Philip Pilkington: The Coming Age of Neocla

By Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer living in Dublin, Ireland

We stand for the withering away of the state. At the same time we stand for the strongest state power that has ever existed. Is this “contradictory”? Yes, it is contradictory. But this contradiction fully reflects Marx’s dialectics.

– Josef Stalin in remarks to the Soviet Party congress in 1930

Such is the contorted nonsense that flows from doctrine and dogma when these become institutionalised. When dogma is confined to the armchair of the intellectual or the blackboard of the social scientist it is innocuous – simply an attempt by one individual to make sense of a world that they will never, in truth, ever make sense of. But when it comes to occupy a seat of power it becomes like a steamroller that can crush common sense and practicality in a misled attempt to change the world for the better.

Stalin and The Party came to call Marx’s (or Engels’?) philosophy of dialectical materialism ‘diamat’ – a phrase that perfectly captures the bureaucratic, narrow mindset that Orwell invoked when he referred to his semi-fictitious ‘newspeak’. In like manner I propose that we rename neoclassical economics whenever it comes to truly occupy a real seat of power; that is, when this set of ideas takes control over peoples’ lives in a wholly unmediated manner. When this occurs… well, welcome to the topsy-turvy world of ‘neocla’.

In times past when neocla grabbed power it was either through the IMF (as, for example, happened in Latin America during their various crises) or through the co-opting of some hapless government in search of answers (as happened in Russia under Yeltsin and Chile under Pinochet). When neocla gained real power its faceless bureaucrats then went about wrecking the society and the economy through various ‘microeconomic’ ‘reforms’ – taxation-based, usually, but also through privatisation, deregulation etc.

The reason these policies were enacted is because adherents of neocla claim that they have a model worked out in their heads of the world really works – just like Stalin’s, but the details are a little different. So, they figure that if they can just get the world to look a little bit more like their model and a little less the existing world, they figure we’ll eventually establish a sort of utopia – again, like Stalin, except the details are a little different. When they encounter failure they assure themselves that it is only a temporary setback; after all, they have this model in their heads and they simply know that it describes the inner-workings of the outside-world – again, like Stalin except the details are a little different.

(Note that the adherents of neocla will often bend language through the prism of their own ideas to suit their purposes and justify their crimes – just like Stalin does in the above quote. They will claim that they are not, in fact, imposing policy at all when they ‘reform’ the tax system or privatise certain institutions. Instead they will claim that they are actually rescinding policies. The logic of this is so twisted that I will leave it to some philosopher to explore in any depth. For now, it can safely be said that these folks step in and make changes in policy. In that they are imposing policy, no matter how they like to twist this to claim that when they impose policy they are actually not imposing policy but are, in fact, getting rid of already existing policy etc.)

In the past the adherents of neocla were kicked out of positions of power in the economies they wrecked after a few years of imposing nonsensical policies. The reason for this was that democracy, or at the very least popular opinion, pushed in a way that it could not in the stifled, totalitarian USSR. In this the populations exerted enough pressure on the government to change tack or elected a government that would do so.

But we are now seeing the birth of a new centre for neocla policymaking in Europe that I fear will be far more difficult for its victims to do away with. We see this new centre – let us call it the ‘Politeuro’ – emerge slowly through the centralisation of fiscal policy that is currently taking place in Europe; as yet its constitution is indeterminate, but even now we can start to make out its general shape and nature. We can see a broad sketch of it here, as written by Professor Bill Mitchell:

Basically it is setting up a centralised surveillance unit to further usurp the fiscal capacity of the member states without at the same time establishing a fully-fledged “federal” fiscal capacity to meet asymmetric aggregate demand shocks (across the region).

The plan would require all member states (17 nations) to send draft budgets to the EC by October 15 each year. The Commission could then reject the plan and force the nation to alter the spending and taxation proposals. There would also be stricter rules under the “Excessive Deficit Procedure” which would seek to enforce the Stability and Growth Pact more closely.

All member states would be forced to set up “independent fiscal councils” which would be involved in the preparation of budgets and official forecasts.

If a nation needed financial assistance there would be federal support it would have to be obedient under these rules.

Short conclusion: it would be a total disaster.

And that doesn’t even take into account the subcommittees of neocla that will enforce privatisation and various other microeconomic policies on governments that cannot comply with their impossible demands.

Soon a bunch of neocla policymakers will have significant control over the minutiae of government policy in the peripheral countries. And, since they are unchecked by the populations – not being subject to democratic control – and basically have free rein to implement their policies from a distance, we can be sure that they will concoct a most outlandish and stupid grab-bag of neocla policies which they will then force down the necks of the periphery governments.

They will tinker with taxes and impose privatisations, all of which will fly in the face of common sense – and all of which will be undertaken in reverence to a ‘free market’ that only exists in the foggiest corners of their own minds.

The economies and the societies of the periphery will suffer to no end, but these neocla technocrats will be particularly difficult to get rid of. They will be allied neither to a single government, nor will they be tied to a strictly international institution like the IMF. Instead they will be built into the European ‘chain of command’.

The Politeuro will be listened to by governments in the periphery and the citizens that elect these impotent governments will pay for it in real living standards. Meanwhile, these citizens will not have within their grasp any lever of power that they can pull to change the rules of the game.

In saying all this, I, like many others, recognise that we need the ECB to step in and write the check in order to stymie the crisis in Europe. And I fully recognise that, at this juncture, we have no real choice but to hand over fiscal powers so as to convince them to do so.

But we should not walk into this with our eyes closed. It is all too clear what is taking place here: the birthing of a sickly neoliberal superstate in which neocla technocrats will be able to impose their fantasies on people from a safe distance with complete freedom from democratic accountability. Once the ECB steps in and the eurocrisis is wound down, this will be the world in which many of us will have to live. And a brave a new world it will be – with all the Huxleyian associations that particular phrase calls to mind.

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103 comments

  1. skippy

    Ripper post.

    Skippy…although the future is not…told, yet. Keep your powder dry and be ready at a moments notice…eh.

  2. digi_owl

    i wonder if Stalin was ever interested in the whole soviet thing as anything more then a grab for personal power.

    1. Alex

      “I want personal power” and “I’m a hardline believer in this special, wonderful ideology” are not contradictory. In fact, I’d say they go hand in hand.

  3. emptyfull

    I wrote the following in response to Wolfgang Manchau’s FT article:

    Unfortunately, these 3 proposals would almost certainly result in a Europe run by elites who have, so far, failed horribly and repeatedly, and who have long been shielded from accountability from anyone other than the bankers. The choice is between an utterly failed form of Capitalism (the Eurozone) and democracy. One or the other will fall. While choosing democracy would probably lead to a horrible period of economic depression and realignment, its longterm effects would probably be less severe than thrusting an unwanted political union on the continent.

