Today we have posted essay number 15, The Fun Revolutionaries, in the series by Jillian Becker titled The Darkness of This World (Part Two). (Find it under Pages in our margin.)
It is about the New Left rebel movements in Europe in 1967 and 1968; the Baader-Meinhof gang; the “Paris May”; and the political philosophers who incited and excused the violence that led to terrorism.
Here is part of it. As usual, we draw attention to the importance of the information in the footnotes (not added here).
The Fun Revolutionaries
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979)
Louis Althusser (1918-1990)
Guy Debord (1931-1944)
The New Left arose in the Western world in the late 1960s. Its name was not intended to distinguish it from the Leftist regimes of Russia and China, and its philosophers and activists did not become famous for criticizing Stalin and Mao Zedong. What made it “new” was chiefly a momentous change in a central Marxist doctrine, forced upon it by History herself: the working class was no longer the bearer of “revolutionary consciousness”.
What had happened? The workers in the capitalist West had simply let the side down by becoming prosperous, and – what was worse – happy in their prosperity. They could not, would not, be persuaded it was in their interest to overthrow a system that provided them copiously with the good things of life.
It was a disappointing and downright treacherous development, and Communists found it hard to get their heads round it. While the revolution was still inevitable, who would become the dictator of the new order if not the proletariat? Some theorists reached in desperation for the Lumpenproletariat, the underclass of vagabonds, beggars, low-life criminals, which Marx himself had rejected as revolutionary material. But most shifted their hopes to the underdeveloped Third World with its vast reserve of underdogs, the “victims” of “imperialism” and “colonialism”.
One of the most prominent theorists of the New Left, Herbert Marcuse – considered by many to be its progenitor – reached for both the underclass and the Third World. He wrote: “The people [ie. the workers] recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment … [But] underneath the conservative popular base is the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and other colors, the unemployed and the unemployable. They exist outside the democratic process. … Thus their opposition is revolutionary even if their consciousness is not.”
He recognized, however, that the revolution needed to be led by persons who could understand what he was talking about. Who could those be but the young educated sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie?
They represented, Marcuse said, “the most advanced consciousness of humanity”. It was their mission to lead the exploited but ignorant “substratum” against the established order. They could understand that while the capitalist order might look good, really it was bad. Its material abundance lulled people into an illusion of contentment. Its tolerance was really a form of repression. By leading the revolution, they could liberate the free from freedom and rescue the well-provided-for from plenty. And they did not actually have to give up anything, or go anywhere to do it. They must only “give themselves to the Great Refusal”; say “no” to liberal democracy and capitalism, and with their advanced consciousness, feel at one with distant victims.
The thousands of young rebels who marched down the streets of West European university cities on Sundays and fine spring evenings in 1967 and 1968, did not have to read the works of Sartre, Foucault, Lukács, Marcuse … to know what they thought and taught. The intellectual atmosphere of the West was saturated with their ideas. Rising generations had only to breathe to be intoxicated with a passionate hatred of freedom and everything else the West stood for.
They knew Marcuse’s flattering description of them; and they knew that not every Marxist professor agreed with it. Louis Althusser did not think the student protestors could or should lead the revolution which he continued confidently to expect the workers to bring about. But he did allow them to consider themselves working class; to “identify with” the proletariat. Louis’s wife Hélène told him that she saw no proletariat – or none likely to make revolution and establish a dictatorship in fulfillment of Marx’s prophecy. In Louis’s eyes, that was sin and apostasy. So he strangled her to death.
What did the student protestors say it was all for, the anger, the tumult and the shouting? Gently-reared, well-nourished in safe and comfortable homes, educated in lavishly equipped academies, these beneficiaries of Western Europe’s post-war economic recovery (greatly assisted by America’s Marshall Plan) had no cause of their own. But Marcuse told them they were oppressed by plenty and repressed by tolerance. And Althusser told them they could be let off being bourgeois as long as they felt they were working class. They did not have to be for anything, only against their country, class, and civil order: against capitalism; against the bourgeois; against “authoritarianism”; against having to taking exams; against the “military-industrial complex”; against nuclear arms in the hands of Western powers (but not in the hands of the Soviet Union); against war in general, and the current war in Vietnam in particular, where America was supporting the South in conflict with the Communist North. America embodied almost everything they were against. America was “imperialism” itself.
Released by Marxist philosophy from the bonds of conventional morality, and being well supported materially by their compatriots whose labor allowed the country to afford the luxury of gesture politics, they joined together fiercely and joyfully in the marches, the sit-ins and teach-ins, the interruptions of public events in lecture rooms and concert halls, the abuse of figures in authority, and sometimes in actual physical clashes with the police – those ready representatives of “authoritarianism”. They felt brave, while knowing that the police would not hurt them. When, occasionally and without intention, in the midst of a skuffle, the police did hurt one of them, they were blissfully outraged, and claimed they had “brought the fascist out of the policeman” so everyone could see how right they were to protest.
Most of the demonstrators were satisfied after a while with making angry gestures and shouting for revolution. Before the decade was over they had had enough of it, and the movement petered out.
But in Germany there were a few who could not bear to give up the fun, the excitement, the romantic pretence that they were leaders of a revolution. To prove their worthiness for that role and show themselves to be more dedicated, more daring, more active, more heroic, more self-sacrificing, more angry in the cause of pacifism than all the rest, they resolved to use violence in the cause of anti-violence. They would kill for peace. They would bomb for the revolution and the Communist paradise that lay on the other side of it.
So it happened that in Germany small gangs of terrorists emerged out of the student protest movement. One of the first bombs planted by German terrorists maimed a child for life, and destroyed the livelihood of a painter who was working through the night on the walls of a newspaper office, by blowing off his hand. The most notorious group called itself the Red Army Faction (Rote Armee Fraktion). It was better known by the name the media gave it: Baader-Meinhof, after one of the men, Andreas Baader, and one of the women, Ulrike Meinhof, who formed and led it.
