June 29, 2015

There’s no sign of a European Mandela

Posted in Sunday Business Post · 105 comments ·
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In her groundbreaking book Eichmann In Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt, the Jewish German intellectual who fled the Nazis, coined the expression “the banality of evil”. She reported on the Eichmann trial and, after closely studying the butcher of Auschwitz, she made the central point that, rather than being fanatics or psychopaths, many profoundly evil people are deeply normal.

 

This notion troubles us, because evil is always much easier to rationalise if we are comforted by the fact that evil people are not like you and me. But if they are like us, it opens the distinct possibility that we could all do something horrible, given the right circumstances.

When you walk through the gates of the Apartheid Museum here in Johannesburg, it reminds you not only how vile the South African state once was, but also that its vileness was upheld by millions of little decisions taken everyday by millions of ordinary people – people just like us.

The mass forced movement of blacks to the townships to remain out of sight, the horrible conditions of the miners who made South Africa rich, the constant violence meted out by the police: these were all deeply evil polices directed from the top.

However, the museum reminds us of the banal minutiae of apartheid – all those pass laws, the constant racial profiling of everything from going to the loo, going for a swim, waiting for a train, even just chatting to black people.

The day to-day working of apartheid depended on complicity: the complicity of millions.

How easy would it have been for Nelson Mandela, 21 years ago, to have seen this mass complicity as mass responsibility and acted to punish all whites accordingly? But, amazingly, he didn’t. He responded to mass complicity with a message of mass forgiveness.

He and his ANC comrades managed somehow to steer this amazing country away from the abyss and onto a different path, if not quite a rainbow nation, at least a nation which is dealing with its past by looking forwards not backwards.

Mandela had leadership. He was a transformative statesman. The extent of this only becomes apparent when you talk to all sides here.

Over dinner last night, three Afrikaners explained to me the symbolism of Mandela wearing the Springbok shirt in 1995 at the Rugby World Cup final. For a black man, the Springboks represented the team of the white supremacists; and yet, in one gesture, Mandela said, I am with you. I forgive you, let’s move forward together.

A young Zulu woman told me she would have happily looted white houses and killed white people but for Mandela. He “shamed us into good behaviour”, she told me. She said she had never understood the power of forgiveness, the strength of the moral high ground until she, as an angry teenager, was inspired by Mandela’s speeches. Such stories are everywhere. Mandela simply transcended the normal.

Unfortunately, leaders like him don’t come along every year. And only when they are gone do you realise how special they were. Real leaders don’t just run a country properly; they inspire people with a vision that goes far beyond the mundane formulas of economics.

Right now South Africa has plenty of economic problems, no doubt. There are up to five million unemployed here, the gap between the rich and poor is enormous, many black people still live below the poverty line. But there was no civil war, the country didn’t descend into violence, the economy continued to grow, and the black middle class – the most essential ballast for continued democracy – is growing. All this is thanks to leadership.

South Africa’s economic challenges are huge. Everywhere, the infrastructure is creaking. For example, driving to Soweto the traffic is awful, not only because of the number of cars, but because the traffic lights periodically stop because there isn’t enough electricity. This happens all the time and they even have their own word for these temporary power cuts. They aren’t known as “black-outs” but something far more innocuous called “load shedding”. Load shedding describes the national grid simply shedding power in certain places to make it available elsewhere.

However, as daunting as the economic challenges are, the political ones are greater. It’s clear that the ANC’s leadership has shifted from the long-term vision and intellectualism of Mandela and his generation, to “state populism” under President Jacob Zuma. He is widely perceived to be in the business of what he and his friends can get out of the country for the next five years rather than the Mandela approach which was much more expansive and long-term.

Again it comes down to leadership, vision and the ability to transcend your own parochial concerns and see the big picture.

Thinking about Mandela’s leadership and his ability to rise above pettiness and lead a damaged, violent and traumatised nation, I wonder, when I look at Europe this weekend: where are the European leaders?

Looking at the slagging, the sniping, the acrimony and the divisiveness of the Greek negotiations, ask yourself, where is the vision? What is the big picture? What is the end game? Is the EU a grand project which is supposed to steer the various nations of Europe into the 21st century, or is it a bickering babble of national fiefdoms led by people who are only interested in local re-election? Is it now simply a technocratic playground of rules and numerical targets, rather than a family of nations marching together? Is it merely a creditors’ paradise, where the strong creditor nations dole out punishment to the weak?

Years ago, that other great statesman Mahatma Gandhi noted that “the weak can never forgive: only the strong have the power to forgive”.

Mandela, once he was strong and was elected into a position of unassailable power, had the choice to forgive the whites or not. He used his power to forgive.

In Europe now, some of the most powerful countries on earth have the capacity to forgive Greece for its crime of economic mismanagement. But they are choosing to humiliate the Greeks instead.

A massive debt-to-GDP ratio may be a significant balance sheet misdemeanour, but it is hardly apartheid. Surely forgiveness, empathy and understanding with the Greek people represent a better tack than sneering, bullying and humiliation? If Africans could forgive whites for decades of hurt and terror, can’t the EU see beyond accountancy rules?

But it all comes down to leadership. Ask yourself: where’s the European Mandela?


  1. dermotbrisbane

    Hello to all, I’ve been following this site for years, especially the comments section which I’ve found informative and entertaining.

  2. Irish PI

    Comparing apples and water melons on this one David. SA at the moment is wobbling towards civil war or at least becoming a second Zimbabwae,and its certainly no ebony and ivory living together in perfect harmony society.We never hear of the dramatic increase in white woman rape or attacks on white farms and fammlies in the media here since Mandela came and went. The white SA joke is in Europe when you say good night,you say good night. In South Africa its,Did you switch on the alarm?Did you load the shotgun?Did you lock and shutter all the windows and doors?Did you let the pit bulls out? Night so.Stopping at traffic lights….A very dangerous pastime in SA.Good chance of being car jacked in broad daylight. Be always cautious of charismatic leaders in crisi,last time Europe had a major crisis they got a charming little Austrian artist and former corporal with a funny mustache and some rather extreme views on things.

  3. Original-Ed

    The Afrikanns were brutalised during the Boer War – The Brits put a large number of their women and children into concentration camps and a lot of them died in these – Hitler got the idea from there.
    The resultant shortage of females led to a decline in their population
    and so when the Brits pulled out they were faced with the distinct possibility of being overwhelmed by the local population – local, because not all local were native.
    To give leverage to their relative tiny number, they gave legal status to what was in effect apartheide practiced under British rule.

    Mandela had the vision, ability and courage to unlock this terrible stand off.

  4. Mike Lucey

    @David.

    To answer your question, “where’s the European Mandela?”, from my perspective there isn’t one and can never be one under the current system whereby governments are allowed to nominate EU Commissioners.

    If the Irish voters were to directly elect a commissioner, would we be looking at Phil Hogan as the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development? I strongly doubt it. I think the same goes for the rest of the EU non public elected politicians. The phrase “Democracy my arse” comes to mind when I look at the EU setup and I feel it is quite fitting.

    I think great leaders have in some way always been directly elected / recognised by ‘we the people’.

  5. michaelcoughlan

    Hi,

    “He responded to mass complicity with a message of mass forgiveness”

    He spent 27 years in jail because he refused to condemn armed struggle.

    The real leaders are here you just don’t see them. At the end you whinge about the EU not looking past accountancy rules but you fall into the trap that you think the headcases in charge can make a difference even if they wanted to with a top down response.

    So let me demonstrate that what you need is to refocus or shape shift your own world view and when you do there will be a number of real leaders in sight but first; Imagine how tempting it would be for any of us to pull the leaver on a gas chamber if we knew it was full of proven banker psychopaths. Very easy indeed. Each one of us is prone to the follies you highlight. People like Hitler/Bankers etc know this and exploit it to THEIR OWN advantage.

    When a system is as failed as the current world economic model all you can do is start a new way of doing things from a humble beginning and let the old model die its own death. Its bonbon type madness to believe you can change the current setup from within.

    So where are the new leaders? You will find loads of them in the following type organisations all of them crowd funded with not a banker in sight;

  6. ross81

    no South African civil war like the US, Spain or Ireland it’s true and I would put that down to a certain pragmatism on the part of the white community. They knew the game was up in the late 80s when international lines of credit started to dwindle & the costs of maintaining an army in Angola/SWA mounted. For them, the choice was continuing to cling on politically, militarily, etc at all costs and thus likely generating a full blown civil war, or handing over power to the majority and hoping wealth redistribution would not be too harsh. Luckily for them, Mandela’s charisma and forgiveness resulted in that latter course of history.

