To borrow a phrase from the American banksters, Greece is too big to fail.
The reluctant hero
Greece Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis would eschew the epithet ‘hero’ but hero he is. To begin with, any politician happy to take a press interview session wearing a Tee shirt is a hero in my books. He has the muscular chest to carry it off, but you have to admire the way he has shaken up dress etiquette, and, frivolity aside, neo-liberal economic orthodoxy.
In a glorious acclamation of democracy the Greek people overwhelmingly voted against the blackmail and extortion of the Troika of money lenders, the banks that give you money to return to them five times over, money supposedly for distribution amongst the people.
The EU tried to present the Referendum as a vote for or against the EU, but the Greek population was not fooled. The fear factor, so successfully used to cow the Scottish nation, did not do its dirty work on the cradle of democracy.
It is also a victory against Greece’s privately owned newspapers and televisions stations which were vastly at odds with the mood of the people, and the reality of EC aggression.
Greeks won with over 60% of the electorate, the sort of unequivocal vote Scotland needs to achieve for its next Referendum if the velvet revolution is not to be challenged as divisive.
The Troika, the European Commission, (EU) the European Central Bank, (EBC) and the International Monetary Fund, (IMF) must loathe Varoufakis for showing them up for what they are, a bunch of unelected loan sharks, a den of thieves, and indeed in Varoufakis’ resignation statement he makes reference to that contempt. To give the IMF some doubt, it had expressed reservations about bleeding the Greek economy any more. It admits imposed austerity has made Greece poorer, not strengthened its economy. What more can you get from broken stone ground to powder?
Putting things in perspective
Greece’s debt is a tiny fraction of the many trillions stolen from the masses to save the necks of the banksters, and to keep their bonuses intact. They want us to pay twice. For the privilege of getting robbed we must accept austerity the meaning of which is destruction of our democratic institutions we have taken for granted for decades, such as free medical care and welfare. (That is exactly what England did over the Darien Scheme. It paid off half the debt in cash, repaid over ten years with interest, and then raised Scottish taxes to pay for the loan a second time.)
Sad to say, at the very point the battle is won Yanis Varoufakis resigns.
His colleague, Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, who has been just as exculpatory of the Troika as Varoufakis, accepts his decision as the best way forward. Yanis Varoufakis is a politician of exemplary ethics and dedication; he realised the next set of negotiations with the EU require a fresh face to present new more acceptable conditions to the money men if the money lenders are not to clam up during talks. Once humiliated, one tends not to be too keen to talk politely to your adversary or give him a gift in friendship.
Controversial as renegade
Newspapers got into the habit of giving Varoufakis the prefix ‘controversial’, the epithet they usually award to anyone questioning the status quo. It is, after all, the job of state newspapers to place doubt in the population’s mind as to the efficacy of individuals advocating democratically radical solutions that are in opposition to conventional wisdom. Gratuitously a BBC reporter describes Varoufakis as ‘mercurial’, meaning unable to concentrate on a single issue for any length of time. And another described Varoufakis as “flamboyant” perhaps to have us imagine he rides a motorbike naked.
Though fundamentally things have not changed, we have the Internet to disseminate stories and news without the interference of the controllers of consent. (So far Twitter deals only in terse opinion.) It worked wonders for Greece. It helps redress the balance of self-censorship that our ostensibly ‘free’ newspapers place on themselves to protect their owners and the dominant elite groups, and to tell us what is ‘news’ and what is not. What we have to guard against is the level of news output getting narrower because newspapers are closing down.
The state owns the media
Greek television companies were no supporters of their referendum. The issues were presented as doom and gloom if the government convinced enough to vote OXI – no! Some broadcasters are being taken to court for misleading the electorate. (See letter below.) Our own BBC was no better during Scotland’s plebiscite.
An irony of UK broadcasting is the BBC is publically funded but not publically owned or accountable, and in Scotland’s case incapable of representing the viewers it was established to serve.
Social media rules – okay?
To a useful degree, but not entirely, the press is no longer in charge of news. It has lost control of the main conduits through which stories reach us. That is a good thing. It certainly helped with the Greek people in their revolution though not with Egyptians because their government is essentially authoritarian.
In that regard we can have Varoufakis speak for himself. Here is his resignation statement:
“The referendum of 5th July will stay in history as a unique moment when a small European nation rose up against debt-bondage.
Like all struggles for democratic rights, so too this historic rejection of the Eurogroup’s 25th June ultimatum comes with a large price tag attached. It is, therefore, essential that the great capital bestowed upon our government by the splendid NO vote be invested immediately into a YES to a proper resolution – to an agreement that involves debt restructuring, less austerity, redistribution in favour of the needy, and real reforms.
Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.
Here is Varoufakis’ resignation statement – as the honest are apt to say, judge me by my actions not my words. I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum.
And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride.
We of the Left know how to act collectively with no care for the privileges of office. I shall support fully Prime Minister Tsipras, the new Minister of Finance, and our government. The superhuman effort to honour the brave people of Greece, and the famous OXI (NO) that they granted to democrats the world over, is just beginning.”
I’ll be back
I have a feeling we have not heard the last from Varoufakis. Tsipras will still need his wise counsel. The power elite are not happy to be cheated of their ill-gotten gains. They will increase the intimidation, not withdraw. Their reply might well be savage for Greece’s audacity in daring to confront their conditions of austerity.
Nevertheless, Varoufakis’ immediate legacy is to prove the Troika vulnerable, open to challenge, and one day electable to change for the common good. It only takes enough people and enough nations to do it. Varoufakis talked in direct speech without jargon or obfuscation. He was sincere and honest. He talked about the human cost debt causes, and how creditors pocket almost all of the profit. He showed how basic economics are strangled by ideological greed. He spoke to bureaucrats and us as equals.
Yanis Varoufakis rocks.
I wish the Greek people every success in obtaining debt cancellation and debt relief.