Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Quote note (#147)

The ‘Davoisie’ can’t imagine that there’s anyone who doesn’t secretly think they’re right, argues Walter Russell Mead. It’s educational, therefore, to take seriously the thought-processes of an emblematic figure from outside the ‘Davos box’:

Germany will not, Putin may well believe, find a way to turn the euro disaster around. The south will continue to fester and stew under an increasingly hateful and damaging system. Germany will also not be able to turn the Balkans into an orderly and quiet garden of Nordic and Teutonic virtues.

The key to Putin’s thinking is that he is betting less on Russian strength than on German and therefore Western weakness. In opposing the consolidation of a German Europe, he is betting on German failure more than he is betting on Russian success. The goal of Russian policy in Ukraine, for example, is not to create a new Ukraine in Russia’s image. It is not to conquer Ukraine –but to demonstrate that the East is indigestible. Germany cannot save Ukraine or organize Ukraine. It doesn’t have the money, the military culture or the political skills to convert this particular sow’s ear into the silk purse of a North Atlantic market democracy. Germany cannot save Ukraine when the price of oil is at $100 per barrel; it cannot save Ukraine when the price of oil is $25 per barrel.

But if Germany cannot save Ukraine at any price of oil, it also cannot reform Greece, Italy and Spain at any value of the euro. Putin doesn’t see his job as one of building up a powerful force to counter a rising Germany. He sees his job as being able to take advantage of the coming failures and catastrophes of what he believes to be the grandiose and unsustainable Western project in Europe.

The positioning, at least, makes sense. (And Greece looks likely to play along.)

January 28, 2015admin 15 Comments »


Political categories — however plausible they look on paper — quickly dissolve into senseless noise when applied to modern historical reality, unless they foreground populism as the critical discriminating factor. Furthermore, populism is for all practical purposes already national populism, irrespective of ideological commitments to the contrary, since super-national popular constituencies exist only in the feverish brains of Utopian intellectuals. The Syriza victory in Greece is making all of this extraordinarily graphic:

Ushering in the new era, Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister-designate, announced that he would not be sworn in, as tradition dictates, in the presence of Archbishop Iernonymos but would instead take the oath of office in a civil ceremony. At 40, he becomes the country’s youngest premier in modern times. […] The leftist, who surprised Greeks by speedily agreeing to share power with the populist rightwing Independent Greeks party, Anel, is expected to be handed a mandate by president Karolos Papoulias to form a government later on Monday. Earlier, Panos Kammenos, Anel’s rumbustious leader, emerged from talks with Tsipras lasting an hour saying the two politicians had successfully formed a coalition. […] “I want to say, simply, that from this moment, there is a government,” Kammenos told reporters gathered outside Syriza’s headquarters. […] “The Independent Greeks party will give a vote of confidence to the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. The prime minister will go to the president and … the cabinet makeup will be announced by the prime minister. The aim for all Greeks is to embark on a new day, with full sovereignty.”

Anyone who thinks it odd that Marine Le Pen and Slavoj Žižek are both firm supporters is missing the picture entirely. As Žižek remarks:

This is our position today with regard to Europe: only a new “heresy” (represented at this moment by Syriza), a split from the European Union by Greece, can save what is worth saving in the European legacy: democracy, trust in people, egalitarian solidarity.

That’s what the Left means. Construct your ideological spectrum accordingly.

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January 26, 2015admin 62 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Political economy

Quote notes (#108)

A familiar point, stated exceptionally well:

… while the evolution of northwest Europeans to extreme altruism worked great for the last 500 years or so (it allowed for the type of cooperation that more or less created a far better world), it left us very vulnerable to exploitation. We simply have no genetic defense against being called bad names.

September 16, 2014admin 5 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Discriminations
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View From the Left

Claus Offe lucidly explains what the proponents of ‘solidarity’ are hoping for utterly hopeless about in Europe. The entire article is so thoroughly saturated in doom-drenched, soul-scouring melancholia that by the end I was searching for Odysseus-style restraints to prevent myself doing a wild happy-dance around the office. From the Euro-progressive perspective, things look seriously bleak.

As a bonus, there’s a great gloss on degenerative ratchets: “… those fatal errors which, once committed, prove irreversible, closing off any return to the status quo ante.” By carrying everything relentlessly to the brink, they’re more of a nightmare for the perceptive left than they are for us. By this stage in history, the left has much more to lose. It’s their regime that is going over the cliff. (Yes, I realize this reboot-friendly Schadenfreude will earn a spanking from Goulding.)

ADDED: France is in its worst shape for more than three decades, since François Mitterrand nearly blew up the economy in the early 1980s trying to stimulate growth through government deficits and nationalisations. Unemployment is at 10.5 per cent and climbing. The economy is contracting. And overseeing the shambles is the suety, confidence-draining face of François Hollande.

July 9, 2013admin 43 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Uncategorized