Mathew D. Rose: The Crisis In Europe Has Only Just Begun

By Mathew D. Rose, a freelance journalist in Berlin

Five months ago I attempted to explain why the conflict between Germany and Greece was destined culminate as it has:

Following the recent elections in Greece, Germany and its EU compradors are making it clear who is in charge. The Germans are currently not offering any compromise, but iterate the same blunt demand: Greece has to accept what is being dictated; in other words, capitulate or be annihilated. This time it will not be the Wehrmacht und Luftwaffe that are to force the Greek nation into submission, but a weapon just as lethal: national bankruptcy.

This conflict has nothing to do with Greek debt or finances. Syriza’s strategy was based upon the rational assumption that the nation’s debt and recovery are being stifled by austerity. As we know from most any respected economist, Greece’s debt can never and will never be repaid. On the continent that prides itself as the cradle of the enlightenment, there should have been an amicable, lasting solution to Greece’s untenable financial situation. Greece has had to learn the hard way, that the EU is no longer a European project for peace, democracy and prosperity, but a German tool for hegemony.

This has been a conflict between a small European nation, led by a leftist government, attempting to reassert its autonomy under crushing German predominance. That may sound simplistic, but there is not much more to it.

In past postings I have also attempted to explain the German mindset leading to this – and there is no other word for it – disaster. The negotiations have been surprisingly linear. Syriza’s main goal was debt relief. They always saw Chancellor Merkel as the lone decision maker in the negotiations. Ms Merkel on the other hand has unremittingly demanded unconditional capitulation. The rest has been spectacle. There is a saying: “Clowns entertain in the intervals between the acts. The circus director runs the show”. Dijsselbloem, Juncker and the rest may have had a lot to say to the media, but little to say in negotiations. Finland, Slovakia and Slovenia are irrelevant. The only other player of any importance besides Merkel was ECB president Mario Draghi, who assisted Germany’s financial blitzkrieg by questionably terminating the ECB’s support of Greek banks. Schäuble was Merkel’s executioner.

The intervention of France’s President Francois Hollande was uncannily reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain. The only thing lacking was his arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport brandishing a letter from Chancellor Merkel. The conclusion of “negotiations” was reminiscent of the Munich Dictate. Greece has been “saved”, much as Czechoslovakia 77 years ago.

The humanitarian disaster had reached dimensions that defy any definition of a “United Europe”. With the media’s obsession with the pseudo negotiations the fact that this was an existential decision for millions of Greeks was forgotten, many of whom stood at the edge of an abyss. This became clear as affected Greeks were asking how they were to pay for their insulin and if it would soon become unavailable due to the financial embargo that was being created. This was the terrorism that Yanis Varoufakis denounced.

The reaction of what I would term “enlightened Germans” to Varoufakis’s claim was what one expects. For them, they were being compared to ISIS. Even though the fear emanating from much of Greece’s population was palpable, there was little reflection by many of those Germans capable of doing so, with regard to the aggression conducted in the name of Germany. In the phase immediately before Syriza’s capitulation there was an increasing awareness among some Germans that something was going terribly wrong, but it was too little and too late.

This brings me to the first main point of this posting. The history of the “good Germans” has always been one of ineffectuality. In the course of history there have been many Germans who believed in the enlightenment, be it Martin Luther, Immanuel Kant or Wolfgang Goethe. These however never questioned the authoritative role of the state against the will of the people. The class of “enlightened” Germans always regret what their nation is doing, but more often than not, in the end participate in the very actions they deplore. As A.J.P. Taylor wrote: “There were, and I daresay are, many millions of well-meaning kindly Germans; but what have they added up to politically?” In the case of Greece, this has occurred still again.

Not that the ethical Germans have had an easy time of it lately. A few years ago there was a massive campaign in commentaries and politics condemning so called Gutmenschen (literally translated: good people), who were defined by their critics as persons following their moral conscience – regardless of being leftist, moderate or conservative. In a nation that is responsible for the holocaust, this is a very worrying development. Thus the transition of Germany’s hegemonic role in Europe, among many internal transitions such as the unjust redistribution of wealth, has been thoroughly ideologically prepared.

It is worth mentioning a sort of landmark book written by the German historian Heinrich August Winkler, “The Long Journey to the West”, which appeared in the year 2000. It traces the purported progress of Germany becoming a responsible member of Western Europe’s democratic tradition and intellectual enlightenment. Winkler may have been too quick with his conclusion. Under German hegemony we are seeing heads of state removed by financial pressure (Italy and Greece), nations forced to take over debts from reckless private banks (Ireland and Spain) and Greece being pounded into submission and having its autonomy reduced to passing legislation dictated by Berlin. The Germany of today has little to do with Western European democracy, resembling more traditional German anti-democratic authoritarianism.

The second point I wash to make is that the real losers with regard to the disaster in Greece are not even aware of their plight: the Eastern Europeans. What the Germans have done to Greece has its basis in racism, but the Germans have a primordial fear and hate of eastern Europeans, resulting in a commensurate brutality. When the opportunity arrives to subjugate these peoples, the process will not be as gentle as in Greece. Ukraine could already be the first example of this.

The only exception might be Poland, which throughout history has been invaded and occupied by the Germans. Not only have the Germans always considered Poland a colony, but after the Second World War German territory was added to Poland. This is something that Germans resent to this day. Willy Brandt falling to his knees in Warsaw was an important gesture, but in Germany these days Willy Brandt numbers among the derogated “Gutmenschen”. The Poles are fortunately highly distrustful of the Germans – with good reason – and are still not members of the eurozone . They surely have been following the developments in Greece and hopefully comprehended the writing on the wall.

Lastly, no one seems to have really thought through what the “reforms” forced upon Greece will mean in practice. Up to now Greeks apparently were reluctant to pay taxes because hardly any one, especially the oligarchs, did so. To alter a nation’s attitude to taxation is a herculean task for a government at the best of times, a process that Yanis Varoufakis interestingly had initiated very early on. The imposition of a ridiculously high value added tax increase by Germany is nothing more than taxation without representation. Not paying ones taxes in Greece will become a patriotic act of resistance against the Germans and the troika. There can be no crdible political discourse from a politically disgraced Syriza, leaving coercion as the only alternative (Varoufakis knew why he resigned as finance minister and has voted against the German dictate). The Greek people clearly rejected the dictate that has been foisted upon them. They will not be supporting the so called “reforms”, especially as they simply cannot afford to do so.

The crisis in Greece and in Europe is not over, it is only just beginning.

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  1. Jesper

    The post is littered with ignorance, racism, hate and fear-mongering, this is just one example:
    “What the Germans have done to Greece has its basis in racism, but the Germans have a primordial fear and hate of eastern Europeans, resulting in a commensurate brutality. When the opportunity arrives to subjugate these peoples, the process will not be as gentle as in Greece. Ukraine could already be the first example of this.”

    1. vidimi

      I don’t know, maybe there is some truth in your accusation – “primordial fear and hate” is a very vivid description – but there is probably more truth in Rose’s statement that you cited. 70 years ago, this sentiment was nakedly apparent in Germany. Is that enough time for it to have disappeared? Maybe, but Matthew Rose is based in Berlin so he probably still sees enough evidence of it to warrant mention. I’ve been in and out of the UK for the last four years and god knows the english are racist towards eastern europe – and it’s an acceptable racism. it would surprise me more if germany were different, to be honest.

      1. windsock

        Not “the english”, but “some English people”, or are bland generalisations the norm around here now, just like the ones in this post about German people?

        1. vidimi

          i’m not buying that as it excuses a greater culture. i don’t want to talk about some cops being abusive bad apples, either, but of the institution of police being corrupt.

          in england, there are certain ways of portraying eastern europe in the media, whether they be newspapers like the daily mail, the sun, telegraph, or television channels like channel 4, itv, channel 5, or movies such as borat. stereotypes of backwards, lazy eastern europeans coming to take our jobs, scrounge our benefits and bankrupt our nhs permeate the political and cultural landscapes of the country. you basically have your russian mobsters and oligarchs, polish plumbers, romanian or bulgarian benefits scroungers, maybe a baltic stripper, and that’s the extent of national perception.

          in trying to turn it into a “some people” issue you are denying the wider, cultural problem.

