In June, while I was in Ecuador, the people of Ireland voted on whether or not to accept the Lisbon Treaty, designed to increase the centralization of EU power in Brussels. Apart from Sinn Fein, the only sensible voice in Irish politics, all the political parties and the main media were urging a Yes vote. The Irish people, much to their credit, returned an overwhelming No vote, thus quashing the treaty for all of Europe – until, that is, the centralization forces regroup and present the substance of the Treaty in some other guise. The Treaty itself was simply the failed Constitution in a new guise. Was there any mention of the Lisbon Treaty in the US media?
I've been publishing articles regularly here in Ireland, in a free paper called the Southeast Voice. Mostly I've given them existing material, such as the Grand Story of Humanity, the original Escaping the Matrix article, etc. But I did write one article just for them, denouncing the Lisbon Treaty. I hope that in some small way contributed to the Treaty's defeat. FYI, I'm pasting that article in at the end of this posting.
I'll be writing a follow-up article for the Southeast Voice, a kind of call-to-action to follow up on the anti-Lisbon victory. Why wait for the centralization forces to regroup? Let's make it clear we've had enough privatization and erosion of sovereignty! – that kind of thing. In particular, I want to develop the theme that the current "economic downturn" is not cyclic, but terminal. The paradigm of economic growth is no longer viable as a primary economic principle – the collision with a finite Earth is finally bringing the machine to a halt. What is to follow is not clear, but the sensible response on a national level is to begin thinking in terms of self-sufficiency, particularly in food. Ireland could do that very easily, and take control of its own finances, if it had the will.
I'd like to say a few words about the events in Georgia. What we are seeing is simply the latest episode in the ongoing US-NATO-Axis campaign to destabilize and surround Russia. We are also seeing Russia finally drawing a line in the sand, and ceasing its policy of appeasing the fascist aggressors.
The Lisbon Treaty: Look out kid, they keep it all hid
As an American who moved here and became an Irish citizen, there has always been one question that has nagged at me: After the Irish people struggled against foreign domination for 600 years, and finally won independence, why did they then voluntarily throw away their sovereignty to a different foreign master? Do people think that Franco-German domination will be somehow better than British rule? Can't they see that Brussels is Strongbow all over again?
Perhaps I'm being unfair however. It isn't really that obvious that the EU is an imperialist project, but I assure you it most certainly is. Not only is the EU itself a European-scale empire -- something that Britain never achieved and Hitler was unable to hold onto -- but the EU (and NATO) are being used increasingly as a base for supporting imperialist adventures in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Africa, and wherever else there are resources to be stolen or local upstarts to be put in their place.
One thing that many people don't understand is that imperialism -- and war generally -- have never really been about nationalism. It seemed that way for centuries, and that makes it more difficult to recognize modern imperialism, since nationalism has been downplayed following Word War II.
Imperialism and warfare have always been commercial projects, instigated by bankers and others seeking to make a profit, either from the war itself or from the spoils of war. Government leaders -- always the stooges of commercial interests -- have, however, frequently used nationalism as a means of rousing the populace to support imperialist endeavors. Nationalism has been at times the propaganda of war and imperialism, but never the cause.
But nationalism has not been the only propaganda approach. The white man's burden, for example -- the bizarre notion that murder and theft benefit the victim -- was used quite successfully by British imperialists for quite some time. And of course atrocities by the others are a favorite ploy. One might recall the absurd stories circulated during the War to End All Wars about German soldiers eating Dutch babies. Is there no end to the public's credulity? In Britain perhaps not, but I expect more from the Irish. They've seen the other side of the imperialist game.
Today, the propaganda is sillier than ever, and again it seems somehow to be working. Today, unbelievable as it seems, imperialism is being justified on the basis of spreading democracy and humanitarian interventionism. The standard approach, as in Darfur, is to first destabilize the area covertly, then to publicize the resulting suffering and get people upset, and finally to send in the occupation forces -- which was of course the goal from the outset. Thus is Ireland now a partner in imperialism, although most of the population, and the soldiers who are risking their lives, can't really be blamed for not being aware of the fact.
I don't want to get started on this, but I must say a few words about the destabilization of Yugoslavia, as it is so typical of modern imperialism. Yugoslavia was a proud, multi-ethic, peaceful nation that succeeded in avoiding domination by both the Nazis and the Soviets, both during and after Word War II. How sad it was when US-German intelligence agencies began their destabilization campaign, backed up by the corporate-serving media. As atrocities mounted on both sides, more or less equally, the media focused entirely on the atrocities of only one side, the Serbians.
