Sunday, June 12, 2011

Europeans Not Being Europeans: Now It Is Official

Last year, reading between the lines, I wrote that Europeans will be Europeans no more.

This past Tuesday, the European Commission agreed. Its “reform recommendations” for the 27-member union said pretty much the same thing. The Financial Times succintly capture the spirit of the report under the heading “EU sees vision of new Europe which is rather less European” :
The Europe recommended by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch … would look very different to the Europe of only a few years ago.

Pension system would see their retirement ages raised. Long-protected industries would be deregulated. Guaranteed wage increases negotiated long and hard by trade unions would be renegotiated.

In other words, the European economic model or models would look far less European.
I have said many times that just about any thing that is coming your way is reported in your local paper. All you need is to pay attention, which includes reading between the lines.


uair01 said...

Yes, and unfortunately that's where I live. I used to be a proud European.

Recently while reading up on the Greek crisis I found this article by Tayyab Mahmud from the Seattle University School of Law. And this is just from the summary:


The 2009-10 debt crisis of Greece has resulted in a windfall for financial institutions at the expense of tax-payers, a rollback of welfare systems, and impoverishment of the working classes.

The recurrent international debt crises of the last three decades and the resulting transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich are the products of the neoliberal restructuring of economies that aims to rollback the gains made by the working classes under the Keynesian welfare compromise, and to establish the hegemony of finance capital.

These objectives have been facilitated by an extensive refashioning of the U.S. and international regulatory regimes resulting in financialization of the global economy and unbridled international mobility of finance capital.

Global financial institutions channeled access global liquidity in ways that created unsustainable international debts, followed by recurrent international debt crises. These crises are managed to displace welfare systems with neoliberal restructuring.

The end result is transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, further impoverishment of working classes, and enhanced power of finance capital.


I'm quite angry that I don't hear these analyses from our local leftist parties. Why do they leave all the fireworks to the right-wing populists? Why don't they take aim at the capitalist system once again - like they used to do?

Any good books you can advise? I see two options at the moment:
- read Marx and become a revolutionary,
- read Fernand Braudel and become a detached historical spectator.

uair01 said...

I forgot to give the reference:


Available at:

Nasser Saber said...


What Tayyab is saying is not altogether inaccurate, but he is telling a story; he is not writing on finance. Why?

He implies -- however subtly -- a conspiracy. Some people have been pushing the neoliberal economic policies with the result that the wealth is transferred from the poor to the rich, et, etc. All of this have been "facilitated by an extensive refashioning of the U.S. and international regulatory regimes resulting in financialization of the global economy and unbridled international mobility of finance capital."

Allow me now.

There is Socialist government in say, Greece. There is the nasty rich boy running the government in England. There is a center right president in France. A Democrat in the U.S. Then add Spain, Portugal, Poland, Ireland, to the mix and you see the size of the "theater of operation" where the changes I mentioned in the post are taking place.

Who could pull of a stunt like that? Who could influence all these governments and, in the case of Cameron, even shape his thinking?

Jews, perhaps?

The point I have been making in the post and which is central point of the Theory of Speculative Capital, is that all these developments are brought about by the inexorable movement of finance capital and its offspring, speculative capital. It is speculative capital that "refashions the US and international regulatory regimes" because THAT REFASHIONING IS NEEDED FOR ITS CONTINUOUS OPERATION AND AS RESULT, IT, I.E., REFASHIONING, SEEMS THE LOGICAL AND NECESSARY THING TO DO. That is the hold of speculative capital on people: it compels them to act in ways consistent with ITS INTERESTS, because no one can see any other option or alternative. That's what Margaret Thatcher said: They are no alternatives.

Or take Tayyab's statement that "global financial institutions channeled access global liquidity in ways that created unsustainable international debts".

The global financial institutions are conduits for the circulation of finance capital. They must do what finance capital demands. A bank cannot NOT charge interest, for example. The reason that movement of finance capital created unsustainable international debt is because that is HOW finance capital works: without regard to consequences. That's its way.

As I have repeatedly pointed out in the blog, the subject of finance is not people. It is finance capital in circulation. When we shift our focus to people and institutions and begin telling stories, however compelling and entertaining it might, we lose sight of the force that's the mover and shaker of the event around us. We then lose the ability to understand and thus, predict the events.

There was no conspiracy to make Europeans less Europeans or no Europeans. What has come about, starting with the formation of EU, is the natural, necessary and inevitable consequence of developments in the realm of finance.

Hope this helps.

uair01 said...

Mr. Saber, thank you for your detailed answer. It is very interesting and intriguing. I am no financial expert as you will have noticed from my previous posts. I have read your first book on speculative capital and have enjoyed it, but I have no deep understanding of the concepts and certainly no "feeling" for the subject matter. I agree with your statement about "not thinking in conspiracies". But I'm thoroughly puzzled by your statements about the influence of speculative capital on people. Allow me to express my puzzlement in another quote by the linguist Otto Jespersen and substitute "capital" for "language".


Still, it cannot be said that students of language have always and to the fullest extent made it clear to themselves what is the real essence of a language.

Too often expressions are used which are nothing but metaphors in many cases perfectly harmless metaphors, but in other cases metaphors that obscure the real facts of the matter. Language is frequently spoken of as a 'living organism' ; we hear of the 'life' of languages, of the 'birth' of new languages and of the 'death' of old languages, and the implication, though not always realized, is that a language is a living thing, something analogous to an animal or a plant.

Yet a language evidently has no separate existence in the same way as a dog or a beech has, but is nothing but a function of certain living human beings. Language is activity, purposeful activity, and we should never lose sight of the speaking individuals and of their purpose in acting in this particular way.

When people speak of the life of words as in celebrated books with such titles as 'La vie des mots', or 'Biographies of Words' they do not always keep in view that a word has no 'life' of its own : it exists only in so far as it is pronounced or heard or remembered by somebody, and this kind of existence cannot properly be compared with 'life' in the original and proper sense of that word.

Nasser Saber said...

Dear uair01,

I will say nothing of Otto Jespersen who must have been some bore! In the long passage you are quoting he is saying the most obvious and trite things -- infinite deal of nothing, as Shakespeare put it.

So let me return to your substitution of language for capital, by which I presume you meant to say that capital, like language is a dead thing and does not exist independent of humans and, therefore, how do I dare say that capital shapes people's conduct?

First, even accepting the supposition that the language has no "life" of its own, language still shapes people's conduct. A tame of boring outlet like Aljazeera tv cannot be seen in the U.S. because Israeli supporters won't allow it. Or, as a free European, one day change the official narrative of the WWII from that evil German attacking his good, peace loving neighbors and see how you fare!

And I intentionally picked the US and Europe for making the point. That's the power of dead words for you.

But more importantly, your substitution of language for capital is not permissible. Capital, and the the system based on is, Capitalism, is a social system. A social system is distinguished by the way members of the society interact with and relate to one another. In the social system based on slavery, for example, some people are slave owners and some are slaves. That fact shapes and defines the conduct of the members of each class. As a slave, you could not attend school or own property. Why? Because the first function of a system is self preservation; a system must reproduce itself. If slavery allowed the slaves to be educated and own property, they would not remain slaves and the system would collapse.

That is precisely what brought about the Civil War in the US: the need of the Northern states for labor to work in the factories. But the laborers were tied to the land in the South. Hence, the war and hence the rise of the US as an industrial power right after the conclusion of the Civil War.

But let me not spend too much time in the past. Let me write something more detailed about the ongoing events in Europe. May that will more clearly show how people's conduct is influenced by capital.