Interviewed by Christiane Amanpour, CNN International: The case for a European New Deal

On Friday 27th April, Christian Amanpour interviewed me on CNN Int on the theme of Europe’s slow suicide by inane austerity. CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO. The transcript of our conversation follows (thanks to CNN for making it available to me):

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  I’m Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program.

Just when it looked like Europe might have weathered the worst of the economic storm, some very distressing news this week.  After a brief
period of progress, Britain has gone back into a recession now.  And of course much of Europe never left the recession.  It’s a long and grim list: Greece, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic,Ireland, Portugal, Denmark — and it goes on.

Many of these countries have adopted austerity programs to try and lighten their staggering debt loads.  So in my brief tonight, is that
medicine killing the patient?  In other words, is all that austerity too much too soon?

Look at this graph that we’re putting now in our graphics table.  So you have very strong economic growth from the beginning of the 2000s all the way up to the financial crisis of ’08.  Then it plunges quite significantly.  Then it starts to try to climb and struggle back up the
hill until, in Britain, with the conservative Cameron government and their austerity measures, growth simply petered out, simply flattened.

And the human cost of Europe’s recession is clear.  There’s violence in Athens and Madrid and other cities across the continent.  But the tragedy may best be summed up in a note that was left pinned to a tree in a public square in Athens. 

It read, “Austerity kills.”  It referred to 77-year-old Dimitris Christoulas, a retiree who shot himself outside the Greek parliament
earlier this month.  His suicide note said that he couldn’t face the prospect of, quote, “scavenging through garbage bins for food and becoming a burden to my child.”

This phenomenon is spiking in Greece, in Ireland and in Italy these days, and indeed European newspapers have coined a new phrase: Suicide by Economic Crisis.

My guest tonight is Greek and he’s also an economist.  Yanis Varoufakis has been living through this crisis, even as he tries to work to
find a solution.  Welcome to our program. YANIS VAROUFAKIS, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS:  Thank you.

AMANPOUR:  So first and foremost, this austerity, this much-ballyhooed
program, is it really killing the golden goose?

VAROUFAKIS:  It is what you get when you begin with a diagnostic failure and you end up with the wrong cure.

AMANPOUR:  So the diagnosis was what?

VAROUFAKIS:  Tha the problem of Europe is debt.  And that austerity is the solution.

The problem of Europe is not debt.  The problem of Europe is a badly designed monetary system.  Debt is one of the symptoms.

AMANPOUR:  But you agree that debt is a problem?

VAROUFAKIS:  Of course it is, but it is not the problem.

AMANPOUR:  So how does one get out of a significant problem, which is debt, without this terrible austerity, which apparently has a really bad negative effect on growth?

VAROUFAKIS:  If I’m right that this is an architectural design failure, the thing to do is to create new foundations for the edifice, which has not managed to sustain the shock waves of the great financial disaster of 2008.

AMANPOUR:  So what would be that new edifice?

VAROUFAKIS:  Very simple steps.  Europe needs to unify its banking sectors.  It is preposterous that we have a French banking sector, a
German, a Greek banking sector when we are one currency.  Imagine if, in the United States, in 2008, the State of New York had to salvage Wall Street and the State of Nevada had to salvage the banks in Nevada. 

Then those states, all states and all banks, would have gone under. This is what we’re doing.  So that’s one thing we need to do.  So we need
to unify the banking system.  A part of the debt (inaudible) member country has to be unified.  And we need an investment policy throughout Europe.

AMANPOUR:  We talked about the human costs, and it truly is tragic.  People simply falling off a cliff and being unable to meet what’s being
imposed on them right now.  Unemployment across Europe is staggering.  I mean, in Spain, with young people apparently, it’s over 50 percent.  More Spanish young people are out of work today than are working. 

And this is going to be a phenomenon, surely, that’s going to confront all our leaders.  What is the structural cure for that at a time when you need a structural cure for the whole economic system?

VAROUFAKIS:  Well, we must stop this continuous march off the cliff of competitive austerity, which sequentially throws one country after the next into the abyss.  And the way to do that is to understand that what Europe needs is a New Deal. What Roosevelt did in 1932 we need in Europe now. 

And that does not mean a kind of Keynesian spending spree.  It means mobilizing idle savings and putting them into productive investments.  And that can be done. 

We have the institutions in Europe. For instance the European investment bank, which is at least twice the size of the World Bank.  We can put it to work.  We need to use the other institutions we have rationally to manage the systematic crisis systematically and to stop treating this as a debt crisis alone, ignoring the systematic nature of it.
       
AMANPOUR:  Well, certainly France and Germany, certainly under Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, have been talking about the debt aspect of this.  And now look at the Economist today, talking about Francois Hollande, who might become the next president of France, saying the rather dangerous M. Hollande, he’s been talking about whole renegotiation, hasn’t he?

VAROUFAKIS:  I think that the Economist is meaning this in a nice way: that we need some ‘dangerous’ ideas, ‘dangerous’ in the sense that they can shake us out of this complacency.

AMANPOUR:  What could he do?  What could his programs do?  Is it sort of end austerity and have more stimulus and try to spark more growth?

VAROUFAKIS:  I think that the idea is not to tax and spend.  We don’t need to do that in Europe.  Europe is rich enough.  And we have the
institutions to mobilize savings as investments.  The problem is we have idle savings in Europe.  And we cannot mobilize these savings simply by cutting, because when you cut you create an environment of pessimism, and therefore nobody wants to invest.

AMANPOUR:  So right now you’re talking about pessimism — and actually quite a lot of concern, certainly in the British government, they’ve seen this phenomenon that we’re talking about, not work and they’re quite worries.  So do you think now leaders will start reexamining their focus on austerity?

VAROUFAKIS:  I very much hope so, but they have covered themselves in permanent disgrace over the last three years by refusing steadfastly to stop blaming the symptoms in order to keep quiet on the causes.  Our European leaders have not had the courage simply to accept that the edifice they created, the Eurozone was structurally faulty.

AMANPOUR:  Tell me about the Greek relationship with Germany. Obviously, Angela Merkel has been the one really pushing this idea of no more debt, or at least manageable debt and austerity.  The Greeks don’t like this.  They remember occupation during the Second World War.  They remember the real hardships.  What is happening now between Greece and Germany on this issue?

