A few days ago, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told an audience at a pre-election rally that Greece is a ?unique? case and that the austerity program cannot be scrapped because it has already been decided.
The German finance chief?s thought process is all too familiar to us: It doesn?t matter whether the austerity program brings deeper recession and fails to lead the country out of the crippling crisis; all that matters is that it is implemented, and since Greece is not applying it in full and without deviations, it is therefore a special case. This is casuistic reasoning of medieval quality.
On Thursday, Spain, another ?special? case, saw around a million people take to the streets in protest at a time when most would usually be sitting on a beach. Meanwhile, analysts around the world, with the exception of those in Brussels and Berlin, have been describing how German-inspired austerity is bringing Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy and, of course, Greece, to their knees with recession and more debt. Ultimately, the European Union is composed of special cases. It is also a special case in itself, as, according to the International Monetary Fund, recession-hit Europe is posing a threat to the global economy.
The Germans are putting forward a moral explanation for our structural problems, imposing on the leaders of Greece and the other recession-hit countries — which are portrayed as isolated cases — a single rationale. The leaders of the debt-wracked countries, in turn, accept that theirs are special cases and as such deserve to suffer until they fall in line. Italy is the only country that is demanding that it be treated differently.
The German-inspired policy, moreover, is imposed in spite of the people, who are the ones to bear the brunt of the austerity program and who will suffer its long-term repercussions. The program is being imposed without question, without an honest assessment of the true problems, without an understanding of the historical magnitude of the crisis, and on the basis of secret agendas and false admissions. Nowhere do we see the intellectual leap that is required by the circumstances.
In the meantime, the crisis continues to gain momentum, to spin out of control and to threaten the European economy with a crash, as the people of the ?special?countries, the ?unique? cases, spill out into the streets in desperation.
History itself has left Schaeuble?s reasoning in the dust.