136 translated articles on www.la.indymedia.org


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War poker, China’s unknown thinkers and Imperial moralism


War poker
by Benoît Bréville
[This article posted in Le Monde diplomatique – March 2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Kriegspoker.]

Arms aid to Ukraine must be limited to “defensive weapons,” he said. A “direct confrontation between NATO and Russia” must be prevented, because that would be tantamount to a “Third World War” – warned Joe Biden on March 12, 2022.

Once upon a time. A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the West is supplying Mi-17 helicopters, self-propelled howitzers, kamikaze drones, long-range missile launchers, and Abrams and Leopard main battle tanks. The red lines formulated today will be crossed tomorrow. When Biden now assured on January 31 that the U.S. will not deliver the fighter jets demanded by Kiev, one could already guess what will come next. In any case, military circles are already discussing the merits of the Swedish Gripen fighters over the U.S. F-16s.

Apparently, nothing can stop the military escalation that has taken the place of initial negotiations. On Feb. 8, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “If we change the course of the war in Ukraine’s favor, that’s the best way to create a prospect for real diplomacy.” And President Biden throws the full weight of the U.S. into the mix when he declares that Ukraine will win. The country will be supported “for as long as it takes,” he said.

After the fiasco in Afghanistan, any retreat would be interpreted as a sign of weakness. It would also be a strategic humiliation for the EU, which is also heavily involved. On the other hand, Putin is mobilizing all available forces to win a conflict that he sees as being about the fate and survival of the Russian nation. The notion that a cornered Russia will acknowledge defeat rather than use even more destructive weapons is a poker game.

So soon, the question may be whether to send Western troops to Ukraine. So far, Washington has declined to do so. However, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson had also declared in October 1964: “We’re not going to deploy American boys 9,000 or 10,000 miles from home to do what Asian boys should do themselves.” Shortly thereafter, he changed his mind. Starting in 1965, 3 million “American boys” were sent to Vietnam. 58,300 of them never returned.

An impossible victory, a predictable stalemate, insisting on an aberration just to save face. But is this a historical aberration only for Putin and Russia? The U.S. has shown in Iraq and Afghanistan that it is incapable of learning lessons from the Vietnam War. Nguyen Chi Vinh, the former Vietnamese deputy defense minister, opined in mid-March 2022 to Kiev: “We should tell our Ukrainian friends that they are not well advised to let their country become an arena of power politics, to rely on military strength to oppose their big neighbor and to take sides in the competition of great powers.”

Kiev, with backing and massive weapons assistance from NATO, has set its mind on exaggerated war aims such as the reconquest of Crimea. Those who support this fight to the bitter end are helping to ensure that the war continues, expands, and grows ever fiercer.


China and its unknown thinkers

Le Monde diplomatique – January 2023

The lively – and quite intentional – debates of Chinese academics take place largely under the radar of the international public. Yet they are by no means aimed solely at a Chinese audience, and offer interesting insights into intra-party power struggles.
by David Ownby
[This article posted in January 2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.woz.ch/lmd/23-01/china-und-seine-unbekannten-denker/!QTQ81E29Q3AJ.]

Chinese New Year image with Confucius, Qing dynasty (1644-1911)

At the 20th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in October 2022, it became clear: President Xi Jinping wants to become like Mao Tse-tung, preferably to surpass him. Some even call him the “new Stalin”.1

For years, tensions have been growing between one of the world’s most powerful autocracies and the West. If the West’s main ideological adversary used to be the USSR, today it is China. Chinese intellectuals are equated with Soviet refuseniks, who were threatened with the gulag even for possessing banned books. From the perspective of the new Cold Warriors, the case is clear: there is no real intellectual life in China, except in private (or in prison). And so, in the West, only a few Chinese dissidents are really known – such as the artist Ai Weiwei or the jurist Xu Zhangrun.

If a historical comparison is to be made, however, today’s China, since Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms, has less in common with Stalin’s empire than with Japan during the Meiji period (1868-1912). Both regimes opened their countries to the outside world and broke away from their feudal and Maoist traditions, respectively. In both nations, a flourishing, and to a certain point even pluralistic, intellectual scene emerged.

In China, this scene was very much alive in the years leading up to Xi’s term (as of March 2013). Despite all his efforts, Xi also never managed to completely tighten the ideological control screw; he had no choice but to tolerate the intellectuals. One can even say that these debates are partly intentional and still play a role – directly or indirectly – in the struggle for power and the political program.

Is China unique?

For the past ten years, I have been leading a research project on the “recognized Chinese intellectuals “2 who publish in China and play by the rules set by the state party without being mere mouthpieces of the regime. They form a kind of “scholars’ republic,” which, however, is hardly perceptible in the propagandistic din of the regime. And since exchanges take place exclusively in Chinese, their international perception suffers additionally from the language barrier.

Since about 2000, the most important discussions have revolved around three fundamental, interrelated questions: Is China unique, and if so, in what ways? What is its role in the world, or what should it be? And how is its story good to tell? Storytelling has become an important tool of Chinese soft power, especially under Xi.

Two recent events have been formative in this regard: the dissolution of the Soviet Union after 1991 and the apparent decline of the West – especially the United States – after the 2008 global financial crisis. As the “Middle Kingdom” (zhong guo) rose and its great rivals failed or faltered, the notion that China is unique and always has been has almost inevitably taken hold. After a century of humiliation and several revolutionary decades, the historical sense of superiority returned.

It is precisely here, however, that the difference between the Xi era and the presidency of his predecessor Hu Jintao (2003-2013) becomes apparent: Under Hu, a kind of historians’ dispute arose over the thesis of “national humiliation.” Many concluded that the buzzword had been put into circulation by the dynastic elite in the empire and later adopted and instrumentalized by Sun Yat-sen and Mao Tse-tung.3 This narrative has completely faded into the background since Xi took office in early 2013.

Among the proud defenders of the theory that China is superior to all other countries4 is, for example, the political scientist Zhang Weiwei, who published a trilogy on China between 2008 and 2016.5

For Zhang Weiwei, other countries are just “nation-states,” while China is both “civilization” and “nation-state,” which makes the country “unique.” The author is especially popular among the CCP top brass, and his books are bestsellers only because party members and government cadres are encouraged to buy them.

In the Chinese social sciences, on the other hand, he is not really considered a serious author: Firstly, he is a mouthpiece for Xi, and secondly, there are accusations of plagiarism. His last two books bear a striking resemblance to the book “When China Rules the World. The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order” by the British author Martin Jacques, published in 2009 and translated into 15 languages. A Chinese work about the uniqueness of China that cribs from a foreign book raises certain doubts.

Outstanding scholars such as Jiang Quing6 , a representative of classical Confucianism, or Chen Ming7 , who calls for an instrumental adaptation of Confucianism to the requirements of the present, are also enthusiastic about the idea of China’s uniqueness. But their conclusions are controversial. For example, Chen declares, “The republican revolution of 1911 was an unnecessary mistake because China was already on its way to becoming a constitutional monarchy.” Or, “Much of the 20th century was a tragic mistake because the government kept looking for Western solutions to Chinese problems.”

However artfully these new Confucians may compare the CCP to “benevolent monarchs” of the past, it will not have escaped the Communists’ notice that they condemn Marxism as something foreign-a highly sensitive point, since Xi is an apologist for the “Communist Manifesto.”

The Chinese New Left, which in the 2000s advocated tamed capitalism and the fight against inequality, is also convinced of China’s uniqueness. According to Wang Hui8 or Wang Shaoguang9 , China’s rise has proven that the supposedly “universal values” of the West are not so universal. Rather, the country owes its success to political innovations such as “reactive democracy” (the state party responds to the needs of the people), which is superior to the West’s “representative democracy,” crippled by clientelism, feminism, and multiculturalism. In contrast, China has further developed the “role of the state.”

This “reactive democracy” bears a striking resemblance to Mao Tse-tung’s “mass line,” counter liberals like the historian Xu Jinlin, warning that before World War II, Japan and Germany had also developed a very similar cult of the state, and that this had ended in war and defeat. But liberals also think that China must develop its own vision of modernity and thus contribute to the diversity of universal values. “China’s civilization tradition is not nationalistic, but rather based on universal and humanistic values,” Xu writes.10

The second related and much discussed issue concerns China’s international role. Having regained its status as a great power, he argues, it should resume its historical position in the “center of the world.” In this sense, the philosopher Zhao Tingyang has taken the 11th-century tianxia concept and jazzed it up.11 Translated, it means something like “all that is under heaven” – universalist thinking, in other words, that emerged long before the Western Enlightenment.

According to it, the center of civilization was in China. Its power diminished with distance from that center, but even the “barbarians” on the margins were able to civilize themselves by learning to “be Chinese.” Zhao’s recourse to the tianxia principle is also about a moral world order that is not primarily based on interests and power.

Many intellectuals concerned with China’s foreign policy and parroting Xi Jinping’s slogans of the “community of destiny” and “win-win agreements” are concerned with various concepts of what a multipolar world might look like. For example, Jiang Shigong,12 a legal theorist who teaches at Peking University, envisions a Chinese empire whose regions would be “united” by the New Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI). In general, however, much more time and effort is spent criticizing various manifestations of U.S. hegemony than discussing China’s current behavior on the international stage.

Some in the debate believe the world was even better off when China was a minor player in a U.S.-dominated world – when it was “keeping a low profile,” as they like to say. They also challenge the widely held notion that high growth rates will be enough to overtake the United States. Sociologist Sun Liping even considers this fixation dangerous: “We need to understand that we face extremely difficult existential problems, the biggest being our extremely low birth rate. “13 He is not the only warner (see box following this text).

The young political scientist Shi Zhan has written an entire book14 on why “populist nationalism” should not be indulged and that the leadership must finally face the fact that China will never rule the seas. Even the nature of power is changing, Shi writes: Internet platforms and artificial intelligence, which will determine the economy of the future, are largely and everywhere beyond state control.

Let’s move on to the third question: how to tell the country’s story well? This is a topic that many are concerned with; and they do it not so much because the party is extremely interested in it for propaganda purposes, but in the hope of arriving at a true understanding of what their country means to locals as well as to foreigners.

Most of the topics of discussion among the intellectuals are obvious, because they are also issues for the general public, be it the desire for “prosperity for all” – a horror idea in the eyes of the rich -, the New Silk Road or the controversial Zero Covid policy (see the text on page 4 below). One strange-seeming question sparked particularly lively debate: Should we explain the history of the People’s Republic of China as “two periods of 30 years” or “one period of 60 years”? At the heart of these considerations is the big question of whether or not the Mao era was an aberration and whether Deng Xiaoping merely took corrective action when he unideologically and pragmatically opened China to international markets.

There are still communists who think it was a mistake that Maoism was abandoned, while many liberals think Deng did not turn decisively enough to the market economy. The majority is somewhere in between. The party has unsurprisingly decided that the history of the People’s Republic of China must be viewed as a whole. This worries some intellectuals, because Xi seems to be sticking too faithfully to the Maoist script for their taste.

Many liberals tell the story this way: The 1949 revolution was necessary to awaken the people from their thousand-year hibernation and generate the energy needed for change. Maoist China made many mistakes, they say, but the planned economy and forced modernization laid the groundwork for the upswing in the reform period beginning in 1979. These policies unleashed entrepreneurial skills, he said.

China is currently a rather rich country in a globalized world. And the message of class struggle preached during the revolution and under Mao has long been out of date. For radical liberals like Yuan Weishi, formerly a key adviser to Hu Jintao, it was nothing but an outdated legacy of Stalinism anyway.

Even intellectuals who defend the one-party state are now really embarrassed by the old-fashioned Marxist-Leninist-Maoist language that the CCP still uses. You can’t score points with it abroad anyway, but even at home, people go into overdrive when they hear this terminology. It is clear that Xi’s “Little Red App “5 will not help if the Chinese real estate market collapses as feared.

But there are exceptions: Jiang Shigong, for example, published a long essay16 in 2019 in which he portrays the president as a hero who saved China at the last minute and prevented it from suffering the same fate as the Soviet Union – chaos, relative poverty and irrelevance. Instead, thanks to Xi, China is the guiding star for the rest of the world to free itself from the clutches of U.S. neoliberalism. Jiang’s text is very ambitious; he wants to clarify all the current issues and reverse the de facto intellectual pluralism in China.

More recently, economist Yao Yang made an impressive effort to develop a “Confucian liberalism “17 as a solution to the country’s and the world’s problems. He argues that Western democratic systems, caught between the overvaluation of individualism and the demand for absolute equality, are dysfunctional and unsuitable as a source of inspiration.

In China, in turn, he says, there is a deadlock in economic and political reforms. Never before has the danger been so great, Yao Yang feared, that so-called leftist measures that harm entrepreneurs threaten the country’s wealth and power. At the same time, he said, the West’s refusal to recognize the legitimacy of China’s rise is prodding Beijing’s leadership to become even more “communist.”

Yao Yang’s Confucian liberalism tolerates a degree of social inequality deemed inevitable and a certain meritocratic elite. In such a system, he argues, a consensual government is able to “manage the affairs of the people properly.” Western states, Yao says, are too weak and infiltrated by populist currents, while in China, he says, they are too strong and pay too little attention to the needs of the people.

He knows, of course, that the Western world is not listening to him. He appeals mainly to Chinese liberals – and he has influence on society. That’s why he could afford to publish a long article on “The Challenges for the Chinese Communist Party and the Reshaping of Political Philosophy” in the prestigious Beijing Cultural Review on July 2, 2021, the day after the pompous celebrations of the CCP’s 100th birthday.

In it, he not only ignored the major themes of the anniversary and insisted on making Marxism more Chinese through Confucianism. He even managed not to mention the President or his famous “Thoughts” (in the little red app). This is unusual in such a journal. For Yao and numerous other well-known intellectuals, “telling China’s story well” also means integrating it with that of others. They consider themselves citizens of the world, able and responsible to stay in conversation with their peers everywhere.

1 Chloé Froissart, “Chine: la crispation totalitaire,” Esprit, Paris, no. 491, November 2022.

2 See Reading the China Dream, http://www.readingthechinadream.com.

3 See “It is entirely possible to tell the story of chinese politics in a more accurate and exciting way,” Reading the China Dream, June 20, 2021.

4 See Jean-Louis Rocca, “One Party, One Nation,” LMd, July 2021.

5 The titles translated into German are “China reaches the world” (2008), “The Chinese wave: the rise of a civilization state” (2011), and “The Chinese horizon: the glory and the dream of a civilization state” (2016); volumes 2 and 3 translated into English are “China Wave,” Shanghai (World Century Publishing Corporation) 2012 and “The China Horizon,” Shanghai (World Century Publishing Corporation) 2016.

6 See Jiang Qing, “A Confucian Constitutional Order,” Princeton (Princeton University Press) 2012.

7 See Chen Ming, “Transcend left and right, unite the three traditions, renew the party-State: A Confucian interpretation of the China dream,” Reading the China Dream, March 17, 2015.

8 See also Wang Hui, “China’s Twentieth Century: Revolution, Retreat and the Road to Equality,” London (Verso) 2016; “The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought,” Cambridge (Harvard University Press) forthcoming July 2023. cf. “The Absolute East,” LMd, February 2005.

9 Especially Wang Shaoguang, “China’s Rise and its Global Implications,” London (Palgrave Macmillan) 2021.

10 Xu Jilin, “The new tianxia: Rebuilding China’s internal and external order,” Reading the China Dream, 2015.

11 See Zhao Tingyang, “Everything under the sky: past and future of world order,” Berlin (suhrkamp taschenbuch wissenschaft) 2020.

12 Jiang Shigong, “The internal logic of super-sized political entities: ‘Empire’ and world order,” Reading the China Dream, April 6, 2019.

13 See Sun Liping, “2021: What Kind of World Will We Face?” Reading the China Dream, January 23, 2021.

14 Shi Zhan, “Leaving the Cocoon: Isolation, Trust, and the Future,” Hunan Wenyi Chubanshe, Changsha, 2021 (in Chinese).

15 The Xi variant of Mao’s Little Red Book is the “little red app” for smartphones, where Xi’s thoughts and favorite poems can be accessed, see Emilie Frenkiel, “Shaolin with Red App,” LMd, October 2015.

16 Jiang Shigong, “Philosophy and History,” Reading the China Dream, 2018.

17 SeeYao Yang, “Rebuilding China’s Political Philosophy,” Reading the China Dream, 2021.

Translated from the French by Claudia Steinitz.

David Ownby is a historian at the University of Montreal and co-author (with Timothy Cheek and Joshua A. Fogel) of Voices from the Chinese Century: Public Intellectual Debate from Contemporary China, New York (Columbia University Press) 2020.

Generation No Future

No one knows when exactly this video was taken in Shanghai, nor by whom. But that is not important. What matters is the day it went viral on social media, and that was May 11, 2022. It’s only a minute and a half long. A police officer in a white protective suit is about to lock a young couple in a quarantine camp. The young man resists. His Corona test results were all negative, he says. “If you don’t follow the instructions, you will be punished. You, your children and your grandchildren will be punished!” the policeman threatens. Before the door closes behind the young man, he can be heard saying, “Thank you, but I am already the last generation.”

This answer was shocking, because childlessness is considered the worst curse in China. “Deepest despair speaks from these words,” tweeted well-known human rights lawyer Zhang Xuezhong. He said those who voluntarily choose not to have children have no hope: “This is the harshest indictment a young person can make of their time.”

In China, the social consensus has long been that political interest only brings trouble. But now, with political intent, young Chinese are quoting a well-known phrase from a 1984 biopic about reformist politician Tan Sitong (1865-1898). Tan was executed at only 33 on the orders of Empress Dowager Cixi, who opposed modernization of the Qing dynasty. She ousted her nephew, Emperor Guangxu, who had pushed for reform. In the film, Tan’s wife, with whom he already has a son, says, “I want another child from you.” To which he replies, and this is the famous line, “In this China, another child who would be just another slave?”

The outcry of a stranger has encouraged ordinary young people in China to let out their frustrations. And their cue is a reformist politician who was executed 124 years ago: “Your rule ends with me,” the boys write on the Internet, without naming their addressee. “The suffering you inflict on us ends with me.”

China’s very efficient censorship system did, as usual, quickly ensure that the key word “last generation” was blocked on the Internet; but by then, the idea had long since entered the world. On May 12, 2022, writer Murong Xuecun, who emigrated to the U.S., quoted the tweet, “If children are born only to be subjugated, if our children must suffer the same as we do, we should all be sterilized.”

China’s birth rate is falling – even though the one-child policy was abolished in 2016 after 30 years. In 2021, there were 7.5 births per 1,000 people – the lowest figure since 1978. According to Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at Shanghai-based investment advisor PinPoint Capital, “Chinese society is aging faster than predicted.” The oft-quoted formula “China will get old before it gets rich” may be coming true – and thwarting the goal of replacing the U.S. as the leading economic power for the foreseeable future.
There are, of course, many reasons for the demographic decline, but the pessimism of the young is accelerating this process. Their message came as a shock to everyone in China, explains sociologist Biao Xiang, who heads the “Anthropology of Economic Experimentation” department at the Max Planck Institute in Halle. The starting point for the uproar, however, was not politics in general, but “the administrative intervention in everyday life.” When Shanghai, a metropolis of 25 million people, was under strict quarantine between March and May 2022, many people suffered from shortages and even downright starved.


Imperial moralism
by Serge Halimi
[This article posted in December 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.woz.ch/lmd/22-12/imperialer-moralismus/!Z91R6N5SQ3YG.]

U.S. foreign policy will not change fundamentally just because the majority in the Senate now belongs to Democrats, while in the House of Representatives it belongs to Republicans. Rather, the election results of November 8 demonstrate the extent to which the neoconservative militarism of many Republican congressmen and the moral neo-imperialism of many Democrats overlap.

To be sure, this is nothing new. Already the Democrat Woodrow Wilson had dragged the U.S. into the First World War, marked by imperial rivalries, ostensibly to “secure democracy on earth.” Which didn’t stop him from praising the Ku Klux Klan. In Cold War times, Republican and Democratic presidents alike were determined to defend the “free world” against the “evil empire,” that is, atheistic communism.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the “war on terrorism” began, which, according to George W. Bush, would end “tyranny in the world.” Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq – the U.S. democratic crusades not only cost several million lives, they also brought the restriction of freedoms, McCarthyism, the hunt for whistleblowers. And a series of alliances with dictators and violent criminals to whom the separation of powers was a foreign word. But as long as they were on the side of the U.S., none of them – whether Suharto in Indonesia, the racists in South Africa or Pinochet in Chile – needed to fear the loss of power (or life) through military intervention by the West.

That a Democrat currently resides in the White House should even make it easier to mask the imperial claim to hegemony as a fight for democracy. Even in the face of an opponent as odious as Putin, the transatlantic left would have been hard pressed to go after a Richard Nixon, a George Bush, or a Donald Trump.

French colonialism, too, presented itself as the fulfillment of an Enlightenment-inspired mission, which won it the support of progressive intellectuals. Today, the West’s moral rearmament legitimizes itself in the fight against Russian, Iranian and Chinese authoritarianism.

On Oct. 24, 30 Democratic congressmen welcomed President Biden’s Ukraine policy but also called for negotiations to end the war. This rather banal plea triggered such a war frenzy on Twitter that almost all of the brave signatories immediately withdrew their signatures.

MP Jamie Raskin demonstrated the fine art of intellectual low-flight typical of times of intimidation: “Moscow is the global center for anti-feminist, anti-gay, and anti-trans hatred as well as the Great Exchange theory. We counter these fascist views by supporting Ukraine.”

The only thing missing from the list is the fight against global warming. Then we would have together the resourceful redefinition of U.S. war aims that the future imperialist left will pin on its chest.

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Financial crisis – it’s crashing again and The time of change


Financial crisis – it’s crashing again and The time of change
by Thomas Walter & Gustav Viktor Smigielski

A utopian society will have learned to decentralize power, to keep it manageable and thus controllable, instead of creating supranational institutions and conglomerates whose size and financial power detach them from any democratic control. Just look at the European Union: In Brussels, an estimated 25,000 lobbyists besiege and work the deputies and commissioners.

Financial crisis – it’s crashing again
by Thomas Walter
[This article posted on 3/16/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Finanzkrise – es kracht schon wieder | marx21.]

Weather lightning in Silicon Valley: the crisis is lurking everywhere. Without the state, the financial system can no longer exist. This will have not only economic, but also political, social, possibly even military consequences. A commentary by Thomas Walter

What happened? To the multiple crisis (Corona, war, climate, inflation) now comes a financial crisis. The “Silicon Valley Bank” (SVB) is bankrupt. The state rescues the money that the customers – Silicon Valley companies – had invested there.

SVB had invested the savings of its clients (companies) in government bonds – with low interest rates at the time. Now with inflation, interest rates on the financial markets rose. There are now new government bonds on the market with higher interest rates. The old bonds with the still low interest rates that the SVB had therefore fell in value. The SVB could have sat this out. At the end of the term, it would have gotten the full value.

Silicon Valley in crisis

But corporate customers wanted to withdraw their savings now because of the general crisis. But Silicon Valley Bank couldn’t raise the money. After all, the bonds had fallen in value.

To raise the missing money, SVB wanted to sell new additional SVB shares. “Psychologically”, this led to panic. Now everyone wanted to withdraw all their savings. The SVB was broke.

Fraud is part of the business

Speculators had previously bet on a collapse of the SVB joint stock company and have now made over a billion dollars from these bets. Perhaps among those winners is super capitalist and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. He kindly warned SVB clients a few days ago: something could go wrong with SVB….

State as savior of the capitalists

U.S. President Biden has state-guaranteed savings deposits at Silicon Valley Bank and several other bust banks in hopes of stemming the panic. Before that, an “aggressive campaign by Silicon Valley billionaires and financial investors” (FAZ) had put on strong pressure. Silicon Valley is in California, and California is an important state in U.S. elections.

It is the usual ritual: politicians, experts and the media calm down. Suddenly, the markets are criticized as “irrational”. Pundits marvel at the “incredible recklessness.”

The elites argue about whether central banks should continue to raise their key interest rates despite teetering banks. On the one hand, higher interest rates flush higher profits onto banks’ balance sheets. On the other hand, the old securities that are still yielding the old low interest rates are losing value. Banks that have such securities, like the SVB, are in “trouble”.

The Solomonic solution of the central banks is currently to raise interest rates. This increases bank profits. The banks that get into trouble in this way are targeted by the central banks to be helped with money.

The U.S. government has also come to the rescue because SVB’s corporate clients were high-tech firms that are strategically important in the economic war with China. Central banks will do anything to reassure the financial world. But the financial and high-tech sectors are battered, weakening the U.S. and global economies.

European banks also teetering

In Europe, the major Swiss bank Credit Suisse has now had to be rescued by the Swiss central bank. This bank had attracted attention in the past for laundering money for the Bulgarian mafia and for money flowing to corrupt politicians in Mozambique.

There will be arguments about why only banks and companies are “saved”, but not the workers. If there are layoffs and lost wages, there will be social unrest. But there is also the danger that the U.S. government and its allies will militarily expand imperialist conflicts in order to divert attention from economic, political and social problems.


The time of change

Both dystopia and utopia are within reach.
By Gustav Viktor ?migielski
[This article posted on 3/16/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-zeit-des-wandels,]

The way we have lived together so far is on the verge of checkmate. Crises are coming at shorter and shorter intervals. To global excess mortality and the war in Ukraine are added earthquakes, government crises, chemical accidents, factory fires and extreme weather events. Which of these are genuine accidents or natural cataclysms and which are deliberately man-made is the subject of countless speculations. Gustav Viktor ?migielski himself has lost track. He does not know what is true and what is not, it has become far too complex, and he has no choice but to rely on his feeling and to guess. What technologies the rulers of this world have at their disposal and how they are used against us, which ruling class actors form interest groups, who cooperates, who fights each other, and where intrigues prevail, is what commentators on Telegram argue about in endless battles. In some discussion groups, unread messages accumulate in five figures within a few days. Interesting sources are often shared there, which is why our author tends to scroll through the news on the fly. Some of our fellows metamorphose into real information warriors, who have made it their mission to provide us with news by creating Telegram groups, which ?migielski calls “information slingers.” The amount of channels and the information they contain are so enormous that no ordinary person can encompass them all. A group name on Telegram sums it up: “Too much info – too little time.” Despite this confusion, or perhaps because of it, we can say one thing with certainty: The world is changing!

