Guest Post: Europe In the Grip of Anti-Austerity Protests

Tyler Durden's picture

Via Pater Tenebrarum of Acting Man blog,

Strikes and Demonstrations Across the Periphery

As if we needed more proof that the course implemented by the eurocracy becomes increasingly untenable politically, millions decided to strike in several European countries this week. The demonstrations have, as they are wont to do these days, turned violent in a number places. The protests were most intense in Spain, where unemployment is at over 25% and desperation over the collapse of the bubble economy is growing by the day. 

The 'Big Picture' has brought a number of photographs of the worst clashes between protesters and police.

Der Spiegel writes:

"Millions of Europeans joined together in general strikes and demonstrations on Wednesday to protest the strict austerity measures undertaken by their countries. In Portugal and Spain, hard hit by the debt crisis, locals conducted a 24-hour general strike that largely paralyzed public infrastructure, suspending train service and grounding hundreds of flights, in addition to shutting down factories.


Most of the protests remained peaceful, but in Madrid there were some violent clashes between demonstrators and police. Officers at Cibeles Square in the city center fired rubber bullets and used batons against protesters, reporting 34 injuries and the arrest of more than 70 protesters.


Officials warned the situation could escalate further on Wednesday night, with major protests planned for Madrid and Barcelona. A similar demonstration had also been planned for Portugal's capital city, Lisbon.


The day of strikes had been called by organized labor across Europe as part of a "European Day of Action and Solidarity," and similar events were staged in Italy, Greece, Belgium, Austria and France. The protesters believe that the austerity measures being taken in those countries to combat the debt crisis are worsening the recession. "We're on strike to stop these suicidal policies," said Candido Mendez, the head of Spain's UGT union, the country's second-biggest labor federation."

(emphasis added)

This is what happens when after decades of socialism, the money to pay for the freebies finally runs out. To be sure, this is a bit too simplistic. We are inclined to sympathize with the demonstrators for the following reason:  instead of liquidating unsound credit and letting a few over-extended banks and their bondholders bite the dust, the eurocrats have decided to spread the joys of bankruptcy around and let their populations pay the bill. In most cases the poorest members of society have been hit the hardest.

Most of the people thronging the streets don't fully understand what has happened. They don't realize that the deadly combination of a cradle-to-grave welfare state with a centrally planned fractionally reserved banking system has produced a terminal boom and that there is simply no painless way out of the situation anymore. There never was. An enormous amount of wealth has been squandered and consumed during the boom.

There is no salvation in abandoning the euro and trying to inflate and spend oneself out of the hole that has been dug either: that would only invite an even greater economic catastrophe. However, Europe's political and monetary elites continue to misdiagnose the problem, in many cases refuse to level with their populations and are too halfhearted in implementing reform. 

What the protesters don't seem to get: the status quo ante cannot be recreated by decree. There is no magic wand for anyone to wave. The protesters have every right to be enraged, but they are raging against something that cannot be changed at the flick of a switch – the wealth is gone.  If governments were to start on a renewed deficit spending spree, they would merely invite a greater crisis, very likely without delay. Even more government cannot be the solution for a problem that too much government has created.

Radical pro free market economic reform is called for, but this is apparently neither recognized, nor does anyone have the guts to implement it. And so the European Chinese water torture version of 'austerity', which includes only a shrinking private sector, but not a shrinking government, continues without offering any light at the end of the tunnel to the people living in the periphery.


Demonstrators and police battling in Madrid.

(Photo via: The Web, unknown source)


Maybe it is time to rename the Molotov cocktail. Throwing petrol bombs at the police has become a specialty of protesters in Greece.

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slaughterer's picture

Time to protest austerity you peasants.  

redpill's picture

Looks like the EU forgot to come up with a "safe word" before they started their session with Mistress Merkel.

Freegolder's picture

Sorry protesters, no free money in the EZ, suck it up, you will have to innovate and work hard for a change.

Or move to the UK/US where QE-freebies still please the masses.

john39's picture

take away the crushing government beauracracies that favor big corporations and destroy small business and things could start turning around.  Of course, central banks and fractional reserve lending must go as well.

Stackers's picture

Just wait till they're junking Oakland Boilermakers in Cali.

economics9698's picture

Stupid brainwashed fucks.  

