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How Eurocrats, Greeks, Germans, and Eastern Europeans View the Greek Crisis

2015 June 28
by Mandos

The Syriza government in Greece just made the move of proposing a referendum on the creditors’ last (unacceptable) offer, so the Greek people can now choose a destiny from a set of unpleasant destinies to which history has brought them. From the creditor’s perspective, this pushes them into precisely the situation they have spent the last seven years (at least) avoiding at all costs–the holding of a democratic dialogue on any part of the bailout. Even their threats to remove the proposal and to cut off ELA are acts of participation in this utterly unwanted dialogue. If Syriza proceeds with this, it will have turned the “sea lion” strategy around and on its head.

The bank bailouts were a “metacrime,” a moral monstrosity by which the productive economy was sacrificed to save what should be merely the money conduit system, rather than sacrificing the finance industry to save the productive economy, and all to conceal crimes and failures inside the money conduit system. However, while the immediate precipitation of the ongoing European/Greek crisis can be attributed to this, the route to such an unstable situation is rather more complex.

Ian asked me to put together some thoughts on the matter of the attitudes, aspirations, and motives of the participants at a “cultural” and interest group level, which I believe are non-trivial drivers of this conflict. For me, at least, when people do wrong things and get themselves into bad situations, I feel it is not enough to turn them into cartoon villains; often outwardly (or “functionally”) sociopathic behaviour has an aetiology in more conventional human failings. Humans often climb up ideological trees from which it is difficult to talk them down. That doesn’t mean I necessarily take a position of pure relativism; being unable to come down from that tree is itself a moral failing.

Before I begin, a disclaimer: I’m going to be painting with a broad brush here. A few years of living in Europe have taught me how impossible it is to live without a certain quota of “pragmatic” stereotyping—whereas it is genuinely easier, in my experience, to act as though one can avoid mentally assigning group characteristics in the USA and Canada. This, I acknowledge, is very dangerous; there are, for example, many Germans who see through what it is their elites have wrought in Greece. Secondly, that I try to write with a layer of sympathy doesn’t mean that I agree with the positions–for some reason, I always have to emphasize this.

EUians and Eurocrats

The first group I’ll discuss isn’t really a “national” grouping at all, but rather a stratum of mostly continental Europeans who view themselves as first and foremost “Europeans” as in citizens of the European Union. I am going to dub them “EUians” from this point on. On the extreme end, I have met EUians who explicitly believe that European countries should abandon their national languages and just adopt a lingua franca (i.e., English). All in all, they believe that Europeans need to “grow up” and accept that the era of the culturally-defined nation state is “over” and that it is a monkey on the back of Europa herself.

Some of you may see this as a pathetic self-abnegation, and maybe it is. But Europe spent the Cold War and maybe before that as a kind of chessboard on which great powers, including powers within Europe, play their games. The only way to evade this fate is to convert Europe into a single, possibly diverse nation on its own — and the only game in town is the EU.

In this worldview, it is only progress that national politics become increasingly devoid of content, and it is only necessary to build European-level democracy when the Europeans have finally, ironically, swallowed the medicine of their own mission civilisatrice. A case in point that is unfolding right now is the drama over refugees, specifically, how to settle them. Brussels had a perfectly reasonable and fair idea that refugees be allocated to countries in proportion to countries’ relative economic weight. This was met with absolute rejection, particularly by newer EU countries in Eastern Europe, who explicitly do not want even a small increase in the proportion of brown people who live there. Behind these countries hid some of the older, larger countries, whose national politics are already burdened by immigration-fatigue.

To EUians, this can only be confirmation that, at the national-political level, Europeans are only a hair’s breadth away from poking each other with sharp sticks in order to maintain ethnoreligious homogeneity. And they may be. But is it a sustainable solution to gradually dilute their democratic rights? To EUians, it is the only answer.

