Greece: A New Versailles

In spite of rejoicing over the story (which is looking more credible as time passes) that leftie loony Comrade Jeremy Corbyn is set to win the race to lead the Labour Party and will certainly take the party so far to the left they will end up on the right of Pol Pot, we are still cheering another left winger, former Greek finance minister Yannis Varoufakis.

In his latest swing of the big dead fish with which he keeps slapping the EU leadership, V-fak has accused Brussels and the Troika of imposing “A new Versailles” on Greece, a reference to the humiliating and punitive treaty France (though opposed by Britain and the USA insisted on imposing on Germany after World War 1 and which is generall accepted as having led to the rise of Naziism and the outbreak of World War 2.

Here’s a little from V-fak’s latest outburst, with the qualifier that while we do not support a lot of his left socialist economic thinking, he has the big one absolutely right, globalism and the expansionist policies of the EU are corporatism, the sibling of fascism, and have nothing to do with democracy, free speech and the underlying principles of democratic societies. Over to V-fak.

In the next hours and days, I shall be sitting in Parliament to assess the legislation that is part of the recent Euro Summit agreement on Greece. I am also looking forward to hearing in person from my comrades, Alexis Tsipras and Euclid Tsakalotos, who have been through so much over the past few days. Till then, I shall reserve judgment regarding the legislation before us. Meanwhile, here are some first, impressionistic thoughts stirred up by the Euro Summit’s Statement.

A New Versailles Treaty is haunting Europe – I used that expression back in the Spring of 2010 to describe the first Greek ‘bailout’ that was being prepared at that time. If that allegory was pertinent then it is, sadly, all too germane now.

Never before has the European Union made a decision that undermines so fundamentally the project of European Integration. Europe’s leaders, in treating Alexis Tsipras and our government the way they did, dealt a decisive blow against the European project.

The project of European integration has, indeed, been fatally wounded over the past few days. And as Paul Krugman rightly says, whatever you think of Syriza, or Greece, it wasn’t the Greeks or Syriza who killed off the dream of a democratic, united Europe.

Back in 1971 Nick Kaldor, the noted Cambridge economist, had warned that forging monetary union before a political union was possible would lead not only to a failed monetary union but also to the deconstruction of the European political project. Later on, in 1999, German-British sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf also warned that economic and monetary union would split rather than unite Europe. All these years I hoped that they were wrong. Now, the powers that be in Brussels, in Berlin and in Frankfurt have conspired to prove them right.

The Euro Summit statement of yesterday morning reads like a document committing to paper Greece’s Terms of Surrender. It is meant as a statement confirming that Greece acquiesces to becoming a vassal of the Eurogroup.

The Euro Summit statement of yesterday morning has nothing to do with economics, nor with any concern for the type of reform agenda capable of lifting Greece out of its mire. It is purely and simply a manifestation of the politics of humiliation in action. Even if one loathes our government one must see that the Eurogroup’s list of demands represents a major departure from decency and reason.

The Euro Summit statement of yesterday morning signalled a complete annulment of national sovereignty, without putting in its place a supra-national, pan-European, sovereign body politic. Europeans, even those who give not a damn for Greece, ought to beware.

Much energy is expended by the media on whether the Terms of Surrender will pass through Greek Parliament, and in particular on whether MPs like myself will toe the line and vote in favour of the relevant legislation. I do not think this is the most interesting of questions. The crucial question is: Does the Greek economy stand any chance of recovery under these terms?

Our Hero V-Fak Still Kicking The Troika

Last week a group of very high profile liberal economists, Stiglitz and Kugman included, wrote an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to let her know that ‘right now the Greek government is being asked to put a gun to its head and pull the trigger’. The past week’s events have not changed that position.

Greece went very close to pulling that trigger when it went to Brussels with a set of proposals for economic reform that many saw as capitulation and a betrayal of the referendum ‘no’ vote on whether the country should accept austerity measures the EU, ECB and IMF demanded in return for further financial assistance.

The third bailout deal has since been struck, forcing the Greek government into a climb down that forces it to renege on all is pledges to accept no more austerity, in order to keep Greece within the Euro zone. Agreement was reached only on monday of this week and already, two days later, the labour minister has denounced the terms and reported that the conditions are so tough, so rough that it poses a perhaps an impossible political task for the Prime Minister.

To make matters worse, former finance chief Yanis Varoufakis (V-Fak), who resigned after his numerous bust ups with EU leaders who could not accept his refusal to kow-tow to the Brussels diktat is back in the mix. With public opinion urging him to form a new anti – EU party, V-Fak was his usual outspoken self in an interview broadcast on Australian ABC radio. He said it would be a near impossible task for Prime Minister Tsipras to sell the Troika’s latest attempt to crush Greece to the national parliament, let alone the people
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Hear the broadcast In English) or read a transcript