By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos (*)
Two decades after the fall of the Berlin wall and the demise of the Soviet Union and soviet communism, in 1989-1991 and one decade after the blow to the Twin Towers in Manhattan (2001) which permitted the enormous military campaign of the “Empire” that followed in the Middle East, a “third wave”, of profound political, economic, geopolitical and “ideological” transformation of our world is hitting, this time, Europe. Simce 1989, a gigantic “counterrevolution” takes place against the remnants of “soviet communism” first, of the regimes born out of national, anticolonial struggles (especially in the Middle East) and now against European bourgeois and parliamentary democracy, as we know it after the 2nd world war and against european nation-states (the only basis on which a kind of democracy and social state is applied)
In all these waves of transformations, the real “historic subject” taking the initiative, more often behind than on the scene, remains one and the same. It is the most radical force of international capital, as expressed by neoconservatives. It is an alliance of the most radical forces inside the military-industrial complex of the USA and the “Empire of Finance”, an Empire ruling, in a quite concentrated way, world economy. We could name this alliance a union of American arms and big Banks.
Other subjects were sometimes active like the reformist wing of the CPSU in the case of the soviet demise or the German leadership which played a critical role in the European crisis (albeit in close alliance with the “Markets”, that is the Empire of Finance). But both were “second class” subjects, with strategic thinking of an inferior quality and scope than the thinking of the real radicals, neoliberals and neoconservatives. You have to go to people like Soros or Goldman Sachs or the lobby for a new American century to find the creators of the ideas and the initiators of the processes that shaped a perestroika turning quickly into catastroika, or of the permanent wars and the chaos in the Middle East or of the attack to the European nation-states and the remaining democratic characteristics of European integration after 2010.
If this world “counterrevolution” goes to the end it will lead us to a world totalitarian Empire, a kind of planetary dictatorship, denying not only the results of the 2nd world war, but also the ideas and results of the European revolutions of the last three centuries and of the national revolutions of the colonies. Such an Empire will impose, against the values and ideas of those revolutions, the “values” of Money. The project is to manage our very evolution as a species through a monopoly of scientific knowledge and technologic capacity, through the radical increase of inequalities, including inequalities in intellectual capacity and also through the use of new technologies, like information science, neuroscience, chaos theory, genetic engineering etc., in order to manipulate big societies and their representatives and “leaders”.
A fundamental characteristic of all three waves of transformations (ex USSR , Middle East, Western Europe ) is their catastrophic essence. The new orders created are nothing but the chaotic decomposition of older orders, be them “Soviet socialist”, “Arab nationalistic”, “Bourgeois democratic”, not the building of new ones. Take for instance Yugoslavia , which served also as a prototype for what was going to happen in the Middle East , according to Margaret Thatcher herself. All its republics have been destroyed and remain such, not only Serbia . The West has gone to war, supposedly to defend the rights of Bosnians or Kosovars, but it refused even the tiny means that would permit to Bosnians and Kosovars to survive in a decent way and reconstruct their countries. It was the opposite of what happened after the 2nd World War and through the Cold War, when Americans tried to build their system of liberal capitalism in Western, and Russians a system of “socialist” economy and society in Eastern Europe, both trying to increase after all the individualistic or the collectivistic prosperity of their subjects, not destroying everything as it is happening now with military means in the Middle East, with economic means in Europe.
From Lehman Brothers to Greece
A year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in 2008, the crisis of the US banking system “emigrated” in Europe, transforming itself into a sovereign debt crisis, but also inducing the more serious crisis in the history of the European Union itself - and of democracy in Europe after 1945. The very existence of the European Union and of the euro was put in doubt – or, at least, the question of who deserves to be a member of it. Even the very notions of State and Nation, of fundamental importance for Europe for three to five centuries, begun, in the process, to be shaken by the sovereign debt crisis, for the first time since the ‘30’s.
The 2008 banking crisis was addressed mainly by mobilizing very important state assets to save the banks, in both USA and Europe . “The banks are too big to fail”, politicians proclaimed in both Europe and America . By rewriting the fundamental laws of capitalism (firms or individuals which do not have to pay go bankrupt) Western political elite confirmed the domination of the whole system by the Finance, in a way not seen in the history of modern capitalism, at least after 1929 and signaled the advent of a system of financial feudality. Denying to the Banks the possibility to fail, western political elites pushed everybody else to fail, including states and whole societies!
It goes without saying that, in such conditions, there was not any serious chance to adopt the measures to control and curtail the activities of the financial sector, promised by western political elites. Political and media elites were strictly controlled by Finance, so it was only natural that Finance was able to avoid any losses because of the crisis and also to inflict its losses on the states, helping to transform the banking crisis into sovereign debt crisis. In the whole process, the financial sector has continued making nice gains.
A number of other factors also contributed to the sovereign debt crisis, including the pressure of globalization on Europe, the structure of the European Union and, in particular, of the Eurozone, the endemic mismanagement in some European countries (but which was not completely unrelated to the international environment) etc.
A (public and private) debt bubble was created and then exploded. This was not done in a spontaneous, but in a rather controlled way, reminiscent of the “technology” and the know-how created and used in this sphere by Goldman Sachs. (For this bank and the “Empire of Finance” look to Appendix 1). It was an alliance of the forces of World Finance and of the upper classes and the political establishment of Germany, followed by the biggest part of the European political and economic establishment that organized and fulfilled this operation. It was a Faustian alliance between Mrs. Merkel and interntional finance, followed by the other representatives of Money. In that aspect it may also be considered as an act of treason by German leaders towards the European idea, the centers and the soul of the world Finance being in fact outside continental Europe, in New York and the City, even if the financial institutions are often called Deutsche Bank or Société Générale.