And that bring us to the inner cadre of EUians: the Eurocracy, the elite bureaucrats whose job it is to ^manage^ European economic and political convergence. One of the principal political functions of the Eurocracy is precisely to circumvent national politics. Eurocrats are to act as would-be philosopher-kings, coming up with reasonable solutions based on scientific principles. Oh, they’re human and can be corrupt and venal, but so can elected politicians. Whence the repeated referenda, and then adopting the Lisbon treaty anyway? Well, if the people say “no,” it’s not like the philosopher-kings are going to come up with a better answer–they already emitted the best answer! That’s why they’re Eurocrats.

Now consider the position of Greece at Syriza’s election. Yes, some Eurocrats might have been willing to admit that IMF predictions of Greek GDP growth were just the teensiest bit awry. But there is a procedure for these things, and that is definitely not the demand for changes to existing political agreements, which must then go through the process of national democracy. And Greek leftists just aren’t popular enough to withstand that in the rest of Europe, quite the contrary–by making explicitly left-wing demands, they have asked other populations that are not left-wing to support what they believe is a long-discredited experiment.

@WhelanKarl but the opposite view implies that democracies can’t sign binding agreements rich is surely crazier

— Dan Davies (@dsquareddigest) June 23, 2015

No, the from the Eurocracy’s point of view, the correct way to go about solving this problem is by the baking of fudge. If Syriza had agreed in February to support something memorandum shaped — taken the short-term pain of adopting a kolotoumba — the Eurocracy could have given it a little quid pro quo through the back doors of Brussels. But for EUians and Eurocrats, the bad signs started off very early — choosing ANEL over To Potami as a partner. Readers here probably think of To Potami as a Quisling, capitulationist part, but for the Eurocracy, an alliance with To Potami would have signalled that Syriza could be mollified ultimately through fudging an agreement and was not itself a dangerous populist party. But Syriza chose the spear-carrying nationalist Greeks instead.

So from their perspective, Syriza wanted to play populist politics on the open field of democracy and is reaping what it sowed. Europe does not, cannot, should not have room for a populist left, regardless of whether or not the policy proposed makes sense. European politics is about giving cover, and rational, professorial arguments embedded in a dangerous “democratic mandate” framework is just not on. Even this referendum, which the now apparently non-existent proposal might actually win, is a simply unacceptable exercise that, if repeated elsewhere, will destroy the European project, which is an inherent good that cannot survive the popular sovereignty of barbarian peoples.

The poster children

This is sometimes an overlooked aspect of the discussion, but the views of Baltic and East European states do matter. Some of the Baltic states took very painful medicine recently, and not medicine that different in character from what Greece was being asked to take, but has either refused (under Syriza) or only fudged (under ND, etc). And a lot of these countries have populations that are already poorer than Greeks are now.

Now many of you will retort that these countries, instead of joining in solidarity with the creditors, should likewise have the higher ideological standards that Greeks seem to have. But from their perspective, they embraced austerity and social pain as a manner of slicing off their own forearm in order to escape from the bear that has it by the wrist. Yes, I’m talking about Russia. I know that a good number of readers here think of Russia and Vladimir Putin as a kind of last-stand resistor against “AngloZionist” world domination, but for these countries, what they want to know is how soon the West can bring them that sweet, sweet AngloZionism.

So in a sense, Greece’s apparent cozying up to Putin is in some ways a worse affront than its apparent sense of entitlement. Greece is playing with existential fire for these countries, instead of thanking its lucky stars that’s it’s under the AngloZionist umbrella and putting their grandmothers on ice floes of austerity in gratitude.

(As I said above, I am painting with a broad brush. I have an Estonian colleague who is at least neutral on the matter of Greece, but it is clear to me that in terms of European politics, the existential threat of Russia is not far from his mind in any discussion, and Russia for him is his people’s most recent colonial dominator, not the EU.)

