The attempt by the Italian president to install an outsider from the IMF to be prime minister symbolized an end of national sovereignty in Europe, reports Andrew Spannaus.
By Andrew Spannaus
Special to Consortium News
By invoking his power last month to reject a proposed government minister because of the his critique of the EU, Italian President Sergio Mattarella made it clear that his priority is not to defend the Italian state—his job, theoretically—but rather the European Union.
This put into the open something rarely admitted publicly: that Italy—like other European countries—has essentially given up its existence as a sovereign nation-state. The EU treaties adopted by national parliaments now take precedence over the basic principles of each member country’s constitution.
Mattarella had announced on May 27 that Paolo Savona, the minister of the economy proposed by the populist parties that won the March elections, was unacceptable because of his critical position towards the EU. The president said the appointment would spook the markets and threaten the survival of the Euro. When the two populist parties that had joined together to govern, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League, insisted on keeping Savona, Mattarella exercised his power to reject their choice and began plans to appoint an IMF technocrat who would guarantee the current budget orthodoxy while taking the country towards new elections.
Luigi di Maio, the 31-year old M5S leader, ultimately got Matteo Salvini, head of the League, to partially relent, shifting Savona to another position in order to avoid the collapse of their newly-formed coalition. Yet the brief firestorm touched off by the clash with Mattarella was revealing, as it risked doing precisely what the president and his EU backers fear most—promote even more opposition to the loss of national sovereignty that has occurred over the past 25 years.
Finance Dominates Government
The EU’s principle aim is to continue the pro-finance policies launched in the 1980s with wide-scale de-regulation and the emergence of what became known as globalization, i.e. the loss of national sovereignty in favor of a borderless world in which financial interests would become more important than governments. The Union adopted the free market mantra, which it imposed through increasing supra-national bureaucracy. State intervention and regulations were considered the enemies of efficiency and growth, while austerity and so-called structural reforms were launched to break down the successful mixed state/market model that had been in place for decades.
Over the years, as national institutions gradually relinquished their power to make economic policy, European political elites adopted the goal of complete EU integration. They followed this dogma despite numerous contradictions, from the failure of austerity policies to increasing economic divisions, from the lack of democratic debate to sharply different foreign policy goals among member states.
Naturally, some members of national elites recognized the folly of the EU policies, one of whom was Paolo Savona. However, he is by no means “anti-European,” against further political cooperation at the supranational level. Rather, he simply recognizes that the neo-liberal policies of budget balancing and prohibiting state intervention are harmful to Italy (and others). And, given the European institutions’ refusal to re-think these rules, he came up with what some saw as a radical idea: draw up a “Plan B” in which Italy would withdraw from the single currency. The aim was to use this threat to the very survival of the Euro to exact changes such as abandoning austerity policies and allowing for large-scale public investment.
In practical terms, it is very unlikely that Italy or any other large country would today simply “leave” the Euro on its own. A more probable scenario is that the EU architecture would crumble if some of its largest members broke with the Brussels and Frankfurt orthodoxy. So, if Italy were to dig in its heels, for example, resisting calls for further deregulation and insisting on large-scale, targeted public investment, it could potentially find support from other victims of austerity such as Greece, Portugal and Spain, but also factions critical of EU policies in France and Germany.
Most of the Italian population now supports such a scenario and populist parties big and small have used it explicitly to increase their popularity. This gave them a crucial margin of added support, beyond exploiting other hot-button issues such as immigration, which despite having taken on more importance in recent years, by itself would not have been enough to bring the outsiders to power.
Thus when Mattarella stood before the TV cameras on May 27 to declare his veto, he made what was potentially a colossal blunder, both formally and politically. Besides overstepping his authority as President, since the Constitution does not allow him to intervene regarding the political orientation of the government, he sparked a backlash that could have easily strengthened his opponents.
