Author(s): Yanis Varoufakis
Report Published: On Launch
And the Weak Suffer What They Must? is a book addressed, somewhat unapologetically, to a post-2008 world in desperate need of saving from itself. It is a predominately historic account of the modern economy, from the Bretton Woods agreement to the present day austerity cuts of Europe, and, to a lesser extent, the U.S.
Penned by Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek ex-finance minister and rock star economist, And the Weak Suffer What They Must? is written with an eloquence and a sense of duty that is as beautiful as the subject matter is ugly. The book symbolises the author’s unrelenting crusade against the dangerously dogmatic technocrats and bureaucrats hell-bent on maintaining an ill-devised monetary union, regardless of the socioeconomic costs and woes of the people they supposedly represent.
Refreshing in its appeals to common sense, reason and collective human spirit, the book follows no particular political whim or leaning, but rather calls us into action against the rotten apple carts and gravy trains filled with elites and banking minions that dominate the world economic system at our expense.
Despite, somewhat disappointingly fizzling out towards the end with a surprisingly distinct lack of solutions to turn the European Union ramshackle into something better, Varoufakis’ work should be read by anyone who wants to understand the world in which we now live and the reasons behind its creation.
This book should inspire you beyond meek dinner table discussions. It should stir up empathy and the desire to change our current course so that future generations do not look back at us in disdain as the lost generation who sat on their hands and did nothing in face of the rhetoric “and the weak suffer what they must.” If sitting around in ignorance as the economy marches on around you, seems crazy you can do little wrong in investing in a copy or popping the audio version on during your long commute.
“The whole world has a stake in the victory of rationality, liberty, democracy to humanism.”
“My signatures were guaranteeing more than €50 billion of private bank debt while our State could not rub together a few hundred million euros for our public hospitals, our schools or Greece’s old age pensioners.”
“New borders, new divisions and greater divergence is the harvest European monetary union has reaped in a continent the world had wanted so much to look up to.”
As I read this book the bookquakes kept coming and my body trembled first in disbelief and then in anger and finally into a full blown rage, which later subsidised into anguish and an overarching sense of empathy for the victims of a European “political” system that legislates and legalises the excessive desires of the rich over the needs of the scapegoated poor.
I guess such a reaction is, by definition, a QUAKE book. I do know that after a few days of deep thinking along with intellectual rest and recovery I will be ready for the next bookquake. But until then, who ever thought PhD research could be considered a break?
Firstly, I would like to discuss with Yanis his view on how his economic solutions will play out in Nature and the environment, as this is my field of academic engagement. It is sad that so few economists of his ilk entertain such important issues as natural resources and the delicate balance between the environment and “sustainable” growth. That for me is one integral question to the debate that he ignored. When recessions happen the poor don’t just lose their economic capital they are later forced to sacrifice their natural capital (sell public goods to the rich who turn them into private assets) to make ends meet, bringing them into multigenerational poverty – herein lies the real Greek tragedy.
That aside, this book will continue to challenge my perspective of Europe and will certain form my opinion on the run up to the UK referendum on whether my country remains or leaves the European Union. I shall also be considering what an appropriate response should be at the ballot box. I always believed, but I now know for sure, that certain unsavoury tactics are used to prop up the powerful and weaken the vulnerable. As a British citizen, I feel that I cannot turn a blind eye to behaviour that whilst openly celebrated in certain political circles by grown “adults”, would undoubtedly expel children from primary school.