Nov 022015
 November 2, 2015  Posted by at 10:08 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

RLOppenheimer New flag for EU 2015

To reiterate: People are genetically biased against change, because change means potential danger. People are also genetically biased against acknowledging this bias, because they wish to see themselves as being able to cope with both change and danger. Put together, this means that when changes come, people are largely unprepared or underprepared.

Take this beyond the bias of the individual, and apply it to that of the group (s)he belongs to, the vantage point of a society, and you find the bias multiplies and becomes self-confirming. That is, the members of the group reinforce each other’s bias. When change comes in small and gradual steps, as it mostly does, this can be said to work relatively well. When it comes in large and sudden steps, trouble ensues.

This little bit of psychology 101 may seem redundant, but it is indispensable if we wish it to recognize the implications of Europe -and the entire world with it, in its slipstream- having already entered a period of change so profound it is impossible to predict what the impact will be. We can do a lot better at this than we do today, where so far the drivers of change, and indeed the changes themselves, are ignored and/or denied.

This ignorance and denial threatens to lead to a needless increase in nationalism, fascism, violence, misery, death and warfare. If we were to acknowledge that the change is inevitable, and prepare ourselves accordingly, much of this could be avoided.

There are two main engines of change that have started to transform the Europe we think we know. First, a mass migration spearheaded by the flight of refugees from regions in the world which Europeans have actively helped descend into lethal chaos. Second, an economic downturn the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 80 years or so (think Kondratieff cycle).

Negative ideas about refugees are already shaping everyday opinion and politics in many places, and this will be greatly exacerbated by the enormous economic depression that for now remains largely hidden behind desperate sleight-of-hands enacted by central bankers, politicians and media.

People, first in Europe, then globally, will need to learn to share what they have, and do with much less. This is not optional. The refugees won’t stop coming, and neither will the depression. It would be much better if people were prepared for this by those same central bankers, politicians and media, but the opposite is happening.

It’s not only individual people who are biased against change, societies are too, and that means so are those who ‘lead’ these societies. They are all motivated, consciously or not, to resist change, because their positions and their powers depend on things remaining -largely- the same.

‘Leaders’ in Brussels and various European capitals still operate on the assumption that the refugee stream is a fleeting phenomenon they can and must stop. In a sort of positive feedback loop with their populations, this idea is continuously reinforced.

This leads to today’s reality in which at least one baby drowns every single day (and more in the past few days) off the shores of Greece, on Europe’s borders, and easily ten times as many members of their families. Moreover, the count is accelerating fast. Weather forecasts for the coming week call for Beaufort 7 winds.

There’s no society, no civilization that allows such atrocities to happen, and is not subsequently down for the count, and bound to dissolve, crumble and disappear. Societies all need common values, based on minimum levels of humanity and compassion, just to survive. And they need a whole lot more if they wish to flourish. No such values, as we see on a daily basis, exist in Europe today.

And that means it has no future – at least not in its present EU structure. It doesn’t get simpler than that. Denied and ignored as the simple fact may have been from the start, it was always clear that the European Union, if it failed to solidly unify the continent, risked becoming a force for division. And it looks as if the first real crisis the union faces will be enough to generate that division. There’s no union in sight other than in name.

Scores of people still hail Angela Merkel for her role in the refugee crisis, but they should think again. Merkel demanded the protagonist role for herself and Germany in setting if not dictating the conditions in the Greek debt negotiations over the first half of 2015, but she’s nowhere to be seen in a leading role now.

Merkel, true, has opened German doors to refugees, but she has utterly failed in expanding any such policy to the EU as a whole. And since she’s the only recognized leader in the entire union, leaving people like Hollande and Juncker far behind, she must acknowledge responsibility if things go wrong. Being a leader doesn’t mean you get to cherry-pick your challenges, it’s a package deal. Merkel cannot today act as German leader only.

But as fast increasing numbers of refugees and their children are drowning in the Aegean, in an act of supreme cynicism Merkel last week went to China to sell Volkswagens and weapons, as well to talk about… human rights. That is to say, the human rights of Chinese people. Not those of the refugees making their way to Europe, who apparently don’t even have the right to safe passage.

It’s that safe passage that must be Europe’s first and main concern right now, not how to stop people from coming. There are many voices clamoring for the ‘Evros fence’, built by Greece three years ago on a stretch of land on its border with Turkey, to be opened, so the drownings stop.

This would seem to be a good first step to halt would should by now be labeled a refugee disaster, rather than crisis. But it’s a step that could have been taken months ago, and the fact that it hasn’t even after Merkel visited Turkey recently, doesn’t bode well. Tsipras is set to visit Turkey this week in the wake of Erdogan’s election victory yesterday, but Tsipras may not get the green light from Berlin to tear down the fence.

