As are so many other areas around our world, the European continent, Land of the Setting Sun, is a cesspool of the most vulgar greed, "exquisite" corruption (book cooking by master chefs), and, above all, unprecedented Stupidity. French philosopher Andr? Glucksmann puts it this way: "Europe doesn't have a brain in its head." In this caldron of economic, political and social tempestuousness, European nations are sweating desperately to regain the smacks of their Past, to make some quantitative leap that might rescue them from a massive, horrendous level of unemployment, a beyond-repair fiscal dilemma in the making for at least thirty years, and are in flight into a continent-wide inwardness where they are waiting for the winds to shift'counting on, with fingers crossed, a miracle! Europeans are calling upon their Histories to lend strength to their Phantasies not yet today lionized. They are coiled up hard on their proud selves, wrinkled and weather-beaten, endeavoring to nurture new flowers on the dry rot of their haunted memories. They are soused in the juices of their scummy heretofore, and they have little sense of the financial calamity and belligerent destruction that their dereliction, their subterfuges, might again cause.
"We have been here before" is the hackneyed understatement that echoes throughout this continent'as if we should be used to "It" by now. There are analyses and research goings-on which demonstrate for us "cycles" that occur historically, bringing us up and down a roller-coaster of economic, political and social estrangement. These "blimps" on the stock exchanges' computer screens are pooh-poohed ad nauseam by those who are fortunate enough not to be stricken with the hardships of work loss and/or financial destitution. Uncertainty gnaws in the bellies of hundreds of millions of Europeans. Muddled "thinktankers," in disarray and desperate, have been smitten cruelly, and their haughtiness has been placed on a back burner because their notions'that the system we now employ is humankind's best destined political aspiration, the winner of the tug-of-war between autocracy and democracy, and that the globe has been showered with the manna, from the heavens above, produced by the unselfish efforts of a worldwide oligarchy working day and night for the benefit of all of us'are not esteemed as they once might have been. How many decades will it take to pay off this bacchanalia of avarice and degeneracy? The hegemony of international financial institutions is suspect by all and on all corners of our planet.
In Europe, the following harebrained blunders'just to name three'have been executed with the idea of staving off the pulverization of the European monetary system'ill-conceived from the time of its launch at the beginning of the twenty-first century: Mario Draghi was not vetted exhaustively enough in order to unveil his dismal performance as Banca d'Italia chief executive officer, after he succeeded Antonio Fazio (1993-2005), the Vatican, Inc bagman and extraordinaire "bookcooker"; limp-wrist exertions have been implemented to stimulate the monitoring of the European banking system's recycling of "dirty" money and that grouping's penchant for fraud'a chicanery that continues without respite, without indictment; and, a lilliputian effort has been expended to curtail the enormous production of counterfeit euro notes/bills which flood the continent, while investigations into the black market business of legal and illegal drug selling are almost non-existent.
It is more than eerie that Mario Draghi would be appointed president of the European Central Bank after his lackluster term at the Banca d'Italia. Italy's atrocious economy is ten times worse than that of Greece. Yet, Draghi qualified to be called to repair the severely damaged European economy'without the pizzazz of uprightly putting Italy back on its economic feet. It is said that Mario Draghi and Mario Monti, both ex-employees of Goldman Sachs, are the only two Italians alive who have a sufficiently tolerable working knowledge of the English language and some experience bearing on the subtleties of economics! These two ultra-conservatives, Ayn Rand devotees, Milton Friedman freaks, brokenly speaking English and even Italian, are considered the perfect liaisons to shuttle back and forth between Vatican, Inc and Goldman Sachs, Inc. It is also thought that if and when the euro disintegrates, Draghi, a southern European aficionado, will be scapegoated galore after the Southern Europe-Northern Europe divide divides even more. Indeed, no one else in Europe was enthusiastic about becoming president of the European Central Bank with its imminent demise in sight. (Give "It" to the Italians! They do "It" better!) It is an offense to the European people that the feckless Mario Draghi was even considered as a candidate for the presidency of the European Central Bank. As we implied before, Europeans are not exceedingly shrewd.
