Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Gleichschaltung, a metaphor from electro-mechanics that might be translated by "phasing" or "synchronisation", can be politically interpreted as "coordination" or ""forcible-coordination" or "bringing into line". Taken in that general sense, it could apply to the events you're describing. But the reason for featuring it here (as your self-Godwin implies) is that the Nazis used it to refer to the process by which they created a totalitarian state in Germany.


In this case, the use of Gleichschaltung is at so many removes from the historical reality of the 1930s that its only sense is rhetorical. You may say it's not meant to shed light, but to register an angry protest. But wouldn't it be of more use to describe what is happening now in today's (and preferably tomorrow's) terms, rather than wave around the bloody flags of nearly a century ago?

Well, you know... Barroso to plebes: nice indebted democracy you have there... (June 17th, 2010)
"I had a discussion with Barroso last Friday about what can be done for Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest and his message was blunt: 'Look, if they do not carry out these austerity packages, these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies. They've got no choice, this is it'."
Friday Open Thread (December 17, 2010)
Default is evil
Europe cannot default its way back to health

By Lorenzo Bini Smaghi (member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank)

An oft-made assumption is that governments can renegotiate with their creditors the terms and conditions of their debt instruments without this having major repercussions on the rest of the economic and financial system. This assumption is largely based on the experience of developing countries with underdeveloped financial systems and mainly foreign creditors. What is generally not well understood is that, in advanced economies, public debt is the cornerstone of the financial system and an important component of the savings held by citizens.

As recent events have shown, the simple fear of a default or of a restructuring of public debt would endanger the soundness of the financial system, triggering capital flight. Without public support, the liabilities of the banking system would ultimately have to be restructured as well, as was done for example in Argentina with the corralito (freezing of bank accounts). This would lead to a further loss of confidence and make a run on the financial system more likely. Administrative control measures would have to be taken and restrictions imposed. All these actions would have a direct effect on the financial wealth of the country's households and businesses, producing a collapse of aggregate demand. Taxpayers, instead of having a smaller burden of public debt to bear, would end up with an even heavier one.

As opposed to what's happening now?
Many commentators fail to realise that the main impact of a country's default is not on foreign creditors, but on its own citizens, especially the most vulnerable ones. They would suffer the consequences most in terms of the value of their financial and real assets.
In which country do the most vulnerable citizens own financial or real assets?
The economic and social impact of such an event is difficult to predict. The democratic foundations of a country could be seriously threatened. Attentive observers will not fail to notice that sovereign defaults tend to occur in countries where democracy has rather shallow roots.

Europeans have not forgotten the devastating effects that the expropriation of wealth, such as that carried out during the two world wars by way of inflation or defaults, may have on the economic and social fabric.

Godwin! Godwin!
Comments to Flash brief from the #greekrevolution (June 30, 2011)
The Guardian: EU should control member states' budgets, says bank boss (June 2, 2011)
"In this union of tomorrow, or of the day after tomorrow, would it be too bold, in the economic field, with a single market and a single central bank, to envisage a ministry of finance of the union?" he said as he accepted the Charlemagne prize for contributions to European unity.


"Looking at the euro area today, we see clearly that countries that abide by the rules of the single currency can thrive and prosper," Trichet said. "But we also see the opposite. Strengthening the rules to prevent unsound policies is therefore an urgent priority."


"But if a country is still not delivering, I think all would agree that the second stage has to be different," he said, suggesting that eurozone authorities be given "a much deeper and authoritative say in the formation of the country's economic policies if these go harmfully astray".

He added: "It would be not only possible, but in some cases compulsory, in the second stage for the European authorities - namely the council on the basis of a proposal by the commission, in liaison with the ECB - to take themselves decisions applicable in the economy concerned."

The Global Financial Crisis of 2007 has ushered in a Constitutional Crisis of the EU as a whole and of member state after member state (the words Constitutional Crisis have been used to describe what's going on in Greece, Ireland and Spain at some point or another, I don't know about Portugal, plus then there's Iceland drive to get a new constitution as a result of the 2008 collapse of its financial and political system). Meanwhile, the scale of the Hooverian policies being introduced and the timing has me convinced that we're looking at a Great Depression os the 2010's, however much the Serious People insist on calling it a Great Recession after trying to conjure it away with talk of green shoots in 2009. Extreme right parties are on the rise in all of Europe, and the mainstream Centre-Right is becoming increasingly xenophobic, nationalistic and protectionistic at the level of people, while it kowtows to market pressures and corporate interests at the macroeconomic level. Germany first modifies its own constitution in an insane direction and then leverages the international crisis for a forcible coordination of economic policy and a rewriting of otehr states' constitutions, while asserting the primacy of both the Bundesbank and the German Constitutional Court over not only EU policy but other member states' policies. Just last week
Merkel urges eurozone budgets court enforced - The Local
German Chancellor Angela Merkel would like to see the European Court of Justice (ECJ) play a role in enforcing the rulebook for the eurozone, particularly on limits for public deficits, deputies say.

Members of her parliamentary group said after a specially called meeting on the eurozone debt crisis with the German leader late Tuesday that the ECJ could help beef up monitoring of fiscally errant member states' budgets.

When violations of the deficit or debt ceilings occur, the court could strike down the budget in question and demand a new calculation.

Volker Kauder, leader of Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) parliamentary group, said "state bankruptcy proceedings" could start against debt-mired countries from 2013, in a move to tackle national fiscal crises "with a clear procedure.

"It is now Europe's duty to ensure that competitiveness can be established and that sound, necessary reforms can be undertaken," he said.

"The principle that liability and risk are linked must become the order of the day," he added, calling on financial markets to do their part for stability in the eurozone.

The day is not far when the German government will attempt to challenge other member states' budgets at the European Court of Justice, or even initiate bankruptcy proceedings against them. When the American Neocons or the Bush Administration described in detail what they intended to do, people dismissed it as extreme rhetoric, only to be shocked, shocked when they went on to do exactly what they said they would do. You are now making the same mistake with the German establishment (Merkel, Schäuble, Issing, Wulff, Weber, Stark, and the list goes on and on...)

And you tell me drawing parallels with the 1930s is out of place.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Aug 29th, 2011 at 06:16:18 AM EST
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