    However, the shockingly high rates of murder, rape and armed robbery witnessed in the past 20 years are in a way SA’s own version of a civil war. There seems to be no end in sight either as the political leadership stumbles from one crisis to the next, all the while enriching themselves and their corporate friends. The electricity outages are sadly another symptom of the general malaise, and this after spending billions hosting the WC in 2010.

    Europe actually doesn’t need a Mandela though. There are no major festering nationalistic, racial or religious wounds that need the sort of healing SA needed in the early 90s. Our economic woes are the result of wild speculation and the subsequent attempts by corrupt and stupid politicians everywhere to fix them.

    • Emma Grace

      I beg to differ! The increase of xenophobia and racist attitudes in the EU is startling. In the most recent EU elections, 8 extreme right/left wing parties were elected to the EP. Quite a few countries are advocating the removal of the Schengen principles and limiting the free movement of people with in the Union. This freedom is one of the 4 founding pillars of the EU. Just because it is not at a crisis level, doesn’t mean that the issues do not exist and cannot become more problematic. Even Hitler started small and we know what happened then. History has a nasty habit of repeating……

      • ross81

        and what percentage of the EP vote did those 8 parties get? Also, what is considered “extreme” is very subjective. For example, some consider UKIP and Syriza extremist, which is absurd. If the EU want to combat the rise of genuinely extremist parties like Golden Dawn (who’s thugs attack immigrants in the streets), the they’d better wake up fast and stop kowtowing to the international financiers. Unfortunately, I don’t think they want to stand up to the banks, the 2 groups are thick as thieves, hence we will see even harsher economic conditions coming to Europe in the not too distant future.

  7. DC

    We once had this !

    Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

    But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    Abraham Lincoln
    November 19, 1863

    Now we have this !

    “When it becomes serious, you have to lie.”

    Jean Claude Juncker
    April 2011

    • michaelcoughlan

      +1

    • Bravo, You! That conclusion — that juxtaposition — it’s an explosion. Bits fall and fall and fall from it — and bite like broken-glass rain.

    • Mike Lucey

      I see Mr Juncker is again grabbing the headlines on RT with, “Juncker tells Greeks not to commit suicide in referendum” however he doesn’t seem to say if its a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote that result in national suicide.

      • Emma Grace

        It is called fear mongering – a well known tactic used by many a dictator and rabble rouser. Should the Greeks vote to refuse the IMF terms, the powers that be lose what they value most – Power – and they fear that that will be the beginning of the flood – what will they do! They have never even acknowledged that the EU could fail. It can and the sooner the better. The sky won’t fall, it won’t be easy or pleasant but it is inevitable, in my opinion.

  8. I’m glad to have discovered your work a few days ago, David, and moved by the compassion that animates it. Needless suffering and death are the main products of the world’s present economic system, which firmly places a moral crisis at the core of the financial crisis and every other crisis in play.

    Quite simply, a handful of transnational grillionaires with no loyalty to any place or people have been stealing for themselves the wealth and general well-being of everybody else, ever since the Thatcher/ Reagan era. And their cabal has just about the full apparatus of power behind it. Instead of taxing them properly, we now have to borrow and beg from them; that’s how it works.

    On the other hand, to state the obvious in terms of moral leadership, the world suddenly has Pope Francis! A genuinely good person is running Religion, Incorporated! I’m not a Catholic, but WOW. Lightning looks like striking twice with Bernie Sanders drawing massive crowds wherever he appears and bringing Americans addled by decades of official deceit back to their senses. And populist leaders are rising across Europe; look at the last Spanish elections, as well as Greece.

    Assuming these people are allowed to live, they represent a promising start, but aren’t calls for forgiveness premature until the good is ascendant and actual wrongdoers stand accused? It isn’t Greece (or Ireland or Portugal or any nation) that needs “forgiveness”.

    The ultra-rich have royally screwed the world on purpose (beginning with the underdeveloped world, remember) and they’ll keep doing it until we stop letting them rob us. This the people of the world could do any day by standing together against the real enemy — instead of acting like mini-thems, cruelly trying to swipe the wealth and happiness of some other victim group. Consider the Icelanders; they did it right.

    So this is the view today from a reader in New Mexico, who was fortunate enough to live twice in Europe for extended periods.

    Thanks for being one of the truth-tellers, David, and thanks to DC for the fabulous conclusion of your comment. You nailed it. Out with Juncker and all like him!

    • Deco

      +1.

      Ponzi-economic theory is ruining the world.

      It is an insult to economics. It dispenses with the concept of consequences. It is all about getting jam on both sides. It is the ultimate expression of the disease of the television era.

      It is having an economic system that feels like watching TV. You sit down, do nothing, lose your mind, and feel great.

      Well, it is about to come crashing down.

      Our biggest problem is the lack of open honest debate about our collective predicament.

      Thank you David, for being one of those who is prepared to exercise and apply that which is between your ears. This is what will save Western civilization.

      It certainly will not be PR consultants, news readers, or fools like Michael Noonan.

  9. Pat Flannery

    I believe we have already found a European Mandela in Alexis Tsipras. He and Yanis Varoufakis are playing a role in may ways even more critical than the one fought on behalf of black people by the much loved Nelson Mandela.

    The Greeks are fighting this existential battle on behalf of all the common people of Europe, just as Mandela fought on behalf of all the black people of the world. As in South Africa every weapon is being deployed to destroy the emergence of a left wing government in Europe.

    That is the real contagion the business-controlled European governments fear. The Greeks are fighting a different kind of apartheid, but an apartheid nevertheless, in many ways even more deadly than that of South Africa. Let’s hope Mr. Tsipras will be a successful as Mr. Mandela.

    • Absolutely you’re right that this is a fight for democracy in Europe. In my view, it’s even bigger than that and, like you, I’m hoping the best for Mr. Tsipras. It would be great if he turns out to be a Mandela, but being cast in a role doesn’t foretell how you’ll play it.

      • Pat Flannery

        The Other Katherine Harris: He has shown both enormous courage and keen intelligence so far. I have great faith in him and Varoufakis.

        I think these two men have a sense of history and their parts in it. I just hope the corporate media does not scare the Greek voters into an abject Yes. The commentariat is madly spinning it as a vote for or against the Euro which it is not.

        Most mainstream commentators have not got their heads around the fact that the Greeks want to stay in the Euro and by doing so start the inevitable process of writing off mountains of unsustainable debt, all over the Eurozone. The real Eurozone patriots are the Greeks because if the EZ moguls do not start this process soon it may not survive. It is not the US Dollar.

        History may yet tell us that the real lesson from this early 21st century debt crisis was that preserving individual national sovereignties within a single currency proved the best defense against the excesses of the US model. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

        It may turn out that the world learns that superpowers are not the way to go but rather that coalitions of individual sovereignties provide the best balance between dictatorship and democracy. Right now we are hurtling towards the dictatorship of a few large global corporations like Goldman Sachs.

        • “History may yet tell us that the real lesson from this early 21st century debt crisis was that preserving individual national sovereignties within a single currency proved the best defense against the excesses of the US model. Wouldn’t that be interesting?”

          It seems to be that in order to retain a national sovereignty one must retain also a national currency.
          Suggesting that a country can remain sovereign while not owning its own currency does not appear to be possible. That is what is being seen in the European model of the EURO.

          Better to have local currencies for internal local trade but has also a mechanism for the settlement of trade with others from distant or different regions.

          The retention of national currencies and the use of the Real Bills Doctrine allowed growth of unprecedented proportions and a distribution of wealth far greater than accomplished any other way before of since.

          I have mentioned the Real Bills Doctrine several times but it is studiously ignored to date. Interesting, as it is part of the solution needed and desired and a replacement of the current fiat criminal money currently in use.

          • Pat Flannery

            Tony: “Suggesting that a country can remain sovereign while not owning its own currency does not appear to be possible. That is what is being seen in the European model of the EURO.”

            That is the question that is being tested by Greece. It is not hyperbole to say that the outcome of this dispute will determine who rules the world.

            It is critical for the future of democracy that sovereign nations form a common currency that is not an economic dictatorship. It is the Euro that must be disciplined not the Greek state.

            If nations can form a common defense organization like NATO they can form a common currency like the Euro without losing national sovereignty.