“There is nothing I would not do, however base, to change the world,” Ulrike Meinhof said. And she and her merry band did abominable things: kidnapped, killed, burned, shot, and bombed, to improve the world.
For a while they felt quite safe. Their parents were professors, politicians, lawyers, teachers, doctors, clergymen, journalists, businessmen, some even movers and shakers of the Federal Republic of Germany, and most of them had been sympathetic to the protest movement. Many of them were impressed – as their children expected them to be – by the lengths the “absolutists” were prepared to go to for the higher good and their own liberation from bourgeois values. The older wiser heads opined, “Their hearts are in the right place, only their methods are wrong.” Only maiming and slaughtering their neighbors; only putting fear of injury, agony, and death into all who went about their business in public places.
As a result of this indulgence, the terrorists were genuinely astonished by the punishment meted out to them when they were arrested, tried, and found guilty of grave crimes. The fun was over for them then. They finally had to believe that they would actually be imprisoned for a very long time, perhaps for the rest of their lives; they, “the most advanced consciousness of humanity”, who had only done what the best minds of their parents’ generation had urged them to do! The courts did not appreciate that what they had done was necessary for the establishment of heaven on earth. The Judges did not share the opinion the status quo had to be swept away so that the inevitable new world could be born. They and the general public had only to peer over the Berlin Wall at that part of Germany which had been flung – along with the other east European countries – under the jackboot of Soviet Russia after World War II, to be sure that they would rather be repressed by tolerance and enslaved by plenty than live over there with scarcity and fear.
Some of the terrorists, including Ulrike Meinhof, who passed through Communist Germany on their way to and from terrorist training camps in the Middle East, did not like what they glimpsed. The glimpse told them that a life there would not do for them. Although they had voluntarily taken the lampshades off the lamps in their West Berlin communes to demonstrate their scorn for luxury, they had never had to go without central heating, ample food and good quality clothes; and they who had chosen to drive to the scenes of their robberies, arsons and murders whenever possible in a (stolen) Mercedez Benz, laughed and shuddered at the cheap plastic-bodied Trabants with their noisy two-stroke engines and their smelly exhaust which they sighted and smelt in sparse numbers on the strangely empty and ill-kept roads of East Berlin.
In truth the entire student protest movement was frivolous. It was all posture and gesture. All fake, the pity and the indignation – everything except the conceit. Worse, it was mockery. For such as they, the most fortunate of the human race, to claim to be fellow sufferers with selected victims of oppression and poverty, was to make mock of them and their plight. The charade of insurgency was performance art on a grand scale. But neither they nor their hooray-chorus of philosophers and professors saw it for what it was. Despite their “advanced consciousness”, they were oblivious to the cruel sarcasm of their masquerade. …
Full substantiation of what is said here about the Baader-Meinhof gang can be found in Jillian Becker’s book Hitler’s Children. (Click on its cover in our margin.)
As more about the US’s terms of surrender to Iran emerge, it becomes ever clearer that despite the big lie told by Obama and the Ayatollah Khamenei – the two Supreme Leaders – that Iran would never use nuclear energy for anything but peaceful purposes, it is in fact a nuclear arsenal that Iran is after.
Is anybody surprised?
In this article at the Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon names some of the people and organizations behind the intense activity in Iran to acquire nuclear warheads and missiles to deliver them.
What? The Religion of Peace make war?
And against whom? Surely not the country they call “the Great Satan”? Whoever could imagine such a thing!
The Obama administration and European Union agreed as part of the accord last week to lift sanctions over eight years on a network of Iranian scientists, military officers and companies long suspected by the U.S. and United Nations as central players in a covert nuclear weapons program.
The U.S. also agreed to remove a German engineer from its financial blacklist by late 2023 after he was targeted by sanctions for his alleged role in a global black market in nuclear weapons technology run by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The decision to roll back sanctions on these individuals and organizations is detailed in more than 100 pages of documents released last week as part of the landmark nuclear accord reached between Iran and six world powers.
The Obama administration decided to remove Gerhard Wisser from its sanctions list by 2023. The German engineer was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison [suspended] by a South African court in 2007 for his role in supplying centrifuge components to the A.Q. Khan black-market network. … The U.S. and IAEA accuse Mr. Khan and his associates of facilitating the sale of nuclear equipment to North Korea, Iran and Libya during the 1980s and 1990s. The senior U.S. official didn’t provide specifics about why Mr. Wisser was granted sanctions relief as part of the Iran deal. Mr. Wisser could not be located. He pleaded guilty in 2007 in South Africa to manufacturing components that could be illegally used in nuclear technology. …
Republicans said in recent days they were stunned the White House and European allies agreed to lift sanctions on such individuals and expressed concerns about the long-term impact on U.S. and global security. A number of leading Republicans said the issue of sanctions relief will be among those they cite in attempting to block legislative approval of the Iran deal.
Congress started a 60-day review period of the agreement this week.
“This would remove sanctions on those responsible for Iran’s nuclear weapons development at the same time restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program come off,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, referring to the delisting of Iranian scientists, companies and officers. “That’s a deadly combination.” …
Among those [people] to be removed from the U.S., U.N. and EU sanctions lists by 2023 is Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi. U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies suspect he oversaw a secret Iranian program to develop the technologies for a nuclear weapon, at least until 2003. He’s been called by American officials the “ Robert Oppenheimer” of Iran’s nuclear efforts, a reference to the American scientist who oversaw development of atomic weapons during World War II. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has repeatedly attempted to interview the military officer to conclude its investigation into Tehran’s alleged weaponization work, but has repeatedly been rebuffed.
Iran denies it sought to build a bomb and has guarded access to its military sites and leadership. …
The U.S., U.N. and EU also committed in Vienna to remove Fereidoun Abbasi-Davani, a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist, from their sanctions lists over the next eight years. … Mr. Abbasi-Davani was promoted to head the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran from 2011-2013.
