Today I am spitting nails. I have not been as angry as this for 20 years. The last time I felt my blood boiling like this was in 1995, when Serbian nationalist gunmen entered the Bosnian town of Srebrenica and, with the collusion of the Dutch troops who were meant to protect them, took away 8,000 men and boys, murdered them in cold blood and buried them in graves they had dug themselves.
That is how furious I am today.
And why? Because I have seen Germany destroy a weaker nation for political ends. I have seen Germany destroy all notion of European solidarity. I have seen Germany reveal its true self — the monstrous bully of Europe that cannot suffer dissent and insists that its orders must be followed, on pain of destruction.
In 1871 Germans failed. In 1914 they failed. In 1939-45 they failed — although defeating them cost 72 million lives and the destruction of Europe, not to mention the horror of the Holocaust.
It’s not that often I agree with Suzanne Moore. So that has to be noteworthy for a start. I find myself agreeing with Joseph Stiglitz more often — and why not, I mean he is a Nobel Prize winner. I am pretty sure for all three of us to be in agreement is pretty exceptional though.
And what are we agreeing about? Germany’s atrocious, scandalous bullying of Greece, that’s what.
I am no fan of Margaret Thatcher, but her fears, expressed before Germany was re-unified, have proven correct: Germany is once again Europe’s bad-mannered thug, and it has begun to flex its muscles.
Of course it always was; three times in under 70 years, it invaded its neighbours and created havoc. (Okay, the first was technically Prussia, but that’s a detail.)
The last expression of its natural tendency to be King Rat caused 72 million people to be killed and Europe — as well as substantial other parts of the globe — was devastated. Well, after that one we got smart and took Germany’s tanks and bombers away.
So now they are using their financial power to do the same thing, bully and intimidate smaller countries. Last month we heard the head of the ECB — a German — ask that democracy in Greece should be suspended and a ‘technocrat’ appointed to run it instead. After all, we can’t have an annoyance like democracy getting the way of the Master Race’s plans now, can we? And freedom, what’s that?
Today we hear German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisting that no debt restructuring will be offered to Greece. If they cannot behave like good Germans — which is what, apparently, being European now means — then they can starve. Continue reading “Germany, the bully of Europe”
With 15% of the vote now counted, Greece looks set to vote ‘NO’ in its referendum by an ‘overwhelming’ majority of a huge turnout.
We should all congratulate and thank Greece. It has set itself up as a beacon of hope and democracy against the unelected suprastate that would crush it and further enslave it to the failed model of ‘austerity’.
The economic competency of the Germans and the French, the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund has been shown, by far better economists than I, to have been about the level of a bunch of schoolchildren. Greece was forced into unnecessary recession and at the same time expected to make huge loan repayments in order to serve the political ends of Germany and France. The consequence has been an even greater Depression than that which afflicted the USA in the 1930s, with over 25% unemployment and hardship that no-one else in Europe would put up with.
And that is why it has been so important for the lenders to break tiny Greece. Because when they come for you, they don’t want you to think that there’s any way out. They don’t want you to realise that states are sovereign and can just tear up debts. At the moment their targets are Italy and Spain; they dread the consequences if these two states were to tear up their loans and tell their lenders to raffle themselves — which they are perfectly entitled to do. But make no mistake, these people, Merkel, Hollande, Juncker and Lagarde are out to destroy democracy and the sovereignty of the people, and concentrate power in the hands of oligarchs, bureaucrats, and completely unaccountable quangos and corporations.
Iceland proved them wrong and they have been very quiet about that. But they won’t be able to keep quiet about Greece.
The Greek economy is actually in surplus, by about 2%, if we discount the loan repayments. It is not Greece’s economy or its economic management that is at fault, but the slavish insistence of the European anti-democratic hegemony on ‘austerity’.
Well, it looks like Greece has given these economic bullies a kick in the testicles that they will remember.
It should now declare that all the debt is suspended. It should declare a repayment holiday with no interest increment. It should invite China to invest hugely in its infrastructure and tourism economy. It should print drachmas and float them. And it should continue to tell the anti-democratic hegemony that governs Europe that its day is done.
Greece is the oft-lauded birthplace of democracy and perhaps it is fitting that this small and fiercely idiosyncratic European country may be about to give the world a lesson in it.
It would be true to say, as John Redwood has pointed out, that the entry of Greece into the Euro a decade and a half ago was sheer hubris and folly. That hubris has been shown up for what it was since 2010. During this time, Greece has been subjected to so-called ‘austerity’ measures that have brought the country to its knees and have, five years later, not produced any improvement and indeed very much the opposite. In some areas, unemployment has risen to 60% and Greece’s banks are now closed.
In the last few weeks and months, we have seen a troika of New Imperialists – Christine Lagarde of the IMF, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Angela Merkel, Germany’s Chancellor, openly bully and strong-arm the democratically elected Prime Minister of a sovereign nation, Alexis Tsipras. It has been an absolute disgrace and an affront to democratic principles. We saw heavy-handed and insensitive ‘diplomacy’, that was clearly intended to undermine Tsipras and to coerce him into capitulating to yet more horror and misery. The result was that Tsipras did the one thing the New Imperialists hate the most — he decided to ask his own people what he should do. He actually dared ask for a democratic mandate. What impudence! Continue reading “A Greek Lesson in Democracy”