you not that this is the first and only time this “erratic Marxist” uses the word “proletarian” in his book…and it’s to describe a damned banker! LOL, no wonder the English-speakers love him – he makes the bankers the proletariat! Not only do those in The City and Wall Street have all the money and all the power, but they should have the ethical mantle of “proletariat” as well?!
Varoufakis has a tremendous amount of sympathy for this “poor” man, and nowhere does he condemn the immorality of somebody who is – as the banker admitted himself – a “predator lender”, a gangster with societal approval. Above all, Varoufakis feels sorry that the banker has lost his all-important elite status:
“A weekly quota of loans that he had to make regardless of the creditworthiness of his clients robbed him of the discretion that had previously made him feel important.”
I don’t think I need to explain much more….
The other human interest story comes at the end of his book and obviously serves as a scare tactic. He relates a story where an old hillbilly Greek who was hosting him left an original German copy of “Mein Kampf” in Varoufakis’ room for bedtime reading. This hillbilly was a fascist supporter and Nazi collaborator, and this allows Varoufakis to talk about the obviously-undesired rise of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn movement.
Now I am not a far-right supporter in the slightest, of course, but I am a sympathizer with all of God’s children: my understanding is limited but I can see that such men as this “Kapnias” is, in reality, just as Varoufakis says: “…a bitter, angry man perpetually seeking revenge on a world that had never given him a chance.”
The problem is the lack of opportunity and solidarity, and control over his own work and life, afforded to this modern-day peasant. Such problems require societal solutions and sympathy, because his problems are by no means rare in the world. Giving him sympathy and help is the best remedy to defeat the fascism into which has fallen. What is certain is that he is not going away! He can only be changed. Communism says this bitter, marginalized man belongs to a huge group of the great 99%, and that can work wonders on expanding his worldview.
Even if you say my empathy is misguided, what’s certain is that this problem is far, far different than some banker whining because he no longer gets to play God with his loans!
My larger point is: We do not have a Great Recession because of racist hillbillies or violent urban illiterates – we have it because of profoundly corrupt and anti-social capitalists. For Varoufakis to evince sympathy with the banker and not with the peasant is deeply, deeply…un-Marxist, to say the very least.
“… Golden Dawn voters, who like all fascists have penchant for blood and land…” Never would I support Golden Dawn, but this cannot be called “Marxism” without rebuttal or else we will lose the deplorables: For urbanites who have no familiarity with rural life/people, phrases like this imply that all farmers are fascists.
Does it surprise you that the phrase “land redistribution” appears nowhere in this book? Well, I want land too – without a doubt! So am I a fascist, too?
I want to own my apartment instead of losing thousands of euros every year to the bourgeois lady who owns my Parisian apartment! I have absolutely NO prospect of EVER owning even a modest plot of space in the sky as long as I work in journalism and live in Paris! And yet 95% of rural Chinese own their own home and land and 75% of urban dwellers. If I can’t get a Paris apartment, I’d sure love a patch of land and a trailer as a free second home! My God, I’d consider myself quite rich if that very real dream of mine was fulfilled!
Fake-leftists like Varoufakis would never even think in terms of the state requisitioning apartments that sit empty year round – over 20% of apartments do in Paris – but I can assure him that I do, and so do the increasing number of homeless families.
Varoufakis makes two cultural references in the book, and it’s interesting that his analysis of one of them is completely off-base.
“Istvan Szabo’s film ‘Mephisto’ is perhaps the best depiction of a good mind’s takeover by a sinister ideology.”
This Hungarian film is a classic which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1981. The “good mind” is that of the main character, Hendrik, who becomes a star actor in Nazi Germany despite the constant appeals of his friends to not support the fascists.
One would consider it rather axiomatic that “good minds” don’t collaborate with Nazis…but Varoufakis obviously found much to identify with in Hendrik. Perhaps Hendrik’s defining characteristic is his relentless ambition, which was used – not taken over – by the Nazis.
If you watch the movie I think you’ll agree that the director makes it clear from the very outset that, despite his impressive energy and skill, there is something essentially phony and hollow about Hendrik. He is not a “good mind” who was corrupted – he is appallingly self-absorbed, posturing, adulterous, treacherous, held in contempt even by his mistress and, in short, an actor.
Greedy capitalists and violent imperialists are the true deplorables, but so are the power-hungry, like Hendrik.
The very last sentence of Varoufakis’ book is “Only when these principles are respected throughout Europe will the foul smirk be wiped off the faces of Kapnias’s successors.”
The language is all wrong, so of course his solutions are wrong as well
I have already proven how Joseph Stiglitz’s media-hyped book “The Euro” was full of fake-leftist economic ideas.
If it seems I have an affinity for attacking economists labelled “leftist” by the mainstream, it’s because I do: We must all look with great skepticism at economists who are presented by the mainstream media as “leftists”, because they rarely are. It is also vital that journalists covering Europe realize, and even dare to present, that half of the economic spectrum which is not “capitalism”. As I wrote:
So many times in “The Euro” Stiglitz delivers a devastating conclusion about capitalism, only to immediately let it off the hook by claiming bafflement as to how this could possibly happen.
Varoufakis employs the same litany of enabling phrases which let Western leaders off the hook: “naïve”, “uncomprehending”, “incomprehension”, “capitalism’s weird ways”, “inane”, “oblivious”, “ignorant”, “ignorant of simple macroeconomic laws but, curiously, not even ashamed of their ignorance,” “bewildered”; “hubris” is not all the same as simple banker greed; Bill Clinton and Barack Obama “who may have wanted to resuscitate” the spirit of the New Deal wanted to do that about as much as I want to try being waterboarded; despite all their crimes, banks are still “venerable” to Varoufakis; and, amusingly, why not just call “reverse growth” what it really is: orchestrated impoverishment.