VAROUFAKIS:  I very much fear we’ll have a repeat of the 1930s.  If you recall, in 1929, we had a Wall Street collapse.  Soon after that, the
common currency of the era, which was the Gold Standard, went, and then next thing that happened was everybody started turning against everybody else.

Similarly, in Europe now, the common currency is fragmenting and the Greeks are turning against the Germans, the Germans against the Greeks. Soon, the Germans will turn against the Germans and the Greeks against the Greeks.  So Greece is the post-modern 1930s, which is the result of a spectacular political failure.  You know, we didn’t have to have this economic crisis in the last three years in Europe.  This is a political crisis.  It’s a failure of political coordination of rational management of what is a manageable problem.

AMANPOUR:  When you mention the 1930s, obviously everybody gets really scared, nationalism and the worst kind of fascism.  Do you see that possibility?

VAROUFAKIS:  I see it everywhere I look.  In Holland, in Denmark, in my own country, neo-Nazis are going to be in Parliament for the first time.  We have already had neo-fascists there.  Now we’re going to have neo-Nazis as well, from what the opinion polls are telling us.  It is happening because when there is a political vacuum and a political failure, the result is that people are — just lose hope, this is the worst thing. 

Sacrifice is not a bad thing, to try and tighten your belt in bad times.  But when people are experiencing sacrifices which they cannot conceptualize, they cannot see, as an investment into a better future, then xenophobes, anti-Semites, neo-Nazis are the only ones who win out of that situation.

AMANPOUR:  It’s a very ugly picture.  What about the relative strength of the United States?  Is the United States rising?  Falling?  What is the issue here that faces the U.S. with the European economy?

VAROUFAKIS:  In my estimation, the United States is clinging on through the actions of the Fed.  The United States is managing to maintain some poise and to keep preventing, for the time being, the double dip. China is a very big question mark.  China is doing its best, given its own constraints.  Europe is the sick man of the global economy.  We’ve managed in the past to drag down with us the rest of the world. We can do it again.

AMANPOUR:  Yanis Varoufakis, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

VAROUFAKIS:  Pleasure

59 Comments

  • Bravo Gianni, poli laka tous les. Efchome na se akoune oi politikoi kai na kanoun kati!

  • @Crossover I agree with what you say. The thing though is that in Greece of unemployment, famine and suicide rates there is no place for calm thoughts. For me, it is important to get rid of this corrupt regime ruling the country first. There is no future with the current political regime. If other european countries want to save Europe, it’s time for them to act, don’t expect too much from Greece.

    @Jim You are exactly right. Those two major parties had 80% of votes for at least 3 decades. And now they will not form a government even if they join forces. It’s like Tories and Labours in Uk take 20% in the next elections.

    And gallops are not trustworthy, don’t believe them. Reality is much worse for them. An example: when they were thinking that six parties were possible to enter parliament, “gallops” yielded about 30-32% for both, with the rate of Pasok very low. Now that it is evident that almost 8-9 parties will enter the parliament, the gallops changed, showing an increase in pasok (??!!) stats to justify the overall increase of the coalition PASOK-ND to 40% which is the limit to form government. So you see, gallops serve the purpose of giving false hopes that PASOK-ND will form a government.

    How do i know that? If you can walk in Greece, it is evident. In previous elections, candidates of PASOK and ND had extravagant campaigns, fighting from door to door and in public spaces. Now they are confined, they can not walk in streets without police protecting them. They can not use their most valuable weapon (door to door) and campaigning to catch up, where as anti-memorandum parties are having a party. That’s why i expect an even further decrease of PASOK, ND the remaining time before the elections.

    • Ilia:

      You make a passionate plea for change, yet political change does not produce any better results unless we change ourselves (a long term process by definition).

      Last time we changed, we gave a young Papandreou a chance to lead real change. Yet his effort resulted in failure mainly due to intransigence at the European level (aka Merkelists).

      His failure had nothing to do with family ties or his political aristocratic origin; it had more to do with circumstances and timing. If the Greek socialists, as an example, came to bloom at the same time as the Hollande socialists one might see different possibilities. Often timing and perfect execution of timing are great keys to success.

      Say for example, that you put now the Greek left in charge and they fail (almost an assured guarantee because a. lack of depth on matters at hand and b. lack of coordination with EU forces other than fringe parties already in the political wilderness). What then? If you are a cynic now what would you become after a spectacular left failure? You will probably come to all the wrong conclusions because success in both life and politics is when preparation meets talent and opportunity.

      This notion that we will commit ourselves as a nation to perpetual change until we find the right party combination strikes me as naive and inconclusive. What will happen to us after, say, 5 successive government failures?

      Our problem in Greece is that most of our politicians are self-made demagogues. There have never received any hard training in the art, they tend to be amateurish and crowd pleasers. Putting such people in positions of authority and government is a recipe for disaster. It’s like being on a bus where none of the passengers has a license to drive and where all passengers without exception criticize the driver. Allowing all passengers to take a turn in driving until the right driver is found strikes me as an incomplete and faulty proposition. It’s just like saying that skills requiring training and experience can be found at random. They might, but what’s the logic behind it? At any given turn the bus may go over the cliff and we are still holding training sessions?

    • @Dean

      You know that i respect your opinion and many a times you have convinced me about a certain view. But not on this.
      And you know why? It’s not a matter of persons or ideology. It’s a matter of personal interests. These people making decisions in these two big parties look after their own personal interest or their boss’s.
      Even now, it’s not a matter that they will not hesitate, they will not lose the chance to profit even more from a potential disaster. I firmly believe that. Starting from local MPs in Heraclion.

      Your main argument is that only the two major parties have the experience to govern. They know what it means to govern.

      You are absolutely right. And in fact, to be scientifically precise they know how to be governed. All they know is how to serve their master with profit. And the only thing that changed is the master. They are perfectly ok with that. Before German officials took over, it was local financial elite (and i literally mean that: Who has written all these bills in the parliament during this month?)They don’t have a problem with that. That is my view about PASOK and ND and my goal is to destroy this regime. This is all i want. Then you and i can talk about what to do. But unless we do that, it’s useless.

