Yanis Varoufakis is the economist that shot to fame as the poster boy of Greek economic fuckwittery. His job was to unfuck the institutionalised fuckwittery, caused by a seemingly ingrained national sport of ‘not paying tax’, that left the Greek economy as the basket-case of the Euro, in the wake of the economic crisis in 2008/2009.
Varoufakis became Greek Finance Minister in January 2015 and lasted till July of that year. Not exactly jaw-dropping credentials for being the Oracle on succesful economic strategy.
But he was an academic, so he knew the answers, right?
Frankly, he seems to have been spending his time writing books about his experience rather than actually unfucking up Greece. And maybe that’s why he only lasted 7 months doing the job.
This is one of the books.
Its construct is as a letter to his, now, 14 year old daughter, Xenia, who lives with her mother in Australia. One assumes Yanis and Mrs Varoufakis had some sort of marital difference of opinion.
And I’m speculating that Yanis’ wife said to Xenia. “Darling, let’s get out of this country that your dad is supposed to be unfucking up. As far as I can see he’s too busy writing books about how the economy got fucked up in the first place to actually unfuck it. But I’ve heard the Australians understand the economy and we can swap a diet of olives and Retsina for steak and Shiraz.”
Several months later Xenia woke her mum to say.
“Mum, fuck sake, Dad’s written me this fucking 200 page letter about the fucking economy that’s all fucking fucked, instead of fucking unfucking it.”
I mean, if you were 13 years old (then), and on another continent, and missing your Dad would you be high-fiving the entire population of Sydney High School shouting. “Whoa guys, my Dad just wrote me a 200 page book about Capitalism, what did your Dad do? Take you to the Melbourne Cup? Go surfing all weekend? Barbie like it’s 1999? Fucking losers!”
So, the reader is treated like a 13 year old girl (who probably doesn’t give a flying fuck about anything other than getting to second base with Bruce) as Yanis explains the principles of Capitalism, and consequently how the economy works. Why he believes he is qualified to do this, when his only practical experience is of not succeeding in reducing the world’s oldest and most enduring culture to a pile of rotting fishbones, I know not.
Perhaps it’s his academic credentials.
Anyway, he succeeds in explaining what inequality, money, labour, tax, trade debt, profit, and banking are before reaching out to his local pharmacist to ingest a cocktail of hallucinogenic drugs (roughly half way through).
Thereafter, he explores the Oedipal Complex, the Flight of Icarus, The Matrix, ( revisited no fewer than seven times – I mean, nobody on Planet Earth understand The Matrix, so why use it seven times to ‘simplify’ a concept as obtuse as capitalism and the economy), V for Vendetta, The Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales, The Terminator, The Sorceror’s Apprentice, Faust and Doctor Faustus (seven times), Frankenstein (six times), Harry Potter, Blade Runner, and Star Trek (five times) in an attempt to make the cerebral concept of Capitalism (and the economy) a bit more down with the kids.
The second half of the book would have made excellent arse-wiping material for Salvador Dali.
But the ‘best’ bit of all is his conclusion. (To his then 13 year old daughter, remember.)
In it he postures…
“OK, you will say, you reject the markets-everywhere solution and propose instead the democracy-everywhere alternative (really? is that what she’s grafiti-ing on the walls of Sydney High?). But how on Earth will your democracy save the planet, put the robots to work for us and make money function sensibly and smoothly? What a great question! (If I say so myself.) While it would take a whole other book to answer it properly, let me offer a hint that may help you write that sequel yourself one day.”
“Aye. That. Will. Be. Right. Dad. (Says Xenia.) Like I’m gonna write a fucking sequal to Talking to My Daughter About the Economy (A brief History of Capitalism) ‘cos you don’t know the fucking answers yourself (and made silly Brits fork out £12 to not give them any fucking answers – well, at least I got to read the crazy pish for free).”
In his epilogue, like we needed more reading after the previous 80 pages of intellectual wank, he writes this.
“How can Dad have confused me with someone who gives a damn?”. That is a very, very, very good question and probably the best in the book.
But he ploughs on regardless, sharing with us this earth-shattering hypothesis to conclude.
HALPEVAM is a ‘magnificent’ computer created by a mad scientist (any guess who that might be readers?)
HALPEVAM: Heuristic ALgorithmic, Pleasure & Experiential VAlue Maximiser. (Oh, come on, the acronym isn’t even a fucking acronym, it’s a fucking fag packet doodle. Let me help you Yanis. How about: Heuristic Algorithmic Leisue, Pleasure Experiential Value-Add Maximiser? There: that spells fucking HALVEPAM!
Or how about Bloody Unbelievable Leisure-Life Sensitivity Heuristic Improving Transactional Organ Made Easy To Effect Relaxation?
He explains: “HALPEVAM is the opposite of the horrible, misanthropic machines in The Matrix – it’s the ultimate pleasure machine”.
(You still with us, 13 year old Xenia? Or are you in a Psychologist’s practice in Sydney asking for information on psychosis ‘for a friend’?)
But, Xenia’s not our problem, Yanis is raking it in and Mrs Varoufakis is presumably on a pretty big financial settlement (if only Greece reported its taxes).
Try it, it’s fun.