The military body Mr. Fakhrizadeh allegedly headed, the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, known as SPND, also will be removed from the U.S. sanctions list by 2023. The IAEA has said SPND may have been involved in nuclear weapons research after 2003. The agency has sought to interview officials from the organization but have also been rebuffed.
The U.S. also agreed to remove Kalaye Electric Co. from its sanctions list over the next eight years. The Iranian company was exposed by the IAEA as having secretly run a uranium-enrichment facility in the early 2000s. …
The EU and U.N. also committed to removing Malek Ashtar University from their sanctions lists. The Tehran research center was accused of supplying scientists who participated in secret weaponization work, according to former U.S. and IAEA officials. …
Denials and confusion will continue:
The Obama administration will begin briefing Congress on Wednesday, including with appearances by Secretary of State John Kerry. Mr. Kerry and other administration officials have in some cases added to the confusion over the status of Iranians and others on sanctions lists. According to the Vienna documents, the commander of Iran’s overseas military unit known as the Qods Force will be taken off EU and U.N. sanctions lists in the next eight years. But the secretary of state initially denied that the commander, Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, would be removed from sanctions lists.
Of course he will be removed. He and everyone else on the list will probably be given awards soon by Obama, or the UN, or the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.
Here’s the deal that Obama has made with Iran, reported by Omri Ceren who has proved to be the most reliable provider of information on the negotiations:
The following has all been confirmed:
(1) The Iranian nuclear program will be placed under international sponsorship for R&D – A few weeks ago the AP leaked parts of an annex confirming that a major power would be working with the Iranians to develop next-generation centrifuge technology at the Fordow underground military enrichment bunker. Technically the work won’t be on nuclear material, but the AP noted that “isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered to enriching uranium”. The administration had once promised Congress that Iran would be forced to dismantle its centrifuge program. The Iranians refused, so the administration conceded that the Iranians would be allowed to keep their existing centrifuges. Now the international community will be actively sponsoring the development of Iranian nuclear technology. And since the work will be overseen by a great power, it will be off-limits to the kind of sabotage that has kept the Iranian nuclear program in check until now.
(2) The sanctions regime will be shredded – the AP revealed at the beginning of June that the vast majority of the domestic U.S. sanctions regime will be dismantled. The Lausanne factsheet – which played a key role in dampening Congressional criticism to American concessions – had explicitly stated “U.S. sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.” That turns out to have been false. Instead the administration will redefine non-nuclear sanctions as nuclear, so that it can lift them. The Iranians are boasting that sanctions against Iran’s Central Bank, NIT Co., the National Iranian Oil Company, and 800 individuals and entities will be lifted. That’s probably exaggerated and a bit confused – CBI sanctions are statutory, and will probably not be getting “lifted” – but the sense is clear enough.
(3) The U.S. collapsed on the arms embargo – Just a week ago Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “under no circumstances should we relieve pressure on Iran relative to ballistic missile capabilities and arms trafficking.” Now multiple outlets have confirmed that the embargo on conventional weapons will be lifted no later than 5 years from now, and that the embargo on ballistic missiles will expire in 8 years. No one in the region is going to wait for those embargoes to expire: they’ll rush to build up their stockpiles in anticipation of the sunset.
(4) The U.S. collapsed on anytime-anywhere inspections – The IAEA will get to request access to sensitive sites, the Iranians will get to say no, and then there will be an arbitration board that includes Iran as a member. This concession is particularly damaging politically and substantively because the administration long ago went all-in on verification. The original goal of the talks was to make the Iranians take physical actions that would prevent them from going nuclear if they wanted to: dismantling centrifuges, shuttering facilities, etc. The Iranians said no to those demands, and the Americans backed off. The fallback position relied 100% on verification: yes the Iranians would be physically able to cheat, the argument went, but the cheating would be detected because of an anytime-anywhere inspection regime. That is not what the Americans are bringing home.
(5) The U.S. collapsed on PMDs [possible military dimensions] – This morning the Iranians and the IAEA signed a roadmap for a process that would see Tehran eventually providing access for the IAEA to clear up its concerns. This roadmap differs in no significant way from previous commitments the Iranians have made to the agency, except now Tehran will have received sanctions relief and stabilized its economy.
Of course yet another “deadline” (hahahaha!) has been passed in the Capitulate-to-Iran talks now going on and on in Vienna.
And according to the latest report by Omri Ceren – all of whose reports have so far proved to be accurate – the US is preparing to cave yet again. (And so will the rest 0f the P5+1 group – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, plus Germany – ostensibly participating in the negotiations but really just letting the US lead the verbal dance to surrender.)
Notice that the European Union is also represented there by Frederica Mogherini, grandly named the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The parties missed another deadline this morning, and talks are now expected to go through the end of the week. Mogherini told reporters this morning: “I am not talking about extension. I am talking about taking the hours we need to try to complete our work.” (?) The overwhelming consensus from press and analysts here in Vienna nonetheless hasn’t changed: the parties will indeed announce some kind of agreement before they leave, though it will almost certainly have details that will need to be sorted out in future negotiations. How that aligns with the administration’s legal obligation to provide Congress with all final details the deal is anyone’s guess at this point.
Meanwhile the Obama administration and its allies are laying the groundwork for another U.S. collapse, this time on inspections. Couple of indicators:
(1) They’re giving up on promising “the most robust inspection/verification regime in history”
Here’s President Obama during his April 2 speech about the Lausanne announcement: “Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history”.
Here’s White House spokesman Josh Earnest at the beginning of May echoing the boast: “what President Obama has indicated must be part of any nuclear agreement… is the most intrusive set of inspections that have ever been imposed on a country’s nuclear program”.
