136 translated articles on www.la.indymedia.org

housinghumanright_header

Posted in Human Rights | 3 Comments

Hiroshima is everywhere. The never-ending struggle

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/08/10/18851510.php

Hiroshima is everywhere – Or: The never-ending struggle
Hiroshima after the atomic bombing

by Leo Ensel
Hiroshima showed: Man is capable of wiping out all life on Earth. A world without nuclear weapons must be our goal.
[This article published on 8/6/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Hiroshima ist überall – Oder: Der niemals endende Kampf – infosperber.]

Hiroshima ist überall – Oder: Der niemals endende Kampf – infosperber

Hiroshima hat gezeigt: Der Mensch ist fähig alles Leben auf der Erde auszulöschen. Eine Welt ohne Atomwaffen mus…
77 years ago, on August 6, 1945, a Monday, at 8:16 a.m. local time, an atomic bomb was detonated for the first time over a living area – it exploded with a heat development of almost 4,000 degrees Celsius 580 meters above the Shima Hospital of the Japanese city of Hiroshima, where about 400,000 people lived on the day of the catastrophe and which had been spared from bombardments up to that point. It was released from the American B-29 bomber “Enola Gay” at an altitude of almost ten kilometers, after another bomber had already flown over the city three quarters of an hour earlier to check the weather conditions. It was a beautiful sunny day, quite clear skies. The bomb, comparable in its explosive power to a present-day ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon, had been christened “Little Boy” by the U.S. military.

Hundreds of thousands of “test victims

More than 70,000 people were killed instantly. The bomb killed 90 percent of the population within a 500-meter radius of Ground Zero. Most people were vaporized or burned up. Within a second, the blast wave destroyed 80 percent of downtown. A firestorm destroyed 11 square kilometers of the major city and drove the mushroom cloud characteristic of atomic bombs up to an altitude of 13 kilometers, which fell on the surrounding area twenty minutes later as highly contaminated radioactive fallout.

Dead: 282,000. 50 percent of them on the day the bomb was dropped, 35 percent in the following three months, 15 percent since November 1945. (The figures vary. But even if one starts from the lowest assumption, 170,000 victims, everything remains basically the same). Diseases of survivors (among others): Blood diseases (pernicious anemia, leukemia), skin growths caused by burns (keloids), liver disease, cataracts, post-traumatic stress disorder. To this day, people are dying from cancers caused by the bombing.

Three days later, on August 9 at 11:02 a.m., the U.S. detonated another atomic bomb – it was named “Fat Man” – over the port city of Nagasaki, located in southwestern Japan. Casualties: between 60,000 and 80,000. Injuries: around 75,000.

Months later, the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey sent doctors to the largely destroyed and contaminated cities. Their job, however, was not to provide medical assistance to the countless injured, highly traumatized people. Their job was to scientifically study the effects of radiation on the human organism. The hundreds of thousands of dead and injured in the two Japanese cities had been, from the U.S. point of view, “test victims,” “human guinea pigs.” The later spread claim that the atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to force Japan to surrender was a propaganda lie.1)

End Times and End of Time

August 6, 1945 was not a day of any terrible catastrophe. After all, human history teems with atrocities and gruesome crimes. What makes this date a caesura – and not only of human history, but also of the entire planet – is the fact that since that day humans are able to destroy themselves as a species, possibly even all life on this globe.

The philosopher Günther Anders (1902-1992), who was one of the very first to set himself the task of finding an appropriate language for this unprecedented possibility of man-made apocalypse – which had never been foreseen by any philosopher, even by any theologian – put this unheard-of circumstance into forceful sentences at the end of the 1950s:

Hiroshima as a world condition. With August 6, 1945, Hiroshima Day, a new age began. The age in which we can turn any place, nay our earth as a whole, into a Hiroshima at any moment. Since that day we have become modo negativo omnipotent; but since we can be annihilated at the same time in every moment, this means at the same time: since that day we are totally powerless. No matter how long, no matter if it will last forever, this age is the last: Because its characteristic, the possibility of our self-extinction, can never end – except by the end itself.

The consequence: according to Anders, human existence has since been defined as a “time limit”. We live as “just-not-yet-selves.” By this fact the moral basic question has changed: The classical question “How do we want to live?” has been subsumed by the question “Will we live?” In other words, “To the ‘how-question’ there is only one answer for us, who are just living in our time limit: ‘We have to see to it that the end time, although it could turn into end of time at any time, becomes endless; that is, that the turnaround never occurs.'”

Temporary resistance

The perceptive analyses of people like Günther Anders and Albert Einstein – “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything – except our way of thinking, and so we are drifting towards a catastrophe without equal. A new way of thinking is necessary if humanity is to continue to live.” – did not remain completely ineffective.

In July 1955, philosopher Bertrand Russell called for the outlawing of a future world war that would inevitably be fought with weapons of mass destruction. His appeal was signed, among others, by Nobel Prize winners in physics Max Born and Albert Einstein. At the end of the 1950s, the “Fight Atomic Death” movement and the “Easter March” movement emerged in the old Federal Republic as a reaction to the temporary plans to equip the Bundeswehr with tactical atomic bombs. In April 1957, 18 highly respected nuclear physicists of the Federal Republic of Germany (among them the Nobel laureates Otto Hahn, Max Born and Werner Heisenberg) also opposed a nuclear armament of the Bundeswehr, downplayed by the then Chancellor Konrad Adenauer as “further development of artillery”, in their joint “Göttingen Manifesto” and combined this with an unambiguous act of civil disobedience: “In any case, none of the signatories would be willing to participate in any way in the production, testing, or use of nuclear weapons. ”

The Easter March movement died off for a time in the 1960s – the SPD had cut off its funding under American pressure – but experienced a renaissance in the 1980s in the wake of the so-called NATO disarmament decision, along with the New Peace Movement. Never before had there been so many sensitive (and ready for action) groups of the population regarding the danger of a possible nuclear annihilation as in the 1980s in Western Europe, the USA and – under very different conditions – also in some states of the Warsaw Pact.

For a brief, beautiful moment, in the form of Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of “new thinking,” Einstein’s postulate from 1946 even reached the heights of world politics. And by no means in vain: thanks above all to the determination of the Soviet administration of the time, no less than 80 percent of all nuclear warheads worldwide were scrapped!

Two thousand five hundred times a second world war

Since then, however, times have changed considerably. In the past two decades, almost all disarmament and arms control treaties have been scrapped – exclusively on the initiative of the USA – including the most important disarmament treaty in world history, the INF Treaty signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan at the end of 1987.

It is not only since Russia’s war against Ukraine that the Cold Warriors have regained the upper hand: nuclear bombs have long since become socially acceptable again, a new, even more dangerous nuclear armament spiral is imminent, scenarios for a possible first use – both in the USA and in the Russian Federation – and a supposedly limited and winnable nuclear war are already in the drawers. German politicians, especially among the once peace-moving Greens, are blathering about “nuclear sharing”. And this, although the atomic bombs stored at present world-wide still have together an explosive power of approximately 2500 second world wars!

Resistance against this development, for example in the form of the International Campaign for the Prohibition and Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, the International Organization “Physicians against Nuclear War” (IPPNW) or the initiative “Justitia et Pax” 2), is only tentatively stirring.

The dark cloud

And the task that lies ahead is gigantic: The goal must not only be pursued with unprecedented tenacity, but also illusionlessly and – endlessly!

This, too, was masterfully summed up by Günther Anders as early as the end of the 1950s:

“As mighty as man may be – he cannot do one thing: He cannot revoke his own ability! And as great as the ability of his learning may be, he cannot learn one thing; namely to unlearn that what he can. The atomic weapons, which he has just now, he can abolish; but his knowledge of making them, he cannot get rid of.”

The necessary struggle for a physical destruction of all existing weapons of mass destruction – for which in recent years the now 91-year-old Mikhail Gorbachev 3) has repeatedly spoken out – must therefore, according to Günther Anders, be supplemented by measures of another category, by measures that prevent us from doing that which we can do, that is, from producing those devices whose mode of production we are incapable of forgetting.

“But this means that the transformation of man will have to be a transformation of his morality. The awareness that this is an absolute taboo will have to take such deep roots in each of us billions of people and will have to become so general that whoever would consider using these means to achieve his political ends would face the ostracism of all humanity.”

In short and without illusions: The struggle against the danger of nuclear self-destruction of mankind will have to be a never-ending one. For each of the generations yet to come – if there will be any – this danger will precede as a possibility like a dark cloud. – Let us leave the last word to the great philosopher of the atomic age:

“Every day gained will indeed be a day gained. But no day won will be a guarantee of tomorrow’s winning. We will never arrive. So what lies ahead is the endlessness of uncertainty. And our never-ending task will be that at least this uncertainty will have no end.”

_______________
FOOTNOTES:

1) https://overton-magazin.de/hintergrund/politik/august-1945-atombomben-auf-japan/
2) https://ostexperte.de/die-schaerfste-kritik-der-atomaren-abschreckung-liefert-zur-zeit-die-katholische-kirche/
3) https://www.gorby.ru/presscenter/news/show_30157/

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

The Unbroken: Evo Morales

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/08/06/18851425.php

Recent events give hope for a resurgence of the left on the continent. Morales points to recent electoral victories in Peru, Chile, Colombia, as well as Lula’s soon expected return to the Brazilian presidency. “These times are coming again,” he says. “We have to work to consolidate these democratic revolutions, for the benefit of humanity. I have a lot of hope.”

The Unbroken.
Evo Morales, ex-president of Bolivia, talks about his uphill battle against the U.S. empire, which is trying to stifle any resistance globally.
From Rubicon’s World Desk
[This article published on 8/2/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Der Ungebrochene.]

Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, with only six years of schooling under his belt and derided by the elites of the time for his illiterate language in 1998, wrote one of the continent’s most impressive socialist success stories during the 13 years of his presidency. In 2019, a U.S.-launched coup threw him out of office. The coup regime under Jeanine Áñez administered Bolivia until new elections in October 2020, which were again won by Morales’ ruling MAS party. In an interview with British investigative journalist Matt Kennard, the ex-president talks about his partly successful efforts to break the continent’s once poorest country out of its dependence on the United States.

By Matt Kennard

When Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, was overthrown in a British-backed coup in November 2019, many believed his life was in danger. There have been many such cases in Latin American history where a freedom fighter was eliminated by vengeful imperial powers. The legendary resistance leader Tupac Katari, who like Morales belonged to the indigenous Aymara tribe, was quartered by the Spanish in 1781 – with the help of four horses to which his arms and legs were tied.

238 years later, a few days after the coup against Morales, Bolivia’s self-appointed interim president, Jeanine Áñez, appeared in Congress waving a giant leather-bound Bible. “The Bible has returned to the government palace,” she announced. Her new regime immediately whipped through Decree 4078, which gave the military immunity for all actions “in defense of society and maintenance of public order.” That meant a green light. The following day, 10 unarmed protesters were massacred by security forces.

Morales had gone underground when the coup seemed inevitable. Along with his vice president, Alvaro García Linero, he fled to El Trópico de Cochabamba, a tropical area deep in the Amazon rainforest in central Bolivia that formed the heartland of his Movimiento al Socialismo party and its indigenous base.

Before officially resigning, he flew to the remote Chimoré airfield, whose access roads had been blocked by local coca farmers. The leaves of the coca plant form the raw material for cocaine, and the airfield was a regional strategic base for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the period prior to Morales’ presidency. By 2008, Morales had banned the DEA from Bolivia and converted the base into a civilian airfield. Coca cultivation declined soon after. A few days after Morales and Linera arrived at El Trópico, Mexico’s leftist president Andrés Manuel López Obrador sent a plane to rescue them and fly them out of Chimoré. Obrador later said the Bolivian army fired a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at the plane shortly after it took off. Apparently, the British-backed coup regime wanted the deposed president – who had served for 13 years – dead. Morales says today he owes his life to Obrador.

Villa Tunari

Morales is back in El Trópico today, but under greatly changed circumstances. After a year under the “interim government,” democracy was finally restored in October 2020, and Morales’ ruling MAS party won elections anew. New President Luis Arce, Morales’ former economy minister, came to power, and Morales returned triumphantly from exile in Argentina. He traveled much of the country on foot and then settled in El Trópico. He recently moved into a house in Villa Tunari, a small town-it has a population of just over 3,000-about 20 miles from the Chimoré airport.

To get to Villa Tunari from Cochabamba, the nearest major city, takes four hours in one of the minibuses that leave every 10 minutes. You also pass through Sacaba, the place where the regime massacred the 10 protesters, a day after assuring the military of impunity.

As the minivan penetrates deeper into El Trópico, the importance of Morales and the MAS party becomes more apparent. The corrugated iron-covered shelters that are home to the world’s poor increasingly feature murals on the side showing Morales’ face. Soon his name in capital letters – EVO – is everywhere. So is the word MAS.

Tunari itself is a traditionally indigenous town, a tourist destination surrounded by national parks. Since the restoration of democracy, the tourist industry has also recovered. Because El Trópico is the backbone of support for MAS and Morales, it was subject to repression at the time of the coup government. For quite some time, ATMs everywhere did not work-an attempt by the Áñez government to isolate the region. Today, however, Tunari is bustling with life again. Along its main axis, well-attended fried chicken and fish restaurants line up. Buses wait steaming at the bus station, and hotels and hostels can be found in the side streets. A raging, sepia-colored river stretches along one side of the city. It looks like a typical Latin American backpacker stopover.

The British Embassy as a “strategic partner” of the coup regime.

I arrive in Tunari late on Saturday afternoon, after a long flight to Cochabamba and the four-hour ride in a minibus. The interview with Morales is scheduled for Monday, but when I activate the Wi-Fi on my cell phone after arriving, I find a bunch of text messages from his assistant. Morales has almost finished his day’s business and wants to give the interview later that evening, in two hours. And it will be at his house.

Morales is known for his work ethic. Shortly thereafter, my colleague who will be filming the interview (3) comes to pick me up. In the middle of a tropical downpour, the water seeming to fall en masse like bricks, we take a tuk-tuk into town and sit sipping coffee under a tarp, waiting for the assistant to call. Eventually the call comes, and we board another tuk-tuk and drive through remote streets until we are standing in front of the walls of a nondescript house. A woman comes out to let us in. We go into the living room, where the only inventory is two sofas. As I find out later, I am the first journalist to be allowed to interview Morales in his house.

I got the interview because I had written an investigative article in March 2021 revealing the United Kingdom’s support for the coup that cost Morales his office. The British Foreign Office released 30 pages of documents dealing with British Embassy projects in Bolivia. According to the documents, it appears to have hired an Oxford-based company to optimize the “exploitation” of Bolivia’s lithium deposits in the month after Morales fled the country. It also shows that the British Embassy in La Paz acted as a “strategic partner” of the coup regime, organizing an international mining conference four months after Bolivia’s democracy was overthrown.

The story quickly spread throughout Bolivia. Foreign Minister Rogelio Mayta summoned British Ambassador Jeff Glenkin, showed him the contents of the article and demanded comment. The British Embassy in Bolivia’s capital, La Paz, issued a statement claiming Declassified was running a disinformation campaign, but provided no evidence.

An alternative economic model

Local journalists told me that Morales often mentions the article in his speeches, so I will start with this. “It was only last year that we learned from the media that England had also participated in the coup,” he reported. “This was a blow to our economic model because that economic model has produced results,” he says, adding:

“It’s an economic model that belongs to the people, not to the empire (1). One that doesn’t come from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but an economic model that comes out of social movements.”

And further:

“When we came to power in 2006, Bolivia, economically and according to development indicators, was the bottom of South America and the second worst country in the double continent.”

In the 13 years of his administration that followed, Bolivia experienced its most stable period since the declaration of independence in 1825, achieving unprecedented economic success that was even recognized by the IMF and World Bank. Crucially, this success also translated into unprecedented improvements for Bolivia’s poor classes. “During the first six years, we had the highest economic growth in South America, and that was due to the nationalization policies that emerged from the social movements,” Morales recounts. He was part of the “pink tide” of leftist governments that existed in Latin America in the 2000s, but his economic model was one of the most radical of all.

On his 100th day in office, Morales nationalized Bolivia’s gas and oil deposits by ordering the armed forces to occupy the gas fields and giving foreign investors 6 months to meet his demands or leave the country.

Morales believes it was this nationalization program that led to the Western-backed coup against him. “I remain convinced that the empire, or capitalism/imperialism, cannot accept that there is an economic model that is better than neoliberalism,” he tells me.

“The coup d’état was against our economic model (…); we showed that another Bolivia is possible.”

Morales says the second phase of the revolution – after nationalization – was industrialization. “And the most important was lithium,” he stresses. Bolivia has the world’s second-largest deposits of lithium, a metal needed for batteries that has become a hot commodity with the burgeoning trend toward electric cars.

A visit to South Korea

Morales recalls a formative trip to South Korea he made in 2010.

“We talked about bilateral agreements, investment, cooperation. They took me to a lithium battery factory. Interesting. South Korea wanted lithium from us, the raw material.”

Then Morales says he asked the factory how much it had cost to build the plant. They said $300 million. “Our foreign reserves were growing,” he reports. “At that moment, I said, ‘I can guarantee 300 million. Let’s build a factory just like this in Bolivia. I’ll guarantee your investment.’ But the Koreans said, ‘No, no,'” Morales recalls.

“It was then that I realized that the industrialized nations were only interested in Latin America for the raw materials. They didn’t want to give us the added value.”

It was at that point that Morales decided to industrialize Bolivia, undoing half a millennium of colonial history.

The usual imperial dynamic that kept Bolivia in poverty was for rich countries to extract raw materials, process them into products in Europe, which at the same time helped industrialize Europe, and sell the finished products expensively in Bolivia.

Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni (or Salar de Tunupa) salt pan contains a pool of brine exceptionally rich in lithium (2). (Anouchka Une, Wikimedia Commons)

With the country’s lithium reserves, Morales was determined to do otherwise. They would not be satisfied with mining lithium, but would also manufacture the batteries themselves. Morales refers to this as “value creation.” “We started with a laboratory, of course we had to hire international experts,” he reports.

“Then we built a pilot plant. We put $20 million into the project, and today it works. Every year it produces 200 tons of lithium carbonate and lithium batteries in Potosi.”

Potosi is a city in southern Bolivia that became the center of the Spanish Empire in Latin America after gigantic amounts of silver were discovered there in the 16th century. It is estimated that in this so-called first city of capitalism, up to 8 million indigenous people died in the mines of Potosi’s Cerro Rico (rich mountain), where they mined for silver destined exclusively for Europe.

Morales continues:

“We had a plan to build 42 new (lithium) factories by 2029. It was expected to make $5 billion in profit. Profit!”

“But then came the coup,” he reports (4).

“The U.S. said China’s presence is not allowed, but (…) having China as a market is very important, the same with Germany. The next step was Russia, and then came the coup.”

“And only last year we found out that England was also involved in the coup – all because of lithium.” But, Morales says, his people’s long struggle to control their own wealth is not unique.

“This struggle is not just raging in Bolivia or Latin America, but worldwide. Who owns the natural resources? To the people, under control of their state? Or are they privatized under the control of a multinational corporation that has a free hand to plunder?”

Partners or bosses?

Morales’ nationalization program put him on a collision course with powerful transnational corporations that had grown accustomed to traditional imperial dynamics. “During the 2005 election campaign, we said that if the corporations want to be here, they can do so as partners, or as providers of services, but not as bosses or as owners of our mineral resources,” Morales recounts.

“We take a clear position with the multinationals: we talk, we negotiate, but we don’t submit to dictates.”

As an example, Morales cites hydrocarbon contracts signed by previous governments:

“In these contracts – which were drafted by neoliberals – it literally says: ‘The rights holder acquires the rights to the product at the entrance of the well.’ Who is this rights holder? The transnational oil company. They want to own the oil from the entrance of the well.”

And further:

“The companies tell us that as long as it’s in the ground, it belongs to the Bolivians, but once it’s extracted, it no longer belongs to the Bolivians. Once it’s out of the ground, the multinationals have a vested right to it. And that’s why we insisted on the regulation: mined or not, it belongs to the Bolivians.”

Morales continues:

“The most important thing is that now, out of 100 percent of the revenue, 82 percent is for Bolivians and 18 percent is for the corporations. Before, it was 82 percent for the corporations, and 18 percent for the Bolivians, and the state had no control – how much was promoted, in what way – nothing.”

It’s been an uphill battle, Morales adds, and some companies have left. “We respected their decision to leave,” Morales said.

