Skip to main content

Demystifying Alexander Nahum Sack and the doctrine of odious debt

Eric Tousaint’s study of the odious debt doctrine

by Eric Toussaint

Part 6 - Sack and the continuity of States’ obligations concerning debt despite a change of regime

Sack devotes a significant part of his book to the transfer of debt in the case of a change of regime, after a revolution, a coup d’Etat or a civil war. He manifests his approval of what happened in France between 1789 and the time when he was developing his doctrine. He is pleased that, despite all the regime changes, each successive government assumed responsibility for the public debt.

This is what he wrote: “Once the ancien régime had been overthrown during the French Revolution of 1789, the new government did not renege on the former financial obligations of the State. A decree dated 17 June 1789, the day that the Third Estate transformed the Estates-General into a National Assembly or Parliament, placed “the State’s creditors under the protection of the honour and loyalty of the French nation”; in its session of 13 July 1789, the Constituent Assembly formulated its point of view regarding the State debt as follows: “This Assembly, acting for the nation, declares that (…) the public debt having been placed under the protection of French honour and loyalty, and the nation not declining to pay the interest owed, no power has the right to pronounce the infamous word, bankruptcy, no power has the right to break the public faith in any possible form or denomination.

The Constitution of 3-4 September 1791 (Title V, Art. 2) contains the following article: “Under no pretext may the funds necessary for the payment of the national debt and the civil list be refused or suspended”.

The Constitution of 24 June 1793, Art. 122 “is guarantor to all Frenchmen of … the public debt”. The financial obligations of the ancien régime were inscribed in the Grand Livre de la dette publique, (the Great Book of the Public Debt) in accordance with the decrees of 15, 16, 17, 24 August and 13 September 1793, as former contracts with creditors had to be annulled (§34). An account was opened for the nation in the Great Book (§ 1, Art. 5). There were also political considerations that were brought to bear: “Let the debt contracted by tyranny be indistinguishable from that contracted since the Revolution,” wrote Cambon in his report of 15 August 1793 on the Great Book of the Public Debt. He went on, “You will observe how the capitalist who wanted a king because the king was his debtor, and he was afraid to lose the money he was owed, will desire the Republic, who will have become his new debtor if his former debtor is not reinstated, for he will fear losing his capital should it fail.”(p. 48-49).

In France, there was no shortage of regime changes: The Monarchy fell in 1789, the First Republic ended in 1804, the First Empire in 1814, the Monarchy fell again in 1848, the Second Republic ended in 1852, the Second Empire in 1870, and so on – not to mention changes of dynasty. In 1830, the House of Orléans succeeded the Bourbons who had regained the throne in 1815. Despite this political instability and repeated eruptions of revolution, Sack claims that the rule of transference of public debt from one regime to the next never failed (p. 49-50).

Sack cites numerous examples of debt transfers which took place in spite of significant regime changes or even conquest or independence. In the 18th century, the United States of America honoured its debts towards Great Britain, even as it declared independence which had been won by warfare (p. 48). When Belgium seceded from Holland in 1830, it took on part of the debt of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands of which it had been part, and paid indemnities (p. 80 and 83-84). Most of Spain’s former colonies agreed to pay off the debts that had been incurred under Spanish rule (p. 52). In 1825, Brazil paid an indemnity to Portugal in order to obtain its independence (p. 82).

However, this continuity in the transfer of debt from one regime to the next has not been universal, far from it. Several new regimes have repudiated the debt contracted by the governments who preceded them, including Russia in 1918, Mexico, on five occasions (between 1861 and 1922) and Costa Rica (in 1919-1922). In addition, there are the three debt repudiations that took place in the United States during the 19th century, and the repudiation of the debt Spain was claiming from Cuba. These examples are highly interesting.

Source and references:


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Manufacturing uncritical thinking

by system failure
I was thinking about writing something related to a certain behavioural pattern that we often meet in the mainstream media journalist army. I was inspired by the impressively loud example of The New York Times' Bari Weiss, and how it was presented by Jimmy Dore in his show.


During this particular discussion with Joe Rogan, Weiss rushed to paint US presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, as an "Assad toady", without even knowing what the characterization means. As Dore aptly pointed out: "That's what's called a 'received opinion'. So, it's not her own opinion. She has heard other people in her neoliberal bubble say that stuff, so she just repeats it. She doesn't even know what the insult means."
Ben Norton wrote on Twitter: "Neocon NY Times columnist Bari Weiss smeared Tulsi Gabbard (who bravely opposed regime change and US support for Salafi-jihadist contras) as an "Assad toady," then couldn't spell/de…

Greece is about to become the blueprint for modern feudalism

globinfo freexchange
After almost ten years of an unprecedented crisis, Greece has been trapped into an ongoing, slow motion recession. The economy still struggling hard to recover, with unemployment and national debt being permanently in a red alarm mode.
As has been already pointed out, the result of the recent Greek national elections could be characterized "paradoxical" mainly for two reasons: 
First, the voters gave a clear governmental order to one of the traditional powers of the old political system, which are highly responsible for the Greek crisis that erupted in 2010. Several top names of the new government, and even New Democracy leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, have been accused of being involved in various corruption scandals, in the not so distant past.