    There can be no “United States of Europe.” The creation of even a loose federation of 2-3 divergent nations is almost impossible without serious resistance and political violence. To bring Austria and Italy and Ireland together? Who will serve as the common heroes to forge a common mythology and breed enough of a common identity? You have no pan-European George Washington, no Nelson Mandela, no Gandhi. You have no common language, except perhaps English (which millions do not speak still). The memory of Christendom provides little common identity, especially with the horrors that followed the Reformation. You have never fought a serious war all together on the same side; the cultural memories of horrible ethnic warfare with one another remain fresh enough to undergird new animosities. You think the Greeks and Itallians and Germans resent each other now? Wait till the new “fiscal union” becomes totally dominated by the Germans (which will surely be Angela’s demand).

    The Eurozone and neo-liberal ideology have seriously harmed the West and capitalism. Time to cut our losses. Don’t double down on an equally absurd political union that could similarly harm democracy itself and highten national and ethnic tensions and possibly even plunge Europe back into the violence of its not too distant past, or possibly class warfare. The bankers and Eurocrats are not worth it!

    1. Flying Kiwi

      Can any of the US participants of this blog re-cast the central paragraph of emptyfull’s post as it might have been written for the US in 1860?

      1. K Ackermann

        Hehe. Believe it or not, that war is still being waged in the minds of many, but excellent observation.

      2. mac

        I think you will find that the events that led to the US Civil war were mostly about MONEY and not other things that folks would like to believe. Wars about money are obscene (folks think) so they attach philosophical stuff to them, ITS the money stupid!

        1. Alex

          Industrialism and Agricultural Slavery were two different economic systems. The money to be made if The South could be converted to Industrialism was probably enormous.

          1. Ishmael

            As I have said the move to further integration is similar to attempting to save a bad marriage by having a child.

            There is no comparison with Europe and the US in 1860. The US in 1860 spoke a common language and largely were from the UK and Northern Europe. They had already gone through the French Indian war, the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Mexican American War. With that all said, I now believe the War Between the States was a terrible mistake as well as the strengthening of the Federal govt.

    2. bmeisen

      Back to isolated city-states with the Pope mediating between them? I’ll consider that pre-Reformation times may have been better for the elite – the Crusades reduced surplus populations and disposed of rabble-rousers. There were some awful times post-Reformation, for example the 30-years war with the Catholic Austrian emperor raping and pillaging toe to toe with the Protestant Swedes (financed by the Catholic French!)

      1. raintonite

        You simply are creating an ‘either-or’ situation – we have a federal Europe or we have some something worse. There are, of course, any number of different organisation models which could be choosen.

        The one Philip Pilkington highlights just happens to be one of the worst, imo, that we could choose.

        Only those who wish to leave choices up to others usually want to see the world as an ‘either-or’ proposition; or they have some vested interest in framing problems in a narrow ‘either-or’ context.

        [Btw, PP, it’s interesting that you are drawing comparisons between the old soviet system and the newly emerging Europe model. I’ve even come across some leftists in Ireland who can’t help drawing the comparisons. Hopefully, this affecting their thinking.]

        1. bmeisen

          Excuse me but Emptyfull claims that “…there can be no United States of Europe.” Sounds pretty extreme to me. I have assumed that he is correct and posited a consequence: that Europe devolves to what it was 500 years ago. My argument is ad consequentio, and an exaggeration, not a constraint.

          1. bmeisen

            Your adolescent comment will not compel me to abandon a rhetorical flurish that I have used unsuccessfully for decades.

      2. Andrew not the Saint

        And what’s so wrong with decentralization of government in general? Are you oblivious to the rule of thumb that the bigger the nation state the nastier it gets?

  4. bmeisen

    Thank you Philip for echoing John Gray’s splendid summary of the parallel between neocla and Stalin:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2006/apr/27/the-global-delusion/

    Joschka Fischer has evolved in some unappetizing ways but he was right recently when he noted that this EU, this Kommission format, no longer functions. The long-term solution is a European union with neither a a technocratic commission nor a mannequin parliament. A European Council composed of member heads of state might be sufficient and if the Euro is to be kept then Ecofin would have to become a European finance ministry.

        1. tawal

          Police likely to stand down in LA in the immediate future, for the next few hours. LA is *Unbwogable*,they will not be unoccupied.

  5. Random Lurker

    While I agree on the whole with the OP, there are some points about the EU that are important in my opinion and that are often lost in these eurosceptic days:

    1) from an economic perspective, AFAIK, the EU countries are already very interdependent – there is a lot of intra-EU traffic. From this point of view, the Euro makes a lot of sense: suppose for example that a German car-maker imports tires from an Italian tire-maker. The two have to sign a contract that will be paid some time in the future. Will the tire maker accept a promise of payments in Lire (whose value he expects to fall in the future) or will he ask Deutschmarks? This kind of exchange rate uncertainity would be a real problem in the EU.

    2) While we see today a problem of financial umbalances, those umbalances were caused by trade umbalances (that is, Germany exports to Italy more than Italy exports to Germany, so Italy ends up with a lot of debt). The policies that would solve those umbalances are usually mercantilistic policies from the point of view of periphery countries, that would hurt a lot the core.

    Thus, in my opinion, an increased integration in the EU is a natural phenomenon: the problem is not the ECB in itself, but the fact that the guys appointed at the ECB are a group of “neocla” morons.

    1. raintonite

      Isn’t this akin to the argument that monarchy is a good system of governance as long the as the monarch is deemed good?

      Furthermore, monarchies weren’t wished into existence but developed through historical, material circumstance just as the current EU is developing within centres of power and material influence. The current shape of the EU has been determined largely by the very same people, or sets of people with similar ideas and outlook, who now seek methods to get around pesky nuisances like referedums and direct public accountability to further their vision.

      Lest we forget, the Lisbon Treaty was a direct result of the failed referendum Constitutional referendum, and Ireland had to vote a second time on its Lisbon referendum since they voted “wrong” the first time. (The sick part was the promise of increased jobs when we approved the second referendum.)

      It seems to many ordinary Europeans that the crisis is being used to reframe the material hinderances that current power brokers desire to overcome in order to consolidate their own vision of Europe. I find it rather difficult to remember what the whole project was about anymore. It certainly doesn’t seem to be of an advantage to ordinary working folk – especially on the so-called periphery.