The immediate aim of the operation was for the debt, created by the abusive, often fraudulent activity of the financial sector and the other factors mentioned above, to be repaid by the poorer strata and the poorer countries of EU/Eurozone. But, in fact, the crisis was also used in order to achieve much larger aims, of a fundamental, systemic importance, the debt being transformed into a powerful weapon to destroy in a very radical way the social, welfare state of Europe and also to press strongly European political system towards an oligarchic direction. The institutions created for the management of the debt begun to supersede over the “usual” democratic institutions, thus reflecting the beginning of the transition from the principle of “popular sovereignty”, fundamental, at least in theory, for post-Renaissance and post-Enlightenment Europe, towards a system founded on the principle of the domination of Finance. This tendency was already very clear in the Maastricht Treaty, that introduced the Euro. By the permanent anti-inflation mandate to the ECB, the no bail out clause, the “independence” of the ECB (its dependence on finance) and many other measures, the Maastricht Treaty has already established the domination of Finance over Europe, without saying it. But the Treaty did not create the tools of its enforcement. Those tools are now created in Europe as institutions to handle the debt and excessive budgets problem, like troikas, bail-out and bail-in programs, EFSF, ESM.
Another central question which is tried to be solved throught the management of the debt problem is the abolition of the European social welfare state. European politicians had tried often in the past to curtail it. Their successes have been peanuts if we compare them with was achieved in the last three years, when they were abolished or curtailed in some European countries, and first of all in Greece, the most fundamental rights workers and citizens of the continent had won after the 2nd world war - sometimes even since the beginning of the 20th century.
In this way Greece, followed gradually by the other countries of European periphery begun in 2010 their transformation into a kind of European Third World. The IMF was invited to help guide the procedure, as it has previously done in many third world countries. In the process democracy, state sovereignty and the relative independence of European states was curtailed. The equity between members of the Union and the eurozone itself, enshrined in the fundamental texts and Treaties of the EU was all but abolished, Germany using all its economic and political might to “discipline” Europe with the help of the markets. The very ideology of freedom and progress, on which Europe and European Union were based, was shattered. The same happened with the ideology of democracy, rating agencies, markets and troikas beginning to decide instead of elected parliaments and peoples.
A financial “Guderian” in Europe
From the point of view of the most radical forces of capital, the evolution of the European crisis during the last three to four years can be considered as an astonishing success, if we judge it by the facility of imposing their views into states and peoples around Europe . This success was prepared during the decades that preceded by the long decay of both socialdemocratic left and “national” right, of Gaullist or Christian-democratic type, in Europe, and the successful “entryism” of people of Finance and the “Empire” people in all important positions of European political, economic and media institutions. In the same time globalization, has created formidable difficulties for any political or state power that wants not to prevail over “markets”, but even to safeguard a small part of freedom of maneuvering.
In such conditions, “market” forces had the possibility to orchestrate the simultaneous use of information handling, influence over political decisions and capital movements on a large scale, producing the information-financial equivalent of war agains particular states in Europe beginning with Greece in 2009-10. Greece was in particular used simultaneously as a paradigm, a scapegoat, an experimentation field and also as a “scarecrow”, an example of punishment, destined to terrorize everybody else in Europe . Immediately after Greece had succumbed to the pressures of the markets and Germany , in April-May 2010, literally the next day, the market “war” proceeded immediately with other European peripheral countries, the last victim being Cyprus , in March 2013. This “war plan” reminds us of the Hitler campaign in Europe in 1939-41 or of the Middle East military campaigns after 2001 (against Afghanistan , Iraq , Lebanon , Libya , Syria , once in a time), organized in such a way as to avoid the union of the countries targeted.
The European debt wars were structured in such a way as to produce different classes of victims, making very difficult for them to unite. Greece , Cyprus and Portugal were transformed from relatively sovereign, independent states into complete, de jure “debt colonies”, governed nearly officially by troikas of lenders. But Portugal remains a relatively stable colony, while Greece and Cyprus are well inside a “death spiral”, to use Soros terminology, i.e. in a situation of rapid economic and social demise. In the case of Cyprus the very existence of this state is in doubt even in the short run. Other countries, like Italy and Spain are also becoming or have become, de facto, but not de yure, debt colonies.
As we will try to show the European debt crisis, which, in reality, is only at its beginning, is already producing not only serious shifts in economic and social policy in Europe, but also fundamental changes in the state structure of the continent, in the character of the Union, in its ideology, in the way European peoples look to themselves, even in the geopolitical situation, sometimes having even “civilization implications”. We are just in the beginning of a very deep, structural crisis in Europe , a crisis with a potential of transforming in a radical way the continent (and its role in the world). It cannot lead to anything less than a radical transformation, one way or another, of EU. In the most radical scenario it can provoke even the dissolution/destruction of EU and financial, “debt” wars inside Europe .
Processes like the ones we described, will influence heavily on the world’s “strategic” situation. The region of Eastern Mediterranean, where the world of Mars meets the world of Venus and where the domain of geopolitical revisionism (Middle East) partly overlaps with the domain of market revisionism ( Europe ), will be the first to be geopolitically affected. The region of Eastern Mediterranean is a cornerstone between Middle East and Western Europe , Russia and the “warm seas” and will be probably the first to be affected, also in a geopolitical way, from the European economic crisis.
