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Yanis Varoufakis: The Man Who Has The German Government Scared

By Jean-François Goulon,
Mediapart, March 18 2015

The Finance Minister of the New Greece knows how to solve the Eurozone crisis.
Schäuble, Merkel, Draghi, et al. are perfectly aware of this and that is why
Varoufakis is, in their eyes, a man who must be struck down.

A crime against mankind?

In 2010, while they believed themselves immune to a banking meltdown similar in size to that which raged in the USA and had carried off the third biggest bank of the country, the German government of Mrs. Merkel, the French government of Mr. Sarkozy, the European Central Bank led by Mr. Trichet, and the European Commission under the presidency of Mr. Barroso are thrown in dismay as they discover that the biggest European banks, i.e. chiefly the French and German banks, will be pushed into forced liquidation should the political leaders do nothing to wipe off the gigantic debts incurred thanks to their bad management.

The loans that Société Générale, and other comparable banks, accorded to various European governments happen to be nothing else than toxic 'subprime' loans approved, with full knowledge of the facts, for States who were borrowing beyond their means. We now know, for instance, the role that Goldman-Sachs played in fudging Greece's accounts. The crash of 2008 only makes obvious, and urgent, what everyone in the finance industry already knows: Greece, but also Ireland, Portugal, Spain, etc. are far too much put at risk, and these countries will never be able to repay their debts owed to the big banks of the Northern European countries when the bubbles come to burst. These banks, too, are therefore bankrupt. They must be prevented from having to file for Chapter 11 for fear of the demise of the Eurozone economy.

In order to bail out these French and German banks so badly mismanaged by their bosses, the solution chosen was, as always, to dig deep in the European taxpayer's pockets. But, constrained by the rigidity of the Maastricht Treaty, our Finance Ministers could not give this money directly to the bankrupt banks, and so they decided that Athens would have to do it. The Greek government would be forbidden from declaring insolvency and would be accorded a 'new' loan. And so what if the Greeks are one more time again given a loan that everybody knows they will never be able to reimburse, this 'new' loan will come with stringent conditions attached in order to ensure that the Northern European electorate swallow the bitter pill, and to make believe the euro crisis is the result of Greek profligacy rather than the result of the carelessness of our European political leaders and of the rapacity of the bankers they defend.

And so what if a whole country is thrown into a state of poverty germane to the Grapes of Wrath. This is what Yanis Varoufakis calls a crime against humanity. And maybe one day, soon, these politicians who put their political survival above the survival of Europe will have to face citizen's arrests.

The solution is there, ready to be implemented

Yanis Varoufakis, in cooperation with Stuart Holland, who was Jacques Delors's adviser at the European Commission, and later with the American economist James Galbraith, formulated a method to get rid once and for all of the sovereign debt crisis that plagues the Southern European countries AND to jumpstart growth in the Eurozone economy, and all this without infringing upon any of the restrictive European Treaties. This may sound too good to be true, but not to Michel Rocard, the ex-French Prime Minister, who prefaced this Modest Proposal for Resolving the Eurozone Crisis, nor to the scores of economists who now endorse it, nor to the finance and business men of the City who congratulated Yanis Varoufakis after his presentation in London last month.

The big problem with his proposal, and here lies possibly his biggest crime, is actually that Berlin, Brussels and Frankfurt know that it has all the chances of success. That the preservation of the Eurozone and the rekindling of European growth be owed to the actions of a leftist economist is tantamount to signing the political death warrant of our current leaders. To say nothing of the electoral contagion in Spain, in Portugal, in Ireland. and even in France which must unquestionably be stopped for fear of letting a neoliberal and antidemocratic Europe fall into the hands of Leftists animated by resolute pro-European and humanistic sentiments.

As seen from Berlin, his proposal is a monstrosity for yet another reason. For the first time since the process of European integration began in the '50s, Germany is at the helm alone, and without contest. The Franco-German engine is dead and gone. De Gaulle and Mitterrand must be turning in their graves at the appalling sight of successive French governments going cap in hands to Brussels and Berlin begging for approval.

Varoufakis must be disposed of

Varoufakis is a nuisance and must be gotten rid of. And for this, even the mainstream media do not hesitate to resort to gutter press methods. We shall learn how the producers of Germany's number one TV channel nastily ambushed Yanis Varoufakis [1]. How some of Germany's biggest magazines dragged his name into the mud since his nomination as Finance Minister. How a Paris-Match photo-shoot was blown out of proportion to undermine the Minister, whereas the French public sees nothing wrong in it [2]. How some members of the Eurogroup block all attempt at a dialogue hinted at by the representatives of the European Commission. The English press alone gives us any indication of the kind of game that is stealthily being played. But, as it happens, Britain is not a member of the Eurozone...

