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The Euro

In more prosperous times, I took the train from Gare du Nord in Paris to Zoo Station in Berlin. Almost every mile of ground between these two world cities had been drenched in the blood of millions. Battlefield after battlefield after battlefield; grave after grave after grave, marked or unmarked. A continental hecatomb for soldiers, civilians, men, women, children.

Five Ways To Kill A Man
There are many cumbersome ways to kill a man.
You can make him carry a plank of wood
To the top of a hill and nail him to it.
To do this
Properly you require a crowd of people
Wearing sandals, a cock that crows, a cloak
To dissect, a sponge, some vinegar and one
Man to hammer the nails home.

Or you can take a length of steel,
Shaped and chased in a traditional way,
And attempt to pierce the metal cage he wears.
But for this you need white horses,
English trees, men with bows and arrows,

At least two flags, a prince and a
Castle to hold your banquet in.

Dispensing with nobility, you may, if the wind
Allows, blow gas at him. But then you need
A mile of mud sliced through with ditches,
Not to mention black boots, bomb craters,
More mud, a plague of rats, a dozen songs
And some round hats made of steel.

In an age of aeroplanes, you may fly
Miles above your victim and dispose of him by
Pressing one small switch. All you then
Require is an ocean to separate you, two

Systems of government, a nation's scientists,
Several factories, a psychopath and
Land that no one needs for several years.

These are, as I began, cumbersome ways
To kill a man. Simpler, direct, and much more neat
Is to see that he lives somewhere in the middle
Of the twentieth century, and leave him there.

It's worth remembering that one of the purposes of the European project was to prevent more wars like world wars one and two -- and that for generations, now, that project has succeeded. That's a triumph for humanity.

So, it would be nice if the European looting classes didn't manage to destroy the European project. It would also be nice if those who, implicitly or explicitly, are betting against the Euro could contain their glee.

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Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

NOT so very long ago, the earth numbered two thousand million inhabitants: five hundred million men, and one thousand five hundred million natives. The former had the Word; the others had the use of it. Between the two there were hired kinglets, overlords and a bourgeoisie, sham from beginning to end, which served as go-betweens. In the colonies the truth stood naked, but the citizens of the mother country preferred it with clothes on: the native had to love them, something in the way mothers are loved. The European élite undertook to manufacture a native élite. They picked out promising adolescents; they branded them, as with a red-hot iron, with the principles of western culture, they stuffed their mouths full with high-sounding phrases, grand glutinous words that stuck to the teeth. After a short stay in the mother country they were sent home, whitewashed. These walking lies had nothing left to say to their brothers; they only echoed. From Paris, from London, from Amsterdam we would utter the words ‘Parthenon! Brotherhood!’ and somewhere in Africa or Asia lips would open ... thenon! ... therhood!’ It was the golden age.

Sartre, intro to Fanon's Wretched of the Earth

Submitted by lambert on

Yes, the Europeans dump their nuclear waste off Africa. It's still better they're not killing millions more, eh?

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

I just thought Sartre's opening paragraph was a good counter to the "triumph for humanity."

Europe's prosperity and alleged unity, as a project, was built upon the manufactured collapse of post-colonial Africa, and re-colonization through concessions.

There's the death of millions there, too, Lambert. It just wasn't done with bombs.

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

...is an imperial perspective, Lambert. Europe is imperial. The relative break in the European project of killing other Europeans was paid for by the uptick in the European poisoning of Africans.

That's my only point. Let the camera pan away from the Arch of Triumph. You'll see the slaves who built it marching back to their hovels.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Are you freaking serious? All the usual "Yes, yes, yes"es, but puhleaze, pull your finger-wagging finger out of all of our faces for at least one moment. Ending war in one place is a prerequisite to ending war everywhere, or anywhere, else.

Regarding this rhetoric:

The relative break in the European project of killing other Europeans was paid for by the uptick in the European poisoning of Africans

Well my, that is a bold statement. Care to back that up with some kind of facts? Uptick? Where is the evidence that it increased some kind of European "poisoning"? Do you mean dumping of industrial poisons of global corporate entities of both Western and Asian countries? What exactly does that have to do with "European Imperialism"? Please, educate me!

And "Slaves marching back to their hovels"? Wow, hyperbolic much? BUt which slaves? The proletariat/cannon fodder of Europe? Or just the people who migrated to, and are not interested in leaving, a stable Europe from colonial (and now tribally self-injuring)* Africa?

And what did Europe (and the US) do in that time after WWII for colonial countries around the world, aside from the (admittedly imperfect) United Nations, and other treaty powers that at least attempt to give them a voice.,Or is useless window dressing, depending on your perspective?

* Yes, yes, with our help, it's never anyone else's responsibility to forgo their own worst impulses while there are Westerners to blame.

Jack Crow's picture
Submitted by Jack Crow on

I used the word "poisoning" both rhetorically and factually, Oka.

Factually, here are two articles on a but a single example:

http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_an...

and

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa...

The poisoning of the Niger river delta, as another example:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/17/world/...

The poisoning of Africans in European owned mining concerns, as yet another:

http://allafrica.com/stories/20091005146...

The destruction of African ecosystems, and/or the promotion of war in order to gain access to resources, by European timber companies (you could also look up mining companies, natural gas companies or shipping concerns, too):

http://www.globalwitness.org/library/ban...