Hope springs eternal? The most tremendous miscalculation that regards the European economic quandary has been this: The symptoms of Europe's difficulties have been treated without knowing what the disease is! The illness from which Europe suffers is not to be diagnosed using economic terminology, statistics and/or quarterly reports. This infection cannot be measured with MBA nomenclature. It cannot be classified. Rated. Broken down. Commented upon. The sentiments of 500,000,000 European Union members and other Europeans cannot be compartmentalized so that they conform to the standards of BLOOMBERG or The Economist, nor might they be expected to knee jerk to the hypnotizing, subliminal messages of a BMW or an IBM or a FIAT or an APPLE or a COCA-COLA advert. Try as hard as they might not to, these conglomerates of both financial and political power, these usurpers of what was once considered "fair play," will eventually readjust their gargantuan methodologies to conform to the realities of a world they have ignored in the Past'if it is not too late! Herbert Stein: "Economists are very good at saying that something cannot go on forever, but not so good at saying when it will stop." (Are you, my dear reader, ready for the anti-luxury backlash?)
In order to delve into the reasons why Europe is so sallow, it is necessary to turn back the pages of History. To begin, let us make a rapid scansion of just some of Europe's historical triumphs: Roman Civilization delighted us with art, architecture, theories of law, a "globalization" system, and the Roman Catholic church; the Italian Renaissance gratified us with art, architecture, science, literature and banking; the Industrial Revolution pleased us with art, architecture, science, a means of harnessing mechanical energy, and a highly creative literary, philosophical and journalistic movement used to bear witness to the value of human life; and, the second scientific revolution, that German, enchanted us with art, architecture, writers, scholars, musicians, scientists, engineers, and philosophers all of whom accomplished unheard of before feats.
Europeans are inordinately vainglorious about their acquirements but still, today, mostly take them for granted. In fact, very few Europeans could recount much about the extensive database of European revelations conceptualized throughout the centuries. Nevertheless, Europeans are frequently prolix about their own countries' crowning moments unable to digress much on those of their neighbors who have been living next to them for hundreds of years! This is so because Europe is scarcely amalgamated. Further, all of us tend to remember more that which offers pleasure or satisfaction. Europe's longish History gives Europeans much to think back on with positive stimulous; Europeans are forever making reference to these, their own, marvellous fruitions. Chauvinism is one of Europe's cardinal weaknesses. (One Florentine [Firenze, Italia] woman explained the sentiments of many of her friends this way: "We Florentines invented everything. Everything else has just been a copy of what we created." The female person, who, as many other "geniuses" in Florence, had not possessed a high school diploma, had married very, very well and had always worn the most beautiful pairs of FERRAGAMO shoes and the finest GUCCI outfits. (Vestis facit feminam!) She manipulated our conversations expounding on Italian cuisine, the Italian fashion world, and those overpriced restaurants that rip off tourists coming to Florence. I cannot say that she did not know anything about anything else, but she surely gave me that impression.)
Now, let us hypothesize that an all-out scansion of European History, from the times of the Roman Empire to today's economic debacle, was effectuated not permitting even an iota of that History to fall through the Slats of Time. After which, a tally would be computed to enumerate the merits and demerits of the composite European History'somewhat in the manner Immanuel Kant, the Prussian David Hume, did the same when, contemplating marriage, listed the affirmative's and the negative's of his beloved, but when he counted one con more than the pro's, he refused to marry the woman! It stands to reason that European History's itemization of negative worth would far outweigh the extraordinary ones that Europeans are so prone to bring to the fore when pontificating on the contributions that they believe should be admired by others not inhabiting their continent. But remember, when you walk in Europe you can feel the blood squishing beneath your feet. Every hundred meters or so you can come across a monument dedicated to some dopey war, or you can meet a sottish ex-serviceman who thrills you with war stories all night; every day in some European city streets are cordoned off so that a bomb squad can remove an ordnance from still another addlebrained conflict; and, every year proud, senile old farts, bedecked with medals they were awarded for help killing millions and millions of people (combatants and non-combatants) watch while kings and queens and presidents acknowledge their approval knowing very well that the grandchildren of these vets, often seeking a better paying job, will volunteer to go and kill in whatever nation some imbecilic Minister of Foreign Affairs'who could not even finger that res publica on a map'decides for them and their countrymen and countrywomen'often against their wills.
