Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Geopolitical Importance of the 'Finger'!

The importance of FinMin Varoufakis' finger is exactly - zero! There have been significantly worse offenses from people who were holding official positions at the time they committed them whereas Varoufakis was far from political office at the time of the 'finger'. The French President Sarkozy allegedly called PM Papandreou a ' psycho'. An Assistant US Secretary of State suggested to ' the EU', etc. Politics is a dirty business, some say.

Regrettably, the affair reflects the political inexperience of the new Greek government. A seasoned politican, when confronted with the 'finger-video', would have said something like this: “You know, I don’t know offhand where you picked this up. I have given so many speeches in so many different forums that it may well be that I made a gesture like that. Certainly long before my time as Finance Minister. If anyone today still feels offended by it, I apologize. Offhand, I am surprised by the video because I really can’t remember that I have done something like that. Who knows? It may even be a fake”.

As it turned out, a mountain was made out of a molehill.


  1. Geopolitics:
    (Wiki:)..the study of the effects of geography (human and physical) on international politics and international relations. Geopolitics is a method of studying foreign policy to understand, explain and predict international political behaviour through geographical variables. These include area studies, climate, topography, demography, natural resources, and applied science of the region being evaluated.

    Really, I do not understand the connection between "his" middle finger (don't want to name him anymore in my life), and what has been explained as "geopolitics".

    What I do understand is the language of showing "the finger", the as the Germans say "Stinkefinger". It is a universal language. Also the word that is related with it.
    In my opinion everybody is free to use the language or gestures that fit with him or her.
    But at the same time we know who he or she is, a lady, a gentleman, or a dirty person, without ethics within the seriousness of cooperating with political partners, or those who offered money, to create a path forward for also the man with the Stinkefinger.
    He has, with this gesture, lost my respect.
    And of many many others.

    This has, as said in this post, nothing to do with geopolitics, but problems in the world of politics are related with many other facets, and a real excellent politician knows these facets and behaves within all the rules of ethics, that belong to all these facets and details.

    That one of two, or more, did the same, said the dirty word, does not make it "normal" or "zero" in meaning. It has been THE eyeopener for entire Europe, for the world. Not only because of the gesture itself, but also because of all the lies that this person has tried to sell via interviews. Does not matter on what moment this has been said: before his being a politician, or after. He was and is a professor, and they have to obey to the laws of ethics. He did not. And it was a public speech. It was not filmed in his penthouse in Plaka.

    #Pinocchio and #Varoufake are new words in the political media, and media are everywhere, geographically, so, yes, I think I have proved that this finger has, at least had, geopolitical importance.

  2. Dear Klaus,
    I am not sure whether I can fully share your assessment in this case.
    Just imagine a German politician of comparable rank would be seen in a popular Greek TV program saying (recorded in a speech of 2013) that Greece should be shown the finger and making the corresponding gesture, and that he would claim (falsely, as it turns out) that this recording was a fake, prepared knowingly and on purpose by the (very popular) moderator of the program. You are certainly in a better position than me to imagine the likely effect on popular opinion in Greece, but I think it is safe to assume that it would not be positive.

    In Germany the negative effects are probably smaller, as Mr Varoufakis has already built up a reputation of being a bit unorthodox, and I suppose that both the members of the German and the Greek government are sufficiently professional to concentrate on more important matters and largely ignore the matter. Still, an additional deterioration of the climate between Greece and Germany is probably "not helpful" and not what I would have wished at present.

  3. Klaus, I certainly concur with your view that this issue should be a non-issue. I strongly disagree about why it has become an issue. The evidence has accumulated systematically and relentlessly over recent weeks that the Germans (and implicitly the government) are engaged in propaganda warfare with Greece, and specifically against Varoufakis.

    Why, we might ask, against Varoufakis? The answer is clear -- despite the bevy of pro-German apologists who seem to prevail on your Austrian blog. It is because the likes of Schaeuble and other right wing ideologues are incensed by a politician competent in the field of economics, who can outargue them. I have seen this many times with politicians, including with my own professional activities, that they despise and fear those with actual expertise, who refuse to follow the formal and dead protocols of political life -- protocols that are actually designed to conceal power and repress knowledge.

    As far as the reality of the video is concerned, I know nothing of whether it is fake or otherwise. Nor do I care. What I do note, and the rest of the world will note, is that there are claims of veracity, fakery and then veracity again -- all emanating from the German quarter. If the German government cannot address the massive and very serious problems confronting the EU and the eurozone, perhaps it would have the decency to resign and make way for more competent personnel.

    We have all had enough of this arrogant nonsense, with no goodwill being shown to Tsipras even years ago, when he requested a meeting with Merkel -- which was denied. Even after Tsipras's election, Merkel did not phone (unlike Obama) but sent a telegram. The lack of professionalism from Germany is just unacceptable. This has to stop.

