It’s a dog’s Brexit and we won’t get much out of it except for some fish. You guessed it. Mr Varoufakis is back in the city that loves him.
The London Book Fair kicked off at Olympia on 10 April 2018, and Yanis Varoufakis was in town the night before to speak about globalisation.
The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect.
Varoufakis is a Greek economist famous for not being a big fan of the single currency. His talk, part of the Andreas Gursky Exhibition at the Southbank Centre, contemplated on the “stupendous defeat of the Left” that allowed capitalism to take over and eventually shoots itself in the foot.
“We never miss the chance to miss our chances,” he said, lamenting the Left’s tendency to fall out with each other.
Globalisation is nothing new, he pointed out. We’ve been globalised since we left Africa. But the new globalisation is overcharged by capitalism. The ‘new’ model that saw digital money, tanks and container ships loaded with commodities crossing borders had led to the monopoly of conglomerates and the gradual demise of local businesses. The result was a backlash in the form of protectionism (think Brexit. And Trump).
The paradox of globalisation
And here lies the paradox of globalisation: it makes divisions more entrenched.
These divisions are stabilising a world that grows unstable by the day. Consequently, Varoufakis said, this brings about the type of ‘commonality’ we observed in those living on either sides of Mexico and US, Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, plus many other unsettled geographical regions that we could think of.
It’s that Berlin Wall scenario. Same problem, different location.
Hm. Quite heavy hitting for Monday night, we thought. And then Varoufakis came to our favourite topic: the ownership of labour and the machine of production. Well, Story Of Books is published by a product graphic design studio, after all.
Disruptive technology such as 3D printing – and we think he meant affordable 3D printing – can make the supply chain collapse. This is bad news for emerging economies that rely on manufacturing components for developed regions because these objects don’t have to be made abroad anymore.
And if we are not careful, automation and robots will replace human labour. The problem is that the machines of production are under the private ownership of the 0.01%
This, Varoufakis said, will result in wonderful new innovations that the 99.99% cannot buy. Oh dear.
Varoufakis proposed that robots must be socialised (they should be humanity’s slaves, not the other way around), money must be democratised, surpluses and deficits must be controlled, and wages must be raised.
Varoufakis said Brexit is “a dog’s Brexit” and the UK will end up with some fish and not much else. With regards to the EU, he said we “can check out but can never leave”. Regardless, we must not allow Brexit to create new divisions.
So it’s down to us, on either side of this imaginary Brexit fence, to work together.
And he ended his talk with this rousing call: “Take down the wall. Take down this globalising wall”.
About Yanis Varoufakis:
About the book:
And The Weak Suffer What They Must?