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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Democracy is all that stands between Europe and EU tyranny

There's a telling interview in the Guardian this morning with J├╝rgen Habermas, Frankfurt school academic and leftie icon. At a time when Europe's left are reeling at Greece's treatment at the hands of a new German hegemony, the Grauniad is digging deep in its search for voices in support of Federism. Habermas is clear that the greatest barrier to Federast objectives is democracy - if only, he sighs, right thinking people such as he could ignore the actual people of Europe how much easier things would be.

Habermas: By focusing on avoidance of open conflict, the EU’s institutions are preventing necessary political initiatives for expanding the currency union into a political union. Only the government leaders assembled in the European Council are in the position to act, but precisely they are the ones who are unable to act in the interest of a joint European community because they think mainly of their national electorate. We are stuck in a political trap.

Those dratted voters again! How inconvenient that they put their own interests before those of a 'joint European community'

Habermus: Over the course of the crisis, the European executive has accrued more and more authority. Key decisions are being taken by the council, the commission and ECB – in other words, the very institutions that are either insufficiently legitimated to take such decisions or lack any democratic basis. Streeck and I also share the view that this technocratic hollowing out of democracy is the result of a neoliberal pattern of market-deregulation policies. 

What the old leftie actually means is that an unholy alliance between the the EU's unelected officials and the global corporates, an alliance that strangles both democracy and free open-market competition, has in the process caused sight to be lost of Europe's objective of Welfare State Dependancy.

Habermus: I do not see how a return to nation states that have to be run like big corporations in a global market can counter the tendency towards de-democratisation and growing social inequality – something that we also see in Great Britain, by the way. Such tendencies can only be countered, if at all, by a change in political direction, brought about by democratic majorities in a more strongly integrated “core Europe”. The currency union must gain the capacity to act at the supra-national level. In view of the chaotic political process triggered by the crisis in Greece we can no longer afford to ignore the limits of the present method of intergovernmental compromise.

And there you have the new strategic direction - using a veneer of democratic accountability to seize total power in Europe from nation states in a velvet coup. The answer to Greece is more political union and more EU power - the only issue is how the EU's unelected officials can fix the voting.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Cameron now needs Treaty change, not 'written agreement'

Open Europe got it right on the EU's broken promise not to use EFSM to bail-out the Eurozone. The 2010 agreement was a 'solemn, written, binding agreement' made between all 28 European Heads of Government and has just been discarded as as irrelevant by Juncker and the EU Commission; it was a 'political' and not legal agreement, and can therefore be discarded and repudiated at will. 

The Telegraph quotes Open Europe's Stephen Booth;
“Today’s developments are a boon to those who would like to see the UK leave the EU, and for good reason,” said Mr Booth. “This type of political agreement, so readily jettisoned in a moment of Eurozone panic, is precisely the type of agreement Cameron may, at least in part, be relying on to secure his negotiations and sell them to the British public. This episode will only increase the domestic pressure for the UK to secure treaty changes to underpin EU reforms.”
So Cameron's task now becomes either Treaty change, or supporting Brexit. Good. Glad that's clear. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

We all know the EU are lying about Greece

The IMF is quietly leaking a report that EU leaders are pretending doesn't exist. They have to pretend it doesn't exist; to admit its conclusions would give the lie to all the drama of the last weekend and mean the €86bn about to go to Greece is already lost money. 

The EU is like a Wonga salesman persuading some poor single mum that £48 a week benefits is perfectly adequate to repay a £15,000 Wonga loan if only she economises a bit in the kitchen. The reality is that such a Wonga loan, and Greece's debts, are both unpayable. And whilst one has equal amounts of sympathy for Wonga shareholders and German taxpayers in the event of a default, one also has to ask why they lent such absurd sums in the first place. 

The truth is that all this weekend's settlement has achieved is to defer yet again having to deal with Greece's unpayable debt. The IMF knows this, the Russians know this, the US knows this and we know this. Herr Juncker and his chums also know this, but right now it suits them to stick their fingers in their ears and sing 'La la la ..' in the corridors of Brussels.

There is a certain joy in watching the conversion of the British left to the EUphobic cause; as Owen Jones writes in the Guardian this morning;

"Everything good about the EU is in retreat; everything bad is on the rampage,” writes George Monbiot, explaining his about-turn. “All my life I’ve been pro-Europe,” says Caitlin Moran, “but seeing how Germany is treating Greece, I am finding it increasingly distasteful.” Nick Cohen believes the EU is being portrayed “with some truth, as a cruel, fanatical and stupid institution”. “How can the left support what is being done?” asks Suzanne Moore. “The European ‘Union’. Not in my name.” There are senior Labour figures in Westminster and Holyrood privately moving to an “out” position too.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

SNP drop Cameron a gift

Signals from the quasi-fascist SNP over the party's voting intentions on amendments to the hunting laws were as predictable as polling on serving gefilte fish, lox and bagels in Munich's schools in 1937. The SNP loathe everything English with an intensity that Dr Goebels would have found it hard to achieve, and waving chaps in pink coats on horses at them have pulled them straight into a trap.

Changes in the hunting laws can wait. My old friend Eric the Eagle Owl is not due his P45 from the local hunt just yet. English Votes in Parliament can't. If Cameron needed defeat on one Parliamentary measure by the SNP in order to bolster support for EVEL he cannot have picked better than this one. 

So stay calm and let's take the hit - and make the most of the SNP's untenable interference in English matters.

Monday, 13 July 2015

The Humiliation of Greece

For Germany after the Great War, the terms of the Versailles settlement imposed many deeply wounding terms; the surrender of territory, industrial and transport capacity and her fleet (at Britain's insistence) dealt blow after blow, but the cruellest humiliation of all was perhaps the least deserved - the imposition of German war-guilt, that Germany alone had been solely responsible for four years of slaughter, destruction and bankruptcy. It was far more complex than that, as we know today. All over Europe in 1914 there was a popular willingness for war and even if Germany was the greatest sinner she was not the only sinner. But in 1919, disgusted perhaps at themselves, the victors sought to burden Germany with all their own guilt at their failure to preserve the peace. 

At times over this past weekend, I have been reminded of the unseemly scramble at Versailles by the victors for exoneration. Greece must hand control of her treasury to the IMF, must place €50bn of assets in hock, must pass legislation within 72 hours, must re-sack all the civil servants just re-hired by Syriza. No humiliating burden, it seems, is too great to demand. Like the partners in a doomed marriage, neither of whom are willing to walk-out first, the demands become increasingly unacceptable in order to force a denouement.   

And like Versailles, the settlement seeks to re-write history. Greece's entry into the EMU and the Euro was all Greece's fault, the lies and distortions and omissions were wholly Greece's and fooled the rest of Europe; Germany and France and the Commission are all wholly innocent of contriving to force Greece into a monetary union that was always unsustainable. And now Greece must pay for the rest of the Eurozone's insincerity. 

Greece is not and will never be another Germany, but there are risks, horrible risks, in seeking to humiliate a nation state so. Have we learned nothing?