Contributed by Don Quijones, a freelance writer and translator based in Barcelona, Spain. His blog, Raging Bull-Shit, is a modest attempt to challenge some of the wishful thinking and scrub away the lathers of soft soap peddled by our political and business leaders and their loyal mainstream media.
Two years ago this May, Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and Barcelona’s Plaza Catalunya, Spain’s two most important city squares, were occupied by thousands of indignant protestors. For many of the nation’s highly educated but disillusioned youth, enough was enough, and for a short while it seemed that a new era of political mobilization beckoned.
A few weeks later, however, such hopes were brutally dashed when the riot division of Catalonia’s police force, the Mossos D’esquadra, unleashed the untamed fury of the state upon the protestors’ makeshift camp, under the rather dubious pretext of ridding the city of a health and safety risk (this is Europe, after all!). The message was clear: all attempts to resist the new European economic reality, no matter how peaceful, would be brutally suppressed.
In little more than an hour, a whirlwind of police violence cleared the square of all the occupants and pretty much all of their belongings, many of which were never returned. All the while, a thick, dense ring of shell-shocked protestors and curious bystanders gathered around the square, looking on in a mixture of bewilderment, fear and anger.
And I was one of them. As I strolled around the square, with one wary eye on the aggrieved protestors and the other on the fearsomely armed and highly unpredictable mossos d’esquadra, a placard caught my attention. Its message was beautifully simple: “No soy anti sistema, el sistema es anti yo” (I’m not anti-system; the system is anti-me).
The placard was held aloft by a small child riding on his father’s shoulders. The cynical realist within me knew full well that the boy, who must have been no more than five or six years old, was merely channeling his father’s thoughts. But that didn’t stop my more romantic side from imagining that the child was, in actual fact, eloquently speaking out for his soon-to-be lost generation.
For if there is one thing of which you can be sure about present-day Europe, it is that its political and economic systems are not meant to serve or protect the interests of the youth; on the contrary, they have been designed to gradually erode their last-remaining freedoms and rights and, by leaving them the tab for the transgressions and greed of the global banking sector, deprive them of all hope of ever attaining the standards of living once taken for granted by their parents or grandparents.
Spain is a perfect case in point: In the two intervening years since the country’s 15-M moment, the economy has spiraled into a bottomless depression. Official youth unemployment in the country has reached a mind-boggling 60 percent. Thousands of Spanish savers and pensioners have been robbed of their life savings, victims of the national banks’ cunning (and, it goes without saying, unpunished) preferentes sleight of hand.
All the while, taxes continue to skyrocket and essential welfare spending has been mercilessly sacrificed on the altar of bank recapitalization. Countless of the nation’s homes have – and continue to be – repossessed, to later be given away at a fraction of their value to wealthy international property speculators.
Perhaps worst of all, the country’s current government, which took the reins of power six months after the inception of the 15th May movement, has proven itself to be the most corrupt and incompetent in living memory.
But Spain is by no means unique; it is, if anything, a mere symptom of what is happening throughout the eurozone. From Cyprus to Portugal and from France to Slovenia, an all-out war has been declared against the continent’s industrious middle classes.
And now, with Winter turning to Spring, and Spring soon to Summer, the people of Europe face the starkest of choices: resignation to the EU’s neoliberal, neofeudal agenda, and with it, the gradual elimination of the few remaining freedoms and opportunities we still enjoy; or a spirited last-stand against the encroaching totalitarianism of the European superstate.
Before you make your choice (if, of course, you are European), let me first make a few of my own personal observations vis-a-vis our current situation and future outlook.
1. In case you hadn’t noticed, we are already owned, lock, stock and smoking barrel, by the international cartel of too-big-to-fail banks.
2. Pretty much all our political representatives and institutions, whether at the national or EU level, have also been bought off by the same banks, whose agents – the national central banks, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the ECB, the European Commission, the IMF, OECD and World Bank – now stand head and shoulders above all other players in the global political order.
3. Said banks are, to all intents and purposes, bankrupt, both financially and morally. They are also quite literally a law unto themselves. By allowing them to continue to operate in a mark-to-model fantasy world as well as gorge themselves on virtually interest-free central bank credit and regular transfusions of tax-payer funds, our politicians have shown all too clearly on which side their bread is buttered. As such, as long as the current financial system remains in place, the banks and their senior executives will be free to continue bleeding dry our national economies and personal bank accounts.
As Golem XIV recently wrote in his blog, there now exists an official list, drawn up by the Financial Stability Board, of 28 banks that are now free to operate beyond any legal jurisdiction. Like HSBC, they can consort with and engage in business with some of the world’s most wanted criminals, at absolutely no risk of legal action. And as Golem notes, this month (April 2013), we can look forward to the announcement of “another list, this time of Globally Systemically Important Insurers (G-SIIs). They too will be above the Law.”
4. Democracy has absolutely no role, beyond a figurative one, in the European Union. The continued survival and expansion of the European superstate supersedes all other concerns, whether moral, political, social or economic. As such, no genuine form of democracy or civic political engagement will be allowed to take root. As in Stalinist Russia, complete power and authority will reside in the hands of faceless, unaccountable apparatchiks, all doing the bidding of the large global banks and conglomerates.
5. As the real economy (i.e. everything that is not the stock exchange) continues its descent into the abyss, businesses will continue to close down, jobs will continue to vanish at an alarming rate and taxes will continue to rise. What’s more, at a politically expedient moment, the final nail will be driven deep into the coffin of Europe’s welfare state system, once the envy of the world. Needless to say, the newly privatized healthcare, education and pension systems that will take its place will be the sole preserve of the upwardly mobile (i.e. not us).
Instead of paying for essential public services and utilities such as health care, education, pensions and infrastructure, the public’s ballooning tax burden will be directed toward two purposes: keeping the big banks afloat and sustaining the ever-expanding police-state apparatus that will be needed to keep the collapsing civic society in line. Put simply, we will be forced to finance our own enslavement.
6. Most importantly of all, the global financial system’s days are already numbered. Put simply, the system is buckling under the combined weight of unsustainable debt, unpayable pension schemes and a derivatives market whose total value dwarfs global GDP by magnitudes that exceed all human logic.