These antipathetical worthiness's would admit themselves sheepishly, and we may here just reckon with a sampling of the most infamous of them: economic thraldom...slavery...the Roman Catholic church's Inquisition...a multitude of horribly futile wars... imperialism... colonialism... Zionism... massacres... repression... genocide... victims of petroleum exploitation... military interventions in Africa, in Asia, in North America, in South America... forced migration of the innocent... carpet bombings... stacked atomic bombs... chemical arms... arms' races... et cetera. No European nation might claim not to have participated in some way in the brutality that was laid waste throughout the world over the centuries, and no European nation might still continue for long to let slide these atrocities down through the Slats of Time and as far away from the European consciousness as possible'as has been done so regularly, so efficaciously until now.
There are two negative consequences which ensue from the continual, for centuries, laying away of European misdeeds deep within the subconsciousness's of all the European populations. The first is that a sociopolitical platform, a systematic body of concepts, integrated assertions of Chauvinism, has been indoctrinated, brainwashed into the European psyche and which, for so long, has dominated and determined the passing on of European History before the rest of the world obligated to look on as a mere bystander. Merely for instance: this planet has been asphyxiated by the shenanigans of the world's banking institutions which today literally kill people; the inventions of methods of commerce today cheat and corrupt hundreds of millions of people; and, a military arsenal, at the beck and call of reactionaries, is today set to blow your brains out if you misbehave. This Chauvinism is distinct in each European sovereign state, and because it is centuries old, it is so ingrained institutionally that there is no user-friendly way to escape its clutches. (Just ask some Marxist!) Consequently, no matter what tragedy that befalls the continent, that cataclysm will eventually pass into the Slats of Time, reckoned as a deed that belongs to a long string of other events, where it will be low-levelly funeralized then enclosed by the spirit of that specious superiority which imprisons the European nation states.
Secondly, and most importantly, is the utterly cruel insensitiveness that Europe has exhibited towards its victims of imperialism and colonialism throughout the centuries'an insensitivity that now begins to gnaw viciously at Europe as developing nations, in Africa, Asia and South America, surge to their forefronts demanding Justice and just compensation for their material resources which have been pilfered from them for at least a millennium. The developing world is sick and tired of this repellent imperial overreach. It is uncanny to see The Old World nowadays thinking that these maltreated peoples have forgotten'as easily as Europeans have let their misbegotten conduct slip through the Slats of Time'the barbarousnesses leveled against them during Europe's ravaging of their homelands. The natural resources of these body politics made the Europeans rich; and, now they will make the Europeans wretched. I see not one ounce of sympathy for The Old Continent coming from Africa, Asia, or South America. Business is business, n'est-ce pas? Not only are Europeans shell-shocked, mentally confused, upset, and still exhausted from the devastation inflicted upon them during the two gruesome world wars, they today are affright with the notion that a vendetta against them by the developing nations, loaded with natural resources, is in the making. European bureaucrats are bending over backwards to convince African, Asian and South American polity leaders that their millennium-long exploitation of them is now pass?. The European Union, so keen on stepping forward with a new-sprung tactfulness, has awarded itself the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize'not the 2012 Nobel Hypocrisy Prize! All of us wish Europe goody-goody fortune...
Let us concentrate, for a moment, on Italy, The Problem Child of Europe (CNN), where these weird psychological defense mechanisms are perhaps the most pronounced'to see in what direction covetousness and debasement might conduct the whole of Europe.
