I am sure that this is what Yanis Varoufakis would say to me if he were to read this post.
I have been a Yanis Varoufakis supporter and follower for some years now, even before he entered into politics in Greece. I followed his blog, read the many articles in which he explained his economic solutions to reverse the economic decline in Europe and watched most of his interviews on the television programs where he was a guest. I studied his Modest Proposal for Resolving the Eurozone Crisis in detail and it made sense to me. I, like Yanis and so many other hundreds of thousands of Europeans, could not understand why rational and logical answers to our economic woes were being ignored.
Then one day, a miracle happened. Greece had an election, a new political party, Syriza, came to power and Yanis was offered the job of Finance Minister. He accepted the challenge.
“Greece is saved”, I told my wife, “and not only Greece….the Eurozone will be saved as well!”
When Yanis first confronted the Troika, the air sizzled with electric tension. The EU rebels were on a roll! The Greek side brimmed with confidence while the EU group looked so forlorn and dejected.
My wife and I speculated that, to force the EU to agree to the Greek’s demands, Drachmas were being secretly printed, to threaten a Grexit and increase Syriza’s bargaining leverage.
But as the weeks turned into months, the Drachma printing presses remained silent. My euphoria and enthusiasm slowly ebbed away and was replaced with resignation and sadness when I heard that compromises and concessions had been mentioned. And Varoufakis was coming under increasing fire from his critics and supporters alike.
Then Tsipras took Varoufakis off the Greek negotiating team and this raised the first doubts that everything was not going according to plan. By then, the criticism of Varoufakis had reached a crescendo. The situation in Greece had deteriorated badly. The Troika were refusing to see reason and Tsipras was angry. The referendum was announced and after the people voted “No”, Syriza turned the “No” vote into a “Yes” and Varoufakis resigned as Finance Minister. He was called a traitor by the majority of the Greek media and many of his supporters, except for a few of his colleagues and some die-hards on his blog, abandoned him.
It was, at about that time, that I started to respond to Varoufakis’ critics on various blogs on the internet. I tried to explain away and defend some of his actions, whilst at the same time, I was also struggling to understand what had transpired. It is difficult to remain a believer in a new deal for Greece and the reform of the Eurozone when you feel that your trust and beliefs have been betrayed.
After what appeared to be such a promising start, what had happened to cause the whole process to go so badly off the rails?
The internet glowed red-hot with endless stories and analyses of what had gone wrong and who was to blame for it. In shaping my own views, of course, I was also influenced by everything that I read. After all, these were the opinions of experts in their fields who were explaining what Varoufakis had done wrong.
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that Varoufakis had been naive to believe that the Troika would understand the economic logic and agree to the the Greek proposals. Slowly it dawned on me that we had all been duped by the Troika….they never had any intention of saving Greece. They were only intent on saving themselves. Or, let’s rephrase that…..to ensure that all the other Eurozone countries remained in line.
This “enlightenment” led me then to conclude that there could never be a satisfactory answer for Greece whilst the country remained in the Eurozone. And this started off my campaign for a Grexit. All of Yanis’ ideas were relegated to the “tried but failed” bin and I was off on a new crusade, looking for another knight in shining armour to save the day.
During all of that time, I never really discarded Yanis’ ideas, although I did criticize him for sacrificing Greece on the altar of the EU, in his pursuit of saving the “European Dream”. My feelings were that the “European Dream” had been killed off by the selfish and short-sighted EU politicians and the sooner the dream was in its coffin, the better.
However, something changed. I changed. My ideas changed. After reading dozens of articles and debating the issues with other bloggers, I gradually noticed a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.
Maybe Yanis was right all along?
Now I am heading down that long tunnel to find out if that glimmer of light is beautiful sunlight or the headlight of an on-coming train!