The fact that the two EU countries belonging to this region, Greece and Cyprus, suffer a much deeper recession than any other European country, it is also a serious indication to this direction. We should also remember that Cyprus is facing a direct, immediate geopolitical threat to its very existence as a state. (Look to Appendix 2 for the geopolitical and “ideological” role and significance of Greece and Cyprus ). But the opposite is also true. Greece and Cyprus are serving now as a catalyst of much broader processes. They are, as we already noticed, at the same time, experimentation fields, scapegoats, catalysts and scarecrows.
An Information-Financial War in Europe
The countries of the European periphery, especially Greece, in spite of belonging formally to the core of the western system, i.e. to both NATO and Eurozone, have become the target of an information war, reminiscent of the communication wars big western media (controlled as never before by big financial capital) have launched against so-called “rogue states” (Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran etc). In the case of “rogue states” in Balkans and the Middle East , the “communication wars” by Western media were followed by bombing campaigns and military invasions. In the case of Greece , the “communication attacks” were followed by political and, in particular, financial attacks.
Big international (western and especially Anglo-saxon) press begun to refer to European periphery countries with contempt, calling them PIGS or PIIGS from the acronyms of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. But it was Greece that became the main target, especially since the end of 2009 and, in particular, but not only, by German media.
There are probably three reasons why Greece was chosen as a target and not, for instance, Ireland , in spite of the fact Irish debt seemed more worrisome that Greek debt, back in 2009:
1. In Greece , local mismanagement and corruption could be blamed for the crisis. In Ireland this was not possible, the responsibility of the financial sector for the problem being too obvious
2. Greek governments were of unprecedented incompetence and notorious corruption. Greek politicians were easily blackmailed and they lacked the elementary capacity to defend their own country. Papandreou in particular was completely dependent upon people of Soros, Goldman Sachs, Rothschild’s, IMF, US or Netanyahu, for his policies and had a very limited, if any possibility of grasping the significance of what he was doing
3. There is probably a “hidden” geopolitical agenda of kicking Greece and Cyprus out of the European core and putting them under the direct control of US-Israel or US-Israel-Turkey axis. To such an agenda may converge American, Israeli and Finance forces with German right wing circles like those represented by Zinn, Lammers and Schauble. Greek nation is considered sometimes even as a enemy nation, or at least a non western-core nation by important imperial centers (Disraeli who hated Greeks in the 19th century, or Huntington classification, putting Greeks in the same category with Russians). This is not the case with Ireland and Irish people, who were also a nation of “revoltees”, like Greeks, in their history, still they have always very powerful friends in USA elite.
Greece was presented by German media as a country of crooks, corrupted politicians and lazy people, living a superb life, not working but exploiting German, hard-earned money. Usually, the descriptions were a mixture of real and false data, or of real data taken out of context. For instance it was a known fact that a large part of the Greek political class and high standing state officials, were/are corrupted. The average German newspaper reader or TV viewer has been informed about that. But he was not informed that German company Siemens was one of basic sources of corruption of Greek politicians, having paid their majority, as well as many top Greek state officials! Otherwise, nobody impeded European institutions from controlling what was happening with European money in Greece and most Greek citizens would be very happy if they had done it. One of the rare European politicians with some sense of honesty, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Eurozone, said in the spring of 2011. “We all knew what was going on in Greece . But we kept silent, because of German and French exports to this country”
German TV and newspapers orchestrated a hate campaign of insults and even racist and sadist attacks against Greece and Greeks. Even the symbols of ancient Greek civilization were not spared. Such an attack was unprecedented in the political climate, prevailing in Europe for decades. In fact, we can hardly remember anything similar after the 2nd World War. This campaign had some very important results:
- it shifted completely discussion from responsibilities of the financial capital for the crisis, a factor dominating in 2008-09, to the responsibility of incompetent, corrupt leaders and people of South Europe
- it obscured farther the whole discussion on the debt crisis, hiding the importance of the globalization effect for European economies, as well as the effect of the Maastricht structure of eurozone, a structure helping multiply inequalities inside the Union , European countries receiving in very unequal ways the globalization pressures. According to the German, European, but also Greek (!) media the debt crisis was the exclusive result of bad behavior by Greeks. Greece was portrayed as a unique case, a theory of utmost stupidity, as it was proven quickly by the spectacle of one after the other European country succumbing to market attacks and the refusal of Germany , ECB and EU to defend them.
- it legalized and justified the reemergence in Germany of superiority and domination attitudes long ago hidden in the depth of German psyche and also was a strong argument in favor of the thesis that Germans should stop pay for Europe , that is “pay for their past”. The lack of solidarity towards another European state and the adoption of all the demands of the international financial capital (the real crooks!) were presented as a kind of … national liberation of Germans and of justice for the hard working German people. In Germany , as in all Europe, there was/is much resentment for the way the Brussels bureaucracy is ruling the Union . The “Greek debt” discussion permitted this resentment to be oriented against other European peoples and countries, not against the financial elite which is ruling, in fact, behind the scenes, European bureaucracy and institutions.
