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Democracy Tolerated Until Markets Threatened.

  • Written by Syndicated Publisher 37 Comments37 Comments Comments
    November 4, 2011

    Democracy is a form of governance that enables a people to rule their nation as they see fit, and it includes lawful actions of civil disobedience such as a general strike as well as elections and referendums.

    Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou’s call for a citizens’ referendum to decide the future of Greece is direct participatory democracy in action. Yet the European leadership and the Elites who need global markets to remain in nosebleed territory are outraged by this unscripted emergence of democracy.

    The absurdly hostile reaction to democracy in action reveals the ugly, sordid truth, not just in Europe but in the U.S. and other faux democracies: democracy is tolerated until it threatens the global markets that empower the financial/political Elite. Then it becomes a mortal danger to be subverted or overthrown.

    The message is clear: saving the Eurozone’s banks and Elite bondholders is more important than mere democracy or national sovereignty. Here is a typical apologist’s handwringing angst over the terrible consequences of Capitalism with a capital C in action: banks which assessed the risks and offered loans to Greece on terms they reckoned profitable are now the victims who must be “rescued” by the debtors.


    At the border between East and West, faced with the choice between isolation and Europe, one step away from losing all that we achieved and sinking into our worst selves, we seek excuses to abandon our rescue.

    “Our rescue”? Talk about the “Big Lie” and propaganda making “up” into “down.”The “rescue” is not a rescue of Greece, it is a rescue of the overleveraged, politically untouchable big banks and the wealthy holders of Greek bonds.

    This apologist makes another assumption which has no basis other than a Cargo Cult belief that is constantly deployed by “rescue the banks and bondholders” apologists: that the euro is the linchpin of Eurozone integration. It is not. there is no reason that all the other aspects of Euro integration couldn’t remain firmly in place if nations within the Eurozone abandon the euro as their national currency.

    Yes, the expense of currency exchange will return to the economies which exit the euro, but this is not some sort of insurmountable burden; Europe already has to exchange Swiss francs, U.S. dollars, Canadian dollars, Aussie dollars, British pounds, etc.

    The assumption that the “grand project” of European integration will somehow collapse in a heap if the Too Big To Fail Eurozone banks are recognized as insolvent and are liquidated, and various nations revert to their national currencies, is revealed as baseless. There is simply nothing to support this shrill claim, which is repeated as if it had the veracity of gravity. It is merely blatant fearmongering of the most absurdly transparent “the world will end if you don’t save our banks!” variety.

    What Europe is proposing in subverting Greece’s referendum is in essence a coup d’etat. What else can we make of this headline from Bloomberg, reprinted by Zero Hedge?Netherlands Will Try to Get Greek Referendum Canceled, PM Says. What exactly do the Dutch have to do with the domestic democracy of Greece, other than their banking sector might suffer the consequences of bad bets and idiotically poor risk management of debt duly offered to Greece for a profit?

    Let’s be clear about one thing here: nobody put a gun to the head of the Eurozone banks or Power Elites to force them to loan money to Greece or buy its bonds. Not only do the Eurozone leaders want to dispense with democracy when it becomes an inconvenient roadblock to their grandiose plans of transnational control of all Europe, they also find Capitalism an intolerable burden when “the other half” of open-market Capitalism–writing down losses– kicks in.

    And let’s remember who owns the banks and the bonds–a global financial Power Elite. The ceaseless fear-mongering–Europe will dissolve into open warfare if we don’t get our way, etc.– is all aimed at cowing the average taxpayer into ponying up trillions of euros (or equivalent) to make sure the banks and Power Elites don’t lose any capital, even though they risked that capital and thus deserve the losses.

    The U.S. is hardly a disinterested bystander, as our corrupt, crony-capitalist banking sector is also exposed to horrendous losses should Capitalism actually be allowed to clean out the deadwood that is piled high, just awaiting the first spark of mark-to-market reality.

