The German press is saturated with reports intended to verify the myth of the slovenly, lazy and corrupt Southern European countries which virtuous and hard-working northern European countries mistakenly admitted to the European Union. The role of the most felonious corporation on the planet today is trivialized since the harmless fraud investigations in the US against the “mother of all racketeers“ (along with JP Morgan) are never reported in connection with their advisory and trading “services“ in Greece or throughout Europe. Yet there are numerous strands to the fabric of confusion being woven in the Greek dilemma. The criminals are at large and their business continues.
Let us recall some significant facts without which the Greek condition cannot be properly understood. When the Second World War ended, Britain and the US intervened with overt and covert military “aid“ to suppress the anti-fascist resistance in Greece, largely but by no means exclusively composed of Greek communists. This became known as the Truman Doctrine, analogous to the Monroe Doctrine. What it meant in effect was that the US claimed the right to supplant civilian democratic institutions with military dictatorships in Europe to protect its corporate interests however defined.
There is a tendency to forget that Germany was occupied and subject to military government until the end of the 20th century, albeit indirectly through the client Bonn regime. The Soviet Union and not the US defeated Hitler. Mussolini’s regime more or less capitulated in favour of restoration of an anti-communist government supported by the Mafia and US secret services (probably not so surprising now that we know Mussolini was bankrolled by British intelligence services prior to seizing power). However, Franco and Salazar were firmly supported by and supportive of US/ UK corporate interests. The democratisation of Greece after the war would have been a serious blow to US interests: not to mention that control of Greece and Cyprus were essential for control of the eastern Mediterranean. (Just as important as the control over Suez, Malacca, Hormuz, and a number of shipping routes worldwide.)
As in all other countries where US-supported dictatorships were used to suppress democracy and protect corporate interests corruption was endemic. How could it be otherwise? The military lives from weapons and the booty of war. These are elements of crime per se. Moreover there is not a single US-supported dictatorship that did not plunder the national treasury either directly or in cooperation with the US banks (private and government-owned).
When Greeks finally had enough of this plunder and abuse by a nominally civilian government, with US connivance the military seized power directly again. Greece’s economy was never democratised. Rather it slid into the usual hands, either American corporations or those beholden to them. It is despite this infiltration of the Greek economy by foreign capital that once civilians were allowed to hold government office again concessions in the form of social security, labor agreements, and education were made. It was the strength of popular movements, genuine social democrats, communists, and liberal middle classes that led to the introduction of these claims on the State.
But as with Bismarck’s introduction of social insurance at the end of the 19th century, the beneficiaries—namely working people—had to pay for these benefits in the form of wage and salary deductions. Bismarck wanted to bind people in Germany on the state, which was securely in control of a king-emperor and aristocracy. In the US, these „benefits“ are private because officially the US is a democracy and US policy is to bind people to corporate patronage and peonage not to democratic institutions. So when the US enforced its control over Greece, first through the Truman Doctrine and then through covert NATO support of the “Colonels”, it was determined to control the state and thus the country’s resources. The democratisation and subsequent integration into the EU suddenly made all these social security benefits a right, like in other post-war social democracies, instead of a privilege. As a right recognised by the state and anchored in legislation, one could no longer pull the plug so to speak—after spending so much time creating a military-oligarchy control over the state and applying social security to reinforce that control.
Whether Goldman Sachs was “needed“ to perform “Enron-like“ tasks on the Greek national accounts in order to pass the fiscal monetary test for the Euro may be subject to debate. The Euro regime was established to favor this kind of accounting because it was based on surrendering democratic control over theeconomy and fiscal policy. Every member of the Euro had private investment bankers manipulating the national accounts to meet the formal requirements for Euro membership. The control of the Euro, like the activities of the Bank of International Settlements, lies with the private commercial conspiracies (in terms of the US RICO Act) mistakenly named “banks“. No country could have met these requirements democratically since they were antithetical to any democratic process. The preparation of national accounts according to criteria such as national indebtedness is in and of itself deceptive.
National governments issue debt for two reasons: a) to manage domestic currency supply and expenditure or b) to transfer earned wealth (from labor) to rentiers (in this case mainly banks) by creating and enforcing liens through taxation. In the latter case, the national government, controlled by bankers and their owners, becomes a derivative instrument used for controlling the underlying cashflows of a domestic economy. Of course the first reason for creating debt, e.g. issuing currency, is entirely legitimate. The government provides and manages a tool for facilitating exchange and transactions which are subject to limits of scope, geography and so forth. However, the second reason is essentially criminal.
