The parable of the divorce

The divorce: a story of the Greek-European relationship


The relationship of Greece and its European creditors reminds me of the last stages of a bad marriage. I apologise in advance for the gender stereotypes, but parables work best when they are direct.

Things have been bad for a while, years in fact, but the couple stays together for the children (the Greek people).

The husband (Europe) is sick of his wife (Greek government). She has let herself go (she is fiscally irresponsible), she does not take care of herself (corruption is endemic) and is frankly bad for the children (the people). She has gone on all these diets that he suggested (austerity) yet none sticks and she is getting worse. He is sick of waiting for things to get better, if it weren’t for the kids (and some complex family money issues) they would have split ages ago. There is simply no love there anymore. Yes she made him who he is (European civilisation) but one has to move on.

The wife is not so hot on the relationship either. Yes, she is totally financially dependent on him, but she has her dignity too! He made her go on all these diets, she hardly recognises herself anymore and the kids are very unhappy. What is the point of going on as he clearly does not want her? He only married her to begin with as he was obsessed with growing his family (Euro accession). How will she live though? She could go back to what she was doing before (Drachma) but she was way larger then and not very classy, and most of the kids would be unhappy too.

This marriage will not make it, we all know that. But there is something which does not work with our parable. In couples like this generic stereotype, the kids eventually grow up and then the couple splits. The Greek people will not grow up. They will not accept the reduction of living standards that the break up will bring, neither can they live with mom’s diet (austerity). Therefore the unhappy marriage will continue, indefinitely.




9 thoughts on “The parable of the divorce

  1. Sotiris says:

    Your comment sounds like there is no hope.
    I don’t accept that. It is time that the wife does things for herself in order for the husband to love her again. And he will if she shows her good will to change,
    Then the children will become happier and happier as time goes by.
    Our generation needs to start this process in order for the next generation (our children) to live in a better country, Europe and world.


    • I agree with you.

      If I may speculate? iGlinavos and many others, including Yanis Varoufakis had such hope & dreams for a new deal to emerge in Greece (read back on their blogs over the past 6 months). After the disappointment of the outcome where things stand now, has come bitterness, accusations and recriminations. I can fully understand these sentiments. But it is time to put this behind us.

      From an intellectual point of view, it indeed seems that “the Greek people will not grow up”. And therefore they deserve the sort of outcome that they have got. However, I do not accept that this is the true reality. And this is the premise that I have been promoting these past days.

      Continuing with the theme of the analogy, the Greek people need to be “helped” to grow up. We, the enlightened ones, recognise how much propaganda has been presented in the media regarding the Greek question. “Greece will collapse if outside the Euro……if outside the Euro then Greece will be outside Europe……if Greece leaves the Euro then worse hardship for all, forever……default means no one will ever trust the Greeks again……Greece was on the road to recovery, but Syriza messed it all up”…..and so on and so on. And not only the Greeks were targeted, the citizens of Europe were being brainwashed too!

      Clearly, imho, Tsipras & Varoufakis had it wrong to try to save the “Euro Dream”. And I can sense the bitterness of YV as he has had to acknowledge, at least to himself, why the Euro Dream was an illusion or perhaps his attempts to save it were just “A Bridge Too Far”. Never mind. After everything that has transpired, finally in this “game” (as EU Pres Tusk kept referring to the process), the cards are finally all face up on the table.

      Now we have to move forward. Costas Lapavitsas, an academic and now politician and (still) a member of Syriza has not given up. Check this out:


  2. LeaNder says:

    “She could go back to what she was doing before (Drachma) but she was way larger then and not very classy, and most of the kids would be unhappy too.”

    Larger then? I do not understand what you mean, Iannos


      • LeaNder says:

        ‘Please don’t expect me to accept that as a joke. Larger then what? Not suppressed by EU politicians? Not suppressed by us Germans?

        Nostalgia for Greece’s earlier cultural importance? Culturally, but also materially then. I hate to cite a famous quote in arts— Clement Greenberg: Culture is connected with an umbilical cord with capital. Maybe Yanis and his wife cut the cord, or pretend to cut it, but it is much more likely she will profit from it via his prominence.

        I had a struggle with an Iranian about his responses to Iranians denigrations recently, thus I am aware that circumstances may trigger century old arguments of culture, and I don’t judge these responses on the basis of how I would judge us Germans. Should I? Maybe I should accept the finial victory of “American culture” or its origin. … Without doubt I agree that Greece would deserve German reparations, to go move to more recent times. How much do you think Russia would deserve comparatively?

