Published by Daily Mail
He didn’t use the word ‘Reich’, of course: he’d be sensitive to shadowy historical undertones and averse to Godwin’s tendencies. But by warning that Germany risks being the centre of an ‘empire’ that ‘caused the collapse of the eurozone’, he certainly raises the spectre of a Fourth Reich, doubtless to the delight of those who have long believed that the ECSC/EEC/EC/EU is just a German racket to achieve by incremental treaties what they could not accomplish with bombs and bullets.
‘Soros warnt vor deutschem Weltreich’, read headlines in the German press. According to the multi-billionaire financier, the Reich re-emerges as the mechanism for effecting German foreign and economic policy: it is the kingdom or realm for the realisation of the dreams of kaisers long gone and chancellors not so long gone.
This won’t go down at all well with Chancellor Merkel, who is already enduring the cruel indignity of being portrayed in the Greek media (not to mention one or two British newspapers) as a Nazi. This is an appalling caricature and a gross injustice, liable only to stoke anti-German sentiment and lead to racial riots. If there is a conspiracy, it is being hatched in Brussels, not Berlin. There is no sense at all in which Chancellor Merkel’s patriotism is heir to Chancellor Hitler’s nationalism: and yet both may be perceived and interpreted as aggressive assertions of German imperialism.
But when you’re omnipotent in the money-markets and perfectly able to bring down national currencies to determine which governments rise and fall (as Soros did with the Major/Lamont foray into the ERM), you’re not obliged to consider trivial political sensitivities or spare impotent politicians a little personal embarrassment. It is their democratic vocation to be buffeted by market ‘events’; it is the calling of the wealthy elite (in accordance with elite doctrine) to restore stability, effect equilibrium and rescue the world – even (or preferably) at the expense of democracy.
George Soros essentially agrees with the economic theory of David Cameron and George Osborne that there must be a European ‘fiscal authority’ to impose the regulatory discipline of a debt reduction programme on member states. Such an authority implements the de facto economic governance of the eurozone, which amounts to de jure political government. This is the only means of averting financial crisis: the euro, Soros avers, ‘threatens to destroy the European Union’. His view is that monetary union should have been preceded by political union: while Germany was struggling with the financial complexities and disciplinary structural consequences of reunification, countries like Ireland and Greece were enjoying cheap-credit booms. A one-size-fits-all interest rate was never going to work among such divergent economies: while Germany became a competitive creditor rich in assets, the PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) became decidedly uncompetitive debtors with considerable liabilities.
It is ironic that the euro – the ultimate symbol of European political union – has become synonymous with economic crisis, break-up and disunity. The common currency has revealed that the disparate and divergent peoples of Europe don’t actually feel that they have an awful lot in common with each other after all. Soros observes that financial institutions are reordering their European exposure along national lines just in case the region splits apart. It is interesting to observe that the regional splits in fiscal fragmentation echo the divisions within Christendom, with the Greek (Orthodox) about to exit; Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal (Roman Catholic) are all bust; while Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries (Protestant) are all instinctively reverting to expressions of national individualism above continental social collectivism.
It is, of course, important to reject naïve assumptions about Protestantism and liberty – the movement has historically been decidedly anti-liberal and ideologically authoritarian to the point of Calvinist inquisition. But Soros is positively papal in his ex cathedra pronouncement of the need to set aside national borders to heal the soul of Europe as a whole. Without German leadership and Bundesbank intervention, there will be economic turmoil followed by EU political disintegration.
The poor German people can have no say in this: there can be no potential veto by the ignorant demos which impinges upon the omniscient kratos of the elite. We are well beyond whitewash and temporary sticking plaster: the intervention must be decisive, radical and permanent. Without it, Soros prophesies, the fall of the common currency would ‘almost certainly lead to a collapse of the Schengen Treaty, the common market, and the European Union itself’.
Well, thank God for that, some might say.
But the likelihood is that the euro will survive, not least because Germany isn’t about to permit the PIIGS to default on a €trillion worth of debts and so imperil her economic might: ‘…a return to the Deutschemark would likely price Germany out of its export markets – not to mention the political consequences.’
Soros is persuaded that Germany will do what is necessary to preserve the euro – but only just. This will produce a eurozone dominated by a booming German taskmaster in northern Europe fiscally lording it over the bust states in the south, which will be locked in perpetual depression and mired in insurmountable indebtedness. Thus, he warns, the visionary European Union which ‘fired people’s imagination’ will become ‘a German empire with the periphery as the hinterland’.
Perhaps Nick Ridley was right after all.