But now here’s White House validator Daryl Kimball talking to Politico a couple days ago: “this particular agreement will establish the most extensive, multilayered system of nuclear monitoring and verification for any country not defeated in a war“. Catch the caveat about wartime defeat? …
For 20 months the administration promised Congress that Iran had been sufficiently coerced by sanctions that Tehran would accept anytime/anywhere inspections. Many in Congress disagreed and urged the administration to boost American leverage by working with the Hill to pass time-triggered sanctions. The administration responded with two different media wars that included accusations – including some by the President – describing lawmakers as warmongers beholden to “donor” money. Congress was right and the administration was wrong. Why would lawmakers now accept a weaker inspection regime than what the administration said it could secure, and what administration officials smeared lawmakers for doubting?
(2) A new talking point is that the IAEA’s technology makes up for the P5+1 collapsing on inspections
This appeared in two articles yesterday (the NYT and the Daily Beast). The two stories are fantastically geeky reads about the IAEA’s toys, but that’s not what the administration officials and validators wanted to focus on. Instead you had Energy Secretary Moniz telling the NYT that the technology “lowers the requirement for human inspectors going in” and Kimball telling the Daily Beast that the technology meant that the IAEA would be able to “detect [nuclear activities] without going directly into certain areas”.
This argument is terrible and scientists should be embarrassed they’re making it.
In its story the NYT quoted Olli Heinonen – a 27-year veteran of the IAEA who sat atop the agency’s verification shop – all but rolling his eyes:
Mr. Heinonen, the onetime inspection chief, sounded a note of caution, saying it would be naïve to expect that the wave of technology could ensure Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal. In the past, he said, Tehran has often promised much but delivered little. “Iran is not going to accept it easily,” he said, referring to the advanced surveillance. “We tried it for 10 years.” Even if Tehran agrees to high-tech sleuthing, Mr. Heinonen added, that step will be “important but minor” compared with the intense monitoring that Western intelligence agencies must mount to see if Iran is racing ahead in covert facilities to build an atomic bomb.
The most fundamental problem is that IAEA procedures require physical environmental samples to confirm violations. They can use futuristic lasers and satellites to *detect* that Iran is cheating. But to confirm the cheating they need environmental samples, and usually multiple rounds of samples. Without that level of proof – which requires access – the agency simply wouldn’t tell the international community that it was certain Iran is in violation.
That’s before even beginning the discussion about why technology can’t make up for access to people, facilities, and documents – without which the IAEA won’t even know where to point its lasers and satellites.
But this is what the administration has left: the Iranians can’t be expected to grant anytime/anywhere access but that’s OK because the IAEA has cool toys.
Have the Iranians conceded anything? Is there anything the US has not conceded?
Has the whole performance been nothing but a charade to cover Obama’s determination that Iran should get its nukes?
Why would he want that? To make sure Islam is a strong force in the world? So the state of Israel will be destroyed? So the United States will be a weaker force in the world?
Or …. ?
Countries trying to be nice help bad countries to do worse.
The people in Third World despotisms are victims for sure – but not victims of the First World. They are the victims of their own tyrants.
By accepting those who flee from them, the successful, prosperous, civilized West is allowing the tyrants to carry on as usual.
This is from an important editorial in Investor’s Business Daily:
At 60 million and rising, the global refugee population has never been larger. But instead of blaming the states that take in the refugees, isn’t it time to demand accountability of the nations that create their misery?
The UN’s refugee agency’s “Global Trends Report: World at War” got virtually no press when it was released Thursday, but it should have. Its stark data signal a global crisis of refugees and a great wrong in the established world order. Fifty-nine-and-a-half million people were driven from their homes in 2014 as a result of war, conflict and persecution, the highest number in history, as well as the biggest leap in a single year. A decade ago, refugees totaled 37.5 million. An average 42,500 are displaced each day, 1 out of every 122 people on earth, or, if placed together, a nation that ranks 24th among world populations.
“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.
Guterres rightly sees the scope of the problem, and as a global bureaucrat can be forgiven for his concern about “the response required”. But that focus on the response is precisely why the crummy Third World dictatorships, terrorist groups and corrupted democracies that create the refugees keep getting away with it.
Where is the scorn for the nations whose anti-free market, oligarchical and hostility-to-minority policies are the root of the problem?
It seems that the only criticism and attention that ever comes to refugee issues centers on whether the countries are able to take them in.
Southern Europe, for example, is being browbeaten by the UN, the Vatican and the European Union for not rolling out the welcome mat for the thousands of smugglers’ boats full of refugees from Syria, Niger, Chad, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere fleeing to their shores.
The same can be said of the United States, which is watching a stop-and-go border surge of Central Americans who insist they’re escaping gang violence in their home countries. Australian and Southeast Asian states have been berated by the same actors for not wanting to take in thousands of refugees sailing from Bangladesh and Burma.
The Dominican Republic is taking global brickbats for trying to preserve the integrity of its borders.
Are there any war-crimes tribunals in the works for captured Islamic State members whose terror is the No. 1 reason for refugee flight? Where’s the criticism of the government of Afghanistan, which makes corruption the priority over a livable homeland?
How about the governments of Chad, Niger and Somalia, or the leftist regimes in Central America, that actually encourage refugee outflows so they can live off their remittances instead of developing their economies through free markets?
Are any of these places being kicked out of international organizations for the misery they are responsible for? Has anyone ever been singled out for their failure to make their states livable? Not one.
Colombia was a creator of refugees a decade ago, but no longer. Why? It put itself under the wing of the US through Plan Colombia in 1998 and learned how to take control of its country and initiate free-market reforms.
Which brings up one idea that isn’t being discussed amid so much wretchedness: empire. In a 2014 article in the Atlantic Monthly, geography expert Robert D. Kaplan pointed out that empires are the foremost creators of stability and protectors of minorities. The topic is taboo. But in light of the growing failures of the international community to halt the refugee problem, it belongs on the table just as much as the UN’s solution — throwing more money at it.