An opportunity for France?

As Yanis Varoufakis explained in November 2014 in the preface to the French edition of his Global Minotaur, France is Europe's frontline. Why? Because the stakes lost by the French political elite in this fool's game were the highest. And because the French banks' exposure to the Greek debt is broadly similar to the German banks' exposure, and second to it in value.

By saying loud and clear that he favours restructuring the Greek debt, by saying loud and clear that he favours a pan-European stimulus policy to kick-start economic growth, by saying loud and clear that he is against the jaundiced manipulation of the suffering of the European people, François Hollande holds his last chance to save his failed five-year presidential mandate and to safeguard a dignified place for himself in History. By sending a loud and clear message that France no longer accepts that European institutions be held hostage to financial interests and to the political shortsightedness of a certain set, the President of the French Republic can put the Citizen back at the center of the European project. The Southern European countries, but also the progressive forces that exist in Germany and in the other Northern European countries need for France to support them by making her voice, finally, heard. France can do it. France must do it.



[1] The middle finger affair. Here is the full reply given by the organisers of the Zagreb Subversive Festival on their Facebook page:
"As the organisers of the Subversive Festival in Zagreb in May 2013, we've been approached by the media to comment on the 'middle-finger' affair. We were happy to invite Mr Varoufakis to give a public lecture at our Festival and to present his book 'The Global Minotaur' in our book presentation series. It is worth saying immediately that there were 2 middle-fingers in his answer to a question from the audience. Also, Mr Varoufakis did not point the middle finger to Germany or the Germans but was talking about a hypothetical situation referring to January 2010 when Greece, in his view, should have defaulted --without exiting euro! --and thus 'sticked the finger to Germany', here clearly meant not as state or people but as the German government, which was at the time and today the main representative of disastrous austerity policies in the EU. In this respect, his statement (or a figure of speech) and its meaning were taken out of the context. However, it remains a mystery why the media do not report on the second middle finger mentioned by Varoufakis that day: the one Argentina showed to the IMF by defaulting on its debts. Both middle fingers were clearly pointed at neoliberal destruction of societies in Southern Europe or South America and elsewhere, debt slavery and neo-colonial dominance. In this respect, it was the finger pointed in the right direction. That message was clearly understood by anyone present at the Subversive Festival in May 2013 as it should be today."
— Subversive Festival team

For information: Günther Jauch, the star host of the German channel, was the host of the German version of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.

[2] The Paris Match reportage contains an excellent article that helps get a better grasp of who is Yanis Varoufakis. It is followed by an interview (made on board a plane between Athens and Brussels), which is also very instructive. Certainly the photos that were published with the reportage are not perfectly fitting, but Yanis Varoufakis had only just come back late the previous night from a seminar in Venice and was leaving the next day in the afternoon for the Eurogroup meeting in Brussels, and wanted time, and caution, to control these photos which, as he himself declares, are not aesthetically satisfying. Of course, the gutter press seized the occasion to reel off such a litany of inanities that one may despair of the journalistic profession. In parrot fashion, they all seem to ignore that Athens's urban landscape changed drastically in the '60s and '70s and that roof terraces are very common in the Greek capital. And many of them have a view on the Acropolis! Yanis Varoufakis and his wife are currently staying in a small two-bedroom flat in the house where Danae's parents live and where they have agreed to accommodate them until Yanis and Danae move into an apartment of their own. Let's also say a word about the Varoufakis's gargantuan repast: grilled fish and salad (the typical Greek Orthodox meal during Lent) served with a glass of white wine from Santorini.
To sum up, the Varoufakis couple does not live a life of riches, even though both of them come from wealthy middle-class families.
That is the level a certain press has come down to, not only in France, but also in these grand and 'civilized' countries that started two world wars, colonized Africa, South America and a large part of Asia. One may wonder whether this press is under orders to protect the plutocrats and other oligarchs of the same ilk against the People.
Indeed, the reason for the Paris Match reportage was to show that Yanis Varoufakis is not this "communist with a knife between his teeth" as he was more and more often portrayed by these same newspapers and magazines that now drag him through the mud under the pretext that he would not be enough of a leftist!
And so the tail keeps on wagging the dog.

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