Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Playing to the gallery

Expect increased hardship in Greece

By Hermes Solomon

Success can be like a passing cloud; one minute you see it and the next you don’t…

Appealing to spectators (readers) for maximum approval as in, ‘He peppers his performance with humour and wisecracks, clearly playing to the gallery’ is commonplace in today’s media; ‘…to the gallery’ referring to the cheapest seats in a British theatre and hence, the least sophisticated audience of the late 1800s.

Commentators, journalists and politicians invest time writing and saying things that will make people admire or support them rather than dealing with important issues, more interested in playing to the gallery than exercising real influence on world events.

The power of the media today has never been greater. SYRIZA’s battle in support of its aims is a gift horse of publishing ‘newsworthiness’ for as long as SYRIZA’s cloud can be seen.

Let’s admit it; we were spellbound by SYRIZA’s success five weeks ago. Alexis Tsipras et al became working class heroes overnight. Secretly, we wanted them to succeed in attaining their goals – which were what exactly? And there’s the rub.

It’s only natural that impoverished voters support the hand that professes it will feed them. January’s election victory made SYRIZA a household name, furnishing thousands of pages of print hungry for a David/Goliath confrontation, Good versus Evil – or so a mostly pro-SYRIZA press back then led us to believe.

What interests me in this past five week long media charade is why Brussels even allowed SYRIZA breathing space – given Greece’s unimaginable debts and SYRIZA’s ‘outrageous’ demands – press ‘umpires’ should have cried ‘no contest’ at the outset.

But they let it roll because SYRIZA’s dream sold hope for the poor, dreams that sell papers and hike stock markets, give central bankers time to ‘resettle in the saddle’ and institutions respite from the collapse of confidence that is quietly undermining the European Union, ECB and IMF.

We are at last questioning the validity of austerity – institutionalised leeching. Even president of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker admitted that ‘the institutions’ had made many ‘serious’ mistakes dealing with Greece.

Are those same institutions making the same mistakes dealing with Cyprus – provoking our government’s recent trip to Moscow in search of investment and growth contrary to EU/US sanctions? Whether we like it or not, Russia is a major player for Cyprus.

Brussels hates uncertainty or radical change in the status quo.

SYRIZA will first be pacified rather than destroyed outright, and Brussels will take every precaution not to be blamed for this ‘upstart’s’ fall from grace in the eyes of EU voters, lest outrage ensues. And that’s the challenge.

We live in a world of sophisticated press releases. Wording is everything, and nobody knows that better than Yanis Varoufakis, who challenged Brussels to a duel of words: Wulfie insists, ‘We want our pound of flesh,’ and Yanis retorts, ‘Try this!’

Yanis believes the pen is mightier than the sword. He believes his command of economics equal to that of the hundreds of ‘silent’ economists in the pay of Brussels. You’ve got to admire the goy’s chutzpah! And he’s certainly got style, unlike his boss, Alexis, who seems to actually believe in what he popularises – save the poor.

There are more words in a face than any article can write – no contest! And nowadays, there’s much in the sound of a voice and the manner in which words are spoken.

Yanis has the gift of the gab, verve that is contemptuous of unelected authority magnified by good looks and macho male model posturing.

On the other hand, Alexis, with his un-peppered speeches and forthright convictions, plays directly to the stalls, since few are seated in the gallery – hollow sounds of an empty gallery spelling disaster for the speaker.

SYRIZA needs friends in Brussels – Italy, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus – but most were silenced by EU mandarins and Yanis now stands alone with Iglesias, leader of Spain’s far left, Podemos, and of all people, our president who, to the disdain of Washington and Brussels, came clean in Moscow.

Opposition parties are waiting to take back their seats of power and return Greece along its former inglorious path – not that SYRIZA will accomplish much in the meantime.

Yanis will receive crumbs, scraps, nothing at all really from Brussels in response to his ‘vague’ demands. He will be strung along at a snail’s pace, baited and parried, hailed or reviled for four months until defeat seems inevitable and SYRIZA inclines gracefully as ‘institutions’ furtively turn the screw even tighter.

Just what was this past five weeks’ hullaballoo all about? For Yanis it was about highlighting the fallibility of those mandarins who, this past five years, have kept most of Europe in recession until ECB chairman, Mario Draghi finally decided to print Europe’s only way out. And quantative easing is merely a temporary stay of execution.

Should SYRIZA fail to fulfil any of their election promises, the media and electorate will hound them out of the ‘house’. But they will be remembered for challenging the merciless usury of Brussels.

SYRIZA’s ‘outrageousness’ will be followed sooner than we think by those other ‘least sophisticated’, who have already anticipated the ‘real’ outcome of the four month SYRIZA/Brussels list of ‘reforms’ – increased hardship for the ‘unqualified’ masses while unemployable post-grads quit Greece and Spain in their hundreds of thousands.

Greedy institutions have disunited the European Union. As the euro falls daily in value against major world currencies, all Eurozone member states are being subjected to the equivalent of a bail-in.

Why even talk about Grexit, Cyexit or Spexit when devaluation of the euro is already well underway? Stop sneering at Greece – nous sommes tous des Grecs!

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