It’s interesting that the idea of usury is totally absent in in Varoufakis’ vocabulary. It does not appear even once in his book, nor does any sort of tirade against the rentier class which has gutted his country – “rentiers” appears just once. That’s another word which, like “bourgeois”, there is no good English equivalent but which is totally indispensable in any discussion of post-Industrial Revolution economics. Varoufakis, you will see, wants Europe to emulate the United States, which has a political structure that predates the industrial revolution and is certainly not modern, nor Marxist.
Instead of quoting Marx – or at least not completely ignoring him – he quotes right-wing thinkers like the atrociously misinformed Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote his book on the US just one year after landing there. If I wrote a book about France after 1 year here it would have been terribly misinformed.
He quotes a well-known “communism means authoritarianism” philosopher: “The German philosopher Jurgen Habermas long ago recognized that capitalism has the tendency to develop a ‘legitimacy deficit”…. Believe it or not this is a rare instance where Varoufakis uses the word “capitalism”…in a book about economics! Saying that capitalism has a “legitimacy deficit” is like saying the sun has a “cold deficit”!
He is quick to use phrases like “The corrupt ruling classes of Greece, Italy and Spain…” and yet I never read the counterbalance of “The corrupt ruling classes of France, Germany and the Netherlands” even though the scope of the latter’s corruption is far greater because they are taking advantage of those who are weaker and have also failed to properly lead.
His solution is more American-led globalization
Varoufakis’ solution perpetuates bourgeois dominance because it keeps the Eurozone, but only changes the words. Not TINA – There Is No Alternative (to capitalism), but “TATIANA: That, Astonishingly, There Is An Alternative”.
Sheesh, even his solutions are infected with that smugness so typical of fake-leftists…. Obviously, his solution is but a modification of the ruling ideology, working completely within its faulty, capitalist framework.
TATIANA is: “…a blueprint for addressing the crisis through Europeanizing its four components – the crises of public debt, banks, underinvestment and the poverty explosion – while decentralizing political power through a reduction in the discretionary power exercised illicitly by the Brussels-Frankfurt-Berlin triangle.”
But, yes…of course! That sounds correct, obvious and great! Of course, the Eurozone should be fixed, so it works more democratically and for the benefit of the average person! But it won’t – because that is capitalism. It hasn’t yet – because that is capitalism.
He continues: “Seen from another less politically-charged perspective, the proposal’s greatest merit is that it offers a way to abandon the eurozone’s problematic principle of perfectly separable debts and banking sectors and to introduce the missing political surplus recycling mechanism without creating autocratic discretionary power at Europe’s centre and without any immediate need to rewrite the European Union’s existing rules and treaties.”
“political surplus recycling” (emphasis mine) is the absolute core of his argument for why the Eurozone has failed, and what needs to be remedied. In short: surplus money (profit) needs to be redistributed from trade surplus nation to trade deficit nations.
The key word there is “political”, because it is an inherently political choice when one decides how to “recycle” (redistribute) “surplus” money which has produced by labor.
I think we can all see what this really is: Marxism.
But Varoufakis can’t call it that, or won’t, or doesn’t realize that what he is talking about is the same old principle: “redistribution of wealth”. Indeed, if he is called a “Marxist” it is because others understand his economic ideas better than he does himself!
Regardless, he fails to see that the 1% will never allow any “political” redistribution of wealth – that’s what communism is for, and they will allow none of that in Europe, or hadn’t Varoufakis noticed?
The English press is right to like Varoufakis, just not THAT much
He has a ton of good ideas…but only when it comes to criticizing the current European order:
“…Dr. Schauble and the Eurogroup had succeeded in overthrowing our government by asphyxiating us enough for Prime Minster Tsipras to surrender….”
Varoufakis sees clearly the history and as-yet unchanged foundation of the European project:
“And yet, remarkably, the European Union began life as a cartel of coal and steel producers which, openly and illegally, controlled prices and output by means of a multinational bureaucracy vested with legal and political powers superceding national parliaments and democratic processes.”
To put it simply, there has been no structural change from what the EU has always been – an undemocratic capitalist cartel to fix prices in order to line the pockets of the 1%. But where is the necessary corresponding call to look at socialism?
“The institutions of the European Union were designed back in the 1950s and 1960s in order to bleach politics out of them.”
What Varoufakis fails to point out, however, is that what was purposely bleached out were communist-inspired ideas that were sweeping the globe and taking firm root in many places.
“The notion that money can be administered apolitically, by technical means alone, is a dangerous folly of the grandest magnitude.” That’s great, but the next line is a predictable fearmongering instead of condemning capitalism: “The fantasy of apolitical money was what rendered the gold standard in the interwar period such a primitive system whose inevitable demise spawned fascist and Nazi thugs with effects that we all know and lament.”
I am not denying that the rise of fascism was one byproduct, but I propose that he could have immediately called for the “politicization of money”, which can only occur under socialism, instead of turning to the subject of deplorables. The problem is not that apolitical money creates racism – it’s that apolitical money creates poverty, and poverty creates racism.
“Good Varoufakis” is immediately followed by “fake-leftist Varoufakis” time and again:
“….the only way Berlin’s plan can work is if the Eurozone turns into a mercantilist fiend. What this means in simple numbers is that to escape its crisis in this manner the Eurozone must reach a current account surplus in relation to the rest of the world of no less than 9 per cent of total European income…means also exporting deflation to the rest of the world. A 9 per cent Eurozone trade surplus would destroy the hopes of America, China, Latin America, India, Africa and South East Asia for stability and growth. It would mean massive unemployment in the rest of the world, political instability calls to erect protectionist barriers…”
Varoufakis hates protectionist barriers, being a capitalist, but the truth is there for all to see: Germany is being ruthlessly, selfishly capitalist despite the leadership position they hold in a multinational bloc.
Ironically, Varoufakis blames France for the Eurozone’s problem – this is an incorrect reading of postwar European history caused by his lack of a truly leftist perspective. The second article in this series, “France’s historic effort to create a permanently anti-austerity Eurozone” corrects Varoufakis’ error.