      The current narrative from the top seems to be that we should just be happy that as long as we can consume some more we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads. The experts will take care of everthing. I’ve been living in expert conducted societies for over 40 years and the results just keep turning out worse.

      1. Random Lurker

        “Isn’t this akin to the argument that monarchy is a good system of governance as long the as the monarch is deemed good?”

        Ok, but then I don’t see much difference between “undemocratic” EU and “democratic” nation states that compose the EU:
        for example, in Italy where I live, “neolca” dogma is quite unchallenged (including center-left parties), and the head of the central bank was the same person that today is the head of the ECB.
        So, even if/when the EU implodes, I think that politicians in the various EU nations would still apply the same policies, maybe with some intra-european mercantilism.

  6. YankeeFrank

    You lost me at “we need the ECB to step in and write the check in order to stymie the crisis in Europe.”

    I asked this question the other day and it was ignored. I guess its too much of a foolish neophyte type question… but at this point, given how the response that this site is pushing would result in cementing just the horrifying system you paint a portrait of here… why would we want that instead of a massive default, resultant destruction of the banking system and discrediting of these same “neocla” technocrats we are deriding? Perhaps there wouldn’t be a discrediting of the technocrats? Perhaps it would cause unnecessary suffering? Possibly, but going the way of constant never-ending bailouts for bankers at the expense of the populace and democracy, I fail to see the benefit of going the “US route”. How is a quick and dirty approach less preferred at this point? Its as if you assume that having the technocrats “solve” this crisis would lead somewhere good, when its obvious they need to go, and the only chance we have of that is if the whole thing goes. If you fear another great depression, tell me, where are we headed right now? And how much longer will it go on with everyone confused about who the saviors and devils are? Enlighten me…

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Frankly, I think the alternative would be worse. Yanis Varoufakis did a piece on this the other day in response to Mosler and my default strategy.

      http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2011/11/27/abandoning-a-sinking-ship-a-plan-for-leaving-the-euro/

      He mistakes us for advocating exit, which we don’t, but still. Mosler and I are doing a response where we highlight the need for peripheral countries to step up their political game and make real threats should the Eurocracy not comply and stop forcing austerity down our throats. I’m meeting with the Irish government this week to outline a tax-bond backed jobs plan, for example.

      The governments need to grow a pair. But beyond that I agree with Yanis, I think outright default and exit would be catastrophically bad. Much worse than continued austerity. But as I said, there’s no point in walking into this with our eyes closed.

        1. Philip Pilkington

          Sure. But a Stalin wouldn’t have the leadership skills needed to impose it!

          Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” — Isaiah 6:8

      1. don

        “Once the ECB steps in and the eurocrisis is wound down, this will be the world in which many of us will have to live. And a brave a new world it will be – with all the Huxleyian associations that particular phrase calls to mind.”

        And this is something we should accept willing? Even advocate for?

        What has the world come to? Muddled thinking seems to prevail, to say the least.

      2. Tao Jonesing

        But beyond that I agree with Yanis, I think outright default and exit would be catastrophically bad. Much worse than continued austerity

        There are other alternatives than the three you discuss. A good guest post over at Charles Hugh Smith’s place:

        http://www.oftwominds.com/blognov11/Zeus-unleashing-future1-11-11.html

        I especially like the insight that a “bailout” is merely a different way of recognizing what is, in fact, a default. It’s just the “extend and pretend” method of recognition.

      3. YankeeFrank

        In other words, damned if we continue the bailouts, and damned even worse if we don’t. I would think that the ECB bailout solution is better if I had any faith that the countries would, as you say, toughen up and fight back against the neoliberal “primacy of debt” onslaught. They will not, and then we will be back at this point in a couple years or less, with much weaker economies and a major default in the offing once again. I guess the way I see it is cutting off the arm to save the patient is better now than waiting and having to cut off both arms later. I have no faith that the power of the neoliberal cabal will be broken until they are bankrupted. Oh well, I’m building my life raft…

      4. Fiver

        That is exactly the sort of “scare the shit out of them argument” that the Extortionists depend on.

        It assumes everyone is frozen is place. NOBODY is capable of making a good decision, let alone a creative one. It assumes it’s every exited country for itself, and there isn’t a brain between them. Why? Why couldn’t they form their own group? Or take independent actions seeking aid from the bogeymen BRICS, or others outside of the Eurocrat/IMF(Washington) iron grip.

        Because what you’re really saying is that these countries are INCAPABLE of changing, that they are essentially welfare cases with no prospect of employment. That they have no dignity, no pride, no nothing. Let’s just remember that Iraqis thought enough of their freedom to give up a million of their souls so far. I rather suspect, in a situation where there is NO CHANCE of real war, nations and peoples would prefer a few tough years (tough, not “catastrophic”)of SHARED sacrifice over perpetual subservience to a bunch of Eurocratic cyborgs who themselves march to orders issued by “markets” which have been converted into weapons of financial war. Their elites have betrayed them completely. Out with them.

        This has been an all-out attack. You counsel surrender and what amounts to slavery, NOT to Germany, but to those whose project has been the Market State for decades. How on earth can you possibly think there will be some “better” opportunity to “change” in the future when in fact what we see is that the Enemy is getting stronger, not weaker?

        Most of all, what on earth makes you think these “welfare bums” won’t be the very first tossed overboard when trouble next surfaces? You constantly advocate what would be considered “radical” reforms, yet want nothing to do with what might be required to get there. And since you’ve tossed democracy out on the street in Europe, who are you even talking to?

        1. JTFaraday

          “How on earth can you possibly think there will be some “better” opportunity to “change” in the future when in fact what we see is that the Enemy is getting stronger, not weaker?”

          I don’t think they are stronger, I think they’re pretty weak and short on the credibility that makes for real strength. However, what they are doing is still throwing their weight around in a power vacuum in the legacy system they themselves devolved.

          1. Fiver

            I don’t know what you mean by “strength” but I’m talking about the ability to ram the most vile of policy decisions down various peoples’ throats without skipping a beat. If you consider the scale of the fraud and theft and blackmail, the millions of lives lost as in DEAD all over the globe, the tens of thousands in the US also DEAD, with tens of millions ruined, then size up the entirety of the public response, I figure there simply is no argument to be made that they are weakening 1 iota. There should’ve been millions in the streets back in LATE 2008/EARLY 2009 calling for a whack of private and public heads to roll. That non-response can be attributed to the “Obama” factor (precisely why Wall Street chose him). But it’s now 2011, the masks are all off, and the people STILL refuse to take any of it seriously enough to even show up for 5 minutes somewhere to support a demo.

