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Friday, 17 February 2012

Eurorats Defend Their Fantasy

The tragedy of the new poor in Greece is being intensified by the continual ratchet of pressure from the rest of the eurozone and it is still unclear whether or not there can be an 'orderly' end to the present crisis. I reckon that it is possible, provided that they first settle their debts to the alien markets and then make as smooth an exit from the euro as can be arranged.

Between 1975 and 2009 many Greeks - including a smattering of the now-impoverished - enjoyed a standard of living that was much higher than they could rationally afford. Tax evasion was a national pastime, where those who had discretion to declare their income were [in their hundreds of thousands] recklessly cavalier: while those less-well-paid people who were taxed the due proportion of their incomes more systematically were hugely disadvantaged.

Despite the Greek middle classes' well-known chicanery and abuse of the tax system, and notwithstanding false declarations made by Greek ministers, and ignoring the fact that a US financial firm had provided the Greek balance-sheet with a massive nominal value of essentially-mendacious 'instruments' that were cynically represented as secure assets, the progenitors of the euro were happy to welcome the Greeks into the new currency system.The whole tissue of Greek lies and trickery was welcomed by the even more cynical gang of Euro-fanatics who concentrated on building a completely federal European Union. Abstract logic and historical experience agree that a single currency is only sustainable in a single state, which can be either unitary or federal: knowing this, the eurorats regarded the establishment of the euro as an immense step on the route to establishing a single government over the whole European Union. They knew that it must sometime be shown to be unworkable to control a modern monetary union on a basis of consensus among national governments. By that time, the credit and the commerce of the EU would be so heavily dependent on the euro that states would surrender sovereignty in order to maintain economic stability and save face. No politician with any understanding of democratic accountability should have taken so reckless a decision as to bring his or her country into the euro: in the UK even Balls and Brown recognised that, and were able to compel Blair for once to miss an opportunity for being filmed at the middle of the in-crowd at the treaty signing.

In most EU countries a clique of civil servants have manoeuvred themselves into the posts that advise ministers on European policy, and such cliques typically behave as informal embassies of eurorats rather than as advocates of the national interest. Very few European states have constitutional arrangements whereby ministers coming newly into office can change their senior civil servants to reflect any 'deviant' policies on which the government was elected. Usually an incoming minister is surrounded by a pre-packed cabinet who have 'gone native' as aspirant eurorats, and if the minister is to any degree eurosceptic she or he is subjected to a barrage of 'education', information and intimidation with the intention of turning him or her into an evangelist in the 'European' cause. They provide speeches full of carefuly selected data for the minister to read, they flatter their victim on their 'growing understanding'; and they fill her with Belgian food, French wine, extravagant flattery and biassed commentary during their frequent visits to Brussels. Intimidation is a crucially important tactic in all Eurofederal politics. There is very rarely a perceptible advantage to the general electorate in any EU country from new policies that emanate from the Commission, so such policies are whenever possible presented as 'tidying up' existing rules and practices. Many rules and practices of the Union are absurd, oppressive, inept and open to corruption. Perfect examples of this are fishing quotas, and the market for authorisation of medical devices  that enabled the scandal of unacceptable silicon breast implants to occur.

Politicians who challenge such arcane and  corruptible devices are told that the matrix of measures by which some countries sought to gain from some sections of a Directive by letting others derive advantage from other provisions of the Directive is so finely balanced that the whole Union could unscramble if some palpably unsatisfactory provisions were challenged. The provisions of a Directive can only be changed by consensus of all the contracting parties: and [of course] this is usually impossible to achieve in the time that is made available under idiotic meeting protocols. In this way, slippage towards fuller union is taken under the pretexts of simplification and clarification and under pressure of time; and no steps in the reverse direction are tolerated.

The consequent 'democratic deficit' has been much discussed, especially in the peripheral countries of the Union: but there is no evidence that the inner coven in Brussels have become concerned at the rumblings of discontent. The recent riots in Greece are regarded rather as demonstrations of contumacy by the lower orders than indicators of absolute despair by ordinary, honest people. The eurozone finance ministers have been trying to tie down the entire Greek political class into promises of what they will do and say during and after the forthcoming election. The eurorats are demanding that all Greek politicians undertake to be accountable to Brussels bureaucrats and not to offer the people any option to vote against whatever impositions are to be required. This negation of democracy is especially offensive in the context  of  Greek history: the founding of a form of democracy - and the formulation of that word in ancient city-states, the fight for independence in the early nineteenth century, occupation in the Second World War, the rule of the colonels and the restoration of democracy. Since achieving independence Greece has defaulted on its debts half a dozen times and the eurozone finance ministers have all been briefed on this track record: they are right to be cautious; but they should not be so foolish as to demand the impossible.

Behind all this bluster lies the essential truth: if Greece exits the euro the momentum towards integration of  the EU will stop dead. The illogic of pressing forward with a false dream, erected on a raft of lies, will be inescapable. Doubts will lead to questioning, questions will produce painful answers. The European myth will falter: and then, then there could be hope of some honesty and common sense ventilating the corridors of Brussels: whether it gets into the meeting rooms depends on whether the politicians are scared enough to rediscover their primary duty of accountability to their home electorates.                              

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