Macron Heralds The End Of The Union

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Originally appeared on theautomaticearth.com

The concept of the EU might have worked, but still only might have, if a neverending economic boom could have been manufactured to guide it on its way. But there was never going to be such a boom. Or perhaps if the spoils that were available in boom times and bust had been spread out among nations rich and poor and citizens rich and poor a little more equally, that concept might still have carried the days.

Macron Heralds The End Of The Union

Then again, its demise was obvious from well before the Union was ever signed into existence, in the philosophies, deliberations and meetings that paved its way in the era after a second world war in two score years fought largely on the European continent.

In hindsight, it is hard to comprehend how it’s possible that those who met and deliberated to found the Union, in and of itself a beneficial task at least on the surface in the wake of the blood of so many millions shed, were not wiser, smarter, less greedy, less driven by sociopath design and methods. It was never the goal that missed its own target or went awry, it was the execution.

Still, no matter how much we may dream, how much some of the well-meaning ‘founding fathers’ of the Union may have dreamt, without that everlasting economic boom it never stood a chance. The Union was only ever going to be tolerated, accepted, embraced by its citizens if they could feel and see tangible benefits in their daily lives of surrendering parts of their own decision making powers, and the sovereignty of their nations.

There are 28 countries in the Union at this point, and one of them is already preparing to leave. There are 28 different cultures too, and almost as many languages. It was always going to be an uphill struggle, a hill far too steep for mere greed to master and conquer. History soaked Europe in far too much diversity through the ages for that. To unify all the thousands of years of beauty and darkness, of creativity and annihilation, of love and hatred, passed on through the generations, a lot more than a naked and bland lust for wealth, power and shiny objects was needed.

And sure, maybe it just happened on the way, in the moments when everyone was making new friends and not watching their backs for a moment. But they all still should have seen it coming, because of those same thousands of years that culminated in where they found themselves. The European Union is like a wedding and marriage without a prenup, where partners are too afraid to offend each other to do what would make them not regret the ceremony later.

Today, there are far too few of the 28 EU countries that have been lifted out of their poverty and other conditions that made them want to join the Union. And within many of the countries, there are way too many people who are, and feel, left behind. While Brussels has become a bastion of power that none of the disadvantaged feel they can properly address with their grievances.

The main fault of the EU is that the biggest party at the table always in the end, when things get serious, gets its way. The 80 million or so people of Germany de facto rule the 500 million of the Union, or you know, the three handfuls that rule Germany. No important decision can or will ever be taken that Berlin does not agree with. Angela Merkel has been the CEO of Europe Inc. since November 22 2005, gathering more power as time went by. That was never going to work unless she made everyone richer. Ask the Greeks about that one.

Merkel was the leader of both Germany and of Europe, and when things got precarious, she chose to let German interests prevail above Italian or Greek ones. That’s the fundamental flaw and failure of the Union in a nutshell. All other things, the Greek crisis, Salvini, Macron, Brexit, are mere consequences of that flaw. In absence of a forever economic boom, there is nothing left to fall back on.

Traditional right/left parties have been destroyed all across Europe in recent national elections. And it’s those traditional parties that still largely hold power in Brussels. As much as anyone except Germany and perhaps the European Commission hold any power at all. The shifts that happened in the political spectrum of many countries is not yet reflected in the European Parliament. But there are European elections in less than 6 months, May 23-26 2019.

About a quarter of the votes in the last such election, in 2014, went to euroskeptic parties. It’s not a terrible stretch of the imagination to presume that they’ll get half of the votes this time. Then we’ll have half or more of representatives speaking for people who don’t have faith in what they represent.

And on the other hand you have the Brussels elite, who continue to propagate the notion that Europe’s problems can best, nay only, be solved with more Europe. Of that elite Emmanuel Macron is the most recent, and arguable most enthusiastic from the get-go, high priest. Which can’t be seen apart from his domestic nose-diving approval rating, and most certainly not from the yellow vest protests and riots.

Macron won his presidency last year solely because he ran against Marine Le Pen in the second round of the elections, and a vast majority on the French will never vote for her; they’ll literally vote for anyone else instead. In the first round, when it wasn’t one on one, Macron got less than 25% of the votes. And now France wants him to leave. That is the essence of the protests. His presidency appears already over.

Among the 28 EU countries, the UK is a very clear euroskeptic example. It’s supposed to leave on March 2019, but that’s by no means a given. Then there’s Italy, where the last election put a strongly euroskeptic government in charge. There are the four Visegrad countries, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. No love lost for Brussels there. In Belgium yesterday, PM Michel’s government ally New Flemish Alliance voted against the UN Global Compact on Migration.

Spain’s Mariana Rajoy was supported by the EU against Catalonia, and subsequently voted out. The next government is left-wing and pro EU, but given the recent right wing victory in Andalusia it’s clear there’s nothing stable there. Austria has a rightwing anti-immigration PM. Germany’s CDU party today elected a successor for Merkel (in the first such vote since 1971!), but they’ve lost bigly in last year’s elections, and their CSU partner has too, pushing both towards the right wing anti-immigrant AfD.

And with Macron gone or going, France can’t be counted on to support Brussels either. So what is left, quo vadis Europa? Well, there’s the European elections. In which national parties, often as members of a ‘voting alliance’, pick their prospective candidates for the European Parliament, then become part of a larger European alliance, and finally often of an even larger alliance. You guessed right, turnout numbers for European elections are very very low.

