by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 10
November 2020
Reaction
15:39

Yanis Varoufakis is right to be wary of Biden

by Peter Franklin

Begrudging. Sulky. Alienated. Angry. No, not Donald Trump’s demeanour over the last few days — but the attitude of the radical Left to Joe Biden’s victory.

Owen Jones set the tone in The Guardian with a big bucket of cold water. Then there was Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, interviewed by the New York Times, and sounding less than overjoyed: “I’m serious when I tell people the odds of me running for higher office and the odds of me just going off trying to start a homestead somewhere — they’re probably the same.”

I guess you can’t blame them. If you were expecting to get Bernie Sanders into the White House and Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street and you end up with Sleepy Joe and Bumbling Boris… well, it’s the hope that kills you.

  Our interview back in April with Yanis Varoufakis

However, there’s one comrade offering more than existential angst — and that’s Yanis Varoufakis. Writing for The Guardian he makes the excellent point that the Biden Presidency better not be a return to normality, because that’s what got Trump elected in the first place.

What Varoufakis means by normality is encapsulated in his perfect summary of contemporary capitalism:

“After the crash of 2008, big business deployed the central bank money that re-floated Wall Street to buy back their own shares, sending share prices (and, naturally, their directors’ bonuses) through the stratosphere while starving Main Street of serious investment in good-quality jobs. A majority of Americans were thus treated, in quick succession, to negative equity, home repossessions, collapsing pension kitties and casualised work…”
- Yanis Varoufakis, The Guardian

He then points out that Donald Trump not only exploited the unhappiness of American workers, he did something about it — in his own deeply flawed fashion:

“Trump combines gross incompetence with rare competence. On the one hand, he cannot string two decent sentences together to make a point, and has failed spectacularly to protect millions of Americans from Covid-19. But, on the other hand, he tore up Nafta, the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement that took decades to put together. Remarkably, he replaced it swiftly with one that is certainly not worse – at least from the perspective of American blue-collar workers…”
- Yanis Varoufakis, The Guardian

His aversion to war was another bonus.

Varoufakis is still glad that Trump was beaten. Indeed, in his interview with UnHerd, he made it crystal clear that the Left must not go down a national populist path. Nevertheless, he admits an uncomfortable truth: “The tragedy of progressives is that Trump’s supporters are not entirely wrong.” What they realise is that “the rich Democrats behind the Biden-Harris ticket won’t ever truly change conditions for the poor.”

We’ll soon see if that’s right. But one thing we can say about Trump is that he did challenge the system. He did so inconsistently and incompletely — and there was a whole load of other rubbish we could have done without. Yet, in respect to both domestic and foreign policy, he showed us all that a different world is possible.

As another problematic man once said when likening a “woman’s preaching” to a dog walking on its hind legs, “it is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

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