Friday, May 12, 2017

Another review of Adults in the Room, by Yanis Varoufakis - PAUL TYSON

I am a philosophical theologian, so I am going to respond to this astonishing political biography in the terms of my expertise. Adults in the room is firstly a prophetic text. I am thinking of ‘the prophetic’ in Socratic terms here..A lot, maybe the future of Europe, depends on how you read the opening conversation with Larry Summers..

“ ‘There are two kinds of politicians,’ he said: ‘insiders and outsiders. The outsiders prioritize their freedom to speak their version of the truth. The price of their freedom is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions. The insiders, for their part, follow a sacrosanct rule: never turn against other insiders and never talk to outsiders about what insiders say or do. Their reward? Access to inside information and a chance, though no guarantee, of influencing powerful people and outcomes.’ With that Summers arrived at his question. ‘So, Yanis,’ he said, ‘which of the two are you?’ ”

This is a very engaging and unusual book. It is unusual in that it is not simply a political biography but a reflection on the nature and meaning of power in our times. No doubt its detractors will think of it as vanity publishing that is only about Yanis. But this kind of tack has been a standard method of not listening to what Varoufakis is actually saying and tells us more about the egoistic bankruptcy of those driving the attack. The fact is, the tumultuous days that ended in the dying of the first Syriza government are the canary in the mine for the Eurozone and global high finance. Whatever Varoufakis’ views of himself may be, what he has seen and heard and attempted to do is profoundly revealing of the inner workings of power in our times. The pathologies of power in our times will unleash catastrophic destruction on us if we do not understand and address them: so this really is an important book.

I am not going to say much about the history of 2015 that Varoufakis outlines other than you should read it. The events described are tragic and chilling. But I am going to take an unusual line in evaluating this book here, because the book itself is so unusual in its reflectiveness on the relationship between power, ideas and personalities in our times. You (and probably the author) may find the hermeneutic key set I am going to bring to this short essay startling, even inappropriate, but if you come along for the ride with me, I think you will find it illuminating.

I am a philosophical theologian, so I am going to respond to this astonishing political biography in the terms of my expertise. Adults in the room is firstly a prophetic text. I am thinking of ‘the prophetic’ in Socratic terms here, which I will unpack below. Secondly, this is a text that refuses conspiracy theories and moralizing entirely, and yet it is uncannily astute in discerning the dynamics of dark power and the manner in which people are tragically caught up in those dynamics. Adults in the Room is thus a striking exposé of the “principalities and powers” that are the “rulers of the darkness of this world… in high places” that largely define the meta-conditions of our daily lives… read more:
https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/paul-tyson/adults-in-room-by-yanis-varoufakis-london-bodley-head-2017

Book review: Is 'Adults in the Room' by Yanis Varoufakis one of the greatest political memoirs ever?