          1. windsock

            No, I’m living the experience.

            And if you can’t see “Borat” for the satire it is upon some of our “cultural problems”, I pity you.

            And if “lazy eastern europeans” are taking “our jobs”, what does that say about the English – they must be lazier, no?

            You are seeing the side of the argument you want to see. You aren’t seeing those of us who are fighting on the other side.

            1. vidimi

              you seem to be simultaneously missing and inadvertantly making my point.

              there may be a plurality of english people with no prejudice. but there are enough to make this a cultural issue. that is why those like you are engaged “fighting on the other side” and why a movie like ‘borat’ satirizes “cultural problems” at home.

              1. windsock

                No, I’m challenging your point about “the english”… we are not an homogenous, harmonious whole. We have factions. We are many English people, some of whom have problems with aspects of a very cacophonous culture.

                1. Moneta

                  There is art and artifice in making generalizations.

                  Generalizations serve a purpose. Good and bad depending on one’s goals.

                2. vidimi

                  again, you can try to dismiss it as a few bad apples, but i’m not buying it. when the culture is racist, i will call it such.

                  this last election cycle, immigration (from eastern europe) was the big issue. it engineered UKIP’s rise and, when the tories out-UKIPped UKIP, secured a win for cameron. even labour tried to get in on the anti-immigration (from eastern europe) action. the nation’s top most circulated newspapers all made the fear of a flood of romanians and bulgarians coming in (along with a continuation of poles) the top story and the public lapped it up. it’s a national issue and the english nation is getting called out. the scottish rebuked this scaremongering.

                  the english are not unique in this. every country i’ve ever been to has had a racism problem. england’s is quite innocuous compared to america’s, where it kills, but the point is that Rose’s comment about a similar german racism is probably well placed and outrage over it insincere.

                  1. windsock

                    Fears about immigration levels do not equal racism.

                    Indeed, immigration is used as an issue to divide people from each other, usually by our (some of it, ironically, foreign-owned) press. Yes, I admit some people confuse the two issues, often deliberately, to muddy the waters. How many of the oft-quoted 99% do you think own media outlets?

                    I do not deny that racism is a problem in parts of our society. But to apply it to the whole is claptrap. Do you talk about “the Blacks” / “the Jews” / “the Muslims” in the same way as you talk about “the english”? No, I thought not. Identifying a particular problem within a group and applying it to the whole is racism and that is what you are doing.

                    1. Ben Johannson

                      Fears about immigration levels do not equal racism.

                      You mean the English would respond in precisely the same manner were the immigrant population 100% white Canadian?

                      Seems scarcely to be believed.

                    2. windsock

                      To be honest Ben, some English would not care who or how many came here as long as they were “economically viable” (i.e. already wealthy OR exploitable as cheap labour)… then you have other English who distrust English people from the next village one mile down the road. I suspect if some of those white Canadians spoke French, that might be unpopular with some. But then again, not all.

            2. John Jones

              Yeah and Greeks and eastern Europeans and other minorities etc also live the experience of been on the end of the racism by Germans, English and other northern Europeans. And it is not ‘some people’ in their experience.
              And it is always satire and funny when you are not the one on the other end of the joke.

              The wealthy Greeks seek to conserve their wealth as much as the wealthy Germans. To devolve this down to nationalistic stereotypes is to play the game of the wealthy. Divide and rule. This article buys into that, big time.

              Stereotypes which most of the German population has had no problem believing and spouting off towards Greeks. Preconceived notions that not only the Germans have but England and northern Europe.

              1. Windsock

                How weird you call out racism below and yet appear to espouse it in this comment.

                And should I judge all Poles by this article about an event in an ethnically very mixed (white/Afro-Caribbean/Turkish Cypriot) area? No. But you go ahead if you want to.


                You are either confused or just picking random fights, so this will be the only interaction I will have with you

          2. Skippy

            The strange thing is the Germans were late to the colonization party, tho at that time there was some funky stuff happening in German philosophy and spiritualism.

            Skippy…. and at the end of the day all the other anglophone nations history is white washed and Germany was left holding the bag as the bad guy.

            1. vidimi

              yup. i would say the english probably qualify as history’s greatest all-time villains…or should i say “some english people”.

            2. flora

              Yes. ” A few years ago there was a massive campaign in commentaries and politics condemning so called Gutmenschen (literally translated: good people), who were defined by their critics as persons following their moral conscience – regardless of being leftist, moderate or conservative.”

              This remark makes me wonder if Hegel is still the guiding philosophy in Germany.

              “Since the state is mind objectified, it is only as one of its members that the individual has objectivity, genuine individuality, and an ethical life…” Hegel

              Hegel gives the state the primacy, not the family or community or individual conscience.

    2. alex morfesis

      racism or reality…
      in attempting to gloss over corruptions or indignities, I often find people trying to tag me as some tin foilly “conspiracy” theorist…

      I am just a “reality accepter”…

      you are somewhat correct in that it should not fall on the german people to leash their own politicians…

      germans have shown a historical prejudice towards being sheep and then being used as cannon fodder by the former “electors” who just wish to turn back the clock to 1764…

      freedom and democracy are not important to the german people…

      germans are not prepared to suffer and certainly not die to create or even defend freedom…

      they never have and never will…

      they are happy being sheep…as are most people on this planet…

      except in most places on the planet at some point sometime someone at least postured that they were fighting for freedom…

      the german common people never really complained about serfdom

      it is just not fair to expect this generation of germans to care about freedom and democracy beyond small talk at a coffee shop

      1. dk

        The reality is that oligarchs use proxies of many kinds, from nations to individuals. They gain resources and profit from the products and byproducts of elaborately manufactured scenarios, pitting groups against each other to produce illusions of demand, debt, etc. Germany and Greece are no more than proxies in this gambit.

        Beware the kayfabe.

    3. DJG

      The Anglo-German media have steeped in racism. Are you forgetting the acronym PIIGS? Do you think that is referring to hams on the hoof in Finland?

      I’ll write it again: The DJG rule. The Anglophone world (and the Germans and Dutch) prefer their Romans and Greeks dead. The current ones are too “excitable.”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Brown people, little people, poor people, desert people don’t do too well either in that world.

    4. hemeantwell

      I share your objections. Here we are at NC and other venues trying to get a handle on an emerging transnational financial capitalist juggernaut, variously manifesting itself in new political economic structures like the Troika, the TPP, etc., and this journalist takes us back to something that reeks of national character analysis, gilded with references to historical conflicts that seem to be originally constituted and then recalled at a hind-brain level.

      When I was recently in Greece I was struck by a strong popular current of “Don’t hate Germans, hate the Troika,” fairly remarkable especially given how the SPD largely bought into the grasshopper Greeks meme. Rose should take that to heart analytically.

      1. hemeantwell

        To add: the more I think about this, the more off target this post is. Precisely at a time when it is necessary to consider features of the current crisis like, in no particular order, falling German productivity, the dwindling of Chinese demand that fueled Germany’s economy, growing difficulties in finding investment options for surplus capital >>> bubble investment, how a NATO that is dominated by the US is fostering a crisis in the Ukraine, Rose focuses on the diffuse sentimental templates that can regressively steer a crisis response, especially when elites want to play the nationalism card. Rose does next to nothing to draw our attention back to crisis drivers, he just forecasts how it can be misinterpreted.

        1. juliania

          I take full note of your sobriquet, hemeantwell, and say that yes, he did, and I thank Mr. Rose for requesting that comments be enabled on this post. Overall, I believe the headline speaks volumes, and the post is helpful in enabling readers to distinguish underlying vulnerablities which we may be sure the ptb will exploit as the coming fragmentation begins. In any kind of war, and this is war, financially operative, we can be sure, characterizations such as these will be manipulated.

          We here in this country cannot be casting stones, living in our own glasshouse. One reason ‘black lives matter’ has been far too slow gaining momentum is that inability to identify with the downtrodden – I won’t call it racisim but it is racism’s half brother, a banality of emotive response we can all be ashamed of, though thankfully we are waking up to the horrors in our midst, the ongoing nightmare.

