Those who govern us are now governed by the banks

In Der Spiegel, Dirk Kurbjuweit writes:

We are doing well. In fact, we’re doing splendidly. The economy is booming, with 1.5 percent growth in the first quarter. We are as prosperous as we were before the crisis, which has finally been overcome. Congratulations are in order for everyone.

The banks, Deutsche Bank above all, deserve particular congratulations. In the first quarter, it earned €3.5 billion ($5.1 billion) in pretax profits in its core business, and by the end of the year the bank will likely report a record €10 billion in pretax profits, its best results ever. That number is expected to rise to €11 billion or even €12 billion in two or three years.

Less than three years after the peak of the crisis, it seems as if it never happened. That is true of the economy, but it also true of us as economic subjects. But is that all we are?

No, we are also citizens and participants in a democratic society. As such, we have no reason to be celebrating. Instead, we ought to be sad and outraged. Democracy, after all, is not doing splendidly, or even well. It is gradually becoming a casualty of the financial crisis.

Trouble is brewing all over Europe. Young people with little hope for the future are protesting in Spain. In France, 1.4 million copies were sold of a manifesto titled “Be Outraged.” Young Frenchmen and -women are devising utopias that extend well beyond civil society because they no longer expect anything from it. A deep depression has descended upon Greece, combined with a rage directed at politicians and the rest of Europe.

In Germany, this is what politicians are hearing from their citizens today: “You spent billions to rescue the banks, and now I’m supposed to be footing the bill? Forget it!” Hardly anyone is willing to put up with their politicians any more. And German leaders have lost support — and some of their own legitimacy.

They seem helpless, unable to come to grips with the euro crisis. They meet in Brussels, and they talk, argue and adopt resolutions, and yet nothing improves. Greece isn’t getting out of its hole, Ireland and Portugal are teetering on the brink, and Spain and Italy are heavily indebted to a dangerous degree. And no politician is providing leadership.

And then there were the lies. Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg, had his spokesman deny that a meeting of European Union finance ministers on the Greek crisis was taking place, even though that meeting was in fact taking place. It wasn’t the kind of lie that frequently crops up in politics: the broken campaign promise. Rather, it was more crass type of untruth: the denial of a reality. Juncker no longer had the courage to speak the truth. He was guided by fear of the financial markets. His lie was a capitulation of politics.

This is what is so disturbing about the current situation: the fact that politicians seem so helpless and powerless. They have been given a new master, and it’s not us, the people, who tend to intervene in milder ways. Rather, it’s the ruthless financial markets. The markets drive politicians even further into anxiety, weakness, incapacity and lies. Those who govern us are now being governed by the banks.

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3 thoughts on “Those who govern us are now governed by the banks

  1. delia ruhe

    It seems fitting that this article would be followed here by one on how the IMF should be on trial. For (not to get too religious about it), the Western world — what used to be called the First World — is reaping its just rewards for screwing what used to be called the Third World via a little scam called globalism. Too few of us taught/preached/protested when our so-called political representatives sold us out to the corporate sector. Too many of us on the left quibble over the details when smarter and more important leftists like Chomsky tell it like it is. Well, this is reality: things aren’t going to change until we agree (or rather, are forced) to work for $2 an hour, because that’s what the average worker earns in China, and we need to get competitive with them.

  2. Norman

    As the current group of college graduates are finding out, their education is not getting them where they thought it would, but the bills of that education are due and payable. The cold sober truth too being, that the costs for that education that they can’t find, has to be repaid and with interest. Of course, because of the corruption of the Congress, these unemployed graduates can’t file bankruptcy to get relief. This puts a burden upon other family members, who already have been taken to the cleaners by the financial world, compliments of the Congress. The saving grace being that they wont wait until the wages are competitive with China’s, the revolution will probably be over, the banking business becoming a relic of itself.

  3. vandenberg

    “Today, America would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there were an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the World Government.” – Dr. Henry Kissinger, Bilderberger Conference, Evians, France, 1991

    “This present window of opportunity, during which a truly peaceful and interdependent world order might be built, will not be open for too long – We are on the verge of a global transformation. All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order.” – David Rockefeller speaking at the UN, Sept. 14, 1994.

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