Populists Reject Russophobia
The new government has already shown its willingness to break with establishment policies, specifically regarding relations with Russia. At the G7 meeting in Canada this month, Prime Minister Conte supported Donald Trump’s call to bring Russia back into the fold, providing the U.S. President with support on this issue that he has lacked so far among the leaders of the world’s most industrialized countries. Conte stressed Italy’s position as a loyal ally of the United States and NATO, while still insisting that better relations with Russia are needed. This point is also felt strongly among Italian businesses and institutions, particularly due to economic ties developed over many decades.
While the popularity of M5S is based on its anti-existing-system, anti-corruption platform, the League is best-known for its anti-immigration rhetoric. But over the years, the League has also adopted the most “sovereignist” positions among the large Italian political parties regarding economic policy. It now showcases economists who reject budget constraints outright, suggesting that governments can create currency freely, if need be. Further, the party has run national campaigns to re-regulate the banking sector—which would conflict directly with EU rules; both they and M5S promise to abandon austerity policies and increase both social spending and public investment. Last, they aim to implement a soft version of a “flat tax,” simplifying the tax system with only two brackets so as to inject more liquidity into the coffers of companies and the pockets of families, while raising penalties for tax evasion.
Any of these issues can cause an open clash with the EU, given its strict budget rules. The question is if the new government will attempt to finesse the issue and avoid an open fight, or welcome a political debate over the validity of the neo-liberal policies whose failure brought them to power.
Andrew Spannaus is a journalist and strategic analyst based in Milan, Italy. He was elected Chairman of the Milan Foreign Press Association in March 2018. He has published the books “Perché vince Trump” (Why Trump is Winning – June 2016) and “La rivolta degli elettori” (The Revolt of the Voters – July 2017).
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The only flaw in an insightful, well-thought article: The EU’s principal aim, not principle. (Pet peeve, sorry).
It all comes down to money creation. Private banks want the sole authority to create new money in the form of credit to keep the world enslaved in debt and control. National sovereignty is the balancing arbiter, the bank of the people that ensures that the engine of the industrial economy is humming, that the public sector is well maintained, that unemployment is low, innovation and small businesses thrive and society is financially at peace… life is good. Why take that away? We need to ban private bankers from appointing themselves in every presidential cabinet. We also need to abolish ALEC, the “free market” Koch-created legislative council that passes laws away from public scrutiny state-by-state. ALEC is the reason why selling immigrants at the border has become a $5 billion industry.
“Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit,
it matters not who makes the nations laws. Usury, once in control,
will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency
and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred
responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and
of democracy is idle and futile.”
~ William Lyon Mackenzie King
On William KIng: Harvard granted him a PhD for a dissertation on “Oriental Immigration to Canada”. It was a report he had written while he was Deputy-Minister of Labour in 1908. In it he argued against the immigration of Asians, saying:
“..That Canada should desire to restrict immigration from the Orient is regarded as natural, that Canada should remain a white man’s country is believed to be not only desirable for economic and social reasons but highly necessary on political and national grounds.”
Although this is obviously a very racist statement on its face, I think there is also an underlying argument of the desirability of a multi-polar, nation-based world over a Soros style “open borders”, “one world government” type world. Pat Buchanan also gets into this a bit when he talks of the USA’s Judeo-Christian origins. I don’t think it is necessarily racist to want your country’s culture to be reflected in its laws. Some muslim countries use Sharia law as a basis for their nation’s laws, and Israel has considered using Talmudic law and the Hebrew calendar. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily racist, as opposed to protecting your nation’s cultural identity. If your take both of King’s arguments together, I think he is making a cogent argument for a multi-polar world based on nationalism and cultural identity. The USA is a multi-cultural nation due to its origin as a destination for immigrants from its onset, and even here there are those who argue what it really means to be an assimilated American. Anyway, I see it as a very deep and complicated topic, rather than black and white (if you’ll excuse the pun).
Its not racist at all – depending on your motives.
Globalism destroys diversity – economic, national and cultural. It is facism.