          I think Mr. Rose sounds a warning about the inertia which can grip a nation as it, the Germans, the Greeks, the US of A, is increasingly propagandized to enhance the worst instincts of its citizens. This is intentional. Comments are correct in observing that the machinations reside in the financial power structure itself, but it is the people who need to become fully aware of the manipulatable and self-defeating instincts that inhabit every one of us.

          Not for nothing did Socrates take to heart the Delphi oracle: Know thyself.

          1. norm de plume

            ‘I think Mr. Rose sounds a warning about the inertia which can grip a nation as it, the Germans, the Greeks, the US of A, is increasingly propagandized to enhance the worst instincts of its citizens’

            I agree, while also accepting that there is variety and shading and even outright opposition in amongst the populace in question.

            But if the purpose is to try to help prevent the sort of catastrophe that flows from the ‘disaster’ Mr Rose and many other observers feel has just occurred, then limiting criticism to bloodless supranational entities like the Troika, or only sheeting blame home to a certain class of interests in Germany is going to fail. Germans en masse will only notice and hopefully act upon criticism of them and/or their nation.

            The heat Germany is taking has been breaking through the propagandised ‘inertia’ and into people’s heads – people like Piketty, Sachs, Krugman, Stiglitz and Eichengreen have been published in Die Welt and Die Zeit, and Joschka Fischer has sounded the warning too. A worried creditor class wheeled out a hitherto unknown (to me at least) functionary of the Bundesbank, Ludger Schuknecht, to scoff at them and reiterate the wonders of a failed ideology in a piece linked here there other day that was equal parts sophistry and bullshit. It sounded desperate.

            The only way to shift German politicians is to shift Germans, to move the Overton fenster. If referring to ‘Greece’ as piling up debt, or foolishly signing up to the Euro is OK, then to criticise ‘Germany’ for the actions its leaders take in its name is fair game. ‘German creditors’ won’t make enough volk sit up and take notice of the opprobrium that is growing around them.

            1. German native speaker

              For years, after starting an illegal war in Iraq, after the US caused the banking/ derivatives crisis, and after the truth about NSA/Snowdon, whenever someone in Germany talked bad about the “Amis” (short for Americans) because of the way the US behave, I have reminded them that not all Americans are ‘behind’ and supportive of the ‘system’.
              I guess I can now follow your reasoning and encourage all Germans to pile it on about how bad Americans are, and unless all of them are called ruthless imperialists, the US won’t change (according to your logic).

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          The “most successful” in recent memory gets to dictate the narrative because their view is seen as “right”. Germany gets to crow about their “economic miracle”, founded on running surpluses, exchange rate suppression that would never have been possible under the deutschemark, and the inconvenient truth of the massive debt forgiveness and restructuring they were afforded in 1953. America benefits similarly from their long-in-the-tooth supremacy after WW II, a victory of excellent river systems, large protective oceans, bounteous agricultural acres, and skillful realpolitik at Bretton Woods. Of course there’s no possible chance that a 23% VAT on tourism will remedy Greece’s predicament, but the ultimate failure of the program will be whitewashed because the “right” countries in the dominant narrative du jour did their best. We used to have a few politicians who understood at least a tiny bit about history and economics, but that era is long gone indeed, they’re either ignorant (Reagan, Bush, Trump) or utterly corrupt (Clinton, Obama, Clinton).

          1. Jim

            “excellent river systems, large protective oceans, bounteous agricultural acres” – these are all things that Brazil or for that matter the Congo Republic has. Going by natural resources and geographical advantages the Congo Republic should be vastly richer than remote mountainous Japan with it’s earthquakes, almost total lack of natural resources and with only 3% of it’s surface area suitable for agriculture.Japan has only one thing going for it – the Japanese people. But that makes all the difference in comparison with that treasure house of natural resources – the Congo.

            1. Tinky

              Did you really not understand that HAL was referring to aggregate advantages, and that isolating one in comparison is not at all useful?

              Or should we also list the countless island nations that enjoy “large protective oceans”, yet somehow fail to threaten the economic dominance of the U.S.?

            2. mesfern

              Believe it or not, the relative amount of agricultural land is the same in Japan and the Congo (~12%; the US have 45%). It may not be the first impression one has from the Congo, but its terrain is rather mountainous and rocky; as one nears the eastern provinces, one might even be tempted to say they are the African Himalaya. Add in the rainforests, and it becomes obvious why it is so difficult to build and maintain the necessary infrastructures.

      2. praedor

        Clear political correctness corrupting your vision. The German people (by and large, the majority, the bulk, the CULTURE) label the Greeks as lazy and deserving of what they are getting. They label the GREEKS as LAZY and deserving of their plight. They don’t deserve aid, succor, etc, because they’re Greeks and Greeks are…Greek (lazy leeches). That is an objective fact of the coverage and the overall conceit of the German people en bank. It is racist. I don’t give a flying crap if you can find one or two coffee shop teenager Germans who disagree, they aren’t the ones running the show, propping up the show, supporting the show, creating the show, kowtowing to the show (though they too are kowtowing). The German machine as a whole, in focus, by design, by preference, is racist and hegemonic. The Troika IS the German establishment, the German heart, the German soul as it is run and supported, directly and indirectly, actively and passively, by Germans. Virtually all of them.

        1. Jim

          If your rich uncle is sending you a monthly stipend to live on you’ll have to put up with his lectures on your excessive carousing, lack of application etc. If you don’t want to hear it send him his checks back.

          1. Anthony

            If your rich uncle was the one who helped destroy your economic independence and then gave you just enough money to subsist on while forcing you to sell him all your valuables and assets at deeeeeep discounts then maybe you should tell him to go pound sand.

            1. Jimjhobe

              Yes, indeed, you should go tell him to pound sand but then you would be naive to think that he would continue to send you a monthly stipend. The Greeks need to repudiate the debt and leave the euro to get out from under German control. They can’t then except financial support from the Germans. If the Greeks wish to be independent they must cease their dependence on “loans” from the Germans that they have no chance of ever repaying and which contribute nothing to their economic development.

        2. Moneta

          I hear the same meme here in Canada. In fact, I have not heard anyone take the Greeks’ side.

    5. FedUpPleb

      Shill harder Jesper. What was done to Greece cannot be explained by any rational political policy. It has its roots in emotion, domination, nationalism and yes, racism. You can call the latter “cultural differences” if you like, but it only puts a euphemism on the shocking behaviour seen over the last two months.

      Europe has been cast back into the 1950s by this euro crisis. A large portion of the blame now lies with German intransigence in the face of the reality of both bank and soverign bankruptcies. This German intransigence is, at its heart, motivated by national interest, which by casting us back into the 1950s, makes many nervous.

      I have been watching commentary and coverage from across the world closely since the end of May on these issues. I can assure anyone still in doubt that the opinions in this post are representative of a very wide and indeed deep shift in mood following what was done to Greece. Europe has lost the cafe-latte front and one must understand the points being made in this post to realise it.

      Or one can remain in terminal denial and wait for the market to come along and make things better. In any case, please have the graces not to simply stand around shilling.

      1. German native speaker

        What was done to Greece is that it received from the rest of Europe the equivalent 50 000 Euros for every man, woman and child. Per family, this would buy a nice house even in some areas of the US. .And you can turn and twist this, and hide this fact in complicated economic lingo, but this is what happened. How terrible, if the rest of Europe is now kind of fed up with supplying Greece with more money.

        1. zapster

          Strangely tho, very little of it ended up in any greek hands. It all funneled directly into German and French banks. You bailed out the banksters, not the greeks.

    6. JEHR

      When nakedly stereotypical accusations are introduced into an article, it undermines the core of the argument. The thesis, therefore, does not stand up under scrutiny.

    7. salvo

      well, I live in germany and am formally german myself and I can assure you the main narrative repeated in german mainstream discourse by the mass media is that the greeks are somewhat inferior, lazy, profligate, untrustworthy and so on, something most people tend to believe. Indeed most of them feel that the german politics is way too soft towards them. I could start linking to a few articles by german mainstream media to underwrite my point

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Here, we are more heterogeneous and so, we don’t say all USians are lazy.

        Only certain USians are lazy.

        Thus, we avoid one generalization, only to fractally replicate it at a small level.

    8. Si

      Your visceral reaction to this is the most enlightening aspect of your post.