With global refugees on the rise, it’s time to talk about the cause of the crisis as well as the cure.
The EU has a flag no one salutes, an anthem no one sings, a president no one can name, a parliament whose powers subtract from those of national legislatures, a bureaucracy no one admires or controls and rules of fiscal rectitude that no member is penalized for ignoring.
George Will writes at the Washington Post:
Now come Greeks bearing the gift of confirmation that Margaret Thatcher was right about socialist governments: “They always run out of other people’s money.” Greece, from whose ancient playwrights Western drama descends, is in an absurdist melodrama about securing yet another cash infusion from international creditors. This would add another boulder to a mountain of debt almost twice the size of Greece’s gross domestic product. This protracted dispute will result in desirable carnage if Greece defaults, thereby becoming a constructively frightening example to all democracies doling out unsustainable, growth-suppressing entitlements.
In January, Greek voters gave power to the left-wing Syriza party, one third of which, the Economist reports, consists of “Maoists, Marxists and supporters of Che Guevara.” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, 40, a retired student radical, immediately denounced a European Union declaration criticizing Russia’s dismemberment of Ukraine. He chose only one cabinet member with prior government experience — a former leader of Greece’s Stalinist Communist Party. Tsipras’s minister for culture and education says Greek education“should not be governed by the principle of excellence . . . it is a warped ambition”. Practicing what he preaches, he proposes abolishing university entrance exams.
Voters chose Syriza because it promised to reverse reforms, particularly of pensions and labor laws, demanded by creditors, and to resist new demands for rationality. Tsipras immediately vowed to rehire 12,000 government employees. His shrillness increasing as his options contract, he says the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund are trying to “humiliate” Greece.
How could one humiliate a nation that chooses governments committed to Rumpelstiltskin economics, the belief that the straw of government largesse can be spun into the gold of national wealth? Tsipras’s approach to mollifying those who hold his nation’s fate in their hands is to say they must respect his “mandate” to resist them. He thinks Greek voters, by making delusional promises to themselves, obligate other European taxpayers to fund them. Tsipras, who says the creditors are “pillaging” Greece, is trying to pillage his local governments, which are resisting his extralegal demands that they send him their cash reserves.
Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, is an academic admirer of Nobel laureate John Nash, the Princeton genius depicted in the movie A Beautiful Mind, who recently died. Varoufakis is interested in Nash’s work on game theory, especially the theory of cooperative games in which two or more participants aim for a resolution better for all than would result absent cooperation. Varoufakis’s idea of cooperation is to accuse the creditors whose money Greece has been living on of “fiscal waterboarding.’ ” … His passive-aggressive message? “Play nicely or we will kill ourselves.”
Since joining the euro zone in 2001, Greece has borrowed a sum 1.7 times its 2013 GDP. Its 25 percent unemployment (50 percent among young workers) results from a 25 percent shrinkage of GDP. It is a mendicant reduced to hoping to “extend and pretend” forever. But extending the bailout and pretending that creditors will someday be paid encourages other European socialists to contemplate shedding debts — other people’s money that is no longer fun.
Greece, with just 11 million people and 2 percent of the euro zone’s GDP, is unlikely to cause a contagion by leaving the zone. If it also leaves the misbegotten European Union, this evidence of the EU’s mutability might encourage Britain’s “euro-skeptics” when, later this year, that nation has a referendum on reclaiming national sovereignty by withdrawing from the EU. If Greece so cherishes its sovereignty that it bristles at conditions imposed by creditors, why is it in the EU, the perverse point of which is to “pool” nations’ sovereignties in order to dilute national consciousness? …
It cannot be said too often: There cannot be too many socialist smashups. The best of these punish reckless creditors whose lending enables socialists to live, for a while, off of other people’s money. The world, which owes much to ancient Athens’ legacy, including the idea of democracy, is indebted to today’s Athens for the reminder that reality does not respect a democracy’s delusions.
The EU was formed in the first place because post-war Germany needed to dissolve it’s guilt in a greater political entity, and France wanted to be part of something bigger in order to win its one-sided competition with the United States for clout in the world.
It is an undemocratic, militarily weak, Islam-soiled, bleeding-hearted, oligarchic, dictatorial bureaucracy. It was always a foolish venture, as doomed to certain failure as was Communist Russia.
If Greece’s insolvency makes it drop out and so start the fall of the whole house of cards, that’s one good thing that modern Greece will have done for civilization.
Watch out for the harm the well-meaning do!
Sam Westrop writes at Gatestone:
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has accepted an invitation to become chairman of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation (ECTR). The ECTR boasts an advisory board comprising a dozen European presidents and prime ministers. It describes itself as a non-governmental body that “fosters understanding and tolerance among peoples of various ethnic origin; educates on techniques of reconciliation; facilitates post-conflict social apprehensions; monitors chauvinistic behaviours, proposes protolerance initiatives and legal solutions”.
Behind all this jargon, Blair and the ECTR claim to promote religious belief and dialogue as a means to challenge hate speech and extremism. Writing in The Times, Blair and ECTR President Moshe Kantor state:
It is our firm belief that it is not religion or faith per se that causes or foments conflict. It is the abuse of religion, which then becomes a mask behind which those bent on death and destruction all too often hide. … The ECTR brings together parties and political leaders who have been at the heart of some of the world’s most difficult conflicts to foster dialogue. Our projects also tackle conflicts from the ground up — focusing on the root causes of intolerance, which are usually ignorance of other faiths and cultures — and so the ECTR takes its message to schools and universities around Europe to encourage tolerance and reconciliation.
The ECTR’s mission is explained in a document entitled A European Framework: National Statue for the Promotion of Tolerance. This “framework” is currently being brought before parliaments all across Europe. For Blair and the ECTR, however, “tolerance” seems not to be freedom of expression, but an Orwellian standard of behaviour to be rigidly enforced and regulated by government.