Of course Brussels is deaf to all the issues besieging it. The largest alliances of parties, the EPP (people’s party) and the “socialists”, have chosen their crown prince ‘spitzenkandidat’ to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker as head of the European Commission, and they expect for things to continue more or less as usual. The two main contenders are Manfred Weber and Frans Timmermans, convinced eurocrats. How that will work out with 50% or more of parliamentarians being euroskeptic, you tell me. How about they form their own alliance?

The Union appears fatally wounded, and that’s even before the next financial crisis has materialized. Speaking of which, the Fed has been hiking rates and can lower them again a little if it wants, but much of Europe ‘works’ on negative rates already. That next crisis could be a doozy.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First thing on the menu is Macron tomorrow, and the yellow vests in the streets of Paris and many other French cities -and rural areas. He has called for 90,000 policemen on the streets, but they’ll come face to face with their peers who are firemen, ambulance personnel, you name it, lots of folks who also work for the government. Will they open fire?

Can Macron allow for French people to be killed in the streets? Almost certainly not. There’ll be pitchforks and guillotines. The only way out for him, the only way to calm things down, may be to announce his resignation. The French don’t fool around when they protest. And who’s going to be left to drive the reform of Europe then? Not Merkel, she’s gone, even if she wants to be German Chancellor for three more years. But then who? I’m trying to think of someone, honest, but I can’t.

It’ll be quite the day Saturday in Paris.

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  • Barba_Papa

    Some people hate the building that they live in so much that they are willing to set it alight, even though they still live in it.

    The EU is not the problem. Kleptocrats and big business vassals are in control in countries in and outside the EU alike. The UK will soon be outside of the EU and nothing will change for the average Briton, as kleptocrats and the interests of big business will still control Whitehall. Big capital doesn’t give a fuck about borders. It just wants to squeeze whole countries for everything they’re worth. And the UK outside of the EU will still be as beholden to whatever the US wants it to do outside of the EU.

    At least the EU offered a chance to counter that. That was until kleptocrats and big business wormed themselves into it. We need a yellow vest movement to rid the EU of those leeches as well.

    • Karl Kolchak

      “Big capital doesn’t give a fuck about borders.”

      That’s why a country needs to get the fuck out of the EU, raise tariffs, enact progressive taxation and confiscate all the wealth of any business or rich asshole who tries to leave.

      • Barba_Papa

        Leaving the EU means your exports and imports get more expensive, raising tariffs means your imports get more expensive and the retaliatory tariffs of other countries mean you export less. Congratulations, you’ve just made thousands of your citizens unemployed and increased the cost of living. Increasing taxation and confiscating of wealth means nobody will invest anything in your country, causing economic stagnation.

        All these things have been tried before and only served to ruin economies. This is what I meant by some people so much hate the building they’re living in that they’re willing to set it afire, even though they themselves live in it.

        What we need is to put checks and balances on big capital, like there used to be, after WW2 until the 80’s, not revert to the disastrous every one for themselves policies of the 1930’s. And we have to do it together, because everyone for themselves only serves to help big capital eat us up one at a time. If your city is on fire only trying to protect your own home will not save it from the flames. The EU kleptocrats and big capital stooges have to be thrown out of Brussels so the EU can be made to actually serve us.

  • johnmerryman

    To the extent society is a reflection of the organism, government is the central nervous system and finance is the circulation system.
    Government evolved through chiefs and tribal elders, to kings and lords, to presidents and legislatures. Finance is going through similar growing pains. What we have now would be like the heart telling the hands and feet they don’t need so much blood and should work harder for what they do get, as well as telling the head it should get in line, or else. The vampire squid is in charge.
    When society was small, economics was reciprocal, as it was far more efficient to to share, than privately hoard, but as they grew, systems of accounting became necessary. Which is what money is, a voucher system. As such it is the social contract holding mass societies together, yet we primitively treat it as a commodity to be mined from society. Which leads to other problems, like trying to store these excess community promises, as well as keeping sufficient in circulation. So we have national banks pouring enormous amounts of surplus currency in one end and financiers draining it out the other end and running massive casinos with these oceans of public promises.
    The problem starts with econ 101. We are taught money is a medium of exchange, store of value and method of price setting. It is a very effective medium, but lousy store. For example, in the body, blood is the medium and fat is the store, or for cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store. Can anyone start to see the problem? We need to store value in stronger communities and environments, not abstractions in a bank.
    Remember when Volcker cured inflation with higher rates, but it slowed the economy? Yes, he slowed fresh money coming into the economy, but to those willing to borrow it and grow the economy. Yet those sitting on piles of more loot than they knew what to do with, got higher returns!
    It was Reaganomics, when the federal deficit topped 200 billion in 82, that “inflation” started to come under control, as that real excess cash was put to work, building up more military. The real reason for all that deficit spending isn’t buy the public stuff, but to keep the excess money busy. Meanwhile the public gets fed a bunch of identity politics to keep them divided and distracted.
    I could go on and one, but it doesn’t seem to start much of a conversation. So if anyone wants to know the future, disaster capitalism/predatory lending is coming home to roost, as those holding all those treasuries trade them for whatever public properties remain, like parks, highways and waterworks, when the government can’t afford more debt.
    The fact is that people are primitive, rich and poor and are going to have to learn these lessons the hard way. Give it another 500 years.