Europe’s Machiavellian Moment
Are the élites as solid and as confident as they seem? When the recessionary crisis truly strikes, and anger explodes, will they fumble it?
It is still too early to say, but perhaps the U.S. election is the beginning of a new ‘Turning’ (in the sense of the ‘Fourth Turning’). Of course, what happens in the U.S. is most people’s primary focus now; but even as that plays out over the coming year – perhaps chaotically – the seeds sown on 3 November, and in its aftermath, take us to a pivot: Does the centralising project of progressive ‘wokedom’ in Blue America, and in Merkel’s Europe, have the ‘grit’ to persevere – or will its leaders fold in the face of the approaching crises – and concomitant public anger?
The Project has three main pivots: the centralisation of Big Tech and MSM; the concentration of banking and financial tech, within centralised Central Banking; and Merkel’s centralisation of politics in Europe, at the head of an empire claiming to occupy the ‘moral high-ground’.
What is so significant about the U.S. election; what is so significant about the last four topsy-turvy years in Washington, has been the casting aside of all illusion of democracy, and the blunt demonstration that real power is exercised by a clique of billionaires. Europeans with little by way of independent news may be the last to notice. But for sure, China, Russia, Latin America – and the Middle East, which has suffered the most from America’s and Europe’s ‘moral’ sieges and wars – have taken due note. They will not further put up with European or American moral hectoring.
We may look back, and conclude that the post-war era effectively came to its end on 3 November.
What happened? For most Americans, if asked what it was that made them American, they likely would mumble about the Constitution, about its’ first and fifth Amendments, about its founding ethos. But the courts, and the institutions of America have ‘moved on’ under the influence of an activism that amends old rules to seal-in ‘new values’.
Even the Supreme Court, three of whose justices were appointed by Trump, no longer views the Constitution to be a ‘contract’ between 50 sovereign states. The final jury is perceived now to be that of public opinion (as scripted and directed by Big Tech and MSM). Americans who espoused that traditional notion of identity have discovered it was all a myth. They feel their own creation turned against them.
Then elections – the mechanism for the transition of power: last week, Fox News released a poll that said 68% of Republicans believe the election was stolen from President Trump. Overall, 36% of American voters say they think he was robbed. Irrespective of whether one believes there was, or was not, decisive electoral fraud, America – the Avatar of democracy – is unpacking its long tradecraft of electoral fraud, and washing this laundry in full public gaze.
Perhaps in a year or so, America will have an Inquiry. It will find that, indeed there was fraud, but the then President, Biden, simply will tell Americans that these lacunae are ‘all fixed now’. Who will believe him?
For now, Big Tech and MSM just repeat, ‘no evidence’ and repeatedly delete or censor postings. Next, they wash, rinse and delete all who differ with their determination of what constitutes Americans’ best health, pandemic or vax ‘interests’. Americans are told they must comply – and hold a vax certificate to prove it. But will they?
And the Central Bank wizards – finally – are admitting the massive economic and social distortions perpetuated by their policies, and they accept too, that they have painted themselves into a corner leaving them with no tools by which to exit. They can only continue doing the same (until something breaks). And when it does, will the élites have the ‘steel’ to stand against the anger?
And, finally to the EU pivot: Perry Anderson, in a piece entitled The European Coup, reviews a book by a EU ‘true believer’ and insider – van Middelaar (who was in the cabinet of Van Rompuy, the first full-time President of the European Council):
“During seventy years,’ the book begins, ‘the preconditions of the miracle play: that is, a free society disappeared from view’ – while talk in Europe was all of growth, education, healthcare and suchlike, with little care for the overarching questions of ‘state and authority, strategy and war, security and the border, citizenship and opposition’. Then suddenly, crises came one after another: ‘banks collapsed, the euro wobbled, Russia attacked Ukraine and annexed Crimea, vast numbers of desperate people attempted to cross into Europe, and Donald Trump pulled the U.S. security rug from underneath the European continent.”
The answer to this concatenation of ills, it turns out, effectively followed the American playbook: ‘entryism’ by the ideologically like-minded into European institutions and media, together with institutional disregard for old rules that now were to be updated with the progressive agenda of Brussels:
“First had come the troubles of the single currency. There Merkel’s declaration that ‘if the euro fails, Europe fails’ was decisive – heralding the rise of Germany’s power in the Union. Did the measures that followed respect the Treaty of Maastricht? No, and so much the better. ‘“Europe” trumped Maastricht.’ For Merkel’s ‘seemingly naive’ words concealed a rarely noticed truth: ‘the states had committed themselves at the Union’s foundation not only to adherence to Union law but to the continued existence of the Union as such. In emergency situations, therefore, breaking with the rules could actually equate to being true to the contract.’”
“The same held good, van Middelaar argued, for the tough financial and political measures taken by Berlin, Frankfurt and Brussels to oust weak governments in Southern Europe, crack down on the gambler Varoufakis, and circumvent the blackmail of Britain’s opposition to the Fiscal Compact. Responsibility and solidarity were ‘the root melodies of the Union’ in conducting Europe away from the ‘incalculable risks’ of a Greek exit from the euro …
“Lastly came the double blow of Brexit and Trump … So, for van Middelaar … [a]t this Machiavellian moment, Europe, in Merkel’s memorable saying, showed itself able ‘to take its destiny in its own hands’. In Paris, Macron stepped forth to the sound of the ‘Ode to Joy’, and the EU united behind a determination to punish Britain for its desertion. Its stance was perfectly rational: ‘Bluntly put, it would not be in the Union’s interests for things to go well in the post-Brexit UK … So Donald Tusk gave Ireland a veto on the withdrawal process, with Brussels compactly behind Dublin. Yet it was above all the awakening of the decisive power of Germany to the stakes at issue, that made Brexit the Union’s finest hour”.
