In mountain climbing as in many other life situations it is more secure to be climbing in a group than alone. The reason is that if you apply some basic rope techniques then you dramatically reduce the probability of falling off a cliff. Of course increasing the team size has a cost which comes from the fact that coordinating all climbers reintroduces a new risk: do they all apply the agreed upon rules on time or are some of them cutting corners?
When the EU and the Eurozone were formed the country/climbers agreed to climb together in a preliminary jointly accepted formation because that way no one would run the risk of falling off a cliff accidentally or due to a storm or a climbing gear imperfection. Of course the agreed upon climber formation and roping system was severely flawed, so flawed that, on the one hand, the fittest climbers did not really want to be the security of last resort (Germany and its influence zone) and, on the other hand, some of the weakest climbers who were not strong enough to keep up, indeed kept taking cozy detours instead (Greece) and were not tying the ropes timely. That went well for a while but as the air became thin and the storms came the flaws came into play. There was a real risk of a small country dangling in the void (Greece) being able to take down the rest of the weak climbers and maybe the entire damn expedition (hell even the mountain), an unacceptable risk.
At the peak of the crisis the rope system was modified to withstand (so it is being claimed) a dangling small member and so Greece has been helplessly dangling at the end of the formation as now fit and unfit members stick together more coherently. The weak climber was put on a regiment of austerity and hunger so that dangling becomes easier and easier for the others. At the same time the other weak members see the horror of the dangling member (the scapegoat) and know better than to shirk. The downside? The feelings of the weak climber are hurt, his climber’s pride is damaged, he has been getting increasingly weak both due to slimming down and due to the fact that dangling inflicted injuries on his already unfit body and as a result Greece now feels like it will not survive to see the day it can climb on its own again. An admittedly legitimate stand.
The core group feels morally justified, after all the weakest member shirked first, but so is the weak climber, because exhausting and damaging a dangling fellow climber without giving them a chance to recover, no matter what they did, cannot go on for ever or it becomes selfish and inconsiderate. Asking “who started it” is at this point meaningless. The weak member says “I might as well cut the rope before you starve me and weaken me to my demise by not giving me a chance to recover if I die I will have died trying” and the other members say “be our guest and cut the rope” some even want to “actively cut the rope” themselves. The problem with that of course, and both SYRIZA and the Eurogroup know that, is that being “the man who cut the rope” is a lifelong shame (just ask Simon Yeates what kind of burden this is even when your fellow climber, whose rope you cut, says you did the right thing). Nobody will sponsor your expeditions anymore, others will try to steal your climbers, who now will be looking for other options and nobody will come to climb with you in the future. Greece might be able to climb on their own but in the fat years it became lazy and unfit for climbing and the progress made by slimming down is more than offset by having become a weak wreck as a result. A draw.
Cutting the rope is not an option everybody knows that. So does the Eurogroup. Going it alone might work but it is awfully dangerous. SYRIZA knows that. That is what makes Giannis Varoufakis confident that a compromise is around the corner but it will be increasingly difficult to find one as more and more egos are bruised, being that they are the hardest ailment to fix. Varoufakis’s narcissistic habit to perform magic tricks and explain them at the same time in the early phase of this standoff certainly irritated the other magicians and bruised many of their egos (although to his credit he went out of his way to also “kiss the ring”). He now has learned not do that but he may have already overplayed his hand and explained it at the same time.
PS: The current coalition government between SYRIZA and ANEL is the equivalent of a German coalition government between Die Linke and the AfD. If this sounds freakish it is because it is! Here is a thought though that may help Mrs Merkel behave wiser than up to now: How many of the curses of Pharaohs does the German society need to go through before Die Linke and AfD become governmental partners? The question is rhetorical and the answer is: Armageddon might not have sufficed. That’s what’s going on in Greece. Deal with it wisely.