This morning, Paul Krugman speculates about how the impending Eurozone disaster will affect the political climate. In particular, since all of the “reasonable center” parties have been on board with the disastrous austerity program, once the end comes, the only political parties that won’t be soiled will be those on the far left and right.
I don’t doubt that this is correct. But it seems to me that we are looking at something far more dangerous: anger. Let’s suppose that Greece leaves the Euro. There will be much disruption, but the main thing that the Greek people will remember are the years that the European elites—especially Germany—made them suffer for nothing.
Sure, extremist political parties can be problematic. (See, for example, the United States under Bush, which went to war in Iraq when the people were against it.) But it is so much easier for these parties to really cause problems if the people themselves are angry. And when that anger is largely justifiable: watch out!
What is amazing about this is how the elites in Europe don’t see the problem. They don’t seem to be aware that their comfortable lifestyles are dependent upon the consent of weaker countries. Regardless of how morally superior those in northern Europe may feel compared to those in southern Europe (wrongly in my opinion), the people in southern Europe still need to live. And like all people, they will do what they must to survive and even thrive.
But I’ve seen the same thing within the United States. The rich are determined to turn this country into a banana republic. And as long as this system is stable, it is great for them. But people will only allow themselves to sink so low before they will rebel. The rich should want somewhat greater equality because it provides for stability of a society in which they do very well. But instead, they ignore this, in the name of shortsighted greed. They believe they are morally superior to the poor (wrongly in my opinion), but that won’t mean much if there is a revolution.
The same goes for Germany and frankly, all of Europe. They may survive the EU break up. But are they really confident that it won’t lead to war 20 or 30 years from now? I’m not.