The Dirty War for Europe’s Integrity and Soul

DESPOTISM

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 You may, I submit, be reminded of Berthold Brecht’s comment that: “Brute force is out of date.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/

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EU LGBT Survey 2013

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has announced the results of an EU-wide LGBT survey that was conducted online in the 27 EU Member States and Croatia between April and July 2012.

The survey collected information from 93,079 persons  aged 18 years or over who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and who lived in the EU or Croatia, about their experiences of discrimination, violence and harassment and other key issues.

Below is a heat map of the results of one of the survey questions.

Q: In your opinion, how widespread are assaults and harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender people in the country where you live?

heatMap-LGBT-lgbtcat_sex-All-b1_d-01--Very-widespread-EN-920

The countries with the highest response rate are Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania.

The countries with the lowest response rate are Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland.

Source: European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, LGBT Survey Data Explorer

The survey clearly shows that there are widespread discrimination, harassment and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU. Of course there are country variations, with the newest member-states Bulgaria, Romania and soon to be member Croatia faring worst. These countries have deep-seated problems in all areas of law and justice so it is not surprising that the rights of LGBT people are not respected or protected. Another aggravating factor is local culture which has traditionally been very inimical to expressions of difference (not only in terms of sexuality/gender). It will be a long and hard battle, both on the part of EU institutions and in local LGBT communities, to challenge stereotypes, change policies and secure equal rights.