May 252016
 
 May 25, 2016  Posted by at 1:31 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,


G.G. Bain Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, New York 1907

There’ve been a bunch of issues and topics on my -temporarily non-writing- mind, and politics, though as I’ve often said it’s not my preferred focus, keeps on slipping in. That’s not because I’ve gotten more interested in ‘the game’, but because the game itself is changing in unrecognizable fashion, and that is intricately linked to subjects I find more appealing.

For instance, in the past few days, I’ve read Matt Taibbi’s epos on the demise of America’s Republican Party in R.I.P., GOP: How Trump Is Killing the Republican Party, and Shaun King on a similar demise of the Democrats in Why I’m Leaving the Democratic Party After This Presidential Election and You Should Too, and both make a lot of sense.

But I think both also miss out on the main reason why these ‘demises’ are happening. In my view, it’s not enough, not satisfactory, to talk about disgruntled voters and corrupt politicians and the antics of Donaldo, and leave it at that. There is something bigger, much bigger, going on that drives these events.

But that I will explain in a later article (soon!). Right now, I want to address another piece of the same pie (though it’s perhaps not obvious that it is): the Brexit ‘discussion’ in Europe. A May 11 piece by ex-World Banker Peter Koenig provides as good a starting point as any:

The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?

Imagine – the EU were to collapse tomorrow – or any day soon for that matter. Europeans would dance in the streets. The EU has become a sheer pothole of fear and terror: Economic sanctions – punishment, mounting militarization, the abolition of civil rights for most Europeans. A group of unelected technocrats, representing 28 countries, many of them unfit to serve in their own countries’ political system, but connected well enough to get a plum job in Brussels – are deciding the future of Europe. In small groups and often in secret chambers they decide the future of Europe.

Koenig makes much work of connecting what’s bad about the EU, to the TTiP and TiSA trade deal negotiations. And though the TTiP deal has lately come under rapidly increasing fire in Europe, that is a relevant point. Koenig also, perhaps more importantly, concludes that the EU has no future.

If the TTIP is ratified despite all logic, and if subsequently the EU fell apart – each country would still be held accountable to the terms of the agreement. Hence, time for an EU collapse before signing of the TTIP and TiSA is of the essence. This radical solution may be too much even for staunch EU / Euro opponents. Many of them still seek, hope and dream of a reformed EU. They still live under the illusion that ‘things’ could be worked out. Believe me – they cannot.

The Machiavellian US-invented venture called EU with the equally US-invented common currency – the Eurozone – has run its course. It is about to ram the proverbial iceberg. The EU-Euro vessel is too heavy to veer away from disaster. Europe is better off taking time to regroup; each nation with the objective of regaining political and economic sovereignty – and perhaps with an eye a couple of generations down the road envisaging a new United Europe of sovereign federal states, independent, totally delinked from the diabolical games of the western Anglo-American empire.

That last bit is- or should be- highly relevant to the Brexit discussion that’s ongoing in Britain, working up to an undoubtedly grotesquely clownesque climax on June 23, the day some 40 million by then supremely confused Britons get to vote. Koenig’s last words also contradict the goals and aspirations of Yanis Varoufakis’ new initiative DiEM25, which seeks to democratize the EU from the inside out.

Now, I appreciate Yanis quite a bit, and certainly much more than most Greeks seem to do these days, but ever since DiEM25 announced itself I haven’t been able to keep from thinking: have you looked at the EU lately, like, really looked? I get the idea, obviously, but why would you, to use a convenient metaphor, want to go through the trouble of renovating a building that’s been structurally condemned for good reasons, instead of tearing it down and build a new one?

The only reason I can think of is that DiEM25 thinks the building is still salvageable. Question then: is it? And that’s a question Britain should ask itself too in the run-up to June 23. If you vote yes, what exactly are you voting to belong to, what -sort of- edifice are you electing to continue living in? A delapidated structure bound and waiting to be torn down? If so, why would you do that, and what would be the consequences?

And what about the alternative, what if you voted to leave the building? It’s not as if the present EU is the only way for European countries to work together. There are a zillion others, and arguably some of those might actually do what the EU portends to do but is failing miserably at: that is, prevent violence from breaking out. The narrative of Brussels as a grand peacemaker sounds less credible by the minute.

It is perhaps open to personal interpretation, but when I look at what the EU has done, and is still doing to Greece, the country I’m visiting again trying to relieve some of the pain inflicted on it by the EU, and I look at how the refugee issue has been handled by ‘Brussels the peacemaker’s actions and inactions, causing thousands of deaths and infinitely more misery, you’d have to be a darn great orator to make me support the what I have come to call Unholy Union.

