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.