Germany (and Northern Europe)

Germany and German politics have been conceived as the other pole in a kind of Athens-Berlin conflict, as Germany is the Eurozone’s largest economy and its most successful. A lot of things have been said about the German role, and some of the criticisms are correct. And it’s true that to some extent, popular tabloid German media is all about the lazy Greeks, lolling about in the sun with one hand in the pocket of the hardworking German. It’s become a cliché.

But one thing to emphasize is that the debate about economic reason itself is quite different in Germany. Outside of Germany, many people can agree that Yanis Varoufakis’ proposals are economically reasonable and possibly even mainstream while criticizing him for his political approach. But within Germany, the proposals themselves—and the logic of anti-austerity thinking—are widely seen as coming from another planet. That’s because popular discussion on economics within present-day Germany does not really emphasize the notion of flows and balances. What does it matter that everyone can’t simultaneously be an export superpower? It’s everyone’s duty to try and find something they can offer to the world, and in terms of nations, that is expressed in terms of their export power. The US import “power” is viewed by many Germans as an unsustainable boondoggle…but the German export power is not. Germany even exports to the exporters.

From this perspective, the proper domain of economic policymaking isn’t to be playing some kind of Rube Goldberg game of who should be paid what when to make the balances work out, but instead it is about removing the obstacles to economic agility and to everyone reaching a Platonic state of optimal social contribution. The German mainstream isn’t like English-language conservatism — you can believe in principle in a generous welfare state along most of the German political spectrum, but it needs to be a welfare state designed around facilitating life transitions. And that sometimes means giving employers a little flexibility.

It’s on this basis that left-wing government in the rest of Europe provokes little sympathy in Germany, particularly in the case of Syriza (but not even French dirigisme gets any quarter). From the German perspective, far from Syriza having been forced to retract its programme, the last proposal of the creditors was actually quite generous and full of compromises on the things that Germans think matters. Syriza’s Red Lines are exactly the things that show that Syriza isn’t seriously different from any other clientelistic party of Greece, and therefore it deserves no sympathy, leftist or otherwise. Germany is willing to open its pocketbook to Greece — through the back door, of course, via Eurofudge — to ensure that Greece looks like a success story. But only if things like pension reform, privatization, labour reform, take place, and not just in a recalcitrant way, but in a way that shows that the Greek government believes in a reasonable “soziale Marktwirtshaft.”

But, from a German perspective, Alexis Tsipras wants to run non-surpluses without figuring out what Greece’s contribution to the world will be as it is, and neither the Eurozone nor the EU itself needs that. In fact, Tsipras wants to propagate this ideology in Europe elsewhere, and to them, that’s neither right nor tolerable.

Finally, Greece

Even with the proposals offically off the table (the fact that a referendum on them is a dealbreaker is in itself very telling!), the referendum is a useful exercise, especially if the “real” question in people’s minds is formulated correctly. It’s important to know “for real” if the kind of thing that the creditors were asking on Thursday would be acceptable to the average Greek, at least in its broad outline — not just some deal, but that deal, even if it is hypothetical.

But a lot of readers here may be disappointed to know that many Greeks would vote for such a deal anyway, even if it meant that Greece became a “debt colony” of the EU. Why would a people voluntarily choose such abjection, even if the Grexit path is hard?

The truth is that Greece sits in a perfect storm of historical factors and cultural memes that primes it specifically to be a chief candidate for a crisis like this. And the form that Greek nationalism has taken up to now doesn’t help at all. At the point at which Greece is “finally” free to take up its place in heart of the Europe whose mother it is, how is it conceivable that it could be facing ejection from what was supposed to be Europe’s cornerstone? How could it be possible that Greece could actually always have been, effectively, an Orthodox Turkey, when it suffered so much under the Ottomans? And how likely is it that, left to their own devices, the Greek elite would actually themselves choose to turn the corner and build a state administration as good as Germany’s? Isn’t it more likely that outside the Euro, Greece will just follow it’s old trajectory, and not become the devalued competitive powerhouse that Grexit-boosters believe it can be?