Also, the dumping of subsidized agriculture, in order to destroy local autonomous production:

http://www.fpif.org/articles/destroying_...

http://www.globalissues.org/article/10/f...

Add in the dumping of arms overstock to African nations, conflict resources, drug paternalism, neo-colonialism and the deliberate policy of encouraging instability, and you have more than literally, the death of millions.

So that Europe can prosper.

This is not difficult stuff, here.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Eritrea
Ethiopia
Somalia
Liberia
Ivory Coast
Rwanda
Congo (both)
Uganda
Yemen
Sudan
Chad
Mauritania
Tunisia
....
....
....
....?

Now, as it happens, I have not read Fanon, and it would be interesting to hear what he has to say now, fifty years or so after his death. Sadly, I don't have much use for Sartre, finding his work woefully dated and irrelevant (though he is popular with the university set). However, despite those deficiencies, I do actually talk to people who are refugees from many of those countries. I live in the Twin Cities, which happens to have very large (if not the largest) populations of refugees, including Vietnamese, Ethiopians, Eritreans, and Somalis. Since I live in the city, where those peoples are concentrated, I happen to know lots of them, and they share their stories with me sometimes.

What is amazing is the lack of blame of the European slave trade of the 17th-19th centuries. European colonialism. The lack of blame for European (or even broadly Western) "poisoning" of the twentieth century. Even, shockingly, the lack of blame of Cold War politics and the proxy wars (as we would call them, in our "Eurocentric paternalism") of the the late twentieth century.

Nope.

What I hear instead is regret and anguish over inter-tribal conflict and the damage it has caused to millions of people. The rage (and/or resignation) that selfish tribal leaders have been able to exploit poverty and tribal/clan loyalties to further their own families wealth and power, at the expense of those not as well connected.

Now maybe they are ragingly ignorant of their own history (uh oh! Hot potato! I'm not going there!), but wow, when I describe it like that, it starts to sound more and more like the killing fields of the monarchies and mini-dynasties of Europe, the ending of which Lambert rightly said was a major achievement. Those were "tribal conflicts" too, in case it is not too "Eurocentric paternalist" to point out.

As for "stable", well, yeah, if you were from Sudan, Yemen, Chad, Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, or any one of a dozen other countries, you would say Spain, Greece, France, Netherlands, Italy, etc. were "stable". Just ask any of my friends, who would be shocked that there was any question about that. In fact, it's rather European paternalist to think Europe isn't stable, compared to, say, northern Mexico, let alone Sudan.

Submitted by lambert on

That said, I do know that Europe is an empire. And last I checked, the European empires were slaughtering Africans before the world wars.

What I am saying is that

African imperial project + WWI + WWII > African imperial project

when the metric is total human deaths. Given the scale of deaths in WWI and WWII, avoiding those deaths seems to me to be a "tremendous achievement," if I may substitute a more neutral (oatmeal-ish) phrase. YMMV and obviously does.

jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

You cannot have monetary union without political union. You cannot strip sovereign states of the right to control their currencies. If the aim was true and full European union, they should have made political unity as much a goal as economic unity.

It's the short-sightedness of the European elite, as much as their greed, that is to blame.

Jay's picture
Submitted by Jay on

Is due to those who overwhelmingly voted against the Euro. Which was everyone. The Euro was dictated upon the population. And now that the entire ridiculous exercise is coming to a close I think it would be right to shame and humiliate the conceited asses who strained so mightily to create this giant, glistering turd on Europe's dining room table. It's time for the conservative authoritarian bankster fucktards to grab a spoon. It's becoming politically impossible to make Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy to yak it all down.

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

I'm not sure where I fit on the glee spectrum, but in retrospect it seems the euro, as it was implemented at least, was bound to fail. If they were going to try to tie all their economies together with a single currency, then they needed to create some sort of mechanism to deal with the situations that Spain and Italy found themselves in, at the very least. They didn't, even though some pretty well-informed people warned them.

It's one thing to take warnings into account when they make sense, and to alter or augment plans accordingly. It's quite another to ignore them and press on as if no one said anything. I suspect that some of the "glee" you're detecting is just people expressing dismay at having been ignored when they were so obviously right.

I keep hoping that Europe can form itself into some coherent political structure so it can avoid what's happened in so much of the last two millennia. Unfortunately, they're going to have to go back to the drawing board where the euro is concerned.

Submitted by jawbone on

whether the Euro had a better basis for uniting the disparate economies or not. Here in the US we have a single currency, but it has not abated the banksters' takeovers and aggressive accumulation of wealth.

To the point that the wealth of nations is now dwarfed by the control of wealth of Corporations (led by banksters, but including other globally based giants in many fields). Thus, power is less and less in the hands of the elected (or unelected) leaders of nations and is more and more in the hands of nearly invisible leaders of finance.

Now that I'm thoroughly disgusted with the state of modern affairs, back to resetting my outdoor space, getting thing upright and back in place, with improvements --and editing-- as possible.

I need to give the Joe Pye weed plants some support as the rains and winds nearly flattened them. They stand about 6 feet tall, with huge flower heads. My "dwarf" pear tree has also been blown over and needs to be helped to stay upright -- I don't want to lose it. Great crop this year and last.