A Strange Thing Happened … with the development of a New Order

August 15, 2022

Source

By Francis Lee

‘’The best-known definition of financialization is that it involves the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors, and financial institutions in the operation of domestic and international economies.’’ (1)

A picture containing indoor, floor, ceiling, metal Description automatically generated

In this dungeon – All that glitters is gold. Bank of England Gold Vault

The massive shift in the global system of industry and finance which had been based upon the Bretton Woods institutions – viz., the IMF (International Monetary Fund) the World Bank (previously known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Agency) which carried on regardless at the ending of the gold standard in 1971. Both the World Bank and IMF were based in Washington. Additionally, another Bretton Woods Institution – The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, was to become the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January 1995.

It was generally understood by all the actors that the objective was for firms to engage in the economy in order to produce goods and services with a view to further investment, growth, and profitability. This was the consensus of the time and raison d’etre of capitalism. However, this political unanimity began to change, quite fundamentally.

The massive shift as mentioned above was a step toward delinking the US$ with gold, when the US government guaranteed to exchange US$ for gold at the fixed rate of $35 per ounce. This effectively placed all the world’s currencies onto a gold standard backed by the US gold at Fort Knox. Many governments came to accept US$ as gold deposit certificates and chose to hold their international foreign exchange reserves in dollars rather than in gold.

The system worked reasonably well for more than 20 years until it became widely evident that the United States was creating far more dollars to finance its heavy military operations, firstly in Korea and then Indochina, and this combined with the domestic social spending which were part of Johnson’s Democratic party enmeshed in the ‘Great Society’ monetary splurge. What happened next was entirely predictable. Overseas holders of US$ began to take their dollars to the Fed’s bank window, but the Fed could not give them anything in return other than US Treasuries which are just a form of paper money! It was a French politician, Valery Giscard D’Estaing, who drew attention to this American ‘exorbitant privilege’. Pretty soon all the gold was beginning to fly out of Fort Knox to Europe and the Far East. The US government had to do something in order to stem the outward flow. On August 15, 1971, President Richard Nixon declared that the US would no longer redeem dollars on demand for gold. The dollar was ultimately nothing other than a piece of high-grade paper with a number and some intricate artwork issued by the US government. The world’s currencies were no longer linked to anything of real value and shared expectations that others would accept them in exchange for real goods and services.

It was a fantastic (and lucky) stroke for the Americans to pull this off. But this financial coup seemed like the opening shot in a long goodbye to the existing economic and political order. A strange thing was happening indeed. In the words of the Irish poet, W.B.Yeats, ‘All changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born.’ From the poem, ‘Easter 1916.’

A Terrible Beauty

Capitalism was clearly morphing into a different animal with a new financial-economic structure which emerged from the old-style capitalist mode; the old order of production and consumption in a traditional capitalist economy which was occasioned by the production of tangible wealth, as opposed extractive or more tangibly extracted ‘wealth’. Businesses once focused almost exclusively on producing the goods and services for which they had a competitive advantage, but in the economic conditions of the present time they became likely as much if not focused more on their share price, their dividends regime, and in addition, to their interest rates.

A new class and a new system were clearly emerging, if not actually fully emerged. At the present time a tiny minority of people and corporate interests across the world are accumulating vast wealth and power from rental income not only from housing and land but from a range of other assets natural and created. Rentiers of all kinds are an unparalleled ascendancy, and the neo-liberal state is only too keen to oblige their greed.

The rentier class derive their income from ownership or control of assets that are scarce or artificially made scarce. Most familiar is rental income from land, property, mineral exploitation, or financial investments, but other sources have grown, pari passu. These include the income lenders again from debt interest; income from ownership of ‘intellectual property’ (patents, copyrights, brands, and trademarks); capital gains from investments, ‘above normal’ company profits (when a firm has a dominant market position that allows it to charge higher prices or dictate terms); income from government subsidies; and income from financial and other intermediaries derived from third party transactions. A political and economic structure began to emerge in the 1980’s. Once more quoting Yeats, ‘All has changed, changed utterly. A Terrible beauty is born.’ That terrible beauty is Neoliberalism. (2)

‘’Today’s corporations have become thoroughly financialized, with some looking more like banks than productive enterprises. This financialization of non-financial corporations has involved the transfer of societies resources from the employees to the share/stock’s shareholders. This transfer of wealth has resulted both from changes in the political and economic foundations of the global economy from the rise of a new ideology, which holds that corporations sole aim should be to maximize profitability via increasing returns to shareholders. Both ideas and power relations have to change to create any lasting economic change – and the 1980s was a period of transition of both.’’ (3)

Yes, those old enough of us who can remember the 1980s, a strange period of counter-revolution and – die Zeitgeist – yuppies, private equity, Thatcher and Reagan, The Big Bang, The Eurodollar market, Milton Friedman, and the Chicago School of Economics, ‘Greed is Good.’ Privatisation was all the rage. Heady stuff, but like all similar periods of ersatz golden ages the recent versions have crashed into the truths of economic realities. Like, you don’t get something for nothing, or booms lead to busts, or asset price inflation is not the same as growth. In order however … ‘’to maintain the semblance of vitality, western capitalism has become increasingly dependent on expanding levels of debt and of the expansion of the level of fictitious capital. This latter category is made up of financial assets which are only symbols of value, not real values.’’ (4)

Yes, indeed, company shares-stocks that are traded like goods and services do not in the same way embody value. They are tokens which represent part ownership of a company and the potential distribution of future profits in the form of dividends. The paper or electronic certificate itself is not a genuine value that can create more value. Rising share/stock prices are often presented as evidence of a healthy economy, but the amount money a share/stock charges hands says nothing definitive about the value of the company’s assets or about its productive capacity. On the contrary, it is when real capital stagnates that the amount of fictitious capital tends to expand.

The years roughly between the late 1970s to the present economic impasse have been unprecedented since the emerging and increasing instability of the present debacle of the 2020s. Prior to this each successive wave of crises followed a wave of credit bubbles, when the indebtedness of similarly placed group and groups of borrowers increased at a two of three times higher than the interest rate for three, four or more years which produced a series of credit bubbles in addition. These historical blow-outs have in fact become even more intractable and destructive with the passing of time. Something seems seriously amiss with the system’s dysfunctionalities which have become quite visibly failing. The economic situation in a country after several years of bubble-like behaviour resembles that of a young person on a bicycle – the rider needs to maintain the forward momentum of the bicycle, or it will become unstable. During the initial mania, asset prices will decline immediately after they stop increasing – there is no plateau or middle ground. The decline in the prices of some assets leads to a concern that asset prices will decline further and that the financial system will experience distress. The rush to sell these assets becomes self-fulfilling and so precipitous that it resembles a panic. The prices of commodities – houses, buildings, land, shares/stocks bonds – crash to levels that are just 30 or 40 percent of their prices at the peak. Bankruptcies surge, economic activity slows, and unemployment increases.

The features of these manias are never identical and yet there is a similar pattern. The increase in the prices of real estate and commodities or stocks is associated with euphoria; household wealth increases as does spending. There is a sense of ‘we have never had it so good.’ Then the asset prices peak and then begin to decline. The following implosion of the bubble leads to a decline in the prices of commodities, stocks, and real estate. Some financial crises were preceded by a rapid increase in the indebtedness of one or several groups of borrowers rather than by a rapid increase in the price of an asset or security. These deep-going changes in the world’s global economy were accompanied by political ramifications of a very significant order.

The economic shocks of the post-war period gave rise to the political shocks which if anything were more visible than what was apparent in the economies of the advanced world. Since 1945 everything had after the post-war reconstruction been regarded as L’Age Dor, (Golden Age) as the French had called it. This was a period from the early 1950s characterized by high levels of growth, low and falling unemployment, rising level wages and investment, where in the UK we were informed that ‘we had never had it so good’’ as the Conservative government proudly boasted. The Labour party had held the reins of government from 1945-1951. But things began to change during the 1970s, namely that the political/economic pivot changed definitively in the late 70s and early 80s. The Thatcher/Reagan duo grabbed the bull by the horns and established the new order.

This political/economic dispensation was to last from the early 1980s and through to what was to be the supposed blossoming of the Clinton years of growth and enrichment, the apex of the Anglo-American moment. To be sure: “Pippa’s Song.’’ See Below.

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven –
All’s right with the world!

Robert Browning (1812-1889)

Yes, if only it could always be like this. But of course, it seldom or never is, as was to be witnessed in due course.

Consolidation of the New Order

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Dynamic Duo!

The intellectual theorists of the new order – the Mount Perelin Society – an emergent think-tank and intellectual movement behind the Thatcher-Reagan populism. In a both internally coherent framework and an ideology used to promote the power of the owners of capital in general and finance capital in particular. The work of Hayek, Von Mises, and others constituted a serious intellectual exercise grounded in a particular set of values (including Milton Friedman albeit a junior member) namely, a commitment to human freedom, defined by control over one’s property. The fact that this justified for shrinking the size of the state, removing capital controls, and reducing taxes is what led several prominent international financiers (George Soros comes to mind for some reason) to cover a large portion of the costs for the first meeting. So, the party (in terms of both political activity and organization) was calling nearly all the shots.

Another significant event has been the intellectual collapse of Labour and Social-Democratic parties in Europe and possibly even included the left-wing of the US Democratic Party and Bernie Sanders. These were clearly the most significant political events in both Europe and North America during the 1980s. We can list them – all late converts to the neo-liberal paradigm – in France (PS Party Socialist France) (Germany SPD) (Greece PASOK) (Spain PODEMOS) (UK Labour Party) the list goes on. Moreover, having given up on any notion of socialism and equality, these ex-parties metamorphosed into centre-right outfits indistinguishable from the militant conservatives. The leaders of these counterrevolutions were the ineffable bought duo – Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.

The privatization programme was to sweep all before it including on a massive scale the expropriation of public land with little analysis or oversight. The programme of what was once the public sector and which had included, the National Health Service, Education, Transport, Road and Rail, Electricity, Water … was a policy based upon ideological rather than practical considerations; moreover, the list was extensive. Perhaps an example of this policy was education, particularly higher education which was provided and subsidized by educational opportunities in the elite universities. As a British national I was subsidized by generous government grant in 1979/82. I then finished my higher education as a post-graduate in 1986 – again free of charge. It is of course inconceivable that I would have been able to do this today.

The economic system – that is to say the present financialized system prevalent in the Western world – seems to be reaching its crisis point. Quack remedies for the ailing western economic structures, include Central Bank Digital Currencies, CBDCs, and/or the black hole of ever-increasing debt, which apparently will be overcome by issuing more debt (sic) and which are touted as a ‘solution’ to an intensifying structural problem, but which merely intensify the crisis.

According to Marx: ‘’In France and England, the bourgeoisie had conquered political power. Thenceforth, the class-struggle, practically as well as theoretically, took on more and more outspoken and threatening forms. It sounded the death-knell of scientific bourgeois economy. It was thenceforth no longer a question, whether this theorem or that was true, but whether it was useful to capital or harmful, expedient, or inexpedient, politically dangerous, or not. In place of disinterested inquirers, there were prize fighters; in place of genuine scientific research, the bad conscience and evil intent of the apologetic.’’ (Capital, Volume 1, Afterword to the Second German Edition – London 1873).

The present deep economic crisis is, at bottom, a class issue. The residual elements of the old aristocracy survived the initial assault of the political economists of the 17/18/19th centuries who included Adam Smith (1723-1790), David Ricardo (1772-1823), John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), Karl Marx (1818-1883)/(Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). The ruling class saw the above group as being an assemblage of dangerous radicals who posed an alarming threat to the social and political order. Thus, from their perspective the powers-that-be saw fit to enlist a group of academics called the ‘marginalists’ in 1870. These were the counter-revolutionary mathematicians and included Leon Walras (Frenchman) William Stanley Jevons (Englishman) and Carl Menger (German). Whether or not the repudiation of classical political economy achieved by this counter-group was sustainable is a moot point (see above). But suffice it to say these gentlemen were the ideological foot-soldiers, or, in Marx’s words ‘hired Prize Fighters’ for the rentier classes. Unfortunately, their frozen economic theories survived to the present day and continue to dominate school and university curricula and represent the timeless (and tedious) axioms of micro-economics.

I’ll leave the last word to Michael Hudson.

‘’Real estate, stocks and bonds constitute the bulk of wealth in today’s economies, because most wealth is obtained by rent-seeking – land rent, monopoly rent, and financial charges for special privileges – and even more by capitalizing rentier revenues into financialized assets, all supported by tax favoritism. In contrast to industrial capitalism’s drive to minimize rentier charges to create a lower cost economy with less overhead costs, finance capitalism increases this burden. Regardless of how financiers and billionaire rentier make their fortunes, this rise in rentier wealth is counted as an addition to GDP, subtracted as an exploitive transfer payment …Much as the land and England’s Commons were privatized in the Enclosure movements from 15th to 19th centuries by a combination of force, legal stealth and corruption, today’s post-1980 privatization wave aims at appropriating basic public infrastructure to create opportunities for charging monopoly rent, along with bank lending to privatizers. Privatization and financialization tend to go together – at the economies expense.’’ (5)

Italy: La Lotta Continua! (Ongoing Struggle)

NOTES:

(1) Stolen: How to save the world from financialization by Grace Blakeley. (2) The Corruption of Capitalism – Guy Standing – (Ibid. p. 3)

(3) Grace Blakeley – (Ibid. p.62)

(4) Creative Destruction – Phillip Mullan – (p.22)

(5) The Destiny of Civilization – Michael Hudson – (p.25)

More

The Post-Oslo Social Economy: An Analysis

August 12, 2022

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, US President Bill Clinton, and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo Accord. (Photo: Vince Musi, via Wikimedia Commons)

By Omar Zahzah

“It’s classic Fanon, if you think about it,” Palestinian writer Yara Hawari, Senior Analyst of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network,  remarked in 2018 about the 25th anniversary Oslo Accords.

“It’s like, Let’s create this class of people that are going to maintain the security of the oppressed or the natives, so that we don’t have to do it.”

The “class” Hawari refers to here is the Palestinian Authority, that repressive, native informant apparatus whose incarceration and brutalization of its own people and total obedience to the Zionist colonial state was institutionalized through the passage of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Hawari relates the formation of the PA to the underdeveloped national middle-class Fanon describes in “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness,” a class that maintains its material integrity and interests by preserving neo-colonial relations and collaborations with the colonial power.

Palestinian activist Jamal Juma explains that through the Accords, the PA made it so that Palestinian livelihoods would be controlled by organizations including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and that the division of the West Bank into areas A, B, and C is ultimately guided by a larger strategy of total annexation. 

An expansive exploration of the former subject, Toufic Haddad’s Palestine, Ltd. demonstrates how Western donor states and financial institutions used the Oslo Accords as a test-case in the exploration of national and governmental forms of arrangement that could be most agreeable to neoliberal capitalist ventures—an insight that suggests how Palestine operates as a “lab” in ways other than the more familiar discussion of the Zionist state honing the weaponry, crowd-control and surveillance tactics that it will eventually export to other nations and corporations upon Palestinian bodies and territories.

Yet as crucial as these insights are, they are tied to the material components of the Oslo Accords’ disastrous impacts.

I believe it’s also important to discuss other, more abstract components of the Accords’ destructiveness—components that are not even limited to Palestine alone. Such an undertaking is important, as every attempt to diagnose the true colonial character of our condition brings us one step closer to a potentially liberated–and liberatory–consciousness.

Emotional and Mental Reproduction

The physical character of colonial projects may reproduce itself emotionally and mentally, both within the collective morale of the colonized as well as in the minds and hearts of individuals among colonized populations. Thus, it takes no great leap of the imagination to consider that the physical and political fragmentation wrought by the Oslo Accords—the arrogant and arbitrary declaration that a future Palestinian state would only concern those Palestinians presently within colonized and militarily occupied Palestinian territory; the abandonment of the liberation struggle; the creation of a corrupt Palestinian bourgeoisie elite that would profit directly off of oppressing and exploiting its own people–have also reinscribed themselves within the individual Palestinian psyche.

It also stands to reason that such a reinscription would have profound effects not only upon individual Palestinian morale, but the activism (and here I deploy this term intentionally) that followed in the wake of the Oslo Accords.

My subject of analysis is a particular type of activism (again, used here to describe a mindset and various forms of prioritization) that values the individual reputation, ego, “brand,” politics, over, or at the complete exclusion of, the larger liberation struggle as well as the need for mutual and collective struggle among our people. One person or organization becomes the default representative of the Palestinian cause, and rather than seeing others involved in the same struggle as comrades, all become competitors in a cheap struggle for “authenticity.” 

Collectivity shifts from a strength to a liability, as the plurality of voices and approaches so integral to the health of any veritable liberation movement becomes crowded out by the cultural lure of being the default Palestinian voice, the Palestinian activist, the Palestinian intellectual, and so on, as opposed to one among many.

Anti-colonial criticality becomes redirected towards liberal policy analysis and so-called “thought leadership” that takes for granted and even benefits from the perseverance of structures and systems that need to be destroyed rather than sustained. But even a more critical posture is not necessarily indicative of having transcended this status quo, as being the most radical presence can become commodified as its own, cynical show of competition.  

It is no longer the Palestinian struggle that is engaged, in its entirety and contradictions, but a sanitized version that is repackaged and sold to a target audience. The fragmentation imposed upon our struggle by our colonizers and the so-called leadership among our people that willfully collaborate with them for their own personal gain is restaged in this competition, and fragmentation itself becomes incentivized rather than challenged.

All oppositional forces, from our colonizers to their imperialist allies, would like nothing more than for us to remain scattered, to remain fragmented, so it is natural that we would find ourselves in systems and situations where attacking one another as a way of building ourselves up is encouraged, however indirectly.

What is Meant By Social Economy

An “economy” typically implies a system of relation and exchange. Thus to refer to the phenomenon in question as a “social economy” might seem a strange choice of words. But through this formulation we are considering the ways in which social relations themselves are conditioned by economic processes—the way, for example, personal and professional relationships become distorted by capitalistic notions of profit, productivity, and artificial scarcity, or how neoliberal belief systems encourage a “buffet” style approach to issues of oppression that says holding a marginalized identity in and of itself entails liberatory intentions (Mahmoud Abbas should be a sufficient enough refutation of this regressive political tendency.)

In our example, political work becomes imperceptibly overtaken by for-profit incentives of competition, false scarcity, and exclusion, and a cause that is at heart a collective struggle for anti-colonial liberation becomes nothing more than a means of self-promotion and advancement. To the extent that rampant NGOization both in Palestine and internationally diverts liberation-focused efforts to reformist ones sharply limited by strings-attached funding and siphons the intellect and creativity of organizers into bureaucratic demands such as fundraising and donor relationship building, we cannot ignore the interplay between compromised institutions, predatory economic subjugation, and political mercurialness.

Good Faith and the Unconscious

However, while such engagement may at times be informed by a willful disregard, our experiences suggest that such a state of affairs is more likely to be reinforced unconsciously. Thus, even in the most intense moments of seeming competition and disagreement, the possibility of good faith should always be presumed.

One imperfect yet nevertheless amelioratory practice given this state of affairs is to insist upon intentional and conscientious distinctions between the grassroots and non-profit spheres. To be sure, there is overlap, but to consciously present non-profits as the grassroots would ultimately water down grassroots work with the demands, limitations, and restrictions of non-profit bureaucracy. 

In the interim to the complete dissolution to the non-profit system, one important approach is to navigate non-profit spaces with an awareness of these material distinctions and always ask oneself (and one’s organization(s)) how best to utilize the resources and networks of the non-profit milieu to amplify the grassroots without restriction whenever possible. 

It would be a far simpler task if the Oslo Accords had resulted in a generation of self-interested activists and organizations competitively profiting off of their Palestinian “brands,” for better or worse, but this is not what I’m arguing. The reality is murkier, and more difficult to define, but ultimately what I’m suggesting is that various factors, including the overemphasis on the individual within settler-colonial/capitalist US nationalist ethos, as well as the myriad forms of fragmentation inflicted upon us through the Oslo Accords, are themselves internalized and re-staged within US activist scenes, but often at the level of general instinct and impression. 

Various social and symbolic norms make it so that certain actions and attitudes are simply felt to come more naturally than others. This is the case with capitalism in general, which presents a complete distortion of social relations and attachments as so-called “reality,” “nature,” “society,” and so on. Our colonial condition, while in some ways more particular, nevertheless operates with similar effect: the horizon of possibility is increasingly depleted by shrinking borders and an abdication of responsibility and dedication to the struggle.

The Way(s) Forward

There is no one set “solution” to such a state of affairs, but as individualism and competition are the scourges, approaches that center collaboration and mutual uplift obviously should be prioritized. To that extent, continually engaging in (and presuming) good faith from others—with the exception of crossing red lines about Zionism and normalization—should be standardized. But even when it comes to these red lines, it is crucial to be able to name exhaustive standards for Zionism and normalization, as well as to establish and maintain cultures of principled political commitment.

At this point, it ought to be far from politically controversial to say that the Zionist entity has no right to exist, should never have existed and in fact, should not exist even now; that Palestinians have the right to all forms of resistance until total return and liberation, and that all of the Zionist entity is, in fact, occupied Palestine, an alien construction upon stolen land and lives that needs to be destroyed in the lead-up to comprehensive Palestinian liberation and reparations.

Explicitly naming competitions and turf wars as reflective of the Oslo Accords rather than feeding into them can at times aid in refocusing efforts towards the larger struggle and collective betterment, though this is not always a guarantee.

At the root of the issue is the need to operate with a sense of Movement rather than individualism or activism, and always begin from a position of helping the collective cause rather than advancing individual gains. The struggle is hurt by our fragmentation, though it’s important to resist the cynical cooptation of this principle as a means of encouraging tolerance of any and all political lines within our spaces and wider networks (such as normalization of the Zionist entity, including acceptance of the Palestinian “Authority’s” security coordination).

For the purpose is to rekindle and preserve a sense of collective identity and resistance that operates within a genuinely anti-colonial frame, rather than accepting our colonization as an inevitability, or even past event.   

– Omar Zahzah is the Education and Advocacy Coordinator for Eyewitness Palestine as well as a member of the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Omar is also an independent scholar, writer and poet and holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

Michael Hudson: Podcast with Michael Hudson, Steve Keen, Steve Grumbine

July 17, 2022

Posted with Michael Hudson’s permission

Grambine, Macro and Cheese, July 9 2022. https://realprogressives.org/podcast_episode/episode-180-the-end-of-dollar-diplomacy-with-steve-keen-and-michael-hudson/.

https://realprogressives.org/macro-n-cheese-podcast/
For those who would like to hear the recorded conversation

Michael Hudson [intro/music]

A central tenet of the World Bank from the beginning is to convince countries not to grow their own food, but to create plantation agriculture to prevent family-owned farming of food, to grow plantation export crops and they become dependent on the United States for their grain.

[00:00:22.610] – Steve Keen [intro/music]

If you look at just the shipping involved in international trade, it’s something of the order of 20%, I think, of our carbon production comes out of the entire mechanics of shipping goods around the planet. And we realize we’ve massively overshot the capacity of the biosphere to support our industrial sedentary civilization. So, one way to reduce that is by reducing international trade.

[00:01:35.130] – Geoff Ginter [intro/music]

Now, let’s see if we can avoid the apocalypse altogether. Here’s another episode of Macro N Cheese with your host, Steve Grumbine.

[00:01:43.110] – Steve Grumbine

All right. And this is Steve with Macro N Cheese. Another great episode for everyone today. I have two guests, two very good friends, and very happy to have them join me today. Professor Steve Keen and Michael Hudson. You can’t get two better guys than this. And we’re going to have a very action packed conversation.

We’re going to be talking about central banking, the IMF, World Trade Organization, World Bank. And we’re going to be looking at how the US uses the monetary system to bring about its imperial powers that it exerts on the world. And we’re going to look at some of the things that are happening with Russia and Ukraine right now that ship the US control over the global commerce and the behaviors of non US countries.

They’re starting to think for themselves and make some decisions, and we’re watching the facade crack a little bit. Steve Keen, who is the author of the book Debunking Economics and more recently The New Economics: A Manifesto, is joining me, as well as Michael Hudson, who has just recently written the book The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism. So, without further ado, Michael and Steven, welcome to the show, sirs.

[00:03:04.530] – Michael Hudson

Good to be here.

[00:03:05.800] – Steve Keen

Thank you indeed.

[00:03:06.960] – Grumbine

So the reason why I brought us together, you guys are both phenomenal on your own, but together, I think that we can maybe tackle this. As an MMT advocate, I find myself friends with an awful lot of people, and you gentlemen have been doing this for a long time, and I know that you have some pushback within the MMT community.

In particular, this concept of “imports are a benefit and exports are a cost.” This is a core MMT staple. And some of the concerns that came out as a result of the Covid crisis showed us the resource based failures of a global supply chain and how some of the aspects of our financial system and the shipping of real resources from areas that had high Covid, how it impacted our abilities to take care of life on life’s terms.

It also became quite clear that the US hegemony over the world using dollar diplomacy is starting to show cracks in the foundation as well, as we watch Russia thumb its nose at US sanctions. So, getting into this, Steve Keen, I know that you have taken some issue with Warren Mosler’s prescription that imports are a benefit and exports are a cost.

Taking Warren’s position on this, I believe Warren is saying exports are real goods and services we’re sending out, whereas imports we’re handing pieces of paper to people. And this is a win for the importing nation. And we’ve seen the power of the US dollar and the ability to basically create colonial outposts, colonized communities living and dying off of US dollars. So there’s a power dynamic as well. What is your pushback with Warren’s import/export model?

[00:05:03.270] – Keen

There are quite a few elements to it. First of all, the idea that exports are a cost and imports are a benefit. One term that I’ve seen one Modern Monetary Theory advocate used to explain is to say, the opportunity cost is all theirs. In other words, they have therefore gone by sending a good to us like an automobile to the buyer in return for currency.

They’re doing without the opportunity of the vehicle. And when you take a good look at the manufacturing side of things, the reality for most firms is they have diminishing marginal cost and excess capacity. So the standard thing when you’re competing in a domestic market is you have spare capacity you’re not using, but you can’t get enough demand domestically.

Now, I know MMT can say that should be handled by the government using additional spending power and creating the spending power to absorb the excess capacity. But they don’t at the moment. So what tends to happen instead is that countries will use export-oriented industrialization to use their additional capacity more effectively, which is what’s led to the industrialization of China and in many ways the de-industrialization of America.