      “Ignorance”… how so? “Racism” (“prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”) – against the Greeks yes – you don’t mean that though do you? “Fear mongering” – yes… I am sure a pension of 80 Euros for a Greek is something not to be afraid of.

  2. Gabriel

    One of the few bright spots for me in how the Greece has played out is that in Poland people seem indeed to have picked up that joining the Euro might be something besides a badge of honor of being “Western” and European.

    My partner Polish and is currently stuck there for preposterous reasons, and she’s confirmed that “sensible,” cosmopolitan, Warsaw, pro-EU people are taking a hard look at what actually adopting the Euro might expose them to. I was gloomy about the chance of this happening, because the pattern I remember from Argentina in the 90s is that the lackeys who aren’t being punished by the hegemon think they’ll score points by sounding even more punitive than the hegemon (Slovakia seems to have played that role in this crisis), and far too many intelligent people don’t understand that adopting a currency cannot be considered in purely symbolic terms. Perhaps Poles’ not altogether delightful history with German-run international systems has made them more alert about this kind of thing.

    PS. Apropos well-meaning Germans, I linked to a couple of vids by some of their contemporary equivalents here.

    1. susan the other

      I was surprised by the Fortruss post because there is so much censorship here we don’t get any idea about the manipulations of our State Department until they fail or succeed. It made me think that we and Germany/France are truly on opposite sides when it comes to the future of Europe. Without “Old Europe” on our side to manipulate eastern Europe it is doubtful we will succeed in drawing them in (and keeping them) into the neoliberal model we seem so determined to export. Hopefully the crisis in neoliberalism has just begun.

  3. Jim Haygood

    Change one word; here’s how it reads:

    ‘The class of “enlightened” Americans always regret what their nation is doing, but more often than not, in the end participate in the very actions they deplore.’

      1. Carla

        Yes, I was going to make that comment, but figured someone would make it for me, and sure enough! Thanks, Jim H.

        Also, let me echo “thanks” to Mathew Rose for requesting comments to be enabled on his post.

    1. nobody

      Mark Ames:

      I really started with the idea that in every age, there is some awful oppression that is not yet recognized and therefore doesn’t exist, but later seems horribly obvious. This became clear to me working in Moscow in the ’90s. No one in the “liberal” Western press corps, academia, world financial aid organizations or Clinton Administration had a shred of sympathy for the millions of Russians suffering from so-called “privatization” programs that we rammed down their throats. Literally millions of Russians went to their graves early in the ’90s, yet many respectable Westerners openly said that the old generation would “have to die off” before the proper mindset set in to allow full Westernization in Russia. Those millions of deaths are still not seen as part of something larger and evil.,_murder_and_rebellion

      1. Gabriel

        Excellent quote. Thanks for posting it. And today’s crop of “respectable Westerners” wonder why Putin seems to have Svengali-high approval ratings when facing down the full disapproval of DC and the EU.
        Our Western elite really has gone one-up on the Bourbons. Latter remembered everything and learned nothing; ours does away with the remembering bit.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One really didn’t have a way to share with anyone else (to have a place like this to express) back then, and one was inclined to think ‘Am I insane to think what is happening over there is terrible? Am I the only one?’

    2. Eric Patton


      Germany has money, industry, resources, brains, and will. They think strategically, and they plan well. You have to admire it.

      1. Inverness

        Germany has benefited tremendously from both debt forgiveness and cheap Turkish labour.

        1. Jim

          Oh get real! Germany has been devastated numerous times in history. Almost totally destroyed by the Thirty Years War, again almost totally destroyed, occupied and divided at the end of WWII, devastated both by the Napoleonic Wars as well as WWI. It always recovers to become the strongest state in Western Europe.

          1. YankeeFrank

            And you say that as if its a good thing. The 20th century would beg to differ. I’d “admire” Germany a bit more perhaps if they managed to build a strong nation without it always seeming to be built on a sneering arrogance and racist hatred of those not “German”, meaning specifically Prussian or Bavarian, and it not always winding up with the total domination and ruin of other nations. I guess its easy for them to get up and engineer every day when motivated by an overweening pride.

            To me they have a singular inability to do anything other than engineer other peoples’ ideas and start wars that make the world cringe in horror at their monstrous deeds. Some cultural things never change I guess.

            And no, I’m not letting the US off the hook for its misdeeds, but there is something fundamentally vicious and yes, I’ll say it, evil, about the German culture that not only justifies the suffering of “others” at their hands but actually revels in it, as the OP and some commenters who are actually German have made clear here.

            1. Ormond Otvos

              It ain’t the Chermans, it’s the bankers. Global financialization is the driver, rich people the staff.

              Yes, the rich willingly join that state, the Bank. In every state, there are heartless rich.

            2. Ignacio

              Ordoliberalism is evil and it has been the main ethos of the German people for a long time (at other periods of time going by other names, but in essence is the same stupid crap).

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s interesting how often we exclude ourselves in our analyses of events abroad, or fail to include the international dimension of our domestic policies.

      It’s the hegemonic-power projection cartographic map you mentioned a few days ago.

  4. Ping

    Article does great service cutting thru the ‘noise’.

    I don’t know why half billion ‘clawback’ and hefty penalties from GS isn’t demanded for structuring fraudulent accounting in Greece’s entry to EU.

    Also unaddressed, the 12-14 billion olympic boondoggle that undoubtedly was wildly profitable for a few, leaving the Greek population with abondoned facilities and the bill.

  5. susan the other

    Rose is correct. But the EU was doomed from the start. Now the Europeans are deliberating about having formed a political (as in purely political) union, without a viable economic model. We put it just the opposite but the result is the same. The thing that gets me, whether it is Germany or the US, is how holier-than-thou creditors are when the game is up. They seem to have only one religion: IBGYBG. When they are not repaid they pontificate about how irresponsible the debtors are, nevermind a worldwide depression. The main reason the EU was doomed from the start was that it was founded on a growth model that didn’t really have legs. It was just a convenient magic show. They shouldn’t pretend they didn’t see this coming. Already their talk has shifted to saving the Core. Merkel, and probably Hollande, has decided to cut her losses, I’d bet. Save the Core instead of lose the whole unsalvageable mess. In so doing they should write off the debts of the periphery to zero.

    1. Synoia

      The EU was formed to prevent more wars between Germany and France.

      This is unlikely:

      In so doing they should write off the debts of the periphery to zero.

      There appear to be many derivatives which would be triggered by such an event.

      1. paulmeli

        Derivatives create a lot of counter-party risks because the Masters of the Universe™ were selling them to each other to hedge their bets.

        Seems to me then that much of the risk is circular and so would cancel itself out. Self-nullifying.

  6. IsabelPS

    “This has been a conflict between a small European nation, led by a leftist government, attempting to reassert its autonomy under crushing German predominance. That may sound simplistic, but there is not much more to it.”

    I’ve stopped reading here.

    1. salvo

      well, if you lived in germany like I do, you’ll make the experience of an everyday propaganda in the mass media including the state owned ones repeating the narrative of the lazy greek.

      1. IsabelPS


        In what way that is a proof of “a small European nation, led by a leftist government, attempting to reassert its autonomy under crushing German predominance”?

        1. salvo

          well, I think it’s not wrong to say the Germany is projecting its power on the other nations in the eurozone and that greece loss of sovereignity is a reuslt of such power projection

          1. IsabelPS

            And, of course, there’s not much more to it.

            Windsock said it well:
            “The wealthy Greeks seek to conserve their wealth as much as the wealthy Germans. To devolve this down to nationalistic stereotypes is to play the game of the wealthy. Divide and rule. This article buys into that, big time.”

            I would say it more bluntly: useful idiots.

            1. norm de plume

              Well of course, there is more to it. ‘Germany’ is part of a transnational neoliberal power elite, even if ‘the German people aren’t, and it is a central component. Its participation in what has happened to Greece may not have been sufficient, but it was certainly necessary. If Merkel and Schauble and co had been sensible out loud from January and actually listened to and dealt fairly with Varoufakis, even if the IMF and ECB were hardline, would we be where we are? And whatever influence the US or her own finance-capilitalists wield over her, ultimately Merkel is voted in or out by constituents. Win them over to a sounder view and she either listens or plans her retirement.