      I agree with everything else you say. But this time i will not vote the party i feel “safer” with. I ll vote the one i like best, independently where that would lead. It’s far too important to regret afterwards. I am not going to predict the outcome of a billiard’s crash to find out what to support. It’s simpler this way. As you say: KEEP IT SIMPLE.

      I read everything, i don’t support any particular ideology. After all they are ideologies. You know where i have concluded. If you are in favor of Europe, you must vote the guy who is not. That is the only way!

      One very small example. Take Papandreou in October 2011. He announced that he’s going to convince the eurogroup to give him a loan. What kind of bargaining is that? You are a failure if you return back to Greece with anything less than that.
      You know how you bargain? You make your threat real. That’s how you bargain. Two months before, Papandreou should have convinced greek people that what is important is the interest of “his” country (this can become increasingly complicating because he is officially an american but lets say he is greek for the merit of this argument). And before he leaves Athens he should have stated that he is going to defend the interest of his country.
      If you say that you are going to negotiate or bargain, you have already lost.
      This way, Greeks would have bean ready for anything. They were ready back then to support difficult decisions, they are ready now.
      It’s really a matter who will do the start. Then everything else will fall into place. Exactly because this is not Greece’s fault. This is happening all over Europe.

      And one more thing. I will reverse your argument. The governing of PASOK and ND was and is amateurish. They were not masters at it. And image makers and analysts you can hire anywhere anytime. That’s not the problem. THE ISSUE IS TO HAVE THE GUTS TO SAY NO.

    • You know and i know that the long term interest of Greece is to remain inside Europe. But it’s impossible to accomplish that without been prepared to do otherwise.

    • “yet political change does not produce any better results unless we change ourselves (a long term process by definition)”

      You are absolutely right about that. But what do you suggest?
      Unfortunately the battle is here and we are not the ones that we wish we were.
      That’s not a problem. If we were, it wouldn’t be a fight.

    • Mr Lygeros, Kassinis and all will support anyone willing to implement AOZ, not just Kikilia and ND.

    • To answer directly to your logic, Holland people are not ready become hardcore europeans. They will serve the interests of their country first. That’s what what Greek people should do. And by doing that, they will realize that their interests are better suited within Europe.
      … To become European, you must be Greek, German, Italian, Spanish first. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense. You must take this extra intermediate step first.
      Diamantopoulou’s arguments are bordering to fashism (that i know you fall far from them). There is not such thing as Europe’s interest. There is only the long-term interest of countries consisting Europe. At first glance it may sound nonsense but it’s not.

    • Ilia:

      I am not here to convince about anything. All I am doing is having a conversation on matters of Polis, like all caring citizens ought to do. And since the May 6th election could mark a watershed event for Greece, all much more the reason to openly discuss on how to perfect our politics. Just like some ancient Athenians gathered around in Pnyka in direct view of the Acropolis taking turns in argumentation, we seem to be able to do the same via the Internet without the all important face-to-face contact.

      The red flag for me in your thesis is that this is precisely what the German press (aka German propaganda) is already predicting for Greece. In the last two days only, multiple German journalistic sources are predicting a “political earthquake in Greece” resulting in great loss for the top 2 political parties and a “radical rearrangement” of the Greek political landscape.

      I am not sure who is feeding whom in this negative loop, but the Germans (aka Merkel) who aspire nothing less than a fragmented, weak, subordinate and order taking Greece are already painting your future and are telling you that they have succeeded in something you the Greek voter has not been able to succeed in the last 30 years; namely the destruction of the “corrupt Greek political elite”. Of course, they make it sound like you did it, but the suggestive nature of their prediction really confers such achievement to their superior tactics.

      So, when you and I as Greek citizens are boasting of free will and victory of the internal forces of “darkness”, is it really something we have accomplished or more likely something that has been “accomplished” for us by our new “enlightened masters”?

      To me it looks like a case of packaging German goods sold to Greeks as gifts or a form of Trojan Horse squared. And of course all of this is offered to you under the illusion of your “own choice”. After all is you and me, the enraged citizens aided and abated by the incessant German propaganda demanding forced change or else.

      So, you tell me. Are you really letting Greeks decide for their future or under the artful orchestration of deconstructing the political pyramid a choice has already been made for you and you don’t even know it?

      And if such is the case, don’t you think that is the imperative duty to actually prevent this predeterminism a la Germania from ever happening to us? Even if you think that your fellow citizens are totally useless, don’t you think that ἡ φύσις οὐδὲν ποιεῖ ἅλματα and that “papoutsi apo ton topo sou kai as einai mpalomeno”?

      Another way of putting this to you is as follows: How come do you accept as the truth by the same people who prescribed austerity for you as a good thing, that the destruction of “your corrupt political system” is also a good thing? The only way to arrive to such important conclusions is completely on your own and at your own sweet time, not because some “well meaning Germans” are telling so. Simple stuff. And what are we to make of Greece when barbarians are deciding its fate?

    • @Dean ,Ilias

      When someone has a plan ,one may seem to adjust according to situations ,even back off ,but the most important move one does ,is patience ,until the circumstances are such to make one more step towards the completion of one’s agenda.

      One may have contingency plans for many possible outcomes.
      The European partners have. Or not.

      I don’t care a bit.
      Why?

      Because i have to be the broader frame for my country and myself.
      If they are prepared for any outcome ,prefered or not ,any argument one makes for voting one party or the other is but a square on a chessboard.
      They see them all from above. But we do not forget that they too ,because of beautiful Lady Nature ,are limited and subject to black swan events. Black for them ,white for us ,maybe and hopefully.

      See the grid minen frienden.

      If they are not prepared ,tough.

      We are too close to our own highway and should be careful not to become one with the road.

      My opinion.
      We should act according to higher principles. This should be the plan.
      Higher principles that are eternal and force situations so they become reality.
      Higher principles also are closer to matters of heart and by the sentimental way people can understand them faster.

      Change takes place slowly ,but even slower if no common points are mentioned.

      Dean ,Ilias everything may apply ,may have already be decided for us.
      Can we know so as to decide the diplomatic move or should we act towards creating our own reality anyway?