- it undermined the very basic political foundations of European Union, especially the solidarity between its peoples and countries. Fear of impotence of separate nations may delay the explosion, but a Union based exclusively on the lack of solidarity between its members and destined to a future of pauperization will hardly survive in the long run. In the same time the way Europe has addressed its problems has strongly undermined the international prestige and attraction of the structure
We have to underline, at this point, the extreme poverty, both intellectual and moral, of the debt and PIIGS discussion in Europe . This poverty reflects the deep decline of a continent that has given birth to all important ideologies of modern times, as well as the most significant cultural and scientific currents of the modern world. It is only with pity that people of an elementary conscience may look to the spectacle of a continent of such history and intellectual production falling under the absolute rule of Money, in its most crude forms. This decline is well symbolized by the fact that Germans, the nation of Goethe and Beethoven, of Marx and Einstein they were not able to find but a Sony shop to put at the center of their reunified capital! Even the different scenarios about the exit of Greece or the dissolution of the Union are examined in the most “serious” European press, exclusively as quantitative econometric hypotheses by representatives of banks, not by politicians, strategists or intellectuals.
- the whole “discussion” on Greece, in reality a hate campaign against poorer Europeans, helped transform a serious but not tragic problem a country of the Eurozone was facing into a big crisis, and thus helped justify international Rating Agencies in further undervaluing Greece’s rate, fueling massive capital export from this country, and thus helping it come to a point of near-bankruptcy in April-May 2010.
In reality, in Greece we did not have the natural development of an objective economic-financial crisis in 2009-10. Greece faced a serious crisis, but nothing insurmountable (and nothing compared to the nearly complete collapse of the state that was later provoked by the “bail-out program). What really happened was that this country was chosen by Berlin and financial centers like Goldman Sachs, to begin the destruction of European welfare state with the help of “debt weapon” and, in perspective, of the bourgeois democracy we have known in Europe . As for the Papandreou government in Greece has in fact cooperated, consciously or not consciously, with this project, being under the influence of international Finance, something also happening with Merkel government in Germany .
- the intense international information campaign against Greece and Greeks was also transferred inside the country, fuelling a corresponding campaign of psychological warfare in Greece . This campaign continues unabated until now, using panic, guilty and the feeling of impotence in order to destroy the capacity of Greek people, both as individuals and collectively, to resist and act as a subject. This program has created a massive depression which is using, in order to destroy the resistance capacity of both population and elites.
The structure of these intense “psychological warfare campaign” is used as a kind of “assistance to collective suicide” scheme, very much in the way psychological mechanisms such as the ones described by Franz Kafka in his famous novel “The Trial” are acting, or, for that purpose, as the methods on which were founded the interrogative techniques of Gestapo. This is not the only resemblance with Kafka’s “Trial”. As in “The trial”, in Greece we follow the parallel existence of two orders, the old democratic order and the new totalitarian order, represented by the Troika of Lenders, acting as the Tribunal in “The Trial”. Nazism was horrible, but at least was quite honest and direct in its promises, compared with the new totalitarianism of the Financial Empire.
This program of psychological war is, in some ways, similar to the program of “glasnost” which helped considerably to delegitimize the soviet regime and blow it up from inside, leading it fast to a chaotic situation, by use of modern communication (manipulation) techniques. In both Soviet and Greek program, the same forces, especially Soros people, have helped conceive those policies. An important difference between the Soviet and the Greek case consists in the fact that the Soviet program had, after all, a false, but still plausible promise, i.e. that it would lead to the paradise of “freedom and dollars”, of a free and rich capitalistic society. Twenty years later, the only promise made to Greeks is Death! In this respect, the Greek program of collective suicide, of the acceptance of the unprecedented pauperization and demise of a country in times of peace by its own population and leaders, is representing a new achievement in composite manipulation of whole societies and their leading strata and also, probably, in the transfer and application of the most modern techniques of the theory of catastrophes from urban to social engineering. For this reason, the Greek program of manipulation of a whole society, in order to accept peacefully its own destruction, must be considered of really historic importance, an “anthropological” prototype in the advent of a new, totalitarian society in Europe.
The nature of the Greek “bail-out” program
In April-May 2010, nine months after the advent into power of Papandreou government in Greece and the beginning of media and speculative attacks against the country, Greece was unable to refinance, in realistic terms, its debt and it had to address EU for help. Of course, Athens could easily, at this point, ask for a restructuring of its debt and it would very probably get one from its creditors, given its strong bargaining position, in particular the fact that Greek debt was issued under Greek law and was regulated by Greek parliament and tribunals. At this time, the threat of getting Greece out of euro could not be used against the country, as it happened later, for the simple reason that if Greece left the eurozone, the value of its debt would follow the value of the new national currency which would be heavily devalued, in all probability. Even the IMF suggests now that it was a mistake the non-restructuring of the Greek debt – simply, the Fund says that a posteriori. In 2010 it has helped private finance get out of Greece in no cost for it and now it wants European states to cover the losses.
It was at this very moment that Papandreou government signed with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund an agreement providing for huge loans to Greece in order to continue fulfilling its obligations to big foreign banks (in fact, more than 95% of the money lend to Greece went to these banks). The agreement was accompanied by very severe economic and social terms, characterized as “colonial” by prominent constitutional law specialists. Greece has become the field of a huge economic and political experimentation, i.e. of a very radical neoliberal program of “structural reforms” aiming at a drastic internal devaluation, which had as a result a deep economic depression and led to the massive and very rapid pauperization of a European country and society, without any precedent in peaceful times. IMF has been also accepted, through this agreement, for the first time, in the affairs of the eurozone, something unconceivable even some months before and not compatible with the ambition of making Euro the tool and the symbol of European independence.