At the latest after writing something with the chatbot ChatGPT, you can get a sense of what Klaus Schwab means by the fourth industrial revolution and how serious the changes are that are coming to our society. The leaders and rulers of our planet are aware of the coming change in a big way and are trying to shape it according to their visions, which, simply put, provide: “More power, more rights, more resources for us, less for the rest.”

Klaus Schwab had a hard time hiding his excitement when, with a clenched fist and in his German-accented English, he told the audience at the 2022 WEF meeting during his opening speech, “The future doesn’t just happen, the future is built by us.”

“The future is built by us”: Klaus Schwab kicks off World Economic Forum 2022 Davos

And they are already busily shaping the rules of society cleverly in their favor: No registration of internal combustion cars from 2035 within the European Union. Small-series car manufacturers with a production volume of less than 10,000 new cars will be exempt – which can be understood as a backdoor for the production of exclusive automobiles. Similar exemptions exist in CO2 trading for luxury yachts and private aircraft, whose owners do not have to buy emission rights, even though their yachts and jets emit considerable CO2 and devour vast amounts of resources in general. It is the plebs who must learn to do without.

Everyone is now talking about the so-called “15-minute cities”. They are touted to us with the triviality that everything we need can be reached within a 15-minute radius on foot, by bicycle or by bus and train. While this is already the case in many cities, they cleverly conceal the fact that they ultimately want to limit freedom of movement. If you can already reach everything in close proximity, why would you want to leave your habitat? In Oxford, England, a pilot project was started last year and street barricades were erected to prevent car traffic. The residents, however, knew how to defend themselves against this and removed them without further ado in night-and-fog actions.

What are we actually fighting against?

Many rebels and freedom fighters see the attempt of the “elites” to take over world domination as a reflection of “communism” or “socialism”, which they have learned to hate. To be sure, they are right that world domination will be accompanied by a planned economy, and that the attempt made in the East to create a propertyless collective society has failed miserably. But do they also understand why this attempt failed? Indeed, this should be considered from two different points of view: On the one hand, from the point of view of the failure of a utopia, and on the other hand, from the point of view of the failure of a dystopia.


A centralized, totalitarian and thus dystopian society failed primarily because the technological means were lacking, especially within information technology and surveillance. Socialist rulers were unable to monitor the economy and its actors in real time and react quickly.

However, a turnaround took place within the last two decades that could now overcome these weaknesses. The surveillance of the Internet and the accumulation and processing of information scooped up by the economy and accumulated and analyzed via smartphones and other Internet-enabled devices now allow essential sectors of society to be monitored and controlled. It is reasonable to assume that advanced artificial intelligence could play a crucial role in this.

Today’s rulers now have the opportunity to achieve successes in a planned economy that the socialists of the time could only dream of.


The utopian goal could not be achieved because the socialist rulers did not want to hand over their power to the communes, which were ultimately supposed to administer themselves through democratic processes. They failed to make the transition from socialism to communism. The necessary decentralization never took place because the absolute power they had acquired was far too tempting to relinquish. It clouded the senses of the newly created ruling class and made them lose sight of the original goal. Unfortunately, this can be observed all too often: As soon as a person occupies a somewhat elevated social position, he tends to become arrogant, to speak to his subordinates “from above,” to demonstrate arrogance, and to use his power immorally.

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” – Lord Acton.

A utopian society will have learned to decentralize power, to keep it manageable and thus controllable, instead of creating supranational institutions and conglomerates whose size and financial power detach them from any democratic control. Just look at the European Union and its institutions: In Brussels, an estimated 25,000 lobbyists besiege and work the deputies and commissioners, bribing them in many ways and presenting them with prefabricated laws, which only need to be waved through. We ordinary citizens have virtually no influence on the decisions made in Brussels.

In the municipality, life is different. Municipalities are levels of administration that are characterized by their limited number of people in a geographically defined local area. Besides self-government, self-sufficiency is the main characteristic of a commune. People know each other, respect and help each other, but – and this is important to mention – observe and control each other. In communes it is much more difficult to act out unvirtuous and immoral behavior patterns, as they would quickly lead to being excluded from the community.

Community, not hierarchy, is the concept around which a utopian society is built.

Interestingly, we experience similar things in spiritual teachings. It is not the “I” but the “we” that leads us to salvation. Jesus said in Matthew 18:19-20:

“Where two of you are made one on earth, why it is that they should ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Another wise saying goes, “Heaven can only be entered together.”

There is also a parable worth mentioning about the difference between heaven and hell: for this, imagine a long, beautifully laid table at which all the people are seated together. The situation is such that the elbows of the people are stiffened and thus they cannot feed the delicacies that lie before them on the table to their mouths – that is hell. In heaven the same situation prevails, only that there people feed each other.

All these statements and parables are meant to draw our attention to the necessity of overcoming the ego, which has outgrown our divided mind and uncontrollably controls all our lives. Therein lies the key both to our personal salvation and to the long-awaited, social peace. How will we manifest this here on earth if it is not also anchored in the foundation of our society? It is indispensable to promote the spiritual training of man from an early age.

Helping to shape the change by creating clear rules

Resistance is growing, not only from ever-increasing discontent, but also from an ever-increasing number of people who feel alienated from society. High energy costs, a generally turbulent economic situation, and shady political decisions are now causing the middle class to stumble. It is a development that Klaus Schwab foresaw in an interview as early as 2016, and more than a few believe that it is wanted by the ruling class. After all, the middle class is the class that still has political power and uses it in its own interests.

Many of them are afraid of losing in the near future what they have built up over years, sometimes over generations, but refuse or do not think of getting to the root of the problem, for example by putting limits on private property.

It is a form of hypocrisy to cling to a liberal economic order based on private property, and then complain when you are displaced or taken over by the private property of others.

People want to build a business, they want to become employers, but they refuse to accept the consequence that there are bigger, better, faster, and above all more ruthless entrepreneurs than they. They build hierarchies in which clear authority to issue directives is established, but whine when they realize that they are subordinate to a much larger hierarchy in which they are at the mercy of others.

And so we manifest in our way of doing business the many small wars that we wage among ourselves, which always end up in a big war. So we have to give answers to the question how much private property is appropriate and at what point something can automatically no longer be private property. Is it okay to be the owner of more than one residential property? Is it okay to be the owner of more than one automobile? Is it okay to be the owner of something that several people have worked on together? Or does that something then automatically become common property? Is it okay to demand consideration based solely on a title of ownership? And if so, how often? Endlessly? These are questions to which we must provide new answers, offer fair solutions, and draw new boundaries.

Perhaps at some point we will learn to turn the tables and address the statement “You will own nothing and you will be happy” to Klaus Schwab, his consorts and superiors. Let’s make them tremble by no longer recognizing what they call their property and declaring it to be common property. The primary concern here is productive capital. But to do this, we ourselves must learn to rise above entrenched patterns of behavior by first naming them and then pointing out their insanity and ridiculousness. Here’s an example:

The hoarding of gold

It is tragic and at the same time highly interesting to take a closer look at some of our behavior patterns. For example, the hoarding of gold: How, other than insanity, can it be explained that man goes to so much trouble to get hold of this rare metal, only to bury it underground again afterwards?

Man builds machines with the help of which he moves tons of earth, he enslaves and inflicts considerable suffering on his own kind, even kills in small as well as large wars, in order to get this shiny metal, which finally ends up in large parts in the form of ingots in underground vaults. Storage, combined with protection, causes additional, immense expense that man takes upon himself, only to have another man not take these ingots from him to store in another vault buried deep underground. If there is a highly developed, extraterrestrial civilization, which could observe this madness, this behavior causes with it probably no more than head shaking and perhaps some pity.

It has been proven for 50 years now that we do not need gold to carry out barter transactions. The gold standard of the American dollar was lifted in 1971 after several countries decided to exchange their dollar reserves for gold at the previously fixed price of 35 dollars per troy ounce. The threat of a sell-off of U.S. gold reserves loomed, prompting then-President Nixon to pull the emergency brake and unceremoniously cancel the U.S. dollar’s gold peg. Since then, it has not been considered necessary to build a currency on the so-called gold standard. What for? Basically, both the precious metal and a banknote are just a tool for exchange. Gold, by virtue of its rarity and the impossibility of producing it, was suited to carry a function of preserving value. Nonetheless, we have proven that we don’t need gold to organize a monetary system; just a fair set of rules that are enforced.

Do not lose optimism

The phenomenon just described illustrates quite well the insanity that affects a large part of humanity and which – taken to its logical conclusion – will lead our society into the abyss. Whether it is the hoarding of gold or of something else, or whether it is the illusion of possessing something, plays only a subordinate role. If you look at the state of society like this, the struggle seems hopeless. However, I would like to assure everyone that it is not so.

We just have to be careful that in the fight against injustice we do not turn ourselves into what we have set out to fight. We must be careful not to let ourselves be controlled by the ego, whose goals are fixed and will always produce the same results as before. History teaches us how heroic resistance fighters often mutated into dictators when they were seduced by the power they had previously defied. However, let us preserve optimism, with the certainty that good can withstand any form of evil, just as light eradicates the forms of darkness.
Gustav Viktor ?migielski is a philosopher and author. He studied finance and accounting in Wroclaw and is on a quest to find answers to life’s existential questions – with success!Read more

The poisoned solidarity
The human reflex to show solidarity with those in need is systematically instrumentalized and ultimately perverted by politics and the media.

09.03.2023 by Björn Lerch
A sustainable humanity

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

“We should respect the red lines of both sides” and Gen. Harald Kujat


“We should respect the red lines of both sides”.

Red. / 1.03.2023 “The truth about Ukraine: both sides have lied, cheated and used violence,” Jeffrey Sachs said via video in Berlin.

Major media outlets predominantly provide information on arguments in favor of helping Ukraine retake all Russian-occupied territories. Infosperber assumes that readers are familiar with these arguments. Therefore, we document supplementary voices that consider the continuation of the war risky. Today the US economist and Russia expert Jeffrey Sachs. Translation and first published by Multipolar.

Yanukovych wanted neutrality, not NATO expansion

I have been an advisor to the governments of Russia, Ukraine, and the United Nations, and I want to talk to you about the truth about this war. We are not on the first anniversary of the war, but on the ninth anniversary.

The war began with the violent overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych – a coup backed by the U.S. government. Beginning in 2008, the U.S. pushed NATO expansion all the way to Ukraine and Georgia.

Yanukovych wanted neutrality. He stood between the U.S. and its goal of Nato expansion. When protests against Yanukovych broke out in late 2013, the U.S. seized the opportunity to escalate the protests and contribute to the coup against Yanukovych in February 2014. That was the beginning of the war nine years ago.

Since then, Russia has seized Crimea and war broke out in the Donbass. NATO pumped billions of dollars in weapons into Ukraine. The war continued to escalate. The Minsk I and II peace agreements, which Germany was supposed to help guarantee, did not work because Ukraine refused to implement them and because Germany and France did not push for implementation.

In late 2021, President Putin made Russia’s red lines clear: NATO expansion to Ukraine was unacceptable, Russian control of Crimea must be preserved, and the Donbass must be pacified by implementing the Minsk agreements. But the Biden administration refused to negotiate NATO expansion.

In February 2022, tragically and mistakenly, the Russian invasion occurred, eight years after the coup against Yanukovych. The U.S. has been funneling massive amounts of weapons into the country ever since. Death and destruction have been horrific. In March 2022, Ukraine said that they would negotiate on the basis of neutrality. We now know that the U.S. blocked those negotiations, preferring an escalation of war. In September 2022, the Nord Stream pipelines were blown up. According to the overwhelming evidence, the U.S. is responsible.

We are, ladies and gentlemen, on a path of extreme escalation and media lies or silence: already the narrative that this is the first anniversary of the war is false. This war began because of NATO expansion, U.S. involvement in a coup, and the massive rearmament of Ukraine – then came the horrific invasion of Russia and further escalation.

This war must stop before it leads us all into a nuclear Armageddon.

We must tell the truth. Both sides have lied, cheated, and used violence. Both sides must back down. NATO must stop trying to expand into Ukraine and Georgia. We must heed the red lines of both sides for the world to survive.
Jeffrey Sachs

At the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the economist advised the governments of Poland and later the Soviet Union on the introduction of a capitalist economic order. At the time, he recommended what he called “shock therapy.” During the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, he supported and advised candidate Bernie Sanders. Currently, Sachs is director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York and president of the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.


Ukraine: people should use stalemate for negotiations
Near Kharkiv: bombed by Russian troops

by Harald Kujat
Ukraine is fighting for freedom and its territory – but also for U.S. geopolitical interests: The U.S. wants to weaken Russia.
[This article posted on 3/11/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.infosperber.ch/politik/welt/ukraine-man-sollte-die-patt-situation-fuer-verhandlungen-nutzen/.]

Media are increasingly spreading voices advocating negotiations only when Russia withdraws from the Donbas and Crimea. Whoever calls for negotiations now is not only a “Putin-understanding”, but a “Putin-worshipper” and “naive pacifist” (FDP President Thierry Burkart). For his empire, Putin knows no borders and wants to regain control over the former Eastern bloc countries (sociologist Grigorij Judin in an interview today in detail on Infosperber).
Therefore, Infosperber documents mainly complementary voices that consider the continuation of the war risky. Today General (ret.) Harald Kujat. He was Inspector General of the German Armed Forces and, as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, NATO’s highest German military officer. Because they are still topical, we document again his statements from an interview with “Zeitgeschehen im Fokus” (intertitle of Infosperber).

Russia sees nuclear strategic balance at risk

Ukraine is fighting for its freedom, for its sovereignty and for the territorial integrity of the country. But the two main players in this war are Russia and the United States.

Ukraine is also fighting for the geopolitical interests of the USA. This is because the stated goal of the U.S. is to weaken Russia politically, economically and militarily to the point where it can turn its attention to its geopolitical rival, the only one capable of threatening its supremacy as a world power: China.

Russia wants to prevent its geopolitical rival, the United States, from gaining strategic superiority that would threaten Russia’s security. Be it through Ukraine’s membership in the U.S.-led NATO, be it through the stationing of American troops, the relocation of military infrastructure or joint NATO maneuvers. The deployment of U.S. systems of NATO’s ballistic missile defense system in Poland and Romania is also a thorn in Russia’s side, as Russia is convinced that the U.S. could also knock out Russian intercontinental strategic systems from these launch facilities and thus endanger the nuclear strategic balance.

Selensky has repeatedly changed the strategic goals of Ukrainian warfare. Currently, Ukraine is pursuing the stated goal of retaking all Russian-occupied territory, including Crimea.

Planned arms deliveries are not enough

Thus, the question to be answered is whether the means of Western arms deliveries is adequate to achieve Ukraine’s intended purpose. The Ukrainian Chief of General Staff, General Salushniy, recently said, “I need 300 battle tanks, 600 to 700 infantry fighting vehicles, and 500 howitzers to push the Russian troops back at least to the positions they held before the February 24 attack. However, with what he receives, “major operations are not possible.”

This explains Ukrainian General Salushniy’s statement that Western arms deliveries are merely prolonging the war. In addition, Russia could surpass the Western escalation at any time with one of its own.

According to U.S. Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, Ukraine has achieved what it could militarily. More, he said, is not possible. Therefore, diplomatic efforts should now be launched to achieve a negotiated peace. I share this view.

Timing for negotiations

Both warring parties are currently back in a stalemate, which is exacerbated by the restrictions imposed by the time of year. So now would be the right time to resume the aborted negotiations. The arms deliveries mean the opposite, namely that the war will be pointlessly prolonged, with even more deaths on both sides and the continuation of the destruction of the country. Even NATO’s secretary-general recently warned that the fighting could escalate into a war between NATO and Russia.

Missed opportunity last March and September

A positive starting point for a negotiated settlement had emerged in late March last year, when the Russians decided to veer away from Kiev and focus on the east and the Donbas. That made the negotiations in Istanbul possible. A similar situation arose in September, before Russia carried out the partial mobilization. The opportunities that arose then have not been used.

Now it would be time to negotiate again, and we are not using this opportunity either, but doing the opposite: we are sending weapons and escalating. This is an aspect that reveals the lack of security vision and strategic judgment.

Putin had explicitly offered negotiations again on September 30, when he declared two more regions to be Russian territory. He has done so several times in the meantime, but has raised the bar by saying he is ready to negotiate, but on the condition that the other side recognizes the territories Russia has annexed.

From this you can see that the longer the war goes on, the more the positions of both sides harden. For Selensky, for his part, has now said that he will not negotiate until the Russians have completely withdrawn from Ukraine.

This makes a solution increasingly difficult, but it is not yet ruled out.

Angela Merkel had deliberately deceived Russia

What Merkel said is clear. She had negotiated the Minsk II agreement only to buy Ukraine time. And Ukraine had also used it to rearm militarily. Former French President Hollande confirmed this.

Russia understandably calls this a fraud. Merkel confirmed that Russia was deliberately deceived. You can evaluate that however you want, but it is a blatant breach of trust and a matter of political predictability.

Nor can one argue away the fact that the Ukrainian government’s refusal to implement the agreement even a few days before the war began – knowing of this intended deception – was one of the triggers for the war.

In the U.N. resolution, the German government had committed itself to implementing the “entire package” of agreed-upon measures. Moreover, the Chancellor, along with the other participants in the Normandy format, signed a declaration on the resolution in which she once again explicitly committed herself to implementing the Minsk agreements.

This is a clear breach of international law. The damage is immense. You have to imagine the situation today. The people who wanted to wage war from the beginning and still want to, always said, you can’t negotiate with Putin. He won’t keep the agreements either way. Now it turns out, we are also among those who do not keep international agreements.

I always believed that this war must be prevented and that it could have been prevented. I made a public statement on this in December 2021. And in early January 2022, I published proposals on how negotiations could achieve a mutually acceptable outcome that would avoid war after all. Unfortunately, things turned out differently. Perhaps one day the question will be asked who wanted this war, who did not want to prevent it, and who could not prevent it.
The longer the war lasts, the more difficult it will be to reach a negotiated peace.

The longer the war lasts, the more difficult it becomes to achieve a negotiated peace. The Russian annexation of four Ukrainian territories on September 30, 2022, is an example of a development that is difficult to reverse.

That is why I found it so regrettable that the negotiations held in Istanbul in March 2022 were broken off after great progress and a thoroughly positive outcome for Ukraine. Russia had apparently agreed in the Istanbul negotiations to withdraw its forces to the level of February 23, before the attack on Ukraine began. Now there are repeated calls for complete withdrawal as a precondition for negotiations.
Ukraine had pledged to renounce NATO membership and not to allow the stationing of foreign troops or military facilities. In return, it was to receive security guarantees from states of its choice. The future of the occupied territories was to be resolved diplomatically within 15 years, explicitly renouncing military force.

But according to reliable information, then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened in Kiev on April 9 and prevented a signing. His reasoning was that the West was not ready for an end to the war.
The negotiations in Istanbul were known, including that they were close to an agreement, but nothing was heard from one day to the next.

Foreign Affairs and Responsible Statecraft, two prestigious magazines, published very informative reports on this. The article in Foreign Affairs was by Fiona Hill, a former senior staffer on the White House National Security Council. Very detailed information was also published as early as May 2 in the pro-government Ukrainska Pravda.

When Putin announced the partial mobilization on Sept. 21, he mentioned publicly for the first time that Ukraine had responded positively to Russian proposals in the Istanbul negotiations in March 2022. “But,” he said literally, “a peaceful solution did not suit the West, so it ordered Kiev to nullify all agreements.”

My experience with negotiations with Russia

I have conducted many negotiations with Russia, for example, on Russia’s contribution to NATO’s Kosovo mission. The U.S. had asked us to do this because they could not reach an agreement with Russia. Russia was finally prepared to place its troops under the command of a German NATO commander.

In the 1990s, close political coordination and military cooperation developed between NATO and Russia, regulated since 1997 by the NATO-Russia Basic Treaty.

The Russians are tough negotiating partners, but when a common result is reached, it stands and holds.

General (ret.) Harald Kujat, born on March 1, 1942, was, among other things, Inspector General of the German Armed Forces and, as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, NATO’s highest military officer. He also served as Chairman of the NATO-Russia Council and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For his services, Harald Kujat has received a large number of awards, including the Commander’s Cross of the Legion of Honor of the Republic of France, the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Latvia, Estonia and Poland, the Legion of Merit of the United States, the Grand Ribbon of the Order of Leopold of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as other high honors, including from Malta, Hungary and NATO.

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Pause for Thought: Money without Value in a Rapidly Disintegrating World


Pause for Thought: Money without Value in a Rapidly Disintegrating World
by Fabio Vighi, 5/20/2022

The tanking economy is the cause of these “misfortunes”. What we are sold as external threats is in fact the ideological projection of the internal limit and ongoing decomposition of capitalist modernity. In systemic terms, emergency addiction keeps the comatose body of capitalism artificially alive.

Pause for Thought: Money without Value in a Rapidly Disintegrating World
By Fabio Vighi
[This article posted on 5/30/2022 is available on the Internet, https://thephilosophicalsalon.com/pause-for-thought-money-without-value-in-a-rapidly-disintegrating-world/.]

The acceleration of the “emergency paradigm” since 2020 has a simple yet widely disavowed purpose: to conceal socioeconomic collapse. In today’s metaverse, things are the opposite of what they seem. Inaugurating Davos 2022, IMF director Kristalina Georgieva blamed the pandemic and Putin for the “confluence of calamities” that the world economy is now facing. No surprise there. Davos itself is not a conspiracy hub, but the mouthpiece of the elites’ increasingly panicky reactions to unmanageable systemic contradictions. The Davos crowd are now hiding behind lies like a bunch of nervous children. While they continue to tell us that the coming slump is the effect of global adversities that took the world by surprise (from Covid-19 to Putin-22), the opposite is true: the tanking economy is the cause of these “misfortunes”. What we are sold as external threats is in fact the ideological projection of the internal limit and ongoing decomposition of capitalist modernity. In systemic terms, emergency addiction keeps the comatose body of capitalism artificially alive. Thus, the enemy is no longer constructed to legitimize the expansion of Empire. Instead, it serves to conceal the bankruptcy of our debt-soaked economy.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the deployment of capital’s full potential, also known as globalization, has gradually undermined capital’s own conditions of possibility. Eventually, the response to this implosive trajectory was the unleashing of global emergencies, which must be increasingly durable and supplemented by ever-larger injections of fear, chaos, and propaganda. We all remember how it all started at the turn of the millennium, with Al Qaeda, the “global war on terror”, and Colin Powell’s tiny vial of white powder. This released the Taliban, the Islamic State, Syria, the North Korean missile crisis, the trade war with China, Russia-gate, and finally COVID-19 – in a crescendo of emotions. Now it appears that a new Cold War is in the making, perhaps the mother of all emergencies. The elementary reason for this course of events is that the closer the system gets to collapse, the more it requires exogenous crises to distract and manipulate populations, while deferring its downfall and laying the ground for its authoritarian changeover.

History tells us that when empires are about to fold, they ossify into oppressive regimes of crisis management. It is no coincidence that our age of serial emergencies began with the bursting of the “dot-com bubble” – the first global market crash. By the end of 2001 most tech-heavy companies had gone bust, and by October 2002 the Nasdaq index had fallen by 77%, exposing the structural frailty of a “new economy” powered by debt, creative finance, and the bleeding of the real economy. Since then, the simulation of growth via financial asset inflation has been shielded by the manufacturing of global threats, duly packaged and sold by corporate media. In truth, the rise of the “new economy” in the late 1990s was less about the internet than the creation of an immense apparatus for the simulation of prosperity, which was supposed to function without the mediation of mass labor. As such, it cleared the way for the neoliberal ideology of “jobless growth”– the illusion, enthusiastically embraced by the left, that a financial-bubble economy could ignite a new capitalist Eldorado. While this illusion has now blown up in our faces, nobody seems to have any desire to acknowledge it.

In fact, since Virus stepped in to raise the emergency bar even higher (before being paused and possibly recharged for future re-deployment) we are back to the same old financial shenanigans. While the West’s brand-new infection is called Russia – not least because of its proven historical record (USSR) – it is crucial to appreciate that the haste of enemy-making and fear-mongering is now desperate, based as it is on the aggressive denial of structural failure. Like Virus, the Ukrainian war screens us from the real horror of total social breakdown via debt & stock market crash. This perverse situation must be developed into its proper dialectical conclusion: the only way to put an end to the destructive succession of emergencies is to put an end to the self-destructive capitalist logic that feeds them.

After the folding of the last period of mass labor mobilization – the post-war Fordist boom – capitalism entered its terminal crisis, where fictitious money is increasingly dissociated from labor-mediated value. Already in the 1980s, the irreversible erosion of capital’s labor-substance, triggered by the Third Industrial Revolution (microelectronics), gave rise to a transnational credit and speculative system that quickly penetrated all forms of money capital. This spectral monetary mass has continued to grow by self-fertilization, to the extent that – as already pointed out, among others, by Robert Kurz –[i] only its artificial expansion enables the mobilization of liquidity in the real world. Economic growth in the 1990s was fueled by a “recycling mechanism”, whereby demand, purchasing power, and the production of goods and services were sustained by fake (speculative) money. The real economy was no longer grounded in labor incomes and revenues; rather, it was driven by price speculations on financial assets – heaps of fictitious money without value substance. This cycle of pseudo-accumulation, based on financial liquidity flowing back into production and consumption, is the defining phenomenon of our debt-driven, inflationary “emergency capitalism”. By necessity, ever-larger amounts of fictitious capital end up supporting production, so that a growing share of real accumulation participates in the speculative process.

The current grotesque overvaluation of all risk assets (stocks, bonds and property) suggests that the elites will continue to use their political playbook to buy more time and postpone the bursting of a debt bubble they began to inflate years before Covid and Putin became favorite scapegoats. The guardians of the capitalist Grail have planned for us a perennial state of fear in a desperate effort to delay the currency devaluation shock that has been brewing for decades. While they do so by increasingly cynical methods, they seem to be the only ones who at least realize that such a shock would bring the world system to its knees. This is why the financial aristocracy are willing to do just about anything in their power to secure the prolongation of our moribund economic model. In doing so, they demonstrate a greater understanding of our condition than those who, in theory, should be better placed to assess it: the so-called post-Marxist intelligentsia together with the postmodern left in all its inconsequential iterations. Regrettably, the “useful idiots” on the left have long betrayed their fundamental mandate to critique political economy, and are thus directly implicated in the unfolding catastrophe.