Personally, I don’t think the opportunity cost is the right way to think about international trade at all. It’s a neoclassical way of thinking. It assumes neoclassical conditions about production which are empirically false. I don’t think anything in MMT should be based on bad foundations and I think that is a bad foundation.

Then when you see the discussions about monetary sovereignty and saying that countries who don’t have to issue debt in the currency which is not their own currency, they have monetary sovereignty, those who have to issue debt in a currency which is not their own don’t have monetary sovereignty. One way you end up in not having monetary sovereignty is running large balance of trade deficits and not being the reserve currency of the planet.

So I think the advice that exports are a cost and imports are a benefit doesn’t make sense for countries which have been running a trade deficit, are importing more than they’re exporting, so they’re using their own pieces of paper fundamentally, initially, but if they keep on doing it, they’ve got to start using American pieces of paper, and then they’re in deep trouble. So I just think it’s a nice slogan, but I think it’s a bad idea.

[00:07:20.250] – Grumbine

So it makes sense to me given the nature of the pandemic. You and I spoke, I guess it was almost two years ago, about supply chains and pandemics, and we talked at length about how the iPhone is made in some 37 different countries – and countries that were isolated due to the pandemic. It also impacted production in general. Right now I’m in Information Technology, and I work with Cisco, and Cisco being the backbone of the entire Internet globally.

They have lead times even today of up to a year for some of the equipment, partially because of semiconductor shortages. But this is a piggyback to that in that there is the accounting identities of trading paper for goods and services, but then there is the actual functional output of that. And for countries like the United States, we do have Most Favored Nation status in the sense that we are the primary world reserve currency.

And I think part of that has to do with the fact that the price gas and gas purchases are done through US dollars as well. But overall, I think that we have to be aware that we’re not being a very good partner on the planet in general. A lot of the power plays the United States uses to be able to get those goods and services into the US Is done through warfare and sanctions, as we’ve seen all around the world. We use them to great harm in the global South.

However, we saw Russia here recently thumb their nose at us and say, the only thing we’re really lacking is high tech products, and we got China that can hook us up with that. All you’ve done is accelerated our departure from a dollar denominated world, which I guess brings us to you, Michael. Your book talks extensively about this. Can you help piggyback off of what Steve said regarding the supply chains and the impact of that import/export dynamic with what’s going on right now with Russia, China and Ukraine?

[00:09:34.590] – Hudson

Well, MMT has not spent much time talking about the balance of payments. It’s basically a theory of the domestic economy. The problem of the whole discussion that just took place is that trade is not the most important element of the balance of payments. For the United States, the trade balance has been just about in balance for almost 50 years, 70 years, actually.

What’s in balance is America’s military spending abroad. That’s the deficit that is pumping dollars into the world economy. But now to get back to Steve’s point, realizing that we’re dealing with trade, only a small portion of the balance of payments, Steve’s point is, let’s ignore all the other elements of the balance of payments – the debt service and the capital accounts and others.

If you import more than you export, and you have to actually pay cash for the imports and get cash for the export, then you have to borrow money. And once you borrow money, because most trade is denominated in dollars, this means you have to borrow US dollars. You don’t buy imports with your own currency. Now, MMT is all about how sovereign governments can create their own money and create their own currency, but they can’t print their foreign currency.

That’s the problem with having more imports than exports. And once you begin to borrow dollars, you have to pay interest on it. And all of a sudden, they’re running a deficit, it’s going to reduce your foreign exchange rates. Well, let’s look at what’s going to happen this summer as an example. We know that energy prices, oil prices are going way up.

And President Biden just says they’re going to be with us for a very long time because his major contributors are the oil companies, and he’s promised them that he’s going to enable them to make super profits to help raise the Dow Jones average. And the other element is food. Well, America is going to make a killing on oil exports because the United States controls the world oil trade.

The United States is also a major agricultural exporter, and it’ll make a killing because NATO has imposed sanctions on Russia, preventing Russia from exporting oil and food – it’s the largest grain exporter – into the economy. So you’re going to have South America, Africa, and the global South countries all of a sudden running big deficits.

Well, at the same time, there’s an enormous deficit of debt service that they owe to finance all of the trade deficits that they’ve been running ever since they followed neoliberal ideals to open their markets to depend on foreign food and basically US manufacturers. The Federal Reserve has just begun to raise interest rates. And the result of raising interest rates has been the dollar is going way up against the Latin American currencies, the African currencies, the South African rand, the Brazilian currency.

So you’re going to have the global South being in an absolute currency squeeze this summer. What are they going to do? Well, President Putin has said, well, we’re going to offer an alternative in the form of the BRICS bank. Well, it’s true that a bank can’t create foreign currency. The BRICS bank can enable countries to run a deficit in two ways.

Number one, the bank can be fueled by each member giving, say, a trillion dollars or some kind of proportional currency to the bank. So currency swap agreements, just like the United States has been negotiating for the last 50 years. You can all have a currency swap. Also, the BRICS bank can create its version of Special Drawing Rights – IMF SDRs – or what John Maynard Keynes proposed in 1944: “bancors.”

It can create paper gold of its own and distribute to countries. Well, the problem is, Putin said, we’re willing to sell your grain and oil and to take your currency in exchange, but we don’t want to save your balance of payments simply so that now you can afford to pay the debt service that you owe to US dollar bond holders, bank holders, and the IMF and the World Bank that got you into the mess you’re in to begin with.

So the problem is the stability of insulating your trade from the foreign exchange going up and down requires a split of the world into two different economic zones: US/NATO, the white people’s economic zones, and let’s call it the nonwhite economic zones. And remember, the Ukraine say that Russians are not white and racially different. Basically, the Nazi ideology is that any country that’s not neoliberal is not white.

So you’re going to have the world splitting, and we’re really talking about how to create a monetary system for the world splitting. I want to get back to one other thing Steve said about the opportunity cost. If imports are a great advantage to the United States, is it worth having American corporations move to low wage labor abroad, shifting the production abroad so that America is deindustrialized?

Has that been an advantage? Or let’s look at it from Russia’s point of view. Until this last spring, Russia was importing food, cheese, raw materials. And because of the sanctions, Russia has had to all of a sudden develop import substitution. It’s producing its own cheese. It produced its own agriculture that’s thriving.

And President Putin has said that Russia is going to spend more and more of its oil export receipts on funding import-replacing industry. Well, that sounds like a good idea, because we’re really talking about independence. And the balance of payments ultimately determines a constraint on domestic policy. I think that’s what Steve was talking about for opportunity costs.

You can’t just look at the flows on a balance sheet: “Well, we’re getting something for nothing.” If you import more than you export, you’re running up foreign debt, and you’re becoming more and more dependent on foreign countries who are acting in their own interests, not your own interests. So you have to put this whole discussion in the political context.

[00:16:15.210] – Grumbine

So I would see this as a national security issue in that with these essentials – Fadhel Kaboub talks about the spectrum of sovereignty: energy sovereignty, food sovereignty, technological sovereignty, the ability to live without external supports. And each country has varying levels of that. And so each country would have to be looked at differently just based on what they’re even capable of producing.

I guess my question to you, as we think about countries in the global South that have had the kiss of the IMF on them and the debt peonage that they have been laboring under. In Africa, Sankara’s speech talking about “I can either pay you or I can feed my people.” You can see the role that US interests through the IMF have had to import their goods and services into our country.

They don’t have a choice. They are basically colonial states that have the US thumbprint on them. So the United States has exerted this imperial power in this geopolitical nightmare. We are watching them break away from that today.

[00:17:34.050] – Hudson

But you’re leaving one of the real villains in the piece, and that’s the World Bank.

[00:17:38.290] – Grumbine

Oh, yes.

[00:17:39.020] – Hudson

A central element of the World Bank from the beginning is to convince countries not to grow their own food, but to create plantation agriculture, to prevent family-owned farming of food, to grow plantation export crops, and to become dependent on the United States for their grain. Well, if imports are a benefit and imports mean that the United States can put a sanction on you and starve your people like the United States tried to do in China in the 1950s, do you really want to become import dependent on food?

Let’s compare the World Bank to the Chinese Belt and Road and the BRICS bank that’s proposed. The World Bank would only make foreign exchange loans. That meant it would only make loans to countries who would invest in infrastructure that would help its exports. Well, imagine how this works for agriculture.

If you were going to develop your agriculture in the global South countries, you’d do pretty much what the United States did in the 1930s that had the most rapid increase in productivity of any industry in the last few centuries. And that was because the government took the lead in agricultural extension services, seed testing, educating farmers as to seed variety, setting up local farm management organizations.

Before the time that Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland became the great intermediaries in promotion of domestic self-sufficiency for farms, the World Bank wouldn’t make any loans at all for this, even though the World Bank local commissions and reports all said that this is what they need. The World Bank was almost always headed by someone very close to the US Military, starting with John J. McCloy at the beginning and going through McNamara and all of the subsequent Pentagon people who were put in charge of the World Bank.

And above all, they wanted to continue to base America’s export boom in agriculture and to make other countries food dependent. And that is one of the things that has led them into debt. So if you have a country like Chile that has the richest land in the world because it has the richest supply of guano deposits in the world. It also has the most unequal land distribution in Latin America – latifundia and microfundia – not any kind of balanced food production.

So that all of Chile’s exports and copper, by specializing, have been overwhelmed by the costs of importing food that it could have grown all by itself. So the idea of free trade is shaped by what will the international organizations controlled by the US give credit for, ends up to create underdevelopment and dependency instead of development. And that developmental aspect is a different story from MMT money creation. And we’re talking about something else that is part of a much bigger system.

[00:20:43.410] – Grumbine

Steve, based on what Michael just said, I know that you are concerned with the environment and bringing production back home. And around the world, people that are not hip to the US empire are trying to convince countries to look at building bonds between each other to create trade zones that mitigate some of the US power over dominating their countries.

We’ve got a very tiny window to solve climate crisis as well. So all these things are converging at one time trying to deleverage US interests from the world interests and watching as the nonwhite countries are banding together and the white countries are banding together. And it seems like the opportunity to save ourselves from extinction is passing before our very eyes.

In the vein of what he just said, how do we marry some of the ideas that we have, the climate crisis with the geopolitical crisis that we’re battling here?

[00:21:49.110] – Keen

Well, the large part of it is that the focus of neoclassical economics has always been on specialization and doing it with so-called comparative advantage. And what that gives you is an incredibly fragile system, as we’ve seen with Covid, because if you actually distribute production across the planet and you have a long supply chain, then of course that can collapse in an instant with something like Covid coming along.

And equally, if you have a famine, if the major food baskets get wiped out by a famine or a war. We’ve got the war already. The famine may well come by a drought and a crop failure as well. Then suddenly you can’t feed your people and you have no domestic alternative. So I think we have to get away from the focus on efficiency and even in that sense, the gain of swapping paper for goods, which is part of the MMT slogan.

Start thinking: no, we need to be resilient and capable of handling a range of different disturbances which could come our way. And on that basis you need to have your production local.

[00:22:47.310] – Grumbine

So within that space mitigating some of the travel carbon footprint expenses that clearly solves one problem. But where you had smokestacks to create basic amounts of goods and services in one country, now you’re building smokestacks across the globe and I don’t see any meaningful effort to green technology to make those things happen.

I am curious what decentralizing production does in terms of the carbon footprint and how developing local supply chains will in turn impact our ability to stave off climate crisis.

[00:23:30.090] – Keen

Yeah, if you look at just the shipping involved in international trade. It’s something at the order of 20%, I think, of our carbon production comes out of the entire mechanics of shipping goods around the planet, and we realize we’ve massively overshot the capacity to support our industrial sedentary civilization. So one way you can reduce that is by reducing international trade.

I think that’s what’s going to start happening, partly because you have the example of Cisco. You suddenly wait a year to get a piece you used to wait two weeks for because of the breakdown of the supply chain. The same thing will become even, I think, even more extreme when climate change forces us to drastically reduce our production levels.

If you don’t have the domestic production capability, you’re going to lose the possibility of those goods. And in some cases, we have to drastically reduce our consumption of a range of goods. Automobiles is an obvious instance of that. But in others, we want to continue – and food production is one of those. Clearly, you want to produce your food locally.

So, again, I think we’ve been very blase about the physical side of production, and that’s what I would like MMT to start looking at. And in that context, I think it might change the attitude about imports and exports.

[00:24:57.730] – Intermission

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[00:25:49.010] – Grumbine

Michael, in the Russia example, where in one fell swoop they get cut off from the SWIFT system and the US is beating their chest, “We’ve got Putin on the run.” It doesn’t look like Putin is on the run at all right now.

[00:26:02.900] – Hudson

I’m glad you’re bringing up the NATO war against countries resisting neoliberalism, because you use the word “green.” And the European Greens basically are advocating two fuels of the future: coal and cutting down the forests. Germany, by blocking Russia’s gas, they are essentially replacing Russian gas and oil with Polish and Ukrainian coal – and digging down the forest.

I’ve walked very often through German villages, and most houses have whole stacks of cut-down lumber that they essentially burn in their fireplaces for heat. You’re having an enormous deforestation and replacement of gas with coal. And the Green Parties are the advocates for the major polluters in the world, and they’re the advocates for global warming.

And that’s because they’re part of the Cold War attack on Russia. And they say it’s worth having global warming as long as we can fight against countries that resist neoliberalism and resist the American European takeover. So you want to realize the politics – that the Greens of Europe are not friends of the environment.

Now, to get back to your question about the isolating of Russia. Isolating Russia hasn’t isolated it at all. It’s driven Russia together with China, in the first instance, and then China and Russia together have joined with India, Iran, Syria, they’re now joining with Brazil and Argentina all to create an alternative economic order and social order and political order.

And the political order is basically based on the main distinction between the non-neoliberals and the neoliberals, and that is: who will control the money supply. And China is the prime example. Instead of private banking creating the credit to create loans basically for financial reasons, China will create credit to spend into the economy the way that MMTers hope to see credit created.

Namely, spend to hire labor, to make new means of production, hopefully in an environmental way, as opposed to the commercial banks that look at “how do we make money in the short term?” Well, you make money in the short term by cutting down the forest of the Amazon. You don’t look at global warming.

And already you’ve had the heads of American oil companies and investment firms say “what do we care about global warming ten years in the future? We care about the next three months’ earning statement, and the next year. Ten years from now, the sea levels go up. We can deal with it then.” So you’re dealing with two different economic philosophies and as the world divides into these two different economies, this is an important element.

And as Steve just pointed out, neoliberal economics doesn’t take into account the environment because that’s long term. Economists call that exogenous, meaning it’s outside our tunnel vision. And the question is whether you’re going to look at the world economy as the overall system interconnected, which is what Steve and I do, or whether you’re going to say we’re going to just cut the financial sector apart and only look at the corporate and financial sector of how to make money quickly.

That’s really the difference. So obviously Russia was not really troubled very much by being cut off – or even by being isolated. What America is doing is driving Russia together with all of the countries that have refused to condemn it. And America basically is creating an iron curtain, locking these countries – isolating them from Europe and the United States – going their own way, which I don’t think Russia and China are unhappy to see occurring.

[00:29:54.480] – Grumbine

I completely agree with that. The idea that the US thinks they are going to knock these giants down and they’ve just said we’re going to invest in our own country. Instead of being a cooperative society, we see this as a combative society. We decided we have to fight them and create cold wars to isolate them so we can catch up.

But you nailed it with the concept of the private short-term thinking that private collateral, banking, loans, filling short-term needs because we can’t see out as far as those folks because they aren’t living and dying the same capitalist way that we do things here in the United States. They have invested in the public purpose.

China has got the ability to do just about everything. Do you think it’s going to take us getting our proverbial asses handed to us by the rest of the world to wake up? Do you think we’ll ever wake up? Or this is just the way it will always be, at least until tsunamis take us out?

[00:30:56.870] – Hudson

Who is the we? Who’s going to wake up? When you say we, it’s as if you mean American citizens in the population. But we are not the government who makes the policy. We are not the Davos Group and the campaign contributors. Their “we” are the oil industry, the big agricultural monopolies, the other monopolies, and Wall Street. That’s the finance, insurance and real estate sector [FIRE].

And they are going to just continue doing what they want. And you’ve seen from the recent Supreme Court rulings in the United States that the government is not permitted to enforce any climate preservation rules. That has been ruled unconstitutional unless Congress can pass environmental law. And in order for Congress to pass a law, as opposed to just an executive branch joining the environment, you have to have 60 out of 100 votes.

American dual politics doesn’t permit either party to get 60 votes unless there’s a landslide. And the only party that has a prospect of getting 60% would be the Republicans. So basically, even if the people wake up, the government people and their campaign contributors are just going to continue to make money to live in the short term. That’s what differentiates neoliberalism and socialism.

[00:32:17.630] – Grumbine

Very well stated. To me, I think of this as war. Murder. I don’t think of this as some polite gentleman’s disagreement. I see this as wanton death and destruction, all in the name of profit. How do we stop this? Can we stop this? Congress is bought and paid for. Our government, our Supreme Court doesn’t represent the people, and the President has proven to be a feckless neoliberal as well.

I see nothing to feel any sense of hope, and I’m not sure that hope is a requirement. It seems like the only alternative we have is in the street, is to become ungovernable, is to get rid of a government that is no longer representative of the people.

[00:33:04.010] – Hudson

[laughs]  Well, Steve’s gone to Thailand and I’m dealing mainly with China. That’s how we’ve coped. [laughter] Neither of us are going to be President of America.

[00:33:15.690] – Keen

No. The American political system is almost designed to stop anything being done. I was involved in the Australian election recently, as you probably remember. And though my party did extremely badly and money still was obviously vitally necessary to get a political profile, even in countries with good electoral systems, Australia does have a good electoral system, and America has got the best electoral system money can buy, and that’s a disaster.

It’s hard to get away from money enabling parties to have political position to be seen in the media. And that’s actually a great reason for MMT: create money for publicly financed election campaigns rather than having it out of private pockets. But given that, you have an electoral system where you don’t actually vote for anybody, the electoral college piece of nonsense, which itself is crazy.

Every state has got a different system, which is crazy. You don’t have the central bureaucracy handling the voting system, which is crazy. And you have gerrymandering because the boundaries are decided by local political groups, which is crazy. So the extent to which America needs to reform its political structure to approximate a democracy is ridiculous. And that’s partly why money interests can so easily dominate what happens in the American political sphere. And right-wing religious ideology as well.

[00:34:43.950] – Grumbine

Absolutely. The Calvinistic bullshit in this country is over the top. But there’s a tone policing aspect to this. I think there are people out there who don’t understand that this election system that we have in the United States isn’t getting us what we want or need. They think they just need to phone bank harder, vote harder.

Fact is, in my 53 years, I have not seen any meaningful legislation passed. I do not consider the ACA meaningful legislation. I’ve seen a lot of bad legislation pass that hurts us. And this is not really intended to be an America-centric show, except that America seems to be the big bully. It’s creating a lot of the problems. It’s got its own citizens in hell and it’s trying to create hell on earth for the rest of the world.

I spend a lot of time trying to get this information out the door. It’s very important information, but it’s only important in the sense that it’s good to know. I don’t see any of it amounting to a movement, a passing of legislation. We can tell people that if we don’t consider the economy in the world as a superorganism and degrowth, we don’t have anybody thinking this way.

[00:36:00.090] – Keen

There is actually – I don’t know the name of it, but I do know that there’s a political group in America which is campaigning to have Australia’s electoral system adopted by America. Have it include an electoral commission that determines borders between one electorate and another, a single centralized system that counts the votes rather than the crazy range of stuff you have at the state level.

And controls on the size of electorates so they can be no more than 20% larger or smaller than a target – and they should be 10%. And then preferential voting so you don’t just vote for one candidate, like if you vote for the Greens in America, you guarantee the Republicans win the election because the Green votes are taken away from the Democrat.

So have preferential voting, which means you can actually put the party you prefer first and know that the party that’s your fallback will actually get the vote if your first party doesn’t get up. So all these sorts of reforms. I know that there are people who are campaigning about it because the frustration that you’re expressing is very widely felt in America. But of course, try getting that through a Republican-dominated Congress. It ain’t going to be easy.

[00:37:01.170] – Grumbine

No. It does leave you wondering if this is not just political theater. I talked to Warren the other day and Warren asked the question to me. He said, “you ask, are they doing a good job? And I answer back, well, for whom?” Somebody’s doing okay right now. It just isn’t the regular people in society. Somebody’s doing great, though. And I don’t see a path. As much as I want to, I see no path forward.

I don’t want to feel this way, but I don’t see a path forward. Michael, with your international perspective, I guess my question to you, given the fact that you’re focusing on China and you see the US through the lens that we’ve just discussed, do you see an ending to this that is positive for the world, that gets us to a successful conclusion, meaning we survive? Do you see any hope whatsoever in changing that narrative? And if not, what’s next?

[00:38:01.530] – Hudson

There’s no path forward in the way that we’ve been talking about because the suggestions that Steve makes cannot be legislated by Congress. They are limited by the Constitution. And in order to do what Steve recommends – very good ideas – you would need a new Constitutional Convention. The right-wing, the polluters, the monopolists, the bankers, have been preparing for a Constitutional Convention for about 30 years, and it wouldn’t be very nice.

[00:38:32.370] – Grumbine

Yep.

[00:38:32.370] – Hudson

Our Constitution in America was written for the slave owners to permit any states to block any federal power because they worried that the federal power might try to free the slaves. Well, now that element of the Constitution, of state’s rights, is enabling the oil industry, the polluting industry, the banks, the credit card companies to essentially prevent any solution along any lines except those of the ultra right-wing.

But the problem goes beyond America and beyond Europe. Western civilization took a wrong track about 3000 years ago. The Near East and almost all of Asia had a tradition of canceling the debts when they threatened the economy. In Japan, you had revolutions, you had the Near East rulers canceling the debts. That’s what my books are about.

And you had essentially the jubilee years throughout the Near East. And this promotion of economic growth and in effect, prosperity, was always run by a central ruler. There had to be a ruler, the job of divine kingship or undivine kingship, throughout the Near East, Asia, all the way to China. And India. All of these cultures sought to prevent a commercial class and a financial class from emerging and taking over.

And the merchant class was realized as playing an important role, but it was not allowed to dominate society. But around the 8th century BC, when Syrian traders began to move into the Aegean and Mediterranean to Greece and Italy. There weren’t any kings. The west didn’t have kings. They had local chieftains who were a Mafia-type society.

And the result is that ever since Greece and Rome, you had a completely different set of laws and legal philosophy than what you had in the Near East and Asia. You had pro-creditor laws making what is called the security of contracts and the irreversibility of land being forfeited to creditors. And the result is you had creditors oligarchy evolving.

So when President Biden said the current war of NATO against Russia and China is a war of democracy against autocracy, what it means by democracy are Western civilization’s oligarchies. There haven’t been any democracies, really – maybe very briefly in Athens – but the Western cultures are all oligarchies. What he calls an autocracy is a government strong enough to prevent a financial oligarchy from developing and taking over the land and taking over politics and making its own laws for itself.

And it’s a civilizational difference. And both Steve and I have spent a lot of our time talking about how the Western economies cannot evolve further without a debt write-down, without writing down the debts that are of the 99%, they’re owed to the 1%, the oligarchy that’s controlling all of Western politics. Asia has a way to go a different way.

China doesn’t have a financial oligarchy because it treats money and credit as a public utility through the Bank of China. And so the Bank of China, as we said, makes loans to actually develop the economy. And that’s what Russia says it’s going to begin doing, not to create a financial class to make money at the expense of the 99%. So we’re dealing with a civilizational problem.

And the question is, which form of civilization? Can you rescue Western civilization from the wrong track? Well, only by creating an alternative on the right track and leaving Western civilization and say, well, you’re missing out on the development. Do you want to continue in poverty or are you going to have a revolution?

[00:42:31.650] – Grumbine

You’ve seen yellow and blue profile pictures for everybody totally sympathetic to Ukraine. And our government saying “we are not going to abandon them no matter what.” Biden has signaled that we have unlimited money to give to Ukraine, and he can’t possibly write down $2 trillion in student debt. This weird split dichotomy of truth and lies passes right by the average person.

With what you just stated, which side is going to win? Sadly, the bad guys seem to always win. I rarely see the good guys win. Who is “the good guys”? In full disclosure, I’m a socialist. We don’t even have a left party in the United States. There’s no appetite for that kind of thing in the United States. And those of us that want it are the minority. How do you envision this playing out?

[00:43:26.670] – Hudson

I thought I just said it: a different civilization going its own way.

[00:43:31.740] – Grumbine

Well, what you said was the question of good and evil, basically, which one is going to win? I’m asking you, how do you see it playing out? Because the US can’t continue doing what it’s doing and grow. You need the debt jubilee. We’ve chosen not to. Asia has those systems built and they have choices. So the question I’m proposing, given that, do you see any chance of the US coming to grips with itself? Or do you see this being a one-way trip to destitution?

[00:44:03.570] – Hudson

The latter.

[00:44:05.010] – Grumbine

Fair enough.

[00:44:05.830] – Hudson

That’s all I can say. There is no sign at all of a change. The fact that Steve and I can be on your show – we are not published in the major magazines anymore. We’re not on the major network shows. What you call the bad guys always call themselves the good guys. What you call evil calls itself good. So the question is, what kind of good guys you’re going to have?

The good guys that want to blow up the world and impoverish society, which is what neoliberalism says are the good guys or the good guys for the 99%, which America says are autocracies that we have to fight?

[00:44:41.830] – Grumbine

Yeah.

[00:44:42.670] – Keen

I think I might put a bit of a perspective. People often say, “what’s your alternative?” And what they really mean is “what’s your alternative that I’m going to like?” And I think there is an alternative, but as people feel, “I don’t like it” then other people won’t like it as well. And that is that given the scale of the environmental crisis we’re facing and the fact that it’s coming far sooner than we’re being led to believe, because courtesy of believing their classical economists on it.

When it hits, the countries that are most likely to survive will hold together are those that the West calls authoritarian. And the defining feature of those cultures when you’ve actually been inside them, is that, yes, there is a very strong state and yes, it tends to get its own way and people do what they’re told to some extent, but it’s because at the same time they know they’ve benefited from that state.

So back in China, when you talk to people in China, they will be critical of the Communist Party and say at the same time, the industrialization since then has been incredible and their lives have improved radically over that period of time. I know people who were literally in Mao suits in 1969 who are having a very comfortable retirement when they faced far worst terms back under the old strictly communist regime.

