My gut told me that there was something wrong with this conclusion and I turned to Wikipedia for an answer. Hybris, it is stated there, “means extreme pride or arrogance. Hybris often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power”. Prof. Varoufakis has over 30.000 followers on Twitter (and when reading their comments one senses that they are indeed followers in the biblical sense).
I have been following Prof. Varoufakis’ blog for about a year now. Notwithstanding the many good ideas and suggestions which I have read about possible solutions to the Eurozone’s problems, I have not read a single proposal what Greece could do on its own to improve its bargaining power versus the EU (other than being destructive). I have not read a single proposal what Greece could do on its own to improve its economic situation.
Prof. Varoufakis’ blog ignores (I am beginning to believe “intentionally ignores”) that by all measures of hard and soft facts, Greece has become a terrible place to do business and a terrible place to leave one’s financial capital. It ignores that a country with such characteristics has no economic future. And it ignores that such a country MUST do something about this on its own!
Characteristic of the wrong attitude is the emphasis on the errors which EU-elites have made in the last 2 years (“…the past two years have been replete with a sequence of errors on the part of Berlin, Paris, Brussels and Frankfurt…”). Yes, they have not only made errors but also giant blunders. But the primary concern to Greeks should be that in the last 2 years virtually NOTHING has been done to reform the country towards a better economic future. Sorry, a lot of easy things have been done like cutting the purchasing power of those who are taxed at the source and who have always paid taxes. One has punished those who are least responsible for Greece’s mess today. What a sorry result so far! (even though one’s heart should go out to those poor suckers who are caught up in terrible games which their elites play).
Those who have been very supportive of the Greek cause in the last 2 years have time and again been deprived of their arguments by actions (or non-action) on the part of Greece. Those who are still taking the position that Greece is NOT like a banana republic of the Third World are continually being deprived of arguments. The latest blogpost of Prof. Varoufakis is but one example.
A banana republic of the Third World may indeed consider it as bargaining power that it has the nuke which can blow up both sides. Greece should NEVER do that. Not only out of respect for the EU of which it is a member but, above all, out of respect for its own ancestors who taught the world what civilized behavior is!
A First World country shows its bargaining power by bringing something constructive to the party. The first thing which Greece should bring to the party is its commitment to perfect the State of Law in Greece: a clear definition of properties and the rights and obligations that go with them (real estate registry); powerful institutions of impeccable standing; uncompromised law enforcement; clearly established control authorities; a modern and effective public administration; etc. Former President Nicolas Sarkozy, a friend of Greece’s, was once caught saying that “there is no state of law in Greece”. Should that not have been an alarm bell to Greek elites?
In day-to-day life in Greece I run into Greeks who are quite different from those Greeks who appear in public, be they politicians, opinion leaders, blog commentators or whatever. They are the kind of people where the rest of Europe would have no problem at all to help them reach a better future for their children. On the contrary, the rest of Europe would feel obliged to do this. The tragedy is that they seem to have zero representation in the public (even though I feel that they are the majority).
There is allegedly an African tribe who follows the rule of “when in trouble, ask yourselves what your ancestors would do”. All those Greeks who seek public attention to teach the world that everyone owes them something (except they themselves) should ask what their ancestors would make of such behavior. Plato, Sokrates, Aristotle — what do you say? “Don’t know thyself and blame others for it?”
I have not yet met a Greek who did not list among Greece’s greatest problems the size and inefficiency of the public sector. And yet, many Greeks can now arouse themselves for a party whose major objective is to make the public sector even larger? What would Plato, Sokrates or Aristotle have to say about this?
To all those who consider the future of Greece as subject for game or bargaining theories I can only repeat the Greek proverb that “any fool can throw a stone into the sea, but once he does, a hundred wise men can’t pull it out!” If you want to go to the bargaining table with a nuke in your hand, make sure the nuke is functioning well because you will only be able to use it once.
I commend Mr. Tsipras for having started a movement. It requires leadership talent to accomplish that. A country which is in as dire straits as Greece is today requires something like a national movement to “turn the corner”. Perhaps even a “new hero”. Politics as usual won’t be enough. From that standpoint, Mr. Tsipras and SYRIZA would have a unique opportunity to steer Greece into a better future. What they require is advice how to use this historic opportunity the right way. If influential opinion leaders advise and encourage them to go down the wrong path, they do enormous disservice to the country!