And then there's Srebeniza, where refugees were encouraged to gather, and adequate protection not provided -- intentionally setting them up to get massacred. One thing was led to another (nothing happens by itself in these kind of affairs), and finally we got the horrendous US-NATO blitzkrieg against the people of Serbia. The commercial payoff: US-EU control over Kosovo's key position vis a vis energy supplies. Also, the US has a permanent military base there now, Camp Bondsteel. The recent declaration of independence by Kosovo was a sick joke, unless you count foreign occupation as independence.
Some of you may be thinking, "OK, the EU may be evil, but I've got an 08 reg car as a result. I want to take care of number one, myself". Fair enough, who am I to judge? The thing is though, my yuppie friend, is that the EU is out to screw you just as much as it is out to screw those in the "underdeveloped" world. Do you think the collapse of the Irish housing market is an accident? Do you think the housing bubble that preceded it was an accident? Welcome, my friend to the real world. Nothing like that ever happens by chance. Just as bubble & squeak is a favorite British dish, so is bubble & burst a favorite way for banks to pick your pockets.
It's so easy for them. First they lower interest rates, and loosen up loan requirements. Of course housing prices go up! How could they not? If a bank will loan X on a house, then the seller can ask for X as their price. It is banks who determine the value of a house. Buyers don't think in terms of how much they owe, they think in terms of, "Can I make the payments?" This is especially true when prices seem to be going up forever, and people think they can always sell at a profit if anything goes wrong.
The same thing happens in the business sector. Companies can easily borrow, so they invest in new operations, hire more people, and the economy generally heats up. Everyone thinks 'times are good' borrowing and spending increase, people get new cars, credit card balances jump way up. It's party time! As David McWilliams put it, "The Celtic Tiger is just one big overdraft".
This is phase one in the pick-a-pocket-or-two game of bubble & burst. As the balloon rises, banks rake in a percentage of it all, and do very well indeed. They keep the fires going in the balloon's burners until it gets so high that even the monthly payments are too much for people to afford any more, and inflation gets so bad that consumerism starts to decline. The fun is now going out of it for the banks, and so then begins the next phase of the game, the profit from burst phase.
At this point we begin to read in the newspapers that prices have got out of hand. Duh! In case you missed that: DUH!! DUH!! Our Minister for Finance (the voice of the big banks) then tells us that interest rates must be raised to avoid inflation. Isn't it just a bit late to lock the barn door my friend? Wouldn't it have been a better idea not to lead the horse out in the first place? Interest rates go up, investment is cut back, workers are made redundant, spending declines, housing prices go down, etc., and as you know yourself, this is exactly where we are right now here in Ireland.
For most of us, this makes for tough times. We're finding it hard to keep up with our expenses. We're wondering if we really needed that newer car. Perhaps our job is at risk, or perhaps we've been forced onto the dole. If we own a shop, we're getting fewer and fewer customers. In general, it's bleak for everyone -- except for the banks.
They are now sitting on a huge inventory of loans that they'll be collecting on for years to come, a much more valuable inventory than they could have achieved without the bubble. Yes, a percentage of those loans will need to be written off, as businesses fail and houses are foreclosed, but that amounts to peanuts in comparison to all the loans that will get repaid. Not only that, but as interest rates rise, the value of that inventory gets still bigger! The banks can unilaterally decide to increase your mortgage payments. How convenient for them. I wish I could find a racket like that.
Surely you remember the old joke..."What's the difference between a banker and a drug pusher?" Answer: "Banking is legal, more profitable, and hurts more people". I loved that scene in Scarface, when the pin-striped gentleman banker explains why they're better off doing their money-laundering in Miami rather than Panama, even though Panama gives better rates. Pacino, the drug-dealer chief, says to his roughneck bodyguard: "Learn from these guys, they've been at it for a thousand years".
Meanwhile, back here in Ireland, there's still more to our collapsing-bubble story. Part of the profit from burst phase is ownership consolidation. Over-extended businesses are in trouble, and the big investors and big corporations (ie, the vultures) swoop in to feed, flying in from all around the world, from Frankfurt to Tokyo. Even though the over-extended business is a viable one, its debt burden forces it look for a buyer. The vultures are able to pick up valuable inventories, and viable operations, for a fraction of their real value. The big fish eat the little fish, and chew on 'em and bite 'em. The little fish eat the littler fish, and so ad infinitum. One of the consequences of these bubble & burst episodes has been the concentration of global ownership into the hands a small community of transnational corporations -- and banks.
I've been giving out about banks. Perhaps you are thinking, "Yeah, I agree, banks are evil, but what does that have to do with the EU, and with the Lisbon Treaty?" EVERYTHING my dear friend. The EU is ALL ABOUT bankers tightening their control over the affairs of Europe and of the world. And do you think it's an accident that Bertie's main advisor has been the same fellow who will soon be our Taoiseach, thus giving banks a direct line to determining Irish policy? Meanwhile, tribunals waste our time looking into comparatively trivial matters, while Ireland's assets are being auctioned off to the highest bidder.