But what you have with a country like that is if China decides it has to radically ramp up renewable energy resources, also install nuclear if necessary, it’s going to do it and not face the opposition the German Greens give to new nuclear power stations, for example. So the capacity to have a top down society is more likely to be then you’re going to survive the crisis that comes forward from climate change.

I can’t see countries that call themselves democracies succeeding in that situation because they will not be able to agree on the level of cutback that’s necessary and who it gets imposed upon. We’re a more centralized society. We’re more successful at doing that and more likely to hold together during the downturn the climate will cause.

[00:46:40.110] – Hudson

You need a strong enough government to check the power of an oligarchy and to prevent a creditor landowner oligarchy from developing. And libertarians, while pretending to be for liberty, they’re for a centrally planned economy, but a centrally planned economy by the oligarchy, by the financial sector, and by the real estate owners. So every economy is planned. And the question is, who’s going to do the planning?

[00:47:05.190] – Grumbine

Yes. And with that in mind, I want to read to you some stuff that came out of this NATO 2022 Strategic Concept – just so that people understand exactly how bad it is. Document defines Russia as the most significant and direct threat to the allies’ security while addressing China for the first time and the challenges that Beijing poses towards allies’ security interests and values.

Documents also state that climate change is a defining challenge of our time. Strategic Concept is updated roughly every decade as NATO’s second most important document. It reaffirms the values of the alliance, provides a collective assessment of security challenges, and guides the alliance’s political and military activities. Previous version was adopted at the NATO Lisbon Summit in 2010.

Point I’m making is they’re bringing more countries in and now setting up China and Russia as the bad guys. This has been going on for a long time, I guess Reaganism with the Cold War. And you brought it up, I think it’s worth mentioning, towards the end of the Chinese Revolution and the US efforts back then to do these same things to China then.

All these institutions, World Bank, IMF, the Peace Corps, all these different NGOs, these were brought out as a direct counter to Russia’s communism and a fear that communism would spread to the global South to prevent them from getting in bed with the Russians. But our country, the United States in this case, has been instrumental in setting up these shadow organizations to prevent any kind of socialism or people-led initiatives around the world.

And it seems like this is going to become the next war. If it’s not going to be just another Cold War, it’s definitely going to be some war because they are lining up the Axis and allies already. I guess. Take us out on this note.

[00:49:13.290] – Keen

I think I take it over a different angle and say that the global politics we’ve had over the last 80-100 years, actually, since the dominance of America, which we pretty much say from the end of the Second World War, has been completely oblivious to the impact we’re having on the planet. The biosphere itself. And the biggest political player on the planet is the biosphere.

And that’s going to start determining what the wars are in future. And I don’t think any country in the world is prepared for that battle. China has maybe probably the most effective capacity to respond to the challenges that are coming this way, but there’s no way America or Russia or anywhere in Europe are aware of the threats they face.

This is a warfare against an implacable foe which we’ve created by destroying the sustainability of the biosphere, by expanding human industry to three to four times the scale that the planet could actually support. That’s the real war that is coming our way.

[00:50:08.600] – Hudson

And Steve, you mentioned how global shipping and trade adds to the global warming. Obviously, the military spending is a huge, huge factor. So the Americans and the Green Parties of Europe are on the wrong side of history. They are doing just the opposite of preserving de-development. They are the advocates of more and more global warming. So literally, you have a group, a bloc, wanting to destroy the environment and a bloc trying to protect itself from the Western destruction.

[00:50:40.830] – Grumbine

Yeah, very scary. And then we’ve got a lot of folks that think that they’re going to appeal to their greater sense of reason to get them to suddenly stop all this, vote their way to a Green New Deal, and it’s all just going to go away. Gentlemen, thank you so much for this time. I really appreciate it. It’s rare to have two such phenomenal guests at once, so I really do appreciate this immensely. Michael, tell us where we can find more about your work.

[00:51:07.230] – Hudson

Well, on my website, michael-hudson.com, and on my Patreon account. Steve also has a Patreon account. He got me onto Patreon. And the books that I describe what we’re talking about are available on Amazon. The Destiny of Civilization and Super Imperialism.

[00:51:27.450] – Grumbine

Very good. Steve, I know we got you on Patreon, but tell us a little bit about your books and where we can find more of your work.

[00:51:33.710] – Keen

Okay, well, again, my main recent book is The New Economics: A Manifesto, and that’s published by Polity press. So you can get it through Polity or you can get it through Amazon. There’s more than one way to get a hold of it. And the main thing I’m doing is developing the software package to enable us to think about the economy the way we should think about it, which is dynamically, non equilibrium, monetary and so on.

And that’s Minsky, which people can find at SourceForge, the open source software package site, SourceForge. Search for SourceForge and Minsky together and you’ll find it. But those are my main two things. I’ve also opened up a substack account recently – profstevekeen.substack.com – mainly because Patreon loses a lot of customers by stuffing up their credit cards. So Patreon, Substack and Minsky.

[00:52:18.030] – Grumbine

Very good. All right. And with that, my name is Steve Grumbine. My special guests, Steve Keen and Michael Hudson. This is the podcast Macro N Cheese. We’re out of here.

What is the Collective West?

April 30, 2022

Source

By Batiushka

Introduction

Western State propaganda mouthpieces like the BBC or CNN, their journalists abundantly supplied and rewarded by their spy services, love to talk about ‘the international community’. They substituted this new phrase for the old one of ‘the free world’ in the 1990s. Of course, both phrases are nonsense. What did/do they actually mean?

The Free World

The 1740 Imperialist anthem ‘Rule, Britannia’ has the words ‘Britons never will be slaves’. What it means is that the ruling class of the British Empire, which was founded on genocide, piracy and slave-trading (for instance, the slaver ancestors of former PM David Cameron), ‘never will be slaves’. As for the enslaved plebs of the rest of the world, including those of the nations of Great Britain and Ireland, they will be feudalised, robbed of their land by the Enclosures (= enforced collectivisation, only not run by the State, but by oligarchs) and sent to be exploited in the sadistic factories of Industrial Revolutionary Capitalists, or else forced to emigrate to populate the future Anglosphere. In the same way, this phrase ‘the Free World’ also meant the ruling class of the First World, that is, those who threatened the Second World (the Communist bloc) with nuclear extinction, all the while exploiting the Third World, assassinating anyone who opposed them (Patrice Lumumba, Dag Hammarskjold, John Kennedy etc etc).

The International Community

The International Community is an equally hypocritical phrase which designates the Zionist Anglosphere + Colonies. In other words, it means the Anglo-Zionist elite of the USA, Israel, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand + the EU, Japan and, arguably, South Korea. The latter non-English-speaking countries are simply US vassals, colonies or client-states, occupied by US troops and bases. This ‘International Community’ is dominated by a military wing called NATO (based almost next door to the EU headquarters in Brussels) and an economic wing called the G7, which is heavily influenced by Wall Street and the City of London. However, this ‘Community’ works together with vassal institutions, like the ‘World Bank’, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) or, to a considerable extent, the UN (United Nations), and think tanks and societies like the Trilateral and Bilderberg. It rewards its servants with awards like Nobel Prizes, generously funded by the CIA. However, whatever the acronym, it is all the same greedy clique.

The Collective West

This phrase is now used in Russia to designate all the enemies of the Russian Federation. These enemies are identical to ‘the international community’, i.e, that small but wealthy minority of the world, representing about 15% of the global population. There is nothing new in the reality of this collective enmity of hatred for and jealousy of Russia. For example, in the 13th century the invading hordes of Germanic terrorists, called the ‘Teutonic Knights’, were also a bunch of bandits from ‘the Collective West’. However, to illustrate our point more clearly still, let us look at the five much more recent invasions of the Russian Lands by the Collective West. These invasions have taken place in the last 210 years (exactly once every 42 years on average). They were and are the events of:

1812. The Russian Empire was invaded by the French Empire, the Austrian Empire, the Kingdoms of Italy, Naples, Saxony, Bavaria, Westphalia, Wuerttemburg, Prussia, Spain and Denmark, the Swiss Confederation, the Grand Duchies of Hesse, Berg and Baden and the Duchy of Warsaw. The result? Although the Collective Western forces reached Moscow, they had to retreat with hundreds of thousands of deaths and in 1814 Russian troops liberated Paris from the tyranny of Napoleon.

1853. The Russian Empire was invaded by France, Great Britain, Sardinia and the Ottoman Empire, supported by the Austrian Empire. This war, miscalled ‘The Crimean War’, included the invasion of the Russia through the Crimea, an attempted British invasion of Siberia from the Sea of Japan and the shelling by the British Navy of a Russian monastery from the White Sea. It lasted until 1856. The ending came when the British blew up the Russian dock installations of Sebastopol (Sevastopol), built ten years before by British engineers. For this ‘achievement’, 500,000 human-beings had died as a result of French and British Imperialism, mainly of disease. Another consequence – in 1867 Russia sold Alaska to the then friendly USA, and not to the enemy British Canada.

1914. The Russian Empire was invaded by Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and the German puppet kinglet of Bulgaria. After immense struggles, the enemy advanced only as far as Poland and Lithuania, never even entering Russian territory. The Russian Imperial Army, suffering fewer losses than the French and Germans on the Western Front even though facing twice as many enemy troops, was headed for total victory in summer 1917. However, in early 1917 the Russian Empire was overthrown by a British-orchestrated coup d’etat and implemented by a fifth column of treacherous Russian aristocrats (i.e. oligarchs, in modern language), generals, politicians, journalists and lawyers. We know what happened next.

1941. The Soviet Union was invaded by the troops of Fascist Germany, Romania, Finland, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, but these were supported by detachments of Nazi troops from a great many Western countries, including France, Belgium and Norway. The result? Despite the slaughter of 27 million Soviet citizens by the genocidal Nazis who treated the Soviet peoples as wild animals to be massacred, in 1945 Soviet troops liberated Berlin, discovering the gruesome charred remains of the suicide Hitler.

2022. Ancient Russian Lands (recently become known as Eastern and Central Ukraine), occupied, attacked and threatened by Nazi forces, trained and equipped by NATO (the North American Terrorist Organisation), consisting of 30 states led by the USA, are being liberated. They are being freed by Russian forces fighting in what is not a Russian war against the Ukraine but a NATO proxy war against the Ukraine.

The Collective West? Nothing new in this concept.

Conclusion: A Word of Warning

27 million dead? Unless you are brain dead, please do not send Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, to intervene in the Russian special operation of liberation in the Ukraine. Her grandfather was a Nazi who as a volunteer became a staff sergeant in the Wehrmacht, led a unit on the Soviet front which hunted down resistance groups, participated in the capture of Ukraine’s capital Kiev and took part in the barbaric September 1941 Babi Yar massacre, in which more than 33,000 Jews were shot in cold blood.

And please do not send Chrystia Freeland, the Canadian Vice-President, to intervene in the Russian special operation of liberation in the Ukraine. Her grandfather was a Ukrainian Nazi, Mykhailo Khomiak, after the war sought by the Polish authorities for his war crimes.

Our words of warning go out to all other Nazis and Fascists who seem to think that V.V. Putin is one of them. He is not. He is an anti-Fascist, whose grandfather, incidentally, was French. Like Tsar Nicholas II a century before him, V.V. Putin is for social justice against the Anglo-Zionist aristocrats/ oligarchs who run the Western world and have attempted to run the Russian world, from which the last oligarchs are currently being expelled.

العروض الإيرانية بالليرة اللبنانية فمن ينافس؟

أكتوبر/ 8 تشرين الأول 2021

 دعم إيراني متجدّد للبنان: عرض مُغرٍ لقطاع الطاقة
ناصر قنديل

لا يحتاج الأمر إلى تحليل ونقاش لاستنتاج محورية قطاع الكهرباء في أزمة لبنان المالية، فأزمة المازوت هي فرع من أزمة الكهرباء، ومتى توافرت الكهرباء تراجعت الحاجة للمازوت إلى أقل من الربع، وتأمين الكهرباء يستدعي زيادة الإنتاج، وهذا يتطلب تمويلاً لإنشاء المعامل ومثله لتشغيلها، ومن دون زيادة الإنتاج فإن تشغيل المعامل القائمة يستدعي توفير الوقود اللازم، وهذا يحتاج للتمويل، والتمويل بالعملات الصعبة، والدولة ومصرفها المركزي لم يعد لديهما القدرة على تأمين هذا التمويل، وشراء العملات الصعبة من السوق سيرفع سعر الصرف ويدفع بالدولار إلى أسعار مقلقة تعني مزيداً من الانهيار، والذهاب لتمويل عبر القروض بلا أفق، لأنه تراكم لديون لا يملك لبنان جواباً عن كيفية سدادها، وعندما يجري البحث بتمويل معامل جديدة من قروض خارجية سواء عبر صندوق النقد الدولي أو سواه، مهما كانت ميسرة ومؤخرة، تبقى كلفة التشغيل بقروض كمثل قرض البنك الدولي المفترض لتمويل استجرار الغاز المصري وشراء الكهرباء من الأردن، وهي قروض قد تتوافر لجزء من الحاجة وجزء من الوقت، لكنها لن تتوافر لكل الحاجة وكل الوقت.

أمام لبنان طريق وحيد لتفادي السقوط، وهو أن يحصل على وقود التشغيل بطريق يشبه المساعدة العراقية، ولا يبدو أن الحكومات العربية الأخرى التي تملك قدرات نفطية جاهزة للسير على خطى العراق، لكن إيران سبقت الجميع وقالت بلسان مسؤوليها مراراً، وكرر الأمين العام لحزب الله السيد حسن نصرالله التأكيد على جاهزية إيران لتأمين المحروقات التي يحتاجها لبنان، بما فيها وقود تشغيل معامل الكهرباء بالليرة اللبنانية، وهذا العرض الذي لم يلق الاهتمام اللازم تحول إلى مبادرة مباشرة من حزب الله بجلب سفن كسر الحصار، التي قدمت حلاً لجانب من أزمة فقدان المازوت من الأسواق، وأصابت سلم تسعير الاحتكارات التي فرضت معادلات تتحكم بموجبها بالتسعير والسوق، وإذا كانت معامل توليد الكهرباء التي يسعى لبنان لتأمينها تحت شعار زيادة التغذية ثم زيادة التعرفة، لوضع حد لخسائر كهرباء لبنان، فهذا يستدعي ربط التعرفة الجديدة للكهرباء بسعر الدولار، الذي سيضرب سقوفاً قياسية إذا بقي تأمين الوقود اللازم للتشغيل مرتبطاً بتمويل يعتمد على شراء الدولارات من السوق، وهذا يعني الانتقال “من تحت الدلف لتحت المزراب”.

خيار لبنان الوحيد الإنقاذي الذي ربما لا ينتبه له المسؤولون، أو يخافون أن ينتبهوا له، هو أن يكون لدى لبنان من يزوده بالوقود اللازم لتشغيل معامل الكهرباء بالليرة اللبنانية، فذلك هو الطريق الوحيد الذي يمنع إسهام الطلب على الدولارات اللازمة لشراء الوقود في التسبب برفع متواصل لسعر الصرف وبالتالي سعر التعرفة، وصولاً لحد الانفجار، وتأمين الوقود بالليرة اللبنانية يقع في صلب العروض الإيرانية المتكررة، والعرض الذي أعاد تقديمه وزير الخارجية الإيراني حول بناء معامل الكهرباء يستحق من يناقش تفاصيله مع الجانب الإيراني، لأن لا نقاش حول الجوانب التقنية وأهلية الشركات الإيرانية وقد قامت بإنهاض قطاع الكهرباء في بلادها، وصولاً لتحقيق فائض تبيعه إيران لباكستان والعراق وعدد من دول آسيا الوسطى، وحالياً لأفغانستان وفقاً للتفاهم الجديد بين الحكومتين الإيرانية والأفغانية، ومسؤولية الحكومة اللبنانية كبيرة اليوم في أن تحمل العرض الإيراني بمضمونه التفصيلي لجهة الاعتماد على تمويل بالليرة اللبنانية، وأن تذهب للمعترضين داخلياً وخارجياً وتقول إنه الحل الوحيد الذي يناسب لبنان، وعلى من يعترض أو يرفض أو يهدد بعقوبات أن يقول لا تشتروا من إيران فنحن جاهزون لتزويدكم بالمثل بذات الشروط والأسعار وبالتسعير بالليرة اللبنانية، وما لم نحصل على مثيل فالأمر يستحق المخاطرة بالتعرض للعقوبات، لأنه طريق وحيد لعدم الانهيار، فما نفع الموت وأنت غير معاقب طالما أمامك فرصة العيش ولتكن معاقباً، وعندها تعرف العدو من الصديق.

تجربة سفن كسر الحصار تقول إن حكومة تملك بعض الشجاعة تستطيع أن تستفيد من العروض الإيرانية لتحفيز الآخرين لعروض مقابلة، أو على الأقل للاستثناء من العقوبات.

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World Bank Suspends Aid to Afghanistan

August 24, 2021

Source: Agencies

By Al Mayadeen

After the Taliban seized control of the country, the World Bank has halted funding for projects in Afghanistan, noting that the Bank had been financing about 20 development projects.

Visual search query image
World Bank suspends aid to Afghanistan

Yesterday, Tuesday, the World Bank announced the suspension of aid to Afghanistan after the “Taliban” took power in the country, noting that at the same time, it is in search of ways to continue to support the Afghan people.

“We have paused disbursements in our operations in Afghanistan and we are closely monitoring and assessing the situation in line with our internal policies and procedures,” a World Bank spokesperson told the AFP. She also cited concerns over how the Taliban’s takeover will impact “the country’s development prospects.”

The spokesperson did not clarify how much the World Bank was supposed to pay before the Taliban seized power in Kabul, noting that the Bank had been financing about 20 development projects in Afghanistan before the suspension decision was made.

Since 2002, the World Bank has offered more than $5.3bn, mostly in grants.

It is worth noting that on August 18, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced the suspension of aid allocated to Afghanistan due to the lack of clarity within the international community.

An IMF spokesperson told AFP that the suspension was due to “lack of clarity within the international community” over recognizing a government in Afghanistan, “as a consequence of which the country cannot access Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) or other IMF resources.”

The IMF was supposed to release the last installment of a $370 million loan to Afghanistan under a program approved on November 6, 2020, but caved to pressure from the US Treasury, which holds a controlling share in the fund. 

The 42-month program resulted in an immediate down payment of $115 million. The second installment amounting to $149.4 million was released in early June, after a first evaluation of the progress made in implementing the program, and the last installment amounting to $105.6 million is still to be paid.

حكومة الوقت الضائع قبل الانتخابات

17/07/2021

ناصر قنديل

لا يمكن إنكار حقيقة أن الرئيس المعتذر عن تشكيل الحكومة سعد الحريري لا يزال الرابح الرئيسي في نهاية لعبة السنتين اللتين أعقبتا بدء الانهيار في تشرين 2019، فهو انسحب من المشهد عندها مسلطاً الضوء على العهد والتيار الوطني الحر، مدّعياً الوقوف مع الشعب الغاضب بوجه الحكام، تاركاً كرة النار أمام حكومة اضطر الآخرون إلى تحمّل مسؤوليتها وتحمل مسؤولية سياساته بالنيابة عنه، من دون أن يسهّل عليهم المهمة، وبعد سنة تكرّم وأعلن أنه جاهز للعودة الى رئاسة الحكومة، لكنه لم يكن يريد تشكيل حكومة يتحمّل معها مسؤولية العجز عن تقديم الحلول، ومسؤولية المواجهة مع الفيتو السعوديّ عليه، فبقي يناور ويداور، حتى اعتذر، مكملاً المعركة التي بدأها يوم استقالته قبل سنتين تقريباً، معركة الانتخابات النيابية المقبلة، تحسباً لجهوزية سعودية لتشكيل حاضنة لائتلاف نيابي يرث زعامته، مستخدماً كل الأسلحة المحرّمة بما فيها الخداع، وزرع الأوهام، وهو اليوم على مسافة شهور قليلة من الانتخابات يمسك بلعبة شارعه التقليديّ على قواعد طائفيّة، وقد حاصر كل خصومه، وضبط إيقاع منافسيه، ووضع المرجعيّات السياسيّة والدينيّة في جبهة تقف خلفه، غير معنيّ بشيء آخر سوى مواصلة التعبئة والشحن الطائفيّين حتى موعد الانتخابات، لضمان الفوز بأكبر كتلة في طائفته تتيح له الترشح مجدداً لرئاسة الحكومة، من موقع أقوى بوجه السعودية قبل سواها، طلباً للاعتراف بحتميّة التفاهم معه، متخذاً لبنان رهينة، حيث لا حكومة برئاسة سواه تملك شروط النجاح ورئيسها محاصر في طائفته، في بلد يقوم على التنظيم الطائفي.

حتى ذلك التاريخ يبدو أن الحريري خسر خارجياً الكثير، فهي المرة الأولى التي يخرج من الحكم ولا يخرج بيان واحد من أي سفارة أو عاصمة دولية وإقليمية يُدين إخراجه أو إفشال مهمته، أو يتبنى روايته عن التعطيل، بل إن البيانات التي صدرت سريعاً بعد اعتذاره من كل مكان، وعلى مستوى عالٍ من المسؤولين، تجاهلت ذكر اسمه، وهو الذي كان في العشية ذاتها يتباهى بسفراته للخارج باعتبارها مصدر قوة للبنان بقوة تمسك هذا الخارج به، لا أسفاً على عدم تمكينه من تشكيل الحكومة كما كان مفترضاً، لو كانت أي من العواصم المعنية تعتبره مرشحها المفضل، أو لو كان أي منها يوافقه على شروطه ويتبناها، ولا لوم على رئيس الجمهورية الذي يتّهمه بالتعطيل، فقط دعوة للاستشارات النيابية بأسرع وقت لتسمية بديل والبدء بتشكيل حكومة جديدة، كأنه كان عبئاً تمّ التخلص منه، من دون أن تخلو الإشارة إلى تضييع تسعة شهور، ليس ضرورياً تحميله مسؤوليتها بالاسم طالما أن السياق يقول ذلك من خلال عدم تحميلها لسواه وعدم تبرئة ساحته من المسؤولية، وعدم تبنّي سرديته للفشل.

الحديث عن خيارات إنقاذيّة عبر حكومة جوهر مهمتها، كما تقول القوى الفاعلة داخلياً وخارجياً هو التفاوض مع صندوق النقد الدولي لبدء ضخ بعض الدولارات الإنعاشيّة في السوق، مجرد وهم وسراب، فسقف الحكومة الجديدة هو إدارة الوقت الضائع قبل الانتخابات النيابية، بإجراءات تحول دون الانهيار الأشد قسوة، وسقف عمرها هو ستة شهور من أول الخريف حتى نهاية الشتاء، تُقرّ خلالها مجموعة قوانين هيكليّة يطلبها صندوق النقد الدوليّ، تمهيداً لضخ أموال في حساب مصرف لبنان تمنح الأوكسجين اللازم لمنع المزيد من تفاقم الأزمة بصورة انفجارية، هذا علماً أن السيطرة على سوق الصرف التي تشكل نقطة الانطلاق في أية إجراءات مطلوبة تتوقف على أن يوقف مصرف لبنان مدّ يده إلى السوق لشراء الدولارات لتمويل شراء المحروقات، من خلال تحديد سقف كميّة مدعومة من المشتقات النفطية تباع بموجب بطاقات ويترك الباقي للسوق الحرة، فينخفض إلى أقلّ من الربع، ويتوقّف التهريب، لأن ما يدخل السوق من دولارات من عائدات التحويلات والتصدير يعادل ويزيد حجم المستوردات ما لم يكن نصف المستوردات يُشترى بسعر مدعوم لتباع للخارج بهدف تحويل الأموال للنافذين وسرقة الدولارات المدعومة عبر التهريب.

ما ورد من دولارات بفعل حجم الاغتراب والسيّاح العراقيين خصوصاً، الذي وصل ويصل الى لبنان، وما سيردُ لتمويل الانتخابات مع مطلع العام، وما تقرّر في البنك الدولي وصندوق النقد الدولي من دون البدء بالإجراءات المطلوبة، سيكون كافياً للسيطرة على سوق الصرف مع وقف الدعم، بما يعنيه من وقف التهريب والسرقات، وقد صار مطلباً للأسف كما بات ثابتا أنه آتٍ لا محالة، وفي الحصيلة الكل ينتظر الانتخابات التي يرجح أنها ستعيد إنتاج مشهد سياسيّ لا يختلف جذرياً عن المشهد الحالي، وهو المشهد التقليدي الذي يعيشه لبنان، حيث الطوائف أساس الانتظام السياسيّ، وتعود حليمة لعادتها القديمة، ننتظر انتخابات رئاسة الجمهورية، لنكتشف أن توقيت بدء وضع لبنان جدياً على جدول الأعمال الدولي سيكون مع مطلع العام 2023، وحتى ذلك التاريخ كل شيء يدور تحت عناوين تعزيز الأوضاع الانتخابية للاعبين التقليديين في طوائفهم، ومحاولات خارجية وداخلية لتعديل التوازنات بالمجيء بقوى أشدّ طواعية، وليست أكثر التزاماً بالتغيير، ومن سخريات القدر أن يصير الحفاظ على التقليديين حفاظاً على قوى أشد تعبيراً عن الاستقلال من القوى التي ترفع لواء التغيير ويدعمها الخارج وينتظر نتائج الانتخابات ليقرّر التعامل مع التوازنات الجديدة، ومن سوء الطالع أن تكون كل الحلول تتم تحت سقف رضا هذا الخارج وليس حساب المصلحة الوطنية.

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Lebanese PM-Designate Steps Down, Gives Up On Cabinet Formation his Supporters Block Highways in Several Cities, Throw Stones at Lebanese Army Units

16/07/2021

Lebanese PM-Designate Steps Down, Gives Up On Cabinet Formation   

By Staff, Agencies

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri says he has abandoned his efforts to form a new government, citing differences with the country’s president.

Hariri announced on Thursday that he was unable to reach an agreement with President Michel Aoun on the formation of a new cabinet, and stepped down nine months after he was assigned to the task.

Hariri’s resignation came following a brief meeting with Aoun at Baabda Palace.

He said Aoun had requested fundamental changes to a cabinet line-up he had presented to him, and that the Lebanese president had told Hariri that they would not be able to reach an agreement.

“I met with the president, and we had consultation on the issue of the government,” Hariri told reporters shortly after meeting with Aoun, adding, “There were amendments requested by the president, which I considered substantial in the line-up.”