            Nope. We and people everywhere are LOSING, and badly.

        2. Ramon Creager

          I agree (though I’d quibble about the Iraqi people; don’t think they made that choice).

          It boils down to this: One fork of the road leads to misery, with no end in sight. The other, to perhaps greater *short-term* misery, but with an end in sight (the reclamation of sovereignty and democracy). The power of the neoclas must be broken, and the option being advocated here doesn’t do that.

    2. Jessica

      “massive default, resultant destruction of the banking system and discrediting of these same “neocla” technocrats”

      Without a fundamental _political_ restructuring, there is a good chance that whatever route we follow will turn out to be used primarily for the benefit of the micro-elite. A messy default might give some parts of the micro-elite a chance to stick a knife in the back of other parts, but the main burden would fall on the rest of us.
      In short, as long as the micro-elite is stacking the deck, we will lose no matter what game we play.
      With a fundamental political restructuring, we will find a number of good-enough routes out of this mess.

    3. Dirk77

      YankeeFrank,

      Yves or Jesse or someone on this site made a number of points a few years ago about the Euro agreement being doomed to fail. Common currency + Retained national sovereignty + something else (I can’t remember) = untenable. The argument was that you could only have two of the three.

      I think Philip has decided that the best path is to sacrifice national sovereignty in order to retain a common currency. So only “solutions” implemented by a central European banking authority are valid ones here. On the other hand, viewing things from a national perspective, default and protecting only your nation’s bank depositors _is_ the best option. I mean, look at Iceland. (And surely the neoclas would appreciate the idea of each country being a limited liability company. Bankruptcy with debt restructuring is a natural then.) Looking at things from America, the latter seems best. But then I already live in a united states.

  7. Fiver

    What we witness has been the explicit aim of the entire Eurozone “crisis” orchestrated by the real kingpins of globalization, i.e., one more step in the construction of the Market State, simply following on the stupendously successful coup (a most friendly takeover all around) launched under Bush and not just consolidated under Obama, but with their power tremendously enhanced. An entity as immense as BlackRock, or the creation of over $100 trillion in new derivatives just this year are qualitatively different from the even imagined facts of 5 years ago. The more they’re fed, the stronger they get. And Europe is a really big meal:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/04/fink-201004

    Which is why I am 100% against the so-called “solution” every Wall Street analyst and MSM talking head is screaming for, to “get your act together, Europe, just hand it all over to the ECB and print like mad”. You feed them, and they get stronger. Simple as that.

    This is actually an opportunity for Europe to break out of the global race to terminal instability. The first nations/peoples to commit all the way to a truly sustainable path will inherit the earth.

    1. YankeeFrank

      I’m not sure what they’ll inherit, but it will be better than the nothing on offer now. I’m also convinced a default is the only way to fight these monsters. The current “leaders” in the west need to be fully discredited and a default is the only way that will happen. Most people will muddle along allowing the banksters to consolidate their takeover of everything if things don’t collapse. We need 10 million people in the streets to change things now.

      1. Fiver

        Absolutely agree, YF. I just finished responding to a comment (directly above)by Phil P. to the effect (again) that the choices were only submit or “catastrophe”, and saw your reply.

        To my mind, capitulation now would be the catastrophe. Our elite Goon Squad, that fusion of money, power and “managers” have utterly fucked things up for several decades now, and have left the human race in a horrible predicament going forward. They will take us straight into a Hell far worse than this Depression if not stopped.

        I can’t understand the point of talking “radical change” if in the face of the most brutal financial attack we are advised that the “best” option is to place our Fate in the hands of those beating us blue.

        1. markincorsicana

          The only thing bloodier and more difficult than standing up now will be for future generations impoverished further by neocla to stand up against a power with vastly improved technological means and in a biosphere even more ravaged by greed. But even now, who can build a consensus or even show the 99%, 98% of whom are still in a drugged slumber, who the real culprits are?
          éirigi

  8. Parvaneh Ferhadi

    «In saying all this, I, like many others, recognise that we need the ECB to step in and write the check in order to stymie the crisis in Europe. And I fully recognise that, at this juncture, we have no real choice but to hand over fiscal powers so as to convince them to do so.»
    ————————————————–
    Really? So you are saying we should just all agree to a Stalinist Europe, because we have no choice anyway, but we should do it with our eyes wide open? LOL.
    This is Monday morning satire at its best.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      That’s sort of the point. Newspeak should grate on the ears big time. ‘Diamat’ certainly did.

      1. Fraud Guy

        I thought the purpose of newspeak was to homogenize thought into prescribed channels so that unwanted associations would not be arrived at.

        Diamat makes me think of diamonds, or mats, or anything but groupown.

        So neocla should not be neomics but newbuythought or newbuyplans or something like that.

  9. Jose L Campos

    Pondering about history it has come into my mind that true history happens in Europe. I mean by History an overturning of concepts and development of new forms of social relations. The rest of the continents have chronicles: kings die, kings are assassinated, hordes invade but it is in Europe where actual development of social consciousness happens. What other region has such a string of art forms as Europe, where from Romanesque the mind can switch to the Gothic and then to Classical and Baroque periods and every one of those artistic periods embodying a new consciousness, from the abolition of slavery through serfdom to the wars of religion and Westphalia and the convulsions of the Enlightenment and what followed. Europe is now creating, giving birth to a system, what kind I don’t know but it is a baffling system because it does not change rules , it creates new ones. That is the nature of reality, it is never encompassed by laws, it is creative of phenomena that we then think are laws. DIXI

  10. Cathryn Mataga

    “And I fully recognize that, at this juncture, we have no real choice but to hand over fiscal powers so as to convince them to do so.”

    Greece had the right idea originally. Lay out the options clearly, let the bankers outline all the ‘end of the world scenarios’ they like, and then put this in a referendum. If they force this from the top, it may temporarily postpone default another year, but that won’t matter if out of anger, everything burns to the ground.

  11. Mitch Green

    Bravo Philip! I agree that right now we need the ECB to act as lender of last resort. But, going forward member states -esp. the periphery – ought to keep a keen eye as to how the core might try to cannibalize them in the future.

  12. Antifa

    @YankeeFrank — Well, yeah it is kind of a neophyte or rhetorical question to ask why we do not kick over an obviously rotten house of cards.

    Before it falls apart on its own.

    Short answer: because every one of us has prospects bet on those cards, even the unemployed, in the form of functioning societies. Kicking it all down means cold baths and eating beans and real uncertainty about everything for who knows how long. An existential leap into “anywhere is better than here.”

