Mr. Stephens in his essay at The Financial Times titled ‘How politics will seal the fate of Greece’ seeks to explore the ‘political’ dimension of the Greek conundrum. The question might be posed as to how successful Mr. Stephens is in his examination of that political dimension? First one might just observe that at The Economist of May 9,2015 , the FT’s sister publication, an essay was published by the title of ‘The sorry saga of Syriza’ with a sub-headline that tells the whole of Economist’s story: ‘In its first hundred days Greece’s government has dismally failed. A crunch looms’. Now in this essay there is some necessary scene setting at the Philhellenism exhibition at the B. & M. Theocharakis Foundation in Athens, with an all important mournful quote from Dimitra Varkarakis about the sad state of Greek/German relations that has implications for the whole of Europe. Those Oxbridgers are nothing if not steeped in the classics as re-imagined by generations of British Dons. The anonymous author takes the name of Charlemagne , the blog’s title. In the essay Charlemagne charges that Syriza’s leadership are Coffee House Marxists who are incompetent governors and are wearing ideological blinkers . The concluding paragraph , awash in political melodrama, is worth quoting in full:
In almost every way, Syriza has brought the opposite of what it promised. It vowed an end to depression in Greece. Instead, growth has slumped. It pledged to end austerity politics in Europe, but has done more to embolden its advocates than any German could have hoped. It promised to jettison the bad habits of old parties, and seems instead to have acquired them. Back at the Athens museum, perusing a catalogue of his Philhellenic collection, Mr Varkarakis is downbeat. “Two hundred years ago, everyone loved Greece,” he says. “Now…” His voice trails off.
What then Of Mr. Stephens politics ‘that will seal the fate of Greece’? The sub-headline answers that question, cannily embedded in New Cold War rhetoric: ‘Can Europe really allow Athens to fall into the arms of Moscow?’ Mr. Stephens contribution to the Greek Conundrum is to call Syriza leadership ‘ bungling amateurs’, ‘ preening’, ‘pirouetting’, ‘undergraduate Marxists’, and even hints at narcissism. Yet Mr. Stephens reserves his withering contempt for the ‘real hardliners’ in Madrid, Lisbon and Dublin, forgetting the triumph of SNP in the British elections. SNP surely qualifies as ‘hardliners’ and ‘populist’, and just as subversive of the E.U. and by implication the IMF and it’s prescription of Austerity. The Neo-Liberalism that has ruled the politics of the West since the rise of Thatcher and Reagan is now under serious threat, from the ‘hardliners’ and ‘populists’, not to speak of social democratic intellectuals like Piketty, Stiglitz and Krugman or the power of Occupy Wall Street that utterly changed the economic conversation.