The real “left” in the days of my parents was a labor movement lead by communists and socialists. They fought for job protection, fair wages, the 8 hour day, etc. But what wasn’t envisioned in a practical way (violent revolution was considered the only route to socialism) and didn’t happen was worker control of the industries themselves so eventually the industrialists outmaneuvered the unions. Wall Street kicked the asses of Main Street. These lefty commie labor leaders weren’t particularly savey when it came to capitalist economics. They knew how to organize strikes but they didn’t have a clue how to run a business. Maybe that needs to change. Yes we have Marxist economists who will tell you that capitalism will fail, but we need are leftist economists who can make a socialist economy with a free enterprise model work.
Left has gone so far left its beyond right.
Terms have lost all meaning. Although I think the motive behind such pat labels is prejudice.
“State intervention and regulations were considered the enemies of efficiency and growth. . .
Paolo Savona. . .simply recognizes that the neo-liberal policies of budget balancing and prohibiting state intervention are harmful to Italy (and others).”
Neo-liberalism doesn’t necessarily prohibit state-intervention. From military spending and invasions to massive financial bailouts, neo-liberals have welcomed, lobbied for, and relied upon state-intervention to sustain and expand their wealth and power. Neo-liberal elites and their servile punditry just selectively oppose those state interventions that would primarily benefit the population-at-large.
International “banksters”, as FDR would call them.
In the US, the Fed can conjure trillions of dollars out of thin air to rescue failed Wall Street banks, but for some reason things like a real national health system amd Social Security are considered extravagant “entitlements” that have to reined in.
I believe the E.U. is a subsidiary of the “New World Order.”
More information on this at links below.
December 14, 2014
“Is There An Open Conspiracy To Control The World”?
The European Union was formed without a vote of all its peoples’ in different countries. And it is a striking example of how the people can be herded like sheep into an undemocratic union as part of the “global governance” agenda.
“The Group of Twenty (“G-20”) nations, the new Financial Stability Board (“FSB”), and the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) are progressing on two fronts: the monitoring and revision of national and regional economic plans to facilitate global economic governance…”…
[read much more at link below]
I believe the E.U. is a dictatorship. Read their latest imposition at link below.
EU committee approves new rules that could ‘destroy the internet as we know it’
4 days ago
One way the EU is being used to favor the 0.1% profiteers is in getting rid of safety, wage, working condition and environmental regulations that all, by their very nature, reduce profits. And while you may think Trump is just an ego out of control, he is systematically getting rid of these type regulations while diverting us with idiotic tweets. In the meantime, the mainstream media is attacking Trump on immigration both out of horror at what they have helped bring about, but also because reducing the immigrant labor will make it harder to keep real wages down, and profits growing for their media owners.
I agree that it is not a question of left vs. right, but it also is not a question of globalists vs. nationalists. I see it more as a question of the 0.1% and the rest of us, and how the former can keep squeezing the latter for profit. After careful consideration, I think the 0.1% have intensified their efforts to own and run everything since 1970 because, beginning then, the ages-old objection to economics based on greed was finally winning victories. It is actually hopeful that the 0.1% is getting so mean because they are desperate, but the suffering they are inflicting is getting much greater. But at least we are being less and less suckered into supporting the notion that “free enterprise” is really free, and that it benefits everyone. I just hope that more and more people stop supporting and even cooperating in an unjust way of life, soon enough that we will not be done in by climate change or global war..
Andrew Spannaus seems like a relatively young guy so of course he might have been mature when the Lisbon Treaty was signed or perhaps he has forgotten about the Growth and Stability Act. These instruments codified German economic Imperial control of Europe (along with the Euro). Then The Great German Empire of Europe perpetrated a coup against Greece and turned it into a German bantustan. Apparently none of these events caused Andrew Spannaus to notice the absence of national sovereignty or any semblance of democracy for decades now. Whatever the EU started to be Germany and especially Merkel was able to capture its institutions put its hand picked people in all the key positions, dominate the Euro and do by treaty stealth and economic maneuver what it could not do in two world wars Europe works for germany. France is hollow and powerless, the rest are sycophants.