The technocrats at the helm of the Titanic have more than a hunch that the vessel is accelerating towards the iceberg. Having run out of policy bullets (as in the recent “austerity vs stimulus” debate), they have opted to promote a continuous program of fear and propaganda in a bid to manage the unmanageable. Crucially, they know what to most of us appears counterintuitive: that the breakdown of our obsolete mode of production can only be delayed through 1) A steady stream of global emergencies, 2) The controlled inflationary demolition of the increasingly unproductive real economy, and 3) The authoritarian makeover of liberal democracy.

The sick theater of the Ukrainian war, just like the wickedly hyped-up Covid affair, is therefore a consequence of the elites’ panicked awareness that collapse is now overdue. In fact, today’s managers of “crisis capitalism” know that a breakdown is necessary for a new money system to emerge. Crucially, they also recognize that the breakdown must happen as the planned demolition of the current model, which would allow them to retain and even strengthen their position of power within the impending neo-feudal capitalist normal. Food and energy rationing, mass immiseration, social credit, and monetary control via digital currency, have long been baked into the capitalist pie of the future. Arguably, this scenario is already part of our collective imagination, as we are being persuaded of its ineluctability due to force majeure.

Ukraine provides us with a literal image of the above mechanism. Behind their morality tales, our Western politicians, under pressure from their financial bosses, continue to sabotage diplomacy by sanctioning Russia and pumping tons of weapons into Ukraine, as well as billions in financial aid. Aside for the parallel convenience of shady arms and cash deals, the aim is to deliberately extend a conflict that turns thousands into cannon fodder while fanning the flames of a potential nuclear war. As with Covid, the fear paradigm is essential to beat us into psychological obedience. To add insult to injury, the EU continues to buy Russian gas and oil, which are essential to keep up the appearance of affluence. European leaders, in other words, want to have their cake and eat it: they take with one hand (sanctions), and give back with the other (even in Rubles) to secure energy and other commodities.

Nothing, then, prevents us from joining at least two dots. We have a free-falling economy whose predicament is barely concealed by its debt addiction and astronomical “everything bubbles”. And there is the voyeuristic spectacle of daily massacres, intentionally deprived of any meaningful socio-historical context and fueled by one-sided propaganda. Joining the dots means understanding that the purpose of the Ukrainian emergency is to keep the money printer switched on while blaming Putin for worldwide economic downturn. The war serves the opposite aim of what we are told: not to defend Ukraine but to prolong the conflict and nourish inflation in a bid to defuse cataclysmic risk in the debt market, which would spread like wildfire across the whole financial sector. Let us not forget that the stock market is a sort of derivative of the debt market, which therefore needs to be handled with extreme care. While the “assisted suicide” of the real economy via negative supply shocks exacerbates consumer price inflation, the latter provides temporary relief to the mega debt bubble, thus postponing the crash.

The primary concern of monetary policy in the recent past has been the stabilization of debt, which reduces the risk of an event that would nuke the economy and our societies with it. The ever-increasing debt pressure must be periodically alleviated, and price inflation helps. How? By decompressing the bond market bubble, since inflation reduces the real value of debt. Of course, the danger is that the inflationary dynamic takes on a life of its own (hyperinflation). The point, however, is that our lords are badly snookered: they do not have any other option except depressing the real economy while trying to extend the lifespan of the all-powerful yet dangerously volatile financial sector. What needs to be avoided at all cost is a debt-triggered event. In the current twisted environment, any artificial growth of the debt bubble needs a degree of deflationary relief, which today is guaranteed by war and rising CPI. This perverse logic becomes clear if we look, for instance, at US margin debt, which is borrowed capital used to operate on the stock market. Since October 2021, margin debt has dropped by 14.5%, while the Nasdaq has lost 17.6%. This is why Ukraine is collateral damage.

The sad truth is that “Putin’s war” (like the “war on Covid”) delays the popping of the “everything bubble”, which is why Ukraine is sacrificed to the altar of a protracted massacre for freedom & democracy. The real aim is not to help Ukrainians (nor, for that matter, to destroy Russia) but to exorcise the recurring nightmare of the “Lehman shock”, which today would plunge us into chaos, wiping out the thin veneer of monetary affluence that prevents us from staring into the abyss. The bottom line is that mouse-clicked instant liquidity is the only object that matters to the debt-based financial industry. And by deflating quotas of the debt bubble through the erosion of purchasing power and the compression of demand, the financial elites stealthily set themselves up for more Quantitative Easing programs to further inundate the system with the cash it needs. New QEs, perhaps with a different name, could soon be announced, though they might require the nudge of a controlled accident, serious enough to guarantee immediate printing action. In this respect, the 2018 precedent should not be ignored. Back then, the pretense of Quantitative Tightening (reduction of the Fed’s balance sheet) only lasted a couple of months before being forced into a U-turn. And when the gamble was attempted again in the summer of 2019, the repo market crisis of mid-September reminded everyone of how essential the Central Bank liquidity bazooka is.

The bottom line is that if Central Bank monetary injections were to end, a rapid increase in key interest rates would threaten a market crash, with defaults across the globe. So, either everyone plays according to the script, or the whole show is cancelled, and the system with it. Today we are already seeing the effect of the Fed’s recent 0.5 rate hike on the US real estate market. Interest hikes have pushed up mortgage rates, which depresses the housing market. Yet, if homebuyer sentiment is at historical lows, homebuilder sentiment remains relatively high – which confirms that there is no longer any meaningful correlation between real economic conditions and asset price speculation; for ultimately it is the Federal Reserve that, by buying mortgage-backed securities by the cartload, inflates the real estate bubble when demand is falling. All this is what the monetary surface of extreme crisis management looks like. Yet, if we only scratch the surface, we encounter the fundamental cause of all the geopolitical and propaganda games that are being played: the irredeemable melting away of capital’s value substance.

The inflation genie that escaped the Covid bottle is now blamed on Putin, including its “apocalyptic” effect on the poor. However, it originates in the creation of immense amounts of “money without value” (i.e., money that is not “covered” by real accumulation) which by flowing into the real economy inevitably devalues the money medium itself. Commodity prices no longer grow in accordance with the market law of supply and demand. Rather, any increase in demand is paid for by money generated out of economic nothingness. While currency devaluation by loose monetary policy is now being exacerbated by negative supply shocks caused by Covid and the Ukrainian war, in truth it is a secular phenomenon rooted in the dissolution of capitalist value.

It is common for empires to suffer a slow and painful death, as they deny the cause of their implosion. The fall of the US-led capitalist world started over half a century ago, and has been delayed only by waves of fake prosperity fueled by money (debt) creation, which have benefited a small elite while burdening the masses with colossal debts and immiseration. Over the last 50 years, US Federal debt has experienced a 75-fold increase (from $400 billion to $30 trillion), while total US debt (private and public) has now passed the $90 trillion mark (53-fold increase). As most currencies have been linked to the dollar since WWII, their devaluation is also inevitable. For over half a century the US has been gradually destroying its hegemonic dollar and related currencies while initiating unprovoked “military operations” abroad. Any temporary illusion of prosperity was bought with war, debt, and printing fake money.

Today’s type of inflationary devaluation first emerged as a qualitatively new phenomenon in the 20th century. Since the start of industrialization, the substantial character of currencies had been safeguarded by its precious metal pegging, which eventually took the form of the gold standard and the central bank systems based on it. The end of the gold standard (15 August 1971) marked the inception of the ultra-financialized economic model that, half a century later, is taking us closer and closer to the redde rationem, in the context of a colossal expansion of credit.

Capital’s global crisis now appears in the form of a new bout of stagflation (stagnant economy with rising inflation), which evokes memories of the 1970s. Current supply bottlenecks and price explosion of raw materials and energy is reminiscent of the oil price shock of 1973, when OPEC cut down on its output in response to the Yom Kippur War. These comparative external factors, however, must be linked to a common internal cause, which has to do with capitalism reaching the end of its internal expansionary potential. The stagflation of the 1970s marked the end of the post-war boom, which coincided with the Third Industrial Revolution and a violent fall of the rate of profit caused by exponential advance in the technological automation of production. The Keynesianism of the time failed because it reacted to economic contraction in its typical way, namely with stimulus programs that only managed to boost inflation further. Accordingly, capitalism entered a new inflationary cycle. Neoliberalism provided a way out of this impasse. It smashed the unions in the 1980s, together with the price-wage correlation and the social-democratic illusion that the capitalist system could be sustained simply through a politics of wealth redistribution – as if capitalist wealth was an eternal and not a historical category, limited by the dialectic of money capital invested in value-productive labor.

In the early 1980s, inflation was fought through the “Volker shock”, i.e., by hiking interest rates (the cost of money) beyond or near the rate of inflation. This triggered recession in the capitalist center and led the periphery of Empire (especially Latin America) into a severe debt crisis. But it saved capitalism from systemic collapse. At the same time, US financial markets rapidly expanded to become dominant, while goods production in the American rust belt declined. The United States evolved from the “workshop of the world” to the “financial center of the world,” a transformation facilitated by the US dollar acting as the world’s reserve currency. Already in the 1970s, then, capitalism had started sinking under the weight of its internal contradiction. Marx called it the “moving contradiction”, by which he meant that wage labor is both the substance of capital and that which needs to be reduced in the competition war between individual enterprises. This contradiction, which is at heart of the anonymous capitalist drive for profit-making, turned openly self-destructive in the 1980s, when debt creation and growth simulation became endemic to make up for fading value production.

Since the 1980s, global debt has been rising much faster than world economic output. Global debt needs to be contextualized: it feeds the fundamental delusion that financial speculation anticipates future capital valorization, which however must be moved further and further into the future as it is not matched by corresponding valorization in the real economy. Today’s financial capitalism is the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy, a mechanism based on the creation of ever-increasing amounts of insubstantial money to compensate for rapidly vanishing surplus-value. If the US enjoyed a period of relative growth in the 1990s, despite low wages and rising productivity, it was because consumption was increasingly sustained by credit.

While globalization provided an escape route for the exhausted Fordist mode of production, at the same time it tied itself to the ever-larger pyramids of debt and speculative excesses, making the system increasingly unstable. It is no surprise that the 1990s ended with the formation of the aforementioned first global bubble (the dot.com or Internet bubble). This was followed by the financial crash of 2008, the answer to which was the implementation of QE programs, i.e. more of the same: monetary expansion through Central Bank buying up securities and other assets. Then, the capitalist contradiction reappeared in the form of the European sovereign debt crisis (2009-12) and as a potentially devastating liquidity trap in the Autumn of 2019 (US repo market crisis), which officially inaugurated the era of “emergency capitalism”. The pandemic was used as a global shield for money printing and borrowing at unprecedented levels: under Covid, the Fed printed more fiat money in one year than in all combined QE programs since 2008.

In recent times, we have also been treated to a neoliberal adaptation of Keynesian crisis management through the implementation of extremely low interest rates – the opposite of what was done in the 1970s. Over the past 40 years, after each turbulence interest rates were lowered further to allow fresh liquidity to flood financial markets. However, since 2008 even zero interest rates were no longer sufficient, which is why Central Banks have pulled Quantitative Easing out of their magician’s hat, literally turning into waste dumps for the financial markets. Throwing caution to the wind, they have inundated the economy with fake money using junk paper as collateral, without even bothering to go through the banking system. The downhill slide of the devaluation avalanche that began in autumn 2008 in now unstoppable. Somehow, the world still believes that Central Banks will solve a debt crisis by printing more money.

The Western economies’ final attempt to save their broken system is now failing miserably, as these economies continue to decay in a mixture of currency debasement, deficit, and history’s largest asset bubbles. The choice we are presented with is the same we have seen throughout the history of advanced industrial societies: inflation or deflation. Either money is devalued as a general equivalent (inflation), or the devaluation process affects capital directly, with production (factories and workers) suddenly becoming superfluous. Unlike in the past, however, both inflation and deflation today mean fiat money debasement with the added bonus of systemic breakdown.

As discussed above, the technocrats’ current preference is not to fight inflation but instead use it to inflate away portions of debt via negative real interest rates. This is equivalent to a transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the custodians of the “everything bubble”, for the purchasing power of Main Street gets battered while part of the debt on Wall Street is deflated. Despite this cynical ploy, however, Central Banks continue to drink-drive towards the precipice. Whichever move they make, they lose. If they hike rates significantly and manage to reduce their balance sheet (Quantitative Tightening), the debt bubble will pop, with catastrophic consequences – a possibility anticipated by the rising Credit Default Swaps (CDS) index, i.e., insurance contracts against debt default. If, however, they turn to Quantitative Easing again, inflation will soar at an even faster pace. The choice is between a deflationary debt crisis and stagflation. Both are worse. Stabilizing this scenario is virtually impossible.

In all likelihood, the debt & stock market crisis will continue to be delayed. The grand finale – a biblical crash beyond our wildest imagination, ignited by the explosion of the debt market hyper-bubble – is currently being postponed through the inflationary thumping of the real economy. This means that the “misery index” (combination of inflation and unemployment rate) will grow even further. Central Banks can tame inflation only in words: they know that any tightening of monetary policy is hostage to the opposite necessity to continue to monetize public and private debt, which means creating money out of nowhere. In a certain sense, then, we are heading back to the prehistory of capitalism, once again dealing with the problem of “money without value”. We have almost come full circle. However, the debasement of the money medium today presents itself as the catastrophe of the “work society”, the system of abstract labor mediated by the market. Current bio- and geopolitical violence (Virus, war, and other global emergencies to come) is an integral moment of this self-destructive trajectory; a deliberate attempt to manage implosion by authoritarian means. We only have one real choice: either we begin to emancipate from the commodity, value, and money forms, and thus from the capital form as such, or we will be dragged into a new dark age of violence and regression.


[i] Robert Kurz, Schwarzbuch Kapitalismus. Ein Abgesang auf die Marktwirtschaft (Frankfurt: Eichborn), 2000.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

In Disaster Mode


I look forward to your comments on emergency capitalism.

In Disaster Mode
Remarks on Fabio Vighi and his theses of an emergency capitalism

by Andreas Urban
[This article posted on 2/23/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.streifzuege.org/2023/im-katastrophenmodus/.]

During the Corona crisis, some “value-critical” theses about a constitutive connection between the final crisis of capitalism and Corona, in particular the lockdown policy installed in the context of the pandemic, have made news. The author of these theses is Fabio Vighi, Professor of Italian and Critical Theory at Cardiff University. An examination of his theses seems worthwhile if only because they are subsumed, among other things, in circles critical of value and value-separation under the verdict of “conspiracy theory” – a label particularly popular in the past two and a half years for denouncing all kinds of criticism of the Corona policy (cf. Böttcher 2022). After all, in these circles, like most others on the left, it has generally been preferred to side with the measure state and join the media defamation campaigns against critics of measures and vaccination, without ever engaging in substantive discussion. Therefore, the internal discussion looked accordingly, especially when occasional attempts were made to (also) adequately consider the Corona policy and the measures regime in the value-critical analysis (cf. Urban/Uhnrast 2022a & 2022b; Jappe 2022; on the value-critical Corona debate, cf. Urban 2022a).

To date, Vighi’s texts are almost exclusively available in English. One exception is the contribution Von Covid-19 zu Putin-22, which was printed in June 2022 in the left-wing, Corona-critical pamphlet Der Erreger (see also my review in Urban 2022b). Apart from that, some (flawed) translations can be found in the “Schwurbelnetz” (e.g. on tkp.at).

What is the content of Vighi’s theses? Vighi has dealt in particular with the macroeconomic background of the Corona crisis and has developed the thesis, which at first glance seems somewhat steep, but on closer examination – and after the experiences of the past two and a half years – is not entirely far-fetched, and has tried to justify both theoretically and empirically that the lockdown policy of the states executed during the pandemic also, or perhaps even primarily, fulfilled functions other than those of effective pandemic control. This could be supported by the fact that until March 2020 there was a broad scientific consensus on the low benefit of lockdowns in an epidemic or pandemic, while at the same time the potential for damage was immensely high – which then proved to be true in an impressive and tragic way in the Corona crisis. According to Vighi, the main function of the lockdowns was to prevent or delay an imminent financial crash that has been clearly emerging again since the fall of 2019. This was to be prevented by a gigantic going-direct liquidity program of the central banks, with which masses of money were pumped into the system (nine trillion dollars in the USA alone between September 2019 and March 2020). Since the enormous amount of liquidity, if it had entered real economic business circuits, would have triggered hyperinflation with disastrous consequences, lockdowns had been a welcome way to distract the public while suspending business transactions and preventing “contagion” to the real economy by lowering the demand for credit accordingly (Vighi 2021a).

What makes all conspiracy theory alarm bells ring about such theses, even into contexts critical of value and value diversion, is the epistemological “shift from the question of abstract rule and the actions of actors embedded in it to the immediacy of cognition and the goal-directed actions of elites” (Böttcher 2022) underlying the theses (allegedly). Indeed, Vighi exhibits a certain open flank to conspiracy theorizing, insofar as his analysis of the Corona regime of measures gives relatively strong weight to the moment of action and calculation by functional elites, while the in many respects irrational character of capitalist crisis management in general and Corona policy in particular tends to recede into the background. Certainly, there is also an internal rationality in all of this, and some actors certainly proceed “according to plan,” but this internal rationality is itself fragmented by the interests of the state(s) and various capital fractions, which are becoming increasingly confused in the crisis, and, moreover, broken by crisis-induced institutional decay and the irrationality that is increasingly overshooting at all levels. Vighi gives comparatively little analytical space to this irrational moment of the commodity-producing system in its agony.

From a value-critical perspective, Vighi can without question also be considered a relatively “postmodern” theorist with a theoretically quite eclectic way of working, in which value critique (with which he is obviously familiar) is sometimes mixed up with set pieces from Lacan and Žižek. However, this does not necessarily say anything about the truth of his critical analyses. The bottom line remains and is obvious that Corona “[was] used as a means for a crisis management in the capitalist sense. This attempt at crisis management was and is, of course, a reactionary one, in effect a recourse to the authoritarian-repressive early phase of capitalism” (Bedszent 2022, p. 654). And this goal of crisis management seems to have been achieved, at least for the time being. Also, and especially, the distraction of the public by the lockdown policy, whether as part of the “plan” or merely as an effect of the regime of measures and the PR actions flanking it, has worked excellently. Vighi’s argument, moreover, is explicitly crisis-theoretical and quite compatible with value-critical theorizing, insofar as he explicitly locates the developments of the last two and a half years in a fundamental crisis of capitalism:

“However, the ‘going direct’ blueprint should also be framed as a desperate measure, for it can only prolong the agony of a global economy increasingly hostage to money printing and the artificial inflation of financial assets. At the heart of our predicament lies an insurmountable structural impasse. Debt-leveraged financialization is contemporary capitalism’s only line of flight, the inevitable forward-escape route for a reproductive model that has reached its historical limit. Capitals head for financial markets because the labor-based economy is increasingly unprofitable.” (Vighi 2021a)

With his emphasis on a constitutive connection between “financialization” and the obsolescence of labor and a resulting fundamental crisis of the commodity-producing system as a whole, he is thus definitely on the level of the “litigating contradiction” (Marx).

Ultimately, his distinctly original thesis, which he further developed and substantiated in subsequent articles (e.g. Vighi 2021b, 2022a & 2022b), that the fundamental crisis in which the commodity-producing system finds itself has meanwhile reached a stage in which only real or staged states of catastrophe allow capitalism to continue its zombie existence (for the time being) by making it possible to prolong crisis management qua financial bubbles and a policy of cheap money at the necessary level. What should perhaps be added here, as a further part of a corresponding crisis management program, is the braking of the fall of profit rates by means of a highly dimensioned, state-subsidized “meaningless production” (cf. Hüller 2019, p. 187) for the benefit of large fractions of capital and certain leading sectors. “Meaningless production” in this context means production beyond the previous capitalist business as usual just for the sake of production, if necessary also of goods with no apparent benefit, but with a more or less large potential for damage. That something like this is taking place in the context of the Corona crisis (pharmaceutical and digital industry), but also currently against the backdrop of the Ukraine war (arms industry), is palpable. Also the senselessness and harmfulness of this commodity production devouring hundreds of billions of state money on a material level can hardly be overlooked – in the case of the arms industry anyway, but also with regard to the products of the “pandemic industry”, e.g. mRNA vaccinations with little efficacy but many side effects, corona test kits for epidemiologically meaningless mass testing (including the test laboratories that have sprung up everywhere in the last two and a half years), or the tens of billions of masks for whose benefit there is no valid scientific evidence whatsoever. The ecological damage caused by the mountains of waste from used (and unused) masks and corona tests alone is simply enormous.

Vighi also sees a similar connection between the corona crisis and the Ukraine war. According to him, the Ukraine war, much like Corona before it, is a viable vehicle, or at least a welcome justification, for continuing to sustain the ever-increasing money printing on which capitalism depends at the current stage of crisis maturity:

“Putin’s war is the ideal continuation of the War on Covid. The overarching goal is to mask the real problem. It consists of the mountains of cheap money being funneled into the debt-ridden economy. The disaster spiral is the macroeconomic event of our time.” (Vighi 2022c, p. 104, orig. ed.)

Indeed, it was impressive to observe how, with the onset of the war, the logic of the Corona exceptionalism, along with its entire propaganda apparatus, spilled over almost seamlessly to the Ukraine crisis (cf. Urban 2022c) and, in particular, how the money floodgates, already wide open during the “pandemic,” immediately found another black hole into which they could pour. Shortly after the war began, for example, Germany immediately adopted the largest arms package since World War II, amounting to 100 billion euros. The debt dynamics, already massively increased by Corona, on whose drip postmodern crisis capitalism hangs, have thus once again climbed to new heights:

“In essence, ‘Mad Vlad’ with his military offensive has allowed the Federal Reserve (and other major central banks) to further postpone the day of reckoning for our ultra-financialized economic system. After all, cheap debt invested in even more debt is what is keeping the Titanic from sinking. […] Mountains of cheap money are created out of thin air and used as financial leverage. The appetite for borrowing is now truly endemic, as it also affects the real economy, households and, above all, governments. For this reason, global distress is the main driver of artificial monetary expansion, which in turn is the capitalist flight forward from the crisis of exploitation (inability to generate socially sufficient quantities of surplus value and thus real wealth) that has plagued our mode of production since the Third Industrial Revolution and the implosion of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s.” (Vighi 2022c, p. 106f.) As Corona has already pointed out, the war gives central banks “carte blanche to continue their monumental money-printing sprees, which boost markets while further depressing the global economy. This is the one-way street of contemporary capitalism” (ibid., p. 107).

With this ever faster spiral of debt, the crisis of exploitation can certainly by no means be prevented, but at least the final collapse can be delayed even further by supplying the bleeding capitalism with ever greater quantities of blood, i.e. money, in ever faster succession. In this way, the (financial) markets can be temporarily stabilized, and the national debt, which has been exploding again since Corona, can also be maintained a little longer in this way. According to Vighi, the decisive factor is keeping the money floodgates open and continuing the policy of easy money (quantitative easing), which, if necessary, is “calibrated by a cyclical sequence of global emergencies” to legitimize it (ibid.). Whether these “emergencies” are real or merely staged is as irrelevant as the specific nature of the emergency, as Vighi notes, not without irony:

“pandemic, terrorist campaigns, nuclear threats, trade wars, military conflicts, or – why not – alien landings. At every available opportunity, chaos must be evoked, ideally with the figure of a brutal, bloodthirsty enemy. Whether as a media event or in reality, the emergency cycle matters because it keeps the money spigot open. Let us not forget that capital is a blind process that abhors stagnation: it must be in constant motion, even if motion means accumulating ever greater amounts of unsustainable debt, by whatever means.” (Ibid., orig. emphasis added.)

According to Vighi, a “cyclical succession” of emergencies is necessary under the conditions of an ever more intensifying, crisis-like unfolding of capitalist contradictions, above all because the respective justifications and “narratives” can wear out over time-especially in the case of such crises, which are more staged than real-as, after all, could just be observed in the Corona crisis: “After two years of relentless scaremongering, [of] storytelling and money printing, however, the Covid narrative had become stale and increasingly contradictory […]. ” (ibid., emphasis in original) Against this background, the Ukraine war came just in time; it provided a new catastrophe “narrative” that could be exploited, as Corona had done before, in terms of political economy, but especially in terms of monetary policy. For if “the Fed were to take its foot off the monetary gas pedal, the world would plunge into a full-blown recession in record time” (ibid., p. 108).

Of course, if Vighi’s theories are correct, this is crazy in the extreme and pure madness, especially since the constantly escalating war in Ukraine has suddenly made the nuclear threat more real than it has been for decades. But irrationality is part of the essence of the commodity-producing system that subsumes the entire material world of capital utilization and, if necessary, also destroys it. And in its fundamental crisis capitalism unfolds, as Robert Kurz has repeatedly pointed out, into a downright “program of world destruction” (Kurz 2003, p. 428). Capital tolerates nothing but itself, and where there is no more capital and no more utilization, there should be nothing at all. It is thus the irrational internal logic of capitalism itself that finally comes to its own in its final crisis and lets capitalist “civilization” race straight toward its own self-destruction. At some points, Vighi also comes to speak of the galloping irrationality of crisis capitalism. He speaks, for example, of a “psychotic[n] core of capital” that is taking on increasingly clear features today, “since it [capital, A. U.] has distanced itself almost completely from its origin (value-producing labor).”

“Even if the current use of states of exception is already perverse by its very nature, psychotic times may be just around the corner. However, by calling Putin ‘Mad Vlad,’ we overlook the insanity and truly criminal vocation of contemporary capitalism. To reiterate, an imploding socio-economic system sustained by financial leverage on the current scale desperately needs a continuous stream of emergencies and a Bond villain to blame. The industrial production of emergencies, in turn, requires credible actors on the world stage and an audience willing to be shocked by cynical media propaganda.” (Vighi 2022c, p. 108)

The latter, as not least the past two and a half years have shown, is available en masse. The situation may be different with regard to the “credible actors,” for there was and is very little that is credible about the performance of politicians, journalists, and “experts” in the Corona crisis or in the current Ukraine crisis – which in turn casts an even more telling light on the “audience,” whose manipulability now apparently knows no bounds. However, the “actors,” i.e., the functional elites in the state and capital, are obviously not of a significantly different ilk than their “audience” and are perhaps only something like the real overall psychotics in a crisis capitalism that is behaving ever more irrationally – actors who are meanwhile falling for their own propaganda (cf. Urban/Uhnrast 2022c).