Middelaar’s book concludes that whilst, in its day, the rule-factory of the Commission in Brussels had done sterling work revealing to the public at large ‘just how difficult it is to escape its clutches’. “Yet – though technically it retained a monopoly of legislative initiative – that role had passed to the EU Council (of Ministers). If member states were … to offer their peoples a powerful role in the world, an ‘emancipation of the executive’ of the Union was vital” (emphasis added).
“The Council handles ‘Chefsachen’ – the stuff of high politics, not low regulation – in closed sessions. At these, van Middelaar can report, all 28 heads of government call each other by their first names, and may find themselves agreeing to decisions they had never imagined beforehand, before emerging together for a beaming ‘family photograph’ in front of the cameras of the one thousand reporters assembled to hear their tidings, whose presence makes ‘failure impossible’, since every summit (with just one upsetting exception) ends with a message of common hope and resolve. Flanked by its trusty ‘Eurogroup’ of finance ministers and above all by the European Central Bank, ‘a monetary version of the passage to Europe’s new politics’ capable of equally decisive action in defence of the single currency, this is not a Council to be garlanded with the academic ribbon of mere legitimacy. What it now wears is something older, firmer and more capacious – the uniform of authority”. (emphasis added).
Well, thanks to the ‘Great Disrupter’ (Trump), as David Stockman is wont to call him, many Americans have come to the settled view that their votes matter naught in eyes of those navigating ‘the centralisation project’. That there is scant accountability to it, and that all benefits accrue to the oligarchy. They feel disenfranchised – and are angry.
What they are traumatically experiencing, though, is the planned transition from ‘the politics of rules’ to the era of coerced consensus – as Middelaar so proudly outlined it.
The ‘Project’s modus operandi of a seemingly ‘depoliticised’ progress towards centralization, however, has crashed into the ever-unpredictable ‘rock’ of Trump. He intends to drive straight through – and past – the election ‘fraud’.
Even if it takes longer than 6 January (or the Inauguration of Biden), it seems plain that Trump is determined for the election entrails – with all the fingerprints – to be pulled out, and laid bare. This eventuality was not fully in the blueprint: Trump was supposed, under pressure, ultimately to concede. It is thus far from over. The election and Biden personally are de-legitimised for half America: Will the MSM ‘dam’ succeed to hold back the waters at this level?
Usually, such ‘coups’ are supposed to proceed quietly – with decisions presented as ‘depoliticised’ necessities, imposed by a series of emergencies (Covid being the most obvious example) – thus casting all opposition as ‘extremist’, or even as a ‘security risk’ (as in the case of anti-vaxxers).
However, risks are attached to the ‘coercive consensus’ stratagem of the U.S. Tech platforms, and of Merkel’s similar tactic of declaring measures ‘alternativlos’ (translation: alternative-less, or TINA) – a favourite formula of Merkel’s. This strategy of endlessly repeated fait-accomplis feeds public scepticism: The public hears this as ‘like it or lump it’, and becomes more angry.
U.S. politics today is not just polarized, it is poisoned. Nonetheless, Merkel and Germany (together with the EU), in a concerted move, plough on – placing themselves in the vanguard of those calling the election for Biden almost immediately. This was totally EU praxis: the leitmotiv of depoliticisation is invariably accompanied by the mantra of keeping to ‘solidarity and responsibility’.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas immediately accused Trump of irresponsibly “pouring oil on the fire”, and creating a downward spiralling situation, potentially leading to what, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said, would be “a constitutional crisis”. And Angela Merkel slammed Trump’s behaviour as “awful”.
Yet by her early excitement at a Biden ‘win’, Merkel openly displayed EU partisanship: Cleaving so openly to the Democrats however shows the world that the EU is a full partner to the Blue State – not that anyone in the non-West was in much doubt. Merkel’s EU faithfully has followed the U.S. in sanctioning Russia, Syria et alii – and indeed has leveraged the U.S. sanctioning of the world to somehow showcase the EU as occupying the moral high ground (despite joining in almost every American action).
The signs of a new post-election paradigm are already evident: Hungary and Poland held the EU budget and Recovery Fund hostage – and Merkel caved. Another straw in the wind is how China, fed up at being hectored by Australia repeating all the American anti-China tropes, reportedly is planning to scale back imports of Australian coal. This follows similar moves by Beijing to curb trade in other key commodities: wine, barley, fisheries, and timber.
What the 3 November outcome ultimately means for America is moot. What it means for the EU is profound, also. It cannot escape it. The U.S. election turns the public spotlight onto the European project, as much as onto the American, for they all are of the same substance. The ‘moral high-ground’ “liberal” meme is exposed as illusion (the EU is umbilically tied to the American Deep State); the ‘solidarity and responsibility’ meme is thread-bare; the alignment to U.S. sanctions and sieges may turn a liability (especially in respect to China); and the stratagem of ‘coerced consensus’ is daily being discredited by the heavy-handedness of Messrs Besos and Zuckerman.
Again the question is: Are these élites as solid and as confident as they seem? When the recessionary crisis truly strikes, and anger explodes, will they fumble it? Trump and his supporters may conclude that precisely will be the moment to go to the streets.