            We have pushed back dictatorship in favor of democracy fairly well at a micro (national) level, the battle now is between dictatorship and democracy at the macro level. Bank debt is a weapon just as nuclear science is a weapon. We are in the midst of a war.

          • Hello Pat

            “It is critical for the future of democracy that sovereign nations form a common currency that is not an economic dictatorship. ”

            This is totally correct. What we have at present is exactly that. A debt based fiat currency in everyplace in the world.

            The battle is not between the EU or troika so called and Greece but between humanity and the banksters who proposed and implemented the fiat system we use.

            We must get rid of the central banks. We must get rid of the central bankers money. It is issued as a debt from thin air. That is absurd when you consider it. And then insult to injury interest is charged on the loan.

            All currency issued except the hard currency, the coins in your pocket are a debt. The more currency issued the more the debt. how many times do I say this to have it ignored. Do you not see this or believe it true. well answer the question.

            That being the case then it becomes obvious we are being duped. Sold down the river, enslaved, indentured, whatever you wish to call it.

            This is the battle. The currency must be an asset and not a debt. It must not charge interest. It must be relatively rare and not able to be easily replicated. It must be a store of value and finally it must function as a medium of exchange.

            So tell me Pat, what kind of currency do you have in mind? It has to be like the above description as that is a description of good money, sound money , honest money.

            That is where the Greeks are. They are suffering the results of dishonest, fraudulent money. It is not just the EURO it is all fiat script from any where you can name.

            All other countries have the same problem as Greece. Some are richer than others and have yet to crack. Many countries are more indebted than Greece both in absolute terms and per capita.

            The IMF or someone like the Bis Bank of international settlement will propose an international currency of special drawing rights. Do not be fooled by the fact it is your asked for common currency. It is more of the same. A debt based fiat currency.

            The Real Bills Doctrine worked effectively for centuries up to 1913 and international settlement of surplus trade accounts were adjusted with payment of gold. This is the only substance that has stood the test of time.

            It is internationally accepted money. It cannot be manufactured at will. It is easily divisable and is fungible. It is a store of value, and easily portable as a little amount has a great value. It is not easy to counterfeit.

            It has worked in the past and it still works now.

            Gold is not manufactured from thin air. It is widely distributed and readily recognised. It is unique in characteristics.
            Silver comes a close second and is useful for pocket change and day to day transaction. Silver has many commercial uses as well as acting adequately as money except it tarnishes.

            coins need to circulate by weight and purity and will pass around the world as money, enjoyed and trusted by all.

            One thing is for sure. The fiat paper money has to go. It is a criminal, dishonest contrivance designed to impoverish and enslave. It is doing what it is designed to.

            Local people can still have a local currency and national states a national currency but the international currency already exists and is in use as every central bank holds it. Its use and existence are denied but there it is.

        • “It may turn out that the world learns that superpowers are not the way to go but rather that coalitions of individual sovereignties provide the best balance between dictatorship and democracy.”

          Or even a little further to the devolution of powers to regions or mini states or Cantons.

          Buy local has a certain logical ring to it as each in a community supports the others. There will always be trade between regions or groups and alliances made. Those alliances can of course normally be revoked if no longer useful, unless one is a member state of the US or European Union, then there is no escape.

          Canada has approved a motion to allow the peaceful secession of Quebec and it naturally applies to the other provinces.

          But like Europe, Canada is economically diverse and there are wealthy regions and poorer too. In Canada the Federal government bribes the less well off by paying them to stay while at the same time takes from those doing relatively better.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equalization_payments_in_Canada

          It is the equalization formula that gives money to the have nots and takes for the haves. Has its good points, look after you neighbour etc but also unintended consequences.

          http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/equalization-program-a-good-intention-gone-bad/article16540855/

          It seems to me that the more that government is involved then the worse the economy is. Global corporations do not need to be able to sue government any more than an individual can.

          How does one control the global corporation without a supra national state? Can one do it by allying with ones neighbour or not. Maybe it is done with the power of the pocket book. Buy or not buy those things one approves or disaproves.

          I still think the idea of a European trading area that is open borders to goods and labour without tariff is a good idea. It is in the hands of the power junkie who insists on making it a political issue.

          So lets expand to Buy local and think global. Small self contained areas of governance with trade expanded around the globe. After all it is back to the future as this was the way it was 800 years ago when Marco Polo made his trip. What did he find in China? The Chinese had reverted to a paper fiat script. Yes it destroyed its economy too!

          Will we ever learn?

        • coldblow

          Pat

          You have just contradicted what you said to me a week ago on the ‘The Beatings Will Continue’ thread: ‘Why am I pro-EU? Because I am an internationalist who believes that we need to leave behind narrow national interests just as we left behind narrow tribal interests…’

          • Pat Flannery

            coldblow: I don’t think it is contradictory to seek to preserve sovereignty while entering into organizations with a common purpose. Germany is a Federation of sovereign states for example.

            I am an internationalist because I believe that it is possible for nations, tribes, túatha, or any group that claims sovereignty, to join with others in ever-wider coalitions for an ever-greater variety of common purposes without losing their basic sovereignty.

            Each individual or group defines and expresses its basic sovereignty in its own unique way. John Locke developed this idea into his concept of “individual consent”, which I still find useful. I hope that helps with the apparent contradiction in my thinking.

            I think the Eurozone needs to be reminded that it is merely a contrivance by 19 sovereign states to achieve a common purpose viz. a means of better facilitating free trade.

            The central aim in any monetary union is to adopt a common currency as the sole legal tender. If properly managed it can deliver great benefits in human standards of living, which should be the central aim of all governments.

          • coldblow

            The trouble with that is that it is not just a free trade area, although that might have been how it was sold in the British and Irish referendums. It is expressly set up to achieve political unity, which wa can now see means direct rule from Berlin. Our many laws are written in Brussels, including the water directive which is what lies behind the water charges. Member governments are only glorified county councils (as Tull puts it).

    • dwalsh

      +1 excellent Pat Flannery

      Greece is on the frontlines for all Europeans and Peoples who reject rule by debt and bankers.

      We are all Greeks to the Trojan Horse financial system.

      Alexis Tsipras is the only leader of character and vision in europe today.

      • I think comparisons to Mandela are facile- in fact most comparisons are the same.

        That being said, as much as I admire Tsipras, in my opinion Varoufakis is the one to watch.

        • cooldude

          I agree with you Pat. The problem is that the people who have the real power do not respect democracy or anything which interferes with their aims. Be prepared for a ECB imposed Greek government with some Goldarse Sachs guy at the helm. This is definitely a distinct possibility because there is still huge derivative exposure to the bond market. Oh yeah those pesky derivatives which are now valued at plus $1 quadrillion versus a global GDP of 40 something trillion. What could possibly go wrong. As Trichet told Lenihan when the shit was approaching the fan here “protect the banks at all costs.” Thats the bottom line. Bankers come first, we come second and democracy is only important when it suits them,

        • Mike Lucey

          @Adam

          I agree with you. Tsipras is the great politician but its Varoufakis that is the master strategist.

          Written in 2012.
          ‘Video Game Company Hires Economist To Study Virtual Worlds’ http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/06/25/155715077/video-game-company-hires-economist-to-study-virtual-worlds

          Varoufakis: “What determines when one thing or another serves as money? I have not managed to shed light on this, it’s still a mystery to me.”

          I have a feeling that its not so much a mystery to him these days. Could we soon be looking at a new silver Greek Owl coin? I’d buy a few and I imagine many others would do likewise.

          • cooldude

            A new silver drachma is an interesting concept Mike but I haven’t seen any evidence that Varoufakis is thinking this way. It would be ironic if the country who first gave us our first properly defined money would be the one to cut the head off the snake and stop accepting the validity of the privately issued debt we consider to be money. Hope so.

          • Mike Lucey

            @Cooldude

            I stumbled across the mention of the ‘Greek Silver Owl’ after watching an entertaining episode the The Max Keiser Report. If nothing else Max is good for a laugh but more often than not he gets a credible message across.

            Here is the link to the interview Max did with Hugo Salinas-Price on how and why Greece should introduce a Silver Owl (although there was some confusion about weights) to run parallel with a fiat Drachma. You can pick up on the interview at 25:42 although the first part of the report is quite entertaining also …… “Berlusconi’s golden showers etc!!!’

            Max, after learning that Hugo had a private jet, decided to head over with him to put the idea to Alexis.