      We will not be destroyed by ourselves. We have resources.

    • Thank you Dean for your answer, but i really need more feedback.
      In short, you ‘re saying that it is the german government that wants the annihilation of PASOK and ND. The question is why? I can not understand it.

      So far, it is them who give legitimacy to Troika. It is them who try to implement austerity policies in such a brutal way. Why do they want to destroy their key to greek economic life?

      It’s one thing to say that they want us out of Euro with our own will. It’s another to destroy their legitimizing power in Greece. I am a bit confused. Because PASOK and ND are actually the subordinate and weak in Greece. Can you clarify?

      Do you honestly believe that a coalition of the left would not oppose to them?Say that KKE, SYRIZA and ANEKSARTITOI ELLHNES have the possibility of ruling as a coalition based on their political strength after the elections. If they don’t manage to co-operate, they will be destroyed as well by their own voters. They will be forced to co-operate.
      If such a “left” coalition takes the ruling and attempts to apply the same austerity, they will be brought down by their own voters in dt, with much more forceful way than PASOK and ND.
      The grounds to what i am saying is exactly the reactions of the people. They are really furious. The videos i have posted are really illustrating of what is going on in Crete. I didn’t post them to make a laugh or a fuss. They are really illustrative.

    • Who is the winner and who is the loser in politics?

      The winner is the one with the plan. The pro-active. Who forces others to follow.

      The loser is the one who tries to figure out the plan of the other.
      All the time. Waste of time.

      Sometimes you just have to start all over again.

      In war it is good to know the terrain ,but in politics the terrain is conceptual.

      So ,let’s make our own terrain.

    • “Higher principles also are closer to matters of heart and by the sentimental way people can understand them faster.”

      The proper political and others (one and the same) system already exist in Nature.
      It is hardwired in all of us and it has nothing to do with intelligence and political or whatever other analysis.

      The majority already understands matters of the heart.
      As Alexander the Great said ,one should try to talk to the hearts of the people. And i add ,no manipulation please.

      It is time to stop trying to play it smart ,because smart it is not. It is immaturity ,insecurity ,arrogance.

      It is time to implement the system that already is in all of us.

      As for logic ,when we refer to events that are too close to everyday human activity ,logic is what we make of it.

      Some ancients had it wrong. There is no reasoning. Only the higher and by nature absolute for all principles and then closer to human activity there is an infinity of ways of perception.

      For everybody’s interest we follow the higher principles and make the system more flexible ,the more we refer to everyday human activity.

      Now ,one can see that in reality there is no such thing as right ,left or center parties. Just different combinations of characteristics that can never ever be absolute because they are too close to everyday changes.

      With that logic everybody is a political party by oneself.

      We have the parties that follow absolute principles but not higher principles. Racist parties etc.
      These parties can become proactive because they force situations.

      We have the parties that are “whores”.
      Always going with the flow. Of others.

      And we have parties that do not belong in categories. Either because they are gofers for people or other parties or because they refer to higher principles. So the latter are above and beyond the structure of “left ,right ,center”.

      These above and beyond parties can be parties that conventionally belong either to the left or right or center.

      Find them. And if they get confused ,help them not by intelligence but by heart.

      Fight.

      Force situations.

    • What not to vote:

      Characteristics that allow lower principles to become the broader frames of society.

      Example:
      Let’s say we conventionally have two neoliberal parties ,that are not whores or gofers.
      I repeat ,that are NOT whores or gofers.

      One is intensely in favour of free markets (the usual neoliberal way) and the other is considered neoliberal because of the same position about the markets but in a different context. It controls the base ,the source of transactional health.

      Which party allows the lower characteristics of man and the markets to become the broader frame of society and which party allowes the proper expression of man and markets and the source of them to their own appropriate levels of activity?

    • Ilia:

      On you last point where you seek clarification.

      I am not saying Merkel wants to annihilate ND & PASOK.

      Merkel wants what it has always wanted from day one. A coalition government made of PASOK, ND and others.

      What Merkel DOES NOT want is a single party ND government lead by Samaras (whom openly Berlin labels as opportunist; to show you the degree of affection here).

      In Merkel’s mind the new Greek government after May 6th, will have to be a coalition government such like before. Granted, Berlin thinks, instead of having PASOK as the governing majority the new government will have ND as the majority party. Berlin is o.k. with such because its a. reasonable compromise in their minds and b. nothing they can do about it if the people so vote. Venizelos takes it a step further and talks about a coalition government of all pro-European forces. Obviously an advantage for PASOK which has to earn a living as minority government.

      To me it’s quite obvious what the Greek voter has to do. Precisely that which Merkel does not want him/her to do. Meaning, voting in a self-sufficient ND government lead by Samaras.

      Merkel wants a coalition government to:

      a. reinforce the universality of the memoranda terms to abide by as many parties as possible (including those left out such as Syriza, Democratic Left, KKE et al).

      b. To ensure a weak government dependent on various compromises which compromises in turn will make it impossible for such government to defy Berlin and perhaps fail ( a move which will further increase Berlin’s influence on the day after – whether such day after meaning continue funding, stay within eurozone e.t.c.)

      Again, for me the situation is very clear. The very thing that Berlin is after (a unity government) it’s the exact same thing that the Greek voter ought to deny Berlin. And in order to deny a coalition government, one has to elect an independent government. There is no other way.

      To give you a humorous depiction of what Merkel wants, look at this Syriza and PASOK exchange. Merkel wants a coalition government acting like it and unable to decide so that the next phase of the premeditated plan of the final destruction could begin:

    • @ Dean

      Your analysis is beauty. What else can i say. It is.

      Yet again ,whatever you do there will be a coalition government with all that it entails. Except if you pass your analysis to everybody and convince them.

      But how about passing an analysis for a left party and convincing them for that?

      As i said this analysis is a game.

      People have become a little more sencitive about this matters but still there is no mental clarity. Who has mental clarity nowadays?

      If Samaras becomes the one ,the same games will continue eventually. When i say the same games ,i do not mean Samaras doing the bid of Merkel. Maybe ND will save the day. And they win people back.
      What next? People return to their comfort zones awfully fast Dean.
      History repeats itself.
      Again and
      again and
      again.