Throughout Europe and in fact throughout the world, tax collection is intensified to guarantee payments on bonds underwritten by banks as devices for sucking the earned income out of the economy. These bonds are actually tantamount to the Privy Purse; they are direct feudal payments to an oligarchy of absolute rulers by divine right. They take precedence over all other obligations foreign or domestic. These bonds are usually tax-exempt to induce rentiers to buy them because of the “risk” they entail.
In fact the “risk” is an artificial classification agreed by the rentiers agents to fix the rate of extractive cashflow. One could compare it to the US “oil depletion allowance” which rewards the petroleum extractor for accelerating the rate of profit by reducing the tax in proportion to the exhaustion of the concession (for which the oil company rarely pays anything). In fact they cannot be taxed since this would frustrate their ultimate purpose—to bleed economies dry. The “sovereign credit rating” is a secretly negotiated deal between the parasites sucking off national income and the agents of government as to the rate of profit from taxation permissible before the banks and their principals attack the national economy through adverse currency trading, boycotts etc.
Governments that refuse to submit to the ratings cartel are blacklisted: that means neither they nor any normal business or persons in the country will be allowed access to credit or such access will only be at intolerable cost. When cash flows do not suffice—as with the depletion of an oil well—profits can only continue with the surrender of all the physical assets in the economy. First the public sector assets are sold or mortgaged then the small and medium-sized businesses are forced into insolvency when they can no longer meet their tax obligations or private debts. In Germany there is an unofficial policy (accidentally admitted by some people in the tax offices) of denying taxpayers deferrals in order to force them to seek bank financing (on near usurious terms). Banks in turn have been selling their loans to hedge funds—unregulated by banking law—which in turn foreclose on those loans in order to seize the land and other assets. Greece’s national debt is in reality a complex food chain whereby labor and land are mortgaged to banks and transnational corporations and workers are cheated out of wages, pensions, and homes. There is no way to repay such debt. A person infested with tapeworm cannot eliminate the parasite by eating.
When the private banks which control the central banks, directly in the case of the Bank of England, Federal Reserve, Bank for International Settlements, World Bank, etc. or indirectly like the Bundesbank and to some extent the Banque du France, defined the rules for the Euro and created the European Central Bank as a Fed-clone, based on anti-inflationary targets and limits on public sector borrowing and debt, they were establishing totally rigid, anti-democratic criteria for fiscal and economic policy in all the member states. Banks and “the market“ are elevated to god-like status where their demands are not only unilateral and non-reciprocal but they are immunized against any democratic claims. They acquire in every sense of the word “extraterritoriality“. Quite literally this means legal entities originally conceived only by act of legislature are by what must be seen as virtual divine right—beyond the scope of the very legislature that gave them their charters and licenses to do business.
The logical and obvious consequence of the present state of affairs is nothing less than the absolutism of the Bourbon monarchy overthrown in 1789.
However, this obvious conclusion about the state of the European Union, in the face of the Greek crisis, belies the complexity of the problem that faces us. In 1789, the French people saw one king and his functionaries in the Church and nobility—they had one territorial focus for their opposition. Today we lack this clarity. Not because the matter is not clear but because we have such difficulty seeing ourselves and our role in this. We can see the banners from the iconic mountain peak of democratic mythology, violated by the rapine viciousness of transnational corporations behind the banners of US power. But we cannot see the trail that leads us together to seize that mount again and banish those who have soiled it with their greed and sociopathic violence.
The temptation to focus on the debts and to find fault with what the Greeks bore as they joined the EU and the single currency is a great deception. The fact that Germany and the US could sell millions of dollars/ euros in weaponry to the Greek military while demanding the cancellation of every social obligation to its people is just one more proof of how we are deceived. Europe is saturated with corporations aided by scavengers like George Soros and crypto-banks like Goldman Sachs whose only reason for existence is to steal as much as possible and to return us to the penury, peonage and slavery that led the French to revolt and shorten the bodies of the parasites claiming to rule them.
T. P. WILKINSON writes and teaches politics and literature in Heinrich Heine’s birthplace, Düsseldorf. He is also the author of Church Clothes, Land, Mission and the End of Apartheid in South Africa (Maisonneuve Press, 2003). Currently he is working on a book called: 1959: Unbecoming American. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.