“Tolerance,” the ECTR claims, is “respect for and acceptance of the expression, preservation and development of the distinct identity of a [religious, racial or cultural] group”.
Proponents of individual liberty, however, argue that true tolerance means tolerating views that we dislike. In a free society, there is no requirement to show “respect” for such views, merely to accept the right of free people to express them.
“There is no need,” the ECTR explains, “to be tolerant to the intolerant.” It seems that European “tolerance” means only tolerating a European agenda.
The notion of “group rights” is deemed to trump individual liberties. The ECTR calls for European countries to introduce a number of “criminal offences punishable as aggravated crimes”, as part of a Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance. These crimes would include:
(iii) Group libel…
(iv) Overt approval of a totalitarian ideology, xenophobia or anti-Semitism.
(v) Public approval or denial of the Holocaust.
(vi) Public approval or denial of any other act of genocide the existence of which has been determined by an international criminal court or tribunal.
These measures are staggering assaults on free speech.
Particularly damaging is the proposed criminal offense of “group libel” – the notion that defamatory statements about a group of people are actionable by individual members of that group.
Group libel has no basis under British law. In 1993, a British court ruled in Derbyshire CC v Times newspapers that governmental entities could not sue for libel because it would lead precisely to undemocratic restrictions on free speech. Group libel laws, such as the ECTR is proposing, would allow extremist religious and political movements to censor reporting and criticisms of their beliefs.
In Britain, Public Order Acts already criminalize incitement to violence. If, for example, a neo-Nazi activist advocates that Jews should be murdered on the streets of London, he would likely be prosecuted.
The ECTR, however, wants to go much farther. As an “aggravated crime”, group libel, the ECTR’s framework explains, also means “defamatory comments… with a view to… slandering the group, [or] holding it to ridicule”.
Blair is repeating his old mistakes. In 2006, his government was condemned for its attempts to criminalize anyone who “intends…to stir up religious hatred or was reckless as to whether religious hatred would be stirred up”.
After losing a vote in parliament and after politicians, comedians and journalists forcefully argued that such proscriptions would censor honest criticism of religious groups, Blair was forced to accept amendments to the legislation.
To criminalize ridicule would be disastrous. In a free society, no one has the right not to be offended. As Conservative MP Dominic Grieve said in 2006, the proposals were an attempt to “appease” some minority groups.
Along with criminalizing – in the name of tolerance – views that the ECTR deems intolerable, Blair’s group also proposes Orwellian means of regulation to further its “tolerance” ideology. “The Government shall ensure,” the ECTR advocates, “that public broadcasting (television and radio) stations will devote a prescribed percentage of their programmes to promoting a climate of tolerance.”
In addition, government funded bodies will impose and enforce such tolerance, with the ECTR framework calling on governments to “establish a National Tolerance Monitoring Commission as an independent body — composed of eminent persons from outside the civil service — vested with the authority to promote tolerance.” A separate governmental body will also be set up to “supervise the implementation” of the Statute for the Promotion of Tolerance.
The ECTR also lobbies for “entrenching state funding for religious institutions into law”.
Once again, Blair seems unable to learn from his own follies. Under the Blair government, the authorities poured millions of pounds of funding into the pockets of religious groups, which the government believed would challenge extremism and terrorism. Publicly-funded groups, however, included Islamist organizations connected with terrorist movements.
The current Prime Minister, David Cameron, has since noted:
As evidence emerges about the backgrounds of those convicted of terrorist offences, it is clear that many of them were initially influenced by what some have called ‘non-violent extremists’, and they then took those radical beliefs to the next level by embracing violence. … Some organisations that seek to present themselves as a gateway to the Muslim community are showered with public money despite doing little to combat extremism. As others have observed, this is like turning to a right-wing fascist party to fight a violent white supremacist movement.
Europe needs to divorce the state from oppressive interest groups; it should not do the opposite and embrace them further.
The ECTR’s proposals only serve to reinforce the dangerous flaws of multiculturalism policy. Under this system, people are classified as members of religious and cultural groups, not as individual citizens with individual rights. By defining individuals by the groups to which they belong, you deny individuals their own voice and rights of citizenship.
In a recent case before London’s High Court, a British judge ruled that an illegal immigrant who beat his own son should be forgiven because of the “cultural context”. In other words, the law should protect only white children; the ruling implicitly condones the beating of minority children — all in the name of diversity and tolerance. Trevor Phillips, the former head of the Equality Commission, described the decision as “the effective abandonment of the migrant family’s child on the altar of multiculturalism”.
As an extension of multiculturalism policy, the ECTR’s proposed measures seek to protect the various groups by which European states classify their citizens. Such laws and regulation would further divide Europe into tribal groupings, composed of various religious, ethnic, cultural and political movements – all in competition with each other for government patronage and support.
By criminalizing our freedom to criticize religious movements, or even to express intolerant thoughts, and by offering legal protection to religious groups from ridicule or insult, Blair and the ECTR would destroy the most important tenet of individual liberty: freedom of expression.
A free society cannot proscribe toleration of the intolerant. Actual tolerance requires free citizens to tolerate views they dislike.
We should certainly not, as the ECTR advocates, be forced to “respect” views that the government declares suitable.
In a democracy, the law is designed to protect individuals against the agenda of oppressive interest groups. But Blair and the ECTR are proposing the very opposite. Under government-enforced “tolerance”, extremists would flourish, honest critics would be silenced, freedom of expression would be criminalized, and, in deference to religious and cultural “groups”, the individual would lose his right to be an individual.
As the indigenous European populations commit slow suicide, Muslims pour into their continent to replace them eventually.
Mark Steyn writes:
Europe has a growing shortage of Europeans.
