Week 6: Hero – Yanis Varoufakis

by Charlie_East_West on February 9, 2015

Greek_hero

For the second week running, our hero of the week award is delivered to Greece. It goes to Yanis Varoufakis, the new Greek Finance Minister, for standing against to the neoliberal settlement on austerity, arguing the case for a debt write-off and generally looking and sounding like a refreshing new face of progressive politics.

Greece’s new finance minister has been on a European tour, arguing the case for a debt write-off against Europe’s old but highly-polished political and financial elite.

For the ruling advocates of neoliberalism, the 53-year-old ‘libertarian Marxist’ has been a culture shock. Varoufakis may have been on a European tour, but on first impressions – he looked more like he was a rock star on a European arena tour. He arrived to meet George Osborne wearing a crumpled leather jacket and shirt hanging outside of his jeans. Compare and contract this to Osborne’s staid ‘how to do politics’ attire of suit and tie:-

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His appearance may well be superficially refreshing, but this is a man who has a lot more substance than just rock star styling. His background indicates that he has a more economic credentials than George Osborne. Unlike our Chancellor, Varoufakis has a Doctorate in Economics and has written numerous papers and books on economic theory.

He speaks the language of how a modern day, post economic crisis politician should speak – in a language that people can relate to, and a message that is in keeping with the growing movement for economic & anti-austerity change. Not for him the guarded, soundbite-in-threes, diplomatic-speak that so many laboratory made politicians are continually delivering.

A perfect example of this is his summary of Europe’s strategy to resolve the debt crisis:
“Europe in its infinite wisdom decided to deal with this bankruptcy by loading the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders… What we’ve been having ever since is a kind of fiscal waterboarding that has turned this nation into a debt colony.”

On the media propaganda against debt ridden countries:
“Quite remarkably, while the insolvent states are visited upon by stern IMF and EU officials, are constantly reviled by the ‘serious’ press for their ‘profligacy’ and ‘wayward’ fiscal stance, the banks go on receiving ECB liquidity and state funding (plus guarantees) with no strings attached. No memoranda, no conditionalities, nothing.”

Varoufakis has hit the ground running. He has made the right wingers exceedingly jumpy. That is the easy part. The more difficult part will be to keep his credibility while all around him those who have already lost their credibility try to undermine him.

We wish him well.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bobby West February 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Very delayed reaction to this post, but this is a great read:

http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/18/yanis-varoufakis-how-i-became-an-erratic-marxist

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