I’ve been amazed this week by the speed at which the moaning has begun about the new Greek Government. Athenian right-wingers on Twitter don’t have a good thing to say about them, and nor do their British counterparts: all is cynicism, all is “a bunch of student Marxists”, “Varoufakis will last two months tops”, “ridiculous gesture politics” and more sour grapes. One talked of Varoufakis developing “a cult of personality”, a thing that anyone who knows the guy would reject immediately.
To me, the Syriza administration looks efficient, radical, and tough in its actions, shrewd in its preparations for the coming Troika battle, and conscious of the need to set a tone. That tone is very clear: there will be no graft in this government, and no pomp. The world is sick, and we’re here to cure Greeks of euro-materialism. Riding around on motor bikes mightt be a bit Blairite, but it does send out a message….and it is I am sure the right message.
Tsipras’s letter to the German people made it clear: we do not want or need any more money – we want help with the debt we already have. In interviews, both the top men have talked about the values of thrift and honour. If this is seen by the chattering classes as ‘naïve’, then it is the viewers who are sick.
Djisselbloem was sent alone into enemy territory last Thursday, and was I understand treated with politesse and charm by the Party bigwigs throughout. But he left certain that there will be no fear of threats, and Yanis Varoufakis openly said at the televised news conference that the new government would not negotiate with the Troika. Djisselbloem left in a huff, barely shaking hands with the Greek Finance Minister. “You just killed the Troika,” he remarked mysteriously, leaving most people puzzled as to whether he thought this a good thing.
What I find most remarkable (although I shouldn’t, because it’s par for the course) is an almost complete lack of forward analysis about the wider ramifications in the western media. Only Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has pointed out that this won’t simply “blow over” as a crisis: yet everyone I spoke to this week in the US, Asia and Europe seemed convinced that the euro is a busted flush. Syriza is a catalyst in this process not the cause, but the vacuum that could be left makes several outcomes very likely.
It is the beginning of the end of Angela Merkel’s dominance of European politics: in theory she can keep her promise not to shell out more bailout cash to the Greeks, but elsewhere in ClubMed Germany faces a nightmare: the bankurters have been proved right, and her wrong. I continue to think that Germany will leave the euro before Greece, but if so, will it look West or East?
The most likely thing to fill the vacuum left by the vacuous euro is the Dollar, but the Chinese won’t be far behind when it comes to buying assets. That’s going to put off everyone from Poland via Hungary to Greece – all of whom will probably look to move into the Russian orbit….but not too close. Then a genuine anti-dollar will be on: and that in turn will be the beginning of the end of the US’s infinite power to influence events in its favour via currency wars.
Meanwhile, the trend in Europe itself is very clear: a lurch to the extreme – something most thinkers have always said would be the backlash against social democratic pc bureaucracy on a supranational scale. In Spain, there is a revival in Falangism and a rapid surge for the Syriza-style Left; in France, a victory for Le Pen would mean its withdrawal from the EU….and the demise of the EU – if it still exists in any recognisable form. Spain has the additional problems of localist rebellion and empty banks. In Italy, Mussolini is back in fashion, and Berlusconi has proven yet again that only a stake through the heart will do the trick when it comes to burying him.
In the United Kingdom, we’re now just 13 weeks away from a General Election that promises to produce a chaotic outcome. The result has been made even more uncertain by recent events in Greece, for it has focused the European debate as never before. But Britain too is headed for a post-Imperial breakup…and once Scotland goes (which it must) it is already accepted by the Establishments in Whitehall and Westminster that the regions will demand far more power. We have a long way to go before we reach anything like the level of communitarian devolution we need, but at least it’s a step in the right direction…allegedly.
The doubtful nature of the direction hangs entirely on how far ‘gone’ the euro is by the time British voters go to the polls. If the EC stamps its jackboot down hard, it will play massively into the hands of Farage’s UKip, and produce a result – perhaps – whereby Camerlot is sacked by the neoliberal Ostrogoths in favour of an ultra right-wing coalition with the Kippers. Equally, if alongside that the SNP virtually wipes out the Labour Party in Scotland and then leaves the Union, there will be a vacuum where social democracy used to be. Needless to say, this would accelerate the process of removing our liberties one by one.
That vacuum could, in theory, be filled by A Good Thing: but the one huge difference between the Island Race and the rest of Europe is that our politics are dull and passive. On the whole, only serendipity of the kind we’re seeing now ever makes elections interesting. There hasn’t been a successful start-up in the UK since the Labour Party 130 years ago – and no, I don’t call two seats filched off the Tories in twenty years a success.
The other potential eurozone outcome (its collapse) will make it in some ways even harder from both Cameron and UKip: the former will be seen to have been wrong, and the latter could seem to lack a raison d’etre.
Elsewhere, anti-multinationalism is in the ascendancy. In Britain, we still have this constipated exchange of statistics, spin and obfuscation from two blokes who simply aren’t up to the job. We do not have a Le Pen, a Tsipras or an Orban – whatever one may think of them. and once reality breaks out bigtime after the election, we’re going to need somebody to guide us through a very cold world in which Europe ceases over time to be our main trading ally.
In Greece meanwhile, we have a Robespierre and a Robin Hood running things: and they are very clear about one thing: the corrupt oligarchy is going to be resigned to history. Nobody should underestimate how hard it’s going to be to achieve that without bloodshed – but this is a 1789 moment. Le Pen is anti the Paris-Brussels-Berlin oligarchy, Orban is implacably opposed to the American oligarchy, and in Spain the Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias is virulently anti-globalism. Those in control should be very afraid. They are no doubt, as I write, planning their defence.
The best form of defence, a Chinese general once said, is attack. Such will continue and become increasingly hysterical. And we didn’t even got to a Stock Market or banking collapse yet.