            I thought this was just a piss-take but I later stumbled on Hugo’s letter to Alexis. Read here, Letter to Alexis Tsipras from Hugo Salinas Price, Dated July 25, 2012.
            http://www.plata.com.mx/mplata/articulos/articlesFilt.asp?fiidarticulo=264

            It appears Hugo and Max didn’t meet Alexis but maybe they have since ….. one never knows!!!!

          • cooldude

            Thanks Mike. I have seen the Max Keiser show with Salinas Price on it but I have never seen the letter before. Makes a lot of sense to me as to stay in the Euro is the real suicide. The bankers will resist any threat to their exclusive franchise with everything they have including murder and backing a military takeover. Lets hope Varoufakis is made of the right stuff. Juncker is a clown and he is acting like a spoiled brat who can’t get his own way. What a low life.

    • CorkRob

      What balderdash !

      Mandela was not fighting for “All the black people in the world” and Tsipras is NOT fighting for “all the common people of Europe” ! What is a common person ? Am I ? Are you? Are business owners? Are pension fund policy holders?
      Because we all have been paying for the unsustainable standards of living that the Greeks have enjoyed for decades. Public service pensions that are handed down to spouses and stay-at-home spinster daughters until their death, 33 hour working weeks and huge holiday entitlement and a retiring age more than 15 years currently below our own.
      Davis is wrong on this article too – it’s not just about forgiveness on their current debt of 250%+ of GDP but agreement on changes to the basic principles that got them in this mess in the first place. Tsipras may not have been in office when the previous Greek governments created the basis for this crisis but he is still unwilling to commit to the changes necessary to prevent Greece for creating the same mistakes all over again if this current impasse is resolved.
      He seems willing to bankrupt Greece and create turmoil in the EU to satisfy his own ego and trumpet his leftist ideals, no matter what the cost for generations of Greeks and Europeans for generations to come.
      History will judge him when the Greeks find themselves scouring rubbish tips for food, as happened in Argentina under similar circumstances not 2 decades ago.

      • Home Counties Girl

        @ Rob

        Your rhetoric is rote and passé – plentiful in rag papers like the Daily Mail (or whatever the equivalent is in Eire).

        Nice technique of number plucking out of thin air is akin to a night out down at Mecca Bingo. Debt GDP stands at 197%, Greek retirement age is flirting around 61 (when I last checked), average working week is around 42 hours. Greece is already bankrupt. And the ‘pending’ turmoil you’re referring to – well, you’re a bit late to the party, that’s been swirling around for a while – it’s just getting some airplay now.

        I’ll give you some satisfaction. In my opinion, Greece culturally has always been incompatible with the ‘grande’ EU vision, however that’s a topic for another day.

        Today, Greece is wounded deeply, broken, teetering into the abyss! These are real people Rob with families – pushing for more austerity is sheer madness; this has already been vindicated by Ashoka Mody, former IMF mission chief (http://www.bruegel.org/nc/blog/detail/article/1615-the-imfs-big-greek-mistake/).

        I trust you’re aware of the hike in suicides, HIV, drug abuse, and all the horrible things that happen in debt crippled societies. By applying another plaster does not patch the underlying issue; you should be directing your questions or concern to the Troika and the Irish Government.

        Also, Dave – I wish you had refrained from quoting Gandhi in this article. It’s not fitting at all. Gandhi is a highly controversial figure in SA and openly called black people ‘kaffirs’.

        Anyways, I hope you’re getting some splendid sunshine in Ireland.

        Best wishes,
        hcg

        #WhereIsGrzegorz
        #BringBackAndrewGMooney

        • StephenKenny

          Being a little unfair really. Greece pays, and has paid, the highest proportion of it’s GDP in pensions, of any country in the world. Something 17.5%, compared to an EU average of about 13.5% (and Ireland’s 7.5% – what’s that about?).
          Likewise, the Greek retirement age was 57 until 2010, when it was put up to 65, and then 67 in 2015. Greece has a legacy problem of having had a retirement age of 57, and after all, all debt is ‘just’ a legacy problem.

          Greece’s debt problem is not just it’s government debt, but also it’s consumer debt. Which makes the total considerably more than 250% of GDP. I’ve never really understood this obsession with never quoting the two figures together . The UK, for example, has government debt of about 100% of GDP, and also consumer debt of about 100% of GDP – of course , in their case their real problem is the deficit, of about £95bn per year – that’s not far off the entire education budget.

          The weather remains charming.

  10. Emma Grace

    It takes a special kind of courage to stand up to the social norm and instigate necessary change. Mandela certainly had that quality as did Martin Luther King Jr.
    I think that the Greeks are right not to bow to pressure from the EU. The arrogance of the EU is demonstrated that they never figured out what would happen when the EMU failed. It is inevitable and just a matter of time before it falls apart. The ultimate demise was hastened by the financial crisis of 2008, but it was always on the cards. The fact that the Greeks were allowed some leeway regarding the ERM should have been indicative of what has now become a reality. I think the following quote is appropriate
    ‘In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.’ Aristotle

  11. Deco

    When I read this article, I grasped that David was onto something important. Something that very essential.

    And a good starting point would be an end to the denial mindset, and some frank honesty.

    The EU centralization project has committed massive blunders. The entire cult of faith in centralization as the answer is a load of nonsense.

    So also is the relentless promotion of structures, ideas and authority models that are not working.

    “Europe” is responsible for a mess. It started when Trichet drove down interest rates to stimulate Europe after the east ward expansion. It created a feel good factor. It also drove a bubble in the PIGIS. And it bailed out Germany. It subsidized efforts by Germany to reform it’s labour market and improve it’s productivity. Unfortunately in the PIGIS it made economic success occur without productivity growth.

    And now we see the same thing again in Ireland, Finland and Belgium. the evidence that this is occurring is in the debt levels, and inflation levels.

    Whilst this debacle is being played out, Icelanders must be counting their lucky stars they have nothing to do with the EU power centralization project, the relentless propaganda (which many people do not even recognize as propaganda) and stupidity.

    The EU does not have Mandela, but Juncker. The British are giving Juncker severe criticism, and it is entirely warranted. He has no clue what he is doing. The British are correct. The Irish media, and Irish establishment will give the British no credit for their critique of the Euro-mess. But the British are correct in their critique that it is a mountain of failure and incompetence.

    In fact, the entire EU centralization project has shown that it operates at a level that is completely unmanageable. The Soviet bloc failed because the centralization of decision making resulted in a lot of failure in the decision making. Europe is firmly on the same road.

    In the era of low cost airlines, the internet, and free trade, we do not need clowns like Juncker and Phil Hogan to prevent war. We simply need honesty, and respect. The EU does not have the intellectual capacity in it’s structures to manage the amount of power it has given itself.

    Mandela decide he would be honest with the people – and that was important.

    Juncker has a track record of lying to people, and that is not going to get us anywhere.

    Things are going to get worse before they get better.

    • Emma Grace

      Well said! Unfortunately, I think you are right and it is definitely going to get a lot worse before it gets better – but that is necessary. Maybe then we all will realize that the old adage “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ is true. The EU should go back to what it did well – being an economic union and forget the political aspect of the Union. It isn’t going to work! I think that Iceland was dead right to stay out and while they have had some very difficult times, at least they had a modicum of control as they controlled their own monetary policy. Would that Ireland had decided to keep control of theirs!

      • Deco

        Well, Icelanders did not enter an era of pretence, under EU mandate. Ireland lives under an era of pretence. Pretend that the rising debt level does not matter. Pretend that corruption does not come at a cost. Put on the green jersey, and pretend that Irish oligarchs are enriching us (when they are really improverishing us).

        Likewise, Greece. Pretend that are going to pay all that money back.

        There is a pervasive intellectual dishonesty in the EU/ECB institutional power framework. Extend and pretend is the philosophy of the day. It was tried before. Then Eastern bloc tried it in the 1980s. They ran out of options, when they used them all up. Same applies today in the EU.

        The “default” option is simply unacceptable. It is unacceptable to people in the centre left, because it leads to a change in expensive commitments. It is unacceptable to the centre right, because the business lobbyists will not accept it. The problem is that both the centre left, and the centre right are in denial of the scale of the mess outside of Greece.

