From the March 2009 Idaho Observer:
Torches and Tinder: World on Fire By Hari Heath
Torches and Tinder: World on Fire
By Hari Heath
Around the world it’s beginning to happen: Protests targeting offending government or financial institutions are delivering the message that enough is enough. Other protests, more general in scope, are sometimes turning into riots. Blockades, random acts of violence against the elite and their infrastructure and just plain people in the streets foretell a future of unrest.
On both sides, there is great preparation for what is likely to come. Governments are bringing in the military to quash civilian unrest. The globalists’ police state is gearing up, not to protect us from crime, but to protect government from us. Plans to preserve continuity of government are in place to supersede what is left of civil government. Martial law is being threatened; internment camps are everywhere with more under development. A massive surveillance infrastructure is already in place.
The people are arming themselves, putting up food and digging in.
The seemingly eternal contest between liberty and oppression is reaching yet another flash point as governments and economies are facing a melt down. The looters and the looted are heading for a showdown. But who is looting who?
The world has been converted to a system of fiat economy, devoid of actual value. The various national fiat economies are well intertwined, but not yet merged. Most are in some state of crisis, as is the natural result when truly valueless "credits" are issued, en masse, on the pretense that they are somehow "money."
The creditory system of virtual wealth is reaching a climax in its life cycle. The question that will answer itself in the due course of time is whether the various national currencies on the verge of collapse are doing so because they have spun out from under the control of the economic engineers who created them, or whether this is all part of a greater, engineered plan to convert us all to "their" global currency.
Lithuania and Latvia
In Vilnius, Lithuania, last January 16, some 6,000 people gathered at the parliament building in protest. Their government’s plan to combat recession and decrease the budget deficit was to raise taxes on the working class. The event quickly turned into riots, which led police and special forces to use tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent the crowd from ruining the building and causing further damage. Riga, the capital of Latvia, faced a similar scenario two days earlier.
But why? Was it just a protest about excessive taxation? Like much of the rest of this "globalized" world, production economies have been replaced with "investor economies." The gap between the worker-producer class and the wealth-on-paper-financial-elite class has widened to a chasm.
As is the case in many places, Latvian factories were moved to east Asia, the new producer realm. But the crux of the problem was more about new "wealth," than loss of production. Like many small "satellite" nations, Latvia had become an "offshore" money-laundering center for the globalist cabal and its creditory fiat wealth. The "trickle down" from the speculative capital industry temporarily created a middle-class lifestyle for many Latvians but this prosperity ended with the economic crisis. With their former production economy exported and their new financial industry ringing as hollow as paper money, Latvians took to the streets.
Iceland is an interesting example of a nation similarly inflated as an offshore haven, then imploded as the global fiat empire revealed its true (lack of) substance.
As Michael Lewis reported in the April, 2009 online edition of Vanity Fair, "after October 6, 2008, when Iceland effectively went bust, I spoke to a man at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) who had been flown in to Reykjavík to determine if money might responsibly be lent to such a spectacularly bankrupt nation… Iceland was entirely new to his experience: a nation of extremely well-to-do (No. 1 in the United Nations’ 2008 Human Development Index), well-educated, historically rational human beings who had organized themselves to commit one of the single greatest acts of madness in financial history. ‘You have to understand,’ he told me, ‘Iceland is no longer a country. It is a hedge fund.’"
Iceland is a comparatively small fishing nation, half the size of Idaho and larger than Maine or Indiana. A nearly treeless island in the North Atlantic just south of the Artic Circle, Iceland was originally settled by a Norwegian Chieftain in 874 AD. Nordic and Celtic peoples made their living from the land and the sea since then and primarily constitute Iceland’s modern-day population of just over 300,000. Icelanders began to re-invent themselves as a global financial power only very recently.
Lewis continues, "In 2003, Iceland’s three biggest banks had assets of only a few billion dollars, about 100 percent of its gross domestic product. Over the next three and a half years they grew to over $140 billion and were so much greater than Iceland’s GDP that it made no sense to calculate the percentage of it they accounted for. It was, as one economist put it to me, ‘the most rapid expansion of a banking system in the history of mankind.’
