What happened to the Spanish boots of Spanish leather?
It seems that there is a kind of human reflex demanding extension, expansion and the crossing of limits as a generally desirable goal.
The dream of empires, reaching out for new territories and overall control, the ideals of unity or even uniformity have prevailed through all eras and ideologies.
But ironically, the final crisis of systemic extension and overstretching empires usually bring up opposite effects: instead of external expansion the rise of inner conflicts might occure, instead of successfully spreading rules and regulations, the reliability of rule and law at home might become corrupted. Instead of creating stability elsewhere, instability tends to come back to the heartland.
Looking at Europe from a distance it seems that exactly this is happening now after the ambitious Euro project went into its crisis. Only a minority of international observers still believe in recovery and repair or in the further extension of EU competencies.
Currently we are observing world markets, world leaders and banking managers around the globe starring at a country of ten million people, ranking no. 36 in nominal GDP worldwide with less than 10% of the German nominal GDP but still with a ten times bigger GDP than Ethiopia for example (where eight times more people live than in Greece):
If nations were comparable to societies, Greece looked like the new precarious middle class among nations involved in global change: a fully integrated member of NATO, EU, Eurozone, OECD, WTO and all other privileged multinational framework organisations it seems to be now at the brink to fall back on the level of the world’s working class of nations, the ‘developing world’ competing with each other by low salaries and simple living conditions.
But instead of questioning systemic structures and international procedures which have lead to this economic and social regress, EU member states point their political finger at Greece shouting ‘this is a home made disaster’, an ‘exception’, a ‘scandal’, ‘the result of cheating’, evoked by ‘corrupt elites’ a.s.o.
But in fact, those who swear in that way behind closed doors are the same ones that introduced fully inappropriate low interest rates for Greek banks over a decade, that accepted the rise of production costs in Greece by more than 30% by implementing the Euro curreny, that created a disfunctional EU system of subsidies which contributed to the industrial decline of Greece and other European countries. Gradually, the same politics have moved Spain and Portugal out of balance.
Instead of caring for incentives to sustainably develop the so called peripheric Europe, globalizing policies encouraged capital flows to Asia. German politicians and industrial managers never defined the Eurozone as a domestic market but as a ‘less attractive’ export destination. Now their tax payers are urged to pay the bill for these failing policies that created a European industrial core zone around Germany while larger parts of Europe are turning into exploitable supply areas or depending subsidy receivers.
European politics failed to create an economic environment that allowed competitive production on the continent beyond High Tech and consulting. Shoes, clothes, furniture, computers and solar cells from Europe are unaffordable in Europe itself while youth unemployment in Spain and Greece has reached 50%. What happened to the Greek textile industry?
Decision makers in Europe tend to define a potential Greek default as a failure of the local elites and not as a result of European politics. They did’t intervene when half of Southern Europe became de-industrialized. Now the EU commission calls for subsidized growth programs under their control. Again, it seems that the ambitions of the European elites are more important than the creation of a functional, rational, de-ideologized market system.
Functional markets are as necessary as locally adjustable currency systems and the chance for political steering. The more centralized, planned and inflexible the overall system is, the bigger is the risk of its failure. It is not very likely that the Eurozone is an exception of this rule.
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