The question is, once it does collapse, who’s going to pick up the pieces and rebuild a new, more sustainable system in its ashes? Will it be us, the people, or will it be the same bankers, central bankers and heavily compromised political half-wits that got us here in the first place? Will we bravely stake our claim to a new future, or resign ourselves, in fear and despair, to the global bankers’ totalitarian nirvana?
Whatever choice Europeans make in the coming months and years, one thing is clear: the human, social and economic costs will be tremendous either way. For the unpleasant truth is that we have allowed ourselves to be led so far down the rabbit hole of exponential debt that reemerging into the light of day will take years of collective struggle and sacrifice. Also by Don Quijones…. Spain’s Descent Into Banana Republicanism.
The main problem is that Fractional Reserve Banking is not viable anymore due no economic growth not even in its post war form with large doses of Keynesian stimuluses (read debt jublee).
Economic growth cannot happen because of the far too expensive crude oil.
Distribution of money via salary/wages is very dependent on money creation via FRB. Less FRB = Less Total Wages in the Economy.
Mansoor H. Khan
As Dmitry Orlov eloquently and mathematically demonstrated, any system premised upon exponential growth will eventually collapse at some point. This is inevitable since we live in a finite universe. That is true whether peak oil is here or not.
Although peak oil does speed up the process a bit. A tiny bit.
True. All resources on earth are limited. But crude oil right now is the constraining one for economic growth. For the past 100 years or so “time” was the constraining resource.
Credit money could be issued and spent as long as it was “metered” to match the Industrial production process (read resource extraction process).
..but if you have all the creature comforts you need or desire, including abundant food, then collapse is unnecessary.. you will become convinced of this via the re-education program if you desire to go that route. fighting over scrips of paper and ingots of metal is a choice, not a requirement any longer, as no local war-lords compel you to fight. decisions about state-sponsored violence are out of your hands. if you can hold onto your little pile of treasure then you may keep it.
But if fossil fuels deplete at current rates (90% of our energy is from fossil fuels) and no “cheap” replacement energy source is found fast enough (like cold fusion) then abundance will turn into scarcity!
Mansoor H. Khan
However, I agree collapse is unnecessary.
All we need to do is give up this most extreme form of “usury” we have been practicing (i.e., interest bearing debt based currency issuance).
But even if usury is given up (and a system of resource allocation based on “social credit” ideas of economist Clifford H. Douglas are implemented) most debt will very likely be worthless and most equities will be nominally worth much less they are now.
Mansoor h. Khan
I was being a bit dramatic to make the point. It does appear to be what the elite are hoping for however, to CONvince the masses that collapse is just so last century, things are different this time. I don’t know how long I would go without food or shelter without going out and doing some damage in public. The elite seem to think people aren’t being affected, that somehow nobody is being harmed. Reality is millions, billions of people have been damaged and will continue to be. Nobody wants to go here, but they’re not giving us much choice.
When an elite lives in a bubble, and people tell him people are starving or near starving, its rather unsurprising if he responds to the effect of “Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”, because quite frankly his elite life is so completely different from a normal persons life that he or she simply doesnt know any better.
Of course, such ignorance by the elite of the declining living standards of their populations has been the destruction of many governments and nations. Ignorance is NOT bliss if you happen to be Louis XVI.
I wonder of the tired old platitudes of “buying time” and “rescue” will be trotted out here too, when the hint of revolution is already in the air.
What is required is a radical reconstruction of the existing order. All of the old plutocrats need to be “Bastilled” and every pan-European institution anhilated before any progress will be made in Europe. I do not see how pushing buttons on a keyboard and crediting accounts with imaginary numbers will “rescue” anyone or anything.
Eventually the people will all choose revolution, though resignation may be the reigning mood for a little while longer yet.
Although I am on the opposite end of the typical ideological spectrum, I agree with you here Gordon.
Its like Climate Change: The destruction of currently-existing-capitalism (or lack thereof if you prefer? Though I would disagree with such a statement) is inevitable at this point and talking about stopping it is probably a waste of breath. What needs to be done is to talk about how to make a transition to a new form of society as smooth as possible.
What cant continue, wont, and the current fossil fuel dependent corrupt socio-economic system almost certainly cannot continue.
I think for anyone with an empirical bent, it does sound all too easy, no?
Too many of the MMTers have over-imbibed on the Hegelian Kool Aid. As to the way things are, I like the MMTers’ empirical and analytical description of the way the current monetary system is. But from there, entirely too many of them launch into speculative thought that allows a withdrawl from the real world. And when challenged on this, they get all dogmatic and authoritarian.
I’m reminded of the fable of the old woman who had never been to a football game, and upon seeing her first game, she exclaimed: “Why don’t they give all the boys a ball so they don’t have to fight over it?”
It seems like MMTers believe they have come up with some magic that will allow the battles over how society’s resources are distributed to be avoided. Just give all the boys a ball! See! Problem solved!
It’s kind of like Adam Smith’s notion that the social world is governed by an “invisible hand” that almost miraculously produces a fair and just distribution of goods and services. In Adam Smith we have speculative thought completely untethered from reality. And it’s all so beguiling, avoiding all those nasty battles over who’s going to get what. But it is also very anti-political and anti-demcoratic.
Very strong on generalization; very light on actual evidence.
Oh, there’s plenty of evidence out there, such as Dan Kervick’s comments on this thread:
Or those by Michael Hoexter on this thread:
These are rather extreme examples, but shorter discussions like these occur almost every day on this blog as the commisars of MMT fan out to enforce economic “correctness.” Any criticism or variance from the straight and narrow of MMT reaps an immediate reprimand.
Like I say, I’m willing to go part of the distance with the MMTers, but not the whole distance. When they launch into speculative thought mode, many of them go overboard, departing from this world. It looks to me like MMT has become a stronghold for left Hegelianism.
MMT offers some solutions to issues facing our societies as they currently stand. It is not a panacea and does not mean that there are no conflicts over resources. I see you commenting and making wild accusations without offering concrete suggestions from where you differ from MMT on a policy level. Other than being “left Hegelians” according to your lights, where on a practical level do your views differ from those of MMT-influenced authors such as myself or Dan Kervick?
The old woman was funny because she instantly saw through the game. Never send to know what the real joke is. The purpose of MMT in my mind is that it does just what she recommends. It takes the power away from the banks and it takes extortion out of money. When money can no longer oppress people, what will it oppress? For capitalism, productivity is its Achilles heel. There will be no fight over resources when productivity has run its course. It will be simply too expensive.
