The price explosion of wheat, Freezing as a civic duty and Saving our mental health
by Christoph Pflueger, Nicolas Riedl and Kersten Chavent – March, April and May 2022
Many people in this country develop the willingness to explicitly freeze for an ideal. Whether for freedom of whatever kind or for the climate. Every jitter, every pore of goose bumps serves the absolutely good and morally right. Already now one could marvel at signs on “peace demos”, on which was written: “Better freeze, than gas from Putin!”
The price explosion of wheat
It’s not primarily the Ukraine war that’s driving up food prices, it’s the speculative expectations of stock market traders.
by Christoph Pfluger
[This article published on 4/14/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-preisexplosion-des-weizens.]
Going to the bakery is getting more expensive, and Putin is being blamed for that. Yet the war in Ukraine has only a limited impact on rising food prices, which includes wheat. Those who attribute the price increases solely to Russia are criminally ignoring the neoliberal, transnational market mechanisms that contribute significantly to the immense increase in prices.
Because Putin has invaded Ukraine, prices are going up and famine threatens. This narrative spread by the media sounds realistic and therefore credible. After all, wheat exports from the two warring countries account for about a quarter of the world market, according to a New York Times warning of social unrest.
But the narrative is false in several respects. While Russia is a major wheat producer at 130 million tons, it lags far behind China at 615 million tons, the U.S. at 434 million tons and India at 335 million tons. Moreover, most wheat does not enter the world market at all, but is consumed domestically. Russia and Ukraine, however, are major exporters.
What the heralds of the threatening scenario also fail to mention is the fact that wheat is stored for an average of one year.
So, at the moment, the conflict does not affect the real supply of wheat. And if the war were to stop soon, farmers would be able to cultivate their fields in peace, and wheat supplies would be assured in the future.
This is where price comes into play: The decisive factor is not the domestic price, but the world market price, which is formed on the Chicago exchange. And here, the quantities that come onto the world market at all and the expectations play the decisive role. The world market price dominates domestic prices because traders can always buy on the world market if domestic prices are higher.
Price formation on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the largest exchange for commodities and raw materials, is determined by three factors: expectations of the future supply/demand relationship, the available money supply, and alternative investment opportunities.
The absolute peak in wheat prices was in 2008, when investors were fleeing the stock market in search of safer investments. The spikes of 2010 and 2012 were due to the increase in money supply as a result of the “financial crisis,” when confidence in the stock market’s sustained rise was not really there.
The bottom line is that the price of wheat is determined less by real conditions than by the speculative whims of the financial casino, but it does have some drastic effects on the supply situation in poorer countries.
An important factor for real supply is inflation expectations. Traders who have larger quantities of wheat and expect higher prices will tend to withhold the commodity, hoping to realize higher profits with a later sale. This fuels the inflationary spiral.
The failure of neoliberal markets to supply humanity will most likely result in government intervention. French President Emmanuel Macron is already talking about a global hunger crisis as a result of the war and has announced food stamps.
Of course, the solution to crises cannot be left to the “markets,” which, as a stock market adage goes, make the biggest profits when there is blood in the streets. But instead of easing the burden on end consumers and thereby driving them deeper into government dependency, prices would have to be regulated and markets disempowered. Otherwise, the speculation-fueled hunger crisis will become an instrument of the Great Reset.
Freezing as a civic duty
The state-required sacrifice to “freeze for freedom” is a blueprint for restrictions on liberty in the name of climate protection.
by Nicolas Riedl
[This article published on 3/18/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/frieren-als-burgerpflicht.]
We should now be prepared to freeze for freedom. That’s what former German President Joachim Gauck is calling for. Mistakenly, he thereby speaks in the we-form. Because he himself will definitely not be among those who will freeze for “freedom.” What freedom Gauck actually means is a mystery in view of the immense restrictions on freedom of the last two years. Likewise, it is absurd to assume that renouncing Russian natural gas will change anything in Russian policy. Russia is not dependent on the West, but the reverse is very true. Moreover, it is hypocritical to think about boycotting Russian gas on the grounds of a breach of international law, while at the same time being prepared to buy gas from countries like Saudi Arabia and the USA. In the end, it will be the German population that will suffer. But even among them, the willingness to freeze for certain goals or ideals has been forming for a long time. A cold nation manifests itself in real, physical cold.
It is spring and we should already dress warmly. In the leading media, the population is already being told that it could get cold in the coming fall and winter. So not only outside, but also in the rented four walls. We would now have to freeze for freedom, because sourcing Russian natural gas would ultimately be forbidden to us, the value West. Turning away from Russian natural gas imports would logically lead to a horrendous increase in heating costs, if not to a failure of the heating system itself.