In a crucial “lay it on the line” section he has the courage to say that there is a problem but…that’s really all he is good for.
“Firstly…Europe’s union is nothing like America’s: it was founded as an administration for an industrial cartel, rather than as a political mechanism by which to balance competing interests in a democracy. Second, there are reasons why political leadership is not what it used to be across the world.”
The first part is excellent, but that second part is completely bourgeois. As his second book promotes further, Varoufakis actually believes that the real problem is that the high “caliber of politician (has been) driven out of politics…fewer gifted men and women enter politics”.
Varoufakis is not offering a Marxist, socialist or 99%-oriented solution – he is decrying that the elite is not as good as it used to be, rather than decrying the lack of true democracy!
Where have all the true rock stars gone? It’s making Varoufakis lonely!
Fake-leftists, heal thyselves before healing deplorables
Varoufakis’ book gives plenty of grounds for admitting that the EU will inevitably die, because there is no way to reform capitalism – there is only replacing it with communism/socialism. The idea that Rothschild Macron, Angela Thatcher and the cabal of bankers which literally run the Eurozone are going to construct a “pro-99%” EU is totally ludicrous because it is so without any factual or historical basis.
The obvious answer for why the Eurozone has failed is: being the cartelized system that it currently is and that it always has been, the Eurozone does not care if there is poverty and suffering because the 1% is well-insulated from that; this is capitalism, after all. A communist analyst makes this clear.
The European project is so undemocratic, so pro-capitalist, and so fundamentally prone to fomenting elitism, racism and division that it cannot be supported in the cafes or at the ballot box.
I have provided plenty of examples of Varoufakis’ fundamentally fake-leftist analysis: He does not decry the very structure of the capitalist/imperialist beast and declare it incompatible with modernity, which is what a true Marxist thinker would do. Varoufakis can only offer critique – he lacks that commie capstone to every argument which is: “So, in light of this fact – change now!” His book is no blueprint for actual change because he wants to support the capitalist system.
Varoufakis is clearly very happy to be included in the 1% – and even to be considered the “coolest” 1%-er. But elitism is not progress – it is, unfortunately, the status quo across the West.
Communism is the only social ideology which tears down elites and builds up the common person. Europeans will be glad when communism returns.
France is headed back from summer vacation, and head-on to more austerity-provoked social unrest. I thought it might be interesting to refresh our familiarity with the cause of the unrest: the Eurozone.
This is the first article I have written in a 7-part series on today’s Eurozone which will combine some of Varoufakis’ ideas with my 8 years of covering the crisis first-hand from Paris.
Here is the list of articles slated to be published, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
France’s historic effort to create a permanently anti-austerity Eurozone
The hopelessly corrupt structure of the Eurozone
The Eurozone: still as primed for collapse as ever
The Eurozone has likely entered its final calendar year, contraction coming
The English-speaking world’s fear of calling communism, ‘communism’
Forced recession as a tool of social war against the 99%
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.
Thank you for a very informing article, Ramin. It describes the present soul and hollow slogans of the EU quite well.
I like to add a few things.
First, I want to highlight further the link to the Guardian article, describing British military shooting at Greek citizens. This is a shameful historical fact, hidden from the history books.
Because it was a blatant coup d’etat by the British.
Greece was liberated by the Greek resistance, and they were already negotiating about forming a government again. Since most of those groups had communist sympathies, the British feared Soviet influence over a strategic positioned important nation.
The British posted snipers on a building overlooking the square where Greeks were protesting against the British, and randomly fired at them.
Do we see the parallels with the coup on Maidan square, Kiev?
Secondly, concerning the flow of euros from the richer north to the poorer south I like to add something that is not well known. Actually, nothing flows.
Meet and greet the Target-2 banking system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TARGET2 . Politicians never mention it, with good reasons.
It’s a lot of text, but let me give you a simplified summary.
Let’s go back to the pre-euro time.
Suppose a farmers collective in Spain buys a tractor in Germany. Tractor is delivered, and the Spanish bank transfers money in the agreed currency to the German bank of the manufacturer.
Now in the euro time, the money transfer is just reported to the central banks, and administrative added on the balance sheets, not more. No money flow.
This has resulted in the secretive fact, that every German household has an unknown debt of about 50000 euros to the so-called PIIGS countries.
The euro is doomed to fail. And with that, the EU as well.
Third, I have heard often enough the comparison towards a ‘United States of Europe’.
It already starts with the question which language we are going to speak. Furthermore, the monthly move of the EU from Brussels to Strasbourg, just to please the French feelings, doesn’t radiate unity, does it? That circus costs millions per year, for an already lavishly living EU Parliament.
We have an EU Parliament that can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on proposed laws. These are prepared by the European Commision, of which the members are just appointed and never chosen. Also ministers, prime minister and president are internally appointed.
This is the exact way how the Politburo used to function.
The EU is not the ‘United States of Europe’, functional it’s the reinstallation of the Soviet Union.
I come from a country that’s as diverse as the possible “United States of Europe.” It’s called India, with atleast 27 languages, 4 or 5 religions and plenty of genetic diversity. And its history has not exactly been a picnic: Partition, secessionism, State of Emergency, religious riots and communal massacring, etc, etc, and I’m only talking about 70 years of post-independence history here.
Based on this experience, I’m not really sure that European federalism is necessarily a good idea. Why would you try to homogenise a region with so much cultural and linguistic diversity? 27 nations wouldn’t agree to that, so the globalist elite has to lie and pretend.
Looking forward to the rest of the series Ramin!
Nice review. Varoufakis was a scam, weak man that, when faced with his peoples rapists, literally resigned his office and walked away. He is the quintessential Western politician. F-O-SH. His wife worked for Goldman Sachs, for crying out loud! I can shorten his tome.