    People don’t do that “anything but this” leap until they wake up living like refugees in their own neighborhoods. Which is clearly happening on all sides. But the numbers aren’t there. Not yet.

    Better answer: Zeus Yiamouyiannis is starting a series of articles today that cover your question exquisitely well. Over at the blog Of Two Minds:

    http://www.oftwominds.com/blog.html

  13. K Ackermann

    The Children of Men DVD has a very interesting documentary that in part deals with the dangers of utopia.

    I’ve spent enough time at Mises.org to give me the creeps. It’s almost like a zoo, when you can peek in on various stages of groupthink in progress. It’s all very dogmatic, and that or course creates problems because the real world doesn’t operate that way, but the utopian vision requires it to. Dissent is not welcome, and the resulting axioms arising from their calculus are almost comical.

    Axiom: The only roll for government is national defense.

    Question: Who controls this defense? Is there any room for diplomacy?

    Answer 1: Fuck you. It’s people like you that should drop dead and die.

    Answer 2: Don’t listen to answer1; you just need to be re-educated. Start with the great man Hans Herman Hoppe. He shows that competing insurance companies are best to administer collective defense.

    I read it, and then asked if anyone realized Hands Herman Hoppe is completely, objectively, batshit insane. Appearently, I’m in the minority opinion there, and that made my flesh crawl.

    Don’t ever think it can’t happen here, because it can.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Hahaha! Yeah, those folks are a bit mad alright. And yes, I believe Mr. Hoppe is, well, hopping mad. But I think the neoclas are worse.

      Why? Because while the Hopper and his apostles come across as weirdos who have never actually functioned in an administrative position in their entire lives and see the world through rose-coloured glasses so tinted that they generally can’t even see where they’re walking (and they don’t have a working class to bring them to power, so they stay in their basements), the neoclas comes across — like their diamat buddies in the ex-USSR — as pretty kosher and so they’re taken seriously.

      Why? Well, both the diamat folks and the neocla boys are career intellectuals. You know, court (anti-)historians. And career intellectuals can say some of the craziest stuff in the world and still be taken seriously. Creepy.

  14. Goin' South

    Those who advocate sacrificing democracy to avoid an imagined economic collapse should listen to Bueventura Durruti. The Spanish Anarchist was asked by a Canadian reporter whether waging a civil war against the Fascists wasn’t too much of a risk:

    “But, interjected van Passen, even if you win “You will be sitting on a pile of ruins”. Durruti answered “We have always lived in slums and holes in the wall. We will know how to accommodate ourselves for a while. For, you must not forget, we also know how to build. It is we the workers who built these palaces and cities, here in Spain and in America, and everywhere.

    “We, the workers, can build others to take their place, and better ones! We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth, there is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world, here, in our hearts. That world is growing this minute”.

    Brief Durruti bio.

    1. Jessica

      But as it turned out, the end result was appalling for the Spanish working class and Spanish anarchism.
      So I don’t think I would be so eager to follow his advice.

      1. Goin' South

        It’s true that the Spanish Revolution was defeated by a combination of Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and the Capitalist “democracies” that all worked together to defeat the Anarchists.

        But before it went down, a young writer named George Orwell had the opportunity to witness the fruits of the Revolution close up. Since he is cited in Pilkington’s post itself, his views are especially interesting in contrast to what 1984’s author thought of the Bolsheviks:

        “But it (the revolution) lasted long enough to have its effect upon anyone who experienced it. However much one cursed at the time, one realized afterwards that one had been in contact with something strange and valuable. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than apathy or cynicism, where the word “comrade” stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug. One had breathed the air of equality.”

        Sounds like a thing worth taking a risk.

        1. Jeff

          Who do you think financed Trotsky on his trip from his hometown of Brooklyn as he traveled in a sealed train that took him across Germany to Russia?

          It wasn’t boys and girls collecting coins, but rather a Wall Street Brokerage Company.

    2. EH

      At the very least to my untrained eyes, that appears to be a nice invocation of the “Job Creator” story so pervasive in the US over the past decade or two.

  15. Howard L

    Wow! The financial oligarchs have us by the shorthairs. If we do not swap a couple trillion dollars for Eurodebt, ( see AE Pritchard’s article)
    society will breakdown and all hell will break loose.

    I refuse to believe that the best we humans can do is to continue to live as slaves under the control of the bankers. Instead of swapping Treasuries for Eurodebt, I propose we create the following swap programs.

    The ECB and the FED will swap your empty stomach with food, the swap can be renewed every 24 hours.

    The ECB and FED will swap a pile of dirt for a small residence so the homeless do not freeze.

    The ECB and FED will swap a very small amount of blood for decent healthcare.

    We can do better than the current system. Don’t forget it is Cyber Monday!

  16. George Balanchine

    Dear Dude,

    I think you’re losing it a bit. The Eurozone’s not going to survive the present crisis, even if it does, Huxley and Brave New World? That’s a bit strong don’t you think?

    Sincerely,
    George Balanchine

    1. Philip Pilkington

      I’m obviously being rhetorical. But as regards the neocla ideology, it is almost identical to the old diamat: an ideology that no one really takes seriously but which is still used in a very real way by those in power to further their political power and justify atrocities.

      1. George Balanchine

        “…by those in power to further their political power and justify atrocities.”

        But that’s not how people think, in my opinion…even political elites who are “committing atrocities”. They believe in the rightness of what they’re doing, no matter how awful.
        But be rhetorical by all means. The problem, for me anyway, is that it doesn’t help one to think clearly. For example, in a way, it would not be unreasonable for the entire human race to commit suicide given the horrors of human history, and even though that might be true, how does it help?
        As an antidote, I recommend Keynes’ “Economic possiblities for our grandchildren”, if I have the title right.

        Sincerely,
        George Balanchine

        P.S. nice touch, the Balanchine name isn’t it? You’d be astonished at how many people haven’t recognized the name. An artist of the first rank, as great as (name drop alert) Matisse, and mostly…no response at all.

  17. anon48

    “In saying all this, I, like many others, recognise that we need the ECB to step in and write the check in order to stymie the crisis in Europe. And I fully recognise that, at this juncture, we have no real choice but to hand over fiscal powers so as to convince them to do so.”

