On visiting Yanis Varoufakis’s blog yesterday, I was directed to an interview that the erstwhile Greek Finance Minister gave to the journalist and comic Francisco de Zarate. The interview, which was illustrated by Fernando Calvi, can be found in the Jacobin Magazin.
Of course, Yanis Varoufakis is quite right when he points out that the seemingly omnipotent Eurogroup is an unelected and unaccountable body. However, while transparency is the last thing we can expect from the group it is difficult to believe that on taking office in Alexis Tsipras’s government in late January 2015 he wasn’t aware of its power and of the fact that the IMF not only coordinates its own activities with it regularly but also sits in on its meetings .
Therefore, while Greece’s former finance minister has an “uncanny” tendency to hit the nail on the head with his analysis, his own role should at least be subject to some scrutiny. After all, as Ernst Wolff demonstrates in his book ‘Weltmacht IWF’, no government, not even Chavez’s Venezuela, has risked a break with the IMF. The point is that Varoufakis was every bit aware as Tsipras was that the only outcome was either surrendering to the dictates of the Eurogroup and the IMF or confronting international capital head on.
Therefore, Popular Unity member and Kings College London academic Dr. Stathis Kouvelakis is quite right when he contends that Alexis Tsipras betrayed his promises, even if we might question as to whether he ever intended keeping them. However, it might be that Varoufakis, and others, were aware from the very beginning that these promises were never going to be kept. Indeed, that was how the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), viewed it when, prior to the referendum on the 5th of July 2015 it recommended that:
“The people must cast a ballot paper into the ballot box which can not be misinterpreted. The following ballot must be cast which says : “NO to the proposal of the EU-ECB-IMF. NO to the proposal of the government. Disengagement from the EU, with the people holding the reins of power.” Even if they say that it is a spoiled ballot.”
It is, therefore, not difficult to realise why the Left (although how that label is applied needs to be scrutinised along with Yanis Varoufakis role) cannot find common ground in Greece. Still, to facilitate our abilities to come to the right conclusions it might be worthwhile looking at a speech by Dimitris Koutsoumbas, the Communist Party’s general secretary, when he said:
“The KKE serves one goal: for the working class to take power so that we can live better days, with prosperity for the people. The proposals of KKE lead to this goal and follow this criterion. Not on the basis of how much the economy can take. Because this is a capitalist economy, which — under whichever management or government — produces crises, unemployment, and poverty.”
Strangely, the article that quotes that speech then goes on to argue that the KKE have to cooperate “with all the sectors of the working class who want to break with austerity using their own organized force, rather than just waiting for Syriza’s strategy of accommodation to fail.” However, bearing in mind that Varoufakis, Kouvelakis, and most, if not all, other Marxist academics, are at least in “theoretical” agreement with the thesis that a capitalist economy will inevitably produce crises, unemployment, and poverty, it is surely not from the Communist Party of Greece that any compromise should be expected. The evidence would, however, seem to suggest that life on the road and in his ivory tower is just a bit too comfortable by half for Yanis, or, at least, just as comfortable as the one enjoyed by the now “Salonfähig” Mr Tsipras. And in the meantime, we have him telling Jeremy Corbyn not to fear the media and to stay close to the people.
The video embedded at the top is only indirectly related to the article, but it does, at least, provide us with some helpful additional reference and in doing that it might remind those of the Varoufakis, Tsipras, disposition of Karl Marx’s ‘Theses on Feurbach’ and his, “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”