As a frequent traveler in Italy for almost 25 years, I was fortunate to be there for the 2 weeks of Italian political drama, described by Andrew, and wound up in Milan where he and I had dinner June 4. Know Babyl-on, that Andrew, as a journalist/analyst based in Italy for 20 years and married to an Italian woman with a 12 y/o son, at age 46 is wise and insightful beyond his years! Who else predicted the election of Trump, as he did in his book, “Perchè vince Trump: la rivolta degli elettori e il futuro dell’America” published in June 2016? Then in July 2017, his “La rivolta degli elettori: il ritorno dello stao e il futuro dell’Europa” was published, with his latest on the contradictions of the EU due out as an e-book this fall…hopefully with all 3 soon to be available in English. Meanwhile, we are most fortunate to be able to follow his profound analysis, not only in Consortium News, but also at his own site, http://www.transatlantico.info.
As for my perception of politics, at least in the western world, I think that the “architecture” of “left, right & center” is obsolete…based as it was on seating in the French parliament?…but now in the digital age utterly meaningless. Reading La Repubblica, the Rome daily, which considers itself the epicenter of “La Sinistra” (the Left) with the Italian Godfather of Neoliberal Political Correctness, Eugenio Scalfari at 94 descending every Sunday from Mt. Etna? with The Word for the week followed by non-stop tantrums over “the populist” victory from the rest of his me-too staff was a real melodrama…following the similar performance at the NYTimes over Trump…perhaps channeled back to Rome by their chief NY correspondent/columnist, Federico Rampini? Which is Not to say that the 5 Star Movement and the League are anything like Trump…whom they endured for 20 years in the form of Berlusconi…after which Italians are retrieving their rights as citizens to run their own country from the EU and rebuild their democracy up from the grassroots.
* founder, now retired editor of La Repubblica, Rome’s main daily paper
From Mantova, an elegant, little city…once home to Virgil, and also the site of Verdi’s opera, “Rigoletto” on 6/2/18 I wrote:
La Primavera Italiana
“La Sinistra” non nè sacra nè immortale. La verità vola dove vuole. Oggi “La Sinistra” è una gabbia di ferro piena di idee e parole morte ma difesa da un gracchiante Scalfari* e il su coro di corvi neri.
(“The Left” is neither sacred nor imortale. The truth flies where it will. Today, “The Left” is an iron cage full of dead ideas and words but defended by the sqawking Scalfari and his chorus of black crows.
Dedicato alla Festa della Repubblica (dedicated to the celebration of the founding of the Italian republic) 2 giugno, 2018
This article is actually an abridged version of a longer explanation regarding the anti-democratic construction of the E.U., excerpts of which I will publish on Transatlantico.info in the coming days. I also published an article last year on precisely that issue, at the link above.
I hope to put it in book form in English this summer, as well. And thank you JR for your comment.
The EU was flawed, I believe, at its inception, granting, as it did, theoretical power of the purse to the EU but de facto power to its strongest member, Germany. Coupled with the post-World War II vilification of the growing left in Europe (Operation Gladio, anyone?) leading to, for a time, social democratic governments, weakening over time (under pressure and through their own corruption), we end upon where we are now.
One can understand the without-borders internationalism of someone like Yanis Varoufakis, because Europeans, having seen an utterly destroyed Europe, understood it to be the fault of nationalism gone amok. Nevertheless, Varoufakis himself appears very proud to be Greek, as well he should, a kind of living self-contradiction.
Remember that Italy has recently had a whole series of prime ministers that were never elected by voters, but rather appointed through obscure “political deals” designed to “save the nation”. This is exactly the same corrupt, anti-democratic formula that is used to appoint the EU commisioners.
The other “formula” that has been used recently in Europe is the “new, young, anti-system, reformer” puppet of the elite as president/prime minister. Tsipris in Greece, Macron in France and Sanchez in Spain are this model of banker/globalist control.
The EU is a tool of the Super Rich to rob the rest of us. It has no other purpose. It’s just one more cabal of our oppressors.