‘I am Varoufakis. Remember me? I made you Greek people hope for change, and then let you down. You should have known better, because my missus worked for Goldman Sachs while they were fixing the Greek national accounts to illegally get Greece into the EU – the same company that also bailed Greece out, and then asked for repayments in real hard assets, like our national railways, ports, hospitals, as so forth. I am Varoufakis, the blueprint of a European politician. Remember me!”
Varoufakis’ book is a vaguely interesting memoir of a coward.
He was a Fraud for all to see.
Most of the Euro Heroes are short-lived con-men and women.
They melt away faster than soap bubbles.
But they leave behind more scum.
Sad that we have to discuss such a Fraud.
But really, who cares about Varoufakis when game changing news is hitting the fan?
1. Last night China announced it was to issue its first oil futures contracts in Yuan, backed by gold. This means that nations that want shot of the dollar and want to use Yaun, but can’t because US vulture speculators in the pay of the empire make the yuan too volatile for a futures market, now have a stable alternative currency. The volatility is now dealt with, which means that every sanctioned and embargoed country can trade oil and resources in something other than the dollar. Iran, Venezuela, Russia, African nations, etc. It is massive. Absolutely massive. If you were all waiting for the stake in the heart of the vampire, that is it. This is the biggest news of the last 70 years, by far, in terms of its lasting geopolitical repercussions. After 4 years of testing the resilience of this contract, building international confidence in it, China has just dropped a neutron bomb on the petro-dollar. Hot war coming.
2. The same day, N. Korea let off a nuc. They are deliberately provoking a war. For some time the coalition of nations willing to make sacrifices to break the empire have been stretching the US military breaking point. The Russia-China core are supporting these efforts. This comes at a point where a civil war in the White House means that there is a real chance that congress will not approve Trumps budget, will refuse an expansion of US credit. Fantastic timing.
3. The US are preparing for a coup in Venezuela and possibly expansions is Ukraine. Russia and China are going to help Venuzuela etc make these interventions as hard and costly for the US as possible. The same applies to Iran. These countries all WANT a war with the US.
This is the time that the US either blinks, and loses its global standing for good, or fights at two or more ends of the earth simultaneously, while the Chinese also beat the empire in the dollar balls with a gold backed yuan cudgel.
This is not the 1930’s and the run up to a WW, as some suggest. We are not due a mighty wall street crash followed by preparations for war The wall street crash by equivalence happened in 1997/8 with the first bank bail outs, followed by the dot com crash. Monetary wizardry has hidden our latter day wall street crash in western finance, with one slip-up in 2008 (a blip compared with the actual scale of the original defaults). There has been a world war raging since then. This is now the new 1941, when Germany was forced to assault the east and west simultaneously and was pulled in half like a corpse between horses.
The US has one last dance before home time. Launch everything.
Against this, Varoufakis’ book is a footnote.
Brilliant comment. I just looked up your news on the Yuan, because this is the game changer I have been waiting years for. Unsurprisingly there is no mention of it in the (economically illiterate) western media who have nothing better to harp on now than how North Korea’s actions threaten China’s ‘calm’.
For the US dollar: Bishop to King 7. Checkmate I think.
That’s a strong and credible analysis. Good points well made.
Indeed, the yuan-oil-gold news is really huge. It’s very exciting for Iran, and a major exhale for those of us waiting for China to start throwing its weight around on behalf of humanity.
However, my Varoufakis book review has a cash value of 1/20th of a cent and is redeemable at your local grocery store, so…enjoy!
Thank you. I always thought Varoufakis stank of something. Now I know a bit more about what it was and why.
He seems to be another fictional creation of Western CIA-controlled mass media. Like David Lean’s salvaging (savaging too) of Dr Zhivago. Like Pasternak and his hero (Yuri) elevated beyond any merit by the propagandist’s art.
This Varoufakis would make a good pair of macabre bookends paired with Wilhelm Browder.
This is the Saker website at its best – debunking, and insulting the fake memes of the CIA
Varoufakis has always stunk of the London School of eCONomics, he’s a gatekeeper for the world’s plutocrats. Now you know why spineless vermin like this Greek faggot are promoted to high heaven as the best *socialist* thing since sliced bread, while suppressing truly independent left-wing philosophers like Slavoj Zizek.
A rule of thumb: never trust a “socialist” who earns more than $20 000 a year…
The same Slavoj Zizek that promoted the bombing of Libya and is a good friend of Yanis??
Thanks for the class analysis…please consider binding your articles together into a book.
and please consider the impact of the drug cartel/intelligence agency financial complex in the mix of banker/speculative capitalism. And its cultural genocidal effects due to the creation of a sizeable lumpen proletariat.
Many thanks Teranam!
Books are rather expensive to publish yourself…and I doubt anyone will be beating down my door to publish my leftist rants/reports, but thanks!
Regarding low sperm counts, it’s amazing but Western sperm counts have dropped by half in the last 40 years, so it’s not just marijuana:
The good news? You get to try twice as often to make a baby, LOL!
Who says Iranians don’t do risqué humour? But…that’s about as risqué as I’ll get in public!
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The geopolitical ebb and flow as we move from uni- towards multi-polar world order, there must be some commentator to cover the declaration of war by China against the US, namely the implementation of a system for rapid global de-dollarisation of the energy market and the neutering of US sanctions with the release of futures traded oil contracts denominated in Yuan, fully exchangeable with gold. This, one day before the start of the BRICS summit. It is the biggest geopolitical incident of our life-times.
No matter what Franz Ferdinand event the US pulls, this is the conflict origins that history will refer to. It can only have happened because the Russians and Chinese are aware that there is no going back, no waiting. In the picture for 4 years as a loaded gun in the Chinese pocket, it has been pulled out and fired at the US. Why now? What are the ramifications?
What amazed me in Syriza in general and Varoufakis in particular is that when the Greeks said no to austerity in 2015 that Varoufakis and Tsipras did not have a plan B and still complied with the Troika.
