Bastille Day, 2015
Yanis Varoufakis was far from the only one to attack the July, 2015 A Greekment, as it has been called, and from across the whole political and economic spectrum (see for example the Bastille Day piece by Wolfgang Munchau in the Financial Times). For the erstwhile Greek Minister of Finances, this deal, virtually an ukase, amounts to a new Versailles, the notorious treaty which ended the First World War, laid the blame for that catastrophe entirely at the feet of the Germans and led at least in part to the rise of Fascism in Europe. I am not sure that Versailles is the right metaphor, since the Germans did have the power to rise again, while the Greeks clearly don’t. In any event, the shoes are obviously on the other feet.
Maybe Vichy would be a better simile for the new Greek government which is sure to come, whether by election or coalition shift, regime change whatever term will be used. After utter defeat at the beginning of World War Two at the hands of German tanks, as opposed to banks, the French government retreated to the old spa town of Vichy and tried to eke out some autonomy within the narrow margin of maneuver left to them. The backbone of the French Resistance was Communist, despite all subsequent Gaullist myth-making, but alone it was never going to evince the Germans. As we know, it took the combined forces of the Soviet and Allied armies to do so.
ThIs morning I went back and re-read Varoufakis’ two-year old piece on his “erratic Marxism”. Another ideological casualty of events as they have unrolled is surely the relative moderation expressed in that essay: http://www.theGuardian.com/news/2015/feb/18/yanis-varoufakis-how-i-became-an-erratic-marxist.
All this to say that François Mitterand may have committed a critical blunder when he offered Helmut Kohl the Eurowiedervereinigung shorty after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Maybe the Anschluss of the German Democratic Republic was unavoidable, but it does look like the Germans were able to take the gift horse of the Euro and turn it to their own purposes, unlike the Trojans, the metaphor begs me to add.
Henceforth, emerging through the fog of peace are five new tiers of Europeans: the German Alphas (notionally including the Ostis), the Beta honorary Aryans from the North (to which some Belgians are foolish enough to imagine they belong), the Latin Gammas (including the French), the slavish Slav and Baltic Deltas (whose allegiance or better infeudation to Germany is exacerbated by the boogey-man Putin, to whom and for which the Germans now owe much), and finally the Greek Epsilons.
(Yes, I know, I have left out the Brits — par anticipation?)
Immediately after the Second World War, the Allies initially proposed the “pastoralization” of defeated Germany, in other words its de-industrialization. Instead of this Morgenthau Plan, the more development-focused Marshall plan was adopted as US policy, which set the grounds for the rise of Germany as an industrial power and what has become the European Union. No such luck for the Greeks.
Europe, shorn of its veneer, is beginning to like its old self again.