Shakespeare’s ‘The merchant of Venice’ and its parallelisms with the Cyprus Bailout agreement

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Cyprus Bailout scheme proposed (or imposed) by the Troika has incredible analogies and parallelisms with William Shakespeare’ famous tragic comedy ‘The merchant of Venice’.

Here I would present these analogies and correlations and share some of my thoughts and analysis on this matter.

In Shakespeare’s tragic comedy, Bassanio [who represents Cyprus], a young man faced with some financial difficulties [as Cyprus is currently facing] seeks help from a ‘friend’ Antonio [who represents the EU], a wealthy merchant of Venice because he wishes to be wed with Portia a wealthy noble young woman from Belmont [who represents in our story ‘mother’ Russia].

Antonio even though he was eager to help his young friend was himself short in funds as his merchandise was still out in sea in ships [the same way large funds of the EU were stuck in Greece’s economy].  Antonio [EU] agrees to help Bassanio [Cyprus] and promises to vouch for his debt if Bassanio finds a lender. A Jewish moneylender Shylock [here in our story played by the IMF] finally agrees to lend the money to Bassanio if Antonio becomes the loan’s guarantor.

Shylock [IMF] is driven to give the money to Antonio from his hates against Antonio [EU] because of his Anti-Judaism [that is the EU’s social security and welfare protectionist state]. He therefore sets a gruesome condition to the debt that if Antonio is unable to pay back the money, he can then take a pound of Antonio’s flesh [the pound of flesh can be seen as the insane condition of the bailout agreement that puts a levy on savings].

Schylock’s [IMF] goal is of course to humiliate Antonio [EU] and to destroy him economically [the same way some may maintain the real goal of the IMF is to succeed to further damaging the European social-state and moreover getting its hands on Cyprus valuable energy resources].

Bassanio with the money lend from Schylock marries the beautiful Portia. Unfortunately Antonio’s [EU] merchandise is claimed by the sea [remember the sea is Greece] and it is in Belmont where Bassanio receives the letter that his friend is unable to repay his debt to Schylock. He then decides to ride with Portia and another friendly couple to Venice and help his friend in need. Before they set out Portia [mother Russia] sends her servant Balthazar [lets assign this role to the Russian energy giant Gazprom] to seek legal advice from her family’s friend lawyer in Padua.

In the end Schylock [IMF] comes close to collect his debt and receive the pound of Antonio’s flesh. In a dramatic twist of events, where Schylock reveal his real intentions, he rejects the money that Bassanio [Cyprus] offers to repay Antonio’s debt.

In Shakespear’s work that appropriately is termed as a comic tragedy, exactly how we may describe the situation that Cyprus and several other countries of the euro-zone are face with, when Schylock [IMF] is about to take his due debt from Antonio [EU] that Portia [mother Russia] appears in disguised as Balthazar [Gazprom] and with a letter for the Duke of Venice containing the legal consult of the famed lawyer from Padua saves Antonio’s life [the same way that in recent hours Gazprom came forward with an alternative offer to assist Cyprus and by extension the EU because it will stop a plan that in the long term shall hurt the Union itself].

As it is too early to know how Cyprus rescue efforts shall continue to develop it is not easy, or even relevant, to keep looking for parallelisms between Cyprus bailout plan and Shakespears timeless piece. It is perhaps worth mentioning though that in the novel Portia through some legal trickery succeeds not only to save Antonio’s life but also to completely turn the table around so that Schylock’s estate and wealth is left on Antonio’s mercy.

I am sure that many can find other analogies among various stories or novels that can fit into a certain analysis and I do not want to present my own thoughts as Nostradamus’s self-fulfilling prophecies but merely as something that can be used to help us understand why this bailout plan, why now and why like this.

So continuing on the path of our Shakespearean analogy it is not so far-fetched to argue that the real goal for the IMF and the advocates of the neo-liberal agenda is to destabilize even more the euro-zone and to dismantle the European welfare state By bringing its countries to such desperate state their people through such a shock that they won’t react or object having their national wealth and labor rights been stripped from them into the hands of the global neoliberal elite.

What a geopolitical analysis of the recent developments in the region of the Middle East show is that the US and other western powers or even Russia will not hesitate to intervene and dismantle a country, as they are doing in Syria or already have done in Libya and Irak, if it ensures their control on the country’s natural resources.

Having shared these thoughts it is important to measure our next political decisions in Cyprus carefully. We cannot expect that our national problem, that is the resolution of the Cyprus issue, will be done under the principles of international human rights and law, nor that it will be disconnected from a wider arrangement of the energy resources within our region.


One thought on “Shakespeare’s ‘The merchant of Venice’ and its parallelisms with the Cyprus Bailout agreement

  1. Sjoukje

    So the parallel would be complete if Bassanio was for example still in an undecided divorce procedure/ fight with his first wife and all the attempts to safe his life and new marriage ignore his most important problem?

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