“But we insisted that any legal claims would have to be made in Bolivia, rather than going to CIADI. That was also a struggle we had to fight, to negotiate all the claims at the national level, because that’s a matter of sovereignty and dignity.”

CIADI is the Spanish acronym for ICSID, “International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.” International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes). Although a little-known branch of the World Bank, it is the most important supranational forum where corporations can sue states for imposing rules that the investor believes violate his rights. In reality, it represents a system that often allows corporations to override or ignore sovereign state decisions – or extract huge compensation payments.

Under this “arbitration” system, a British company sued Bolivia. In 2010, Morales nationalized Bolivia’s largest utility, Empresa Eléctrica Guaracachi. The British electricity investment firm Rurelec, which indirectly owned 50.001 percent of the utility, cited Bolivia before another investor-state arbitration board, this time in The Hague, seeking a $100 million settlement. Bolivia was eventually ordered to pay Rurelec 35 million, and after further negotiations, the parties agreed to pay just over 31 million in May 2014. Rurelec celebrated this outcome with a series of press releases on its website. “My only downer is that it took so long to reach agreement,” the fund’s CEO said in a statement.

“All we wanted was a peaceful negotiation and a handshake with President Morales.”

Empire sets conditions

Since the beginning of the Monroe Doctrine anno 1823 – in which the U.S. claimed all of the Americas as a zone of influence – Bolivia has largely been under U.S. control. This changed for the first time when the Morales government took office. “As a state, we want diplomatic relations with all countries in the world, but based on mutual respect,” Morales clarifies.

“The problem we have with the United States is that any relationship with them is always conditional.”

He continues:

“It’s important that trade and bilateral relations are based on mutual benefit, not competition. And we found some European countries willing to do that. But most importantly, we found China. Diplomatic relations with them do not come with conditions.”

And further:

“For example, with the U.S., if you wanted to join their economic plan, the ‘Millennium Challenge Corporation’ (MCC), you had to privatize your natural resources in return.”

This MCC was a project of the George W. Bush administration that wanted to run development aid more like a business. Led by a CEO, it is funded with public money but can operate autonomously and has a board of directors like a company, with businessmen who know how to make money. The “aid contracts” that are signed with countries come with political strings attached. “China doesn’t impose such conditions on us, nor does Russia and some countries in Europe,” Morales adds. “That’s the big difference.”

Regime change made in the U.S.

A glimpse of the way the U.S. government used to view Bolivia is permitted by the following private conversation Richard Nixon had with his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, in June 1971:

Kissinger: We also have a huge problem in Bolivia. And …

Nixon: I understand. (U.S. Secretary of Commerce) Connally was talking about that. And what do you propose to do?

Kissinger: I have instructed (CIA Deputy Planning Director) Thomas Karamessines to prepare an operation as soon as possible. Even the ambassador there, who has always been a softie, is now saying if we don’t put the military there, it’s all going to go down the drain.

Nixon: Yes.

Kissinger: Monday it’s going to start.

Nixon: And what does Karamessines think it will take? A coup?

Kissinger: We have to see what we can do, in what context … In two months they want to throw us out of the country. They’ve already done that with the Peace Corps, a major asset. But now they also want to expel (the U.S. Information Agency and) military personnel. And I don’t know if we can even think about a coup, but we have to find out what the situation is there. Before there would be a coup, we would …

Nixon: Remember, we let the damn Bolivians have the tin.

Kissinger: Well, that can always be reversed. And then …

Nixon: … let’s undo that.

The “huge problem” in Bolivia of which Kissinger spoke was Juan José Torres, a socialist leader who had come to power the previous year and had set his sights on the country’s independence. The U.S. coup came two months after the above conversation, and military General Hugo Banzer was installed. Torres fled into exile and was assassinated five years later, in 1976, in Buenos Aires by Operation Condor – a CIA-backed right-wing terrorist network then operating throughout Latin America. Torres was the last leftist president in Bolivia before Morales.

Brits throw a party

Back to the 2019 coup in Bolivia. The British government lavishly supported it and welcomed the new regime, full of praise for the potential it opened up for British companies to make money from the country’s mineral resources, especially lithium. On Dec. 14, 2019 – three weeks after the British-backed regime carried out another massacre of protest demonstrators – British Ambassador Jeff Glekin even hosted a Downtown Abbey-style English tea party. There were Victoria bisques.

“We complain that the British celebrated at the sight of dead protesters,” Morales said. “But that’s been our history since the European invasion of 1492.” And explains:

“I used to hold certain European nations in high regard for their self-liberation from monarchies. But oligarchy went on and monarchy and hierarchies, and we want nothing to do with that.”

According to Morales, the new millennium “is a millennium of people, not of monarchies, hierarchies, oligarchies. That’s our struggle.”

Referring to the British, he finds, “‘Superiority’ is so important to them, the ability to dominate. We are simple, poor people, that’s the difference. It is reprehensible that they lack any sense of humanity, of brotherhood. Instead, they are prisoners of their dominance strategies.”

About the relationship with England, he said:

“There are deep ideological, programmatic, cultural and class antagonisms, but especially in terms of principles and beliefs.”

He adds:

“There are countries that, because of their state principles, always tend to oppress, isolate or condemn and marginalize sisters and brothers when they speak of truth and defend life and humanity. I cannot accept this.”

I report that when I contacted the UK Foreign Office about my original research, they simply said, “There was no coup” in November 2019. What does Morales have to say about this?

“It’s incomprehensible how a European country (…) can seriously claim in the 21st century that this was not a coup d’état, it doesn’t make sense.”

And further:

“This is a deeply colonial way of looking at things. They believe that some countries are owned by other countries. That God put them in this place and so the world belongs to the U.S. and the British. And that’s why the rebellions and uprisings will continue.”

Morales saw from childhood the result of his country being considered the property of other countries. He grew up in extreme poverty, with four of his six siblings dying as children. He worked as a “cocalero” (coca picker) at an early age and became politicized by America’s “war on drugs.” He gained national prominence after being elected leader of the coca growers’ union in 1996.

An intimidation tactic

When WikiLeaks began publishing diplomatic dispatches in 2010, it brought to light an extensive campaign by the U.S. Embassy in La Paz to topple Morales’ government. Many had suspected as much, but the dispatches showed clear U.S. ties to the opposition.

I ask Morales about Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who has now been in Belmarsh maximum security prison for four years for bringing these and other U.S. imperial operations to public attention.

“Sometimes the empire talks about free speech, but deep down they are enemies of free speech,” Morales comments.

“The empire, as soon as someone tells the truth (…) at that moment the retaliation starts, just like with Assange.”

He adds, “Some people (…) stand up against these measures because they think it is important to defend life, equality, freedom, dignity. Then comes the retaliation.” – “I salute and admire all those who speak the truth for the sake of people’s liberation,” Morales said.

“The detention of our friend (Assange) is an escalation, an intimidation measure, so that all the crimes against humanity committed by the different U.S. governments don’t come to light. All the interventions, all the invasions, all the looting.”

He continued, “Former CIA agents and DEA agents are also participating in this rebellion, telling the truth about the United States. Retribution always comes.” – “The truth is, this will not stop, it will continue,” Morales elaborates.

“To our brother (Assange), I send our respect and admiration. I hope that there will be more revelations so that the world can be informed (…) about all the criminal activity in the world.”

Morales believes that information and communication are the most important issues today for the “people who have no voice.” He is currently working to build independent media in Bolivia. “It’s hard for people with few means of communication to communicate,” Morales says.

“We’ve been able to gain some experience, especially in El Trópico. We have a radio station that the whole nation can’t receive, but it’s often heard and followed by the right-wing media.”

Above all, they hope to find points of attack against Morales. “How nice it would be if people had their own media channels,” Morales continues, “that’s the challenge people face. The existing media that belong to the empire or to the right wing of Bolivia, and it’s like that everywhere in Latin America, they defend their interests (…) and are never on the side of the people.” And further:

“For example, when the right wing makes a mistake, it is never exposed, it is covered up, and they protect themselves. The (corporate) media serve to protect the big corporations, their lands and their banks, and they want to humiliate the peoples of Bolivia, the ordinary people of this earth.”

Latin America has long been the global center of democratic socialism. I ask Morales if he has hope for the future. “In South America, it’s no longer the time of Hugo Chávez, Lula, (Néstor) Kirchner, (Rafael) Correa,” he advises. Together, these progressive leaders have worked to integrate Latin America and the Caribbean, through organizations such as the “Union of South American Nations” (UNASUR) in 2008 and the “Community of Latin American and Caribbean States” (CELAC) in 2011.

“We have been slacking, but now we are on the road to recovery,” Morales commented. Recent events give hope for a resurgence of the left on the continent. Morales points to recent electoral victories in Peru, Chile, Colombia, as well as Lula’s soon expected return to the Brazilian presidency.

“These times are coming again,” he says.

“We have to work to consolidate these democratic revolutions, for the benefit of humanity. I have a lot of hope.”

And further:

“In politics, we must ask ourselves: are we with the people or with the empire? If we are with the people, we build a country; if we are with the empire, we make money. If we are with the people, we fight for life and humanity; if we are with the empire, we support the politics of death, the culture of death, interventions and the plundering of the people. This is what we must always ask ourselves as people, as leaders: are we at the service of our people?”

Morales then addresses the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I think it’s time, given the problems between Russia and Ukraine, to have an international, worldwide campaign that first clarifies that NATO, at the end of the day, simply represents the United States.”

– “Or better yet, a campaign to disband NATO. NATO does not guarantee humanity or life. I don’t accept – indeed, I condemn – how they could exclude Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. After the U.S. interventions in Iraq, Libya, in so many countries in recent years, why was (the U.S.) not expelled from the council? Why didn’t anyone ask this question?”

He adds:

“We have deep ideological differences with the policy that the U.S. is pursuing through NATO. It is based on interventionism and militarism.”

And, concluding the theme:

“Between Russia and Ukraine, they are looking for an agreement, but (the U.S.) continues to fuel the war, the U.S. arms industry, which lives on war, and they provoke wars to sell their weapons. This is the other reality we live in.”

The Water Wars

Morales is the most successful president in Bolivia’s history – and one of the most successful in Latin America’s history. The period of his presidency is perhaps the most successful long-term experiment with democratic socialism in history anywhere. Therein lies a danger to imperial powers, who have long warned of the threat posed by a successful example. It declared an end to 500 years of white rule in Bolivia and ushered the country into the modern world. The new 2009 constitution “refounded” Bolivia as a “plurinational” state in which indigenous peoples were allowed to govern themselves. It created a new Congress, with seats reserved for even the small indigenous groups, and recognizes the Andean earth deity Pachamama instead of the Roman Catholic Church.

“How could the Indians – or the social movements – lead a revolution?” asks Morales, alluding to Bolivia’s traditional white elite and their imperial masters.

“A democratic revolution, based on the voices of the people, that amplified popular consciousness and even reached the government?” – “Even today there are people who believe ‘we must dominate and rule over the Indians.’ You can find this mentality inside Bolivia. ‘They are slaves, they are animals, we have to exterminate them.’ To overcome this mentality is our struggle.”

On the way back to Cochabamba, a bustling indigenous city that is Bolivia’s fourth largest, I am reminded that this epic struggle began right here. In the early 2000s, the “water wars” raged in Cochabamba after the local water company was privatized and the American corporation Bechtel drastically raised prices and even banned rainwater collection. Tens of thousands of protesters fought street battles with police for months. Bolivia’s coca farmers, led by a little-known congressman, Evo Morales, joined the protesters in demanding an end to the U.S.-funded program to destroy their coca plantations.

After months of protest and activism, the Bolivian parliament was ready to roll back privatization in April 2000. It was the beginning of a revolution. Five years later, the people seized power and reversed 500 years of colonial rule in Bolivia.

But even in 2022, the danger is not over. The U.S. and Britain, along with their local elites, continue to work to bring Bolivia under control. But in this country with a majority indigenous population, they seem to have found an equal opponent.

Morales reports that building union power was the basis for the democratic revolution. But the crucial step, he says, was getting into government.

“Gaining political power allowed us to close the U.S. military base. We expelled the DEA from the country, we expelled the CIA from the country. By the way, the U.S. ambassador who enabled the 2008 coup (attempt) through his conspiracy and financing, we expelled him too.”

And, after a pause:

“We don’t just talk about anti-imperialism. We practice it.”

Matt Kennard is senior investigative journalist for the online newspaper Declassified UK. He was a staff member and later director at the Center for Investigative Journalism in London. Follow him on Twitter at @kennardmatt. For more information, visit: declassifieduk.org.

Editorial Note: This text first appeared in full text under the title “Evo Morales: UK Role in Coup That Ousted Him” at Consortium News. It was translated by the Rubicon volunteer translation team and proofread by the Rubicon volunteer proofreading team.

Sources and Notes:

Translator’s notes:

(1) “The Empire” is a common paraphrase in Latin America, always referring to the United States.
(2) The Salar de Uyuni is located at an altitude of 3,600 meters and has about twenty times the area of Lake Constance.
3) The resulting video can be found, for example, at https://consortiumnews.com/2022/07/15/evo-morales-uk-role-in-coup-that-ousted-him/.
(4) The author fails to mention that Morales also accuses Tesla CEO Elon Musk of complicity with the coup plotters. In the video, this passage can be found starting at minute 5:30.

https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Negotiating to End the Ukraine War isn’t Appeasement

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/08/04/18851396.php

Negotiating to End the Ukraine War isn’t Appeasement
by Charles A. Kupchan

A negotiated end to the conflict is the right goal — and one that needs to arrive sooner rather than later. Ukraine likely lacks the combat power to expel Russia from all of its territory, and the momentum on the battlefield is shifting in Russia’s favor. The longer this conflict continues, the greater the death and destruction.
Negotiating to End the Ukraine War Isn’t Appeasement

It’s time for Biden to set the table for talks.

Opinion by Charles A. Kupchan 06/15/2022

Charles A. Kupchan is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He served on the National Security Council under Presidents Obama and Clinton. His most recent book is Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself from the World.

As the war in Ukraine grinds through its fourth month, defiant Ukrainians continue to bloody Russian’s invasion force. The United States and its allies are backstopping Ukraine’s staunch defense of its territory through a steady inflow of weapons. The goal, as President Joe Biden put it in a recent essay in the New York Times, is “to work to strengthen Ukraine and support its efforts to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict.”

A negotiated end to the conflict is the right goal — and one that needs to arrive sooner rather than later. Ukraine likely lacks the combat power to expel Russia from all of its territory, and the momentum on the battlefield is shifting in Russia’s favor. The longer this conflict continues, the greater the death and destruction, the more severe the disruptions to the global economy and the food supply, and the higher the risk of escalation to full-scale war between Russia and NATO. Transatlantic unity is starting to fray, with France, Germany, Italy and other allies uneasy about the prospect of a prolonged war — especially against the backdrop of rising inflation.

But if Biden is serious about facilitating negotiations, he needs to do a better job of laying the political groundwork and shaping a narrative that prioritizes arriving at a diplomatic endgame. There is still too much hawkish rhetoric in Washington, with U.S. arms flowing to Ukraine “so that it can,” in the words of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “repel Russian aggression and fully defend its independence and sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy insists, not surprisingly, that “victory will be ours” and urges Ukrainians to “defend every meter of our land.” And Biden, even as he makes mention of the need for diplomacy, has so far been unwilling to caution Kyiv against those aims, instead affirming “I will not pressure the Ukrainian government — in private or public — to make any territorial concessions.” “We’re not going to tell the Ukrainians how to negotiate, what to negotiate and when to negotiate,” Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, reiterated this week. “They’re going to set those terms for themselves.”

But Washington has not only a right to discuss war aims with Kyiv, but also an obligation. This conflict arguably represents the most dangerous geopolitical moment since the Cuban missile crisis. A hot war is raging between a nuclear-armed Russia and a NATO-armed Ukraine, with NATO territory abutting the conflict zone. This war could define the strategic and economic contours of the 21st century, possibly opening an era of militarized rivalry between the world’s liberal democracies and an autocratic bloc anchored by Russia and China.

These stakes necessitate direct U.S. engagement in determining when and how this war ends. Instead of offering arms with no strings attached — effectively leaving strategy up to the Ukrainians — Washington needs to launch a forthright discussion about war termination with allies, with Kyiv, and ultimately, with Moscow.

To prepare the ground for that pivot, the Biden administration should stop making claims that could tie its own hands at the negotiating table. Biden insists that the West must “make it clear that might does not make right.” Otherwise, “it will send a message to other would-be aggressors that they too can seize territory and subjugate other countries. It will put the survival of other peaceful democracies at risk. And it could mark the end of the rules-based international order.”

Really? Russia has illegally held Crimea and occupied a chunk of Donbas since 2014. But the rules-based international order has not come to an end; indeed, it has performed admirably in punishing Russia for its new round of aggression against Ukraine. Washington should avoid painting itself into a corner by predicting catastrophe if Russia remains in control of a slice of Ukraine when the fighting stops. Such forecasts make compromise more difficult — and risk magnifying the geopolitical impact of whatever territorial gains Russia may salvage.

How will The White House define ‘victory’ in Ukraine?: 6 things to know

The claim that Vladimir Putin will end his trouble-making only if he is decisively defeated in Ukraine is another fallacious argument that distorts debate and stands in the way of diplomacy. Writing in The Atlantic, Anne Applebaum calls for the “humiliation” of Putin and insists that “the defeat, sidelining, or removal of Putin is the only outcome that offers any long-term stability in Ukraine and the rest of Europe.” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wants to weaken Russia “to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”

But this is wishful thinking, not strategic sobriety. Putin is poised to remain in power for the foreseeable future. He will be a troublemaker no matter how this war ends; flexing his geopolitical muscle and burnishing his nationalist credentials are the primary sources of his domestic legitimacy. Furthermore, humiliating Putin is risky business; he could well be more reckless with his back up against the wall than if he can claim victory by taking another bite out of Ukraine. The West has learned to live with and contain Putin for the past two decades — and will likely continue to have to do so into the next.

Finally, Biden needs to start weaning mainstream debate away from the false equation of diplomacy with appeasement. When Henry Kissinger recently proposed in Davos that Ukraine may need to make territorial concessions to end the war, Zelenskyy retorted: “It seems that Mr. Kissinger’s calendar is not 2022, but 1938, and he thought he was talking to an audience not in Davos, but in Munich of that time.” Biden himself asserts that “It would be wrong and contrary to well-settled principles” to counsel Ukraine on potential concessions at the negotiating table.

But strategic prudence should not be mistaken for appeasement. It is in Ukraine’s own self-interest to avoid a conflict that festers for years and instead negotiate a ceasefire and follow-on process aimed at concluding a territorial settlement.

The United States, its NATO allies, Russia, and the rest of the world have an interest in securing this same outcome — precisely why it is now time for Biden to set the negotiating table.
https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

The lure of unreason and Crisis profiteers

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/07/28/18851307.php

The lure of unreason
Global Economy
By Jörg Bibow
[This article published on 7/19/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://makroskop.eu/25-2022/verlockung-der-unvernunft-widerstehen/.]

Inflation is close to the 10 percent mark – and there is pure panic. Pressure is mounting on central banks to finally pull the emergency brake. And Germany wants to go back to the debt brake. But a provoked recession is not helping anyone.

The Covid-19 pandemic has by no means been overcome and remains a daily threat to people and the economy for the time being. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is another serious blow to the global economy and Europeans’ sense of security; apart from the acute threat to life and limb in the crisis region itself. Meanwhile, in the background, the crisis that should really be at the forefront of all human endeavors is smoldering unchecked: The climate catastrophe.

This acute triple challenge to humanity, which is once again rapidly driving up poverty, especially in poor countries, also threatens to further destabilize Western societies and democracies. The rich West had still not overcome the social and economic dislocations of its 2007-12 financial crises when the Covid-19 pandemic hit an only seemingly robust global economy in the spring of 2020. Initially, creative action was taken. Now there is a risk of falling back into old patterns.

Disappointed expectations, frustration, even anger and a sense of powerlessness describe the mood of many people in the West today. People are fed up and tired of the pandemic. The economy and everyday life are not proceeding with the usual lack of friction. Rather, ubiquitous disruptions and delays seem to be becoming the norm. Appeals to save energy are growing louder. Energy rationing could soon become a reality.

Of course, the German finance minister always worries first and foremost about budget deficits and public debt. Some things never change. But the life of prosperity and comfort to which people in the West thought they were entitled has been derailed. And in the confusion of critical voices, it is very difficult to find orientation and reason for confidence.

