Greek economist and politician
Yanis Varoufakis (Greek: Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης, pronounced [ˈʝanis varuˈfacis]; born 24 March 1961) is a Greek-Australian economist. He is the former finance minister of Greece. Varoufakis was a member of the Hellenic Parliament for Athens B from January to September 2015; he regained a parliamentary seat in July 2019.
- A young man in Australia, a long, long time ago, well before we ever knew about WikiLeaks, had an idea: the idea of using Big Brother’s technology to create a large digital kind of mirror to turn to the face of Big Brother so as to enable us to be able to watch him watching us — a bit like turning the mirror to the face of the Medusa. WikiLeaks is based on that idea... WikiLeaks and Julian, as we know, have been persecuted for revealing to the world, especially to liberals, Democrats, Tories, social democrats — revealing to them the crimes against humanity perpetrated by our own elected leaders, in our name, behind our backs.
- So moving from the oligarchic ownership model, where you buy as many votes… and this is how you should think of shares; shares are votes! And they are the votes in the assemblies where serious decisions are made. The serious decisions are not made in the Houses of Parliament. They are not made in the Congress or the Bundestag. They are made in the boards of directors and the general assemblies of Goldman Sachs, of Volkswagen, of Google, and so on.
This is where the big decisions are being made, the decisions that determine your life, as well as life on the planet. So these are the votes that count. And to say that there is a market for votes and the rich can buy them is the end of democracy... We have an oligarchy with elections and the elections are bought by the oligarchy.
- Techno-Feudalism and the End of Capitalism – interview with Yanis Varoufakis (17 May 2021)
- On Modern capitalism & Amazon
- I call it techno-feudalism. I don’t call it capitalism anymore. We need to distinguish what was going on before 2008 from what was going on after 2008. Amazon is not a market; it’s a fiefdom. And it’s a fiefdom that’s connected to other fiefdoms, like Facebook, through the cloud services of Amazon, which are much greater and bigger than Amazon.com. It’s like a much more technologically advanced form of feudalism. And this is completely sustained by central bank money. So you have the combination of the king, the sovereign, the state, the central bank and the feudal lords, the techno-feudal lords. You can see that this system is constantly doubling-down on our extinction as a species. We had the pandemic and what did they do? More of the same...
Jeff Bezos is getting rich not because of the profits of Amazon, but because of the increase of the share price. You’ve heard that he made what, $60 billion since the beginning of the pandemic? That’s not because of the profits of Amazon. Amazon is not that profitable. They have huge revenues, but they also have costs. The actual profits are nothing like that. It’s maybe one billion altogether, but he made 60! From the share price.
- Techno-Feudalism and the End of Capitalism – interview with Yanis Varoufakis (17 May 2021)
- 2020 leaves behind much debris — pain, fear, broken lives, smashed dreams... Governments have stupendous powers that they hitherto chose not to use, deferring to the exorbitant power of Big Business. Yes, the money-tree does exist after all. Except, of course, that is only harvested by the powerful on behalf of the oligarchy: Money created by the rich for the rich. Solvency is a political decision because power-politics, not markets, decide who is bankrupt and who is not. Wealth has nothing to do with hard work or entrepreneurship. America’s billionaires made 931 billion dollars from the pandemic. They got richer in their sleep...
Yes, 2020 was a vintage year for capitalists, but capitalism died! Liberated from any remaining competition, colossal platform companies like Amazon own everything. Now, it is up to us to make 2021 a year of radical change in the interests of the many. Happy New Year and carpe diem...
- A festive message on behalf of DiEM25 for 2021, (31 December 2020)
- While bringing about radical change is never easy, it is now abundantly clear that everything could be different. There is no longer any reason why we should accept things as they are.
- On the revelations of the year 2020, as quoted in 
- I would like to note that I have long considered myself a libertarian Marxist. This causes laughter and outrage from both Marxists and libertarians because they accuse me of being a hypocrite. If you are libertarian you cannot be a Marxist and if you are a Marxist you cannot be libertarian, they say. I see it differently.
- In conversation on the postcapitalist vision in my ANOTHER NOW – JACOBIN interview & DISSENS podcast 
- Europe in its infinite wisdom decided to deal with this bankruptcy by loading the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders … What we’ve been having ever since is a kind of fiscal waterboarding that has turned this nation into a debt colony.