"From 2003 to 2007, while the U.S. stock market was doubling, the Icelandic stock market multiplied by nine times. Reykjavík real-estate prices tripled. By 2006 the average Icelandic family was three times as wealthy as it had been in 2003 and virtually all of this new wealth was one way or another tied to the new investment-banking industry…
"Global financial ambition turned out to have a downside. When their three brand-new global-size banks collapsed last October, Iceland’s 300,000 citizens found that they bore some kind of responsibility for $100 billion of banking losses—which works out to roughly $330,000 for every Icelandic man, woman, and child. On top of that they had tens of billions of dollars in personal losses from their own bizarre private foreign-currency speculations and even more from the 85 percent collapse in the Icelandic stock market. The exact dollar amount of Iceland’s financial hole was essentially unknowable as it depended on the value of the generally stable Icelandic krona, which had also crashed and was removed from the market by the Icelandic government…
"In just three or four years an entirely new way of economic life had been grafted onto the side of this stable, collectivist society, and the graft had overwhelmed the host. ‘It was just a group of young kids,’ said the man from the IMF. ‘In this egalitarian society, they came in, dressed in black, and started doing business’ …
"In retrospect, there are some obvious questions an Icelander living through the past five years might have asked himself. For example: ‘Why should Iceland suddenly be so seemingly essential to global finance?’ Or: ‘Why do giant countries that invented modern banking suddenly need Icelandic banks to stand between their depositors and their borrowers—to decide who gets capital and who does not?’ And: ‘If Icelanders have this incredible natural gift for finance, how did they keep it so well hidden for 1,100 years?’"
The Icelandic government collapsed along with its economy, but it wasn’t merely a collapse. Citizen protest progressed from writing articles and making speeches to demonstrations, bonfires, civil disobedience, noise bombardment of government and financial institutions and sabotage. Icelanders stopped formal parliament meetings, attacked the police station and disrupted work in the banks and the Financial Supervisory Authority.
On the day that Americans inaugurated a new "president," thousands of Icelanders gathered to disrupt and stop the first parliamentary session of the New Year. During the next seven days, bonfires, industrial samba-bands and noise demonstrations became daily events.
Earlier, on New Years Eve, protesters terminated a live broadcast of an annual party political TV show at the Hotel Borg, where the heads of the political parties discuss the recent political year over champagne and spicy herring. The original plan was a noise and torches protest, but soon people climbed over the gates to enter the hotel and engaged in scuffles with cops, who sprayed them with pepper spray. The people managed to pull apart and burn the transmission cables and cut off the broadcast.
The corruption of Iceland is a complex and unfolding picture. Sjálfstæðisflokkurin (Iceland’s leading political party before the collapse) refused to fire Davíð Oddsson from the board of the Central Bank because of his fearsome hold on society and individuals in the party. He is widely believed to wield a "Black book" with records of the corruption of a huge number of people. Even though he is hidden in the Central Bank, he still sits on the top—or at least sat there before the collapse—of the Icelandic power base. Will a new government dare to fire Oddsson, since it is clear Oddsson has a serious capacity of blackmailing sizable segments of Icelandic society?
Additionally, around the time of the collapse, several bank officials made loans to themselves totaling hundreds of millions of dollars to export some of Iceland’s new-found wealth to the Cayman Islands and other offshore havens.
Today, regular protests have become almost a sporting event. A coalition government between the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement was formed, but has now failed. Elections are scheduled for May. The IMF is meddling and may have been behind the build up/collapse of the Icelandic economy in the first place.
What is all their protesting really about? Can Icelanders see the big picture? Money from nothing left them with nothing. Could they develop and return to a substance-based economy or is all the protesting about getting back to a fiat empire of fictional wealth and gimme-gimme socialism? Iceland was building an environmentally responsible "green" society with many technical innovations. Can they continue, as a producer of products for a future, greener world?
Visit Aftaka.org for updates on the Icelandic revolution.
Michael T. Klare reports in his article "A planet at the brink" (globalresearch.ca) about Greek citizen reaction to an overzealous police state:
"One of the earliest of this new wave of upheavals occurred in Athens, Greece, on December 6, 2008, after police shot and killed a 15-year-old schoolboy during an altercation in a crowded downtown neighborhood. As news of the killing spread throughout the city, hundreds of students and young people surged into the city center and engaged in pitched battles with riot police, throwing stones and firebombs.
Although government officials later apologized for the killing and charged the police officer involved with manslaughter, riots broke out repeatedly in the following days in Athens and other Greek cities. Angry youths attacked the police—widely viewed as agents of the establishment—as well as luxury shops and hotels, some of which were set on fire. By one estimate, the six days of riots caused $1.3 billion in damage to businesses at the height of the Christmas shopping season."
At the end of January thousands of Greek farmers demanding compensation for low commodity prices began a protest that has paralyzed the country, closing roads and leaving fruit and meat rotting in trucks. With tractors and trailers, the farmers blockaded approximately 70 main roads, cutting Athens off from the city of Thessaloniki in the north and closing border crossings with Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey.
