In the past year+ I have been following the roller coaster activity of former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and became a fan. I even got to see him here in Barcelona in October (covered the event here). The man himself even used my live blogging for his own coverage. Well, he was quoting me quoting him. A few other Varoufakis fans in my circles and myself were excited about it… and now there’s a new movement and a draft manifesto included here.
While he was in office, I covered the actions of the government he was serving as it was critical to the value of the euro in which my readers over there are interested. His new movement, an attempt to democratize Europe, will probably have no immediate affect on markets, so I chose to write about it in these more personal pages. Politics were always of interest to me, and Mr. V. is certainly a colorful character.
A bit about Varoufakis’ past year
Varoufkis is colorful for basically saying it is as it is and his short time as a politician was due to the fact he wasn’t playing games. Others couldn’t digest a politician with whom they couldn’t cut an easy political deal that would favor him personally and therefore they used his past as an expert for Game Theory and said he was playing games.
His basic attempt to change the course of 5 years of failure of the EU’s policies, together with his colleagues in SYRIZA was eventually crushed with closed banks, threats of a Grexit and a 17 hour marathon of talks which saw PM Tsipras surrender, but it was actually a shameful day for all the continent. The wounds of that July 13th aGreekment are still open. As he said, the masses that came to see him around Europe did not only come to show solidarity with the Greek people but were actually afraid it might happen to them as well.
His lesson from 5 months in office was that it is not enough for individual change in a country (especially not a small scapegoat one which consists of 2% of the euro-zone economy) but rather a wider movement to democratize the euro-zone. In his speeches, which I had the chance to participate in one thanks to the good people of FXStreet, and which he publishes on his blog, he described the Eurogroup as a sausage: you don’t want to touch it if you know what it’s inside. In less colorful terms, he described a very non-democratic, undocumented way of doing business, or basically dictating action.
This movement now has a launch date: February 9th, and the location is an interesting one: Berlin. Will he meet German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble during this visit? Anyway, the new movement will be called Democracy in Europe 2025, or #DiEM25, at least according to the latest reports.
Here is a draft manifesto I found online and uploaded to Scribd:
DiEM25 Preliminary Manifesto 6
Direct Democracy and Me
I can ramble relentlessly about what happened with Greece in 2015, but this is a more personal blog, isn’t it?
In any case, his desire to democratize Europe resonates with my activity in the not-so-distant past – in the previous version of the blog. I was with Black Labor (Hebrew) from the very start and retired not too long ago. This site, which is still active and close to celebrating 10 years, stands for social values of course, but perhaps no less prominently for direct democracy – holding elected politicians accountable for their actions.
The “core business” of the site was motivating readers to send letters to politicians (originally only from the Israeli Labor Party, hence the name), raising issues, praising them or also quite commonly demanding explanations and calling them to act according to their promises.
We are deep in the internet era, where decision making can be much more than just casting a vote once every few years. An atmosphere where the common thought is “all politicians are bad and nothing really matters” serves those in power. They can wave various ideological flags in order to divert attention from their stronghold on power while serving those who “donate” to them and the interconnected friends in the media rather than doing anything related to their promises.
So, I’ll be looking forward to February 9th and the launch of the DiEM25 with hope for a change. Hopefully there will be some related activity here in Barcelona and I’ll see if I can fit it.