      For me the whole way of conducting politics is wrong.
      I do not want them here. No games anymore. I will create my everyday new way of logic by voting for higher principles.

      What you are mentioning Dean ,is a diplomatic move by the people ,that has every probability of going the wrong way in some time for now. NO.
      No more deals under the table at the extent they are used to.

      I prefer a little bit more pain now.
      Try to look at the broader picture. The BROADER picture.

      The whole system must change eventually and we must not stall anymore.

      Force situations.

      NOW.

    • The problems with the systems of today are the non-distinction between principles that refer to the everyday human activity and principles that are to be a broader theme. That encircle the lives of all people.

      This is because of human ego.

      The parties are the same. Two many of them with insane differences not only of the higher level of human advancement (the broader principles) ,for which thay can all agree easily without the use of ego ,but of the technicalities of everyday living (stupid petty agendas) ,for which nowadays technology gives solutions beyond our imagination.

      If parties do not want to lead us to that path ,WE SHOULD.

      No matter the culture ,we all have common points as people.

      The problem is when we refer to parameters that are too close to our individual lives. Then we have too many arguments about things that could easily be solved ,if everybody had clarity about the broader principles that do not cause misery ,but act as guidelines.

      The majority does not want war ,for instance.
      We need resource based economy.

      There is a time for everything but not if they steal that time from us again and again.

      Education must change ,must evolve so that these principles become practical applications.

      Refering to the grid once more ,the broader frames of the system must be acceptable by everyone and ONLY the higher principles can achieve something like that. Principles that do not interfere with the everyday living of man and woman and child ,wherever they are.

      The advantage is ,common sense will once more become ,COMMON.

      Pain will always exist. One should choose between the pain of dignity that may be more but take us to greener pastures and the lesser pain of losing time and fooling ourselves AGAIN.

      I choose the former.
      You will be amazed by how fast pain dissipates and energy becomes creative when there is structured (not stupidly disciplined but educated) being.

      This is the goal all along. ALWAYS AND FOREVER.

      Force situations.
      NOW.

    • Do not become part of their game.
      They have the advantage.

      The change may not come through politics. It usually DOESN’T.
      I will not betray my principles for games. Principles that have worked for centuries! Do whatever you wish. And if what you wish interferes with my life more that it should ,i will find a way to change my life. Until things become that bad ,that you will too.

    • @Dimitri

      I’ve enjoyed reading your comments on these posts.Thanks for that !

    • Dimitri, I agree with your thoughts. Which brings us back to the key question: “What are these elections all about”?

      If the the only purpose of these elections is to find an enabler entity for the Merkel Taliban terror, then we should not have them.

      If on the other hand, we are to have these elections (which it looks like we might) then let’s produce an advantage for us in EU negotiations.

      The main problem with these elections is that the product is not packaged right. People think it’s an opportunity to show displeasure to those governing, anger at the condition of the country and/or (which is the worst of all) to produce a unity government so that we can go on happily implementing the hideous Merkel terms. Absolutely NOT.

    • How come you still believe that anyone can be a member of the EU and still have demoracy? The EU is anto democratic.

      If the elections do not have the desired result you will need to vote again!

    • @ Crossover

      Thanks

      @ Dean

      I too agree (almost) with your thoughts.
      🙂 hehe .Amazing how we all agree with one another and then do our own thing ,isn’t it? We must be Greeks. No sorry ,i meant Haileens. HAHA.

      No really. As i said your analysis is swell (who the haileen says “swell” in our time?).

      My point is that your analysis belongs to the status quo’s way of thinking. It is a part of the smaller frame of party politics which belongs to the broader grid of econo-politico unknown and uncontrollable agenda of the powers that be. Their world ,not ours.

      It is like conclusions of a succesful experiment in a controlled environment. Their environment. It then will be easier for them to create and direct situations ,because Samaras is part of the grid. The old way of politics. But if there is enough of abstract thinking and uncontrollable parameters then we will have more open windows for us as people to direct more changes. There will be ,after a lot of years ,a huge pool of ideas we can freely draw from. Yes ,we will have those pseudo-anarchists and others causing problems ,but people did prove that they can create their own microsystems to support living.

      It begins in Greece. Again.

      When will we become the broader frame?
      Now is a good time.

      “If the only purpose of these elections is to find an enabler entity for the Merkel Taliban terror, then we should not have them.”

      We should. You again think in terms of us against them in their own terrain. We change the terrain.

      “If on the other hand, we are to have these elections (which it looks like we might) then let’s produce an advantage for us in EU negotiations.”

      The definition of advantage deriving from their own ,well controlled ,political lexicon. This is a book i’ll gladly burn ,(after keeping a copy for historical purposes).

      “The main problem with these elections is that the product is not packaged right. People think it’s an opportunity to show displeasure to those governing, anger at the condition of the country and/or (which is the worst of all) to produce a unity government so that we can go on happily implementing the hideous Merkel terms. Absolutely NOT.”

      Correct. But it is an opportunity for more. It is only one step. We have to make the leap of faith. We will not allow implementation of the terms whatever it takes. First unity government. Then problems. Then constitutional changes etc. etc.
      Whatever the powers find the chance to take during confusion ,we will take back. The powers will have to show their true face. Problems caused by them in Greece will be more apparent. More people will see them. If Samaras governs ,their face will be hidden again. They will hide their ugly truth ,behind the ugly truth of the Greeks. Absolutely NOT.

      I support total change of what already is.
      We can restart the idea of European Union.
      If i was a computer engineer i would say ,let’s get out of Europe(computer) and get back in again 🙂 ,but this will be decided after the elections.

      Also the trailer of Samaras is the most sentimentally manipulative trailer i have ever seen. Hollywood style.
      He tries to force himself into our subconscious. Unacceptable.
      A leader should talk to the hearts of people ,but this ,before the elections ,irritates me.

      The Roof Is On Fire.

    • I know who i am going to vote for. 🙂

      Whomever uses any open source linux or openbsd.
      Ubuntu anyone?

    • Dimitri:

      You mean Hellenes? Arguments from hell? 🙂

      No, look my view is entirely from outside Greece, without almost any regard for the internal politics.