- On the austerity terms of Greece's €240bn bailout, as quoted in "Yanis Varoufakis: In his own words" at BBC News (3 February 2015)
- (The Eurozone) resembles a fine riverboat that was launched on a still ocean in 2000. And then the first storm that hit it, in 2008, started creating serious structural problems for it. We started leaking water. And of course, the people in the third class, as in the Titanic, start feeling the drowning effects first.
- In: Channel 4 News, "Yanis Varoufakis interview: 'Greece can start breathing again, growing'." 26 Jan. 2015: On comparing the eurozone to the Titanic; Quoted in: Jonathan Chew. "These 7 Yanis Varoufakis Quotes Show Why We’ll Miss Him," Fortune, (6 July 2015)
- Why did they force us to close the banks? To instil fear in people.
And spreading fear is called terrorism.
- In: Chris Johnston and agencies. "Yanis Varoufakis accuses creditors of terrorism ahead of Greek referendum," in The Guardian (4 July 2015)
- The referendum of 5th July will stay in history as a unique moment when a small European nation rose up against debt-bondage...
- Soon after the announcement of the referendum results, I was made aware of a certain preference by some Eurogroup participants, and assorted ‘partners’, for my… ‘absence’ from its meetings; an idea that the Prime Minister judged to be potentially helpful to him in reaching an agreement. For this reason I am leaving the Ministry of Finance today.
- I consider it my duty to help Alexis Tsipras exploit, as he sees fit, the capital that the Greek people granted us through yesterday’s referendum.
- And I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride....
- Minister-no-more at yanisvaroufakis.eu, 2015/07/06; cited in: I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride, in: theguardian.com, (6 July 2015)
- Politics, I now understand, is at its best when it enlightens us via an opponent's insight.
- And the Weak Suffer What They Must? : Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future (2016), Ch. 4, Trojan Horse
- If you take an iPhone apart, every single technology in it was developed by some government grant, every single one.
- I mean, the enclosures in Britain would never have happened without the king’s army and without state brutality for pushing peasants off their ancestors’ land and creating the commodification of labor, the commodification of land which then gave rise to capitalism.
- Yanis Varoufakis and Noam Chomsky discussion the New York Public Library (26 April 2016)
- The world we live in is ruled by insiders... one of the first things said to me by a very high ranking American official.. when I was minister... you have a choice. You can be an insider or an outsider. If you are an outsider you'll retain your right to say anything you want, whatever you believe in but know that you're going to be persecuted, you're going to be villified and you'll be jettisoned. … On the other hand, you can chose to be an insider, to play the game... if you chose to be an insider you'll be given information that outsiders don't have, you'll be given... an opportunity... to make some... small tiny changes within the inside, but the one rule that you must respect, is that insiders do not tell outsiders the truth, and they do not turn against other insiders ... Julian [Assange]... created the technology that allowed the outsiders to get a glimpse within...and this is why he's being persecuted this way and one of the worst aspects of this persecution from a feminist perspective is that he's been accused of a crime for which he's never been charged, that turns progressives against feminists and feminists against progressives. This attempt by the establishment to turn progressives against themselves in order to prosecute someone who has... revealed their crimes is a heinous crime in itself..."
- ...faced with a choice between an agreement that is to the advantage of the peoples of Europe and one that bolsters their own power within the EU institutions at the expense of Europe’s social economies, the Brussels establishment, and the powerful politicians behind them, will choose the latter every time. ... negotiations will be an exercise in futility and frustration. Barnier’s two-phase negotiation announcement amounts to a rejection of the principle of … negotiation. He is, effectively, saying to you: First you give me everything I am asking for unconditionally (Phase 1) and only then will I hear what you want (Phase 2).
- My message to Theresa May: listen and learn from our Greek tragedy, The Evening Standard (12 May 2017)
- They [the Chinese] are immensely self-serving, as they would. But a the same time they have a quality that we need in Southern Europe. Actually, I think everyone needs to have foreign direct investment by patient inverstors. They are patient investors. They don't come in to grab an asset for speculative purposes. They come in order to create a base on which to build and build and build. And their horizon is 20-30 years. What Europe has not done with Greece is to do what the Chinese were prepared to do to come there with their workers, with their engineers, and actully do some serious work.