And all this for freedom. We would have to sacrifice ourselves for that. This is how former German President Joachim Gauck explained it. He spoke of dents in our prosperous lives that we could all put up with and went on to say: “We can also freeze once for freedom. And we can also once endure a few years of having less happiness and joy in life.”
Such statements are overflowing with arrogance and a distance from the population. At the same time, they are not new. During his time in office, Gauck also said that it was not the elites who were the problem, but the people. In this respect, his current statements are only a logical consequence. And yet they remain an outrageous slap in the face of the population, which has already been maltreated, worn out and severely wounded in two years of fake pandemics.
Who will give back to the population – especially the younger ones – these years of lost happiness and joy of life? And in what form?
And why at all should we now put up with the dents in our prosperous lives and lose years of happiness and joy in life? This is necessary – so we are told – to make Germany independent of Russia and to bring Putin to his knees by renouncing Russian natural gas. Such plans – if they are meant seriously at all – can hardly be surpassed in terms of their lack of realism and hypocrisy.
One would like to become independent of the raw material supplies of a country, because this broke the international law and offended against the UNO prohibition of violence. What an honorable motive! Then, however, one should be consistent and make oneself independent of all states which trample the international law as well as the human rights with feet. It would prohibit itself then consequently completely naturally to refer further oil of Saudi Arabia. The country, in which still bestial punishments and executions are the order of the day. Not to mention the USA, where the breach of international law is part of good manners. Under no circumstances should we obtain “freedom gas” from this country!
Apropos “Freedom”. What kind of freedom is Mr. Gauck talking about, the critical citizen may ask, who has just been excluded from social life by the 3/2-G regime, who has been sent into lockdown by the state and who can be locked up in his own four walls for two weeks in case of an unfavorable test result? What freedom is this, please, that we are supposed to freeze for?
Think of this freedom when you sit in your cold apartment in the winter of 2022/23, which you are not allowed to leave after 10:00 p.m. because of the curfew.
Especially in the light of Corona, the difference in freedom between Germany and Russia shrank considerably. Strict Corona restrictions prevailed in both countries, differing only in the details of the regulations and in the duration of the measures. In a sense, we have two cages here, where simply the bars are closer or further apart, and in places a different color.
The hypocrisy is, of course, compounded by the fact that the former German president speaks of burdens that are not imposed on him himself. It is quite safe to assume that the former federal president will not freeze when heating costs rise. The horrendous sums of taxpayers’ money that former office holders receive throughout their lives will always enable them to sit in warm four walls.
No, those who will freeze are those who will have to choose between an empty bank account or a warm apartment, the former logically entailing the loss of the latter.
And beyond that, the objective is completely illusory. If Europe jumps off as a natural gas buyer for Russia, this will be disadvantageous for Europe, but certainly not for Russia. The giant country is virtually debt-free – something most Western countries cannot claim – and there are plenty of buyers in Asia for the natural gas volumes that have been made available to Europe. So for Russia, nothing changes at all.
From “freeze for freedom” to “freeze for future”
Analogies can certainly be drawn with the targeting strategy at Corona. Some may remember. In the beginning, it was all about “flattening the curve”, pushing down the R-value, then it was about not overloading the hospitals, then came the incidence figures, the vaccination rates and then the mutants Delta, Omikron, Deltakron, which had to be fought. In short, once one goal had been achieved, so that it could be assumed that the madness would now have to come to an end, a new goal was immediately defined, which had to be achieved.
The population was driven into a chase from one unattainable goal to the next. Comparable with a donkey, to which the rider holds out a carrot, which he always rushes after, without ever reaching it.
This method could now also be applied to the required willingness to sacrifice. Will concretely mean that the freedom, for which one is to freeze now, could be only one variable. In the Corona narrative of the mainstream, commentators on current events rejoiced over the “pleasant” side effects that the “pandemic” would have brought. For example, that digitization had taken a considerable step forward, so that many more people than before had now integrated the digital into their everyday lives. Or, for example, that many more people are now willing to make cashless payments.
And so one could also very quickly find such “positive side effects” in “Freezing for Freedom.” After the first winter with icy room temperatures, it would not be unreasonable to assume that some scientists would then be allowed to announce in the mass media that this “freezing for freedom” was extremely climate-friendly after all. And consequently one could freeze nevertheless – if the population already practiced to freeze for an ideal – then also for the future! How would it be then with “Freeze for Future”? This has the same acronym as “Fridays for Future” and can be sold to the masses very well.