Second, the fact that the voters elected perhaps the most fanatically neoliberal government ever. This means that Mitsotakis administration is expected to implement the brutal neoliberal policies imposed by Greece&…

How Joe Biden’s privatization plans helped doom Latin America and fuel the migration crisis

On the campaign trail, Joe Biden has boasted of his role in transforming Colombia and Central America through ambitious economic and security programs. Colombians and Hondurans tell The Grayzone about the damage his plans did to their societies.
by Max Blumenthal
Part 8 - Gutting public healthcare, driving more migration
The Alliance for Prosperity also commissioned the privatization of health services through a deceptively named program called the Social Protection Framework Law, or la Ley Marco de Protección Social.

Promoted by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández as a needed reform, the scheme was advanced through a classic shock doctrine-style episode: In 2015, close associates of Hernández siphoned some $300 million from the Honduran Institute for Social Services (IHSS) into private businesses, starving hospitals of supplies and causing several thousand excess deaths, mostly among the poor.
With the medical sector in shambles, Hondurans were then forced to seek healthcare from …

As Boris Johnson unleashes ultimate threat against Bremain capitalist faction, the British working class is suddenly in front of a unique opportunity

globinfo freexchange

In the merciless endo-capitalist war around Brexit, Boris Johnson decided to unleash the ultimate threat against Bremain capitalist faction. That is, a snap election with the 'danger' of a Labour victory under Jeremy Corbyn, which would be neoliberal capitalists' worst nightmare.
As already pointed out, despite the capitalist civil war, both major factions of the British capital remain deeply neoliberal in their ideological core. And therefore, both factions see a potential Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn, as a major threat.
Indeed, as ZeroHedgereported
As Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces the prospect of his rule being cut short, wealthy Britons have a message for Johnson's most likely successor: A 'no deal' Brexit makes no difference to them. But if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn becomes PM, they will flee in droves, taking their money with them

[...]

The chairman of one Swiss asset manager who helps wealthy Britons shield th…

Tucker Carlson accidentally promotes one of the most anti-capitalist, real-Left positions!

globinfo freexchange 
We wouldn't believe it if we wouldn't have seen it and hear it with our own eyes and ears, but the following phrase came out from Tucker Carlson's mouth:

                    Every minute you are angry about race, is a minute you are not thinking about class, which, of course, is the real divide in this country. Working class people of all colors have a lot more in common - infinitely more in common with each other, than they do with some overpaid MSNBC anchor. And if you are allowed to think about that for long enough, you might start get unauthorized ideas about economics. And that would be disruptive to a very lucrative status quo. So, they whip you into a frenzy of racial fear so that it never enters your mind. It's a diversion. Everyone hates each other, they get to keep their money.
Here's why they're pushing racial division: so you won't notice the real divide, which is economic. pic.twitter.com/ZVLvQn2u9O — Tucker Carlson (@Tuck…

Τα κρατικοδίαιτα τραπεζοπαράσιτα ετοιμάζονται για άλλο ένα μεγάλο πάρτι με κυβέρνηση Μητσοτάκη

globinfo freexchange
Οι γαλάζιοι υπηρέτες του κεφαλαίου ετοιμάζονται να ρίξουν άλλο ένα πακέτο δισεκατομμυρίων στις τραπεζικές μαύρες τρύπες. Αυτή τη φορά, θέλουν να τις απαλλάξουν από τα κόκκινα δάνεια και φυσικά ο λογαριασμός θα πάει, ως συνήθως, στα γνωστά υποζύγια.  
Όπως αποκάλυψε ρεπορτάζ του The Press Project:
Την έγκριση των ευρωπαϊκών θεσμών φέρεται να αναμένει η κυβέρνηση, ώστε να προχωρήσει σε σχέδιο «κρατικής υποβοήθησης» των τραπεζών, εφαρμόζοντας ουσιαστικά το σχέδιο του Ταμείου Χρηματοπιστωτικής Σταθερότητας (ΤΧΣ) για κρατική ενίσχυση προς κάλυψη των κόκκινων δανείων που αναμένεται να φτάσει τα 20 δισ. ευρώ. Την ίδια ώρα, οι τράπεζες προχωρούν σε τιτλοποιήσεις κόκκινων δανείων ύψους 6,5 δισ. ευρώ, με πρώτη και καλύτερη τη Eurobank και τις υπόλοιπες να ακολουθούν. 
[...]
Υπενθυμίζεται πως λίγες ημέρες πριν τις εκλογές, αλλά και μετά από αυτές, στο επίκεντρο της αντιπαράθεσης βρέθηκε το «μαξιλάρι» των 37 δισ. ευρώ της προηγούμενης κυβέρνησης και τα σχέδια της…

