Yanis Varoufakis: Live at Politics and Prose

Yanis Varoufakis: Live at Politics and Prose


  1. 1st ! What no Comments! Wow! Love Varoufakis… one of the few Economists that know WTF they are talking about when it comes to this '"rigged system of despair and debt for most people".

  2. Yanis varoufakis is an international treasure. Greece is lucky to have him as a citizen. He can be a savior of Europe by transforming monopolistic, hedonistic capitalism which is serving only a few into conscientious capitalism which can truly help the masses.

  3. I really enjoy hearing. Yanis' perspective and Im excited to purchase his books. However, it irked me when he made the statement "Its easier to get into Harvard if you are Black than if you are poor". It has no basis in fact. That comparison simply cannot be made because it ignores intersectionality. You can be Black and poor or Black and rich, so race and economic status are not things that you can compare separately. I have found this myopia about intersectionality to be a problem with economists. Economists like to make assumptions based on finite perfect factors.

    I had a masters economics professor justify racial profiling by saying that if mostly Black people are committing crimes as assumed based on statistics on blacks being charged with crimes, then it makes more sense for police to profile Black people. This ignores the facts that the White people who commit the same crimes, are underrepresented in incarceration, because they are less likely to be targeted, less likely to be charged and less likely to be convicted when guilty. So you make a false conclusion when you haven't included all the factors.

    Similarly, Yanis discounts that in America, as a function of being Black you are more likely to be poor because of a lack of generational wealth due to economic wage discrimination that pre-civil rights allowed Black people to be paid less, denied Black people loans, and the continued economic wage differential between Blacks and Whites due to hiring, firing and promotion. Secondly, if you are Black you're more likely to attend a school that has poor educational outcomes due to underfunding. So, even if you were to compare race to economic status the people who are poor that comparison would inevitably include poor Black people.This analysis can be expanded world wide.

  4. Excellent talk and discussion – Yanis is a shining star in the lacklustre firmament of the modern Left. Thanks for posting.

  5. We need more talks like this to combat……
    Far-right extremists targeting UK as they 'weaponise internet culture' to spread hatred around the world
    Key figures from the European Identitarian movement have met in London 'to discuss starting new UK branch'

  6. Thanks…..His grounds for worry and hope—-that capitalism is not sustainable much longer. If folks hear nothing else, listen to the last 5 minutes on real conditions now behind "success in Greece" and realize this is all across Europe. So, I sure hope Diem25 brings working people to the polls across nations and that they speak an even braver "No More!" than Greece first did.

  7. His Berlin exchange is typical German – the rules are the rules, follow the rules. Period
    This is from a South African living in Germany.

  8. Oh, my God, thank you, thank you, thank you, this nightmare called ''Varoufakis'' (or Baroufa-kis = the one saying nonsense) didn't succeed to persuade totally to his catastrophic dreams the other nightmare called Tsipras, the current prime minister of my completely surrendered to populism and autarchy country, my poor lady, my Greece. Varoufakis, your english, my handsome, are so perfect. Please, please, please, stay there, to the States, and don't come back again. US is so a wonderful country. Stay there. It' s the best for you. You will not work again. You go here and there telling stories and selling books. Stay there, my son. Let poor, idiot and self justified, την εν πολλαίς αμαρτίαις περιπεσούσα γυνή, Greece, to find herself again away from your marxist+populist ideals or the ideals of the nazis. Let it be, my son. Stay there. US is so a marvelous country.

  9. The problem with politics is that everyone in politics is getting government assistance. Everyone that gets government checks is getting government assistance. How can they focus on real problem solving when they are focused on filling their own pockets. They are there to exploit the system for their own benefit. Otherwise they would not need or accept government pay. They have made themselves to comfortable to think about real problems. They are to busy trying to choose what color suit to wear. Too much government assistance. They get to thinking poor people don't need government assistance, the rich do! The rich are getting the most government assistance. The government takes from the poor and gives to the rich! A reverse Robin Hood!

  10. Time, space, money and debt…… Imagine a society without this,, it is just a bubble…. How in the heck have we listened to Greenspam (John Galt) and Summers (women cant do math)…… and Bernanke who fiddled while the banksters BLEW UP the Real Estate bubble with FRAUDULENT APPRAISAL, FRAUDULENT RATINGS and FRAUDULENT UNDERWRITING…..and nobody went to jail.. Time to nationalize the banks…..

  11. RIFF RAFF, we are all riffraff or only one job loss, or one loss of spouse, or one loss of healthcare away from that….. Cannon fodder for the banksters….   But imagine, the Magna Carta included almost 1000 years ago, the right to a JURY TRIAL….and now our SCOTUS has obstructed that right…  What is next from this SCOTUS….WAKE UP AMERICA….