Thank you again CD. For me this argument is the center of all international intrigue right now. It’s all about a nation’s Sovereign Rights. The EU is in an untenable position right now because the EU leadership wants to continue the game of financialization but the People are finally beginning to realize that that process is a dead end road for the working man and woman. The Big Game is over, it’s just a matter of seeing how this played out…
I would have thought defending democracy would have been a better title for this piece. One has to ask, what kind of democracy does a country have when one man (Mattarella) can decide the country’s future against the wishes of an elected government? Whilst I hold no brief for the UK queen, at least as head of state her duties are ceremonial and she has no political power. Perhaps that’s why she has lasted so long.
Andrew Spannaus – join together with Greece, Spain and Portugal and get out of the E.U. Take back your sovereignty, devalue, and take the pain now, or else be bled to death by the bankers for years to come.
Good article, and good luck, Italy!
What is truly astounding is this political upheaval of the status quo, in both Europe and the U.S., is swerving the desperate citizen to the right, as the left is no where to be found. As I’m sure this swing to the right will be left for future historians to analyze, I’m stuck with contemplating to what this all means in real time. There was a time when I thought that the left would be the crucible of change, but as the left settles in on identity politics, the right steals the show where it counts. I’m not so sure where this all may take us, but one thing is for sure, the left really blew it.
Hi, Joe. I don’t see citizens swerving TOWARDS anything, but away FROM what the globalist elite want: no nations, open borders, jobs offshored, supranational organizations (IMF, WTO, U.N.) overriding democracy, multiculturalism as opposed to assimilation [keep everybody split up into different groups and fighting each other (Identity Politics)], monopolies, inequality, more wars, a surveillance state, a captured media and judiciary, lies and propaganda.
The Left swung their base into Russiagate (give them something to fear), Identity Politics (scare them and then promise to protect them) and open borders (to secure new voters). They did this, in big part, to take the public’s attention away from the fact that they tried to fix an election and then, failing that, to overthrow or impeach a sitting President, evidence which is just starting to surface now.
It’s like we’re in an upside down world, Joe. The Left appears to now be aligned with the stifling of free speech (did you ever think that would happen?), actually siding with people like George Soros (who could care less about the common man), screaming about an immigrant’s rights while totally ignoring the rights and struggles of their brother citizens, and, oddly enough, going ballistic at the thought of Trump making peace or getting fair trade agreements. They’re running around screaming that “the Nazis are coming” and worrying about fascism while they’re shutting down speakers, breaking windows, and spying on political opponents.
This is a war between the globalists (who are using those on the Left) and the non-globalists. The elite (both sides of the aisle) are working hard at keeping everybody fighting. That way you don’t look their way. If ALL people would just stop fighting for one second and as a group start directing their attention to who is really causing the chaos (the elite), things would change.
Take care, Joe.
As far as the US goes, Joe, the left is the right and the right is extreme.
The Hillary Democrats have moved far to the right of the old Republican Party, neolibs advocating War and the MIC at any cost, “no Ponies!” austerity for the poor and working class, Giant Squid and Wall Street money and obligations, and bringing in mostly State/ FBI/ CIA and ex-military as their new politicians. The Republican Party no longer exits, rejecting 15 dim bulbs (including Bush Democrats) in favor of a Reality TV star, a registered Democrat most of his life. Never Trumpers, retiring burnt out (or fully funded) conservatives and pay-to-players, evangelicals and small businessmen are almost all that’s left of a fading constituency.
The use of the word LEFT to anyone who opposes being shafted by the rich, either by big business or lying politician’s, is a oxymoron? This term “LEFT” or Left wing, which is used to denote or define anyone or a Political Party in opposition to a Elite class or political Right wing class or RIGHT is inherently a false, flawed concept! There is no LEFT OR RIGHT & putting people into these two categories is absurd! If you want a more apt description, it should be classed as anyone who wants a decent society with free healthcare, free education & housing & a share in the profits & resources, like in a co-op, to be called Democratic Socialists & those elites who want it all for themselves & to hell with the rest of the 99% to be called Conservative Elites! What amazes me is how these Elites can hypocritically privatise any profits but socialise any debts to the ordinary citizen to pay for! The Republican Party are Conservative Elites & the Democratic Party are Conservative Light! The Democrats are the same as the Republicans but they are the light beer version?. Both having the same disgusting taste, just the Democrats being a milder taste version!