These are the questions that Greek citizens are going to be asking themselves over the next week, the real issues of the referendum, and it may be that a lot of participants on Ian’s blog won’t like the answers they come up with. Because a “No” most likely means a Grexit forced by the creditors, and while I believe the Greek government is technically correct in not making this explicit, everyone knows what it means. But it is nevertheless important to have had this exercise, because whatever the outcome of the proposed referendum, it will be contingent on and subordinate to the democratic choice of a people, exactly what the Eurocracy has been avoiding, unsustainably in my opinion.

(Brief Ian notes:

1) I asked Mandos to write this because I think it’s important.

2) Greece has now imposed capital controls.  Five years later than it should have been done, but a good step.)

 

26 Responses
  1. June 28, 2015

    Welcome Mandos!

  2. S Brennan permalink
    June 28, 2015

    I found this an interesting take on the subject:

    “A (Greek) Fork In The Road

    Although the debt crisis was long an issue since before Balkan Stream was even conceptualized, it’s now become intimately intertwined in the New Cold War energy drama unfolding in the Balkans. The Troika wants to force Tsipras to capitulate to an unpopular debt deal that would surely lead to the rapid end of his premiership. Right now, the main factor tying Balkan Stream to Greece is the Tsipras government, and it’s in Russia and the multipolar world’s best interests to see him remain in power until the pipeline can physically be constructed. Any sudden or unexpected change of leadership in Greece could easily endanger the political viability of Balkan Stream and force Russia into relying on Eastring, and it’s for these reasons why the Troika wants to force Tsipras into an inextricable dilemma.

    If he accepts the current debt conditions, then he’ll lose the support of his base and likely usher in early elections or fall victim to a revolt from within his own party. On the other hand, if he rejects the proposal and allows Greece to default, then the resultant economic catastrophe could kill all grassroots support for him and prematurely end his political career. That’s why the decision to hold a national referendum on the debt deal was such a genius move, because it ensures that Tsipras has a chance of surviving the forthcoming political-economic firestorm over its democratically obtained results (which look to foretell a debt rejection and imminent default ). With the people on his side (no matter how narrowly), Tsipras could continue presiding over Greece as it crawls into an uncertain and troubling forthcoming period. Additionally, his continued stewardship of the country and the personal chemistry that he has with the BRICS leaders ( especially Vladimir Putin ) could lead to them extending some form of economic assistance (probably through the $100 billion BRICS New Development Bank or equally large currency reserve pool ) to Greece after their upcoming summit in Ufa in early July, provided that he can hang on to leadership until then.

    Thus, the future of Balkan energy geopolitics currently comes down to whatever happens in Greece in the near future. While it’s possible that a Greek Prime Minister other than Tsipras could continue moving forward with Balkan Stream, the likelihood is significantly less than if Tsipras stayed put in office. Creating the conditions for his removal is the indirect way in which the US and EU prefer to influence the course of Russia’s future energy shipments through the Balkans, hence why such pressure is being applied on Tsipras at this moment. His referendum proposal clearly took them all by surprise, since real democracy is practically unheard of in Europe nowadays, and nobody expected him to directly refer to his constituents prior to making one of the country’s most pivotal decisions in decades. Through these means, he can escape the Catch-22 trap that the Troika set for him, and in doing so, also save the future of Balkan Stream.”

    http://thesaker.is/eastring-vs-balkan-stream-the-battle-for-greece/

  3. S Brennan permalink
    June 28, 2015

    Out of curiosity, didn’t Putin’s meeting with Alexis Tsipras on Friday, June 19 precede Tsipras proposal to put Grexit to referendum…by just days, or do I have that wrong?

    http://greece.greekreporter.com/files/tsipras-putin.jpg

  4. Peter permalink
    June 28, 2015

    All of this Eurocentric debate, fear and loathing may be moot now that the real power and ultimate Paternalist the US has apparently decided to bring the vassal states to heel. Sturmfuhrer Obama has tasked his economic minion Jack Yew with the distasteful job of dictating to the, powerful sounding but ultimately subservient, Troika what they should already know to do, make a deal and save the Euro and European unity, whatever that may be.

