What kind of fool do you think I am? -- The Jam, 1977
He's back and he's at it again. He being Yanis Varoufakis, former finance minister of Greece, current member of Syriza (as far as I can tell), once upon a time dead lock cinch for the role as Dos Equis' most interesting man in the world.
If he were a bit younger he'd be every yuppie's ideal yuppie, that is to say, well-compensated, well-educated, taking advantage of rent hikes and/or property value declines to purchase a spacious, renovated condominium in what used to be a working-class neighborhood until... well, until landlords and brokers and institutional investors, that troika of troikas, made it a safe place to shop by displacing, dispossessing, driving out, and immiserating the working class people. Which, btw, is what has been preserved and extended in Greece itself, thanks to Varoufakis' skill at negotiation, obfuscation, equivocation, distortion; and thanks to Syriza, the party to which he still belongs (as far as I can tell).
Having accomplished so much in Greece, and in so short a period of time, Yanis has decided to take his act on the road. Like Maria Callas, Frank Sinatra, Sting, Pavarotti, Miss Universe, Elton John, Diana Ross, and Liza Minnelli before him, Yanis packed the house at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (noted sophist, of course and appropriately), and needs a bigger stage. "Yesterday, Greece; Today, all of Europe," is his, and Wolfgang's, slogan.
Varoufakis has announced through interviews in several newspapers, and in his own blog, that on February 9, 2016 in Berlin he will launch the movement for united European democracy. Yanis says the movement will have a simple goal, and explains it simply thusly:
To counter this de-politicisation of political decision making, which reinforces the economic crisis and the crisis of legitimacy facing Europe, we need a movement that rises up throughout in Europe, at once, with the same agenda everywhere to re-politicise political decisions and to democratise the decision making process. There is no other means by which to arrest the awful feedback between authoritarianism and failed economic policies – a feedback that, left unchecked, will wreck Europe and help ultra-nationalism triumph.
Say what? Europe is in the clutches of depoliticized political decision making which can only be countered by repoliticising political decisions and democratising the decision making process? What's that mean?
Yanis is so very optimistic. He assesses the recent events in Greece as a "splendid episode" and proclaims:
What makes me optimistic about a pan-European movement? That it will be pan-European! That we shall exert pressure on every Parliament [sic], every government, every head of state at once. That when the Troika is squeezing let's say the Madrid government, it will know that the electoral process, in, say Germany or France or Portugal will punish any local politician who does the Troika's bidding.
Sure thing. Count on it. Bet the condo, Yanis. Gonna happen. Get out of the way, Wolfgang, Christine, Mario, Jean-Claude. The Varoufakis Democratic Electoral Process Steam Roller ain't takin' no prisoners!
Yanis is, once again, being clever. He thinks that "the task" is to change the narrative of "neo-liberalism," where the so-called "economics" of the market is the repository of all liberty, of freedom, of democracy.
Too clever by half. Yanis thinks by changing the narrative so that the ideology of neo-liberalism is identified as authoritarian, "anti-democratic," the great majority of the people of Europe will be mobilized against austerity. As if...the issue is one of "changing a narrative." As if push hasn't already come to shove. As if we didn't we just see how that worked in microcosm in Greece.
Of course we did, but that's the point. This is the repetition compulsion in the service of failure that doesn't just torment the "left," but is its very existence. The "left" isn't the victim of some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder, it is the embodiment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Look, we've known for years that the identification of "free markets" with "democracy" was a scam; that "neo-libralism" was the cover for death squads. We knew because we heard it all before, in Chile, in Argentina, in London, Honduras, in New York.
Yanis is late to the game, and he can't keep up.
Pre-emptive counter-revolution will go to any lengths to prevent the articulation, the material articulation, outside the parliaments, outside the electoral process, in the streets, workplaces, hospitals, neighborhood councils, of class struggle. So we get proclamations for democracy, for the electoral process, for the parliaments. Varoufakis is in the vanguard of that pre-emptive anti-process, a regular organizer of defeat.
Short version: Yanis, I don't give two fucks for your review (The Jam, "This is the Modern World").
Yes, this is the modern world, and..........I'm just a modern guy. Of course I've had it in the ear before (Iggy Pop, "Lust for Life").
January 9, 2016