When Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras suddenly resigned last week, calling for fresh elections, his former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis was about to set off for France.
His destination was the Fête de la Rose—a political event organised by the French Socialist Party, held annually in the tiny town of Frangy-en-Bresse, not far from the Swiss border.
As rain poured down on the gathering, Varoufakis opened his speech with words familiar to any student of Marxist politics: 'A spectre is haunting Europe.' In Varoufakis's adaptation, the spectre is that of democracy, and the powers of old Europe are as opposed to democracy in 2015 as they were to communism in 1848.
For Varoufakis, the events of this year are an 'Athens spring' that was crushed by the banks after the Greek public's vote against austerity in July.
But as he explained to Late Night Live, he won't be running for Greek parliament in the September elections, as he no longer believes in what Syriza and its leader, Tsipras, are doing.
'The party that I served and the leader that I served has decided to change course completely and to espouse an economic policy that makes absolutely no sense, which was imposed upon us,' he says.
'I don't believe that we should have signed up to it, simply because within a few months the ship is going to hit the rocks again. And we don't have the right to stand in front of our courageous people who voted no against this program, and propose to them that we implement it, given that we know that it cannot be implemented.'
Varoufakis dismisses 'flimsy alliances' of past
He has sympathy for a grouping of rebel MPs known as Popular Unity, but fundamentally disagrees with their 'isolationist' stance of desiring a return to the drachma. Instead, he says, his focus has turned to politics at the European level.
'I don't believe this parliament that will emerge from the coming election can ever hope to establish a majority in favour of a rational economic program and a progressive one,' he says.
'Instead of becoming engaged in an election campaign which in my mind is quite sad and fruitless, I'm going to be remain politically active—maybe more active than I have been so far—at the European level, trying to establish a European network.
'National parties forming flimsy alliances within a Europe that operates like a bloc, like a macroeconomy, in its own interests—that model doesn't work anymore. I think we should try to aim for a European network that at some point evolves into a pan-European party.'
Read more: Varoufakis's speech at Fête de la Rose
Varoufakis was invited to Frangy-en-Bresse as the guest of honour, and was encouraged by the response he received from French fans of his political philosophy.
'It was pouring cats and dogs and I was giving a speech in the middle of a field. There were thousands of people in the rain refusing to go away, getting wet, wanting to listen to the message,' he says.
'It wasn't because I was Greek, or because of solidarity with Greece, [although] there was this element. They were worried about what's happening to them, to their country, because what starts in Athens spreads to the rest of the continent.
'With the eurozone crisis it's quite clear that Greece has operated like a laboratory in which quite misanthropic and very bad economic policies—inefficient, ineffective, self-defeating economic policies—have been tried out, before being exported to places like Spain, Italy and France.'
A commitment that reads 'like terms of surrender'
After Greece agreed to the bailout deal that the populace had rejected, Varoufakis told Late Night Live he and Tsipras remained on good terms. But they have fallen out since then.
Tsipras has accused his one-time finance minister of 'betraying the Greek people' and 'double-crossing' his comrades, while Varoufakis says the prime minister has allowed his ego to get the better of him, and had made a conscious decision to become the 'new De Gaulle or Mitterrand'.
'My job in politics is not to endear myself to any particular comrade, friend, colleague,' Varoufakis says.
'I think I have a responsibility to the people of Greece, who still look at those of us who represented that majestic no vote, to tell them what I think is happening. I don't believe that Alexis Tsipras believes that he can pull off this "austerian" memorandum of understanding kind of facade—I don't think this is an economic and political program that even he believes is viable.'
He likens Tsipras to the mythological Sisyphus, 'carrying on pushing the same rock of austerity up the hill, against the laws of economics and against very profound ethical principles'.
'He has signed up to a program in the first page of which you will find the following commitment: "The government commits to consult and to agree with the European commission, the European central bank and the IMF, on all actions relevant to the achievement of its objectives, before they are legally adopted." Did you hear that? The government commits to agree, even if it doesn't agree? Of course there's no commitment that the troika should agree with the Greek government. This is like terms of surrender,' he says.
Treason charges 'fizzle out'
In July there were suggestions Varoufakis could be indicted for treason over his plans to set up an alternative currency as a precursor to Greece leaving the eurozone. But he says this has now 'fizzled out'.
'I wish that they pushed this forward ... there is no arena, there is no court, there is no forum, that I would not want to be part of, or to be there in order to defend and expound what I've done,' he says.
'But I very much fear that my opponents, the ones who have waged those accusations, will not be there to confront me, because there is absolutely not a smidgen of truth in what they've been saying, it's just part of the propaganda against me.
'There's a very simple objective in all this propaganda, and that is the powers that be, those who were behind the troika's project, detested so fundamentally what I call the Athens spring. What we did between January and June which was to give back to the Greeks and to Europeans their smile, their confidence, a sense that democracy can change things.'