Last week, Germany launched its most aggressive attack on another country since Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Der Spiegel led with a headline titled “Griechenland soll Kontrolle über Haushalt abgeben,” which has been misleadingly translated into English as “Germany proposes Greece relinquish some fiscal powers.” A more accurate translation would be: “Greece shall give up control over its budget.”
Strangely, the countries, which historically opposed German attempts to conquer small European nations, France and the United Kingdom, are generally supporting this 21st century revival of Germany’s policy of Anschluss. The demand for Lebensraum is financial this time rather than physical, but the basic concept remains the same. Germany makes its demands, and other nations are expected to blithely accede to them. Already, both Greece and Italy have altered their governments – in Italy’s case, even their democratic system of government – in accordance with German, EU and IMF demands, but it is readily apparent that this is not anywhere nearly enough to suit the desperate masters of the single European currency.
There are, however, some indications that this appallingly belligerent demand is merely public posturing meant to provide cover for Germany’s decision to wave the white flag, acknowledge the inevitability of a Greek default, and allow the Euro to sink or swim on its own dubious merits.
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First, the cost of the second Greek rescue deal, which follows the previous $170 billion rescue package by only seven months, was just raised to $190 billion. Second, the Greek government is facing elections in April, and the people of Greece have strongly indicated that they would much prefer to default on the debt owed by their government to striking yet another deal meant to bail out their creditors. One thing that is often forgotten in the coverage of these sovereign debt crises is that the benefits of the bailouts do not go to the people of the countries being bailed out; they go to the creditors whose loans are at risk. Whatever benefit the indebted country is going to realize from the loans has already been realized, so there is quite literally nothing in the bailouts for the people of the country, except to be put deeper into debt as new debt is exchanged for the old debt.
Third, the German people are increasingly angry about the German government subsidizing much more generous welfare and retirement plans in Greece than they themselves receive from their own government. While the guilt-ridden Germans have swallowed the European Union line about the EU and the euro providing peace and stability throughout the continent, the financial instability and societal chaos that is now readily apparent throughout struggling countries such as Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain is finally causing them to consider the fact that they have been badly misled.
Seen in this light, the German demand for the financial annexation of Greece appears as not only absurd and provocative, but intentionally absurd and provocative. It appears to be a demand that the Germans not only expect to be rejected, but actually want to be rejected. This is because if the Greeks reject the notion of abject surrender to Germany and their second occupation by German bureaucrats in 70 years, the Bundeskanzlerin Merkel will have the perfect opportunity to wash German hands of the problem and leave the Greeks – and more importantly, the Greek creditors – to their richly merited fates. Default is not only the lesser of two evils for the Greeks, but for the Germans as well.
There is no longer any question that Greece is going to default. And a Greek default will most likely be followed in relatively rapid order by other sovereign defaults, both in Europe and elsewhere. In Italy, for example, there is already a potentially serious rebellion brewing in Sicily, as the Movimento dei Forconi, or Pitchfork Movement, is an alliance of truckers, farmers and fishermen who are blocking the trade ports of the island to protest the corruption of the Italian government and its subservience to the international banks. The banners read like the slogans of the last century.
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The revolution starts from Sicily. Not a war between the poor, but a war together against this ruling class that wants us to once again pay the bill.
In Europe and in the United States alike, the heyday of the banks is rapidly coming to a close. The looming revolution is not a battle between capitalism and socialism, or a class war between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, but between the corrupt bank-government axis and the alliance of pretty much everyone else. This is not a conventional political struggle; as the article in Saturday’s New York Times demonstrated, the Republican Mitt Romney is every bit as beholden to Goldman Sachs as the man derided as President Goldman Sachs himself, the Democrat Barack Obama.
Europeans have seen through the charade in which multiple factions of the bank party pretend to be at war with each other, but rally together in the interests of the banks whenever it is necessary. They have not seen through it because they are smarter or more sophisticated than Americans, but because the debt crisis has forced the politicians to openly reveal their corrupt hand. Therefore, as the economic situation continues to worsen, it is only a matter of time before the nature of the charade becomes equally obvious in the United States as well.
Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism is that eventually, you run out of other people’s money. The very similar problem with monetarism is that eventually, you run out of people with the ability to repay their loans.