              Democratic sovereignty may be virtually dead in Greece, thanks in part to the efforts of Merkel and co, but it is still breathing in powerful nations like Germany.

              ‘To devolve this down to nationalistic stereotypes is to play the game of the wealthy’

              That’s true. The real issue is the elite, whatever canton they happen to hail from.

              To that end you might be interested in a reply I just appended to a comment of yours from a couple of weeks ago, in a discussion on whether Tsipras will do a Blair and end up on the yachts of his erstwhile enemies. You said:

              ‘Which does not mean that he, and Syriza, will not fall into the clientelist trap (some, like Guy Verhofstadt, say they have already started)’

              I said ‘Well, Guy Verhofstadt certainly knows of which he speaks.

              Follow the money. Their money, that is. Not ours.’

              That’s the enemy of both Germans and Greeks, good or bad, lazy or industrious.

              1. IsabelPS

                I don’t doubt it. Guy Verhofstadt also knows a thing or two about inflated governments, as Belgians do.

                There is a lot of noise and little information.

              2. c (too)

                Guy Verhofstadt

                So who is the Guy representing you?

                Besides being an MEP, a candidate for President of the EU Commission and a former Prime Minister of Belgium, Mr. Verhofstadt sits on the board of Sofina(Société Financière de Transports et d’Entreprises Industrielles), a Belgian holding company headquartered in Brussels.

                Laying out his vision for Europe, Mr. Verhofstadt said, “What we want to do is to start a new wave of integration in the European Union. In the key markets we have today, capital markets, bank, digital, telecoms, energy, that is what we need, using the scale of the European Union to make a leap forward in the integration and having a new growth.”

                Sofina, according to Wikipedia, invests in multiple economic sectors such as telecommunication (7%), portfolio companies, banking and insurance (6%), private equity (6%), company services (18%), consumer goods (31%), energy (6%), distribution (8%) and various other sectors (10%). Mr Verhofstadt is also a board member at Exmar, a shipping group serving the international gas and oil industry.

                In other words, the sectors in which Verhofstadt wants more European investment (with public money of course) are the exact same ones that the investment fund he is part of is already investing in…

                Guy Verhofstadt, GDF Suez and the privatization of Greek water

                But there’s more to it. Sofina, according to its own statements, has a stake in the energy multinational, GDF Suez. Indeed its impact is so important that the fund has a seat on the board of Suez. Now, the plot thickens: Suez’s full subsidiary, Suez Environnement (in which Sofina also holds a stake ) is participating in one of the two consortia that in Greece have reached the final phase of the privatization of EYATH, the state-owned company that manages the water services for Thessaloniki, the second biggest Greek city.

              3. c (too)

                “I said ‘Well, Guy Verhofstadt certainly knows of which he speaks.”


                For example, mijnheer Verhofstadt has been a passionate advocate of fast-tracking Ukraine into the EU. This is because the Boël family is determined to grab a slice of the big shale-fracking potential of the Ukraine: and again, they pay him to make things easier for them. The EU has been happy dealing with corrupt politicians and mobsters in Ukraine to this end, because Verhofstadt has argued that the needs justify the means.

                To those ends, Verhofstadt travelled to Maiden Square in Kiev and addressed anti-government protestors there in February 2014, making a series of inflammatory statements that earned rebukes from UKip leaders. Ukrainian police snipers shot protestors before then-president, the Russia-backed Viktor Yanukovich, fled Kiev later that month.

      2. German native speaker

        Just today, from FAZ:

        Who is responsible for Greeks not able to buy cheaper generic pharma drugs? The Greeks, and there are no two ways about it.

        Your claim that German mass media depict the Greeks as lazy “on a daily basis” is nothing but propaganda, and obviously easy to do if you conveniently forget to include (or read, or watch) all examples to the contrary. Discussions in Sueddeutsche were often very good, you ever took the time to read them? This programm is publicly financed:

  7. Ishmael

    There are many things in this article I would disagree with.

    Yes, Greece was made to suffer by the French and German banks during the bailout; however, if Greece had really buckled down and changed it probably could have got through this and moved forward.

    It is not German’s fault that the Greeks have not improved their tax collection. Nope German assistance was kicked out of the country. It was not the Germans who failed to go after past Greek elites. No it was the Greeks. It was not the Germans who constructed an enormous counter productive government bureaucracy in Greece and refused to reform it. It was the Greeks. It was not the Germans who put in an unsustainable pension system and refused to reform it, it was the Greeks. It was not the Germans who have failed to put in place an up to date property system so that the owners (mainly Greek elites) of the property pay their property taxes, and still refused to do this, it was the Greeks.

    I saw some report that said approximately $50 billion a year of taxes from Greek elites goes uncollected each year. The problem is Germany and the rest of the EU expected Greece to reform itself when it hit the wall. It has refused to do so. I keep saying, why does the Greek population keep wanting to stay on the Euro. It distrusts its own govt more than the EU.

    1. FedUpPleb

      Yes, Greece was made to suffer by the French and German banks during the bailout; however, if Greece had really buckled down and changed it probably could have got through this and moved forward.

      Actually they did. Greece was in a primary surplus at the beginning of this year.

      What changed was a new government was elected whom the European powers disapproved of. In league with the ECB, these powers — pincipally Germany — deliberately engineered a bank run in Greece so as to topple theis elected government or bring it into line. There is no other explanation.

      This is not the Europe most europeans ever signed up for. It is the end of the EU as a political project as far as I, what some other assorted cranks, but now an alarmingly new number of ordinary commentators have concluded.

      The elites and assorted Quis across the continent will continue to laud and implement the new German and neoliberal coup. But don’t expect the general population to be pleased about it.

      1. Yves Smith Post author


        The bank run was underway before Syriza came into office. It’s fair to say that the ECB took measures to make it worse (giving only minimal ELA increases) but it’s not accurate to depict them as its sole cause. It’s more akin to fanning flames.

        The creditor conduct has been terrible. There’s no need to overegg the pudding. It only hurts the credibility of critics.

    2. Synoia

      It is not American’s fault that the Americans have not improved their tax collection.

      It was not the Americans who failed to go after past American elites.

    3. paulmeli

      It doesn’t matter much at this point whose fault it is…the obstinance in dealing with the problem will ensure that the Euro system fails catastrophically.

      It would be hard to make an argument that the Greeks were responsible for that outcome. Any system that can be brought down by it’s weakest member is a very poor system indeed.

    4. TheCatSaid

      Wasn’t it the Greek elites who had the agency to make these changes, but chose to protect their own interests instead? Like what is happening in the USA?

      In each case what is needed is to create genuinely democratic power structures. Maybe the broader populace needed to see things really fall apart, before taking up the mantle of taking responsibility to create something new that is capable of moving things forward in a constructive way for the people at large.

      1. Ishmael

        The elites (and this includes many ex-junta members) have controlled the govt since late 70’s. The people have gone along with this because crumbs have been handed out to the people while the elites were stealing the country blind. One of the big backers of Syrzia is govt workers. They and the elites do not want govt reforms. Change will not come until it is forced upon them.

        My first reaction to the new deal (my wife is Greek and I am around lots of Greeks) is basically that Germany was annexing the country but later as I thought about it I decided maybe that is a good thing. The Greek people have not been able to have a functioning country for 30 years. It is ranked as the most corrupt place in Europe and also one of the hardest countries in Europe to open a business.

        1. JTMcPhee

          One can be sure that “the Greeks,” like the Czechs maybe, ought to cheer the victory of their new masters. In the New Libertarian vein, you only got what you ( or the Government-Like Organization you as a weak little individual and serf-able mope must perforce become attached to) can Take and then Hold against the other Galtian Enterprises.

          So it’s the case, then, that Friedmania has flattened the earth so completely that the armies of Bidness can send the tanks and JU-87s and F-16s in a clean, bloody sweep over the Lowlands… Interesting that backward tribespeople in places like Afghanistan (our name for that collection) have resisted the actual tanks, preserving their identities as, e.g., Pashto, while happily soaking up the bribes and floods of corruption, pallets of $100 bills and Viagra and stuff…

    5. Moneta

      The blame is circular. Germany knew Greece restructured its debt to enter the zone.

