Spain's Giant Post Debt Hangover
by Eric Margolis: Let’s
Bury These Phony Myths About World War II
– Viva la revolution!
Spain’s youth are staging boisterous but peaceful protests across
the country that many call the Iberian version of the popular revolutions
sweeping the Arab world.
the center of this marvelous city that pulses with life and fun,
is packed with young demonstrators waving placards calling for revolution
and end to capitalism and globalism, and blaring American 70’s rock
grow rich while the rest of the world lives on the edge" reads
one poster. The Wall Street crash of 2008 caused by reckless American
bankers has hit Europe full force.
Who can blame
these kids for being angry? Spain’s unemployment rate is 20% – 4.9
million. For those under 25, it’s 44.3% – mirroring parts of the
restive Arab world.
But so far,
youth protests in Spain, as well as Britain, Italy, France have
been tame. Greece is a different story. As it stumbles towards default
on its unsustainable debt, the nation is racked by protests and
Italy and Spain,
who may also face bond crises, have joined the scolding Germans
in condemning Greece for profligacy and spreading financial contagion.
held municipal and regional elections. Prime Minister Jose Zapatero’s
Socialist party, having had the ill luck of being in power when
the financial tsunami hit, just got washed away.
Barcelona, the cradle of Spanish Socialism, Communism, and anarchism,
overwhelmingly voted in the right-wing People’s Party which has
links to the Franco-era fascists. The ghost of George Orwell and
the famed POUM 1930’s anarchist movement are turning in their graves.
The rout of
Spain’s left marks another step in Europe’s strong move to the right.
In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, he of the "bunga-bunga"
room, just vowed to never allow Milan to become "an Islamic
city" or a "gypsyville." Most Italians agree with
Italy is being
flooded by African boat people from Libya’s long coasts. Col. Gadaffi
had previously kept black African economic migrants away from Europe.
But now that the EU and NATO are trying to kill him, the colonel
has ceased policing his coasts.
As the emigrant
tide swelled, Italy got fed up housing tens of thousands of nomads,
and gave them travel papers to go to France. This hugely outraged
the French, who called Italians all sorts of nasty, un-neighborly
names. France shut its border with Italy, a violation of the Schengen
agreement for free movement.
presidential front-runner Dominique Strauss-Kahn looked almost certain
to win next year’s presidential elections. Now, his inability to
control his lusts for a New York City hotel maid have upended French
are for now Marine LePen, head of the hard right National Front,
and conservative President Nicholas Sarkozy. They are vying for
the right wing vote by attacking immigrants, Islam, Arabs, and crime.
France’s left-wing intellectuals rushed to defend Strauss-Kahn as
a victim of brutal American wild west injustice or a plot. Now,
in a war of the sexes, France’s massed feminists are blasting them
as woman-haters, pigs, and sexists.
by Muslim immigrants, has moved further right than George W. Bush.
So have Norway and Holland. Even the usually quiescent Finns just
voted a rightwing anti-immigrant party into parliament. Germany
and Britain remain firmly in conservative hands.
Add to all
of this the raging bond crisis that threatens Europe’s overleveraged
banking system. So far, this multi-layered storm is pushing Europeans
to the right. But the now triumphant right will inevitably become
saddled with the crisis and the target of public anger.
chastened left will claim it has the answers to stagnation and unemployment
and be voted back in. And so the dreary cycle will continue. Luckily
for politicians, voters everywhere have short memories.
It’s too soon
to tell if Spain will manage to pull out of the current crisis.
Its large banks are still holding up. But this fun-loving nation
is staggering under a mountain of debt accumulated during its credit
debt hangover seem almost modest compared to that of the United
States, whose deficit may hit $1.5 trillion this year and household
debt is still higher than Spain’s.
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2011 Eric Margolis
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