"Tractors are our weapon and we are determined to use them until our demands are met," said Christos Sideropoulos, a farmer and one of the leaders of the protests. "Let them say what they like. We are not going to give in."
Two months after the earlier riots in Greece, these latest protests come from Greece’s agriculture regions. But what are these protests about? EU subsidies have replaced traditional farming and these farmers are demanding more state handouts. Dimitris Keridis, a political scientist said, "It’s an industry that [now] depends on government handouts and is incompatible with the demands of modern society. They produce produce that nobody buys."
Industry, business, manufacturing and tourism sectors have been affected by the blockades. Tourists have been stranded. Hospitals and pharmacists have run short of medicine. Imports and exports have been stopped at frontier crossings. After cutting the country in half, the farmers blocked central Greece’s link with the southern Peloponnese region barricading the Corinth Canal with black-flagged tractors and refusing passage to travelers, including sick and elderly people.
In northern Greece, near the border with Bulgaria, vehicles reportedly stretched for more than 12 miles. Truck drivers have confronted farmers, in some cases trying to disperse the protesters by driving into the barricades.
The farmers’ leaders rejected a subsidy package offered by the conservative government, demanding tax rebates and interest free loans. The prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, appealed to the farmers to remove the roadblocks, saying, "There is an urgent need to free up the roads. A whole society cannot be held hostage."
There was little indication that the protesters would back down. "If need be we will stay here until Easter. If need be, our tractors will grow roots," said one farmer. "We are bankrupt. We’ve got nothing to lose."
Is this a protest of genuine substance, or a mob action demanding more gimme-gimme socialism? Free markets are based on voluntary commerce, not subsidies, hand-outs and barricades. (compiled from globalresearch.ca)
Never known for its humanitarian concerns, even for its own people, China has had its share of unrest. As the new economic center of the "developing" world, China boomed when we all did, but now those many "Made In China" products have lost much of their market with the fiat empire meltdown.
Chinese authorities use the label "mass incidents" for their workers’ protests over lost pay, plant closings and illegal land seizures. Reports from China are highly suppressed, but club-wielding Chinese police have been kept busy with "mass incidents," in the wake of a severe economic downturn in this major manufacturing country.
Twenty-million migrant workers have lost their factory jobs in the last few months. Most left rural areas for the country’s booming cities and manufacturing opportunities in recent years. If these workers return to the countryside, they may find nothing there either, not even land to work. The prospect of mass unrest is high.
The government announced a $585 billion stimulus plan to generate rural employment. As exports continue to dry up, rising unemployment could lead to further strikes and protests. That might overwhelm ordinary police and require full-scale intervention by the military.
Bolivia is but one example of an energy producing nation, poised at the brink of economic violence. A comparatively poor nation, it has substantial oil and natural gas reserves in its eastern, lowland regions. A majority of the population, many of native descent, support President Evo Morales’ plan to exercise strong state control over the reserves and use the proceeds for the nation’s poor. But in the eastern part of the country, where the reserves are, a mostly European-descended elite is resisting the central government and wants control of the reserves. The efforts of these people to achieve greater autonomy have led to repeated clashes with government troops and, in deteriorating times, could set the stage for a full-scale civil war.
Tens of thousands of people marched in Dublin last December to protest against government spending cuts and tax increases. More marches are expected in the future. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions described the march as the "first step in a rolling campaign of action." Union leaders estimated the number of protesters at 100,000 and said lower-paid workers are taking the brunt of the cutbacks.
"The government recognizes that the measures which it is taking are difficult and, in some cases, painful," the office of Prime Minister Brian Cowen said recently. "It is also convinced, however, that they are both necessary and fair."
Protesters clashed with police in London in January over Israel’s action in Gaza. Such scenes could become more common as Middle-class anger at the economic crisis could erupt into violence on streets. Police are preparing for a "summer of rage" as victims of the economic downturn take to the streets to demonstrate against financial institutions.
Superintendent David Hartshorn, the head of the Metropolitan police’s public order branch, said that banks, particularly those that still pay large bonuses despite receiving billions in taxpayer money, had become "viable targets," along with multinational companies and other financial institutions, which are being blamed for the financial crisis.
Hartshorn said the mood at some demonstrations had changed recently, with activists increasingly "intent on coming on to the streets to create public disorder."
Hartshorn was concerned that this April’s G20 meeting of developing nations in London could become an event that may kick-start a challenging summer. "We’ve got G20 coming and I think that is being advertised on some of the sites as the highlight of what they see as a ‘summer of rage,’" he said.
