Monday, June 13, 2016

First Brexit And Then Grexit?

What the Greek political elite could learn from the present Brexit debates is that any decision about possibly leaving a currency or political union should be preceded by intensive debates among political leaders. By that, I don't have in mind the kind of campaign speeches which one can find all over the internet with regard to Brexit.

Instead, I have in mind substantiated argumentations just like a Supreme Court would back its decision with a majority opinion (complimented by a minority opinion).

Just like with a possible Brexit, there would be economic as well as political considerations in connection with a Grexit. A good example of solid economic arguments against a Brexit are presented here by Frances Coppola. And an extremely powerful political essay in favor of Brexit is presented here by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

The only trouble is: such solid arguments/essays should not only be published by bloggers and journalists. Instead, is is the leading politicians themselves who should make the effort of preparing written opinions for the Supreme Sovereign, the citizens.

Europe could learn so much from the Americans' experience in forming their own ever more perfect union. We tend to think today that it was only natural that Americans opted for independence and formed a nation with a strong federal government. After all, Americans did not have different cultures like Europe does and they had a common destiny because, after all, they were Americans.

The historic truth is quite different. The 13 colonies were rather like 13 different countries and the then cultural difference between the puritan hard workers in New England and the slave-owning gentlemen farmers/landowners in the South arguably beat today's cultural differences between Germany and Greece by far. Only 12 of the 13 states voted for independence (the most important NY abstained) and the cumbersome ratification of the constitution (that NY eventually approved by a small margin was a sheer miracle owing to the genius of Alexander Hamilton) made the approval of the Lisbon Treaty look like a peace of cake.

I would argue that the odds of a US of Europe with a strong federal government (however unlikely that appears) are today substantially greater than the odds were, in the late 18th century, that there would ever be a USA with a strong federal government raising federal taxes in large amounts.

What the nascent USA had and what Europe is lacking today was political leaders who could go beyond campaign speeches. Political leaders like Washington & Hamilton & Adams (for a more perfect union) or Jefferson & Madison (against strong federal government). And it must be tolerated that people can get smarter with every day, i. e. that they can change their mind. If conscience is the reason for changing one's mind, political leaders are actually obligated to change their minds. Madison started out as a Federalist and only later became a passionate anti-Federalist.

If PM Cameron were worth his salt, he would tomorrow have an essay in the Telegraph taking issue with every single argument which Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has made. The Greek political elite is not (yet) under such time pressure but if Alexis Tsipras, Kyriakos Mitsotakis and other Greek political leaders were worth their salt, they would soon begin preparing their personal essays where they would argue their case for or against the Eurozone membership or even for or against the EU membership.

To simply project chaos as the result of either one or the other decision just is not good enough.


  1. I'm back...

  2. Die Welt: Ποιες άλλες χώρες ετοιμάζονται να φύγουν από την ΕΕ