The Brussels Business is a documentary film by Friedrich Moser and Matthieu Lietaert about the lack of transparency and the influence of lobbyists on the decision-making process in Brussels, the European Union capital.
Here’s how the film-makers introduce “The Brus$els Business” movie:
“In the early 1990s two young men come across the huge influence of lobbying on the EU decision-making in Brussels. One starts to investigate and fight it and becomes the EU’s leading lobby-watchdog, the other becomes a high profile lobbyist for 40 multinational companies. The film dives into the shadowy world of lobbying, the secretive networks of power and big business influence on EU-policy-making in Brussels. It tells the non-official version of the European Integration since the 1980s, the story of the neoliberal take-over in European politics.
At a time when Europe is facing a deep crisis that can bring the world economy to collapse this film tries to answer one question millions of people ask themselves: Who runs the European Union?”
Mr Klaus Masuch is the ECB’s representative in the troika delegation that spreads panic everywhere it goes. It is early 2012 and the troika passes through Dublin. In the press conference after his meeting with Irish officials, Mr Masuch felt comfortable enough amongst mostly sycophantic journalists to relate a conversation he claimed to have had with a Dublin taxi driver. At which point Vincent Browne, the seasoned Irish journalist, asked his question: “Did you have a chance to ask your taxi driver what he makes of the fact that the ECB forced our government to guarantee private bankers’ debt that our public finances could ill-afford? Debts that the Irish people never consented to through their elected representatives? Did you ask him how he feels that he now has to struggle because your Central Bank forced our government to bailout private bankers so that non-Irish banks to which the money was ultimately owed would not need to be bailed out by Frankfurt, Berlin or Paris?” Clearly discomfited Mr Masuch began to whisper that he admired the Irish people for their resilience and for their grasp of the economic situation. “You have not answered the question Sir”, wailed Vincent Browne. “But I have.” “No you have not. Please answer the question. Why did Europe’s central bank, our central bank, force a small nation to take on private debts without their consent?” At which point Mr Masuch gathered his papers and left the room. If you want a visual depiction of Europe’s democratic deficit; if you want to see why a majority of Europeans are increasingly reporting to pollsters that they have no confidence in European institutions, google “Vincent Browne versus ECB official”, watch the clip, and weep! You may, I submit, be reminded of Berthold Brecht’s comment that: “Brute force is out of date. Why send out murderers when you can employ bailiffs.”
This is what the crisis is doing to our Europe: A clueless political personnel, in denial of the systemic nature of the crisis, is pursuing policies akin to carpet-bombing the economy of proud European nations in order to save them.
The global financial sector has imploded twice in history. Once in 1929, then in 2008. In 1929 two things happened soon after. The first was that the common currency of the era began to unravel. It was the Gold Standard. The second was that, soon after, in Europe we ended up with Nazis in power and with a reinforcement of fascists everywhere in Europe.
Yanis Varoufakis, excerpt from The Dirty War for Europe’s Integrity and Soul
More insightful stories from the same author: http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/
Max Haiven is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Art History and Critical Studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Canada. He is author of Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power (2014), The Radical Imagination (with Alex Khasnabish, 2014) and Cultures of Financialization (2014).
The struggle against hopelessness is in some ways very personal and in some ways very common. The idea that the global capitalist system as it is today cannot be changed is almost universal. Indeed, this fatalism — at least at the level of individual motivations — is ironically one of the driving forces behind the system’s perpetuation. The vast majority of those whose labors reproduce capitalism (from CEOs and politicians to lawyers and professors; to journalists and software engineers; to store clerks and strip miners) do not do so out of any particular love of the system or economic sadomasochism. Indeed, it is widely recognized that the present order is tremendously destructive, both to the world at large and to our own lives.
Here is an excerpt from the book Crises of Imagination, Crises of Power published in ROAR magazine.
Neoliberalism is the chaotic theory of economic chaos,
the stupid exultation of social stupidity,
and the catastrophic political management of catastrophe.
~ Subcomandante Marcos of the EZLN
The catastrophic management of catastrophe. If there is one line that describes the nature of neoliberal crisis management, that must be it. From Mexico and Latin America in 1982 to the South-East Asian crisis of 1997-’98, and from Turkey and Argentina in the early 2000s to the European debt crisis from 2010 onward — the most catastrophic thing about neoliberal crisis management is not only that it has a penchant to turn already catastrophic financial crises caused by runaway private speculation into an immense source of private gain for the same very financiers responsible for the catastrophe to begin with; but, even more nefariously, that it makes those catastrophes so much more catastrophic than they really need to be for almost everyone else.
… The neoliberal ethos can really be summarized in a straightforward principle: “privatize profits and socialize losses!” Or, perhaps more appropriately: “fuck everyone else!”
Read the full diabtribe by Jerome Roos here: Neoliberalism, or The Catastrophic Management of Catastrophe, ROAR Magazine