The program was portrayed and sold to the Greek and European public as a program of “help” designed to “save” Greece, but, as it is now proven, it was meant to save eurozone (in a first time) and the banks that had lend to Greece. Athens was obliged to try to repay a debt it could not repay, destroying itself in the process, selling public property in derisory prices, even confiscating, through exorbitant taxation, private property, slashing the most necessary social and defense spending. The property of the Greek state was mortgaged to the lenders. Social rights and a welfare state made during one century were almost completely destroyed during three years!
The program was not designed to succeed. It was rather designed to fail, thus creating the conditions for the transformation of Greece from a relatively sovereign and independent bourgeois democracy into a debt colony. This radical transformation of the character of the Greek state was also performed through the change of the nature of the debt. In 2010, as we noticed before, it was essentially debt towards private financial institutions, regulated by Greek law and tribunals. The program has transformed it into debt to European states and IMF, regulated by English colonial law and international tribunals, thus much more difficult to be restructured.
A troika of lenders, representing EU, ECB and IMF, in reality the alliance of world Finance and European establishment, has gradually taken all the essential functions of government of the country, taking nearly all decisions a national government is usually taking. Formally, Greece remains an independent, sovereign state, but if it wants to apply a policy its creditors disagree with, it risks seeing ECB stop financing of Greek banks and provoke their collapse. Such a threat was addressed to the Cypriot parliament in March 2013, when it tried to overthrow the Eurogroup decision instituting the haircut of deposits to Cypriot banks. The Parliament retreated and Cyprus begun also the process of transformation into debt colony.
Results of the bail-out program
Three and a half years after the beginning of the bail-out program, Greek economy has already had a record drop in GDP (23% during the crisis). Its economy continues to drop by 4-5% now. Two thirds of young people and more than one fourth of the general active population are officially unemployed (the real numbers being quite higher because of the method used for the measurement of unemployment). Greece will need decades of robust development in order to be able to recreate the jobs it has lost in the last two years. The most energetic and best educated part of the Greek youth, the part of its population that Greece would need for its development, is emigrating on a massive scale out of the country, creating also the conditions for the permanent loss of sovereignty over its country. Greeks from Greece and Cyprus risk to disseminate around the world, much like Jews in the first century, creating the conditions for a “Greece without Greeks”, to use a formula by Mikis Theodorakis, that is a country without a people but which is property of the World Finance (the same happening in even quicker terms with Cyprus, where an ex ambassador of USA in Athens wanted to establish the first “unethnic” state).
Real average income is now about 45% of what it was three years ago and falling rapidly. And that without taking into account the fall of social assistance and various social benefits. Greek health and social security system is all but destroyed. The level of general health of the population is seriously affected by the crisis. Depression is now endemic in Greece , which is facing an epidemic of suicides. Self-confidence, as well as confidence towards the nation and the state are in tatters, “social capital” non existent, except for solidarity structures, the quality of the functioning of the state has deteriorated sharply. The situation will get much worse, because the country is somehow still surviving on its previous accumulation, but this accumulation will inevitably be consumed at some point. The country continues to be in a death spiral as George Soros has defined it, after being instrumental in provoking it!
Greek statistics represent the worse economic and social catastrophe in the history of modern western capitalism, during peaceful times, deeper than what happened during the Great Depression in USA (1929-33) and the last phase of Weimar Republic . The application of such a catastrophic policy has been justified by the need to confront the sovereign debt and chronic budget deficit crises of Greece . The result up to now was that the Greek debt has increased from 110% to 185% of the GDP – it is now more than certain that it will never be paid. Its structure has changed. In 2010 it was a debt towards private capital holders, now it has become a debt towards other European states, ECB and IMF. It used to be regulated by Greek law, parliament and tribunals, now it is regulated by British colonial law and by non Greek tribunals, thus making Greek state much weaker towards its Lenders. As for the budget deficit, it has diminished only as a result of tricks and of an informal cessation of state payments inside the country. In the same time the social, state and defense infrastructure of Greece is collapsing.
As a result of a program agreed by EU, ECB and IMF, to “help Greece ”, not only the problems of the country have not been addressed, Greece has been weakened in all aspects, the debt has become an even bigger weapon against it, used for its enslavement and/or destruction.
The financial capital has thus been able first to transform its crisis into European debt crisis by persuading European governments to pay the debt towards private lenders. Then they lend money to Greece in order to pay the banks, money that Greece itself cannot pay back. The private banks did lend from ECB with a 1% rate to lend to Greece with 4-6%, the ECB bought Greek debt at 20% or 30% of its value and wants now to be paid in its nominal price, thus speculating against a member of the EU! Germany is also profiting from this bail-out program.
But this is not the whole story. In return for such enormous sacrifices, Greek people get nothing in return, this is they don’t get any development perspective, even a development based on cheap, unprotected labor. The statistics of industrial production are catastrophic in that respect. There is absolutely no perspective for Greece now.
The policy applied by Berlin with the help of international big Finance, is a policy of narrow and primitive economic nationalism, which does not face up the root causes of the deep financial and economic crisis that begun in 2008. In particular it is not facing the results of the shift from productive, after all, capitalism to “finance feudalism”, from neoliberal capitalism to a kind of “catastrophe capitalism”, it is not facing the challenge the globalization itself is putting in front of Europe and the obvious problem of the eurozone structure.