  12. On his point that "there is no real democracy" – well, Yanis should either read Popper (I would assume he read his works, of course), or quote him on this: How can we get rid of elites without bloodshed and violence?

    Democracy is not about being ruled "by the people". That's almost always a bad idea. This idea is of course a kind of fetish that is important for the democratic narrative ("government of the people, by the people, for the people", and similar poetic drivel) but has no basis in reality. Power is always hierarchical.

    There is a cute little joke about this: serfs in feudalism lived under the rule that everyone works, apart from the elites. These poor souls did not yet know the enlightened communist system, of course, where the rule is that everyone works, apart from the elites.

    In a representative parliamentarian democracy, we are ruled by elites. The point is that you can get rid of the current elite and replace it with a different (!) one every four (or whatever) years without having to resort to arms. And as such, this system was amazingly successful.

    You also need to read the election of Trump in this context. When the people get the – not entirely unfounded – impression that the supposedly different elites are indeed all part of one big swamp, and not that much different after all, they may reject them altogether. And when Yanis says that he wants to restore democracy and give power back to the people, what he means is of course that he himself wants to rule "in their name" 🙂

  13. The experience of Greece was a precursor to and may have been a significant contributor to Brexit and the wave of Euroscepticism that has spread across the EU. The situation now (June 2018) is toxic and may lead to the break up to the European model – one that was a beacon to the world about how to overcome differences and come together for the common good. There had been a war or two before all this apparently.

    I am British and pro-EU, but have fought for citizen-centred reforms for ….a long time. I share the words of John Donne: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. I understand that Europe is not a monolith, mono-cutural or mono anything. I read Hans Magnus Enzensberger's Europa Europa and seen some of what he writes of. I am not even ethnically European!

    The principal flaw was baked into the system. Varufakis well explains how all economic theory is really just speculation, unable to deal with the variables of time, space, debt and …something else. Doesn't matter. It's a guessing game. But we signed on the dotted line.

    What happened with the Maastricht Treaty (1992) was, and straight out of Wikipedia:

    *Annual government deficit:
    The ratio of the annual government deficit to gross domestic product (GDP) must not exceed 3% at the end of the preceding fiscal year. If not, it is at least required to reach a level close to 3%. Only exceptional and temporary excesses would be granted for exceptional cases.

    * Government debt:
    The ratio of gross government debt to GDP must not exceed 60% at the end of the preceding fiscal year. Even if the target cannot be achieved due to the specific conditions, the ratio must have sufficiently diminished and must be approaching the reference value at a satisfactory pace. As of the end of 2014, of the countries in the Eurozone, only Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Luxembourg, and Finland still met this target.

    The great convergence pushed different economies together and crowded out country-specific variations in terms of needs. The rupture in this democratic choice and accountability was compensated by fiscal measures and 'regeneration budgets' that were both removed and shrouded in technical language. Attempts at bringing Europe to the people were either accepted with a nod and a wink or laughed at. This is why the Left is weak on 'Europe'.

    There were many gains, of course, in pushing for a human-centred approach: the environment, consumer rights, civil liberties. But these now lie alongside the tatters of that dream.

    I will end with a Greek word: Hubris. Arrogance, pomposity, conceit. And where have we ended up? Well, "pride goeth before a fall" – but apparently that's a misquote of the Bible. Given that we've all been so off kilter with the 'European Project', what's one more infraction?

  14. For an opposing view of left-wing populism read the books "Robert Kennedy: A Memoir" and "A Populist Manifesto" by Jack Newfield…

  15. Extending this beyond economics with a paraphrase by the late Science Fiction writer, Robert Heinlein — 'Man is not so much a rational animal, as he is a rationalizing beast.' It is not that so much the case that systems are 'irrational', but that human behavior is arrational (aside from logic).

    In the domains of mathematics (Gödel) and language (Wittgenstein), we can see that those domains are little more than but tools for 'the Dark Triad' personality types (machiavellian opportunists, narcissists, and sociopaths) to give post-hoc justifications for doing exactly what they want to do … having it all, and having it now.

    As for the funny anecdote at about 51:00 about rules that 'you don't get in academia?' I like Yanis and think he is clear headedly brilliant. But he has never taught in a Japanese University.

    The academic apartheid results in EXACTLY the same absurd logic used by the bankers Yanis refers to. Japanese universities are such authoritarian institutions, that even other Japanese of lower rank know that they must say 'black is white' if the boss says so, much less a foreign professor.

    That is why Japanese Universities are charitably ranked at about 70th best in the world … and why I had no choice but to resign in protest from a 'tenured position'. And now in one of the most densely populated areas on the face of the planet, I have been black-listed from academia for daring to resign from authority without their permission.
    Unemployed for 3 years, and now underemployed … still not able to even pay my own rent.

