Wolfgang Schäuble (top left) and Yanis Varoufakis; Dan Boyle
Academics in power.
Warns Dan Boyle
I’m not a man who’s disposed to violence. Whenever I find myself possessed of such thoughts I have to hit myself to make the thought go away. I vicariously live my violence, sometime through daydreams, more often in nightmares.
One of the more unwelcome visitors to my subconscious is the sullen image of Wolfgang Schäuble, the German federal finance minister. The greyness of his features highlighted by thin lips through which the coldest of language comes, creates an urge in me to slap the face of the man.
A Freudian psychiatrist might attribute this to a guilt complex on my part, that on however a peripheral level I was operating from, I didn’t take the opportunity to physically challenge our German economic overlords.
I have long since wondered what those who criticised this softly softly approach actually had in mind. My inner Walter Mitty has me grabbing the lapels of the errant Teuton, confronting him with my finest Elvis sneer while parroting the best James Cagney dialogue from any of his gangster films. Those most trenchant in their belief of the effectiveness of physical force, as a means of persuasion, swear by the success of the baseball bat. That’s never been my sport though.
My vicarious self got a lift with the election of Syriza in Greece. Government in that country badly needed a shake up. Their evil twins of PASOK and New Democracy, like ours of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, had mired the country in nod and winkery, placating most of those whose souls were bought with the promise of an eternal tax free haven where living was easy and many things were free.
The new bosses spoke openly, dressed casually, and much as it disgusted the latent homophobe in me, seemed composed of very good looking men. New and different had to be good. Hadn’t it?
Soon the zeal of the convert began to desert me. My first fears were realised when I discovered the extent to which the new government was made up of academics. Now I have nothing against academics. Some of my best friends are academics. I’ve spent the last number of years, thankfully successfully, trying to acquire a Masters through mine and their efforts. The best learning I achieved through this process is confirmation that political theory and political practice have absolutely nothing in common.
Sorcerer in chief of this new approach to politics, Mr. Varoufakis, was meant to be able to change the entire paradigm by his being an expert in ‘games theory’.
In my own thesis I had struggled with the theory of this theory. The concepts of ‘leverage’ and ‘minimum winning coalitions’ befuddled me. Even more so when I couldn’t recognise where they existed in the Greek situation.
It seems the chosen tool of confrontation was to piss people off. Delay, defer, prevaricate, whatever you do don’t do anything. The strategy seems to have been to traduce Mr. Schäuble to a non-animated version of Wile E. Coyote with steam coming out of his ears.
And then there was the master stroke of the referendum. A brilliant piece of political theatre, it involved asking a complicated though unnecessary question that could be reduced to an essence of ‘Would you vote for more misery?’ The most surprising thing was 40% of those who voted voted yes.
Because I’ve long believed that politics isn’t a game but something that affects people’s lives, Alexis Tsipras has now become my Elmer Gantry (the film character/religious charlatan not to be confused with Bugs Bunny nemesis Elmer Fudd – although that might work as an analogy as well). It’s a pity. We all could have been contenders.
Dan Boyle is former Green Party Senator
Today’s Irish Times.
Romain Petton writes:
It probably would make a decent movie…