It is said Rome did not fall in a day. Neither will Italy. Italy is falling apart at its seams. Wherever you look you see the symptoms of an Italy in dissolution'materially and immaterially. River beds and sewers are stuffed with debris...there are fissures in foundations everywhere...roofs leak in offices and homes...flood walls are in ruins...in Autumn, Italy becomes the Land of Landslides...every year the south of Italy becomes more and more desert-like...cigarette ashes are on the floors of hospital delivery rooms...cockroaches scurry about on surgical wards...coffeehouse coffee cups are contaminated with microbes...Italian cars begin to fall apart only months after they are purchased...telephone, electric and gas bills are Russian roulettes...trailer trucks zoom through residential areas and spew black smoke in the faces of children...cars are upped on sidewalks, cracked and broken...the Florentines have made a gas chamber of the Cradle of Humanism...Florentines are so busy looking at one and the other's dress code, they have no time to coordinate a civilized bus system or clean draining grates which, when overflowed by heavy rains, cause water to seep into shops and apartment basements...Florentine university law professors are in cahoots with the thirty-five most powerful individuals in Florence just as Venezuelan university law professors in Caracas are in collusion with the Los Doce Disc?pulos...When you meet a Florentine, get on your knees and adulate him or her so that you will be considered a person of "culture!"...one arrives at an airport or train station asking not when departure time is, but how late the plane or train is...streets and highways are impregnated with cracks and holes...lights in buses and apartment hallways are lit in the middle of sunny days...each and every Italian home possesses a mini drug store...monuments are crumbling; or, cars' air pollution is corroding them...downtown areas are sooty and wreak of urine...school bathrooms and heating systems often do not function...pieces of plaster fall on students' heads in classrooms...there are not adequate sports facilities for children...stamps come, frequently, without glue on their backs...Swiss ladies and men have clauses in their health insurance policies to escape in an air ambulance to Switzerland if they become ill...banks offer 5% interest on savings then, after a month, decrease that interest to 2% without advising depositors...crooked churches threaten to collapse... undone construction sites'left unattended for years'dot the countryside...floods, then droughts, damage crops...filth is in the air and on the ground...stadiums and passenger trains are wrecked habitually by acts of wanton vandalism...hills are polka-dotted with garbage...supermarket shelves often are missing products...television programming is the worst in Europe...thousands of companies are in debt or going bankrupt...fountains are clogged with scum and refuse...repair work is shoddy...trees and plants are dying whichever way you rivet your eyes...urban planning is non-existent...public places are pervaded with tobacco smoke...motor scooters whizz by but then are brought to abrupt standstills in traffic jams...STOP signs are GO signs...streams of photocopied sheets'blown-down to spy size'accompany students to their examinations...thirteen-year-old masterminds, during final exams, ask to be excused to go to bathrooms where they cellphone their mothers at home to get answers to perplexing questions...software and CDs are replicated illegally with aplomb...politicians burp on television...prices keep rising; newspapers report inflation is under control...no one knows what the public debt is ('2,000,000,000,000?); they are afraid to hold it in view...children go to study tired of watching television and playing computer games...Italians are intoxicated with legal and illegal drugs...there are no qualified workers to content thousands of job openings...Italians are the most overweight people in Europe...after Portugal, they have the highest incidence of stomach cancer...Italians are dressed to kill: the most elegant bankrupts in the world...they are, according to the International Monetary Fund, the most dishonest in the European Union...singers steal music from others...counterfeit euro banknotes flood The Boot...the cost of a cup of coffee keeps going up; nonetheless, the size of a coffee cup keeps diminishing...kids go to school, defy all in authority, call a strike, order teachers home, and when they are asked why they have walked out, they respond defiantly: "We don't know. But, we know we must do 'It'!"...business is good'but only for the few...La Vita ? Bella'for whom?...Italy is spinning its wheels'going nowhere...from the mouth of a nine-year-old Florentine girl: "When I grow up I want to live with Alessandra. But, please understand we are not lesbians."...from the mouth of a forty-year-old Prato bus driver smoking while driving: "I'll smoke wherever the **** I please."...from the mouths of Veronese calcio fans screaming in delirium: "WE HATE EVERYBODY!"..."Of course, that is stupid. But, it is Italian stupid!"