Monday, November 7, 2011

Marionettes at the Gates of Dawn

What Piper Plays the Tune?

Certainly not Syd Barrett. This week George Papandreou advocated allowing the Greek people to vote on whether to accept the ‘rescue’ package offered by the ECB, EU & IMF. The moment he stopped speaking, there were howls of outrage and anger from the assembled Euro Heads, from the corporate Press, from the Pundits, from every capitalist voice. The DOW swooned 300 points. How DARE he bring the people into this? Did you hear one voice in the media commending this action? One?

The right in the PASOK, including the finance minister, called for his removal –– and threatened to bring down the government. After several nasty phone calls and private meetings with the EuroHead – i.e Angela MerkelPapandreou backed down. It was odd and somewhat poignant to see a man who had cravenly agreed to every single demand by the banking sector and the powers that be suddenly grow a spine – and just as suddenly collapse it. This is, after all, the Second International we are talking about here. Perhaps it was the sweetness of the 50% haircut Merkel/Sarkozy had pushed on the banks, in exchange for a larger financial bailout fund. Of course, the real people who forced that 50% haircut were the Greek people - by saying ‘hell no.’

Papandreou was replaced by a U.S. educational product, Lucas Papdemos, a Harvard and Columbia professor, graduate of MIT, senior economist at the Boston Federal Reserve and a member of the Trilateral Commission. I.E. the banks have their 'technocratic' man in place.

If this sounds familiar to what the ruling elite did, in a trivial way, around the Twins stadium debate (and what is still going on with the Viking stadium,) you’d be right. It is also what the Congressional ‘super-committee’ is all about – an undemocratic star chamber assigned to be head butchers. Increasingly, as capital finds itself in trouble, it will do away with ‘democratic’ procedures and go straight to edicts and back-room deals. Democracy is a window-dressing that is dispensed with if necessary – or if not needed. Which is why the U.S. only needs two parties, right?

Now Italy is the next one on the hot seat. The clown Berlusconi has said he will resign, and Italian government bond debt, as of November 9, is almost at the bailout-point. The markets are swooning again. The Guardian estimates that 1 trillion Euros will be necessary to bailout Italy. And that is getting very close to an amount no entity can afford. Banks that over-leveraged themselves loaning money to every door-post in sight might not be 'rescued' if the rescuers don't show up. As Galbraith pointed out, this is not a Euro crisis or a 'sovereign debt' crisis, it is at bottom, a banking crisis brought about by over-leveraging. The real question here, then, is what objective amount of debt is 'too big to succeed?'

What did our President say in response to Greece? The U.S. had earlier refused to give more money to Europe through the IMF, and opposed the EU proposal to tax financial transactions. Here is Obama speaking during the recent G20 meeting in Cannes. (Really?! Cannes?) about the Greek situation: “They're going to have a strong partner in us," Obama said, "but European leaders understand that ultimately what the markets are looking for is a strong signal from Europe that they're standing behind the euro."

“…what the markets are looking for...” You see, the ‘markets’ talk. Or perhaps they are ventriloquists and have others talk for them? Perhaps they are now ‘people’ and have ‘freedom of speech’ just like corporations? Is Obama the direct translator of the ‘markets’ – marketese perhaps? It seems so. Of course, Wall Street opposes the tiny tax on financial transactions, because it might slow down program trading or speculation. And that is also the position of the U.S. government. And Wall Street also supports austerity for the European and U.S. working class. Wall Street – “The City” in London, the Parisian Bourse, the German Frankforters and the Swiss – or should I say Suisse - bankers - look like they do have another marionette.

And indeed the day Papandreou backed own, the markets rocketed back up. They are the epitome of ruling class opinion - like a thermometer stuck in a babies bottom. In fact, it is almost axiomatic that how the markets behave dictates what the politicians say - sometimes immediately, sometimes a few days later.

Red Frog
November 7, 2011
94th Anniversary of the outbreak of the October Revolution in Russia through armed insurrection in Petrograd, New Style Gregorian Calendar. (Oct 25, 1917 Old Style Julian calendar)

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