However, one striking development in recent months can be clearly identified for both America and Germany: The nimble rise in inflation since spring 2021 is increasingly crystallizing for many contemporaries as a fulcrum of private and public discontent with the current situation. According to current surveys, inflation seems to be climbing the nation’s top worry rank. Politicians are supposed to deliver quick – but please painless – solutions to the challenges.

Not only should politicians finally deal with the pandemic, they should do so without compulsory vaccinations, masks or other restrictions on personal freedoms. Central banks should finally use their supposed wonder weapon, monetary policy, effectively to nip the acute inflation pandemic in the bud. The evolution of public opinion in America and Germany, whatever it may be inciting in this regard, does not bode well.

Indeed, under the growing pressure of public opinion, policymakers and central bankers are in danger of succumbing to the lure of irrationality.

If things turn out the way they are now, not only will the wonder weapons of monetary policy prove to be a myth and, thanks to once again disappointed expectations, frustration and resentment will find new nourishment. The instability and fragility of the West will almost certainly increase further. Only Russian dictator and warlord Vladimir Putin could rub his hands in glee, celebrating the proof of Russian greatness, because the West could not find the off-switch of its ownormachine.

The lessons of the financial crisis have fizzled out

Yet, for a time, it seemed that the West’s economic policies had actually learned some important lessons from the financial crises of 2007-12 and the sluggish recovery in the aftermath.

The Federal Reserve, for example, had adapted its role as lender of last resort to changing conditions in the financial system during the acute crisis of 2007-9, developing new tools at the time to update its traditional discount window and more effectively address liquidity shortages in the financial system. Even more so, it experimented quickly and boldly in monetary policy, using unconventional means to ease general financing conditions.

The ECB (European Central Bank), on the other hand, focused almost exclusively on stabilizing banking systems in the early years, but for a long time did far too little to stabilize macro policy and support public finances. It was not until 2014 that it developed the courage, in the face of persistent deflationary tendencies, to use unconventional monetary policy to ensure more appropriate and more even financing conditions in the euro area.

The fact that economic recovery has nevertheless been sluggish over the past decade was primarily the result of consistently failed fiscal policy. The failure of fiscal policy in Germany and the euro area was so blatantly, remotely and misguidedly driven by the “Stability and Growth Pact,” the German “debt brake” and Schäuble’s pipe dreams about supposedly virtuous “black zeros” that there are no serious economists today who would ignore this insight.

But America, too, was way off the mark. First, the fiscal packages of the crisis – the Bush stimulus in 2008 and the Obama stimulus in 2009-10 – were tailored far too small. Then, in 2011, America also prematurely switched to austerity. Extremely increased long-term unemployment, a previously unknown phenomenon for America that had been dubbed “Euro-sclerosis” in Europe since the 1980s, was the result. Mass long-term unemployment was then a key enabler of Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” right-wing populism that continues to scourge the nation today.

Nevertheless, under the aggravated political conditions of the Trump era and with a Republican as Chairperson, the Federal Reserve completed a decisive reform of its monetary policy in 2019-2020. The worldview informed by mainstream concepts, such as the Phillips Curve and NAIRU, about the link between inflation and unemployment that had prevailed for decades was mothballed. For too many years, the Fed had “undershot” its inflation target. It had taken too many years for the labor market recovery to finally reach minorities at an increased rate after the financial crisis; something the Fed recognized as politically problematic in a public climate where stark inequality was finally becoming a policy issue.

Read also:

New times with the Federal Reserve

Jörg Bibow | October 20, 2020

The Fed therefore now wanted to assess the degree of full employment on the basis of a variety of indicators, and the headline unemployment rate as a conventional compass was accordingly devalued in its significance. The failure of the headline unemployment rate to rise over the past decade in the face of steadily declining inflation led the Fed to declare that it would only pursue its inflation target as a longer-term average, passively accepting temporary overshoots.

The experience of the period since the crisis was also echoed to some extent at the ECB. The ECB’s review of its monetary policy strategy in 2020-2021 led to an explicitly symmetric formulation of its primary price stability objective. A symmetric interpretation of its mandate had gradually become the practice in the Mario Draghi era. Now, the Bundesbank’s hallmark – its asymmetry in mindset and monetary policy practice, which recognized inflation as the only threat, while deflation, according to Bundesbank mythology, had never occurred – was finally publicly laid to rest.

Read also:

Monetary guardian or guardian of monetary myths?

Jörg Bibow | September 23, 2021

This had been the background for the very swift and energetic reaction of the two central banks to the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in spring 2020. Lessons had been learned. One wanted to be prompt and constructive in addressing the challenges of the day.

More surprising was the equally constructive response of fiscal policy. In America, the Congress, which was actually hopelessly divided, was miraculously able to reach bipartisan agreement on a major fiscal program as early as March-April 2020. Other U.S. fiscal programs followed. Meanwhile, Germany forgot its pathologically notorious debt panic for about five minutes and agreed with its EU partner countries on a joint fiscal program of considerable size, financed by joint debt instruments and focused on investments in the future, which had previously been forgotten for decades in the blind mania for austerity. Solidarity-based financial support was even concentrated on particularly hard-hit partner countries such as Italy and Spain. Redistribution in favor of the “lazy” southern countries. It was almost impossible to believe what was happening at the time.

Even when inflation then rose noticeably after the economies reopened after the deep slump, people initially kept their nerve, recognizing that the causes of inflation could be explained on the supply side.

Read also:

Fed lift-off: Ready or not?

Jörg Bibow | March 08, 2022
Now there is panic

But then everything turned out differently. The pandemic could not be effectively contained. New variants created new waves. The supply-side disruptions of the economies did not break, hardened in some cases. Then Vladimir Putin’s fanaticism of Great Russian glory was added.

Today, inflation in America, Germany and the Eurozone is close to the 10 percent mark – and there is pure panic. Allegedly, the central banks are now primarily to blame for inflation. They have printed too much money. People are once again philosophizing about too much money. If only the central banks had had the foresight to raise interest rates a year ago, everything would be fine today. But now, please, raise interest rates in a rush. Because positive “real interest rates” are what the world needs today more than anything else – allegedly.

Public pressure on central banks to finally pull the emergency brake seems to drown out everything else. What’s more, Germany wants to step on the tried-and-tested debt brake as quickly as possible and give the ECB another leg up in the process: as a German “Whatever It Takes” greeting to Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome, so to speak. Once again, they want to really let it rip.

The big end is thus in sight. But who really benefits from a provoked recession now? Would it help to defeat the pandemic? Would it help to make Russia see reason? Would it help avert the climate catastrophe? Would it reduce inequality and help the West achieve greater political and social stability?

Exactly the opposite is to be feared. In general, the lessons of the time since the financial crisis would be stomped on right away, relying instead on the “tried and true”: long live neoliberalism. The main burden of a recession would then once again fall on the weakest members of society. They are supposed to make sacrifices because they are unable to find political solutions to the real challenges.

On both sides of the Atlantic, wage inflation has lagged well behind price inflation. The balance of power between capital and labor is far removed from the situation of the 1970s, the specter of a wage-price spiral surreal. It is not the already weak who must be additionally punished, but the rich and large corporations must finally be taxed appropriately and their power in business and politics effectively curbed. Unless the West really wants to dig its own grave.

Those who believe that the evil of neoliberalism has finally been overcome are gravely mistaken. The reactionary forces are fighting back. And they have Putin on their side. We seem incapable of resisting the lure of unreason.

Jörg Bibow has taught at Skidmore College in New York State since 2006, focusing on international finance, international trade, and European integration. He is a member of the Bretton Woods Committee in Washington, DC.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Crisis Profiteers
The many upheavals of the recent past are playing into the hands of the Great Reset implementation.
By Peter Frey
[This article published on 7/27/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-krisenprofiteure.]

There is nothing new under the sun. Crises have always been seen as opportunities as well. This is acceptable when it comes to personal development. In some cases, however, only one thing continues to develop in the wake of dramatic upheavals: the fortunes and power of a few profiteers. We may conclude that the “Great Reset” is also only one variety of destructiveness, even if it is to be singled out in its monstrosity. Crises are necessary to bring a system of “creative destruction” into being, on the ruins of which self-appointed and, of course, completely detached world leaders think they can create a new world – in order to become immeasurably richer “on the side”.

At the beginning I encourage the inclined reader to open himself to the following thought:

Many things that have been pushed forward on the political and economic level in recent years have not sprung from a reaction to any crises, but rather created the foundations to be able to purposefully bring about the crises in the first place.

This does not mean that all political leaders of the Western states are capable of recognizing these connections. Quite a number of these “elites” have been trained to do nothing more than perform the function of the pupils of the World Economic Forum in Davos (WEF), following its concepts. For this function they were thoroughly prepared for their political offices. Now they do not even come across as really intellectual or eloquent, but as highly incompetent and ideologized. The WEF is a network of the super-rich that has infiltrated dozens of governments with countless tentacles in order to exert its influence there.

The “Great Reset”, the new beginning includes a “resetting of the global economy”. It is a project of the WEF clique, prominently represented by transhumanist Klaus Schwab (1). Let us be under no illusions: The “Great Reset” is a war. The purpose of war in finance capitalism is to create potential through destruction. Creative destruction subsequently allows new profitable investments to be financed by private credit institutions.

The only creative aspect of destruction is how societies can become so destructive in the first place. This can succeed through a climate of fear, hysteria and mistrust, hatred and division. One can also spread the whole thing over many smaller wars (2). But the Olympus of the “sole world power”, it is crumbling. The financial system based on debt and compound interest, to which the world’s policeman owed his power in recent decades, is exhausted and on the verge of bankruptcy. The world is losing interest in the U.S. dollar, and the products it used to need the dollar to buy are now being produced elsewhere.

Therefore, the Great Reset project must be implemented now, not someday. We can see that quite a number of governments, represented by Davos goons, are playing into the hands of this disastrous project (3, 4). By their actions, they have created the necessary global crisis that triggered the whole thing – the PLandemic. The PLandemic dealt the first blow to the global economy. Global trade was severely disrupted, supply chains were disrupted, economic sectors were administratively paralyzed. But certain sectors and individuals are literally suffocating in their (monetary) wealth. Of all people, it is those who act as saviors in times of need.

At the WEF, on the subject of the “Great Reset”, one can discover this saying:

“In every crisis, there is an opportunity” (3i).

All the more so if you have been able to increase your chances of success by tailoring the crisis to your needs. But the “Great Reset” is only a means to an end. The real end is a complete reorganization of societies, centralized by a holistic cabinet of psychopathic megalomaniacs and super-rich (5). On that also the money machine runs on more profitably than ever. The system is to be maintained at any price, but the price is paid by others. These people then quite aptly call this “stakeholder capitalism”.

“This is our best chance to instigate stakeholder capitalism (…)”; in German: “Dies ist unsere beste Chance, Stakeholder-Kapitalismus einführen (…)” (3ii).

The reader may guess three times who is meant by the “stakeholders”, the winners of the home-made crises and the “Great Reset” based on them. It is certainly not you or me.

Label fraud

You can say whatever you like about the basic method of capitalist management. What has hit the economy functioning on this basis in Germany (and not only it) to the core are the “Corona measures” imposed in the past two and a half years, allegedly directed against a new kind of virus, and now the sanctions on the energy market allegedly hitting Russia. “Allegedly” is important, because neither PLandemic measures have been aimed at reining in any virus. Nor do the sanctions hit Russia. And both are readily apparent to any observer not going through life with blinders on; how so?

First, the propagated goals were not even remotely achieved. Quite obviously, the political measures imposed are no good. Neither has the alleged virus been “eradicated” (which makes a mockery of common sense anyway), nor has Russia been brought to its knees with sanctions on the energy market. The challenge now, is to understand that these goals were propagated, but were not the purpose of the “measures” at all. This means that we are by no means dealing with idiocy if we are unable to see any sense in the concrete actions of political leaders. We ourselves must overcome our own thought patterns and look for the real reasons.

We are manipulated: We are supposed to analyze what the light of the media spotlight directs us to, but this blinds us to what is essential, what is therefore by no means invisible.

The method of looking for the beneficiaries and the aggrieved is a very useful one to lift the veil. There are many losers of the PLandemic and sanctions madness and on the other hand a well sorted list of profiteers. Moreover, it is worth taking a broader perspective from which to examine whether the two issues (PLandemic and the war against Russia) might not be related.

On the other hand, we must look at structures and mechanisms by means of which these crises were and are brought about. One of these is that of the innocent-sounding public-private partnership (PPP). The fact that PPP has become so popular has to do with constraints on the public purse. This allows us to look very deeply into the system in which we live. Public coffers are permanently tight by nature, but this is by no means a natural consequence of the system. It is often argued that this is due to the inability of state and local authorities to manage their finances “sensibly”. This may be true in individual cases, but it takes the focus off the general problem – and that is not good at all.

Normal capitalism

It is underestimated that the man-made return logic of capitalism reaches its limits when it comes to people’s existential needs. Fresh air, clean drinking water, decent housing with minimum standards of light, heating and hygiene are not negotiable. Nor can the provision of such social standards be made dependent on whether the effort required to achieve them is profitable or not. Profitable here, of course, means the monetary return on capital from an economic enterprise.

In the sense of functioning social communities, however, “profitable” is to be regarded differently and cannot really be measured in money. Both the effort required and the benefit to the individual and feedback to society are enriching. Certainly enriching on an empathic, connecting, cooperative level. Unfortunately, the capitalist system cannot truly price these aspects humanely. It is a system of mathematical rules. First and foremost, however, it is an ideology!

Ideologies have the ugly characteristic to subjugate everything and everybody. That of capitalism carries a perverting utilization logic in itself, which stops at nothing. Above all, this logic of exploitation is classified as desirable, without alternative, and fundamentally as having moral integrity.

It pretends to reflect THE essence of man. And so it cannot be surprising that ultimately every hurdle wants to be torn down that opposes the idea of capitalization – up to water, light and air.

Institutions of the public sector, which secure exactly such basic components for humane living conditions, are forced in the system of capitalist economy to cover these tasks monetarily. And when the money runs out, debts have to be incurred. Ultimately, debts are incurred with private banks, which charge interest for their “services”. This in turn means that the debtor must “earn” the loan plus interest and compound interest.

The permanent pressure on the public sector to save (monetary) costs, forced by political actors, led to the public sector starting to sell off its “unprofitable” areas. Wastewater, drinking water (6), energy, telecommunications and, finally, health sector facilities (7 to 9) – all of these were sold off to private companies. As a rule, the quality of the corresponding services then deteriorated, while costs rose and with them the returns of investors.

PPP fraud model

Public-private partnership (PPP), however, goes one step further. The political influence of private actors leads to governments launching projects that sell themselves as having a necessary benefit for the general public. What they are not. They are launched business models that are largely financed by the public sector (through borrowing). The private actors, however, are responsible for skimming off the profits.

It is obvious that such a thing can only work if politicians and the mass media speak after the mouths of private investors. This is exactly why there are lobbyists who permanently try to influence politicians, and the greater the influence, the larger the projects line up, with the expectation of correspondingly large profit margins. In order to turn more to the topic drawn at the beginning, a prime example of PPP is the Gavi project. “The Vaccine Alliance” seeks global marketing opportunities for “vaccine products” from the world’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers, which requires certain policy frameworks (10).

CEPI is another money-raising project to make states pay for profitable “vaccines” (11). Both Gavi and CEPI are closely linked to the two largest foundations investing in the pharmaceutical sector, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (12 to 16) and the Wellcome Trust (17 to 19). It is important to distinguish clearly here:

The Gates Foundation as well as the Wellcome Trust do not donate, but they invest (20)! They invest in projects from which they skim off fat profits, because they are closely connected with the pharmaceutical sector. The governments donate, because they get in return: Nothing!

This nothing must be concealed. What one does with an allegedly good purpose. The summoned danger is just as fraudulent as the miraculously in max speed developed solution. Danger and solution form a narrative, a screaming advertising label for a lucrative business project. From which one can also see nicely how closely advertising and propaganda are connected.

So we were allowed to experience advertising and propaganda when the gigantic marketing project of “new vaccines” against a very dangerous, “new virus” was launched. Whereby the deceived citizen got the marketing costs partly also still imposed. After all, he dutifully pays his compulsory contribution to the ARD advertising agency.

Governments and media drove the marketing for the mRNA sauce, in which they permanently pressed the fear button. At the same time, public money flowed into the corresponding research and the development of production capacities. To top it all off, the experimental brew is also bought with public funds (21). Free, fair competition between market participants (which exists only as an ideal anyway), a quasi “good” capitalism, cannot be recognized here with the best will in the world.

The so-called Corona measures have put countless small and medium-sized enterprises in a tight spot. Simply because their competitive conditions were drastically worsened from above. As the economy was dislocated, prices rose dramatically, and so did poverty (22). Within the strategic orientation of the “Great Reset,” these effects are absolutely intentional, because this is also about a gigantic redistribution of wealth.

Some time ago, Sebastian Friebel summarized the official key points of the “Great Reset” as follows:

“1. expansion of “global governance” = shift of political power away from the nation state to supranational institutions (UN, EU, IMF, WHO, etc.)
2. expansion of “cooperation” between corporations and states = so-called “public-private cooperation” (i.e. official interference of corporations in legislation)
3. fourth industrial revolution = complete digitalization of all areas of life with everything that is technically possible (automation, drones, artificial intelligence, tracking, digital identities, facial recognition, etc.)” (23).

This is about a new world order in which power is transferred to supranational institutions backed by an elite layer of super-rich people with ties to multinational corporations, and taken away from nation-states in return. The claim to power is total and extends to all areas: the economy, social structures, culture, money, even the bodies and minds of people.

Work on this new world order has been going on for a long time – and is now increasingly being openly communicated to the outside world. The transhumanist ideology with the goal of a synthesized, controlled and top-down society is unmistakable. The wet dreams of the “Davos people” have existed for decades and have been pushing for their political realization for just as long (24, 25). And therefore still the means to the end, the “actually” already long ago no longer secret agendas of this aloof clique – again by Sebastian Friebel – are clearly named:

“4. flattening small and medium-sized businesses
5. flattening jobs through digitalization
6. destroy cash
7. expand censorship, flatten freedom of opinion
8. generally flatten everything and everyone politically, medially and economically who expresses doubts about the “good intentions” of the corporations” (23i).

After that, the future belongs to the obedient – and the obedient belong to their masters.
Transhumanism and “Great Reset”

Advertising and propaganda have now also put their stamp on the no less gigantic marketing project of “good weapons” to “save free, human rights Ukraine” against “the sinister tsar in the Kremlin” by using hundreds of billions of euros and dollars. Propaganda is emotion, often one of fear. Advertising is also emotion, but now that of solution, redemption and promises. Along with these go immoderately expanded sanctions against Russia. And again one wonders: who are the profiteers, who are the losers?

If one takes the alleged goals of the all-out war against Russia at face value and then follows the various summits of the EU, G7 and NATO, one believes to have landed in Absurdistan. The idiocy of the PLandemic has been smoothly carried over into the new crisis. But it is only the idiocy of the political clowns, the claqeurs, the incompetent and hopelessly dependent celebrities in the governments. The idiotic justifications together with the idiotic measures argued with it aim at the maintenance of hysteria and fears.

The goals actually pursued by a clique of indecently rich and power-hungry and arrogant elites, on the other hand, are decidedly rational, but unfortunately also pathological. Only in a climate of social hysteria, in which people lose the ground under their feet, can these pathological goals be realized. Only when people lose their hopes, their dignity, their self-respect, are they willing to mutate into functioning subjects in a smart, global corporate and elite dictatorship. How do you get something like that done?

Well, you take steps that deprive people step by step of their social, economic, cultural, even physical foundations. You take away their identity, disenfranchise and dumb them down. You keep them as infantile dependent beings in a permanent state of fears and stress.

This is the true essence of the narrative of “war against the novel virus” and it is also that of the narrative of “defending Ukraine against the Russian aggressor.”

Both narratives are equally lies, as they cover up the underlying agenda, which is the same in principle. Once we have recognized this, we no longer wonder why our politicians say they need to sanction Russia. They hide it or are incapable of recognizing that they are sanctioning their own citizens.

On the battlefield in Ukraine, Ukrainian soldiers are being burned ostensibly “for Western values.” The (still) not so brutal method is used in the EU’s shaping space. Citizens are supposed to freeze in order to bring Russia to its knees with sanctions. The alleged end is completely absurd, the means (freezing), however, could become reality in the near future. The caste of politicians, the betas (see below), are already preparing us for this.

