Thursday, 7 March 2013

More tragedy and farce

Wolfgang Münchau (like Gideon Rachman, the Economist and everyone else) contemplates the ascent of the clowns and compares them to Mussolini at al. (Here, in German.) Unsurprisingly, Münchau, too, prefers clowns to fascists. And, like me, he cannot resist making a reference to Marx's 'first tragedy, then farce' comment. (Germanic urge to display erudition?) But he adds an interesting twist compared to Rachman's story. One reason why Rachman likes the comics is that he believes they will behave reasonably once they're in power. And for him reasonable means that they will toe the line on austerity. Münchau, too, takes a cautiously positive view of Grillo, but for different reasons. He points out that Grillo has consulted with some prominent economists, including critics of austerity (Stiglitz, Krugman, Fitoussi) and therefore should not be considered economically naive. This is in contrast to the Economist's view. In the pre-election edition the magazine criticized Grillo for essentially not having an economic programme.

Commentators, like the political establishment in Europe, are clearly finding it difficult to make sense of Grillo. Is he a naive clown with no clue about economics, or an adaptive clown who can still be converted to 'reason' (i.e. austerity), or does he stand for a real alternative in economic policy. It may well be that at the moment Grillo and the members of his movement don't know the answer to this question themselves. But which way his movement and others in Europe go may have a significant impact on Europe's future economic and political.

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