I’ve been banging on about it for weeks: the measures taken by the EU to repair the current crisis are weak. They won’t work. Why? Because they don’t attack the problem at its root – they don’t deal with ensuring that the debtor economies are strong enough to repay their loans. They’re politically motivated measures – and they’re based on threats. But you can threaten a poor man all you want, say that you’re going to do brutal things to him unless he suddenly becomes rich – but chances are, if he doesn’t have access to money, he’ll probably remain poor.
Well, that’s not a terribly complicated argument – and it seems that even the rather dim, usually hype-prone meta-brain that we mysteriously refer to as ‘the markets’, has copped it too. As Harvinder Syngh of RBS says:
“The market assessment is that the new policy structures, now with a relatively trivial watering down of the private sector restructuring risk, makes little sense.”
Yup, there’s no fooling those markets… it seems that only the markets are able to fool the markets.
So, now ‘the markets’ have begun calling this The Merkel Crash. You know, I fucking hate ‘the markets’ – I think that they’re sheepish and collectively stupid; I also think that they should be regulated into the ground, but I must admit… I love that meme!
The important point here is that ‘the markets’ agree with a rather rational evaluation of the problem – which is a rarity in itself. Now, that leaves the political ground wide open for alternative approaches to the crisis. One commentator that’s responding to this challenge is the radical Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis, who I’ve praised here before.
Varoufakis puts forward some rather sober proposals that EU leaders would be well listening to. But these aren’t ‘spun’ in the Marxist style. Varoufakis makes a case – and even includes some class language:
“[T]he true reason why the proposal here will be fought tooth and nail is terribly simple: it does not comply with the class interests of those in authority– at least not as they perceive them.”
Varoufakis is, of course, spot on. I’ve made this point more generally here before. But now I’ll make another.
I’ve seen the statements being released by certain left-wing parties in this country in the past few weeks and months – and I’ve come to notice that they’re adhering to a very specific conception of the world; one which I consider not simply outdated, but also one that I consider completely unable to formulate policy measures.
At the same time, I see the mainstream media twisting and turning, until it eventually gets caught into a tailspin of negativity. In short: no one knows what the hell to think. But if we followed Varoufakis, we well might.
Varoufakis refers to his policy measures as ‘modest’ – I’d use the adjective ‘Keynesian’, but this matters little… call them whatever you want. What does matter is that these policies are clearly formulated by as many people as possible and thrown into the public sphere so that people can catch onto them. This, I believe, is the challenge currently facing the left in this country. The gauntlet is sitting right there on the ground – the question is: will you pick it up?