The former Greek Minister of Economy Yanis Varoufakis has published in the edition of August of the French monthly newspaper Le Monde diplomatique an interesting article, under a title so eye-catching that it sounds like the bitter declaration of a bunch of overgrown adolescents who have just been fired from the TV set of a reality show because the viewers didn’t want them to appear anymore: “They were aiming only at humiliating us”.
The article is interesting for two reasons: because it provides important factual elements and because it gives accurate information regarding Yanis Varoufakis’s state of mind when approaching the negotiations for the first time.
We learn that the Syriza project, if such a project has ever existed, was executed on January, 30th, during the first visit of Mr Dijsselbloem in Athens and buried on February, 11th, during the first reunion of Yanis Varoufakis with the leaders of the Eurogroup, by a Mr Schäuble in great shape who dismissed the Greek propositions by using the European magic mantra “New elections change nothing”.
Even if in the parliamentary democracies, the political institutions have always been occupied by the offspring and servants of the oligarchy for the purpose of heading towards policies that are beneficial to her, even if the elections are just a trade fair in which money drops off the pockets of the “Haves” to convince the “Have nots” to vote in favour of their figurehead, we can observe here some kind of progress because even the electoral circus is denied by this synarchy of international financiers who gather in an “informal group”, “without any legal existence” (Varoufakis) and show their eagerness to squash the vox populi once and for all.
Yanis Varoufakis reveals a few details regarding his state of mind when he began his first negotiations. In front of a Europe he had “considered, since [his] teenage years as [a personal] compass”, Yanis Varoufakis, the man who looks like a gladiator, the man who was ready to beat the Greek oligarchy, came closer on tip toe, as if he were afraid of disturbing someone, and talked to his counterparts with the shyness of a good boy who wishes his parents to think highly of him and said : “Our government will be a trustful partner”, “we’ll do anything to find a middle ground”, “from February, I had tried to reassure [Mr Schäuble]”, “[I told him] he could count on us”.
But he noted that “unfortunately, none of [his] good intentions could arouse interest”. The adolescent reveries were instantly crushed by the brutal certainties of the big political names : his illusions fell to pieces in front of a Dijsselbloem who despises “the most basic democratic values” and exclaimed that “it [wouldn’t] work” and in front of the “the lenders and the Eurogroup [who] wouldn’t listen to [their] economic arguments” and “demanded [them] to surrender” raising on and on the spectre of the foreclosure of the Greek banks”. Here you could find without any doubt a good reason to throw a pure spirit in the dark waters of a Wertherian distress. Yanis Varoufakis confesses himself that he almost cried when he knew that France wouldn’t come to rescue him. Who did he think François Hollande was? An enemy of the financial system? A man strong enough to say no to Germany?
Serge Halimi (editor-in-chief of Le Monde diplomatique) thinks Varoufakis and Tsipras are “guilty of ingenuity”.
It may not be the opinion of everyone. Stathis Kouvelakis, “French-speaking philosopher, member of Syriza’s Central Committee and figure of the left-wing platform” doesn’t “deny that the word “treason” is adequate” – which means he’s talking of treason in the first place – when he refers to Tsipras’s action, but he denies it is a “conscious treason”. He thinks Tsipras sincerely believed that he could negotiate by using economic arguments and that, because of this, “he got himself stuck in a spiral that brought him through a series of concessions and to a deterioration of the balance of forces”. He’s mentioning the “real blindness of Tsipras and Syriza’s majority in the European illusion”. Mr Stathis Kouvelakis seems quite lenient, doesn’t he?
Not that much in fact, if you read the rest of the interview because we learn that the debate about Grexit “never took place or rather took place in a limited way inside Syriza in the past five years” because the exit of the Eurozone “was purely and simply related to an absolute disaster”. His companions always used the “arguments of the dominant narrative”. However, in his opinion, a plan B should have existed, a plan consisting in “the recovery of a national currency”, “ the default on the repayment to the lenders”, “the submission of the banks to public control” and “the capital control at the beginning of the offensive”. Stathis Kouvelakis thinks that the Syriza government should have taken the initiative instead of lagging behind.
Fundamentally, Mr Stathis Kouvelakis is not that clement when he writes that Tsipras “had done nothing to prepare an alternative solution” when the referendum began on July, 5th. He says that Tsipras is “a great tactician” but that, he managed the crisis “from day to day”, “without any strategic vision other than the unreal ‘honourable compromise’”. A great tactician without tactic actually. He reveals to us that Tsipras had conceived the referendum as a tactic but didn’t expect such a flood of supporters in favour of the No-vote. He took fright when people carried him in triumph on Syntagma square and decided to remove the three quarters of the speech he had prepared. He looked quite like Jean-Paul Sartre who, when arriving in the US, was welcomed as a Resistant (during WWII) and couldn’t confess that he had done nothing to resist against the Germans during the war – but who’s going to blame an engaged and know-it-all philosopher? – not to lose face in front of the audience, the press and… his followers.
Being considered as a hero when you’re not one must be very embarrassing.
The worst revelation which is also the most interesting is that Stathis Kouvelakis’s “mainstream” university colleagues , “who knew intimately the European machine”, “[had] always refused to consider Syriza’s vision as serious” and “didn’t stop being ironic about the gullible politicians who thought they could break the framework of European policies by negotiating and using good arguments”.
The consequence of this broken dream that no Machiavellian Prince would have seriously dreamt, is that Greece is now “pressed in a straight-jacket that is tighter than the one that was imposed by the previous memoranda”. The Greek government has lost control of the main levers of the state” starting with the fiscal apparatus that has fallen in the Troïka’s clawed paws.
Then, instead of “trying to find excuses to this perfect Tsipras, beating around the bush and making believe that the bad times will pass shortly”, instead of writing the soppy story that we’ve been reading in the medias recently (even the story of Tsipras having considered a plan B is not interesting because we have to remain focused on what he has done), it must be recognized that Tsipras “has surrendered to the lenders, and the word surrender is too feeble without any doubt” and that his party “makes a mockery of the most basic notions of the democratic operating of the institutions.” (Kouvelakis)
To surrender: “to give oneself up, as into the power of another, as by agreeing to stop fighting because of defeat; to yield (something) to the possession of another, as after defeat.” Stronger than that, let me guess. I can’t find but one word : to collaborate.
Tsipras looks guilty of collaboration with the enemy and we discover the image of a Syriza coalition whose role has been to divert the popular and parliamentary discontent and drown it in the big stirring story of a great leader full of noble sentiments who soared up and crashed against the walls of pride of the European stronghold.
Was Syriza a decoy?
References (in French):
Yanis Varoufakis, « Leur seul objectif était de nous humilier », Le Monde diplomatique, août 2015
Serge Halimi, « L’Europe dont nous ne voulons plus », Le Monde diplomatique, août 2015
Stathis Kouvélakis, « Le non n’est pas vaincu, nous continuons », Revue Ballast, 27 juillet 2015