Stuart Holland wrote a piece for Varoufakis’s blog here. If there was ever a case of having come to a pre-conceived conclusion and choosing which facts back up this conclusion then this article is it.
Here are some of the highlights
Holland kicks off by saying this
Wolfgang Schäuble (The Guardian, July 19th) claims that the idea that Europe should be – or can be – led by a single country is wide of the mark; that Germany’s ‘restraint’ reflects the burden of its history, and that the ‘unique’ political structure that is Europe does not lend itself to a leader–follower dynamic. This calls not only for scepticism concerning his view of German history but also lessons from Gestalt psychology.
Holland then goes on to explain why he is sceptical of what seems quite a logical statement by Schauble.
Here is the first part
In stressing this in his Genealogy of Morals Nietzsche also observed that there was a tendency in Germany among strong creditors to demand penitence from weak debtors for their debt-guilt and to punish them if they did not seek redemption.
Okay, this does not seem like a Germanic trait to me but rather a human one. I think all creditors want to punish the debtor if they default. Seizing assets for example.
Holland then goes on to say something completely ridiculous and something which exposes his complete lack of understanding of the economies of Europe.
This is what he wrote.
Yet Herr Schäuble’s Gestalt also displaces that only one EU member state until the financial crisis of 2008 had a significant public debt problem – Greece. The public debt of the others was sustainable and lower in Spain and Ireland than in Germany
To clarify for those not up to speed. The debt of Spain and Ireland was not sustainable. The now commonly acknowledged fact of the matter is that the pricing of risk for Ireland and Spain was completely wrong.
It is now accepted that the markets misunderstood the Euro and should not have been pricing Spanish and Irish debt differently just because they were using the Euro.
Holland then goes on to rewrite history and the present narrative with this
with debt distressed member states succumbing to the claims of Herr Schäuble and Angela Merkel that there was no alternative to saving them other than an austerity which denied the very principles of achieving rising standards on which the Rome Treaty, founding a European Community, had been based.
At no point has Merkel claimed austerity was the key to “saving” a country. What Merkel has said, and this is a fact, is if you want a bailout then we need the budget deficit to be brought under control.
Merkel and Germany have always been very careful in giving Greece a choice.
Holland goes on
The Treaty also has insisted on balanced budgets, despite this being as progressive a response to the Eurozone crisis as a return to the gold standard.
This is the only thing that I agree with in the entire article. It would be extremely progressive if the gold standard we re-adopted.
Holland then goes on to pick out the facts leading up to WW2 that suit his agenda while rubbishing anything that goes against his agenda. This is what he says
Behind this has been a misreading of German history, including the perception that it was deficit spending and hyper inflation in the Weimar republic that brought Hitler to power.
So Holland believes the massive destruction in wealth in Germany due to rampant inflation had nothing to do with Hitler coming to power.
Holland goes on
But Brüning responded to the crash of 1929 by tightening credit and freezing wage and salary increases. He also prioritised repayment of reparations under the Versailles Treaty despite there being no imminent need for this since US and other banks already were offering Germany credit without making this conditional on such repayment.
With this statement Holland loses all credibility. It shows Holland has not the faintest idea of what he is talking about.
Holland asserts that there was no imminent need for Germany to pay the repatriations demanded.
This is utterly and completely incorrect.
The issue of repatriations and Germany defaulting on its repayments was so serious that France invaded the Germany in January of 1923 to seize productive assets in order to ensure Germany would no longer be defaulting on its commitments. And it is in this environment of foreign occupation in which Hitler rose to power.
Now I have said Holland has lost all credibility by this stage but the final paragraphs of his article as so warped I feel compelled to highlight them here.
Holland writes this
This has been matched by claims from Herr Schäuble that the rest of Europe should work harder to be more competitive which have regrettable echoes of the slogan Arbeit Macht Frei, as well as by a rise of the extreme Right in several EU member states.
Schauble says that the Greek government needs to get out-of-the-way of its citizens by allowing them to be as productive as they can be. Holland says this is akin to Jews in concentration camps in Germany who were told that work will set them free.
Holland believe it is accurate to compare prisoners in Nazi concentration camps with German demands of the Greek government.
I fail to see how this is an appropriate analogy to say the least. Without wanting to sound redundant, German politicians are not holding a gun to the heads of Greek politicians. Greek politicians are free to say no to Germany without fear for their personal safety. Let me just say that and move on to Holland’s final paragraph.
While claims for ‘finite solutions’ to redeem debt and guilt through the imposition of austerity on national governments….. could prove to be its grave.
If there was any doubt that Holland has socialist/fascist leaning then this sentence destroys those doubts.
Holland believes that governments spending within their means, will destroy Europe
Holland believes that a government not printing money out of thin air, will lead to the destruction of the currency
But these beliefs are to be expected, for anyone that believes in socialism/fascism has by definition, no clue about basic economics.