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500 Million Debt-Serfs: The European Union Is a Neo-Feudal Kleptocracy
07.27.2011
02:34 pm

Topics:
Class War
History
They hate us for our freedom

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A guest essay from Charles Hugh Smith, cross-posted from his Of Two Minds blog. His latest book is titled An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times and is available in the Kindle format. You do not need a Kindle Reader to read it, just download the free Kindle app and read it on virtually any device. Get the links, read the Intro, Table of Contents and Chapter One, and buy the ebook of An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times on the info page. For Dangerous Minds readers the ebook is discounted 30% ($6.85) through this Friday, July 29, 2011.

The banks of Europe are the new Feudal Manors and Masters. All Europeans now serve them as debt-serfs in one way or another.

If we knock down all the flimsy screens of artifice and obscuring complexity, what we see in Europe is a continent of debt-serfs, indentured to the banks under the whip of the European Union and its secular religion, the euro.

I know this isn’t the pretty picture presented by the EU Overlords, of a prosperity built not just on debt, but on resolving the problem of debt with more debt, but it is the reality behind the eurozone’s phony facade of economic “freedom.”

What else can we call the stark domination of the big banks other than Neo-Feudalism? In one way or another, every one of the 27-member nations’ citizens are indentured to the big international banks at risk in Europe, most of which are based in Europe.

Amidst the confusing overlay of voices and agendas, there is really only one agenda item: save the big European banks. Everything else is just mechanics. The banks are the new feudal manor houses, the bankers are the new feudal lords, and the politicians of the EU and its influential member nations are the servile vassals who enforce the “rule of law” on the serfs.

Here is the fundamental fact: there are trillions of euros of debt which can never be paid back. In a non-feudal system, one in which the banks were not the Masters, then this fact would be recognized and acted upon: something like 50% of the debt would be written off in one fell swoop, all the banks whose assets had just been wiped out would be declared insolvent and liquidated, the remaining debt would be sized to the economic surplus of each debtor nation, and a new, decentralized banking sector of dozens of strictly limited, smaller banks would be established.

To the degree that is “impossible,” Europe is nothing but a Neo-Feudal Kleptocracy serving its Banker Lords.

The Greek worker whose pay has been slashed in the “austerity” demanded by the banks serves the Banker Lords, as does the German worker who will be paying higher taxes to bail out Germany and France’s Banker Lords. Though the German is constantly told he is bailing out Greece, the truth is Greece is just the conduit: he’s actually bailing out the EU’s Banker Lords.

We can clear up much of the purposeful obfuscation by asking: exactly what tragedy befalls Europe if all the sovereign debt in the EU was wiped off the books? The one and only “tragedy” would be the destruction of the “too big to fail” banks, not just in Europe but around the world. As the big European banks imploded, then their inability to service their counterparty obligations on various derivatives to other big banks would topple those lenders.

While the political vassals call that possibility a catastrophe, it would actually spell freedom for Europe’s 500 million debt serfs. From the lofty heights of the Manor House, then the loss of enormously concentrated power and wealth is indeed a catastrophe for the Lords and their political lackeys. But for the debt-serfs facing generations of servitude for nothing, then the destruction of the banks would be the glorious lifting of tyranny.

Just as a refresher, here is a definition of kleptocracy:

Kleptocracy, alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, from the Ancient Greek for “thief” and “rule,” is a term applied to a government subject to control fraud that takes advantage of governmental corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials and the ruling class (collectively, kleptocrats), via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, sometimes without even the pretense of honest service. The term means “rule by thieves”.

Extracting the wealth of 500 million people via the EU’s central governance machinery to serve a handful of big banks is definitely a form of systemic embezzlement. As for corruption: where are the politicians who speak to the enormous benefits of writing off these debts and destroying the power of the big banks, utterly and completely, as the only way to free the people from debt-serfdom?

While the European Central Bank (ECB) and the vassals’ favorite form of oppression, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), print or borrow more euros into existence to fund the illusion of solvency, the cold reality is that the only way to service these trillions in impaired debt is to skim the surplus from the labor of the debt-serfs.

Since the political vassals control the means of taxation, then it is their job to squeeze hundreds of billions of euros out of the labor of their nation’s debt-serfs.

There is a fatal weakness in the Grand Scheme of European Neo-Feudalism, and the lackeys in the EU are desperately trying to fix it under the banner of “integration.”

The fatal flaw is that the political union of the EU vassal states did not include fiscal union in which the EU could impose and control taxation within all member states.

This flaw means that the Banker Lords lack the necessary means to impose serfdom directly through the “laws” of the EU itself; instead, they must coerce the vassal political class within each member state to impose debt-serfdom on its citizenry.

This has proven cumbersome, as some nation’s debt-serfs are threatening to refuse to submit to serfdom. Such a rebellion would of course bring down the entire house of cards that is Neo-Feudal Europe, and so the lackeys in Brussels and elsewhere are frantically trying to sell “fiscal integration” as the “necessary step” to centralizing the power of the banker Lords over the citizenry of all 27 EU member states.