- Yanis Varoufakis on China (20 September 2017)
- They [the Chinese] are far more humanistic than the United States ever was. [...] Of course they're trying... they are peddling for influence, but they are non-interventionists. Absolutely non-interventionists in a way that Europeans, the West, has never managed to fathom. The Chinese never asked Apple to go to Shenzhen and produce all the iPhones, it was Steve Jobs that decided that. It was not China that went to Washington DC and demanded that they buy a third of your national debt. If they hadn't bought it, you would be in serious trouble. [...] When it comes to the influence of China outside its borders, it's quite remarkable that they don't seem to have any military ambitions. Instead of going into Africa with troops, colonially destroying the country, killing people like the West has done for the last hundred years, what they did was they went to Addis Ababa and they said to the government: "We can see you have problems with your infrastructure, we would like to build some new airports and upgrade your railway system, create a telephone system, and rebuild your roads. And we will do this all for free." No strings attached. "We don't want anything from you". And they did. Why did they do it? Because this is soft power.
- Don't Worry So Much About China (May 2018)
- Even though communist parties have disappeared almost entirely from the political scene, the spirit of communism driving the manifesto is proving hard to silence.... Liberty, happiness, autonomy, individuality, spirituality, self-guided development are ideals that Marx and Engels valued above everything else. If they are angry with the bourgeoisie, it is because the bourgeoisie seeks to deny the majority any opportunity to be free. Given Marx and Engels' adherence to Hegel's fantastic idea that no one is free as long as one person is in chains, their quarrel with the bourgeoisie is that they sacrifice everybody's freedom and individuality on capitalism's altar of accumulation.
- Quoted in 'Where no man lacks': a post-capitalist order? -- An excerpt, by Phyllis Power, Share International magazine (June 2018)
- I’d say DiEM25’s program is the only one worth fighting for. In the European elections we didn’t do well — we got just over 1 percent of the vote. But I should add, our total budget was just €85,000, a pitiful sum for a European election. People running to be the mayor of even a small town would spend many times that. Running on a principled position meant we didn’t have the infrastructure or spending power to do better. ... in the European elections our party, MeRA25, had to struggle against a systematic effort to silence us. We received absolutely no media exposure until the moment where media were forced by law to mention us and give us a little airtime. This was not true of Popular Unity or other smaller parties advocating Lexit [a left-wing exit from the EU].
…These are deeply conservative forces... There is nothing liberal about them: they are traditional, austerian class warriors against the working class... The regime did not feel threatened by parties advocating exit from the euro and EU.
- Our view — that we’re not going to leave, and it’s up for the German government to leave, or to throw us out — is harder for them to deal with. The regime despised us because we neither want Grexit nor fear it. Our call unilaterally to implement perfectly moderate policies without fear or passion destabilized them. It was a danger to their system because of its widespread appeal....But things are also changing. In recent weeks, we have built strength among the trade unions, for instance among the electricity workers. They were betrayed by Syriza, who broke up and privatized the public energy company.... the cleaning workers in the public sector... bore the brunt of the troika’s assault against the poor...Social movements... need a political organization that allows them a voice beyond their specific localities... one that doesn’t dominate them. If they don’t have this, then they will be crushed by a new right-wing regime of a resurgent oligarchic right – one founded on.. the state of debt bondage until 2060 agreed with the creditors by Syriza...
Consider this, for instance: Syriza sold the railways for €43 million... they’d have got more money tearing up the rails and selling them as scrap metal. Or take gambling — Syriza enabled the deployment of thirty-five thousand poker machines by a private company, exploiting a bankrupt people with the fake promise of easy winnings. Even the Right’s privatizations were less deplorable than Syriza’s.
- Millions of Europeans looked with hope to this country, and it was Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza government (elected that January)  that had the responsibility for keeping that window open, and for opening it up further for others. What these millions wanted a break from was not even true neoliberalism, but what I would call bankruptocracy — a new regime in which the greatest power was wielded by the most bankrupt bankers. Tsipras’s surrender in July 2015 closed that window of opportunity...