      As for the generous pensions, I keep on scratching my head wondering how many would consider 10k generous if they were receiving it. Money value is not the only measure of the size of a pension. One must look at what it buys. And frankly, they seem to consume way less resources than we do here in Canada.

  8. windsock

    I was one of those people who, in my youth, welcomed the EEC, then EC, then EU, from the shores of Old Blighty, hoping and believing it would tie us in to a balancing power against the US and USSR (giving my age away). I bought into that “preventing war” schtick.

    Now I realise that they didn’t want to prevent war because of its effects upon the populations who fought and suffered it. Now, watching Greece (and my own government), I can see that the reason they wanted to prevent war is because war destroys wealth. It is wealth, above all else, that all governments of the world, now seek to conserve.

    The wealthy Greeks seek to conserve their wealth as much as the wealthy Germans. To devolve this down to nationalistic stereotypes is to play the game of the wealthy. Divide and rule. This article buys into that, big time.

    1. William C

      It is unfair to cast aspersions on the intentions of a dead generation on the grounds of the behaviour of their grandchildrens’ generation. Monnet and Schumann were active 60 to 70 years ago.

      Although British myself, I had French relations (now dead) who were passionate about uniting Europe precisely on the grounds that they wanted no repetition of the slaughter and rapine which traumatised their lives. There are no grounds for supposing that they were insincere and motivated by concern for their (often trivial) personal possessions.

      1. Windsock

        I am not casting aspersions on the people. I am saying that maybe we, the people have been duped? Or maybe, good causes get hijacked as a vehicle of convenience by others with different intentions?

      2. Linus Huber

        It often happens that cause and effect are set in incorrect order. The creation of the EC in this form was simply possible due to a peaceful period experienced during that time but has little real effect on peace itself what its main objective is supposed to be.

        On another level I do not like the above article at all. It is exactly the worst way that nationalism is used to divert attention from the failure of the power hungry elite to the seemingly inappropriate conduct of people of another nation. It is a dangerous development and shows that the unsustainable policies of individual governments may be in trouble.

        On the aspect of racism we have to differentiate. It is normal that one feels more comfortable with persons of the same background/culture/language etc. and therefore favors those in his personal choices which is part of the individual’s freedom. The line is to be drawn when someone ACTS against another race/person of different background or culture where the word racism is appropriate. To now use the German’s sentiment towards Greece as prove of being racist is completely inappropriate except when the believe that someone can endlessly live above his own means is completely ingrained in the mind set. We all have sentiments in that we mostly believe our culture/way of life etc. is somehow a bid superior to others’ culture for defining one’s identity and we generally do not appreciate that our “negative” character attributes are blown out of proportion.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The other road to Hell is paved with bad intentions.

        At times, it seems all roads lead to Hell.

  9. Jim

    As many of the remarks in this thread concerning the shortcoming of various European populations demonstrate, Europe lacks any sense of common identity. Europe is not a community and Europeans are not a people. A unified Europe might be ruled by force as a multicultural empire like the Ottoman Empire but the notion of a United States of Europe is utter fantasy.

    1. c wenn

      Thank You… I’ve spent a bunch of time in Europe, and all the above generalizations are more true than not.

      However, Greek and Italian government is so corrupt, so sleazy, and so unlike the German system, that it’s been pretty well accepted that tax evasion is a way of life there. Germany has its bad apples, but not anywhere near the kind of corruption you see in the PIIGS…. and yes, that’s probably a sly acronym.

      BUT – however colorful and memorable my stays in Italy [north or south], Greece, or even Spain – I would rather have Swiss, Belgian, German or even French neighbors. Sorry… there IS a difference in these peoples, if only in the overall flavor of their respective countries.

      The Swiss are niggardly so and so’s… and every time I’m there I curse their petty, judgmental, xenophobic ways…. but Switzerland will be a better place to live and prosper for it.

      There is something to be said about grumpy old white people…. they make the neighborhood better. And safer.

      sorry… but these conversations are going to have to be had as the world is awash in migratory peoples… some who are overwhelming their environments are not who we want moving in…. sorry… Hamilton’s Rule

      why oh why can’t we have the necessary discussion about over population, migratory populations… and who and how many can play?

      It’s coming to all of you… and I don’t care how lofty the rhetoric, there IS a difference between cultures. I would rather have Swiss neighbors than Hmong.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In general, a Swiss would rather have Swiss neighbors, a Hmong Hmong neighbors, a Martian Martian neighbors.

        But as you say, not everyone is the same.

        Take, for example, Bilbo Baggins.

        He likes to venture out and hang around stranger creatures, like men, elves, wizards, etc.

        Generally speaking, pardon the generalization, but people usually don’t like to migrate to strange new places, unless their homes have been destroyed (or captured as slaves/indentured laborers)…not even to make more money. They rather their home nation grow more prosperous, so they can make more money at home…generally speaking.

        1. Jim

          Not to even mention foreigners there is little love lost between German, French and Italian Swiss. Xenophobia is a basic Swiss principle just as it is for say the Japanese.

          1. Hans Suter

            Mr. Rose’s contribution creates a relaxed ambiente in which a wide garden variety of small and large racism thrives. What about facts about xenophobic Switzerland ? Here a few: “With more than 20% of the population resident aliens, Switzerland has one of the highest ratios of non-naturalized inhabitants in Europe (comparable to the Netherlands; roughly twice the ratio of Germany). In 2003, 35,424 residents were naturalized, a number exceeding net population growth. Over the 25-year period of 1983 to 2007, 479,264 resident foreigners were naturalized, yearly numbers rising gradually from below 10,000 (0.1%) in the 1980s to above 40,000 (0.6%) in the 2000s.[16] Compare the figure of 0.2% (140,795) in the United Kingdom (2004).[“

            1. Linus Huber

              @ Hans

              Thanks to put the matter in proper perspective. It is not a matter of being xenophobic but rather a matter of volume, size and sustainability. Switzerland has a strong tradition to welcome real refugees and to ignore the mentioned circumstances by people who may belong to a nation whose government may be responsible for many bad policies implemented worldwide that contributed to a large degree to the present disorder is a faulty logic. But again, the blame game between nationalities and nations is exactly the wrong way to go but is the preferred choice by governments and the elite to divert the attention from their failures.

      2. Barry Fay

        Boy do you have that wrong! You don´t mean “neighbors” at all. You mean “prosperity” and that you would rather live in a prosperous place than a poor one. I can only pity you. You have simply swallowed the kool-aid that capitalism preaches about “happiness”. Both the Germans (I live in Berlin) and the Swiss are the unhappiest people I´ve ever been around. And the happiest? I´d have to say the Cubans! They know how to ENJOY LIFE.

  10. JTMcPhee

    What’s with the persistent, insistent, often inconsistent turn to personification/reification/hypostatization in what purports to be “sophisticated and informed analysis” of complex intersections and interactions and interrelations? Is “Greece” a useful category, or “Germany,” or “The US,” when it comes to trying to keep the species alive? Or is that latter notion not really part of the goal at all?

    1. TheCatSaid

      I can’t imagine any EU meeting starting with a request to consider what is needed to keep the species alive.

      1. Ormond Otvos

        Having been to Cuba in 1957 while in high school, prepped for the trip by an astute civics teacher, I was surprised to see a generally happier culture in 1981, when I was crew on a sixty foot yacht picking up “refugees” from Mariel, and took a side trip into Havana while delayed. Both trips were from Key West, where I lived from 78-93.

        There was much glitz and glamour in Havana in 57, but there were a lot of fat rich slobs and starving children.

        Not so in 81. A quote I heard from a Cuban “Life under Castro can be hard, but my children have never gone hungry, or been sick without a doctor.” Castro DID redistribute basic needs, bless his hairy face.

    2. Linus Huber

      @ JTMcPhee

      An excellent question.

      One might need to differentiate between the interest of the people and the interest of the governments. The government’s interest might in many cases not be what serves the people best but what ensures and enhances their own power.

