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Is Western Democracy Real or a Facade?

The Divine Right of Money

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

The United States government and its NATO puppets have been killing Muslim men, women and children for a decade in the name of bringing them democracy.  But is the West itself a bastion of  democracy?

Skeptics point out that President George W. Bush was put in office by the Supreme Court and that a number of other elections have been decided by electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail. Others note that elected officials represent the special interests that fund their campaigns and not the voters. The bailout of the banks arranged by Bush’s Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs chairman, Henry Paulson, and Washington’s failure to indict any banksters for the fraud that contributed to the financial crisis, are evidence in support of the view that the US government represents money and not the voters.

Recent events in Greece and Italy have created more skepticism of the West’s claim to be democratic. Two elected European prime ministers, George Papandreou of Greece and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, were forced to resign over the sovereign debt issue. Not even Berlusconi, a billionaire who continues to lead the largest Italian political party, could stand up to the pressure brought by private bankers and unelected European Union officials.

Papandreou lasted only 10 days after announcing on October 31, 2011, that he would let the Greek voters decide in a referendum whether or not to accept the austerity being imposed on the Greek people from the outside. Austerity is the price charged by the EU for lending the Greek government the money to pay to the banks. In other words, the question was austerity or default. However, the question was decided without the participation of the Greek people.

Consequently, Greeks have taken to the streets. The conditions accompanying the latest tranche of the bailout have again brought large numbers of Greeks into the streets of Athens and other cities. Citizens are protesting  a 20 per cent  cut both in the minimum wage and in pensions larger than 12,000 euros ($15,800) annually and more cuts in public sector jobs. Greek taxes were raised 2.3 billion euros last year and are scheduled to rise another 3.4 billion euros in 2013. The austerity is being imposed despite Greece’s unemployment rate of 21 per cent  overall and 48 per cent  for those under the age of 25.

One interpretation is that the banks, which were careless in their loans to governments, are forcing the people to save the banks from the consequences of their bad decisions.

Another interpretation is that the European Union is using the sovereign debt crisis to extend its power and control over the individual member states of the EU.

Some say that the EU is using the banks for the EU’s agenda, and others say the banks are using the EU for the banks’ agenda.

Indeed, they may be using each other. Regardless, democracy is not part of the process.

Greece’s appointed–not elected–prime minister is Lucas Papademos, He is a former governor of the Bank of Greece, a member of Rockefeller’s Trilateral Commission, and former vice president of the European Central Bank.  In other words, he is a banker appointed to represent the banks.

On February 12 the appointed prime minister, whose job is to deliver Greece to the banks or to Brussels, failed to see the irony in his statement that “violence has no place in a democracy.”  Neither did he see any irony in the fact that 40 elected representatives in the Greek parliament who rejected the bailout terms were expelled by the ruling coalition parties. Violence begets violence. Violence in the streets is a response to the economic violence being committed against the Greek people.

Italy has formed a second democratic government devoid of democracy. The appointed prime minister, Mario Monti, doesn’t have to face an election until April 2013. Moreover, according to news reports, his “technocratic cabinet” does not include a single elected politician. The banks are taking no chances: Monti is both prime minister and minister of economics and finance.

Monti’s background indicates that he represents both the EU and the banks. He is former European advisor to Goldman Sachs, European chairman of the Trilateral Commission, a member of the Bilderberg Group, a former EU Commissioner, and a founding member of the Spinelli Group, an organization launched in September 2010 to facilitate integration within the EU, that is, to advance central power over the member states.

There is little doubt that European governments, like Washington, have been financially improvident, living beyond their means and building up debt burdens on citizens. Something needed to be done.  However, what is being done is extra-democratic. This is an indication that Western elites–the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Group, the EU, transnational corporations, oversized banks, and the mega-rich–no longer believe in democracy.

Perhaps future historians will conclude that democracy once served the interests of money in order to break free of the power of kings, aristocracy, and government predations, but as money established control over governments, democracy became a liability. Historians will speak of the transition from the divine right of kings to the divine right of money.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached through his website