“It’s kind of like Adam Smith’s notion that the social world is governed by an “invisible hand” that almost miraculously produces a fair and just distribution of goods and services. In Adam Smith we have speculative thought completely untethered from reality. And it’s all so beguiling, avoiding all those nasty battles over who’s going to get what. But it is also very anti-political and anti-demcoratic.”
Throughout American history the push for economic growth was used to diffuse class tension. It’s for that reason that I think the United States is headed for one helluva collective meltdown when growth can’t be maintained.
That, and continual “threats” of “barbarians” at the gates…
At this point, I think it’s even self-delusion to argue that the choice is between bloodless revolution and bloody revolution.
Our bankers and other elites most resemble the Ceausescu feeding their dogs fine meats on gold plates while their people starved.
Things did not work out too well for them, in the end, I recall.
Still I suppose if they all get visited by three ghosts and determine to voluntarily, radically change their evil ways things might not all go to Hell.
I’m just not too hopeful on that score.
J Gordon, Many Americans, including some on this blog, thought that we had started a revolution of sorts in November 2008 when we tossed out that bank-coddling frat boy and put a solid, community-organizing liberal in the White House. Then, we had that “sick to my stomach” moment, when our champion proclaimed to look forward not back when dealing with war crimes, then bank bailouts, AIG paying 100 cents on the dollar to foreign creditors, anon, anon, anon. It turned out that Obama was a lap dog, not a watch dog. And what did WE do? Why, my fellow Americans elected the SOB again. Nobody in the Democratic Party even attempted to primary him.
Europe is a bit different. Sovereignty has been eroded by the usurpations of the EU, making the peripheral countries ripe for revolution and Nigel Farage keeps egging them on. But, please be aware that even if Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Cyprus were to leave the union, their debts would remain and would be enforced. Take a look at what is happening to Argentina. Following the collapse of the junta, Argentina tried to play the game by the rules. Broke, it couldn’t pay its debts, so, it arranged a large haircut for its creditors, was recapitalized, and set about reconstructing its economy. What happened? A handful of non-compliant creditors (vultures) sued in U.S. courts arguing that a contract is a contract, basically tying the sovereign government of Argentina to the whipping post, joined by the IMF, World Bank, BIS, etc. I suspect that most folks think the vultures deserve nothing – but that is not the way of the elite. Argentina must pay.
The power of the financial elite is astounding. Even after defeating Cornwallis and the crown at Yorktown, the U.S. agreed to “repay all debts” when it signed the Treaty of Paris 1783. Most folks have not yet identified the true enemies of prosperity – the bankers. Even with all the evidence presented on this site, the concept that for-profit commercial banking is a menace and should be eradicated, is generally met with… silence. This is the revolution I believe in.
Austerity in Europe didn’t work and wont’ work, any five year old knows that. But these fools in power in Europe (Merkel and her ilk) will continue to push it until it completely bankrupts the region. Then what?
Personally, I’m glad I moved out of the EU when I did. Asia is booming.
Fit the US as well.
Totalitarian nirvana? Really?
At least his blog is aptly named.
Tell me Maroon Bulldog, what motivates apologists for the banks? What motivates you?
Europeans are more prone to protest than Americans, so a revolution is more likely here than there.
Unfortunately it is too late for revolution to save us. It is as if the steerage passengers cried to the Titanic’s captain in a lifeboat as the vessel sank beneath the icy waters of the North Atlantic: “We demand that the captain steer around the iceberg, speed up the ship, and give us all better cabins.”
Europeans are tetchy and spoiled but it is part of a grand political trade-off. They were never brainwashed into believing in Horatio Alger or The Millionaire Next Door. They were promised health care, retirement funds, and five weeks vacation in exchange for high taxes, an institutionalized political elite, and a moderate lifestyle. As Coluche said of the workers, “we demanded this and that, and they gave it to us.”
Europeans won’t revolt for better governance or realistic economic behaviour. They will revolt for the rights and privileges promised to them. And how easily we vilify the workers who asked for and received them rather than the politicians who handed them out like candy, knowing we were paying for their political “successes”.
I say Start the Revolution. Bring a gun and some marshmallows!
So,why isn’t Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus in revolt? Perhaps, ‘The Private Interest Theory of Revolution’.
If you are unfamiliar with his work …. Gordon Tullock’s work gives pause for thought at, least. Tullock’s private interest theory of participation in revolutionary activity is summarized by his equation (Morris Silver (City University, NY) added the term ‘V’ – measuring the value of the participant’s time and other resources (e.g., money spent lobbying” in sensitive foreign institutions):
Gr = R i ‘ L v – P i (1 – L v) – L w” I r + E – v
G r = Net gain (or loss) to individual from participation rather than remaining neutral.
R i = Private reward (e.g., income, power, status)to individual for his participation in revolution if revolution succeeds.
L v = Likelihood of revolutionary victory assuming subject is neutral.
Pi = Private penalty imposed on individual for participation in revolution if revolt fails.
Lw = Likelihood of injury through participation in revolution.
I r = Injury suffered in action.
E = Psychic income from participation.
V = Value of participant’s time and other resources.
‘An increase in Gr will, according to economic theory, intensify the efforts of existing revolutionaries as well as increase the number of revolutionaries and of those who commit a revolutionary act.’
The determinants of the level of psychic income from participation in revolution (E) include the individual’s sense of duty to class, country, democratic institutions, the law, race, humanity, the rulers, God, or a revolutionary brotherhood as well as his taste for conspiracy, violence, and adventure. Obviously E will vary greatly from one individual to another, from one country to another, and from one time to another . Spain is an intensely Roman Catholic (conservative) country; and depending on your view, this is either a social/legal pathogenesis or a philosophical theism.
Ignoring the idea, that revolution simply makes people feel good, (E), the short of it is that revolutions only occur once matters start to improve.
Tocqueville remarks that: “Patiently endured so long as it seemed beyond redress, a grievance comes to appear intolerable once the possibility of removing it crosses men’s minds. For the mere fact that certain abuses have been remedied draws attention to the others and they now appear more galling; people may suffer less, but their sensibility is exacerbated”. An observation that can be made in so many revolutionary instances (though not universally).