        Iannos, basically, there was a point in my studies decades ago where I was lost. At least it felt I was lost. I hated to not be able to read ancient Greek texts. I could read the Latin ones, but I couldn’t read the Greek. Thus it surely is no accident that I live with someone who thought me to be able to look up Greek words in ancient Greek at least and help me read it. And whose grandfather accidentally was both a teacher and a scholar of ancient Greece. This does not make me able to read Greek newspapers however, if I ever wanted to dive into Greek emotions versus German ones. And notice, I may be semi-psychopatic, I hate to be forced to respond based on emotions. I cannot be pushed via suicide rates in Greece, I have always prepared my suicide as the ultimate way out. I was always suspicious of the society around me, I can even base it on academic expertise more recently admittedly as German: never trust there isn’t a capability of something like the banality of evil. Since I am no racist, I object to the idea it must always be German. We all look for survival and advancement, on the survival level we are easy to manipulate, on the advancement level we choose topics that may be helpful. Does Yanis academic expertise fit into Yanis the political actor?

        swiftly fitting recent events into the new narrative?

        “Crisis and its personal impact

        IMG_0739From the early 2000s, my dear friend and colleague Joseph Halevi and I were alerted to the unsustainability of the ‘global arrangements’ underpinning the global economy’s so called ‘Great Moderation’. Similarly, we were in deep doubt about the sustainability of the Eurozone. We felt that, underneath the surface, the tectonic plates were on the move, ready to repay financialised capitalism’s exorbitant hubris with an almighty crash. ”

        Language wise, we no doubt could go all the way back, past the Romans to the origins or some type of larger Greek culture, in other words times when Koine Greek reigned the region. Could this be related to the perception in whatever subconscious way to the perception of a “German takeover” at least as Yanis suggests from his limited lens. The American Hoover sucking up the world’s money versus the German “pseudo-hoover” if I may, of Germany wanting to control Europe?

        YV, Dec. 2010:

        “The euro, it must be remembered, was conceived at the height of the Grand Hoover’s reign. Germany thought that it could extend its growth model to the eurozone. Convinced that the Grand Hoover would continue to suck in its surpluses, Germany thought that its surpluses could expand further within Europe if deficit countries like Greece, Spain, Italy etc. were given a strong DM-linked currency. Germany’s condition for sharing its currency with the rest was that nothing else would be shared except for the common currency: Debt, taxes, government expenditure would be all nation-state-specific. Each euro of debt would belong to one country only and no surplus recycling mechanism would be set up.”

        I can see, we can be faulted for being an export surplus nation, but can we based on this be blamed for evil intend for helping creating the EU Eurozone? I am open, but I would want more evidence then Yanis gives in his peculiar talk.”


        I understand your field is law, it feels to me slightly more secure than economics, based on the limited postdoc studies of both fields for people working in the arts.

        But laws and rules seems to be exactly what Yanis challenges.

        What I found highly ridiculous in the youtube link (again) above was that some cites Bob Dylan without any awareness of his poetry, and all Yanis has to do is respond: The times they are a changing? How? By creating another scapegoat?

        sorry, I didn’t proofread this. I would appreciate the opportunity to proofread later. 😉


  3. LeaNder:

    Your “cry from the heart” touched me. At first, I felt that I could not possibly say anything to you in response or agreement. However, on reflection, I wish to add this.

    I have noted, with dismay, the attack on the Germans/Germany regarding the ongoing crisis in Greece. I perceive that there is a muddling of labels by the less-informed (as opposed to the well-informed) people of Europe (judging by articles in the media and blogs/comments on the internet). I have read numerous articles, written by ordinary Germans, that many things in Germany are not so wonderful for them either. So perhaps the muddle is that the reference to “Germany” is a reference to the German politicians in power and not a reference to the “German” people as a whole. However, this distinction does not warrant any further discussion because it does nothing to further a search for a solution to the real problem.

    Without wishing to speak on behalf of Yanis Varoufakis, my interpretation of his obsession of blaming the Germans or Germany for the ills of Greece in particular and Europe in general is rather sad and petty. I realize that, in an in-depth analysis of the development of the EU & the EMU and its subsequent faults, a case could be made against a number of country’s actions, but only in hindsight, since I cannot believe that the system was purposely set up to fail. But all of this backwards finger pointing does little to bring us to a proper and lasting solution. We must understand clearly what the problems are, but we are going to have to get out of reverse gear and start moving forwards. From the failure to solve or, at least mitigate, the Greek economic crisis, comes bitterness and recrimination. As a reason for failure, I for one cannot accept the excuse that it is the fault of Germany or the Germans.

    Furthermore, there is still wider debate amongst all experts in their respective fields, some being academics or politicians, as to the root causes of the economic problems in Europe. To simply look for a scapegoat, as you put it, is not a very clever response to our problems.

    So where do we go from here? One way is to keep the dialogue going between people, whatever their nationality. For only then will we be able to really understand each other and our respective problems.

    And for this reason, I wish to thank Iannos for spurring us on to question and question again. He is the “rebel’s conscience” (my phrase, not his).


    • Sorry, typo here:

      Without wishing to speak on behalf of Yanis Varoufakis, my interpretation of his obsession of blaming the Germans or Germany for the ills of Greece in particular and Europe in general is [that it is] rather sad and petty.


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