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Europe's Crisis is a Bit Perverse

Politics / Eurozone Debt Crisis Dec 02, 2011 - 11:22 AM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThe supposedly dominant, supposedly sole possible ideology of market fundamentalism assumes that the most extensive possible use of markets, through inventing or "marketizing" previously non-traded assets, the privatization of publicly owned assets, and the shrinking of public services can only unleash maximal competition. This in turn is assumed to result in and deliver the greatest public good.

This last assumption then produces a master piece of rhetoric: all this is inherently just, no matter what the results "in the short term". If such a system creates a world in which the number of hungry persons only increases, and most people live in poverty, in which the majority of private commercial banks depend on massive handouts of public funds and the economy regularly plunges into deep recession, and increasingly stays that way on the back of recurring stock exchange panics - this is evidence that market fundamentalist principles have not been imposed with sufficient vigor !   The ideologists' response is always Double or Quits, exactly the same that is applied by average poker player-minded financial traders hunched over their playstation gambling terminal, wasting other peoples' money.

We can start by pointing out that modern neo-capitalism is fundamentally inhuman, anti-democratic, environment-destroying, inefficient and unsustainable. Supposedly (only) there is No Alternative.

Its basic motivating mechanism is also inhuman: the theory behind contemporary capitalism is that we are self-interested animals, only driven by fear and greed. Occasionally we get lucky, but viable economic systems must reward greedy, self-interested behavior, and use social and mental oppression for maintaining and directing human greed to what are usually unknown and undefined goals, other than The Public Good which, if we look around at the world today, is in short supply. As we know, human beings are capable of compassion and selflessness. We can individually compete and act aggressively, but we also cooperate and socially act out of solidarity at specific signals - such as environmental disasters, war, invasion, famines, epidemics. The change from the individual and egoist competition and exclusion principle, to the solidarity and cooperation principle can be instant, showing this is intrinsic and basic human nature at least as much as competitiveness and aggression.

Almost surely the most perverse aspect of what we call market fundamentalist capitalism is that we are told by its ideologists, both directly and more subtly, continuously, that the pursuit of self-interest is the "only guiding principle". However long it takes to get proof this is not true there will never be any change, except towards always intensifying the proof this is not true. The logic is so perverse that it is laughable - not even idiotic or child-like.

When times like today are marked by total proof that the "only guiding principle" is not the right one, and doesnt work, we can expect the most extreme dysfunctional or impossible-to-work false solutions to be forced upon us all. We have this with the daily and unfolding tale of neo-capitalism's death throes in Europe. What we can call Double or Quits - on an accelerated timetable.

On December 1st in France and December 2nd in Germany the new self-declared and de facto "directoire" of Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel gave national addresses, offering almost completely different and conflicting New Rules for Europe. These rules will resolve the European debt and deficit crisis, the banking crisis, the euro monetary crisis, rising unemployment, falling economic growth, loss of competitiveness of Europe with the emerging economies, and various other problems - all in fact due to confused but permanent attempts to "liberalize markets" while ensuring their permanent control by political elites and corporate kleptocrats.

Stock markets across Europe and the world rose in unison, in the European case by as much as 7% in two days.

Depending which version of the two-headed "directoire" you care to take as most serious or least farcical, the New Europe with a revitalised neo-capitalist economy will impose almost criminal-level sanctions on European political leaders whose economic management does not match the new criteria for the European Budgetary Union, set by Germany. These black sheep countries could or might be "cast outside" the European fold, denied the new and stronger euro money which with the help of freeplaying markets will arise, just like that and with no intervention;  but if they comply and obey they will have low cost bonds or supply of capital at hard-to-beat low rates of interest. The new floods of paper cash will of course not directly come from the European Central Bank. Germany says no. The ECB would first have to print the money and hand it over to the IMF, which would then help "gray sheep" countries in Europe, before their economic management improved and they became full-fledged members of the European Budgetary Union.

Details such as accumulated sovereign debt and its growth due to the play of interest rates, intensified by the "only possible policy" of austerity programmes, further intensified by falling economic growth, were absent from these national addresses because neo-capitalism has transcended all bounds of reality. The new fantasy features a global economy which is imagined to be a black box or deus ex machina that quietly and continuously crunches forward - like a silent bulldozer running on solar power. Markets will always exist, somewhere. Europe will be able to trade and invest, and after a "difficult transition", that both members of the directoire said could take one or more decades - 10 or 20 years that is - all would be well after that. Believe us, we have said it ! Stock exchange euphoria could or may last into next week, market analysts surmised.

Public opinion in European countries has gone into meltdown for at least the last six months, and the directoire is unlikely to change this trend. The most concrete impact of this European mass psychosis, where confusion and fear are vastly more important and stronger than greed and competition, is a sharp and intensifying fall in all main economic indicators. When openly told by mass media, almost daily that their nations are bankrupt and the euro money in their pocket could disappear fast, even overnight, this is not exactly the moment to invest or make longer-term big ticket purchase decisions. Not understood by political elites and corporate kleptocrats, mass fear can tilt more easily to anti-capitalist solidarity, social concern, generosity and cooperation - than to more greed, exclusion and egoistic competition, which is the basic or only hope of directoire politicians and their corporate cronies.

