The European Financial Crises and the Myth of the European Union
Eddie J. Girdner
The “European Miracle” that met its demise at the end of the colonial era is about to collapse once again. The European Community and European Union, which was supposed to put Europe back on track and heal its woes, has now become another God that failed. For more than 300 years, the white races of the world, the Europeans, used force and violence to conquer and rule much of the world, most of the world. They claimed, as a superior caste, the God-given right to rule the lesser peoples of the globe and grow more and more wealthy from what they could take from them. Modern nation states and global violence, indeed, global wars, were largely a European invention. The European powers divided the world among themselves and fought over it. There wasn’t enough world to go around to satisfy the insatiable appetites of the European powers. The population of three quarters of the globe was to serve as slaves to enhance their life-styles and be ruled by them.
The first half of the twentieth century, this imperialist game, conquest, became a struggle on a global scale to control the world. Germany made a bid to overcome the domains of the European colonial powers. The white races of the earth who claimed their caste superiority over the rest of the peoples of the earth were to turn the twentieth century into the bloodiest century yet. While the European powers squabbled and tore the world apart, along with Japan, the Americans were saved from war on their own territory. As a rising power, the US emerged triumphant, at the end of the war, finally unleashing the atomic doomsday weapon. The hellish weapon of mass destruction became virtuous, for the righteous triumph of morality and good in the world. Europe had destroyed itself in a fit of mad capitalist and imperialist greed.
The US emerged as the de-facto global hegemon, the ruler, and along with England set up the post-war global order. After this, it would be the US that would be enabled to call the shots. The dollar was established, under the Bretton Woods System, as the global sovereign currency, the hegemonial currency. In fact, Germany and Japan, the defeated countries would become the great work houses of the world. For the rest, it was sink or swim. Join or be lost. The Cold War split the world between those willing to play the continuing game of global capitalism that would move toward ever greater globalization and an alternative version that, if triumphant, would establish global socialist hegemony.
Poor Europe. For all the old colonial powers, the game was over. France, England, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, were losing their colonial empires. They were economically collapsed, compared to the American Industrial machine. As separate nations, left to their own, they were doomed in this new emerging post-war economy. Historically, they were over the hill, but the global superior white caste, those in possession of the Western cultural heritage, and sacred moral values, “a way of life,” could not be allowed to sink. They, collectively, would comprise one leg of the post-war global capitalist empire, one leg of the tri-lateral post-war system, the US, Western Europe and Japan.
The US would sponsor their recovery and development, as it would in Japan, as a market for American products and an outlet for investment of American capital. Flood Europe with dollars, not so much as a result of the Marshall Plan, as by the continued stationing of tens of thousands of American troops in Europe for the purpose of recycling dollars to buy American products.
But the dirty threat of a social, or worse, socialist Eeurope, which was popular and most of the Europeans wanted, had to be dealt with. This was a political problem. A “crises of democracy” in technical terms, which means not too little democracy, but too much. It had to be made a top priority. For this, the American agency, the CIA was set up, to rig elections in Europe and make sure the right parties came to power. First, with the help of the Mafia in Italy, to bring the conservatives to power. Truman successfully pulled it off shortly after the end of the war. To head off socialism, France, which preferred development projects in the public secter, was largely shunned, in favor of Germany. American troops were sent to Greece to crush the communists, and in the end, the Jolly banker, himself, Jean Monet, in cahoots with the US and the CIA, engineered the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), which became the nucleus of the European Commmunity, the Common Market and eventually, the European Union.
