And the winner is… (The final verdict on our mini competition on Liberty, Justice and Crisis is in)

Back on 7th July I invited readers to submit short pieces on Liberty and Justice, in the context of the present crisis. The prize on offer was a signed copy of a recent book (entitled MODERN POLITICAL ECONOMICS: Making sense of the post-2008 world, jointly scribbled by myself, Joseph Halevi and Nicholas Theocarakis). The time has come to make the difficult choice amongst the entries.

Before making the announcement, a heartfelt thank you to each and every reader who took the time to submit an entry. Of the various entries (which you can read as comments to that post), two stood out. One was a piece by Tryphon Tso-Hunter, the other an submission by Chris Coles. The tie breaker came courtesy of the fact that Chris’ excellent piece was not written specifically for this contest (but was authored in 2003). For this reason alone, I decided to declare in favour of Tryphon Tso-Hunter. Here is an extract from his entry on the topic: “Solidarity and altruism are nothing more than forms of enlightened selfishness.” Discuss and draw out of the discussion different perspectives on the meaning of ‘solidarity’, of ‘altruism’ and, lastly, of ‘selfishness’: 

It is under the influence of such romantic ideas that individualism or “solidarity” is still identified with egoism, as it was by Plato, and “altruism” with collectivism. … This is the place where enlightened selfishness rises. In fact, we need an ethics which defies success and reward. You can either be a Great Man, a Hero wrestling with fate and earning fame (‘the greater the fall, the greater the fame’, says Heraclitus), or belong to ‘the masses’ and submit yourself to leadership and sacrifice yourself to the higher cause of your collective. There is a neurotic, an hysterical element in this exaggerated stress on the importance of the tension between the self and the collective, and I do not doubt that this hysteria (or enlightened selfishness), this reaction to the strain of civilization, is the secret of the strong emotional appeal of the ethics of hero-worship, of the ethics of domination and submission.

Congratulations Tryphon Tso-Hunter. For your copy please send me a postal address (yanisvaroufakis at gmail.com)

7 Comments

    • Actually you are both winners!

      This is not Germany giving out the awards. Yanis has a bigger heart, you know.

  • Getting back to the crisis de jour, The Financial Times Deutschland argues:

    “It’s good that Wulff has expressed the opinion of many Germans. But it’s not enough for a leader to just simply parrot their perceptions. He needs to engage and explain — to make rational answers to bursts of emotion. But Wulff has only served the people’s prejudices and fears. He’s behaving like a populist, not like a president.”

    “From the head of state of Europe’s largest national economy, we can expect some understanding of the difference between private finances and the financing of a European state. But Wulff brushes aside the idea of euro-bonds by saying a private person would also not guarantee debt for all his relatives … Such wild talk doesn’t help anyone find a solution for the euro crisis in the context of a softening economy and jittery institutional investors.”