Mass fear can also shift to the most extreme forms of nationalism, fascism, xenophobia and racism. If this happens, it will be the sole fault of the Sorcerors Apprentices who decided they were obliged to save neo-capitalism because in their idiotic logic there is No Alternative.

As Europeans have also found in 2011, the comfortable or comforting Neoliberal Dictatorships in the Arab world just across the Mediterranean, supplying cheap tourism facilities, cheap services, and  export platforms for cheaply producing everything from designer T-shirts to cars and tomatoes - by exploiting their own populations and smashing all forms of democracy - have themselves been smashed. Increasingly by bloody civil war. In the newly liberated Arab states previously subjected to the most perfect form of neo-capitalist market fundamentalism, which abhors and despises democracy, the Islamic political parties have won. This is a perfect slap in the face for the political elites and corporate kleptocrats who defend the No Alternative of market fundamentalism in Europe and the other "mature postindustrial" countries, grouped in the OECD,  which consume more than one-half of the world's resources, to produce less and less through exploiting all and any poorer victim countries, while spreading their degenerate and laughable ideology wherever they can.

As the Europeans, Americans and Japanese have found, their late stage neo-capitalism is completely unable to outperform China and India, whose elites have nothing like the complex, bizarre, hypocritical and idiotic ideological conditioning of the degenerate elites of "the West" or "the Old Rich". Both China and India can outproduce - and finally outconsume - the so-called mature postindustrial democracies, an increasing number of which in Europe already have post-democratic, unelected, national unity coalition governments called "Technocratic". Democracy is surplus to the Save Capitalism quest.

The very logical fear for the late stage neo-capitalist societies that China and India will outbid them for remaining resources of oil - and a string of other minerals and metals - brings back a remanent fear that has wracked these intensely oil dependent societies since the first oil shocks of the 1970s. Oil and resource shortage, inflation, the impoverishment of the middle classes, imagined by the political elites and corporate kleptocrats to be uniquely driven by pure greed to consume.

Ecology sold to the public as a comfort doctrine is now a major political force in several European countries. Ecology means fighting climate change, recycling throwaway consumer goods, saving energy and developing alternate and renewable energy, as well as eating organic foods, car sharing and going to work by bicycle or bus. Its economic implications are in fact devastating but this has little importance because as already noted it is sold as a comfort doctrine - an antidote to the Economic Terror of late stage neo-capitalism.

Sometimes sharing the same stage and same TV studios as stalwart defenders of No Alternative, the ecology politicians can outline their own form of devastating change, like neo-capitalists in Europe who propose a new, totally federal Europe with a so-called Budgetary Union and the probable or possible overnight disappearance of the euro money, except for the Happy Few. In France, the presidential candidate of the ecologists, Eva Joly, is now a Joan of Ark figure. She has been persecuted, wrongly accused of economic terror, and subjected to claims that because she is Norwegian origin, she is "not really French" by militating for a complete and rapid end to all nuclear power in France. This is her heavy burden, this is her proud quest.

Her plan is dramatic: close down all nuclear power plants in France, as Germany will do by 2022. This would cut French electricity supply by 75%. How would this be replaced - or would it be replaced? Possibly not, but that is really not too important. Exactly as for neo-capitalism, what counts is the fantasy vision of an impossible future. Shale gas will of course be banned, and windmills will of course play a major role, whatever the details such as necessarily connecting all European power grids to enable power transport from Romania to Portugal and from Scotland to Greece. This may of course be simply not feasible, would take decades to build and would cost immense sums - but again this is not important, because the neo-capitalists want exactly the same fantasy thing, but in their case for the purpose of enabling traders to trade electricity across Europe, 24/7.

Market analysts interviewed in the wake of the Dec 1-Dec 2 announcements by Europe's "directoire" underlined that the statements were "short term positive" for markets, but added that pretty soon after, if the announcements were serious, not only markets but the economy and society would enter a Black Hole. For instance, will there be a euro anymore ? If it is going to be taken away from black sheep countries, how is this going to be done ? Will the ECB-IMF funny money system work, is it credible ?

Alarm bells have already sounded in non-Eurozone countries starting with the UK, where a slightly aloof amusement at "directoire" antics has now morphed to plain and simple fear. The UK gets about 40% of its GNP from trade with Eurozone countries in euro-denominated transactions and when, or if the euro disappeared overnight this could or might cause certain problems. Possibly a gold-backed pound sterling might see the day ? Possibly barter would work.

Like the Big Bang in reverse - the Big Crunch - the directoire type New Capitalism of Europe only promises or threatens meltdown to a hardened and concentrated form of crony capitalism. This will only be more inefficient, more corrupt than what preceded it. Knowing this, either intuitively or by analysis and reason, European popular revolt against No Alternative can only rise as the economy is crunched down into permanent austerity mode. The Arab Spring model is now almost certain to jump the Mediterranean, making for a hot winter - with no need for Global Warming to heat the crowds.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2011 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

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