Eric Draitser sits down with economist, and former Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis to discuss the shifts in the political landscape of both Europe and the US, and what they mean for political activism and progressive politics. Eric and Yanis discuss the nature of the EU and whether it can be reformed or democratized, as well as the forces at play within it. The conversation also touches on the US election as Yanis and Eric debate the utility of "lesser evil" politics, while also examining the ascendance of the fascist right in Europe and the US, with particular attention to the Brexit vote and its implications. The bond bubble and potential economic collapse, the long view of the 2008 crisis, the importance of addressing climate change, the necessity of internationalism, and many other topics are discussed in this wide-ranging interview with one of the best economic minds in the world today.
Some interesting parts of Varoufakis' comments:
Brexit is also an economic phenomenon. It's not just a political revolt against the elites, against the EU, against the city of London - the bankers. The main reason why the English, not the British, the English working class voted to get out of the EU, is the slow burning recession. The fact that living standards in almost every town outside of London, within England is depressed. You walk through city centers in Doncaster, in Leeds, in York and all you find is misery and desperation. A whole working class feels utterly abandoned by the elites, even by the Labor Party, the Social-Democrats, and this is the reason why Brexit won.
The period between 2010 and today can be seen from a Greek perspective as an experiment. Greece was a laboratory in which the globalized/financialized elites experimented with how they would try to deal with a crisis of their own making. And the experiment produced monsters. One of these monsters is the neo-nazis of Golden Dawn. The Donald Trump experience is also quite intimately connected. The very notion that you have somebody like Trump running as candidate of one of the two major political parties in the US, back in 2010-2012 it would be absurd.
The cruel, vicious austerity policies that were created in the Greek laboratory were then exported to the rest of Europe. This experiment backfired because you can never deal with financial crisis through austerity. This is one thing we've learned from the early 1930s which gave rise to the nazis in Germany. A period of deflation gave rise to the worst kind of xenophobic Right-Wing populism. And this is what we have in the form of the Golden Dawn thugs hitting Greece, Donald Trump in the US, the Right-Wing Brexiters in Britain.
What we have now is a bifurcation, word-wide not just in Greece, we are seeing the formation of two political blocs. One is very similar to the troika of creditors that we had to deal with in Greece last year, who crushed us in the end. It's a technocracy of globalized, financial capital, together with bureaucrats that want to spread their wings and power globally. They also corporate Atlanticists, those who want to utilize brute force in order to become, or remain the policemen of the Cosmos. This political bloc of globalized, financialized Atlanticists have developed a capacity to be more tolerant with minorities, less tolerant with racism, quite relaxed about migration, as long as it doesn't threaten their political capital.
In opposition to that, we have the xenophobic Populist Right, which is investing on racism, fear and nativist myths about the return to some kind of kingship within the nation-state where you erect walls around your country the riffraff away.
It is this toxic confrontation between the nativists xenophobic Populist Right and the financialized, globalized Atlanticists pack who don't even know how to stabilize the world that they aspired to create. This conflict is always going to give rise to rather unpleasant developments for the whole of humanity.
Hillary Clinton never was and never will be part of the Left. The Social-Democrats in Germany are part of the problem, not part of the solution. We have an opportunity now to cease upon the way this global economic and political crisis is developing, in order to do what we failed to do in the 1930s. In other words, to create a solid, internationalist, progressive bloc that opposes the vicious cycle between the globalization elites and the xenophobic populist reaction to it.
Hillary Clinton is part of the problem. Hillary Clinton run an outrageously, scandalously, sinister campaign against Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton is in the pocket of the establishment. Hillary Clinton will probably start another war.
The crisis that hit us in 2008 has never gone away. It is simply transforming itself taking different guises and different parts of the world even within our own countries. One day it's the crisis of banks, the next day it's the crisis of real investment, the third day it's the crisis of deteriorating the jobs' quality and so on. But the crisis of Capitalism that hit us in 2008, just like the crisis of Capitalism that hit in 1929 did not go away until the beginning of the WWII.
If you look at the 1920s and 1930s, fascism became dominant, hegemonic and took over governments with mass support, only when industrial capital, at some point, in order to stem the rise of the Left Wing that was antithetical to capital's interests, threw their lot in with the fascists. It was the support of industrialists in Germany and Italy that gave rise to the nazis and the fascist governments. So far, the establishment, the financialized capital, military-industrial complex and so on, have not thrown the lot in with the fascists movements. It's what keeping them from power, but we should not take it for granted that this won't happen and we should be prepared.