“It is clear that the position of Aoun has not changed… and that we will not be able to agree,” Hariri said.

Lebanon’s prime minister-designate added that he had offered to spend more time trying to form a cabinet, but he had also been told by the president that, “We will not be able to agree.”

The statement said Hariri had proposed that Aoun take one more day to accept the suggested proposal, but the president had responded, “What is the use of one additional day if the door to discussions was closed.”

The Lebanese president was said to be considering a date for parliamentary consultations as soon as possible after Hariri’s decision to give up on cabinet formation.

Hariri is the second candidate to have failed at forming a government in less than one year amid political bickering between Lebanon’s leaders and the economic crisis gripping the country.

Hariri was designated to form the new government in October, after the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab in the aftermath of the deadly August 4 Beirut port explosion.

Since then, Lebanese political groups have failed to resolve their differences and form a government.

The World Bank has called Lebanon’s crisis one of the worst depressions of modern history, ranking it among the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s in terms of its effect on living standards.

The country’s currency has lost more than 90% of its value since fall 2019 and more than half of the population has been rendered jobless as businesses have shut down.

According to the World Bank, the gross domestic product [GDP] of the country of six million people nosedived by about 40 percent to $33 billion last year, from $55 billion in 2018.

The double blow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Beirut port explosion has made the difficult situation even worse in the country.

The European Union, led by France – the former colonizer of Lebanon – is also seeking to ramp up pressure on the Lebanese authorities in an attempt to force the formation of a Western-friendly government.

Hariri Supporters Block Highways in Several Cities, Throw Stones at Lebanese Army Units

manar-07301680016263704267

July 15, 2021

Since the former premier Saad Hariri announced quitting the mission of forming the new Lebanese government earlier on Thursday, his supporter started blocking main highways and throwing stones at the Army units in several cities.

In this context, Hariri supporters blocked Cola highway in Beirut as well as other roads in Bekaa and the North, throwing stones at the Lebanese Army units.

Hariri announced his resignation after a meeting with President Michel Aoun who rejected the proposed cabinet line-up of the the PM-designate for several reasons.

Source: Al-Manar English Website

Related Video

Sitrep China : Smörgåsbord of notable international data points (and a little opium war)

Source

APRIL 13, 2021

Sitrep China : Smörgåsbord of notable international data points (and a little opium war)

Selections from Godfree Roberts’ extensive weekly newsletter: Here Comes China.   You can get it here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

Further selections and editorial commentary by Amarynth:

  1.  I am looking for a little help for the Saker Blog and this regular sitrep specifically:  an analyst that can analyze or even just educate on the Chinese military weaponry complex.  What do they have, why and what are they working on?  If you have the required background and knowledge, my email is at the bottom of this page and each page of The Saker Blog.

A great and modern China history from the Epic China series by Nathan Rich:  How China Fell into the Opium Wars (1793-1838)

If you want to get the first few of this series, look for the Epic China videos on Nathan’s Youtube channel here:  https://www.youtube.com/c/NathanRichHotpot/videos

Data Points

Ed: China will not have anything resembling a monopoly structure in business and ever-popular Jack Ma is having his knuckles rapped through a series of actions, starting with not allowing Ant Group its biggest IPO in the world ever, in Hong Kong and now Alibaba has been fined:  China’s market regulators imposed an 18.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) fine on Alibaba, which amounts to 4% of the company’s revenues in 2019.

  • Regulators lift standards for finance execs to bring once freewheeling fintech giants like Ant Group into line. They require high social credit scores for directors, supervisors, and senior executives who “have a big impact” on the operational management. Read full article →

Ed: Many Saker blog readers know a lot about CHIPS (semi-conductors) and we’ve speculated in the past on what China’s actions are going to be regarding CHIP sanctions.  Now, we’re beginning to see the actions:

  • Chinese semiconductor equipment company AMEC said its etching equipment has been used in a tier-one customer’s 65 nm, 14 nm, 7 nm, and 5 nm lines. Plasma etchers perform microscopic engraving on chips with a precision of tens of thousandths of a hair’s diameter. AMEC’ etching equipment revenue was $197 million in 2020, up 60% YoY. Read full article →
  • Shanghai Tianshu Zhixin launched Big Island, China’s first homegrown 7nm GPGPU (General-Purpose Graphics Processing Unit) chip, which can complete the artificial intelligence processing of hundreds of camera video channels per second. Its performance is twice that of mainstream products in the market. Read full article $→

Ed: Higher Education:  Since Chinese students are generally being made unwelcome to study in the west, China did not miss a beat and most of the IVY’s and notable universities now have campuses in China.  The education to my understanding is more free-wheeling as in a western style, but students still have to take the required courses in Marxism and ideology.  It is mind-blowing how China takes everything thrown and simply turns it around into another opportunity.  “You don’t like us there, well, we’ll just get together over here!”  (No, China did not steal the US jobs – they walked off all by themselves as a result of insane policies and a bloated industrial cost structure – now, US, you’re losing your students and your source of educated workers and no doubt, we will hear the cries:  ‘China stole our students!’.)

  • International schools in China are booming as Covid-19 travel restrictions limit the number of students seeking education overseas. Demand is particularly high in the mainland portion of the Greater Bay Area, which has had fewer international schools than Beijing and Shanghai. Read full article $→

Ed: Money makes the world go round:

  • The World Bank is still the largest creditor in poor countries at $106 billion but China is close at $104 billion. In sub-Saharan Africa, China (US$62 billion) has outspent the World Bank (US$60 billion) as the biggest official lender to Africa’s poor countries.   Read full article $→

Ed: China’s influence mostly in the creation of infrastructure in terms of Belt and Road methodology is becoming very visible and seemingly no area of the world is too far away:

  • Guinea:  With the fourth and final generator successfully connected to the grid at the end of March, Guinea’s Souapiti 450MW hydropower station, above, became fully operational, doubling Guinea’s power generation capacity and turning it from a blackout stricken country into an electricity exporter.  Read full article →
  • Logistics:  China has the world’s largest and fastest-growing logistics market. It grew from $300 billion in 2001 to $2 trillion in 2018. A select few traditional logistics players have begun transforming their businesses to respond to these drastic changes in China’s logistics industry. As they adapt, three trends have developed. Read full article → 
  • Brazil: Petrobras has signed a $10 billion loan from China Development Bank to cover its massive debt burden for 2022, and says the loan comes with supply commitments to Chinese buyers. Read full article →
  • In 2019, the PRC surpassed the US as the leading trade partner with Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay and is now the region’s second-largest trading partner behind the US. Trade with Latin America soared from $17 billion to $315 billion between 2002 to 2019, with plans to reach $500 billion by 2025,” SOUTHCOM’s Admiral Craig Feller told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Read full article →

Ed: We have gotten accustomed to the superb level of diplomatic skill by Russian diplomats under the leadership of Foreign Minister Lavrov.  Up to now, the generally accepted idea was that China is in a sense leaving the global diplomatic task (as well as the military task) up to Russia in their partnership.  The new news is that China is joining the ranks of the superb diplomats and slowly picking up its own diplomatic function.

  • Russia and China agree to develop infrastructure via the Belt and Road Initiative; promote dialogue among civilizations; a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine; promote policies of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons; and collective security with a focus on new and enhanced Middle East Trust mechanisms. Read full article $→
  • Post-Iran-China, it’s not far-fetched anymore to even consider the possible emergence in a not too distant future of a Himalaya Silk Road uniting BRICS members China and India (think, for instance, of the power of Himalayan ice converging into a shared Hydropower Tunnel).

Ed: Explosive news of the week was the speech by Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.  What is notable here is that he states not only the Russian position but combines it with the Chinese position.  We should understand from that, that both countries are of one mind – the US-controlled Biolabs in far-off places must be investigated.  This is an outflow of the ‘China virus’ accusations from the US.  Watch this space – we will no doubt see more developments here.

  • “Let me draw your attention to the US-controlled, permanent biological laboratories that appear mainly near Russian and Chinese borders, where outbreaks of non-typical diseases were recorded in the areas where those laboratories are located, said Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev. [The US is the only country blocking a verification mechanism under the 1972 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction]. Read full article →

Ed: And of course, we cannot help but end this data point section on a low note from a losing old SourPuss and its few lame ‘allies and partners.

  • The US considers boycotting 2022 Beijing Olympics, says US State Department: “‘It [a joint boycott] is something that we certainly wish to discuss. A coordinated approach will not only be in our interest but also in the interest of our allies and partners.” Read full article →

Ed: May I then be the first one to declare that it is folly to March on Beijing with a Trade War.  The next longer read will explain.


Longer Read

Martin Jacques: The Communist Party of China (CPC) is like no other party in the world. It requires us to rethink the very idea of what a political party is. It is a phenomenon intrinsic to China. It is ineluctably Chinese. If the imperial dynasties defined Chinese governance for two millennia, the CPC has assumed similar importance since 1949. There has been an overwhelming failure to grasp the nature of the CPC in the West. This ignorance reached new heights after 2016. Read full article $→

Cynthia Chung and Matt Ehret of Rising Tide Foundation discuss with Jeff J. Brown his book, “BIG Red Book on China”: Part 1 of 2. China Rising Radio Sinoland 210408

Cover Image:  China’s share of citable articles in the various technology journals is growing by leaps and bounds.

This is but a fraction of what I gleaned from the Here Comes China newsletter.  If you want to learn about the Chinese world, get Godfree’s newsletter here: https://www.herecomeschina.com/#subscribe

President of Russia Vladimir Putin address to G20 member countries

Source

President of Russia Vladimir Putin address to G20 member countries

Vladimir Putin addressed the meeting of the heads of delegations of the G20 member countries, invited states and international organisations.

The summit chaired by Saudi Arabia is held via videoconference on November 21–22.

The forum’s agenda includes issues of tackling the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, providing universal access to vaccines, strengthening healthcare systems, global economic recovery and employment, as well as cooperation in the digital economy, fighting climate change, environmental protection and countering corruption.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin:

Colleagues,

The scope of problems humanity has faced in 2020 are truly unprecedented. The coronavirus pandemic, global lockdown and frozen economic activity have launched a systemic economic crisis the world probably has not known since the Great Depression.

The growth of national economies has been severely undermined. The pandemic claimed dozens, hundreds of thousands of lives while millions of people have lost their jobs and incomes.

The main risk, obviously, even despite some positive signals, the main risk remains: mass long-term unemployment, a so-called “stagnant” unemployment with the subsequent growth of poverty and social insecurity. The role of the G20 is to stop this from happening.

Russia highly values Saudi Arabia’s efforts during its G20 Presidency. In the present situation, the forums’ agenda was re-focussed towards global economic recovery and the protection of people’s health and wellbeing.

Drawing on the experience of fighting the 2008–2009 global financial crisis, the G20 launched a number of multilateral initiatives to curb pandemic-related economic risks and to restore business activity including via key global management institutions, namely the United Nations Organisation, the World Health Organisation, IMF, the World Bank and others.

Our countries have designed a package of incentives for the world economy totalling $12 trillion. The US President has spoken now about the US efforts – indeed, it is a very big contribution to the recovery of the American economy, which also means the recovery of the world economy.

We all together facilitated the emergency mobilisation of $21 billion for essential medical needs and gave a start to international cooperation in developing, producing and distributing vaccines.

Like other nations, Russia took unparalleled anti-crisis steps as it gave top priority to the key and fundamental value – people’s lives and health.

To ensure the sustainability of the national economy and maintain social stability, Russia’s Government together with the Bank of Russia are implementing a comprehensive plan of assistance to the population, small and medium-sized businesses and industries in the risk zone. Support was provided to the banking sector and regional budgets, businesses were issued loans while government investments were increased. The current volume of anti-crisis budget support totalled 4.5 percent of the GDP.

The timely adoption of these targeted measures allowed Russia, as well as the majority of developed countries, to mitigate the economic decline, to enhance the healthcare system and get through the hard times without irreparable losses. Both our accumulated reserves and attracting loan resources in the domestic market helped to finance the above measures.

Yet we are aware that the developing economies and some emerging market economies objectively lack such resources. Their fiscal revenues have plunged while the need to allocate considerable funds for fighting the pandemic is growing practically daily. National currency devaluation carries a big risk, and respectively, the cost of servicing on the state debt, primarily for low income countries, which have two thirds of their loans in US dollars.

The IMF and the World Bank rendered significant assistance to developing countries. Following their proposal, G20 made a decision in April to install a temporary moratorium on developing nations’ debt payments. That is certainly a much-needed initiative, but it only covers the poorest countries. It does not include their debt to private creditors and concerns less than four percent of the developing countries’ overall costs of servicing state debt in the current year.

I believe additional measures are needed to prevent the deterioration of the situation and the growth of economic and social inequality.

Urgent issues that have accumulated in international trade also need to be addressed. Thus, it is necessary to try to contain protectionism, to abandon the practice of unilateral sanctions and to resume delivery chains. We spoke about this just yesterday at another international platform, APEC.

Adjustment of multilateral universal trade rules to e-commerce (much needs to be done in this area) and other new economic realities are also on the agenda.

On the whole, the G20 should continue searching for new approaches to reforming the World Trade Organisation to meet present-day challenges. This task defies a solution without a stable and effective multilateral trade system, but at present, there is no alternative to the World Trade Organisation.

Russia supports the draft key decision of the current summit aimed at making effective and safe vaccines accessible for everyone. Undoubtedly, immunisation drugs are and must be universal public domain. Our country, Russia, is ready to provide the countries in need with the vaccines developed by our researchers. This is the world’s first registered vaccine Sputnik V, based on human adenoviral vectors platform. The second Russian vaccine, EpiVacCorona from a Novosibirsk research centre, is also ready. The third Russian vaccine is coming.

The scale of the pandemic compels us to engage all the resources and research available. Our common goal is to form portfolios of vaccines and ensure reliable protection for the planet’s population. It means that there will be enough work for everyone, colleagues, and I think it is a case when competition may be inevitable but we must proceed primarily from humanitarian considerations and make it a priority.

Let me stress – this crisis must become an opportunity to alter the trajectory of global development, preserve the favourable environment and climate, ensure equal conditions for all nations and peoples, build up effective tools of multilateral cooperation and key international institutions while drawing upon the UN Charter and universally accepted norms and principles of international law. We see this approach to solving global issues as the key task and responsibility of the G20 as the main forum of the world’s leading economies.

Colleagues, I would like to once again thank the hosts of today’s event, Saudi Arabia. Thank you for your attention.

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF

The Secret Agenda of the World Bank and IMF
Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.Peter is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for online journals such as Global Research; ICH; New Eastern Outlook (NEO) and more. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.
Peter is also co-author of Cynthia McKinney’s book “When China Sneezes: From the Coronavirus Lockdown to the Global Politico-Economic Crisis” (Clarity Press – November 1, 2020) Peter

November 17, 2020

by Peter Koenig for the Saker Blog

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) work hand in glove – smoothly. Not only are they regularly lending huge sums of money to horror regimes around the world, but they blackmail poor nations into accepting draconian conditions imposed by the west.

In other words, the WB and the IMF are guilty of the most atrocious human rights abuses.

You couldn’t tell, when you read above the entrance of the World Bank the noble phrase, “Our Dream is World Free of Poverty”.

To this hypocrisy I can only add, ”…And we make sure it will just remain a dream.” This says both, the lie and the criminal nature of the two International Financial Institutions, created under the Charter of the United Nations, but instigated by the United States.

The front of these institutions is brilliant. What meets the eye, are investments in social infrastructure, in schools, health systems, basic needs like drinking water, sanitation – even environmental protection – over all “Poverty Alleviation”, i.e. A World Free of Poverty. But how fake this is today and was already in the 1970’s and 1980’s is astounding. Gradually people are opening their eyes to an abject reality, of exploitation and coercion and outright blackmail. And that, under the auspices of the United Nations. What does it tell you about the UN system? In what hands are the UN? – The world organization was created in San Francisco, California, on 24 October 1945, just after WWII, by 51 nations, committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.

The UN replaced the League of Nations which was part of the Peace Agreement after WWI, the Treaty of Versailles. It became effective on 10 January 1920, was headquartered in Geneva Switzerland, with the purpose of disarmament, preventing war through collective security, settling disputes between countries, through negotiation diplomacy and improving global welfare. In hindsight it is easy to see that the entire UN system was set up as a hypocritical farce, making people believe that their mighty leaders only wanted peace. These might leaders were all westerners; the same that less than 20 years after the creation of the noble League of Nations, started World War II.

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This little introduction provides the context for what was eventually to become the UN-backed outgrowth for global theft, for impoverishing nations, around the world, for exploitation of people, for human rights abuses and for shoveling huge amounts of assets from the bottom, from the people, to the oligarchy, the ever-smaller corporate elite – the so-called Bretton Woods Institutions.

In July 1944 more than 700 delegates of 44 Allied Nations (allied with the winners of WWII) met at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after WWII. Let’s be sure, this conference was carried out under the auspices of the United States, the self-declared winner of WWII, and from now on forward the master over the financial order of the world – which was not immediately visible, an agenda hidden in plain sight.

The IMF was officially created to ‘regulate’ the wester, so-called convertible currencies, those that subscribed to apply the rules of the new gold standard, i.e. US$ 35 / Troy Ounce (about 31.1 grams). Note that the gold standard, although applicable equally to 44 allied nations was linked to the price of gold nominated in US dollars, not based on a basket of the value of the 44 national currencies. This already was enough reason to question the future system. And how it will play out. But nobody questioned the arrangement. Hard to believe though that of all these national economists, none dared question the treacherous nature of the gold-standard set-up.

The World Bank, or the Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), was officially set up to administer the Marshall Plan for the Reconstruction of war-destroyed Europe. The Marshall Plan was a donation by the United Stated and was named for U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed it in 1947. The plan gave $13.2 billion in foreign aid to European countries that had been devastated physically and economically by World War II. It was to be implemented from 1948 to 1952 which of course was much too short a time, and stretched into the early 1960s. In today’s terms the Marshall plan would be worth about 10 time more, or some US$ 135 billion.

The Marshall Plan was and still is a Revolving Fund, paid back by the countries in question, so that it could be relent. The Marshall Plan money was lent out multiple times and was therefore very effective. The European counterpart to the World Bank-administered Marshall Fund was a newly to be created bank set up under the German Ministry of Finance, The German Bank for Reconstruction and Development (KfW – German acronym for Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau”).

KfW, as the World Bank’s European counterpart still exists and dedicates itself mostly to development projects in the Global South, often in cooperation with the World Bank. Today there is still a special Department within KfW that deals exclusively with Marshall Plan Fund money. These funds are used for lending to poor southern regions in Europe, and also to prop up Eastern European economies, and they were used especially to integrate former East-Germany into today’s “Grand Germany”.

Two elements of the Marshall Plan are particularly striking and noteworthy. First, the reconstruction plan created a bind, a dependence between the US and Europe, the very Europe that was largely destroyed by the western allied forces, while basically WWII was largely won by the Soviet Union, the huge sacrifices of the USSR – with an estimated 25 to 30 million deaths. So, the Marshall Plan was also designed as a shield against communist Russia, i.e. the USSR.

While officially the Soviet Union was an ally of the western powers, US, UK, and France, in reality the communist USSR was an arch-enemy of the west, especially the United States. With the Marshall Plan money, the US bought Europe’s alliance, a dependence that has not ended to this day. The ensuing Cold War against the Soviet Union – also all based on flagrant lies, was direct testimony for another western propaganda farce – which to this day, most Europeans haven’t grasped yet.

Second, The US imposition of a US-dollar based reconstruction fund, was not only creating a European dollar dependence, but was also laying the ground work for a singular currency, eventually to invade Europe – what we know today, has become the Euro. The Euro is nothing but the foster child of the dollar, as it was created under the same image as the US-dollar – it is a fiat currency, backed by nothing. The United Europe, or now called the European Union – was never really a union. It was never a European idea, but put forward by US Secret Services in disguise of a few treacherous European honchos. And every attempt to create a United Europe, a European Federation, with a European Constitution, similar to the United States, was bitterly sabotaged by the US, mostly through the US mole in the EU, namely the UK.

The US didn’t want a strong Europe, both economically and possibly over time also militarily (pop. EU 450 million, vs US pop. 330 million; 2019 EU GDP US$ 20.3 trillion equivalent, vs US GDP US$ 21.4 trillion. Most economists would agree that a common currency for a loose group of countries has no future, is not sustainable. In comes the European Central Bank (ECB), also a creation inspired by the FED. The ECB has really no Central Bank function. It is rater a watch dog. Because each EU member country has still her own Central Bank, though with a drastically reduced sovereignty.

Out of the currently 27 EU members only 19 are part of the Euro-zone. Those countries not part of the Eurozone, i.e. Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden – and more, have preserved their sovereign financial policy and do not depend on the ECB. This means, had Greece opted out of the Eurozone when they were hit with the 2008 / 2009 manufactured “crisis”, Greece would now be well on her way to full recovery. They would not have been subject to the whims and dictate of the IMF, the infamous troika, European Commission (EC), ECB and IMF, but could have chosen to arrange their debt internally, as most debt was internal debt, no need to borrow from abroad.

In a 2015 bailout referendum, the Greek population voted overwhelmingly against the bailout, meaning against the new gigantic debt. However, the then Greek President Tsipras, went ahead as if the referendum had never taken place and approved the huge bailout despite almost 70% of the popular vote against it.

This is a clear indication of fraud, that no fair play was going on. Tsipras and / or his families may have been coerced to accept the bailout – or else. We may never know, the true reason why Tsipras sold his people, the wellbeing of the Greek people to the oligarchs behind the IMF and World Bank – and put them into abject misery, with the highest unemployment in Europe, rampant poverty and skyrocketing suicide rates.

Greece may serve as an example on how other EU countries may fare if they don’t “behave” – meaning adhere to the unwritten golden rules of obedience to the international money masters.

This is scary.

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And now, in these times of covid, it is relatively easy. Poor countries, particularly in the Global South, already indebted by the plandemic, are increasing their foreign debt in order to provide their populations with basic needs. Or so they make you believe. Much of the debt accumulated by developing countries is domestic or internal debt, like the debt of the Global North. It doesn’t really need foreign lending institutions to wipe out local debt. Or have you seen one of the rich Global North countries borrowing from the IMF or the World Bank to master their debt? – Hardly.

So why would the Global South fall for it? Part corruption, part coercion, and partly direct blackmail. – Yes, blackmail, one of the international biggest crimes imaginable, being committed by the foremost international UN-chartered financial institutions, the WB and the IMF.

For example, the whole world is wondering how come that an invisible enemy, a corona virus hit all 193 UN member countries at once, so that Dr. Tedros, Director General of WHO, declares on 11 March a pandemic – no reason whatsoever since there were only 4,617 cases globally – but the planned result was a total worldwide lockdown on 16 March 2020. No exceptions. There were some countries who didn’t take it so seriously, like Brazil, Sweden, Belarus, some African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania – developed their own rules and realized that wearing masks did more harm than good, and social distancing would destroy the social fabric of their cultures and future generations.

But the satanic deep dark state didn’t want anything to do with “independent” countries. They all had to follow the dictate from way above, from the Gates, Rockefellers, Soroses, et al elite, soon to be reinforced by Klaus Schwab, serving as the chief henchman of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Suddenly, you see in Brazil, a drastic surge in new “cases”, no questions asked, massive testing, no matter that the infamous PCR tests are worthless according to most serious scientists (only sold and corrupted scientists, those paid by the national authorities, would still insist on the RT-PCR tests). Bolsonaro gets sick with the virus and the death count increases exponentially – as the Brazilian economy falls apart.

Coincidence?

In comes the World Bank and / or the IMF, offering massive help mostly debt relief, either as grant or as low interest loans. But with massive strings attached: you must follow the rules laid out by WHO, you must follow the rules on testing on vaccination, mandatary vaccination – if you conform to these and other country-specific rules, like letting western corporations tap your natural resources – you may receive, WB and IMF assistance.

Already in May 2020 the World Bank Group announced its emergency operations to fight COVID-19 had already reached 100 developing countries – home to 70% of the world’s population with lending of US$ 160 billion-plus. This means, by today, 6 months later and in the midst of the “Second Wave” the number of countries and the number of loans or “relief’ grants must have increased exponentially, having reached close to the 193 UN member countries. Which explains how all, literally all countries, even the most objecting African countries, like Madagascar and Tanzania, among the poorest of the poor, have succumbed to the coercion or blackmail of the infamous Bretton Woods Institutions.

These institutions have no quarrels in generating dollars, as the dollar is fiat money, not backed by any economy – but can be produced literally from hot air and lent to poor countries, either as debt or as grant. These countries, henceforth and for pressure of the international financial institutions will forever become dependent on the western masters of salvation. Covid-19 is the perfect tool for the financial markets to shovel assets from the bottom to the top.

In order to maximize the concentration of the riches on top, maybe one or two or even three new covid waves may be necessary. That’s all planned, The WEF has already foreseen the coming scenarios, by its tyrannical book “Covid-19 – The Great Reset”. It’s all laid out. And our western intellectuals read it, analyze it, criticize it, but we do not shred it apart – we let it stand, and watch how the word moves in the Reset direction. And the plan is dutifully executed by the World Bank and the IMF – all under the guise of doing good for the world.

What’s different from the World Bank and IMF’s role before the covid plandemic? – Nothing. Just the cause for exploitation, indebtment, enslavement. When covid came along it became easy. Before then and up to the end of 2019, developing countries, mostly rich in natural resources of the kind the west covets, oil, gold, copper and other minerals, such as rare earths, would be approached by the WB, the IMF or both.

They could receive debt relief, so-called structural adjustment loans, no matter whether or not they really needed such debt. Today these loans come in all forms, shapes and colors, literally like color-revolutions, for instance, often as budget support operations – I simply call then blank checks – nobody controls what’s happening with the money. However, the countries have to restructure their economies, rationalizing their public services, privatizing water, education, health services, electricity, highways, railroads – and granting foreign concessions for the exploitation of natural resources.

Most of this fraud – fraud on “robbing” national resources, passes unseen by the public at large, but countries become increasingly dependent on the western paymasters – peoples’ and institutional sovereignty is gone. There is always a corrupter and a corruptee. Unfortunately, they are still omni-present in the Global South. Often, for a chunk of money, the countries are forced to vote with the US for or against certain UN resolutions which are of interest to the US. Here we go – the corrupt system of the UN.

