Well, it sure didn’t take long, did it? Just a few days after the rejection of ACTA by the European parliament, Michael Geist reported on a leak of a trade agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and Canada (see also his follow-up post). The treaty, dubbed the Canada – EU Trade Agreement (CETA), contains a near word-for-word copy of ACTA in its chapter on intellectual property rights. CETA is a much more extensive treaty than ACTA was, so if it ever actually comes up for vote in the parliaments, it’ll be more difficult to reject, since it would also mean rejecting a wide variety of completely unrelated points. This is typical of the current mode of legislation in the EU: private interests are being smuggled into the process as part of these all-encompassing packages that are presented on a take-it-or-leave-it-basis, so that all discussion of individual issues therein gets mooted.
This is also indicative of a more general way “democracy” works here in the West: you get the freedom to choose (whether it’s by proxy in a parliament, or by a referendum), but only as long as you make the right choice (as determined by the money elite). In case you fail to realise what’s good for you and make the wrong choice, you can be sure that the same proposition will be presented to you again and again (with slight variations to deceive you) until it goes through. This is how it will continue to be as long as the political agenda is set by the corporate lobbyists and not us, the people.
This is why we need to take a proactive stance and start setting a whole new agenda from the ground up ourselves. We can no longer trust the politicians to do this for us. Parliaments should only be voting on legislation initiated by us, the people, not legislation drafted by corporate lobbyists. Treaties should be negotiated by us, the people, via an open process, not by faceless bureaucrats behind closed doors. The case of Iceland shows that this is not a pipe dream, there are ways to at least take steps in this direction. But those steps need to be taken by us. This thing cannot be done by proxy. If we’re not prepared to do this now, all we can expect from the future are more defensive battles over ever more oppressive legislation and treaties, many of which we are bound to lose.
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Infowars has pointed out some WikiLeaks cables that show how US diplomats have worked closely with Monsanto to push foreign governments to accept Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) crops to their market. The US ambassador to France went as far as to suggest that they “calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU” to punish EU countries that have opposed the introduction of GMO products into Europe (the EU has a very strict regulation for GMO in place with several countries banning GMO crops altogether). This is just more evidence for the fact that the GMO industry is very much a part of the power politics of the US corporatocracy, and has absolutely nothing to do with providing the world’s farmers with better seeds. Health and environmental issues aside, this is already reason enough to engage in a global resistance movement against the GMO industry. Food should, after all, be at the very heart of any struggle for freedom, since those who control the food system are in effect also controlling the people.
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This is a speech given in 2008 by Vandana Shiva, one of the world’s most prominent environmental activists who has specialised on issues of food and water security. Here, she argues that the commodification of food and industrial food production have contributed to increasing poverty, malnutrition and outright famine in the third world. By dumping cheap, subsidised agricultural produce into the third world countries and by stealing their traditional crop varieties using intellectual property rights, Western corporations have practically destroyed whole subsistence economies in many parts of the world.
This commodification is of course not just a problem of the third world. Also here in the West, our food system has become inherently diseased with obesity and various food-related illnesses running rampant while millions of animals are tortured horribly in the food factories on a daily basis. When it comes to food, the “free market” is literally an engine of death.
Shiva has gone as far as to say that the only way we can actually survive as a species is by switching to a system of local, organic agriculture globally. Clearly, if we want to create sustainable communities, food production is one of the first things we need to take back from the corporate machine. So, support your local small-time farmers, or if you have a big enough yard, grow your food yourself! For a healthier culture and a healthier body!
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Jérôme E. Roos wrote on this subject better than I possibly could, but I feel I also need to say something about the latest eurofarce that occurred around the proposed referendum on the latest Greek bailout package.
Judging from the reactions of the European elite on the referendum announcement (see Roos’ article for some quotes), it seems that all pretensions have now been dropped: there’s no longer even an effort to keep up the facade of democracy within the EU. Of course, we saw the same thing when the elite pushed through the European constitution back in 2009, despite the fact that the people of France, the Netherlands and Ireland had rejected it in a referendum. Every time the privileges of the financial market are seriously at stake, democracy gets suspended. Macroeconomic decisions are far too important to be left to the people. Too many people in the elite have too much to lose if those who don’t understand why it’s reasonable policy to pour trillions of euros of taxpayers’ money into insolvent banks are allowed to have their say.
