Authors Note: An edited version of this piece first appeared at www.watapama.wordpress.com
While Greece on the cusp of walking out of the Euro zone is dominating the headlines, an action that could very well render it the tipping domino we dread igniting the mother of all global depressions, there is a back story emerging that deserves our attention. There is a new politician out there, let's call him the un-politician, who is poised to change how you and I think about those we elect to lead us.
Rather suddenly plucked from the world of academia, including a stint in Texas no less, where he professes he "quietly wrote obscure academic texts for years" Yanis Varoufakis, the new Finance Minister of Greece, may well be poised to be in the final running for Man-of-the Year. Though it is yet to be determined exactly what for, I am of the opinion he's got the goods to qualify on several fronts: brains, charisma, humility, a clear vision that is his own and the keen gift of timing in arriving at this moment in history. Perhaps most importantly he is a new kind of leader, one who seems to deeply understand his place in these times.
American politics of the dying old paradigm exists behind a veil of smoke and mirrors, layer upon layer of orchestrated and controlled messaging and the ability to build an electable persona to be worn by the paid for puppet. We just witnessed Mitt Romney make yet another desperate attempt to repackage himself as a candidate running on a platform to eradicate poverty only to get the cane from stage left. He remains utterly clueless to the fact that we are not seeking a persona for office, we are seeking a person. This form of political process is not only futile in a wired world, it is rendered obsolete by citizen owned technology. The average individual walking down the street can now access information as quickly, if not quicker than any cloistered political strategist. We are becoming accustomed to, and therefore demanding truth and authenticity, nothing less.
Political handlers will study Yanis Varoufakis as his popularity grows and they will begin to question the rules of the game they currently abide by. God help the freshman congressman who first shows up at a news conference with his shirttails untucked, emulating the aura of audacious non-conformity so easily carried by Varoufakis. Of course, the wanna-be will probably be blind to the character and intellectual capacity of the man that can get away with such a cleverly communicated message. This isn't Mr. Smith and this isn't Washington.
I believe Yanis Varoufakis represents the grounded, value-based intellectual of a leader who has what it takes to survive the relentless demands for transparency in today's environment of global connectivity. In the few interviews thus far, we have seen these attributes in action and they work beautifully. How refreshing it is to witness a leader relying upon his own intellect rather than pithy sound bites fed through earpieces whose source is nothing short of corrupt in purpose. Varoufakis owns his intelligence, he communicates with a passion derived of experience and wisdom and the result is a man that is capable of earning the trust of millions as a leader.
An example of Varoufakis clarity of thought and some hints as to his value base is revealed in this video published three days ago. It reveals a leader who has processed some of the great thinkers of our era and is clearly calling upon a body of intellectual thought never before utilized in the global arena. In listening to him speak I found myself recalling the text by cultural historian and evolutionary theorist Riane Eisler entitled The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics in which she espouses the concept of measuring GDP by qualitative factors relevant to the human condition vs. quantitative measurement derived from extracted resources. Finally, someone at the podium suggesting that international financial policy benefit the populace rather then the banks. I wondered too if he has spent some time studying the great systems theorist Buckminster Fuller in addition to his obvious practical understanding of Marx. To hear an elected 'un-politician' end several extended commentaries in the speech given at the same event at which this video was recorded with the words, "..the end goal being...to reduce human suffering" is profoundly startling in the current landscape of the bought and paid for political prostitutes we are surrounded by here in the states who solely represent the interests of their corporate sponsors.
The old tradition of hiding behind speechwriters, intermediaries, official press releases and the like only serve to build a wall of distrust, opening the possibility of manipulation and gross misinterpretation of information for the benefit of someone other than the speaker. Varoufakis is demonstrating his understanding of this new, totally transparent humanist political landscape by disarming the attempts of corporate media to frame, alter or otherwise seize control of his message. He refuses to allow the hired guns of corporate media define whom he is, what his message is and how he plans to proceed at any given moment. He is continuing to maintain his own twitter account in which he can speak directly to us, immediately correct disinformation no matter the source and is also continuing to blog on his established blog.
Yanis Varoufakis will surely steer Greece through this moment in history to the best of his ability. He is also single handedly re-writing the politicians playbook. Which will be the more enduring legacy remains to be seen. Suffice to say, we should all be thankful he is carving a new and refreshing path.