At such points, the greatest weakness of Vighi’s analyses, already mentioned at the beginning, becomes apparent: He tends to impute an internal rationality to the functional elites, which certainly – also – exists, if only in view of the competing interests of various capital factions or the attempts of states to manage the crisis (in an increasingly authoritarian way). But this rationality is already in itself thoroughly irrational – not for nothing did Horkheimer and Adorno speak of an “irrational rationality” of capitalist society. And as the crisis progresses, the dialectic of rationality and irrationality, which has always been characteristic of capitalist modernity, tends to dissolve further and further in the direction of irrationality. This tendency toward irrationality, in conjunction with the interests and calculations of states and capital fractions, which are becoming increasingly confused in the crisis, results in a highly contradictory and unstable constellation, which can increasingly find expression in highly irrational and autodestructive modes of behavior and reaction – of which the events of the past two and a half years bear eloquent witness.

It should also be noted that Vighi’s explanatory approach is less valid specifically with regard to the Ukraine war than with regard to the corona lockdowns. A number of other factors are responsible for the Ukrainian war, especially on the geopolitical level, which, however, also cannot be seen independently of the final crisis of capitalism and here, in turn, of the increasingly evident decline and decay of the West (cf. Urban 2022c; Urban/Uhnrast 2022c). However, with a view to the concrete course of the war and, in particular, the persistently pursued escalation and prolongation of the war, e.g., through Western arms deliveries, the monetary function emphasized by Vighi might well play a certain role.

Where do we go from here? According to Vighi, a protracted crisis process is to be expected:

“One must expect a tsunami of global inflation, further impoverishment and mass migration (of cheap labor) – and all of this will be blamed on Putin. One must expect the return of pandemic threats that support ongoing efforts to globalize vaccine passports and the digitization of life. One must assume a new arms race to boost stagnant GDPs around the world. If the economic environment demands it, one can expect more military damage to helpless populations caught in the middle of the capitalist charade. One must assume false flag operations and relentless disinformation campaigns.” (Vighi 2022c, p. 109).

Admittedly, in some respects Vighi’s analyses were overtaken (the text From Covid-19 to Putin-22 cited here was first published in English in mid-March 2022) by the course of events. For example, Vighi still assumed at the time that EU sanctions on Russian oil and gas would not be implemented as comprehensively as originally planned and announced because of the extreme dependence of European economies. This is not entirely wrong, but as we have witnessed in the meantime, the EU has persistently maneuvered itself into a situation with its sanctions frenzy that is expected to cause massive economic collateral damage and a historically unprecedented de-industrialization spurt in Europe in the near future (though it must be conceded here that probably no one in his or her right mind would have thought such insanity possible six months ago). Other things that Vighi predicted have actually occurred in one form or another (inflation, energy crisis).

In a recent article, Vighi has since updated his theses, taking into account more recent developments. For example, against the backdrop of the looming energy crisis in Europe, he again considers measures such as lockdowns possible – if only to keep the masses threatened by impoverishment and cold at bay:

“When looking at the ongoing energy crisis, which threatens to bring Europe to its knees no later than this Winter, lockdowns (or similar restrictions) cannot fail to appear as the most ‘practical’ way of achieving large-scale energy savings. Social restrictions would not only tame inflation but also help us conscientious citizens to ‘do our bit’ against climate change, feeding the noble illusion that a zero-net ‘Green New Deal’ – supported of course by a massive program of fiscal stimulus (i.e., more debt) – will unleash a new era of capitalist growth. Adopting lockdown policies may well be the only way for ‘green capitalism’ to affirm itself, for the system needs to keep both the inflationary spiral and the impoverished masses under control. The key point here is that ‘sustainable growth’ through green technology remains a pious illusion for a system that requires increasing levels of labor-intensive production to generate real economic value. Every leap in post-industrial technological innovation driven by capital, no matter how green or desirable, will cause unemployment and poverty to grow, together with the imposition of widespread repressive measures upon entire populations.” (Vighi 2022b)

Energy or climate lockdowns? After the experiences of the past two and a half years, this can probably no longer be categorically ruled out (at least some universities, including the University of Vienna, are reportedly already planning for the winter lockdown).

In summary, it can be said that Vighi’s theses are certainly worthy of discussion from a value-critical perspective. Their weak point is an overly analytical focus on the actions and interests of concrete actors and an overly inconsistent (though not consistently absent) mediation with the capitalist fetish relations that are increasingly going off the rails today due to the crisis. In this way, Vighi exposes himself (perhaps not entirely unjustifiably) to the suspicion of “conspiracy theory” – but at least he makes it unnecessarily easy for those for whom the accusation of “conspiracy theory” is in any case only a particularly popular killer argument for marking certain contents as “not open to discussion” and at the same time rendering any substantive rebuttal obsolete. However, anyone who thinks that Vighi’s theses can be subsumed under the label of “conspiracy theory” and thus ticked off probably only wants to ignore those aspects of his theses that are quite illuminating and instructive from the perspective of crisis theory – which is all the easier if one has already refused to see other absurdities from the Corona period, which was so rich in absurdities. Vighi may to a certain extent have undergone an “epistemological shift” away from the abstract rule of capital and towards the actions and calculations of functional elites – at least he can be said to be still concerned with “knowledge” and not, as some others, merely with disavowing any attempt at knowledge that leaves the framework of a certain “narrative”.


Besdzent, Gerd (2022): Im Herbst der Pandemie [In the Fall of the Pandemic], in: Ossietzky 19/2022, pp. 652-655, online at wertKRITIK.org.

Böttcher, Herbert (2022): You have to say “health dictatorship!” Who’s the best at regreening?, exit-online.org.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

The sacred cow and The propaganda machine


These campaigns by politics and the media, which prescribe an extremely narrow framework of what can be said, narrow freedom of expression to the Western narrative. Other opinions are not just open to being shot down. Those who dare to express them are grabbed by their livelihoods.

The sacred cow
by Rainer Sonnberg
[This article posted on 3/8/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Die heilige Kuh.]

The most adorable sacred cow at the moment, beyond any doubt, is the USA. There they invest millions of dollars every year in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and at the same time billions in the production of weapons for the killing of the only known intelligent species: the humans of Earth. A guest contribution by Rainer Sonnberg

There are moments when I feel again the scratchy dark green fabric of the starting uniform on my skin and hear again the shouting of the sergeant from duty in the company corridor the morning after, with which he roused us from sleep. If we were unlucky, we were still so blue that he could drag us out of the double bunk beds and slam us to the floor. It was sobering up the hard way, the result of a pressure fueling the night before. Four hours in the exit are not so much, if of it still another half hour must be planned to foot to the next pub and one and a half on all fours back in a Kaff, in which fox and hare say themselves good night. We were young, but unlike the coma drinking that came into fashion later, we knew when enough was enough. The headaches disappeared at the latest after the three-thousand-meter run for early morning exercise. The stomach contents, too.

“Democracy levy”

Today, forty-five years later, times have changed, but the pressure refueling still exists, although no longer for the stomach, but for the head. Every evening in front of the television, the skullcap is raised and the brain is pressure-fueled with democracy. The democracy levy must be good for something. Against the hangover the next morning, however, no run around the world would help. Running is out of fashion for most people anyway, unless a XXXL burger is waiting at McDonalds, the money office at the social welfare office or the next tattoo studio. But then quickly back in front of the TV … Where was I? Oh yes, at the sacred cow called democracy. It is worshiped everywhere, not only by the public broadcasters, but also by the so-called alternative media. Without democracy, nothing works in our country, not even the election of the gender-specific thunderbolt. India has more experience in worshiping sacred cows than Germany, but at least we are on the right track. We have no lack of role models for sacred cows, and the mooing of these cows is not worthy of any criticism. Just like the cow itself, its vocalizations are absolutely adorable, if nothing else. Democracy means rule of the people and who of us Volksge … Sorry, I just blinked right and turned left. I probably watched too many election programs on the ÖRR. In any case, we are all members of the German people, Mr. Habeck, Mrs. Baerbock and Mrs. Merkel once excluded, who can do nothing with it, so with the German people or their voters.

So everyone can imagine to rule, after all he belongs to the people and imagination is still better than no education at all in times where the same is becoming more and more a discontinued model. Why, however, Mr. Habeck and Mrs. Baerbock rule, although they do not want to belong to the people, or Mrs. Merkel ruled, although she fired the German flag into the corner, we discuss in another article.

So let’s open the cow democracy’s mouth for once and look down its throat. Don’t be surprised if it stinks a bit, that’s just the stomach contents. It shouldn’t bother us any further, after all, it will be digested at some point and then come out the back as dark green shit. When the sacred cow has diarrhea, it’s pretty quick, it comes out a lot, and it’s not even useful as fertilizer. It may well be that the cow is not necessarily the best example of a democracy, but a better one is hard to find. Democracy is, after all, a truly unprecedented business model.

USA: Sacred cow beyond all doubt

Let’s take a look across the pond at the biggest, most adorable, and beyond reproach sacred cow: the USA. There they invest millions of dollars every year in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and at the same time billions in the production of weapons for the killing of the only known intelligent species: the humans of Earth. May their search for intelligence be crowned with success and expand their horizons! Einstein meant, the same is a circle with the radius zero and one calls then point of view. If he had lived today, he probably would have used the word “attitude”. Every four years, the American people spend several billion dollars (I think Donald Trump’s election campaign cost about two billion) to elect their president. Of course, he is American through and through, like Joe Biden or Donald Trump, a regular person like you and me, like Bill Gates, Larry Fink or George Soros. The top shepherd of the sacred cow in the U.S., elected in this way, may then determine for four years to which countries of the world it is still driven and how it is to be worshiped there.

In Germany, the procedure is much more complicated, but not quite as expensive. Actually, it costs the people nothing at all, so in any case no one has to pay anything extra. The parties have their election campaigns financed by tax money and the more of their members sit at the feeding trough of the sacred cow, the more they get out of it. The tax money is actually meant for roads and schools, but who will complain if the money is spent on protecting the sacred cow and training the one hundred thousand members of the institutions feeding and guarding the sacred cow? That would be de-legitimizing the state and no one from the electorate does that. Excuse me, of the electorate, of course.

In general, parties – several of them, of course – are the core of democracy. If we had only one, we’d have a dictatorship, and nobody wants that, do they? There are so many people who want to do good, and so that they can do that, they organize themselves into parties. For whom they want to do good, they then write shortly before the election on huge, of course ecologically compatible election posters, which they then have put up millions of times throughout the country. The party that puts up the most and largest election posters with the best promises then has the most voters voting for it. After the election, the election posters are then disposed of again in an ecologically sound manner, together with the election promises on them, it becomes a bit more complicated, as many parties have made such similar promises that they then have to enter into so-called coalition negotiations.

They do not lie, but stop telling the truth

There they then roll the dice – sorry, wrong turn again – there they then discuss who is most qualified for which post and should govern in the name of the people in their ministry. This usually takes so long that the election posters have long since been taken down, which is why hardly anyone can remember what was written on them during these negotiations. In fact, it’s a nasty slander that politicians lie to get into power. They just stop telling the truth at some point. After all, they have so much on their plate that forgetting sets in pretty quickly for them, unlike those who elected them. It takes them almost four years to forget what they were promised and whether it was kept. That’s why there’s always a lot of pressure-fueling from television before the next election, because fewer and fewer people can read and the parties have to somehow get their promises across to the people’s rulers.

Between elections, when there aren’t state elections, a UN meeting, a G20 summit or a World Economic Forum, there’s also politics, which is about two months a year. That’s when real knowledge, professional experience, logical thinking and expertise tend to be a hindrance to the free development of the personality. Peter’s Law applies: In every hierarchy, employees are promoted until they reach a position where they have reached the maximum level of their incompetence.

The decisive factor is not what you want, but what you don’t want: under no circumstances should you supply weapons to war zones, never let another war start on German soil, a judicial system dependent on politics, an insecure supply system, never cooperate with the AfD or the left … and so on. However, it can happen that even these iron-hard principles have to be softened in extreme exceptional cases and one’s head turned three hundred and sixty degrees in order to do justice to the voters’ mandate. After all, it was the will of the voter that his party should rule for his benefit for the next four years and, even if it is difficult, one must then sometimes sacrifice iron-hard principles and backbone for the wish of the voter. Sacrifice is a good keyword anyway, since it serves a good purpose: the sacred cow of democracy. That contented hens lay bigger eggs is nothing more than a rumor. Who needs contented chickens? Only the chickens themselves, but who cares about them?

Never to be slaughtered

Let’s summarize: Democracy is when people get together to form parties, spend the people’s money, rule over the same people and steal the chickens’ eggs. After four years (there are five years in the discussion, for ecological reasons, because of the election posters, can also be ten) one of them is re-elected, which then, so that all others also have something of it, allies itself with most other parties, in order to be able to put up four (or ten) years later again new election posters with new promises with still more money.

That’s how it works inside the sacred cow, even in countries hundreds of thousands of miles away where leprechauns rule. It must never be slaughtered, no matter what it has in its stomach, how it stinks and what shit comes out the back.


The propaganda machine runs around the clock. Anyone who contradicts is no longer allowed to appear
No rooms for criticism
by Björn Blach
[This article posted on 3/9/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.unsere-zeit.de/keine-raeume-fuer-kritik-4777711/.]

Ban on appearances – No rooms for criticism – Government propaganda – Politics

Roger Waters faces performance bans in several cities.

At first, it hit Russian artists in particular: anyone who did not publicly declare their support for the NATO narrative was excluded from the Western cultural scene. In the meantime, it affects all those who contradict the theses that “Putin” is solely to blame for the war and that more and more arms deliveries would bring the solution. Some are being taken to court, others are being publicly pilloried. The accusations made are thin, but are spread with all the more fervor in the media and social networks. In particular, artists and intellectuals who had previously been critical of measures against the Corona pandemic are currently in the spotlight.

One of them is the political scientist Ulrike Guérot. Her curriculum vitae includes a number of think tanks of the Western world. For a long time, her main topic was the further development of the EU. She was also a popular talk show guest. This changed during the pandemic. After her references to the antecedents of the Ukraine war and NATO’s at least shared responsibility, she was cleared for firing. First, she was thrown off the jury of the NDR non-fiction prize. In the meantime, the University of Bonn has issued a notice of dismissal against Guérot. The reason given is accusations of plagiarism. She is said to have insufficiently marked quotations in non-scientific books. She would be the first to lose her job because of this.

Action has been taken against the Swiss historian Daniele Ganser for some time. He has published on NATO secret armies in Europe and their links to terrorism. He doubts the official version of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in the U.S. and has sharply criticized the U.S. wars waged under this pretext. In the same way, he refers to the antecedents of the Ukraine war and sees the U.S. as responsible. In addition to conspiracy theories and antiSemitism, he is now accused of “Putin propaganda.” With this justification, several landlords canceled previously concluded contracts for lecture events, such as the Westfalenhallen in Dortmund.

Ganser’s business model is self-promotion. He writes books, which he sells himself, and gives lectures in German-speaking countries – admission costs range from 30 to 40 euros. He usually gives talks to sold-out audiences. His argumentation is bourgeois, sometimes it slides into the esoteric. His action orientation often remains thin. The arguments of his opponents, however, are easy to see through. “The Network to Combat AntiSemitism” from Dortmund explains about Ganser’s appearance that he “never appeared with openly anti-Semitic statements,” but spreads theories “that show a proximity to anti-Semitic conspiracy narratives and fall on fertile ground with people who are receptive to this.”

Similar accusations have long been leveled at Roger Waters, the British musician and co-founder of the band Pink Floyd. Since his support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s occupation policy in the Palestinian territories became known, he has also been accused of antiSemitism. No anti-Semitic statements are attributed to Waters in the process either. Criticism of the actions of the state of Israel, which should not be voiced because of the Holocaust, is enough. The same applies to the USA: it acts as a protecting power of Israel – this justifies its actions. Ultimately, this type of argumentation also extends to anti-capitalism. This is also anti-Semitic, since there are also Jewish capitalists.

In early February, Waters addressed the UN Security Council at Russia’s invitation. He advocated peace negotiations and blamed the West for the war. With that, the witch hunt against him reached its climax. The venue for the concert of his European tour in Frankfurt has already been cancelled. There are discussions in Berlin, Cologne and Munich. In addition to the obligatory accusations of antiSemitism and Putin propaganda, Waters is being discredited as a nutcase and “traumatized.”

These campaigns by politics and the media, which prescribe an extremely narrow framework of what can be said, narrow freedom of expression to the Western narrative. Other opinions are not just open to being shot down. Those who dare to express them are grabbed by their livelihoods. The deprivation of opportunities to perform is the extension of the occupational ban in a new form. Those who most zealously demand the defense of democracy are destroying fundamental rights with a sledgehammer.

Björn Blach, born in 1976, has been a freelance contributor to the Theory and History section since 2019. In 1997, he was among the graduates of the DKP’s first, two-week basic training course after the counterrevolution. In the federal leadership of the SDAJ, he led the educational work. In 2015, he was elected district chairman of the DKP in Baden-Württemberg.

His main job is as a social pedagogue in inpatient youth welfare.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Defensive Invasion & Strategies of Power


Defensive Invasion
War is socially acceptable again in the West.
By Gabriele Gysi
[This article posted on 3/6/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/defensive-invasion.]

Imagine it’s war and no one goes! This dream is being hurled into the dustbin of history by NATO. War is socially acceptable again, new lifestyle. Many voices cry for revenge, cry for the most modern weapons, because there are new sneaky attack warriors with poisonous arrows. It all seems like a duplicate of the US founding story. The new savages, the new Indians are the Russians. They must be defeated, that is, destroyed. Then, after living in reservations, after re-education in the spirit of our Western community of values, after renouncing their own history, under the leadership of governors accepted by the West, the survivors may be allowed to play again in our rule-based order.

Ukraine, for the first time created and directed as a state under German military leadership, has been able to hold its own only briefly, for about a year and a half, in the period from 1918 to 1919, in the game of forces of the Entente alliance around France and Great Britain against the Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary.

It seems that the Entente wants to return to Ukraine with the former enemies and new allies as NATO. Is the history of the drama of the First World War to be finally completed here in the struggle against Russia?

A president surrounded by American advisors is delivering his country and people to NATO. As his defense minister stated, Ukraine is de facto in NATO, de jure follows whenever. Here, the notion of an independent Ukrainian government again becomes an illusion. Democracy does not seem to interest anyone after the field test of the Corona measures.

Also in Ukraine, all opposition parties are banned, opposition people have no voice. A president, apparently the only voice of Ukraine, elected with the promise to create peace in Ukraine, lets prepare for the very big war.

What had happened that our Western world – now once again – has to defeat the Russian hordes with the help of Ukraine, which only in 1991 decided through its president for independence from Russia. The common life of people as a Russian-Ukrainian reality within the Soviet Union should not have existed? Why?

In Ukraine, the government that was swept to power in 2014 had started a war against its own, mostly Russian, population in the east. Differing perceptions of the workings of this young state were acted out by the government as an anti-Russian, i.e., racist, civil war. The tanks against eastern Ukraine came from Kiev.

NATO under U.S. leadership supported nationalist militant organizations once associated with the German Wehrmacht, making the development of a modern multi-ethnic state impossible. We see the sad result of this policy today.

The American flag flies in Ramstein when NATO meets in Germany. Here the strategy for the war against Russia is decided. The appearance is the truth. It is not Ukraine that joins NATO de facto, later de jure, it is NATO that takes over the regulation of what once could have been a Ukrainian state.

Ukraine is fighting for Ukraine to dissolve in the EU and NATO? Who is supposed to believe that? Nation-state to abolish nation-state?

Propaganda does not create history. A president is not yet a state, not yet a country. The Ukrainian president, inflated to the white knight of Hollywood, reflects first of all himself. But first of all he mirrors us, with all means of modern propaganda technique.

It is almost like a Hollywood movie with Dustin Hoffmann: “Wag the dog”. Politics is absorbed in stories, reality is of no interest. Why did the Western community of values prevent the agreement between Ukraine and Russia?

What are these British and American hussars of all kinds supposed to achieve, except war? Any request for weapons is an act of submission to our aggressive missionary rule, to the ever redefined rule-based order that desires war against Russia. Why is the U.S. government working off the world division from Zbigniew Brzezinski’s work “The Only World Power” with the mathematical intelligence of a fourth grader?

Does an empire master only the simplest arithmetic? The hegemonic U.S. security architecture is an architecture of war. One counts over 20 war operations since 1945. There are currently at least 800 U.S. military bases around the globe. Is the world becoming safer in this way? Missionizing different nations and peoples to adopt American models of life must inevitably lead to wars and civil strife.

Has the U.S. claim to leadership in South America, which has existed for about 150 years, brought peace and prosperity to the continent? Why are street battles being waged in Peru against the mostly indigenous population? Have interventions in the Middle East improved people’s lives? The constant, ever-new definition of enemies forces the U.S. military to develop ever-new theaters of war. Why? The U.S. to U.S. Americans. “America first” for Americans. European history, with its wealth of culture, of commonalities, but also of conflicts, does not need and cannot be solved by the USA.

The world is more diverse than the actionist claim to rule of an empire is able to comprehend. A single conception of real life cannot reflect reality. Forced allegiance must spread terror.

Hollywood’s victory over many national film industries does not yet make life a duplicate of these mostly fatuous descriptions of good and evil.

To tell history only as the story of persons is today, in our time of incredibly complex work processes, a children’s fairy tale.

Russia and what is now Ukraine share a long common history. For the Ukrainian-born Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol, Russia was his homeland, the impetus of his critical writing.

Europe needs Russia, however Russians shape their country. The whole of European modernity is unthinkable without Russia. Russia is an important country in the tension between Europe and Russia. We want peace with Russia.

French historian Emmanuel Todd describes the Russian military operation as a “defensive invasion!”

Now it is a war to be whipped through from the western side with the help of Ukraine. One wants to isolate and destroy Russia. Why? What is this constant personification of evil? The president of Russia is more bearable for me medially, because he does not constantly push into the cameras in costume and mask and recite foreign texts like the Ukrainian president.

The media’s way of personalizing conflicts in no way does justice to the situation.

Without peace, there is no life. Modern military technology demands security guarantees, if only to rule out fatal mistakes.

It is a declaration of war not to comply with Russia’s request for security guarantees. Russia, which ended the confrontation between East and West with the withdrawal of its troops and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, is now declared an enemy? How much amnesia is needed to believe this forgetfulness of history to be true? There is no future without a past.

The U.S. does not need to dominate the world, adorned with whatever propaganda, whatever narrative. Missionization is the colonialism of today. No, the American dream must not become a nightmare for the world.

Gabriele Gysi, born in 1946, is an actress and director. She attended the Staatliche Schauspielschule Berlin and worked for a long time at the Volksbühne Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, as well as at other theaters. She directed plays at the Theater Karl-Marx-Stadt, the Volkstheater Rostock and the Compagnie de Comédie Rostock. From 1973 to 1981, she also appeared as a narrator in several radio plays on GDR radio. In 1984 she left the GDR. From 2007 to 2008 she was chief dramaturge at the Volksbühne Berlin.

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The delusion of grandeur


Strategies of power
In an exclusive interview, Rubikon Editor-in-Chief Roland Rottenfußer explains the means by which globally organized elites are successively depriving us of all basic rights and freedoms.
by Nicolas Riedl
[This interview posted on 3/4/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/strategien-der-macht.]

People perceive freedom very differently. Only when they want to make use of it does it become apparent how (un)free they actually are. The chains are only felt by those who try to move within them. Thus, the last three years have shown very exemplarily how differently the striving for freedom is pronounced within the population. While some people wanted even more “security,” others were already in a guarded position at the first signs of freedom-restricting measures. How is it that the people of this society feel such different urges for freedom? How do elite actors manage to subjugate humanity in ever-increasing increments without any significant resistance? Rubikon editor-in-chief Roland Rottenfußer wrote a good 400-page work about these “strategies of power,” which will be published on March 27 as the next Rubikon bestseller and will show concrete paths to the liberation of us all.

The cover is decorated with slippery octopus tentacles that wrap around the letters of the book’s title, symbolizing the increasingly encroaching behavior of the elite. In recent years, they have forcibly gained access to every last corner of our lives, and have not even stopped at our bodies. The tentacles of power will not let go of us as long as we do not put a stop to them with concentrated determination.

In an interview with Jens Lehrich, Roland Rottenfußer explains what motivated him to write the work, how he, as a freedom-loving contemporary, experienced the caesura from 2020 and what role the struggle for freedom has played in his life to date.

Jens Lehrich in conversation with Roland Rottenfußer

The book will be published on March 27. You can pre-order it here: as a paperback or e-book.

If something fundamental doesn’t happen now, that’s it for freedom. And it won’t be the attacks of its opponents that will do it in – the indifference of those who enjoyed it for so long will. Pandemics, world war, climate emergency: freedom hovers in the highest danger. “Freedom talk?” “Dare more dictatorship?” What is broken in the hearts and minds of so many that they hold themselves and their freedom in such low esteem, even downright contempt? Why do they agree to their own disenfranchisement and seem almost in love with their chains? Roland Rottenfußer shows: We are prisoners of our illusions, prisoners of the lies and strategies of power. But the emperor has long been naked, the Wizard of Oz only a megalomaniac dwarf pulling levers. If we recognize that our fear is groundless, the spell falls off us and we find our way back to our truth and power: “If freedom were a person, a beautiful goddess – what would I say to her? Above all, one thing: forgive us! Forgive us for this pathetic, unworthy betrayal. It will never happen again. From now on, we will fight better for you.”

Rottenfusser’s book is both a declaration of love for freedom and an individual-collective revolutionary instruction. The path lies before us, we just have to walk it. True to Bertolt Brecht’s motto: “When truth is too weak to defend itself, it must go on the attack.”

Press reviews of the book:

“From one who set out to teach the powerful the fear.”
Jens Wernicke, Spiegel bestselling author

“The powerful are and remain the enemies of freedom. To defend our sacred rights, we must know their strategies, expose the lies, and resolutely empower ourselves.”
Flo Osrainik, Spiegel bestselling author

“Roland Rottenfußer illuminates from different angles the complex tension between power and freedom, obedience and disobedience. His knowledge and thoughts can help to recognize and see through the ‘strategies of power’ – and to get rid of those chains that power likes to put on us. May this book be read by as many as possible who pass on the knowledge gained to others. For knowledge is itself a power. And the power of knowledge is feared by those elites who, in their arrogance, arrogance and complacency, believe they can lie to the public’s face and permanently take them for fools.”
Marcus Klöckner, Spiegel bestselling author

“Roland Rottenfusser pursues enlightenment in the best sense. Completely in the spirit of Critical Theory, he explains the strategies of the power elites: How they condition people into immature puppets, how the microstructure of power penetrates everyday life, how the generation of fear forces anticipatory obedience. Along the way, the author lets us share in wonderful reading experiences and provides many suggestions for further reading. To all who want to defend their freedom against the powerful, this book is highly recommended.”
Patrik Baab, author and journalist

Quotes from the book:

“Unfreedom has eaten so deeply into our souls that some still perceive it as such, but do not know how to defend themselves against the superiority and brutality of the rulers. In times when the balance has shifted so much to the disadvantage of freedom, I think it is urgent to write a book about freedom. How many times does freedom actually have to be trodden in the dust before we take its side not just defensively and half-heartedly, but passionately? How many more colorings of an ideological kind, how many more faces and masks must unfreedom assume before we realize that despotism is despicable and that statehood – indeed, any kind of power and authority – needs our vigilant scrutiny?”

