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.
Is this paragraph even a surprise coming from a ‘Think Tank’ whose reason d’etre is the production of pro-EU propaganda, and to treat all other points of view as heretical? Kostas Botopoulos provides the indictment of Mr. Varoufakis as that heretic.
From both a political and a legal point of view it is obvious that the EU framework allows for many types of regional settlement (ranging from advanced autonomy to federalism) other than separatism. The non-negotiable and unilateral “secession” of Catalonia evokes the populist themes of Brexit much more than the nuances of a regionalist settlement.
But the historical context of the Germans, as four time defaulters in the 20th Century, treated the Greeks as if their own history were a product of their unconvincing yet politically usable, and utterly convenient political amnesia. In sum, German fiscal probity is a usable 21st Century mythology.
Benjamin Friedman’s address, as reported by Gillian Tett in the pages of the august Financial Times, provides the facts relating to the German intransigence toward the Greeks, and the fact that the Germans enjoyed an economic tolerance that the Greeks were not entitled to, according to the Germans and EU apologists.
A link to Ms. Tett’s article:
A portion of Mr. Friedman’s address, followed by a link to the entire address
As one historian summarized the approach taken to Germany’s post-war debt relief, “at the time of the London conference most observers had in mind long years of what they viewed as Germany’s irresponsible treatment of foreign debts and property owned by foreigners.”Nonetheless , “The entire agreement was crafted on the premise that Germany’s actual payments could not be so high as to endanger the short-term welfare of her people …reducing German consumption was not an acceptable way to ensure repayment of the debts.”The contrast to both the spirit and the implementation of the approach taken to today’s overly indebted European countries is stark.There is no economicground for Germany to be the only European country in moderntimes to be granted official debt restructuring and debt relief on a massive scale, and certainly no moral ground either. The supposed ability of today’s most heavily indebted European countries to reduce their obligations over time, even in relation to the scale of their economies, is likely yet another fiction – and in this case not a useful one. As the last decade’s financial crisis fades into the past, and market interest rates move up to a more normal configuration, these countries and others too will find their debtincreasingly difficult to service. In the meanwhile, the contractionary policies imposed on them are depressing their output and employment , and their tax revenues. And the predictable pathology that follows from stagnant incomes and living standards is already evident.
In the watershed of the Depression of 2008, and the EU that is a Cartel pretending to be a Democracy- look to Quebec, the Zapatistas, Scotland and Catalan to see that the Nation State is not as stable as its apologists would like. In this atmosphere of crisis, over time, the recognition that the EU began its life as a steel and coal cartel, that pretends to be democratic, while engaging in the subversion of a democratically elected government in Ukraine. Conspiring with NATO and The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, not to speak of Right Sector, Svoboda and other bad actors, that places Mr. Botopoulos’ demonization of Mr. Varoufakis in its broader political context. Perhaps the EU should rehabilitate one of the ‘legal instruments’ of the ancien régime the Lettres de cachet to silence the heretical Mr. Varoufakis?