    Ok- I agree. Consideration of the alternative is the equivalent of staring down into the abyss. BUT- if even so, that’s not an excuse to shove a political/cultural/societal union down the throats of all the people of Europe without first giving them a chance to have a say. The result doing that could be far worse. Creation of a stronger more formal union based solely upon economics, negotiated from the point of winners and losers, with the high levels of sovereign debt being utilized as leverage) is highly questionable. If indeed there could be a sustainable union arising from these circumstances, at best the way in which it was formed would still lead to significant resentment among large numbers of EU citizens. At worst , conceivably, it could lead to military action, followed thereafter by an even deeper financial crisis. (There would still be risk that countries would choose to leave after signing while at the same time the dynamics of a stronger agreement could provide other members with the appearance of additional moral authority allowing for physical enforcement and/or more severe financial penalties).

    Instead, there needs to be a formal discussion among TRUSTED leaders from each country, gathering as a group and respresenting its peoples,to discuss ALL the specific terms of the ultimate union( not just economic). The discussion should cover historical, philosophical, cultural, legal, political, military, and other important societal aspects. Economic and finance types should be kept at a distance. (They SHOULD NOT get seat at the table. If allowed in the room at all, they should only be given the chairs in the rear, backs parked up against the wall.)

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but this has never been done. And it’s only from the results of discussions like these can you make the cement necessary to bind all Europeans (those that choose to belong)together. Where they do so willingly, and remain bound during the worst of times. It’s much more likely that individuals would submit to the personal sacrifices needed to get through toughest times when they’ve been given a true say in the matter.

    BTW- as an American, while we may not be directly impacted by the ultimate outcome, it’s understood that failure would eventually have a devastating impact on those of us living on this side of the ocean also. Further, looking at the political leadership of the EU countries vs. what we have now over here- I’ll take the quality of your guys over our guys any day. You at least have a shot at getting this right.

    The Euro problem has been simmering for almost a year. Much time has already been wasted. Don’t understand why these types of formal discussions have not already been occurring on a continental scale. You seem to be a smart guy- and- good writer. Why not pursue something like this instead of wasting time on trying to create clever labels for people you don’t like. This approach would be better than the fatalistic tone struck in the article- i.e. just write the check and be willing to submit to people that you know you don’t like or believe in, and whose jusgment will probably cause failure in the end anyway.

    Long shot but it’s possible discussions like this could lead to alternative and viable third alternatives not yet being seriously considered.

  18. craazyman

    Left untreated, neocla can spread throughout the body politic and evolve by a process of ideological mutation into a severe case of austeria.

    At that point only repeated stimuli of fiscal viagra can revive the patient, who is otherwise too enervated to be capable of productive activity, were there any to be found.

    However, certain physicians, through a process of homeopathic reasoning, will insist that only repeated doses of austeria can cure austeria. They reason that only by making the body politic so miserable that no organism of any kind, even the germs of austeria, will wish to remain as parasites can a certain cure be effected. The risk of this treatment is population collapse through death and emigration, however the land and buildings will remain undamaged for re-habitation should the patient survive.

  19. Schofield

    What price democracy when most of the population don’t understand how modern money works? Much teaching and campaigning is necessary to avoid lambs to further slaughter.

    1. Darren Kenworthy

      If I where a member or lackey of the .1% I would say “Europe is a really important part of our empire. We need to give our administrators there the power to allow us to continue looting. The last thing we want is democracy.” only I would actually say “a central authority must be given more power so that it can end the crisis”.

      1. K Ackermann

        And if I really convinced myself that I was being altruistic, I might even say that power must be consolidated, because each member, as it stands, has too much power to hold out against “good things” for whatever reason.

        Man… it’s so easy! Gimme power!

  20. Susan the other

    The debt should be forgiven before this really gets out of hand. I can’t believe the Irish are taking this sitting down. If all the banks forgave each other’s debt it would be a good start and no harm done. They are already insolvent – why are we indulging them?

    1. K Ackermann

      The problem is, it can’t really be forgiven. The banks are so levered that they are in no position to forgive anything. The banks would have to be nationalized, but what would that mean? It might mean the Squid, backed by the full power of the US, still expects the next coupon to be paid, and that would come from… European taxpayers?

      No. The ECB will just print. Guess which currency you don’t want to be long.

  21. Jessica

    I disagree with the notion that some inexplicable dogmatism is playing a significant role in this crisis. Neo-classical neo-liberal economics is simply a cover for whatever the 1% wants. When European and American governments intervened in the markets by bailing out banks, where were the howls of outrage from the deregulating “neocla” dogmatists? Nowhere to be heard.
    Current mainstream economics stays influential for two reasons.
    1) It is a flexible cover for whatever the 1% needs at the moment.
    2) The 1% is neither coherent enough nor bright enough as a class to come up with an alternative.
    Here, I think that I see things slightly different from Lambert Strether. Yes, right now things are hunky dory for the 1%, but I don’t think the events of the past few years will serve them well for long and I don’t think they are counting on that either. What is happening to us now is now a strategy on their part. They just can’t help themselves. Like Ebola.
    The current 1% is not a true elite with a program of leadership (unlike Stalin’s Communist Party, which had a coherent toxic vision for society). The current 1% is an opportunistic infection and current mainstream economics is how that infection is confusing the social immune system.

    1. Jessica

      What is happening to us now is now a strategy on their part. They just can’t help themselves. Like Ebola.
      —>
      What is happening to us now is not a strategy on their part. They just can’t help themselves. Like Ebola.

      I would love to have a function for editing after I post. No matter how hard I try to proofread, there is always something that slips by me.

    2. Valissa

      “Neo-classical neo-liberal economics is simply a cover for whatever the 1% wants”

      $Ka-ching$ Yup, it’s really that simple. Economic theories do not rule the world, human beings do. As I said the other day… Money rules Economics, Economics does NOT rule money. Who does the field of economics serve? My observation is that economics serves the people who have the money and power, there seems to be little interest in economics in the lives, welfare and needs of the little people.

      To put it more simply, economics is a tool (or toolkit) and is NOT in charge of the financial system or the political system… it is a policy tool. The other part is the skills and wisdom to apply the tool… obviously those are not in great abundance among the elites right now.

      1. Valissa

        btw, Philip that was very enjoyable futuristic econo-science fiction, and like all F&SF uses clever archetypal extremes to make a point.

        however on this point…

        ” I, like many others, recognise that we need the ECB to step in and write the check in order to stymie the crisis in Europe. And I fully recognise that, at this juncture, we have no real choice but to hand over fiscal powers so as to convince them to do so.”

        WOW, disaster capitalism works! Quick hand over (the power you don’t have anyway) in order to be SAVED from sure destruction! Heck, it worked for the major montheistic religions, and the Holy Roman Empire, why not try a new variation on the theme?

