THE CURRENT Greek crisis is being played out in every form across social and mainstream media. It is easy to be caught up in the fine detail of the debt levels involved, in the bailouts and the round robin round table discussions of the past six months. It is essential however that we recognise the latest bailout offer, despite a rejection of the EU’s plan by the Greek people this month, is not just another gambit.
It is international domestic violence, socioeconomic abuse on a national scale and it is designed to foster one thing: control.
Controlling relationships are abusive. They cause incredible harm and are formed by the dynamic of the abused and the abuser. Not good and bad, not right and wrong, simply abused and abuser. Germany is the abuser but that does not mean Germany is in the wrong or that Greece is innocent of the charges levied against it.
Greece has been spend-lust, it has been deceitful and downright manipulative in how it deals with Germany. Then again, this is exactly how people in abusive relationships survive. They hide and they lie to escape punishment or at least defer it. What makes Germany an abuser? It comes down to one thing: political immaturity.
It is hard to think of Germany as immature and vulnerable but really it is. It has only existed in current form since 1990, and its chancellor and president were both raised in an East Germany based on fear and coercion fused with ideological ideal. Control was everywhere, abuse was in a sense constitutional. Democracy was non-existent, and for one quarter of all Germans, is a post 1990s novelty. Angela Merkel is one of that quarter.
If Germany had a modern architect who oversaw German reunification, the crash de-industrialisation of East Germany, and the complete eclipse of its structure by that of West Germany it would be Chancellor Kohl’s top advisor: Wolfgang Schäuble. Yes, that one.
The one who was shot in the back one week post reunification, crippled for life but back at work within three months due to intense rehabilitation and sheer will power. That Wolfgang Schäuble.
The man who oversaw the infamous Treuhand, a trust setup to takeover and flog every East German asset with the sole objective of making as much money from them as possible. Nothing more. The EU bailout plan for Greece will not be different. It will make no effort to limit the aftermath of widescale layoffs but simply liquidate for the sake of Greek bank liquidity. The strategy wiped out much of East Germany’s pre-1990 economy; even soldiers of the former East German armed forces were denied military pensions. Their old state was gone and so was any promise it had made to them.
Schäuble’s background is one of success through coercion, the smashing to subservience of any second-rate political economy and the belief that any crippled economy, or man, could rise with enough spirit. That and billions in fiscal transfers from West Germany, which surprisingly were never that popular. If only that same success could be delivered at a much lower cost to the German taxpayer then that would be a legacy.
Merkel and Schäuble (pictured) lead one of the most economically successful nations on Earth. Its Mittelstand and heavy industry have been strong for centuries, in the absence of any strong state. They also lead the only European nation never to have paid back its debts, to have established its own democracy and own sense of peace in the world. It has never had to. Since Germany was formed, as a customs union shackled by coercion, it has gone to war three times. First against France which it easily beat, and then twice against pretty much everyone and was battered and dismembered mercilessly.
Rarel has a country with 85 million people had its borders and entire political system redrawn by its enemies…twice. Germany has never had to grow up politically and it shows. A nation that can flip from passivity to outright malice and coercion in a few years is not one with a split personality but with a very immature one that cannot resolve serious political problems rationally.
It has worked hard to escape its past. Hyperinflation, eugenics, genocide, nationalist supremacy and the most dreadful coffee substitutes imaginable are all now last century. In doing so Germany has thrown itself into the international community. Its foreign aid record is impressive, its UN and NATO commitments dwarf anyone elses on the continent and its post war record is one of peace brokering and peacekeeping.
This is also the sign of immaturity, for Germany I think is scared of abandonment and isolation. It doesn’t feel it can trust itself, and knows that much the rest of the world certainly doesn’t. Here lies the nidus of the abusive cycle. It cannot be abandoned or humiliated, yet its economic power far outstrips its political experience.
Now that it has found itself in a crisis of its own making, the creation of a Eurozone where Germany can be West Germany and everyone else can be the other lot. The parallels between the German treatment of Greece, and East Germany are striking. Germany simply cannot cope with the Greek political economy, it doesn’t make sense to her and by joining with Germany puts its future at risk so it behaves the only way it knows how to, to control and coerce.
It imposes austerity, not simply the level we know has worked in the UK (hardly any) or Ireland (quite a bit more) but a level that simply has to hurt. Greece must be taught a lesson for its own good. It has to be insulted publically, it has to be broken psychologically, its political economy needs junked so that a better one can replace it. But in breaking the spirit of the Greek people it is doing something else, it is ensuring both they and other EU countries are in no position to leave.
Abuse to control, watch the abused break down from excessive control, watch them fail, fear abandonment, do anything you can to stop them leaving including crying to the world there will be a disaster if they do, and then lock them in with loans they can’t repay and you know they can't. When the Greeks hit economic crisis again simply increase the abuse to control them.
Germany is not bad, it is just abusive because it is deep down a political mess itself, far more than we are comfortable admitting. It cannot really behave maturely. It can act the part, dress the part but under pressure it does not find the fudged compromises and disinterested solutions that the UK, France or even Russia can achieve to keep us all muddling along. It is excessively forthright, dogmatic and lacking in empathy. These are not signs of political acumen but are a deficit in it.
The only way abuse can end in the relationship between Greece and Germany is for Greece to leave. Not gradually, not in any managed way that Germany can counter but suddenly. Leaving abusive relationships is hard and especially so for those so battered their confidence is broken.
This is especially important for Eurosceptics. Crying out what a disaster for Greece the Euro has been, how hard done by Greece is and what a mess it is in isn’t helping. It may well be adding to the crisis of confidence keeping Greece where it is for it does nothing to give it confidence of a better future outside the union with Germany.
If, if, Eurosceptics are serious about helping Greece leave this abusive relationship then we must start thinking of a credible post-Grexit plan. Not a crash devaluation to help exports….it doesn’t really export anything….but a real long term economic plan of cooperation and redevelopment of Greece as a confident , viable nation state. Not a victim, not a basketcase, not a failure.
Any commentators who continue to use such language are working against Grexit and not for it. Finally we have to come to terms with the fact that Germany simply cannot be the political lead of a greater European state that is in anyway democratic or liberal. That is not Germany’s fault but the European Union simply has no future with Germany at the helm.