  11. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    These historical episodes always remind me of Terence McKenna’s dictum that ‘Culture is not your friend’. These ‘Germans/Greeks/English are mean/kind/clueless/uncivilized…’ are all notions generated by cultural baggage that all peoples carry.
    There are a lot of issues coming to a head in the Greek econonomic debacle. It’s a real shame that the EU institutions can’t seem to find a way to ameliorate conditions for the common people in Greece and maybe inflict a little suffering on the knaves and fools of various nationalities who brought Greece to this pass. But supranational institutions these days are all tailored to cater to the comfort of an internationalist elite that transcends ethnicity. They have their own culture and it involves laughing at you while peeing off a cliff on your head.

    1. Synoia

      Two points:

      First, I’m astonished at the speed with which the cultural stereotypes have returned in public discourse. “Good German, Lazy Greek, Arrogant German, Junker, etc”

      Thus I fear war. Dehumanizing others with labels is the start of a series of excuses to start killing.

      Second, War has become so profitable (for some), and the epithet ‘War Profiteer,” whihc if issued when I was young was about the worst epithet which could be slung at another, has lost its power to shame, and now appears as a medal of achievement aka: Defense Industry CEO.

      1. salvo

        yes, you’re right, but living in Germany I experience such kind of generalizations everyday, the narrative of the lazy greek has become common sense

        1. c wenn

          I am sick to death of tip toeing around the reality of how GENERALIZATIONS get to be truths.

          They are more truthful than not.. and never fair to the individual.

          But we are highly selective in our outrage. THAT is what steams me.

        2. German native speaker

          What you are bringing to the discussion are generalizations, and instead of the Greeks being badmouthed, you are badmouthing Germans. Same exact thing.

      2. Brian M

        General Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket” remains a definitive (and delightfully simple) polemic on this very topic, Synoia.

        That and the classic Black Sabbath song “War Pigs”!

      3. vidimi

        imo, war between any of the eu states seems inconceivable in the next decade. of course, the political landscapes can change quickly, but europeans have always held stereotypes of each other. a case in point is the joke about european heaven and hell from years back: european heaven: the french are the cooks, the germans the mechanics, the british the police, the italians the lovers, and it’s all organised by the swiss. european hell: the british are the cooks, the french the mechanics, the swiss the lovers, the germans the police and it’s all organised by the italians.

        1. Jim

          The present borders in Eastern Europe which were drawn up by Stalin at the end of WWII are fundamentally unstable.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          European (and world) war is already in full swing, it’s financial. So much easier to pursue without all those messy flag-draped coffins to hide at the airport, the Pulitzer shots of crying babies, or the CNN live feeds of missile strikes destroying buildings. It’s a casino, and we are the chips.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Financial wars are less messy or not as gory, but can be more lethal.

            Non-violence* kills.

            *We think of physical violence as the only kind of violence. So, when I say non-violence, it could mean mental violence (which is not physical violence).

    2. craazyman

      they’re just trying to refill your beer, is that so bad?

      It must be the wind . . . .

  12. VietnamVet

    The article is true. The Eurozone is a dead man walking. The fault line between the Western and Greek Orthodox cultures is real. The article is wrong in sense that like almost all working journalists he is a handmaiden to the Davos Elite. The oligarchs are the ones pushing debt. They then suck the debtors dry till dead. Exploiting ethnic hatreds furthers their crimes.

    Class Warfare is very 19th century. Today we have plunder capitalism. Plutocrats and their servants robbing everyone else. This is oblivious to corporate media.

    1. paulmeli

      Robber baron financier Jay Gould quipped “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half”.

      Same as it ever was.

  13. EmilianoZ

    Germany is back to its good old self. The atonement period is over, folks. As the French say: chassez le naturel, il revient au galop. And the more repressed it was, the more virulent the come back.

    Emmanuel Todd gives some clues as to what the new Reich might look like:

    It’s not very different to what Doktor Schaeubble is supposed to have planned according to an article in the links some time ago. In addition, Doktor Schaeubble wants Slovakia too. An old ally from Barbarossa must not be forgotten.

    Emmanuel Todd thinks the UK is in the process of escaping by leaving the EU altogether (I think there’s a referendum on that). He has put France in gray denoting “voluntary servitude”. I’m sure the French elite wants to be collaborators, like in the old times (Sartre said that was the reason the French army collapsed so rapidly). The French people probably want out and join the Club Med.

    I wouldn’t mind a euro north and a euro south. There’s nothing to visit up north but if the currency becomes cheaper, it would make visiting France, Italy and Spain very attractive.

  14. john c. halasz

    Deutschland raus! This ought to be the marching slogan of every truly democratically minded citizen in Europe, no matter how strange the ideological alliances. It has been remarked by many economists over the years, most recently by that former IMF guy, that having Germany leave the Euro and return to the DM would be the cleanest, least disruptive and fairest way to resolve the Euro-crisis.

  15. Steve H.

    Excellent comments about implicit racism, nationalism, ismism. Not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    What is the degree of homogeneity in a culture? Is it in the DNA, like lactose intolerance? Is it a product of circumstance, sea-farers in antithesis to mountain dwellers? Does it scale with size?

    In smaller groups with a survival mentality, non-compliance may be ruthlessly selected out, with compliance being actions we might consider superstitious or abhorrent. Urban living requires a skill set which starts to look like a global culture, as long as the three billion people cooking on three-stone fires are peripheralized.

    Here’s what I know. When I hear or read about what America is doing in the world, I remember that a quarter of a million people were in a single protest march against the wars in 2003 and it didn’t mean shit. That our government routinely does actions that over 2/3 of the population does not support. That corporations are both not people and ‘not people’.

    There is a difference between homogeneity and agency. When those with agency in Germany attempted to create a master race, they created a cultural identity that those looking at Germans can never forget.

  16. craazyman

    A little FDI would solve the whole problem. Where is it?

    Wasn’t it supposed to have been here by now? This is like JEB Stuart at Gettysburg. Where is he? (Sorry for the Civil War allusion, it’s too abstract, since he did show up. Evidently he liked to roam around the countryside.).

    Where is FDI? Where is it roaming? Where is it? It must be sitting in a pile somewhere, like baseballs, or tennis balls. Is it at the ECB? Is it in Germany? Where the hell is it? it must be a big pile by now. Can’t somebody see it protruding above a horizon like the Matterhorn? Oh! maybe it’s in Switzerland! maybe it’s in a Swiss Bank! No. There’s too much of it. It wouldn’t fit. It has to be somewhere — or maybe it’s spread out all over the place. Maybe it’s so spread out it’s lost it “congealiality”. Oh man. That’s a property of FDI. It doesn’t work if it’s only a euro or two. It has to congeal. Evidently it can’t be too spred out or all in one place. If it’s all in one place, it’s a big pile and it’s useless, since it congeals and hardens like glue. If it’s too spread out, it loses all congealiality. This sounds like a chemistry problem. It may be.

    Where the hell is it? I’ve not seen one macroeconomics article on the interet that says where the FDI is. Not one. (Although maybe I haven’t looked hard enough. That’s certainly a possibility).

    Maybe it’s coming “soon”.

  17. BEast

    Very interesting article. I would like more background on the campaign of condemnation of Gutmenschen — on what basis were they condemned? “Impracticality”? Failure to get on board with various Eurozone proposals? EU skepticism? General lack of sociopathy?

    How was the campaign orchestrated, and by whom?

    (This is obviously the first I’ve heard of it.)

    1. mesfern

      I believe Rose is referring to a controversy about the possible origin of the expression “Gutmenschen” in Nazi lingo. It became popular in the late 90s after the publication of a “Dictionary of the Gutmenschen”, by satirist Klaus Bittermann, which mocked many instances of self-righteousness in Germany’s public life. With time, however, it came to target the Left and “Political Correctness” in particular; thus, a “Gutmensch” would be a do-gooder who supported all kinds of progressive causes, from feminism to environmentalism, but had no knowledge of the hard facts of life (that is, the business world). Eventually, a journalism association traced the expression back to a few Nazi leaflets; it was hardly conclusive evidence, but enough to blow things out of proportion and start another culture battle. At its most erudite, it was related to the Weberian opposition between the Gutmensch’s ethics of conviction and the ethics of responsibility; at its most tribal, the “Gutmensch” became an umbrella term for everything inimical to the methods and the aims of the Right. Hence, one can have “Gutmenschen issues”, “Gutmenschen arguments”, “Gutmenschen politics”. When used by the Right, it is a strongly derogatory expression, very hostile and openly dismissive.