The essence of transhumanism is pathological. This ideology is carried by psychopaths and narcissists. Such people love only themselves, their infallibility and uniqueness. And this is reflected in their visions and goals, which they approach without any scruples. The others are only mass. Mass is despised by “the unique”. The mass must be led and the mass must be forced, if necessary, to its happiness.

As for the PLandemic, it has become more than clear: The caregivers are mass, the “vaccinated” as well as the “unvaccinated” are mass. The Corona believers, they too are just mass. They are the soldiers of the Corona war launched by humans, who are supposed to believe that they would be attacked by the virus, but just as the script wanted, they consider their fellow human beings as enemies.

Also the Ukrainian soldiers, in general the Ukrainian population are only maneuvering mass, fuel to be able to “creatively destroy” (26). The same applies to the well-oiled media. Yes, even the political celebrities of Western states are merely gammas for the elites, at most betas, but never alphas (a1). All of them merely serve as a means to an end. Where they do not serve, they are forgotten at best, destroyed at worst.

As the long time second most powerful man of the “Third Reich”, Hermann Göring, said during his pre-trial detention in the Nuremberg war crimes trial :

“Well, of course, the people do not want war. (…) But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine policy, and it is always easy to get the people to go along, whether it is a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament or a communist dictatorship. [] the people can always be made to follow the orders of the leaders with or without the right to vote. It is very simple. It is not necessary to do anything but to tell the people that they are being attacked and to accuse the pacifists of their lack of patriotism and to claim that they are putting the country in danger. This method works in every country” (27).

This transhumanist guild, closely networked with unscrupulous profiteers, wages war against all those who do not function as desired: against governments that do not function, but also against their own citizens, even against those who do function.

Everyone, really everyone, is to be drawn into these wars. The price for the intended “transformation” is not paid by “the unique”. Which in turn means: submitting and functioning is not a solution. The problem is only exacerbated and the solution postponed into the future. For the “unique ones” it is never enough anyway.

One cannot repeat it often enough and at the latest the events of the last two years, happened under the flag of the PLandemie showed it nevertheless more than clearly: These people will not stop!

And so the war against Russia (a2), sold as “defense of arch-democratic Ukraine against the Russian aggressor” throws us back on ourselves just as the PLandemic, sold as “fight against the virus”. Both conflicts were created also and primarily for us. So that we participate in them, get entangled in them and give fodder to the masterminds.

Thus the simple applies, which is above all in the everyday life with difficulty to convert, because it requires evenly somewhat more courage: To stop participating. The beautiful and challenging thing about this is that we have the opportunity every day anew to get out. To get out of the wars of a caste that does not represent our interests and whose wars are not ours.

I wish all people this courage. Please stay beautifully alert, dear readers.

Editorial Note: This post first appeared under the title “Crises and the ‘Great Reset'” at Peds Views.

Sources and Notes:

(General) This article by Peds Views is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. You are welcome to redistribute and reproduce it, provided you comply with the terms of the license – especially the clearly visible link to the author’s blog. When linking internally to other articles of Peds views, you will also find there the external sources used to support the statements in the current text. Last edited: July 14, 2022.

(a1) In the novel “Brave New World” Aldous Huxley anticipates already in the 1930s the transhumanist nightmare, which a crazy elite class wants to make reality. In the novel, people of different “qualities” are artificially raised in such a way that certain castes of people emerge. The elites are the “Alphas,” followed by the “Betas” and “Gammas,” and finally the lowest are the “Epsilons.”
(a2) The war against Russia is not the same as the war currently taking place in Ukraine. Very well, however, the Ukraine conflict fits into the war against Russia, yes, is even a consequence of it.
(1) 28.04.2022; Report24; “Insane!”: Schwab’s new book “The Great Narrative” is being blasted; https://report24.news/geisteskrank-schwabs-neues-buch-das-grosse-narrativ-wird-in-der-luft-zerrissen/
(2) Michael A. Ledeen; Creative Destruction; 9/20/2001; National Review Onoline; retrieved from: http://www.aei.org/publication/creative-destruction-2/; 8/3/2019
(3 to 3ii) 06/03/2020; WEF; Now is the time for a ‘great reset’; https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/06/now-is-the-time-for-a-great-reset/
(4) 04/23/2022; Money and more; Norbert Häring; World Economic Forum unveils its new agents of influence – focus on 2022 digital ministries; https://norberthaering.de/macht-kontrolle/wef-young-global-leaders-2022/
(5) 08.07.2020; Rubicon; Kai Ehlers; Trojan horse of transhumanism; https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/trojanisches-pferd-des-transhumanismus
(6) Solidarwerkstatt; Effects and background of water privatization; https://www.solidarwerkstatt.at/arbeit-wirtschaft/auswirkungen-und-hintergrnde-der-wasserprivatisierung; retrieved: 01.07.2022
(7) 22.02.2002; Ärzteblatt; Jens Flintrop; Rhön-Klinikum AG: Strategic contacts; https://www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/30524/Rhoen-Klinikum-AG-Strategische-Kontakte
(8) 09.07.2020; Ärzteblatt; Takeover of Rhön-Klinikum by Asklepios completed; https://www.aerzteblatt.de/nachrichten/114546/Uebernahme-von-Rhoen-Klinikum-durch-Asklepios-abgeschlossen
(9) 08.06.2020; Ärzteblatt; Rhön takeover: doctors fear deterioration of working conditions; https://www.aerzteblatt.de/nachrichten/113595/Rhoen-Uebernahme-Aerzte-befuerchten-Verschlechterung-der-Arbeitsbedingungen
(10) BMZ; Gavi, the vaccination alliance; https://www.bmz.de/de/service/lexikon/gavi-impfallianz-14402; retrieved: 25.06.2022
(11) 19.01.2022; ARD-Tagesschau, Bill Gates donates and warns; https://www.tagesschau.de/wirtschaft/weltwirtschaft/bill-gates-cepi-corona-impfstoff-novavax-moderna-101.html
(12) 03/26/2014; UBC; Gates Foundation funds expansion of UBC pre-eclampsia project; https://web.archive.org/web/20180423123507/https://obgyn.ubc.ca/gates-foundation-funds-expansion-of-ubc-pre-eclampsia-project/
(13) BMGF; Committed Grants Database; search for “British Columbia”; https://www.gatesfoundation.org/about/committed-grants?q=%22British%20Columbia%22; retrieved 01/26/2022
(14) BMGF; Commited Grants Database; search for “AbCellera”; https://www.gatesfoundation.org/about/committed-grants?q=AbCellera; retrieved: 01/26/2022
(15) AbCellera; https://www.abcellera.com/technology; retrieved: 01/26/2022
(16) BMGF; Commited Grants Databases; Precision Nanosystems Inc, To assess the potential of a novel mRNA manufacturing platform for future pandemic responses ; https://www.gatesfoundation.org/about/committed-grants/2020/11/inv023637; retrieved: 01/26/2022
(17) 09.06.2020; SRF; Klaus Ammann; Who is behind the global vaccination alliance; https://www.srf.ch/news/wirtschaft/stiftung-gavi-wer-hinter-der-globalen-impfallianz-steht
(18) 06/27/2022; Press Portal, ots/PRNewswire; The Indonesian Ministry of Health; G20 to launch pandemic fund this year; https://www.presseportal.de/pm/162442/5258548
(19) 02/19/2022; CEPI, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome pledge $300 million to CEPI to fight COVID-19 a combat threat of future pandemics; https://cepi.net/news_cepi/bill-melinda-gates-foundation-and-wellcome-pledge-300-million-to-cepi-to-fight-covid-19-and-combat-threat-of-future-pandemics/
(20) 12/15/2020; Wellcome Annual Report 2020; p. 29, Figure 9; Capital investments in corporations; https://wellcome.org/reports/wellcome-annual-report-2020
(21) “In total, Germany provided approximately 2.2 billion euros in 2020 and 2021 through the ACT-A (Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator) global collaboration platform for the development, production, and equitable global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics, oxygen and therapeutics, and protective equipment.”; BMZ; https://www.bmz.de/de/entwicklungspolitik/corona-pandemie/covid-impfungen-weltweit; Retrieved: 07/01/2022
(22) 06/29/2022; taz; poverty reaches new high; https://taz.de/Bericht-von-Sozialverband/!5864631/
(23, 23i) 12/01/2021; Our Fundamental Rights; Sebastian Friebel; Brief overview of the 8 main goals of the “Great Reset”; https://www.unsere-grundrechte.de/kurzer-ueberblick-ueber-die-8-hauptziele-des-great-reset/
(24) Samuel P. Huntington; Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite; 3/1/2004; Nationalinterest; retrieved from WaybackMachine: https://web.archive.org/web/20090202000904/http://www.nationalinterest.org/General.aspx?id=92&id2=10938
(25) Timothy Garton Ash; 2/3/2005; Davos man’s death wish; https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/feb/03/globalisation.comment
(26) Quoting Georg Friedman: “The U.S. has no overriding interest in peace in Eurasia. Just as in Korea or Vietnam, the reason for these conflicts was simply to destabilize powers, not to impose order.”; 2010; Georg Friedman; The Next 100 Years; Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt/M.; ISBN 978-3-593-38930-1 ; p. 45; taken from: http://vonwegenmediendemokratie.blogspot.com/2017/01/die-usa-wollen-staaten-die-im-chaos.html; 12.1.2017
(27) January 1962; Gustave M. Gilbert; Nuremberg Diary; p. 270; Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag; https:

Peter Frey, born in 1960, has been a Dresden resident since 1965, trained as a car mechanic, was a truck driver, cab driver, self-employed in IT consulting. After bankruptcy, he was a welfare recipient, Hartz IV recipient, and finally studied information technology from 2004 and has been active in the peace movement in Dresden for years. He wants to wake people up and thus move them to active, self-determined action dedicated to small as well as large peace. He has been a full-time administrator for several years and runs the blog Peds Views on the side.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Energy crisis and Journalism must control the powerful

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/07/25/18851231.php
Energy crisis: market intervention by policymakers is necessary!

by Josef Thoman
[This article published on 7/21/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://awblog.at/energiekrise-markteingriffe-der-politik-sind-notwendig/.]

We are in the middle of a multiple energy crisis. The supply of energy is in danger, and prices will continue to rise. This is not only a problem for private households and companies; rather, there is a danger that the persistently high inflation will become entrenched. Then we will be faced with a severe economic depression, which will lead to a noticeable loss of prosperity. Tough measures are needed now to prevent the worst. And above all, the political will to override the interests of powerful companies in the energy industry.

The price of gas and electricity is determined on international exchanges. Even the price for private end consumers is regularly tied to stock market prices by the energy supply companies by means of indexation. This is a consequence of the liberalization of the energy sector over the past 30 years, which was pushed by liberal economic forces, the energy industry.

The most powerful company on the gas market is Russia’s Gazprom. It does not act according to market rules, but manipulates for political reasons. Last year, Gazprom already made less gas available to the market and did not replenish its own storage facilities. With Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, it finally became obvious to everyone how dependent Europe is on Gazprom. Uncertainty about the future supply of gas has driven up the exchange price of natural gas.

Added to this are speculative derivative transactions whose purpose is to make short-term profits by exploiting price fluctuations. It is companies from the financial sector, as well as the energy companies themselves, that are driving the uncertainty, volatility and prices here, including with computer-controlled high-frequency trading.

In turn, the fossil energy industry benefits from the high prices. OMV, for example, was already able to almost triple its profit (after special effects) in the first quarter of 2022. But not only have gas prices risen massively from less than 25 euros/MWh in recent years to around 180 euros/MWh today, the price of electricity has also reached a level that was previously unimaginable. In recent years, the price was less than 50 euros/MWh, and is currently just under 400 euros/MWh.

The fact that the exchange price for electricity has also risen so sharply is initially surprising, especially since more than 80 percent of domestic electricity production comes from renewable sources such as hydropower, wind energy and photovoltaics. But the exchange price for electricity is determined according to the merit order system. The production costs of the most expensive power plant still needed determine the price. Due to the fluctuating feed-in of renewable energy, this is usually a gas-fired power plant. The price of electricity therefore rises with the price of gas, even though the production costs for more than 80 percent of domestic electricity production have not changed. This applies to private wind power operators, whose plants were financed by subsidies, as well as to very large green power producers, such as Verbund AG. Its former CEO, Christian Kern, estimates that Verbund will make 7.2 billion euros more profit.

Consumers are footing the bill. Around two-thirds of the current inflation is due to the effects of high energy prices. But that is just the beginning. Energy suppliers pass on stock market prices with a time lag, and the high wholesale prices will not reach private households until next year. A doubling of gas and electricity prices must be expected. If companies then reduce production because of rising prices, prices will continue to rise, economic growth will decline, unemployment will increase and inflation will rise. We then find ourselves in stagflation, a prolonged economic depression – with corresponding social, societal and political consequences.

What is needed, therefore, are quickly implementable, pragmatic solutions at the national level (1-4) and systemic interventions at the European level (5-6) that will lead to a tangible reduction in energy prices. In this context, the energy industry must also be held accountable.

Legal requirements that oblige gas importers to assume their responsibility for security of supply. OMV is responsible for more than two thirds of gas imports to Austria. Hand in hand with politics and business, it has increased its dependence on Russian gas from about 50 percent to over 80 percent in recent years. Despite the current supply crisis, OMV does not appear to be prepared to sufficiently diversify its supply sources or to store significantly more gas.
Regulated tariffs for end consumers. The next massive price increases for private consumers can be expected in the coming year, making energy unaffordable for ever larger sections of society. The EU Commission has also recognized this and created the possibility of introducing regulated tariffs for private households. Austria should also make use of this option.
Adjustment of social benefits: Vulnerable groups need additional support, social benefits must take account of price trends and be raised to a living wage level.
A high tax on irresponsibly high windfall profits. In the current crisis, it is a necessity to skim off excess profits and use the funds for measures to reduce energy prices. Italy, Greece or Great Britain show that this is possible.
Decouple electricity price from gas price. Spain and Portugal have demonstrated it with the “electricity price cap,” and it works. The fears expressed, such as displacing renewables or supply problems, have not materialized. The price of electricity on the Iberian Peninsula is currently half that of the rest of Europe. Austria must therefore advocate at the European level for a Europe-wide implementation of the “Iberian model” and prepare the technical implementation.
Financial transaction tax and exclusion of non-market players. Price-driving speculative transactions with energy derivatives must be stopped. As also proposed by the German Institute for Economic Research, speculative transactions should be made unprofitable by introducing a financial transaction tax.

One thing is clear here: The energy minister alone will not be able to remedy the problems, which are essentially due to past failures. This multiple energy crisis can only be overcome if particular interests are put aside and the federal government can stand up together against the interests of large corporations!

Josef Thoman is a consultant in the Department of Economic Policy of AK Vienna with a focus on energy policy.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Journalists must control the powerful, not the other way around
by David Goeßmann
[This article published on 7/22/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Die Journalisten müssen die Mächtigen kontrollieren und nicht umgekehrt.]

Representatives:inside of parties, state chancelleries and large associations sit in the control and administrative bodies of the public broadcasters. That should change.

The U.S. journalist I.F. Stone had an ironclad principle: reporters should go about their work with the premise that powerful institutions lie, not that they tell the truth. But the media follow a different principle. Why is that?

This is a slightly modified excerpt from an article in the book “The Misery of the Media”. It is a summary of some theses of a lecture I gave at the University of Munich.

It makes no sense to take the ideal of a free press for granted. Whoever owns the media, whoever manages them, whoever keeps the news flow going and, in case of doubt, can pay people to influence and discipline critical journalists, will make sure that nothing annoying appears there, especially since the most important target groups are those who are in charge anyway or who have the most money.

Those who set up the mass media the way they are have little interest in power control and democracy. Its real function is rather to tie citizens to the course of the elites, to create trust in the powerful and their good intentions, and to get unpleasant things out of the way.

Every society also has a power system. In Germany, the large corporations have accumulated an enormous amount of power. When you put the media in the hands of these corporations, they represent their interests. But these interests do not reflect the diversity of the 80 million people in our country.

The idea and the basic concept of public broadcasting are right in themselves. The frequencies belong to us, they are a public good. But this public good has been neutralized by politicizing and nationalizing the controlling bodies. The result: politics controls journalism. That is perfidious. It should be the other way around.

After this birth defect, there were many other mistakes. First ZDF as a kind of conservative state broadcasting without citizen participation, then dual broadcasting with the private broadcasters.

In the past 20 years, neoliberal policies have had an enormous impact on reporting. Agenda 2010, the wars of aggression, the refugee policy, the Ukraine crisis. Whether Süddeutsche, Spiegel or ARD: the reports almost always have a slant. Ideological presuppositions, filtering of content, double moral standards. One can go through this topic by topic.

As journalists, we cannot overcome the concentration of power. But we are not beholden to powerful institutions, we are beholden to citizens. We would need reporting that overcomes ideologies and one-sided framing. Ultimately, that can only be done with independently constructed media.

When I criticize my colleagues, I experience different reactions: When I exposed how private and public broadcasters take over foreign and PR material undeclared, it had an effect. That no longer happens today. You can always see the source when third-party material is taken over. For me, that was a success. Even if it was a small one.

But when I criticize my colleagues with Herman and Chomsky and reproach them with the fact that the task of modern media, according to their institutional set-up, is to bring the consensus of the elites among the people and to ensure consent, then I am no longer discussed with my research and books. Then I move outside the discourse framework, even if I provide good evidence for the findings.

Protective walls are needed against attempts to influence journalists

One can argue about whether it is clever as a media critic to use terms like lies or manipulation. That pours water on the mills of the right. What the modern media do is more of a concealment, an omission. This can be demonstrated quite well by input-output analyses. The selective use of information also occurs in alternative media. But there, the factors are different.

In the case of broadcasters, the first thing to change is the composition of the councils. The fact that politicians, representatives of state chancelleries and governments sit on them is a joke. We are supposed to control them. That there are also representatives of business lobbies and associations is laughable. They all have to get out. But with this demand, you won’t find any support at the political level.

Citizens’ or public councils would be needed. There would have to be elections for the councils. And we need civil disobedience. Flash mobs that march in front of the broadcasters and say: We want different reporting. ARD, ZDF and the broadcasting frequencies belong to us. That has to get into people’s consciousness. Otherwise nothing will change.

Journalism must be independent. But the corporate and state sectors will always try to prevent anything that runs counter to their interests. That means we have to build protective walls. That could be models with more audience participation or more protection through self-governance.

In addition, advertising in public broadcasting must be ended. And: abolish all commercial activities. This includes outsourcing TV productions to private companies. We should also rethink the licensing of private broadcasters, similar to the FCC in the USA. Especially at the regional level, broadcasters would have to justify themselves to the citizens. A licensing system could also be introduced for newspapers. Printing and distribution could be publicly financed and licensed on this basis.

Across the media, there needs to be safeguards if there are any attempts at influence from outside. As journalists, we must have the opportunity and the duty to make everything transparent. Calls from politicians, for example. There needs to be a website where that is documented. That way, the problem of influence would disappear very quickly. The goal must always be for journalists to control the powerful. And not that the powerful control us.

There is a lack of media criticism in academia. There is a study here and there. Afghanistan, Ukraine. That’s far too little fodder to show in public where things went wrong. For a media critic like me, it would be important to be able to fall back on studies that are methodologically clean. I try to provide the empiricism in books and articles, but that’s hard to do on my own. Communication scientists should be much more concerned with the errors in reporting. Exposing, describing the condition, generating attention.

Some time ago I was in Augsburg for a lecture. Afterwards, some students said: But what the Tagesschau says is true. It’s objective, serious and neutral. That shows: There is no awareness of the problem. People first have to see what’s going wrong.

That not all voices were represented in the Ukraine reporting. Or that a shipwreck involving refugees in the spring of 2015 was reported differently than a comparable case in the spring of 2016 because the EU-Turkey deal was being negotiated along the way. Science could also discuss how to break down institutional barriers and how to make reporting more independent and critical.

Sometimes I hear the objection: Isn’t too much criticism, also and especially of the media and journalists, counterproductive and destroys social cohesion? I don’t think there can be too much media criticism. Because: Democracy means friction. (David Goessmann)
https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

How they fuel war and At the Root

How they fuel war fever by John Molyneux
and At the Root by Felix Feistel

https://indybay.org/newsitems/2022/07/17/18851063.php
As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, the ground is being prepared for a NATO-led escalation in the form of sanctions & possibly military action. The establishment is stoking war fever.