The euro was intended to be the enforcement mechanism, but alas, voluntary agreement is not a solid foundation for neo-feudalism. At its heart, the euro currency was ultimately a Grand Arbitrage for the big European banks: they could loan essentially unlimited sums to citizens and sovereign member-states in a stable currency, and be guaranteed that they would be repaid in that same currency regardless of the weaknesses of the debtors.

That was a very sweet deal, an essentially risk-free license to generate monumental profits, all backstopped/guaranteed by the EU and ECB.

In the old, horribly risky system of independent states and currencies, any bank foolish enough to loan vast sums to weak states and its citizenry would soon find the currency in which their loans were paid would weaken to the point that even if the loans were repaid in full, their losses would be crushing.

For example, say a bank loaned Greece 1 billion drachma when the drachma was equal in value to the U.S. dollar. The loan would thus be worth $1 billion. But let’s say that by the time the loan was repaid, the drachma had fallen to 50 cents. Measured in dollars, the bank suffered a loss of 50%, even when the loan was paid in full.

The euro removed all that nasty risk, and created a massive vassal class of EU bureaucrats to enforce the rules and make good any defaulted debt via the European Central Bank (ECB), the supra-national lender that served the big banks as guarantor. Ultimately, the ECB was funded by the member states’ taxpayers, which spread the costs of the arbitrage over such a large number of citizens that it seemed impossible that the guarantee could be broken.

But the Banker Lords got greedy, and they overshot the carrying capacity of the EU’s economy by a trillion euros; the debt loads are now so enormous that the surplus skimmed from the debt-serfs isn’t enough.

That is the core dilemma of the Banker Lords and their political vassals. Since the Banker Lords lack the legal mechanism to impose new taxes via the EU itself, they must rely on the cumbersome processes of illusion and propaganda, of “extend and pretend” extensions of debt and harsh “austerity” to skim as much cream as possible.

The cloak has been removed, and the bloodied whip is now visibly in hand. In a household analogy: your mortgage has been rolled over into a new form of servitude, and your wages have been cut even as your taxes have been raised to service your debt to the Banker Lords. The vassals are bowing and scraping before their Lords, promising deeper cuts and higher taxes; yes, Master, we will obey.

But this isn’t enough, of course; the Lords are demanding the rings off the fingers of the debt-serfs, and the rights to sovereign assets; they are casting a covetous eye on the comely daughter as well, and we can fully expect a discreet demand to exercise droit du seigneur, a right befitting the Lords of the new Feudalism.

Charles Hugh Smith’s latest book is titled An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times and is available in the Kindle format. You do not need a Kindle Reader to read it, just download the free Kindle app and read it on virtually any device. Get the links, read the Intro, Table of Contents and Chapter One, and buy the ebook of An Unconventional Guide to Investing in Troubled Times on the info page. For Dangerous Minds readers the ebook is discounted 30% ($6.85) through this Friday, July 29, 2011.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Zappa, Mothers live at the Fillmore East 1971
07.27.2011
01:53 pm

Topics:
Heroes
History
Music

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Three clips of John and Yoko onstage with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention at the Fillmore East in NYC, June 5, 1971. For whatever reason, Lennon re-titled the Mothers’ song “King Kong”—the centerpiece of their live act for years and one that took up an entire side of the Uncle Meat album—as “Jamrag” and credited it to “Lennon/Ono” on their 1972 Sometime in New York City live album. Zappa’s own mix of this material—radically different from the Phil Spector produced tracks on John and Yoko’s album—came out on his Playground Psychotics album in 1992.

The Mothers at this time were comprised of Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman on vocals, Bob Harris—keyboards, Don Preston—Minimoog, Ian Underwood—keyboards, alto sax, Jim Pons—bass, vocals and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. If you’re a Yoko fan, towards the end of the third clip, Lennon starts doing some feedback stuff with his guitar as she wails over it. It’s a fine Yoko moment, albeit brief.

This is either a fan-shot film that was synced up with soundboard audio or else something that came via Bill Graham’s archives or a mixture of both. The audio quality is quite good and the video quality is certainly watchable, although there are dropouts to black at times. Still, this is an amazing, historic concert to have footage of, I’ll take what I can get. This probably got onto YouTube by way of the amazing Zappateers fansite (truly one of the greatest fan communities on the Internet).
 

 

 

 
Below “Scumbag.” I love Don Preston’s Mini-Moog improvisations here:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Uneek Doll Designs
07.26.2011
02:58 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Fashion
History

Tags:


Oscar Wilde
 
Handmade miniature character dolls of famous artists, authors, historical figures and actors by Etsy seller Uneek Doll Designs. Each doll measures around 4 1/2 inches tall; all the clothes and costumes are handmade and they retail for $30.00 - $36.00. I never thought in my life I’d stumble across a Noel Coward doll or Harper Lee doll!