Germany’s birth rate has collapsed to the lowest level in the world and its workforce will start plunging at a faster rate than Japan’s by the early 2020s, seriously threatening the long-term viability of Europe’s leading economy … The German government expects the population to shrink from 81m to 67m by 2060 as depressed pockets of the former East Germany go into “decline spirals” where shops, doctors’ practices, and public transport start to shut down, causing yet more people to leave in a vicious circle. A number of small towns in Saxony, Brandenburg and Pomerania have begun to contemplate plans for gradual “run-off” and ultimate closure, a once unthinkable prospect.
Why is this even news? Almost a decade ago, a guy called Mark Steyn wrote a book called America Alonein which he said everything the Telegraph piece said yesterday. Those East German towns?
Almost every issue facing the European Union – from immigration rates to crippling state pension liabilities – has at its heart the same root cause: a huge lack of babies. Every day you get ever more poignant glimpses of the Euro-future, such as it is. One can talk airily about being flushed down the toilet of history, but even that’s easier said than done. In eastern Germany, rural communities are dying, and one consequence is that village sewer systems are having a tough time adjusting to the lack of use. Populations have fallen so dramatically there are too few people flushing to keep the flow of waste moving. Traditionally, government infrastructure expenditure arises from increased demand. In this case, the sewer lines are having to be narrowed at great cost in order to cope with dramatically decreased demand.
The Telegraph quotes the German government’s own figures predicting a population decrease from 81 million now to 67 million by 2060. In America Alone, I suggested the population would fall to 38 million by the end of the century. Given that it is in the nature of demographic death spirals to accelerate once you’re below 1.3 children per couple, my number may be an underestimate. And when you consider that in most German urban areas the only demographic energy now is Muslim, those 38 million turn-of-the-century “Germans” will be posterity’s rebuke to the Nuremberg Laws. As I wrote in 2006:
Americans take for granted all the “it’s about the future of all our children” hooey that would ring so hollow in a European election. In the 2005 German campaign, voters were offered what would be regarded in the US as a statistically improbable choice: a childless man (Herr Schroeder) vs a childless woman (Frau Merkel). Statist Europe signed on to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s alleged African proverb – “It takes a village to raise a child” – only to discover they got it backwards: on the Continent, the lack of children will raze the village. And most of the villagers still refuse to recognize the contradictions: You can’t breed at the lethargic rate of most Europeans and then bitch and whine about letting the Turks into the European Union. Demographically, they’re the kids you couldn’t be bothered having.
Lest you think this an exaggeration, look at the graph accompanying the Telegraph piece [see it below], contrasting Germany and Japan’s demographic decline with France’s ostensibly healthier fertility rate. The reason for that is that France has the highest Muslim population in western Europe, so it has a bright future of crowded maternity wards full of babies called Mohammed. And all this was known a decade ago: – when, already, 30 per cent of German women and 40 per cent of university graduates were childless, just like Angela Merkel.
On those numbers you’re living in a present-tense culture: no matter how great you are, you’re a civilizational boy-band; a generation later, someone else will be there, and no one will be singing your songs. …
Okay, this passage [in the book] is a wee bit lurid:
[In] Europe by the end of this century … the grand buildings will still be standing but the people who built them will be gone. By the next century, German will be spoken only at Hitler, Himmler, Goebbels and Goering’s Monday night poker game in Hell.
But the point is: It’s not wrong. in 2006, Germany already had a shrinking and aging population, and potentially catastrophic welfare liabilities … and no politician who wished to remain electorally viable was willing to do anything about it. It’s not the total number of people that matters, it’s the age distribution: that decline from 81 to 67 million will wind up skewing the population very geezerish. But, again, this was all known a decade ago. I pointed out the percentage of the population under the age of 15 …
Spain and Germany have 14 per cent, the United Kingdom 18 per cent, the United States 21 per cent – and Saudi Arabia has 39 per cent, Pakistan 40 per cent and Yemen 47 per cent.
When you’ve that many surplus young people, they’re going to go somewhere else. Some of the African numbers are even higher, which is why there’s that endless flotilla of boats across the Mediterranean. Because when a teeming shanty town is next door to a not-terribly-gated community of under-occupied mansions, it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise.
Yes, those are people. Huddled masses of Africans yearning to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, there to breathe free.*
If they can make it to Sweden, they will be paid by the Swedes to live there. Because the Swedes are nice people.
Nice people without a future.
Sweden will soon be so overloaded with migrants that it will sink – financially – beneath the weight.
But apparently the Swedes can’t see that. Or if they can, they are willing to go under rather than stop being nice people.
This is from the Sweden Report:
The past few weeks have been filled with debate about the deaths of migrants crossing over from Africa in search of a better life. Since the coast guard off the European countries are obligated to rescue ships in danger, the smugglers pack people onto unsafe wrecks and send them off to be rescued. Inevitably, some sink before the coast guard reaches them. … Is it Europe’s fault? …
Some argue that these are desperate people fleeing war. … . But when the person has reached safe haven in a peaceful country and yet continues to travel, the argument no longer holds water. For example, the number of people fleeing Gambia is on the rise. So they cross the border to Senegal, a democratic country at relative peace. But instead of stopping there, they choose to travel through Senegal, Mauritania, Algeria, and then get on a dinky boat to reach Europe. Are they still fleeing for their lives at that point?
For the yes-side of the European fault discussion, we have the honey pot aspect. Here is where Sweden plays a major role. Two years ago it became official policy that anyone claiming to be Syrian or Eritrean was owed automatic permanent residency with all welfare perks that come with it. ID is not required; you merely have to make the claim and present a semi-plausible story. It would be hard to come up with a better incentive to the world’s poor seeking a better life. All you have to do is get to Swedish soil, and you’re set for life with a standard of living previously unimagined. …
The number of confirmed deaths on the Mediterranean has quadrupled since 2008. This year is predicted to be a record-breaker, with an estimated million migrants waiting to cross on the African side. The first few months of 2015 has already clocked in 30 times the deaths of the same period in 2014. …
So Europe has a problem … [The solution could be] to increase coast guard presence in the Mediterranean to turn back boats to Africa, while removing the incentives for attempting the journey to begin with. Makes perfect sense to 28 of the 29 EU members.