      You mentioned Linux, so let me put the problem in the context of a binary code programmer where either a 0 or 1 is the sequence of the code.

      So, let’s say you have an external force (M) that’s giving you nothing but problems and you are (G).

      Observing the pattern of M, you have discovered that she likes to buy off time through incomplete/incremental steps.

      So, now M comes to G and says: If you hold an election I want a C(coalition) government because a C government gives me my favored commodity which is time.

      Concurrent with M’s position is that she does not want an S (single party government) because such will destroy the time elongation concept and would force M to confront a bigger issue right away (which M does not want to do, but is better for G if she does).

      You come to the conclusion that S is better for you because it gives you leverage to force action. In order to produce S you look at the internal political spectrum and come to the conclusion that only the front runner has a chance to form S.

      So, that’s what you support. You support S, which in turn forces M to confront a bigger issue right away which happens to be to your benefit.

      That’s all I am doing. I am selecting S regardless of internal preference that someone else is a better S. To me the best S is the one that I can produce with certainty. The rest, as they say, it’s details.

    • Total horseshit, Markus. Not one single finalist in the contest had a plan that actually computed.

    • The most likely option is a disorderly breakup. You should have seen the lines at the largest German precious metal dealer last week! Paper was dumped and turned into gold.

  • A well-managed interview, with some good succinct responses, Yani. Probably you are learning from experience how to manage the often inane questions of journalists!

    • I agree. Nice interview. It always helps to have an interviewer who doens’t have a neo-liberal agenda!

  • What European officials mean by referring to Europe’s interest is the safety of their authority. Nothing more. You can not even argue that there are european banks.
    People of Europe don’t feel europeans before they feel Greek, Spanish, German and so on. It’s too early for that. It’s not that they are that different.
    What’s important though is that in the long term, in a globalized environment, the interest of their countries are better suited within Europe’s institutions. At least that was the case before Merkozy took over.
    There is a framework for collaboration, there is a legal framework and there is financial freedom (too much freedom if you ask me). There are also many things to be adjusted, but you don’t do this by destroying them.
    Europe is not a country. It’s a collaboration framework mostly. That’s what it is for the time being. And as such it can resolve problems. At least the ones that created in the first place(=Euro currency).
    This is at least what i think that most average europeans believe. I am sure that european bankers have different opinions … .

  • @ Dean

    ” Often timing and perfect execution of timing are great keys to success.”

    it’s far to easier to plan backwards in history. But it’s amazingly difficult to do this for the time being and the future. I wish it was as simple as that. But you must understand that it’s not. That’s why people actually play chess instead of declaring winners based on higher IQ.

    We can not predict what the regime will be in Greece in 5 months from now. How can you predict what the result all over Europe will be?

    To my understanding, let people expressing themselves freely their will, is the solution through out Europe. The more you know about international powers and games, the more difficult it gets to find a solution. How do you explain the fact that Varoufakis can convince much easier a housekeeper than a banker? Average people don’t want to go into a killing spree. Not does he/she want to see his neighbor starving. Let them express themselves and you will see.
    I wouldn’t argue the same about a banker or an arms dealer (it’s funny to put those two in the same sentence) or a government official and so on.

    • It’s not accident that now that elections are closer to France, Greece and Germany, logic starts to prevail…

  • There’s a growing cohort of prominent commentators who agree with Professor Varoufakis in rejecting the pro-austerity orthodoxy and stressing the responsibility of Germany. I’m thinking of Krugman, Madrick, Soros, Stiglitz, among others, who all caution against the disastrous consequences of staying the course. Unfortunately it seems that their pleas fall on deaf ears. The problem is how to persuade inert and short-sighted European (especially) German electorates and elites. Perhaps these commentators could pool their influence by agreeing on a set of common recommendations and issuing a joint statement, formulated in accessible terms?

    • How do you convince someone that giving hard earned money/guarantees (again) to people who have wasted exactly that the last 10 years (Euro) / 30 years (EU structural funds)?

      You don´t. I can tell you that a lot of Germans, Swiss and Dutch just enjoy the South suffering, no matter what the effect on themselves is.

      My approach would be much more selfish and less sadistic: National currencies.

  • @ Dean

    Due to the respect i have for you and to my firm belief that ideas should be plainly laid out and discussed upon. I am glad to make a synopsis of what i believe i should vote at the forthcoming elections. I have answered to you, but unfortunately in too many words. Varoufakis blog is not convenient for discussions unfortunately because of they way it prints out the answers.

    “Ilia Trou:
    O.k. why then don’t we examine your choice. Who do you think is best to lead Greece at this juncture and why?
    Let’s openly examine choices and get into some comparative analysis.”
    I have to say in advance that i am not a member of any party and i am open to dialogue.

    My key point is that bargaining with EU is not possible with the current political parties mainly because they don’t have a plan B and thus their bargaining threat is not real. In short, what will you do if the other side tells you NO! If you don’t have a plan B, it’s an empty threat and therefore you are forced to accept whatever they give you.

    I firmly believe the propositions of EPAM and i am not a communist. I believe that this is the most honest answer. If you look at SYRIZA or Aneksarthtoi Ellhnes, they say many things but will they have the guts to say NO? Do they have a plan B?

    And if we are forced to follow the plan B, i prefer Kazakis to implement it than Papadimos. And if that move destroys the banking system of EU, the hell with it. They should have thought it in advance. It’s time Greece to give away the hot potato to the rest of european countries. It’s ridiculous for the rest of the europeans to think about themselves, hypocritically hide their own problems and the bankrupt european banking system. It’s time for them to face the truth.

    Af far as Samaras is concerned and that YOU mentioned, i must admit you made me absolutely furious. Since he has conceded to continue this utterly catastrophic policy.
    History is not written by perfect plans! It’s the power to say NO that drives history.
    I am open to attacking comments now! But please do it with respect to dialogue and as Dean mentions “Let’s assume, we all care for the best for Greece and let’s examine the choices we have in front of us. What do you have in mind?”

    Believe me, i don’t do this to support EPAM, i do it to check my opinion with your comments.

    • Ilia:

      Since on May 6th, day of the Greek election, I intend to go silent on this blog never to offer an opinion again (because I think everything that needed to be said has already been said, to the point of saturation) forgive me if I use our conversation as an opportunity to flash out some ideas worth debating as some sort of my last breath on the issues at hand.