    The economic elite of Europe, read Germany, seem to be determined to start another World War or its economic equivalent just to prove their cultural and accumulative prowess and they now need to be reminded that they didn’t win their last attempt at authority and purity. The US has allowed them too much chain and now the choker must be applied and the Dobermans returned to their pens to snarl and bare their teeth from a safe distance while the Hegemon takes care of business.

  5. EmilianoZ permalink
    June 28, 2015

    I dont have a copy of Jared Diamond’s Collapse with me so I will rely on what I can find on the web.

    From Naked Capitalism commenters:

    Eclair: I remember reading in one of Jared Diamond’s books, about the Scandinavian settlers in Greenland (?), who insisted on holding to their ‘civilized’ european mode of agriculture, clothing, housing, etc. In spite of the example of their ‘uncivilized’ indigenous neighbors who had evolved clothing, shelter and food sources that enabled them to fit in with the land and the climate over centuries. The europeans, decimated by disease and hunger and cold, finally gave up and left.

    Lambert: They starved to death in Greenland, in the midst of the richest fishing grounds in the world, because “civilized people don’t eat fish.” They starved so badly that they even ate their horses hooves, in addition to shoes, belts, etc.

    From a Malcolm Gladwell review:
    The Norse needed to reduce their reliance on livestock—particularly cows, which consumed an enormous amount of agricultural resources. But cows were a sign of high status; to northern Europeans, beef was a prized food. They needed to copy the Inuit practice of burning seal blubber for heat and light in the winter, and to learn from the Inuit the difficult art of hunting ringed seals, which were the most reliably plentiful source of food available in the winter. But the Norse had contempt for the Inuit—they called them skraelings, “wretches”—and preferred to practice their own brand of European agriculture.

    The point is that the Greeks are suffering from the same cultural blind spot. It’s a big world out there, but for the Greeks, the only civilized world is the western world. They are likely to suffer the fate of the Norse in Greenland for lack of imagination.

  6. S Brennan permalink
    June 28, 2015

    Just to help with EmilianoZ racist stereotyping being bandied about as factual data…I offer up this Anglo image of Irish people.

    Clearly, the Irish deserved their fate; death, exile, enslavement. Now, for the Greeks…they really have it coming too…first for repelling the invading fascists from Italy, then, requiring the full force of Nazi Germany to be conquered, then, continued resistance to Nazi occupation…and then, worst of all, not accepting Churchill’s decision to arm the Nazi collaborators and his orders to kill the allied resistance partisans after the Nazis withdrew…which led to a full fledged civil war with the English backing Nazis…oh yeah…and not accepting the American imposed junta…clearly, Greek brought all these things upon themselves…and need a little more of it.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fa/Scientific_racism_irish.jpg

  7. Pluto permalink
    June 28, 2015

    What an excellent and informative article! Very nuanced. Thank you, Mandos.

    For the first time, ever, since I’ve been trading Forex, my broker won’t allow trades today (it’s Monday morning in Asia). They’ll allow open trades to close. But that’s it.

    It’s the Twilight Zone.

  8. Pluto permalink
    June 28, 2015

    @ S Brennan

    Yes, you’re right. Tsipras announced late Friday June 26, I believe. The Greek parliament ratified the next day. Saturday. It really happened fast.

    I will point out that Tsipras has been in Moscow quite a few times over the past six months and a number phone calls between the two of them have been reported. Part of this, of course, was the negotiation between Greece, Turkey, and Russia to arrange for Gazprom’s huge new Blue Stream pipeline to transit across Turkey to Greece, where it will terminate. Ukraine will now be bypassed and Greece will become the major energy hub for southern and western Europe. That also happened unusually fast.