    1. I must have the wrong relatives, friends and acquaintences in Greece. All of them are incensed by the behavior of the Greek leaders and the impression which they create about Greece abroad.I think I have mentioned this before: what I am witnessing here is very similar to the anti-American discussions which I have been part of over the last 25 years in Austria since my return from the US. Whatever was wrong in the world, it was the fault of Americans, those egotistical, power-hungry manipulators of the world. The greatest propagandists and pretenders the world had ever seen. Some of the negative attributes which Americans were accused of having were worse than what you allge the Germans of. Perhaps that's the fate of those countries which are strong (or deemed to be strong...).

    2. Hey Xenos,

      Where has my Brit Buddy been? Nice to see you back here.

      I am hopeful all the dirty politics has ended for the time being after last night's meeting.

      I agree with Mr. Kastner's position stated above. Varoufakis should simple "blown it off" instead as he has been "under fire" as of late has shown that he has lost his composure.

      I admire the man and his ideas, but i expected that with the 1st 2 months in office he would "GET TO WORK," rather than talk, talk, talk some more and talk and talk. I would very much prefer if he take his ideas and act alittle like Stournaras. Few words, strong points and actions. It is this and why i believe tsipras will put him on the back burner.

      Mr. Schauble, may be in the media constantly just as Varoufakis, but he is saying the same consistant thing. Varoufakis is all over the place and getting himself labeled as liar. He has disapointed me.



    3. @Klaus and V: I have been travelling with little access to news or internet for 10 days. So my own reactions to this issue are not shaped at all by others, and I have not had any discussions (unusually) with friends in Greece. Nor is my reaction shaped by time, because it is an instant reaction to what I was reading everywhere yesterday.

      This is, of course, interesting because it suggests that the finger issue is a socially constructed issue that developed over a period of time, and is not an issue in itself but is somehow symbolic.

  4. Nach tagelangen Spekulationen behauptete die Satiresendung «Neo Magazin Royale» diese Nacht, sie habe das Stinkefinger-Video des griechischen Finanzministers Yanis Varoufakis gefälscht. Jetzt stellt das ZDF die Sache klar.

    Gleichzeitig gratulierte er Böhmermann zu seinem Streich: «Humor, Satire und Selbstironie sind gute Mittel gegen blinden Nationalismus. Wir Politiker brauchen Sie dringend.»

    Das war wohl auch die Intention von Böhmermann. Am Ende des Videos erklärt er: «Liebe Redaktion von Günther Jauch. Yanis Varoufakis hat Unrecht. Ihr habt das Video nicht gefälscht. Ihr habt einfach das Video nur aus dem Zusammenhang gerissen und einen griechischen Politiker am Stinkefinger durchs Studio gezogen. Damit sich Mutti und Vati abends nach dem Tatort nochmal schön aufregen können. ‹Der Ausländer! Raus aus Europa mit dem! Er ist arm und nimmt uns Deutschen das Geld weg. Das gibt’s ja wohl gar nicht. Wir sind hier die Chefs! So!› Das habt ihr gemacht. Und der Rest ist von uns.» (mad)

  5. For Varoufakis the theme is important enough not only to twitter twice but even to write a long blog post about it.
    Regarding his proposal: "Secondly, we need to focus on our joint interest: On how to grow and to reform Greece rapidly, so that the Greek state can best repay debts it should never have taken on while looking after its citizens as a modern European state ought to do."
    He sounds quite right. The task is reforming Greece rapidly so the state can at least finance itself.
    Forget the depts toward Europe - this money ist lost and over and everybody knows. But dont expect Europeans to throw too much good money behind the bad money.
    So, we are waiting for the reforms helping Greece to finance itself.

  6. Regardless of the talk about the finger, Varoufakis has been a great disappointment.

    His recent article in his blog is a good example.

    Blah-blah-blah, the bailout saved the French and German banks, blah-blah-blah, the Eurozone was designed in a faulty manner etc etc.

    The man has lost the plot.

    He is the finance minister. He should stop commenting like he is some third party, like an above-it-all theoretician academic. He should instead START WORKING so that Greece can improve it’s export performance and the Greek economy transforms from a parasitic one to a productive one.

    Here’s an idea: terminate lifetime employment for public-sector employees, equalize their wages to those who work in the private-sector, computerize and connect all public-sector bureaus.

    He should understand that his role isn’t to reshape Europe, but to reshape Greece.

  7. @Jim Slip
    To reshape Greece would mean to admit that there is something wrong with Greece. Have you not noticed that after 5 years Greece is still in denial? In Greece failure is institutional but success is very personal. That way you can't really lose. If you win you are smart, if you loose the game was rigged.