But maybe they did have a plan B after all. Tsipras just wanted to be leader which he still is, and Varoufakis wanted to be a rock star that he already kind of was in 2015 when he was interviewed by Paris Match and still is, if you believe the back page of his book. The pictures are very revealing.
Varoufakis and Tsipras were 100% discredited by not having any Plan B. None. Nada. Zip. Not even the pretense of a Plan B. Varoufakis admits there was no Plan B. He says he went to meetings of financiers and the men were were stick figures who would not respond to the Greeks. So Varoufakis and Tsipras simply quit trying to do anything. So Tsipras and Varoufakis were 100% not up to the job of protecting Greece. These two men are total frauds. After they discovered the Eurotrash bankers were not their secret sweethearts, they should have either developed the Plan B that they didn’t have, or else they should have resigned so that someone else – anyone else – could make an attempt. No one could do worse than doing nothing !
People need to pay attention to a simple and important point. Since the failure of Varoufakis and Tsipras was so complete and not at all hidden, any normal human would dismiss them as fakes or confederates of the EU, and the two men would not dare show their faces in public again. But that is not what happened. As Mazaheri noted, British newspapers like The Guardian [of Zion] still try to pawn off Varoufakis as reputable, and I’ve seen at least one pseudo-leftie forum where Varoufakis was invited to speak and wasn’t required to explain his colossal failure to the Greek voters. So … when “news” media pretend that Varoufakis or Tsipras are respectable, you are actually seeing a reliable indicator of how very little the editors think of their readers’ intelligence.
Mazaheri’s essay is valuable less because there are plenty of other fake scumbags like Varoufakis, but more it’s valuable because Mazaheri brings a lot of light to the topic of fake lefties offering fake solutions. That includes bogus ideas which most of us bought into more-or-less and we didn’t see the contradictions. So now we have to reconsider and clear our heads.
Last item: I recommend two serious economists: Dr Michael Hudson (michael-hudson.com) the author of Superimperialism (on the petrodollar, in 1972 !) and his later books are key to understanding the current economic crisis. The other economist is Dr. Sergei Glazyev (glazev.ru). Yandex Translate is your friend for accessing Dr. Glazyev.
Excellent essay, Mr. Mazaheri !
The problem is one that we frequently see on the ‘fake left’.
Their Plan A was that they’d go ask the bankers really nicely for a fair deal, in the strange belief that the people who’s boot was on their neck would respond with reason and that their bankers hearts would be full of charity and compassion.
We’ve seen this often on the fake left. One example is with the media. Again this strange belief that all they needed to do was to write some letters to the editor and a few articles pointing out that the media was being unfair, and then low and behold, out of the kindness of their hearts, they’d suddenly start reporting the people’s issues fairly even if it made their advertisers and investors angry.
In the latter example, what’s been consistently missing is any attempt to organize say a boycott of the offending media. While you see lots and lots of articles whinging about how unfair the NYT really is, do you ever see organized attempts to create a boycott of the NYT? Nope, can’t think of one I’ve ever seen. For example, the Sandernistas complained about how tilted the NYT was in their support of Crooked Hillary, but you never heard any calls for the obvious step to stop reading the NYT. If the latter actually made a noticeable drop in readers and thus a drop in advertising revenues, then that would actually have an impact.
Likewise, with this fake-leftist government in Greece, you saw the organizing and the grab for political power in opposition to the German bankers, but when the German bankers turned out to be cold-hearted businessmen who stuck to their plan to make profits off the suffering of the Greek People, the only thing these fake leftist could do was surrender.
I suspect the Greek people would never re-elect nor put into power again Varofaker, so I guess all that’s left for him is a life of self-promotion and riches as a fake leftist economist who continues to peddle pipe dreams with no component of any real action that might actually accomplish something real to move some power and some money back from the bankers to the people. Its so much easier just to put on a leather jacket and pose for some publicity photos.
I suppose I should say thank you for actually reading his (plus ghostwriters undoubtedly) book and reporting on it, because I sure as heck was never going to waste my time reading it. :)
That’s a great point about the lack of boycotts among the left – a boycott of the NY Times…wow, I’d love to do a story on that! I read them just to see what the Empire is thinking.
Very funny about “all we need to do is write some letters to the editor” and the bankers will start acting nice, LOL!
Another most interesting read; thank you, Ramin Mazaheri. I have added some conclusions of mine to the passages quoted below.
“Varoufakis’ uninformed recitation of the alleged causes of the fall of the USSR are found in every mainstream broadsheet and TV news channel in the West. Nobody can claim to be a leftist and support these false notions.”
The first part is absolutely correct, while the second part is, sadly, groundless. Present-day “Leftism”, at least in the West, amounts precisely to what Varoufakis personifies: vanity, pseudo-intellectualism, infantilism, and ‘European values’. It’s worse than useless.
“It’s not like he’s wrong, it’s just that Greeks are new to being imperialized. Varoufakis does not think like a capitalist-despising 3rd-worlder perhaps because he seems to have very little familiarity with the 3rd world.”
The ugly First World bigotry of not just Tsipras and Varoufakis but a substantial portion of Syriza’s entire electorate embracing the EU, the Euro, and NATO is testimony to the fact that they have no sense of dignity whatsoever. Greece was indeed imperialized by the West: Nazi Germany, Anglo-American imperialism, and the EU. But, no, much of today’s Greeks are “Europeans first, Greek second”.
“And he fails to see that the 1% will never allow any ‘political’ redistribution of wealth – that’s what communism is for, and they will allow none of that in Europe, or hadn’t Varoufakis noticed?”
I believe Varoufakis understood this long before Syriza’s total capitulation which was to follow instantly upon its victory in Greece’s referendum. Syriza gambled, most likely hoping secretly for a defeat in which case Tsipras and Varoufakis could have squabbled a little (or a lot) about rather unimportant issues with the creditors just to “make a difference”. It backfired terribly precisely because Syriza won, thus earning the full brunt of hate from the Eurocrats.