Bernie finally declares war on neoliberal fascists who destroy the planet

globinfo freexchange
Bernie Sanders proved again why he should be the next president of the United States. This time, he declared war on the neoliberal fascists who are destroying the planet on behalf of the corporate beasts.
Bernie tweeted:
                    Climate change is a global emergency. Bolsonaro and his corporate cronies are burning the Amazon rainforest for personal profit and jeopardizing our planet's survival. My Green New Deal will impose climate sanctions against corporations that threaten our global climate goals.
Climate change is a global emergency. Bolsonaro and his corporate cronies are burning the Amazon rainforest for personal profit and jeopardizing our planet's survival.

My #GreenNewDeal will impose climate sanctions against corporations that threaten our global climate goals. https://t.co/erZzHozviQ — Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) August 22, 2019
Recall that the previous right-wing corporate puppet in Brazil, Michel Temer, opened the door to t…

Roger Waters for Julian Assange

globinfo freexchange
On Monday, 3 Sept, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd will perform his classic 'Wish You Here' for Julian Assange outside the Home Office (interior ministry) in Marsham Street in the heart of London. John Pilger will be speaking. Join us at 6pm in solidarity with Britain's political prisoner.

On Monday, 3 Sept, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd will perform his classic 'Wish You Here' for Julian #Assange outside the Home Office (interior ministry) in Marsham Street in the heart of London. I will be speaking. Join us at 6pm in solidarity with Britain's political prisoner. pic.twitter.com/Lytg2GCZVQ — John Pilger (@johnpilger) August 30, 2019


Καταιγίδα επιχειρήσεων αποπροσανατολισμού από το Μητσοτακικό καθεστώς με τη βοήθεια της τραπεζομιντιακής χούντας

globinfo freexchange

Ο μηχανισμός του εγχώριου νεοφιλελεύθερου καθεστώτος επιδόθηκε τις τελευταίες μέρες σε έναν καταιγισμό επιχειρήσεων αποπροσανατολισμού προς τέρψιν του πόπολου, το οποίο έδωσε αυτοδυναμία στην πολιτική του συνιστώσα. Δηλαδή, στη χειρότερη δεξιά της μεταπολίτευσης.
Μετά το ταξίδι Μητσοτάκη στη Γαλλία, όπου είδαμε ένα χιλιοπαιγμένο έργο, το σόου του αποπροσανατολισμού ξεκίνησε από το Μάτι. Εκεί είχαμε ένα διπλό χτύπημα. Από τη μια τον Μητσοτάκη να ποζάρει στα καμμένα, διατυμπανίζοντας τη δήθεν αποτελεσματική του κυβέρνηση. Από την άλλη, την διαφήμιση των "καλών ιδιωτών", οι οποίοι ως καλοί Σαμαρείτες, ανέλαβαν δήθεν αφιλοκερδώς (Αφιλοκερδώς ΑΕ, όπως έλεγε και ο αξέχαστος Τζιμάκος), να καθαρίσουν την περιοχή από την επικίνδυνη καύσιμη ύλη.
Αμέσως μετά, απολαύσαμε άλλη μια κωμωδία από τις δυνάμεις καταστολής που έκαναν έφοδο στα Εξάρχεια για να τα "καθαρίσουν" από τους μετανάστες. Οι νεοφιλέλεδες της δεξιάς και τα ακροδεξιά δεκανίκια τους είναι μανο…

Citibank blocks funds for insulin: more than 450,000 Venezuelans affected

The US bank Citibank blocked, in August this year, part of the funds destined to import 300 thousand doses of insulin, a criminal act that affects more than 450 thousand patients, the Venezuelan Ministry of Economy and Finance reported.

On the other hand, the BSN Medical laboratory, based in Colombia, after receiving payment for the purchase of 2 million units of antimalarial treatment, denied the clearance of the drugs.
The ministry indicated that this fact caused the Swiss bank UBS AG to block the transactions made by the country with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), destined for the purchase of vaccines for the immunization program.
Given this circumstance, Venezuela and PAHO sought alternatives with banks from other countries, although this situation led to a 4 month delay in the immunization program.

The national government also revealed that other pharmaceutical transnationals such as Pfizer and Novartis refuse to sell medicines, reagents and supplies to Venezuela.
F…