Is Yanis Varoufakis right that we must rescue democracy by a mix of libertarianism, Marxism, and Keynesian economics?

See TED talk video

First off, capitalism has already eaten democracy in many places around the globe – that’s a current reality, not a future possibility.

Second, Yanis experienced first-hand the oppressive, authoritarian oligarchy of the Eurogroup/IMF/World Bank triumvirate and its complete and utterly condescending dismissal of all democratic will in Greece.

Thirdly, his elaborations on the deliberate historical separation of the economic sphere from the political sphere a la capitalism are absolutely correct – the evidence is undeniable as cronyism, clientism and regulatory capture have become runaway trains, utterly disruptive to democratic institutions. From the farce of “corporate personhood,” to legislators being spoon-fed legislation by groups like ALEC, to the revolving door of corporate lobbying, to overwhelming pressure on elected officials to reward their wealthiest campaign contributors…democracy in the U.S. has been mercilessly crushed into corporate compliance. And of course this pervasive corporatocracy has been replicated all around the globe.

Fourthly, Yanis’ proposal to reunite the political and economic spheres via a democratic political economy is an obvious solution. As he alludes to, it’s really what the Athenians (and Aristotle’s proposals in particular, if anyone wants to read up on the details) were aiming to accomplish. And to whatever degree the interests of the populace have really been represented by democratic government throughout history, this has resulted in limiting the oppressive tyranny of wealth concentrations.

Fifthly, some of the components that Yanis gleans from each proposed system referenced have already been proven in the real world – and on large scales. To wit: various forms of worker or member ownership (Mondragon Corp, credit unions, etc.); as a global monetary system, Bretton Woods worked fairly well during its implementation and achieved what it set out to do, though of course it overly favored the U.S. at the onset and overly burdened the U.S. after the Vietnam war; and a libertarian view of individual sovereignty informs most civil rights in the U.S.A. and IMO is really the basis of any functional democracy (one that truly includes the demos). Yes he gives credit to the architects of some of these ideas (Marx, Keynes) but that’s just to help folks grasp the obviousness of the propositions.

Sixthly, twenty-minute TED talks are a silly standard for comprehensive proposals or conclusive discussion of complexity.

So really all Yanis is doing is pointing to a rather obvious path out of our current corporatocracy. Sure, the details need to be worked out, but the thoughtful and informed already know what works to restore power to the people…which is precisely why such efforts are being disrupted by an aggressive neoliberal agenda that aims to maintain the plutocratic status quo.

My 2 cents.


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