THE GREEKS REALIZE
Democracy is being replaced by a financial oligarchy
European integration started with trade as the path of least resistance — the Coal and Steel Community promoted by Robert Schuman in 1952, followed by the European Economic Community (EEC, the Common Market) in 1957. Customs union integration and the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) were topped by financial integration. But without a real continental Parliament to write laws, set tax rates, protect labor's working conditions and consumers, and control offshore banking centers, centralized planning passes by default into the hands of bankers and financial institutions. This is the effect of replacing nation states with planning by bankers. It is how democratic politics gets replaced with financial oligarchy.
Finance is a form of warfare. Like military conquest, its aim is to gain control of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute. This involves dictating laws to its subjects, and concentrating social as well as economic planning in centralized hands. This is what now is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attack may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight.
This attack is being mounted not by nation states as such, but by a cosmopolitan financial class. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic — and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.
Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance and protect finance capital and "the miracle of compound interest" that keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow, until they eat into the economic substance and do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.
This financial dynamic is what threatens to break up Europe today. But the financial class has gained sufficient power to turn the ideological tables and insist that what threatens European unity is national populations acting to resist the cosmopolitan claims of finance capital to impose austerity on labor. Debts that already have become unpayable are to be taken onto the public balance sheet — without a military struggle, needless to say. At least such bloodshed is now in the past.
From the vantage point of the Irish and Greek populations (perhaps soon to be joined by those of Portugal and Spain), national parliamentary governments are to be mobilized to impose the terms of national surrender to financial planners. One almost can say that the ideal is to reduce parliaments to local puppet regimes serving the cosmopolitan financial class by using debt leverage to carve up what is left of the public domain that used to be called "the commons." As such, we now are entering a post-medieval world of enclosures — an Enclosure Movement driven by financial law that overrides public and common law, against the common good.
Jean-Claude Trichet: AMERICAN TOAD
On Thursday, June 2, 2011, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet spelled out the blueprint for how to establish financial oligarchy over all Europe. Appropriately, he announced his plan upon receiving the Charlemagne prize at Aachen, Germany — symbolically expressing how Europe was to be unified not on the grounds of economic peace as dreamed of by the architects of the Common Market in the 1950s, but on diametrically opposite oligarchic grounds.
At the outset of his speech on "Building Europe, building institutions," Trichet appropriately credited the European Council led by Mr. Van Rompuy for giving direction and momentum from the highest level, and the Eurogroup of finance ministers led by Mr. Juncker. Together, they formed what the popular press calls Europe's creditor "troika." Mr. Trichet's speech refers to "the 'trialogue' between the Parliament, the Commission and the Council."
Europe's task, he explained, was to follow Erasmus in bringing Europe beyond its traditional "strict concept of nationhood." The debt problem called for new "monetary policy measures — we call them 'non standard' decisions, strictly separated from the 'standard' decisions, and aimed at restoring a better transmission of our monetary policy in these abnormal market conditions." The problem at hand is to make these conditions a new normalcy — that of paying debts, and re-defining solvency to reflect a nation's ability to pay by selling off its public domain.
"Countries that have not lived up to the letter or the spirit of the rules have experienced difficulties," Trichet noted. "Via contagion, these difficulties have affected other countries in EMU. Strengthening the rules to prevent unsound policies is therefore an urgent priority." His use of the term "contagion" depicted democratic government and protection of debtors as a disease. Reminiscent of the Greek colonels' speech that opened the famous 1969 film "Z": to combat leftism as if it were an agricultural pest to be exterminated by proper ideological pesticide.
The story begins with the closing moments of a rather dull government lecture and slide show on agricultural policy, after which the leader of the security police of a right-wing military-dominated government takes over the podium for an impassioned speech describing the government's program to combat leftism, using the metaphors of "a mildew of the mind", an infiltration of "isms", or "sunspots".
The scene shifts to preparations for a rally of the opposition faction where the Deputy (Montand) is to give a speech advocating nuclear disarmament. It is obvious that there have been attempts to prevent the speech's delivery. The venue has been changed to a much smaller hall and logistical problems have appeared out of nowhere.
As the Deputy crosses the street from the hall after giving his speech, a delivery truck speeds past him and a man on the open truck bed strikes him down with a club. The injury eventually proves fatal, and by that time it is already clear to the viewer that the police have manipulated witnesses to force the conclusion that the victim was simply run over by a drunk driver.
However, they do not control the hospital, where the autopsy disproves their interpretation. The examining magistrate (Trintignant), with the assistance of a photojournalist (Perrin), now uncovers sufficient evidence to indict not only the two right-wing militants who committed the murder, but also four high-ranking military police officers. The action of the film concludes with one of the Deputy's associates rushing to see the Deputy's widow (Papas) to give her the surprising news of the officers' indictments.
