Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Political Expropriation of the Europeans

EU Skull Dragon

Last night the German Constitutional Court removed the last hurdle to the Eurozone bailout fund, the gargantuan euro reservoir known as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). It requires member states, including Germany, to deliver any and all requested funds, on demand and on time, to prop up the banking system of the Eurozone.

The ESM has supreme authority, will act in secret, cannot be questioned, and is unaccountable to any democratic body or the voters themselves. The German court has effectively approved the final piece of superstructure in the totalitarian trans-national European state.

Perhaps in anticipation of this latest development, the essay below was published in Der Hauptstadtbrief on September 6. Many thanks to Hermes for the translation:

Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a German writer. His book, Brussels, The Gentle Monster, which was published in 2011, caused sensation. Since then, the disenfranchisement of Europe has deepened. Der Hauptstadtbrief asked him to analyze the consequences of the rescue policies for Europe. Here are his findings.

The political expropriation of the Europeans

The saviors will not succeed with their favorite mantras: “There’s no alternative for us”, “If our plan fails, Europe fails”

by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Crisis? What crisis? The cafés, bistros and open-air beer bars are frequently visited, holiday-makers jostle in the German airports, one hears about record revenues coming from the export market and also about decreasing unemployment. Just as if the state of the EU were being shown on television. People take notice with a yawn of the weekly summit “climbed” by the politicians, and of the confused quarrels of the experts. All this seems to be staged in a rhetorical no-man’s land and with plenty of unintelligible linguistic rules, and has nothing to do with the so-called social environment of everyday life

Apparently only a few notice that the European countries have already for a long time been governed not by democratically legitimized institutions, but by a row of abbreviations which overtook their role. Those making decisions are the EFSF, ESM, EZB, EBA and IWF. Only experts are capable of deciphering those acronyms. Only the initiated ones are informed on who decides, what is decided, and how the issues are decided in the EU Commission and the Euro Group. What is all these institutions have in common is that they appear in not one single constitution in the world, and that no voter has the right to participate in their decision-making.

It seems uncanny, the degree of serenity with which the inhabitants of this small continent have accepted their political expropriation. This lies perhaps in the fact that this is a historic novelty. Contrary to the revolutions, coups d’état and military uprisings, with which the European history is so rich, now all this goes on in silence and peace. This is what makes this takeover of power so original. No torchlight processions, no marches, no barricades, not one tank! Everything goes on peacefully behind the scene.

Nobody is surprised that treaties cannot be examined. Existing rules such the principle of subsidiarity of the Roman treaties or the prohibition clause of the Maastricht Treaty regarding bailouts are completely and freely cancelled. Pacta sunt servanda — this principle is no more than a meaningless phrase, conceived by some juristic theorists of olden times.

The abolition of the democratic constitutional state is openly proclaimed in the ESM treaty. The resolutions made by the leading members of this rescue group are directly applicable under international law and not tied to the decisions of (national) parliaments. They call themselves governors, just as in the old colonial regimes, and just like the directors, are not accountable to the public. Just the contrary: they are explicitly sworn to secrecy about these issues. This reminds one of the Omerta, which belongs to the code of honor of the Mafia. Our Godfathers are free of any judicial or legal control. They enjoy privileges to which not even the leaders of the Camorra are entitled: total immunity from criminal law (as stated in the articles 32 to 35 of the ESM treaty).

It is with this that the political expropriation of the citizens has reached its actual peak. But it was set in place much earlier, at the latest with the introduction of the euro. This currency is the result of a political cattle market in which all economic preconditions for such a project were treated with contempt.

Many things were ignored: the inequalities of the economies participating in this project, their strongly divergent competitiveness, and their escalating debts. Even the historical differences of the cultures and mentalities in the continent were completely ignored in the plan for homogenizing Europe.

The criteria established for joining the Eurozone had soon to be remodeled like plasticine, depending on the requirements, with the complication that countries like Greece or Portugal, which lacked the most elemental chances to declare themselves a part of this currency group, were also admitted.

(But) far from admitting and correcting the congenital defects of this plan, the regime of the saviors insists on continuing the pursued course at all costs. The unchanging declaration that “there is no alternative” denies the explosive force of the growing differences between the nations taking part. The consequences have been appearing for several years now: division instead of integration, resentments, animosity and mutual accusations instead of common understanding. “If the euro fails, Europe fails”. In this way it is intended to commit a region with half a million inhabitants to the adventure of an isolated political class, just as the 2000 years were only peanuts compared to the newly created currency.