    Someone is a chess master.

  9. Pluto permalink
    June 28, 2015

    @ S Brennan

    I’m pretty sure the cancellation of the Balkan Stream is a done deal. Signed by all parties. Here’s what that looks like.

    http://aea-al.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Turkish-Stream-MAP-1.jpg

    For once, the Saker is not up to speed. Over the past year the US has forced Bulgaria to throw constant obstructions at Gazprom and the pipeline construction as part of the sanctions efforts against Russia. By January 2015, Gazprom was fed up and Putin opened negotiations with Turkey and Greece on Gazprom’s behalf.

    I’m pretty confident that this is a done deal because for the past two months Victoria Nuland and her Nazi minions have been in Macedonia fomenting another revolution. With a puppet regime change there, the US believes it can block the pipeline coming out of Greece.

    Apparently, our European Vassal States will have to burn seal blubber to stay warm in winter.

  10. June 28, 2015

    A welcome article. Thank you.

  11. Daize permalink
    June 29, 2015

    Great article Mandos. I would just differ on one point. It seems most Europeans living outside Greece think the Greeks will vote yes (whether it will matter in the end or not remains to be seen). On the other hand, it seems that quite a lot of Greeks themselves think “Oxi” will win. If I were to bet, I’d bet on “Oxi”; we will find out in a few days.

    It is a very fluid situation and a hell of a lot of Greeks still support Syriza and are very angry at the Troika, and Syriza is recommending a no. “Oxi” has very powerful national conotations in Greece.

  12. June 29, 2015

    Thanks for the kind words everyone.

    As to whether Greeks will vote yes or no, only time will tell, but I’m afraid that personal anecdotes aren’t predictive of these things. I too know Greeks, and most of the Greeks I know personally are opposed to austerity. But you and I are not likely to know a representative sample of Greeks. Read the @yannikouts twitter feed to understand some of the perspective of Greeks who want a deal at any cost — Greek EUians, who think that Syriza has misplayed their hand by attempting to take the issue out of the hands of the Eurocracy. (@yannikouts calls himself a “progressivist”, which means something entirely different from “progressive” as used around these parts.)

  13. ProNewerDeal permalink
    June 29, 2015

    forgive me for this possibly simple question.

    What is meant by “Greece will exit the Euro”?

    Is it only stopping to use the Euro currency, and again using the national Greek currency, drachma?

    Or does it also include leaving the European Union, such that Greek citizens cannot emigrate or temporarily travel to other European Union nations, without the relevant visa, immigration paperwork, etc?

  14. June 29, 2015

    No one knows for real. The Single Currency was designed to be part of the Ever Closer Union, and no one really knows the procedure to make the Ever Closer Union less closer, relative to a bankrupt member. In theory, we would expect that the EU would not like to lose territory, and that the issue will be the method by which the drachma is (re)introduced. In practice, it depends on a combination of degree of vindictiveness and legalism.

  15. June 29, 2015

    So once again, to examine the really dumb version of the EUian argument, almost self-parody actually, you basically have to read Hugo Dixon:

    http://www.breakingviews.com/hugo-dixon-what-sort-of-man-is-tsipras?/21202401.article

    He thought until the very end that all Tsipras had to do was to trade reforms for austerity. Now we just saw Tsipras practically give in on almost everything and walk away with almost nothing.

  16. June 29, 2015

    What people do not realize is that this structure, to the very genomics of its being, is flawed. And it will crumble down once the baby room is well and truly dead. But until then they are going to hold out for everyone to get with the program, even if it means utter destruction.

    We are rebelling against our genes, rather than work with them.

    ( I will also say, that people are being polite today – and I hope that continues)

  17. June 29, 2015

    Thanks, Mandos, very informative!
    ~

  18. June 29, 2015

    This is a great post and underlines the price people have had to pay for cover up past mistakes.