An epilogue provides a synopsis of the subsequent turns of events. Instead of the expected positive outcome, the prosecutor is mysteriously removed from the case, key witnesses die under suspicious circumstances, the assassins receive (relatively) short sentences, the officers receive only administrative reprimands, the Deputy's close associates die or are deported, and the photojournalist is sent to prison for disclosing official documents.
Mr. Trichet adopted the colonels' rhetoric. The task of the Greek Socialists evidently is to do what the colonels and their conservative successors could not do: deliver labor to irreversible economic reforms.
"Arrangements are currently in place, involving financial assistance under strict conditions, fully in line with the IMF policy. I am aware that some observers have concerns about where this leads. The line between regional solidarity and individual responsibility could become blurred if the conditionality is not rigorously complied with. "In my view, it could be appropriate to foresee for the medium term two stages for countries in difficulty. This would naturally demand a change of the Treaty.
"As a first stage, it is justified to provide financial assistance in the context of a strong adjustment program. It is appropriate to give countries an opportunity to put the situation right themselves and to restore stability.
"At the same time, such assistance is in the interests of the euro area as a whole, as it prevents crises spreading in a way that could cause harm to other countries.
"It is of paramount importance that adjustment occurs; that countries — governments and opposition — unite behind the effort; and that contributing countries survey with great care the implementation of the programme.
"But if a country is still not delivering, I think all would agree that the second stage has to be different. Would it go too far if we envisaged, at this second stage, giving euro area authorities a much deeper and authoritative say in the formation of the country's economic policies if these go harmfully astray? A direct influence, well over and above the reinforced surveillance that is presently envisaged? ... (my emphasis)
The dialectics of surveillance
"We can see before our eyes that membership of the EU, and even more so of EMU, introduces a new understanding in the way sovereignty is exerted. Interdependence means that countries de facto do not have complete internal authority. They can experience crises caused entirely by the unsound economic policies of others.
"With a new concept of a second stage, we would change drastically the present governance based upon the dialectics of surveillance, recommendations and sanctions. In the present concept, all the decisions remain in the hands of the country concerned, even if the recommendations are not applied, and even if this attitude triggers major difficulties for other member countries. In the new concept, it would be not only possible, but in some cases compulsory, in a second stage for the European authorities — namely the Council on the basis of a proposal by the Commission, in liaison with the ECB — to take themselves decisions applicable in the economy concerned.
"One way this could be imagined is for European authorities to have the right to veto some national economic policy decisions. The remit could include in particular major fiscal spending items and elements essential for the country's competitiveness. ...
By "unsound economic policies," Mr. Trichet means not paying debts — by writing them down to the ability to pay without forfeiting land and monopolies in the public domain, and refusing to replace political and economic democracy with control by bankers. Twisting the knife into the long history of European idealism, he deceptively depicted his proposed financial coup d'état as if it were in the spirit of Jean Monnet, Robert Schuman and other liberals who promoted European integration in hope of creating a more peaceful world — one that would be more prosperous and productive, not one based on financial asset stripping.
"Jean Monnet in his memoirs 35 years ago wrote: 'Nobody can say today what will be the institutional framework of Europe tomorrow because the future changes, which will be fostered by today's changes, are unpredictable.'
"In this Union of tomorrow, or of the day after tomorrow, would it be too bold, in the economic field, with a single market, a single currency and a single central bank, to envisage a ministry of finance of the Union? Not necessarily a ministry of finance that administers a large federal budget. But a ministry of finance that would exert direct responsibilities in at least three domains: first, the surveillance of both fiscal policies and competitiveness policies, as well as the direct responsibilities mentioned earlier as regards countries in a 'second stage' inside the euro area; second, all the typical responsibilities of the executive branches as regards the union's integrated financial sector, so as to accompany the full integration of financial services; and third, the representation of the union confederation in international financial institutions.
"Husserl concluded his lecture in a visionary way: 'Europe's existential crisis can end in only one of two ways: in its demise (...) lapsing into a hatred of the spirit and into barbarism ; or in its rebirth from the spirit of philosophy, through a heroism of reason (...).'"
Grigoris Lambrakis - a hero of the Geek working class.
In other words, no room for any agency like that advocated by Elizabeth Warren is to exist in the EU. That is not the kind of idealistic integration toward which Trichet and the ECB aim.