    Dark-Triad type of behavior is not necessarily 'bad' because evolutionary anthropologists have pointed out that such types may be useful for small communities facing external threats. It is when we change from empathy – driven social primates to hiearcical rule – driven 'herding primates' and then chaotic 'swarming primates' when the hierarchical niches become over run with those types.

    With nuclear technology that can either send manned missions to mars (for our species to further swarm) or blow ourselves up fighting over diminishing returns or exploiting quickly dimishing natural resources here… I don't want to be this pessimistic, but I can't help but to think it is just a matter of time before we reach our next and species-terminating malthusian meltdown.

    I remember once reading that the ancient Greeks were ambivalent about that last remaining thing in Pandora's box. Hope. Is it a good thing? Most think so. But the ambivalence goes back to Oedipus. Hope presumes we have the power to control our own fate. Hubris.

    At least a couple of great minds are similarly skeptical about our future chances.

    In Chomsky's 2010 Chapel Hill speech … https://chomsky.info/20100930/ … Carl Sagan's debate with the biologist Ernst Mayr about the possibility of intelligence in the cosmos is an interesting case. Sagan predictably argued for the possibility because of mathematical probability.

    But Mayr gave a compelling counter-argument, with the implication that human-like intelligence is NOT the pinnacle of evolution … but rather just an evolutionary spandrel of a social primate, probably a fatal mutation. If the evolutionary record of other species is any rule of thumb to go by, Mayr may be right.

    And more recently, a couple of years before he died, Stephen Hawking opined that this is 'the most dangerous time for humanity' …. for exactly the same reason I mentioned previously. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/01/stephen-hawking-dangerous-time-planet-inequality.


  16. Yanis I like you but you still talk shit when it comes to the EU,they screwed your country Greece and you still want a federal EU,,come on yanis talk sense the EU has got it all wrong and you so called interlecturals know best lol,stop talking about the Fucking EU and I will take you seriously,EU is a dictatorship and that's why it's failing and you to yanis are still blind to the utter misery the EU as brought to many great Nations

  17. The EU screwed you over Yanis and your Country and you failed to change anything,a shame for sure,,,but you still a EU federalist how stupid is that

  18. I like hearing him speak, but "all economic theory is useless". His political assessment i agree with and the evolution of it. We are the worker bees being controlled by a group that does not represent the people that put them there. We need to start with term limits on the congress and the senate, similar to the president term limits..

  19. It is really sad to watch most American "leftists" ask questions of Yanis. They reveal how closed-minded they are and attempt to foist their social dogma on Yanis. Generally, Yanis resists, and I appreciate that.

  20. Yanis: Insightful; well-read; happily out of the box — you may come closest today on the public stage to rich and enduring insights of Mary Parker Follett written a century ago: e.g.,
    1) "Self-and-others Illusion " The New State, pp. 148-155, 1918
    2) "Vicarious Experience: Is the Expert the Revealer of Truth?" Creative Experience, pp. 3-30, 1924
    3) "The Illusion of Final Authority," Dynamic Administration, 2nd edition, pp. 117-131, 1973

  21. I am for re-nationalisation of crucial industries and services. Why? As a (global) society we face two main threats: socio-economically it is the unfathomable Wealth Gap, the other is the environment, including Climate Change. Both are entangled, the connective point: (neoliberal) Capitalism (including its byproduct, Consumerism). I would like to say those issues are getting tackled. But they are not. Look around, media and the public alike are talking endlessly about… any other topics. Some are valid (racism, migrant crisis and mistreatment, MeToo etc). But they are missing the underlying structure that creates practically all those problems: Capitalism, again.

    Somehow people have to learn that the environment is essential, not just some "spoilsport annoying issue created by some stupid entitled bourgeois white folks who hate humans, especially brown and poor people, who they possible even want to get rid of via genocide" or some similar B.S. that seems to make the rounds in leftist circles. (I do not even mention what right wingers think of it, they just care for money anyway.)

    If people do not even see environmental issues as vital and essential, it will be hard to do what has to be done. And it HAS to be done.

    Tackling environmental and social issues would be so much easier if crucial industries would be owned by the public. There is a strategy behind the anti-government sentiment that makes the rounds on the right, not only in libertarian circles. But Government (flawed as it is – there is much room for reform and better candidates) should represent the people and work for them and in their name. Public owned means owned by the citizenry. That is a good thing! We, the regular people, should demand more public owned industries and services!

    Government should play a bigger role, ditch the B.S. about "private enterprise is always better", the selling out of public lands, services (education, transport, electricity) etc. Those "neoliberal" ideas are still perpetuated, even if they were proven wrong.

    I think Government should actually nationalise several industries. For instance the chemical industry. It is highly dangerous (prone to accidents, pollution etc) and their products are potentially toxic for the consumer. That is not a good combination of facts for a profit driven industry! The Government could put up e.g. higher environmental and work safety standards, limit certain toxins that are on the market (pesticides which kill bees, cancer causing materials etc.). Also, since the pharmaceutical industry is part of it, the Government could produce and sell medicine for a reasonable price; the profits would go back to the state, i.e. the citizens. And of cause, accountability and transparency are a must, even if the industry is owned by the public.