    They lied about the causes of the crisis, lied about who was responsible for the crisis. They then lied about the solutions to the crisis. and now lie about the fruits of these solutions. It is now impossible for anyone to change this posture because the lies would be exposed. The character assassination of whole countries like Greece means it is politically toxic in places like Germany to wield anything but the big stick. Others like Spain and Ireland, who have meted out the hard medicine are, for even more selfish reasons, invested in the lie that there was no other road than the one travelled. Decisions were all taken with intended outcomes for sure, but Italy, Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal are different economies with different flash points but all had the same remedy imposed. All one big cover up after another since 2008.

  19. marku permalink
    June 29, 2015

    Excellent roundup, with a lot of helpful cultural details. Not a simple story.

    Thanks.

  20. markfromireland permalink
    June 30, 2015

    Mandos – my compliments on a well written and argued piece. If you haven’t read the 5 Presidents report yet I think you’ll find it interesting if somewhat predictable reading:

    Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union [PDF].

    mfi

  21. markfromireland permalink
    June 30, 2015

    PS: I was particularly impressed by the fact that you said this very early on in your analysis:

    But Europe spent the Cold War and maybe before that as a kind of chessboard on which great powers, including powers within Europe, play their games. The only way to evade this fate is to convert Europe into a single, possibly diverse nation on its own — and the only game in town is the EU.

    The EU’s primary function from the very start has always been to ensure that the two Western European regional superpowers become so closely intertwined that they cannot go to war with one another something which they’d been doing once a generation.

    We’ve had 70 years without a Franco-German war, I’d call that a resounding success,

    mfi

  22. Ysmene permalink
    July 2, 2015

    I’ve followed this blog for a couple of years now but I don’t comment much. Today I just had to say something. I have many Greek friends; some living in the States, some with dual citizenship and some still living in Greece. The family is progressive. They want to stay in the EU but they want to get away from the Euro. They’re very passionate about these problems so I only get to see one side close up.

    Ian has helped my comprehension of the issues so I can at least speak to my friends and not sound like a total idiot. This essay today, Mandos, gave all sides and really put things into perspective. Well done Gentlemen.

  23. July 3, 2015

    Thanks for everyone’s kind words, by the way. I haven’t responded here since the discussion moved to the next thread, by Ian.

    MFI: I had heard of that report but didn’t read it until you linked it. It is indeed very predictable. Competitiveness etc etc etc.

  24. July 3, 2015

    Finally it came to my attention that people might actually be interpreting my reference to “AngloZionism” as endorsement of the view that there is a grand “AngloZionist” plot for domination to which some Eastern European countries have enthralled themselves. While I do believe that domination is a part of world affairs, I do not seriously use that label for it nor accept its obviously intended implications.

  25. neoconned permalink
    July 4, 2015

    I have a few observations to add to the discussion:

    “convert Europe into a single, possibly diverse nation on its own”

    It originally looked to me that this was going to happen. But individual nations -particularly the UK- expressed heavy nationalism at that time which prevented the continent gelling into a European “United States”. Such nations inspired smaller nations to attempt to retain the national ethnic characters, and even opened the door for Germany to do so on an economic basis. Once the euro became the dominant international interaction among EU nations, those prospects dimmed.

    “newer EU countries in Eastern Europe…explicitly do not want even a small increase in the proportion of brown people who live there.”

    In the US, we have the same issue regarding the influx of Central Americans and Mexican nationals impoverished by similar economic extremism as is now under discussion regarding Greece. The poorer US states, as with the Eastern EU nations, don’t want to end up becoming the dumping ground while the wealthier nations talk a lot and do nothing. Money must be kept racially ppure, don’t you know!

    As for the Eurocrats, their entire puprpose is to impose corporatism on the entire continent to ensure that the EU, as is becoming the case in the US, is only governed by large wealth. All else may be sacrificed in its defense.