To paraphrase Morris Silver: “the private benefit approach suggests that revolutionary activity may be induced because reforms raise the probability of victory (Lv) while lowering the private penalty if the revolt fails (Pi), the probability of injury during participation in revolutionary activity (Lw), and the injury suffered (Ir)*. Reforms often increase the political capabilities of the revolutionaries (e.g., by giving them seats in Parliament, coverage in the mass media, and access to financial contributions) which raises their Lv. Perhaps most important in a world of imperfect knowledge, many persons will quite rationally interpret the reforms as a sign of weakness or submission. In this event, their subjective estimate of Lv will rise while Pi, Lw, and Ir will decline.”
Playing around with the equation with one’s own empirical and intuitive term values gives some interesting results; but seems (to me at least ) to support the idea that the degree of pain and suffering isn’t going to be the litmus test for revolution. It is when the pain and suffering is over that people become revolutionaries – only when E is greater than zero – it is “better” to go down fighting than passively accept destruction.
Demonstrations in Portugal have been large relative to the size of the population and decidedly underreported.
Claudius, do you have some links or references re Tullock and Silver?
I don’t buy the equation at all, though it is interesting and worth thinking about. The modern situation is way too complicated and ambiguous to be reduced to an equation. But let me bring up a couple of things: 1) most people are smart enough to know that real revolution–meaning armed revolt often ends up in a worse situation than the one before–change that fast tears the cultural fabric as per Burke; 2) modern security forces are much stronger and more sophisticated and capable than at any time in history; 3) there is no “there” to go to–, i.e., there is no unifying ideology of belief system that would unite the revolutionaries–frankly the left is almost as dead in Europe as it is in the U.S.; and 4) our existence is so urban, interdependent and dependent on the state and a sophisticated system of distribution that any disruption would be worse than whatever cruel fate awaits us from the oligarchs–contemporary middle-class human beings are, on the whole, weak, afraid of pain and child-like.
Having said that, I think that what people could do is to organize true opposition movements and take relatively non-violent action to take over their own communities and the local security services. De-centralization, the nurturing and establishment of local communities should be the first direction to go into.
A good beginning would be for increasing numbers of people to take control of their own lives, reduce dependence on ‘jobs’, long distance travel, expensive amusements, fashion, food prepared by others, etc. Personal discipline remains the single best antedote to what is euphemistically called contemporary civilization.
Not that this would stop the looting or the public lunacy, but it does make it less distressing and occasionally even amusing.
A realistic view suggests that the authoritarian net is only going to get tighter during the next decade or so. Personal survival strategies are required, like it or not.
Good points. I believe the best thing we can do is to deprogrammed ourselves from the mainstream narrative which still holds the masses in thrall. Once enough people understand and can face the pain they will be able to see that the Emperor has no clothes–and I mean NO clothes.
Not only does this reduce the risk from revolting, but it increases the economic resources and power available to those who choose to, and prefiguratively implements a ‘post-revolutionary’ situation for participants without having to overthrow the previous system in the traditional manner. It can even be completely in the open so others can see the success and choose to join, and if it is done legally (or illegally but ethically, such as Occupy Homes) then the soon-to-be-former rulers can’t crush it without further undermining the system’s credibility.
Burke was right. The hell with bloody revolution. To use a worn out cliche, we are between a rock and a hard place. Damned if we do revolution, but far less damed if we don’t do (at least for us). Thus we have taken a proactive and incremental approach within the dysfunctional and impersonal system. For us it consists of low debt, largely community as opposed to national involvement (local, local, local), homeschooling (all three childern entered university on scholarship by 16) while still using the public school resources availabvle to us on a piecemeal basis (sports, various courses,etc), volunteerism writ large (humane society, childrens museum, food bank). The network we’ve built from this has supported us very well in a personal and substantive way the past ten years, in spite of the hellish economic environment, and we sure aren’t rich. In the words of EF Shumacher, our life is small but beautiful.
I think that is the direction we need to take yet, on the other hand, we make ourselves vulnerable to predators–all options are not very good but no option will work well unless the public comes to the understanding that it is the corporate oligarchs that are the enemy–we don’t need to do anything about it just realize it. Cultural pressure is a very powerful force and it will begin to be less glamorous to be involved in that world.
“…. interesting and worth thinking about” is about as much as anyone could ask of any equation. :-)
ref your: “1…. meaning armed revolt”
Not all revolutions are armed revolts (Gandhi’s ‘non violent’ against one of histories “greatest” and violent regimes being , perhaps the epitome of such)”….often ends up in a worse situation than the one before”.
‘Gr’ if positive implies that ‘Net gain to individual from participation rather than remaining neutral’ and, that and that with sufficient social mass (a similar number of like-minded individuals), the outcome is better than the worse case (which in the worse case is death – such as the Warsaw Ghetto riots). History is replete with “positive” revolutionary outcomes.
“2… Modern security…”. Is, perhaps, a relative term that might apply equally at any period of revolutionary history.
“3…. there is no unifying ideology …..unite the revolutionaries…left is almost as dead in Europe as it is in the U.S”.
Not all participants of a revolution require an ideology, so much as an appreciation of “which way the wind is blowing”. And, not all revolutions have a genesis in left wing politics (or politics at all).
Tullock’s/Morris’ equation looks at the economic factors, as the principal motivation for participation in any revolution.
Gawd! ‘Histories’…. too much Latin today.
Your equation is incomplete, it is missing time feedforward, and has a very substantial incorrect assumption.
Gr = R i ‘ L v – P i (1 – L v) – L w” I r + E – v
It assumes instantanoeus calculation of Gr from its factors. This is incorrect as it takes time for the factiors on the RHS of the equation to be formed into the next (tomorrow’s for example) value of Gr.
In addition the other probabliites are dependant on feedforward from the previous time period, such that P(t+1) = Some Function(P(t)).
Where P is one of the probabilities in the equation, t is today and t+1 is tomorrow.
At that point you have a time dependent equation and can ploat a familt of curves dependat on the feedforward function “Some Function”.
Now you have a form of chaotic expression wnich can be modelled,complete with strage attractors and tipping points.
I believe relevant factors are products of variable “t” (and other variables).
Certainly, your examination of Tullock’s and Morris’ detailed work might give you something to post-back on. I for one would be interested to read of any insight.
Sorry, I thought I’d clicked on my Naked Capitalism bookmark but I must have somehow wandered onto Zerohedge by mistake… I’d better get my hat.