And of course, when the two Bretton Woods organizations were created in 1944, the voting system decided is not one country, one vote as in theory it is in the UN, but the US has an absolute veto right in both organizations. Their voting rights are calculated in function of their capital contribution which derives from a complex formula, based on GDP and other economic indicators. In both institutions the US voting right and also veto right is about 17%. Both institutions have 189 member countries.
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Covid has laid bare, if it wasn’t already before, how these “official” international, UN-chartered Bretton Woods financial institutions are fully integrated in the UN system – in which most of the countries still trust, maybe for lack of anything better.

Question, however: What is better, a hypocritical corrupt system that provides the “appearance”, or the abolition of a dystopian system and the courage to create a new one, under new democratic circumstances and with sovereign rights by each participating country?

The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

The Death of the Nation State has been somewhat exaggerated (Part 2)

October 12, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

Globalization – i.e., neo-liberalism writ large – is essentially a negative phenomenon destroying the sovereignty and cohesion of nation states and thereby depriving markets of the social and political guidance without which they cannot function effectively…The result will be a socially divisive, politically destructive, ethically abhorrent and even economically inefficient structure.(1)

JOINED AT THE HIP

Transnational Corporations (TNCs) can be compared to a tree: they have extensive branches everywhere, but their roots are firmly based at National HQ. Of late this has become a disputed view. One of the contemporary clichés in the current discussion of global political economy is the rather dubious concept of the end of the nation state and the subsequent breaking of the shackles which had hitherto tied TNCs to specific geographical and legal locations. It has been argued that these organizations have moved beyond the control of nation states who can no longer exercise effective jurisdiction over their activities.

This ‘state-denial’ thesis has been articulated by the influential hyper-globalist faction ensconced in the financial press, academic economics departments and political parties. In a ‘borderless’ world the state apparently no longer matters; economic power has shifted from sovereign states to global markets. In the words of the German political and social theorist, Wolfgang Streeck, ‘Markets were once fitted into states; now states are fitted into markets.’(2)This change has involved a global transmutation which reputedly has been brought about by the invention of revolutionary technologies in transport and communications. Such is the thesis put forward by the spokespersons of globalization.

True to say that in general terms all states have to choose a global strategy; they have to look at the full range of choices, then they have to decide what is in their best interests. In the current era of global competition, trade liberalization via the market remains the riskiest choice of all. It demands that trade barriers of all kinds be dismantled – the EU model being the archetype. With this policy governments have to let international competitive pressures restructure industries without recourse to state aids or other protectionist methods. This requires states to open their borders regardless of the costs and consequences in industries and vulnerable workers. Russia in the 1990s was a textbook example of what would happen if a state opened its economy too early, namely, a massive economic contraction. In the official textbooks among the neo-classical scribblers in academe and the media, markets are seen to be self-organizing social and economic space responding to universal demand and supply signals.

For countries which accept this view of the world economy, state power to make policy independent of a country’s major trading partner is being progressively eroded as countries find themselves trapped in a seamless web of interdependency. Larger markets do not come without a cost. This much is axiomatic.

Since the 2008 crisis, however, and now the 2020 blowout the state-denialist view has been more difficult if not actually impossible to sustain. It was after all the allegedly redundant state (or states) which pulled capitalism’s chestnuts out of the fire with the bail-out of insolvent American banks in 2008. As the story goes, during the meeting between Obama and the Wall Street elite at the height of the 2008 crisis the President apparently remarked that it was only himself who stood between the assembled financial movers and shakers of Wall Street and ‘the pitchforks’. The US government also ponied up some US$50 billion to bail out distressed auto manufacturers General Motors and Ford who were based in ‘Motor City’ (Detroit). Detroit itself was also bankrupt but the Federal government was unable to find an additional US$13 billion to bail out the city itself. Maybe – just a thought – because the population of Motor City was largely African-American.

However, the received wisdom emanating from the neoliberal elite has been challenged with a more critical assessment coming from heterodox economic theorists.

As follows.

‘’Contrary to the globalist supposition and as a matter of fact, the (sovereign) state always has, and continues to be the mobilizing force in shaping and guiding national economic development, including globalization itself. Given that an increased capability to overcome geographical distance made possible by technological innovations in transport and communication technologies is of little use if there are political barriers to such movements. Thus, policies of liberalization, deregulation and privatisation were necessary to overcome non-technical barriers to the free flow of labour, capital, and commodities. Therefore, the enabling force of globalization was the state. In fact, the bigger and more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their own power and interests.

States actively construct globalization and use it as soft geo-politics and to acquire greater power over, and autonomy from, their national economies and societies respectively … E.g. … The US and G7s other dominant members design and establish the international trade agreements, organizations, and legislation that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration constitutive of contemporary globalization. Advanced capitalist states, particularly, use these political instruments to shape international economic decision making and policy making in their interests.’’ (3)

In addition, nation-states protect, subsidize, manipulate currencies, impose quotas, sanctions, give tax breaks and exemptions to export industries, R&D, and grant patents, use procurement policies and intellectual property rights to their indigenous corporations to both protect their home markets and help them penetrate overseas markets. This is laughingly described as ‘free trade’. States and corporations are not antipodes they are twins, and arguably the state is the senior partner in this arrangement.

For example, in 1934 the Roosevelt administration passed the Glass-Steagall Act. This involved a forced separation of investment banking from commercial banking which stopped banks speculating with depositors’ monies. In 1999, however, Bill Clinton signed the Financial Services Modernization Act, commonly known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley, repealing the key components of Glass-Steagall whose articles became largely toothless. This was what Wall Street had been angling for and which gave an additional push to the eventual debacle in 2008.

The state giveth, and the state taketh away.

Thus, the notion that powerful trends of internationalization and interdependence have ended national sovereignty is vastly overstated. States remain in charge of the essential part of their national sovereignty: monetary policy, (except in the Eurozone of course) law-making, macroeconomic policy, finance and taxation, environment, education, labour markets, industrial relations, pensions, health and welfare, social policy, science and technology and so forth. Arguably no supra-national entity has yet been designed to replace what has been an effective system of national government. Unimpeded global flows of capital in search of lucrative investment opportunities, are hardly conducive for countries wishing to plan and stabilize their future free from the vagaries of uncontrolled markets

TENSIONS

Power to shape/control the global system is concentrated in the hands of states and/or the newly emergent TNCs. Of course, there is not going to be a simple description of this development as the relationship between these two pillars of modern imperialism is both fractious and permanently mutating. The received wisdom, as put forward by the various spokespersons for globalization, ranging from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) OECD, WTO, World Bank and IMF, and through the globalist house journals of the global Transnational Uberklasse – The Financial Times, The Economist and Wall Street Journal – is predictable enough. Namely that the state is always in a subservient position vis-à-vis the dominant TNCs.

This perhaps would qualify as a procrustean effort to make the facts fit the theory. Contrary to the image of the all-powerful TNC demanding fealty and obedience from prostrate states, the relationship is somewhat more symmetrical; corporations and states are always to a certain degree joined at the hip.

They are both competitive and competing, both supportive and conflictual. They operate in a fully dialectical relationship, locked into unified but contradictory roles and positions, neither one nor the other partner completely able to dominate.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Additionally, the widespread notion that a TNC can simply up sticks and move lock, stock, and barrel to a more compatible venue if its home base no longer suits its purposes, is fanciful in the extreme. All TNCs have home bases, national HQs. Here is where global strategy is determined; here is where top-end R&D is carried out; here is where design and marketing strategies take place; here is where the domestic market is situated and where long-term domestic suppliers are located; here is where overseas operations are conceived planned and carried through; here is where AGMs of the Corporations takes place with published accounts circulated to all shareholders; here is where the local workforce, at all levels, is recruited; here is where the political bureaucracy and the above mentioned institutions are situated and amenable to lobbying. Picking an obvious example, the US defence industries, Raytheon, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing, are all based domestically and are not, even if they could, going to jump ship anytime soon.

It is unquestionably true that TNCs and states often have divergent goals: TNCs’ primary function is to maximise profits and enhance shareholder value, whereas the economic role of the state should be to maximise the economic welfare of its society. But although this conflictual relationship exists, states and TNCs need and lean on each other in a variety of ways. States might wish that TNCs are bound by allegiance to national borders – and in many ways they are (see above) – but total allegiance is not an option in a liberal capitalist economy. Indeed, it would be true to say that some states regard TNC (activities) as being complementary to their foreign policy. Here economic issues merge with geopolitical imperatives. For example, American political leaders have believed that the national interest has also been served by the foreign expansion of US corporations in manufacturing and services. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has been considered a major instrument through which the US could maintain its relative position in world markets – as is of course the US$ acting as the world’s reserve currency – with the overseas expansion of TNCs being regarded as a means to maintain America’s dominant world position. As it was succinctly stated. ’What’s good for General Motors is Good for America’.

THE EU: SUPRANATIONAL OR NATIONAL STATES.

Which brings me to the EU. The state-declinist thesis seems to have gained a considerable traction in Europe among the orthodox left. No less a personage than Yanis Varoufakis – the initiator of DiEM2025 (Democracy in Europe) – has been reading the last rites of state democracy and sovereignty in Europe. Apparently, the model of politics based on the nation state is ‘finished’. The sovereignty of national parliaments has been dissolved. Today, national electoral mandates are impossible to fulfil. Hence, reform of the European institutions (specifically the Euro Parliament), is the only remaining option.

Essentially this is the latest version of the TINA ‘argument’, (there is no alternative), pioneered by Mrs Thatcher and rolled out with monotonous regularity ever since by every cornered establishment politician, both left and right. As has been noted elsewhere. ‘’Tell the population that the nation-state is ‘finished,’ that it is unable to guarantee full employment (or to work towards it) and you free yourself of the responsibility of even trying.’’ The same goes for austerity or anything else. If the nation state is ‘kaput’ it is futile to oppose it.’’(4)

Globalization, however, is far from being the all-powerful and all- encompassing Leviathan postulated by the declinists. ’There are major cultural and linguistic differences that preclude a full mobilisation of resources across national borders. There is ‘home bias in investment portfolios. There is a high correlation between national investment rates and national saving rates. Capital flows between rich and poor nations fall considerably short of what theoretical models predict. There are still severe restrictions to the international mobility of labour. The truth is that we do not live in a completely globalised world, far from it. Ergo, nation-states can pursue their own fiscal and monetary policies.

Ex-leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn’s (quite moderate) policy proposals, during the 2017 and 2019 UK elections, namely, peoples’ QE, renationalisation of the Railways, taking into public ownership the energy and water industries together with the Royal Mail were not beyond the scope of the UK qua sovereign and democratic state. Additionally, these policies found considerable support among the UK’s population at large. (5) Unfortunately Corbyn’s programme was derailed by pro-EU elements in the Parliamentary Labour Party, the MSM and a vicious and mendacious ‘antisemitic’ smear campaign aimed at Corbyn. But this doesn’t alter the fact that a sovereign country can issue its own currency and formulate its own fiscal and monetary policy that can override the EU neo-liberal package of free movement of labour, capital, and commodities. This in addition to blocking the drive to deregulate labour markets (euphemistically, ‘flexibilization’). The sovereign state is perfectly capable of a policy for growth rather than for continued austerity which has become the hallmark of the EU area. But to carry out such growth policies would require an exit from the EU. There’s the rub. Social-democratic policies are incompatible to the EU’s liberal orientation, which is a structurally, neo-liberal capitalist institution.

The euro has in fact simply been designed to ensure that Germany runs a permanent trade surplus whilst the southern periphery runs continuing trade deficits – a simple accounting identity. Eventually something will have to give. It is also noticeable that Germany seems to be harbouring increasingly regional hegemonic ambitions regarding the rest of Europe. It seems to be positioning itself as the EUs anti-Russian key front-line probably with US backing. Euro state Socialism or even tepid social democracy can never truly thrive within such a hostile and increasingly militarised political environment. But that’s another explosive can of worms.

The position of the globalist left as outlined in the DiEM2025 manifesto, however, seems like a back-to-front attempt to by-pass national institutions and to attempt through a supra-national democracy to make fundamental reforms, through a democratised and strengthened EU. But even Varoufakis regards this as being ‘utopian.’ But he continues, it is ‘a lot more realistic than trying to maintain the system as it is’ or ‘trying to leave.’ (6)

More realistic, really? But this begs the obvious question of why such an entity is going to be any different from the present dispensation; will be any less neo-liberal and undemocratic if it is given greater powers and is integrated further? It seems to make more sense to work from the national to the supra-national level than the other way around – particularly given that most states in the EU are governed by centre right coalitions with social-democrats in tow (but acting like centre right liberals). Moreover, the transfer of local democracy – which we are told is now obsolete – to supranational democracy contributes to a weakening of popular control. This leapfrogging of national democracy to supranational democracy perforce requires a supranational electorate. This is problematic however since for the great majority of ordinary European citizens linguistic barriers and cultural differences impair the opportunity for political participation at a supra-national level. And so the dialogue, such as it is, goes on – ad nauseam.

This should not be considered a mere academic nit-picking issue for Socratic Senior Common Room dialogue. It is the key geopolitical issue of the day, as to whether sovereign nation states can determine their own future and political structures and policies, against the globalist project to turn the world into a borderless playground for international finance, corporate hegemony and the corollary of extinguishing democracy.

IDEOLOGICAL INTEGRATION OF STATES INTO NEOLIBERAL MARKET THEORY

But perhaps a more disturbing feature of the state/economy relationship has been the ongoing and gradual privatisation of the state itself. The role of the state has traditionally been a provider of public goods – education, healthcare, culture, parks, libraries, museums, transport infrastructure, including water, energy, forests and national parks, defence, law and order and judiciary, telecommunications, egalitarian social policies and so forth. The role of the market qua economy is to produce private goods and services for sale on a market. There has always been a tension between ‘the commons’- i.e., that which is public and open for everyone to use – and ‘commodification’ which turns things into commodities for private ownership and money-making. To use Marxist terminology, the commons has use-value, not an exchange-value (a market price) simply because it is not – and by definition cannot be – a commodity that can be bought, sold, or commercialised. The elevation of use-value over exchange-value is integral to the commons.

Throughout history, powerful interests have sought to privatise, close, and commodify the commons whether land, other spaces, amenities, or even intellectual ideas – to contrive scarcity and create income-earning assets. To the extent to which the succeeding enclosure and privatisation drives up rental income and proliferate its sources, increasing private riches while eroding public wealth. Such asset-stripping, rent-seeking behaviour by private companies intent on rent-extraction is not only tolerated by public authorities but actually encouraged.

Other examples of this have been the government/private sector liaison whereby private companies are now employed by the government to perform the role which was once the prerogative of governments. These government/private financial arrangements were called Private Financial Initiatives PFIs or Public Private Partnerships PPPs and were operationalised in both the UK and Australia. These predatory organizations were simply looking for public authority institutions to milk. Their incompetence – and outright looting – was legendary. The privatisation of British Rail, for example, led to increased accidents, higher costs, monopolistic rents (in terms of ticket prices), overcrowded trains, and failure to meet the timetable criteria.

In Australia, a report by the New South Wales Auditor General in 2002 warned of the considerable risks associated with the outsourcing of information technology and of the need to ensure that agencies are clear why they should do so. The previously inconceivable opportunities for the security of private information, collected and held by governments to be compromised, opening the way for identity fraud and held by governments was dramatically exposed in November 2007, when the British Department of Revenue and Customs was unable to account for two compact disks which had been sent through the mail at the National Audit Office. These disks contained highly detailed personal information concerning the 25 million citizens who received child benefits, information which included their addresses and bank account numbers, along with details of their children.

This was not an unusual occurrence it was simply another example – among many – of the ongoing rip-off of the public taxpayer by rent-seeking marauders. The market is always right, always works best, and always delivers the goods, or so it is ordained. Such is the categorical imperative of neoliberalism.

Coming full circle, the point of arrival involves a recognition that the relationship between (usually capitalist) states and markets has been a permanent and alternating process which started with the industrial revolutions in western Europe and North America. On the one side there are the permanent state bureaucracies and organizations which function as the basis for the production of public goods, and the national interest as they define it. This is complemented by the free-wheeling, cosmopolitan, financial and corporate interests whose outlook and policies are global as well as national and whose objectives are both practical and ideological. Practical in the sense that their motives are commercial and predicated on the imperative of growth and development not necessarily restricted to their national base. Ideological in terms of their neo-liberal Weltanschauung.

It was the great American social and political theorist C. Wright Mills who postulated the existence of what he called, The Power Elite as early as 1956. The American elite groups were composed of most importantly The Corporate Rich, The Warlords and The Political Directorate which together with various lower ranking sub-elite groups controlled the United States. State and Economy have to an extent always coexisted, their positions and influence moving back and forth, but in recent years (circa 1980) there has been – to put it mildly – a marked tendency of power and influence to tilt away from the state and toward the corporate/commercial configurations. Whether this trend will continue is an open question; but it would not be amiss to assert that nothing goes on forever.

NOTES

(1)Manfred Bienefeld – Is a Strong National Economy a Utopian Goal at the end of the 20th Century? – States Against Markets – pp. 434,435

(2) Wolfgang Streeck – ‘Buying Time’ – The Democratic Crisis Of Democratic Capitalism. ‘

(3) M. Gritsch – (2005: 2-3) (Nye 2002) Quoted in – The State Really Does Matter, Global Shift 2012 – p.223

(4) Picciotto, S. 1991 The Internationalisation of the State – Capital and Class 43.43-63 – quoted in Global Shift 2012– Peter Dicken)

(5) Although it should be said that the 2019 – the Brexit election – was very much watered down to the policies of the electoral manifesto of 2017.

(6) The IndependentUK Newspaper

(7) In Government We Trust – Market Failure and the Delusions of Privatisation. pp.90

لهذه الأسباب يرفض أديب احترام الآليات الدستورية للطائف

حسن حردان

بات من الواضح أنّ عملية تشكيل الحكومة اللبنانية، من قبل الرئيس المكلف الدكتور مصطفى أديب، لا تسلك طريق الآليات الدستورية، التي كرّسها اتفاق الطائف، والتي يجب أن تقوم على احترام نتائج الانتخابات… عبر القيام بالخطوات الإلزامية التالية…

أولاً، التشاور مع الكتل النيابية في البرلمان لتحديد شكل ومضمون وبرنامج الحكومة، وتسمية الشخصيات التي تقترح تمثيلها في الحكومة.

ثانياً، الحرص على أن تكون تشكيلة الحكومة التي ستشكل تحوز على…

1

ـ تمثيل الكتل النيابية وفق أحجامها في البرلمان…

2

ـ ضمان تمتع الحكومة بالميثاقية، أيّ تمثيل الطوائف اللبنانية تمثيلاً عادلاً حسب الدستور.. لأنّ النظام يقوم على المحاصصة الطائفية بموجب المادة 95، طالما لم يتمّ إلغاء الطائفية…

3

ـ الاتفاق مع رئيس الجمهورية بشأن التشكيلة الحكومية وأسماء الوزراء، حسب الدستور الذي يقول بوضوح إنّ رئيس الجمهورية «يصدر بالاتفاق مع رئيس مجلس الوزراء مرسوم تشكيل الحكومة» (الفقرة 4). وكلمة بالاتفاق تعني دستورياً انّ لديه صلاحية التعديل والاعتراض على التشكيلة إذا كانت لا تلبّي شروط التمثيل الحقيقي أو الميثاقية…

لماذا يتمّ القفز فوق هذه الآليات الدستورية؟

لا شيء يدفع الرئيس المكلف إلى تجاهل الكتل النيابية لا سيما الأغلبية، التي من دونها لا تستطيع حكومته أن تنال الثقة في البرلمان.. لا شيء يدفعه إلى ذلك سوى خضوعه لضغط مباشر من رئيس تيار المستقبل الرئيس سعد الحريري ونادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين الذين سمّوه قبل الاستشارات النيابية، والذين استغلوا تسمية أديب، من دون وجود اتفاق مسبق على تشكيلة وطبيعة ونوعية الحكومة وبرنامجها، لأجل محاولة فرض تأليف حكومة من الاختصاصيين تؤمّن لهم ولسيّدهم الأميركي إقصاء حزب الله المقاوم وحلفائه عن السلطة التنفيذية.. وهو أمر يتعارض مع الموقف المعلن للرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون، لكنه يلبّي المطلب الأميركي المعلن والواضح منذ استقالة حكومة الرئيس الحريري اثر انتفاضة ١٧ تشرين الأول.. وذلك بهدف تمكن هذه الحكومة من تحقيق هدفين مهمّين لواشنطن…

الهدف الأول، فرض اتفاق لترسيم الحدود البحرية والبرية وفق الصيغة التي وضعها الموفد الأميركي فريدريك هوف خلال زيارته لبنان عام 2012 واقترح خلالها أن يتمّ تقاسم المنطقة المتنازع عليها بين لبنان وكيان العدو الصهيوني عند الحدود البحرية الجنوبية. التي تمتدّ على حوالى 860 كلم 2، والاقتراح يريد إعطاء لبنان مساحة 500 كلم2 مقابل أن تحصل تل أبيب على 360 كلم2. أي أن يتخلى لبنان عن 40% من هذه المساحة التي تحتوي على ثروة نفطية هامة… لكن لبنان رفض رفضاً قاطعاً التنازل وأصرّ على ترسيم يحفظ كامل حقه، وهذا الموقف أبلغه دولة الرئيس بري مراراً وتكراراً إلى جميع الموفدين الأميركيين الذين زاروا لبنان منذ ذلك التاريخ وحاولوا، دون جدوى، الحصول منه على تنازل…

الهدف الثاني، الاستجابة لشروط صندوق النقد الدولي التي تربط تقديم قروض ميسّرة للبنان بتخصيص ما تبقى من مؤسسات ومنشآت للدولة تدرّ عائدات هامة على الخزينة، وفي المقدمة الهاتف الخليوي والمرافئ وغيرها.. إلى جانب فرض ضرائب جديدة غير مباشرة على عامة المواطنين وتقليص حجم الدولة بتسريح عدد كبير من الموظفين…

هذان الهدفان، الأول يحقق الأطماع الصهيونية على حساب المصلحة الوطنية.. والثاني يجعل لبنان أكثر ارتهاناً اقتصادياً ومالياً للولايات المتحدة لإخضاعه بالكامل لهيمنتها انطلاقاً من سياسة معروفة وهي الإمساك باقتصاديات الدول التي ترفض الهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية والعمل على ابتزازها وإخضاعها بوساطة السلاح الاقتصادي والمالي، الذي اطلق عليه احد الكتاب الأميركيين وصف «القاتل الاقتصادي».. وطبعاً الهدف الذي تسعى إليه واشنطن من وراء ذلك هو محاصرة المقاومة والعمل على نزع سلاحها، لا سيما الصواريخ الدقيقة التي تقلق كيان العدو الصهيوني وتردعه وتشلّ قدرته على شنّ العدوان على لبنان، وتشكل قوة دعم أساسية للمقاومة الفلسطينية وعموداً أساسياً من أعمدة محور المقاومة، الذي أحبط المشروع الأميركي الصهيوني للشرق الأوسط الجديد، تهيمن فيه «إسرائيل» باعتبارها أداة الغرب لتأبيد الهيمنة الاستعمارية على المنطقة، ومواصلة نهب ثرواتها وتحويلها إلى مجرد سوق استهلاكية لمنتجاته…

لأجل تحقيق هذين الهدفين عمدت واشنطن إلى وضع خطة لتفجير «ربيع لبناني» من خلال تشديد الحصار المالي على لبنان ودفع الأزمة المالية والاقتصادية للانفجار، واستطراداً التسبّب بانهيار القدرة الشرائية للمواطنين مما يدفعهم إلى الاحتجاج في الشارع ضدّ سياسات الحكومة.. طبعاً الأدوات الأميركية، لتنفيذ الانقلاب، كانت جاهزة لاستغلال وركوب موجة الاحتجاج الذي انفجر في ١٧ تشرين الأول من عام 2019… إعلام، مال، منظمات الأنجيؤز، وشعارات موجهة تحرّض ضدّ حزب الله وحلفائه، لا سيما رئيس الجمهورية العماد ميشال عون، والرئيس نبيه بري، والتيار الوطني الحر، وتحمّلهم المسؤولية الأساسية عن الفساد والأزمة تحت شعار «كلن يعني كلن».. بما يذكر بشعار «الشعب يريد إسقاط النظام» لمصلحة تجديد شباب الأنظمة العربية الرجعية في مصر وتونس، ومن ثم استخدامه لإسقاط الدول الوطنية، وخصوصاً الدولة الوطنية السورية، التي تواجه الاحتلال وتدعم المقاومة وترفض الهيمنة الاستعمارية الأميركية الغربية..

هذا هو بيت القصيد من المحاولات الأميركية لتدبير الانقلاب على المعادلة السياسية في لبنان عبر السعي لفرض تشكيل حكومة اختصاصيين «مستقلة» لكنها في الحقيقة حكومة تابعة تنفذ التوجيهات الأميركية..

إذا عاد وسلم الرئيس أديب، وطبعاً من خلفه نادي رؤساء الحكومات السابقين، بتشكيل حكومة وفاق وطني، كما ينص اتفاق الطائف، فهذا معناه فشل الخطة الأميركية الانقلابية…

ولأنّ واشنطن، لا تزال تراهن على أنه بإمكانها تحقيق الانقلاب السياسي في لبنان، تعمل على الضغط لمنع تأليف مثل هذه الحكومة، وتستخدم سلاح العقوبات الاقتصادية ضدّ شخصيات وطنية حليفة لحزب الله المقاوم، لأجل محاولة إرهابها ودفعها إلى الاستسلام للشروط الأميركية المذكورة وعدم الوقوف حائلاً دون تشكيل حكومة أميركية الهوى..

غير أنّ الحلم الأميركي بتحقيق هذا الانقلاب كحلم ابليس بالجنة.. فما كان ممكناً جزئياً عام 2005، لم يعد ممكناً عام 2020، لا سيما في ظلّ تنامي قوة المقاومة وحلفها الوطني والعربي والإقليمي، على خلفية فشل الحروب الأميركية الصهيونية الإرهابية في تحقيق أهدافها، ونجاح حلف المقاومة في تحقيق الانتصارات في مواجهة هذه الحروب وتعميق مأزق المشروع الأميركي الصهيوني.. ولولا وجود بعض القوى والأطراف السياسية في لبنان، التي تشكل حصان طروادة للتدخل الأميركي الغربي، وتحاول الاستقواء به لاستعادة هيمنتها على السلطة، لما كان بإمكان واشنطن إثارة الاضطراب والانقسام في البلاد وتستمرّ في المراهنة على محاولة تحقيق أهدافها الاستعمارية، التي هي، في الوقت نفسه، أهداف صهيونية…

المعركة الأميركية في لبنان: التطبيع أو ما يؤدي إليه؟

د.وفيق إبراهيم

الصراع المندلع في لبنان حول الجهة التي يجب أن تؤول اليها وزارة المالية في الحكومة المرتقبة التي يعكف على تشكيلها الرئيس المكلف مصطفى أديب، ليست أكثر من عنوان قد يكون مهماً، إنما في إطار الحرص الأميركي للإمساك بالسياسة الأميركية.

