Oxi: Greek Referendum Result Is A Damning Indictment Of EU Imperialism

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Final referendum result: Yes – 38.7%, No – 61.3%

If nothing else happens as a result of the dramatic “Oxi” (no) vote in Greece’s referendum today, can we at least finally disabuse ourselves of the notion that Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, is somehow a formidable and effective world leader?

We hear time and again how Merkel is the most powerful woman in Europe (or sometimes the world), and how she is such a shrewd and canny operator, driving hard bargains in the EU and commanding respect on the world stage. But Margaret Thatcher she ain’t. The European Union may like to think of itself as a warm, fuzzy family of nations, but in reality there is only one country, Germany, which plays the role of parent when it comes to economic matters, particularly within the eurozone. And Angela Merkel’s “bad cop” Pyrrhic victory in keeping the door closed to any form of debt relief for Greece, even in the face of entreaties from President Obama and mounting evidence that some form of debt restructuring is an essential precursor to the return of growth, has just driven Europe off a cliff.

As the eurozone goes into meltdown and the European Union faces what could become an existential crisis, everyone is looking to cover their backs as the recriminations fly. And Lord knows that Greece shoulders some of this blame, having governed itself irresponsibly over many successive decades and governments, as this blog has repeatedly acknowledged. But what excuse do the sharp-suited EU bureaucrats and eurozone politicians have for their collective failure to contain the Greek situation? What excuse does Angela Merkel have?

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The EU Aims To Depose The Greek Government, Again

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By Ben Kelly, blogger and editor of The Sceptic Isle.

‘Mr Dijsselbloem suggested even if Greece voted to approve the bailout plan it would be hard for its eurozone partners to continue to trust Mr Tsipras’s leftwing Syriza government to implement it — hinting a new government would be necessary.’

The EU is escalating its campaign of intimidation against the Greek electorate in order to push them towards the “yes” vote they seek. Now efforts are escalating to oust the democratically elected Greek government whatever the result of today’s referendum. President of the EU Parliament Martin Schulz has called for the Syriza government to be replaced by “technocrat” rule until stability can be restored in Greece after its economic collapse. We have been here before. 

We have already witnessed a post-modern, bloodless coup d’état in Athens before, as we did in Rome. Elected prime ministers were given a final, firm push and removed from power and replaced with Eurocrats appointed from Brussels, a former Vice-President of the European Central Bank and a former European Commissioner no less. They were appointed with the mission to impose policies approved by the EU but rejected in general elections.

Mario Monti appointed himself finance minister as well as prime minister and a government was installed in Italy without a single elected politician. The fragile pretence of EU democracy collapsed, and the dictatorial nature of the centralist new European empire was exposed. Apparachiks in Brussels ruling through colonial governors in Athens and Rome, overseen by the ECB in Frankfurt and the government in Berlin dissolved national democracy. The electorate in the Euro colonies were cut out altogether.

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EU Bullies Have Overplayed Their Hand In Greek Standoff

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The Greek Euro crisis is not a game; it is a deadly serious question of who really holds the power in the EU and the eurozone – the people or the institutions. Unfortunately, EU bureaucrats and European heads of state have chosen to close ranks and continue their reckless game of chicken with desperate, depression-weary Greece, making a total mockery of European ‘solidarity’.

 

Anyone hoping that Greece’s dramatic decision to put the EU’s death-by-rolling-bailout terms to a popular referendum might bring the country’s intransigent creditors to their senses will have been sorely disappointed today. Once the initial shock that a sovereign country dared to stand up to to the EU wore off, it soon became apparent that the EU’s leaders were determined to call Greece’s bluff and double down on their uncompromising position.

We should not be surprised. The very idea of a solitary European democracy acting muscularly in its own self interest is clearly horrifying to the EU elite, who have been so busy constructing their unwanted political and economic union that they are no longer capable of even comprehending dissenting opinions.

Of course, the chancelleries of Europe did the bare minimum in order to make a public show of being conciliatory to Greece – emphasising their supposed fraternal concern for the country and desire to help the Greek economy return to growth. But their actions said differently, and spoke volumes about their real priorities.

The Guardian puts it quite plainly:

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Greece In Revolt: The Battle Of Popular Democracy vs European Technocracy

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Following a week of vacation, I left Athens for London just hours after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made his dramatic address to the nation, stating his intention to put the latest EU bailout offer to a referendum. While the popular islands and tourist areas of central Athens showed few outward signs of the unfolding drama, queues were already forming at ATMs in poorer and more residential areas. The following are my thoughts on the Greek crisis and the behaviour of the international institutions which increasingly supplant national democracy.

 

No wonder the power brokers of Europe are dazed, confused and spitting with rage. Cyprus meekly fell into line when their turn came. Ireland whimpered and did what it was told. But Greece is displaying a puzzling degree of stubbornness and outright disrespect by failing to behave like a weak supplicant nation with no negotiating power, infuriating the finance ministers and leaders of the other eurozone countries in the process. It’s almost as though, in their arrogance, the Greek government actually believes that its primary duty is to the people of Greece rather than the multinational institutions which now seek to go through the country’s budget and the government’s manifesto with a red veto pen.