The tribute to French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman, as the founding father of the European Community, can be seen in front of the Berlayment, the European Commission Headquarters in Brussels. But the plan to unite and consolidate the industrial base of France and Germany, as a basis for economic recovery, was not the “Schuman Plan” as the hagiography of the European Union has it. Rather, it was the Banker’s plan of Jean Monet. The founding six, France, Germany, Italy, and the Benelux Countries, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, would pool their economies, their industrial bases under a “high command”, run by Jean Monnet. A sort of central committee which would call the shots. The question of democratic deficit did not arise, as there was to be no democracy in this outfit from the very beginning. Economic survival took precedence over everything else, and above all, establishing the requisite parameters which would allow the bankers of Europe to run the system and for capital to be paramount. In time, would come the Copenhagen Criteria, setting in concrete the principle that no country that signed with Brussels could ever again entertain the notion of a social Europe, which would raise the hackles of the bankers, who swore by their capital and economic stability. The European social contract with workers would gradually be eroded away as Europe moved to dovetail with the brutal neoliberalism beginning to emerge from Thatcher’s Britain and Reagan’s America.
As time went along, new countries would be admitted to the European Union, the UK, Greece, Spain, Portugal and so on, up to the 27 current members, with a tight ruling group of countries at the center calling the shots, and the poorer periphery, the European colonial periphery, which would serve the profits of capital and bankers in the center. Seventeen currently use the Euro as their currency.
But above all, “more Europe” which meant more control from the center in Brussels. Make no mistake about it, with all the glorious fudge-words and weasel words, the commissars invented, such as “democratic deficit,” “competences,” “codetermination,” “subsidiarity,” and so on, a new empire was being put into place. If the old colonial powers could not rule the world, they would rule each other and the poor souls in the countries on the periphery, especially Eastern Europe, when it had been sprung from the control of the Soviet Union.
How to keep the rabble in line? Why, of course, “ever closer union.” European integration, more Europe, both politically and economically. Strip every peripheral nation of most of their sovereignty and rule from the central committee of commisioners, who would be the new commissars, in Brussels. It would not be called loss of national sovereignty, but the wizards in Belgium were not fooling anybody. That’s what it was.
Every new successive treaty would ratchet up the screws tighter and tighter until practically all the laws and “directives,” the Acquis Communautaire, would issue from Brussels, commands handed down from the center.
The ultimate control, of course, for the insurance of political integration and to ensure that no nation could stray from the straightjacket of a “functioning market economy,” neoliberalism, after the l970s, was monetary integration. First a European Monetary System which linked the currencies together and forced deficit countries to cut back social welfare spending when their economies were weak. A single market, and eventually the Mecca of a single currency, the Euro by the year 2000, for those countries that joined the Euro zone. The contradictions mounted. When a country adopted the mighty Euro, they got rid of their own currency, Italy and Greece getting rid of their humble liras and drachmas. Then this would necesarily lock their economic and fiscal policies to the richest countries at the center. Not only would this virtually eliminate democracy, but probably would not be politically feasible, inflicting too much pain on the populations of the periphy, but that, of course, was precisely the beauty for the banker-commissioner-technocrat-Eurocrats, running the system. Moreover, it would further slow economic growth in countries which must have growth to stay in the Euro.
In the old system, when the economy faltered, the country suffered, the people suffered, but an adjustment could be made with a currency devaluation. Over a couple of years, the economy could recover, after a fashion, even though the people had been made poorer for that period. In the new system with the Euro, this could not be done. The economists warned that the system was not viable. It probably would not work due to the economic dynamics. Moreover, there were practical and political limits to economic and political integration. But that sort of realism is not a part of the Monnet Method. The bankers dream their own utopia. For Monnet, you push the system as far as one can go, back off, and then wait till the time is right and ratchet up the screws even tighter. Wait till things have settled down and people are not paying attention and then go at it again, and tell them that just a little more is going to be good for them and then everything will be alright. Act follows act follows act. The Single European Act is not enough for the Eurocrat bureaucrats. Not enough for the Brussels commissars. Screw it on up to the next notch, the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon treaty puts more levers of power into their hands, but still does not satisfy them. They now want even more. More, more, more, ever more, ever closer union, ever more consolidation and centralization of power. Screw it up another notch. Squeeze out a little more blood, as in Greece and Italy. The glorious dictatorship of the Brusselatariat rolls on under the brave leadership of the new President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy. The closest thing to a President of the new European State under the name of European Union.