“We inhabit a planet of the subjugated and the subjugated, the breaking and the broken, the enslaved and the enslaved. The collective characteristic of our species seems to be a fundamental lack of respect for the free will of the individual, a tendency to impose the rule of a minority over the majority with extreme brutality again and again, and to sell it to the subjugated by means of propaganda as the only possible and desirable form of society.”

“The tyranny which we have long marveled at like a distant fairy tale from a safe distance, which we thought we could ‘fight’ when it was perfectly safe to do so – many of us no longer recognize it, now that it is right in front of us. The people of our generation have never been closer to their ancestors than in their current delusion, in this as if paralyzed and paralyzing act of submission. The surest way to fail a test is to deny that it exists.”

“When almost everyone turns away from freedom, it is precisely we who must be its support and refuge. For almost everyone stands up in its name, but almost no one really stands up for it.”

“The only way to feel comfortable in an authoritarian state is, well, to join the regime, to become its fellow traveler or beadle, to idolize the strongman and copy and paste his worldview into your own head.”

“The powerful, quasi ex officio freedom skeptics, are creating a new reality together with the freedom refugees. A society in which man appears only as a shrunken form of his former size. As homo obediens, the obedient human being.”

“Power has wreaked incredible havoc in the past and yet is very rarely fundamentally questioned. Only this or that powerful person is ever attacked, never power itself.”

“Exercise of power in its unhealthy manifestation is based on the satisfaction the powerful person feels in disposing of subjugated people. Where this pleasure wears off, as can be seen in dealing with other addictive substances, more power is needed. In the end, someone holds on to power only because its withdrawal hurts, rather than because its possession would bring great pleasure.”

“Destructive power always seeks to narrow the range of movement of others and demands symbolic gestures of submission. Power always wants to be sure of itself. It is unsettling to them that the thoughts of the subjugated are a ‘black box,’ that is, not fully visible to them. Full control is difficult to achieve in this way, which is why those in power constantly stage ‘power tests’. These serve as a gauge of whether they still have ‘it’ under control. At the same time, the power strategy consists in educating people in the sense of an automated obedience to rules.”

“Where there is power, the thinking of the majority aligns with it like iron filings with a magnet. As soon as rulers publicly put something forward as truth, it begins to work in the brains of millions of their subjects, with the sole aim of aligning their own will with that of the ruler, of making his grand narrative theirs. Only an effective opposition movement of almost equal strength can perhaps stop the process. If this is lacking, as it was lacking in the Corona situation, for example, published opinion, philosophy and literature, the thinking of most individuals also take on the coloration of power.”

“Destructive power masks itself by bogus justifications – an urgent responsibility to be assumed, objective factual necessity, inferiority of the subjected, and superiority of its own person. Thus it creates its own justification narratives. Basically, arrogance, even contempt for the citizen, is a basic prerequisite for the more rigid forms of domination.”

“Force an entire country to do something actually ridiculous and degrading, and you will achieve two things: incredulous amazement that none of ‘the others’ refuses this imposition, and a kind of paralysis of will that causes almost everyone to play along. Each individual thus becomes a part of a conformity scenery by which all others feel discouraged. The sheer mass of fellow travelers makes the dissident doubt his sanity over time.”

“We normally assume that as the brutality of state repressive measures escalates, resistance would also grow, so that action and reaction always roughly correspond to each other, provoking a counter-resistance that then puts an end to the harmful behavior of state power. In truth, it is probably more the case that as the aggressor’s harshness grows, the victim’s tendency to adapt out of fear grows. It then swings its mind to the perpetrator’s specifications and devises narratives of its own that impute positive meaning to his actions.”

“There is no one the oppressed and, in the process of conforming, oppressing himself hates more than those who subject his behavior to a comparison he cannot withstand. Cowardice becomes fully recognizable as such only when it is confronted with courage as a counter-image.”

“We only then realize how powers and the media are almost ceaselessly busy flushing us out, scattering us, frightening us and driving us on – in the worst cases even chasing us from one trauma to the next. From pandemic to war. From war into energy emergency – and from this perhaps into a renewed refugee crisis. This also happens because people who have been taken from their midst in this way have apparently proven easier to control. So whenever people want to badmouth freedom, we should ask: Who is it that is trying to do this? And what motives might be driving him? It may simply be that the person in question wants to sell us his self-interest as ours.”

“So is freedom anything at all but a nice-sounding cover name for death in times when any relaxation ‘granted’ by the caring state to its wards can mean death for quite a few? To put it in a nutshell: If freedom kills and dictatorship saves lives, shouldn’t all people who have even a spark of compassion in them willingly surrender to dictatorship like a bride adorned for a wedding surrenders to her groom? And even if some incorrigible freedom sworn still speak against it: If the majority has decided in favor of dictatorship, is not an upright democrat obliged to bow to this majority vote?”

“Certainly, freedom is not ‘everything’ – but if we don’t quickly reflect on its beautiful sides and don’t put its despisers in their place, then it will come about that we will have to live without it – not forever, perhaps, but for a very long time. It is necessary, then, in all cases of doubt, to consider the interests of liberty and how they can be preserved and extended as far as possible, even under difficult conditions.”

“At Corona, policymakers want to pay us the enjoyment of fundamental rights – once a pure given – as a well-measured premium for good behavior. First people are robbed of their freedoms, then they are thrown to the more docile among them like a dog biscuit, as a reward after a successfully completed training act.”

“Freedom and domination are always in tension. No despotic system has ever been at the helm forever. No mind control has ever been so perfect and pervasive that resistance has not stirred here and there. If power becomes too oppressive, the pendulum may swing in the opposite direction. We can hope for this in the current mood. However, even a freshly won freedom would never be secure – not even the one we associate in our imagination with the complete lifting of all ‘Corona measures’.”

“The wind turns as a result of many small ‘turns’ that take place inside our fellow human beings when you suddenly become aware of what ‘they’ have been doing to us all along. When suddenly the great anger breaks free from the prison of weighing reason and trained conformity, and we stand incredulous before our own previous forbearance.”

“Let us, at the latest, stop this terrible and senseless urge to ‘make ourselves popular.’ So great are not most of our contemporaries that we should have to give ourselves up for a half-hearted swim along in their warm consensus soup.”

“We see clearly from the Corona hysteria how harmful it is to fear death more than is normal and healthy for a living being who loves his life. To exclude death at all costs, to exclude it at literally any cost – such as the cost of dignity and freedom for all – leads to that fear-driven denial of life that we are currently witnessing.”

“Present humanity must choose between an era of intensified despotism and a new era of freedom. If a certain principle – in this case security authoritarianism – is overstimulated, a counterforce may form in the historical process. The sorrowful experiences we are now going through could again awaken an increased need for self-determination. I even see a ‘window of opportunity’ for a strong freedom movement, provided we don’t let ourselves think that this has become obsolete in the face of war.”

“On the threshold of a new global age of despotism, we must decide now: Do we want the broadest possible protection against the risk of death at the cost of living what is in effect a lifeless life? How we choose is also a question of courage. For freedom and aliveness never come entirely without risk – like everything else of real value.”

“To live is to live with threats of various kinds. It means, nevertheless, to conquer anew, full of bravery and confidence, the happiness and lightness that are also inherent as potential in our being.”

“What we are dealing with in the 21st century is the secularized god-godhood of a small global power elite of large corporations, big banks and financial companies – most recently IT and pharmaceutical giants: The god of mammonism wields the scepter. A few people without any democratic legitimacy determine the fates of billions of people – ultimately only because they want it that way and because they hold the institutional power in their hands to force us to accept what is actually unacceptable.”

“The citizen of the early 21st century takes power for granted – freedom has to be explained to him. Through the discourses of domination that occupy almost the entire public space, freedom as a value could be put on the defensive. While people still know roughly what is meant by it and what it feels like – the lack of vigor with which increasingly disenfranchised citizens stand up for their freedoms is evidence of widespread freedom illiteracy.”

“The difference between democracy and tyranny is: Democracy is always about what the citizen wants; tyranny is all about what he is ‘still allowed’ to do.”

“I am skeptical of any exercise of power – it must be able to justify well its necessity and the means it uses. And I abhor abuse of power – any kind of dictatorship and despotism in small and large ways. A betrayal, however, that is less to be blamed on the individual than on those powers that have seduced and manipulated him or even forced him to stifle the fire of freedom within him. It is important that the longing for freedom is revived in as many people as possible. Because if it is missing, no matter how many words and sophisticated arguments against the abuse of power are probably in vain. If we want to set out on a long and arduous journey, two kinds of motives can give us the courage to do so: either the place from which we set out is so terrible that it drives us away, or our destination is so tempting that we will do anything to reach it, even if we don’t even have it particularly bad at home.”

“Legitimate freedom cannot include the freedom of the powerful to impose their will on the weaker, thus taking away their freedom. This applies not only to political power, but also to economic power.”

“Treating citizens decently who do what the powerful want them to do anyway is no art. But the acid test for a democracy – if it wants to distinguish itself from a dictatorship – is always how it deals with dissent, with disobedience.”

Nicolas Riedl, born in Munich in 1993, studied media, theater and political science in Erlangen. He documents and analyzes the increasingly abstruse zeitgeist of Western culture in critical texts. He is also a book lover, a strict cash payer and an unusual digitalization muffin for his generation. Accordingly, you won’t find him on any social media platform. He is a member of the Rubicon youth editorial team and writes for the column “Junge Federn.”

Read more
Ambivalent motherhood

In the Rubicon courage talk, mother of two Susanne Herrmann explains that emotional attachment disorders of mothers to their children can only be cured when this topic is de-tabooized and illuminated.
24.02.2023 by Friederike de Bruin, Nicolas Riedl

Current article
The power of the strongest
No breather

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Letter to the Central Portland Library, March 5, 2023

If the roof at Central were damaged and leaking, I could understand closing the central Portland library for 9 months beginning March 11, 2023!

The library is more than a library; the library is a community center and a precious public space where people can interact and learn from one another. The library is also an anchor for the thousands of tent and houseless persons displaced in our expensive and over-priced housing economy. Education is the great transformer, said economist John Kenneth Galbraith. Swords should become plowshares! Libraries shouldn’t become furniture stores!

Please reconsider this terrible “remodeling” decision! Expanding the restrooms and adding a “teen center” do not warrant a closure for 9 months! At the very least, this should be a democratic decision, not a top-down decision. You could postpone the closure until May or June and ask patrons to vote on the proposal on the library website and in the library. This would give the decision some legitimacy and prevent the collapse of public spirit and trust between the generations.

No one knows the effect of a 9 month closure on children, students, houseless persons and the disabled. The library isn’t like the travel agency industry that was replaced by online communication. “Without vision, the people perish,” we are warned in Proverbs. The road to hell is paved with good intentions and hypocrisy! The state shouldn’t steal away from its responsibilities to feed and house its people; corporations shouldn’t steal away from paying fair taxes and funding public services. The library shouldn’t be using part of the 2020 $380 billion bond to close Central and replace the oak tables and chairs! Resist the beginnings of faceless and irresponsible corporate rule, boundless privatization, atomization and commodification! Remember the warnings of George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Martin Luther King!

Admitting a mistake is often difficult. The old downtown post office could be a village of SROs providing housing and near vital social services. Instead of this incremental step, this space could become another Portland boondoggle (like O’Bryant Square and the 600-room Ritz-Carlton hotel). The homeless are ignored and made invisible. The ghost boutique hotels and condos – largely vacant since the 2020 Covid-19 – are repressed and written off as bad decisions.

Don’t let Central become a vacant building in a fly-over boarded-up city that was once friendly and affordable!

Are the librarians given a “closure salary” for the 9 months or told to “fend for themselves”? Massive tech layoffs are occurring all over the US. Cities and states find themselves in a financing crunch since corporations transfer their profits to tax havens, make themselves outwardly profitable through stock buybacks. The financial markets made themselves independent and take necessary revenue from the real economy. In the 1960s, 40% of federal revenue came from corporations. Now it is 7 or 8%!

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

China’s peace plan and It’s about everything


In times of crisis, right-wing populists, with the benevolent support of influential media, play the national card and pit disadvantaged groups of people against each other. Scapegoats, like Jews in the past and refugees today, are made responsible for the collapse of the welfare state and security.

China’s “peace plan” and what the West doesn’t understand or wants to understand about it
by Juergen Huebschen
[This article posted on 2/28/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=94432.]

“China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis” – This should be the correct translation of the official document of the Chinese Foreign Ministry “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis”. The Chinese position does not claim to be a “peace plan”, as the document is referred to in many media. Nevertheless, it is of course worthwhile to deal with the content and, above all, the facts of the document. After all, this document is a serious approach to ending this war and should not be prematurely devalued by the West. By Jürgen Hübschen.

China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis

The Chinese leadership has summarized its basic position on the war in Ukraine, which it calls the Ukraine crisis, in 12 points. First, it states that the sovereignty of all countries, international law and the United Nations Charter are the basis between the relations of all countries. The legitimate security interests of all countries should be respected, bloc formation should be prevented, a European security structure should be created, and peace and stability should be ensured on the Eurasian continent. All countries and parties are urged to motivate Russia and Ukraine to resume direct talks as soon as possible in order to de-escalate the overall situation and achieve a comprehensive ceasefire. Dialogue and negotiations are the only promising solution to the Ukraine crisis.

The international community should be committed to helping the parties open the door for negotiations. China is ready to play a constructive role in this. Every effort must be made to end the humanitarian crisis. This should be done on the basis of neutrality and non-partisanship. Civilians must be protected and corridors created for evacuation from conflict zones. Similarly, the United Nations should be supported in coordinating humanitarian efforts. Parties to the conflict should strictly adhere to international law, refrain from attacks on populations and civilian facilities, and protect women, children, and other victims. The right of prisoners of war should be respected. China supports the exchange of prisoners of war and calls on all parties to create even better conditions for this. China opposes any attacks on civilian nuclear facilities and calls on the parties to abide by the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) to avoid nuclear accidents.

In this context, China supports the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Beijing also clarifies that nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be waged. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and nuclear crises must be avoided. China condemns all research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons, by any country and under any circumstances. The grain agreement between Ukraine and Russia should be supported by all countries. China’s proposed Cooperation Initiative On Global Food Security offers an approach to solving the global food crisis. Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the crisis, but only lead to new problems.

China opposes any form of sanctions other than those imposed by the United Nations. Those countries that are concerned should end the abuse of unilateral sanctions and “long-arm jurisdiction” in order to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis and create opportunities for developing countries to increase their economic growth and improve living conditions for their people. All states should strengthen existing economic systems and refuse to use the global economy as a weapon for political purposes. Joint efforts are needed to avoid a widening of the crisis and to prevent a disruption of international cooperation in the fields of energy, finance, food trade and transportation so that the world economy recovers. The international community is urged to plan initiatives for reconstruction after the crisis ends. China is ready to play a constructive role in this process.

China’s position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis – a serious approach or merely a “political trial balloon”? – Attempt at an evaluation

First of all, it should be noted that any proposal on how to end this war should in principle be viewed positively, especially if one has no viable alternative or political concept to offer oneself at all. If one has read this document carefully, it is not comprehensible to call it “insubstantial,” as, for example, the so-called security expert Joachim Krause, director of the Institute for Security Policy at the University of Kiel, did in the February 25, 2023 edition of the Westfälische Nachrichten. It is also not purposeful to declare this document a “non paper” quasi immediately because it was written by China, which has so far not condemned the Russian war expressis verbis and merely calls it the “Ukraine crisis” in this document.

Those who accuse China of not having formulated concrete conditions for the start of negotiations in this 12-point declaration, which from the Chinese point of view does not claim to be a peace plan, have simply failed to understand a fundamental principle of diplomacy. Indeed, preconditions and diplomacy are basically mutually exclusive, as are recriminations or personal condemnations of political decision-makers. Citing international law and demanding respect for the sovereignty and integrity of every country, Beijing has unequivocally condemned the Russian war. The demand that both warring parties return to the negotiating table nevertheless also puts the onus on the Russian president. That such negotiations must be started without preconditions can only be emphasized, and that the weapons must first be silenced cannot be disputed by anyone.

The rejection of the use of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons is to be supported without reservation and should not be devalued with the remark that this is nothing new. The demand not to carry out attacks against the civilian population and civilian facilities must also be endorsed. It is not necessary to mention Russia by name in this context, because that is how it is understood in Moscow. The call to continue implementing the Grains Agreement and to work overall for a solution to the global food crisis is clearly positive.

There is only one passage in the entire document in which a separate demand is made of Ukraine’s supporters, namely the lifting of sanctions. This has to be classified as taking sides with Russia, although China did not just mean the sanctions against Russia, but spoke out against such measures in general if they were not decided by the United Nations. In my view, however, this fact is by no means sufficient to describe this document as “pro-Russian,” even though a number of formulations are still clearly directed at the United States. Instead, Moscow must take clear note from this document that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s statement swearing “boundless friendship” to his Russian counterpart does not automatically mean endorsing Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Beijing’s positioning is one possible approach to halting the current spiral of violence. To do so, however, it is not enough to convince President Putin that negotiations are the only solution to ending this war; President Biden must also realize this and, above all, use his influence with President Selensky to ensure that he, too, no longer categorically rejects negotiations and makes them contingent on preconditions that are unacceptable to Russia. This document is a serious approach to ending this war and should not be hastily discounted as a political trial balloon.


It’s about everything
by Bernhard Trautvetter
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Ossietzky – Es geht um alles.]

In memory of the anti-fascist, contemporary witness and socialist Sally Perel, who recently passed away at the age of 97, I would like to share an appeal that we formulated together with Esther Bejarano three years ago. Since then it has been a point of reference for the motivation for social engagement for companions in the social spectra.

A few years ago, a student at a comprehensive school in Essen referred to Sally’s experiences during the Nazi era: on his escape from the Nazis, he had ended up in a Soviet children’s home, and after Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, he survived as a Jew through camouflage and deception in an elite Hitler Youth educational institution. This brought the student to the question of which influence had a more lasting impact on his thoughts and actions. Sally answered that the communist dream of the solidary community of people without exploitation and oppression, as it is also found in the Sermon on the Mount, motivates him to this day not to give up. Out of this attitude we agreed that the forces working in this sense should bring their energies together in order to have a greater chance of success. From this we developed this appeal three years ago:

“It’s all about! – for the cooperation of the social movements against the destruction of the earth.

Our ‘no’ to capitalism and violence springs from a ‘yes’ to life. The simultaneous occurrence of great risks makes the present the most dangerous epoch in human history. This calls for the forces of change to redouble their efforts to collectively and courageously find a way out and walk it.

Nothing less than the salvation of the Earth’s habitat is at stake. This will only be possible with disarmament, with an international peace order, with negotiations instead of blackmail, sanctions and war, and with a social policy and ecological cooperation instead of competition.

Humanity is currently facing numerous dangers, not only the danger of an ecological crash. The danger of nuclear war is also approaching. Tensions and armaments are spreading.

Nuclear scientists have set the doomsday clock at two to midnight.

The polarization of societies, combined with the widening gap between rich and poor, increases the dangers of disintegration. Selfishness destroys communities. Growth mania, deregulation and privatization show that neoliberal unleashed capitalism is incapable of meeting people’s needs. Competition for locational advantages, for resources, markets and trade routes – in conjunction with the rise of nationalist forces – increasingly leads to ruthlessness in the injustice of the strongest. Economic wars increase global tensions.

In times of crisis, right-wing populists, with the benevolent support of influential media, play the national card and pit disadvantaged groups of people against each other. Scapegoats, like Jews in the past and refugees today, are made responsible for the collapse of the welfare state and security. In order to weaken alternative forces, the rulers engage in a campaign to divide and de-legitimize movements that oppose the capitalist order: They stretch the concept of anti-Semitism so far that even criticism of the government of Israel’s policies is discredited as hostile to Israel and thus infused with anti-Semitic patterns. To some extent, they succeed in making this position hopeful even in left-wing spectrums.

On the basis of our decades of experience with injustice, violence, fascism and war, we call on all alternative forces to remember what they have in common and to actively work to save the Earth as a living space. In doing so, it is important to see the connection between ecological, peace political, trade union and democratic demands.

Concrete demands such as those for a nuclear-free world, for affordable housing and a minimum wage, as well as for an exit from fossil fuels and for a consistent observance of human rights, gain their sustainable power when they are linked to the goal of overcoming the causes that lie in capitalism.

The window of opportunity to overcome the threats to our future may not be open much longer. This realization imposes on us the responsibility to set priorities together and to work with each other persistently, consistently and in solidarity to that end.”

Now Esther and Sally have passed on, the responsibility has passed to those whose companions they were. The oath of Buchenwald connects us, as long as it is not yet crowned by the necessary success.

Esther Bejarano, who survived the extermination camp as a member of the Auschwitz Girls Orchestra and who moved many people of all generations with her literature and her music, together with the group “Microphone Mafia” and encouraged them to get involved, offered to add to these words in this context: “I survived the concentration camps Auschwitz and Ravensbrück and the death marches in 1945. At the Siemens Group, I had to do hard forced labor along with many others. Never again should mankind be threatened by wars. I cannot imagine anything worse than the experience of my generation being forgotten. Then all the victims of fascism and war, everything we suffered, would have been in vain. But you are there. We are counting on you. I trust you, dear friends! A better world is possible!” Your Esther Bejarano

The most likely way to justify this trust is for the movements for the future of life to remember what they have in common and to unfold their commitment to this other world with the staying power we can learn from the resistance fighters. Sally Perel emphasized, “Never give up!”

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Journalism is in denial about itself & China’s mediation


“Press in crisis
Journalism is in denial about itself

by Jan Schoenmakers
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.blog-der-republik.de/der-journalismus-verleugnet-sich-selbst/.]

If you live on a powder keg, you have to avoid sparks. Therefore, especially in crises, truthful, trustworthy communication and respectful communication in society is more important than ever. Thus, the more explosive the situation, the more important the fourth estate in the state becomes. It is failing spectacularly right now – as it has in recent crises. As someone who has worked in public communications for 15 years, I lament hurt, disturbed and increasingly repulsed by a journalism that no longer adheres to its own self-imposed code of honor, the International Federation of Journalists’ Code of Ethics (https://www.ifj.org/who/rules-and-policy/global-charter-of-ethics-for-journalists.html).

Its core elements, in remarkably clear language, are:

1.) Focus on the undistorted presentation of facts whose origin and accuracy the journalist has verified (no hearsay, no mere third party opinions).
2.) Fair formulation and balance of commentary and criticism, where both sides have their say and there is a right of reply
3.) Information gathering with an open mind, no infiltration, no publication of semi-private chats or unofficial conversations
4) Fast, complete and explicit correction of errors
5.) Clear separation of opinion and commentary, no advocacy of one’s own political or economic agenda
6.) Avoidance of reporting that actively contributes to devaluation, anger or hatred towards persons, groups and positions
7) No detective or auxiliary sheriff activities for police, intelligence or law enforcement.

Regardless of where you stand politically, it is easy to see that ALL of these core elements are trampled on daily by almost ALL of the media:

1.) Facts are replaced by internet rumors, hearsay, personal assessments of the journalist, and experts speculating off the cuff. Fatally, this often also applies to self-proclaimed fact-checking formats.

2) The bias in the media reaches into the stratosphere when it comes to morally charged topics. In some cases, downright hunts are organized, and there is a universal consensus about who “should not be given a forum” – from the left as well as from the right, but none of those who are committed to neutrality are neutral.

3) The covert “frying pan” of people, parties and companies with faked e-mails, chat protocols and recordings of private conversations has become a general popular amusement.

4) Errors in one’s own reporting are often corrected only after media lawyers have forced this in court – proactive correction as a matter of honor is a thing of the past.

5) A separation of opinion and commentary hardly exists anymore. On the contrary, today’s journalism prides itself on writing everything from an attitude of “enlightening,” “educating,” “inspiring” rather than simply informing. The product is increasingly the attitude toward life, not the truth.

6.) Journalists now regularly label individuals and groups as “terror preachers,” “gushers,” “climate chaos,” “cowards,” “antisocials,” and worse, empirically proven to drive hatred and discrimination.

7) Investigative formats often pride themselves on helping the police along instead of critically accompanying their work, and measure their success in terms of investigations initiated. In addition, there is a lusty court of opinion that works toward the dismissal and other sanctioning of people who are not legally guilty of anything.

It is as always where people and functions have great responsibility: as beneficial as it is when they use it wisely and ethically, it becomes harmful when they go astray with it. Where journalism itself becomes a political and cultural actor, instead of being a neutral, careful mirror of society, it becomes gangrenous. Drunk on their own power to “change” something, to have an “impact,” to shape society in the service of a cause or attitude, journalists lose their ethical and systemic justification and necessity. For politics, we have politicians and activists. For nagging and feel-good affirmation, we have social media. For propaganda and lobbying, we have government and business. Journalism needs to cleanse itself and become itself again. Only then will it survive – and even become more important and possibly more lucrative than ever. And only in this way will democracy survive and be able to heal a divided society.

Jan Schoenmakers is founder and CEO of the Big Data & AI startup HASE & IGEL. The company has frequently attracted media attention, among other things with the first study on the effectiveness of lockdown measures in Germany as well as the proof that Google Trends data, on which among others the economic experts rely, is not valid. HASE & IGEL is Schoenmakers’ fourth startup. The social scientist, who worked in the energy industry for a long time, regularly publishes articles in magazines, journals and scientific anthologies.

China’s mediation proposals for negotiations and a Global Security Initiative (GSI)

By Willy Sabautzki
[This article posted on February 27, 2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Vermittlungsvorschläge Chinas zu Verhandlungen und eine Globale Sicherheitsinitiative (GSI).]

The ongoing bellicose escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has already left deep scars around the world. And there is no end to the conflict in sight anytime soon.
The war has already resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries, destruction of vital facilities and infrastructure.