      1. BEast

        Thank you very much for this explanation. It sounds somewhat analogous to the epithet “bleeding heart” back in the 1980s in the U.S., sans the Nazi history.

  18. salvo

    I don’t understand what the problem is about: saying Germans are racists would be a generalization if the sentence means each individual german is a racist, but I think it points to a structural fact, that the mainstream public discourse in germany, and certainly in many other countries, is driven by the need to constitute a collective identity where the german is somewhat superior to the other. You just need to live here in Germany and listen to the everyday discourse, most people are not explicit racists, but they tend to assign positive attributes to themselves in constituting that collective identity while at the same time assigning the opposite negative attribute to another collective identity, we are diligent, trustworthy, thrifty and so on because some other, i.e. the Greek, are exactly the opposite, lazy, untrustworthy, profligate. The people who constitute themselves this way don’t think as themselves as racists, because being racist is a negative trait in the public discourse. It is simply a fact that the mainstream public discourse in Germany is full of such stereotypes, positive for themselves and negative for the other (not only in tabloids like bild but in the so-called Qualitätspresse, even in the fee-financed state media.) This process is amplified by the fact that Germany has become the hegemonic power in Europe. Projecting one’s power needs an ideological discourse which legitimates the unavoidable violence linked to this process, so if the Greeks are impoverished, disenfranchised in the process of power projection, then this has to be morally justified, usually by ascribing inferiority.

    1. Windsock

      I think my issue with this is that someone who is not German is heavily insinuating that the German nation is “reverting to type”. Phrases like ” a primordial fear” suggest there is a fixed reference in the very nature of those who speak German that is incapable of change or challenge. I would dispute that.

      But then the very existence of the nation state is defined by those cultural commons that others do not share – language, religion, governance etc – and who is ever going to define themselves as inferior to anyone else?

      Much of the early EU history was built on predicating the subsidiarity of the nation state to the continental whole. It has morphed, in my view, into a tool for the trans/multi-national globalist wealthy and the result is the playing off of nation states against each other, in both economic and cultural terms. I think this article is complicit in that.

  19. James Miller

    During my university studies in Sociology, I was always amazed at the endless pressure to refrain from judging culture-only record it, dissect it (in a non judgmental way, of course), and teach the fragments left over to the next crop of undergrads. A museum of culture, poorly displayed and heavily redacted.
    Judgement is required, or it’s all useless.
    There are such things as sick cultures, and it’s not very difficult to find reasonable criteria to identify them.
    One cannot, for the purposes of solving problems of the sort that we debate here, ignore this fact.
    Tax theft as a cultural norm is a reality in Greece, and it cannot be the basis of an accusation of racism to point this out.
    Greek culture, no matter how rich in history, literature and art, contains elements that make it non-viable in even the medium run, and the national sport of tax theft is only one of many of them.
    It is equally clear, now, that the same is true of the “European Union”.

  20. German native speaker

    It is interesting to me that Mr. Rose wanted the comments open. He lives in Berlin, and has been described as an investigative journalist ( I don’t see much investigative journalism in the above piece. In his books, Rose’s career consists of mainly criticizing the country that he chose as his residence. Yet some commenters claim that there is no “freedom” in Germany – go figure. Would be interesting to know if he collected money from the state that he loathes.
    Lving in Berlin, there is ample possibility to talk to Polish people and other Eastern Europeans. Not done in above article, and this should be easy, living there. There are so many yuppy-like people who used illegal Polish laborers to fix up their Prenzlauer Berg/ Kreuzberg properties – this comes to mind.

    Not sure what Mr. Rose’s agenda is – sounds as if he wants to elicit emotional responses from foreigners, about the awfulness of Germans as such. Sorry you have to live amongst them.

  21. Gaylord

    This is not merely Germany vs. Greece, but rather the Western Banking Cabal asserting heightened control over the economies of the world, particularly those nations which depend on the dollar and the euro for trade. The reason for the austerity policy, aside from unbridled greed (class war), is the fact of Peak Resources which means increasing scarcity into the future — energy, raw materials, food, water. The oligarchs are also preparing for Climate Chaos which they anticipate will be infinitely costly. They expect record-breaking losses and repair costs from storm damage, drought, wildfires, floods and sea level rise, crop losses, fishery collapses, and health care costs resulting from Fukushima’s poisons that have been spreading through oceans and the air during the last four + years. The cost of disposing of all the dead human remains will also be a challenge, as the Great Extinction event proceeds.

  22. likbez

    Gaylord: “This is not merely Germany vs. Greece, but rather the Western Banking Cabal asserting heightened control over the economies of the world,”

    Exactly. This is about neoliberalism, not so much about Germans. It is about neoliberal polices of financial oligarchy within the Forth Reich (aka EU). And neoliberal vassal state (Greece) sliding into debt slavery by succession of Greek neoliberal governments. In essence this can be viewed not only as an “internal colonization” of southern states and East European state by northern states within EU but as logical development of the vassal state within the neoliberal economic system now adopted by EU. and it is transnationals which will be the main beneficiaries of sell out of Greek assets for pennies on the dollar.

    “…This economic plunge happened because they followed and implemented creditor demands for austerity measures to the letter. It is the fact that Syriza has had the temerity to point out the failure of these austerity measures that has provoked the wrath of the likes of Wolfgang Schäuble and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, both of whom are hard-line ideological neo-liberals.”

    Also if Merkel had not insisted on bailing out the banks that Greece owed money to when it went bankrupt then the Greek debt would not have been transferred to the ECB and hence the taxpayers of the member countries. But the haircut provided proved to be insufficient and country was still under too much pressure of external debt to recover, What happened next is only logical.

    Also Yanis Varoufakis suggested that Germany is attempting to force Greece out of the common currency union as a lesson to France, to put the fear of God into them. That might be a factor too.

  23. nikbez

    Victimization of poor as lazy is another quintessential neoliberal policy, so to attribute it fully to German’s racism (while racism is a factor) would also be incorrect.

  24. narayankpl

    I belong to the Polish camp, highly distrustful of the Germans – with good reason. While I can understand that Southern Europe might have been enticed by the low interest rates on offer by joining Europe, I am still surprised that any country would want to join an alliance dominated by Germans, given their need to dominate and their belief that they are superior and their view of the world is all that matters. How can anyone believe the Germans, especially after the holocaust, is beyond me. Look at the two world wars. It appears that you cannot have a war without Germans. It looks like their air of superiority cannot be destroyed by defeating them in a war. Southern Europe will realize one day that it is silly to expect Germans to treat them as equals in an alliance or be concerned about them.

    It is similar to the situation during WW-II where Jews in countries other than Poland started to think that they were safe, only to find that they were not, as the Germans systematically wiped them out. Greece is the Poland of the WW-II and has been occupied using money instead of guns and bombs. Like the Jews in WW-II, the rest of the Southern Europe thinks it has nothing to do with them. Instead of only Jewish community during WW-II, it looks like it is entire countries now. Looks like human beings never learn from history, probably because the next generation has not been through it, and is doomed to repeat it. It also helps that we have passive voters in all countries implementing austerity, otherwise how can one explain the lack of revolt at what is being imposed on them. Looks like there is a deep need for a Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King, in Europe, at this juncture.

    IMO, the only mistake that Syriza made was not having a Plan B. If they had one from get go and had they executed well, then Greece would have been less likely to be where it is now-in a hell-hole.

  25. RBHoughton

    What the ECB have to do is secure every asset available to the Greek state. Once the country is totally relieved of assets, it will be possible to dictate policy with good prospects of obedience.

    That is fine in respect of roads, tunnels, ports, airports and all the infrastructure of civilisation – we can take all that and the Greek people will not notice the change of ownership as services will continue as before, just more expensively.

    What European policy-makers and capitalists really want to get hold of is Greek land. Warren Buffet was able to get an island and a few other moneymen have reached an advanced stage of negotiations. Turkey has for long been irritated by the islands on its coast being said to belong to Greece. Their only function apart from a little tourism has been smuggling. Now there is an opportunity to recover sovereignty of those islands at a reasonable price.

    Greece has to sell off part of itself to preserve the rest – in our ‘dog eat dog’ world that is a given.

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