Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Vertiginous New Year

CORRECTION: Repeatedly I have referred to Dutch and French elections both taking place in the same month in the coming year, March. Not so. My apologies. General elections for the House of Representatives in the Netherlands take place on March 15, while the first round of France's presidential election is April 23, with a run-off between the top two scheduled for May 7. So far it's Marine Le Pen of the National Front versus Francois Fillon of the Republicans. The Socialists hold their primary in January.

James Kanter, The New York Times' man in Brussels, pens a story, "As Hopes for European Unity Dim, New E.U. Headquarters Are Glowing," in today's paper comparing the new EU headquarters to a funeral urn. He waits until the last two paragraphs to mention it, along with French and Dutch earthquakes coming in March, but mention it he does:
With far-right, anti-bloc politicians in France and the Netherlands riding high in the polls ahead of elections in 2017, there is widespread speculation that Britain’s departure may be the start of a great unraveling of the European Union. 
For the first time in its history, the bloc’s survival is being openly discussed. Unsurprisingly, the gloom that has descended on Brussels has given rise to a form of black humor, much of it directed at the Europa building. Among the quips: Rather than serving as a lantern, as Mr. Samyn has called his gently curving structure, it could one day be used as a giant funeral urn, to hold the ashes of a collapsed European Union.
Naked Capitalism this morning publishes Ilargi's "2017: Where The Truth Lies," which appeared yesterday on The Automatic Earth. It is so good I need to quote a lot of it. Ilargi sees 2017 as a year of accelerating collapse. The European Union is coming apart. Brexit and Trump are just the beginning:
As for the EU, is it even possible they’re the worst of the bunch? Europe is falling apart before all of our eyes, and they’re all in full tard denial about it. They are turning Greece into a third world country, they’re alienating Britain to the point where the English will, once they wake up to what’s going on, want to set Brussels on fire. And why? There’s no point left to any of it at all.
Italy’s a goner, once enough Italians realize what the ECB wants to do to their banks. France is such a key member nobody wants to even imagine it falling, so its broke banks are ignored. Holland will come very close to voting in Wilders, which means Nexit. Germany is destabilizing rapidly. Spain has been a hornets’ nest for years. Etc.
And again: why? Well, because the Obama/Merkel model has so dramatically failed. All these places where left and right work together to produce a shapeless blob somewhere in the center that has no identity and doesn’t speak out for anyone.
You just wouldn’t know it from reading the Washington Post. Or any comparable old and respected medium in any of these European countries. It’s not just the politics that have failed, it’s its propaganda machine too.
This is something that manifests itself differently in different places, but it shouldn’t be that hard to see the ties that bind it all together. For one thing, because, not even touched on so far, the amount of fake financial news that has been forced down our throats for decades, and increasingly so: the worse things get, the bigger the lie…
There is no economic recovery. Never was. Not in the US, not in Europe anywhere. It’s a fairy tale. There are plates shifting, sure. You can cherry pick a region stateside that does well if only you select the ‘right’ stats. Like you can say employment is on a roll, if you’re willing to discard the number of ‘newly created’ jobs that are part time.
And yes, if you just completely ignore that 94 million Americans are not counted at all in unemployment numbers, Obama has been a big success. It’s just that those 94 million have a vote, too. We will see that exact same dynamic, and we have already started, play out all across Europe.
It’ll be much messier, for instance because in Holland last time I looked 81 different political parties were vying to take part in the upcoming elections, but the end result will be the same. That is, the existing order will be voted out. Not everywhere, and it won’t be replaced by radically different parties and people in all places, but do please understand that it doesn’t have to.
In Europe, it’s not and/and, it’s if/or. As in, if either Italy or France or Holland vote in a party that wants to leave the EU or the Euro, it’s game over. The endgame will be almighty messed up because of all the laws and regulations the EU has invented, but eventually the walls of Brussels will crumble. Good riddance too.
I’ve said it a hundred times before, all the institutions mentioned before, EU, IMF, UN and yes, even Congress, exist by the grace of growth. People accept them only as long as they can show reasonable proof that they bring economic benefits. As soon as that’s gone (or I should say as soon as people figure it out), so are they.
People are going to vote for someone close to their own lives, their own world, to lead them in times of contraction. That is inevitable. It’s why Trump won, and it’s also why he’s set to fail. Isn’t that a lovely paradox? We’re going to split up into smaller entities, economic contraction guarantees it.
And while everyone tries to talk you into thinking that’s terrible, there’s no reason why it should be. We can work together in many different ways. All these supranational institutions have merely become straight jackets that serve only the people who work inside them and those outside who benefit from keeping up appearances and clinging to power.
That of course gets us back to the Washington Post and its comatose brethren. The US press has been a full accomplice with Washington in reporting fake news about the recovery, and it’s not there. Never has been. The Dow Jones says one thing, the votes for Trump say another. In the end, democracy is that simple. Same goes for Britain, same goes for continental Europe.
And there’s no doubt that Trump is an iceberg-sized gamble, but a change had to come. A change from the monsoon of fake news we have all been fed, but also initially a change that won’t be able to help itself from being replete with more fake news, from all sides.
Put it this way: in 2016, the engine of change got cranked up. In the new year, it will accelerate. That is 2017. That is what the new year will bring. 
Ilargi is certainly right when he says, "And while everyone tries to talk you into thinking that’s terrible, there’s no reason why it should be. We can work together in many different ways." But he underestimates the ruthlessness of the elite when it comes to clinging to vanishing status and privilege. Look at the House of Saud. The Kingdom along with USG enablers have managed to tear up the hundred-year-old Sykes-Picot Middle East. The great postwar project, the European Union, is an associated casualty.