A crisis situation always tends to bring forth the authoritarians (I’m sure I don’t need to provide examples of this). Authoritarianism, in turn, is a sign of fear. Leaders usually resort to force when they no longer trust that their policies have the popular support. This is the root of the current panic among the European elite: they are simply terrified of the European people. And it’s a perfectly reasonable fear. As we know from history, tyrants are nearly always deposed by their own subordinates. I think the elite has woken up to the fact that the majority of Europeans are no longer prepared to acknowledge their authority, and they’re now making the last desperate effort to institutionalise their mechanism to empty the public coffers into the bottomless pit of the banks, before they get knocked down from their thrones.
What we’re living through now is a classic “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment. The EU, once perhaps an idealistic project, has turned out to be little more than a vehicle for Emperor Finance to consolidate its autocracy in Europe. The naysayers were right all along. What we all can learn from the long-term EU critics, regardless of their political background, is a healthy scepticism towards any centralised power structures.
It’s important to realise that our current crisis not an economic crisis, but a political crisis and, thus, it can only be solved by changing politics. It’s clear we can’t trust our elites to do this for us. Only a genuine popular movement can give rise to lasting changes in the society. That’s why a genuine popular movement is so frightening to the elite, and that’s why they’re going to do everything they can to thwart any such movement. So we must be confident but prepared. Keep calm and occupy everything.
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Posted in politics, quotes, rants on November 3, 2011|
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Today I present an excellent quote by David Malone on the real nature of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), taken from his book The Debt Generation (2010). This bit was written already back in 2008, but in light of the recent developments in Greece in particular, Malone’s exhortation to overthrow the tyrant is now more urgent than ever.
“The IMF is perhaps the most spectacularly, ideologically blind institution to have been inflicted upon people since the Inquisition. In fact, they have much in common. Like the Inquisition, the IMF is ruled absolutely, by ideologues who would rather we all burned in hell than admit their particular, distorted version of the ‘free market’ is wrong. They have a consistent history of insisting on economic measures that have done long-term damage to almost every country they have got their claws into. Countries that largely ignored their ‘free market’ thunderings, such as India and China, however, are doing rather well.
I listen to these ‘free market’ ideologues, and I hear medieval theologians. They are all perfectly versed in the system of thought they have swallowed. They know the hierarchies of the angels and the powers of the Seraphim and Cherubim and argue about how many angels will dance on the head of the needle.
And yet the tragedy, for us, is that none of what they know and understand corresponds with things as they really, truly are. We are led by arrogant, blind men [not to forget the arrogant, blind women – morosopher] so swaddled in the luxuries afforded to the priests of a system that they cannot think to question the catechism that rewards them.
This bloated priesthood must be humbled and overthrown. We, the people, must leave the church of the ‘free market’ and clear our minds.”
Another way to look at it is that the IMF are a bunch of thugs employed by the financial elite whose job is to go around terrorising governments to submit to the will of their masters or face the consequences. As Joseph Stiglitz has said, “when the IMF arrives in a country, they are interested in only one thing. How do we make sure the banks and financial institutions are paid? […] It is the IMF that keeps the [financial] speculators in business. They’re not interested in development, or what helps a country to get out of poverty.” And, of course, our leaders are more than ready to bend backwards to fulfill any request the IMF makes, being the spineless worms that they are.