...television audiences are paid off to clap at the right moment...games are fixed...players are drugged left and right...banks lend money in excess of legal interest rates...cows graze in fields adjacent to toxic waste materials piled high...10% of Italians have a university degree'the lowest percentage in the Europe Union...Transparency International (www.transparency.org) lists Italy at the 69th post, between Ghana and Macedonia, in the world's most corrupt nations' classification...public restrooms are health hazards...Italian mothers and fathers must keep their 30-year-old children at home because the "kids" cannot find a job that pays them sufficiently to rent an apartment or buy a house...20% of the Italians are over 65 years old...Italy has one of the lowest birthrates in the world...Italian journalists are masters of servility...the Italians are among the most ignorant in Europe...42% of the Italians have an elementary school diploma...30% of Italian children between 15 and 19 have left school for good...38 Italians, for every 100, have read a book this year...there is a subcutaneous violence in Italian society that is struggling to find some outlet...the words of an Italian journalist: "Ho imparato che in Italia bisogna parlar bene di tutti. Quando dici una cosa cattiva succede un putiferio. La capacit? di moltiplicare l'odio da parte delle persone di cui parli male ? infinita. Io non odio e non voglio essere odiato. Non voglio mettere in circolazione tossine di malanimo. Questo ? un Paese di odiatori professionisti."...ad infinitum...
What has put Italy on this national suicide course? Why are Italians'goofy in their pagan rituals, their dillydallying death wishes'enraptured in the Legal & Illegal Drugs of Art & Narcissism (Occupational Therapies?)? Why are Florentines bringing out examples of design, tasteful junk ("What a terrible beauty we've made." [Spandau Ballet]) with "artistic" price tags, instead of genuine representations of Art for which, centuries ago, they were far-famed? Why are Italians so haunted by appearance without the minimum concern for substance? Why is it so crucial for the Italian to be garbed in de luxe FERRAGAMO shoes and ritzy GUCCI PUCCI attire when their children's schools are falling down? What are the Italians trying to impress us with? What is behind their rascality? Are they dreaming of another Marshall Plan? Is there anyone, in his or her right mind, who thinks that Italians intend to pay their bank loans off'even if they are capable of doing so? Was it not that muddleheaded president of the DisUnited States, Ronald Reagan, who reminded European government leaders (including Italy's Bettino Craxi!) that it is better to be in debt than to be a debt collector? Who was responsible, for decades, for allowing Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain to accumulate billions and billions of debt'while Europeans basked in a South American-like binge'without thinking whether or not they would have the strength to return their financial obligations? Were these characters numskulls? Were these types felons? Do they give their babies matches to play with? Who has permitted these Tragedies of Errors to give rise? Wall Street? The Pentagon? Why are Europeans mired in the muck of their snobbishness and foolishness?
The Twentieth Century is the answer! Yes. Those life-or-death one-hundred years that opened the world's eyes to see the true colors of this bloodcurdling continent. It is gauged that nearly 200,000,000 people, both combatants and non-combatants, were sacrificed in the two world wars that foregrounded all other achievements attained in the vicious ten decades of the Twentieth Century. That figure might be more than the total number of individuals stamped out by European marauding nations when they ransacked throughout Africa, Asia and South America during the centenaries of their "colonialisms" and "imperialisms." How fitting it is, then, that Europe (Western Civilization I) would, for its grand finale, snuff out millions of its own, I assume in order to make some pathetic last ditch effort to attempt to seal its superiority'for once and for all. The two European world wars will never slip through the Slats of Time. No symphony, no painter's masterpiece, no sonnet, no novel, no scientific discovery, no sculpture, no philosophical theory, no religion ("Thou shalt not kill." Are you sure? Everyone seems to be doing so. I mean, other than killing off others and themselves, what have Europeans done so efficiently, so continuously, so remarkably?), no mathematical theorem, no engineering feat, no architectural design, no sleek automobile, no elegant garb, no ritzy yacht, no gold watch, no football squad, no financial investment, no secret Swiss bank account, no chic perfume, no look, no affectation, no act of snobbery, no nothing will ever be decent enough to extirpate the horrors of the Twentieth Century from any intelligent purposive principle the European people might muster as they scamper about avoiding atonement for their actions and even seeking self-justifications for their pitiable en masse human activities. The European problem is not a Darwinian tiff with other powers to determine who is King of the Hill. No, Europe's destiny is the consummation of its Freudian death wish. Bye, bye Western Civilization I!