I can’t say that I disagree with you. Actually number of years ago I was buying some of his BS, until he let it slip that he has no intention of doing anything for Greece, except getting some concessions while withing the globalist system.
I believe that he is positioning himself to be elected in next Greek elections.
Greek media is helping him by giving him a lot of positive presentations.
Engdahl said the following couple of years ago: “A man is known by the company he keeps, so goes the adage. By this measure Yanis Varoufakis keeps very bad company for a finance minister who claims to be defending the living standards of his people.” You can find the rest at:
Also, A. Korybko said the following:
Varoufakis is definitely positioning himself to run for power. 6 days after his buddy Macron won the first round in France the phony DiEM25 announced that it was returning to Greece – lol, where it has never been: it was confected in northern Europe no doubt with a lot of PR advice.
Note that both men are leading ‘movements’, not political parties. Both are pro-EU. pro-migration, pro-open borders, pro-regions instead of sovereign states. Funny how that fits so well with the elite plan. NATO is never mentioned.
Thanks, RM, varoufakis is a notable example of the slimy scum that make up the policy wonks at zionazi, inc. I recently read a review of his new book where he claims Greece suffered because they failed to take his advice. The reviewer showed how Greece failed because they did do what varoufakis advised them to do. Though i read it at globalresearch, tried finding the review to post here, but can’t now locate it.
One more comment if I may.
It is my understanding, that in order to understand where he is coming from you need to look at his wife, which as I understand is from Greek upper class.
Also, it may seem funny, he was never a member of Syriza, Tsipras called him up and offered him a job, this is how it’s done in western democracy.
Also, you are saying “… It’s not like he’s wrong, it’s just that Greeks are new to being imperialized …”
Well, in reality Greeks have not been independent since their independence in 1821.
Also, many/most (?) Greeks are socialist/communists. They voted for Pasok because KKE was to far left for them, occasionally they voted for the right but continuously were being screwed by the globalists from both sides. Does this sound like France to you? Welcome to the real world of EU.
If you judge an economist or a politican on what they accomplished, Varoufkis was a big fat zero. In fact, his actual performance makes one belief that he was really a secret agent for the German banks.
In today’s world, “leftist” seems to mean ‘to the right of Reagan and Thatcher’. It certainly doesn’t seem to really mean anything to do with the actual Left. Here in the states, we had Colonel Sanders run claiming to be a socialist when his campaign was really a luke-warm version of Teddy Kennedy’s Presidential campaign of 1980. All of which show how far right the whole world has gone, when what used to be mainline ideas of the Democratic Party are now viewed as some far-left Socialist thing. The only interesting thing was that capitalism is so unpopular in the US that by calling himself a ‘socialist’ he’d been elected President if the crooked Hillary-crats hadn’t rigged the nomination process against him.
I used to enjoy drinking beer with real socialists while watching this nonsense on TV. For fun, get a slightly buzzed real socialist’s reaction to a corrupt wall street crony like Bill Clinton being called a ‘socialist’.
Great article Ramin! And thank you. It’s really a blockbuster of an article debunking the fake leftists who are the prostituted foot-soldiers of the capitalist 1%. Like the Nazis, they appropriate the word “socialist” to give themselves authenticity for passing off as belonging to the social class who have to sell their only asset, labour, to feed themselves. The proper word for them is ‘traitors’.
There are many lessons in your expose but the lingering one is about the now proven fact that capitalism will not surrender the privileges it affords to the ruling elites, will not reform itself to improve the life of the ordinary man, and will not decay on its own into oblivion (Marx did not propose the inevitability of the collapse of capitalism). Like the Roman Empire before, a push is needed to bump it off and the fake leftists and Trotsy fake communists are the enablers and supporters of capitalism for promising a benevolent version of it and even its eventual demise due to the eternal “internal contradictions” or the cycles of boom-and-bust and some other imaginary causes. It has to be knocked off its perch as the courageous people of Russia did one century ago next month.
Feeling quite smug that I warned Saker readers in a comment (I think in the Café) in May 2016 about Yanis. Apologies for feeling smug – not a Saker type emotion! I had seen Varoufakis at an arts festival. He walked out on stage doing a ‘power to the people’ salute that was a tad nauseating (that and the Beatles-type hysteria among the middle class crowd). A lot of what he said seemed very contradictory. He failed to explain why he walked away from it all after the referendum. But the piece de resistance was during the questions from the floor. A rather oddball question was about what small shopkeepers could do about it all – should they ‘look east?’. Yanis started out saying how disappointed he was when Greece was run by the generals that people continued to visit Greece. Eh? I thought…. then it became clear. Don’t visit Russia!!!!! Putin is a war criminal – he “killed half the population of Chechnya”. etc etc. Blah blah. The book stream of the Festival (which was where Varoufakis appeared) was sponsored by the Guardian. It was infested with anti-Russian speakers promoting their dross. Including, of course, Luke Harding. Happily this year the Guardian had withdrawn its sponsorship. The book festival didn’t have a single anti-Russian speaker! Sighs of relief all round.
It really made me reconsider certain things.
Although I do not agree with everything.
But there is something else that I must have off my heart.
All this left and right stuff, and even fake left and fake right.
Who is to decide, what is left or right?
Or, in this case, who is to decide, what is fake left?
And should somebody care, to be called fake left?
It’s people that are scared to be called ‘fake left’ that are not genuine. They are the real fakes.
Because as soon as there is some sort of ‘Politbureau’ deciding what is left or right, and what is fake left, you get ideals transformed into dogma’s.
And I must say, here in Europe, the ‘genuine’ left, has very much to suffer from this (political correctness).
The most horrible example of this is when large groups of hundreds of adult men were sticking there fingers in the vagina’s of Woman on New Years Eve in Cologne, and many other city’s in Europe.
The ‘genuine’ left immediately came on the streets to protest against racism: “White males are sexists too.”
Then one year later, there he was, the white sexist male.
On the other side of the ocean, some white male had made a yoke, 20 years ago: “Grab them by the pussy.” .