I've been studying the EU, and the trickery by which it has been sold to the masses, since back in '91. I happened to be staying with a friend in France at the time, in the midst of the media blitz aimed getting the French to vote oui on the Maastricht Treaty. Everywhere you'd go, there were adverts saying, "It's the adult thing to do". I suppose "adult" has something to do with how French people like to think of themselves, and so it makes a good advertising slogan, but "adult" has nothing to do with the Maastricht Treaty.
The Maastricht Treaty was the founding document of the EU, and it is very interesting. It was drafted by bankers and signed by bankers. Rather than Prime Ministers or Foreign Ministers being involved, it was Finance ministers who attended the conference back in '91. The treaty says very little about democratic process, nothing about the rights of citizens, and it isn't concerned much about political matters in general. The main concern of the document is to ensure that Europe shall always have banker-friendly fiscal policies. This treaty is still at the base of all EU policy.
From the very beginning, the intention behind the EU initiative has been to create an all-powerful centralized European government under the firm control of Europe's banking elites. At first I didn't quite understand where it was all headed, but I was able to recognize a con game when I saw one. There was something about the way the project was being sold that smelled like last week's fish. Why was all the slick advertising always pro-Europe? Why were there never two sides to the issue, and when the other side was presented, why was it usually presented weakly?
We see the same thing today with RTE's one-sided coverage. Oh yes, they "present both sides", HA HA, but it is easy to tell from their overall coverage which side "makes sense" and which side is a bunch of folks who "don't get it", who are "dragging their feet", who don't understand "the way things are going".
As for the government in Dublin, they show no interest in finding out how the Irish people feel about the Lisbon Treaty or the EU. Their mission, as they see it, is to sell the Treaty, by any means necessary, regardless of what people want. They're even beginning to use fear tactics, as when Bertie talks about "no more jobs" if the Treaty fails. These kinds of propaganda tactics have been used throughout the development of the EU. Gerhard Schroeder, at the time Chancellor of Germany, went so far as to suggest that Germany might turn aggressive again if the EU project faltered. I'm sure the German people found his remarks quite objectionable and even embarrassing.
One thing to keep in mind is that the structure of the EU government in Brussels is quite undemocratic by European standards. In European nations -- if they are nations anymore -- everyone in the government is elected directly by the people. In Brussels, on the contrary, the main power is concentrated in the European Commission, all of whom are appointed, and all of whom agree to put "EU interests" ahead of the interests of the nation they are "representing". Who, may I ask, decides what "EU interests" are? The Commissioners, just like the Finance Ministers throughout most of Europe, always turn out be very close to the banking community.
One of the tricks being used by the EU, to sell itself to the masses, is an emphasis on green initiatives, and progressive initiatives. And in fact many people point to such things as reasons to see the EU as a "force for good". I suggest, however, that these 'good programs' are bait and bait only, on the EU hook of domination. Such initiatives cost Brussels, and the banks, nothing. We see the real agenda of the EU when we read about how "Ireland must cut back on its social services", and of course in the push for ever more privatization, an agenda championed so effectively here in Ireland by Mary Harney. If only tribunals would take on the big crimes!
Have you ever wondered what privatization is really about? Have you been seduced by cheaper phone alternatives? Do you think 'competition', as they use the term, is always 'better for the consumer', and 'better for the taxpayer'? Again, what we have here is a two-phase game, just like bubble and burst. Lots of apparent benefits and competition at the beginning, lots of monopolization at the end, and eventually higher prices for all of us. What privatization really amounts to, in the long run, is selling your farm for what looks like a good price, and then being a tenant farmer on your own land for the rest of your life, being squeezed by the landlord. Do you really want to go back there?
Ireland is a country that could easily be self-sufficient in food, and its farmers could make a good living feeding the Irish people, who would be enjoying healthy, locally produced products. Instead, because of EU policies, and the imposition of a reckless free-trade regime, Irish farmers are being forced out of business and our food supply will be at the whim of the multinationals that control the global food-distribution networks. Eventually food production will migrate to the lowest-waged nations, with farmers working for peanuts, we will pay inflated prices at the supermarket, and the middle-men will pocket the huge difference.
For anyone who cares about Irish sovereignty, culture, or well-being, the Lisbon Treaty isn't really the question before us. The real question is this: How quickly can we get out of the EU, bring back our own currency, and restore our sovereignty? It may already be too late, but if we wake up and get to work, there may still be hope for Ireland. If we wait too long, and we try to escape, they'll send in the troops, just like in Tibet.