The best thing would perhaps be for ordinary people to organize themselves into a large group, 10,000+, travel to Evros, and tear down the fence themselves, rather than wait for politicians to do it. Perhaps the time to rely on others, politicians or otherwise, to do things, has passed.

The world has seen mass migrations before, numerous times, and Europe sure has had its share. The manner is which these migrations take place typically depends to a large extent on people’s human values and their willingness to share their wealth. What’s happening with Syrian refugees today bears some eery resemblances to the boats carrying Jewish refugees prior to WWII that were refused in many ports. Let’s not go there again.

Refugees almost always make a positive contribution to the country they resettle in, both economically and in other ways. We know that, just like we know many other things. But that doesn’t lead our reactions, fear does. And the more wealth people have, the more they seem to fear losing it.

I’ve quoted before how the German federal police warned Merkel at least 8 months ago that a million refugees would be at the country’s doorstep. And that nothing was done with this knowledge for about half a year, leaving Germany woefully unprepared when the warning turned out to be correct.

UN Geneva Director General Michael Moller puts the warning even further into the past; he says EU leaders were told about it at least two years ago.

Refugee Crisis Was Not Unexpected, Top UN Official Says

Director-General of the United Nations office in Geneva, Denmark’s Michael Moller, expresses optimism that the agency’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) will help toward ending extreme poverty but he has no illusions about the refugee crisis[..]

“The crisis we have today, we knew it was going to happen. The leaders of Europe were told it was going to happen at least two years ago. So a little prevention and a little preparation in terms of the narrative to their voters would have gone a long way.”

“This very negative, xenophobic and frankly racist narrative that we’re seeing in many countries, including my own country – I don’t recognize my own country – is unacceptable [..] one of the things that I find very puzzling is that there’s some sort of global amnesia going on. In the early 80s we had pretty much the same problem in Southeast Asia, with much bigger numbers of boat people.

It took a while and then someone decided we must deal with it in a more rational way and they came up with a plan of action which was the product of an international conference where international solidarity kicked in in a much broader way than now. Then we put in place a whole series of measures in a way that minimized the pain and over seven years we resettled 2.5 million people. I don’t see why we can’t take a page or two or three out of that book. To me what’s happening isn’t a European problem, it’s an international problem.

[Washington] are evolving as well. First of all, the number [of refugees the US would accept] was 10,000 but now they’ve upped it to 100,000. I’ve talked to some of the politicians.

[..] looking at this crisis as an isolated incident doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. We are going to have more of these things and a lot worse. The moment climate refugee problems kick in we are going to be in real trouble, unless we sit down globally and figure out structures and ways to deal with this in the future. Not to reinvent the wheel every damn time that happens, but to rethink completely the humanitarian system, because I guarantee you that it will happen again.

The refugee disaster is only the first step in a long and multi-pronged process of profound change in the lives of all citizens of -formerly- rich countries. And if we collectively screw up step 1 as badly as we have and still do, what’s going to happen when our economies fall to pieces? When our alleged ‘financial security’ crumbles, our pensions, our benefits?

Are we going to blame it all on the refugees, and vote in right wing simpletons? Too many of us undoubtedly will. Whether there’s enough decency to counter that is a toss-up. What is not is that the numbers of refugees will keep rising at the same time that our economies keep sinking.

It’s up to us, wherever we live in the world, to find the best way to deal with it. We have a choice in how we react to these developments, not in whether they happen or not.

Home Forums Europe Will Never Be The Same. Neither Will The World.

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    RLOppenheimer New flag for EU 2015 To reiterate: People are genetically biased against change, because change means potential danger. People are also
    [See the full post at: Europe Will Never Be The Same. Neither Will The World.]


    Is it also possible that generally humans are “hard wired” to be tribal and Xenophobic? It’s discouraging to me seeing that the Catalonians and Basques who have lived in Spain since the country existed have still not assimilated and most would probably want their own countries if Spain allowed it. Most also profess to have the same religion. Their are examples all over the world and if humans can’t come up with Ethnic or religious differences they invent “gangs”.

    Dr. Diablo

    Disagree. You’re headed somewhere you may not intend, the complete dissolution of the nation state and thereby creating a world government run by the very people you find so evil, so feckless, so criminal, so vile as to ruthlessly and intentionally kill many thousands of these same refugees in a cold-blooded political calculation.

