The thoughts of Minister Varoufakis

varoufakis admirer

Poet Dylan Thomas was his inspiration after Syriza won Greece’s general election

“Greek democracy today chose to stop going gently into the night. Greek democracy resolved to rage against the dying of the light.”

 

 

To the wealthy and political elite that he says ran Greece

“We are going to destroy,” he told Channel 4 News “the basis upon which they have built for decade after decade a system, a network that viciously sucks the energy and the economic power from everybody else in society.”

 He studied economics and maths in the UK in the 1970s and 80s

“I found it [economics] such a morose subject, so bonecrushingly boring, so much reliant on third rate mathematics. Why study inane metamorphoses of third-rate mathematics when I could study first-rate, aesthetically pleasing, ideologically unproblematic, mathematics? So, I immediately transferred to the School of Mathematics.”

Varoufakis taught at Sydney University, where he was no fan of Australia’s prime minister John Howard

“That awful little man.”

On Karl Marx

“In truth, Karl Marx was responsible for framing my perspective of the world we live in, from my childhood to this day. It is not something that I volunteer to talk about in ‘polite society’ much these days because the very mention of the M-word switches audiences off.”

On Margaret Thatcher’s legacy

“All that sprang out of Thatcherism were the spivs, extreme financialisation, the triumph of the shopping mall over the corner store, the fetishisation of housing and… Tony Blair.”

 Before the financial crash, Greeks thought the party would never end

“The average Greek had convinced herself that Greece was superb. Uber alles. A cut above the rest. That we had made it into Europe’s hard core but that we were even better than the austere Germans, the snobbish French, the bubbly Italians, the stiff-upper-lip Brits. Due to our exceptional ‘cunning’, Greece was managing to combine fun, sun, xenychti (late nights) and the highest GDP growth in Europe.”

And after the crash?

“Self-immolation followed self-congratulation, but left self-importance in the driving seat.”

 On worries about his elevation from university professor to politician

“I know that I run the risk of, surreptitiously… indulging a feeling of having become ‘agreeable’ to the circles of ‘polite society’. The sense of self-satisfaction from being feted by the high and mighty did begin, on occasion, to creep up on me. And what a non-radical, ugly, corruptive and corrosive sense it was!”

On the austerity terms of Greece’s €240bn bailout

“Europe in its infinite wisdom decided to deal with this bankruptcy by loading the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders… What we’ve been having ever since is a kind of fiscal waterboarding that has turned this nation into a debt colony.”

 Varoufakis wants to stay in the eurozone

“Greece is absolutely, irreversibly, committed to staying in the eurozone,” he told CNN. “The problem is that once you’re in, it goes just like the Eagle’s song ‘Hotel California’ – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

 On the different treatment of bankrupt banks and bankrupt states

“Quite remarkably, while the insolvent states are visited upon by stern IMF and EU officials, are constantly reviled by the ‘serious’ press for their ‘profligacy’ and ‘wayward’ fiscal stance, the banks go on receiving ECB liquidity and state funding (plus guarantees) with no strings attached. No memoranda, no conditionalities, nothing.”

 On the danger of being co-opted

“Forging alliances with reactionary forces, as I think we should do to stabilise Europe today, brings us up against the risk of becoming co-opted, of shedding our radicalism through the warm glow of having ‘arrived’ in the corridors of power.”

“My personal nadir came at an airport. Some moneyed outfit had invited me to give a keynote on the European crisis and had forked out the ludicrous sum necessary to buy me a first class ticket. On my way back home, tired and already with several flights under my belt, I was making my way past the long queue of economy passengers, to get to my gate. Suddenly I noticed, with considerable horror, how easy it was for my mind to be infected with the sense that I was ‘entitled’ to bypass the hoi polloi. I realised how readily I could forget that which my left-wing mind had always known: that nothing succeeds in reproducing itself better than a false sense of entitlement.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s