New Year greetings (2013)

⇠ Back to Blog:Fabrice

Wishing you a Happy New Year doesn't seem quite the opening line, from Spain [2].

There was already little "merry" about Christmas in the peninsula, with many people surprised by the extent of the cuts, although everybody knew of them. I have witnessed many phone calls to inquire of clarifications, discussions between colleagues and heard so many assurances of a mistake having being made somewhere. As a "funny" example, and I will give only this one out of many, the "paga de navidad", that in some contracts (including mine) means an extra pay for Christmas, was removed completely, which was the part everybody knew about. The fact is, however, that when you receive this additional month, it comes less some taxes. As it turned out, the money was removed but not the taxes on it, so the month of Christmas, instead of being a fat double of the others, was as a telling tribute to the crisis, in fact less than a regular month, taxing you of non-existent money. Thankfully, we can now rejoice in the face of irony that Christmas, now a month of further sufferings, is gone! Sadly, it will come again next year. "If only we could abolish Christmas...", that's the sort of evil tricks the money con artists can play on you.

Note that I am not complaining for myself. I regard us all scientists as still relatively untouched by the financial crisis, but I remain, after all, the particular case that I know the best and I can testify that at my privileged level, beside, that of a foreigner, the Spanish situation is a vantage point on a precipice. The good Spanish people, those for whom Orwell was feeling "a species of nobility that do not really belong to the twentieth century", are those for whom our sympathy—I am speaking here as a European—should lie, and like in the time of the Spanish civil war, I feel a certain dose of honor and privilege in being a foreigner who stand on the theater of a tragedy of historical proportion that will set again fire to Europe from its Iberian tip.

I learned to grow very fond of the Spanish people. They have indeed something that sets them apart, and I've known intimately the French, the British and the German people and countless others although with less intimacy. After a four years break, I once again share my streets with the Spaniards, my trains from home to work with them, my few minutes in line or over the counter to buy the bread with them and tomorrow, possibly, will be lucky enough, if also courageous enough, to follow them as they open the line, along with the Greeks, but with more weight, of the march towards the great chaos, when the financial system will collapse. Being part of the cuts to bail out the bankers, I indeed already feel a bit like holding their hands as millions are sent like cattle to their terrible fate. I am not in the front but at least am in line. It is not without pride that a little Frenchman sides in this humble way with the Spanish people, especially since in the band of those betraying them—politicians, bankers, financial analysts or computer frauds and fraudsters of all sorts—are also other Spaniards. Politicians remained local even though their power fled away. Many of the... let's call them banksters for short, many of these, on the other hands, operate from abroad. How little of a Spaniard to stab one's country in the back from London or New York, when born from this country that christened whoever leaves the land to discover in its name and conquer for its glory? The practice later turned out to be vile and the name is now an infamy... but it has known its centuries of splendor and boasting. The other practice, however, is miserable and shameful from the start, a total dishonor not in the face of the generations to come but in one's one face in the mirror of an overpriced flat in the city. Now we'll need another Spanish name for whoever crosses the sea to sell cheaply one's country and one's people away. Even Judas committed suicide and did so on the land of his betrayal and is thus not up to the misdeed.

The only difference of importance I see with the Spanish civil war in the struggle to come that will oppose part of the Spanish people supported by activists from the rest of the word against powerful Spanish people supported by monetary doctrines and ideology also part from the rest of the word, is that the sides are clearly marked in a Manichean way: the good and innocent people on one side—those naive enough to have trusted their elites—and the lying, corrupt said elites who betrayed them on the other side. I can understand a Spanish villager, a peasant who feared the unknown of the Soviets and who sided with the familiar Catholic church and took a grip in the national identity, siding in this way with fascism. I cannot excuse the today speculators who condemn for gain the children and the sicks, who impoverish the elders and the weaks, mocking them with further open market rhetoric. These look like times of biblical prophecies, where all that is bad, all that is wrong, all that is putrefied to the root is on the one same side.

At this point I should note that such abuses are not new, they have devastated continents, the whole of Africa and most of South America, and still do, and there is no less excuse for the oppression of these populations than for the European ones. For our still unnamed Spanish villain, however, the white colonialists murdered the black natives, and it still does not pop to my mind who in history sold away his own people, his own mother, his own brothers and children, his culture, his history, for blood money from the comfort of a geographical distance.

As for me and the third world, although I've read Galeano, Sédar Senghor and Aimé Césaire... Somehow, one feels more concerned with something that one can see with one's own eyes. This is the share of guilt that I feel and that I concede. I had not realized, I had not comprehended the magnitude of the abuse the monetary system had caused, has caused and is causing in the word, everywhere, and since a long time ago... I would say at least since the Napoleonic era.