U.S. and NATO-supplied tanks, missiles and other sophisticated weaponry are reaching the expanding battlefield, accompanied by media drunkenness on war and moralizing final-victory fanaticism, while Russia is mobilizing more personnel to seek a military solution in its bellicose approach as well.

A diplomatic solution had not yet emerged. Instead of peace talks, the warring and conflicting parties have become further entangled in a dangerous spiral of military escalation through the use of ever more powerful weapons systems.[1] The beneficiaries of these acts of war can be documented and described: https://www.isw-muenchen.de/online-publikationen/texte-artikel/5058-ausgestorben-zu-viel-panzer-zu-wenig-hirn.

The Cold War mentality, which has not abated since the oft-cited end of the Cold War, combined with the hegemonic pretensions of the self-proclaimed champions of a rules-based order, has led to the constant expansion of NATO. Its U.S.-determined expansion strategy runs counter to the understanding of a multipolar public interest. The harsh realities of the past year have given the world a fairly clear understanding of the U.S. global order narrative.
As such, Russia’s hegemonic claims to secure its own sphere of influence, which over time now seem to take a higher priority than the pan-European security architecture worth supporting, run counter to the aforementioned global public interest.

The Global South speaks out

The ever louder calls for a ceasefire in the Ukraine war and for negotiations are joined above all by the dialogue initiatives and efforts from the Global South. In this context, the initiatives of Brazilian President da Silva, the declared willingness of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to participate in any peace process, and above all China’s

published position paper “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” which systematically sets out China’s position in 12 points. [2]
As a responsible major country, China is not involved in the Ukraine crisis, but unmistakably signals its willingness to play a constructive role in promoting a solution. In my view, this document demonstrates China’s sincerity and goodwill to actively promote peace talks.

China has demonstrated a factually demonstrable constructive role on several occasions recently within the framework of the current structures of world community organizations.

The country strives for the greatest possible convergence of interests in world governance. With its socio-political-ideological orientation, its foreign policy aspirations are geared towards building a community of states involving mutual economic, social and cultural relations in order to build more consensus, combine greater forces and take more action for the cause of global development and security.”[3]

Shortly before the release of the 12-point program outlined below, China had released another concept paper to the international community that is worth mentioning:

Global Security Initiative (GSI) Concept Paper.

In a concept paper on the Global Security Initiative (GSI) released on February 22 this year, China calls on the international community to address security challenges “in a spirit of solidarity” as tensions between China and the United States increase and the war between Russia and Ukraine continues. The paper outlines what China is advocating for as early as April 2022 during an Asia Forum on universal and common security, rejecting unilateralism and a Cold War mentality. “Security is a right of all countries in the world and not the exclusive right of some countries. It should not be decided by a few individual countries” stressed Foreign Minister Qin Gang on the occasion of the paper’s release.[4]

More than 80 countries and organizations have already expressed their support for the initiative, The Chinese Foreign Minister stresses that China will host high-level GSI events “at an appropriate time” in the future.
The Global Security Initiative GSI aims to address the root causes of international conflicts, promote global security rules (security governance), and support joint efforts to bring greater stability and security to a time that is “full of challenges.”

China’s Concept and Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.

In the aforementioned 12-point position paper, the Chinese state government reiterates its opposition to war-mongering and emphasizes the need to respect the sovereignty of all countries.
China clearly rejects the escalating war rhetoric, including the threat of using nuclear weapons.
The China Initiative likewise includes an appeal to all states to act in a supportive manner to end and negotiate a settlement of the belligerent dispute.[5]

The 12 points in detail

1) The sovereignty of all countries must be respected. Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld. All countries, large or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. All parties should jointly uphold the basic norms of international relations and advocate international fairness and justice. Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards should be rejected.?

Move away from the Cold War mentality. The security of one country should not be sought at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and given due consideration. There is no simple solution to a complex problem. All parties should contribute to creating a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture in accordance with the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security and with a view to long-term peace and stability in the world. All parties should oppose the pursuit of their own security at the expense of the security of others, prevent bloc confrontation, and work together for peace and stability on the Eurasian continent.
Cessation of hostilities. Conflicts and wars benefit no one. All parties must remain rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and escalating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control. All parties should support Russia and Ukraine to work in the same direction and resume direct dialogue as soon as possible in order to gradually de-escalate the situation and eventually reach a comprehensive ceasefire.?
Resumption of peace talks. Dialogue and negotiations are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. All efforts that contribute to a peaceful resolution of the crisis must be encouraged and supported. The international community should continue to advocate the right approach to promote peace talks, help the parties to the conflict open the door to a political solution as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiations. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.?
Resolving the humanitarian crisis. All measures that help alleviate the humanitarian crisis must be encouraged and supported. Humanitarian action should follow the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and humanitarian issues should not be politicized. The safety of civilians must be effectively protected, and humanitarian corridors should be established for the evacuation of civilians from conflict areas. Efforts must be made to increase humanitarian assistance in affected areas, improve humanitarian conditions, and ensure rapid, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access to prevent a major humanitarian crisis. The United Nations should be supported in coordinating humanitarian assistance to conflict areas.
Protection of civilians and prisoners of war. Parties to the conflict should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, avoid attacks on civilians or civilian facilities, protect women, children, and other victims of the conflict, and respect the fundamental rights of prisoners of war. China supports the exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine and calls on all parties to create more favorable conditions for this purpose.
Nuclear Power Plant Security. China opposes armed attacks on nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities and calls on all parties to abide by international law, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and resolutely avoid man-made nuclear accidents. China supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in playing a constructive role in promoting the safety of peaceful nuclear facilities.
Reducing strategic risks. Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and a nuclear crisis avoided. China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances.
Facilitate grain exports. All parties must fully and effectively implement the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations in a balanced manner, and support the United Nations in playing an important role in this regard. China’s proposed cooperative initiative on global food security offers a viable solution to the global food crisis.
Ending unilateral sanctions. Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the problem; they only create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions not authorized by the UN Security Council. The countries concerned should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and “sweeping jurisdiction” against other countries to do their part to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis and create conditions for developing countries to expand their economies and improve the living conditions of their people.
Maintaining industrial and supply chains. All parties should work seriously to preserve the existing global economic system and resist using the global economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes. Joint efforts are needed to mitigate the effects of the crisis and prevent it from disrupting international cooperation in energy, finance, food trade, and transportation and undermining global economic recovery.
Promoting post-conflict reconstruction. The international community must take steps to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict areas. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this regard.

The audible positive responses to Chinese initiatives, as well as the peace forces mobilized in many places, give reason to believe that there is some room for responsible political action and a related willingness to talk about resolving the Ukraine conflict. Even if the principle of hope is particularly weak at this time and on this issue, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine still remains at a stalemate, no one can afford a long-term war of attrition with more deaths and destruction.
The implications have aroused great vigilance in the international community. The impact of this crisis on the large number of countries in the Global South, but inevitably also on “us,” is direct and strongly felt. This is precisely why the countries of the Global South do not want to join sides, as evidenced by the voting results in international bodies (UN General Assembly). They hope and desire to be able to persuade the parties involved to reach a peaceful solution without violence.[6]
Against this background, the significance of the position paper released by China on Friday becomes even clearer.


[1] https://www.telepolis.de/features/Der-Ukraine-Krieg-und-unsere-Pflicht-zum-Frieden-7523687.html?wt_mc=nl.red.telepolis.telepolis-nl.2023-02-25.link.link

[2]China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. fmprc.govcn Feb. 24, 2023.

[3]isw-report 130, China and its role in a multipolar world order, 2022.


[5] https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202302/1286188.shtml

[6] https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202302/1286188.shtml

Tough times ahead for tenants with index-linked leases
by David Stein
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.sozonline.de/2023/02/der-indexmietvertrag-eine-neue-melkkuh/.]

The inflation rate in Germany remains at a high level. The German Bundesbank expects an inflation rate of 7.2 percent for the new year, higher than at any time since 1951; in October 2022, it had still been 10.4 percent. However, a permanent decline is not to be expected. The massive loss of purchasing power and the high cost of living, in particular the continuing rise in food prices, will continue to hit people on low incomes in Germany hard in the near future.

For many, this is now compounded by the fear of hefty rent increases. Not only because of rising ancillary costs, but also because of a significant increase in the basic rent. This affects tenants who have concluded an index-linked rental agreement with their landlord.

What are index-linked rental agreements?
In the case of an index-linked lease, the landlord can adjust the basic rent annually by as much as the general cost of living has risen. The decisive factor is the consumer price index of the Federal Statistical Office, to which the rent is linked. Such rental agreements are legally permissible (§557b BGB). In the case of an index-linked lease, it is not possible for the contracting parties to predict exactly how high the rent will be during the term of the lease.
In practice, index-linked rents have not played a major role in rental agreements for private apartments in Germany to date. They did not yield a return for landlords because consumer prices rose much more slowly than local rents – especially in metropolitan areas. According to the Federal Ministry of Building’s 2020 Rent Report, only ten percent of leases signed by private landlords contained such index rent clauses. As long as inflation developed at a low level, the development of rents was restricted in the cold rent in index-linked leases.
In the meantime, rising inflation has turned the tide. High inflation, as reflected in the consumer price index, now allows landlords disproportionately large rent increase options under index leases.

Who benefits from inflation
One in two new leases signed in metropolitan areas is an index lease.
According to market analyses by the Hamburg Tenants’ Association, almost half of all new leases in Germany’s major cities contain such clauses. According to these analyses, especially in major cities with tight housing markets, rental agreements are increasingly being linked to the general price index, particularly in new-build apartments as well as in older buildings. Tenants usually have no choice but to accept these contractual clauses according to the dictates of the landlord.
As a result, rent increases are possible even above the local comparative rent, so that especially in the case of residential property where no rent increases are otherwise to be expected following apportionable modernization measures, the landlord side benefits in times of high inflation compared with other instruments of rent increases. It is true that index-linked rents may not be more than ten percent above the local comparative rent when the contract is concluded. However, subsequent increases in line with the consumer price index are no longer covered.
Tenants are burdened twice by the rise in energy prices in index-linked leases, because both the ancillary costs and the basic rent increase. Landlords, on the other hand, benefit twice from inflation – at least if they financed the purchase of the rented apartment with loans during the low-interest phase. Because while everything is getting more expensive, the interest rate on the loan remains unchanged. Loans can then be repaid more quickly thanks to higher rental income.
Index rents also have an impact on the rest of the housing market. Disproportionately higher index rents (compared with other rent increases) are included in the rent index. As a result, they contribute to an above-average increase in local comparative rents, which in a chain reaction enables greater increases in other rental relationships. As a result, cold rents also become more expensive for households that have not agreed on an index rent.

The Left Party already called for the abolition of index-linked rental agreements in the Bundestag in July 2022. New contracts should be prohibited and the tenants’ side of existing contracts should be given the right to adjust the contract so that the rent level is incorporated into the system of the local comparative rent. This motion was not subsequently discussed in parliament.
Due to the tight situation in Hamburg’s housing market, in November 2022 the state of Hamburg made a push in the Bundesrat for a cap on index clauses. Rent increases were to be limited by law to 3.5 percent. This would protect tenants who are currently burdened by inflation and high energy prices anyway and often have no choice but to sign such contracts. A cap of 3.5 percent per year would also prevent a sharp rise in local comparative rents and thus influence the rent index.
However, this initiative did not find a majority on December 16 due to the blockade of the Christian Democratic states. Instead, a waxy declaration by Bavaria to the federal government was adopted, stating that a regulation in tenancy law was necessary to “dampen” the increase in index rents. However, this declaration does not commit the federal government to anything. The federal government, led by the FDP-led Federal Ministry of Justice, is responsible for amending tenancy law.
The federal government could, of course, launch a legislative initiative to cap index-linked rents on its own initiative, especially since Federal Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz (SPD) already described index-linked leases as a “problem” to the press in the summer. However, the Chancellor’s Office will not take up the issue in the interest of cohesion among the diverging coalition parties, especially since Justice Minister Bushman and the FDP have already rejected such an initiative before, citing freedom of contract and the usual stoking of market illusions. The interests of land owners always take precedence with this party anyway.

The pressure on the federal government to legislatively cap index clauses will now have to come increasingly from outside. Without the mobilization of tenants’ initiatives and local tenants’ associations and their networking, the federal government will not move on this issue. At the moment, these initiatives are still focusing on resistance to the exploding utility bill. The elimination of the anti-tenant burdens from rising cold rents in index-linked leases must be linked to this.
There is another way: Spain and Portugal passed a rent cap in the summer as part of their anti-crisis packages. The rent may increase by a maximum of two percent per year (France also introduced a temporary limit on annual rent increases of 3.5 percent in the summer of 2022). Since the ownership rate on the Iberian Peninsula is almost 75 percent (in Germany it is 49.5 percent) and thus only 25 percent live for rent, the government’s protective shield for low-income citizens is broader and has a different focus, including increases in minimum wages and income-related assistance. However, the experience with these measures is also important for Germany’s tenant protections.

The “Uprising for Peace” protests brought tens of thousands onto the streets. A first assessment of the rally by Christine Buchholz, Jan Richter and Ulrike Eifler
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.marx21.de/aufstand-fuer-den-frieden-friedensbewegung-nicht-alleine-lassen/.]

The rally “Uprising for Peace” was a great success. The organizers speak of 50,000 participants. This is much closer to reality than the police, who spoke of 13,000. This is remarkable not only in view of the cold wet weather, but also because the defamation of the rally in recent days came from different directions. Minister of Economics Habeck warned in the ARD-Brennpunkt on Feb. 24 – until the beginning, various newspapers, portals and radio stations repeated his statement. The rally reflects a growing dissatisfaction among the population with the course of the German government with regard to the Ukraine war and the concern about a further escalation of the war. If one places the rally in the context of many other – mostly small – protests that have taken place around the anniversary of the war, this protest could become the starting point for a new anti-war movement.

2. the composition of the rally was mixed, as usual at the big classical peace demonstrations of the past. There were many middle-aged, elderly people, but also families there. The participants were East German in character, although there were visitors from various parts of Germany. According to our estimates, there were several hundred members of DIE LINKE present – across currents and branches, from all state associations (in addition to Berlin, there were larger contingents from Brandenburg, Saxony and Hesse), activists from the student association LINKE.SDS and from the Linkjugend Solid from Berlin.

In the run-up to the rally, several right-wing structures had called for participation, and right-wingers were also present at the rally in isolated cases or in small groups, but without being able to leave their mark on it. Jürgen Elsässer, who had tried to take over the rally in the run-up, was stopped by a group of participants, mainly from the LEFT, with a handful of companions, after the stewards of the rally could not stop him. They surrounded him with banners reading “There is no peace with AFD & Co” and “Solidarity instead of racism – Refugees Welcome – accept Russian deserters” and confronted him and his group with shouts of “Nazis out”. With megaphones we explained (until the beginning of the stage program) to bystanders who Elsässer was and that the “Nazis out” shouts did not mean the participants of the peace rally, but Elsässer and his squad. Finally, the group left the rally under police protection.


4 The initiators had declared in advance that AfD and right-wing extremists were not wanted. The stewards communicated the demo consensus at the entrances to the rally site, but were in part overwhelmed and in part contradictory in their implementation. The underestimation of the danger of the extreme right also exists in the peace movement, so we must continue to argue and make it clear that AfD, Compact & Co do not stand for peace, but for rearmament, militarism and war and that they must be consistently excluded from events of the peace movement.

5 DIE LINKE was visible through individual flags, two high banners (one against rearmament, arms supplies and war, another against the right), as well as through 120 demo signs, which two Berlin district associations had created on their own initiative. In addition, isolated flyers from the district associations were used. A central distribution material that, like the flyer from the BO Wedding, opposes the war, arms deliveries and the AFD, would certainly have been helpful. Even better would have been an invitation to a central event of the LEFT about 14 days after the rally.


6 This rally was not a “cross-front” event. Individual fascists felt encouraged to come. There are people in this movement who are open to cooperation with fascists and who articulate this clearly. I.e. it is a movement full of contradictions and not without problems. The leadership, however, is not a cross-front, but a selective alliance. That is why it is crucial that DIE LINKE gets involved now – practically and politically. Whether a peace movement becomes successful – and not a cross-front – also depends on who fights for its direction with which arguments.

7 We consider it a big mistake due to a serious misjudgement that DIE LINKE did not get involved in the struggle for the orientation of this movement from a central level, but commented on it from the sidelines. We call on the party to begin a discussion now about how it can be effective in building the movement against war and defining its role in it.

8. as unsavory as the participation of nazis is – if we do not participate in protests as soon as right-wingers try to appropriate them, then we become susceptible to blackmail. On 2/25, those who were part of the protest were able to be effective anti-fascists. We must not leave the peace movement alone, especially in the face of the massive media pressure that awaits them. The Easter marches and Liberation Day are coming up with similar challenges – whether we like it or not.

9. DIE LINKE is needed: Our visible presence has relieved or reassured many participants who were uncertain about their participation due to media disparagement and who told us of their turmoil. But our appearance as LINKE at the protest also showed that we can unite the party in action. Let us become capable of action again as an anti-war party!

Before the end of the pandemic
With the pandemic explanation creeping out of social focus, the question is how the systematic dehumanization could have worked.
By Javier Y. Álvarez-Vázquez
[This article posted on 2/23/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/vorm-ende-der-pandemie.]

We have witnessed firsthand in the Corona crisis an opinion-forming machinery reminiscent of the anti-Semitic propaganda of the 1930s and early 1940s, but with a completely different motivation: To save human lives! Really? At least that is the justification argument for such a policy. However, the strategic way of thinking is the same today as it was then: to deny people their humanity in order to then be able to do inhuman things against fellow human beings without a bad conscience. How could this succeed at all?

The strategic way of thinking

Under the slogan “We save lives!”, “We protect the population from getting sick and dying”, “It is a matter of life and death!” the Corona crisis managers have demanded absolute obedience from us, the citizens, so far (1). And this at the expense of the dignity of all! Thereby Germany, as state and population, has repeated an enormous mistake in its newest history: It has handed over itself together with the basic rights as well as the dignity of each human being again into the power of the authorities. Professor Dr. Gertrud Höhler seeks to understand this humanity disaster astutely as well as unmistakably as follows:

“Psychologically, Germany follows the restriction of its fundamental rights willingly, even with restrained passion for the renunciation made, because the hour of the great debt relief seems to have come. Redemption from the collective trauma is on the horizon. Almost a century separates the state of emergency of 2020 from the nation’s most serious aberration, which failed to recognize a dictator. And again the Germans choose risk. Once again, they are handing over the state, their res publica, to politics, which is taking decisive action – this time to save lives, they say. At great moments in their history, the Germans miss the right measure. Today, in the certainty of being on the side of the good. The immoderate good is tempting” (2).

The peak of the violation of human dignity by the excessive and encroaching Corona measures is reached wherever people try to dehumanize other people. In this sense, the fundamental question is: How do people manage to dehumanize other people?

Own experiences in the past

The topic of dehumanization – another word for it is “dehumanization” – concerns me a lot. Especially because I once experienced it myself. In January 2009, I was insulted and physically attacked by an unknown person in Heidelberg: kicked from behind, punched and pushed against the wall of a building. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Passers-by saw everything and no one raised their voice against it. Until the owner of a bar, who had also seen the whole thing from his pub, rushed to my aid. It was an Italian. And he told the stranger to stop it immediately. “Can’t you see he’s a human being!”

The stranger replied to the good Italian, looking me in the eye, “He’s not human!” That was the worst thing for me. That hit me hard. To experience that a fellow human being denies me my humanity.

Redefining the human image opportunistically

I connect this, my experience, with the vaccination policy during the Corona pandemic. The word “inoculate,” “vaccination,” originally comes from viticulture and fruit-growing. In that context, that word meant “to plant” or “to graft.” And in the corona crisis, this meaning reached us with the idea of the grafting process of fruit trees – transferred to humans through pharmaceutical medicine. Namely, through the medical attitude, teaching and practice of trying to cure or prevent any disease almost exclusively with pharmaceuticals. Those who had been vaccinated were considered “refined”, those who had not, were not. For it was not a question of natural, healthy immunization, but rather of “immunity” artificially induced by the refinement process of vaccination. This is the only way to maintain the business of the pharmaceutical industry.

Getting vaccinated was just the rite of passage to the newly defined humanity: the “ennobled” human being! The rest was considered inferior and even dangerous. In this sense, the non-vaccinated threatened the new normality of the “behavioral change” of the population (3).

This was at least one of the latent basic attitudes of the currently prevailing belief. Immersed in a threat hysteria as well as in a complacent savior or protector delusion, the “non-vaccinated question” loomed large for vaccination advocates and vaccination demagogues, for which they urgently sought a solution. “How can we convince, convert these people?” they asked themselves. But the answer has always been there: the final solution in the form of coercion, structural and institutionalized coercion, namely the direct as well as indirect obligation to be vaccinated.

That was the goal of the vaccination campaign: everyone must be vaccinated – absolutely! The rhetorical dehumanization has taken many forms in the history of mankind. The dangerous thing about it was and is precisely that it translates into attitude and action. The dehumanization process can be summarized abstractly as follows: The Other was made into a stranger, the stranger became an enemy, the enemy was renamed a “vermin”; the human being degenerated as a “vermin” was then allowed to be ostracized and even destroyed. Unfortunately, this propaganda in the sense of the dehumanization process in the consciousness of the public worldwide has been successful again and again.

Inhuman logical

The dehumanizing features of the Corona crisis management were therefore worrying because the “new” opinion-forming media apparatus adhered to an amazingly similar way of thinking as in the past. Fundamentally, it was about viewing, feeling, treating the other as “not equal.” Unlike in the past, the recent rhetoric connected not to the issue of “ethnicity” but to that of vaccination status. “Those who do not allow themselves to be vaccinated are denied basic characteristics of being human”: accountability, sense of community, i.e. solidarity, social relevance, economic as well as political significance, or even cultural significance.

The basic idea behind every attempt at dehumanization is to deny the person to be dehumanized rights that are otherwise due to every fellow human being as an equal counterpart. This justifies every injustice against the disenfranchised.

This was the justification of the Heidelberg Unknown and this is what the recent vaccination policy sought to enforce. The narrative was as clear as day to me: the non-vaccinated was, if not a non-human, at least not a human being of equal worth. This mindset, which translated into political action, is not only contrary to constitutional law. Above all, it is also contrary to human rights.

The vaccination campaign, I almost want to say vaccination propaganda, showed clear distinguishing traits that set a dehumanization process in motion. In this rhetoric, the human being “ennobled” by vaccination represented the new image of man. The separation that emerged also marked a difference in the recognition of basic rights. Those who were not ennobled by vaccination were not, in essence, human beings of equal dignity with the status of “an equal” and therefore do not have the same basic rights as the “ennobled” human being.
Back to the matter itself, to the dignity of the human being

Freedom and equality, however, must always be thought of together. Whoever looks a fellow human being in the eye and wants to recognize him as a human being must also want to recognize him as free and as his equal. Humanity and human love are therefore not compatible with any form of dehumanization.

How are we to be able to develop humane, just measures if the main criterion for humanity, namely human dignity, is abolished from the outset? Or as Gertrud Höhler once again put it very succinctly:

“Dignity is a guardianship that guides both citizens and state authority to successfully deal with challenges” (4).

The first step toward the destruction of human life consists precisely in the intellectual but fatal abrogation of human dignity. Human dignity is more than a beautiful philosophical concept. It is not only a spiritual heritage of Renaissance humanism. It is the holy of holies of humanity as a spiritual-cultural form of life of the human organism.

It is more vital than oxygen and water when it comes to leading a human life in self-determination and autonomy. These are its coordinate axes. Human dignity saves us all from any kind of dehumanization.

Sources and Notes:

(1) A revised version of this article will appear shortly in: Javier Y. Álvarez-Vázquez. 2023. annihilation situation – the end of the pandemic: ethical-philosophical problems of the Corona crisis. Norderstedt: Paper Books.
(2) Gertrud Höhler. 2020. human dignity is inviolable. Munich: Heyne, p. 20.
(3) On the term “behaviorchange” in the context of the Corona pandemic, see Bill Gates. April 23, 2020. “The First Modern Pandemic: The scientific advances we need to stop COVID-19.” Gates Notes: The Blog of Bill Gates. https://www.gatesnotes.com/Health/Pandemic-Innovation, accessed January 30, 2022.
(4) Gertrud Höhler. 2020. human dignity is inviolable. Munich: Heyne, p. 23.

Javier Y. Álvarez-Vázquez teaches theoretical philosophy and anthropology of mind at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig. Previously, he lectured at the Universities of Puerto Rico and Heidelberg. Recently, his theory of enarrativity on human constructive reasoning was published under the title How? Enarrativity and the Cognition of Explicative Thinking: A Theory of Constructive Reasoning. Currently, his research and teaching focus on the reflexive consciousness of the late modern subject and its reasoning logic. In 2023 his first popular science essay Vernichtungslage – Das Ende der Pandemie: Ethisch-philosophische Probleme der Corona-Krise will be published.

Poverty as a means of domination
The rampant impoverishment of living conditions in Germany represents a social explosive.
By Tilo Gräser
[This article posted on 2/17/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/armut-als-herrschaftsmittel.]

Millions of people in Germany live in poverty. Their number is increasing, as current reports and analyses show. The responsible politicians are not doing anything about it, but are making the situation of those affected even worse. As the “Poverty Report 2022” points out, the situation has been exacerbated by the policies of the Corona years, during which the self-employed in particular suffered drastic losses of income. The continuing humiliations in many areas of life have also worsened the psychological situation of millions of people.

13.8 million people in Germany are considered poor – that is 16.6 percent of the more than 84 million German citizens. This was pointed out by the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband in its current “Poverty Report” in June 2022. Anyone who has less than 60 percent of the median income is officially considered to be affected or threatened by poverty. This limit is currently 1,148 euros per month for single people in Germany. Further information is available on the website of the National Poverty Conference (NAK):

Poverty Report 2022″ points out that “an unusual increase in poverty was registered among the employed, especially the self-employed (from 9 to 13.1 percent), who suffered financial losses in large numbers during the pandemic.” In addition, there were “poverty peaks” among pensioners (17.9 percent) and children and young people (20.8 percent).

The development had intensified as a result of the Corona crisis, as association managing director Ulrich Schneider explained in this regard at the end of June 2022:

“Never before has a higher value been measured on the basis of the official microcensus and never before has poverty spread so rapidly in recent times as during the pandemic.”

The Corona crisis had “significantly affected” above all people without employment subject to social security contributions, mini-jobbers and small self-employed persons. This can also be read about it in the current “Distribution Report” of the Economic and Social Science Institute (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade unions, published in November 2022.

