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Austerity: Unintended consequences… February 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, European Politics.
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In a way the events in Italy are remarkable. A genuine slap in the face to the orthodoxy and from a (relatively) unexpected quarter. As the Guardian notes, one A. Merkel was counting on relative calm on the European front in the run up to her own election contest, but all changed and changed, well, quite a lot.

That said, this gave me pause for thought.

Both Berlusconi and Grillo have been harshly critical of the Germans, decried Monti’s austerity packages, and have raised questions as to whether Italy, the eurozone’s third biggest economy, should remain in the single currency. Grillo has called for a referendum on the matter.

Has the Commission and ECB boxed too clever by half on all this with austerity? Because it’s beginning to look as if – even apart from the dubious merits of that approach, it may be generating significant dissent against aspects of the European project.

Still. Why should that be such a surprise? If the policy adhered to by the orthodoxy is incorrect, and demonstrably so – to the extent that the IMF itself has found evidence of same, why should one credit them with any competence at all in regard to being able to keep the broader show on the road?

And no surprise at all at the level of populations seeing nothing in the prospect of “austerity” as a near permanent fixture in their lives.

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Comments»

1. 6to5against - February 28, 2013

It really is getting to the point where the EU may have to replace the people rather than the government.

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2. Roger Cole - February 28, 2013

There is no European Demos, there is no European people. There is only a European caste totally committed to perpetual war abroad and perpetual austerity abroad. The leaders of the ICTU have just made it clear once again, that they are an integral part of the EU caste, by advocating more massive cuts in the income of their own members.
If the left does not respond and provide the leadership to attack then then an Irish Grillo type populist, probably from the right, could emerge just as fast as he did. In fact since a large section of the “left” in the form of the Irish Labour Party and the ICTU are such an integral part of the EU caste, such an option might be inevitable.

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Gewerkschaftler - February 28, 2013

“There is no European Demos, there is no European people.”

A dubious claim – perhaps you need to get out in Europe a bit more, where more and more people are forced to / choose to move around the continent.

I agree that there is a European ruling class committed to the transfer of more social goods to the very rich and war wherever and whenever it may be profitable to them. The Irish ruling class work closely with them, in case you haven’t noticed.

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3. Roger Cole - February 28, 2013

I meant perpetual austerity at home and perpetual war abroad. Although come to think of it, I suppose the EU caste have no problem with perpetual austerity abroad either

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CMK - February 28, 2013

Roger, the EU is as committed to austerity abroad as is to austerity in Europe. The interesting, from my perspective, will be are the willing to actually wage a war on the ‘sacred’ soil of Europe in defence of their project. For instance, would the EU intervene militarily in Greece undergoing even more profound convulsions. Say in the context of a SYRIZA government under attack from a Golden Dawn style militia. It might sound far fetched now, but a lot of things were far fetched 10 years ago which are unremarkable now.

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4. Roger Cole - February 28, 2013

The EU caste is far more likely to intervene to defend a Golden Dawn Government under attack from a Syriza style militia, after all, their predecessors did something similar at the end of World War 2. The EU caste is an imperialist caste, not a democratic one.

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5. Gewerkschaftler - February 28, 2013

An effective left, or indeed an effective trades union, can learn from some of 5SM’s tactics. For example:

– Don’t indulge the conventional meeja and get captured by their narratives – do it on the Interweb.

– Don’t make public meetings the first method of generating interest / solidarity, they should come after an online-community has been established

– Make sure your representatives come from a wide range of backgrounds.

– Draw some lines in the sand, for example refusal to go into coalition with corrupt parties.

I don’t know to what extent this kind of organising can be translated to a more democratic movement, but what we do now plainly doesn’t work.

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6. doctorfive - March 1, 2013

interesting from Wu Ming

http://libcom.org/blog/movimento-cinque-stelle-has-protected-system-%E2%80%93-comment-wu-ming-26022013

Over the past three years, while other countries around the Mediterranean and more generally in the west have seen movements that are fighting against austerity and neoliberalism gaining in strength and, in some cases, taking root, here in Italy this has not happened. There have been some important struggles, of course, but they have remained confined to local territories, or they did not last long. There have been small fires, but not a major blaze to set the whole political landscape alight, as has been the case elsewhere. No indignados in our country; no Occupy; no “springs” of any kind; no “Je lutte des classes” against reforms to the pension system. We have not had a Tahrir Square or a Syntagma Square; we have not had a Puerta del Sol. We did not rise up as others have done elsewhere and, in some cases, are still doing. Why not?

There are many reasons for this, but we would like to suggest one. Perhaps it is not the main factor but we believe it has importance.

Here in Italy, a large proportion of this “indignation” was intercepted and reorganised by Grillo and Casaleggio – two wealthy men in their 60s with a background in the entertainment industry and in marketing. They created a political/economic franchise, with its own copyright and trademark, a movement rigidly controlled and mobilised from the top, hijacking slogans and ideas from social movements, and mixing them with apologies for an “ethical” capitalism, with superficial statements centred on the honesty of the individual/politician/administrator. They created a confused set of proposals, where neoliberal and anti-capitalist, centralist and federalist, libertarian and reactionary could co-exist. A manifesto for all occasions, cherry-picking ideas wherever they found them and whenever they considered them useful, typical of a diversionary movement.

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Gewerkschaftler - March 1, 2013

I think on reflection I’d agree with most of that analysis, but that doesn’t mean that the lefts can not borrow some of the organising processes.

In fact I would argue that it must.

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