The Rapid Destructon of Countries
My regular readers have no doubt noticed my near-obsession with the Ukrainian crisis. Part of it is the risk of real war, but most of it is that the Ukraine is yet another country being destroyed. Even if it had been kept together, even if the Russians had taken the Maidan coup sitting down, the coup signaled the Ukraine’s destruction, because it meant that IMF austerity, meaning slashing pensions 50%, increasing gas prices by 50%, selling off the industries worth selling and the agricultural land which is the most valuable thing the Ukraine has, would occur. Massive debt would be piled onto Ukraine, at higher rates than Russia was offering, and the economy would be looted.
Since 9/11 we have been destroying countries at a ferocious rate: Iraq, Iran (sanctions there are brutal), Libya (far better off under Qaddafi), Syria, Southern Lebanon (their industry destroyed by Israel in 2006). After the financial crisis Portugal, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Cyprus to a lesser or greater degree. Even core economies like Britain and the US, while not technically in recession, are gripped by what is a long Depression, with real standards of living for median individuals dropping, health metrics dropping and employment and wages never recovering to pre-crisis levels. Egypt has been turned into an even worse despotism than under Mubarak, Turkey is sliding down the road to an elected kleptocratic dictatorship, Thailand is in permanent turmoil.
To be sure, some have been destroyed militarily, some by internal political strife and others by austerity but the collapse or decline is clear in all cases. The so-called Arab Spring was to a large extent caused by the financial crisis and the soaring food prices which came in its wake. Syria was deliberately destabilized by the West, and as bad as Assad is (he appears to just love torture), the situation is worse under him than before. Qaddafi, likewise no Saint, ran Libya better than the current near anarchy.
Though not as bad, the austerity driven destruction of countries has been even more common. Austerity is crazy, it says “take on vastly more debt and cut spending”, but what happens is that the economy contracts due to the reduced spending, so that the debt becomes even more injurious, and the country then has to borrow even more money. Greece is more in debt, with a smaller economy, than when the Troika started “helping” them.
This destruction is done for the benefit of various elites: the south of Europe has been shoved into poverty so that financial elites didn’t lose their money, and so that they can make even more money off loans effectively guaranteed by the IMF, ECB and northern European governments.
The correct thing to do, of course, was to force financial elites to take their losses, toss those who had engaged in fraud in jail (which is to say almost all of the executive class), and bail out ordinary workers. The ONLY country to do this was Iceland.
Our current world system destroys countries. And it is destroying more and more. It drives their populations into penury, it takes whatever they have and distributes it to oligarchs, and if a country irritates our Lords and Masters too much, it will be destroyed by economic sanctions or direct or indirect military force.
This is all of a piece: the reason food prices are so high is because of financialization: because all the money has flooded to the top, and there is no money to properly oversee expansion of agriculture and to subsidize food (which is far cheaper to do than the bailouts were, so it’s not a case of being “unaffordable.”
Understand this: if you are not a member of the oligarchy, the financial elite, or a senior member of the security state, your well-being is of little interest to our Lords and Masters. Oh, they might prefer that you don’t die, or go hungry (they might not), but if your well-being conflicts with the desires of the oligarchy, as it did during the bailouts, they will not hesitate to cut you dead.
If you’re unfortunate enough to live in a non-core country, well, even your ability to eat, or not have a nasty militia beat you, rape your daughter, and put drill holes in your son, let alone have a good job or be able to live with dignity, is of little interest to them. This is not hyperbole, it is an exact description of how those who live in non-core countries have been treated, repeatedly.
And remember, the core is shrinking. Greeks and Italians and Cypriots and Spaniards and Irish—they thought they were members of core countries; that they were Europeans, that Germany and France and the ECB and the IMF wouldn’t destroy their countries.
The core is shrinking: the moment elites neither need nor fear you, you are disposable. Are you willing to do anything, absolutely anything, to stay on the inside? If you are, and you can claw your way over the bodies of the others competing for the shrinking spots, well, you may live a good life as a retainer. Otherwise one day you too will be surplus to needs.
One day sooner than you think.
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