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Double, double toil and trouble in Europe

Off the fence
Double, double toil and trouble in Europe


Áine Ryan
aineryan@mayonews.ie This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

APOLOGIES for diving under the bed when all you Fiscal Compact and Stability Treaty detractors and evangelists knock on my door. I have referendum-itis and the rash is very contagious. So, safer not to even sneak a leaflet in through my letterbox; you would never know what you might catch, other than a dose of austerity.
Even if I did answer the door, would I really be any the wiser after receiving either a pro, or anti, spiel. This latest proposed contractual move to enmesh us further in the European project may be simpler to grasp than some of the previous ones. But then we all know what happened when we declined to support both the Nice Treaty (in 2001) and the Lisbon Treaty (in 2009). The only difference this time round is that we are even more scared by the latest doomsday warnings by the interested parties who lobby and brainwash us from both sides of the argument.
To simplify matters, the fallout from the rise and collapse of global capitalism in Europe (and the US) due to laissez-faire regulation, along with the obsession of the mass media with the volatile vagaries of the euro, has effectively suffocated society.
Citizens are increasingly defined as economic commodities. But under the surface – and in the squares of Athens and Madrid, and more emolliently at the Occupy camps here – bubbles a cauldron of activism, even extremism. You don’t need to be a Shakespearean witch to think: Double, double, toil and trouble.   
Last December New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman called the real crisis correctly: this is a depression, not a recession. It may not reach the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s, but it is still just that.  And just because there is no longer an Adolf Hitler around does not mean that democracy is not in trouble.
“High unemployment isn’t OK just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight,” writes Krugman, a Nobel laureate. 
In the column, he cites the rise of right-wing movements in Austria and Finland and he also notes a documented ‘sharp drop’ in public support for democracy in the new EU countries.
The Stability Treaty aims to support ‘sustainable growth, employment, competitiveness and social cohesion’ among 25 European countries, many of which use the euro as their currency.
To achieve this, ‘it requires countries to apply discipline to their national budgets’. Some would argue the troika (IMF, ECB and the EU) has already achieved this. But that is not a permanent arrangement.
Anyway, who knows how long the euro will last as a common currency? Who knows what political upheavals will arise if this depression continues to bite for another few years? Indeed, who knows what the map of Europe will look like in another century?

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