Heaven knows that Greece is not without blame in this crisis. A Byzantine system of differing VAT rates, ludicrously early retirement ages, inefficient state-owned industries and unchecked cartels and corruption have all played their part in running up the Greek deficit and ensuring that the last few years of bailout assistance have failed to produce results or return the economy to growth.

But for as long as our world is built on the principle of the sovereign nation state, free people in a free country have the inviolable right to make their own bad choices and then take what measures they see fit to correct these errors through the democratic process. Unfortunately, when nation states are increasingly stripped of their power and influence – having vested them in political institutions like the European Union and monetary unions like the Euro – this is no longer possible. Suddenly, millions of people in far-flung places have a vested interest in decisions taken in one small country, and the democratic will of any one member state is only one consideration among many others competing for consideration.

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On EU Secession And Straw Man Arguments

Another day, another newspaper column from a political has-been lecturing us on why leaving the European Union or renegotiating our terms of membership would be terrible, just terrible, and consign us to the lowly status of a third world country, adrift in the sea of globalisation with no friends and no influence.

The newspaper columns tend to follow the exact same template, and this time it was the turn of Kenneth Clarke, writing in The Telegraph, to gently explain to us stupid “swivel-eyed” nationalist loons exactly why our views are undermining Britain and putting our future at risk. He writes, with reference to the potential EU-US free trade agreement currently being discussed at the fringes of the G8 meeting in Lough Erne:

For, irony of ironies, it is of course the EU that is making deals with America and Canada possible. It should come as no surprise that President Obama’s officials have commented that they would have “very little appetite” for a deal with the British alone. Quite simply, the political commitment and dedication that the creation of a free market encompassing over 800 million people, 47 per cent of world GDP, and boosting the combined economies of the EU and the US by nearly £180 billion, could only ever be made by the leaders of evenly matched economic blocs.

What nonsense. While this statement may be true for some of the smaller EU member states, until you reach about Spain size, it certainly does not apply to the United Kingdom. Why would any country not wish to negotiate bilaterally with the sixth largest economy in the world, and miss out on the many benefits of tariff-free access to such a large hub of industry, innovation, technology, arts and sciences? Ken Clarke would have us tremble in fear that the mighty President Obama might overlook pathetic, little old Britain if we dared to stand on our own, but he certainly pays attention to the likes of India, Russia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and countless other countries with much lower nominal GDP than the United Kingdom, so that argument hardly stands up.

But of course, Ken Clarke doesn’t need his arguments to bear scrutiny, because they are straw men. He assumes that a Britain outside of the European Union would automatically be isolated, introverted and inward-looking, seeking to shut itself off from the world, but he is putting words into the mouths of the Eurosceptics. He disingenuously proclaims:

There always has been something of the romantic in the British soul. We can’t fail to be stirred by Charge of the Light Brigade visions of Britain standing alone against the odds. It is the same sentiment behind the idea of exchanging the EU for Nafta.

But, in the end, we are a practical race. We know that the empire on which the sun never set was created by intrepid, relentlessly outward-facing adventurers and administrators, not isolationist John Bulls. That “Brexit” would mean curtains for our ability to have any leadership role in world-defining plays like these free-trade agreements would greatly disturb us. Accepting a diminished situation in which the UK is forced to trade by EU rules which it has had no say in setting is simply not in our nature.

I don’t know of any anti-EU people who want to create a Fortress Britain and isolate ourselves from the world – in fact, quite the opposite is true. We feel that the ever more onerous conditions and regulations that must be observed as part of our EU membership damage our national competitiveness and make it harder for us to do the business that we want to do with the rest of the world. If the EU were simply a free trade area then remaining an EU member to negotiate an agreement with NAFTA or the US would make the utmost sense. But the ever-closer union has become so much more than that, spawning parliaments, commissions, foreign policy chiefs, “human rights” courts, and generally extending its tentacles into every aspect of national life. How does Ken Clarke imagine being beholden to all of these anti-democratic institutions improves our leverage or bargaining position when it comes to discussing matters of free trade?

Of course, Clarke is deeply invested in the success and longevity of the European project. He himself is a current member of the secretive Bilderberg group which in the post-war years was instrumental in formulating many of the policies and initiatives that have helped to bring us to our ever-closer union with our European neighbours and allies. Indeed, at the most recent Bilderberg Group meeting in Watford, England, one of the agenda items specifically focused on “the politics of the EU”, which you can read as “how to make the masses support our floundering European project”. The last thing that he would want is to undo his organisation’s stated objectives of weakening the institution of the nation state in favour of larger, pan-national, anti-democratic organisations. The European Union serves the needs of his political and corporatist friends very well indeed; the average voter, less so.

Personally, I don’t appreciate being talked down to by the likes of Ken Clarke, so in retaliation I am going to post this video of him, taken at a campaign event while he still held fairly high political office, being too fat to get out of a racing car that he was inspecting (skip to the 7 minute mark):

 

I’ll change my views on Britain’s need to leave the European Union, or at least drastically renegotiate our terms of membership the day that Ken goes on a diet.