        • Emma Grace

          Irish politicians are very good at pretending everything is great. They are also excellent at kow towing to the powers that be in the EU. The European Project is a good idea on paper/in theory, but it is, and always has been, an experiment – and it is failing. The Irish electorate might have had some idea of that when we voted ‘NO’ to Nice and Lisbon. But the powers that be in the EU and Ireland viewed the result as an exam failure, so we had the joy of doing it again, with the veiled threat that we had better get it right this time, OR ELSE! If the initial results had been taken seriously and let stand, then the EU might be a different beast now.
          The ‘default’ option might be unacceptable but there is nothing to stop it happening. There is nothing in any of the Treaties, upon which the EU is built, to stop the Greeks from leaving the EU and the EMU. This demonstrates the arrogance of the Eurocrats and this arrogance has filtered down to all the national governments. Should the Greeks leave, the world won’t end and the sky won’t fall – world economies will be hit hard and the EU will be shaken but it will make the political world sit up and take notice. Maybe it is time that we all take back our power and figure out a better way. I have posted this quote elsewhere today as I think it is apt:
          ‘In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.’
          Aristotle

  12. Deco

    It is not just Greece that is struggling with debt.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11705720/European-debt-crisis-Its-not-just-Greece-thats-drowning-in-debt.html

    The EU centralizers who want us to believe that the Greeks are the problem, might wish to look around. If they are located in Belgium, they might wish to be particularly alert.

    There is a problem with the entire model of economics that has prevailed since 1990 in Europe, with respect to reliance on debt as a means of delivering economic growth.

    [
    13 EU nations saw their public debt accelerate at a faster rate than Greece’s over the period 2012-2014
    ]

    Yep that is correct. Most of them are borrowing at rates in excess of the borrowing that has been going on in Greece.

    And Ireland is definitely in that bunch. Because that covered the time period when the current FG/LP government decided to include the debts of private sector bondholders as private debts. This was encouraged by the ECB, and the EU Commission. There you go – lots of talk about a social Europe, and really it means that speculators cannot lose, only taxpayers can.

    It seems to me as if the centralization of power and control in Europe has resulted in a policy monopoly that serves the interests of those who are the best at lobbying.

  13. Deco

    Noonan, Kenny, Burton are having a go at the Greeks.

    Actually, since they got into power, they have borrowed more than Greece, fibbed more than Greek politicians, and reformed less of the Institutional state than the Greeks.

    So it is all another episode in pretence. In fact everything since FG/LP got into power has been a series of slick PR stunts.

    They have fixed……Nothing !!!!!

    In fact their strongest resolve was that they would look after their backers, and repair nothing.

    Ireland is on a similar trajectory to Greece with a time lag. The ultimate destination is bankruptcy of the institutional state. Same applies to Belgium – though Belgium will probably split before the bankruptcy. Even Finland is in very dodgy territory with respect to it’s real estate market.

    In fact the next Greece is likely to be Sweden. It’s real estate market is plain bonkers.

    So now the question arises – who will bail out the Swedes, when the Swedish banking system goes to the wall again ?

  14. dwalsh

    Greece is on the frontlines for all of us.
    We are all Greeks to the Trojan Horse financial system.

  15. coldblow

    This is a very good documentary about the history of Britain in the EU:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY_BgnZdwko

    Political integration was essential to the project from the start.

    The US role in all this needs to be clarified.

    Many here on this blog welcomed O’Bama’s candidature back in the day. He talks a good talk and he’s charismatic, and he is also in the pocket of the banks (isn’t he?).

    Here’s Icelandic tv from 17 June, their national day, where the ceremony was drowned out by protestors, at least a few of which (so I understand) are in favour of joining the EU (though I don’t think any of those interviewed mention it):

    http://www.ruv.is/sarpurinn/ruv/frettir/20150617

    Crotty was right. Ireland has little to gain from the EU and much to lose and the motives for joining in the first place were not all that noble. I think the big landowners have done all right.

    Anybody look up Winnie Mandela? Jacob ‘Bring me my machine gun!’ Zuma?

    • coldblow

      If anyone watches the documentary they will see how the Tories (most of them) including Thatcher were enthusiastic supporters of Europe while Labour (or most of it) were against it. A few years later the roles were reversed and New Labour were in full support as a means of bringing in a liberal, statist transformation of people’s lives. Thatcher saw the danger too late and her opposition ensured her downfall.

      We found out here a few years ago the value of European solidarity. It’s a joke but people still believe!

      • Pat Flannery

        coldblow: thanks for the link. I downloaded it and watched the whole film. It made me reexamine why I am in favor of a European union. It is because I fear Goldman Sachs more than I fear the loss of sovereignty.

        I believe that an isolated Britain would be vulnerable to the power of the globalized money market that now rules the world. Remember that George Soros made his fortune by shorting the British Pound. Wall Street rules the US and will continue to do so no matter who becomes the next President.

        That is why I believe that what Greece is doing now is so vitally important for the future of the world. One small country is trying to fight the stranglehold Goldman Sachs and the financial services industry have achieved over the world’s governments.

        If GS wins who will dare challenge its power next? Whose turn will it be next? The Greek experience should be a message to Britain to stay in the EU and form a European phalanx of democracy rather than retreat to its Atlantic Island hoping that the big bad financial wolves will let it live alone on its Sceptered Isle.

  16. padser

    Didn’t know the Greeks were forced into the Euro!

  17. Good debate all round.
    but do not forget it is the monetary system that is the main culprit.

    when your money is freely produced without limit it becomes valueless.
    When it is issued as a debt it indebts all people and peoples.
    Now people have borrowed a worthless paper in exchange of a pledge for hard assets.
    Interest charged on that debt means that if the debts were repaid there would be no currency in existence but the interest owed would still be outstanding.
    That is one reason why our money system is dishonest. In fact it was designed by dishonest people to do exactly what it has done.
    In order to have any money left to circulate then another borrower must be found. That is new debt is and must be used to pay off old debt.
    Another reason our money system is corrupt. It is by definition a Ponzi scheme.

    By definition the EURO is a Ponzi scheme. Greece is the first manifestation in Europe of what will happen. The debt cannot physically be paid. There is not enough money in circulation to do so. Increasing the money supply increases the debt further.

    No country in Europe can repay its debt for the same reasons.
    No country in the world can pay off debts for the same reason.
    The world cannot get out of debt using the current money system. It is physically and mathematically impossible to do so.

    De Facto. The money system must be changed from what it is or the world descends into massive inequality with a handful owning all the assets while the 99.99999999999999999% are economic serfs owning nothing but debt. (just calculate the per capita portion of your national debt. Each person born inherits such debt thanks to the excesses of living by previous generations. No wait it is the monetary system in fact)

    So while we cheer for Greece to Force the EEU to recognise certain facts NOBODY IS TALKING ABOUT WHY IT OCCURRED.

    Nobody on the blog has identified the real problem, nobody has a real alternative except default. Default to whom. The debt does not disappear, it is handed to another who in turn becomes insolvent. Thus the domino of bankruptcy starts. That is why the EU, IMF is so upset as they understand the result of a Greek default. But all they can think of is more of the same. Create more money, that is more debt, to pay off old debt. In the 70′s we were told the debt did not matter, we can always print more money. Inflation is good as it reduces the value of the debt. No mention of the immoral attitude that tries to short the creditor. We are too fond of blaming the lender. It becomes morally OK to stiff the lender. There is part of the moral corruption oozed into society.

    Now is the time to have a plan to replace what has not worked, does not work and will never work. What has not, does not and will never work is a credit(debt) based, fiat, Ponzi scheme money.

    IT IS WHAT HAS TO GO.

    If we allow the current money system to remain in place we are all doomed to another round of bankruptcies and social disruption.

    A number of us have asked for a debate on the current money system and how it works. A debate on how money works and what is the best money to use and why. To educate all. So far we are let down.

    We have a thoroughly corrupt and inequitable money system, so what is the alternative?

    • Just posted as a header at Lemetropolecafe.com

      “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, [also] plainly prove a deliberate, systematical plan of reducing us to slavery.” … “The Works of Thomas Jefferson”, Volume 1, p. 130, as quoted in “The Unseen Hand”, by A. Ralph Epperson, p. 196

      Does this not describe our money system??

  18. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11704051/The-world-is-defenseless-against-the-next-financial-crisis-warns-BIS.html

    The debt accumulated cannot be paid off. Interest payments are as low as they have ever been but still cannot be paid.

