EU HUBRIS: Dreaming is good, but somnambulism is dangerous

If you haven’t read it in the Telegraph yet, then Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s  analytically succinct extrapolation from the latest IMF missive is a joy to read and a marvel of making the complex accessible. AEP’s main conclusion is that the IMF has written off the euro project. That’s it, but by God he’s right…and by God, the ramifications of this are awesome.

Last March, I opined that the Troika as a whole was quietly backing away from further pouring of real money into the Greek debt-pit. I think that was right, but what Evans-Pritchard points out in today’s piece is that the IMF itself sees no end to the Brussels catatonia – and thus sees no point in sacrificing its ‘reputation’ on the altar of The Church of the Holy Belgian Empire.

For IMF, we can still largely read ‘Washington & the US Fed’, because whatever one makes of DSK’s demise, it resulted in the mathematically challenged Doris Lagarde getting the top job – a skilful melange of media management and threats from Tim Geithner having ensured that she would be the winner. Strauss-Kahn was, after all, a French Leftie; whereas Lagarde was and is “our gal”. DSK’s troops have been quietly sidelined since her arrival, and the Frenchman’s collectivist leanings dumped in favour of austere growth – surely the funniest oxymoron in economic history.

So in short, this latest IMF salvo says “That’s it guys, we’re outta here”. Henceforth – and you read it here first – Europe (“Yerp”) will become the Great American Alibi for all things horrid that happen over there. But not entirely unconsciously, it means that the US elites are now unable to see any alternative to the Tsunami of ordure heading their way. In an election year. With a massive debt. A massive debt dependent on low bond rate confidence. A confidence without which, America’s debt would quickly become unsustainable.

In those circumstances, there is no limit to the stunts our self-satisfied Black Dude in the White House might pull. You have been warned.

The only way in which I would beg to differ from most analyses of the Euroblown saga is that (myself included at times) commentators have overused ‘denialism’ as a term. It isn’t really what underlies the Berlin-am-Brussels problem. Rather, I see it as some hard-headed Franco-German people (having had a marvellous dream in the 1950s) handing the baton to later (and egomanic) disciples – whose neurotic dreams of domination led them to go sleep-walking, with all the dangers that accompany somnambulation.

Somnambulation is the human right-cortex trying to convert its ambition into action by demanding a physical movement towards the goal. Thus the mind’s eye sees an all-conquering Superman gliding towards Nirvana: whereas in the real world, a mere mortal is in danger of falling down the stairs with a crash.

Given the derisory nature of it, I can well believe that Herman van Rompuy’s poetry is written in his sleep. Given the facial features endured by Manuelo Barroso, I suspect he may have walked into a many a wall during the hours after midnight. The gap between human aspiration and achievement creates a good proportion of all humour (the pratfall is the epicentre of slapstick) but the downside is that, when the mad somnambulist is given power, he or she may well walk satisfyingly into the threshing machine, but innocent millions of citizens – wishing only to mind their own business – usually wind up suffering because of it.

I don’t see the point in dreaming the impossible dream. But I’m all for aspiring to something fresh, creative and relevant to the future. I prefer vision to dreaming, probably. But both are infinitely preferable to sleep-walking. Closing your eyes to the danger does not stop somnambulators from walking off a cliff. And it does not dull their pain.

 

 

37 thoughts on “EU HUBRIS: Dreaming is good, but somnambulism is dangerous

  1. This is at least as good an explanation of the ‘why’ that I have heard and better than many.

    I wouldn’t like to think that means I accept that it is planned in minutiae, rather I think TPTB are making it up as they go along. Albeit they, TPTB, are acting in concert and in secret which regardless of the orchestrated, hysterical and thoroughly theatrical chorus against use of the word ‘conspiracy’, it clearly is one.

  2. Situation normal. Nothing big or massive is going to occur, because slowly slowly it will unwind, or will it? Because at every turn there will be some bright spark that thinks that they have the solution, and their desire to be right will ensure that it is given it a try. Scumron was right when he said that the Euro crisis would carry on for years. Ironically our only hope is the Middle East, because if that kicks off big time it will give us a window of opportunity to redress the balance. Don’t hold your breath.

  3. If Madame Lagarde had read The Slog over the past coupla years, she would have saved herself a lot of time; folks here worked out that the Euro project was 17 corpses waiting to die waaaaay back. Still, at least the IMF is finally covering its backside when the unavoidable happens.

    From the Telegraph’s Evans-Pritchard blog:

    It [IMF Report] is a pre-emptive move to pin responsibility for the coming deluge exactly where it belongs:
    On those who created this doomsday machine and pushed it through as a federalist Trojan horse, with scant concern for Europe’s democracies; on a second group of people who ran it for a decade with high-handed arrogance, disregarding warnings as the North-South gap grew to dangerous levels; and on a third group of leaders – led by Chancellor Angela Merkel – who now refuse to face up to the awful implications of what has happened.

    • BT

      there was a great deal that the IMF could have done. The EU was gaily lending money out here, there and everywhere. There was no tomorrow for them at the time. The IMF could have summed up the situation and laid down the law.