At the same time, the effort needed is not small. Most European people shielded from what's happening in Greece or Spain do not realize it either. Yet.

But such a realization will eventually strike everybody, as nothing less than the European civilization is at stake, and although this will start by the south, others will obviously follow: French, German, Brits and all the company. It is not clear that the Swiss will make it out this time. This European civilization, that stumbled often and collapsed a few times, might indeed just get its fatal blow on the next one. If this sounds exaggerated, did you forget or are you just ignorant of Paul Valery?

"Nous autres, civilizations, nous savons maintenant que nous sommes mortelles."

If you don't have the arrogance to doubt this, and if you thus agree and understand that a non-reversible decline of all that was built and imagined and created by the Galileos, the Leonardos, the Mozarts and the Einsteins is almost unavoidable, even if we would be careful to protect it, imagine how good are the odds when we leave such a responsibility in the criminal hands of incompetent economists and rotten politicians (distribute the adjectives as you wish).

I speak of European civilization but I might as well extend it to the occidental civilization at large, given that the Americans seem to be in pretty much the same shape, if not worst. If this civilization collapses, which one will replace it? It is not a transfer like in an Olympic race. It may take time and instead of simply putting forth the Chinese, the Muslims, South America or Russia, it possibly will see something not yet emerged carry on with the humankind adventure. Maybe such a collapse is needed to turn to a Ressource Based Economy, a topic of great excitement for Elena and myself at the moment, particularly Elena who took an active involvement into spreading the broad idea. It might even be interesting to witness the death of a civilization in such modern times where everything goes so fast and is under continuous scrutiny and record. For the first time, we may even witness a strange occurrence of individuals surviving their civilizations, rather than before, dynasties or religions.

But as I share with you my New Year greetings, you see me diverting fast into other topics that would require more careful discussions. As a matter of fact, I have heard many telling me that all is not so clear cut, that one needs the banking system, that more free-market is called for, that nothing will go so terribly wrong, and to top it off, I have even heard from various interlocutors that while banksters and politicians are not responsible, scientists are bad people too (sic). I even heard that once from a scientist himself (not speaking in his name but relaying his perception of what he thinks people think of scientists. After all, many banksters were, or paused as, scientists at some point, so there are some grounds in this misconception). If you are dubious, I am aware I haven't convinced you a bit of anything with the above. But I will come back to all this; not because I want—after all I would be happy like everybody else to let people do their dirty business on their side and carry on with my life on my side—but because we will all have to focus on this "problem", as this obsession for money degenerated into an addiction with no limit that will not stop until it collapses by itself or is brought to an end by a revolution. This is why, by the way, I still think that most of the so-called elites are eventually more stupid than corrupt, are more parasitic than evil: they exhaust so much the system on which they greedily feed themselves, that they call for their own downfall in the process.

And as I'm trying to come back to the arduous task of presenting you with my New Year greetings, I feel the taste of incongruity even more pronounced with the Spanish form: Próspero Año Nuevo, "a prosperous New Year"... It is like having to wish good health to someone with a terminal cancer. I can't.

There will be a bit more of prosperity in Spain, but only for the politicians and the banksters, who still prosper indeed on their blood money and the sufferings of the little people. But even this may be short. It is not altogether obvious that this traditional wish will not taste bitter for them either, as the despised people, the oppressed people, the enslaved people will start to smack back. Stories of molested bankers and assaulted politicians will soon run in parallel to those of expelled families and suicides. Oh right, the police state will grow stronger to defend the powerful ones in the face of the growing unrest of the streets, but everything has a snapping point, and times may not be so far away when a crowd will lynch its first head-of-something, be it, head of the local council, head of the local bank or head of the local investment branch, extracted from the upper circles like the police picks out a random element in a demonstration. Of course this will be hideous. It was hideous enough for Gaddafi in the desert... without the prior warnings for the masses, I mean, without the propaganda and the laughter from Hillary Clinton and the brainwashing from our heads of states lauding butchery as a victory of democracy, imagine the impact this will have on those not yet in the torment to see the same bloodbath in the Plaza mayor on a man in a suit. More likely, however, is that the first casualties will be from demonstrators or from the police put in front.

So I'm still there, well over 11000 characters away from my first attempt and still not finding how to phrase an hopeful and cheerful message without looking sarcastic.

I'll just write it in Urdu, that's the only way I don't feel even remotely like one of those we see on TV or in the newspapers telling us everything is fine or will be in the face of all the compelling evidence to the contrary (and I speak as an hopeless optimist):

!نیا سَال مبارک