        The ECB will do whatever it does based on the outcome of the intra-elite power plays, and we will all have to live with that. Personally, I’m not in favor of more debt or printing more money because I don’t think those solve anything at all. Some time in the next year or two there will be a major market crash and things will go very poorly for a while, extend and pretend only works so long until it doesn’t.

    3. Fiver

      They certainly DO have a program. It is the globalized Market State (see Bobbit and others) with the Pentagon as enforcer, and they get stronger every day, not weaker. The clear aim is the destruction of sovereign democracies or in fact ANY INDEPENDENT NATION via financial weapons of mass destruction, or via old-fashioned war. There is also a technological revolution in warfare and police state despotism underway to enforce it – already drones can strike anyone, anywhere on the planet, all that’s needed is a set of coordinates, which even a cellphone provides.

      Even the possibility of stopping this is rapidly slipping away. We desperately need the millions of people who DO KNOW what’s happening to show up in the streets, and NOW.

      1. Jessica

        I agree that they are treating us hideously and driving things in a hideous direction.
        What I am pointing at is that this did not arise from some clear notion of what they wanted. It just pops up ad-hoc as they lurch from crisis to crisis, guided only by the desire to continue the looting.
        This does not make them any less dangerous. Just differently dangerous. If I am correct, it means that we they can not lead us out of the crisis. Not even in the negative direction you describe.
        We will remain in one crisis after another until there is fundamental political and social change and some force comes into leadership that has some vision of where we should go. That could be a good direction or a bad direction, but from this elite the only “direction” we will get is that of a stumble-down drunk.

    4. Philip Pilkington

      Yeah, I know. You think anyone really believed in diamat?

      “It works even if you don’t believe in it…” to quote Zizek on ideology.

    5. John

      I like your analogy since I have spent two months studying the Marshall Protocol and Inflammation Therapy. Modern genomic research has revealed that so-called autoimmune diseases are in fact infections. The pathogenic culprits have learned how to exist inside our immune cells and dysregulate (turn-off) the innate immune system and it’s function of producing anti-biotic peptides such as cathelicidin and beta defensins. Much of modern therapy views inflammation as the disease and seeks to palliate it, often by further dysregulating the innate immune system. Water on the fire so to speak – without understanding the cause of the fire – cell-wall deficient microbes so small they cannot be filtered and tough enough that they can’t be pasteurized. They are slow growing and take decades in many cases to create the various chronic diseases that plague so many people. Kind of like the elite being discussed on this thread and their methods of infiltrating the social body and generating slow and painful death.

  22. JTFaraday

    “In saying all this, I, like many others, recognise that we need the ECB to step in and write the check in order to stymie the crisis in Europe. And I fully recognise that, at this juncture, we have no real choice but to hand over fiscal powers so as to convince them to do so.

    But we should not walk into this with our eyes closed.”

    Yeah, and what it means is that the check is in the mail, but you’re not getting the check. The bankers are getting the check.

    You’re getting a new and improved round of austerity, to include the French and Germans to keep you company, which will effectively make you the Irish equivalent of the American welfare queen over there on the Continent.

    Good luck with that job.

  23. Jessica

    Even if the ECB did step in with a large enough bail out, doesn’t that just put Europe on the track the US has been on since 2008, which is not exactly a solution?
    If there is a difference, please explain it to me.

    1. K Ackermann

      It’s even worse. The countries that are forced to take on the massive loans are the ones least capable of reaching the level of competitiveness required by the euro. They have no currency to devalue.

      The whole thing is a ridiculous exercise, and I’m sure the periphery is sorry they ever joined. If not now, they sure as hell will be.

    2. Philip Pilkington

      No. The US crisis was a subprime crisis. Big banks gambled on derivatives — blablabla. We all know the story.

      The problem in the EU is a sovereign debt crisis. There’s a big difference.

      1. Jessica

        The similarity is that in both cases there are debts that can not be paid back and a refusal to come to grips with that.
        Moreover, aren’t the “sovereign debt” crises triggered by the sub-prime crisis in multiple ways? For example, the sub-prime crisis hurt the economy and that cut down tax income and increased expenses for national governments.
        Particularly in Ireland’s case, the “sovereign debt” crisis only occurred because the national government took on the debts of the banks, many of which were also involved in the sub-prime fiasco, and all of which were involved in massive over-investment in Irish real estate. The fact that the loans in question were not sub-prime does not seem like a fundamentally important difference.

  24. Hugh

    This is about kleptocracy. Neoclassical economics is just the intellectual cover favored by our elites for their looting.

    I agree with those who say that ECB intervention without fundamental restructuring of Europe’s finances, banking, trade, wealth, and politics is just a grand case of kicking the can down the road, throwing good money after bad, and ultimately further enriching and empowering the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

    We should not kid ourselves. Reform has failed. It was dead on arrival. It was dead before arrival. For the 99%s of the world, our choices are quickly becoming binary, either revolution or a descent into debt peonage and neofeudalism.

  25. Jim

    Yankee Frank the question you are raising(and an in-depth discussion about it) is absolutely crucial to finding a way out of this mess:

    “…but at this point given the response that this site is pushing would result in cementing just the horrifying system you paint a portrait of here…why would we want that instead of a massive default, resultant destruction of the banking system and discrediting of the same “neocla” technocrats we are deriding.”

    Part of the reason you question may tend to be ignored or deflected is that it challenges fundamental political/philosophical assumptions of many of the commetariat on this blog–some of which might be:

    Many view the role of Big state/Big government as terminally positive.

    Many argue for the necessity of having a public sphere which is far more powerful than the private sphere.

    Many believe that the degree of corruption in the public sphere is still contained enough that there can be a bailout of banks and then some kind of “enlightened” restructuring after the banks have been saved from imploding.

    Many assume that it is the natural and justifiable role of the State to attempt to articulate the human good.

    Many assume that it is possible to give a purely descriptive reading of any situation(in particular, of the operating mechanism of the monetary system)

    And many assume that normative and descriptive statements are two contrasting categories rather than viewing description as already normative in order to folow through on its project of being descriptive.

      1. Valissa

        I do, and I’ve been hanging out here for a few years. These things are not said out loud, but are underlying assumptions implied by the types of solutions many propose.

        The question about any proposed reform is ‘who’s going to make THEM do it differently?’… who is in a position of power in order to enforce it? so when discussing how to get the banksters to operate differently, only the state is in a position of enough power to be able to effect change in the markets… yet the state is totally captured/ensared/entangled by these same markets (the so-called Market State of Bobbit & his CFR buddies).

