Professor Varoufakis Proposes a Silent Axis between France and Greece Contra Germany

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 10, 2012

It’s interesting that you don’t mention one word about your one night stand with your inamorata Tsipras, the Radical Left leader of Syriza. But it’s obvious that Hollande replaced the latter in your gyrating amours, after the politically and economically inane and embarrassing post-election statements of Tsipras. And it won’t be long before you will be disappointed with President Hollande too with his dealings with Germany and you will be looking for a still more exotic paramour.

You are mired in the past when you still consider that the European leaders continue to push the austerity programme for the southern European countries as the sole measure of getting them out of the economic crisis. In the new economic orchestration of Europe the ‘soloist’ austerity no longer jingles. All the major European leaders, Jose Barroso, Olli Rehn, Chancellor Merkel, Wolfgang Schauble, the top technocrats, Christine Lagarde, Mario Draghi, and Mario Monti, are talking now about economic recovery and growth without which austerity cannot succeed. Thus they have all taken their cue from Antonis Samaras who was the only statesman that sounded this syndrome of austerity and growth two years ago and had quarrelled with Merkel and Sarkozi, for which he had been severely criticised and disparaged by politicians and the media, such as The Economist. All of them however admitted subsequently that Samaras was right. Hence there is already a sounding axis between Greece and the whole of Europe due to the intercession of Antonis Samaras. Moreover, Samaras warned the European leaders that the policies of the first Memorandum would change the political configuration of the country, as they would both give rise to the forces of the extreme left as well as lead to the break-up of social cohesion which in turn would make the country un-governable. These warnings were tragically verified in the elections of May 6. And I pose the question, why Professor Varoufakis you lack the nobility and courage to give credit where credit is due, to Samaras?

You seem to be obsessed with your toy The Modest Proposal that would drag Europe out of its crisis, and not finding any other children to play with it, you have turned into a surly and cantankerous little boy. Since, as its sire along with Stuart Holland, you flagged it more than a year ago you have made so many ‘bastard’ revisions to it, that it has become difficult to identify the ‘true father’. But one thing is for sure, that in your vainglorious pursuit to persuade governments and bankers to adopt it, you will miserably fail. Your Modest Proposal was always a flying kite that would inevitably take its nosedive.

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Iron Ladies Never Die they Just Show the Way

By Con George-Kotzabasis—January 9, 2012

In a hostile world only the strong have the right to indulge in hope. Thucydides

Ah, that memorable, fascinating, admirable, and politically insightful and intrepid subject, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, that challenges almost all of contemporaneous political leadership that is scrambling on all its fours–with some notable exceptions such as Lee Kuan Yew, of Singapore and Antonis Samaras, of Greece–from Obama to Zapatero to Merkel and Sarkozy, who  instead of standing on the shoulders of political giants, like Thatcher, to command events, they have been overwhelmed and overcome by them.

The characteristic spending profligacy of Labour socialist governments over a number of years, and the excessive borrowing and inflation that resulted by the latter’s policies that brought the UK into economic stagnation gave Margaret Thatcher the opportunity to win the election in 1979 with a sizable majority. Her victory would bring not only the transformation of British politics but would also spawn, with a small astute coterie of others, the seeds of a profound change on the political landscape of the world. Further, by re-introducing forcefully the idea of privatization as a dynamic concept among the economic detritus left by Labour’s deficit-laden nationalization of industries, she would place the country on the trajectory of economic efficiency and generation of wealth for the benefit of all Britons.  To open markets to the world she abolished all exchange controls on foreign currency five months after coming to power. The UK from being the poorest of the four major European economies in 1979 became by the end of ten years under Thatcher’s stewardship the richest among them. In a series of economic policies packaged by Milton Friedman’s and Frederick Hayek’s monetarist theories, Britain’s GDP grew by 23.3% during this period outpacing that of Germany, France, and Italy.

However, to accomplish the latter goal, she would have to confront the power of unions decisively, which, in a ceaseless campaign of strikes and imprudent and irrational demands were ruining the British economy. In 1979, at the apex of union power, Britain had lost 29.5 million working days to strikes, whereas at its nadir, under the robust stand of Thatcher and her strong blows against it that led to the defeat of unions, in 1986, the figure of lost working days was 1.9 million. The Moscow trained communist Arthur Scargill, secretary of the Mining Unions, had unleashed in 1984-85 a myriad of strikes with the aim to obstruct the Thatcherite pro-market reforms that would put Britain on the roller skates of economic prosperity. By the end of that year that shook the foundations of British industry and broke the morale of some of her Cabinet members–that prompted Thatcher in a memorable quip to say to them, “You turn if you want to. The lady is not for turning.”—the red flag became a trophy alongside the Argentinian flag in her collection of victories, as Arthur Scargill conceded his defeat.

In international affairs she questioned Kissinger’s policy of détente toward the Soviet Union as she believed strongly that Communism should not be accommodated but overcome. For this implacable stand the Soviet Army’s newspaper Red Star christened her the “Iron Lady.” Together with President Reagan, she planted the diplomatic dynamite under the foundations of the Soviet empire that would eventually bring the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Lenin’s benign Marxist dream that had turned back to its true nature as a nightmare of Gulags and Killing Fields.

Thatcher in the 1980’s fiercely opposed the European economic and monetary integration. To her the European construction was “infused with the spirit of yesterday’s future.” In the kernel of this construction laid the central “intellectual mistake” of assuming that “the model for future government was that of a centralized bureaucracy.” And she was prophetic to the current events and crisis of Europe when she argued that German taxpayers would provide “ever greater subsidies for failed regions of foreign countries,” while condemning south European countries to debilitating dependency on handouts from German taxpayers.” She concluded, “The day of the artificially constructed mega-state is gone.”

However, no statesmanship is without its warts. In 1986 prohibition of proprietary trading went out; the separation between commercial and investment banks was abrogated; and ‘casino banking’ took off, which without these changes would not have happened. Her critics accused her of promoting greed which she personally abhorred. Also, the introduction of the poll tax on adult residents was most unpopular among Britons and sparked the Poll Tax Riots on March 31, 1990, that instigated an internal coup against her that ousted her from her premiership.

Margaret Thatcher entered number 10 Downing Street with her strong character and astute political perceptiveness with panache that destined her, like all great statesmen, to “walk beneath heaven as if she was placed above it,” to quote the seventeenth-century French political philosopher, Gabriel Naude. She will enter the ‘gate of heaven’ not as the frail distracted old woman, as she was depicted in the film made by Phillida Lloyd, but as the iron lady who will never die and continue to show the way.

I rest on my oars: your turn now…