    As Zero Hedge recently documented, U.S. banks’ exposure to distressed Euroland debt is stupendous: How US Banks Are Lying About Their European Exposure:


    Guarantees provided by U.S. lenders on government, bank and corporate debt in those countries rose by $80.7 billion to $518 billion, according to the Bank for International Settlements. Almost all of those are credit-default swaps, said two people familiar with the numbers, accounting for two-thirds of the total related to the five nations, BIS data show.The CDS holdings of U.S. banks are almost three times as much as their $181 billion in direct lending to the five countries at the end of June, according to the most recent data available from BIS. Adding CDS raises the total risk to $767 billion, a 20 percent increase over six months, the data show.

    A lot of people have a financial incentive to support a coup d’etat in Greece and other indebted nations, and to subvert both democracy and Capitalism: everyone with direct ownership of stocks and bonds, or indirect ownership via pension funds.Here’s the thing: democracy is messy, which is why monarchies, dictatorships, Elites, Oligarchies, Plutocracies and Corporatocracies all fear and revile it. Capitalism is also messy, as mistakes must be paid for in cash, and so the Elites also fear and revile Capitalism.

    What all Elites want are the goodies of democracy and Capitalism but none of the costs. Sorry, transnationalists, crony capitalists, financial oligarchs and their assorted toadies and lackeys: you can’t have it both ways. If you want the stability of democracy, then you have to let the citizens of Germany, Greece et al. all decide if they want to yoke themselves to the debt machine for decades in service of banks and Power Elite bondholders. If you want the immense profits of free-market Capitalism, then you have to accept the stupendous losses when leverage and over-indebtedness have rendered banks and nations insolvent.

    Everybody knows the Irish, Portuguese, Spanish, Italians and Greeks are unhappy about the subversion of their sovereignty, but the Germans aren’t all that overjoyed about it, either. I have received a number of thoughtful, well-informed letters from citizens of Germany who detailed at great length how the average German worker and citizen has not just failed to benefit from the ideological straitjacket of the euro, he/she has actively lost ground to inflation, higher taxes and stagnant wages in the past decade.

    Maybe it’s time for referendums in every Eurozone nation, and not just in Greece.Perhaps the citizens of Europe would choose, if given the chance to decide their future, to slip the shackles of the euro, but maintain the other practical aspects of integration: easier travel and work rules, etc.

    Such a spread of direct democracy would threaten the dominance of the Eurozone’s Power Elites and financial 1%, just as Capitalism in action would destroy their phantom wealth and the power it has purchased.

    Any attempt to subvert Greece’s referendum is a coup d’etat, and should be labeled as such. As I wrote here many months ago, Ireland, Greece et al. would be doing the world a great favor by bringing down the corrupt, venal, bankrupt global banking monolith. On its ashes we could collectively grow a healthier, decentralized, non-leveraged, fairer and more vibrant array of locally controlled economies.

    Ireland, Please Do the World a Favor and Default (November 29, 2010)
    Ireland would save the world from much misery by defaulting now and driving the vampire banks into liquidation.

    Greece, Please Do The Right Thing: Default Now (June 1, 2011)
    The big banks’ loans to Greece were predatory by design.

    New crowd-funded film questioning “limitless growth” as a sustainable economic model is now availableGrowthBusters is a non-profit project that has been largely crowd-funded and crowd-produced. Visit the film’s website for information on purchasing the DVD, organizing or attending a screening, or the filmmaker’s blog about the adventure of making a film few want to see!

    Images: Flickr (licence attribution)

    About The Author

    Charles Hugh Smith writes the Of Two Minds blog (www.oftwominds.com/blog.html) which covers an eclectic range of timely topics: finance, housing, Asia, energy, longterm trends, social issues, health/diet/fitness and sustainability. From its humble beginnings in May 2005, Of Two Minds now attracts some 200,000 visits a month. Charles also contributes to AOL’s Daily Finance site (www.dailyfinance.com) and has written eight books, most recently “Survival+: Structuring Prosperity for Yourself and the Nation” (2009) which is available in a free version on his blog.


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