What Greece shows is that there is no Union, other than in times of plenty. What Aylan Kurdi and the sorrowful litany of other drowned toddlers of the Aegean show is that there are no moral values inside the -leadership of the- Union. One drowned child can be an accident. Hundreds of them constitute criminal moral deficiency.

Of course you can argue that since Britain’s handling of the refugee crisis is just as obscene as the rest of Europe’s, this is not in and of itself a reason to vote Leave, but it’s no ground to vote Remain either. If anything, it’s a reason to indict politicians across the European board. Their behavior contrasts sharply with that of many of their constituents, as countless stories testify and as I’ve seen in such sparkling bright light here in Athens.

But we can take this back a few steps. I was surprised to see PM David Cameron appear as the big voice for “Remain”, for the UK to stay within the EU. Cameron was never exactly a fan of the Union. And as the Daily Mail observes, just 6 months ago Mr Cameron “declared there was ‘no question’ that Britain could survive and do well outside the EU.”

But then, he’s a man who’ll happily blow along with whatever wind is prevalent. I was even more surprised to see Boris Johnson try to take the lead of the “Leave” side, because Boris, a weather vane as much as Cameron, had always belonged to the same side as the latter on everything, and now suddenly differs on Remain or Leave. A shrewd career gamble?

The British Conservative Party has managed to corner the entire debate, both yes and no, between them. I mean, kudos and well done old boys, but what a farce that is. Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn sides with Cameron’s Remain side, without wanting to, but has failed utterly to make sure he has a realistic part in the discussion. Exit Jeremy. Where was their spin team when Corbyn fell into that hole?

Of course, there’s Nigel Farage and UKIP, but Nigel will forever be a fringe character. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, by the way; the British Lower House is not that fine of a place to sit in on a daily basis. Whenever I see footage of it I can’t help thinking AA meeting for masochists.

Farage’s main contribution to the discussion will forever be the countless YouTube clips in which he very succinctly explains how dysfunctional the European Parliament he is (was?) a member of, is, to the very same parliamentarians. Maybe more Brits should watch those and think again about what their vote is about.

An apt comparison would seem to lean towards a Tower of Babel much bigger than the original one, and in which between mountains of paper not a single scrap can be found that pertains to the prevention of poverty, misery and the drowning deaths of 4- and 5-year olds. Or at least such, most basic, principles are nowhere near the top of any lists.

Inside the pretend Union, it is obvious that the people of Germany, Holland, France find their own children’s lives more valuable than those of other children. And their futures too; half of Spanish and Greek youngsters are out of work and out of a future. And Brits are asked to vote to keep that demonic apparatus intact and join the oppressors.

Framing it in those terms also tells you something about the DiEM25 question: is it worth one’s while to try and democratize the EU from within? Given how entrenched the predators vs prey positions have become, and how unlikely the predators are to defend their advantages tooth and nail, and how their ‘chosen’ people have taken over Brussels, does that look like a project to put a lot of energy in?

The Euro is just 15 years old, but the EU goes back many decades. Strategic positions have long been taken in trenches that have long been dug. Is that the fight you want to fight? There’ll always be a Europe, but there’s nothing inevitable or incontrovertible about the EU, or about Brussels being its capital. All it takes is perhaps for one country to say “Thanks, but no, thanks.” The EU for all its bluster is very vulnerable.

So there’s your voting options. But it should be clear that the Brexit vote is headlined by the wrong people, for all the wrong reasons, and with all the wrong arguments. It can’t be exclusively about money, but it is. And if the Unholy Union falls apart sometime further down the line regardless, a vote for Remain on purely financial grounds will take on a whole different light: wasted energy, wasted money, wasted morals.

Besides, nobody knows what the -financial- effects of a Brexit will be, and any claims that are made to the contrary are just guesses based on whatever political -career- preferences the person or institution making them has. ‘Things’ ‘could’ crash on Trump victories and they could crash on Brexit, but any numbers attached to these potential events are 100% made up. It’s hilarious to see Treasurer George Osborne declare with a straight face that a Brexit would cause UK home prices to fall by 18%, but that’s all it is.

First question is: you sure it’s not 18.5%? What genius advisor came up with that number? Or did they have a committee of wise men in a week-long cigar-fueled brainstorming session that split their differences? Second question: do you guys realize that falling home prices are exactly what at least half of Britain is looking for? That distorting your real estate market to the extent that nobody can afford a home anymore is a dead-end street that kills cities and communities and people in the process?