Now, not a word from the people is to be heard, not allowed. Mrs. Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, those at the center are horrified at the idea of a referendum of any kind, at the danger of it failing. It might have to be done twice, before the people learn how to vote and get it right, as has happened numerous times. At least, a huge and costly propaganda operation might have to be mounted, as in the Irish Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. This was carried out only because it could not be avoided, as it had been declared by the courts as a requirement of the Irish Constitution. All stops must be pulled out to railroad the train on down the tracks of integration shoving the people out of the way in the process and ensuring them how democratic the whole process is going to be.
Under neoliberalism, the system has now gone into crises. This system tends to mount state debts, essentially using the state to bolster the accumulation of capital in the face of the contradictions of the capitalist system.
The grand enterprise of salvaging a collapsed post-colonial Europe, through state-subsidized capitalism and neoliberalism, is crumbling, and the burden is being put into the backs of the people, the workers, the civil servants, being ground down under the increasing debt, placed upon them by the bankers and technocrats who run the system. History has moved on. This latest European God has failed.
The efforts to block the emergence of a viable European economy, a social Europe or socialist Europe has now come home to roost, and failed. And the people in their misery just might bring the bankers down with them. And if Europe goes, the United States is in trouble too. It may have come to the point where the only country that could save the bankers is China. But no one is sure if they would.
After the latest Greek austerity plan was formulated in Brussels, the guardians of the system, Mrs. Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, dedicated to protecting capital and their national banks, were horrified when Greek Prime Minister Georges Papandreou prepared to launch a referendum on the financial rescue plan. They were frightened of letting the Greek people voice their opinion on the increased austerity that Brussels was shoving down their throats on behalf of captital and the banks. Jean Monnet must be up there somewhere above the clouds smiling down upon all of this, watching the politicians jump to save his system and protect the bankers.
Now Italy requires a Eurocrat economist technocrat, Mario Monti, to try to salvage the Italian financial system from collapse and deal with its 2.6 trillion dollar debt. The people are to be but bystanders, observers, as the dictats are handed down to them from the rulers in Brussels. Another technocrat Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos has now been installed to sort out the mess in Athens.
The myth perpetrated by Jean Monnet and the founders was that the European Union was the guarantee of the demise of European nationalism and war, for peace and prosperity. But instead, it has served to guarantee the prosperity of the bankers. The European Union, the rulers of the system could never level with the people, even government officials. The system was put in place to ensure the perpetual and permanent existence of a capitalist Europe and prevent social democracy, indeed, any form of democracy. The real game is becomming more clear to the people at this point, when the priority is obviously the banks and capital and not the people.
Since World War II, the US inherited the legacy of global rule by the European white caste. As the global hegemon, they have claimed the right to put down and crush any challenge to their global full spectrum dominance. But as the global dominance of the American Empire weakens, they too are threatened by the contradictions of European and American neoliberalism which they themselves have created. They must act to protect their two or three trillion dollars of investment in the European Union and act to save not only the American bankers but the European ones too, regardless of the pain imposed upon the people. These contradictions of the global capitalist system were meant to hit the poor in peripheral countries of the world, but thanks to the contribution of neoliberalism, Europeans and Americans may also have the opportunity to share the pain which the white caste has imposed upon the world since the sixteenth century. Such is the dialectics of history.
Europe needs democracy, not this Brussels dictatorship of the unelected commissioner-commissars. The European commissioners have the power, not the elected members of the European Parliament. Europe needs a revolution, liberation, human liberation from the bankers and the technocrat Eurocrats. The need to be liberated once again to take back control of their countries and economies and work and produce their own living. Just as Argentina took control of their economy to run it on their own, the Europeans need to do the same. Why are they enslaving themselves to IMF austerity? The historical question is how long the European people are going to put up with it.
Eddie J. Girdner is a professor of International Relations at Izmir University, Izmir, Turkey
November 15, 2011