And hops, there they were again, the ‘genuine’ left people. This time demonstrating against sexism.
If that isn’t extreme racist and sexist, then what is?
I think it is time to throw this fake division between left and right in the garbage bin.
Just be what you are, think what you think, and have your own opinions. Don’t bother the Politbureau.
With most people this will mean that sometimes they are left, sometimes they are right, and mostly somewhere in between.
As soon as you are trying to belong to some kind of group, aka ‘the real genuine left’ you’re doomed. You become a dogmaticus, and consequently a fake.
That is an interesting point you make. Because it is as if they are almost completely reversed.
In the sixties and seventies of last century, mostly ‘right wing’ governments were in power. And they wanted to change as little as possible.
And the ‘left wing’ people revolted. They wanted to change. They wanted stopping useless wars and occupations. They wanted more solidarity with the working class. They resisted against the suffocating sexual and moral rules of that time.
And now mostly ‘left wing’ governments are in power. And they want to change as little as possible.
And the ‘right wing’ people are more and more revolting. They want stopping useless wars and occupations. They want more solidarity with the working class. They protest against the eroding health care with lavishly payed directors. They protest against the shameful poor care of our seniors. They resist against the suffocating new morals of dictated ‘diversity’ and ‘gender neutrality’.
Good that you mentioned the shameless approach about the mass rapes in Cologne. The mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, with her ‘solution’ of ‘women should keep strange men on an arms lenght’ (implicitily saying that it was also German women’s fault), is a socialist.
‘Left’ and ‘right’ (the term comes from the British parliament, that has two sides) can nowadays be reversed.
Or can we also conclude, that power corrupts?
I don’t think you’ve got it. It is not a matter of pigeon-holing you into prescribed sets or groups, whether they are called left, right, centre or in between. The relevant issue is one’s political world view and where it fits in the wide spectrum of political beliefs based on one’s understanding of the social world.
Left and right was only a convenient way of labelling people according to their political point of view, not the other way around. It arose from the French Revolution when the deputies, “radical” Jacobins and moderate Girondins, set on the opposite side to each other at the National convention. Hence the left were traditionally the revolutionaries and the right the conservatives.
The erosion of the traditional left-right dichotomy results from the fact that some political parties ascribe to themselves labels that don’t fit their political programme in order to fool the electorate and enhance their popular appeal. The most notorious one was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, popularly known as NAZI Party, which started originally as a genuine workingman’s party but whose programme was reversed when Hitler and his mob infiltrated it and started persecuting anyone with communist and socialist leanings. But they did not change the name to something in tune with their political standing: a rabid form of capitalism called corporate fascism where capital and government merge into a single power structure – something like the evolving political situation in the US now.
The same can be said about all so-called “socialist” or “labour” parties in the capitalist world who, almost without exception, adopted political principles and programmes which are unmistakenly anti-social and anti-labour. They are not left parties anymore than the Nazis were. But people’s ideological and social understanding of the political world are still appropriately called left or right according to what they believe is the best match. If you believe that the best form of government should be the rule for the benefit of the whole society equally (no privileges), you are a leftist; but if you believe that the government should favour a small elite of rulers and owners of capital then you are a rightist. Simple.
Jah okee, very simple.
The problem is that young people, with not too much experience start to think that there are only these two ways.
Either you are for the benefit of the whole society, or you are a capitalist fascist.
So they decide to become left, and then somebody else starts deciding for them, what is genuine left, otherwise they are fake.
The problem is, who is to decide, what is for the benefit of the whole society?
Or, who is to decide that we should support adult men, who stick their fingers where they should not, in very large groups, otherwise you are even called extreme right?
In my days as a youngster, I was eventually told to shut up by the ‘ ‘genuine’ left, otherwise I was playing the right in the cards.
And what was I doing?
I was harshly criticising the murderous attacks of the ETA.
This may sound extreme, but we are living in extreme times again.
Let’s avoid our youngsters of today falling in the same trap.
Stop calling people fake left, because of they have another opinion.
Ramin, God bless your mouth (or your keyboard), you took some words right out of my mouth.
“Like all fake-leftists, the main psychological motivator of Varoufakis is fear”
Not to quibble, over details, but I would say that for Varoufakis narcissism comes first as a motivator. Not only the intellectual narcissism that makes him part of the “enlightened elites” as you note (and which forces him to perform public intellectual masturbations on regular intervals), but also run-of-the-mill, in-your-face, look-at-me narcissism, that prompted him to do the despicable Paris Match photo shoot with his wife (http://www.parismatch.com/Actu/Economie/Avant-la-bataille-Yanis-Varoufakis-725030).
There is also a dual superiority complex at play. An intellectual one, which basically tells him that he is smarter than Dijsselbloem and that he should lecture him even if Greeks will then get it from behind (who cares?). And a class one, which tells him that he should look down upon and despise blue-collar workers, for being uneducated, religious, patriotic, or what have you. It is telling that his father was Chairman of the Board of Directors of “Halyvourgiki”, a major steel industry, and that he himself attended a very exclusive private school in Athens (Moraitis). And he didn’t betray his class, like Zhu Enlai is reported to have told Khrushtsev; his wife, Danae Stratou is daughter of the family of a major Greek textile industry, “Peiraiki-Patraiki”.
And there’s nothing more flattering for a narcissist bourgeois than being given audience by the rich and powerful. In 2015 Soros gave the closing talk during the annual conference of the The Institute for New Economic Thinking (https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=vdUaEE7mr2w), a conference in which none other than Varoufakis gave a talk the very same day (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY3Qxm6BoUI), next to Joseph Stiglitz.
