On a baking hot day in July 2015 Greece's radical-Left Syriza government won a spectacular mandate to defy the austerity regime of the EU-IMF Troika.
Against all expectations, 61pc of the Greek people voted in a referendum to reject the Carthaginian terms of their latest bail-out deal, a scorched-earth 'Memorandum' described by a young French economy minister named Emmanuel Macron as a "modern day version of the Versailles Treaty".
It seemed as if the long-running showdown between Athens and the EU authorities had reached an explosive juncture. Markets were braced for the ejection of Greece from the euro in short order. Monetary union was on the verge of break-up.
Yet the rebel victory instantly and inexplicably metamorphosed into surrender, and with it died the final hopes of the European Left. Premier Alexis Tsipras stunned his own people and the world by announcing that there would be no rupture with the Troika after all, and furthermore that he would join hands with the conservative cadres of Greece's ancien regime.
The extraordinary developments are recounted by Yanis Varoufakis in his deeply unsettling account, 'Adults In The Room, My Battle With Europe's Deep Establishment', published in extracts in the Telegraph. What the former finance minister reveals is that leaders of the Syriza government were seriously worried about dark forces in the shadows. They were frightened.
Vested interests with huge sums at stake – within Greece, and implicitly across the eurozone – were prepared to defend the existing financial order by any means necessary. The prime minister feared a military coup.
His warnings to Mr Varoufakis in soul-searching talks that night certainly raise eyebrows, all vividly narrated in a subchapter entitled 'the overthrowing of a people'.
The final days of the referendum were surreal. Unbeknownst to the Greek people, Alexis Tsipras had called the snap-vote expecting to lose. Most of the Syriza leaders did not campaign. What they wanted was an "emergency exit", calculating that a respectable defeat would give them a way out after boxing themselves into a corner.
But humiliated and long-suffering Greeks instead seized on the chance to express their defiance, rising to a "gigantic celebration of freedom from fear" in the final intoxicating rally at Syntagma Square.
As the scale of the victory became clear on election day Mr Varoufakis penned a triumphant piece. "In 1967, foreign powers, in cahoots with local stooges, used tanks to overthrow Greek democracy. In 2015 foreign powers tried to do the same by using the banks. But they came up against an insanely brave people who refused to submit to fear."
He then went to join the victory party at the prime minister's Maximos Mansion, only to discover that the betrayal of the vote was already under way. "As I walked in, Maximos felt as cold as a morgue, as joyful as a cemetery. The ministers and functionaries I encountered looked numb, uncomfortable in my presence, as if they had just suffered a major electoral defeat," he said.
Only he and his wife Danae were wearing jeans, once de rigueur in Syriza circles. "Sitting there, I began noticing things about the people around me that had previously escaped me. The men resembled accountants. The women were dressed as if for a state gala," he said. They were like the pigs on two legs, drinking with men, glimpsed through the window in George Orwell's Animal Farm.
Mr Varoufakis told the prime minister that it was his duty to honour the referendum, that he should seize on the thundering expression of popular will to escalate Greece's war of resistance, and to present the ECB and Berlin with a stark choice. It was wasted breath. The decision to accept what he calls "unconditional surrender" had already been taken, and a new finance minister willing to go along with this volte face had already been picked.
The EU has been a costly mistake since the launch of the single currency in 1999, without a Federal State to deal with the inevitable inequities between individual states (formerly independent countries) which would arise. EU bureaucrats knew that they did not have the votes for a Federal Union. Nevertheless, they undermined democracies in the region and also their economic prosperity by launching the Euro in an environment which several centuries of previous history showed was bound to fail.
Subsequently, unofficially centralised governance within the EU resembles a left-wing mafia rather than a healthy democracy. That is what Prime Minister Theresa May faces, despite her best efforts to sincerely promote an agreement in the mutual interests of both a departing UK and also the EU. Fortunately, she now realises this, as do a sufficient proportion of the UK electorate to give her a significant majority. That may not influence the EU but it will help the UK to first deal with turbulence following a hasty exit from the EU before fulfilling its potential in the global economy.
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