(That’s a tad unfair of course; I don’t think that the article is necessarily completely without some elements of truth and it does make good points here and there. Only thing is that for me, the tin foil hat rhetoric unavoidably restricts its credibility)
Can you unpack your loaded statement: “tin foil rhetoric”?
Sure. “tin foil hat rhetoric” is a rather disparaging reference to people who are seemingly all-too-willingly convinced by conspiracy-theory woo-woo that comes along. To quote Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tin_foil_hat :
“The concept of wearing a tin foil hat for protection from such threats has become a popular stereotype and term of derision; the phrase serves as a byword for paranoia, persecutory delusions and belief in conspiracy theories.”
As I said, the feature is not without some merit. But it is also a little heavy on the Great Conspiracy meme for my taste. If the tin foil hat fits…
Either the European elites are doing this on purpose or through their incompetence. No matter which, the end result is pretty much the same. The point of the piece is to ask what the public reaction shall be. One does not need to go to Zerohedge for such observations.
Hi Paul W — yes, incompetence, absolutely. The enterprise where I work (well, I call it work anyway) has 100,000+ employees and if the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, that’s just a happy accident. Most of the time, it couldn’t operationally execute its way out of a wet paper bag. The ECB, the IMF and other bodies who I’d put into your pot of the “European elites” are, I imagine, much more useless.
What I didn’t understand was why the author couldn’t just make that point and leave it at that. It looks bad enough for “those in charge” when it’s about nothing more than plain and simple stupidity. He didn’t need to make it all fancy with allusions to people on monetary grassy knolls.
The article would have been better, stronger, again just in my opinion, if it had omitted those aspects. Why give undecided people the incentive — when you’re offering left-field ideas — to dismiss you as being a bit of a crazy ? And as for the blog title, Raging B-S, well, don’t get me started. I almost didn’t bother reading the feature. I’m glad I did in the end, but if even someone like me who is a receptive audience to such alternative thinking almost gives it a miss, then they’re not helping themselves.
Trying to offer constructive feedback here, I’m just saying… Yves makes it clear that this comments section is never intended to be an echo chamber.
I hear you Clive. The industry I’m in is obsessed with increasing profit margin. It never occurs to these upper management types that increasing profit margin eventually becomes a mathematical impossibility. Thus they cut employee hours, the service declines making customers angry and business suffers. They just don’t understand this. I guess it wasn’t taught at the corporate business school where they were brainwashed.
Preaching to the converted? I find that common practice on most internet sites. But how do you convince the general public when the majority do not want to know? In North America we have the luxury of seeing our future unfold before our eyes in Europe. Actually much isn’t seen because it’s not reported by the MSM. Yet those who watch MSM don’t really want to see it anyway. Even if they did see it they would not act upon it.
I suggested to a friend after Cyprus and the Canadian government passing a budget which allows select banks(the Big Five) to refinance using depositor funds that it was time to get out of the system. Her reaction was for me to not jump the gun that there would be a future sign warning when to get out. What exactly was Cyprus and the government budget? I guess the warning sign she is waiting for, like most citizens in Cyprus waited for, is the declaration of a bank holiday. A shame by that time it’s too late.
This is more of a reply to Clive but I cannot seem to get the Board to let me do that.
I have worked with people at the Fund and the ECB in the past. They are highly intelligent people. These organisations also do not have the problems of coordination which a 100,000 people Behemoth will have, though of course they have some.
From my perspective the real problems are
1) that over the last 30 to 40 years we have seen a large transfer of power from Governments to the private sector – on the grounds that the private sector does things more efficiently (which ignores the problem that it is less responsive to public opinion).
2) EMU was established on the basis that the political union it required would be created when crisis struck. This expectation is proving very difficult to deliver.
We are now finding that it is much easier for Government to pass power to the private sector than to get it back when needed, as the private sector can find all sorts of ways to subvert efforts to that effect (incentivise/persuade politicians to work in the interests of private sector actors like the banks rather than in the public interest)
So I would characterise people at the Fund and the IMF as having been put in a position where they have only limited ability to affect events. Geoffrey Howe complained of Mrs Thatcher that she sent him out to bat only after she had broken his bat beforehand. I suspect the IMF/ECB people probably feel a bit the same way
Not that I don’t disagree with your view of the article but let’s be clear here. The tin-foil hat idea often hides the notion that only “official” mainstream media narratives are possible and, in the U.S. at least, that means that Deep Politics which is simply a classical view of politics is all “conspiracy theories.” To put it another way, understanding conspiracies is central to understanding politics. People who play to win do not play by rules if they can get away with it and if they have to power they usually do get away with it.
Which of the propositions do you regard as untrue? Or falsifiable, a hallmark of CT?
#3 for example is true, and it underpins the rest.
If you think what is happening in Europe and America is simply a result of elite incompetence, you clearly do not understand randomness.
Everything happens for a purpose, and figuring out what the purpose is generally tells you what to expect next. I must say this has worked pretty well for the past five years, and I more than occasionally wish I had followed my nose and placed my bets accordingly.
What is your explanation?
My explanation is the same as I would give for the first World War. It is a useful thought-experiment to consider what, if you were transported back in time to just after the Archduke Ferdinand was shot, you could do to make things turn out differently.
In that instance, there were many actors. Some were rational. Some certifiably insane. Some wanted war. Some wanted peace. Some valued individual rights and freedoms, some wanted to enslave all that was in their field of vision. Some colluded with each other, some acted individually.
What none of them predicted was, once a series of events were set in motion — a set of events both monumental and trivial — these events interacted in such a way as to create a disaster which no-one could foresee let alone control. That’s not to say no-one could foresee war. But no-one had any idea what, exactly “modern” (modern at the time, that is) war would do. And what it would do to whom.
My view is, when the history of the period from, say, 2007 to 2027 is written, we’ll look back on what’s happening today with such a conclusion: they simply didn’t know what they were collectively getting themselves into.
Lord Kitchener had a fair sense of what the size and scale and duration of that conflict would be.
Anyone could have looked to the example of the American Civil War get a sense of what industrialized large-scale warfare was likely to entail.
But did they know that the complex system of inter-linked alliances would kick in ? That England would support France against Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire with Russia and the Balkans entangled too ? Or did Lord Kitchener, like many, believe that it would be a small, limited war ? (where have we heard that recently …)
The phrase “it’ll all be over by Christmas” has entered popular culture (certainly in England) as short-hand for when an order-of-magnitude under-estimate of a situation’s serious belies the folly which is to follow http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/britain_wwone/pals_01.shtml which says to me that precious few people, Lord Kitchener would have certainly not been one of them I don’t think, had a grasp of the unfolding reality.