هذا ما يكشفه الإصرار الحاد من قبل مجموعات لبنانية سياسية مرتبطة بالأميركيين والسعوديين ترفض تسلّم أي شيعي لوزارة المالية، ولو اقتضى الأمر اعتذار أديب ودفع البلاد نحو الفراغ.

فينكشف وجود مشروعين متناقضين الأول يزعم ان مصطفى أديب يشكل حكومة مستقلة بمفرده بشكل لا يأخذ فيه بأي اقتراح للقوى النيابية السياسية، فيما يؤكد المشروع الثاني، أن هناك محاولة تشكيل لحكومة، أعطى الأميركيون لفريق لبناني مكون من الرئيس السابق للحكومة سعد الحريري ومعه ثلاثة رؤساء سابقون للحكومة هم فؤاد السنيورة وتمام سلام ونجيب ميقاتي، الحق باختيار اسماء الوزراء وطبيعة الحقائب، على أن يلبوا في الدرجة الاولى مهمة إبعاد حزب الله والرئيس نبيه بري وحلفائهم عن الحقائب الاساسية، خصوصاً وزارة المال التي تمتلك التوقيع الثالث في الدولة على معظم المراسيم والقوانين الى جانب توقيعي رئيس الجمهورية والحكومة.

هنا، بدا الفرنسيون تائهين في مبادرتهم لسببين: انتقادات أميركية حادة تستهدفهم بزعم أنهم لطيفون مع حزب الله ويلتقون بقياداته، أما السبب فيتعلق برفض حزب الله والرئيس بري، التخلي عن وزارة المالية التي يجزمون اتفاقية الدوحة إناطتها بهم عرفياً كحال الإناطة العرفية التاريخية لرئاستي الجمهورية للموارنة والحكومة للسنة وقيادة الجيش ومديرية المخابرات والإنماء والإعمار ومطار بيروت وطيران الشرق الاوسط والأمن العام والقضاء الاعلى، كلها مواقع موزعة مذهبياً بما يكشف ان الصراع على المالية يضمر خفايا اشتباك كبير أميركي مع حزب الله للسيطرة على السياسة اللبنانية من خلال الإمساك بحكومة أديب المرتقبة وقراراتها.

فمن يتصوّر أن وزارة المالية التي يمسك بها رئيس المجلس نبيه بري منذ أكثر من عقد تنتزع هذه الأهميات المحلية اللبنانية والخليجية السعودية والفرنسية والأميركية..

مع أن هذا لا ينفي مطلقاً أهميتها الداخلية في تحقيق هيمنة على السياسة اللبنانية من خلال الثنائية المارونية ـ السنية الى ثلاثية تخترقها الشيعية الثلاثية..

لكن الواضح أن هذه الشيعية السياسية هي جزء من إنتاج القرار السياسي اللبناني منذ انتصار حزب الله على إسرائيل في معارك 2006، ونجاحه في طردها من الأراضي اللبنانية، فأين الجديد إذا؟

لا بد أنه موجود من خلال وضوح التقاطع الأميركي ـ الفرنسي الذي انتج المبادرة الفرنسية الاخيرة في لبنان، وتبين أن مكابحها أميركية الصنع تعتمد خطة السيطرة على لبنان عبر حنين بعض اللبنانيين الى الفرنكوفونية ويجب بالمفهوم الأميركي، ان تحاصر حزب الله بإبعاده عن الحكومة.

الأمر الذي يوضح أن الأميركيين عبر الوساطة الفرنسية، يريدون نصب كمين دستوري حكومي، يلوّح ببعض حسنات الصندوق الدولي ومؤتمر سيدر والبنك الدولي لوقف الانهيار الاقتصادي اللبناني.

إلا أن لهذه الحسنات ما يقابلها أميركياً، وهي مخفية بألاعيب بعض رؤساء الحكومات السابقين الذين نجحوا بإيهام الرأي العام بأن الصراع داخلي على حقائب وأوزان طوائف فيتبين بالعمق أن الأميركيين يريدون حكومة تستطيع ان تربط بين وقف الانهيار الاقتصادي الداخلي وبين امتناع القوى اللبنانية عن التدخل في حروب الاقليم.. وهذا يعني إلغاء مشاركة حزب الله في ضرب الإرهاب في سورية وحدود لبنان الشرقية، وانتهاء دوره في الجنوب عبر تسليم قوات الطوارئ الدولية حق انتهاك القرى والبلدات اللبنانية الى عمق يصل الى سبعين كيلومتراً.

علماً ان الصورة الحالية للجنوب، هي احتلال اسرائيلي لبلدة الغجر ومزارع شبعا وكفرشوبا واحتلال مساحة من الحدود البرية والبحرية.

فلماذا يريد الأميركيون استصدار هذه القرارات من حكومة أديب؟

لديهم هدفان: إغراق لبنان بفوضى مسلحة تطالب بنزع سلاح حزب الله ونقل هذا الخلاف الى منظمة الأمم المتحدة، مع محاولات إعلان هذه الحكومة لحيادية لبنان في الصراع مع «اسرائيل» كما يطالب البطريرك الماروني الراعي وحزب القوات والخليج الذي احتضن أخيراً «اسرائيل».

بذلك يتضح ان ما يجري في لبنان من صراعات طوائف ليست إلا حجاباً رقيقاً يستر محاولة أميركية لنقل لبنان الى حلف التطبيع مع «اسرائيل» ـ أو الحياد معها على الأقل ـ وهذا يتطلب مشاركة شيعية في حكومة أديب ليست على قدر وازن من الفاعلية الوطنية.

فهل هذا ممكن؟ إن إصرار الثنائي الشيعي على وزارة المال وتسمية وزرائهم ليس عملاً طائفياً، بقدر ما يؤسس قدرة دستورية على مجابهة المشروع الأميركي الذي يريد دفع لبنان الى احضان «إسرائيل».

سلامة يستعدّ للرحيل: تعاميم المجلس المركزي لا الحاكم

 سلامة يستعدّ للرحيل: تعاميم المجلس المركزي لا الحاكم
(هيثم الموسوي)

من هرّب 5 مليارات دولار في ثمانية أشهر؟

ابراهيم الأمين

الإثنين 7 أيلول 2020

بدو القطاع المصرفي في مرحلة الاستعداد لـ«ساعة الحساب». هذه المرة، لن تنفع كل محاولات التضليل الإعلامي التي قادتها ماكينة يُشرف عليها أصدقاء حاكم مصرف لبنان رياض سلامة ورئيس جمعية المصارف سليم صفير. وهي ماكينة توزّع نفوذها في أكثر من دائرة مؤثرة، سواء داخل القطاع نفسه وداخل مصرف لبنان ووزارة المالية، أو داخل مجلس الوزراء والمجلس النيابي وحتى الإدارة العامة. إضافة إلى النفوذ المتوقّع بين السياسيين والإعلاميين.

المواجهة السابقة كان هدفها تعطيل خطة الحكومة للإصلاح المالي. صحيح أن مصرفيين أساسيين حاولوا في الأيام الأولى من عمر حكومة حسان دياب الدخول في نقاش مع الحكومة من أجل التوصل إلى صيغة قابلة للتطبيق. إلّا أن الحكومة لم تُظهر استعداداً عملانياً للسير في اتفاق يحظى بتوافق أطرافها، بينما كان أرباب القطاع المصرفي ينتظرون إشارة الحاكم الذي لم يتأخّر في إبلاغهم: اصمدوا، هذه الحكومة غير قادرة علينا!

الذي حصل باختصار، أن مشروع إقالة رياض سلامة تعطّل بقوّة، لا سيما بعدما تراجع النائب جبران باسيل مُذعناً لرغبة الفريق الذي يضمّ الرئيسَين نبيه بري وسعد الحريري والنائب السابق وليد جنبلاط والذي عارض إقالة سلامة بحجّة أن الفراغ ممنوع الآن. باسيل كان ينتظر أن يقود حزب الله المعركة ضدّ سلامة. الحزب غير المعجب على الإطلاق بسياسات سلامة لن يبادر. لديه ثوابته التي تحول دون قيادة المعركة، لكنه مستعدّ دوماً لدعمها متى اندلعت. الذين رفضوا إقالة سلامة، لديهم أسبابهم الكثيرة. ظاهريّاً، المشكلة عندهم تبدأ من كون بديله سيُعيّن برضى وبركة الرئيس ميشال عون. لكنّ الأساس، هو الشراكة الفعلية بين هؤلاء وبين سلامة الذي – للأمانة – لم يَخَف يوماً من هذه المنظومة، فهو يعرفها أكثر من نفسها وله عليها الكثير.

ما فجّر الأزمة فعلياً، ليس الخلاف على الأرقام كما جرت محاولة اختزال القصة. لأن عملية احتساب الخسائر مهما جرى التلاعب بها، إنما تبقى في نهاية الأمر خسائر، وأي مقاربة جديدة لإدارة المالية العامة أو السياسة النقدية كانت ستكشف ما يُعمل دوماً على إخفائه. ولذلك فإن المعركة الحقيقية تركزت على سُبل منع التدقيق الجنائي في حسابات مصرف لبنان والمؤسسات التابعة له. وهو تدقيق كان ليشمل أيضاً حركة التحويلات المالية الكبيرة في السنوات الأخيرة، وهو ما كان سيؤدّي عملياً إلى إسقاط السرّية المصرفية عن نسبة الـ2.5 بالمئة من المودعين والذين يحملون غالبية الودائع الموجودة لدى المصارف. عدا عن كون التدقيق كان سيكشف من تلقاء نفسه عن «حكاية الصفقات» التي تملأ كلّ دوائر الدولة اللبنانية وفي القطاعَين الخاص والعام على حدّ سواء. ولو أن التدقيق تم على طريقة شركة «كرول»، لكنّا أمام مادة لسلسلة تلفزيونية شيّقة تمتدّ حلقاتها لأعوام.

في أيام الاشتباك القوي، لم تكن المؤسسات الدولية تقف بعيداً عن النقاش. من البنك الدولي الذي صار محرجاً إزاء فضائح ستصيب فريقه الإداري أيضاً، نظراً إلى الأرقام الهائلة من المصاريف الإدارية التي كانت تُنفق، إلى صندوق النقد الدولي الذي كان أقرب إلى وجهة نظر الحكومة لاعتقاده الراسخ بأن حاكم مصرف لبنان كما المشرفين على المالية العامة إنما يتلاعبون بكل شيء ومنذ فترة طويلة. وصولاً إلى الجهات المانحة، ولا سيما فرنسا التي أُوكل إليها ملفّ الدعم الإنمائي من خلال برنامج «سيدر». كل هذه الجهات أوفدت مَن ناقش ودرس وسمع ودقّق. ومن المفارقات أنه في ظلّ الانقسام السياسي اللبناني حول تقييم موقع ودور حاكم مصرف لبنان، إلّا أن إجماعاً دولياً ظهر فجأة، على ضرورة تنحية الرجل، وتحميله مسؤولية رئيسية عن الأخطاء الكبيرة، سواء بسبب خضوعه لطلبات السلطات السياسية ثم شراكته معها، أو بسبب مشاركته أرباب القطاع المصرفي ألاعيبهم التي تمّت برعايته. علماً أنه للمرة الأولى، يوجّه موفدون دوليون نقداً لسلامة على خلفية استمرار عمله في الأسواق المالية العالمية بواسطة شركات مستقلة يديرها مقربون منه أو أقرباء، وهي الأعمال التي جعلت ثروته تكبر بصورة لافتة. علماً أنه يدافع عمّا قام به، وأنه كان يقوم باستثمار ما يملكه نتيجة عمله السابق، بصورة لا تتعارض مع موقعه ودوره، وأنه لم يستفِد بقرش واحد من العمليات الجارية ضمن نطاق عمله.

ما يجري اليوم هو تثبّت الجهات على اختلافها، محلياً وإقليمياً ودولياً، من أن الرئيس الفرنسي إيمانويل ماكرون، يعمل شخصياً على إطاحة سلامة. وهو يتجنّبه بصورة كاملة، والفريق الاستشاري العامل إلى جانب الرئيس الفرنسي لا يكنّ أي احترام – مهنيّ وحتى شخصي – لسلامة. مع الإشارة إلى أن فريق ماركون جلّه من المصرفيين الكبار، وبينهم سمير عساف، المصرفي الذي رُشّح مراراً لخلافة سلامة في حاكمية المصرف المركزي. ولو أن روايات كثيرة من أوروبا، لا تميّز عساف كثيراً عن سلامة. ومع ذلك، فإن ماكرون يعرف أنّ ليس بمقدوره القيام بخطوة كهذه بالطريقة التقليدية. و يعرف أنّ من الصعب عقد تسوية مع النافذين في بيروت لأجل الإطاحة بسلامة، فوجد أن الحلّ يكون بتسوية مباشرة مع سلامة نفسه، والذي أبلغ للمرة الأولى، من يهمّه الأمر، بأنه مستعدّ لمغادرة منصبه. لكنّه صارح محدّثيه بأنه لا يثق بأي من المسؤولين اللبنانيين في السلطة وخارجها، وأنه يعرفهم واحداً واحداً على حقيقتهم. وهو يخشى تعرّضهم لملاحقة سيعملون على تحويلها صوبه، ليس بقصد محاسبته، بل لتحويله إلى «كبش فداء». الجديد أن سلامة أبدى استعداداً للمباشرة في عملية تدقيق بالتعاون مع مصرف فرنسا المركزي، تشمل عمليات المصرف المركزي ومشروع إعادة هيكلة القطاع المصرفي، بالإضافة إلى أنه في حال ضمان الرئيس الفرنسي شخصياً عدم ملاحقته، فهو مستعدّ لترك منصبه ومغادرة لبنان فوراً. وسلامة الحريص على تكرار هذه اللازمة أخيراً، يعرف مسبقاً أن الجهات الدولية التي تدفع باتجاه التدقيق، إنما تستهدف الوصول إلى أرقام موحّدة حول الواقع المالي والنقدي في لبنان. يتصرف سلامة على قاعدة الثقة بأن هدف التدقيق محصور في هذه النقطة وليس هدفه تحميل المسؤوليات أو الإدانة والعقاب.

أكثر من ذلك، فإنّ الـ«السنفور غضبان» ديفيد شينكر لم يترك جهة إلّا التقاها، بما في ذلك مندوبون أو متصلون بالقوى السياسية التي قال إنه لن يجتمع مع قياداتها. وكان للمصرفيين نصيب بارز من اللقاءات، وهو حرص على إبلاغهم بأنه يجب عدم المراهنة على عمليات التدقيق ولا حتى على العقوبات. لافتاً إلى أنه يخشى إحباطاً إضافياً عند الناس جراء مبالغة قوى سياسية حيال ملف العقوبات، لأن ما هو مطروح حتى الآن لن يطال الصف الأول بالتأكيد، بل سيطال مجموعات يمكن ربطها بقوى وجهات. لكن شينكر صار ميّالاً الى الحديث عن «انتهاء أيام رياض سلامة» على ما يقول أحد الملتقين به، وأن واشنطن متوافقة مع باريس على هذا الأمر، لكنها لا تمنح فرنسا أيّ تفويض بتعيين أو اقتراح تعيين حاكم بديل. وأن الرأي الخارجي الحاسم سيكون بيد صندوق النقد الدولي قبل أي جهة أخرى.
لكن، ما لا يُقال أو لا يُشار إليه على أنه اتفاق ضمني، هو ما يبدو أن سلامة تعهد به، لجهة القيام بخطوات عملانية هدفها إنجاز بعض الأمور. يردّد أحدهم أن «سلامة سيقوم بخطوات تزعج حلفاءه في السوق، لكنها ضرورية لضمان الخروج المشرّف». بتعبير أوضح، يبدو أن سلامة وافق على تنفيذ عدد من طلبات الحكومة المستقيلة، لكن ضمن الإطار الذي يراه هو الأنسب. وخطة تعديل التموضع لديه، بدأت منذ صدور قرارات تعيين الأعضاء الجدد للمجلس المركزي لمصرف لبنان. دخول نواب الحاكم الجدد والآخرين من الأعضاء الحُكميين في المجلس المركزي، سمح بإشاعة أن المجلس المركزي الذي ظل معطّلاً لربع قرن، عاود العمل كفريق موسّع في الأسابيع الاخيرة. وأن سلامة نفسه بادر إلى إبلاغ أعضاء المجلس المركزي، أنه ينتظر منهم أفكارهم وتصوّراتهم لأجل الشروع في خطوات «إصلاحية».

في هذا السياق، يعرف سلامة أنه مضطر إلى عمليات قد تتسبب بأذية بعض أصدقائه المصرفيين. وربما تصيب مصالح بعض كبار المودعين الذين يعرفهم سلامة تمام المعرفة بالأسماء والأرقام الموجودة في حساباتهم. وهو أيضاً «خبير محلّف» بالقوانين المالية، وكيفية التطبيق الدقيق أو الجانبي لجميع بنود قانون النقد والتسليف، بالإضافة إلى خبرته الطويلة في لعبة التعاميم المصرفية التي يجب جمعها في كتاب لأجل تاريخ لبنان.

التعميم 154 ورسملة المصارف

جديد الوضع المصرفي، التعميم الذي أصدره الحاكم يوم 27 آب الماضي، ويحمل الرقم 154، والذي يفرض بموجبه على المودعين الذين حوّلوا أموالاً إلى الخارج بين تموز عام 2017 والشهر الماضي، إعادة تحويل جزء منها تتراوح نسبته بين 15 و30 بالمئة إلى المصارف اللبنانية من الخارج. على أن يجري تجميد هذه المبالغ لخمس سنوات لدى القطاع المصرفي وترك أمر الفوائد للتفاوض بين المودع والمصرف. على أن تعمد المصارف إلى استعمال هذه الودائع الجديدة في تغذية السوق العطِش للأموال الطازجة، خصوصاً أن مصرف لبنان بدأ يرفع الصوت من عدم قدرته على توفير دولارات كافية لتغطية الدعم المطلوب لسلع رئيسية من قمح ومحروقات ودواء.
بالإضافة إلى ذلك، ذكّر سلامة المصارف بوجوب زيادة رساميلها من خلال توفير مبالغ إضافية تصل إلى عشرين بالمئة من قيمة الرساميل الحالية، على أن يكون هناك جدول زمني لتوفير هذه المطلوبات ينتهي مطلع العام المقبل. وأرفق هذا الطلب بتوضيح أن المصارف التي لا تقدر على تنفيذ هذه العملية ستحال إلى المجلس المركزي لاتخاذ القرار بشأن أن تبقى أو تخرج من السوق.

تضارب في التقديرات حول حجم الأموال الممكن إعادتها حسب التعميم 154 وخبراء يخشون انهياراً إضافياً لليرة


ردة الفعل على التعاميم لن تكون متطابقة، الأمر هنا لا يتعلق بالحسابات المباشرة فقط، بل في كيفية تعامل الجمهور مع الأجراء. في الشكل، سيبدو لقسم من الجمهور، أن التعميم الهادف الى إعادة استقطاب دولارات طازجة من الخارج، يمثل استجابة من الحاكم لمطالب قوى سياسية وتيارات شعبية التي تقع تحت بند «استعادة الأموال المنهوبة». والفكرة تصبح مغرية – أيضاً في الشكل – كون التعميم يشمل كل الذين حولوا أموالهم من صيف عام 2017. والمهم في هذه الفترة، هو حجم الأموال التي خرجت من لبنان إثر اعتقال السعودية الرئيس سعد الحريري في الرياض. ثم الأمر نفسه الذي تعاظم في عامي 2018 و 2019 ربطاً بالتدهور المتسارع للأحوال النقدية والمالية والاقتصادية في لبنان، وصولاً إلى ما جرى في الأشهر الأخيرة التي سبقت أزمة القطاع بعد 17 تشرين.
في هذا السياق، يتحدث مصرفيون عن مبالغ كبيرة جداً، وأن الآلية التي تفرض استعادة بين 15 و 30 بالمئة، يقدّر لها أن تعيد مبالغ كبيرة. وهنا يُظهر مصرفيون تفاؤلاً مبالغاً فيه حيال إمكانية استعادة نحو خمسة مليارات دولار، بينما يرى خبراء أن مثل هذه العملية لن تعيد إلا بضع مئات من ملايين الدولارات.

المصرفيون يعتقدون أن القرار قابل للتطبيق. وأن النقاش حول قانونيته لن يغيّر من قوته. صحيح أن المبدأ يقول بأنه لا يمكن لمصرف أن يُجبر مودعاً على إعادة أمواله إلى المصرف وتجميدها، لكن تعميم سلامة يخيّر المودعين بين أمرين: إما إعادة هذا الجزء، أو إحالة الملف إلى هيئة التحقيق الخاصة لأجل التدقيق في الأموال وأصولها وأسباب تحويلها إلى الخارج. وبحسب المصرفيين أنفسهم، فإن هذه العملية تعني عملياً رفع السرية المصرفية عن هذه الحسابات، وهي خطوة شديدة الحساسية بالنسبة إلى عدد كبير جداً من كبار المودعين. كما أن الاشتباه بالملف من قبل هيئة التحقيق الخاصة سيؤدي إلى مضاعفات يعتقد البعض أنها كافية للضغط على أصحاب الودائع الكبيرة من أجل إعادة بعض ما حولوه إلى الخارج.

التدقيق في حسابات مصرف لبنان هدفه توحيد أرقام الخسائر… ولا توقّعات بالمحاسبة


وبحسب أصحاب هذا الرأي فإن المصارف نفسها صارت أمام مسؤولية لم تكن تواجهها من قبل. فهي الآن مضطرة لإجراء جردة واسعة وشاملة ودقيقة ورسمية لكل عمليات التحويل التي تمت في الفترة الواردة في التعميم. والآلية تفرض على المصارف المسارعة إلى إبلاغ المودعين بالتعميم والطلب إليهم الالتزام بإعادة المبالغ وفق النسب المفروضة. وفي حال لم يجرِ الالتزام فإن المصارف ملزمة بإبلاغ مصرف لبنان بأسماء من رفض الالتزام، وهي لائحة ستذهب فوراً الى هيئة التحقيق الخاصة، والتي يتوقع أن تطلب رفع السرية المصرفية عن حسابات هؤلاء وعن كامل حركة حساباتهم خلال فترة زمنية تحددها الهيئة وقد لا تكون مقتصرة على الفترة الزمنية الواردة في التعميم. وعندها ستكون المصارف ملزمة بالتعاون، لأن الإحالة من هيئة التحقيق الخاصة تعني الاشتباه بوجود عمليات احتيال على القانون الضريبي أو حصول علميات تبييض للأموال. ويعتبر المدافعون عن التعميم، أنه يحقّق عملياً هدف الحكومة المستقيلة من بعض الوارد في خطتها، لكن الفارق أن قرار الحكومة كان يتطلّب إدخال تعديلات على 31 قانوناً مرتبطاً بالأمر النقدي والمالي. بينما يتيح هذا التعميم تنفيذ العملية، برغم كل النقاش حول قانونيته.


تهريب أموال جديدة؟

ما يرفض المصرفيون الإقرار به، أو حتى تقديم إجابات حاسمة حوله، هو المعلومات التي يجري تداولها على نطاق ضيق منذ أسابيع، حول حصول عمليات تحويل لمبالغ ضخمة تخص فئات محددة من رجال السياسة والأعمال والمال إلى الخارج. ويفيد مصدر واسع الاطلاع على هذه العمليات، أنّ نحو 5 مليارات دولار أميركي تم تحويلها إلى الخارج منذ مطلع عام 2020 حتى أواخر آب الماضي. وأن هذه المبالغ تعود إلى سياسيين ورجال أعمال وأصحاب أسهم في المصارف أو أعضاء في مجالس إدارتها. حتى إن بعض الجهات صار لديها لوائح بأسماء غالبية الذين أجروا تحويلات بسبب نفوذ سياسي أو وظيفي أو خلافه. وإن مصرف لبنان يحاول إخفاء الفضيحة من خلال التعميم 154 الهادف الى توفير ما يغطي هذه الفجوة. ويقول المصدر إن هناك معلومات موثوقة عن أن مصرف لبنان خسر أقل من 2.8 مليار دولار من الاحتياطي الموجود لديه في عملية الاستيراد للمواد المدعومة منذ مطلع العام، بينما أرقامه المعلنة تفيد عن خسارة خمسة مليارات إضافية من هذا الاحتياطي من دون شرح. صحيح أن المصرف المركزي حاول سابقاً فرض شروط قاسية على المصارف لأجل توفير سيولة لها بالدولار الأميركي، لكنه عملياً وفّر لها كميات كبيرة من الأموال الموجودة في الخارج، وهي الأموال التي استخدمتها المصارف لإجراء عمليات التحويل لعدد من المحظيين. بالإضافة الى سؤال قائم اليوم حول قدر الأرباح التي حققها تجار كبار في البلاد، استفادوا من برنامج الدعم، لكنهم لم يخفّضوا الأسعار على الإطلاق.

سعر الدولار

على أن الأهمّ اليوم، هو الحديث عن قبول سلامة ومسؤولين في الدولة التزام وصفة صندوق النقد لجهة سياسة الدعم. وهذا يعني ليس وقف دعم السلع الأساسية من قِبل مصرف لبنان كما هو حاصل اليوم، بل رفع القيود أيضاً عن السعر الرسمي للدولار الأميركي، خصوصاً في حال لجأ مصرف لبنان والمصارف مرة جديدة الى محاولة إرضاء المودعين بصرف حقوقهم المودعة بالدولار الأميركي، لكن بالليرة اللبنانية. وهذا سيؤدي حكماً إلى البحث من جديد عن كميات أكبر من الدولارات في الأسواق وفي البيوت أيضاً، ما يعني أن سعر الدولار الفعلي سيترفع بنسبة 35 بالمئة على الأقل عن سعره المتداول اليوم في السوق السوداء. مع العلم، أن أحد أبرز الخبراء في السياسات النقدية يرفض فكرة «استشارة أحد» حول مستقبل سعر العملة الوطنية. ويقول: المشكلة أنّ لبنان يحتاج الى عشرات مليارات الدولارات حتى يستعيد توازنه، لكن ذلك لن يعالج أزمة الثقة الهائلة بالدولة والقطاع المصرفي، ما يعني أن إعادة الدماء إلى القطاع المالي في لبنان أمر غير متوقع في القريب، حتى ولو انطلقت الإصلاحات.