Germany is trying to face all these problems based on three principles:
- Germans should not pay anything in any case for others
- South Europe must become a region of unprotected cheap labor, a Third World inside Europe, able to help the continent in the competition with the Third World and pushing to the gradual dismantling of the welfare state also in the European core
- Europe must be unified essentially by “disciplinary” means, i.e. the application of the IMF dogmas, by the world finance and by the use of the debt as weapon, that is of the threat of blocking not undisciplined countries from financing. Such a scheme seems more like a prison, than a Union .
As a matter of fact, the higher classes of Germany , followed by the higher classes of all Europe (including those of the nations-victims, like Greece , Cyprus or Portugal ), are transforming the eurozone and the Union into a dictatorship of the Markets, of the big Finance.
Instead of uniting the continent around a new project and leading the defense of Europe towards the “Markets”, Germans invited Goldman Sachs, world finance and IMF into European affairs and they permitted them to “make the law” inside the European home, even against historic nations like France (as the anecdote puts it, President Sarkozy was waken up every morning asking if the Rating Agencies had undervalued the rating of his country!)
Acting in such a way, Germany itself risks tomorrow not to be able to resist the pressure of the world finance. The world casino capitalism is not made for Germans, is made for American, British and Jews (all three of them not rumored, by the way, to love excessively Germans!) and no client has ever been able to win against the owner of the casino. Germany should know this out of its own experience before the First World War, when it was unable to capitalize on its formidable scientific and technological achievements, because of the British financial domination. In the same time, this policy is subtracting demand from the world economy and intensifying the international economic crisis.
By behaving the way they behave towards their European partners, Germans are loosing rapidly the political capital they were able to accumulate during the postwar decades. The only thing they propose now to their fellow Europeans is to pay in order to be dominated by them and the Bankers – and, sometimes, like in Greece and Cyprus , to pay only to be destroyed! Such a policy, while not facing the root causes of both the international economic crisis and the European crisis it’s fuelling strong anti-German feelings and tendencies inside Europe .
This situation is undermining the whole European project. But it is, in particular, undermining any project of European independence from USA , which is quite dear in Berlin . Ten years ago, when Berlin and Paris led the campaign against the Gulf War, USA tried to organize the “New Europe” bloc against Germany and France . But then, the “New Europe” was organized around Eastern European political personnel dependent from USA . Now, it is Germany itself that creates the objective, economic and by consequence much stronger foundations of an anti-German “New Europe”, thus undermining its proper hegemony inside the continent, the unity and solidity of its own vital space!
The strategy of the Finance
The Empire of Finance has allied itself with German and European higher classes, in their European policies. But is this alliance going to last for a long time? Or Finance and Germany will clash – we see the first hints of such a clash in the disagreement between Germany and IMF about the Greek debt.
Greece has been transformed now into a “ Weimar bomb” inside eurozone and Cyprus is following quickly. It can explode or “be exploded”, it can produce autocratic regimes, civil strife, catalyze a much more serious, “existential” crisis inside Europe . It can also be used by outside forces to “explode” in such a way as to destroy EU.
Even now EU seems a very powerful structure. It is not, as USSR seemed also to be a very strong structure, but it was not. It is based on a very delicate equilibrium and on the strict respect of the Treaties. Obliged to combine 28 very different states it is based on the strict adherence to the law that is to a labyrinth like array of treaties. In paper and theory one can make projects for example about kicking Greece out of the eurozone if it refuses, for instance, tomorrow, to accept any more of the poisonous “treatment” it is now receiving from its partners. But any attempt to do this in practice will produce a havoc of political, economic and legal problems.
By treating Greece and other peripheral countries like it did, Germany created itself the tools outside forces can use, if they wish, in order to provoke a serious crisis inside Europe, a crisis with the potential even to destroy the Union . Much like they did with USSR .
The example of the demise of a huge and relatively powerful structure like the USSR , by making its internal contradictions explode, can be relevant also for the EU. Such a scenario presupposes the existence of a subject of superior strategic intelligence and deep understanding of the situation, disposing a significant influence on central points of the decision making structure and of the media power. The “Empire of Finance” and probably the “deep” US state are such subjects. These forces were “strategically” more intelligent than soviet reformers, they are more intelligent and independent than most part of German, French or European political personnel. They are strategic, the others are tactical players, they are global, the others regional, at best, players.
Do the high Finance and the deep USA circles have reasons to destroy the EU? Probably yes, the following:
1. Euro is undermining in the long run the monopoly of the dollar, thus the capacity of USA to refinance its economy
2. Markets hate big, strong political entities (especially if they are under German influence) and, in spite its neoliberal logic, the EU keeps the potential of transforming itself into a strong political entity
3. there is not any more the USSR , obliging Washington and big Banks to a kind of discipline against their main adversary
Europe is a potential enemy of US and the Money, in spite all the concessions Europeans have done to both, if it decides one day to transform itself into a “normal” superpower or make an alliance with another “pole” of the world system, like Russia for instance or other BRIICS forces. After all, it was Europe that, while an ally of USA and still an imperialist and colonial power itself, it tried to “soften” USA imperialism, during the Cold War. From Charles de Gaulle who opposed in the ‘60’s the Vietnam war, proclaiming the principle of a “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals” to Chirac, Villepin and Schroeder, ten years ago, who condemned the Iraq campaign. European democracy, European social movements, in spite of their compromises and capitulations towards European capitalism, imperialism or colonialism, often by using as pretexts their respect of “human rights”, they remain after all a force of conscience for the whole world.