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There’s a huge scam being executed in Europe right now under the guise of “austerity.” The political and financial elites have teamed up to steal the wealth of the citizens in the southern European countries. It’s important to note that these austerity measures have not been designed to help the indebted countries to stabilise their economies and shake off their debts in the first place. Quite the contrary, the point is to keep the countries in the debt leash indefinitely to force them to keep paying “protection money” to the creditors. Eric Toussaint points well out the blatant criminality of this scheme:
“Fraud is an important notion in international law. It refers to an intentional deception made to damage another individual. If a State were led to contract a loan through the fraudulent behaviour of another State or an international organization that is party to the negotiation, it may invoke fraud as grounds for declaring the contract void, since it was agreed to through deceit. Now the Troika [EU, ECB & IMF] uses the plight of Greece, Ireland and Portugal to enforce measures that go against citizens’ social and economic rights, challenge collective conventions, contravene the country’s sovereignty and in some cases also its constitution. Thanks to some Italian newspapers, we know that in early August 2011 the ECB benefited from speculative attacks against Italy forcing its government to implement the same kind of antisocial measures as Greece, Ireland and Portugal. If the Italian government did not comply, the ECB said it might not help Italy at all.
What the members of the Troika are doing can be compared to the odious behaviour of someone who, while claiming to help a person in a difficult predicament, would actually make it worse and benefit from it. We can also consider that it is a criminal act planned collectively by the IMF, the ECB, the EC, and the governments that are supporting their action. Associating in order to plan and carry out a criminal act increases the responsibility of the aggressors.
There is more: the economic policies enforced by the Troika will not allow the affected countries to improve their situation. For three decades this kind of damaging policy has been implemented on behalf of large private companies, the IMF and the governments of industrialized countries, in indebted countries of the South and in a number of countries of the former Soviet bloc. The countries that complied most diligently have had to face terrible times. Those that refused the diktats of international bodies and their neoliberal doxa have fared much better. This has to be recalled for we have to make it known that the results of the policies demanded by the Troika and institutional investors are a foregone conclusion. Neither today nor tomorrow will they ever have the right to claim they did not know what their policies would result in. We can already see what is happening in Greece.”
The propaganda machine of the elite keeps telling us that it’s the “lazy” Greeks that are themselves guilty of their current crisis. This is symptomatic of the divide et impera strategy of the elite. The goal of this strategy is to create resentment between the peoples of southern Europe and northern Europe to prevent them from realising that they’re all being equally duped by the elite. Now you don’t need to be a Marxist to see that this is class warfare at its purest. It’s sad to see how the populist parties in different countries are taking advantage of this resentment to boost their own ratings, often against the long-term benefits of their supporters.
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The German EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger came forth a few days ago with some highly revealing propositions to solve the ever-deepening European debt crisis. Oettinger suggested that the flags of the crisis countries, or “deficit sinners” as he called them, should be flown at half mast in front of EU buildings. He also suggested that the “obviously ineffective administrators” of these countries responsible for tax collection and selling of state-owned assets should be replaced with experts coming from other EU countries. These experts would be then able to “operate without concern for resistance and end the inefficiency.”
It should by now be obvious to everyone that the European political elite has long since stepped out of the realm of common sense and modern secular democracy, and turned the debt crisis into, quite literally, a theological problem. It’s no longer that the crisis countries have simply failed to create a sustainable national economy, but that they have actually engaged in blasphemy against some divine principle, for which they should do penance publicly.
As Susan George well pointed out, what we are witnessing here is a new kind of colonialism. As with the colonialism of the 19th century, also in this case the colonising powers are justifying their oppression in moral and theological terms. It is the divine duty of the colonisers to force their religion and culture upon the colonised people. After all, those people are nothing but ignorant children that need to be guided onto the correct path by a firm parental hand or they shall perish. Therefore, it’s only with a genuine concern for the benefit of those people that they should be deprived of sovereignty and dignity.
The fact that this kind of thinking is surfacing again in Europe is a clear signal that the post-war European project is failing. We are already seeing the consequences of this failure in the rise of the nationalist parties around Europe. The political elite has no recourse for this situation since it no longer has any actual contact with the people. All we are getting from them is empty phrases and pretensions to moral superiority. The only hope we have to avoid reverting back to racial-nationalist bigotry and totalitarianism is for the people of Europe to unite at the grassroots level, outside all existing power structures. It’s up to us to save the European civilization, the elite is not going to help us in this.
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