Protest groups have complained that police are adopting a more confrontational approach at demonstrations. Officers have been accused of exaggerating the threat posed by activists to justify the use of resources spent on them.
Financial workers from London’s High Street banks demonstrated in front of parliament over their job losses while banking executives reaped massive bonuses in recent years.
British-based banks have announced some 14,000 job cuts since the global financial crisis ramped up last August.
British oil refinery workers mounted wildcat strikes last January over the use of foreign workers.
In France, hundreds of thousands of workers protested, demanding that President Nicolas Sarkozy do more to protect their jobs and wages. Labor leaders accused the government of rescuing banks at the expense of ordinary workers.
French activists recently formed the "New Anti-Zionist Party to confront the infuence of Zionism in French government.
German protesters have taken an unusual approach to letting their feelings be known: They burn luxury cars. At least 29 vehicles were destroyed in arson attacks this year, according to police. A group calling itself BMW—the initials stand for Movement for Militant Resistance in German—has claimed responsibility for several attacks in left-wing magazines and websites, said police spokesman Bernhard Schodrowski who attributes the arson to "a protest against the world economy and rising rents."
A website, "Burning Cars (www.brennende-autos.de)," was set up to track the incidents in May, 2007. The site records 290 attacks on cars since then, among them 55 Mercedes and 29 BMWs damaged or destroyed by fire.
The Berlin car burnings have been concentrated in up-and-coming neighborhoods, where newer up-scale housing developments are pushing out the squatter scene that flourished after East and West Berlin were reunited in 1990. Rents have more than doubled, forcing former residents out of their homes to make way for the wealthier class. The car attacks are perceived as an attempt to drive wealthy newcomers away.
Rare anti-government protests have been seen in Russia as a result of Russia’s economic troubles, brought on by a steep drop in oil prices and the worldwide financial downturn. Russia, like the U.S., has doled out billions to bail out troubled banks and companies but has yet to provide a plan for dealing with mounting unemployment and a rapidly devaluing ruble.
The demonstrations in Russia were both against the government and in support. About 1,000 people attended a rally organized by the Russian Communist Party in Moscow calling for a return of the centralized economic policies of the Soviet Union. The authorities approved the rally and cordons of riot police officers watched over the march without interfering.
About 200 protesters in Moscow from opposition groups marched down several city blocks after eluding the police in the subway system. The authorities had vowed to prevent the march when organizers announced it last week. The group waved flags and shouted, "Down with the police state!" and, "Russia without Putin."
In another protest, 41 people were detained in small, unsanctioned protests throughout Moscow. That group included Eduard Limonov, a writer and a leader of the banned National Bolshevik Party.
Several thousand people gathered in central Moscow for a demonstration organized by the pro-Kremlin party, United Russia, in support of the government’s policies.
Last December, protests in Vladivostok became violent over the government’s raising of tariffs on the import of foreign vehicles. Used Japanese vehicles are popular in Vladivostok, and many people make their living importing them. The tariffs have hurt the business. The federal authorities flew in riot police officers from Moscow and the officers’ aggressive tactics were widely criticized.
Joseph Stiglitz, the winner of a Nobel Prize in economics said, "What gets people clapping in this audience, are complaints about the lack of accountability and calls for punishment of the people responsible [for the financial crisis]. People see a set of gross inequities. The banks that are getting all this money are the guys that caused the problems. Meanwhile, people hear their leaders talking about cuts in teacher salaries and social programs."
The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) has been attacking predatory lending since it was established in 1988. They have had many victories against some of the country’s largest and most powerful financial institutions. NACA’s aggressive confrontation advocacy has yielded remarkable successes.
NACA began a new form of protest at the homes of Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Greenwich Financial Services Manager William Frey. NACA protesters chanted slogans and placed furniture on the lawn to symbolize the dislocation felt by people who have been evicted by foreclosures with their belongings tossed outside.
"We did it to make them feel what it must be like for someone to have their home foreclosed upon," said NACA mortgage counselor Carmen Orta.
Bruce Marks, chief executive officer of the Boston-based group, said the organization is setting up a "financial predators registry" of "uncooperative executives." Marks said, "No one has ever gone in such huge numbers to these guys’ homes. If they don’t do the right thing, we’ll be back. We are the junkyard dogs."
As reported by CNN, one of the officers on the scene stopping traffic for the protest told the man in charge of the protest, "I think what you’re doing is great, my sister lost her home over the winter and if you’re coming back, just let the department know and we’ll make sure everything is safe and secure."