        So who’s going to make the neo-liberal elite do things any differently? Who ya gonna call? There is no outside force that can save the day.

        History could be said to be a history of one damn crisis after another, usually many at the same time. I think many have unrealsitc ideals relative to what history says about humans and human nature in groups.

    1. JTFaraday

      I just don’t know why Pilkie persists in thinking they’ll be sending him the check instead of the bill.

      That’s not to say these past few months haven’t been a mildly interesting excursion through the technocratic fantasy life of post-neocla public policy entrepreneurs.

  26. rotter

    I Think your idea is good, and “neocla” has an even more contracted, state-speak ring than diamat. Neocla sounds like some pentagon project. I question the motives of the “neoliberla superstate” though. They Use thier dogma far more cynically than the ever Soviets did (at least until the 80’s). Neoliberal dogma provides the thinnest, merest, barest cover for the actual motive of self enrichment, since the priests of Baal demanded child sacrifices to feed the fiery god.

  27. BAukerman

    I don’t understand the point of trying to save a politico-economic system that has already been vetoed by our environment (i.e. climate change, soil degradation, overfishing, etc.) and subsequently by world public opinion (9/11, Arab Spring, Indignatos, Occupy!) and by capitalists themselves (financial crisis, income inequality, reduced living standards for the 99%).

    A return to the “end of history” 1990s or “the gilded age” of 1950s capitalism is empty pining for a better elite. It’s like hoping for serial killers that kill with kindness or rapists that buy their victims flowers first. The premise that 1% should own everything, 20% should do all the engaging/empowering work while the remaining 80% become automated workers & mindless consumers is flawed at the outset.

    Even if everything returned to some pre-crash, past form of regulated capitalism we’d still have to face the dislocation of millions of people due to immanent environmental catastrophes. There is absolutely no way our current institutions can handle this in any humane way. From all perspectives the onus is to create something new. It’s already been decided that the next decade, for the vast majority of people, will be full of suffering. The question is whether that suffering will be for a return to the status quo or for a more just society?

    I’d have to agree with Goin’ South here. There might be something to a system which communist, fascist and capitalist elites joined forces to destroy in 1930s Spain.

    Yves or Philip, I know it may not be worth your time but I’d surely appreciate it if you did a piece on Albert & Hahnel’s Participatory Economics. I have a rudimentary understanding of economics but it seems promising as vision for a new economy, at least in theory.

  28. Jim

    In our present post-democratic society which is now experiencing the collusion of Big State, Big Capital and Big Bank it also seems important to look more closely at different definitions of the State and Market and how they interact.

    Is it actually the case that our Modern State only serves the interests of Big Capital?

    Is our Modern State is any sense autonomous, with its own sense of interests separate from Big Capital and Big Bank?

    From a legal perspective does the Modern State equal the political apparatus, plus the public law, plus political loyalty?

    From a legal perspective, does the market equal the entrepreneurial class, plus private law, plus contractual obligations?

    How exactly does the market connect to the Marker/State?

    Are there additional networks of players who straddle Big State, Big Capital and Big Bank but cannot be connected to the revolving door–yet yield great influence and great unaccountability?

    1. Valissa

      Excellent question at one level, but it seems to me those labels are too neat and tidy and abstract … the ecosystem of elite power is complex and convoluted, as well as ever changing. Elites generally have multiple motives and interests that are played out in various ways over a given time in history. I’m sure there are layers of behind-the-scene elites that we don’t know much about yet that have great influence.

      Despite this… old power configurations are always giving way to new ones, sometimes the change is gradual and sometimes it’s more sudden and abrupt as things appear to be going now. We are all paying more attention to the money and power game now that the “rules/norms” in recent usage have been breaking down and showing their inherent limitations.

      “The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.” – William James

      illegitamati non carburundum

      How to survive these times? Bourbon, perhaps ;)

  29. Jeff

    Neoca is sort of awkward. How about

    “Neoclatter” or “Neoclast” as in “Broadcast” or “bombast?”

  30. bluffraise

    Greece should have got the boot a while back(for many reasons) but did not, for one simple reason. Money. Institutions(Banks) were loaded with Greek paper( particularly the French). Same players spouting same shit=shit show.

  31. barrisj

    “Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.”
    J Stalin

    This is how one deals with intractable problems, as he proved so often…a true pragmatist.

  32. DPirate

    “In saying all this, I, like many others, recognise that we need the ECB… And I fully recognise that, at this juncture, we have no real choice… ”

    No choice, you must be a robot. Alternatively, you could take your medicine, instead of leaving it for your kids to swallow.

  33. Publius

    Advancing Oligarcy: a conversation with James Kwak
    http://www.thestraddler.com/20106/piece2.php
    James Kwak is the author, with Simon Johnson, of 13 Bankers, an analysis of the 2008 financial crisis and is aftereffects, set within the larger context of the role of financial power throughout American history. The book arose out of an article Kwak and Johnson wrote in The Atlantic, which compared the character of the financial crisis in the U.S. to previous crises in so-called emerging market countries. In both types of crises, Kwak and Johnson contend, forms of oligarchy and dangerous concentrations of power played primary roles.

    From Global Depression to Global Governance
    The role of the corporate elites’ secretive global think tanks
    Andrew Gavin Marshall’s presentation at the book launch of The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century”, Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall (Editors). September 29, 2010, Montreal, Canada. http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=21504

    The “new European Soviet”: “During a late-February address in Brussels, former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky warned that the European Union — referred to by former Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev as the ‘new European Soviet’ — represents a continuation of the totalitarian vision he had fought against in Russia…. The former Soviet president Mikhail S. Gorbachev put it more succinctly when he told the official Russian news agency, Ria Novosti, last week that ‘It is all about influence and domination in Europe.’” (New York Times, http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/globalism/regionalism/soviet-eu.htm

  34. Dr. Brian Oblivion

    See also: Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shock_Doctrine

    Neoliberal policies, those advocated by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics are difficult to impose on the public in societies with functional democratic institutions because they are unpopular with the public (for obvious reasons).

    However when a major crisis whether incidental or manufactured strikes a population neoliberal policies can be imposed on the populace while it is reeling from the initial shock of the crisis. This is economic “shock therapy.”

    Sept 11, 1973 in Chile is the first such example of Milton Friedman’s theories. Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union is another. Sept 11, 2001 in the United States was a similar shock which the Bush administration took advantage of. The current economic crisis could well be the latest. Obama isn’t liberal, obviously. Perhaps he’s neo-liberal.

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