How they fuel war fever
by John Molyneux
[This article published on 3/6/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.marx21.de/wie-sie-das-kriegsfieber-anheizen/]

As Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, the ground is being prepared for a NATO-led escalation in the form of sanctions and possibly military action. John Molyneux examines how the establishment is stoking war fever to win public support from people who would not normally want war

Most of the time, most people don’t want war. Why should they? Therefore, if our rulers:in want to go to war, they must try to create a mood for it among the public – a war fever. With some practice, they have a well-established playlist for this.

For the playlist to work, cooperation with the mass media is necessary, but it is almost always there; there are deep-rooted links between the powerful capitalist:ins, the government, and the state and corporate media. This is especially the case in Ireland, but it is also the case in all other countries – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, etc. – even and especially where they claim to be democracies.

Say what is!

The first step in this move is to focus on the situation or crisis that is to be used as a cause or pretext for war. The media acts like a spotlight, shining a bright light on a particular place while the rest of the world is shrouded in darkness. So today the focus is on Ukraine and Russia, but not on Yemen or Israel/Palestine or other places where there is war and conflict.

Of course, there is the justification that this is what is happening, but effective propaganda works best when it contains a significant element of truth, and controlling and narrowing the focus in this way is intended to protect the pattern of behavior of our rulers, and thus their true motives, from any scrutiny.

The narrowed focus of “our values”.

When our rulers:in beat the war drums, they always portray themselves as resisting aggression, defending democracy, standing up for human rights, etc., but this claim is credible only if we do not look at the bigger picture – the bigger picture in geopolitical terms and the bigger picture in historical terms. It is therefore essential to limit the discussion to Ukraine and not even think about the war in Yemen, the war on Afghanistan, the war on Iraq, the wars on Palestine, the war on Chechnya, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and countless other conflicts in which the current “aggression deniers: innen” and “defenders:innen of democracy” have either not lifted a finger to oppose aggression or defend democracy, or have actively participated in aggression and the crushing of democracy.

“What are we supposed to do?”

Next, they say we must do something, and confront anyone who opposes their agenda with the question, “What do you want us to do? Key to this statement and this question is the little word “we,” which they hope will go unnoticed but is a crucial word in politics. Who is ‘we’ in this situation? Is it ‘the West’? But ‘the West’ actually means the US government and the EU and its allies. Is ‘we’ the Irish people? But ‘they’, i.e. our rulers, are not really asking ‘us’, i.e. the Irish citizens, to do anything. What they are really asking is that ‘we’, the people, should approve of what ‘they’, the government, are doing and want to do. They hope that their interests and goals are in line with the interests and goals of the people, but that is precisely not the case, either in domestic issues – fiscal policy, public spending, austerity measures, etc. – or in foreign policy issues. In fact, their interests, the interests of the One Percent, are diametrically opposed to our interests. In this case, they want us to go along with sanctions and possibly military action and to fuel war, while the interests of ordinary people in Russia, Ukraine and here at home are focused on peace and international solidarity. That is what they hope to hide with the little word “we.”

Another move that comes from the same playlist is the demonization of the enemy and his actions. As I said, effective propaganda contains an element of truth, and given the state of the world, the “enemy” is usually quite evil and behaves quite appallingly, but that doesn’t make him the worst tyrant the world has ever seen. Putin is undoubtedly an authoritarian tyrant, but is he the worst tyrant of modern times? Hardly. Is he a worse tyrant than Margaret Thatcher’s and the U.S.’s well-known friend, General Pinochet in Chile? Is he a worse dictator than Egypt’s General Al-Sisi, who is currently holding 60,000 political prisoners and with whom all “our” governments and companies are doing business as usual and who is barely mentioned in the media?

Historical comparisons and demonization

I have said that our rulers want to keep the focus narrow and not look at history. There is one major exception, one historical analogy that they always resort to when it comes to stoking war fever: the comparison with Hitler. Unfortunately, I am old enough to remember being told that the Egyptian Colonel Nasser, who (rightly) nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, was the new Hitler who had to be stopped – presumably before he invaded France and bombed London! This was to justify a disastrous Franco-British military intervention to “reclaim” the canal for imperialism. Then there was Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, who was alternately a new Hitler and then Tony Blair’s and the West’s friend, only to be “our” enemy again when Libya was devastated by NATO intervention. And so it was with Saddam Hussein. Saddam was indeed a brutal dictator who invaded Kuwait and tyrannized the Iraqi people, but he was not Hitler. He was not about to invade Western Europe and invade or bomb Britain. In fact, of course, no Middle Eastern leader, however tyrannical, has ever invaded Western Europe since the Moors occupied part of Spain in 711 AD. It was precisely to overcome this little difficulty that Bush and Blair came up with the lie of “weapons of mass destruction” which, you will recall, could hit London in 45 minutes!

The imperialist blocs and their spheres of influence

From the mid-18th to the mid-19th century, British propaganda focused on the threat posed by France, which peaked with the French Revolution and Napoleon. In the course of “defending” itself against France, Britain succeeded in building the largest empire in the world, eventually encompassing 35.5 million square kilometers – 26.4 percent of the earth’s surface and seven times the size of the Roman Empire. During the Cold War, we were repeatedly told that the Soviet Union had to be dissuaded from invading Western Europe, although there was no evidence of this. In fact, at the famous Yalta Conference in February 1945, Stalin had explicitly agreed that Western Europe should be within the sphere of influence of the U.S. and Britain, and he backed this up by telling the Communist parties of Italy, France, and Greece not to fight for power, even though they were capable of doing so after leading the resistance in the war. The “threat of communism” served as justification for creating the largest military arsenal the world had ever seen, with the power to destroy all of humanity multiple times, legitimize countless proxy and regional wars, attempt to crush numerous liberation movements, and support the vilest dictators, all in the service of an informal economic empire that gave free rein to its vast corporations and reached even further than the formal British Empire.

Communism as an Enemy

In reality, the Soviet Union did not want to conquer Western Europe, but to maintain control over its own imperial sphere of influence, its “near abroad” such as Eastern Europe, and its southern and eastern flanks. As for Eastern Europe, the United States and NATO accepted this and did nothing to support Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, or Poland in 1979. Only when the Soviet Union collapsed from its own contradictions did the U.S. and NATO take care of countries like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, etc. Putin wants to regain some of what Stalin had – he knows he can’t take on China or Southeast Asia. He is an imperialist, but he is not Hitler, and comparing him to Hitler is just bad historiography in the service of warmongering.

A truncated analogy

There is something else to be said about the Hitler analogy. More or less everyone has heard of Hitler, the war and the Holocaust. Far less is known about how he actually came to power in Germany. It is little known, for example, that when Hitler began to organize, Germany was in the throes of a socialist revolution, not a fascist one. The German Revolution of 1918 to 1923 ended World War I and overthrew the Kaiser. Had it not been betrayed by the Social Democrats, who were involved in the murder of revolutionary leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, there might have been socialism in Germany, and Hitler would never have gotten on his feet. It is also not often mentioned in general historiography that there was a force in Germany in the run-up to Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 that could have stopped him. That was the very powerful and well-organized German workers’ movement. It was prevented from doing so because the German Social Democracy and Communists failed to form a united front against the Nazis. This tragedy opened the door for Hitler to take power without serious opposition.

The Putin-Hitler comparison is lame

This point is very important today because the most important force that can stop Putin and the invasion of Ukraine is the anti-war movement in Russia. A mass uprising against the war in Russia itself, while neither easy nor guaranteed, will be far more effective than sanctions or NATO saber-rattling. Established politicians:inside and the mainstream media never have confidence in the ability of mass movements to bring about change or to oppose tyrants and their wars. History, however, including Russian history (1917) and Irish history, is replete with examples of this. So the answer to the original “we must do something” argument is yes, we must build an international anti-war movement based on solidarity, not Western intervention.

What to do about war fever?

The final factor we must consider in the warmongering propaganda of our rulers:in is that just as their rhetoric about democracy and self-determination is not sincere, they may also be hyping their belligerence to appear “great.” They know that even if they don’t go to war, they benefit from the “war fever” they have stoked. They profit, as they always have, from chauvinist war drums and from getting working:class people to put aside their own concerns and struggles in a sense of false togetherness and unity with their real oppressors.

Therefore, it is the task and duty of socialists to oppose the war propaganda of the ruling class and expose it for what it is: self-serving, hypocritical and dangerous.

We must build an international anti-war movement based on solidarity, not Western intervention.

First appeared on Rebel on February 27, 2022 by John Molyneux.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

At the Root
If we abandon our belief in existing power relations, we can change social realities.
By Felix Feistel
[This article published on 6/29/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/an-der-wurzel.]

We take things for granted these days as they are. Some people have money and power, while others do not. Some are poor while others are rich, and we’ve grown accustomed to rich people giving orders to poor people. Governments decide over our heads about our lives and often cause considerable damage. Yet all these conditions need not exist as they do, because they have a common basis: our belief in their necessity.

“If you want to know a man’s character, give him power” (Abraham Lincoln).

Many times in history, people have found the circumstances in which they lived intolerable and felt the urge to change them. And the question quickly arises: how does one change such an oppressive, social normality? Is it the right way to gain power? Is it money that changes the world?

Power and money seem to be the foundation on which everything is based. Power creates hierarchies and dependencies, covers people with a dense web of rules that must be strictly followed. Those in power can behave benevolently or arbitrarily, changing the rules of the game at will and demanding obedience by force if necessary.

In addition, there is money, which is linked to power. Whoever calls a lot of money his own can establish his own power relations. He has the possibility to make people dependent on him and to subjugate them, he can tear entire economies into the abyss and still profit from it, he can privatize lands and employ the people displaced from there on those very lands for starvation wages. Money multiplies itself in a miraculous way, and over the means of the money much more can be effected than over purely political power. These are the conditions in which we find ourselves today, briefly summarized.

But how can such conditions be changed? Many have tried it, became rich and fell for the temptations of money themselves. Those who successfully founded a party and were able to enter the Bundestag often forgot their original ideals and instead fell for the lure of a secure post. Others instigated revolutions, but with dubious success, because afterwards the same conditions prevailed, only with different rulers.

Oppression, tyranny and inequality could not be ended in this way.

Again and again it is shown that it is not enough to obtain the means of power, because power seduces. And all these means, money, political power, which could also be called domination, have a common root which, if not torn out, always produces the same drives.

That root is faith. Faith is the central pillar on which all civilizations are founded, the root that produces all the wars, the domination and power, the wealth, the inequality.

Is faith the same as religion?

This statement can be understood entirely in the religious sense. The belief in a higher God and his representatives on earth has enabled and cemented a rigid system of power with strict hierarchies for over a millennium in Europe alone. In the name of faith, wars could be waged, unbelievers and so-called witches persecuted, tortured and killed. Likewise, this faith concentrated great wealth in the institutions representing it. People voluntarily donated to the church in the hope of thus being washed of their sins, many bequeathing their wealth to these institutions. Letters of indulgence issued by the church were traded as commodities for a long time. Religious faith could justify everything without people rebelling against rule and arbitrariness. Because this belief was the basis for the entire, social coexistence. Even today, people go to war or blow themselves up for religious reasons.

The reason for this is a deeply internalized belief in a judging God who decides after death about joy or suffering, about access to paradise or eternal damnation in hell. Believers are firmly convinced that God delegates the execution of his will to ecclesiastical institutions, whose representatives are then called to proclaim his will to people, to guide them to act according to it. This belief used to be much more deeply rooted in people than it is today. It made any contravention impossible for most people, indeed it prevented the idea of an alternative world view, alternative ethics and thus alternative action from appearing in people’s convictions in the first place. They could not even think independently of this belief, of a worldview centered on a God.

The belief in political power is comparable to this.

Only because people believe that someone as king, president, chancellor or parliamentarian has the power and qua office the legitimation to rule over them, to pass laws or to collect taxes, does this power exist at all.

Nevertheless, for most people a society without rule is inconceivable. The idea that societies must be organized in the familiar way is so deeply inscribed in people that their thinking cannot transcend this image. Thus it also happened that after every revolution that gave expression to people’s dissatisfaction with the ruling system, a new system of rule was established, which basically hardly differed from the previous one. The idea of building a world without power is so foreign to most people that the thought does not even occur to them.

Yet it is precisely this belief that gives people power. If the broad masses were to lose this belief, then from one day to the next this power would no longer exist. Because the power of the enforcing organs such as the police and the military also feeds on this belief. It is only because people here believe in hierarchies and command power that they carry out orders. Without this belief, no one would see any sense in oppressing and bullying their fellow human beings. The power on which the political system is based would collapse without further ado. Similar to the way the religious system lost power and influence in the course of the Enlightenment and the emergence of natural science, our political system would lose this power over people, which it possesses today.

But the numerous civil servants also fulfill their duty for another reason: through this job they earn their money. So money could be seen as an even greater motivation than obedience. But money also has its value only because we believe in it.

Money is printed paper or ones and zeros in an electronic system.

It has no real value, by the way, just as little as gold or silver. None of this has any special meaning in itself. Only the human belief that it has a value makes it possible to use it as a medium of exchange and ultimately as a means of power. This belief in the value of money is so deeply rooted in people that the fact that this value is based only on an illusion does not even occur to most of them. Also, money, like power, has become so familiar to them, so self-evident, that they cannot even imagine a world without these two factors. Hardly anyone even wastes another thought on these self-evident things, just as little as a fish thinks about the water which surrounds it constantly and everywhere.

Yet these two factors are responsible for all the misery in the world. Power is regularly abused by those to whom it is attributed, people are oppressed, excluded, persecuted, killed. Wars are waged for either financial or power-political reasons. Money is concentrated in a few people, while the rest of humanity lives in dependence on them, subject to their arbitrariness. Money leads to inequality, to hunger and poverty on the one hand and to abundance on the other. Money is the direct trigger for the destruction of man and nature. Money finances rulers, weapons and wars, the exploitation of the planet, the whole insanity of production. And it influences every political decision through corruption. All this is based on the belief that money has value and that one person has power over others.

Losing faith

But if we were to give up this belief, even the richest person would no longer be able to convert his money into power from one day to the next. How is someone supposed to appropriate large tracts of land if no one believes the alleged value of his money anymore? How is he supposed to exercise power in this way if people lose their faith in money and power? And why should policemen, soldiers and the legions of civil servants still get carried away with reprimanding their fellow human beings if their faith in money is just as extinguished as that in the power of command?

Why should anyone allow himself to be degraded to undignified labor when the money offered in return has no value? Why tie the distribution of food to worthless paper? Why go to war because someone who usurps power commands it?

All the rulers and elites that people pay so much attention to and submit to today would suddenly be exposed as the caricatures of small, impatient children that they basically are. No one would take them seriously anymore, no one would let them give them orders.

All we have to do is say goodbye to this belief. To do this, we must begin to question the self-evident truths that have been lived and instilled in us by others. For a child, freshly born, knows no money, sees no value in it, and also knows no power. Only the education and the social understanding of the world leads to the fact that humans develop a certain world view.

However, all these beliefs are just that: beliefs. Let us question them and get rid of beliefs that do not stem from our own convictions.

Of course, belief is at the same time the most important basis of any social coexistence. Every society is based on a belief that constitutes and holds it together as such. The history of civilization is therefore also a history of changing but common faith. To fall prey to sober nihilism is therefore not a sensible option, would probably lead to absolute chaos, to a struggle of all against all. Society would disintegrate and become a collection of disconnected individuals. However, instead of blindly adopting the faith that is brought to us from the outside, we should develop a faith that comes from within.

We should ask ourselves the questions: What is it that we want to believe in, that guides and directs us? Is it the belief in the power of one person over another? Is it belief in colored paper or numbers on a display? Or can we not believe in something that rises as a true conviction from within us, that has not been brought to us from the outside, by means of indoctrination and education? We could believe in freedom, in the fact that every human being is equal, in the fact that the primary goal of human societies must be to provide a dignified life for every individual, and in the fact that no one may rule over another.

Nor is it at all necessary that we all share a religious conception, do not all adhere to the same conception of man, do not share the same conceptions of society. Instead, we can create a society of societies, that is, a society in which many, different ideas coexist.

The only shared belief that would then be necessary is that every belief, every conception, and every society has an unlimited right to exist and must therefore be treated as equal.

Underlying this is the belief that every person is free to shape his or her own life according to his or her own pleasure, but cannot impose his or her own ideas on anyone. It would be the belief in the value of man in and for himself, as a human being.

Thus a society of small units can develop, in which Christians live together beside Muslims, Jews and Buddhists, socialists, communists, anarchists, nihilists, atheists, conservatives, liberals, authoritarians and many others. It is also conceivable, for friends of dictatorship, to create small, dictatorial units in which all those who like to be oppressed are allowed to come together. Such a society of societies, in which all belief and political systems coexist in small units, not only does justice to the different ideas of people, but also represents a social laboratory.

Instead of constant system competition on a large scale aimed at eliminating the ideological opponent, this competition can now coexist on a small scale, thus revealing over time which system, which approach, which belief helps people achieve the greatest satisfaction. In this way, this system can then gradually prevail, but it does not necessarily have to. After all, no one is forced to be happy. Quite apart from this, there is also no patent remedy here. Every person can have a different faith, different convictions. Misery only arises when an individual or a group of people force their beliefs, their faith on other people. So it is necessary to find out what we believe in and what we want to believe in.

But the path begins with questioning the current belief and replacing it with one that is not brought to us from the outside, but comes from within us. To do this, everyone can ask themselves what values they live by, where these values come from, and whether they want to continue to live by them. You could also ask yourself what you want to achieve in your life and why. What is it that you want other people to say about you after you pass away? What is it that you want to be remembered on your deathbed? And very centrally: What is actually the motivation, the drive for everything you do and want to achieve in life?

Where does this motivation, this drive, come from? Is it a socially exemplified value, one that has been imparted to you since childhood, or did you find it on your own? What are actually the core values we pursue, and why are they? What is the overarching meaning, the overarching narrative, what is behind all things, all actions?

From there, one can embark on a voyage of discovery toward the questions to which humanity to this day has no satisfactory answer, and which it has had to establish belief systems to satisfy. These are questions like: What comes after death? What is the meaning of everything? These and many other questions are the basis on which our present belief systems are built, and they can be the basis for a new belief system.

One can deal with these and many other questions and question one’s faith, what is taken for granted and normal. On the basis of a shaken faith in what exists, a new faith can emerge, one that changes society from the ground up.

Felix Feistel, born in 1992, writes in many ways about the idiocy of this world and also against it. In a world reduced to numbers and data, which has always been alien to him, he searches for humanity and the meaning of life. He tries to use his powers and talents to create a world worth living in by opposing injustice and destruction. Despite the madness that is rampant everywhere, he is not ready to give up his belief in the goodness of man and his potential to transform the planet into a paradise. He is a member of the Rubicon Youth Editorial Board and writes for the Young Feathers column.
https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Hysterical Populism and the Appetite of the Leviathan by Robert Kurz

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/07/20/18851153.php

The relationship between economy and social order has been turned upside down: economy is no longer a function of an overarching culture, but conversely, “human society has sunk to being an accessory of the economic system” (Karl Polanyi). Robert Kurz, the founder of Exit and Krisis journals, on scapegoating, moral panics and conspiracy theory culture.
Robert Kurz is also available at
https://libcom.org/article/hysterical-populism-robert-kurz

HYSTERICAL POPULISM

The confusion of bourgeois sentiment and the hunt for scapegoats
by Robert Kurz
[This 2001 article is translated from the German on the Internet, EXIT! Krise und Kritik der Warengesellschaft].

The most popular parlor game is the hunt for scapegoats. If something went wrong on a large scale, most often it is an imperative not to call into question the matter as such but to look for certain individuals to take the blame. It is not opportune or even possible to hold responsible hybrid objectives, destructive social relationship, or contradictory structures, rather it has to be attributed to individuals who lack in resolution or competence or even distinguish themselves malicious. It is much easier to keep heads rolling but to overthrow matters as they stand and restructure social dynamic.

The spontaneous tendency of the non-reflective consciousness to iron out troubles by shifting the blame on individuals complies with the liberal ideology: Liberalism in principle has individualized the causes of social problems. The prevailing order of the social system was raised to the nobility of a dogma to the effect that it became a law of nature, thereby unreachable and untouchable for any critical assessment. Hence, the causality of negative experience has to be located in the individuals as they are situated in their actual frame of existence. Personal hardship or failure is the fault of the particular individual concerned, individually guilty culprits or gangs of accomplices do generate social crisis and disaster. Never ever the system as such can be faulty, rather some individual has done wrong or even committed a crime.