    Think ahead a few moves. A nation without borders is no longer a nation. And then what is it? A soup of people with entirely chaotic interests, All vs All? Law of the jungle? Who does that help? Will that not cause a thousand time more deaths than the ones we have now? And if there are to be borders, you very obviously cannot allow everyone inside them without question. And if you cannot allow everyone in, you must have violent force arrayed on those borders, with rules in place to peacefully allow in who you wish. Avoid any of these things and your nation state ceases to exist, now superseded by unaccountable corporations and world governments unrestrained by anyone. Think wisely.

    There are many other solutions no one will address. Nobody wants to leave their home. One solution could also be not paying billions to bomb and destroy the refugee’s homeland. But that central point is always is put aside in favor of expediency. Because of these facts, we can deduce that this is a cold, calculating, premeditated war of European and western politicians *on their own people.* They proudly cause this distress, these deaths *because they want to* and the more deaths, the more disorder, the more social tension they can create, the better. We know this, not only because of their action, but *because they’ve said so*, in official white papers going back decades. Like Mein Kampf, no one batted an eye when they advertised their plan. They told you they wanted to, they would, and why. Yet when the barbed wire comes out, everyone is suddenly confused?

    4GW: “Fourth-generation warfare involves an *insurgent group* or other violent state actor trying to *implement their own government* or reestablish an old government over the current ruling power. However, a non-state entity tends to be more successful when it does not attempt, at least in the short term, to impose its own rule, but tries simply to *disorganize and delegitimize the state* in which the warfare takes place. The aim is to force the adversary state to *expend manpower and money* in an attempt to establish order, ideally in such a highhanded way that it *merely increases disorder*, until the state surrenders or withdraws.”

    Your strategic prescription gives the mass-murderers exactly what they want. Just as they planned, and as they prey on your goodwill. Don’t help them. Taking their route will turn thousands dead into millions. Think beyond them to a solution for all.

    Ceteris Paribus

    I agree completely with Dr. Diablo. You are aiding and abetting the criminals who are directing all this, like a horror movie in which we are all unwitting extras, and perhaps future casualties.

    Use your brain, not just your heart – to tell Europeans that we have a duty to admit everyone, that the change forced on us with hostile intent must be welcomed and embraced, is stupid, short-sighted, and wrong-headed.


    We have already entered a period of change. It started with 9/11, followed by destroying the financial system. The destruction continues down unexpected paths.
    I agree with you, “…so far the drivers of change, and indeed the changes themselves, are ignored and/or denied.”

    I prepare for changes that I see and must accept. I continuously change to try to respond to new forces of change.

    I’m grateful that I’m still among those that are still not affected by ????


    Stone Lodge

    As I read this essay, I wondered how you, Raul, can possibly maintain your optimism, knowing what you know. In this respect, I agree with Diablo and Ceteris that you are thinking with your heart. What I do NOT agree with them about is that this is “stupid” or in any way “unwise”; it is, rather, simply an impulse and plea for humane action. But I am pretty sure that you do not hold any entrenched expectations that this approach will manifest in Europe, or anywhere else, going forward.

    Diablo’s reaction to what he sees as inimical to state cohesion and order is natural, statist, and doomed. Raul’s humane treatment won’t alter the ultimate course of events, and may even accelerate it (which I understand to be Diablo’s point), but it is sure a lot more moral and sustaining than the “violent force” arrayed at the gates, and such moral action carries its own grace.

    Ultimately, homo sapiens has overshot the capacity of its environment, and the laws of thermodynamics will not be denied. The “refugee crisis” (as if the U.S. hasn’t been dealing with that for decades, for the same basic reasons) is simply a manifestation of the dislocations we must expect and will see everywhere. Resource wars, starvation, sectarian violence, pestilence, lack of clean water, degrading arable lands, devolving productive abilities — all of these factors have local effects, and global impacts. Fleeing any one or more of these merely brings the afflicted into conflict with others struggling with the same or other such factors. It won’t stop, and national boundaries won’t stop the dislocations, nor will our pockets of humanity and compassion.

    But Raul is right. Acting with humanity and compassion is the right thing to do. It will probably not alter the final steady state, but it will be far more fulfilling to go down that way than to die with hatred and fear burning in our breasts.


    Must say, I agree with Dr. Diablo completely.
    And Ilargi, ref your comment ” What’s happening with Syrian refugees today bears some eery resemblances to the boats carrying Jewish refugees prior to WWII that were refused in many ports. Let’s not go there again.” Indeed, you shouldn’t because doing so would necessitate admitting that Israel should be the first to be giving sanctuary to these people. Of course that would be impossible for the most racist country on the planet, that views these people as subhuman, that has been largely responsible for making their homelands unlivable and whose Zionist leaders know that mass immigration will “soften up” and render chaotic both the EU and the USA. No, let’s not go there or it may lead to the “neoliberal” core and we certainly don’t want to expose that.
    And Stone Lodge is exactly correct in stating that the large influx of Caribbean and Latin American people into the US over many decades is consequent to the brutal corporate/financial/military exploitation of these lands under the pretense of helping them with democracy and capitalism. The owners keep playing the same game over and over. You can’t fight the devil with a white dove.