Years ago I dropped into a photo shop in the center of Florence, Italy to view some electronic gadgets which were also on sale there. The door behind me had not even shut when I heard an elderly American man, screaming at the top of his lungs, the following: "I bombed that there other side of the Arno River during World War II and helped save Italy from that Fascist bastard Mussolini and those bastard Krauts!" Silence then pervaded throughout the outlet. The two Florentine salespersons, who spoke a bit of business English and even might have understood what the crotchety old man had blurted out, got the message of this hapless, bitter old man seeking adulation for the part he played in bombing a section of Florence (Firenze) in order to keep a German attack from transpiring into a veritable onslaught. Their faces filled with disgust when the white-haired man made his exit. This happenstance was relevant in confirming an idea I had kept in the back of my mind for some years and which had been acquired by me some two or three years after my arrival in Italy on 1 May 1983: Italians hate Americans'but not those who are rich! Hugs and kisses at the sight of US credit cards!
And why should they not? Americans are those who had the good sense to escape from Europe to try out a new way of life liberated from religious and political oppression and many other foul circumstances which made them consider Europe an unpleasant hazard instead of a golden opportunity. Worse, Americans, not being so dewy-eyed then, jumped the prospect of being butchered in two world wars. To sprinkle salt on the European wounds, Americans twice came back again'those times festooned in the garments of belligerents in order to quell the dissonance and put the European slayers back in their place. A "place" that would satisfy the revengeful ex-Europeans coming from the Land of the Free, "The New World." After the World War II surrender was formalized, the Americans spent another five years in combat smoking out German army holdouts. (I once heard that General Eisenhower, a German-American, upon seeing the treatment that had been accorded Jews and other minority groups in German concentration camps, ordered 1,000,000 German POWs to be starved to death. True or false?) All the way to 1989, there were an estimated 300,000 American troops in Germany! (Germans speak English rather well!) There are American bases still sprinkled all over Europe. In Tuscany, Italy, Camp Darby, the largest American military base not located on continental US soil, housed the arms that were used in both Iraqi wars. (If you wish to give the president of the Regione Toscana [Tuscany Region] a heart attack, just tell him that Camp Darby will eventually be transferred to the new, enormous US military base being built in Libya which, strategically speaking, really is not very far from Camp Darby near the "US-subsidized" city of Leghorn (Livorno) on Tuscany's west coast.) Therefore, might it be opined that Europeans are not especially happy about being subject to the military whims of the DisUnited States (Western Civilization II)? (Interestingly enough, the terms of Italy' surrender to the Americans at the end of World War II have never been released to the Italian people, or anyone else who wants to know, because they are still "top secret!")
There are tens of millions upon tens of millions of citizens of the DisUnited States of North America who believe that the bombings of Afghanistan, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Vietnam, et cetera, have given the peoples of those nations the joy of living under the democratic system (Judeo-Christian "Democratic" Capitalism?) which, the same, is enjoyed by the industrialized world'more or less. That the wallopings of these nations into submission is something they are grateful for! That for these trouncings the victims should be able to look to the future with a renewed gumption of hope! That the thrashings were the best thing for them! That even the defoliation of 6,000,000 acres of Vietnam's land with watered-down dioxin was for the good of those individuals! Oh, these Americans! (Americans are a wonderful people'if they aren't bombing you!)