This kind of reflection is deeply irrational but a relief for consciousness because one has not to take pains in ascertaining and being critical of the conditions of one’s own very existence. Essentially impersonal problems of the social structure and development are identified with particular individuals, social groupings etc. or shifted on them symbolically. In the Old Testament this mechanism is depicted as the making of a “scapegoat” onto whom the society symbolically shifts its sins and drives it to the desert afterwards. This technique of a superficial personalization of problems and disaster can adopt two methods.

The first one is to cast the blame on the individuals, groups or institutions concerned. Either rank and files will denounce leaders or leading bodies as incapable duds, or, if the culprits can make it to turn the table, they in return will accuse rank and files of inefficiency, or not having the guts to pull themselves together etc. In modern politics such mechanism of apportionment of blame is in fact the concept of its mode of operation. The crowd abuses politicians and the politicians abuse the crowd. As everybody knows any opposition party will never attribute social problems to the system of politics and its underlying structure of social (re-)production but will claim that it is due to their competitors who are currently at the helms and their “wrong” policy.

The second method is even more irrational and hazardous. In general, any social problem is projected onto a single or some certain groups, which are identified as the “absolute evil” thereby serving as a concept of the universal public enemy. Any ideology – according to Marx ideology as such is always a misperception, a distorted picture of the world – puts into operation in one way or another such personalizing concept of a public enemy. Even if Liberalism as the modern core-ideology is comparatively pragmatic in its search for culprits and does not hesitate to replace one “wicked” trait by another according to the circumstances (e.g. “unreasonable desires” and the laziness of the poor, “bad upbringing” and the criminals etc.), one has to face that its progeny is in fact committed to one-dimensional concepts of an universal enemy. The most vicious and momentous idée fixe hatched out in the society’s lap is anti-Semitism that culminated in the mass-murder of Jews in Nazi-Germany.

The opposite of an irrational search for culprits would be an emancipatory social criticism not aiming at particular groups of individuals but ready to transform the prevailing forms of social reproduction and social relations. And undoubtedly it is still the Marxian theory that has the largest potential to take effect in this respect. It is true that the ideas of the workers’ movement – which reached its own limitations meanwhile – in their essence were personalizing as well in so far as social contradictions were rather attributed to some sort of “will for exploitation” ascribed to “the owners of the means of production” than to the blind laws and forces of the modern commodity producing system. And ironically it is just this reduced theoretical approach that can be traced back to the liberal heritage of the workers’ movement Marxism, namely the idea that whatsoever problem occurs must be due to mere intentions. However, the Marxian theory provides for a by far more sweeping approach to a “critique of the system” that really deserves to be called like that and does not confuse the structural crises with “ill-minded” individuals or social groups. Still, after the collapse of “actual existing socialism” and the triumphant advance of the neo-liberal ideology, social critique was not further elaborated along such line of thought but silenced all together. The social system and its structure became a taboo, more strictly obscured than ever before. As soon as the prevailing forms of social relations can not longer be subjected to criticism though social problems aggravate, conspiracy theories forge ahead. No wonder that over the last 20 years along with the decline of Marxism, once more racism and anti-Semitism are on the way trying to explain the misery by means of various personifications of the Evil. Even in democratic societies, politicians of the center are searching for scapegoats quite unabashed. In Germany a book with the title “Nieten in Nadelstreifen” (duds clad in pinstripe suits), written by the business journalist Günter Ogger, became a best-seller, branding managers to be failures and declaring them, due to their collective incompetence, to be the source of the growing socio-economic disaster. However, today’s redeemers and heroes are the losers and accused of tomorrow. Some media even publish charts of “winners and losers of the week” as to politics, business, sports and showbiz. The merry-go-round for executives and leading politicians is turning faster and faster: Crisis, breakdowns and bankruptcies beat the time for “individually responsible individuals” to resign just to get replaced by others who can’t do better. Sacrificing pawns or queens can’t soothe the gloomy feeling of some universal menace; in seeking some kind of expression the sentiment gives birth to specters. The Western societies, not longer able to reflect themselves critically, deliver anonymous mythical apparitions symbolizing the elusive Evil of their very own structure.

One of these mythical apparitions of the negative is the terrorist. The more mysterious and arbitrary the bomb attacks of the confused or frustrated, of various crusaders, of warriors of god, or of Mafia-gangs seem to be, the more they resemble the blind and impersonal “terror of the economy”. Long since the lines between terror-groups, state administration, and intelligence services got blurred. The democratic society catches the image of the terrorist whenever looking at the mirror. It is exactly that what qualifies the shady and dubious figure of the terrorist to externalize the resident Evil within the “society of decent Bourgeois” as an abstract foe. The mechanism of projection works mirror-inverted: As the ideologically orientated terrorist catches sight of the Evil in capitalism in gazing at the functional elite incarnate, the democratic politician conversely will explain the social insecurity as the result of a “threat by those terrorists”. Both sides, terrorists and security agencies, use the method of “hunting down” individuals to proudly present the bodies like trophies to the public, staging the “terror of virtue” (Robespierre). Meanwhile the existence of terrorists, whether real or just a phantasmorgia, became the legitimizing precondition for the market-economy democracies all over the world.

Quite similar is the case in respect of the myth of the speculator, beginning to blossom in the 90ties simultaneously to the blowing up of the global bubble economy. As well known, the clumsy agitation against speculative gains is quite close to anti-Semitism because the latter identifies Jews with the negative aspects of money. With George Soros the myth was given the complexion of an individual, but at the same time he is epitomizing an anonymous threat: The capitalist labor society has got a hunch that it is on the verge of obsolescence and projects the problem onto a personalized Evil, which allegedly is getting ready to ruin “respectable labor”. The more obvious it becomes that the labor system is self-destructive with the era of speculation as a result, the direr becomes the need for a mythical subject that is ostensibly responsible. That this irrational explanation is spawned by the perception of people who bet their bottom dollar in the stock market is in fact the precondition for the incarnation of the projection. After the crash of the technology markets, media are eager to declare the “duped private investor” a victim of sinister financial powers pulling the strings backstage.

Over the last few years while the crisis was culminating another projection is gaining ground alongside with the terrorist and the speculator: the child-abuser is the most recent incarnation of the Evil. No magical invocation of the devil can do without a sexual component. Parallel to the alleged “abuse of social welfare” by (preferably foreign) spongers, sexual abuse became a popular subject. One can hardly find a therapist who will not talk his clients into believing that they were subject to “sexual abuse” during childhood. Until now the classification of “bad uncles” is still vague, but it is impossible to miss its closeness to anti-Semitism: The Nazis made the assertion that it was Jews who made humans a commodity, at the same time depicting them as lecherous fiends chasing the innocent girls and children of the major social layer. Once again the official society has to externalize and personify one of its structural aspects as a symbol of the Evil. Most of sexual abuse cases have always taken place in the “cozy” atmosphere of sweet home. One should not forget that the Belgian child murderer Dutroux brought his victims to the most prominent circles to satisfy their lust. Capitalist society is hostile to children anyway. At the same time this form of society is hostile to lust to the core. The slogan of “sexual liberation” used by the student movements of the 60ties, whose protagonists were not able to overcome the prevailing social forms, has only led to a sexualization of the media and advertising, while the actual sex life of the commodity-consuming individual is more miserable than ever before.

The manifestation of sexual crimes as an irrational symbolization of social contradictions thereby becomes even more venomous and malicious. Any diversity of the actual appearance is leveled out in order to conjure up the demons of persecution. In the critical debates of the 70th, sexual thrill as described in literature by authors like Vladimir Nabokov in his novel “Lolita” or Thomas Mann in “Tod in Venedig” was approved as a variant in the spectrum of sexual behavior to be found in many civilizations – on the condition that it happened within the frame of loving care and without violence. Nowadays the staging of the “populace healthy sentiment and common sense” in the media equates this side of eroticism with child prostitution, child rape, or homicide of little children by sex offenders.

The legitimate motive to denounce and fight masculine violence against women and children, a problem exacerbating in a crisis-ridden world, turns into its opposite and transforms into a tool to demonize the phenomenon instead of criticizing it, hereby barring the way to get to the root of the matter. The projective mania even stamps children as child abusers: In the USA an 18 years old youngster who ran away with his 14 years old girl friend was brought before the committing magistrate handcuffed. The same happened to an 11 years old boy being watched by a strait-laced neighbor when playing harmless doctor games with his 5 years old half sister.

The mythical apparitions of the Evil are necessary to discharge the negative energy of the social crisis in an irrational and anti-emancipatory way.

The terrorist, the speculator, and the child-abuser do have in common that they strike from the dark – so do the anonymous forces of competition. It could be everybody or nobody. Fritz Lang’s film “M – the metropolitan hunt for a murderer”, set in Berlin against the background of the worldwide economic crisis, has illustrated in an oppressive way how the hunt for an unidentified sex criminal melts into a mass-psychological syndrome, entailing an atmosphere of suspicion, denunciation and raving violence. The society shows up an ugly mug not in the least less terrifying than the kisser of the murderer.

Today the very same syndrome makes itself felt on a by far larger scale due to the spread of electronic means of communication. Politicians and the media pursue a course of hysterical populism touching off lynch law. When tabloids in England published the names and addresses of alleged child-abusers, a raging mob drove some of them to committing suicide and rampaged the practice of a paediatrician because of its inability to distinguish “paedophilia” from “paediatrics” (a broad hint on the quality of the British education system).

Such “events” only illustrate how far we already got with social paranoia. A society that is not interested any longer in getting on to its own secret is doomed to stage witch-hunting.
________________________________________________

The appetite of the Leviathan

Privatization and “lean state”: an illusion
Anti-economics and anti-politics
by Robert Kurz
[This 2002 article is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=schwerpunkte&index=0&posnr=14&backtext1=text1.php.]

Two souls wrestle in the breast of modern man: the soul of money and the soul of the state. The “homo economicus” is always simultaneously a “homo politicus.” The institutional polarity of market and state corresponds to this structural division of the individual. In pre-modern societies, however they may be judged, this division did not exist. Rather, there was a cultural unity, a “cosmos” to which the various social activities were subordinated. The modern commodity-producing system destroyed the “cosmos” of the old cultures without being able to establish a new culturally based order. Instead, the relationship between economy and social order has been turned upside down: economy is no longer a function of an overarching culture, but conversely, “human society has sunk to being an accessory of the economic system” (Karl Polanyi).

This means that people by themselves in this system have no social and cultural context beyond economic activity. They have become “abstract individuals” or “isolated individuals” who look desperately like the “windowless monads” of the philosopher Leibniz. Their social connection is only negatively established by economic competition. Money has taken the place of the culturally mediated “cosmos,” so that the commonality of society appears not as human but as material. Every wolf pack is more socially organized than the free-market people.

Even in the early days of this absurd system, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) logically portrayed man as a fundamentally selfish being who is by nature more solitary than an animal. Society in the “state of nature” was therefore nothing but the “war of all against all”. Hobbes forgot, however, that he was by no means describing the “nature” of human society per se, but the historical result of a process in which the first thrusts of the modern market economy had begun to dissolve the old polities. The new freedom of individuals chained to the market was only the freedom to submit to the coercive laws of competition. To prevent individuals from completely tearing each other apart in this murderous competition, Hobbes constructed the state as a necessary coercive power that must stand above selfish individuals, and to which he gave the name of the biblical monster “Leviathan.” The small monsters of free-market individualism are to be tamed by the great monster of the state “Leviathan.” A fine kind of the society which leaves nothing to be desired at malice!

The “Leviathan” is just as little as the free wilderness of the market an institution of cultural and social commonality. For the state does not abolish the total competition; it is only a repressive force external to the “windowless” individuals, an apparatus that establishes a makeshift common framework for the raving subjects of the market: comparable perhaps to the referee of a rugby match. This has not changed since Hobbes. Today, more than ever, free individuals are assumed to be beings who have been rendered socially insane by the market and must therefore be put into legal and bureaucratic straitjackets by the monsters of the state apparatus.

In this “best of all worlds” there is, unfortunately, a small logical flaw. For like all monsters, Mr. “Leviathan” is quite voracious; and the question arises as to how he is to be fed. The insanity of the competing individuals consists, after all, precisely in the fact that they do not care about their own social and natural conditions of existence. This is the problem of state economy. For the state is by no means an “extra-economic factor,” as is often assumed; namely, in that it must be financed (and because money is undoubtedly a thoroughly “economic factor”), it forms, in a sense, a secondary economy, the economy of the common conditions of existence of individuals competing in a market economy. By definition, subjects in the “state of nature” of competition do not give a penny voluntarily for it. The state monster must collect its own costs (which are nothing other than the social “business costs” of the market economy) just as violently as it must prevent free individuals from eating each other alive.

To be sure, it should not be difficult for the big monster to prevail against the little monsters. But unfortunately, the “cost of doing business” in the market economy has grown larger and larger over time. The more people became individual subjects of competition, the greater became the need for legal and police regulation of their relations, and the more the apparatuses of justice and administration had to be bloated. Not even the Byzantine Empire can compete with the bureaucratic juggernaut that modern Western democracies have produced. But that is by no means all. The more competition led to the scientification of production and the use of large technical aggregates, the more it concentrated large masses of people in urban agglomerations, the greater the need for social logistics and infrastructure, the more the state had to provide the material, technical and organizational framework for the lively market economy: from schools and universities to the construction of roads and airports to sewage systems and garbage collection. And finally, the consequential costs became ever higher: the more people were socially uprooted by the market economy, the more the state’s social transaction costs rose; and the more the natural environment was burdened and destroyed by narrow-minded business rationality, the higher the state’s costs for makeshift ecological repairs rose.

Ignorant economic liberalism, which emerged in the late 18th century, wanted no part of all these costly problems. The brilliant cynic Bernard de Mandeville (1670-1733) claimed in his “Bee Fable” that the sum of the ruthless private pursuit of profit would virtually automatically ensure the welfare of the commonwealth. This idea has remained the most important argument to justify economic liberalism to this day. Adam Smith (1723-1790), the classic of political economy, is also known to have adopted this argument; according to his theory, the “invisible hand” of the market can regulate the entire reproduction of society much better than the state. Nevertheless, this economic liberalism did not fundamentally contradict Hobbes’ philosophy of the state: the “Leviathan” was supposed to abstain from any social and economic activity, but at the same time it was certainly supposed to fulfill its function as a repressive monster, i.e. in the form of justice, police and military force the victims of competition to conform to the “laws of the market economy”. Political dictatorship and economic liberalism have therefore always been able to go hand in hand in principle, as Pinochet did not have to prove.

In the first half of the 19th century, the political execution of liberal dogmas led to social catastrophes. There were more and more social uprisings, mass crime exploded, and epidemics broke out in the industrial centers. During the great Irish famine of 1846 to 1849, the British government let 1.5 million people starve to death in the name of free trade and forced 2.5 million to emigrate to America. Doctrinaire liberalism threatened to completely dissolve human society. At the same time, many entrepreneurs themselves began to call for infrastructural state economy, realizing that schooling, roads, information networks, etc. were necessary for further accumulation of capital.

Thus, a great paradigm shift gradually occurred. More and more theorists professed the necessity of an extended state economy. In 1867, the German financial economist Adolph Wagner (1835-1917) established the so-called “law of ever-growing state activity.” Rarely has an economic forecast been confirmed in historical reality as much as this one. This is shown by a look at the statistics in three significant Western countries:

Proportion of government spending to gross domestic product (in percent)
Year1870 1960 1994
Germany 10 32 50
Sweden 6 31 69
USA 4 27 32

(Source: IMF/Economy Week)

It is thus clear that, despite all the relative differences, the government spending ratio has historically grown strongly everywhere. In the USA, it rose by 0.3 percent even under President Reagan. For a long time, as is well known, this high government ratio can only be maintained by a dangerously growing national debt. That is why economic liberalism has also experienced a new springtime, even though its doctrine actually failed back in the 19th century. Neoliberals repeat the age-old ideas of Mandeville and Smith. They claim that Wagner’s forecast does not represent an economic law, but has only been verified by political arbitrariness. Therefore, they believe that a historical trend reversal is possible. The “Leviathan” that has become fat is to be put on a diet and its functions are to be “privatized” for the most part. Almost 130 years after Wagner’s forecast, the two IMF economists Vito Tanzi and Ludger Schuknecht recently made a counter-forecast: from now on, in an opposite historical process, the state quota will fall again, to below 30 percent.

In order to clarify the problem, we have to ask the question about the character of the economic functions of the state. Like all representatives of economic liberalism, Tanzi and Schuknecht confuse the private production of goods for the market with the overall social conditions of existence of the market itself. Liberalism imagines that most of the tasks of the state are as much to be performed by private, profit-oriented enterprises as the production of cars or hamburgers. The first thing to be done, of course, is to “privatize” the social risks of capitalism, i.e. the state is to withdraw from the social responsibility that has grown up over the last 100 years back to its functions as a repressive monster. However, history has already proven that most people cannot individually bear the social risk due to lack of sufficient income and are driven into hopeless situations. Liberalism is known to love the cost of prisons and death squads more than the cost of social aid to the poor, even if the cost of repression is greater in the long run, fattening the “leviathan” even more. Thus the liberal doctrine proves its vicious irrationalism and carries its own criteria ad absurdum.

The absurdity of “privatization” becomes even clearer in the case of other functions of the state. For example, it is impossible to organize ecological measures for the protection of the environment as a market transaction between private parties, because the consumption of the improved environment cannot be isolated to a solvent demand. It is impossible to stabilize the air and climate only for the neighborhoods of the rich. The environment is either improved for the whole society or ruined for the whole society, regardless of the purchasing power of individuals. Therefore, the protection of the environment can only ever appear as demand and consumption by the state. Sewerage, garbage collection, or water supply are also difficult to isolate for private demand. And even health care and schools cannot be “privatized” without negative repercussions on society, which in turn leads to new social costs.

So even if the functions of the state are performed by private companies, it is an illusion to try to dissolve these functions into the market. For even then, these functions appear as state costs, because they have to be demanded and consumed by the state for the most part. When, for example, a new “sun road” for long-distance traffic in Mexico was not only to be built by private investors, but also operated privately according to profit criteria, there was a major fiasco: the large transport companies and private motorists were unable to pay the expensive tolls, and traffic continued to roll along the hopelessly overloaded, but toll-free state roads. No matter how you look at it, the preconditions, conditions and consequences of the market economy are something qualitatively different from the market economy itself. They are problems of society as a whole that cannot be solved privately. In a society of competing individuals, only the state “leviathan” can take on these tasks. Incidentally, this also applies to state subsidies, the drastic reduction of which would just as drastically aggravate the global crisis, because large parts of industry and agriculture in almost all countries would be ruined without these subsidies.

The relationship between market and state in the process of modernization can be reduced to the formula of a general law: The more market, the more state. The relationship of the blindly competing “windowless monads” and the monster “Leviathan” is that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. That is why the doctrine of economic liberalism is as wrong as the prognosis of the IMF economists Tanzi and Schuknecht. The bloated market and the bloated state can only live or die together.
_________________________________________________

The end of economic policy

Keynesianism is no longer of any use against the crisis. Even if some leftists still nostalgically hope for it.
Anti-economics and anti-politics
by Robert Kurz
[This 2001 article is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=schwerpunkte&index=0&posnr=52&backtext1=text1.php.]

At least, the first window panes shattered: in the FDP headquarters in Bonn and on the large construction sites for the pyramids of the “Berlin Republic”. But it is not emancipatory anger that is being expressed. “We want work,” is the slogan of people who like nothing better than building pyramids. The construction workers want German work for German pyramids, and the miners want to continue receiving national economic subsidies. The desire for livelihood security is deeply justified, but in the form of wage labor, justice today leads itself ad absurdum.

The fact that all conceivable measures only lead to ever new paradoxes points to the paralysis of any economic policy at all. Assuming the modern market system, this is the hour of liberalism. For its economic policy is to have none. Apart from securing the formal framework conditions, the “invisible hand” of blind market forces should be allowed to strike freely. The promise that this will lead to “general prosperity” has always been without guarantee. Since the 18th century, liberalism has insisted that the social mechanics of markets represent, for good or ill, an unalterable law of nature. From the liberal point of view, when masses can no longer be integrated socially, this does not mean that the market system becomes obsolete, but that the people concerned become obsolete. This corresponds to the “population law” of Thomas R. Malthus [British national economist in the 19th century; A.d.R.]: “Nature itself,” according to its consequence, commands the “superfluous” to troll off the earth.