    BIS is the Central banks central bank. Beware of what they offer as an antidote to the current problems. The only reason for the BIS is to support and insolvent central bank and indirectly the commercial bank failures. It incidentally claims to have 100+ tonnes of gold as its basic asset??

    http://www.gata.org/node/12717

    file:///C:/Users/Tony/Downloads/World_Official_Gold_Holdings_as_of_February2015_IFS.pdf

  19. DB4545

    I don’t or won’t put any trust or faith in some “leader” to solve this mess. You are your own leader. Do you really think some wonderful leader is out there provided by providence to lead us out of this wilderness? An un-elected pope? Un-elected EU Commissioners? Come on people I know you have more brains than that. Mandela was inspiring and generous but look at the thieves who were waiting in the wings.

    It’s time to dismantle the political aspirations of the EU and return it to an EEC trading block. That was a more modest and realistic and pragmatic aspiration and threatened no one. The lying unelected EU smooth jowled imbeciles dressed in armani and charvet and hermes are f**king up the lives of millions. They’re like the North Korean Generals grinning beside their great leader but with better stylists. They’re on an empire building program that can only end in disaster.

    They’ve proven time and time again that they can’t be trusted and are self admitted and proven liars. Do you think their kids will be fighting on the front line if it ever escalates to a full war against ISIS or Russia or China? The Greeks are showing a pair of balls in circumstances where we promptly pulled in ours and voted for the second Lisbon Treaty. As the line says in Flower of Scotland time to send them homewards to think again. Let’s dissolve this mess before they dissolve the people.

    DB

    • Emma Grace

      I totally agree with you! It is time for the rest of the citizens of the EU to stand with the Greek people and call a halt to this bloody nonsense. The EU is a farce, with notions of grandeur and unrealistic targets. The experiment is failing, so it is time to toss it out and revert to a system that actually worked – the economic union.
      As to the Lisbon Treaty and the resit we were given, with a sack load of fear mongering about what we would do without the direction of the EU and the Eurocrats, we were asked a question and we gave an answer that was legitimate and had merit during Lisbon 1, and that should have been the end of it! No one would even suggest that the French or the Dutch should redo the referendum they held re the EU Constitution. We should never have been asked to go to the polls again – one of those ‘only in Ireland’ moments. The Irish electorate had more power to stop the EU in its tracks at that time than any other, and we missed the point. We were browbeaten into thinking that the only way forward is with the EU – what a missed opportunity that was! It is high time, people started figureing out that the EU is a flawed institution that only benefits the bankers, politicians and Eurocrats.
      Edmund Burke comes to mind today – all it takes for evil to happen is for good people to do nothing! What is this if it isn’t evil??

      • coldblow

        I think if Europe’s citizens get restless the simple question will be put: ‘Are you willing to see your Euro bank savings redesignated into Monopoly money?’

        Referendums (aka ‘referenda’): would you be in favour of a re-run of the divorce and gay marriage votes?

        You say the EU is good in theory or on paper. Would you also agree that communism is a wonderful idea except that it can’t be put into practice?

        • Emma Grace

          No, I don’t think there should be a re-run of the equality referendum, but I know the NO campaign were thinking about it. Did you think that the second Nice and Lisbon referenda were appropriate?? Once a referendum has been held and the result, whatever it should be, is deemed valid, the outcome should be accepted by the State. And there should be a minimum time, say 5 years, before an issue can be addressed in a referendum again. If we had that legislation, we would not have been bullied into having a second vote on Nice and Lisbon, and the powers that be would have had to accept the initial result. And the EU project would have been stopped in its tracks, for a while at least.
          Yes, communism is a wonderful idea in theory – but when humans get involved it becomes problematic – all are equal, but some are more equal than others. That is the thing about theories – putting them into practice is the challenge.

          • coldblow

            We aren’t going to agree, Emma.

            We haven’t had re-runs of successful ‘equality referenda’ but we have had repeat referendums where we mistakenly gave the wrong answer. Anyway, referendums are far too easy to manipulate by the powers that be.

            I think communism is ugly and stupid both in theory and practice. It is strange now to think that this was the height of intellectual respectability when I was a student and you were expected to listen with due reverence while those who claimed to know all about these things held forth. Freud was responsible for the second of these ‘foundation ideologies’, also now the subject of universal mockery. Only Darwin is still holding own, even gaining ground, but again it is (I am sure) only a question of time. And then what?

            Speaking of ideology Declan Lynch wrote amusingly last Sunday, and praises David into the bargain:

            http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/declan-lynch/paddy-was-once-the-victim-now-he-is-the-perpetrator-31335119.html

        • DB4545

          coldblow

          Has it occured to you that we are already dealing with monopoly money? My assets and savings are already monopoly money securitized and leveraged by the global banks. The banks treat it in exactly the same way as monopoly money precisely because there is no risk to them. They privatize the profits and socialize the losses. The key exception is that with the game of monopoly you face the risk of going to jail, this of course is not the case in the real world except for the minions.

          DB

          • coldblow

            DB

            Yes, it is probably just a matter of time. However you can still by things with it as things stand. Most people are in no hurry to get to the next stage so are probably willing to stand by and let the Greeks have it. If Greece leaves the Euro Colm McCarthy (I linked the article yesterday somewhere on this thread) predicts that selling bonds will get very difficult again for the likes of Ireland as the market starts playing spot the weakest link again. I think he argues that if a country (like Greece) introcuces exchange controls within a currency union it is not longer a currency union. (Someone please correct me if I am wrong.)

    • coldblow

      DB

      I agree that rhetoric won’t do any good. I can see David’s point, that if everyone gets together and *insists* that the right thing is done then it will be. The problem is that, like Homer Simpson, the crowd will come together and insist on the wrong thing. Not being an extravert myself I don’t believe in the wisdom of crowds. (This is the whole point of my earlier comments about paedophile ring witch-hunts: the issue is just an illustration.)

      Let’s take ‘O’Bama’ for example. He has charisma and plenty of rhetoric. The trouble is, for his supporters that is, that he did not put that rhetoric into practice. The trouble for me is, is that if he were to things would possibly be even worse.

  20. The only thing I can tell you with certainty is this; as the meltdown proceeds I can guarantee physical gold and silver will still be standing. My thought is they will be standing “much taller” than they are today as they truly are “money” and global “monies” are going to come under scrutiny. This is at the core question to be answered of it all …”what is money”? The current belief is that “debt is money”, it is not and never was. Debt may have been perceived as money or even an asset …it has and always will be a liability! THIS IS THE KEY LESSON MANKIND IS ABOUT TO LEARN!

    Standing watch for you,

    Bill Holter
    Holter-Sinclair collaboration
    bholter@hotmail.com

    http://www.jsmineset.com/

  21. Deco

    One of the assumptions that above criticism currently, across the mainstream media in Western world is that low interest rates are a good thing.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11704051/The-world-is-defenseless-against-the-next-financial-crisis-warns-BIS.html

    Well, actually, they cause bigger and more troubling cycles. The interest rate policy currently being used, facilitates the over-leveraging and complete ponzification of involved economies.

    We seen this in the PIGIS when Trichet drove down interest rates, and that drove debts up.

    There was denial afterwards about the problem. The problem lies squarely with the ECB.

    Greece knows it would have been better off without Trichet’s interest rate policy. Spain and Portugal likewise. And Ireland definitely went into excess after 2002.

    However, the EU and the ECB can never admit to getting it wrong. It is to obsessed with the expansion of the authority, wealth and power – to admit to it’s failings.

    This is a serious issue, because it makes problem solving very difficult.

    As we have seen in the PIGIS, there has been NO problem solving. Just releveraging. Ireland is not deleveraging. Ireland is attached to a Nasdaq bubble.

    When the Nasdaq bubble / social media bubble unwinds, Ireland will be once again running an expensive, over-stretched institutional state that cannot admit to it’s own culture of excess. Nobody in FG/LP will admit that there is a serious performance problem in the institutional state. They are too busy sticking cronies into the system, to even contemplate it being a problem.

    Greece is not the only debt headache in the Eurozone. Ireland is in an acute sense of denial. We are in 2005 again. Talking ourselves into yet another debt crisis, whilst borrowing is going out of control.

    WARNING : IRL – DEBT CRISIS ON THE HORIZON AGAIN !!!

  22. Pat Flannery

    Tony: you ask “what kind of currency do you have in mind?”

    I do not think that any group of people should dictate to another group what they should accept or not accept as currency. If one group of people prefers gold and another prefers some form of fiat paper money, shells, Wampum or whatever, so be it.