The euro crisis is showing that this cannot remain just at the level of the political expropriation of the citizens. Following its logic, it leads to the economic expropriation, and it is where the economic costs become unambiguously apparent that it is clearly seen what this means. The people in Madrid and Athens go to the streets only when they have literally no other chance, and this will not fail to be seen also in other regions.

No matter what metaphors the political class uses: “changeling” rescue package, Bazooka, Big Bertha, Eurobonds, fiscal, banking or debt union… in the end, when it comes to numbers, the citizens will wake up from their political siesta. They will guess that sooner or later they will have to assume responsibility for everything the saviors brought about.

The number of options to be taken into account is limited in this situation. The easiest way to liquidate debts, as well as savings, is inflation. But even the raising of taxes, the trimming of pensions and compulsory spending are taken into account, measures which had already been considered and find approval depending on the respective preferences of the parties. A final method comes into consideration of being applied: currency reform. It is a proven method to punish the small savers, to make it easy for the banks and to write off the obligations of the state budget.

An easy way out of this trap is not in sight. All carefully considered possibilities have been successfully blocked so far. The talks about a multi-tracked Europe have gone unheard. Timidly proposed exit clauses were never included in a treaty. But first and foremost, the European policy derided the subsidiarity principle, an idea which is far too evident to be ever taken seriously. This foreign word means nothing less than from the municipality to the province, from the nation-state to the European institutions, the authority which is closest to the citizens must regulate always everything it is capable to, and that each higher level can be given only regulatory powers that cannot otherwise be exercised. That was, as the history of the Union shows, only an empty word. Otherwise Brussels could have not said goodbye to democracy so easily, and the political and economic expropriation of Europeans would have never reached the level it actually has.

A bleak outlook? Good times for the enthusiasts of disasters, who foretell not only the collapse of the banking system, the bankruptcy of indebted countries, but preferably the very end of the world! But as the majority of prophets of doom, these soothsayers are probably getting their hopes up too early. Because five hundred million Europeans will not be inclined to simply give up without fight by following the favorite mantras of their saviors: “There is no alternative for us”, “If our plan fails, Europe fails”. This continent has already instigated, experienced and survived completely different and much bloodier conflicts than the actual crisis. There will be no coming out of this blind alley in which the ideologists of disenfranchisement have led us without costs, conflicts and painful restrictions. Panic is the worst counselor in this situation, and those who claim that they are hearing Europe’s swansong are those ignore its strengths.

From Antonio Gramsci comes the following: “Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will”


Anonymous said...

Oliver Kamm would be so proud.


Anonymous said...

I remember reading Enzensberger's poetry in college—good stuff.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger comments from the point of view of a survivor of the Second World War. His closing remarks will sound quite understated to readers unaware of his age. What he is calling for is quite revolutionary: that citizens reassert their ownership of the inalienable rights which Brussels has quietly expropriated.

Repossessing rights doesn't necessarily require violent revolution, but it would be as revolutionary as the Glorious Revolution. It only requires the will to continue in spite of the failure of the current ideology that is being crammed down the people's throats. As Clausewitz III.7 points out about another matter, "everything is very simple, but even the simplest thing is never easy" („Es ist alles … sehr Einfach, aber das Einfachste ist schwierig“).

ludwig_10022 said...

The latest issue of ”Der Hauptstadtbrief," from which Enzensberger's article is taken, contains a number of articles on how to supersede the current dog's breakfast known as the European Union.

"Entweder untergehen oder verschweizern" is based on the optimistic premise that the EU is worth saving. If you can read German, you might want to check the issue out.

cjk said...

Instead of various states uniting under a common umbrella in order to promote and defend liberty as was done some 200 years ago in America, we have reasonably free states surrendering their liberty to a totalitarian oligarchy hidden behind a bureaucracy.

I don't follow European issues like I should, but this is the overall image I'm getting.

Anonymous said...

I spoke to a German recently who said that the Germans had never been asked if they wanted to join the euro, it just happened even though many did not want to give up the deutschmark and many would like it back.

This is like Mr David Cameron's promise of a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU which has never happened.

I recently spoke to a lady who had a great knowledge of China. I asked whether the Chinese did not want democracy. She said that the Chinese were happy without it as long as they had enough to eat. We have a similiar thing in Britain but instead of bread the people want circuses, i.e the X factor and Strictly Come Dancing. It they were taken off the air there would be riots but they are so ill-educated that they neither understand nor care about the fact that they are living in a Marxist totalitarian superstate, like China.

One final thought for our American friends, am I just too paranoid in wondering whether the next stage after the centralisation of banking in the euro-zone is the linking up of the ECB with the Federal Reserve and the creation of the bankers' one world dictatorship? Is the next stage for the USA something akin to the EU?