The dangerous search for ideological Utopia continues
Chairman Mao created, just under seventy years ago, the largest Communist State in the world. It was called the People’s Republic of China, and indeed it still is. But it never belonged to the People, and soon turned into the standard personality cult and bonkers syntax one has come to associate with every revolution’s aftermath.
Today it is a capitalist State within which 7% of the population owns 90% of the private wealth, while the banks and markets screw everything up in the best Bourse neoliberal tradition. However, most of those thinking outside the Greek box seem happy that the Chinese markets have quietened down after the panic that began in mid June.
I can’t imagine why: the government there has passed laws massively restricting the sale of shares, so um, the selling has stopped. A few sites are calling the last three days “a rally”. You have to wonder about some people’s ability to think about anything very much any more. Next season, Arsenal are going to win or draw every game to nil, because Arsene Wenger has successfully lobbied for a new rule whereby the Arsenal goal will be bricked up before every game.
But continuing this gentle romp through revolutions, there’s a festive mood here in France because today is Bastille Day. The 14th July 1789 saw the storming of the Bastille, Louis XVI’s prison for political dissidents. One item rarely mentioned by the French is that when the Paris mob got in there, it was empty. But for people with no weapons and no underwear, it was quite a stunt to pull off. Very quickly, it was declared that there would be liberty, equality and brotherly love forever. Within a year, yelling “Enemy of the People!” in open court was enough to get the accused guillotined in very short order.
Within three years liberty had turned into terror, and little more than a decade later a small gentleman of Corsica declared himself Emperor. He was good on town planning, shame about his desire to run the entire European continent.
Mao once remarked that it was “too soon to know” whether the French Revolution had been a good idea, but sixty years ago, the French shook hands with the Germans and agreed to make war between them impossible. The European Union pronounced itself in favour of equality, progress, peace, eternal democracy and all other associated feelgood ideas, and then promptly made an unelected body the Executive (bad for the People) but without actually calling it Sovereign (bad for borrowers).
Thirty years on, it has stolen the livelihood of Cyprus and variously blackmailed, bludgeoned and then bored Greece to death. This is now the ‘template’ for helping EU Member States.
One of the things that got France and Germany into the initial mid-1950’s Coal Agreement was the haunting memory of a prewar decade dominated by totalitarian ideologies. Stalin too was the result of a Revolution against wicked Romanovs and mad monks, and within nine years of the Bolshevik hegemony in Russia, another terror was under way that saw more people put to death than even the Austrian corporal could manage.
Today, Russia is an anarchic robber-barony run by a former spook who has a thing about peeling his shirt off and diving into cold rivers. The disparities of wealth in the RF lay testimony to the naivety of those who said, in 1920, “I have seen the future, and it works”.
Adolf Hitler was one of the first to try the ‘Third Way’ scam by calling his revolutionary Party the National Socialists. After Dolfi became Chancellor, the youth sang joyfully about how ‘Tomorrow belongs to Me’ and indeed, at first it did. Twelve years later the Reich was in ruins and the country divided between the two victors, liberal democracy and Soviet Communism. Neither exists today.
That in turn set us off on the road to the European Union, but it also created a West German Bundesrepublik that was revolutionary in the context of German history: checks, balances, supreme courts, anti-totalitarian laws and apologising a lot became the symptoms of yes, you guessed right, a State in which equality, democracy and the Rule of Law would be enshrined and forever unchangeable.
Twenty two years after the EU was created it has ignored or broken every major constitutional promise it made the EU citizens at the treaties of Rome, Maastricht and Lisbon. Fourteen years after the creation of a common currency that would guarantee growth forever, it has broken the Mediterranean economies one by one.
Now the EU is being run by and for Germany, and its mentor the United States. As the French today declare a holiday to commemorate their freedom, some of them realise that, yet again, the old enemy is out of the cage, calling the shots, and basking in self-satisfied triumphalism. Although the Government claims that the new tighter tax laws are an initiative by President Hollande, this is clearly untrue: the Left sees them as an attack on the living standards of working class artisans, and Neo-fascist Front Nationale leader Marine Le Pen loses no opportunity to reiterate the point. The Laws were forced upon Hollande by the eurogroupe: Schäuble the Fiscal Fanatic has France in his sights, and a victory in Greece under his belt.
Every decade, at least one nation State or Superpower embarks upon a revolution. But the conclusion to draw from it all is obvious: we call them revolutions because they go round in a big circle, and wind up where they started….save for personal freedoms, which are further eroded every time.
In 2015, four unhappy coincidences have arrived at the same time: America is running scared of losing its Dollar hegemony, Russia has flexed its muscles, the Germans are at it again, and the EU has become the ultimate triumph of dictatorial corporatism. The EU will collapse under its own lack of weight, and the US stands to collapse under an avalanche of debt. But that isn’t going to stop either of them turning insanely nasty in the meantime. And the resurgence of Russia and Germany isn’t going to make either of them listen more carefully.
Greece will turn the tables and live to fight another day. But there is no maybe about it: there is trouble ahead.