No, Kitchener did not “believe that it would be a small, limited war.”
“Kitchener correctly predicted a long war that would last at least three years, require huge new armies to defeat Germany, and suffer huge casualties before the end would come. Kitchener stated that the conflict would plumb the depths of manpower ‘to the last million’.”
You’ve extracted WWI from its historical context. Europe was primed for war, and it was only a matter of time before the match was struck that ignited the conflagration.
WWI was caused by the triumph of the war system, which owes its creation largely to the advent of capitalism and the drive to make the world safe for what Veblen called “absentee ownership.” The need for absentee ownership is created by the fact that the capitalist organization of society concentrates wealth which cannot be invested, and produces goods which cannot be absorbed, in the nation itself. The whole nation is therefore called upon to protect the investments and the markets which the economic overlords are forced to seek in other nations.
As Jonathan Schell explains, Serbia was foreshadowed by “a small Sudanese town called Fashoda — a godforsaken place of ‘blazing heat, solvent humidity, elephant grass, and enveloping mud (when the rain began in May) and horizon-to-horizon mosquitoes.” The Fashoda crisis brought France and England to the brink of war over miniscule claims. As Schell goes on to explain:
When war did finally come,
You are quite right, From Mexico. However it seems important to add that the main crash course was between the two major powers: Britain (in slow decline) and Germany (rising star), which had only years before overcome Britain in GDP, exactly as it is expected to do China relative to the USA by the end of this decade.
Today’s Europe, almost like Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, has become rather irrelevant in this new transpacific Cold War II scenario, so it’s being allowed to collapse. However it is a much bigger fish than poor Yugoslavia, still producing/consuming much of the WDP, and the consequences of such demolition may well be of global significance.
There’s no hope with the current political regime of capitalist pseudo-democracy, so eventually Europeans will no doubt force some sort of radical change. What else can we do? Jump out of the window en masse? Not a serious option for the vast majority, really.
[T]hey simply didn’t know what they were collectively getting themselves into.
That’s like saying that Mongols and the Poles collectively got Poland invaded. Or that the Germans and the Romans collectively invaded and destroyed the western Roman empire. Or that my mugger and myself collectively transferred fifty bucks from my wallet to the mugger’s pocket. Or … you get it.
England in 1914 was a rentier society. The English ruling class in general, and its parlementary politicians in particular, had absorbed forty years of lunatic ideas about the country’s imperial destiny. They had no particular hesitancy about decimating the working class by sending it off to die in trenches. They knew their class goose was cooked unless they could maintain control of their colonies. They feared a power vacuum and encroachments by France and Russia, as well as Germany, following collapse of the decadent Ottoman Empire. Everything England did to escalate and expand the War made perfect sense in light of these beliefs and fears.
WW 1 decimated the ruling class. The averge life expetancy of a subaltern on the front was 2 weeks.
None of you refer to the triple alliance, which Bernard Russell wrote in his autobiography was, in his view, a mistake. It was a break from the longstanding policy in the UK, of having no entangling alliances with Europe.
The is also no mention of the double alliance between Germany & Austia.
Nor of Bismark’s strategy and the Kiaser’s desire to compete with the British empire.
Bertrand Russell, sorry.
@ jake chase
I’m in your corner all the way on this one, jake.
I suppose all the billions that TPTB spend in campaign contributions and lobbying we can mark up to “incompetence.”
Then there’s the money they spend on think tanks and advertising in order to sway public opinion.
Then there’s the revolving door. How does one put a dollar amount on that?
And all this happens due to “incompetence”?
I mean I was born, but I wasn’t born yesterday.
Interesting how something in this article bonked Clive’s knees with the rubber hammer and triggered the CONSPIRACY!!1! reflex. He never did say what he thought sounded like conspiracy.
I bet it was the very slightly hyperbolic description of the Bretton Woods system. This is a system that stripped Congress of the power of the purse by setting aside Federal Reserve Act Sections 13 and 14; a system that imposed austerity programs that ‘contradicted‘ the state legal obligations of the CESCR and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Nothing conspiratorial about it. Bretton Woods is best compared to COMECON, another perfectly overt system imposed to manage a bloc. Only instead of COMECON’s characteristic state ownership (strictly speaking, control through administrative MOUs), it’s bank ownership/control.
The key point is that Bretton Woods governs a bloc, not the world. China cheerfully blows off the development banks (seen em do it, it’s comedy gold), India twists their arms with relish, the BRICS are jointly acting to supplant them.
So what defines the other bloc? Nobody ever says. It’s seen only vaguely, like it’s terra incognita.
But what we have is not right v. left, but Bretton Woods v. Dumbarton Oaks. Frinstance, Chavez the so-called “leftist” managed the economy to rights criteria straight out of the Declaration on the Right to Development. The G-77 grew out of UNCTAD, and that’s 80% of the world’s population.
The difference is simple. For Bretton Woods, development is growth and debt. For Dumbarton Oaks, development is peace and human rights.
“No soy anti sistema, el sistema es anti yo” (I’m not anti-system; the system is anti-me).
Beautiful. True. Say it a thousand times.
A monetary economy that does not guarantee everyone a job is an insane idea, a product of a diseased mind. Something that we see nowhere else in analogous situations (e.g. employees of a firm, villagers in a premonetary economy.) A bizzarre aberration in human history. It is a system that declares war on individuals, that commits crimes against all, by forcibly imposing debts upon individuals and making them unpayable. Writ large, that is the Euro center vs. the Euro periphery; the wealthy and well employed and the government vs. the poor and jobless throughout the ages.
In truth, those who steal because they need to are so employed by the system. Theft is the only job it provides. Deeming it then immoral is laughable.
That very system is capitalism, particularly the variety that has been practiced post-1973. Full employment has been dropped by almost all Western governments.
Yet that system is fully supported by the vast majority of people in Europe which has, for the most part, far more democratic governments than here in the States where change, at the federal level, is completely impossible structurally since both political parties are institutionalized and have both gamed the system for the oligarchs. Also, Europeans aren’t subject to strange religious ideologies or semi-mystical ideas that are equivalent to American Exceptionalism that cause Americans to view reality and the world through the lens of fantasy.