But of course, the world’s Humanitarian Superpower doesn’t want anything to do with that approach. “Sweden shall fight for establishing legal ways into Europe!” said prime minister Löfven in the parliament EU committee. In other words, the Swedish government wants to open up for asylum application at the embassies and consulates around the world.
Now, combine this with [the fact] that Sweden now considers poverty a de facto grounds for asylum. Basically anybody worse off than a Swede in any way is to be let in, period. …
The rest of Europe wants to shut the door and remove the incentives for risking life and limb crossing the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Sweden wants to open up for everybody in the whole world to apply for asylum, based on their generous criteria where almost everybody gets approved.
There are an estimated 2.5 billion people living in poverty in the world. India alone has a few hundred million living in absolute squalor. Perhaps Löfven should use India as a test balloon and start an airlift of, say, 100 Boeing 747s at 500 each per day. That’s 50,000 poor but happy Indians arriving at Arlanda airport every day to be absorbed by the country of less than 10 million.
Let’s give it a month. If everything works out, he can go global with this inspiring initiative to end the world’s ills by bringing them all to Sweden.
* The author of the article we quote, Caligula, has kindly informed us that this picture, which accompanied his article, is from the Balkan wars of the 1990s with people going to Italy.We apologize to our readers for our error, but will leave the photo in place because as a picture of too many people trying to get on a ship to go away from where they are and get to somewhere better, it is impressive.
Economic sanctions will be lifted from Iran, and Iran can continue to develop its nuclear program.
Iran gets everything it wants.
The US gets nothing.
That is the true upshot of the long and ultimately useless talks in Lausanne, Switzerland – contrary to Obama’s claims.
And furthermore, the EU has signed a joint statement with Iran that splits Europe from the US.
Although there is no more reason to trust the Iranians than to trust Obama, the very fact that they deny what Obama asserts is enough to prove that there has been no agreement, let alone a deal.
We learn the Iranian view from Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon:
Just hours after the announcement of what the United States characterized as a historic agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, the country’s leading negotiator lashed out at the Obama administration for lying about the details of a tentative framework.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused the Obama administration of misleading the American people and Congress in a fact sheet it released following the culmination of negotiations with the Islamic Republic.
Zarif bragged in an earlier press conference with reporters that the United States had tentatively agreed to let it continue the enrichment of uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb, as well as key nuclear research.
Zarif additionally said Iran would have all nuclear-related sanctions lifted once a final deal is signed and that the country would not be forced to shut down any of its currently operating nuclear installations.
Following a subsequent press conference by Secretary of State John Kerry — and release of a administration fact sheet on Iranian concessions — Zarif lashed out on Twitter over what he dubbed lies.
“The solutions are good for all, as they stand,” he tweeted. “There is no need to spin using ‘fact sheets’ so early on.”
Zarif went on to push back against claims by Kerry that the sanctions relief would be implemented in a phased fashion — and only after Iran verifies that it is not conducting any work on the nuclear weapons front.
Zarif, echoing previous comments, said the United States has promised an immediate termination of sanctions.
“Iran/5+1 Statement: ‘US will cease the application of ALL nuclear-related secondary economic and financial sanctions.’ Is this gradual?” he wrote on Twitter. …
On Thursday evening, Zarif told reporters the latest agreement allows Iran to keep operating its nuclear program. … “We will continue enriching; we will continue research and development.”
Here is our condensed version of J.E.Dyer’s excellent account of the outcome of the Geneva talks, to be found in full at Liberty Unyielding:
Iran has come out promptly to accuse the U.S. of lying about the deal. Iran’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, describes the US State Department “fact sheet” on the “deal” as “spin”.
The truth is Iran didn’t actually agree to what the State Department has put out today. Nothing has been jointly signed or published by the US and Iran.
Only one document has Iran’s explicit concurrence, and that is a joint statement with the EU. Iran managed to pen a joint statement with the EU that is vague and ultimately unenforceable – the only kind of statement Iran would agree to. It has the sanctions being lifted “simultaneously” with implementation of the as-yet-undefined compliance measures by Iran, to be worked out by June.
But the State Department says the sanctions are to be lifted “after” compliance, and it has an important rider not found in the EU-Iran statement: “If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place.”
In reality, sanctions cannot “snap” back. The process would be difficult at best, and unlikely to succeed at all now that the EU is pursuing its own agenda. (And what does Russia intend? And China?)
Iran and the EU negotiators now have something they’ve put all their names on, and the US is not a party to it.
And Iran has left the talks without signaling agreement with the US on anything.
Zarif is at pains to quickly disavow any agreement, which we should find informative. Iran is laying the groundwork for undermining the sanctions regime through the EU, regardless of what the US does. The US Congress may be a nut Iran can’t crack, but if the EU is split from the United States, just about everyone else that’s still enforcing the UN sanctions will follow the EU’s lead.
The split in the West is the top point to remember about the failure of this round of talks. It is virtually certain to be irreparable.
The other two main points to remember are: first, that Iran hasn’t had to give up any facilities; second, Iran hasn’t had to close Fordo, the hardened and buried site in the mountain. And Fordo is by no means the only hardened and buried site Iran has. There are tunnels and underground sites at Natanz, Esfahan, and the Parchin complex as well. The IAEA just hasn’t gotten inspectors into them for years (if ever), and there is no reason to hope they will. There are also probably other underground sites we know nothing at all about.
Yet Iran has a path now to getting sanctions relief, and otherwise benefiting from a situation in which the EU and the United States are divided, and a divided West means that no multi-party sanctions can be re-imposed once they are lifted.