Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Well, I'm on Merkel's side

I am getting a little tired of the over-the-top hype about democracy dying where it was born (a very questionable historical analysis) and sovereignty being destroyed in Greece. Let's get this straight. All countries that join the EEC/EC/EU lose their sovereignty, those that accept the position of being the recipient of largesse more than others. The Greek economy has functioned as the EU dictated it ever since that country joined the project and there were no riots, demos, burnings or lootings. Not even the odd protest. That is not what brought the mobs out - it was the thought that maybe now things will have to be paid for.

There seems no immediate answer to Greece. It cannot pay off the debts; it cannot turn its economy round inside the euro; it cannot function outside it (and, to be fair, no Greek seems to be suggesting that). And it is all somebody else's fault. Probably the Germans' who are behaving just like the Nazis by handing over large dollops of money. Or whatever.

Anyway, enough of that. Why am I on Merkel's side? Well, first and foremost, because George Soros thinks she is wrong and should be doing something else completely.
Global investor George Soros considers the German government's policies in the euro crisis to be disastrous. In a SPIEGEL interview, he warns of a vicious circle triggered by Chancellor Angela Merkel's strict austerity measures and pleads for more money to be pumped into the countries most plagued by the debt crisis.
An idiotic suggestion unless the man has found some way of snaffling that money. Let's face it, anyone Soros attacks must be doing something right.

One must remember that Soros considers the nation state, particularly in its democratic form, to be the enemy, while Merkel is beginning to emerge as the champion of the nation state, though she does not say so openly.

Mary Ellen Synon thinks that Germany is playing "a nasty, little game" by wanting to get rid of Greece and, possibly, the other high-spending losers and she may be right though I see nothing nasty about the German Chancellor looking to Germany's advantage. And the Boss over on EURef has described Merkel as a eurosceptic with only a smidgeon of irony.

It has always been my contention that the EU's days become numbered when Germany accepts its role as a nation state as a good deal of the project was based on German guilt about twelve terrible years of her history.

Some things have helped the process of overcoming that guilt. Time is the obvious one cause. The generations born after the war do not consider that they can be held guilty for something their grandparents or great-grandparents created. Secondly, Germany's history as a democratic country is now considerably longer than her history as a Nazi country and even the traumatic reunification did not destroy that. Thirdly, the fall of the Soviet Union and the Communist system in Europe raised the question of why should the guilt not be spread a little more evenly between the two monstrous systems of the twentieth century.

Angela Merkel unites all those factors in her person, having been born far too late to be blamed for the Nazi horrors and having grown up in East Germany even if she was born on the Western side. From her emergence as a political leader it seemed to me that she may well be the right person to initiate the process of Germany accepting its nationhood and, consequently, the EU disintegrating. I have been somewhat disappointed with her so far but now it looks like I may have been right in the first place. We shall see. Of course, she is a politician.


  1. To go on a tangent with respect to your opening sentiments, I always roll my eyes when Anglo-Canadian political spheres are told to emulate the Continent with respect to proportional representation, republicanism, electoral bicameralism, &c. What lessons do Greece, Italy, France, Spain, and Germany have to teach Westminster systems about freedom and democracy?

    With respect to the EU, the euro, and German guilt, I recommend Philipp Bagus’s The Tragedy of the Euro, particularly Chapter 5, ‘Why Germany Gave Up the Deutschmark’, in addition to this Cobden Centre interview from March 2011 (second quarter of the dialogue).

  2. Thank you for the comments and the links, Stephen. I shall follow up the latter.

  3. Oh yeah because we Anglos are sooo superior aren't we! What do we have to learn from johnny foreigner? Anglosphere Dumbocracy uber alles.

  4. Nothing to do with nationhood. More about cold hard cash.

  5. Helen, or we talking democracy or dimocracy

    Dimocracy in Greece is alive and well

  6. You may be right. But it's also possible to argue that Merkel is being cynical here. Sher has her eye on the domestic game and she needs to be seen to be tough on the Greeks. Make them suffer and squeal to assuage the punters back in Germany.

    And it's not the Greek people to blame for their political classes - anymore than it's our fault for generations of Euro-class politicians. The Greeks have suffered for generations from corruption, nepotism and a lack of economic development - the population are victims here.

    Far from being supine, Greek street politics have been voluble and active to a far greater extent than any other country in the EU. The population have fought back for longer than you give them credit for.

  7. In respond to both Helen's post and ProgContra's comment: you could argue that democracy died in Greece a long time ago ... bascially from the time that both main parties began a policy of stuffing the public sector with their supporters and doling out large amounts of public largess to interest groups. Was there ever an alternative scenario proposed for Greece in terms of growth based upon entrepreneurship and an efficient public service? No. And the fault is not the EU's. To ProgContra: the Greek people have voted for the same political class for nearly 40 years. They have voted for the politics of corruption and nepotism and inefficiency. Every election I can remember, 6 million Greeks have voted for both PASOK and ND. The population are not victims, they are part of the problem.


  8. Thank you for that comment, Nick. I am afraid with your greater knowledge of the situation you, nevertheless, confirm what I have thought and said for some time. The Greek people, who will undoubtedly suffer now, have not been supine victims, ProgContra. On the contrary. They thought they were benefiting from the situation. Nor are they demanding an exit from the euro or the EU at the moment.

  9. No mention of Goldman Sachs in this article? Is Helen oblivious to their role in the crisis? Papademos is a traitor serving the interests of a foreign bank.

    Could Helen explain the eye-watering amounts of Quantitative Easing, aka Banker Welfare, handed out by Mediocre Mario of the ECB, without any conditions.

  10. Could the anonymous guest sign his or her posting before demanding replies, please.

  11. But look at us. We vote Labour or Tory election after election - does that make us complicit too? In Greece voting is compulsory and just like here voting is often on tribal lines. In a corrupt society like Greece it's hard to fight against something that's all pervading. In practice people do what they can to get by - very often by refusing to pay taxes to a system they reject.

  12. Not so much refusing to pay taxes as not doing so while accepting all the benefits under the mistaken assumption that the Easter Bunny will keep providing the wherewithal.

  13. IMO individually we are not complicit (depending on how we voted of course) but collectively we are. Were the electorate to vote in a violent totalitarian government, the electorate would be responsible. If a totalitarian government gains power via some other means, then it is still the collective moral responsibility of the people to overthrow them or, failing that, at the very least to resist; the only real limit on the power of government is the willingness of the people to tolerate them (which of course is why the right to bear arms is as important as the right to free speech).