The Snowden Affair and the Destruction of Effective Democracy in Europe
The Servility of the Satellites
The Snowden affair has revealed even more about Europe than about the United States.
Certainly, the facts of NSA spying are significant. But many people suspected that something of the sort was going on. The refusal of France, Italy and Portugal to allow the private aircraft of the President of Bolivia to cross their airspace on the mere suspicion that Edward Snowden might be aboard is rather more astonishing.
Together, these revelations confirm the completion of the transformation of the “Western democracies” into something else, an entity that as yet has no recognized name.
The outrage against the Bolivian President confirmed that this trans-Atlantic entity has absolutely no respect for international law, even though its leaders will make use of it when it suits them. But respect it, allow it to impede their actions in any way? Certainly not.
And this disrespect for the law is linked to a more basic institutional change: the destruction of effective democracy at the national level. This has been done by the power of money in the United States, where candidates are comparable to race horses owned by billionaires. In Europe, it has been done by the European Union, whose bureaucracy has gradually taken over the critical economic functions of independent states, leaving national governments to concoct huge controversies around private matters, such as marriage, while public policy is dictated from the EU Commission in Brussels.
But behind that Commission, and behind the US electoral game, lies the identical anonymous power that dictates its desires to this trans-Atlantic entity: financial capital.
This power is scheduled to be formally extended in the near future by the establishment of a free trade zone between the European Union and the United States. This development is the culmination of the so-called “European construction” that over several decades has transferred powers of sovereign European states to the EU, which in turn will transfer its power to trans-Atlantic institutions, all under the decisive control of “the Markets” – euphemism for financial capital.
The citizenry is informed of the latest stage of this ongoing de-democratization process only when it is well under way. The result is an ever-wider gap between “the political class”, which includes both politicians and the mass media, on one hand, and the general population on the other. The principal remaining task of the political class is to entertain the general population with the illusion that they are still living in a democracy, and that the officials they elect are acting in their interests.
When something like the grotesque incident of the Bolivian presidential plane occurs to expose the servility of the country’s officials, the mainstream media can be counted on to spin it out of sight. French television largely ignored the event – a...