      Rest assured that I am not here to change your mind or anybody else’s regarding your voting preference. Consider what I say as some sort of noodling ideas, a thinking out loud, a citizen’s exercise to reason out political choice.

      I din’t know what EPAM was but I found this, and now I think I do:

      http://www.epam-hellas.gr/english_section

      Given the math of this election (explained in earlier entries) and given the goal of a stable Greek government able to fulfill a. minimum representation at EU level and b. reverse the blow to the Greek citizen (already delivered in spades) our practical choices are:

      1. a PASOK/ND coalition government (a solution favored by particularly Merkel and the EU officialdom).
      2. an independent ND government.

      These are not ideological choices for me, simply practical observations in assessing the present landscape. The coalition idea seems to ignite the highest passion for obvious reasons (guilt issue) but in a very odd way it also reinforces this choice (for Merkel et al) in the following way:

      The idea of a coalition government has been a long standing requirement for Merkel. The push for a coalition government in Greece started last summer 2011 when Papandreou and Samaras had some talks which broke down. Then the lack of cooperation in this regard by Samaras lead to a Papademos transitional government last November. Merkel’s desire from the get go has been to implicate as many Greek political parties as possible to the left or right of PASOK (which PASOK has been clearly implicated from day one). The entire program if you wish was to create universal guilt among Greek political parties which then could produce a Greek obligation towards adherence to the undesirable memoranda terms.

      As a citizen, I felt this is the key issue of decision for us: Whether a coalition government rammed down our throats was indeed a long overdue medicine or simply a blackmail poison. It is poison of course and Venizelos has illuminated this issue for me in the following video(you may have to listen to it twice for the revelations to sink in):

      In it you are going to find admissions such as 1. the coalition government idea has 100% support by PASOK (in some instance Venizelos says that the whole of Europe is doing it, why not Greece) 2. Such coalition idea has been actively resisted by Samaras from day one. In effect you have PASOK that has bought lock, stock and barrel the German idea of coalition government, a unity government to which PASOK wants desperately to be part of.

      Without further delay, my own revelation from this whole thing is that PASOK is currently in a highly unstable level of distress; a distress which if allowed to permeate to the still unaffected part of the Greek political landscape would be catastrophic for us.

      Having explained all this, let me get back to your personal choice which I think it’s fine but in the larger scheme of things it further ensures the idea of a coalition government. Because the more votes register for all other parties other than the top 2, the more inevitable the idea of coalition government becomes (Merkel’s objective). So yes, you can be angry and disappointed and place your vote as you wish but the issue here has only two possible outcomes: a coalition government of necessity (which is a terrible solution if you are Greek) or a credible single government by ND (which happens to be the lesser of two evils).

      I have no ideological bone to pick with anybody here. This is my assessment of the situation and the reasoning behind it. You mentioned that Samaras simply infuriates you, but in looking into his background one sees a maverick politician (see the last part of this article, because I don’t buy the compassionate conservative part).

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/post/antonis-samaras-greeces-compassionate-conservative/2012/04/23/gIQAus4NdT_blog.html

      To summarize, if you spread your vote into the 32 choices of this election the end result will be mathematically a coalition government (which in my humble opinion needs to be avoided at all cost because to put it bluntly one of the coalition partners is clearly unstable). The other choice is to cover your nostrils and vote for self-sufficient government by a party which might not represent you ideologically, but it seems to offer the only other credible choice by virtue of elimination. You might ask: and what’s wrong with dividing the vote among many parties? In this particular case for Greece means ungovernance or an immediate stoppage of funding which could only increase the pain and suffering of the people. Toughing it out is a choice of course, but it will lead to a complete breakdown where everyone is the enemy of the other (a situation which we must avoid).

      I hope this explanation is sufficient for my underlying motivation. I want a strong government with full participation at the EU level because without it, this on going experiment called the EU will result in further pain and suffering for my people(my fellow Greeks). I remain open to alternatives if they exist. In my estimation May 6th will (unfortunately) result in a coalition government, unsustainable and it will take another six months to a year of unnecessary complications for all of us to end up in the exact same spot. A single independent Greek government in a year but we would have wasted a whole year and a whole lot of additional pain to get there.

    • “I am open to attacking comments now”

      Open -> Inventory
      Pick Up -> Fazer……
      Use -> Fazer’s button (Setting fazer to stun mode)
      Use -> Fazer on Ilias

      Ok. Your turn now.

  • @ Dimitri.

    My fear is that we are unprepared. That is my fear.
    I may oppose to Dean, but believe me i do this creatively. I know he has a point and he knows i have a point.

    My worry is whether this rage Greek people feel find a tunnel and release energy creatively. But so far, officially i have not seen :
    1)A plan B (this is misleading because actually there is no plan A, but anyway)
    2)a development productive plan based on greek terms
    3)A political self criticism in terms of what we wanted, what we did and why we failed. A comparison with other templates.
    4)a healthy insight of northern europe states and a link to be able to communicate with them.
    5)a healthy insight of southern europe states and a link to be able to communicate with them, it’s embarrassing that we share the same burden but there was not not a single meeting or trip of PMs from one southern country to another.
    6) My greatest fear of all is the continue of this austerity policies. This is blood. This is terror!

  • The discussion on this thread has been excellent. I especially applaud Ilias and Dean for well crafted arguments about Greece’s future and how it will be determined. I tend to agree with Ilias on one important point that Dean may be missing or at least discounting, and that is that without the threat of “No” Greece has no bargaining power within any institution in Europe. And correct me if I’m wrong, Dean, but isn’t Samaras’ position, despite his bluster, essentially ‘yes, to austerity’. I realize he’s an aggressive fellow, but if he’s aggressive in the wrong direction (agrees with Merkel) Greece is more doomed. It’s certainly correct to reject, as you put it “…nothing less than a fragmented, weak, subordinate and order taking Greece…”, but an aggressive, blustering PM who believes in the neo-liberal nonsense seems to be no better than Papandreou was. Did Samaras threaten “No” somewhere and I missed it?

    • David:

      You hit the nail in the head. That’s a key question: “Is Samaras an anti-memorandum guy or not”?