Michaelwiseguy's picture

They're not protesting austerity. That's just the Zionist cabal story headline.

They're really protesting "Perpetual Government Debt Enslavement" and getting nothing for their tax dollars.

They're protesting because their governments are not repudiating the bankster debt, which will let the people get on more comfortably with their lives.

Strider52's picture

Maybe it is time to rename the Molotov cocktail. Throwing petrol bombs at the police has become a specialty of protesters in Greece.

How about Grecian Formula? Gets rid of the grey, and every other color...

Ghordius's picture

I presume it was a hint about the ancient " Greek Fire" used to sink ships. Stickier, burns even under water.

First time a near balanced article on the situation, nevertheless continental steet protest behaviour seem still to fascinate and flabbergast UK/US commentators.

Rubber bullets and 70 arrests at Cybeles Square seem a lot, but they are usually not "news", here, they weren't in better times.

Just as a reminder: in Rome, a decade ago millions protested against two new laws.

All this is nothing compared to the seventies. Protesters and police are still wearing kid's gloves and trying hard not to cause any serious damage.

collon88's picture

Thank you John39 for getting to the heart of the matter.  There is a magic wand.  It's called issuing debt free money, spent into existence, not loaned into existence so a few can reap where they have not sown.  Compound enslaving.      

John Wilmot's picture

Uh, ever hear of inflation?

Tinky's picture

Excellent! (You're obviously whip smart.)

Ginsengbull's picture

Maybe not, if Mistress Merkel is wearing ear plugs, because she doesn't like to hear the screams of agony, and pleasure.

takeaction's picture

I love posting these ZH article links on my Facebook page.  (2500 friends for business) and nobody comments.  But if somebody posts a picture of last nights dinner, a drunken night out, or a kitten.....comments forever.  It is fun.  Once in awhile these articles will attract a "Never happen here" or "Your just a fear monger".  So fun.  Thanks ZH for giving me the info to torture the sheep.

takeaction's picture

Thank you sir...Posting now.  Every time I post these you can see a few of the "Friends" vanish.  Awesome.

Jonas Parker's picture

If you're unemployed and don't go to work, are you still considered to be "on strike"?

CPL's picture

I understand the term now is called NEET.


Not in Employment, Education or Training.

TeamDepends's picture

Have you seen The Walking Dead?  It's this incredible new reality show....

Zap Powerz's picture

We live in a nation full of zombies.  You know how to kill a zombie right?  Take away its EBT card.  Simple as that.  You see, these arent the typical zombies that feed on brains.  These zombies have absolutely NO INTEREST in brains.  Just freebies.

debtor of last resort's picture

Try this one: garage sale Silver eagle $ 435,00

John Wilmot's picture

I think you might have overpaid a tad.

Half_A_Billion_Hollow_Points's picture

+10000 comment of the year.


LOLOLOL same here!  



mayavision2012's picture

And this leaked van Rompuy doc has just sent the UK/Nigel Farage ballistic - rightfully so -

A leaked document from European Council President Hermann van Rompuy has revealed plans afoot in Brussels to strip the UK taxpayer of £800 million a year over a period of seven years, in total £5.6 billion pounds extra, on top of the £53 million a day we are already paying.

Nigel Farage MEP, the UKIP leader said: "They just don't stop. The failures of the EU are so serious and so costly that is just doesn't matter to them. No matter how often they are told that they are getting no more money from hard-pressed British taxpayers they come back with yet another way to pick it from our pockets.

"Yet again it falls upon the head of the Prime Minister to tell this shadowy, unelected Eurocrat just where to get off. It just will not wash with the British public. It is becoming clearer and clearer that
it is not just people in this country that want to see us part ways with the European Union, but by making a series of impossible unreasonable demands the Eurocracy no longer cares what we think.

"Mr Cameron might want us to stay in the EU at all costs as he keeps reminding us. Ed Miliband might demand that we remain shackled to its terminal remains, and Nick Clegg might still have euro-delusions, but at this rate even they will have to accept that our membership of the European Union, and its constant, groundhog day demands for extra British money must end. Enough is enough, we must have that referendum, and we must have it soon.

"They are calling this latest demand Herman's 'negotiating box'. He better not expect it to be gift wrapped."

