Last week, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis launched in Berlin with much fanfare his new political movement, DIEM25, a pan-European movement with the aim of democratizing Europe within one decade.
However, Varoufakis’ new undertaking has a lot of people wondering what actually drives this man’s politics as he is all over the field.
He was a personal advisor to neoliberal socialist George Papandreou, but did not hesitate to support Syriza when Alexis Tsipras’ star was on the rise, although he never joined Syriza as a card-carrying member of the party.
To make things more complicated, Yanis Varoufakis self-identifies as an “erratic Marxist” although there is no trace of Marxist analysis in his approach to political economy issues.
On Europe, Varoufakis is highly critical of the Eurozone’s architecture and economic policies but remains pro-euro as he is something of an advocate of cosmopolitan democracy.
All of the above contradictions revealed themselves in the most profound and dangerous way during his brief tenure as Greece’s finance minister in the newly elected Syriza-led government.
Varoufakis sought to challenge the authority of Greece’s international creditors with political theatrics that had himself at the center of attention but the only thing he accomplished, instead, was to bring the country on the verge of being kicked out of the Eurozone.
Specifically, the European Central Bank, the ultimate enforcer of austerity in the European Union, pulled the plug on additional lending to Greek banks, thereby forcing the Greek government to impose capital controls, which are still in place and are having a devastating effect on the country’s economic performance.
Varoufakis had no Plan B for dealing with Greece’s creditors, and his much-maligned alternative payment system was nothing more than a scheme for the country to buy time in case all external funding to Greek banks came to a halt.
As already indicated, Varoufakis was never in favor of Greece exiting the euro, while his economic views are guided by a strictly technocratic approach with limited reference to the need for an alternative political economy.
So, is Varoufakis’ politics and his pursuit of a new political career via the founding of DIEM25 guided solely by megalomania?
This is quite possible as there is hardly another thinker or political figure around today who loves so much being in the limelight as the self-professed “erratic Marxist” — or what the international press properly calls “the champagne socialist.”
Varoufakis’ thirst for being in the limelight became the focus in much of Ireland’s media this past weekend when he addressed a Right2Change meeting via videolink and told the Irish people to get rid of Michael Noonan (Ireland’s Finance Minister).
The Irish Times devoted an entire article on Saturday February 13, by making the point that Varoufakis is essentially a non-entity back in Greece on account of his political theatrics which brought the country on the verge of being kicked out of the Eurozone while most of his compatriots view him as a megalomaniac.
The point made was clear: Why should the Irish people listen to a former Greek finance minister who proved a disaster for his own country?
Be that as it may, Yanis Varoufakis has ensured with the founding of DIEM25 that he plans to be around for a long time, offering his advice to Europe’s people about what should be done so the European Union won’t collapse.
One may call this megalomania, but it is clearly what is driving the flamboyant former Greek finance minister to stay politically alive.