As far as hobnobbing with the powerful, there’s lots of chatter about Varoufakis’ relation to the Levy Economics Institute Of Bard College and other Soros-funded Institutes that proposed dismantling the euro zone (http://ardin-rixi.gr/archives/194652). The Institute’s President is Dimitri Papadimitriou (http://www.levyinstitute.org/about/board/) who is – hold on to your chairs! – the husband of Rania Antonopoulou, SYRIZA’s Unemployment Minister (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rania_Antonopoulos), also a Professor at Bard. The Levy Institute had received $60 million by Soros’ Open Society Foundation in 2011 (http://www.bard.edu/news/releases/pr/fstory.php?id=2130). Was he also a useful idiot by speculators who wanted the inside track for a killing in currency exchange?
While there is no unanimity among Greeks, it is telling that many refer to him as “Baroufakis” from the Greek word “baroufa” (μπαρούφα), which means a “stupid thing to say”. They also amuse themselves with Youtube videos like “Varoufunk”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLa2OSND9gY
A final word on the colonisation of Greece…
Despite what you think, Greece may probably be the first country to have tasted Western colonialism, long before the Mayas. Cuprus was the first spoil by Richard Lionheart in 1197 during the 3rd crusade and then Constantinople followed suit, being pillaged in 1204, during the 4th crusade. The testimonies say that the Franks’ jaws dropped at the very sight of the city walls, unable to believe that such a city could exist (Paris at the time was a mud pit in comparison), nevertheless the pillaged everything they could.
In 1346 the Genovese conquered Chios and set up the Maona (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maona), a joint-stock company, that administered the monopoly of the island’s mastiha, the famous resin of an indigenous shrub. The indigenous people were forbidden from consuming it and the penalties for stealing or smuggling ranged between a fine, flogging, cutting of an ear, iron branding, cutting of the nose, poking of an eye, cutting of an arm or leg and, finally, hanging. Tell me if that isn’t a dress rehearsal for the East Indies Company and Standard Oil!
Greece never fully recovered the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire. After the 1821 Revolution which ended the Ottoman occupation (in a small part of today’s Greece), modern Greece became a British-French-Russian protectorate. It remained under the British Empire’s sphere of influence until WWII, at which time it entered the US Empire and now it is co-managed with the EU.
This colonisation is reflected in bourgeois classes which became particularly western-oriented to a ridiculous degree, but also to the Left which became Soviet-oriented to an equally ridiculous degree.
“the capitalist Allies supported Greek Nazi collaborators to keep the leftists from taking power”
Maybe the Allies believed they were doing so, but the Greek Left never intended to seize power. Stalin had already at that time signed the napkin agreement and his word was sacrosanct. Although ELAS ruled throughout Greece at the time of the German departure, orders were not to make the push for Athens. That was promised to the British. Tolbukhin’s army stayed in Bulgaria and, in Athens, the Soviet envoy, a certain Grigorii Michailovich Popov, never encouraged the Greek Comminist Party to go for it (and they wouldn’t even take a dump without Soviet encouragement!).
Aris Velouhiotis, the General of ELAS, the revolutionary army that liberated most of Greece from the Germans, wouldn’t put up with this and forced the issue with the politburo (he wasn’t part of the politburo; imagine Mao or Fidel not being heads of their Communist parties!). He argued that he didn’t free Greece from the Germans to hand it over to the British. He ended up denounced by the Communist Party, surrounded by the Nazi collaborators he had previously beaten, and shot himself at the head not to be captured alive.
wait.a.minute. I grew up in a socialists or a communist country whatever you wanna call them in Eastern Europe and I remember Communism very well. We had shortages of absolutely everything all the time. It was hardly a paradise.
I am very far left, in fact I’m SO far left I’m coming out on the far right and I am probably MORE Marxist than you, but you seem to have a rose colored gasses view of Communism.
We had corruption, sky high corruption, inadequate management and people who frankly were TOTALLY not suited for the positions but where there only because their fathers were Communists. In fact, Im surprised Communist even lasted this long in Bulgaria from 1943 to 1989. Communist was tried but it didn’t last long; it turned into fascism about 20 years later I’d say in the late 1960s. Real Communism didn’t last long at all. It was good idea but it couldn’t be implemented due to various factors outside of Communists control such as the sanctions West placed on Communists countries.
Have you really lived in a real Communist country? I really doubt it, Modern China is hardly communist; nether is Russia. I’d say the countries that are closest to real Communism are Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Of course, after all is said, Communism is MUCH prefer than Capitalism; and Capitalism is on its way out simply because thy don’t have anybody left to exploit but some 3rd rate shitholes such as modern Bulgaria, Romania and Greece.
Hi Real Marxist,
Congrats on being more left than me! Please stay that way, and I hope to catch up! But not if you are “SO far left I’m going out on the far right”….
I have not lived in a formally socialist country, yes. I appreciate your point of view and take your word for what happened in Bulgaria.
However, I don’t agree with the idea that corruption in formally socialist countries was so much worse than in capitalist countries. Capitalism is synonymous with corruption – that’s how you win.
People say the same thing about Iran – that there is so much “corruption”. Lies. The difference in infrastructure, opportunity, human development – the leap has been enormous. There are a few bad people everywhere, but there is nothing like during the Shah which was, quite simply, formalised corruption (capitalism).
Cuba, China – I have visited these places and I find it very hard to believe that their far-elevated state today has arrived despite being “more corrupt” than the capitalist systems they replaced. China, by the way, has a 1-party system, control over the media, central planning and LIMITED capitalism…like many communist countries, so they definitely classify as communist in my book.
I highly admire your fairness when looking at issues, not taking sides based on what closest to your heart. This is the way I was raised in my native Poland and why I’m shocked with what is going on around the world now including my old and new country (Canada). Did you read books by Ha-Joon Chang? This guy is real rock star economist and I thing he should be more popularized as his books are giving directions for solutions to nowadays problems in my opinion.
All the best for you!
Great article, as usual. One of your best. Any time you need a break from the city, you’re more than welcome to our pile of stones in Burgundy. Only an hour from Paris via TGV. Calm, a decent table, and lively conversation guaranteed.
Many thanks Steve! One day, Inshallah!