Timmay's picture

Seems the world is fraying at the ends very quickly now....

knukles's picture





    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
                     -Yeats, The Second Coming

Sorry, but fraying is passe...
There is no center left to hold...

No center...

As in the Null Set

buzzsaw99's picture

you can bet that zh will side with the money maggots every time. viva la revolucion.

Likstane's picture

ZH siding with the money maggots?  You must be exceptionally perceptive or I must be an idiot; maybe a little of both.

Freegolder's picture

ZH was pimping GBI this week, just check out their senior guys.

Plus, ZH criticizes austerity, then QE, it wants it both ways.

Are you a ZHeeple?

Likstane's picture

I'm just a gold hoarding retard with a disdain for regular news.  It doesn't seem obvious to me that ZH necessarily supports or renounces anything; maybe that's why I like it so much. 

MillionDollarBogus_'s picture


Just your basic troll who won't go away...

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

"ZH criticizes austerity, then QE"

Because neither will work.  Because the reality is bankruptcy.  

Zap Powerz's picture

I suggest you pay better attention if that is your conclusion.

calgal's picture

im a zheeple

your a zheeple

he's a zheeple

she's a zheeple

wouldn't you like to be a zheeple too!

love it!

debtor of last resort's picture

Zh promotes austerity. For bankers. You don't get it do you?

John Wilmot's picture

QE: printing money

Austerity: slightly reducing the rate of increase of spending while jacking up taxes and printing more money

...dunno, I see nothing contradictory in opposing both.

CPL's picture

Translation:  I am overleveraged and lack the imagination to make money in no way other than waiting for money to come to my door.  Someday Ed McManon will show up and my life will be fixed.



fuu's picture

Which ones are the maggots? The ones eating out of the dumpsters or the ones in three piece suits?

Jonas Parker's picture

The ones in 3-piece suits are "maggots", the others are "muppets".

PositiveFeedback's picture

Quite on the contrary, like people point out below: ZH criticizes both QE as well as austerity. They continually point out that the only way out is big-time monetary reform and the end of central planning by entities that are now completely in bed with powerful financial elites, and that this will never happen under the status quo because of vested interests etc.

As such ZH has been indirectly promoting your 'revolucion' all along. They just do not openly admit it, which is good because as soon as a they would, they would draw attention to them a bit too fast. I would say ZH is playing its role quite well by pointing out the flaws in the system, and leaving it to the readers to draw the conclusions and figure out a solution themselves.

mayhem_korner's picture



I thought spending uncontrollably was the classic anti-austerity protest...

dbTX's picture

Spain dosen't have printing presses ?

tickhound's picture

It was surrendered to Germany without a shot being fired during the Great Unification.

kito's picture

settle down...stop being so emotionally involved....its all part of dalios "beautiful deleveraging"....totally big deal..........a little social unrest....a little austerity....a little printing......stay aloof............prepare for the next bull a winner!!!!!!

kito's picture

.................please remember that 'sarc' addendums are now prohibited on zh...............

WhiteNight123129's picture

LOL comments are not. You are Spot on, spot on.... Best case scenario is major debasement of currencies and plunging standard of living. That is the best case scenario, the beautiful deleveraging is ugly, the other two are just unpalatable, but agreed that does not make the other alternative beautiful. I guess Dalio is using his trackrecord to calm down the sheeple. Because if Dalio said we are fucked or Buffet said buy Gold, that would increase the chances of a crack-up boom, since a crack-up boom is a psychological phenomenon of distruss of the currency which becomes self fullfilling.

Though Dalio admitted in the cfr interview that ~if we have an air pocket we are dead~ and also admitted that ~if people buy inflation assets we have a problem~.




John Wilmot's picture

if people buy inflation assets we have a problem

Emperor Nudius: "Everything's fine, it's fine, as long as people don't respond to our policies in accordance with their rational self-interest, and in the way people have always responded to such policies in the past...everything's fine."

slaughterer's picture

Merkel has been austeritizing the Krauts for years now.  From the VAT hike to the slow-down in public servant pay hikes, Merkel is one tough mistress.  And the Krauts just take it all without even a whimper.  Masochists.  

GernB's picture

Yea, it's not like it's made them the most stable economy in the region or anything.

falak pema's picture

blue angel...can u hear Mutti sing..."Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen wünscht Papageno ...