    I know you prefer gold but not everybody agrees with you. So, my answer to your question is “whatever people will accept”. In the present open global system the trading markets decide. I must accept whatever my US dollar is worth against the Euro today and every day.

    • Well that is all well and fine but you have no opinion on money except you will go along with consensus.
      Perhaps that is why we have the Ponzi scheme we do as everyone is basically ignorant of what money is and what it should be. The consensus is dictated by the banksters.

      It is time to examine money.
      Time to find out what money is.
      Time to find out what makes good money
      Time to find out what bad money is
      Time to find out about the money we currently use

      Time is long past for us to be educated about money (I was ignorant for 60 years, only in the last 10 years was I illuminated about the criminal scheme we currently use).

      Nobody discusses money, and debates the pros and cons but disagree and opine based upon a vaguely assembled opinion. for most , ignorance is bliss.

      If one wants to change things for the better one has to have an opinion based upon study and knowledge. Based upon empirical evidence of what works and what does not.

      Like you say it is to be determined by the acceptance of the people, or more likely because of the ignorance of people they will accept what they are given, not what they choose. Trust is everything. We trust no longer. Currencies fail more and more frequently.

      What would you personally prefer to see as money?

      • Mike Lucey

        Currently ‘money’ is ’0s’ and ’1s’ in a hard drive. The blood, sweat and tears involved in its creation for the most part amounts to a few finger strokes.

        Money has to be brought back to a medium of value for labour. There are many ways to do this with modern technology, carbon credits for example. However gold and silver would appear to be the only tested and proven medium that stood the test of time and doesn’t require ‘Trust’ as an ingredient.

    • Deco

      Here is a short nugget from the fat brain of John Bruton…

      “The underlying problem of Greece is a lack of productivity and export potential..”

      1) Has John Bruton measured his own “productivity” lately ? Last I checked he was the chief lobbyist for the gamblers in the IFSC.

      2) I am disappointed that Bruton never mentioned the pension crisis. Because he is a classic example of the pension crisis. He has been on various state pensions for years. And that requires other “productive” people to put money into the system, so that he can given a present for doing nothing every month.

      3) Bruton might wish to talk to his cronies in FG, and their snobbier side kick champagne socialist party, concerning “productivity”. The colossal, off the sustainability charts state behemoth that is the Irish state has completely lost the plot. It is productivity drag on the entire society.

      It does not deliver the welfare goods that people expect (just look at the HSE, or the dozens of useless courses in Irish third level). It does deliver welfare for the super wealthy, who do not need it anyway.

      John Bruton is an example of the sort of stupidity that predominates in the lobbying profession, and how useless politicians everywhere can look forward to an even higher pay cheque after leaving politics.

      • cooldude

        Correct as usual Deco. But the likes of Bruton and the other pension bandits like Ahern are actually still being paid by this country borrowing more and more money which we cannot and will never pay back. And these wankers have the cheek to lecture the Greeks when they are living off the future earnings of our children. Our debt situation sucks and will come home to roost. The figure now stands at 210 billion euro and is rising by 24,000 euro every hour. How is any of this sustainable.

        The Greeks are right in that this ECB debt is odious and was placed on them by a collusion of corrupt politicians and Goldman Sachs fiddling the books. The debt should be repudiated and they should start again with a clean sheet and issue their own interest free money and stay away from the totally corrupt bond markets. A parallel choice of a hard money version such as proposed by Hugo Salinas Price would also help.

        We are in no position to lecture anyone. The Greek people are suffering real hardship but lets hope they have the backbone to reject debt slavery and retake their country. As for Bruton he should keep his big gob shut or stop robbing future generations by accepting his pension.

        http://awaken-longford.com/2015/06/30/the-ultra-ring-wing-version-of-walter-mitty-is-running-ireland-now/

      • coldblow

        That article is so bad it actually makes you worry if the rest of them are like him. Most of them are probably worse. For example, McCarthy dismisses the productivity accusation against the Greeks but saying that failing productivity is nature’s way of saying that you are on the wrong side of a bubble. Countries don’t just decide to lower their productivity. He even says (if I remember rightly) that the Greeks suffered when the new government stopped giving unquestioning support to the banks.

      • coldblow

        I meant to add that I looked him up earlier after reading his article. Bruton, an enthusiastic supporter of Europe, was appointed to head the IFSC in 2010, after applying and failing to get the job of President of the European Council. He gets a pension of 142k.

    • Mike Lucey

      Even though I’m pretty much non party, I always had some listening time for John Bruton also his brother Richard.

      I have to agree however he is letting himself down with broad generalisations about the Greek people. I think much of what he says is really the result of fears for the ground that the Centre Right Parties will be loosing in Europe after a bunch of national elections have taken place this year and next year.

      Paddy Power is probably right about a FG/FF coalition being very much on the cards. Come election time I’m thinking of asking both FG and FF candidates calling to my door if they intend to go into coalition with each other. I expect them to advise a big NO WAY. I will then ask them to write and sign that on their campaign leaflets …… but I don’t hold my breath though.

      We really need to bring back supervisory people power via a reinstatement of Article 47. There appears to be a new Avaaz campaign on this that has some good traction here,

      Restore articles 47 & 48. Give power of referendum to the people, water charges, bailouts, oil giveaway ..

      https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/The_people_of_Ireland_Invoke_Article_27_Dail_and_Seanad_call_for_a_referendum_on_water_charges/?pv=8

      Maybe worth a quick visit and signup?

  23. Mike Lucey

    Has anyone seen the Indiegogo campaign ‘Greek Bailout Fund’ started a day ago with an aim to put together €1.6 billion for the Greek People?

    I read that it was started by some guy from York UK that works in a shoe shop. He says he was bored listening to politicians and just got the idea and went about sorting out the problem in his own way.

    He reckons that if everyone in the EU pledges €3 the required €1.6 billion target will be reached to cover the monies owned by Greece also the rewards for the backers, either a post card from Greece, a small bottle of ouzo, a Greek salad, a bottle of wine etc …… €1 million pledge for the Greek Island was taken off the list!

    I took a bottle of Greek of wine pledge at €10 before lunch and the figure was past €250,000! I have just checked the campaign a minute ago and the figure is nearly at €400,000 but the site seems to be down due to overload. I hope its nothing other than overload!!!! This is the link, https://s3.amazonaws.com/igg-errorpage/greece_message.html

    I hope the site is brought back up and the target will be reached. Initially I thought it was a ‘mad’ idea but never the less stumped up a €10 pledge to be part of ‘People Power’. The pledges are returned by Amazon if the target is not reached. I now think the target could well be reached over the 7 days (plus the down time).

    If the campaign is successful it would be a fantastic way for ordinary people show real solidarity and to give the ‘two fingers’ to Juncker & Co.

    • It was on the news this evening as well.

      The site is still down – I will slap in a tenner when it comes back up.

      • Mike Lucey

        The site is back up now and pushing towards €800,000. I can’t see the figure reaching €1,600,000,000 but one never knows. At least its a show of solidarity which is to be admired.

        I see Alexis has gone back to the EU this morning with a letter / proposals. Will they, won’t they do a fair deal? I think the EU may do a last minute deal under orders from ‘the real powers that be’.

        I’ve been reading various opinions about how the USA / FED will probably now get involved in the mix now that its gone to the wire. It appears the last thing NATO wants is for Greece to leave the ‘West’ and move towards ‘The East’ as its being called now. I’m listening hard and think I can hear a distant hum which might well be the FED money printing machine being started up!

        If ever I’ve seen / read about a game of political chess this ‘game’ is takes the biscuit. Come next Monday we should see ‘Check’ one way or the other but again whichever side prevails all the chess pieces and board will be tossed up in the air eventually.

        Lets hope its not a major conflict between NATO and Russia / China that causes this, better that it would be World citizens calling a stop to the lunacy and regaining their sovereignty with honest money.

        Worth a read,
        ‘Greece Again Can Save The West — Paul Craig Roberts’
        http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/07/01/greece-can-save-west-paul-craig-roberts/

  24. DB4545

    A man is walking down a dusty road trying to thumb a lift. A blonde in a convertible pulls over and asks “What do you do for a living”. I’m a farm labourer he replies”. She drives off. He keeps trying and sure enough another pretty girl pulls over and asks “What do you do for a living”. “I’m an honest working man” he replies. She drives off. He keeps trying and third time lucky another pretty girl pulls over and asks “What do you do for a living”. He thinks for a moment and says “I’m an up and coming politician”. “Hop in” she says.

