The Ship of Fools
Events unfolding in Greece are demonstrating that neither Athens nor Brussels know where they are headed; but Britain’s course couldn’t be any clearer.
One of the frequently cited reasons for the existence of such a large democratic deficit within the EU is that “decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.” If the situation in Greece has taught us anything, it is that the unelected elite are, frankly, not a whole lot better. The combined forces of the ECB, European Commission and the IMF (all three united by their lack of electoral mandate) have singularly failed to stem the tide of the Greek debt crisis. They are all at sea, and have no idea where they — or their precious Euro project — will wash up. In short, we are witnessing the very epitome of Plato’s Ship of Fools play out before us.
It is easy to take pot shots at the demagogic Syriza, led by the charismatic Alexis Tsipras, for playing fast and loose with Greece’s economic future. But they have only been able to do this because, up to now, the EU has fallen over itself to maintain the facade that no country could ever conceivably leave the single currency. Syriza’s gambit is a simple one: rinse the EU for every last Euro and, if they should finally decide that enough is enough, deflect all the blame. It may sound like a selfish — and dangerously self-destructive — game, but Greece has been given no reason thus far to believe that the EU won’t capitulate.
Cameron should also pay attention to the Greeks: Britain’s demands for treaty concessions are miles away from anything Greece has sought — and been given — since their financial woes began back in 2009. While not a member of the Eurozone, Britain is a massive net contributor to the EU budget and, as such, is in a very powerful position to dictate favourable terms. If the EU elites will do anything to avoid a country like Greece leaving the Euro, just imagine what they would be prepared to countenance to prevent Britain leaving the European Union all together.
The EU may be a ship of fools, but that’s no reason for Britain to be played as one.