Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bankers - the Dictators of the West

Bankers are the Dictators of the West


By Robert Fisk

The Independent (UK)

December 10, 2011


Writing from the very region that produces more clichés

per square foot than any other "story" - the Middle

East - I should perhaps pause before I say I have never

read so much garbage, so much utter drivel, as I have

about the world financial crisis.


But I will not hold my fire. It seems to me that the

reporting of the collapse of capitalism has reached a

new low which even the Middle East cannot surpass for

sheer unadulterated obedience to the very institutions

and Harvard "experts" who have helped to bring about

the whole criminal disaster.


Let's kick off with the "Arab Spring" - in itself a

grotesque verbal distortion of the great Arab/Muslim

awakening which is shaking the Middle East - and the

trashy parallels with the social protests in Western

capitals. We've been deluged with reports of how the

poor or the disadvantaged in the West have "taken a

leaf" out of the "Arab spring" book, how demonstrators

in America, Canada, Britain, Spain and Greece have been

"inspired" by the huge demonstrations that brought down

the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and - up to a point -

Libya. But this is nonsense.


The real comparison, needless to say, has been dodged

by Western reporters, so keen to extol the anti-

dictator rebellions of the Arabs, so anxious to ignore

protests against "democratic" Western governments, so

desperate to disparage these demonstrations, to suggest

that they are merely picking up on the latest fad in

the Arab world. The truth is somewhat different. What

drove the Arabs in their tens of thousands and then

their millions on to the streets of Middle East

capitals was a demand for dignity and a refusal to

accept that the local family-ruled dictators actually

owned their countries. The Mubaraks and the Ben Alis

and the Gaddafis and the kings and emirs of the Gulf

(and Jordan) and the Assads all believed that they had

property rights to their entire nations. Egypt belonged

to Mubarak Inc, Tunisia to Ben Ali Inc (and the

Traboulsi family), Libya to Gaddafi Inc. And so on. The

Arab martyrs against dictatorship died to prove that

their countries belonged to their own people.


And that is the true parallel in the West. The protest

movements are indeed against Big Business - a perfectly

justified cause - and against "governments". What they

have really divined, however, albeit a bit late in the

day, is that they have for decades bought into a

fraudulent democracy: they dutifully vote for political

parties - which then hand their democratic mandate and

people's power to the banks and the derivative traders

and the rating agencies, all three backed up by the

slovenly and dishonest coterie of "experts" from

America's top universities and "think tanks", who

maintain the fiction that this is a crisis of

globalisation rather than a massive financial con trick

foisted on the voters.


The banks and the rating agencies have become the

dictators of the West. Like the Mubaraks and Ben Alis,

the banks believed - and still believe - they are

owners of their countries. The elections which give

them power have - through the gutlessness and collusion

of governments - become as false as the polls to which

the Arabs were forced to troop decade after decade to

anoint their own national property owners. Goldman

Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland became the

Mubaraks and Ben Alis of the US and the UK, each

gobbling up the people's wealth in bogus rewards and

bonuses for their vicious bosses on a scale infinitely

more rapacious than their greedy Arab dictator-brothers

could imagine.


I didn't need Charles Ferguson's Inside Job on BBC2

this week - though it helped - to teach me that the

ratings agencies and the US banks are interchangeable,

that their personnel move seamlessly between agency,

bank and US government. The ratings lads (almost always

lads, of course) who AAA-rated sub-prime loans and

derivatives in America are now - via their poisonous

influence on the markets - clawing down the people of

Europe by threatening to lower or withdraw the very

same ratings from European nations which they lavished

upon criminals before the financial crash in the US. I

believe that understatement tends to win arguments.

But, forgive me, who are these creatures whose ratings

agencies now put more fear into the French than Rommel

did in 1940?


Why don't my journalist mates in Wall Street tell me?

How come the BBC and CNN and - oh, dear, even al-

Jazeera - treat these criminal communities as

unquestionable institutions of power? Why no

investigations - Inside Job started along the path -

into these scandalous double-dealers? It reminds me so

much of the equally craven way that so many American

reporters cover the Middle East, eerily avoiding any

direct criticism of Israel, abetted by an army of pro-

Likud lobbyists to explain to viewers why American

"peacemaking" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can

be trusted, why the good guys are "moderates", the bad

guys "terrorists".


The Arabs have at least begun to shrug off this

nonsense. But when the Wall Street protesters do the

same, they become "anarchists", the social "terrorists"

of American streets who dare to demand that the

Bernankes and Geithners should face the same kind of

trial as Hosni Mubarak. We in the West - our

governments - have created our dictators. But, unlike

the Arabs, we can't touch them.


The Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, solemnly informed his

people this week that they were not responsible for the

crisis in which they found themselves. They already

knew that, of course. What he did not tell them was who

was to blame. Isn't it time he and his fellow EU prime

ministers did tell us? And our reporters, too?



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