I should stop here right? I can write a book about this, not because Brexit is such a huge subject (just see if anyone in Europe cares), but because the EU is such a yuuge disaster, and there will be many more opportunities to return to the topic. I have tons more little notes scribbled down, and a flood more crazy claims and comments will be made by various parties in the ‘fight’. Just wanted to say that this whole ‘debate’ -if you can call it that- has so far been very different from what it should have been.

Why would you want to belong to a team like the EU? I know that Cameron does, and so does Corbyn, but none of that is reason you should too. Nor should you want to ‘Leave’ because Boris Johnson wants to. You need to look out over the whole landscape. But that’s just me.

Home Forums Brexit: Wrong Discussion, Wrong People, Wrong Arguments

This topic contains 7 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  Raúl Ilargi Meijer 3 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #28347

    G.G. Bain Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, New York 1907 There’ve been a bunch of issues and topics on my -temporarily non-writing- mind, and poli
    [See the full post at: Brexit: Wrong Discussion, Wrong People, Wrong Arguments]

    #28349

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    I hope you’re recovering well and look forward to your upcoming articles.

    #28350

    That must be like the worst critique one can get. Got to admit, it’s hard to get the drive and schedule back, to think: this must be out there today! And Brexit is a complex issue, a book about it, already now, is entirely possible. More articles coming up soon, and I may have found my miracle doctor (neurologist) here in Athens. Through a TAE reader, of course. How that connects is amazing. Guy’s the spitting image of Billy Connolly but had never heard of him. Sticks a needle in my arm once a day to heal a pinched nerve in my spine and I have faith in him. What can you do? I never express my love for all you regular TAE readers, do I? Here you go.

    #28353

    steve from virginia
    Participant

    Nothing will change, Britain will remain within the EU which itself will be duct taped and wired together even as it loses relevance. All is to be sacrificed for the euro.

    No euro = no gasoline. No gasoline = no cars … that is the end of the world, Europe without cars may as well be Syria or Yemen.

    #28362

    TonyPrep
    Participant

    I’ve been in the UK for the past month or so and, you’re right, calling it a “debate” is highly questionable. I’ve heard precious little “facts”, though both sides claim to be giving us loads of them. I don’t think I’ve even heard Cameron detail what it was, exactly, that he negotiated for Britain, last year. In the end, it’ll be an emotional decision (it’s just not possible for it to be anything else) and the Remain crowd are certainly trying to scare people into voting to stay. I don’t live here, so it’s not for me to say but I don’t think the future looks rosy whatever the outcome of the referendum.

    #28364

    phil harris
    Participant

    I am glad for what as you put it, you have “… seen in such sparkling bright light here in Athens”.

    I agree just about totally with what you write about Brexit, but I still have problem in voting to leave EU. So for instance Osborne talks tosh and lies, but that has been his whole economic position since he took over the Treasury – the necessary ‘political lie’. So what?

    First time round in 70s I voted to leave because even back then we dimly discerned a corporate future dominated by ‘market rules’, a bit like the one we got, and the dismantling of a social settlement. Arguably this time round we seem faced with a dissolving civilisation, dissolution perhaps not restricted to our Continent. (Britain is in Europe, period, even if globalisation obscures the fact.) The big decision could actually be about Russia, which is also in Europe. Luckily, or maybe it was Red Army discipline, or something, Russia did not break up in a civil war, but I can’t see anything EU did that helped much – just the opposite. I should have better grasped EU limitations, and worse, when I was intermittently working for EU in the Balkans 1997 to 2006; but there you go! These days? Man, it’s about NG pipelines and heating houses and fabric relying on electricity even if motor cars are a passing phase. And latter-day farmers must still get round those big fields with their giant machines and NPK for a while yet.

    So why do I hesitate? Well, it’s like Corbyn is a better conservative than the fantasists and liars perhaps? The original conservative Edmund Burke supported the American Colonies but thought we ought to learn something from the French Revolution; like, “Be careful what you wish for”.

    Best wishes for you down there in the kitchen!
    Phil

    #28367

    daisychain
    Participant

    Yanis wants to make use of the existing institutions of European unity in new ways. DiEM’s first requirement, transparency, would immediately transform business as usual there. After Ghandi, India retained much of the institutional infrastructure built there by Britain, which helped it unify into a nation. Yanis’s most recent book highlight’s the selfish, adversarial motivations behind the first version of the EU, which have become so plain today. A well-intentioned remodel of valuable institutional architecture brought about by educated, concerned citizens is what’s needed to salvage what’s good about Europe. No need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    #28368

    I know what Yanis envisions, Daisy, but I very much question how feasible it is. The EU is not an institution that you can simply put different people in and everything will be whoopsy-daisy. I think Europe needs a whole new model, not a revision of the old one, and Europe is by no means the only candidate for that.

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