Every day, DUS Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, resembles more Madeleine "The Little Fat Witch" Albright, herself once a DUS Secretary of State and now in the business of offering conferences. These two battle-axes know, better than we, what the world thinks about the DUS because the two of them have traveled far and wide, stressed, fearing assassination, and they have the wrinkles of long plane flights to prove their sacrifices. Yet their countenances exhibit a savage reality: They are not getting their way, they are not reaping points for the DUS. They are angered, too. The world is not as they would wish it to be'even with their government's bombings during the Past and during the Present. Hillary Clinton, once a dignified and courageous candidate for Presidentess of the United States, was put into a meat-grinder where she learned, bitterly and frustratingly, that the DUS is following a disaster course in its quest to rule this planet. And, instead of being able to work profitably with other nations, she and Albright find that they are gaining little or no ground, and their efforts are isolating their government all the more, all the time. In Europe, "the United States" does not ring clear any longer. (Hey, I have an idea! Why don't Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright form a think tank: The Inter-planetary Consortium for the In-depth Study of Witchcraft!)
Instead of working in harmony and within a spirit of good will, Americans and Europeans are, more and more, displaying a penchant to do what they wish for only themselves. And it is also true that the DUS, day in and day out, becomes more and more as Europe had been so frequently in the Past'a schizoid megalomaniac with the mania to foist, ever so violently, its way of life upon others who think differently than them. Birds of a feather flock together, n'est-ce pas? They who live by the sword, die by the sword?
Four Closing Observations
- Alain Minc, in his 1993 tome, Le Nouveau Moyen ?ge (?ditions Gallimard), speculated that Europe might eventually fragmentize into regions established by rebelling nationalist and populist fronts, thus eradicating the sense of the European nation state and the European Union'that these groupings, without the design of a sovereign mindset, might fall prey to roving bands of organized criminals, so much like it was during the Middle Ages. Southern Italy, at least, has proven Minc right.
- When the euro was introduced to Italy at the turn of the new century, one euro was equivalent to 2,000 lira. Unscrupulous Italian merchants altered price tags previously listed 10,000 lira to read 10.00 euro rather than 5.00 euro. Because this trick was done so often and so efficiently, unassuming Italians went along for the ride, the Italian economy was inflated, and worse, when the duping was evidenced, blame for the nosediving Italian economy was placed at the euro's feet and an enormous loss of respect for the European Union entered the minds of Italian citizens. Cheap Chinese imported products came to the rescue of desperately poor Italians, but even the prices of these goods were inflated from, say, '5.00 at cost, to '20.00 list in selling outlets. These prices, nevertheless, were set to be considerably lower than the inflated Italian products. No one has given thought to the idea that Chinese merchandise will eventually become more sophisticated and quality wise'just as Japanese products in the 1950s at first were of low prime then highly recognized'and, then, all products will be too expensive for the majority of Italians. And, what if the Chinese pull the plug and altogether stop sending low-cost items to The Boot?
- In his The Art of War, Sun Tzu recommends that a warring nation give its enemy all that which is needed for the opposition to defeat itself. And when the victory is reached, the winning forces can walk in and take over as they wish without even firing a shot. Sun Tzu says this is the best way to fight! Another recognized figure, Karl Marx, averred that if you give them, the capitalists, enough rope they will hang themselves. Martin Jacques's When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World (Allen Lane, London; 2009) should be read by every European.
- The Roman Catholic church is an enormous economic power and an influence that has pervaded the thoughts and minds of millions and millions of people all over the world. But there exists a special form of Catholicism in Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain that is entirely more deep-seated, intense'even fanatical. In unison, these nations constitute a population of about 130,000,000 people. With their horrible economic quandary now in motion, the Protestant Work Ethic Boys & Girls are increasingly critical of the Roman Catholic/Orthodox Mana?a Boys & Girls and the North-South divide is widening more and more each day. World History has frequently recorded that the source of hostilities is so often sparked by the friction kindling among opposing religious factions. Here we go again? Contrary to what Jim Rogers thinks, it is highly improbable that World War III will break out'at least in Europe. Europe does not have enough funds to buy fire crackers for its national holidays. But this does not mean there might not be outbreaks of violence within these nations themselves: implosions rather than explosions. Already, jobless, angry individuals are taking to the streets in mob-like fashion. Nations split into those who have and those who do not, might react luridly and then suffer the tremendous viewpoint that traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and that existence is senseless and useless'a mental attitude that might tilt Europe towards The Age of Suicide.