Rod Dreher

Anne Applebaum is rattled by what’s just gone down in Greece. Excerpts:

Here in front of me, I have a draft version of the Council of the European Union’s most recent “decision” on Greece. It isn’t a classified document. Bits of it have been in the newspapers; the Greek parliament has already voted to pass some of its provisions; and a similar, though less comprehensive, decision was published in February. But although it’s not secret, no one is yet talking much about its political significance. For this is no ordinary piece of Euro-bureaucracy: This is the kind of thing a surrendering field marshal signs in a railway car in the forest at the end of a bloody war.

She discusses the details, in which a sovereign nation in debt up to its eyeballs signs away substantial control over its economic decision-making to transnational authorities, as the price of its survival. I don’t get the impression that Applebaum feels particularly sorry for the Greeks, who surely made their own bed here. Given Greece’s track record of untrustworthiness, it would be reckless, indeed insane, for the Europeans to hand Greece hundreds of billions of Euros with no strings attached. And yet, what’s just happened is enormously important, and deeply worrying. Applebaum again:

Though no one is saying so, this visible imposition of EU power on Greece will also serve as a warning to others who want to enter the Eurozone in future. Yes, if you play by the rules, being part of Europe means being part of the world’s largest and most prosperous economy. But if you don’t play by the rules, you risk coming under foreign financial occupation. We might not yet have a name for this phenomenon–neo-Euro-colonialism?–but, without anyone noticing, it has arrived.

This crisis has made plain that economic authority without political authority is deeply problematic. You watch: by the time the smoke clears, Europe will be well advanced towards a superstate being run from Brussels, because it will have become an economic necessity. Saving the Euro has become the absolute telos of the European elite, and if eliminating, or nearly eliminating, national sovereignty is the price to be paid, then that price will be paid. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

A European state is being created before our eyes. …Events are getting out of hand, and not just on the streets of Athens.

Unless the peoples of Europe revolt in some way. A foreign correspondent friend of mine who describes his own politics as social democratic (which is to say, he’s a democratic socialist) writes to say he’s quite worried about what’s happening in Greece. For the first time in a long time, he writes, the far left has credibility; he says that if that violent, crazy lot comes to power, we’re in trouble.
Be that as it may, Robert Samuelson warns that Greece is only the canary in the coal mine for all industrialized nations, whose welfare states are doomed. The only way these governments — including the US government — can pay out the benefits it has promised is by borrowing more money. But running higher and higher deficits will surely destroy the economy, once lenders conclude they have no chance of getting their money back. When the Greek fever becomes general, we’ll have, says Samuelson, “worldwide economic collapse.”
In such a situation, trading national sovereignty to a transnational economic and political authority for rescue from the wages of our fiscal sins will not seem like such a bad deal to many, many of us. This has been black-helicopter talk till now, but when you see what’s happening to Greece, and you realize that given the economic stakes, it could hardly be otherwise … well, you do wonder where all this is going.
UPDATE: The marvelously named Napoleon Linardatos, on why Greece today could be the US tomorrow:

Greece used to be very productive as well. In the 50s it was only second to Japan in economic growth and in the 60s and 70s with a fast developing tourism industry it experienced high growth as well. Greece’s debt in 1981 was 31.2% of its GDP, a number that would be desired by even the most responsible nations today.
Greece in the 80s started to do what America commenced in the 2000s under Bush and now the Obama administration: transferring income from future generations to itself with a vengeance. The most destructive effect of debt wasn’t the magnitude of the debt per se but the socioeconomic consequences and the revolution in social norms and expectations. When I was starting primary school in the early eighties young people wanted to open their own business. When I was finishing high school near the mid-nineties young people were dreaming of a government job. It was a change so roundabout but universal that only in retrospect one may realize the rapidity of its progress.
As debt was financing the dependency habits of the general population it was also creating an infantilized political class that was unable to govern and manage any crisis effectively, be it natural, diplomatic or political. Whatever the political costs of a mismanaged crisis, the government always expected to be able to recover by throwing money in some new government handout.
Debt growth had the effect of robbing society of the ability to deal with the consequences of a debt crisis, leaving on the one hand, a society pretty sclerotic in its expectations, and on the other, a political class exceedingly incompetent when it comes to governing.

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