And so it is with Merkel, Schäuble, Dijsselbloem and Juncker sitting comfortably in the Grexit row, smug and entitled, but increasingly nervous. A Grexit, to say nothing of its impact on Greeks, would reveal the European project as a sham. (I remember an intro to European politics class I took in undergrad, where the professor began by saying "There is no such thing as Europe.") And as Thomas Piketty has pointed out, the European response so far, and the continued moralizing of Germany et al., reveals the blatant hypocrisy and short-term memory of Europe's leaders.
Aside from the patronizing nature of German austerians' self-professed "moral supremacism," it's also bad economics. As John Aziz notes in an essay for Pieria, Germany is rich today because their post WWII debt was forgiven, allowing them to re-establish their industrial supremacy. The free movement of labor and capital facilitated by the EU and eurozone only bolsters Germany's standing, by letting it attract the best workers and investment, often from its southern neighbors.
For a lot of Germans, though, it's nevertheless an issue of local culture and ethics. Aziz cites Jürgen Stark, who claims that, "in contrast to many eurozone countries, Germany has reliably pursued a prudent economic policy. While others were living beyond their means, Germany avoided excess. These are deep cultural differences and the currency union brings them to light once again." What makes this so cringe-worthy, in the same way as the callous indifference of many of Germany's leaders (see, for example, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble's comments on debt restructuring here), is the pompous ignorance of what has allowed Germany to thrive--not in spite of, but relative to and because of, the rest of Europe.
Schäuble's Wikipedia entry is just as damning: "Schäuble is also of the view that Europe's problem is not the European Union, but rather certain national governments that cannot resist the temptation to make the EU and Europe the scapegoat for their own national problems."
What's happening now, of course, is the exact opposite of Schäuble's analysis. Europe (Germany, in particular) is using national governments (Greece) as a scapegoat for structural problems inherent in Europe's design, while Greece's left-wing government has admitted and begun trying to rectify precedent governments' corruption. But the convenience of blaming Europe's problems on Greece, just like the convenience of sitting in an exit row, comes with the risk of choosing between saving yourself or helping your fellow passengers, a risk increasingly realized European political elites as the plane plummets toward the ground.