For all these reasons, Finance and USA have tried for decades, and in particular after the fall of Soviet communism, to hijack Europe and to destroy from inside any capacity to act in an autonomous way, independent from American and Financial desiderata. We don’t know and we can’t predict if they will go to the point of provoking a destruction of the European project. Europe is a part of the West after all, what was not Russia . Still we cannot exclude it a priori. And after all, the European project can also explode because of its own contradictions.
Only the emergence of a continental leadership with the courage and the capacity to produce a democratic alternative for Europe, capable of organizing a new economic and social model around a new anti-globalization keynsianism, which will take into account the fundamental physical limits of development, and will orient itself towards a multi-polar world order, could maybe launch the struggle to save Europe from the two unacceptable possibilities in front of it:
- to complete its transformation into a dictatorship of the Markets
- to be dislocated in an array of small and medium states, antagonizing between themselves to get a part of a diminishing economic demand, under the geopolitical domination of forces out of Europe .
Such a new political subject, able to lead the struggle for the defense of European peoples and nations from the Empire, should combine social and anti-hegemonic sensibilities. Socialdemocratic Left cannot do it as long as it aligns with USA , national right movements cannot also do it, as long as they adopt an antisocial, neoliberal, pro-finance agenda.
Appendix 1: Goldman Sachs and the Empire of Finance
Goldman Sachs was instrumental in designing the structure of the Greek sovereign debt bubble and then in facilitating its explosion! The Bank was a decisive factor in the speculative attack of markets against Greece but, in the same time, it was the main advisor of Greece for debt management – it was playing in the same time the role of policeman and of assassin, or, if you prefer, of the doctor making money out of the death of his client. The Greek official responsible for the management of the sovereign debt was closely connected with Goldman Sachs. George Papandreou, who played, as head of the Greek government, a decisive role in shaping the direction of the European crisis, had extremely close links with people who were connected with Goldman Sachs, Soros, Rothschild’s, Axelrod’s, IMF, USA and Netanyahu – a whole array of foreign advisors was working closely with the Greek PM, who was of a notorious incompetence and lack of understanding of fundamentals. In the same time, Goldman Sachs was playing an important role in Germany , as documented in a recent report prepared by the German Ministry of Finance, after a request by “Der Linke” party and also in various articles and publications of European press. For instance the people responsible for drafting the EU summit decisions for both German and French governments are Goldman Sachs veterans. A veteran of Goldman Sachs has also been the Greek PM Loukas Papadimos, who played a crucial role in the change of the legal status of the Greek sovereign debt, to help financial interests, the Italian PM Mario Mondi and the president of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi. The architect of the eurozone monetary policy and one of the main authorities on monetary policy in Germany , Otmar Issing is also working as an advisor of Goldman Sachs Europe. In an article published in Financial Times Deutschland, in March 2010, Issing has adopted strong anti-Greek positions, advocating against any kind of help to Athens . He just forgot, when publishing the article, to remind that he was in the same time a Goldman Sachs advisor.
As we noticed before, the financial crisis hit Europe at a moment that the force of Finance had achieved a historic high, and the left, trade unions and social movements – but also the traditional, more productive sections of capitalist class, witnessed an equally historic decline, especially after the collapse-“suicide” of the eastern, “socialist” bloc. People connected with banks, especially Goldman Sachs, are ruling in fact political and financial institutions in all Europe , both national and Union institutions. Financiers have an enormous, unprecedented influence on the political class and the media. The ten stronger banks are able to mobilize assets equal to the debt of all the states of the world and this may give us a measure of their strength. Financial institutions are financing the electoral campaigns of all main US and European politicians and parties.
Some analysts underline that, after all, the quasi-automatic functioning of the “markets” preclude any kind of programmed intervention. This is not true. If you are able to mobilize huge capital and, in the same time, influence heavily on the producers of information (politicians and the media), thus on the very “signals” markets receive and to which they react, then you are able to define their behavior, manipulate this supposedly “spontaneous”, “real-time” system and get results you wish from it.
By the way, Goldman Sachs, with a reputation, among informed people, probably worse than CIA, NSA and IMF together (!), called sometimes a “vampire squid” by critical observers, has probably engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression. For more information about Goldman Sachs, the reader has to study the classic essay on the “Firm” by Matt Taibbi, published in the American magazine Rolling Stone (July 2009). It is indispensable reading for anybody who wants to understand the world in which we live.
Everything we know – and there are many things we don’t – points to the conclusion that inside the Empire of Finance we have centers of power which are strategic players, in a sense more so than states. We are very far in reality from the image of bankers who want just to make money, if they ever existed. Some indications point also to the conclusion that, at least since 1991, this is since the end of the big military-geopolitical “cold” War between the West and USSR , the relationship of forces between US superpower and the Empire of Finance is shifting towards the latter. After all, Rating Agencies are deciding on the credit of the Nations, enven the superpower, not the opposite.
Appendix 2: the strategic and “ideological” importance of Greece and Cyprus
It is more convenient to refer to Greece and Cyprus as a “Greek strategic space” in Eastern Mediterranean , given the fact that the overwhelming majority of Cypriot population is Greek (82% before the Turkish invasion of 1974) and given also the multitude/importance of various strategic links connecting the two countries, their mutual and strong interdependence.