    She’s driving along for a few minutes wind blowing through her hair giving him eyes and her skirt is rising up. “F**k it” he says “Pull over and let me out”. “Why?” she asks. “I can’t do this I’ve only been a politician for five minutes and already I feel like I want to screw somebody” he replies.

    Think of all the imbeciles we have in elected office in this State. The first chance they get they screw us. Think of all the elected politicians throughout Europe. They may have German and French and even pretentious received pronunciation accents but they are exactly the same bunch of incompetent wasters. We have to find a way to make them redundant.

    DB

    • coldblow

      So what’s the reason then? Does politics attract the worst sort, or are they mostly decent until they get elected?

      My own guess is that it attracts a particular kind of person but that this kind is not (necessarily) morally worse than everyone else only different. If you look at the list of US presidents for the last hundred years only one of them (by my reckoning) was an introvert, Gerald Ford. The same seems to go for everywhere else too and probably at all levels. These are extraverts and extraverts are by nature altruistic (although I think this gets a little complicated) so they are naturally attracted to careers that enable them to ‘make a difference to people’s lives’, while of course also allowing themselves to shine. This is fine. Those who want to do all these things go ahead and do them and the rest of us, who don’t want to do it, let them at it. Everyone’s a winner.

      What I have spotted about extraverts, however, and it’s something that everyone is probably aware of subconsciously, is that they are particularly susceptible to peer pressure. I reached the conclusion that they are unable (or find it very difficult) to perceive things, or rather accept ideas and arguments, which go against the grain and contradict received opinion. This could be something obvious like witch hunts, or it could be just about anything. I am currently reading Susan Cains “Quiet”, a book about introverts. She doesn’t really get it, as far as I can see (nobody does except for Dorothy Rowe from what I can judge) but she does mention experiments carried out by Gregory Berns a few years ago which appear to show that extraverts do indeed bend under peer pressure. This had already been established in experiments from the late 50s where groups of volunteers were asked to answer questions which were deliberately designed so that nearly everyone could get them right. When actors joined the groups and confidently gave the wrong responses the rate of correct replies dived. The question was whether or not this was intentional so as not to look foolish. Berns’s experiments showed brain activity which purported to show that when they gave the wrong answers under peer pressure they used the part of their brains associated with perception rather than part associated with conscious decision making. Berns concluded that they all believed they had arrived at these answers by themselves and were unaware that they had been influenced by peer pressure.

      I got the basic idea from Dorothy Rowe but I worked this out for myself and it was this blog that gave me my earliest insights (thanks to Colm Cbweb, Georg and the rest).

      My guess is that when politicians enter the magic circle they cave in under peer pressure. They know best and the public are too stupid to understand. Or perhaps: They don’t know anything but nobody else does either. But probably: Everyone in the circle agrees on x, y an z so *by definition* they must be right.

      I mentioned here before Dominic Cummings, a former advisor to Michael Gove, who wrote damningly of Westminster, of ‘… politicians running around who don’t really know what they’re doing all day or what the purpose of their being in power is.’ And, ‘Everyone thinks there’s some moment, like in a James Bond movie, where you open the door and that’s where the really good people are, but there is no door.’ You would really need to be Nelson Mandela to sort this mess out.

      Peter Hitchens, who has also spotted this odd conformism, comments: ‘There is no door! Those four words are almost literature.’ His article is well worth reading:

      http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2014/06/amazing-scandal-erupts-nobody-notices.html

      That, in brief, is what I think. What do you think?

  25. The European battle has clearly devolved into what it has always been but not readily seen, a battle for civilization. It is a battle for state and individual sovereignty versus AUTHORITARIANISM and FREEDOM.

    Our money system is the tool of control and hides behind the rhetoric of the advancement of the one world government, financial serfdom of the masses, that is the goal of the elites.

    http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/07/01/greece-can-save-west-paul-craig-roberts/

  26. “If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you will do will surely obscure them. If you do not alarm anyone morally, you will yourself remain morally asleep. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift to the coming human hell.” … C. Wright Mills

  27. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-30/paul-craig-roberts-rages-truth-now-crime-against-state

    Today, one trusts nobody. Remain skeptical but reserve judgement.

    Here are the Five Agreements

    1.Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity.
    2. Do not take anything personally
    3. Do not make assumptions
    4. Always do your best
    5. Be skeptical, but learn to listen

    Take care, enjoy the day.

  28. Well said Maeve Halpin, in the letters:

    “The EU is no longer run by politicians for the people, but by banks for profit, at the expense of the people.”

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/letters/this-house-of-cards-was-always-destined-to-collapse-31342923.html

  29. Here’s the letter in full, if you don’t want to click through to the link:

    The establishment of the European Economic Community (later the European Union) in 1957 was an extraordinary achievement. Repairing the wounds of two world wars that had devastated Europe, it created the basis for co-operation between formerly hostile states, leading to decades of relative peace and prosperity, social and political stability and the unprecedented mingling of cultures and populations. Since 1973, Ireland has reaped enormous benefits, financially, economically and socially, from EEC/EU membership.

    Core to the success of ‘The European Project’ were the principles of social democracy, marrying social justice with market distribution to underpin social protections, employment rights, equality and solidarity.Since the 1970s the international regulations that limited the powers of corporate finance have come increasingly under attack by private interests.

    This has led to the silent and insidious hijacking of democratic political processes by unaccountable corporate power.

    The EU is no longer run by politicians for the people, but by banks for profit, at the expense of the people.

    It is striking that no punitive ‘lessons’ were applied to the banking system that bankrupted the Western world in 2008.

    On the contrary, the bankers’ hand has been strengthened. We are all now compelled to continue paying the debts that they incurred.

    A so-called ‘economic’ system that promotes the power and influence of the wealthy over ordinary people – so that our savings, pensions and investments become fodder for their profligate gambling in the so-called “markets” – has led to the increasing impoverishment of the many for the enrichment of the few.

    Greece has been badly burnt by this rigged system and has called a halt to the whole charade.

    The financial house of cards that has replaced the vision of a genuine European economic community was destined to eventually collapse, one way or another. It would appear that that day is now upon us.

    Maeve Halpin, Ranelagh, Dublin 6

  30. Home Counties Girl

    Throwing in a more human perspective.

    “I’m very afraid that I will go to prison for debts,” said Tsironis. “I’m 65 and I can’t pay the bills.”

    http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fdfcceb6c1eb4a1a8be9ddd89f05d7c6/greeks-struggle-daily-grind-foreigners-head-beach

  31. Mike Marketing

    And back to the headline of your article David.

    Nelson Mandella was a very special human being. He was the right man in the right place at the right time.

    I would sum him up as a visionary who always did as he said. His nation believed in him. The country followed him because they trusted his

    outstanding intellect and personal sacrifice; and that he would lead them and their neighbours to a better life by abolishing apartheid.

    He encapsulates the axiom that says:- “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in”.

    It is deeply ironic that this is an old Greek saying.

    The core of Mr. Mandella’s essence was forgiveness. Not because he was weak but because he was intelligent and strong. He had clearly thought this complex matter through and lead from the front.

    His greatest weapon was setting good example. “Don’t do as I say, do as I do”.

  32. Mike Lucey

    Just read,

    ‘Greece Is Not Poor – It Actually Has Massive Untapped Reserves Of Gold, Oil And Natural Gas

    http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/greece-is-not-poor-it-actually-has-massive-uptapped-reserves-of-gold-oil-and-natural-gas

    Reportedly, Greece is sitting on hundreds of millions of barrels of oil and gigantic natural gas deposits that are worth trillions of dollars.’

    It looks to be the case but not much use the Greece in the short term. Greece does not have the required means to get at this oil and gas but again I imagine China would be more than willing to do a reasonably fair deal with them. At the very least Shell and its ilk would not get its hands on it for cents on the Euro / Dollar.

    I also see that the gold mines have been shut down because licences were not forthcoming from the current government, maybe because of the ‘Green’ element of the government.

    As regards the underground gold. It seems that its quite possible to accurately determine the actual quantity that exists using modern technology. So why bother raping the land to pull it up, refine it and store it in vaults never to see the light of day again?

    Would it not make more sense to leave it underground, plant forests on the land and create beautiful wildlife parks that would be in effect Nature’s Vault. It, the underground gold deposits, could be used to ‘back’ a new Greek Gold drachma which I doubt any creditor would refuse as payment on debt.

    Maybe I’m being overly simplistic or even naive but again …… maybe not?

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