The willingness and partly also the compulsion to freeze for something already existed in the old normality and established itself even more profoundly in the two years of fake pandemic.
Freezing as the norm
The demand to freeze for something is finding fertile ground in this country. And not just recently.
This phenomenon is observable when it comes to vanity. Since time immemorial, we have seen people in spring booking the “I-want-to-cold-at-all-costs” starter pack when they take their summer clothes out of the closet on the first spring day with an outside temperature of more than five degrees and hit the streets thinly and lightly clad. But even in the depths of winter, some can’t break away from the summer look and walk through the winter landscape with a wide neckline or bare ankles even at minus 10 degrees.
In the fake pandemic grew a real desire to freeze. It was hoped that the cold would be able to kill the evil coronaviruses.
Some health sheriffs did not miss the opportunity to tilt all windows when entering public transportation, so that all passengers were sitting in the cold train during the trip in a double sense. For the sake of health, of course.
The will to freeze bore particularly bizarre blossoms in German classrooms. Parents, who are usually pedantic about ensuring that their own child does not receive the wrong spelt cookies, now saw the urgent need for their offspring to sit in the icy classroom at sub-zero temperatures and for hours with the windows open so that they do not catch Corona.
On this basis, it is not far off that many people in this country develop the willingness to explicitly freeze for an ideal. Whether for freedom of whatever kind or for the climate. Every jitter, every pore of goose bumps serves the absolutely good and morally right. Already now one could marvel at signs on “peace demos”, on which was written: “Better freeze, than gas from Putin!”
Multiple crisis keyboard
People are being deprived of warmth. At all levels. In the two years of fake pandemic, social warmth was fully cooled down. Now it goes to the cold in the physical sense. Making the population freeze dovetails perfectly with the Great Reset agenda. On the one hand, with freezing as a civic duty, further illnesses are encouraged. Basically, it cannot be surpassed in absurdity what all has been done with the alleged goal of protecting people from getting sick. And now they are supposed to eke out their existence in cold apartments.
But in the end, this is just another consistent step in the agenda. One serves thereby three crisis keyboards at the same time: War, climate, Corona. People are plunged into an even deeper crisis, discontent grows and grows, which will inevitably cause riots and unrest. Then, when entire societies are in danger of drowning in chaos, the actors of the Great Reset agenda can stage themselves as great saviors who will now transfer people to a brave new world in which you own nothing, have no privacy, and will be happier than ever before.
From the cold
In view of the rising temperatures in spring, probably no one likes to think about the upcoming winter, whose icy temperatures may then even move inside their own four walls. But we should already be thinking about what it actually means to have to choose between the cold and an account in the red.
For pretty much everyone, their own – rented – four walls are likely to be the last retreat. Especially when we perceive the world outside as cold and dreary. But now even this last bastion of peace is to be taken away from people. Of domestic peace, to be precise. This has been up for grabs for some time since Corona, to ensure that there are not too many – unsprayed – people within the four walls. But now one must fear no longer only that the state power disturbs the domestic peace, now even with break-in of the cold season the cold of the policy is to penetrate by door and window. One’s own rooms become as cold as the compassion of the politicians who are foreign to the people themselves.
And finally still explicitly it is to be referred to the fact that the request to the people to freeze voluntarily is murder with announcement!
Weak, old, immune-weak and otherwise health-impaired humans will suffer substantial health disadvantages by the cold in the dwelling, with which it cannot be excluded that these lead in the long run even to the death.
For freedom, of course.
Nicolas Riedl, born in 1993, is a student of political science, theater and media studies in Erlangen. He got to know almost every type of school in the German education system from the inside and also the interpersonal coldness of the working world during a commercial apprenticeship. The media and Ukraine crisis in 2014 was a caesura for his world view and perception. Since then, he has been dealing in depth and self-critically with political, socio-economic, ecological as well as psychological topics and found his way back to his passion of writing through the Rubicon. As far as his technical skills allow, he produces films and music videos. He is a member of the Rubicon Youth Editorial Board and writes for the Young Feathers column.
Saving our mental health
Social psychology professor Annemarie Jost describes how healing from corona can succeed in her new book.
By Kerstin Chavent
[This article published on 5/7/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-rettung-unserer-psychischen-gesundheit.]
What do continuous media bombardment and manipulation, isolation and constraints do to us? What impact do corona measures have on our mental health? In a courageous book, university professor Annemarie Jost analyzes the economic and political connections, points out undesirable developments and offers ways out of a messy situation. “Saving Our Mental Health. How we can get our act together now” is an attempt to uncover the sick structure in order to free ourselves from it.