Since liberalism threatened to lead European market societies to the brink of civil war already in the 19th century, elements of a paternalistic state economic and social policy emerged under conservative and social democratic aegis. Of course, even the most radical socialists always presupposed a “labor society” for the internalized end in itself of money utilization: The socially disenfranchised masses were to be sufficiently “employed” to keep the machine of the (free or planned) market running. Under the impact of the Great Depression, Keynes overturned the liberal dogma even in official economics: macroeconomic management and government deficit spending were supposed to avert the crisis.

In fact, in a precarious way, both liberalism and Keynesianism are right. A system as hybrid and inherently unstable as a total market economy can exist only as long as the euphemistically termed “self-healing power” succeeds in opening up more and more new fields for the sausage-making of labor, while at the same time being supported by massive state intervention. The “economic miracle” was only possible through a combination of new labor-intensive industries (cars, household and consumer electronics) and permanent government deficit spending.

Since the early 1980s, both elements of a viable market system have been exhausted. The microelectronic revolution is eroding not only industrial reproduction, but the “labor society” in general. The profitable use of labor power is being extinguished worldwide under the pressure of rationalization faster than new fields of exploitation are being opened up, while deficit spending is failing against the absolute limits of government debt. The collapse of entire national economies on the capitalist periphery, especially the end of the state-socialist variants of “catch-up modernization,” was completely misinterpreted as a warning signal, namely declared to be the “victory” of the already languishing Western core system: in 1989, suddenly everyone was openly or secretly liberal, even deep into the left.

Predictably, the deregulation and privatization frenzy of triumphant neoliberalism could only accelerate the global crisis. The avalanche of debts of states, companies and private individuals was not slowed down, but intensified; and the economic globalization of capital forces the states to engage in a self-destructive race of social, ecological and tax dumping. At the same time, the capital that can no longer be profitably invested in real assets is flowing into the speculative financial markets: In a complementary movement, the fictitiously increased stock values are taking off, and global structural mass unemployment is swelling from cycle to cycle.

Now the renewal of utopian energies would be required to bring the modernization robot to a halt and to rededicate the microelectronic productive forces for an autonomous reproduction beyond market and state, to emancipatorially appropriate the resources lying fallow in the market economy and to counter capitalist globalization by a transnational networking of social counter-movement. But a left that has allowed itself to be gassed on free-market “realism” prefers to disgrace itself with a Keynesian nostalgia that is as desperate as it is groundless. It may be well-intentioned when Pierre Bourdieu calls for new social ideas in France, but his proposal of a “rescue of Keynesian civilization,” like Joschka Fischer’s invocation of “Rhenish capitalism,” is neither new nor an idea.

The hope for a new economic policy in conformity with the market is realistic only as an option of repressive emergency administration and selective social exclusion. Already, some of the Keynesian nostalgia is openly social-nationalist. If Bonn makes Keynesian concessions to the relevantly revolting construction workers and miners, this will posthaste result in liberal social restriction elsewhere. On the ground of the disintegrating system of market and state, any government can only accentuate the course of de-solidarization. So much for “socio-ecological restructuring”. Those were fair-weather fantasies. All those who took a step toward liberalism in 1989 must take the next step toward Malthusianism today.
_________________________________________________

Who is totalitarian?
The abysses of an ideological all-purpose term
Anti-economics and anti-politics
by Robert Kurz
[This 2001 article is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=schwerpunkte&index=0&posnr=123&backtext1=text1.php.]

The word “totalitarianism” has become a kind of child’s terror for Western political philosophy. What is always considered totalitarian is what the market economy and democracy are not: the exclusive claim of one party to political rule; a centralized bureaucratic apparatus; the suppression of all opposition; an unlimited system of power that equalizes all areas of life and even permeates intimacy. Democracy, on the other hand, it is said, lets everyone be happy according to his own wishes: it virtually craves opposition; the pluralism of ideas and life plans is respected; the space of the private sphere remains taboo for social power and people are allowed to be different in peace. In this way, the history of the 20th century can be understood as a fundamental conflict between liberal democracy and totalitarian dictatorship. At least, that is how it is written in Western textbooks. From this point of view, in the past the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin were totalitarian; and today it is perhaps the “God states” of Islamic fundamentalism. In any case, totalitarianism is seen as an alien and hostile concept to Western freedom, whose dark existence can be invoked at any time as an imminent danger.

It is striking that in this “theory of totalitarianism” of the two polar spheres of modern society only the state-political one is named, while the economic one remains completely hidden. In this sense, there can only be a totalitarian state, but apparently no totalitarian economy, no totalitarian mode of production, no totalitarian market. The axiom of this highly one-sided view is that actually only the state and politics fall into the realm of the social, while the economy – as already postulated in the 18th century by the Physiocrats and Adam Smith – supposedly belongs to “nature” and insofar falls out of social theory in the strict sense. “Natural laws,” however, cannot be totalitarian or a threat to freedom, but must be accepted like the weather. With this clumsy trick liberalism has tried from the beginning to make the economic center of modernity completely inaccessible to critical reflection. At the same time, the fact that the totalitarian dictatorships of the interwar period had at least one thing in common with democracy – namely, the economic forms of the modern commodity-producing system – can remain mute in this way.

The concept of totality originates in 19th century philosophy. Particularly in Hegel, it is associated with the claim to subsume the world under a “total concept”, i.e. to comprehend it completely. It is not difficult to recognize the social background of this thinking in the fact that man and nature are to be subjected “totally” to the capitalist social machine, in order to transform ideally every atom, every thought and every feeling into the material of the exploitation process. So it is actually the economic logic of capitalism that makes the totalitarian claim; and by ideologically transforming this claim into a “law of nature,” liberalism is only trying to make its own dictatorial core invisible. Just as Henry Ford said that buyers could purchase his standardized “Model T” in any color they wanted if only it was black, so liberal pluralism allows all objects and ideas to be valid if only they can be made saleable.

By the middle of the 20th century, this economic totalitarianism was far from complete. There were still elements of an older agrarian, domestic, and even cooperative mode of production; and there were cultural spheres of life that resisted the abstract space-time of capitalism. In order to turn individuals completely into the human material of the capitalist machine, a political mobilization of the masses was needed first: the political sphere acquired a “surplus” moment in this epoch, it was charged up, as it were, to serve as a kind of flow heater for the completion of economic totalitarianism.

The continuation of mass politics through military mobilization acted as the strongest driving force. It was in the trenches of World War I that the democratic prototype was created. In his famous wartime novel “Nothing New in the West,” the German writer Erich Maria Remarque wrote: “The differences that education and upbringing created are almost blurred and hardly recognizable…It is as if we had once been coins of different countries; they have been melted down, and all now have the same stamp.” Democratic equality before money, insufficiently enforced until then, could not be prepared otherwise than in the form of equality of death and mutilation in the “blood mills” of the World War. This primal form of democracy in the 20th century finally gave individuals the equality of – singularity.

In certain historical conditions, as in Russia and Germany, the continuation of this social process took the form of the totalitarian mass movement and dictatorship; but also in the United States the mobilization of the “New Deal” was accompanied by mass marches, torchlight processions and effects of political propaganda shows. The aim was to “totally” grasp society and “get it going,” far beyond the immediate political and military goals. The German writer Ernst Jünger coined the term “total mobilization” for this purpose in 1934. He assigned merely “partial mobilization” to the “essence of monarchy,” which, he said, “exceeds its measure in the same proportion in which it is forced to involve in armament the abstract forms of the spirit, of money, of the >people<, in short, the powers of the maturing democracy." Jünger therefore saw in Western democracy above all a higher degree of exhaustion of all social reserves: "Thus mobilization in the United States, a country of very democratic constitution, could begin with measures of a severity that would not have been possible in the military state of Prussia...Already in this war it depended not on the degree to which a state was or was not a military state, but on the degree to which it was capable of total mobilization." That this was a process that went far beyond the military was also clear to the German World War General Ernst Ludendorff, who wrote in a 1935 treatise on "total war": "Total war, which is not only a matter for the armed forces but also directly affects the life and soul (!) of each individual member of the belligerent peoples, was born. Since then the total war has deepened with the improvement and multiplication of airplanes, which drop bombs of all kinds, but also leaflets and other propaganda material on the population, and with the improvement and multiplication of radio installations, which spread propaganda to the enemy, and other things". But if the secret purpose of this "total mobilization" was ultimately to enforce the totalitarian claim of the capitalist economy, then the political-military "movement" in the first half of the 20th century can easily be deciphered as a precursor and transformation to the unleashing of the "total market" since 1950. Ludendorff's "bombs of all kinds, leaflets and other propaganda material" have become, in the commercial post-war democracies, the non-stop drum-fire of advertising and media sprinkling, which, as a visual onslaught and acoustic bell, covers the entire public space and has a terrorist character insofar as no one can escape this endless drivel and its impertinent intrusiveness. What is being "enemy-spread" here (and the "enemy" is everyone in the permanent war for clientele, jobs, careers, prestige, etc. in a fully capitalized world) surpasses in every respect the military beginnings in the "total war" between 1914 and 1945. The concept of totalitarianism can thus be brushed against the grain of Western ideology of legitimacy. This is particularly striking in the case of a classic of "totalitarianism theory," the 1951 book by the U.S. philosopher Hannah Arendt on "Elements and Origins of Total Rule. She writes there, "Nothing is more characteristic of totalitarian movements in general, and of the quality of the fame of their leaders in particular, than the startling rapidity with which they forget, and the amazing ease with which they can be replaced...This permanence certainly has something to do.... with the addiction to movement of totalitarian movements, which can hold on at all only as long as they keep moving and set everything around them in motion...precisely this extraordinary ability to change over and lack of continuity, if there is such a thing as a totalitarian character or mentality at all, is undoubtedly an outstanding characteristic..." Hannah Arendt has in mind here only the state-political side of totalitarianism, that is, the dictatorships of the interwar period. But only seemingly does the faceless mass of the first half of the century, politically-militarily mobilized by the dictatorships or transitional democratic forms, contrast with the commercial cult of the equally faceless individual as "consumer" in the postwar democracies. Rather, the one, the mass mobilized in the marches, can be understood as the rehearsal of the other, the isolated consumer individual. The "free" postwar democratic individual is nothing other than the "specimen" originally standardized and pressed by the politico-military machine, let loose only to be available for the further commercial course of the world capitalist machine. In her (1951 understandable) fixation on the state-totalitarian dictatorships, Hannah Arendt completely overlooks how much her formulations about the nature of totalitarianism precisely hit the character of the market becoming totalitarian and thus of Western democracy itself. For the "amazing rapidity of forgetting" - to what would this description apply better than to the capitalist conjunctures, which are no longer human development, but only the passage of indifferent contents through the movement of money? The "ease of substitution" - what would be more precisely named by this than the personality of universally interchangeable people reduced to an object? And what could be more "addicted to movement" than capitalism itself, which, as an economic snowball system, can indeed "only keep itself going as long as it keeps moving and sets everything around it in motion"? Where would "extraordinary adaptability" be a greater virtue than in the democratic world market economy, as we are being preached again today by the whippers of permanent "adaptation" to a blind "structural change"? And finally, what could represent a more radical "lack of continuity" than the history-less universal market, which carries out its ever-same movement in a kind of timeless nirvana? This correspondence becomes even clearer when Hannah Arendt seeks to grasp the "law of motion" of totalitarianism more precisely: "Behind the claim to world domination which all totalitarian movements make, there always lies the claim to produce a human race which, actively acting, embodies laws which it would otherwise suffer only passively, full of resistance, and never completely...The graveyard peace which, according to classical theory, tyranny lays over the land...remains as denied to the totalitarian-ruled country as rest in general. True, its inhabitants are deprived of all action...arising in free spontaneity; nevertheless they are kept in perpetual motion as exponents of the gigantic superhuman process of nature or history which races through them...Terror in this sense is, as it were, the >law< which can no longer be transgressed...". But what is denounced here as the essence of totalitarianism is nothing other than the essence of liberalism itself. For it was, after all, none other than the cream of bourgeois political economy and Enlightenment philosophy which from the very beginning had claimed for itself to execute "the laws of nature and history" on man. And it is capitalism, which has become total, that "deprives the inhabitants of the social space in which it rules of all action arising in free spontaneity"; for all activity in this space is axiomatically formatted by the economic imperative. Even more mercilessly than by the state-totalitarian dictatorships, the economized individuals are kept by the free world market "in constant motion as exponents of the gigantic superhuman process" of structural ruptures of a blind growth dynamic that "races through them" and is passed off by the neoliberal ideologues as an objective "process of nature and history". In truth, we are definitely dealing with a continuity of capitalist history in which the state-totalitarian dictatorships and the "total mobilization" of the world wars did not represent a fundamental counter-model, but a certain historical aggregate state and an enforcement form of "market economy and democracy" itself: Society as a whole was set into accelerated motion at all levels and in all areas in order to be able to carry the accelerated and condensed accumulation of capital. At the end of the 20th century, the transformation of capitalist totalitarianism from total state to total market led to an unprecedented "terror of economics" - the "law" that we are derisively told "can no longer be transgressed." And the reality control of the capitalist media can only talk non-stop about freedom because we have "1984" long behind us. https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Americans for Financial Reform

AFR
@RealBankReform
AFR is a coalition of over 200 organizations campaigning for real reform in our banking & financial systems. We want to #ProtectConsumers and #StopTheDebtTrap
Non-Governmental & Nonprofit Organization Washington DC

https://twitter.com/RealBankReform/photo

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

95 Theses Against the Rule of the Financial Markets (2017)

95 THESES AGAINST THE RULE OF THE FINANCIAL MARKETS

BANKS TO PLOWSHARES

By www.peristroika.de.]

[These 95 theses are translated by Marc Batko, [email protected], from the German on the Internet, http://www.perestroika.de.]

1
What began in Luther’s time has now reached a new high point: the monopoly of money. Democracy is in danger. Internal and external peace is threatened. Social cohesion is disturbed. The predominance of a neo-liberal mainstream has allowed politics worldwide to be guided by the dictates of the financial markets and the interests of the upper, rich one percent of the population. The 8 richest men on earth own as much as the 3.6 billion of the poor half of humanity. A conversion, a reformation is necessary.

2
While 500 years ago it was the venality of the salvation of souls of the faithful through the sale of indulgences that was the expression of a great crisis, today it is the subordination of politics to the dictates of the financial markets. God or Mammon – you cannot serve both, was said at the time of Jesus and 500 years ago. Democracy or financial market capitalism – this is the question of our time.

3
Continuing underdevelopment, 800 million people suffering from hunger, hundreds of thousands dead in wars, millions of refugees and internally displaced persons, and the dramatic climate change have become fatally linked. Their flipside is exorbitant wealth and luxury. The fact that the EU Commission has instead changed Parliament’s financial market directive of all things, which was intended to stop excessive speculation in food, in such a way that it has become practically ineffective, can only be outrageous. The austerity policy implemented by the ECB, the IMF, Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble has also led to youth unemployment and poverty in the south of the European Union taking on dramatic dimensions.

4
Whereas the trade in indulgences financed the global empires of Charles V and Pope Leo X and the usurious system of the Peruzzi and Bardi, the Fugger and Welser and their system of colonialism, genocide and slave trade, today it is global financial market capitalism and its accumulation of wealth claims that must be financed from the production of the global gross national product.

5
The US economist Michael Hudson rightly summarizes that one percent of the population with its financial assets and other wealth “keeps the remaining 99 percent, but also companies and entire states, in permanent debt”. This makes a democratic policy of solidarity, conservation of nature and peace impossible.

6
500 years ago the system of global capitalism was born. Today we must finally rein it in. Last but not least, the crisis since 2008 is another warning shot.

7
It is a society-destroying and nature-destroying system. Pope Francis puts it in a nutshell: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit to the value of human life, so today we must say ‘No to an economy and the disparity of income’. This economy kills.”

8
The financial system is out of control. Its crash has caused devastating damage not only in the financial sector itself. It is also tearing down the real economy, ecology, development of the South and peace.

9
The mountains of debt continue to grow unabated. In 2015, they reached a global record of 152 trillion US dollars. That is 225 percent of the global gross national product. One third of this is public debt. Solidarity-based development is sacrificed to debt service.

10
It is not only the crisis countries in the euro zone that are particularly threatened, but above all the developing countries. Between 2009 and 2014, the annual issue of government bonds in low-income countries rose from USD 2 billion to USD 18 billion.

11
Many countries of the South are threatened by debt traps and national bankruptcy.

12
The poor pay for the enrichment of the rich. The crisis has exacerbated social problems.

13
Growing inequality has several causes, but the dynamics on the financial markets became the strongest driver of social polarization – long before the crisis.

14
The privatization of services of general interest – pensions and health – offers financial capital new and highly attractive opportunities for exploitation – at the expense of the security of these systems and the people who depend on them.

15
There is no end of the tunnel in sight. More and more economists are warning of the consequences of a neo-liberal financial and economic policy that will promote the emergence of further crises.

Financial capitalism takes over
Theses 16-49

16
In the beginning there were political decisions of governments. They handed over control of the most important economic decisions to the financial markets.

17
The financial sector grew to absurd proportions. Between 1980 and 2007, foreign exchange turnover increased 30 times. In the crisis year of 2008, the volume of credit derivatives alone was ten times greater than the gross national product (GDP) of all the countries of the world. In 2016, Deutsche Bank’s portfolio of derivatives still amounted to 46 trillion euros – more than fifteen times Germany’s GDP.

18
The dynamics of the financial markets became the motor of globalization, in which the weighting was shifted massively to the market, to the detriment of democracy.

19
The financial markets withdrew from the regulatory grip of the nation states. From the role of service provider for the real economy and society, they swung up to become their masters.

20
The profit interests of finance capital were transfigured into constraints without alternative.

21
The social and democratic capitalism of the post-war era was sacrificed on the altar of the financial markets.

22
The globalization of the financial markets has led to the erosion of democracy. “Investors no longer have to act according to the investment opportunities their governments grant them, but governments have to act according to the wishes of investors,” wrote Rolf-Ernst Breuer, then head of Deutsche Bank, proudly in 2000.

23
This is market-based democracy as it lives and breathes – long before the Chancellor committed herself to it.

24
A monster has grown up over three decades. Some talk about financialization, others about casinos and others about financial capitalism. Whatever you call it, we are faced with a new, extremely dangerous type of financial system.

25
The history of crisis management has been a history of half measures, dead ends and ineffectiveness from the outset.

26
At the beginning, it looked as if politics had understood something under the shock of the crisis. “An excessive capitalism, as we have experienced it here with all its greed, eats itself up in the end,” said Peer Steinbrück, then Minister of Finance. The G20 summits in London and Pittsburgh in 2009 seemed to be on the right track when they announced that they wanted to take the unleashed financial markets back under control.

27
Then the governments rescued the banks with gigantic sums of tax money. The rich were protected.

28
As a result, the financial market crisis turned into a national debt crisis. Public debt skyrocketed. It was a socialization of private losses on a dramatic scale.

29
On the other hand, the population of Europe’s crisis countries had to pay the price in the form of the austerity policies of conservative governments.

30
Democracy was undermined in the course of crisis management and European nationalism was promoted. Far-reaching decisions were whipped through by the executive at a pace that sometimes did not even allow elected representatives time to read the bills.

31
For years, the driving force behind the socially and economically destructive austerity policy has been the conservative governments in Europe – and not least the German Chancellor and her Finance Minister Schäuble, who carry the dictates of austerity like a mantra before them.

32
If there hasn’t been a big bang nevertheless, it’s only because of the zero interest rate policy of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the aid packages of the International Monetary Fund.

33
But the ECB cannot buy more than time. The longer this takes, the more it is put in the position of a fire brigade that is running out of water.

34
It is therefore more important than ever to strengthen the savings and cooperative banks. These too have come under pressure in the current situation.

35
The privatization of services of general interest, which has been preached for years, is now also taking its revenge. Under zero interest rate conditions, private old-age, life and health insurance policies can no longer generate the necessary minimum returns. This is where it is taking revenge that the old-age security systems have in some cases been transferred to funded systems.

36
The ECB prints cheap money, but without the European Union having a sensible investment strategy for it. And so the cheap interest rates trickle away, without any economic sense.

37
Yes, there have been reforms.

38
Capital requirements have been tightened. In the USA, steps have also been taken to separate traditional business from investment banking. The business with non-exchange-traded derivatives, so-called over-the-counter trading, is to be made more transparent through clearing houses. Short selling, i.e. speculation on falling prices, was restricted.

39
Minor corrections were made in the supervision of banks, rating agencies, hedge funds, investor protection and particularly risky products such as credit default insurance.

