At The Financial Times: My reply to Olaf von Rein

@Olaf von Rein @StephenKMackSD

I usually thank those who reply to my comments, but in your case I’ll just say that part of your comment is well argued and coheres, even if I disagree vehemently with its content. The shouting is I guess, to be expected! The FT is a font of Capitalist Apologetics and the hunting ground for Communists ,Populists and other assorted political riff raff.   I found Mr. Varoufakis’ comments illuminating and worthy of attention, and a much needed reply to the Mario Montis of the EU, the first two paragraphs of your linked essay give the game away:

It is that rare thing: a policy made in Brussels that clearly works. The bold moves against Google and Gazprom over the past two weeks are the latest to be taken by a European institution that has, over half a century, become one of the world’s most formidable defenders of free markets. Yet in perpetuating this admirable tradition, competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager is doing more than challenging two corporate giants from afar. Perhaps without realising it, she is also moving against forceful political currents within the EU itself.

Whatever the merits of these two cases (and I am in no position to judge them), one fact is clear: when Europe speaks on competition policy, others listen to its roar. The words of the commissioner echo through the White House and the Kremlin; from Moscow to Silicon Valley, they are heard intently by the world’s boards. In so many areas — migration, economics, foreign policy — the EU convulses in a frenzy of statements. But in competition policy the EU never barks; when justified, it bites.


‘What concerns Brussels general attitude to free markets, here is a less biased take:’ Consider Mario Monti’s essay an EU press release awash in Neo-Liberal cliche: Free Markets etc. (The writer was EU competition commissioner from 1999 to 2004 and prime minister of Italy from 2011 to 2013). ‘A less biased take’?

The remainder of the essay is framed in the apologetics for the EU and does not address the question that Mr. Varoufakis raises of the Cartel as the antithetical to the values of the Demos/Demi. But what the reader gets is this:

These lessons are at odds with the political mood that is taking hold across Europe. La politique d’abord (“politics first!”) is the order of the day. It is felt as a moral imperative and a necessary corrective for the alleged evils of the rules and rigidities that have held sway for decades. These days, flexibility, discretion and compromise are the watchwords.


Not legally codified institutional democracy but ‘flexibility, discretion and compromise are the watchwords’. I’ll follow your brief, dismissive closing remark with my own: Not good enough!


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.