War, and more war, is all the rulers have in store for us. Trump's idea, one can make out the contours of it, is to ratchet down conflict in the Greater Middle East and Europe so as to focus on Obama's Asia pivot. Trump imagines the Dragon can be bum-rushed.

Trump is wrong there. And I think he is wrong to think that he can alter the bellicose direction of the Deep State in the Middle East and the New Cold War with Russia. For perpetual war to end the bottom is going to have to drop out first.


  1. Excellent article. Don't know how this will sort itself out, but it was clear from the start that US policy towards Russia was against the interests of the members of the EU. The EU appears to be breaking up because of the greed of the banking class. There is nothing that Greece is actually getting out of the EU, and so when it is safe to renounce its debts to the bankers I expect that to happen, probably along with a few other countries. Russia is a natural ally for Germany, and considering the profits to be made versus the cost of the Cold War, I can actually see a post-Merkel government following a similar approach to what Trump appears to be indicating. While there are some markets in the former Warsaw Pact, there are also places like Ukraine and some of the other countries who are not particularly thriving in the current economic situation. When a Romania has to choose, say, continuing sanctions against Russia versus, say, agreeing to a pipeline from Russia which would have poured millions into the state coffers, you realize that it's not a situation that can continue indefinitely. There are a few signs that the west may abandon Ukraine. Aside from destroying the existing pipelines to Europe passing through its territory, there really isn't much strategic advantage left to the holding onto the state for Western powers, certainly after Russia seized Crimea.

    The fascists may make one last gasp of an attack on Donbas, but they don't have the military power to do much of anything besides expend itself. Back when Ukraine was first breaking up I mentioned that a lot of the eastern regions to the north of Donbas and the territory along the coast of the Black Sea were more ethnically and culturally Russian, and if the same people (OUN fascists and oligarchs) hold onto power in Kiev they will eventually lose those regions, probably when it's clear that the army and the police cannot hold things together. They may not even hold onto Kiev. The further reductions will make the shrunken rump state around Lviv merely a supplier of fascist terrorists and that's something Europe doesn't need.

    True, there is a a strong component of anti-Russian (former fascists allies of the old Nazi alliances) along the Baltic states and Poland, but again the economic needs of those countries are in conflict with the fascists, and if the EU splinters these are precisely the countries that need to restart their relations with Russia.

    The big question is what is going to happen with NATO. The US has managed a lot of oil war aggression under the shield of NATO and it's hard to see the US Deep State give that up easily. But then that's a struggle that will happen first in the halls of power.

  2. Well said, Bob. I was reading a piece by Gilbert Doctorow on Consortium News, "German Resistance to Russia Detente,", and he is very pessimistic about the entrenched nature of Russophobia in the CDU and the SPD. Even the Greens are riddled with it. We're going to have to look to Italy and France and Holland for a reboot.

    Another interesting thing that Doctorow mentions in his article is that the German leadership class fears an overreaction from the U.S. if it looks like Kiev is truly in danger of falling.

    You're absolutely right though. The big question is whither NATO once Beppe Grillo and Marine Le Pen sit atop their respective thrones in Rome and Paris.