Breaking free - Rodolfo Ragonesi
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Breaking free - Rodolfo Ragonesi

The US made the banks richer, while the EU made its citizens poorer. Photo: gowithstock/shutterstock.com

The US made the banks richer, while the EU made its citizens poorer. Photo: gowithstock/shutterstock.com

Empires rose and fell around the Fertile Crescent between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, around the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates. Power then moved westward into the European mainland with the exploits of Alexander, Pompeii and Caesar. But ever since, Europe has known 2,000 years of conquest, bloodshed, bitter rivalries and devastating wars.

The last and bloodiest were in the 20th century and brought Europe to its knees.

The European Economic Community, which morphed into the European Union, came together as a result of a vision of its founders to unite Europe once and for all under a blue banner of peace and prosperity, rather than conquest and power struggles.  This started at a time when power had shifted markedly across the Atlantic. Europe was trying to reinvent itself and avoid becoming a has-been.

Things seemed to be going on track, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, with eastern and southern nations joining the block, the Russian Federation, an abundance of liquidity, and the launch of a common currency. Then things suddenly started to go south.

The trigger was the 2008 crash from which the EU has yet to recover. It found itself lagging behind in the global struggle for relevance and influence.

But it has got worse. The US seemed to bounce back from 2008 by printing and borrowing dollars like there was no tomorrow, amassing a staggering $21 trillion millstone around its neck in the form of public debt. The EU leaders opted for a different tack, imposing austerity measures on their citizens.

They sought to climb out of the crisis by reducing public debt on the back of the taxpayer. The result, the proverbial economic wheel started to slow down, because people had less money to spend in an economic model driven by consumerism.

So the US made the banks richer, while the EU made its citizens poorer.

The world lost a golden opportunity to right the wrongs when it failed to treat the banks like any other business. If you go bust, you get taken over. That is the law. The banks went bust, but instead of being taken over by sovereign nations, they got bailed out courtesy of the taxpayer, as the noose of public debt tightened ever more around his fragile neck.

Nations have abdicated their constitutional power to create money, handing it to bankers on a silver platter. The bankers, ever greedy for more, went bust. But the nations, rather than reclaim their power, gave them even more money. This was equivalent to trying to fight a forest fire with flame throwers. It is stupidly insane.

Europe today is but a shadow of what it once was. It has become a satellite of the world’s only superpower across the pond. But it has also become a lap dog for the banks that keep tightening the noose for ever increasing profits, for “lending” money that does not even exist.

Politicians and citizens in Europe have lost the confidence they once had. They are like an athlete who tries to recover from an injury, only to find it impossible to compete again at the same levels.

This can all change, but for that to happen we need to break free from the old mindset, which has been nothing but a surreptitious form of neocolonialism, colonialism through financial engineering.

I am convinced that the only way Europe can rise again is by breaking free of the bonds it has tied around its own feet. We need a paradigm shift, and a big one at that.

This shift will come by tackling seven major issues head-on.

First: dump the petrodollar, and push the euro as the currency for European trade with the outside world. Paying allegiance to the petrodollar is destroying the euro, and with it the European economy. It is a form of monetary slavery.

Second: seize financial control from the bankers. This has been nothing but financial slavery to a handful of banking families that have usurped the constitutional powers of nations. As a result these have amassed the vast majority of the world’s wealth.

Europe today is but a shadow of what it once was. It has become a satellite of the world’s only superpower across the pond

The issue of money has always been the prerogative of nations. It should not be issued against interest paid to the banking community. This has resulted in the largest grand larceny in the history of human civilisation, keeping people poor.

Third: put the debt clock back to zero. Pass legislation in Europe declaring a debt jubilee to wipe out all public debt. Banks that would become insolvent as a result would be taken over by nations or the European Union, which will thus become the guarantors for such banks.

Austerity measures could then come to an end, since these are engineered solely to repay the banks for massive interests.

Fourth: where nations seek to take out fresh loans to plug the deficit gap, this should be done by issuing bonds that could be taken up only by citizens and corporations, but not by financial institutions. The repayment of bonds would go back into people’s pockets rather than the bankers’.

Fifth: use the new injection of liquidity across Europe to finance and subsidise the construction of clean energy power plants throughout the region. This will be a shot in the arm for European industry, energy production and independence, balance of payments, and employment. It would be Europe’s New Deal.

Sixth: dump the sanctions mechanism. It does not work. It hurts EU commerce and shoots Europe in the foot.

Seventh: dismantle Nato. It is not just obsolete, but has become a liability. Europe cannot afford to remain a pawn in a geopolitical game played by a superpower with its own vested interests.

The latest tack taken by the Trump administration, to walk away from yet another arms treaty, the 1987 INF, after the US had pulled out of the ABM Treaty, has extremely serious consequences for Europe and its security.

The only way to counter this madness is to close down US military bases in Europe, take full responsibility for European defence through PESCO, and enter negotiations with Russia for disarmament. Collectively, European nations spend over four times more on defence than Russia does, with over $260 billion compared to Russia’s $66 billion.

So can our European leaders kindly explain how, with such a scenario, they are trying to make a case for a US-supported Nato and the need for American bases and military hardware in Europe?

I am sorry, but this is just like the emperor’s clothing in reverse.

People were duped into believing that the emperor had fine clothes, when he was actually naked. Europeans are led to believe that without being clothed by American bases and hardware, Europe is naked and vulnerable, despite spending so much more on defence than Russia does.

I do not buy it. It is a lie.

A lie that has enslaved Europe, in the same way people were enslaved in Orwell’s dystopia, by being told of a fictitious enemy.

Europe tore itself apart so manytimes in the past. Divide et impera was always alive and kicking. It still is. Will we never learn?

That would depend not just on our leaders, but on us citizens. We need to wake up to the fact that the real cause of our problems does not lie with a weak economy, a weak currency, a foreign threat from the east, a rising China, or a weak defence.

It lies in an inner weakness and insecurity similar to that experienced by birds in a cage. We feel the need to stay put, and to be taken care of, rather than to fly away and feel the breeze under our wings.

Our wings have been clipped by superpowers, super financial institutions, and baseless fear.

It is time we demanded that our leaders begin to lead us, by starting to leave the cage that they have built around us; to fly away and break free from the yokes of Nato, the dollar, the global financial institutions, and the crippling debt they have imposed upon us.

Rodolfo Ragonesi is a lawyer and researcher in history and international affairs.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece 

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