Cyprus was a small, controlled experiment by the political and economic authorities, designed to test the water and prepare public opinion for the next phase of our enslavement.
Although there have been determined efforts by tame media voices to play down the significance – to focus attention on the Russian dimension, or the apparently belated attempts to shift the thresholds of the proposed “tax” on bank deposits to exclude small savers – the most penetrative analysis of this development has been offered by Cypriot protesters bearing placards with just one word: “thieves”.
I heard an (Irish) economist suggest that there was no moral difference between the attempted dipping of Cypriot bank accounts and the phenomenon of austerity taxes in other European countries, including Ireland. His meaning was that the Cypriot sting was just another (legitimate) form of taxation. But another interpretation of his words is closer: the new taxes being imposed on European economies amount to nothing higher than stealing.
The territory we have entered is one in which the idea that citizens have an entitlement to retain the fruits of their work and sacrifice is no longer considered relevant by the architects and custodians of our economic system. In the Cyprus experiment, rendering unto Caesar was taken to its ultimate logic. Now we know: a euro no longer represents minutes of work supplied or accomplished, but is merely a concession from the state and its accomplice banks, to be recalled at the whim of the authorities.
Four decades ago, the idea of money as a means of exchanging and storing value for the benefit of democratic society was abandoned in favour of a system which prioritised the needs and demands of major financial players – banks, bondholders, speculators and stock-jobbers.
Now we enter a new phase, in which it is clear that the economic and financial authorities no longer acknowledge any moral entitlement of a citizen to retain wealth on the basis of labour, prudence, frugality or self-denial. The needs of the most powerful wealth-hoarders must be met first, second and last, and the politico-economic establishment will go to any lengths to vindicate itself and the failed system it refuses to dismantle.
But we are in the throes of the endgame of the four-decade long partnership between European politicians and banksters. In the 1970s, the politicians extended to the banksters the powers and prerogative to become the creators of money, and to use virtually unlimited credit to create the illusion across European society of prosperity and wellbeing.
Under cover of debt-generated pseudo-growth, the politicians built the nests of their careers, expanding state bureaucracies and welfare systems while successfully marketing the lie that the apparent prosperity was the outcome of inspired policies and sagacious decisions. Now the flexibility of the money system has been exhausted, they seek to claw their way back without admitting to what has occurred. Hence, "austerity".
A friend describes the situation in terms of what he calls "wagon theory". Once upon a time, economies were measured by the productive energies of their workers. Inside the wagon were the old or otherwise incapacitated, whom the strong and able-bodied wagon-pullers had no objection to carrying as passengers. But the pseudo-boom facilitated by privately generated money and cheap credit enabled politicians to build careers and ideological empires by offering free carriage in the wagon to anyone who agreed to tick the relevant box on the voting paper.
Unsurprisingly, we ended up with far more passengers in the wagon than workers pulling it. In addition to the old-age pensioners and invalided, there were all kinds of welfare recipients whose expectations and entitlements would not long before have been considered the stuff of fantasy. There were the personnel of NGOs, quangos and semi-State behemoths. There were the paper-pushing battalions of the nanny state and the regiments of public pests – health and safety regulators, tax inspectors, traffic wardens, clampers, snooping TV licence inspectors and talentless TV anchorpersons – who, contributing nothing to the common good, imposed invisible levels of unnecessary stress upon the wagon-pullers while whipping them to their early graves.
We have arrived, therefore, at the moment when the powerful architects of this breathtaking situation seek to postpone for a little longer the moment in which they will be found out. With the connivance of those still travelling comfortably in the wagon, the authorities seek to convince the wagon-pullers that what has happened is their (the wagon pullers’) fault. Since they are the only ones with resources which can now be plundered to continue the deception for another while, they must be persuaded to pay more and pull harder.
It would be churlish not to congratulate the politicians and banksters for their success in these acts of persuasion, the ultimate demonstration of which is this week’s brass- necked experiment in dipping the personal reserves of the wagon-pullers. Next time, with a little increased menace and coercion, they will have their way.