According to the “Poverty Report,” there are regional differences that clearly show a social divide in Germany. Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Baden-Württemberg and especially Bavaria would “stand out positively.” In contrast, five German states had above-average poverty rates: North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and Bremen at the bottom, “far behind with a poverty rate of 28 percent.” And: “Poverty-political problem region No. 1” remains the Ruhr area, Germany’s largest conurbation with 5.8 million inhabitants. According to the report, more than one in five people in the former industrial heart of the Federal Republic live in poverty today.

Useful debate

The 60 percent threshold repeatedly ensures that the role of this so-called relative poverty in Germany, one of the richest countries in the world, is questioned or presented as not so serious. In the process, comparisons with the situation of people in other parts of the world who live in extreme poverty are often misused.

“For those politically responsible, it naturally has a calming effect and relieves themselves when the phenomenon is located exclusively in developing countries,” commented the renowned poverty researcher Christoph Butterwegge in August 2021 in the magazine Ossietzky. In it, he referred to those affected by extreme or existential poverty in Germany, whose numbers are also increasing:

“homeless people, totally destitute drug addicts, ‘street children,’ who are mostly homeless youth, unaccompanied underage refugees, EU foreigners without entitlement to social benefits, and ‘illegals,’ who are better described as illegalized migrants.”

Butterwegge clarified what relative poverty means, which refers “to the wealth that surrounds it and the wealth that produces it.” It affects “those who can satisfy their basic needs but can only afford the bare necessities and cannot participate in social life, or cannot do so to a sufficient extent, due to a lack of financial resources.”

The social researcher has published several books on the subject. He made it clear that it was not the behavior of those affected that was the cause. Instead, he said, the decisive factor is “the socioeconomic conditions under which they (have to) live. In a society as rich as ours, poverty is not God-given or nature-given, but ultimately systemic, that is, caused by the existing relations of ownership, power and domination.”

Triple exclusion

In an article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in July 2022, the poverty researcher wrote:

“The poor are subject to a triple exclusion in our society: economically, they often lack the durable consumer goods and personal services that are considered normal for the materially better-off. Their social relationships suffer from the resentment toward ‘hard workers,’ ‘shirkers,’ or ‘lazy people’ that the tabloid media and private broadcasters deliberately spread among the majority population. Politically, they cannot assert their interests, but as a rule remain without influence on state action, which is patriarchal toward them at best and repressive at worst.”

Butterwegge recently made it clear in several interviews and articles that poverty is “increasingly penetrating the middle of society.” The current “distribution report” of the WSI already mentioned also announces this. According to it, the financial gap of households below the poverty line compared to average earners has grown by one third between 2010 and 2019. Income inequality had also reached a new high.

Even before the Corona crisis, the number of poor people was increasing, according to the annual WSI report. In the 2010s, for example, when the economy was generally performing well, the poverty rate rose from 14.3 to 16.8 percent, it said. And, “The rate of very poor people, who had less than 50 percent of the median income at their disposal, increased from 7.9 to 11.1 percent during the same period.” That means more than eight million individual destinies in one of the richest countries in the world.

In addition to the Corona crisis, current policies related to the war in Ukraine are exacerbating the situation of poor people, the WSI says. Especially households at the lower end of the income hierarchy would be hit hard by high energy prices and inflation.

Multiple consequences

Psychologist Georg Rammer, like social researcher Butterwegge, has long warned of the individual and societal consequences, writing in the journal Ossietzky in 2018:

“Poverty unleashes its destructive power in conjunction with stark inequality. This makes people and societies sick – this is well known and proven by countless studies.”

According to Rammer, poverty and inequality mean systematic disadvantage not only in material terms, but also in social and psychological terms.

“Minimum wage and Hartz IV, mini-jobs, temporary work et cetera do not allow a life in dignity. For those affected, this means having to do without everyday things they take for granted and being excluded from many opportunities.”

Poverty means permanent stress, constant mental strain in families and does not allow for a self-determined life. The consequences are often fear, shame, feelings of guilt, depression and withdrawal. The social causes are individualized.

Rammer recalled that as early as 1999, social physician Gerhard Trabert listed the diseases that occur more frequently as a result of poverty: Heart disease, stroke, cancer, stomach and liver diseases, anxiety, depression, accidents, digestive and respiratory diseases, sleep and menstrual disorders, headaches and back pain. Suicide attempts would be up to 20 times more common among the unemployed than comparable groups of employed people. “As a result, life expectancy is eight to 11 years shorter among the poor than the affluent.” The psychologist likewise referred to the social and psychological consequences for children: “Poverty and its consequences are ‘inherited’.”

Like poverty researcher Butterwegge and the “Poverty Report” of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, the current WSI “Distribution Report” points to another consequence: Poor people have less trust in the actions of political actors. “This is where the foundations of our democratic togetherness begin to falter,” the authors say.

“All of this is perceived as a threat not only by the poor themselves, but also across the entire population: 70 percent of Germans say they fear increasing social division.”

Aggravated situation

Butterwegge has criticized German politics for years for its inaction in the face of high poverty figures. Writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, he said that political leaders in Germany were exacerbating the situation of those affected in connection with the war in Ukraine: The established parties and the (media) public in the Federal Republic had been more concerned about Ukrainian refugees than about local homeless and houseless people. In some cases, emergency shelters had even been vacated because the operators of such facilities received more money when they housed Ukrainian refugees.

“While several hundred poor people were in jail because they could not pay the fine for their ‘fare evasion,’ Ukrainians were allowed to use public transport for free.”

The social researcher warned:

“This is how you create prejudice and resentment against people who equally need help. As in the course of the ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015/16, the danger of racism thus grows, which in the final analysis can be traced back to competition between underprivileged population groups.”

Right-wing populist movements, organizations and parties would suck honey from this, “interpreting their demagogic propaganda as the result of the machinations of a corrupt elite and a wave of immigration into the German social systems.”

Butterwegge is one of those social scientists who clearly declare that “the economic structures, property relations and distribution mechanisms of the Federal Republic must be fundamentally questioned” if poverty is really to be combated. They complain that poverty and inequality have increased as a result of the pandemic. But they refuse unfortunately to recognize and to name that the policy in the Corona crisis and the thereby purposefully made fear of the virus SARS-CoV-2 arose exactly from the same conditions and interests. Thus, they fail to point out that it is not a virus but the same forces that are responsible for the growing poverty and the corona policies that exacerbate it. Yet they have the analytical tools for such insights.

Necessary means of power

In 2009, Butterwegge had clearly written in the magazine Ossietzky: “Poverty is wanted!” It arises “not in spite of wealth, but because of it.” Poverty, he said, is a structural feature and functional element of a capitalist market society that subordinates almost all areas of life to the paradigm of competition and neoliberal models.

“Poverty is necessary for the maintenance of existing power and domination relations, since it keeps those directly affected, the unemployed and workers alike, under control. Poverty serves as a political-ideological bargaining chip, a material instrument of discipline, and a social threat at the same time: it demonstrates to those people who are poor that their ability or willingness to work has not been sufficient to establish themselves, and it demonstrates to those people who are not poor that they must remain loyal in order not to fall.”

It is the same policy that creates poverty and sends society into such shocks as caused by the Corona Crisis.

Psychologist Rammer wrote in 2018:

“Government statistics do not serve as a basis for fighting poverty, but as a deterrent. In addition to the terror fear of the citizens, the fear of social decline is supposed to work; lurking in the background is the fear of old-age poverty and the feeling of guilt for not being able to convey a good livelihood to the children. The fear is combined with shame: The infamous blame of the poor, that they themselves are the cause of their misery, has been internalized by many of those affected.”

The humiliation and personal devaluation, the destruction of self-confidence were intended “collateral damage” – as was the weakening of the unions, according to Rammer. Poverty and inequality act as violence and are equivalent in their effect to systematic bodily harm. “They destroy self-esteem, fail compassion and respect, and drain vital energy.” The psychologist emphasized:

“To fight and defeat oppression and exploitation presupposes self-consciousness, emancipation and rebellion on the part of those affected. Such class struggle is not in sight.”

There is nothing to add to this four years later. The “National Poverty Conference” (NAK) stated in November 2022: “The harsh discrimination and branding of socially excluded people, who suffer particularly from the current crisis,” had come even more to the fore with the new “citizen’s income.”

Editorial note: This text first appeared under the title “Poverty – social explosive and means of domination” in early February in the magazine ViER issue 1/23 (online see www.vierte.online).

Tilo Gräser, born in 1965, has a degree in journalism. He has worked as a correspondent for RIA Novosti Germany/Sputniknews and has worked for various media and as a press officer. His main areas of expertise are politics, social affairs and history.

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A sustainable humanity

The Decline of the Occident
Our generation is gambling away the gains of centuries of European culture and leading the continent into moral and economic bankruptcy.
by Michael Hüter
[This article posted on 2/3/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/der-untergang-des-abendlandes-2.]

The sticky climate activists of these days do not represent the first generation that saw itself as the “Ietzt.” End times predictions existed in many epochs of mankind, they can be found for example in Nietzsche’s critique of decadence or in the work of Oswald Spengler, later also in the multiple warnings of an ecocide. But one thing is certain: The way in which the generations currently setting the tone – the old and middle-aged – are destroying everything that has been built up before at breakneck speed is the very last thing. The work of destruction is taking place on all levels: economically, socially, collectively-psychologically and culturally, but also quite banally through war and other forms of organized killing. Children, where they are still born at all, are pushed aside, traumatized or burned up. The decline of Europe is particularly striking – because of the great fall of this once very developed continent. The causes of this devastating development are manifold. Among the most serious, however, is the education in obedience that has been practiced for centuries – and the willingness of citizens to be educated.

“The role played by education in all political utopias since antiquity shows how obvious it is to let the renewal of a world begin with those new by birth and nature. (…) But even the children whom one wants to educate to become the citizens of a utopian tomorrow, one in truth excludes from politics. By preparing them for something new, one knocks out of the newcomers’ hands their own chance of the new.” (1) Hannah Arendt

Two great literary dystopias of the 20th century, George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, have been on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s pictures again for years and more frequently than ever before. Not only “alternative” but also state media up to ARTE have published numerous documentaries about the person and work of these two authors and visionaries.

The Corona Complex, Klaus Schwab and Cos “Great Reset”, transhumanism and – not only political – decadence, where the eye reaches and the mind ends, have made it possible and almost completely accomplished: Europe on the way to China 2.0 – Only digital unconditional basic income (Social Credit System), facial recognition cameras at every and last corner, digital central bank money and voilà, it is finally done:

The new totalitarianism “à la Davos”, served by Schwab, Leyen, Gates, WEF, WHO and Co, the list is not complete, will soon have robbed us of almost everything. Freedom, human dignity and also all possessions. Because, as almost everyone knows by now, WEF boss Klaus Schwab predicts: “In 2030, you will own nothing and be happy.

In this “brave new world” à la WEF and other people and institutions, the 99 percent of the dispossessed will not be one thing above all: Happy. Or will they? – In any case, the new slogan is: unhappiness is happiness!

Back to George Orwell and 1984. At the center of the work are unmistakably the slogans of the “Ministry of Truth”: War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!

2020 to 2022: “War is peace”, according to the Ukraine war propaganda of Germany, England and other states, “Freedom is slavery”, see “Corona protection measures”, lockdowns, collective vaccination coercion et cetera, and “Ignorance is strength”. The last slogan now describes almost every politician in the US and Europe. No matter what ideology or “color”. Left is right! Totalitarianism is democracy!

Also our western “spectacle democracies”, according to Giorgio Agamben, have perverted and have come to their end. In addition comes, what probably not even Orwell and Huxley could have dreamed in this totality: Healthy is sick! – See the new term normality “symptomless infected” or “symptomless diseased”.

As other writers and commentators of recent months and years have noted: The two “dystopias” 1984 and Brave New World have not only been realized in many parts of the world, but they are merging, as are the two inhuman ideologies of capitalism and communism. Totalitarian China has recently become a shining example not only for Klaus Schwab, Ursula von der Leyen, Bill Gates and Co, but also for politics from “left”, “green” to “conservative” and especially the tech giants, first and foremost Mr. “Big Brother” himself: YouTube. The video deletion orgies on the part of YouTube in the years 2020 and 2021, keyword “digital book burning”, make the analog book burnings of the 20th century by National Socialists and Communists literally “look old”.

1984 and Brave New World are almost complete. So far, so “good.”

What really amazes me as a historian and childhood researcher: There has been complete silence, especially in Europe – even among intellectuals and other critical minds – about a third and equally epoch-making work of 20th-century cultural history: The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler. Orwell’s 1984 appeared in 1949, Brave New World in English in 1932, and Spengler’s “cultural dystopia” The Decline of the West appeared as early as 1918 to 1922.

As is well known, the prophet counts for precious little in his own country. But 100 years after the publication of this work, which was often criticized for its “cultural pessimism,” and in view of the collective mass hypnosis in the name of a “pandemic,” the question arises whether Spengler’s prophecy of the downfall of Western, i.e. European, culture is not actually taking place “suddenly and unexpectedly” before all our eyes.

In my book Childhood 6.7, first published in 2018, I wrote the following about Oswald Spengler’s work:

“Some historical detail and some theses in Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the Occident are refuted or arguable today. But the overall finding that the cultural philosopher presents in the chapter Cities and Peoples is of timeless and enduring correctness. A few passages of text:

‘And now, from the fact that existence is becoming more and more rootless, wakefulness more and more strained, there emerges at last that phenomenon which had long been widespread in silence and now suddenly comes into the bright light of history to put an end to the whole spectacle: the barrenness of civilized man.’ This is not something that could be understood with everyday causality, for example physiologically, as modern science has naturally tried to do. Here is a thoroughly metaphysical turn to death. The last man of the world cities does not want to live any more, certainly as an individual, but not as a type, as a multitude; in this total being the fear of death expires. That which afflicts the true peasant with a deep and inexplicable fear, the thought of the extinction of the family and the name, has lost its meaning. The continuation of the related blood within the visible world is no longer felt as the duty of this blood, the lot of being the last is no longer felt as a doom. Not only because children have become impossible, but above all because the intelligence increased to the utmost no more finds reasons for their existence, they remain out. (…) Where reasons for questions of life come into consciousness at all, life has already become questionable.'”

Let’s stay right in the years before “Corona” and recall once the factual state of child, family and “education”. For more than a decade, from 2010 to the beginning of 2020, the disastrous and well-known (!) findings on the following generation were:

Already every second child in Europe suffered from – at least – a chronic disease. Every fourth child needed some kind of therapy. The fourth most frequent cause of death among adults was cancer! – And it has long been on the rise among children as well. In this decade, from 2010 to 2020, x times more children, mind you, died annually from cancer than from corona or whatever viral disease in the years 2020 to 2022. (2)

In the last decade of the European post-war order, serious criminal offenses, drug and alcohol consumption, keyword “binge drinking”, generally increased massively among children and adolescents – as it had already done two decades before. And that’s not all: by the time a child is 6 years old, about 50 percent of parents have been separated or have already separated. By the age of 10, only about 15 percent of young people experienced their parents as a couple living together in the same household!

Even before “Corona”, one third of all children in Germany lived in a so-called “Hartz IV family”. For many years in Germany/Austria and presumably also in other European countries a family from the third child on is acutely endangered by poverty!

Child poverty has been increasing for decades, and in a “double pack”: Since the end of the 1970s, starting from Germany, birth rates have been falling continuously throughout Europe, more continuously and drastically than in any other cultural area or continent.

For decades, Germany was one of the countries with the lowest fertility rates in the world. For many years, the fertility rate in almost all EU-27 countries has been below the necessary reproduction rate: around 1.5 children per woman. Europe – and this has long been officially known and published dozens of times – was on the verge of a demographic implosion long before “Corona”. Besides Germany, the situation has been most drastic in Italy for years. (3)

To illustrate this point of creeping demographic doom somewhat: With a total population of 81.3 million, there were about 8.1 million families with minor children under 14 in Germany in 2014. Of these, around 4.3 million are families with one child, 2.9 million with two children, and 867,000 with three or more children, so-called multi-child families.

The one-child family is the clear majority in many European countries. The multi-child family has become a minority. Their share of the total population is only about 7 to 8 percent! This trend has been declining for a long time. On the other hand, not only the number of billionaires has been increasing for a long time, but also the number of cars and pets. In Germany, “before Corona,” there were four times as many vehicles, or 43.8 million, and three times as many pets, about 31 million, as children. While in 2014 the turnover for pet supplies such as food and accessories was already circa 4.44 billion, every fifth child in Germany was already at risk of poverty.

The figures are strikingly similar for Austria. With a total population of about 8.5 million, there were 411,000 one-child families, 269,000 two-child families and 81,000 multi-child families. There was a small difference only in the number of vehicles. In Austria, there were about 7.5 times as many vehicles as children. The situation was/is not much different in many other European countries.

In short, in the last decade of “Old Europe,” according to Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush, the family made up only about 30 to 35 percent of the total population in Germany and Austria. The proportion of children and young people in these countries was a low 16 to 18 percent of the total population! EU-27-wide, the figure is 18.9 percent. And of the few children in the supposedly rich Europe, one third live in – sometimes severe – poverty! So while Europe is getting poorer and poorer in children, not only the wealth of the billionaires is continuously increasing, but also the amount of national debt! It lies at present for the EU-27 states altogether with approximately 13.2 trillion euro! In the entire history of mankind the following generation never had to carry such a high load of national debts and old people! Not to mention other global fields of conflict! Possibly the children of the slums of Mumbai have soon a better future prognosis than the children of Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Rome or other cities and regions of Europe. This continent is endangered in very many things and at the same time highly dangerous! Apart from the USA, which is not the subject of this essay.

Last but not least: Even before “Corona,” the structural illiteracy rate in Germany was already around 18 percent. – After completing compulsory schooling, mind you!

A small but all the more bitter anachronism of occidental history and culture: At the beginning of the so-called industrial revolution, i.e. about 200 years ago, before the implementation of total mass schooling, the illiteracy rate was just as high as in recent years! (4)

Not only a “total war”, but also “total schooling” and “total education”, from Kita to Abitur, can lead a state or continent into the downfall. (5)

Let us summarize the findings of the “last decade”, from 2010 to 2020, of the old Europe, in several senses of the word, before the “Great Reset”:

Never in the entire history of mankind – outside of times of war, natural disasters and actual epidemics such as the plague – has an entire continent, a “culture” had so many adults, childless and old people on one side and so few children on the other. From “top” to “bottom” presses a lot of mass and power. – Not only in questions of demography!

And the few at the very bottom of the inverted social pyramid, the children and young people, show a drastic finding in psyche and physique. – Their “silent cry” has not been heard for a long time. In the “Occident” children have been collectively degraded to orphans with parents and the so-called “educational system” to a care system.

No, not the small group of masochistic-narcissistic and sometimes radical group of “climate gluts”, who in pseudoheroism dub themselves so, are the “last generation”. – Mistake!

The group of people who will actually or inevitably have to be defined as the last generation from now on is the great majority of the currently 35- to 65-year-olds! They are the ones who, at least for more than a decade, have been burying everything: craftsmanship, art, awareness of nature and in general, humanism, universal values, commitment, true (human) education and dignity, respect for all living things, in short: European culture.

One thing the history of this planet shows a hundredfold: no single “climate change” can bring as much lasting destruction and human suffering as a “cultural change”. – The collapse or even decline of a culture has sometimes been followed by barbarism. The vast majority of the “last generation,” the 35- to 65-year-olds, have learned nothing from history! It is highly uprooted, alienated, narcissistic, normopathic, egoistic and in any case one of the most empathy-less for a long time. It has long been trans-humanistic!

Almost every single one of the 35- to 65-year-olds is no longer afraid of being the last, to return to the above quotation by Oswald Spengler. This self-destruction instinct of the great mass and majority of “adults”, which has been thriving in secret for decades, discharged itself in 2020 to 2022 almost explosively on the small, helpless group of the following generation, which has already been weakened for decades anyway. In the name of the so-called “Corona protection measures” the largest collective child abuse and coercion of all previous cultural epochs took place in many, primarily western countries. For the first time in the history of mankind the child protection was perverted into a protection against children!

From now on it was no longer said that children had to be protected against assaults, maltreatment or generally the misbehavior of adults, but the adults against children, because they were viral teacher-, grandpa- and grandma-killers. (6) So much irrationality and especially pathology has not even occurred to authors of the genres of science fiction and horror!

Let’s stop and note for a moment: The Orwellian slogans “War is peace”, “Freedom is slavery” and “Ignorance is strength” have been extended by real political and social actions from 2020 onwards by the following slogans: Misfortune is happiness! Healthy is sick! Child is danger! Children were literally deprived of breath for a whole two years in many places without any evidence-based scientific data, through mask coercion. Breath is life! (7)

Still hidden, lurking deep down in the collective subconscious, the final slogan of occidental culture could be: Death is life!

Because: Although at the latest from autumn 2020 the majority of the “last generation”, above all the “educated” adults like school and university employees or also academics called, was aware that children and young people are absolutely not affected by the so-called Sars-CoV-2 virus, in states like for example Germany and Austria almost the whole following generation was urged and coerced to an experimental gene injection called mRNA vaccination. (8) And now they fall ill or die “suddenly and unexpectedly”. – Especially the few still healthy boys of old Europe! (9) If the same “virus vaccine cure” number, as that of 2020 to 2022, had been tried on young people, 18 to 28 year olds, in the 1960s to mid 1970s, the streets and universities would have burned!

One thing the “last generation,” the 35- to 65-year-olds, really don’t need is to be proud of the most conformist youth in nearly five decades! A society in which the youth no longer questions, no longer rebels and first of all resists the “old people”, but instead blindly obeys, such a society is truly senile, has come to the end of its life.

Let us recall once again the findings child/youth/family before the great mass psychosis named “Corona”:

2010 to 2020: Never before in the entire history of mankind the proportion of children/youth compared to adults/old people was so small in a cultural area or continent, and the physical/psychical findings of the under 20-year-olds were so alarming together with the future prognoses of this group of people. And nevertheless this small group of people, the following generation, in a monstrous tour de force and unprecedented historical extent, is collectively abused, abused, coerced in physique and psyche!

The causes for this comprehensive political and social failure are manifold: The large group of the employed, the unemployed as well as the poor and the old already found themselves before 2020 in a social order of the following character: Destroyed public with at the same time greatest possible isolation of the individuals. A conglomerate, before which the political theorist and totalitarianism researcher Hannah Arendt warned already decades ago repeatedly!

One of the most devastating developments took place in the last 20 years: Especially children and young people disappeared almost completely from the public and thus visible space. In the name of “work and consumption,” 85 to 99 percent of children from the age of one to 18 spend their time in state-run care reservations called crèches, daycare centers, elementary and other schools. Full-day, mind you!

Historian Philipp Blom identified another cause in his 2017 essay What’s at Stake:

“People in the rich world just want the present never to end. (…) Hardly anyone in the rich world still seriously believes that their own children will fare better, that hard work will be rewarded, that politicians want to or can act in the interests of their constituents, that humanity can expect a better tomorrow. – So rather no change. – So maintaining the status quo becomes the ultimate goal.”

One of the main causes that enabled the great collective failure of the last few years, from 2020 to 2022, had already been recognized over 100 years ago by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who named it thus: “The state is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Cold it also lies; and this lie creeps out of its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.'”

We should write one thing above all in the history books and immediately in the children’s books for our children, the few who follow Europe: The greatest crimes in the history of mankind took place in the last 120 years not in civil disobedience, but in civil obedience! More dangerous and destructive than anything else – for culture, nature and man – is the western “education system” of the last about 200 years. (10)

Finally once again to Oswald Spengler and his epochal work The Decline of the Occident. A detail of his work that has been ignored in recent decades and is currently piquant: after the fall of the Occident, of Christian/European culture, he sees the rise of Russian culture. In view of the war in Ukraine since 2014, this American proxy war, Ukraine against Russia with European and primarily German “support,” Spengler’s prophecy might come true after all. Von der Leyen, Baerbock and Co’s call for a “destruction of Russia,” which did no harm to Europe, will not come true. Other megalomaniac and male leaders of this continent, from Napoleon to Hitler, have failed before in a “war against Russia.” Conversely, the death blow of Europe will not come from Russia either. The danger to the “Occident” lurks from within, that is, through a demographic implosion et cetera, and from the West, across the great pond.

In 1947, the German poet Paul Celan published the poem Todesfuge, which later became famous. In it, recurring, the phrase: “Death is a master from Germany.”

In ten years at the latest, poets will not be the only ones to modify this sentence, perhaps varying it thus: Death is a German/American master. His company name: BioNTech/Pfizer. The executing persons were: …

In 1959, the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann wrote: “Truth is reasonable for human beings.

However, decades earlier, the Italian Maria Montessori recognized and named the most causal, most far-reaching and ultimately only true drama of Western culture and cause of its downfall: all our errors we transfer to our children, in whom they leave indelible traces.