It’s not over yet. While pandemic response measures continue to be scaled back this summer ahead of the next hot fall, the psychosocial consequences for all segments of the population are becoming more apparent. Inequalities in power and income continue to come to a head, educational and training lags are increasingly noticeable, and lack of opportunities for community action have led to an ominous digital bubble and massive solidification of (pre)judgments.
Collectively and individually, we suffer from a progressive fragmentation of society and the resulting consequences. Stress levels, lack of sleep, anxiety, guilt, losses, increase in partnership conflicts, thinning of support networks and fundamental material existential worries are just some of the effects we have to deal with today.
Annemarie Jost, professor of social psychiatry at the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus-Senftenberg, psychotherapist and specialist in psychiatry, addresses the question of how we can protect ourselves against this background. In her book The Salvation of Our Mental Health (1), she courageously names, while many of her colleagues remain silent, the serious effects of the measures proclaimed to protect the population: mental stress, chronic illness, deficiency symptoms, loneliness, littering, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, eating disorders, obesity, depression, anxiety, suicide. Many patients could often only be treated inadequately, if at all – absurd in view of the fact that it is supposed to be about our health after all.
How times have changed! The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion of the World Health Organization (WHO) from 1986 still focuses on enabling all people to have a high degree of self-determination over their health: “To achieve comprehensive physical, mental and social well-being, it is necessary for both individuals and groups to be able to satisfy their needs, to realize and realize their aspirations and wishes, and to master or change their environment.” In the 1990s, the so-called setting approach added that the social contexts in which people are situated are seen as conducive to health.
At the turn of the millennium, everything changed. Health-security concepts developed in the context of biological hazards took up an increasing amount of space. These strategies follow not only civilian but also military logics – and thus also the influences of the intelligence services, which are incompatible with participatory health promotion from below. Another strategic reorientation of the WHO in this direction concerns public-private partnerships, in which large private-sector organizations and foundations exert a decisive influence on global health measures.
In the jungle of manipulation
Annemarie Jost does not shy away from naming the concentration of power and interconnections between international organizations, governments, intelligence agencies, military, academia, educational institutions, news agencies, media, central banks, fund companies, global corporations, data aggregations, and advertising agencies. Nudging prevents the general public from recognizing it. Regular “nudging” ensures that we don’t turn to where the music is really playing.
Debates about the extent to which targeting emotions such as fear or guilt is ethically justifiable, or the extent to which a government may use psychological manipulation strategies without paternalistically undermining democracy, are virtually non-existent.
Techniques such as attention-focusing, worst-case scenarios, lurid headlines, frequently repeated scary images and media-effective staging of popular multipliers are used just as unobjectionably as the creation of feelings of shame and guilt, war rhetoric, catchy slogans, framing, contact guilt thinking, fines and isolation. Critics of the measures are seen as antisocial, selfish, and unsympathetic, while proponents of the measures are seen as caring, responsible, and considerate.
Faced with the stoking of general uncertainty and confusion, most people have no choice but to retreat into docility. Decision-makers are also affected by the resulting uncritical groupthink. Here Annemarie Jost refers to the so-called pre-mortem method developed by Gary Klein, which can help out of the blindness. Participants imagine themselves in the future and realize that the plan in its current version has ended in disaster. In this way, blind spots can be made visible and errors and weaknesses can be eliminated.
Only by recognizing our own mistakes, weaknesses and limitations can we free ourselves from our tendency to invent enemy images and scapegoats. Instead of projecting our own mental deficits and upsets onto others, we attend to the roots of the evil. In this way, we can become aware of how isolation, uprooting, alienated living conditions, lack of personal meaning, and weak social ties make us susceptible to seductions and distortions.
Despite her critical observations, Annemarie Jost refrains from speaking of features of a totalitarian system. Her fear is primarily “that people insecure in their belonging due to technical innovations, radically changed communication possibilities and global structural change processes will become susceptible to believe promises of salvation if a new culture of connection, relationship formation and identity development does not emerge from this insecurity.”
Her particular focus here is on current biotechnological developments and mRNA vaccines that make it possible to “hack” into the genetics of psychotic disorders and regulate our lives. Artificial intelligence, combined with the systematic collection and processing of large amounts of data, also creates dependencies from which we risk not being able to escape. However, she believes it is possible to strengthen self-responsibility on a personal, communal and global level.
Surprisingly, it seems to her that there is little cause for concern in limiting self-reliance in crises in the short term through decrees and commandments coupled with psychological influence. The crisis should just not become a normal state of manipulation. So “a little manipulation” would be all right if it served a good purpose? Thus, especially in the last two chapters of the book, what the author is well aware of comes true: Some of her remarks will certainly cause contradictions.
