Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Anti-European? Or is this a resurfacing of anti-German propaganda?

In recent months the tone of some blogs and commentators on them has risen to almost the same levels of anti-German hysteria seen in 1914 - 19 and again in 1939 - 45. There are constant references to "The Fourth Reich," to "German Domination and Suppression of Liberty in Europe" and "German Conquest by Stealth." Anyone would think the Germans were about to launch a new Blitzkrieg the way some of these writers are carrying on. According to them the entire EU "experiment" is some left-over plan from the defeat of the Nazis in 1945 to take economic control of Europe through a "back door" and impose a new "Fourth Reich" on the model of Karl der Grosser (Charlemagne to the French or Charles the Great in English) which fell apart after his death in 814 AD.

I can't escape the feeling that much of this is driven by envy. Germany and her neighbours have, through fiscal probity, managed to avoid the worst effects of the financial collapse in 2008. The German, Dutch, Swedish, Austrian, Danish and Finnish economies are stable, their borrowing against GDP is lower than anywhere else, and considerably lower than that of the UK and the US. France stands out as having a problem among the "big" players of the €uro, and the election of a socialist President may complicate those. But I very much doubt it will see the demise of the €uro as a currency, shared or not. Likewise in the UK, the borrowing legacy left by Gordon Brown and Labour will continue to cripple the British economy well past the next election, a factor most seem to want to ignore.

Much is made of the fact that Greece has rejected the two major parties that took them into the €urozone, but again, what is ignored, is that the 'new' government hasn't yet been formed, and in fact can't find anyone willing to form a coalition with a party that has stated publicly it intends to spend money it hasn't got and can't get, ignoring the ECB and IMF requirements to reduce the State spending and exercise fiscal restraint. President Hollande, for all his pre-election promises, will find he has the same problem, and Chancellor Frau Merkel (I note portrayed by many English blogs as being humourless - which means none of them understand German humour and perhaps have no understanding of German language or culture) will certainly not allow the German economy, built on hard work, innovation and productivity, to be squandered by free-spending socialists. Even the German Socialist Party won't promise any extra spending.

Germany experienced hyper-inflation under the Weimar Republic, and no German Chancellor will ever allow it to happen again. It was that hyper-inflation that swept Hitler to power, yet I note with a mix of interest and sadness that a number of UK commentators seem to want this to happen again. I am happy to say I think they will be deeply disappointed. Greece may be ejected from the €uro, Spain and France and possibly Italy may have to accept a separate form of the €uro before too long, but you may be very certain that Germans will not pay the piper for anyone else's free-spending folly and neither will the Dutch, the Swedes, Austrians or Finns. They have had to take the medicine everyone else is squealing about and have faced the problem. Others should have done so before now, but didn't. The Financial Treaty may need to be renegotiated, but don't expect many concessions - and there will certainly be none which might allow Hollande or the Greeks to go on another spending spree.

Mr Hollande knows, as does the entire political class in France, that the French economy needs major reforms, whether he knows it yet or not, he is going to have to accept the task of implementing them. Anyone planning a holiday in France should be prepared for barricades and blockades when the French discover they have to take the medicine and like it.

And what of Britain, or perhaps the rump of the UK once Scotland goes independent? Sooner, rather than later, the realisation will dawn that so much has been sold off that almost nothing in the UK is now owned by Britons. Much of its manufacturing is not sold to anyone outside of the EU. Perhaps the antiEuropeans will win, but I rather think that in the end, the UK (or what remains of it) will remain tied to at least the European Free Trade Area.

My major concern is that if, as I suspect another dose of Labour will produce, the Pound collapses in value, my pensions will be in serious trouble ... Now how's that for a bit of self-interest!

1 comment:

  1. The Gray Monk's Scriptorium--love the name! At first glance, I thought it read: The Gray Monk's Scrotum. Must use glasses.
    Jokes aside, true statement: much of this is driven by envy.