      But no, they had to sit on their hands as usual.

      As to Merkel: what is she to do? Leave the Eurozone with all that implies (not economically, politically) – or try to keep it together in the only way she knows how. If you try to see it from her standpoint (sure, narrowminded* and with some strong prejudices that I do not share) the only way out is austerity.

      After all, it works for Germany very well. Germans have seen year-on-year decreases in the amount of free money they have after paying all their bills. The growth of Aldi and Pennymarkt are testament to that fact.

      *Just like me, but being South African, it is my birthright.

      • @Gemz: I do not have many “prejudices” as you allege. Even my belief that socialism is the evil cancer that lives among us is not a prejudice but is based upon copious evidence.

        On the IMF…they do not have a free hand to do what they want. Some of the things you suggest they should have done are beyond their brief.

        On Merky…she has played a very political game on this mess and frequently lied to her own electorate. She has also trampled over Greek/Italian democracy. What she has *not* done is to set out a course of action which would resolve the crises, but as the EU lead country that is what she should have done. The consequence of her pathetic behaviour is that the crises has steadily worsened and the cost to sort it out (financially and socially) has much increased. This is in part what the IMF report is spelling out.

    • I wonder how Merkel will be remembered for violently destabilizing Europe at the same time everything just east of Europe is going down the tubes…Syria vs. Syria, Turkey vs. Syria, Russia & China vs. NATO, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Egypt, etc. etc. … could be a Eurasian WWIII… just in time to save the dollars value for the Banksters who started this.

      • Ioannis

        she will either be crucified for that – or a dozen other things. Whatever she does, it will be seen as negative. Perhaps her iron stance is the best protection after all? Do nothing and you cannot be blamed for it – or at least not as much.

      • I agree… I just feel sorry for the German citizens that have been fooled by her populist stance, and think she is “strong” and that she is protecting Germany… when the peripherals drop out, and the Euro fails… as economists have shown… Germany (at this point more than Greece, etc.) actually will have the most to lose. Also, if it has gotten to the point where no matter what she does it will be perceived as negative means that she has the same amount of credibility as a leader in world opinion as Greece has a debtor country… she is proving everything the press says about her as being true everyday with the same ham fisted attempts at European domination… or destruction. Germans, living in a haze, will learn in the future what her lack of determination, or even competence has done for them.

    • Some more… the IMF Report is written in international-political-cratocratic gobbledegook and is therefore incomprehensible to many human beings.

      But my take on it is that the IMF are not doing a 180 and walking away from the EZ – not yet anyway. They’re saying to the EU elites in Berlin & Brussels et al that you are now in the Last Chance Saloon and if you do not take immediate decisive action to sort out this mess by neutralising the negative feeback loops, the tsunami will be triggered and you’ll all we washed away. This may well be code to apply pressure to allow Draghi to switch on the printing machines and carry out the Big Reset. My guestimate of the sum needed would be up to €4-5 trillion. Even that would still require democracy to be dumped in favour of a fully fledged political/economic USE and fiscal transfers from north to south.

      • @BT: ‘Even that would still require democracy to be dumped in favour of a fully fledged political/economic USE and fiscal transfers from north to south.’
        That is the only choice. And, I think that is the path they will take, primarily because if they don’t all those pensions they are expecting will vapourise.
        It ain’t gonna happen, it’s print all the way to hell and print some more, soon it will be someone else’s problem to worry about it. The ultimate can
        kicking exercise the world has ever seen. Collapse is not an option while there are other options.

      • @kfc: The conspiracy theorist in me says that the hard-hitting IMF report was secretly requested by Merky for her to confront the German political elites with and force them to allow Draghi to turn on the spigot and calm down her own electorate…

      • BT,
        “The conspiracy theorist in me says that the hard-hitting IMF report was secretly requested by Merky for her to confront the German political elites with and force them to allow Draghi to turn on the spigot and calm down her own electorate…”
        I was thinking exactly the same thing. I think that IMF, Merkel, commission etc etc all know they need to move to the U.S.E to make this work. Their last main hurdle is the German constitution. To get around that they need to get passed the German electorate, from what I understand a highly sceptical one.
        They are not going to do that by making the German’s enthusiastic about it so that leaves the other great lever which the E.U. uses endlessly – fear. The only way to make them vote for it is make them fear the economic collapse and even worse make them fear that Germany will be blamed.
        I agree that the crisis is genuine and we are all in deep brown stuff, but I’m not convinced the IMF has given up on anything, I would not be surprised if they are all about to start applying pressure, but not just to lay blame, but to lay the ground for the next set of unification manoeuvres.

      • @Carys: You’re probably right. But I thought negative feedback was bad and positive feedback was good. No? In this context, I thought the bad contagion between banks and sovereigns described in the IMF report was a negative feedback.

        Or are we into the world where terms mean the exact opposite of what they seem to mean?

      • @soap
        The only thing holding the EU together now is fear. Nothing but fear of the alternatives.