In small steps
Annemarie Jost warns that even grassroots movements require special vigilance. Movements from below are not necessarily free from steering from above. A common technique here is astroturfing, the targeted establishment of civic, grassroots initiatives sponsored by corporations that in reality serve the interests of the sponsors.
To untangle all of this, he said, liberation from the web of manipulative entanglements takes a lot of time and is therefore only possible in small steps.
“It takes free and deep debate in all areas, especially in schools and universities, to free oneself step by step from the grip of an influence that has become overpowering, it takes historical analysis to identify parallels to past undesirable developments, it takes thought leaders who dare to break taboos, and it takes the genuine participation of very different people and the ability to listen to each other and communicate without violence.”
Above all, however, it needs a recognition that it is not in the interest of governing organisms to encourage this.
To hope that a system geared toward manipulation and surveillance will allow it to be taken apart does not capture the problem in its fundamental nature.
Free and deep discussion is deliberately prevented, as are historical analyses and any efforts to identify undesirable developments. The pioneers and taboo-breakers, who certainly exist, are defamed, marginalized, threatened and persecuted. They are not allowed to have their say, so as not to endanger the old order before the new order takes hold.
Thus, the recommendations for action in practice read a bit like a pious wish list: the revival of participation, the strengthening of care work, the social-psychiatric further development of therapies, the promotion of outdoor exercise, the further development of the culture of dying. Yes, all of these are important. It is good to know that there is interest and lively approaches to this. But there is an important intermediate step missing: what do we do about the system that seeks to prevent just that?
Coming into healing
It’s not that simple. Ideas and suggestions alone are not enough. We have to look deep inside ourselves to find a way out. Fighting the system doesn’t work, because any kind of violence would only strengthen it. Looking away does not work, because it also makes the problem worse. We can’t escape either, because the system is everywhere. So everything that animals do to escape a danger – attack, flee, play dead – doesn’t get us anywhere here. We are asked as humans. What do we have, what is available to us that distinguishes us from the other living beings on this planet?
We have – still – a free will and with it the possibility to decide. Instead of letting ourselves be completely wrapped up by what is sick, weak and dependent in us, we can strengthen our healthy parts. Recovery, as quoted by Annemarie Jost, is the initiation of a process of change in one’s beliefs, values, feelings, goals, skills and roles. It serves to strengthen the possibilities for development and support of essential personal goals.
This does not mean that we are symptom free. Symptoms are vital. They alert us to what in us still wants to be healed. However, their existence need not prevent us from realizing “a personally meaningful, hopeful life with opportunities for action and social participation and the realization of the deepest inner goals.” So we are not doomed to be victims of events. Because as human beings, we have a great gift that helps us become whole again: Resilience.
Resilience is the ability to overcome even severe crises and use them as an occasion for development. Great role models in psychology who have themselves survived the worst traumas include the American psychoanalyst Bruno Bettelheim, the Austrian psychiatrist Viktor Frankl and the French psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik. With our resilience, our resistance, our self-preservation instinct, the self-healing powers of our body and various psychological coping strategies, we have powerful aids at our disposal.
In order for them to work, it is necessary to recognize the destructive structure and to develop the will to free ourselves from it.
Only what we see can we change.
What do we choose: Control or experience? Medial bombardment or inner peace? Expertism or self-efficacy? Hygiene mania or holistic health? Guilt or freedom? A technocratic-administrative narrative that dwarfs us and turns us into objects, or appreciative encounters and exchanges about what really matters to us?
The child has fallen into the well. Let us now descend to him and converse with him. Let’s do it according to all the rules of non-violent communication: What have you experienced? How do you feel? What do you need now? What do you wish for? (2). Let’s listen to him. Let’s reach out to it. And when it is ready, let us lead it out of the well into the light, where everything is clear and where no manipulation, no propaganda and no lie can hold on any longer.
Annemarie Jost “Saving Our Mental Health. How we can get our act together now.”
Sources and Notes:
(1) Annemarie Jost: Saving our mental health. How we can get our act together now, Frank and Timme 2022.
Kerstin Chavent is an author and language teacher living in the South of France. Published in German so far are “Die Waffen niederlegen”, “Das Licht fließt dahin, wo es dunkel ist”, “Krankheit heilt” and “Was wachsen will muss Schalen abwerfen”. It was her experience with cancer that led her to write. Her themes are dealing with illness, raising awareness of creative potential, and awakening consciousness in a changing world. Read more on her blog, “Conscious: Being in Transition.”