    Insane that we are not doing this! For the sake of society and environment alike. To communicate this to the general public has to be the main effort of activists.

    For less crucial industries and enterprises, I am absolutely for Richard Wolff`s "Worker Co-ops" idea. And of course, there can be small businesses that are privately owned, too (e.g. B&Bs, restaurants) as long as they follow environmental, health/safety and work(er) related regulations. But big companies, multi-nationals should be dismantled.

  22. Εντελως μπαγλαμας απορω πως τον καναν υπουργο 200δις μας κοστισαν οι μσλακιες του

  23. truly sad this guy does not even recognize the existence of the Austrian School of economics …during the crisys Many economists, True economists, wanted the bailout to be canceled. Wanted JPMorgan to go down in smoke. The plan of Varoufakis was to Take control of those bank by the Government … complete idiocy.
    Varoufakis is sadly the example of people that does not realize that people Want to decide their future their life, and not the Government. Sad to see the guy talk like a commie.

  24. I would argue that Left Wing populism DOES exist if he defined populism to be the act of exploiting the fears of the dispossessed in order to harness their anger and reinforce it, in order to obtain more power.
    If one were to exploit the fears of homeless people towards the banks who have repossessed their houses and cars, the fears of the minority groups towards the majority, the fears of the gender fluid atheists towards religion, or the fears of women towards men…then it would STILL be populism.

  25. very interested to see what happens with Bernie Sanders and their Progressive International group launch meeting Nov 30.

  26. He is a modern saint for writing "Adults in the Room". It is a must read for any aspiring ethical and honest politicians. They need to know how to avoid the mistakes Yanis made, and how to nip treachery in the bud (which Yanis did not do) and recognize the banal evil of neoliberal technocrats like Djisselbloem and Schauble and Draghi (which Yanis did recognize but gave too much benefit of civility towards).

  27. Yes, there is hope if more people try to understand the real economy. But that alone is not sufficient for progress in overcoming the root evils of capitalism, neoliberalism and fascism. People need to understand people, since it is not only power and wealth structure but also psychology which drive political economy. The essence of understanding people is to understand that most people have a a powerful desire to do good, to see justice and to help one another. In other words, central to a true democracy and economic justice is for people who are now oppressed and desperate to recognize their common spirituality and draw upon that for strength. I agree with Yanis — forget the econ textbooks — what really is essential to economics is spirituality, trust, honesty, seeing justice is done, not merely paid lip service. What prevents the study of spirituality in the economics profession is the miserable view that economics is merely about who owns the means of production and how resources should be allocated. No algorithm can determine this fairly, it has to be done by trusting each other to do the right thing, to help each other, because when a society is cooperative and free of competition for profits, it becomes more dynamic, more free, more creative and ultimately more productive and affluent (affluent not only in material means but in spiritual means as well). To take a mundane example: why do we not have an all electric vehicle market? It is because car manufacturing is driven by profit for a few, not (as it should be) by concern for the environment or for betterment of profit (non-monetary) to all society. In short, economics is not the proverbial "miserable science", it is the greatest of all the materialistic academic disciplines precisely because it is not really all about materialism, it is about humanity. Economics is the "wonderful science" when it is practised truly, because it recognizes spiritual principles as fundamental to solutions to materialistic problems. The reason for Yanis' dim view of economists is exactly because almost no economists understand this essence of their discipline, to them people and resources are just numbers in a model.

    Here's a wild shot in the YouTube dark…. are their any Kiwi's reading these comments? I'm back in NZ after a few long stints teaching overseas, and itching to develop some collaboration of a non-partisan nature focused on political economy activism in Aotearoa. I want to help someone like Varoufakis in New Zealand, who is the equivalent? Thing is, I do not think our left wing politicians here have ever fully woken up from the neoliberal haze. We really need to kill off neoliberalism and supply side economics here and get some decent amount of worker cooperative economics going. Need this fairly urgently, as the Mondragon Coop shows, a worker coop has resilience and can ride out a serious economic recession without laying waste to worker's lives. And you can bet when the next global financial crisis hits countries like NZ will get hit hard because we do not have a solid unionized labour base..

  28. An interesting speaker, with an interesting personal story to tell.
    This presentation was good but not at all his best, it was pretty scattershot in places.

    "Is Capitalism devouring Democracy?" is a much more coherent treatment by Yanis of the same subjects – you can find it on YT. Well worth checking out.

  29. We need to reinstall debt forgiveness. each country needs to and tell the crooks who took power from governments they can live without the repayments or we'll take their heads… like in the old days!

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