Yanis Varoufakis: “Greece was just a dystopic laboratory"



Opinion Piece

As the 'Adults in the Room' rolling credits came to a close, and the room filled with applause, it was evident that the underlying sentiment was hope and admiration. Adults in the room around me nodded in approval, as a woman with blonde hair presented the man of the hour, in what was certainly one of the most idolised introductions I’ve heard in my day. Calling up one of the most ‘famous’ Greeks of our time, as she so aptly put it, Yanis Varoufakis onto the stage.

“The world needs more people like you”, she said, as they embraced each other in an awkward side-hug, while he humbly countered her compliments. Then he was off, launching straight into the sequel of events that occurred following the 2015 crisis that was explored in the film.

“The signature on the MOU that summer, as you can see from the movie, meant that for the next forty years, Greece has committed to permanent austerity”, he said, while taking several pauses for dramatic effect, before pivoting into a series of anecdotes. From English bankers and the untrustworthy Troika who were never in it for the money, to explanations of how the Germans manipulated the system to steal Greek Airports, and benefit from the struggle of the Hellenic people, his stories ebbed and flowed in a sequence of events that for the most part seemed plausible.

Watching him speak was strangely alluring; he spoke with a confidence and rhythm that demanded attention. I could see why a character of this sort could so easily draw in the masses, and subsequently rise in popularity. I also couldn’t help but notice the uncanny resemblance between the enigmatic character on stage, with that portrayed in the film by Christos Loulis. Whether one agreed with his statements, or found them entirely conspiratorial and far-fetched, there was no denying that this man had an intelligence, quick-wit and charm about him, that in a political context, would made him extremely seductive.

The film gave a very personal insight into a world of drama and chaos that occurred behind the closed doors of Europe’s diplomatic scene. The Eurozone a meritless jungle, the ministers a hungry pack, and the Greek government the hunted prey, who attempted to outsmart their predators at every turn, only to get eaten in the end. It presents SYRIZA and the Leftas a heroic cause, fighting on a political stage riddled with secrecy, betrayal, and a simply ludicrous set of rules designed to ensure Greece’s failure. What was most interesting was the insinuated power play that was going on amongst inconspicuous powers, who despite not being present, seemed to control the storyline.

“Greece was just a dystopic laboratory, in which they were trying out all of these policies before they were imposing them everywhere else”, said Varoufakis, as he went into detail about the imposition of the Troika on other European nations, and the ramifications of the policies in Greece on the rest of Europe. In short, it wasn’t just the Greeks who were suffering; it was people everywhere, and all for the benefit of a few. A storyline we are all too familiar with.

Despite the progressive sentiment of the Greeks during this tumultuous period, the Prime Minister’s signing of the MOU in 2015 was indicative of a time that was long coming, not only in Greece, but also for the rest of the world. We have seen conservative attitudes sweep the political landscape of most Western nations, replacing left-wing governments that were campaigning for a more progressive and socialist outlook. Walls have been put up (both figuratively and literally), and people are seeking to settle for stability, while becoming wary of dealing with the ‘other’, leaving the Left to sit idle. However, this does not deter Varoufakis, and his recently found party, MeRA25, who are slowly, but confidently, clawing their way out of the ashes once more. From here it’s a waiting game.