Yet Europeans still elect governments that cater to the bankers. Why?
It’s about the primacy of domestic politics in every case.
Put bluntly, most Europeans share the same currency, and each govt knows that the only solution which doesn’t involve bowing to the bankers/Berlin/Brussels axis means leaving the Euro. Which in turn guarantees huge economic dislocation and turning their backs on decades of national policy.
The ECB, which is holding the purse strings, like the British Tories, genuinelly beleive that austerity will work, given enough time. Or they at least claim to, some of them of course just want to screw everyone except the super-rich, but we know that anyway.
So domestic politicians are too scared, basically. Each and every time they’ve taken the easy way out, which is to ratchet things down another notch, ignore the lessons of Keynes, and follow Angela’s orders.
Maybe they need to create more room for interesting alternatives to mere austerity. I have nothing against austerity if its accompanied with an expansion of horizons and the imagination (which seems to be a major problem everywhere in the West). Also, I’m kind of surprised there isn’t more anger about U.S. hegemony particularly in the financial markets–everyone seems to be blaming Germany when it’s the City and Wall Street that has dominated in recent decades.
Discussions of ‘trade’ still dominate economic discussions, which cannot comprehend that trade has been dwarfed into irrelevance by finance. Trade problems did not cause the crash and do not materially affect contemporary economic maladjustments like unemployment. These are caused by unserviceable debt and giveaways to a bankrupt financial sector which impoverish savers and undermine consumption of everything except banker yachts and vintage wines.
Well farm animals are domesticated, have been for centuries, and there’s no hope of them ever revolting, even enroute to the slaughterhouse.
We’ve had generations conditioned on non-violent behavior in society. Plus we’ve been bribed with superficiality and materialism to not care about anything else. Have we been domesticated and are we ready to go quietly to the slaughterhouse?
I’d prefer not to see violence, however peaceful protests will accomplish little. In the sport of curling there is a rule that if you don’t know what shot to make then you ask yourself, “what would my opponent want me to do?” That is the shot you don’t choose. In the case of police controlled, peaceful protests we are doing exactly what the establishment wants us to do. Isn’t it time to start doing what they don’t want us to do?
“We’ve had generations conditioned on non-violent behavior in society.” (Paul W.)
Yes that is so.
Still one wonders why in Europe there has not been, so far, stiffer, more effective, non-violent resistance. Such as boycotts, strikes, creative trouble making (e.g. occupying an airport), passive resistance (e.g. refusing to pay taxes), local disturbances (geo area, village, workplace), etc.
One reason is of course that the media control what is reported, and do so very selectively, and everyone wants to be in the media. It is quite difficult to get TF1 (say) to show up to cover some stance/grievance/ new pov /demand etc. – you practically have to promise naked women and a burning building.
Or giant rats, or something. Society of the Spectacle, or you don’t count. The media as handmaiden is part of the control. A vital part.
Another obvious fact is that the overlay of EU control / Finance-Banking grip (going in the direction of the article itself, that is what is up for comment) is not very visible, and hidden by national Gvmts., except when they can blame it in a trivial way for x or y. It remains an unidentified shadow that nobody knows how to tackle.
National politics manage to absorb discontents, although the political offer is very slim indeed. In France, one can vote for Le Pen, or Mélenchon, etc. and even that is to no avail – the choice was limited to Sark the First, or Hollande, both long term participants in the EU project. (Like Obama-Romney – both are Republics with powerful Presidents.)
The few who enter the pol. arena – e.g. Grillo in Italy, Golden Dawn in Greece, stem from the exploitation of Citizen Movements and/or grabbing potential voters (defined broadly..) but act within the allowed scope of political jockeying. They attempt to join.
From a sociological or psych perspective, there is growing individualism, leading to anomie and handling one’s turf on one’s own, aggression diverted to neighbors (smelly and of another religion), groups who are perceived as problematic, etc., a well worn tactic that eventually works if highlighted enough. Plus that to succeed submission to the PTB / the State is required – the individual entrepreneur who makes it, without cheating, is mostly a myth. Cheating, fraud, lying, prevarication, etc. thus become values in themselves, and many simply shy away, refuse, and check out of the system.
Well this is long enough.
I’m very suspicious whenever I hear or read the word “revolution.” Revolutions only occur if the situation is really desperate and order has already broken down. I cannot occur in today’s modern societies were security services are highly disciplined and sophisticated. If things really broke down and the security services had some sympathy with the plight of the average person then maybe some new forms could arise–but history has not been kind to revolutions.
We are, however, still at a turning point. Europe still has, compared to the U.S., relatively democratic institutions–yet the public chooses pro-finance oligarch governments time after time. If they did not want that kind of government they could have easily formed a political party to oppose the international finance oligarchs centered on Wall Street and the City of London. I’ve been underwhelmed by the reaction of the European public to the financial crisis and their sheep-like acceptance of U.S. military hegemony.
I think you’re right to be suspicious, and I agree things aren’t yet bad enough. But the trajectory of increasing wealth concentration and meager, low-wage job creation seems unlikely to change, and very likely to increase social instability. Lord knows what happens in the next recession. Here in the US, I wonder if Chicago-style anomie is where we’re headed; yet its advent will probably take a lot longer than I expect. The dream of exceptionalism dies hard.
* Revolutions only occur if the situation is really desperate and order has already broken down. I cannot occur in today’s modern societies were security services are highly disciplined and sophisticated. If things really broke down and the security services had some sympathy with the plight of the average person then maybe some new forms could arise–but history has not been kind to revolutions.*
I dunno about that now, Banger.
We just had a wave of revolutions in the Arab world, did we not?
I don’t think much of the Arab revolutions seems like the results are very mixed and in Syria and Libya very, very painful.
I guess I just see the current system as very robust as a system. There are no alternatives to just motoring on with things as they are. We are moving pretty steadily into some new form of feudalism–hopefully more local and benign–we’ll see–it depends on where we go as culture. Politics, however, is closed–there is only room for the muscular forces.
The case of Syria and Libya are geopolitical in nature and really shouldn’t be considered a part of the Arab Spring. Not to mention the amount of intervention both covert and overt in both of those cases by the West. Seriously, in what world is having the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of Egypt considered ideal?
I noticed with a fair bit of amusement how quickly Israel patched up relations with Turkey shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood consolidated it’s control over Egypt. Those fools in Washington are probably similarly thrilled.