Trichet is leading toward what the closing credits of the film "Z" put on the screen: The things banned by the junta include: "peace movements, strikes, labor unions, long hair on men, The Beatles, other modern and popular music ('la musique populaire'), Sophocles, Leo Tolstoy, Aeschylus, writing that Socrates was homosexual, Eugène Ionesco, Jean-Paul Sartre, Anton Chekhov, Harold Pinter, Edward Albee, Mark Twain, Samuel Beckett, the bar association, sociology, international encyclopedias, free press, and new math. Also banned is the letter Z, which was used as a symbolic reminder that Grigoris Lambrakis and by extension the spirit of resistance lives (zi = 'he (Lambrakis) lives')."
As the Wall Street Journal accurately summarized the political thrust of Mr. Trichet's speech, "if a bailed-out country isn't delivering on its fiscal-adjustment program, then a 'second stage' could be required, which could possibly involve 'giving euro-area authorities a much deeper and authoritative say in the formation of the county's economic policies ...'" Eurozone authorities — specifically, their financial institutions, not democratic institutions aimed at protecting labor and consumers, raising living standards and so forth — "could have 'the right to veto some national economic-policy decisions' under such a regime. In particular, a veto could apply for 'major fiscal spending items and elements essential for the country's competitiveness.'"
Paraphrasing Mr. Trichet's lugubrious query, "In this union of tomorrow ... would it be too bold in the economic field ... to envisage a ministry of finance for the union?" the article noted that "Such a ministry wouldn't necessarily have a large federal budget but would be involved in surveillance and issuing vetoes, and would represent the currency bloc at international financial institutions."
My own memory is that socialist idealism after World War II was world-weary in seeing nation states as the instruments for military warfare. This pacifist ideology came to overshadow the original socialist ideology of the late 19th century, which sought to reform governments to take law-making power, taxing power and property itself out of the hands of the classes who had possessed it ever since the Viking invasions of Europe had established feudal privilege, absentee landownership and financial control of trading monopolies and, increasingly, the banking privilege of money creation.
But somehow, as my UMKC colleague, Prof. Bill Black commented recently in the UMKC economics blog: "One of the great paradoxes is that the periphery's generally left-wing governments adopted so enthusiastically the ECB's ultra-right wing economic nostrums — austerity is an appropriate response to a great recession. ... Why left-wing parties embrace the advice of the ultra-right wing economists whose anti-regulatory dogmas helped cause the crisis is one of the great mysteries of life. Their policies are self-destructive to the economy and suicidal politically."
Greece and Ireland have become the litmus test for whether economies will be sacrificed in attempts to pay debts that cannot be paid. An interregnum is threatened during which the road to default and permanent austerity will carve out more and more land and public enterprises from the public domain, divert more and more consumer income to pay debt service and taxes for governments to pay bondholders, and more business income to pay the bankers.
Michael Hudson is a former Wall Street economist. A Distinguished Research Professor at University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), he is the author of many books, including Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (new ed., Pluto Press, 2002) and Trade, Development and Foreign Debt: A History of Theories of Polarization v. Convergence in the World Economy. He can be reached via his website, [email protected]
God bless you all!
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT TO FELLOWSHIP ON HOW TO GO ON IN THESE DANGEROUS AND TROUBLED TIMES, WE URGE YOU TO CONTACT US AT: [email protected].
IN ADDITION, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD THE NEW ANTIPAS PAPERS, PRINT THEM OUT YOURSELF, AND STUDY THEM CAREFULLY; SHARE THEM WITH YOUR FRIENDS.
FINALLY, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT OUT THE FLYER WE SENT TO YOU RECENTLY.
Then make copies and take these copies out to the campuses where you live; pass them out; OR if that seems too "daring" for you right now, post them on telephone poles, the sides of buildings, on campus bulletin boards; post them in union halls, in the neighborhoods of the poor and downtrodden, near employment offices, wherever you can.
Once again, we URGE you to read (or re-read):
We need your help to spread the word concerning Antipas Ministries and the eschatological viewpoint it represents; WE NEED YOUR HELP BECAUSE WE DO NOT "LINK" WITH OTHER SO-CALLED "CHRISTIAN" WEBSITES which are, for the most part, "in the tank" insofar as their loyalty to the United States is concerned - a loyalty that has made them partners in the BLOODY trail the American military has left in its TERROR-RIDDEN rampage throughout the world, as well as making them partners in the abject poverty that American corporations have imposed on the peoples and nations the American military machine has ravaged - A BLOODY, TERROR-RIDDEN RAMPAGE THAT HAS TO A LARGE DEGREE BEEN CARRIED OUT IN THE NAME OF THE "PRINCE OF PEACE." [Please see our articles, "The Third World as a Model for the New World Order," Inside the American New World Order System" and "The American Empire: The Corporate / Pentagon / CIA / Missionary Archipelago."]
YOU CAN HELP BY EMAILING
THIS ARTICLE TO