40
In the meantime, the momentum for reform has slackened. Moreover, a roll-back has begun in the EU under the Juncker Commission. With the project of the Capital Market Union, the entry into deregulation is being sought again. And in the USA, President Trump is now rolling back the banking reforms.

41
The drying up of off-shore centers and tax swamps has made little progress, as Luxembourg Leaks and Panama Papers show us.

42
Concentration has also increased. The big banks are now moving even larger sums of money than before the crisis. In the shadow banking sector, individual players, such as the Blackrock pension fund, are becoming bigger and more powerful.

43
The reforms have at best made the casino a little safer – especially for the players. But: “Nothing except the closure of the big casino will lead to a permanent solution,” as UNCTAD states.

44
The problem-solving capacity of the politicians also seems to be overstretched. On the contrary, site egoism, nationalism, competitive behavior and isolation are on the rise. Multilateralism is in crisis. Global governance no longer seems to work. Everyone acts on their own account.

45
Unfortunately, the chances of making global trade fair have declined in times of Trump. This president puts national interests at the center of his actions.

46
The financial sector, once the vanguard of globalization, is increasingly showing signs of selective de-globalization. The chances of shaping the financial system as a global public good are dwindling.

47
In the European Union (EU), the problem-solving deficits are even more evident. What sounds so beautifully realpolitik and down-to-earth, Angela Merkel’s “Driving for Sight” boils down to not addressing the problems.

48
The EU heads of government and the Commission in their current constitution no longer seem capable of a liberating blow. Huddling through is the only strategy. As long as the ECB, with its bilge pump of zero interest and quantitative easing, prevents the leaking barge from sinking completely, people live in the illusion that nothing will happen. But the situation continues to deteriorate from year to year.

49
The financial markets continue to fuel global warming. Hundreds of billions of euros are still flowing every year into fossil fuels instead of renewable energies and the ecological modernization of our economy.

Bring the financial system under democratic control.
Principles of the reorganization
Theses 50-72

50
A central component for the defense of democratic shaping of society as well as for a different economic policy today is a substantial reform of the financial system. However, such a project will only have a lasting effect if it gets to the root of the problems.

51
Stable and functioning financial markets are a public good. Almost 500 years ago, Luther demanded: “One would have to put a bridle in the mouth of the Fugger and similar societies.” This has lost nothing of its validity for the Ackermanns and similar society and must be renewed.

52
The financial system should serve the real economy and society.

53
Financial markets must be enabled to finance ecological reconstruction, a development policy based on solidarity, a social perspective for the European Union and the social modernization of society.

54
Democratic politics will regain control over markets and actors.

55
The economically useless casino business is to be discontinued.

56
The financial markets must shrink back to a level that is useful for the real economy.

57
The entire system must be decelerated.

58
The complexity of the system must be reduced.

59
The public banking sector must be strengthened and expanded, including by privileging it over the private sector. This takes precedence over EU competition law.

60
Instead of geopolitically motivated trade wars, we need a culture of cooperation and consideration in shaping the global economy.

In addition, the following key reforms are crucial:

61
Much stricter rules are needed for shadow banks.

62
We want to make large and complex banks easier to wind up during the crisis. At the very least, banks should separate their deposit business and their trading business and manage them independently under one roof and provide them with capital.

63
We set effective limits for hedge funds, private equity funds and other speculators.

64
Derivatives generally require a safety assessment by the financial supervisory authority. The burden of proof lies with the issuers of the products.

65
We introduce electronic central bank money for payment transactions. This would act as a firewall for this central element of the financial system, should financial crises occur after all. In the digital age, such a system is largely automated and can be implemented with little effort.

66
Offshore centers and tax havens are drying up. As long as this is not possible in an internationally coordinated manner, unilateral measures are also possible, such as the levying of penalty taxes.

67
High-speed trade will be slowed down. This eliminates the systemic risks of high-speed trade and removes the distortions of competition it creates.

68
For banks, we are imposing a simple and tough debt brake.

69
Capital controls are legitimate instruments of capital market regulation. Their application in the event of a crisis takes precedence over the free movement of capital.

70
Pensions, health and other services of general interest are organized as public tasks.

71
Rating agencies receive performance-related bonuses, also from public sources. Up to now, the rated party has paid for the rating regardless of how accurate the rating was. In particular, the pro-cyclical effect of ratings must be prevented. Social and ecological criteria must be integrated into the rating.

72
Supervision will be given greater resources – financial, personnel, legal and technical.

A new reformation and a different world are possible
Theses 73-95

The financial markets and the accumulated, productively idle, even counterproductive for society and its cohesion, wealth must be able to be drawn on by these changes to solve the major global, European and social challenges.

73
The aim is sustainable prosperity and quality of life through, for example, the expansion of the infrastructure for education, health care, nursing care and public transport as basic goods for a good life for everyone, for everyone and everyone.

74
The treasure of the Church is the poor, Luther quotes St. Lawrence in his theses. Thus the treasure of a good society today is the degree of justice it offers to all.

75
A just policy is measured by the fact that it works to ensure access to the goods of a free life for everyone, including the most vulnerable among us.

76
After decades, it is time to reverse the redistribution from bottom to top, from production and nature to financial markets, from women to men and from south to north.

77
The extensive privatization of social wealth must give way to socialization in favor of investment in social cohesion, basic insurance for the poorest people and ecological restructuring through fair taxation of large property, high income and wealth. Weaker countries must be supported in this by cancelling their debts.

78
A fair, socially and economically productive inheritance and wealth tax is still outstanding in Germany.

79
An economy based on solidarity and a life based on solidarity must be promoted.

80
The enforcement of the ban on arms exports to crisis regions and dictatorships as well as global disarmament will not only contribute to greater security and the limitation of threatening wars, but will also release financial and political resources for the people in the South in particular.

81
If we want people to stop having to flee, then the only way to do so is to reduce the causes of flight, to overcome wars, misery, poverty and ecological decline. This includes resistance to anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia.

82
What is needed is a global Marshall Plan with development-friendly changes in world economic structures in favor of fair trade, investment in poverty reduction and ecological transformation both here and in the South, which is already dramatically affected by climate change.

83
The austerity policy in the EU whipped through by Angela Merkel and Wolfgang Schäuble must be brought to an end.

84
Instead, the EU needs a comprehensive investment initiative for the transition to renewable energies, sustainable inclusive systems of housing, transport, education and culture, health and care.

85
The German export surplus, which is destructive for many other European states and for European integration, can be diverted through stronger domestic investment. At the same time, German budget surpluses could be used once only to set up a European investment fund.

86
Critics had long pointed out that economic and social upheavals could sooner or later lead to political catastrophes, Alain Badious warned against “democratic fascism”. Already the world economic crisis in 1929 was one of the causes for the rise of fascism.

87
The spirit of neo-liberalism, which came along as a practical constraint of a globalized economic order, produced economic insecurity and generated fear of decline. The effect of the austerity policy then came on top.

88
Deprived, degraded, embittered and angry, some people are now turning to a right that promises them security, respect and participation. In doing so, they succumb to the illusion that nationalism and xenophobia can solve their problems.

89
The further rise of the populist right can also be stopped by a different economic, social and peace policy.

90
Just as Luther encouraged believers in his Theses 94 and 95, people in Germany, Europe and the world need their own realistic confidence that the concentrated and difficult challenges to their social situation, as well as wars, hardship and climate change, can be solved.

91
Without hope, Solomon said, people will become desperate and wild. But people who merely wait for solutions from above or from outside will not get them.

92
There they will only find the domination of the financial markets and their interests.

93
What is at stake is nothing less than the supremacy of democracy and human rights, the inviolability of the dignity of every human being by acting in solidarity even against the financial markets.

94
This reformation of society cannot be attained without a self-confident and personally responsible people.

95
The reform blockade in the political and social system can only be broken through pressure from society and civic commitment.

Here we stand. We cannot help it. For another world.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

The work critique of millenials and A new universalism of emancipation

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/06/23/18850639.php

The work critique of millenials and A new universalism of emancipation
by Norbert Trenkle

The 4-Hour League, an alliance founded in 2016 to campaign for the 4-hour day is concerned with pushing back wage labor in order to have more time for a good life, for a gender-just redistribution of care activities and putting an end to the overexploitation of nature. Thus, it aims at breaking with the capitalist logic of efficiency and performance.
Meeting the target with more balance. The work critique of millenials
by Norbert Trenkle
[This article published on 6/17/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.krisis.org/2022/mit-mehr-balance-das-soll-erfuellen-die-arbeitskritik-der-millenials/.]
first published in Jungle World 2022/24 from 16.6.2022

Young people don’t want to work anymore! When towards the end of the seventies the first generation that had grown up in the so-called economic miracle, the baby boomers, poured into the labor market, the worries of the older generation were great. These children of the fifties and sixties, it was said, no longer had the necessary work discipline, were no longer willing to fit into the company hierarchy, had no performance ethos and generally preferred to enjoy their lives rather than work hard. Psychology diagnosed a “new socialization type” (NST) that was narcissistic, hedonistic and consumerist; and sociology spoke of a fundamental “change in values” (Ronald Inglehart) that was accompanied by a “post-materialist” orientation toward self-realization, individual autonomy and quality of life.

However, neither the gloomy forecasts of conservatives at the time (such as those of communications scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann), who once again feared some kind of demise of the West, nor the left-liberal hopes for a “humanization of the world of work” with the generational change or even for the development toward a humane society came true. On the contrary, it turned out that the needs of the younger generation were quite compatible with the new demands that the then emerging post-Fordist labor regime placed on the sellers of the commodity labor power.

It was no longer the type of company soldier who willingly repeated the same, monotonous sequences of activities that was in demand, but the flexible person who is also capable of making his or her own decisions, dealing with unpredictable situations and controlling complex processes. The fact that these people do not take working hours too seriously, but are happy to stay longer at the plant if they are given the feeling that they are working “independently” and “creatively” was a welcome side effect of this restructuring of production.

In this way, the rebellion against Fordist labor norms soon turned into a revolution in labor productivity that allowed capital to keep accumulating despite drastic crises. Labor pressure did not decrease, but increased, as more and more responsibility was shifted to individuals and performance measurement was further individualized. And working hours, whose reduction was still considered an important contribution to improving the quality of life and combating unemployment in the 1980s, have since been de facto extended again even in most sectors covered by collective agreements – not to mention the growing sector of precarious work, where 60 and more hours per week have already become the miserable standard anyway.

The disastrous consequences of this development are impressively demonstrated by a joint study of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), which was presented last year. According to the study, around 750,000 people worldwide die each year from heart attacks or strokes as a result of working at least 55 hours per week. “We have found the deadliest risk factor in the workplace. It’s not the machines, it’s not the particulate matter, it’s too many hours of work,” Frank Pega, the study’s director, is quoted as saying in Der Spiegel.

Against this backdrop, it is more than understandable that the generation of so-called Millennials, i.e. today’s 27- to 41-year-olds, is apparently no longer prepared to sacrifice their entire lives to their careers and to cut back in all other areas of life. At least, that’s what emerges from various studies that have been presented recently, for example the report “Working Better Together” by the Danish company Workday, which, among other things, develops interactive “feedback technology” that is supposed to help “increase employee engagement and productivity” in order to improve “business performance.”

However, it is also clear that this skeptical attitude toward work is highly individualistic. It is not gainful employment as such that is questioned, as was the case at least to some extent in the 1980s in the context of the New Social Movements; rather, the aim is to achieve a “work-life balance” – in other words, people still want to have time and energy for leisure and family in addition to work. In addition, work should be “meaningful,” although what is meant by this remains very vague. However, if the “meaning” seems to be given, Millennials identify all the more with their job and are quite prepared to work excessively long hours, as a study by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research (IfD) from 2020 found. There can therefore be no question of a fundamental rejection of the capitalist pressure to work and perform, even if this is criticized in part.

This attitude, which is as individualized as it is contradictory, is not really surprising. After all, we are talking about a generation that grew up in the era of neoliberalism and was taught from the very beginning that what they do with their lives depends only on their own performance. And in a society based on general commodity production, work is the central means of social participation and recognition. The post-Fordist upheaval in the world of work has not changed this. On the contrary, the general flexibilization and the intensification of competition and the pressure to perform have only thrown individuals back more strongly on themselves and their private interests.

Because the view of the social whole has thus been increasingly lost, discussions about the “work-life balance” tend to ignore the fact that the majority of people have hardly any serious choices within the work system anyway. They cannot choose a job that is perceived as meaningful, nor can they forego a so-called career in order to have more time for themselves; instead, they simply have to put up with lousy jobs at the supermarket checkout, in the cleaning crew or at the parcel delivery service, and accept excessively long working hours if they want to make ends meet at all.

At the moment, it does help them a little that in the capitalist centers the demand for labor is very high, so that they can more easily choose between various bad and somewhat less bad jobs. But first, this boom will end sooner rather than later. Second, labor shortages in the precarious sector can easily be mitigated by further immigration. And third, inflation is currently quickly eating away at relative wage increases.

However, there are also demographic reasons for the relative labor shortage and the declining motivation to work in the Western countries. As the baby boomers gradually retire, more jobs are currently becoming vacant, at least in the skilled segment, than can be filled by younger skilled workers. An entrepreneurially clever solution to this problem is currently being tried out in the UK. There, a large-scale pilot project to introduce the four-day week in 70 companies ranging from large banks to fish-and-chips restaurants began at the beginning of June. The idea came from finance and real estate entrepreneur Andrew Barnes, who founded the NGO “4 Day Week Global.” He is convinced that people can be just as productive in four days as in five, because they are more motivated and rested then. For this reason, pay should remain the same, but employees must also commit to doing the same things in the reduced time as before.

The British pilot project, which is being monitored scientifically, will now investigate whether this calculation actually works. If it does, it is clear where it will lead if the model becomes established: Gradually, the new productivity standard, based on further intensification and densification of work, could become generalized, while wages, despite promises to the contrary, are likely to fall successively, for example due to a lack of adjustment to inflation.

The concept of 4 Day Week Global therefore means the exact opposite of the emancipatory progress it promises. It does not represent a liberation from the dictates of work and performance, but rather intensifies them. The demand for a radical reduction in working hours, such as that made by the 4-Hour League, an alliance founded in 2016 to campaign for the 4-hour day, is something quite different. It is concerned with pushing back wage labor in order to have more time for a good life, for a gender-just redistribution of care activities and to put an end to the overexploitation of nature. Thus, it does not aim at a new productivity revolution, but at breaking with the capitalist logic of efficiency and performance. To the boomer generation, this critique of work may seem like the ghost of their own youth. In fact, however, it is more relevant than ever.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

False front. A new universalism of emancipation is needed against Putinism

by Norbert Trenkle

Published in Jungle World 14/ 2022 from 7.4.2022
[This article published on 4/7/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.krisis.org/2022/falsche-frontstellung-gegen-den-putinismus-ist-eine-neuer-universalismus-der-emanzipation-gefragt/.]

The invasion of Ukraine is part of a large-scale offensive of an authoritarian regime that is driven by the threatening idea of having to change the world order in its favor. This offensive is directed not just against one country, but against everything that stands for the “depraved West” in Putin’s eyes and those of his followers. This includes, in particular, “sexual decadence,” i.e. homosexuality, and the so-called gender ideology, as well as the decomposition of “traditional cultural values. Behind this is an openly fascist ideology, as the Moscow sociologist Greg Yudin, for example, has traced.

For emancipative forces, it should be a matter of course to oppose the Putin regime. Of course, this puts them in the same league as those who equate the fight against authoritarianism with a defense of the so-called universal values of democracy, freedom and the market economy. This is problematic not only because this united front also includes forces that are not free of anti-democratic tendencies themselves, but also because it suppresses the fact that this much-vaunted universalism has long since been disgraced by reality, which is one of the main reasons for the global offensive of authoritarianism.

Liberal-democratic values are universal only in their abstract claim. However, their material basis, the commodity-producing society, is based on systematic exclusions and the social division into winners and losers. It therefore permanently denies this abstract claim. It is true that commodity-producing society is universal in the sense that it has imposed itself on the entire planet in a tremendous dynamic. But at the same time, it turned out to be a minority event: Only a relatively small portion of the world’s population can live a reasonably adequate and secure life and find rudimentary access to what the Charter of Human Rights promises. At the same time, this minoritarian way of life is based on the ruthless global plundering of natural resources.

The attempt made after the caesura of 1989 to establish a so-called New World Order under the sign of democracy and a market economy was therefore bound to lead to disaster. After the projects of catch-up state-capitalist modernization under the ideological auspices of socialism had already failed, the neoliberal offensive of the 1990s in turn left a trail of devastation in large parts of the world. In the ruins of these failed attempts at modernization, kleptocratic and authoritarian regimes as well as fundamentalist movements flourished, contributing their share to the disintegration of the respective societies. Attempts to control these tendencies militarily, where they became too dangerous for Western states, only made the situation worse. In particular, the 2003 Iraq war further devastated the already battered country, destabilizing the entire region and plunging it into a prolonged state of war.

Putin’s regime also emerged as a result of Russia’s disastrous market-radical transformation, but with the significant difference that he managed to stabilize the country again. Putin was able to rely on significant forces in the security and military apparatus and brought the so-called oligarchs under control, who had enriched themselves immeasurably during the wild privatization of the 1990s. Although they were allowed to continue doing business, they had to recognize the authority of the state and cede part of their profits for the purpose of producing legitimacy. After energy prices also rose, wages in the large state sector could once again be paid on time, as could pensions and certain social transfer payments. The infrastructure was modernized, at least in the centers.

This established Putin’s popularity, which continues to this day, and which he secured by suppressing opposition and authoritarian restructuring of state and society. But he also gained broad popular support by promising to make Russia a great power again, dominating a “Eurasian Union. Behind this is the urge for revenge for the deeply felt ignominy that the fall of the Soviet empire and the subsequent period of free-market transformation meant for many. This is the subjective underpinning of nationalist megalomania and deep-seated resentment against “the West.

Therefore, the attack on Ukraine should not be explained as a reaction to alleged provocations by NATO or the United States. It follows a very different, deeper-seated drive, which may have been reinforced by Western policy, but not generated by it. It is often precisely the losers in capitalist competition (or those who feel like losers) who mobilize the strongest regressive energies in order to restore their old status or at least to take revenge on the winners (or on proxy groups) – even if at the price of mutual destruction. This is also the reason why Putin is so popular precisely with the right and the extreme right around the world. Their resentment is fed by similar sources: It springs from an identitary grievance caused by the actual or perceived loss of a position of power in society.

The pronounced masculinism that Putin represents must also be seen in this context. For the loss of power touches the identitary core of the male subject status in bourgeois society, which is primarily defined by self-assertion in all-round competition and is secured by the construction of a subordinate femininity, which is supposed to represent the exact opposite of this form of subjectivation. Men around the world are reacting with the utmost aggression to the shaking of this binary and hierarchical gender order by feminist movements and economic structural change in recent decades. At stake here is the innermost core of their sense of self, which is bitterly defended, as can be seen abundantly clearly in the appalling increase in sexualized violence around the world. In this sense, too, Putin is the ideal identification figure. He represents a type of male loser who is fighting back against the dissolution of the bourgeois gender hierarchy and who is politically and militarily powerful enough to wage this struggle successfully.

This regressive worldview, in which authoritarianism, masculinism, and aggressive culturalism are combined, is not externally opposed to the much-invoked values of democracy and freedom, however, but forms, as it were, their irrationalist reverse side. This must be urgently recalled, especially in view of the current confrontation. If the Western public interprets the current confrontation as a clash of two value systems, the authoritarian threat appears as something alien that bursts into the world of liberal democracies from outside.

Such a view promotes several worrisome tendencies. First, the tendency toward a mirror-image culturalization of the conflict; the very talk of Western values is problematic because it suggests that these have a culturally specific character. Second, an even stronger isolation of the capitalist centers, i.e., an even more rigid guarding of borders in connection with a further increase in nationalism. And third, finally, the militarization of society (for example, through its own rearmament) as well as a concomitant remasculinization, as already expressed in the heroization of the Ukrainian resistance.

The confrontation with authoritarianism cannot be won in this way. Rather, the so-called Western societies thus become more and more similar to the seemingly external enemy, and the universalism of liberal-democratic values denies itself once again. The relative freedoms offered by life in the capitalist centers must be defended against the authoritarian threat. But this can only be done by taking them out of the logic of commodity society and thus pushing them beyond themselves. What is needed is a transnational solidarity of all forces that want to defend themselves against authoritarianism and at the same time put an end to the radical marketization of the world. What is called for is a new universalism of social emancipation.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment