Greece's Ex-Finance Minister: Lee Kuan Yew and his imitators were wrong about democracy

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Greece’s former Finance Minister and academic economist, Yanis Varoufakis, was a guest speaker at the renowned TED Global Conference and spoke on the topic, “Capitalism will eat democracy — unless we speak up”.

In his speech he touched on Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and his imitators in China, with regards to their views on democracy and economy.

At the 00:40 mark of the video of his speech he said:
“Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and his great imitators in Beijing have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that it is perfectly possible to have a flourishing capitalism, spectacular growth, while politics remain democracy free. Indeed, democracy is receding in our neck of the woods, here in Europe.”

At the 01:03 point Yaris said:
“Earlier this year, while I was representing Greece — the newly elected Greek government — in the Eurogroup as its Finance Minister, I was told in no uncertain terms that our nation’s democratic process — our elections — could not be allowed to interfere with economic policies that were being implemented in Greece. At that moment, I felt that there could be no greater vindication of Lee Kuan Yew, or the Chinese Communist Party, indeed of some recalcitrant friends of mine who kept telling me that democracy would be banned if it ever threatened to change anything.”

And at 01:40:
“Tonight, here, I want to present to you an economic case for an authentic democracy. I want to ask you to join me in believing again that Lee Kuan Yew, the Chinese Communist Party and indeed the Eurogroup are wrong in believing that we can dispense with democracy — that we need an authentic, boisterous democracy. And without democracy, our societies will be nastier, our future bleak and our great, new technologies wasted.”

When the host of the conference asked him (at the 15:08 mark), “during your talk you mentioned Singapore and China, and last night at the speaker dinner, you expressed a pretty strong opinion about how the West looks at China. Would you like to share that?”, Yaris replied:

“Well, there’s a great degree of hypocrisy. In our liberal democracies, we have a semblance of democracy. It’s because we have confined, as I was saying in my talk, democracy to the political sphere, while leaving the one sphere where all the action is — the economic sphere — a completely democracy-free zone.”

Yaris strongly believes that an economy which does not have democracy as its foundation, will eventually collapse. At the 17:17 mark, he said:

“But you know what happens. This is the experience of the Soviet Union. When you try to keep alive an economic system that architecturally cannot survive, through political will and through authoritarianism, you may succeed in prolonging it, but when change happens it happens very abruptly and catastrophically.”

[fvplayer src=”http://youtube.com/watch?v=51FbT-AWZ-M”]

The full transcript of his Speech at the Conference is HERE.