Financial Hostage-Takers

You’re surely all aware of the big current European story: that minor matter about saving the euro from tremendous speculative pressures on its currency, in light of a threatened Greece sovereign bankruptcy which threatens to drag down further other vulnerable EU sovereign borrowers as well. As always, my policy in approaching this topic is to consider only those non-English-language articles which add something to the discussion that my readers are not likely to have already seen elsewhere in the English-language press. So I admit I haven’t provided much coverage as yet, other than the translation of the French Finance Minister interview yesterday/below.

Then again, that’s also a little disingenuous; a unique viewpoint on virtually any European economic or political issue is almost always to be had from L’Humanité, the organ of the French Communist Party. Naturally, those folks have also been glad to hold forth on the new measures and funding facilities arising from last weekend’s Eurozone crisis meetings over the Greek debt problem, as we see in the piece by Bruno Odent provocatively entitled Euro: the plan aimed at saving the hostage-takers.

With all the alternate commentary that the French Communists can be counted upon to provide, much of it will at the same time be all-too-predictable. Indeed, we see that also here, especially in the second half of Odent’s piece (under the sub-title Terrible contradiction). For example, that section advances the assertion that all these summit machinations are not to save countries, but to save the banks. It mentions the (alleged) growing “resistance” at street-level to these EU leaders’ plans, and also takes time to plug the petition-drive that L’Humanité has launched (the link to add your own electronic signature is in the webpage’s upper-right corner) in support of the Greek people.

On the other hand, there are some elements within these polemics that strike an uncomfortable chord for anyone with even half an open mind: the article’s very lede, for example, declaring that “The leaders of the EU are seeking to impose austerity and to maintain the capacity of States to repay their creditors.” And what of Odent’s eloquent phrase sauve-qui-peut-l’euro, or “do whatever it takes to save the euro,” reflecting what seems to have been the sheer panic among the Eurozone leaders assembled in Brussels last weekend, who were willing to consider any matter of “transgressions against the euro’s founding dogmas” – e.g. direct purchases of member-state bonds by the European Central Bank – to try to recover the situation? In truth, conventional concepts about what the European Union is supposed to be all about, about the powers it is to be granted, have taken a quantum leap forward over just the past couple of days. There’s now talk even of some sort of common economic government, of review by EU-level bodies of national budgets, of what possibly could be truly serious sanctions applied against member-states which in the future transgress against common EU rules, even to the point of denying them voting-rights within the Union even as they remain part of it.

“Stated another way,” as Odent puts it, “they want at all costs to make the [various European] peoples don the straitjacket of austerity to force them to pay the price for the bursting of this ‘last of the big bubbles.” OK, once again here his rhetoric starts to overheat. My point, however, is that tectonic plates seem to be moving on the age-old issue of what the EU is supposed to exist to be and to do, and too many in the more conventional media don’t seem to realize this. To adapt a phrase, just because we think those on the Communist Left are paranoid doesn’t mean that the capitalist powers-that-be aren’t actually out to get the common people they claim to represent. Organs like L’Humanité have ultra-sensitive antennae for important structural phenomena like what we are witnessing, and so we might consider listening to them more carefully and more often.

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