What follows is a short letter on how I learned to stop worrying and love Grexit.
Dear Greek Public,
I am often accused by readers of my blog and commenters on social media that I am a coward, generally yellow, lacking in stamina and insufficiently resilient during these lovely 5 months of negotiations between Greece and our ‘partners’. I took therefore some time to reflect on my cowardly ways and arrived at the conclusion that yes, I too can support Grexit. Here is how I arrived at this gilded conclusion.
Some of the feedback on my commentary is that in a ‘game’ such as this, one does not reveal weakness and does not show willingness to compromise till the time is right. Of course, this may have looked like the future of the country was gambled, and it is! It is like high stakes poker, but even better, as the negotiator (eg Prof Varoufakis) is not betting his own money, he is betting everyone else’s!
It has been suggested to me that Grexit may not be so bad. First of all, some people have been so badly affected by the crisis that they have nothing to lose. Secondly, the growth potential of the country will be better after the Euro. Absolutely! Everyone who is now poor and relies on poor quality public services will be so much better served once the country defaults and state provision totally collapses. What difference will it make if the hospital closes, its no good anyway. And of course the growth potential of the country will be better. In 10 years or so, Greece will have returned (will have reached slowly) the living standards of the 1980s and we all remember what a great time we had as kids. Should we worry about the lack of a development plan outside the Euro? Why? Should we worry about the lack of a political vision beyond European integration? Of course not, we could be the North Korea of the Med, I am sure Mr Lafazanis can help up us on that one.
I have been told off for not having faith in Prof Lapavitsas and the Grexit advocates. I repent, I see the error of my ways. Who needs a plan for Grexit? We will make it up as we go along, no need to worry about re-capitalising the banking system without ECB support, no need to think about the logistics of printing money, no need to worry about the destruction of tourism during capital controls and border restrictions. It will all be fine. Professors who have lived abroad all their lives know perfectly well how to guide Greece through this crisis, and after all, if it does not work out, they can return to SOAS, and Texas, so no downside! I should know, I am one of them!
Finally, I have been needlesly distrustful of the Greek political class. I did not trust them to carry the country through the adjustment Grexit will bring. To keep security during the tough times when wages and pensions have gone unpaid, when the police has gone home (for not being paid), When the doctors and nurses and everyone has gone to the beach (for not being paid). I was so wrong to worry. The Greek political establishment has managed so well during the good times, that there is no reason to worry it will not manage during the bad times. Syriza is filled with people known for their acumen and efficiency. After all they reopened ERT didn’t they? It will all be fine.
That’s it my fellow compatriots. Now I am like you, I am courageous, I am strong, I am full of pride. I am thinking of wearing a tunic over my T-shirt Kamenos style. I will be the Varoufakis with an extra ‘n’. Go Grexit!