The Slog suggests that the Germany-Greece tension offers more lessons about genuine democracy than fiscal policy
We are all creatures of culture and history. Having a German father-in-law, I know only too well how the 1920s hyperinflation is now practically imprinted within the German DNA as a must to avoid. The DBR’s original Constitution banned only two things: Nazis, and printing too much money.
That said, since reunification there has been the beginnings of a return to the days of (dare I utter these words?) Deutschland uber alles. Frau Merkel knows perfectly well when to play the patriotism/master race card, and the approval ratings following her rigid opposition to helping the Greeks bear witness to this. I am bound to observe that my German banking friends have always viewed the Euro with a jaundiced eye…especially at senior levels.
There is a happy medium between the regrettable Greek and German jingoism we have seen this week. But while Merkel has begun to use the German constitutional aspects of fiscal policy to her advantage, the EU needs to make up its mind whether it is a loose affiliation or a federal State. At present, it seems to me we have the worst of all worlds: a controlling Centre unable to be decisive. Thus Brussels manages to terrify both citizens and market traders with its anti-democratic instincts and fiscal confusion at one and the same time. In that context, we are all losers.
I freely admit to having been an opponent of the single currency from Day One. It was always an act of mad hubris to imagine that 27 member States (in different stages of emergence and economic cycle) could ever produce a stable financial unit. But it will do no good at all now to go ‘yah-boo-sucks’ about it: we have gone down the road of a strong Europe, and if this idea has anything going for it, it is the ability to resist dysfunctional US culture and Russian blackmail.
We need three things going forward. One, a democratically elected epicentre to the EU. Two, an honest acceptance by the Germans that they’re in this thing for everyone – minus bigotry about South European ‘donkey-driven’ economies. And three, a decisive acceptance that the IMF can only deal with the European Central Bank when it comes to everything fiscal from bailout to selective pan-European QE.
As the Buddhists correctly aver, ‘good always comes from bad’. If the current crisis does no more than fire corrupt regional politicians and Brussels bureaucrats – in favour of principled pragmatists at the centre – then the Buddhist philosophical dictate will have been fulfilled.