Brexit — The End of the Universe

By Mathew D. Rose, a freelance journalist living in Berlin, and cross-posted from Naked Capitalism

The other morning I was astounded by an interview I heard in German state radio. It was in Deutschlandfunk, which specialises in news and current affairs. It is considered by many to be the most serious and objective radio station in Germany.

In this case the moderator was querying the EU parliamentarian Sven Giegold of the Greens concerning the upcoming referendum, also known as Brexit, in Britain to leave the European Union. Giegold is a clever chap, in fact one of the few talents in Brussels. One of the moderator’s first questions was if it would not be better if Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, the EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council went to Britain to make the case for Remain in the upcoming referendum.

This question reflects some very basic problems that are plaguing Europe’s elite and its obsequious media. The first is a specifically German one: Authority should not be questioned. In other words when such powerful figures as the German Finance Minister and the presidents of the European Commission and Council tell you to vote Remain, then there can be no doubt what you should do.

Everyone is supposed to forget the recent records of these three politicians. Schäuble has pretty much single-handedly transformed Europe’s recession into a depression as well as reducing Greece to a perpetual humanitarian crisis. Juncker, as prime minister in Luxemburg, created a tax system there, which permitted large corporations to pay hardly any taxes on their European profits, to the detriment of the member states’ taxpayers. Instead of being jailed, he was made head of the EU Commission. Tusk rammed a neo-liberal EU policy down the throats of the Poles, resulting in them recently electing an anti-EU, ultra-conservative party with an absolute majority into government. That is the first time since the post-communist era that any party has obtained such a mandate. These are some rather impressive accomplishments.

To make matters worse, Schäuble has employed his usual tactic of bullying to influence the British, making it perfectly clear that in the case of Brexit “In is in and out is out”. There will be no good will, no compromises. Do not think this is simply polemic. It is the same sort of thing he told the Greeks before he crushed them. Britain may not have the Euro, but a nation defying German hegemony by leaving the EU is a dangerous precedent and must be made an example of – see Greece. There is a large arsenal of economic weapons available to the Germans and they have no scruples about using them

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