    • BT

      and those who seek only to have a stable job and carreer will not notice the difference. Their freedom is already curtailed through duty to their boss, whatever is required of them to keep their job. To do so for Europe will not be a big jump.

      For those of us who know and understand creativity, the effect will be profound.

  4. But I’m all for aspiring to something fresh, creative and relevant to the future. I prefer vision to dreaming, probably.

    The biggest problem in Europe is that the distinctions between visions and dreams differ markedly between (say) Austria and Germany. Like the British and the Americans, they share a language that subtly changes as you travel from Munich to Linz. As to cultures further from the Germans – the Dutch for example, the differences are marked. Go to France, and the whole affair is turned on its head.

    The bigger problem is that most people think they are being visionary, yet they are only sleepwalking.

    • All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
      for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

      - T. E. Lawrence

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  6. Initially, it sort of sounded as though it might do, but actually I don’t think the dreams/vision dichotomy really works. The thing about dreams is that they are not subject to conscious thought or control. You just cannot say that about the Euro people. They’re clearly operating under conscious control, so I think you’re going to have to find another explanation for why they seem to be following a course which, in what we see as full consciousness, does not make sense.

    What I think may be more fruitful is the psychological route. Maybe what has happened is that the end-intention of the Euro project, whether it is European federalism or just a currency union, was such that it was never going to be able to be undertaken on a provisional, suck-it-and-see basis. It was never going to be possible to put this thing in motion just by saying “I think it’ll work OK”, because there was too much opposition and too many who were fearful of such a step into the unknown. So to get it going at all, the supporting politicians had to sell their souls to the project. No matter their real feelings and reservations, they had to commit totally to it, and deny that they held any doubts whatsoever. They had to risk looking like complete chumps if it failed, and that is putting it nicely.

    So in order to put it in motion they had to invest so much of their own psyche and wellbeing in the success of the project that its unsustainability must be met by the defense mechanism of denial. Their refusal to accept what is increasingly obvious is not because they can see things that the rest of us can’t, but because the alternative is too damaging to them psychologically.

    One major lesson we may learn from this could be that politicians shouldn’t be put in this position – or, perhaps, that we should not elect politicians for their passion but for their pragmatism. If a policy is only pursuable by overriding reason, then it shouldn’t be pursued.

    • SS

      The thing about dreams is that they are not subject to conscious thought or control.

      There are those who can. It is the next step in human evolution that we must, out of our own volition, achieve this.

  7. I should have included in my 9.31 comment that it was probably groupthink rather than Machiavellianism which caused most of the reasoned, calculating, weighing-in-the-balance 1980s politicians to burn their boats with the Euro project. I’m sure deep down a great number of them regret it now, but it’s just too destructive to the soul for them to admit it.

  8. Try the Bellini opera it’s a much better way to spend an hour or two. AEP has always disliked the European alternative to the Fed.

  9. Pingback: John Ward – EU Hubris : Dreaming Is Good, But Somnambulism Is Dangerous – 20 July 2012 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  10. As has been said in other comments above, you can ‘interpret’ the IMF report to achieve more than one conclusion..(partially as some bits are utter gobbledigook to me anyway!).although I tend to support the AEP and JWs interpretation overall.

    To me, it is as if this report could have been written by Barry O and Tim Geithner themselves and then simply ‘badged’ IMF !! The final appeal to DO something drastic NOW…or its all gonna blow…and we’re not putting any more dosh in….. !!

    Maybe this report is not only signifying the IMF giving up on the Euro Project but also Barry O giving up on any hope of having the Euro-crisis fixed…or even stable…by Mid November…..and with every chance of Dr Robini’s ‘perfect storm’ arriving a bit before 2013 and around the time of the US elections…possibly blown on by tail winds from Karlsruhe, or other Bank/Bond/Sovreigns dominos starting to fall…or both !

    I rekon, somewhere deep in the White House and/or US Fed there must be some massive new contingency planning going on …It will be interesting to see what they come up with to try to insulate the US from any Euro fall out….at least until early 2013….Whatever…its gonna be messy and lets hope to hell its not an attempted distraction in Iran.

  11. Some of us never bought into the Euro dream from the very start. I always thought that the only difference between the Euro and a barrow of manure was the barrow. Alas there is no satisfaction in being proved right. The whole EU project belongs in the past, so perhaps it is time it was given a decent burial. ‘I am the resurrection and the life, . . . . .

  12. “the Frenchman’s collectivist leanings dumped in favour of austere growth”

    Are you talking about the Lagarde that only yesterday was suggesting that the UK should ease off on austerity and push for growth, or som other Lagarde of your own imagination?

  13. Pingback: EU HUBRIS: Dreaming is good, but somnambulism is dangerous / H ύβρις της Ε.Ε. : Tα όνειρα είναι καλά, αλλά η υπνοβασία επικίνδυνη « eleutheriellada

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    • Way to miss the point robert.

      Obama predicated his entire election on the fact that he is black. By referring to him as “the black dude” it’s simply taking the p*** out of that ridiculous fact.

      But well done for being so precious. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable on the BBC “news” website.

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