Ever since he surrendered to the troika, Tsipras... dilemma put to progressives: “Who do you want to torture you — an enthusiastic torturer, or someone like me who doesn’t want to torture you but will do it to keep his job?”
- What is being offered to the Greek people is circuses with no bread. And the circuses are not even funny.
The Euro Has Never Been More ProblematicEdit
- The Euro Has Never Been More Problematic, Oxford Union, 14 November 2018
- These lazy answers always flourish during periods of deflation. Deflation, ladies and gentlemen, was always going to be the result of this particular design of the euro and deflation begets monsters: it was Mussolini, it was Hitler; now it is [a new fascist international].
- Unfortunately the euro's design has created a vicious cycle between failed institutions that create failed policies that lead to discontent and then the only way the powers-that-be in Brussels can clamp down and continue to impose their authority is through increasing degrees of authoritarianism.
- In the United States you have the ridiculous situation where the Democratic Party is going to the people who voted for Trump saying you were duped by Putin, Putin stole the election through Facebook. (...) Did Putin try to influence the election in the United States? I'm sure he did. But I did too. I did, I really did. I did my best to influence the election and failed spectacularly and Putin had about the same impact that I had. This is really very important: we do not sacrifice good people to the ultra-right by treating them like morons and by demonizing them. This is crucial: we have to win the battle of ideas by treating people with respect independently of whether they agree or even like us or not.
- We need to change the circumstances of people's lives, so we need investments. We need to push investment up because investment is what we need to create the good quality jobs that will create the incomes that will stop deflation: the markets won't do it on their own.
US ‘neo-imperialist’ dollar scheme explained by economist Yanis VaroufakisEdit
- US ‘neo-imperialist’ dollar scheme explained by economist Yanis Varoufakis, Geopolitical Economy Report, 3 February 2023
- Why did the original Non-Aligned Movement fall prey to neo-imperialism’s highest form, which is of course globalization, financialized capitalist globalization? The short answer is because capitalists, in practice, proved better internationalists than we were. Because they understood the nature of neo-imperialism better than we did, and that’s why they won.
- What did they understand better than we did? They understood better than we did the new, audacious imperialism that was born in 1971, when Bretton Woods collapsed, and the United States dollar was no longer convertible to gold, prompting [President] Richard Nixon to send a message to Europeans, European governments, and the world’s capitalists, saying: “The dollar, as of today, is your problem”.
- And how right Nixon was. As the American – the US, I shouldn’t say American – as the US deficit skyrocketed, the world was flooded with American dollars. And the banks, the central banks outside the United States, were forced to use these American dollars, since they could not be converted to gold anymore, as the reserves with which they backed their own currency.
- The dollar suddenly became something like an IOU issued by the hegemon. Before long, the global financial system was backed by IOUs issued by a hegemon who decided what foreigners holding those IOUs could do or couldn’t do with the IOUs issued by the hegemon.
- America was now a fully fledged deficit country, with a big trade deficit. But it was nothing like any other deficit country in the world. You see, Argentina, France, India, Greece needed to borrow dollars. America didn’t need to borrow dollars to back up its currency. It didn’t need to raise interests rates in order to prevent an exodus of dollars. The exodus of dollars was the foundation of American hegemony.
- A Chinese official once described to me globalization as something that was founded on a “dark deal” – that’s how the Chinese official put it to me: a dark deal.
- Why did he call it dark? Because it was founded on a dark, unspoken, implicit pact between America’s ruling class and foreign capitalists and rentiers.
- Without the dollar’s and America’s global dominance, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or German capitalists would not have been able continually to extract colossal surplus value from their workers and then stash it away in America’s rentier economy.
- The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was published in 1848 and is now re-issued with an interesting introduction by Yanis Varoufakis, Greek economist and politician. He hails the Manifesto as an inspiration to collective action for a better future "urging us to become agents of a future that ends unnecessary mass suffering and to inspire humanity to realize its potential for authentic freedom". Varoufakis interprets the Manifesto not as a call to state authoritarianism, as communism became in practice, nor just an analysis of bitter and enduring class conflict, but rather as a 'liberal text', which he believes is even more relevant today than when it was written.
- 'Where no man lacks': a post-capitalist order? -- An excerpt, by Phyllis Power Share International magazine (June 2018)