ما العمل لإنقاذ لبنان

زاهر الخطيب

ما هو عِلميَّا وعَمليَّا مُقتَرحُنا الخَلاصيّ؟

بين انتصار المقاومة 14 آب 2006 وانفجار الفاجعة 4 آب 2020 وفي أعقابِ التّطوراتِ والمستجِدّات الأخيرة…

سَواءٌ على صعيدِ الجائحةِ الكورونيّةِ وطنيّاً وإقليميّاً ودوليّاً…

أو على صعيدِ الانفجارِ الفاجعة في المرفأ التاريخيّ العريق لبيروت «اُمِّ الشرائع»، والتّداعيات المُزلْزِلة، التي أقلُّ ما خلّفت وراءها: رعباً… ودماً… وألماً… ودَماراً… وَرُكاماً… وتهجيراً…

بين الانفجار الزّلزلَة.. وتفرُّد الحكومة باستقالةٍ متسرِّعة!

فوَّتتِ الحكومةُ فرصةً ثمينةً بِرِهانِها الطويلِ المدى على صندوق النّقد الدولي، وبعدم التوجُّهِ شرقاً، لملاقاة عروضٍ سخيّةٍ قدّمتها دولٌ صديقةٌ لو استُجيبَ لها، لكانت فَتحت للحكومةِ منافذ واسعةً أمامَ حُلولٍ عمليّةٍ فوريَّة، وشقّت طُرُقاً لإنقاذِ لبنانَ من فظيعِ محنتِهِ والمآسي. أوَلم يكنِ الأجدى للبنانَ، بألّا تُقدِمَ الحكومةُ على تركِ المسؤوليةِ فجأةً بِلا استشارة؟ وفي تِلكُمُ الظروفِ العصيبة؟ وإذا كان في ما نقولُ الكثيرُ من الأسف وبعضُ العتب، فهو على قدرِ المودَّة. وتبقى الغلطةُ الكبيرةُ بالتردُّدِ والتفرُّد، وبعدمِ قراءةِ موازينِ القُوى موضوعِيّاً بعينِ العقل. ولو فعَلتِ الحكومة ذلك، لما خَذَلت أو خُذِلت، لأنّ موازينَ القُوى كانت لِتسمَحَ للحكومةِ بالفلاح، لو كانت لبَّت نداءَ التوجُّه شرقاً، ولكانت وضعت لبنانَ فوراً، على سكّةِ الخلاصِ الاستراتيجيّ. أمّا الأدلَّةُ الثبوتيةُ على صحّةِ ما نقولُ فعديدة، ويكفي أن نُشيرَ الى شاهدٍ من أهْلِهِ، هو نفسُهُ المبعوثُ الأميركيُّ السّيد هيل، الذي، في زيارته لبنان، جاءنا مُتكبِّراً مُتجبِّراً لِيفرِضَ شروطاً أميركيةً على لبنان، توحي بإقصاءِ حزبِ الله عن الحكومة اللبنانيّة تمهيداً لنزعِ سلاحِه، وإذ بالمبعوثِ نفسِهِ، بعد تصريحاته المزَلزِلة، وبعد صدورِ الحكمِ المهزلة عن المحكمةِ الدوليَّة، يُصرِّحُ بما معناه: إنّ أميركا تعايشت وتعاملت مع حكوماتٍ سابقةٍ شاركَ فيها حزبُ الله (وفي مثل هذا التّصريح الفصيح طبعاً) إشارةٌ واضحةٌ إلى أنَّ أميركا على استعدادٍ للتعاملِ مع الحكومة اللبنانيّة المُقبلة، التي لن تُشكَّلَ إنْ لم يكن حزبُ اللهِ، فيها، شريكاً.

أمّا بعدُ، وعلى ضوء ما سبق، وبحصيلة مشاوراتٍ دَؤوبةٍ مع الرِّفاق في القيادةِ المركزيَّةِ لرابطةِ الشَّغيلة… وكوادرَ ناشطةٍ في تيَّار العُروبةِ للمقاومةِ والعدالةِ الاجتماعيَّة.

ارتأيتُ ضَرورةَ التوجُّه لأبناءِ الوطنِ العربيّ ولا سِيّما فلسطين وسورية والعراق واليمن وسائر الأقطار، والى الأحرار والشرفاء في العالم بِنداءٍ وجدانيٍّ، أو فلنقُلْ بصريحِ بيانٍ عقلانيٍّ موضوعي، بعناوينَ ثلاثة، أُوجِزُ مضامينَها تمهيداً، كما يلي:

العنوانُ الأول: «المقاومة شرطُ وجودِ لبنان»

المقاومة شرطُ حماية انتصار شعبه في العام 2000.

المقاومة شرطُ صونِ سيادته بسمائهِ وأرضِهِ ومياهِهِ والثروات ما ظهرَ منها وما بَطَن.

أوَلم يؤكد ذلك أمين عام حزب الله السيد حسن نصر الله في ذكرى انتصار آب 2006؟

العنوان الثاني: أليسَ لِغاياتِها وأهدافِها السياسيّة تُشَنُّ الحروبُ العسكرية والعدوانية،

أوَليس الحِصارُ والعقوباتُ والاغتيالاتُ والفوضى الخلّاقةُ والثوراتُ الملوّنةُ والإرهابُ الوحشيُّ وقطعُ الطرقاتِ والأموالُ، هي البدائلُ الجاهزةُ للحروبِ الاقتصاديةِ عند فشلِ الحروبِ العسكريّةِ الظالمةِ من تحقيقِ غاياتِها وأهدافِها السياسية؟

العنوان الثالث: ما العملُ لإنقاذِ لبنان

وما هو عِلميّاً وعَمليّاً مُقتَرحُنا الخَلاصيّ؟

تمهيدٌ… في البُعد الفلسفيّ: المقاومةُ شرطٌ وجوديّ

إنّ المقاومةَ شرطٌ وجوديٌّ في حياةِ الإنسان، لأنه فطرةٌ طبيعية وسُنَّةٌ تواكِبُه مع نشأتِه وفي تكوينه، سواء بمناعته الجسدية، أم بمناعته النفسيّة، مناعةٌ جسدية لِدفع أذىً يطالُ الجسد، ونفسيّة لِردعِ ظلم ينالُ من النّفس… أولم تلِدْنا أمهاتُنا أحراراً؟

ألا تتجلّى هذه السِّمات في سِيَرِ الأنبياءِ والشهداءِ والعلماءِ والقادةِ العظماء؟ وعند الشعوب المناضِلة والأقوياءِ في نفوسهم مُذ كان التمرّد على الظلم والطغيان؟

أليس جدلُ الكونِ والإنسان قائمٌ على الدِّيالكتيّة، أي الثنائيّة في صراع الأضداد، كالصّراع الدائر بين الخير والشرّ على صعيد الإنسان والمجتمع، أو كالصّراع الدائرِ بين الحقِّ والباطل، أو بين النور والظُلمة، أما في الموضوعةِ التي نحن بصددها ففي الصّراع الدائرِ بين الحرية والعبودية.. بين حرية الإنسان في خِياراته بإعطاء المعنى الذي يريدُ لِوجودِه سيّداً حرّاً مستقلّا عن أيِّ ارتهان أو استلاب أو استغلال من أيِّ نوعٍ كان، وعبوديةٍ تكبِّلُهُ بالسلاسل الحديدية والأغلال الى الأذقان، أو عبودية أشدُّ وأدهى، تتبدّى خبيثًةً بالعبودية الفكريّة والعنصريّة والطائفيّة والمذهبيّة والفئويّة والمناطقيّة والعائليّة والعُصبويّة، وهي أخطرُ أنواعِ العبوديات. وفي حديثٍ شريفٍ عن التعصُّب والعصبيّة: «إنها لجاهليَّةٌ نتِنة».

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ـ المقاومةُ شرطُ وجودِ لبنان

أربعةَ عشر عاماً مضت على انتصار شعبِنا على العدو الصّهيوني في حرب تموز 2006، استطاعت خلالها المقاومةُ مجابهةَ تحدِّيات الحرب الصُّهيو – أميركيّة العدوانيّة الهمجيّة، وإسقاطَ مشروع الشرق الأوسط الجديد، الذي كانت قد بشّرت به السيدة رايس الحكومة اللبنانية بشخصِ رئيسِها فؤاد السنيورة، ولم يكن قد مضى أكثر من ثلاثةٍ وثلاثين يوماً حتى خاب فألُ أميركا بعد أن ساء ظنُّها بقوةِ أداة التنفيذ الصُّهيونية، التي لم توفّر حتى أطفال قانا في ارتكاب مجازرها، فجعلتهم أشلاءَ متناثرة في مركز القُوات الدولية. وقد تمكّنت المقاومة بعد ذلك من تثبيت معادلاتٍ للرّدع، غلّت يد الصّهاينة عن استسهالِ العدوان على لبنان، بفضل القوةِ المتعاظمة للمقاومة وموقفها الثَّوريِّ المبدئيّ، وتطوير قدراتها التي قلّصت، إنْ لم نقل، كفّت الى حدٍّ بعيد شرَّ الصّهاينة الغادرين بغزو لبنان أو استمراء تَكرار اعتداءاته. ويعود الفضلُ الأول في ذلك الى المقاومة في خِيارها بتأكيدِ قوتها ورفضِها رفضاً مطلقاً قبولَ الذُلِّ والهوان لأبناء شعبها والوطن، فكانت لِتردعَ بقوةٍ، أيَّ عدوانٍ على سيادتنا، لا سيما بعد أن طوّرت المقاومةُ قدراتِها الرّدعية، وبذلت من الجهود والجهاد ما يوافرُ المقدرةَ على كبحِ جموح الحِلف الاستعماري الصُّهيوني ومنعِه من شنِّ حروبٍ جديدةٍ، فالمقاومةُ الباسلةُ باتت تفرِضُ على العدو الصُّهيوني حسابَ الكِلفة في حال إقدامِهِ على أيّ مغامرةٍ غير محسوبة، وذلك بفعل امتلاكها قوة قاهرة تُخفي المفاجآت، وتسهر لياليها بضناء في مواصلة بناء قوّتها وتعزيزها تدريباً وعدّةً وعتاداً بفضل الشراكة المصيريّة مع سوريّة وإيران، اللتين تواصلان دعم المقاومة في أقسى الظروف، ولَمْ يَصرِفهُما عن ذلك الالتزامِ المصيريِّ الأخويِّ الأخلاقيِّ، أيُّ عدوانٍ أو حصارٍ أو تهديدٍ أو تآمرٍ مع شياطينِ الداخلِ أو الخارج، وإنّ شرفاءَ لبنان وأحرارَ العالم لَمَدينون لتلك الأرواحِ الغاليةِ والدماءِ الزكيّةِ والجهودِ المضنية، التي تبذلُها المقاومة بعناءٍ وسخاء، والتي لا يجوز أن يطمسها أو يغيِّـبَها أيُّ جحودٍ أو نكران.

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ـ المقاومةُ شرطُ حماية انتصار لبنان العام 2000 وردع أيّ عدوان على شعبه وترسيخ قوَّته وإسقاط مقولة قوة لبنان بضعفه، والثلاثية التي أرساها الشعب اللبناني هي «قوة لبنان بجيشه وشعبه ومقاومته» ضدّ العدو الصهيوني الاستيطاني الذي دسَّه الاستعمار في قلب الوطن العربي لدورٍ وظيفي، يقضي بتجزئة الوطن العربي وقمع حركات التحرُّر فيه طامعاً بعد احتلال فلسطين بجعل لبنان محمية صُهيونية بلا سيادة، مستبيحاً سماءنا وأرضنا ومياهنا ونفطنا والغاز والثروات، ما ظهر منها وما بطن.

أما وقد دخلنا بهذه المعادلة الثلاثية العصرَ الذي ولّى فيه زمن الهزائم وجاء زمن الانتصارات، وخاض فيه لبنان مع محور المقاومة معارك التحرير الظافرة.

«فقد أصبحت المقاومة تحمي لبنان وتردعُ العدو الصُّهيوني ورعاته في العالم، وشركاءَه في المنطقة، وهي بالشراكة مع الجيش اللبنانيّ، ومع غالبية الشعب الحاضنة والداعمة، تقيم منظومة الدِّفاع والحماية ضدّ التهديد الصُّهيوني… وضدّ الإرهاب التكفيري… وأخطارِه… وإجرامه الدموي. وقد بذل المقاومون بكلّ تواضع تضحيات جمّة في معركة وجودٍ مصيريّة، فدافعوا بالدماء عن حق شعبهم في الحياة والأمان، وحرسوا بأرواحهم مع أبطال الجيش اللبناني وحدة الشعب والوطن، كما منعوا الغزوة الإرهابية من تمزيق الشرق العربي، فكانوا خلال السنوات الأخيرة يبذلون الدماء والأرواح دفاعاً عن لبنان وعن سوريّة والعراق في ملحمة شرقيّة عربيّة تاريخية عظيمة، تؤكد وحدة مصير الشرق، رغم جميع خطط الهيمنة الاستعماريّة الهادفة لِتمزيقه وإخضاعه ونهبه. وقد كانت شراكة المقاومة المصيريّة، وبالذات مع الشقيقة سورية، مثالاً للأخوّة، ولوحدة المصير القومي. بينما كان لإيران الشقيقة الفضلُ العظيمُ، الذي لا يُنسى في تمكين سورية وفلسطين ولبنان والعراق واليمن من التّصدّي للغزوة الإرهابية، المدعومة من الحلف الاستعماري الصُّهيوني الرجعيّ العربيّ الأشدّ صهينًة أو قُل العِبري الأشدّ كُفراً».

العنوان الثاني: الحروبُ الاقتصاديةُ العدوانيةُ بديلاً عن الحروب العسكرية الظالمة عند فشلها في تحقيقِ غاياتها وأهدافها السياسيّة.

«لقد سارع حلف العدوان بعد تعثُّر مخططه الدمويّ الى إحكام أدوات الحصار والخنق الاقتصادي على سوريّة وإيران، وكذلك على لبنان، بينما كانت الحكوماتُ اللبنانية المتعاقبة قاصرةً بخططها وتوجهاتها عن ابتكار وتنفيذ البرامج الوطنية، التي ترعى فرصاً جِديّة لتوفير مستلزمات الصمود، ولتطوير القُدرة على كسر الحصار الغربي الاستعماري، والتصدّي لمسار الانهيار الاقتصادي والمالي، الذي كان أبرزُ وجوهِه النافرة اختناق القطاعات المنتجة، وتمادي الريعيّة والفساد. وما تزال الضرورة الوطنية تفرض على لبنان اعتمادَ خطةٍ للصمود الوطني، ترتكز الى تطوير قطاعات الإنتاج وإحياء الثروة الحقيقية، وتثبيت دعائم الاستقلال الوطني، والتحرُّر من الهيمنة الاستعمارية عبر التمسُّك بشراكة الحياة مع سوريّة والعراق وإيران وسائر دول الشرق. وإنّ عدم ملاقاة هذه الفرص بخطوات عملية يوقعُ لبنان رهينة في فخّ الهيمنة الغربية اللصوصية أيا كان غطاؤها الخادع، وهو ما يجب أن ينتبه إليه جميع اللبنانيين القادرين على توسيع الفرص ومضاعفة القدرات عبر تنويع الخيارات».

نداء إلى أبناء الأمّة جمعاء

بيننا وبين الاستعمار قضايا لن تُصفَّى بالمناشدة والخنوع أو التملّق العاطفي… بل هي تدعونا الى كفاح عمليٍّ شاقٍّ وطويل…

بيننا وبين الاستعمار قضية فلسطين التي شاؤوها لقمة سائغة للصُّهيونية المجرمة، ولكنها، لن تكون في معركة الوجود مهما أبطأ الزمن إلَّا لأبنائها بدمائنا وبجهادِ الأجيال ستكون. فلا صفقة قرنٍ ولا صفقاتِ قرونٍ تعيد فلسطين لأهلها عربيّةً أبيّةً. لقد ضاع عمرُنا الرّخيص بالمساومة، وفلسطين لن تعود إلّا بالمقاومة المسلّحة أساساً، وتجلياتها السياسيّة والدبلوماسيّة والجماهيريّة والثقافيّة، تكون في خدمة الكفاح المسلّح. قضية فلسطين هي قضيتُنا المركزيّة في الصراع العربيّ الصُّهيونيّ.

«لا صلح لا تفاوض لا اعتراف»، المقاومة وُجِدت لتبقى «ما أخذ بالقوة لا يُستردّ بغير القوة»، الرئيس الراحل جمال عبد الناصر.

«لا شراكة مشرقيّة وعربيّة إلّا والمقاومةُ جوهرها»، الرئيس بشار الأسد.

نهضة الأمة وتوحيدُ الوطن العربي رهنٌ بوحدةٍ وطنيةٍ قوميةٍ أمميّة لمعسكر الشرفاء والكادحين من أحرارِ العالم، على مبدأ «نُصادِقُ مَن يُصادِقُنا ونُعادي مَن يُعادينا».

العنوان الثالث: ما العمل لإنقاذ لبنان ما هو علميّاً وعمليّاً مقترحنا الخلاصي؟

«إنّ ابتكار خطة وطنية لكسر الحصار وللخروج من حلقة الاستنزاف والدمار، يوجبُ أمرين اثنين علميّاً وعمليّاً».

علميّاً: رؤية برنامجيّة سياسيّة اقتصاديّة اجتماعيّة إنتاجيّة وطنيّة.

عمليّاً: خطوات شجاعة عاجلة لإحياء قطاعات الإنتاج، والتحرُّر من الرَّيعيّة التّابعة، وبناءُ الشّراكات العربيّة والإقليميّة والدوليّة، التي تدعمُ إعادةَ بناءِ الاقتصاد الوطني، وتطويرُ موارد جديدة تُنعش الحركةَ الاقتصادية، وهذا يوجب خروج لبنان من الارتهان لأحادية الارتباط بالغرب الساعي الى الهيمنةِ والنّهبِ والسّلبِ والحلب. «والعملُ على اعتماد توجُّهات جديدة تحقِّق التوازنَ في البناء الاقتصادي، والخلاص من الريعية لردّ الاعتبار الى الصناعة والزراعة والصناعة السياحيّة وجميع فروع الإنتاج المعرفيّ، مما يُسهمُ في توسيعِ المجالاتِ الاقتصاديّة المجدية، والاعتمادُ على الشراكات المفيدة، وملاقاةِ الفرصِ، التي تمنعُ الاختناق في قبضة الهيمنة الغربية الاستعمارية. وقد أثبتت الكارثةُ، التي تعرّضت لها البلاد أنّ لنا في هذا الشرق دولاً شقيقة وصديقة، يمكن أن نستندَ الى الشراكة الوثيقة معها في المصالح والتوجُهات الاستقلالية بعلاقات متكافئة بعيدةٍ عن الأطماع والهيمنة والنهب، وقد قدّمت مساعدتِها لنا دون سؤال أو أيّ شكل من أشكال الاستثمار السياسي التملّقي الرخيص.

إنّ وضع حدًّ للنزف الخطير، الذي يعيشه اللبنانيون، ومنعَ الاختناقات المعيشيّة المتزايدة يستدعي التزامَ فكرةِ التحرُّر من الارتهان للغرب، وأقلُّه، الانتقال الى علاقات وشراكات متوازنة على أساس تكافؤ المصالح مع الشرق والغرب، والارتكاز على تنمية القطاعات الإنتاجية، وملاقاةُ فرصِ الشّراكة مع الجِوار القومي والإقليمي والشرقي على أساس المصالح المشتركة والمتكافئة. والبديل عن هذا الخيار ليس سوى المزيدِ من التسوُّلِ والاستدانة، وفي الاستدانة تبعيةٌ وإذلالٌ، وفي مطلق الأحوال لم تعد متاحة كالسابق، وباتت قرينةَ شروطٍ وإملاءاتٍ تخنقُ البلادَ مالياً واقتصادياً، وترهن إرادتَها السياسيّة للهيمنة الأجنبيّة».

أيُّها اللبنانيون: لماذا لا نُجاوِزُ اليأسَ والكآبةَ والاستسلام، ونبعثُ في نفوسنا والأذهان، آمالَنا والأحلام؟ لماذا لا نُزيحُ الغشاوةَ عن أعيننا، لنُحرِق بحرارةِ الشّمس نتنَ الفسادِ والعفن؟ لماذا القُصورُ في البَصرِ والبصيرةِ، فنُعادي مَن يصادِقَنا، ونُصادق مَن يُعادينا؟

أيها اللبنانيون: ألم يئنِ الأوانُ لإنقاذ لبنانَ ببناءِ دولةِ المواطنة؟ والتمسُّك بشُرعةِ حقوقِ الإنسان، والخياراتِ والثوابت الوطنية المنصوص عنها في وثيقة الوِفاق الوطنيّ الفقرة ب «لبنان عربيّ الهوية والانتماء. وفي الدُّستور اللبناني، الفقرة عينُها «لبنان عربيُّ الهويّة والانتماء»، (أحكام رئيسة).

أوَلم يئنِ الأوانُ بعدُ لنرفع في ساحات النّضال الجماهيري السلميّ شعارَ تطبيق الميثاقِ الوطني اللبناني، ووضع موضع التنفيذ الفوري المادة 95 من الدستور اللبناني بإلغاء الطائفية السياسية السمُّ الزعاف، الذي دسَّه الانتداب الفرنسي في دستور 1926. وتطبيق المادة 22 المعدّلة في دستور 1990 (مجلس نواب وطني لا طائفي ومجلس شيوخ تتمثّل فيه العائلات الرّوحية وتنحصرُ صلاحياتُه في القضايا المصيريّة، لا سيما في الأحوال الشخصية المادة 65 – بند 5) والمادة 27 (عضو مجلس النواب يمثّل الأمة جمعاء). (ما يستوجب الدائرة الوطنية الواحدة) وسواها من الإصلاحات.

أيها اللبنانيون: فلندفع بوعينا لتقوية النّفوس وإلغاء النصوص، وتحرير العقول من أوهام سلطان الهيمنة والارتهان، فدربُ النّضال شاقٌّ وطويل لاستكمال التحرّر والتحرير من عَوزٍ واحتلال، ولْنَدفع بمسار الإصلاح والتغيير، ومحاربة الفساد، ومعاقبة المفسدين بتطبيق الدستور والقوانين، وليكن مسارُ النضال الجماهيري سلميّاً، لا سيّما أنّ الجيشَ وقوى الأمن هم أهلنا بالبزّة العسكرية، وحَذارِ من المندسّين والإعلام التضليلي المأجور، وجمعيات الأنجوز» المشبوهة المموّلة بشعاراتِ الحريّة المزيّفة والديمقراطية!

وحَتَّامَ الانتظار لاسترداد المنهوبِ من أموالِ الشعب، وتطبيق قانون من أين لك هذا، وقانون العقوبات بمحاربة الفساد والاقتصاص من المفسدين والقتَلة والخونة المتعاملين جَهاراً نهاراً مع العدو الصُّهيوني، وليلاً في العتمةِ مع الموساد. فهل يندرجُ ذلك في بابِ حرية الرأي أو حرية التعبير عن وجهة نظر؟. وهل ثمةَ حياديّةٌ في الصراع الدائر بين الحقّ والباطل؟

وهل الحدودُ الجغرافية فواصلُ عنصرية تُسقط عن الشرفاء والأحرار المسؤولية والقيمَ الإنسانية. «وإذا قلتم فاعدلوا ولو كان ذا قربى». «فلبــنان جمــهورية تعــدُّدِيّــة». قائمٌ نظامُها السياسي على الطائفيّة والمذهبيّة، فهل نقيم على بعضنا البعض الحواجز والمتاريس، ونحفرُ الخنادقَ، ونبني بيننا الجدران؟

أيها اللبنانيون

لا تجعلوا «نعمةَ التّعدُّدِيّة»، «نِقمةً فتنويّة»…

لماذا تعرفون الحقَّ فتتجنَّبونَه… وتُدرِكونَ الباطل فتجتلِبونَه؟ فلْنَعقِل ونرفع رايةَ الوَحدةِ الوطنيّة.. ولْنوئِدِ الفِتنة، فالفتنةُ أشدُّ من القتل… ولْتكن المعاملةُ بالِمثل، «فنعادي مَن يُعادينا… ونُصادِقُ مَن يصادِقُنا» أُمَمِيّاً، صوناً للسّلمِ الأهليّ وحبّاً بلبنانَ حُرّاً سيِّداً قويّاً على صورةِ أحلامِ أطفالِنا والشّهداء. ولْيكُن نضالُنا معاً من أجلِ الأجيال المقبِلة، لا من أجل الانتخابات المُقبِلة أو المُبكِرة، بل من أجل أن نحيا بعزَّةٍ في دولةِ القانون والمؤسسات، تساوي بالجَدارة والنّزاهة والأخلاق، ما يساوي القيِّمون عليها: دولة تُسمّى «دولةَ المواطنة والإنسان»، دولةَ العدلِ والمساواة، والحريةِ ونُصرةِ المظلومينَ والكادحينَ في نضالِهم والبؤساء، عسانا نتفكّرُ ونَعِي كمواطنينَ مسؤولين، حقوقَنا كلَّها وفرائضَ الواجبات…

أفــلا نــعــقِلُ ونتــوكّلُ… ونُلــبّي النِّــداء؟

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وزير ونائب سابق، الأمين العام لرابطة الشغيلة

In Defence of Sovereignty

August 18, 2020

By Francis Lee for the Saker Blog

In Defence of Sovereignty

For the benefit of Frau Merkel & Nordstream-2

No sovereignty = No democracy: If a State is subordinate to another State or group of states it is no longer sovereign. That is to say if it ceases to exercise control over its vital policies, economic, political, social and cultural. Moreover it follows that if it is not sovereign it cannot be democratic since the key policies it might wish to enact and carry out are decided elsewhere.