Sources and Notes:

(1) Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future. Exercises in Political Thought I, in Essay: The Crisis in Education, p. 255 ff, Munich: Piper Verlag, 2012.
(2) This fact was already proven and known in the fall of 2020 by different, national as well as international data. I go into this in detail in October 2020 in the following interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o2MPwxlcHc
(3) The reasons for the lack of children in Europe are numerous and complex. In addition to the decreased desire to have children, the infertility of “civilized” man has been increasing for decades. Pollutants, chemicals and various poisons in the environment and food, radiation and much more. A problem that has long since affected almost every so-called industrialized nation, even outside Europe. Japan, like Germany, has been suffering from a threatening shortage of children for decades. For years now, China has also been massively affected by “childlessness”. I deal with this and other topics in detail in: Michael Hüter, Kindheit 6.7 Eine Geschichte der familialen Sozialisation, Kindheit, Erziehung und Beschulung des Menschen, Edition Liberi & Mundo, 2022.
(4) ibid.
(5) ibid.
(6) On this complex of topics “corona measures” for children I have written numerous cautionary articles as well as given interviews as of April 2020(!). All of them are listed in the media archive of my website: https://www.michael-hueter.org/presse_und_statements
(7) ibid.
(8) The pressure from the teaching staff to get vaccinated against “Corona” was not only immense for pupils of public schools, but especially for students at universities. Although de facto in Germany as well as in Austria, here formally only briefly, there was no legal obligation to vaccinate, in many places students without vaccination status had no admission to universities! Once again, as during the 1930s National Socialism, teachers and academics in general, especially lecturers and professors, were particularly and anticipatorily sycophantic and obedient. – With the difference to the 1930s that in the “Corona years” with the coercion of young people to an even experimental “vaccination” the physical integrity of others, protectees/trainees, was put at risk! – And once again, in order not to endanger in the end the own “status”, obedience to authority! Nothing learned from the history applies now above all to the representatives of the so-called “education system”. Anyway: “We did not know”, does not work again! Already now, not only for the following generation, is valid: They did not want to know! Because from the beginning other expertises and scientific data of universities, renowned professors, scientists et cetera were callable at any time and by mouse click!
(9) On the subject of high “excess mortality” since the onset of mRNA vaccination in the EU countries, there are now numerous international data. Particularly revealing for the worrying correlation/conspicuousness that with beginning also of the mRNA vaccinations with children and young people, the age group of the 5- to 14-year-olds in addition, the over-mortality is clearly higher than with the old ones, see, among other things, the data of EOROMOMO: https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps Briefly: The “over-aging of Europe” is further developed by the gene injection. I address this issue in the following interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NewZc8V_C1Q
(10) More extensively in: Michael Hüter, Childhood 6.7, 2022

Michael Hüter, born in 1968, studied history, German language and literature, philosophy and art history at the University of Salzburg. From 1996 to 2012 he worked as a freelance pianist and composer. In 2014, the piano solo CD “It’s my way to paradise” was released. Nine years of legal custody proceedings and numerous researches on the plight and suffering of separated children led to the book “War on Fathers”. This book was revised, updated and published in June 2020 under the title “Ich will zu dir! Separation children, mother poisoning, state terror” republished by Edition Liberi & Mundo. In 2018, “KINDHEIT 6.7. a manifesto” was published. The book and bestseller, which was investigatively researched for years, is a history of childhood and at the same time a critique of civilization. A passionate plea and manifesto for children to grow up again in a humane and “species-appropriate” way, for a new appreciation of family socialization and for complete educational freedom. The author is the father of three children. More information at: www.michael-hueter.org.

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An educational paradox

Our schools need to be democratized.
23.02.2023 by Patrick Zimmerschied

The end of capitalism
Author Ulrike Herrmann’s critique of capitalism has some blind spots.
By Felix Feistel
[This article posted on 2/23/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/das-ende-des-kapitalismus-2.]

The end of capitalism has often been invoked. The current economic system forces ever further growth, which leads to total destruction on a planet with limited resources – actually old hat. In the context of the debate about climate change, the discussion about the end of this economic system is germinating again. In her book “The End of Capitalism,” Ulrike Herrmann, an author for the taz and a trained banker, has summarized all the arguments that are used by the mainstream as dazzle grenades and smoke candles to divert attention from the real, structural problems of the system, and speaks out in favor of an authoritarian vision of public-private management.

It is quite astonishing that an author who only a few years ago landed a bestseller with the title “Kein Kapitalismus ist auch keine Lösung” (No capitalism is no solution either) suddenly writes a book that proclaims the exact opposite and thus also reaches No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list. This is exactly what Ulrike Herrmann has achieved with her book “The End of Capitalism”. Her starting thesis: Due to man-made climate change, we as humanity can no longer afford capitalism. Because this form of economy necessarily emits carbon dioxide, which fuels climate change. Right at the beginning, she refers to the Fridays for Future movement, which starts from precisely this premise and calls for radical systemic change. However, the movement does not address what this might look like. Ulrike Herrmann attempts to fill this gap.

On the history of capitalism

But first she explains what capitalism is and how it came about. She traces the historical emergence of modern industry and also dispels some of the ideologies of economists. For example, in the early stages, no particular amount of capital was required to get capitalism started. Nor were there even markets for many products.

The first machines were not elaborately built by scientists and engineers and then sold; simple people, mostly craftsmen, constructed them without prior knowledge in order to solve very specific problems with them. For example, the first automatic water pump was built to drain a coal mine. It was only worthwhile in this location because it consumed an enormous amount of coal, which was naturally available in the coal mine. The unsaleable broken coal could simply be burned in the pump. Only later did water pumps become more efficient, allowing them to be used in other industries. Most factories were set up with little financial resources, which, moreover, the entrepreneurs usually borrowed from their families.

Industrialization began in England, and many historians still puzzle over why there of all places. Ulrike Herrmann finds a conclusive explanation here: plague epidemics that had swept through the country shortly beforehand had mainly affected the lower classes and led to the deaths of many poor people. Because fewer workers were thus available for previously low-paid jobs, wages were raised sharply – and even a working lower-class family could support itself quite well on what it earned. And only where workers’ wages are high is it worth replacing human labor with machines. After all, the high acquisition costs only pay off if wages are saved in the long term as a result. Thus, the high wage level in England has led to a spread of industrialization.

This also explains the predicament in which developing countries find themselves today. In these countries, the wage level is so low that it is not worthwhile to use machines. Instead, they rely on cheap human labor.

To escape this predicament, the state would have to intervene massively and take over the financing of machines, as has happened in China. The author thus refutes another myth of economics, namely that of the free market. This has never existed, and it is also rather an obstacle to the emergence and spread of capitalism. Instead, Great Britain and the United States at the beginning – and China to this day – relied heavily on protectionism through high tariffs and the partial prohibition of imports.

Slave labor in capitalism

Moreover, Ulrike Herrmann argues that neither slave labor nor colonies were relevant to the emergence of capitalism. This is because colonies were not profitable from the beginning, nor were they necessary for the economy per se, since mainly luxury goods were produced there. This may be true at the level of society as a whole, but the author overlooks the fact that individual entrepreneurs and landowners were able to make a lot of money from luxury goods, which in turn could be invested in industrial ventures. Moreover, the importance of private trading companies such as the East India Company is underexposed in this context.

Slave labor, in turn, was said to be the most expensive of all work, which is why it was not worthwhile. Thus, in the north of the USA, where mainly unprofitable grain was cultivated, no slaves could be employed, but only wage laborers, who were also expensive, but just not as expensive as slaves in terms of maintenance. These were found only in the south of the USA, where luxury goods such as cotton and sugar cane were so profitable that slaves could be afforded. So it was logical that the north of the USA, of all places, industrialized, while the south did not for a long time. But also here it must be taken into account that agriculture – from whose profitability Herrmann derived the expensive keeping of slaves – did not first industrialize for the purpose of lower production costs. Thus, some things do not really fit together here.

The author does not attribute any importance to slavery for capitalism because the economies in which slaves were used on plantations did not contribute anything to industrialization. Thus, she shortens capitalism too much to pure industry instead of including the capital market behind it, which explains the production of luxury goods on plantations as well as the profit interest of the individual plantation owner or slave trader. She considers capitalism too much on the macro level and too little on the micro level, where it does, however, have its effect: in the compulsion to make money, the mantra of (personal) growth, and finally also in quite normal greed.

Further, Herrmann writes that since slaves do not receive wages, they did not represent a market for mass consumption. On the one hand, this is correct, but on the other hand it ignores the global dimension of capitalism. This is because the goods produced in the colonies were not primarily for the colonies themselves, but for the domestic market. Slaves were never intended to be consumers in this model. This did not change until the establishment of mass consumption, which led to the end of slavery in the Western Hemisphere. It seems that the author assumes too much about the current state of capitalism and does not take into account some developments and changes.

Capitalism and Democracy

The history of capitalism is necessarily brief but is presented quite consistently, and many aspects are illuminated that are otherwise usually left unmentioned. Nevertheless, the author subverts her own purpose in the very first pages, for the introduction does not proceed without a tribute to capitalism. Capitalism, she claims, is what made prosperity possible in the first place. One may object: If the British lower class was paid high wages before capitalism existed, and even peasants and simple field hands could afford luxuries like tea, then prosperity was there before capitalism existed. So the question is, what exactly does the author mean by prosperity, and at what point is it achieved for her.

She also believes that capitalism made democracy possible. This raises the question of which country she thinks she lives in that she finds democracy fully realized anywhere in the world. What is generally called democracy is usually little more than oligarch rule by party systems merely called democracy. Further, she argues that capitalism is a system that requires peace and stability rather than bringing war. She justifies this with the strong interconnectedness of industries and trade, which are only possible in times of peace. As an example, she cites the start of World War I, which entrepreneurs did not believe would break out and by which they were completely surprised. She goes on to say that the steel industry would not have produced any innovation worth mentioning in times of war.

She overlooks the fact that the steel industry did not have to innovate, since it earned enough with its goods in times of war even without innovation. Moreover, the first tanks were invented during World War I, albeit not in Germany but in Great Britain. Lack of innovation is not an argument against bellicose capitalism, nor has networking prevented industry from investing in war.

Moreover, Herrmann overlooks a completely different aspect: both world wars were massively financed and helped along by the financial industry, namely Wall Street, as economist Ernst Wolff has pointed out. In addition, industry profited enormously in both world wars and produced numerous innovations. One need only think of the chemical industry, which invented warfare agents such as gas for war and concentration camps. It may be that the entrepreneurs in the factories did not necessarily need or want this war.

But it is strange that an author who deals with capitalism leaves out the possibility that crises are exploited by capital owners to enrich themselves and open up new markets.

At least Ulrike Herrmann addresses the monetary system in a later section, in which money is created out of nothing through loans. However, she brushes off any criticism of this system by claiming that interest is not to blame for the growth compulsion; it is merely needed to pay the banks’ costs. Moreover, employees spend this money in turn, which means that the money remains in circulation. She does not address the mismatch between fictitious book money and real money caused by interest, which is ultimately responsible for all crises.

Capitalism and climate change

The author speaks of a necessary end to capitalism due to climate change, equating – as almost everyone does in public debate these days – environment and climate. Thus, she emphasizes the need for developed countries to lower their standard of living by stating the consumption of industrialized countries like Germany, the USA or Australia in “used up earths”: Thus, if the whole world lived as the U.S. does, it would need the resources of five Earths. Immediately afterwards, however, it changes the reference value by contrasting this figure with the carbon dioxide emissions of a developing country.

This is comparing apples to oranges. Environmental health is reduced to climate alone, equating environmental degradation with high CO2 consumption. These are clumsy simplifications that make her argument vulnerable to attack. Moreover, she makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that the narrative of man-made climate change is, at the very least, controversial. Instead, she establishes it as a dogma, and derives all of her further exposition from it.

In doing so, she concludes that there can be no green growth. She also takes aim at nuclear power, which has become a beacon of hope for many in the face of climate change, and elaborates that it covers only a vanishingly small share of the world’s energy needs. What’s more, nuclear power is an investment that gobbles up horrendous amounts of money without ever seeing a return on that expenditure. In addition, the cost of disposing of radioactive waste is borne by the general public instead of the energy companies. However, this will continue to pollute the environment for millennia, and there is not a single final repository that can safely house the nuclear waste.

Green shrinkage

But even when it comes to the topic of supposedly renewable energies, they are not interested in the waste any further. As the public debate currently has it, Herrmann assumes that more wind turbines and solar panels must be built, without taking into account the disastrous consequences for the environment. Here, then, the motto climate = environment applies again, and so everything must be done to “protect” the “climate,” no matter how much environment is destroyed. In doing so, however, it dispels the myth that the energy turnaround would be cheap and, in the final analysis, would bring everyone a windfall. The opposite is true; the energy transition will be very expensive. At the same time, she admits that there can’t be enough “renewable” energy capacity to drive the economy. Their solution: green shrinkage.

Because green growth, which economists assume, cannot exist. The rebound effect alone cancels out every effort. This means that fewer raw materials are not consumed when goods are produced more efficiently and goods or services become cheaper. The opposite is the case, as lower prices make it possible to produce in higher quantities and also to sell these products. In turn, falling prices for travel mean that people do more of it. But the CO2 tax has no effect either, because it cannot be observed that people consume less or get rid of their cars. What’s more, the tax goes to the state, which spends the money straight back on creating jobs or paying for subsidies.

Therefore, the economy would have to be shrunk green. However, a normal downturn is accompanied by massive chaos, as historical examples show. For example, the Great Depression of 1928 ultimately facilitated the rise of Nazism. Instead, the world should emulate the model of the British wartime economy beginning in 1939. During this period, the government took charge of many economic processes. It determined what should be produced and in what quantities, forced industry to produce goods essential to the war effort, and also took charge of the distribution of all goods necessary for human life. In this way, sufficient food was available to the British even during the hard times of the war, so that no one had to go hungry.

Instead, the lower classes in particular benefited enormously, because they were better nourished than they had been for a long time. Luxury goods and goods of which too few were produced to be distributed evenly were given away according to a points system. In addition, the wealthy upper class could continue to afford many of these goods.

To accomplish all this, the British government measured for the first time what the country’s needs were and what goods, commodities and resources were available. It then calculated how much was needed to serve the war economy. The gross domestic product was also invented for this purpose. So this value, which has persisted to this day, is a means of war, which says a lot about our society today, which elevates GDP to a god-like authority.

Green dictatorship

The author wants to implement this war economy in order to make the German economy “climate neutral.” In doing so, the state is to become the central authority that distributes resources and goods, up to and including food, according to a fixed budget per person. According to the author, people’s standard of living will fall, but smartphones and vacations will still be possible. Only air travel and private car traffic will no longer take place. Exactly how much the standard of living should drop depends on how much “green” energy is available for the economy. Because the author holds on to this and ignores the devastating consequences for nature.

The economy itself should remain in private hands, but be managed by the state. She thus advocates a mixture of state and private economy, a public-private partnership, which the World Economic Forum also envisions for the future. Considering the fusion of economic power with political power, which the author does not address at all, this turns the state into the administrator of the Western oligarchy. Nor does it seem to her that there is any need to create instances that ensure that the state actually acts for the benefit of the people. It simply presupposes an existing and functioning democracy, which in fact does not exist. Thus, the idea of a path to this state-led shrinking economy for the benefit of the people is missing.

Throughout the book, the author argues in a very shallow and superficial way. She reduces capitalism mainly to industry and energy production, but holds on to much of it for a supposedly green future. Herrmann, for example, considers the pharmaceutical industry an important part of civilization that should not be dispensed with. Her idea is that if only everything is powered by “green” energy, the economy will already be “climate neutral,” which she then equates with “ecological.”

As befits the prevailing debate on the subject, Herrmann completely overlooks the destructive impact on nature of these supposedly green technologies. This is because nature does not figure at all in the equation, which is solely about reducing “greenhouse gas emissions.”

Nor does it address at all the deeper interconnections of capitalism and the multiple causes of environmental degradation. Neither does it address the distortions of the monetary system, nor the compulsion to wage labor, which leads to absurd mobility. It does talk about the loss of jobs due to shrinkage; but instead of reducing work across society as a whole, it simply wants to retrain the workforce. With bans, it thinks it can counteract automobile traffic instead of focusing on limiting the need for mobility.

Rationing of food and CO2 budgets are also intended to pave the way to the green economy. This, in turn, remains in private hands and is only managed by the state. Hermann is not aiming at a real end of capitalism, as the title of the book suggests.

Only the distribution of resources and products is to be changed and the growth compulsion is to be ended, whereby Ulrike Herrmann even writes that after a phase of contraction further, albeit smaller, growth is to be possible again. The author does not dare to address the real causes of environmental degradation and does not want to overcome fundamental structures, she only wants to reform them.


Herrmann can be agreed that capitalism is responsible for great injustice on earth, produces inconceivable poverty and destroys the environment. This system would indeed have to be overcome if we wanted to find the way to a just and environmentally friendly society. However, Ulrike Herrmann does not provide a real solution or a way to get there, although she points out many important aspects, clears up some myths and ideologies and refutes the flattened ideals of green growth or the invisible hand of the market. Unfortunately, it is an eloquent distraction from the main problems and advocates a paternalistic state to which power over distribution and supply is to be transferred in its entirety.

Socially and ecologically sound management remains an issue that will determine the future of us all.

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 willing 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.

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An authoritarian sect

The Psychology of Totalitarianism
Mattias Desmet’s book is a landmark in clarifying and undoing the mechanisms that provide the ground for totalitarian systems.
By Kerstin Chavent
[This article posted on 2/28/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-psychologie-des-totalitarismus.]

Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University, uses sound examples and analysis in his book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism (1), to make clear how the phenomenon of mass education works. Fears and discontent arise out of social isolation and meaninglessness, which are exploited and channeled by government officials and the mass media. Building on the work of Hannah Ahrendt, it not only sharply critiques cultural groupthink, it also suggests ways in which individuals can succeed in not sacrificing themselves to the collective.

Let us imagine: A squad of gunmen ringing us out of bed early in the morning. A credit institution that blocks our accounts overnight. A government agency threatening to take away our children. Family members who are left to die alone. Sick people who cannot be treated. First aid that may not be given. Park benches that must not be sat on. Songs that may not be sung. Protest that is forbidden.

It is obvious today that many mistakes have been made in Corona politics. Some of those responsible have begun to withdraw from the limelight. Information has become public that reveals the vaccination campaign to be not only useless, but highly dangerous. Still, much of the population clings to a narrative that has done incalculable damage. Most people in Europe still think totalitarian systems can only exist elsewhere or belong to the past.

Only those who express criticism of the current Corona, Ukraine or climate policy are made to feel what we wish would never happen again. Only those who critically examine a matter have enough distance to also recognize the connections. Those who conform to the given opinion cannot see the forest for the trees. He shimmies from regulation to regulation and clings to a deceptive security that makes him believe that things are all right this way.

The good thing

Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University, has succeeded in writing a work that makes history with “The Psychology of Totalitarianism.” He traces the narrative that has led to a large proportion of people today allowing themselves to be captured by a narrative that costs them their freedom, their dignity, and possibly their lives.

How is it that we are on the cusp of total surveillance not eighty years after the totalitarian movements of the 20th century? How is it possible that a broad majority continues to cling to the belief that it is being done for their own good?

It is the belief in the “good cause” that provided the fuel for the mass movements of the Inquisition, the terror of the French Revolution, Stalinism and Nazism. A majority was convinced of doing right and of being useful to the collective.

The most astonishing thing is that even the victims – as SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann described it at his trial – made an effort to ensure that their own extermination went as smoothly as possible. The Judenräte, made up of Jews, were given just enough responsibility to believe that they were participating in something meaningful. Because, according to Eichmann, if you don’t like doing something, then the cause suffers.

The conviction of doing something “good” can lead the masses to collaborate in the worst crimes. The world must be freed from evil, from vermin, from aristocrats. Corona vaccination protects life. The war against Russia protects democracy. The fight against climate change is the condition for survival on this planet. Those who do not go along with it are antisocial, criminal, inhuman, a danger to the community, and must be eliminated. The destruction of dissenters is, so to speak, part of good manners.

In the beginning was the psyche

In contrast to dictatorship, according to Hannah Ahrendt, the essence of totalitarian systems is psychological. They require, in addition to a willingness to blindly sacrifice personal interests and points of view to the collective, a radical intolerance of dissident voices, a paranoid denouncer mentality that ensures that state control penetrates to the very core of private life, a susceptibility to absurd indoctrination and propaganda, the adherence to a logic that transcends all ethical boundaries, the loss of all diversity and creativity, and a self-destructiveness that means that totalitarian systems always end up cancelling themselves out.

It takes courage to recognize how many of the conditions are met today. The particular situation in which we currently find ourselves demands it. On the threshold of total war, we are faced with the all-important question of whether to continue to swim with the tide and risk ultimately losing everything that defines us as human beings, or whether to step out of the increasingly torrential current and reflect on what we actually are. Do we remain impervious to what is at stake, or do we dare to approach the fundamental questions of life?

Misguided insecurity

One of the deepest fears of human beings is being excluded from the community. Integration is essential to our survival. Isolation ultimately always means death. Accordingly, our whole lives revolve around the question of how we appear to others. What do they think of us? Unlike animals, our belonging is characterized by uncertainty, and our communication by ambiguity, misunderstanding and doubt. Unlike a young animal, a human child never knows exactly what its mother actually wants from it. Thus, we are always searching for what exactly we have to do in order to be loved and acknowledged.

But our efforts to make the rules unambiguous and conclusive are doomed to failure. This is because the words of human language never have a definitive meaning and are always context-dependent. Thus, our need for certainty always remains unfulfilled. In adult humans, this can lead to a kind of permanent readiness for specifications and instructions. How do I have to behave in order to belong?

How far we are willing to go to accept ever stricter regulations is currently becoming clear with the Corona crisis, the MeToo movement, the Black Lives Matter discourse or the climate debate. In parallel, a constantly growing administrative apparatus ensures that there is less and less room for subjective decisions. Thus, in a politically correct manner, we allow ourselves to be driven more and more into a corner, into the arms of totalitarian leaders who pretend to have the facts on their side in order to free us from insecurity.


For mass education to take place on a large scale, four conditions are needed. These conditions, according to Mattias Desmet, were met before the rise of Nazism and Stalinism, and they are met today: the state of general loneliness and social isolation, a lack of meaning in life, the presence of much free-floating fear and psychological unease in the population, and much unbound frustration and aggression.

When a suggestive narrative is disseminated on this ground, naming an object of fear – the Jews under Nazism, the aristocrats under Stalinism, the anti-vaccinationists during the Corona crisis – the stage is set for the population to fall into a kind of frenzy. What one thinks no longer matters; what matters is that one thinks it together. The masses believe in a narrative not because it is true, but because it creates a new sense of connection.

The Corona era showed it: The more absurd the measures are and the more they demand of you, the more enthusiastically the masses follow.

Nothing exists anymore outside the circle of light of the prevailing doctrine. Everything that falls outside the circle disappears into the darkness. The corona virus, the corona victims and the corona measures are illuminated. No light is shed on the collateral damage. It matters little, if at all, how many people are harmed or die as a result of the measures.

The process resembles hypnosis. But unlike classical hypnosis, in the phenomenon of mass education, the hypnotist is also mentally seized. In this case, the leader’s sphere of attention is usually even more narrowed than that of the masses. This is because he usually believes fanatically in the ideological basis of the narrative that dominates the mass. To say it with Goethe’s words: He believes to push, but he is pushed.

From the dead universe …

One of the great merits of Mattias Desmet’s book is not to draw enemy images, and thus to show the individual his possibilities. For, like mass education, conspiracy thinking is designed to keep people down. An elite is to blame for the prevailing conditions. But it is basically not “those up there” who direct the masses and determine events. It is an ideology.

It is not greed for money and sadism that characterize the rulers of the masses, but an ideological drive: reality must and will be adapted to the ideology. The totalitarian leader believes so fanatically in his ideology that he considers it justified to manipulate, lie and deceive without limit in order to realize it. Money and power are only intermediate goals. The ultimate goal is the realization of an ideological fiction that justifies the elimination of entire populations.

The ideology, according to Desmet, that underlies the current mass hypnosis is the mechanistic worldview that has spread since the Enlightenment. According to this, everything begins with a big bang that sets the machine of the universe in motion. Through a series of mechanistic effects, first various inorganic elements and eventually living things were created. According to this thinking, the world is a dead mechanistic process, a chain reaction of collisions of elementary particles that continues endlessly without purpose or goal.

Somewhere along the line, life and man were unintentionally brought forth. In this thinking man and world are machines which can be manipulated as such arbitrarily. If the machine is disturbed, it is repaired. The ultimate goal is to eliminate death. The human being needs to do nothing more than to be programmed accordingly. Without having to question himself as a moral and ethical being, he enjoys a maximally comfortable life, the bill for which he only has to pay later.

… to total control

It is this thinking that has led to the transformation of the entire society into an Internet of Bodies. According to the transhumanist ideal, the merging of man with machine is seen as an unavoidable necessity. To get climate problems under control, we must switch to meat from 3-D printers, electric cars, and an online society. To protect ourselves from coronavirus, we need to replace our natural immunity with artificial immunity created with mRNA vaccines.

Only through digital monitoring of human bodies by a technocratic state can we overcome the problems of the future. There is no alternative. Those who do not support the technological solution are naive and unscientific. Totalitarianism and technocracy profile themselves as the epitome of rationality and scientificity. The technocratic paradise will make the population happy and healthy – or at least offer the greatest chance of doing so.

It is this mechanistic ideology that led to social isolation, a lack of meaning, free-floating fear, and a state characterized by latent frustration and aggression. It provided the breeding ground for the great and lasting mass formations, which in turn led to the emergence of totalitarian state systems. Thus, totalitarianism is basically the symptom of a naive belief in the omnipotence of human ratiocination.

At the crossroads

The liberation from this thinking comes from science itself. The great physicists of the 20th century recognized that the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word, but swirling energetic systems, vibrational patterns, information, in short: ideas. In essence, the material manifestations we perceive are mental phenomena that respond to the consciousness of the researcher.

Thus, the end point of science is not perfect rational understanding and perfect control over reality, but acceptance of the limits of human ratiocination.

The nature of things, the new physics teaches, cannot be grasped rationally. Reality cannot be reduced to mechanistic schemes. The certainty we strive for and with which we try to explain the world to ourselves does not exist.

So we stand at a crossroads, like the child confronted with the fundamental uncertainty of its existence. We can shrink back from fear and follow the mechanistic-technocratic path of numbers, statistics and facts to the end. Or we can defy our narcissistic fear and accept the uncertainty that the ultimate knowledge is outside of man. It lies dormant in things. Man receives it by resonating like a string on the frequency of things.

Speaking the truth

This brings us to the core of our existence: the ability to feel our way into the things we explore, into our own experience, in order to put it into words and speak it out to the other. Our future, Desmet argues, lies not on the mechanistic-transhumanistic path, but in grasping the enormous influence of the psychic on the physical.

It is authentic, truthful speaking that can free us from mass education and totalitarianism. The way to freedom happens without violence. It leads through overcoming rhetoric to an honest and sincere expression of our subjective truth. Let’s keep at it. Let us not give up. Let’s keep going. Let’s let our words ring out in the quietest and most respectful way possible, not intrusive, and always sensitive to the irritation and anger they may provoke.

If ten to twenty percent of the people can manage to sound an alternative voice in a reasonable way, then that group can succeed in undoing mass education. We can circulate an alternative narrative of a universe filled with meaning again. In this way, we write a new story in which the mind stops screaming and the murmurings of the things of life become audible.

A recent verdict has resulted in Mattias Desmet no longer being allowed to use his own book as a textbook (2). But it is confidence that has the last word. Like all totalitarian systems, this one will eventually destroy itself. Until that happens, we know what we can do.

Sources and Notes:

(1) Mattias Desmet: The Psychology of Totalitarianism, Europa Verlag 2023.
(2) https://transition-news.org/psychologieprofessor-darf-sein-eigenes-werk-nicht-als-lehrbuch-benutzen

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.”

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