Pablo Picasso
 

Edith Head
 
More dolls after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Rave Years Pt 3: Unknown news report 1991
07.26.2011
11:46 am

Topics:
History
Movies
Television

Tags:


 
“If it goes any further it might as well be rock and roll”

Kevin Saunderson on the the mutation of house and techno into “rave”.

Here’s an interesting little adjunct to the rave documentaries I have been posting recently - this is not a full length doc like the others, but a much shorter news-type item for what was presumably a youth culture show. It is interesting for a number of reasons - it’s cataloging the emergence of “rave” as a defined type of music as represented by acts such as SL2 and The Prodigy, and that kind of music’s growing popularity. In fact, the clip features an interview with a 19 year old (!) Liam Howlett, bemoaning the lack of radio play of rave music, despite it regularly reaching the upper reaches of the British charts. Ironically, it was The Prodigy who were charged with killing rave music by turning it into novelty records of the likes of “Charly Says”. In this clip rave-based dance music is referred to as “techno”, even as a Detroit-based techno pioneer such as Inner City’s Kevin Saunderson criticise the new music for lack of “soul”. At a time when dance culture in the UK was moving from the overground to the underground it is interesting to see the schisms opening up that would split it into many different categories:
 

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Sexist vintage ad: ‘Show her it’s a man’s world’
07.25.2011
04:37 pm

Topics:
Feminism
History

Tags:


 
No wonder this turkey’s sleeping in a single bed!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Extremely sexist ads of yesteryear
Women Are Like Used Cars: Unbelievable sexist ad

(via Sociological Images)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Photo: The lost art of the mixtape
07.25.2011
01:02 pm

Topics:
History
Music

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Ah, the lost art of the mixtape. Not something we see much anymore. Soon guys will be courting girls with Spotify playlists.

Click on the image to see larger version.

(via Publique)

 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Moon Shoes Boogieland: the best of Soul Train line dances
07.25.2011
12:15 pm

Topics:
Fashion
History

Tags:


 
I like how someone points out in the YouTube comments that Americans are too fat to dance like this anymore.

 
(via Nerdcore)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Beat This!: A hip hop history
07.23.2011
07:55 pm

Topics:
Hip-hop
History
Music

Tags:


 
The terrific Beat This!: A Hip hop History takes us up through roots of hip hop culture starting in the late 1970s in the South Bronx and features Kool Herc, Planet Rock, Kurtis Blow, Jazzy Jay, Afrika Bambaataa, Malcolm McClaren and many more. Great vintage footage of Manhattan, the Bronx, beatboxing, graffiti and breakdancing.

Directed by the British film maker Dick Fontaine.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Vintage ad: ‘Men wouldn’t look at me when I was skinny’
07.22.2011
12:31 pm

Topics:
History

Tags:


 
Can you imagine seeing a headline or an advertisement like this in today’s magazines geared towards women?

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Vintage ad for women who have no sex appeal

(via reddit)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Rave Years Pt 2: BBC North’s ‘Rave’ 1992
07.22.2011
07:27 am

Topics:
History
Music
Television

Tags:


 
Skip along four years since “A Trip Around Acid House (which I posted yesterday) and you can see the changes which had occurred within the UK’s dance scene. By 1992 raves had become massive outdoor events attracting thousands of punters, they had been cracked down on heavily by the police, and promoters had begun to put on licensed raves with professional security, a police presence and mandatory drug searches to minimise trouble and maximise profit.

BBC North’s Rave follows the set up, running and aftermath of one of these very large (but legal) outdoor raves, and highlights how attitudes had changed between 1992 and 1988. The moral panic surrounding acid house and ecstasy culture had peaked by this point. The police were aware that this new outdoor dancing movement was not something that was going to go away any time soon, so rather than trying to stamp it out they instead focussed on regulating it. It’s interesting to see the individual police officers interviewed in ‘Rave’ and their opinions on the culture - unnerved by the “spaced out” demeanour of the participants, but also very aware that they are not violent and cause very little trouble. There were still the supposedly “moral” campaigners who saw the trend as entirely negative, of course, and campaigned to have any event of this nature shut down due to the supposed dangers of drug “pushers”. The inability to compute that people were taking drugs of their own free will, combined with the relatively harmless effects of those particular drugs, give these campaigners distinct shades Mary Whitehouse. It’s all about looking good rather than engaging with reality.

By 1992 the music had now morphed too - four years on from the happy-go-lucky spirit of acid house (with its sampling of different genres and its embracing of the Balearic scene) the music is more streamlined, and beginning to form more regimented genres like techno and rave itself. DJ Smokey Joe does a pretty good job of describing the difference between the German and Belgian strands of techno in this show:
 

 
Parts 2 & 3 after the jump…

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
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