    Dr. Diablo

    The internet agrees with me? I need to re-think my position.

    @ Stone Lodge: thank you for your reply. Certainly our moral duty is paramount. I question, what is our terrible moral duty on a lifeboat? To take on all swimmers until the once saved also sink and drown? Or can they use the safety of the lifeboat to build a solution? Or what?

    In any case, I believe it’s a false choice: intentionally false. I do not have to support the unchanging status quo to recognize the plans of evil men. Neither do I have to sink my own tiny boat in a misguided attempt to save all earthly men. We can proceed intelligently and save as many as we can, in as few moves as we can, that still maintain the best outcomes, both long AND short-term. It seems that precious few are doing so, the long-planners wishing to make trouble, and the short-term planners constantly reacting without addressing the root cause. Surely we can discuss and address both? Surely we can restore Syria/Libya AND save Greece/Germany? What would it make to say Syrian lives matter but Austrian lives don’t? Why would we say we can only bring all men down but not raise all men up? To accomplish these things, we have to believe they are possible and make tangible plans to achieve them. And I’m certain we can. However, the first step, my step, is to erase the false paradigm that we can only respond in bad, narrow, harmful ways. Those are the few choices they wish to channel us to, Hegelian-style. We have a duty to expose them and deny their poisoned fruit. Let’s not take it. Syria can be as nice a place as Denmark. Let’s make it so.

    Doc Robinson

    I’m with Ilargi. Europe still has enough “room in the inn” and can be doing much more to prevent these drownings.

    John Day

    There need not be a dichotomy here. These positions are complimentary, not mutually exclusive.
    Clearly, the destabilization of Syria by pumping in money and the hijacked stockpiles of Libyan weapons is the core root of the suffering. Over 10% of the population of Syria has been wounded or killed in the last 4 years. This is done secretly by the US, Turkey, the House of Saud, Israel, etc, for many selfish reasons, and with no thought of human suffering as anything but a useful tool.
    We should embrace our best human qualities, rather than fight on the terms of the sociopaths who rule us. Embracing what is best in humans is the only personal choice which can lead to better human existence.
    We need to be clever and spontaneous against our sociopathic owners, but we lose if we emulate them to fight them.


    True, there have been large scale migrations in the past. They almost always led to the total destruction of the society that allowed them. Native Americans lost their continents and civilization. Aborigines in Australia did too. We might argue a more prosperous and advanced civilization took their place but the ‘natives’ were left at the bottom of the “new order”.

    What is taking place in Europe is the reverse of Western expansion. We know have a less advanced population seeking to overrun a more advanced civilization. The last time that happened led to the Dark Ages in Europe. We might wonder what would happen if Muslims were to gain political power in a modern European nation. A contemporary best seller posits just that happening in France but a more likely scenario would be Sweden. This is a technologically advanced nation like France but much smaller. A Muslim led party could declare it to be a ‘homeland’ for Europe’s Muslims and suddenly you have a Muslim ruled state capable of building modern fighter bombers, tanks and ships. Worse still it would have growing Muslim minorities in the rest of Europe. Sounds like a recipe for war to me.

    V. Arnold

    @ sangell51

    I was with you until your last 9 lines. Islamaphobic as hell.
    You equate Muslims with war; how jejune; and flat wrong.


    The global cabal has co-opted and defiled our air, water food supply, local and global economies in the name of JOBS, SAFETY, FIGHT ON TERRORISM. We acquiesced to TARP and QE circuses and watched everything crumble around us for JOBS, SAFETY, TERRORISM.

    I will not, cannot, absolutely refuse to surrender my humanity, ethics and morality and shrug off the consequences causing this desperate migration.
    I will not allow the .01% to profit on endless proxy wars for oil, commodity futures and morally bankrupt power grabs, which have added to the illusion of Western economic stability and “our way of life” and then say that the hundreds of thousands of lives deemed as collateral damage cannot be saved, cannot be witnessed, because of JOBS, WAY OF LIFE, SAFETY, TERRORISM.
    I will not be a dupe or willing accomplice to this disgusting charade which seeks to commit shock and awe with my very humanity.
    I will not sink to their level and I will not allow them to repeat Thatcher’s god awful ‘ there is no alternative’ once again as they eat us alive,

    V. Arnold

    @ gezelle

    Great rant; spot on.
    I withdrew all support and left; fuckem all…

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