The increasingly unbalanced assessment regarding the UK’s eventual exit from membership of the EU (if indeed it ever really happens) seems predicated on a series of fixed, cliché-ridden political positions which haven’t changed since the whole issue became live. The great national ‘debate’ seems to be an emotionally charged affair with little attention to facts and more focused upon personalities and taken-for-granted assumptions of the ‘everybody knows’ type. This presumably is post-modern politics I suppose. But at the heart of the debate is the issue of sovereignty.

Let us firstly consider the international economic issues involved according to the conventional wisdom of the hyper-globalists. It is argued that both nation states and the whole concept of national sovereignty is now defunct. Their reasoning is based upon the following premises. 1. Most products have developed a very complex geography – with parts made in different countries and then assembled somewhere else, in which case labels of origin begin to lose their meaning. 2. Markets when left unfettered will arrive at optimal price, allocative, and productive efficiency. 3.This means that capital, commodities and labour should be free to move around the globe without let or hindrance to achieve these goals. 4. Any barriers to this process – capital controls, trade unions, exchange rate controls, welfare expenditures, minimum wage legislation, wages and even public goods – will give rise to price and allocative distortions. Q.E.D. Apart from point 1., the rest of these claims are in fact highly contestable and could easily be shredded by reference to historical experience and empirical testing, but hey, if the theoretical paradigm is sound who cares about historical experience and empirical testing.

Such globalization has come to be seen and defined by its proponents as the ‘natural order’ of things, almost a force of nature. This, it is further argued, will be an inexorable process of increasing geographical spread and functional integration between economic and political activities. This current orthodoxy goes by various names, Washington Consensus, Market Liberalisation, Neo-liberalism, Globalism and so on and so forth. In fact, there is nothing ‘natural’ about this stage of historical development since the whole phenomenon has been politically driven. From the outset there has been a coalition of globalist oligarchs, technocrats and heads of state et.al working through global institutions the IMF, World Bank, BIS, WTO, NATO, the EU, CIA – the list is extensive. They control the economic, political and military superstructures which form the ruling global system and constitute the vanguard of the whole process.

Turning to the EU as the regional prototype for the globalization, anti-state project, it was Patrick Buchanan, an American conservative who once correctly stated in ‘The American Conservative’ that the US Congress ‘‘is an Israeli occupied zone’’ by which he meant of course that Israel and the Israeli Lobby, both external and internal, has had a huge input into the framing and operation of US foreign policy. In a similar vein the EU is also occupied territory under the occupation and control of US imperialism. (This process of blatant meddling in European affairs by the US-CIA started with Operation Gladio in the late 1940s at about the same time as Operation Mockingbird and Operation Paperclip.) However, the perceived enemy was not merely Soviet communism, but also sotto voce, European social and political theory and practice, namely, Gaullism and social-democracy. These latter political groupings have long since been politically cleansed with the EU being reconfigured as neo-liberal, and, since the alignment of the EU security structures with NATO, as neo-conservative vassal states overseen and represented by odious little Petainist/Quisling occupation regimes. This is only too apparent when the fawning behaviours of Johnson, Macron and Merkel vis-à-vis the US are observed. Whenever the US master says jump, the Europeans will reply ‘how high’ And this is even more pronounced by the newly arrived Eastern European states. A group which Dick Cheney once described as the ‘new Europe.’ By which he meant the political force which was operationalised to fundamentally change the political direction of the EU in the late 20th century. Euro-widening was meant to prevent euro-deepening, and it worked a treat.

Perhaps the most salient (and bogus) claim deployed by the pro-Globalization camp is the use of the time-honoured TINA ‘there-is-no-alternative’ Varoufakis approach. This is invariably deployed to shut-down any genuine discussion. Of course it was Mrs Thatcher who pioneered this method of political discourse, with, it should be added, considerable success. Reading the editorials in the ‘leftist’ publications, I couldn’t help being reminded of those little Thatcherite homilies trotted out by the Tory press during the Thatcher ascendency.

But now, not to be outdone, the centre-left has taken upon itself the mantle of ‘progress’ and ‘modernity’ providing the ideological rationale for the globalist tendency. This has involved a 180 degree turn and is apparently using the same language and political orientation as the Globalists. Try this one on: ‘’Nations are increasingly irrelevant when it comes to effective action on the environment and social and immigration policies …’’ This was taken from a centre-left publication. Yep, distilled, undiluted globalization – TINA. That could have been George Soros speaking. As if sovereign nations could not pool their resources, enter into bi-lateral agreements, engage in trade and diplomacy, enter into negotiations with others precisely to confront common issues such as the aforementioned environmental, immigration and social issues.

But in this ‘stateless’ or seemingly becoming ‘stateless’ world I do feel obliged to point out that the United States as a nation is sovereign and has every intention of remaining so. Contrary to the globalist patter, however, this super-state shapes and formulates both economic and foreign policy for itself and its vassal states in Europe and East Asia, but of course these vassal states are not fully sovereign and are subject to the rule of the one that is – the USA. The reality we have in the EU consists not of a unified assemblage of sovereign states but a de facto occupied zone of a political, economic and military empire, under both US aegis and control.

As the late Egyptian Marxist, Samir Amin, put it:

‘’Conceived of at the end of WW2 the ‘European Project’ was born as the European part of the Atlanticist project of the United States, much in the spirit of the first Cold War initiated by Washington and given voice by Churchill’s speech in Fulton Missouri in 1946 in which he intoned. “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”  This has been a project which the European bourgeoisies – at that time weak and afraid of their own working classes – adhered to practically without conditions. This is still largely true, as seen in the choices put into effect by the ruling classes and political forces of the right and majority left, at least in certain European countries, above all in Great Britain, where it has been done clearly and ostentatiously. In other countries there is perhaps a small piece of hesitation, whilst in Eastern Europe the process is managed by political classes formed in the culture of servility … There is no longer, at present, a European project … A North Atlantic project under American command has replaced it

Thus the European ‘project’ is not moving – or not moving fast enough, or not moving at all – in the direction that is needed to bring Washington to its senses. Indeed it remains a basically ‘non-European’ project, scarcely more than a European part of the American project. The European’s Constitution is for a Europe which is settling – has settled ? – its dual and Atlanticist option. Hence the potential contained in the clash of political cultures, which could theoretically lead to an end of Atlanticism which remains mortgaged to social-liberalism of the majority sections of the left (electorally speaking, the European socialist parties). But social-liberalism is a contradiction in terms, since liberalism is by its nature non-social or even anti-social … a stable and generally multipolar world will be socialist or it will not exist at all. (2)

Inter-governmental policy is perfectly possible, however, without the surrender of national sovereignty to an imperial hegemon. However, If the European Vichy regimes choose to accept the imposition of US policy imperatives that is their choice – a political choice, not an iron law of political development.

The fact is that nation states unquestionably remain the most significant force in shaping the world economy – this in spite of the hyper-globalist rhetoric coming from the Bilderbergers and neo-liberal/Washington consensus proponents. The nation state has always played a fundamental role in the economic development of all countries and indeed in the process of globalization itself. In fact, the more powerful states have used globalization as a means of increasing their power vis-à-vis the weaker states. The US and the G7 design and establish, international trade agreements, organizations, and legislations that support and govern trans-border investments, production networks, and market penetration, constitutive of contemporary economic globalization. Advanced capitalist states, in particular, use these political instruments to shape international decision making and policy in their own interests.(3)

A contemporary example of this is the US – qua sovereign hegemon – forcing policies, such as membership of NATO, down the throats of their (apparently willing) ‘allies’ (read vassals) and ‘partners’ in order to carry out the US’s geopolitical policies by mobilizing their Quisling regimes in both Europe (particularly Eastern Europe) for possible conflict with Russia, China and Iran (which are de facto sovereign states). It can be seen that the sovereignty of Europe is limited by the Transatlantic hegemon to the extent that Europe lacks both military, political and key areas of economic decision making to individual European G7 states. The fact that these semi-sovereign euro states are forced – as is everyone else – to use the US$ as the global currency means they do not really control their own economies. Let us assume for the sake of argument that Sweden has a trading surplus with the US; this means that it is exporting more than it is importing in terms of US goods. This means that the Swedish currency – the Krona – will appreciate against the US$. But the Swedish government may not want its currency to appreciate by being palmed off with US Treasuries which will never be redeemed. In order therefore to stop its own currency appreciating against the dollar it will have to buy US dollars or dollar denominated assets, (usually Treasury Bills) to keep its own currency at a lower exchange rate to the dollar. This results in an appreciating dollar which means the US can buy more stuff on world markets without producing any additional goods and services! Great deal if you can get it! Moreover by accepting the US$ and Treasuries as a means of payment for goods produced in Europe these semi-peripheral states are on the wrong end of what the French politician Valery Giscard D’Estaing once termed an ‘exorbitant privilege’. Such is the position of sovereign states, semi-sovereign states, and non-sovereign states.

In geopolitical terms it should be understood that the abasement of Europe to American interests is frankly abject. Europe has become a forward base for the Pentagon, military industrial complex, and neo-con infested State Department to play their war games against Russia and latterly against China. If there is a war with Russia, please note it is intended to be carried out on European soil not American.

In terms of present and future membership not only was the admission of the Eastern European periphery a massive error for individual European states, but future membership bodes even worse for the EU ‘project’. Turkey is not only authoritarian, a US proxy and a member of NATO, which is bad enough, but it also funds and arms our most inveterate enemies, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Jabhat Al Nusra, and various other jihadist alphabet soup grouplets. This same state was at that time mooted for membership of the EU by both the UK and Germany. Moreover, future candidates for EU/NATO status include Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. None of these states could be considered to be even remotely sovereign and/or democratic and generally are totally and openly corrupt. It is all part of the long march toward Russia’s western frontier by NATO/EU, a process begun by Clinton (Mr) in the 1990s. But apparently this is of no consequence to the contemporary ‘left’ which doesn’t seem unduly worried by these developments.

As for the EU/NATO, do we really want to belong to an organization who has these people as members/applicants? It’s a bit like Groucho Marx’s famous witticism – ‘’I wouldn’t want to belong to a club which would have me as a member.’’ More important in this respect does the EU/NATO even allow us a choice in the matter?

One final point. Okay it is argued that if we – the UK – leave the EU the roof falls in, of course that is a complete non sequitur, but let’s run with it for a moment. Membership is therefore imperative! Really?

Well in 1946 due to costs of the WW2 the UK was flat broke. Lord Keynes was despatched to Washington and negotiated a loan from the Americans. Of course there were strings, or in IMF/World Bankspeak, ‘conditionalities.’ 1. Britain had to end the system of imperial preference of intra-empire trading, mainly because the Americans wanted to get into this lucrative market. 2. The British empire had to be wound up, and the Americans would then carry the baton for the Anglo-Zionist empire, with all the costs but mostly advantages that accrued from this position. The UK’s long retreat from East of Suez began with Indian independence in 1947 and continued well into the 1960s.

The roof did not fall in, however, Britain, in spite of continuing imperial delusions of grandeur, adjusted to its new position in the world. There was, after all, an alternative to imperial nostalgia, maybe it never quite worked out as planned, but it happened, nonetheless.

Thus the TINA hypothesis is basically invalid. There are – pace the globalist dogma – always alternatives, you may not like them, but to deny their existence is neither a serious nor honest position to take.

NOTES

(1) Samir Amin – The Liberal Virus – p.86 p.89.

(2) Samir Amin – Beyond US Hegemony – p.148.

(3) Peter Dicken – Global Shift – The State Really Does Matter, Chapter 6

هذا هو الشهر الفاصل

ناصر قنديل

مع خولنا شهر آب ندخل أخطر شهور العام، وربما أعوام سبقت. فهو الشهر الذي سيتقرر خلاله اتجاه الإدارة الأميركية في التعامل مع لبنان واستطراداً مع المنطقة، وهذا الاتجاه الذي سيجد ترجمته في شهر أيلول، سيبقى حاكماً لعام على الأقل، لأن إعادة انتخاب الرئيس دونالد ترامب ستعني التمديد للنهج الذي يكون قد اختاره، وانتخاب منافسه ستعني مواصلة نهج سلفه حتى ترسم السياسة الجديدة، بعد مئة يوم على الأقل من تسلم الرئيس لمقاليد الحكم في كانون الثاني، ما يعني أن لا سياسات أميركية جديدة قبل أيار المقبل، سيكون الرئيس الجديد محتاجاً لاستثمار سياسات سلفه خلال الفترة الانتقالية، وتركها تؤتي بعض ثمارها قبل تبديلها.

الخيارات الأميركية أساسية في تقرير سياسات فريقين فاعلين في الملفات اللبنانية والإقليمية، هما أصحاب الأموال، وأصحاب السلاح، وفي طليعة أصحاب الأموال يقف صندوق النقد الدولي وتقف أوروبا، ويقف بعض حكام الخليج، وكلهم ينتظرون للإفراج عن بعض الأموال خلال الفترة الفاصلة عن شهر أيار المقبل، طبيعة الضوء الأميركي، أحمر أم اصفر أم أخضر؛ وأصحاب السلاح وفي طليعتهم كيان الاحتلال وجيشه، والجماعات الإرهابية، ودول إقليمية تجس النبض بحثاً عن دور تتقدمها تركيا، جميعهم ينتظر التوجه الأميركي، تصعيداً أم تبريداً.

الخيارات الأميركية محكومة بضوابط هي الأخرى، فالوضع الداخلي ليس مريحاً للرئيس ترامب على أكثر من صعيد، والمواجهة الدائرة مع روسيا والصين على ملفات مختلفة تجعل الخيارات في المنطقة محكومة بعدم التورط بمواجهات أشد تعقيداً تجد في التورط الأميركي في المنطقة فرصة لخوض حروب استنزاف ضدها، كما أن انزلاق الوضع نحو مواجهة بلا ضوابط أمر تسعى إدارة الرئيس ترامب لتفاديه، ومثله اللاعبون تحت ظلال سياساته لا يرغبون باختبارات للقوة تذهب إلى المناطق اللزجة مع خطر انفلات المكابح وحدوث الانزلاق إلى منطقة الخروج عن السيطرة، سواء بالضغوط المالية أو الضغوط الأمنية والعسكرية.

الخيارات الأميركية خلال شهر آب هي بين خيارين، الأول فتح قنوات تفاوض على سقوف منخفضة عن تلك التي تضمنتها دعوات المبعوث الخاص إلى سورية جيمس جيفري لانسحاب متزامن ومتوازن أميركي إيراني من سورية، وقد رفضتها إيران وحلفاؤها، ودعوات معاون وزير الخارجية ديفيد شنكر للبنان لقبول خط فريدريك هوف أساساً لترسيم حدود النفط والغاز مع كيان الاحتلال، وقد رفضها لبنان. أما الخيار الثاني فهو الدفع بالتصعيد خطوة إضافية في الملفين المالي والأمني، لمزيد من الضغط أملاً بفرض المقترحات الأميركية الهادفة لتأمين سور أمني وقانوني يحمي كيان الاحتلال من مخاطر مواجهات مقبلة، ولأن حزب الله والمقاومة في لبنان التي يمثل الحزب رأس حربتها، المعني الأول بالملفين وعلى الجبهتين، بمثل ما هو المعني الأول بالملف الحكومي في لبنان، يصير كل ما سنشهده خلال هذا الشهر من أحداث تمت جدولتها زمنياً بصورة مسبقة مدروسة، كقرار المحكمة الدولية، أو ستظهر كمفاجآت، كاستقالة وزير الخارجية المرتقبة، رسائل مباشرة لرسم وجهة الحركة الأميركية مباشرة أو بالواسطة، أو بالونات اختبار لرؤية الخيارات المقابلة، مع تسريبات عن زيارة قريبة لمعاون وزير الخارجية الأميركية ديفيد شنكر إلى بيروت لتحريك التفاوض حول الترسيم البحري.

رد المقاومة على جيش الاحتلال، وتوقيته وحجمه ونوعه، لن يكون معزولاً عن قراءة هذه الرسائل، والتريث ليس حرباً نفسية وفقاً لقاعدة الوقوف على «إجر ونص» فقط، بل هي بعض الاستثمار لعامل الوقت، لأن الفرصة ذهبية ليكون الرد عامل ترجيح في ضربات الجزاء التي ستحسم مصير المباراة.

The ’Americanized’ Europe is Crumbling towards Bankruptcy and Chaos

The ’Americanized’ Europe is Crumbling towards Bankruptcy and Chaos

By George Haddad

Sofia – Until World War II, old Colonialism has prevailed in the world [excluding the Soviet Union which was besieged and isolated]. Production [i.e. industry and industry-based agriculture] was the center of the colonial system. The metropolitans [European colonial countries] were the “factory of the world”. As for the colonies and semi-colonies that were once called the “Third World”, they were obliged by force to be:

  1. Sources of raw materials [crude and agricultural] to supply the metropolitan industry.
  2. Markets for metropolitan industrial and agricultural products.

The so-called “price-cutter” was being forcefully imposed on the peoples of the colonial and semi-colonial countries, that is, they were forced to buy the commodities of European countries at high prices [higher than their real value], and to sell their raw materials at low prices [lesser than their real value].

The ruling capitalist classes of the colonials sewed up most of these “surplus” profits resulting from the aforementioned “price cuts” [the price differences]. But it was “waiving” a portion of less or more of those “surplus profits” to increase the living standards of the popular masses in colonial Europe, to anaesthetize them and obtain their support for a colonial policy, and at least make them condone that policy.

The historical consequence of that colonial system was that progress and affluence in the colonial Europe countries happened on the expense of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples of the third world by slaughtering, subduing, humiliating, and starving them.

The Second World War marked a turning point in the previous world order; on the one hand, the former socialist camp emerged, and on the other hand, the old colonial system collapsed due to the revolutions in the colonies and semi-colonies. The former colonial metropolitan countries [which emerged from the war weak and semi-destroyed] could no longer forcefully impose their “production” on the third world. Socialist thought spread like wildfire through the “Third World”. A large group that antagonize communism, especially in its economic and social aspects, embraced many groups that were hostile to or disagree politically, religiously and ideologically with communism. Accordingly, a realistic possibility for the global capitalist system as a whole to collapse saw light. But the American geostrategic intervention, militarily, politically, and economically, had blocked this possibility.

Not only did the United States emerge from the war safe and sound having distanced itself from the battlefields, but rather, it emerged wealthier and literally became the “World Bank” for gold reserves and thousands of billions of capital fleeing its countries due to the wars, revolutions, and the collapse of the old colonial system. This accumulation of global capitals in the US led to the emergence of multinational companies and major global capitalist monopolies alongside their Jewish capital nuclei and the adoption of the dollar as the main international currency, as well as the emergence of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund [IMF] to control the dollar process in the global economy as a whole. This led to a paradigm shift in the global capitalist system, which was to transfer the centre point of the global capitalist economy from “production” to “financing”, represented by loans, employment, and investments, which was the basis for the emergence of the new neoliberal system, American globalization, and the so-called “savage capitalism”. Due to these mechanisms, America worked and is still working to dominate the world.

This “paradigm shift” of the world capitalist-imperialist system resulted in the following:

  1. The insane increase of the financial sector’s share in the global economy from 5% in the aftermath of World War II to 50% today.
  2. Centralizing the global economy around the dollar, i.e. placing it under the mercy of the dollar-printing machine owned by the Jewish financial group that controls the American Central Bank’s “governor” called “Federal Reserve Bank”.
  3. Turning the US, almost completely, into a parasitic state. As American production now represents less than 18% of the American economy, which in turn represents less than 20% of the global economy; whereas – the US – consumes more than 40% of global production.
  4. Europe itself, with its rich history, has turned into a US-influence zone. Consequently, Europe became a producer and the US a consumer of its production [and others production] in exchange for a dollar currency, which is constantly losing its purchasing value. This means that Europe gradually lost all the extra wealth it had looted from colonial and semi-colonial peoples for hundreds of years, in just a few decades in favour of the US. And that is to say, Europe is living day to day on its production, which in turn gradually loses its marketing value due to the peg to the dollar that is gradually losing its purchasing value in favour of the American-Jewish monetary monopoly of the dollar.
  5. And by seeking to obtain profits in any way, the global American-Jewish monopolistic monetary bloc objectively encouraged industrialization and increased production in what was called the “Asian Tigers”: Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc., as it “neglected” and also objectively encouraged the overwhelming industrial revival of China that is governed by the Communist Party, whose population is 50% more than the combined population of Europe and America. These countries produced in huge quantities industrial commodities [with international specifications] that are much cheaper than expensive European ones because their labour remuneration is much lower than the “pampered” labour remuneration in Europe. The production of ex-colonial countries made a fierce and deadly competition for European production, whose proportion has shrunk considerably in the world trade.

Finally, under the same general economic laws of capitalism, the inflated balloon of rentier financial capital [interest – speculative] exploded, and the financial-economic crisis in the US erupted spilling over to Europe in 2008. The main cause behind this continues crisis is the explosive collision between the infinite and senseless rise in profits resulting from the fiscal usurious-speculative policy and the limited purchasing power of consumers. The US has been able to partially and interim deal with the consequences of the crisis, thanks to its capacity to print more dollars, which the world has no choice but to “receive” gratefully [!]. As for Europe, it is impossible to do so. Therefore, its situation is worse than that of the US, and it “is solving” the problems resulting from the crisis by inflation, unemployment and lowering the living standard of the European masses.

Meanwhile, the Coronavirus pandemic hit. Whether this pandemic is a form of biological warfare [as US President Donald Trump suggests in his repeated accusations to China], or a “natural” phenomenon as a result of environmental pollution due to the brutality of the capitalist greed system dealing with nature, the economic crisis is quickly and severely making its way into Europe: production is shrinking at a very high level below zero, unemployment is exacerbating, social services are disastrously diminishing, the educational system is collapsing, and prices are skyrocketing.

And if the US presented the “Marshall Plan” to Europe after World War II, to dominate it, then the US today [which is today embroiled in crisis] cannot and does not want to help Europe; but rather it wants, if possible, to overcome its crisis at the expense of Europe.

رئيس الحكومة إلى الصين… ماذا ننتظر؟ ‏

ناصر قنديل

مقابل سقف وهميّ يبلغ 21 مليار دولار على سنوات عدة لمجموع ما يمكن أن يقدّمه صندوق النقد الدولي ومؤتمر سيدر معاً، تخاض حرب سياسية إعلامية تستهدف الدعوة لنزع سلاح المقاومة، والقطيعة مع سورية، والقبول بترسيم الحدود البحرية بما لا يُغضب واشنطن، ويلبي بالتالي مصالح كيان الاحتلال على حساب لبنان، وعدا عن الأكلاف الباهظة لهذه الأثمان. فمعلوم بمنطق الحسابات الواقعية بعيداً عن أي وطنية ومبادئ، أن دون تنفيذ هذه الطلبات معارك يعجز دعاتها الداخليّون عن خوضها، ويعجز دعاتها الخارجيّون عن فرضها بالقوة، وبالمقابل يرفض المعنيون بهذه الدعوات التنازل عن ثوابتهم بقبول هذه الدعوات لتجريدهم مما يرونه مفهومهم للسيادة والدفاع عنها.

بالمقابل بات ثابتاً أن هناك عرضاً صينياً، يصل لـ 30 مليار دولار، يمكن أن تستثمرها شركات صينية، وفقاً لتفاهمات من دولة إلى دولة، تطال تطوير مرفأي طرابلس وبيروت وفق معايير عالمية وربطهما بخطوط سكك حديد مع بغداد عبر دمشق، وإنشاء واستثمار خط سكك حديد سريع بين طرابلس والناقورة، وتنفيذ وتشغيل معامل كهرباء وشبكات نقل لتوفير الكهرباء 24/24، وإنشاء وتشغيل نفق ضهر البيدر، وبينما لا مجال للحديث هنا عن هدر وفساد، سيتم توظيف أموال صندوق النقد وسيدر ضمن آليات سبق اختبارها ويعشعش فيها الفساد، وبينما أثمان أموال صندوق النقد وسيدر عالية الكلفة لدرجة يستحيل على لبنان سدادها في السياسة، فإن لا أكلاف سياسية للعرض الصيني، فهو عرض اقتصاديّ بحت.

لا أحد يدعو لتغيير نمط العيش الذي يتحدث عنه البعض والقائم على النمط الغربي، ولا أحد يدعو لمقاطعة أوروبا وأميركا، ولا لوقف التفاوض مع صندوق النقد والتحرك الحثيث للحصول على أموال سيدر. فكل المطلوب هو فعل ما يفعله الأوروبيون والأميركيون الذين تشغل مرافئهم الكبرى في بوسطن وأمستردام، رافعات ومصنفات للحاويات، صينية، والذين لا يضيرهم التعاون مع شركة هواوي في إنشاء شبكات اتصالات للجيل الخامس للهاتف الخلوي، كما لا يضير أميركا أن تسد عجز حزينتها بآلاف المليارات من الدولارات التي تستثمرها الصين في سندات الخزينة الأميركية، وإذا كنا نسمع دائماً كلاماً عن لا مانع من التعاون مع الصين، فإننا نعلم أن محاولات التعطيل على قدم وساق والحجة هي عدم إغضاب أميركا. وهذه قمة العبودية الثقافية والتبعية السياسية حتى العمالة.

هل من قضية أهم اليوم من إنقاذ لبنان، وفقاً لخطة نهوض اقتصادية تشكل المشاريع التي درستها الشركات الصينية، وتبدي البنوك الصينية برعاية حكومتها الاستعداد لتنفيذها وتشغيلها، ولأن رئيس الحكومة جاد في مهمته الإنقاذيّة، فإنه من الأولوية بمكان أن يفعل كما فعل رؤساء أميركا الذين زاروا الصين لبحث المصالح الاقتصادية لبلادهم، من دون انتظار زيارة عواصم عربية مقفلة بوجه الحكومة، والمعلومات تقول إنه إذا قرّر رئيس الحكومة زيارة الصين على رأس وفد وزاري واقتصادي، وتم ترتيب برنامج منتج للزيارة فإن رقم الـ 30 مليار دولار قد يصل 50 مليار دولار بينها مصافٍ للنفط وحل تقني لملف النفايات ومشاريع سكنية ضخمة في الأرياف ومراكز المحافظات، وأن طلب وديعة صينية في البنك المركزي سيكون على جدول الأعمال، لكن المطلوب التحرّر من عقدة عدم إغضاب الأميركي، الذي تقول تجربة تركيا، إنه لا يقيم حساباً حتى بين أقرب الحلفاء، أعضاء الأطلسي إلا لمن يمارس سيادته واستقلاله، بينما يخاطب الأتباع الضعفاء بلغة ملؤها الإهانة وقاعدتها الإذلال، فماذا ننتظر؟

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