    Lastly regarding the fear of the Russian bear, had the EU gelled into a national entity, none of this would be occurring now. Had the EU properly cared for its member states, there would be no incentive to talk with the BRICS. But as this was not done, and the BRICS seek to expand their influence, for the EU to continue forcing austerity upoon those nations which fell behind economically only ensures that such talks will continue. Short-sighted greed now ensures that the goal of a united Europe cannot be attained.

  26. S Brennan permalink
    July 4, 2015

    MFI,

    To your comment “We’ve had 70 years without a Franco-German war, I’d call that a resounding success”

    I offer a rather long extract that, while not a direct rebuttal, certainly, it’s not an endorsement either:

    “With respect to Greece, the precise thing that European elites did to set the current chain of events in motion was to replace private debt with public during the 2010 first “bailout of Greece”. Prior to that event, it was obvious that blame was multipolar. Here are the banks, in France, in Germany, that foolishly lent. Not just to Greece, but to Goldman’s synthetic CDOs and every other piece of idiot paper they could carry with low risk-weights. In 2010, the EU, ECB, and IMF laundered a bailout of mostly French and German banks through the Greek fisc. Cash flowed into Greece only so it could flow out to rickety banks. Now, suddenly, the banks were absolved. There were very few bad loans left on the books of European lenders, everyone was clean, no bad actors at all. Except one. What had been a mudwrestling match, everybody dirty, was transformed into mass of powdered wigs accusing a single filthy penitent. The nerve. The fucking nerve. Lenders, having been made nearly whole on their ill-conceived, profit-motivated punts, now fear that if anybody is nice to somebody who doesn’t deserve it, where will it end?

    Greece’s citizens are in precisely the place France’s citizens and Germany’s citizens were in 2010, at risk that personal savings maintained as bank deposits will not be repaid. Something was worked out for French and German citizens. Other than resorting to the ethnonational stereotypes that European elites have now revived in polite company, what is the justification for a Greek schoolteacher losing her savings that wouldn’t have applied just as strongly to a French schoolteacher five years ago? Because Greeks are responsible, as individuals, for what the governments they elect do? Well, then I deserve to be killed for what my government has done in Iraq and elsewhere. Is that where we want to go?

    It is difficult to overstate how deeply Europe’s leaders betrayed the ideals of European integration in their handing of the Greek crisis. The first and most fundamental goal of European integration was to blur the lines of national feeling and interest through commerce and interdependence, in order to prevent the fractures along ethnonational lines that made a charnel house of the continent, twice. That is the first thing, the main rule, that anyone who claims to represent the European project must abide: We solve problems as Europeans together, not as nations in conflict…problems that festered while the continent’s leaders gloated and took credit for a phantom prosperity. When the levee broke, instead of acknowledging errors and working to address them as a community, Europe’s elites — its politicians and civil servants, its bankers and financiers — deflected the blame in the worst possible way. They turned a systemic problem of financial architecture into a dispute between European nations. They brought back the very ghosts their predecessors spent half a century trying to dispell…I was inclined to support Europe’s democratic fudges when they were about diminishing and diffusing the still palpable possibility here of reversion to ethnonational conflict. To see European institutions deployed precisely and with great force in the service polarization across national borders has radicalized and made a populist of me (as have analogous betrayals among the political leadership of my own country). If I were Greek, I would surely be a nationalist now.

    Having recast a crisis caused by a combustible mix of regulatory failure and elite venality into a morality play about profligate Greeks who must be punished, Eurocrats are now engaged in what might be described as “loan-shark theater”. They are putting on a show for the electorates they inflamed in order to preserve their own prestige. The show must go on. Throughout the crisis, European elites have faced a simple choice: Acknowledge and explain to electorates their own mistakes, which do not line up along national borders of virtue and vice, or revert to a much older playbook and manufacture scapegoats.

    Such tiny, tiny people.”

    http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/5965.html

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