If I had doubts about Brits voting to leave the European Union this past June 23rd ["Brexit"], they were knocked off my shelf after reading Yanis Vanoufakis' And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, which essays why the European Union and the euro currency scheme have gone off the tracks.
Mr. Vanoufakis's qualifications to critique the EU are economics professor, but also as participant in the post-2008 sorting out. Greek Finance Minister for five months in 2015, he resigned on principle, refusing to sell his country out to unelected technocrats. He knows the faces of the imperious rhetoric defending the euro project..
Vanoufakis's book title comes from Thucydides' Peloponnesian War, which he read in the original ancient Greek, underlining "the strong actually do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." Vanoufakis' months as Greek Finance Minister taught him: Substitute Greece for "weak" in Thucydides' words and Germany for "strong."
As Vanoufakis deftly argues, the European Union's euro is economically irrational. The common euro currency is a brutal zero-sum arrangement that gives Germany the "privilege" of marginalizing and setting onerous EU compliance rules for the rest. Greece in its post-2008 bankruptcy was the first victim, but won't be the last.
But wait, why must Greece be forced into a depression? With his indefatigable sense of history, he points out post-WWII, Americans decided to re-industrialize defeated Germany. They forced other Allies to go along and forgave 70% of Germany's debt. Seventy percent!
Cut to present. Merkel has moral authority to say Nein, Nein, Nein to Greece and insist a debt is a debt is a debt?
One of Vanoufakis's more convincing points against the euro is a quote from the Iron Lady herself: "under that kind of central bank [for an apolitical EU euro] there will be no democracy." Margaret Thatcher nailed it. The Brexit vote twenty-six years later is a thumb's up. A nation's money always expresses its politics, which is people. Surrender money. surrender sovereignty: The demos are sold out.
Vanoufakis finds occasions for humor. Take euro aesthetics. On a continent brimming with cultural treasures and architectural icons, what is on those euro notes? Nothing more than the sanitized, apolitical nonsense of fictitious arches and nonexistent bridges.
Read And the Weak Suffer What They Must? for a timely understanding of how possibly good intentions of the EU project led to an economic quagmire.
And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future by Yanis Varoufakis, Nation Books, 2016, 340 pp., ISBN: 978-1-56858-504-8.
Image credit: google images: amazon.com
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection [and feel free to share with a friend] The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
Also, a flash fiction, "Ylena Thinks Nyet," is at Cigale Literary Magazine.
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