Yes, of course geo-politics played a big role in the Arab spring, and it’s not hard to make the case that things have got worse rather than better as a result.
I’m responding to Bangers’ pont about the robustness of the present situation. And I don’t really disagree with him actually. But I would still maintain that there remains a huge revolutionary potential inherent in this clusterf*ck, and drifting into neo-feudalism isn’t the only possible outcome.
It might be the likeliest single outcome mind you, given their ruthlessness, organisation and resources.
The OTPOR Handbook doesn’t really say what to do on the day after. Not sure whether that’s by accident or by design. I agree that the outcome is not a foregone conclusion, and we have to take into account that pushing TINA is the prime directive of our famously free press.
When you talk about the Arab Spring, we have to remember what happened in Syria. The people there protested peacefully and were greeted with great violence which has lasted more than two years. That could also be one of the consequences of revolution anywhere because of the vast resources of the state as opposed to the resources of the population. Even when Syrian children were tortured, the people continued with peaceful opposition. Such admirable courage has been reduced to a war between many factions none of which now respect the lives of any “peaceful” people.
The word “Rupture” is useful here.
Capital grows and employs the middle class to expunge labor, and then expunges the middle class, repeat.
what’s new? it has run out of geography.
CA is now going after prop 13, and the sharks consume each other right up the chain of command.
gold is being crashed.
oh, such a surprise…
It is no longer a hyperbolic statement to claim that we no longer live in democracies, but rather plutocracies.
Pretty good article, synthetic, truthful. Thanks Don Quijones, you got a new reader.
Resignation can only be a stage: in the short or mid term the situation will explode because it is already pretty much unbearable.
It may possibly be a rather un-popular point to make on this site, but the Spanish M 15 movement largelly failed because it didn’t to realise it’s aims were explicitly left wing.
It thought the centre-right Peoples party would be no worse than the centre-left Socialists in wanting to protect living standards. In fact, they were always going to be worse.
When the only choices offered are the greater and lesser evils, abstention is the only good option.
They weren’t abstaining in the first place, they’d created a movement of sorts that was increasing in momentum and threatenning to spread, just as was happening on the other side of the Med.
Unfortunatelly for them, and for europe as a whole, they bought into the “left and right differences are dead” fairytale. Which is, and always will be, transparent bullsh*t.
Prime is finding an area where food can be produced free of pollution and away from the “smash and grab” of both the 1% in power and the poor they created. The West is past the time of reform. The system has been unsustainable for a long time. Europe’s food supply is still located around population centers instead of the big corporate farms of the US. We seem to be in a perfect storm of unstable areas like the Middle East and North Korea, the economy of the EU, global warming and the capture of the US by the same banks who are attacking Europe.
Raging Bullshit. That’s good. Lost generations, for sure, here and Europe. Our legacy is an anchor for a drowning man. The King is dead.
The young peoples of Europe, the US, and elsewhere will perforce organize new patterns and arrangements of living. After 70 or so years of cheap oil and capital accumulation (now destructing) that will never be seen again, the most complex, advanced and wondrous civilizations in human history will come down to permaculture, hand tools, and small integrated communities where all will work as able and share as necessary. But you techno-infantalists out there: dream on.
Great piece. As I have said many times, kleptocracy, which is the dominant world political and economic system, can not be reformed. It is a thoroughly criminal enterprise and can only be replaced. Since reform is a dead letter that leaves revolution.
Also as I have said many times, Europe faces 6 major problems:
1) Lack of a democratic fiscal and debt union
2) A weak and ineffective central bank
3) An insolvent and highly predatory banking sector
4) Eurozone internal mercantilist trading patterns
5) Completely corrupt political classes
6) A ruling class of the kleptocratic rich
You can see Quijones growing awareness of several of these. While the demise of the euro would address some of these, most would continue to exist even after the death of the euro, if not on a Europe-wide basis then on a national one.
Quijones notes correctly that the results of revolution are in no way guaranteed to benefit ordinary people. The same or new elites, the same or new rich, could take over again. That is why it is so important to have an easily comprehended and readily accessible program both of what we are against and what we are for. And most importantly, we must put limits on wealth. We must be able to say enough is enough, and this much more is too much, and represents theft from all of us. We must deconstruct our elites. We do need some expert knowledge to run a complex society, but the social purposes which this knowledge serves should always be clear and paramount, and we most eliminate the system of privilege, especially hereditary privilege, which is the hallmark of elites as opposed to those we have trained with useful knowledge.
Your last paragraph nails it. That is what must be done to make a difference going forward.
Democracy might stand a chance if the inherited rich were neutered and control returned to a purposely engaged public.
Where are the adults ready to state that finance is a public utility and needs to be owned and operated for the benefit of the public.
Where are the adults ready to state that health care is a public service that is best regulated by the public and funded in a manner that eliminates insurance (private profit) for basic care for all.
Where are the adults ready to call for a public discussion of population issues.
The “adults” we have are faith based fear monger puppets for the elite of the class system of the “Western countries” (private ownership of property and inheritance). In case they haven’t noticed they are being shown as the bootlicking societal traitors they are.
@ Claudius & Yves,
Regarding the large protests in Portugal, Al Jazeera english has a recent segment in some detail:
I’m re-reading Polanyi’s “Great Transformation” this month. Right in sync with the times in Eurozone.
“…they have been designed to gradually erode their last-remaining freedoms and rights and, by leaving them the tab for the transgressions and greed of the global banking sector, deprive them of all hope of ever attaining the standards of living once taken for granted by their parents or grandparents.”
They are not ‘leaving them’ any ‘tab’, Don Quijones, my friend: they are enslaving them. The time for mincing words is loooong past, the game having become waaaay too obvious, after reading Michael Hudson on high finance as warfare through economic means. I am not sure if it was so in the distant past, at least not as the main motive (the answer must be somewhere on Graeber’s book), but it is obvious that since the subprime fiasco debt has indeed become a weapon of conquest, imposing servitude on the unlucky many.
Brilliant and to the point.
Europeans may surprise us yet.
I suspect you are right Che.
Austerity is irritating after such a long time of growing wealth but the EU is sticking the course. Tobin Tax is being introduced in France and Italy to discourage the Anglosphere from destabilising markets. Germany has asked for its gold back. I see more social responsibility there than in either London or New York.