Sunday, August 02, 2015

Yanis Varoufakis: "In 1967 there were the tanks and in 2015 there were the banks"

"Europe is in the process of turning from a realm of shared prosperity, which is how we imagined it, into an iron cage for our peoples. I hope that Mrs Merkel decides that this is not a legacy she wants to leave behind."

That's from Yanis Varoufakis has been spreading the word about Greece's dire situation and the ills of the eurozone. Including In conversation with El Pais (Claudi Pérez), the complete (long) transcript 08/02/2015:

Didn’t you kill the troika?

Well, we got rid of them here in Athens. Now they are back: the troika is back. They could have acted as legitimate institutions. But they seem to have a clear preference to act as the troika of lenders. It’s their choice.

But they’ll be here until 2050, when your grandchildren will be adults.

No, they won’t. Because this agreement doesn’t have a future. It is continuing the extending and pretending charade: extending the crisis with new unsustainable loans, and pretending that this solves the problem… It can’t go on forever. You can fool the people and the markets for a short period of time, but in the end you can’t fool them for fifty years. Either Europe changes, and this process is replaced by something more democratic, and durable, manageable, humanistic. Or Europe will no longer exist as a Monetary Union.
Mr V gives France a central role in the politics of the eurozone as the Merkel government's primary target:

But which is your central scenario? Is [German Finance Minister Wolfgang] Schauble condemning Greece to go out?

You can see that there is a plan being implemented and which is in progress. Today we have read that Schauble wants to sideline the Commission and to create something like a Budget commissioner who oversees the ‘rules’ that strike down national budgets, even if a country is not under a program. In other words: to turn every country into a program country! One of the great successes of Spain in the middle of the crisis was that you avoided a full MoU (and only had a limited one stemming from the bank recapitalization program). Schauble’s plan is to put the troika everywhere, in Madrid too, but especially in ... Paris!

So Paris is the final game.

Paris is the larger prize. It’s the final destination of the troika. Grexit is used to create the fear necessary to force Paris, Rome and Madrid to acquiesce. ...

Why don’t you have allies in the Eurogroup? I mean, nor France, nor Italy, Spain, Ireland… Countries that at the beginning, with Syriza, had positive thinkings and at the end there were 18 against 1.

What you have to understand is that this 18-1 balance in the Eurogroup is an illusion. The 18 are divided very significantly in three groups. The very tiny, tiny minority who believe in austerity. The largest group of countries don’t believe in austerity but imposed austerity on their own people. And then there is another group of countries that neither believe in austerity nor practise it – e.g. France. But they fear that if they support us openly then austerity and the troika will come their way. [my emphasis]
He says of the forced agreement of July: "What happened in Greece was definitely a coup. The asphyxiation of the Government through the liquidity squeeze, a series of denials of any serious debt restructuring ... Then they gave us an ultimatum under the further threat of bank closure. This was nothing but a coup. In 1967 there were the tanks and in 2015 there were the banks." The 1967 reference is to the military coup that year.

Varoufakis even invokes Hegel: "Nobody can be free even if one person is a slave. That is Hegel’s well known master-slave paradox. Europe has to pay serious attention to it. Spain cannot prosper, or be free, or sovereign or democratic if its prosperity hinges on another member state being denied growth, prosperity or democracy."

He is right about the change in the public framing of Merkel's austericide policies:

I think that is a [sic] uncontroversial: your ideas about austerity and debt relief, everybody says you are right.

If you were talking to me in January it would not have been so. The only reason why now this is not controversial anymore is because we struggled for six months. For those who say to me we failed, these six months were in vain, I say “No we did not fail”. Now we have a debate in Europe which it’s not just about Greece, it’s about the continent. A debate we would have not had otherwise. A debate which is worth Greece’s, our continent’s, weight in gold.

But politics is about results. You called the first and second bailout like the Versailles Treaty. How would you define the third?

The Eurozone began life in 2000. It was badly designed and we realized that, or we should have realized that, in 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed. From 2009-2010 we have been in complete denial as official Europe has been doing precisely the wrong thing. This is a European phenomenon, it is an Europe-wide problem. Little Greece, 2% of Eurozone’s GDP, elected a government that raised issues crucial for all of Europe. After 6 months of struggles we had a major setback, we lost the battle. But we won the war of changing the debate. And this is a result!

The debate is the result?

Certainly! I cannot quantify this result for you. I cannot tell you how many billons [sic] it is worth. But some things are not measured in terms of prices but in terms of their value.

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