      His main opponent Venizelos, says he is. I posted an 1hr video below (which is as fresh as yesterday – unfortunately in Greek) where among other things Venizelos (PASOK) claims that he is the main architect of Memorandum II (PSI) and that Samaras has been opposing it all the way. Obviously he is making such overt statement based on his(Venizelos) faulty assumption that the PSI has been an accomplishment, nevertheless if we were in a court of law I would say to you that this witness has been particularly revealing.

      The confusion about Samaras’ record seems to come during the transitional Papademos government when his party already had 2 key ministries (those of the National Defense and Foreign Affairs). During such period, Samaras was thought of trying to distance himself even further from the transitional government. In order to deny him a key political advantage(free loading on the anti-memorandum sentiment), the Venizelos/Merkel duo devised a plan of asking him to sign a declaration of obedience to Memo II otherwise disbursement of the monies agreed would be withheld (which he did but with verbiage which I consider worthless and non-abiding).

      The more I dwell into the complicity question of the 2 main parties the more I acquire firm evidence that the coalition government is a brain child of Venizelos (as a means of clinging on to power) with the full blessings of Berlin that sees in Venizelos and his party a very obedient and trustworthy executor of austerity plan currently in place.

      If as you say Samaras is found to be a pro-austerity, pro-memorandum guy then any of my support of him will automatically collapse. The redeeming quality I see in him is that he has been an outsider in his own party, a hard liner without a popular following and as mentioned before a maverick in Greek politics. The maverick part is the most attractive to me. He may at the end prove below expectations, however, his record leaves room for some trust before we conclusively close this chapter of an all-around bad and corrupt Greek politics.

      Obviously, I am fallible too but so far the evidence leads me to believe that this guy might try something new and novel we have not seen before. Having said that I am not crazy about any politician. It’s rather an elimination process that has lead me to Samaras rather than any ideological proclivity or disposition. I am fond of smart ideas and the left is a producer of both competent ideas and people. I am open in adopting anything that works regardless of origin of idea.

      It just so happens that the left in Greece is also fragmented and unable to cooperate. Tsipras(Syriza) and Papariga (Communist Party of Greece KKE) basically ruled out yesterday any chance of cooperation with each other and they seem to be in competition for vote gathering because to some degree they appeal to similar audiences. The other serious part of the left in Greece (Kouvelis – Democratic Left) is a pro-European he is more likely to cooperate with PASOK. However, PASOK in my present estimation is the entire problem in Greek politics. It’s the equivalent of someone who has been infected by a deadly virus and is desperately seeking to infect others by association. PASOK needs a bit of a time out and a quarantine, because I think it has reached a point of blindness. It thinks that is doing good and everybody else thinks that they have become Merkel’s agent in Greece.

    • Thanks, Dean. I get it. I think you’re right with the information at hand.

  • “So you have very strong economic growth from the beginning of the 2000s all the way up to the financial crisis of ’08”

    This is exactly the period during which the GIPSIFs got credit as if eurobonds existed – the spread on German bunds was around 0,2%. A lot of good they made of it: fueled bubbles (in the public sectors, housing, banking…) who were by construction doomed to fail once the inflow of to cheap money would cease.

    The GISPIFs showed convincingly what they do with cheap money, there is no reason whatsoever they would act more responsibly the next time the get artifically low cost loans. To give them more cheap money is comparable to give a drug addict access to drugs. There is no free lunch, not the last time, not in the future.

    • In case the Euro survives, the next months, the EUROphiles will just allow this again. The good thing is we all know now and can male money out of it that we will move to safe places like Singapore.

      However the Euro will not survive the next crisis 🙂

    • These sites may help a bit ,but the questions are really limited.

      I tried different answers and i got really weird results.
      Some were welcomed ,others made me wonder.

      The questions do not allow for sentimental expression. In other words while some answers can be answers of Independent Greeks and Golden Dawn ,one knows that the way of implementation of the suggestions can differ significantly.

      Unfortunately this questionnaire is just another conventional superficial construct. It helps to get an idea ,but not as much as it should.

    • They also do not let you choose in which questions you place more weight.

      The results would ofcourse differ.

    • Sorry for writing that much ,but what i am about to wright now i think everybody should read.

      As i said the above site’s questions are very limited.
      I will give an example and explain why people disagree without even knowing how they disagree. Yes ,you read that right.

      Let’s use the question about multicultural conditions.
      Are they a positive phenomenon?

      I can outright tell you that phanatic racists say NO.
      More common sense people may say no too. But why?

      It is all about the reference we create in our minds. The mental template we have of whatever experience was carved more in our subconscious that has or we think it has a relation with the matter at hand.

      Some people say no because they create a negative reference of a combination of notions (a whole complex) or less. Like the words:
      Multicultural – crime. You can use your imagination and think of situations that caused these people to use such a reference.
      But what would you answer to the question ,if in your head you had used the reference “multicultural – art”?

      Is it yes?

      Now do you see why these questions are limited and why people disagree?

      Because we are all freaking stupid. That is why.
      And political parties are more.

      These questions do not offer a reference. People automatically create them giving weight to a sentence ,either negative or positive.

      Take a dictionary. Choose a word as your main word. Combine that word with another. Analyze the theme. Make a three-word reference. Make a four-word reference. Make more. Do you see the difference? Ofcourse you do.

      In order for an analysis of themes to be not confusing it is better for the human mind not to use more than three-word references. Only two even better.
      And then compare themes by two-word combinations.

      People do not understand why individual liberty is important and sabotage even themselves because of the constraints they decide to impose on their lives and others. Like hatred for the homosexuals.

      Even politicians bo not understand the manipulation they cause. Even though some are experts at that ,still you may hear politicians disagreeing while in reality they agree or the opposite and they do not even understand this. You may hear a party expressing a position and another party disaggree because the sentimental weight they give is different.

      Amazing isn’t it?

      The same with economists. The same for all the terms used.
      As i said there are no left or right parties. Only the main absolute differences of “I want to control everybody” and “I want for everybody to be free.”

      Everything in between is a game. A manipulation game by those in the know. And that game is being fed by our own confusion.

2 Trackbacks