Revolution round up
Since the spring of 2008, riots in response to rising food prices have occurred in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast and Senegal. Pakistan, Thailand and other countries have deterred rioting by deploying troops.
Violent outbreaks have already occurred in Athens, Greece; Longnan, China; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Riga, Latvia; Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Sofia, Bulgaria; Vilnius, Lithuania and; Vladivostok, Russia. Many other protests in Reykjavik, Paris, Rome, Zaragoza, Moscow and Dublin have risen over economic calamities. This is only the beginning.
Does the mainstream American media cover the protests and riots around the world? Are we to be kept comfortably numb, in vacuous silence, as the rest of the world burns?
Our "protectors" are concerned
Last December, an Army War College report suggested the possibility of Pentagon resources and troops being used to quell protests against businesses and government or runs on beleaguered banks. "Widespread civil violence inside the states would force the defense establishment to reorient United States priorities … to defend basic domestic order and human security," said the War College report.
The study says economic collapse, terrorism and loss of legal order are among possible domestic shocks that might require military action within the U.S.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned of "economy-related riots and unrest in various global markets if the financial crisis is not addressed and lower-income households are hurt by credit constraints and rising unemployment....government efforts to tackle the economic downturn so far have been uncertain and largely insufficient, which could lead to severe consequences."
Office of National Intelligence Director Admiral Dennis C. Blair testified before Congress last month that one of the greatest threats the nation is facing is fallout from the economic crisis around the globe, which could cause long-term harm to America’s reputation, with "increased questioning of U.S. stewardship of the global economy."
Blair’s comments were part of a hearing that normally provides a threat assessment to Congress, focused on issues like terrorism and nuclear proliferation. Blair suggested the economic downturn was "the primary near-term security concern" for the country. He warned that if it continued to spread and deepen, it would contribute to unrest and imperil some governments. "The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to U.S. strategic interests," Blair said.
The governor of the Bank of Spain warned that the world faced a "total" financial meltdown unseen since the Great Depression. "The lack of confidence is total," Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordonez said in an interview. "The inter-bank (lending) market is not functioning and this is generating vicious cycles: Consumers are not consuming, businessmen are not taking on workers, investors are not investing and the banks are not lending. There is an almost total paralysis from which no one is escaping," he said.
"There’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots!" said Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, in a recent interview with NBC.
"The global economic crisis could trigger political unrest equal to that seen during the 1930s," said Pascal Lamy, the head of the World Trade Organization. He continued, "The crisis today is spreading even faster (than the Great Depression) and affects more countries at the same time."
Tinder today; bonfires tomorrow
The flames of protest are fanning around the globe, even if they burn unnoticed by the American media. Here at home we are given an onslaught of economic prognosis, as if it were true and had something to do with real money.
In addition to the standard looting, inherent in the operation of the Federal Reserve System, the bankers now enjoy a grand looting under the TARP Act—the banker’s looting bill. Not to be left out, cities, states and other interested parties are now set to enjoy the second wave of looting—the Stimulus bill. Since these travesties have not yet resulted in armed revolution in the streets and the looters have gotten away, unscathed, more looter bills are in the offing.
We can see this as a good thing or a bad thing. Bad because the economy that we are all intertwined with is set to fail horribly and we must learn to get on without it; good because without any extra effort on our part, all the greed, systemic corruption and wickedness of the institutions so many have come to rely upon is becoming undeniably revealed. The system itself has removed all the barriers that kept it in check and operating smoothly for decades. Its self destruction is self-initiating and expanding at an exponential pace.
A pack of rabid, feral creatures who pretended to be our government and other institutions can now no longer maintain an illusory appearance as our benefactors and guides to a better tomorrow.
In part, the current crop of protests are against the systemic corruption of our times. But two other motives seem to be the main interest of the world’s protestors: One, the normal state of class warfare that erupts when the haves, have much and the have nots, have little and; two, those sorry lots of humanity whose minds have been hammer forged in one or another collectivist molds are protesting not against, but for more gimme-gimme handouts from the systems of government and finance which have already doomed them. They are the foolish children of government crying out for more candy. They care not where it comes from, nor what it causes in the end.
The protests should not be because governments and financial institutions are not giving us what we want. The protests should be about the fact that they exist at all, in their modern, perverted and usurped forms. More of a failed system will only provide more failures.
Let it burn itself down! Let us learn from our many mistakes for it has been we who have allowed this collective experiment in governance to go so far astray. And remember, "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive… it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."