This “space” is important in many ways. Here, the acuity of the economic crisis is the severest in Europe , threatening the reproduction of both social formations, the political regimes of the two countries and the very existence and functioning of both states. In the same time Greece and Cyprus are on the junction of a region of “market revisionism” (Europe) and of “geopolitical revisionism” ( Middle East ). This Greek space is also connecting Middle East and Western Europe , Russia and Mediterranean . Cyprus is located opposite to Israel and Suez , Ceyhan and Lebanon , Syria and Gaza . In conjunction with Crete, Cyprus is controlling all Eastern Mediterranean and it is a formidable base for the conquest of the Arabic East.
Some historians believe the Greek nation, in its modern form, was founded ten centuries ago, as a “nation of revoltees”. The main thing that characterized Greeks, during the last millennium, was their resistance to the Ottomans coming from the East and the Crusaders of all sorts coming from the West, the latter attacking and trying to conquer Greece and Cyprus before every big campaign against the Slavic or Islamic East. Greeks were never an organic part of European colonial project. In fact, they were rather one of their victims.
The “strategic equation” of modern Greece was described in the following terms by the British Ambassador in Athens Sir Edmond Lyons in a memorandum addressed to his government in 1841: ''A truly independent Greece is an absurdity. Greece can be either English or Russian, and since she must not be Russian, it is necessary that she be English.''
The same is true about Cyprus , even more than for Greece . A “truly independent” Cyprus , a Cyprus ruled more or less by its population (82% Greek in nationality) was always and still is an extremely undesirable perspective for Great Britain , USA and Israel , given the strategic importance of the island for all their policies and wars in the Middle East . This is why they took historically the initiative to provoke, to fuel and use intra-Greek civil conflict in Cyprus and Greek-Turkish conflict about Cyprus, both locally in the island and between Greece and Turkey, in order to destroy the quest of the Cyprus Greeks either to unite with Greece either to make full use of their rights on the island. The need of Americans and Israelis to “solve” the Cypriot problem is believed to be the main reason for the imposition in Athens of the military dictatorship of the colonels (1967-74), which had, as a result, the coup d'état against Makarios and the subsequent Turkish invasion in the island in 1974.
The British tried to deny the right of Cypriots to self-determination by applying military force, but they were obliged finally to accept the formal independence of their colony in 1960, in exchange for a constitution guaranteeing in the eternity the Greek-Turkish conflict in the island. In 1974 Henry Kissinger tried to destroy the Cypriot state by using Greek military junta and Turkey but they failed. In 2002 they tried the same, this time not through military coercion, but through the Annan plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem.
The Annan plan for the solution of the Cyprus conflict, proposed in 2002 and denied in a referendum in 2004, was providing for the creation of a post-modern protectorate in Cyprus . The ultimate power (executive, judicial and legislative) in this “meta-state” would be exercised by three foreign officials appointed by Kofi Annan, who would elect their successors. This “state” would be disarmed, but foreign countries would have military forces in its territory and the legal right to intervene.
This kind of arrangement was reminiscent of provisions for Bosnia, Kosovo or East Timor, the difference being that Cyprus is a member of EU, part of the core of the “first world”. Such an arrangement made by the way Turkey an indirect member of EU, in the sense that it could block EU’s decisions through the Cypriot vote that it would control. More important than that, the new Cypriot arrangement was the more advanced effort to abolish formally the basic powers and prerogatives of the state and democracy itself in the heart of the “first world”. Practically, the population of the island was stripped of its right to govern itself and its island. In fact, the institutions of Cyprus according to the Annan plan offered us a rare idea of the project of new, post-modern totalitarianism, reflecting the evolution of western political system, after the demise of the soviet “threat” and the new correlation of forces.
The intensity of the imperial efforts to keep Cyprus under control and to deny to its population, by using every means available, the right to self-government, is such that one tends to believe that, behind the unprecedented financial attack this state received from European institutions and the IMF, in March 2013, there is a clear geopolitical, more than any economic or financial motivation. An elementary examination of the facts leading to the March coup will confirm such an explanation. The Eurogroup and IMF decisions of March 2013, by destroying in one moment any confidence to Cypriot Banks, they destroyed as a matter of fact Cypriot economy, given the fact than the banking sector was half of the economy. In the same time they obliged Nicosia to accept an enormous debt they had given previously to one of the banks without saving it, a debt the Republic of Cyprus will never be able to repay. Even before these events and in a stronger way afterwards, European and USA officials begun to repeat how urgent is to solve the Cyprus question. One victim of the March coup was also the special relation between Moscow and Nicosia , of utmost vital importance for the preservation of the Cypriot state.
Except the geopolitical factor, there is also a strong “ideological” component and a political calculation. Given the character of Greeks in history as a quite “anarchic”, eternal “people of revolt”, difficult to suppress, it was and remains quite important for the Empire to crash their resistance to plans for the drastic curtailing of European democracy. In the same time, Greece has a high symbolic value. It is in Athens that Man gave the more decisive battle against the Lords of Money, through the reforms of King Solon and it is on the basis of this success that Athenians were able to found the most advanced and admired experiment of self-rule, of democracy that human kind was able to achieve until now and, because of this democratic state, they were able to beat the most terrible and strong Empire of their time. It is only natural for the order of Money to want its revenge from the order of Man in the same place.
(*) Journalist and Writer
Athens, October 15th, 2013