I think “left” and “right” are largely obsolete terms in today’s political reality. It is really at it’s core about globalism vs. nationalism. The globalists have a majority in both parties. They basically want national sovereignty done away with, and are working towards total globalization. Banking and finance, and multi-national corporations, get to run the world. Our MIC, Intelligence Agencies, and our MSM are all servants of this vision of empire. Any political leader who tries to act in behalf of the interests of its country’s citizens becomes a target. Mossadegh, Putin, Chavez, Hussein, Assad, Allende, Correa, Zelaya, Sanders, Trump, and on and on. What did they have in common? They dared to speak of national interests. And thus, they become targets for the servants of empire. The empire doesn’t care if their servants wear pink pussy hats or not, as long as they get to run the show. And people like Julian Assange, and sites like this one, become targets as well because they dare to pull back the curtain.
Ralph Nader put it something like “We don’t have a two party system. We have one party with two right wings.” To me, the left/right terminology is just a smokescreen, a tool in the divide-and-keep-conquered toolbox. Whenever I hear the terms being thrown around, I try to interject the idea of looking up and down rather than left and right. The problems are largely vertcal, but those at the top push the horizontal scenarios.
Sometimes you might be accused of “fomenting class warfare” or something along those lines (and often with great anger). I have found it useful to point out I am not the one waging the war. It comes from above, and I am just pointing out that it does, in fact, exist.
Chucky – I like that: “One party with two right wings.”
And this is perfection: “I try to interject the idea of looking up and down rather than left and right. The problems are largely vertical, but those at the top push the horizontal scenarios.”
This paints such an accurate picture. Well said!
Skip Scott – “Any political leader who tries to act in behalf of the interests of its country’s citizens becomes a target. Mossadegh, Putin, Chavez, Hussein, Assad, Allende, Correa, Zelaya, Sanders, Trump, and on and on. What did they have in common? They dared to speak of national interests.”
Good comments. If these people pose a scintilla of a threat to the elite, if they champion the little guy in any way, they are crushed.
And even Ross Perot, a rich businessman, warned re NAFTA and the loss of jobs. He was ridiculed and scoffed at. Remember the famous video with Ross Perot standing between Clinton and Bush Sr.? As Perot was warning the audience what was about to happen, Clinton and Bush were smirking in the background. They KNEW he was right.
I also remember Perot’s debate with Gore. The latte-sippers’ infatuation with Gore disgusts me. Perot had it dead right, but he was an easy target with his squeaky voice and big ears. And of course Clinton and Gore were willing shills for the oligarchs; and with the passing of NAFTA and the repeal of Glass-Steagal, they did more to destroy the middle class than Reagan ever did. But they got on SNL, so they’re “hip”.
I have a great joke that speaks to class warfare:
A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the Tea Partier and says,”look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”
Thanks for that!
…which can lead to the whole discussion of the CEO’s attitude that he deserves the eleven cookies and would not really be satisfied with the whole dozen.
“The problem with wanting more is there is always ‘more’.” I forget where I heard that.
Chucky LeRoi and backwardsevolution:
It is a great quote, but let’s give credit where credit is due. It was Upton Sinclair, way back in the 1920’s, who said that “We have one party with two right wings.”
Skip: Trump doesn’t deserve to be included in that list of good people.
I wasn’t speaking in terms of good or bad necessarily. But I have no doubt that Trump’s nationalist campaign rhetoric made him a target for the Globalists, and that RussiaGate was invented to either bring him to heel or eliminate him. For that matter, I’m not so sure Sanders belongs on a list of “good” people. His caving to the Clinton machine has me wondering if his role in the entire primary season was to herd the progressives, and then get them to come on over to camp Hillary. And his foreign policy creds were lacking as well with him wanting the Saudis to “get their hands dirty” in the war on terror, as if he didn’t know that their hands were blood soaked from funding those same terrorists.
To everyone who wrote a reply to my post, thank you. Joe