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We need an Enlightenment 2.0: Misguided Colonial and Gender Policies

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/10/04/18852383.php

Colonial knowledge was imposed by force. The West has set our planet on fire. To extinguish it, we need all archives of knowledge with their different references to the world. We cannot do it any other way. Therefore, it is urgent to initiate a paradigmatic change in education, not only in Germany, to correct this deplorable state of affairs.

“We need an Enlightenment 2.0”
Interview with educator Louis Henri Seukwa on colonial knowledge, the wilderness of European humanism, and postcolonial approaches to pedagogy

by Louis Henri Seukwa and Stephan Kosch
[This 2022 interview is translated from the German on the Internet, „Wir brauchen eine Aufklärung 2.0“ | Gespräch mit dem Erziehungswissenschaftler Louis Henri Seukwa über koloniales Wissen, die Wildnis des europäischen Humanismus und postkoloniale Ansätze in der Pädagogik.]

Lawsuits delay its renaming: the street named after colonial merchant Adolf Lüderitz (1834-1886) in the Berlin district of Wedding

Zeitzeichen: Professor Seukwa, you research postcolonial approaches in educational science. What “colonial” structures need to be overcome in pedagogy?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: I like the fact that you talk about postcolonial approaches, that is, in the plural. Because postcolonial thinking combines several approaches in a fragmentary way and does not represent a unified, self-contained body of theory. It therefore incorporates the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles as well as the heritage of non-Western, but also Western philosophies. Despite this fragmentation, it is possible to identify certain modes of argumentation that are specific to this school of thought and whose contribution to an alternative reading of our modernity is significant.

Can you be more specific about this?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: I will start with a critique of the – I would say colonial – conception of reason, humanism, and universalism that has produced an unprecedented blindness and cruelty. How, for example, can we reconcile with ease this positively invested belief in the human as a universal category with sacrificing the lives and labor of the colonized, as well as their world of meaning? Postcolonial critique consequently exposes the distorted representations of reality without which colonialism would have failed as a historical power and hegemonic configuration. This helps explain how what was declared as European humanism appeared in the colonies in the form of the duplicity and disguise of reality as procedures of ‘racialization’ of the colonized. For postcolonial thought, race is in fact the wilderness of European humanism, its beast. Postcolonial thought seeks to dismantle the skeleton of this beast and to trace its dwelling places, privileged at the expense of others.

So what does this mean for pedagogy?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: This can be illustrated by a simple example. In an international research project completed in November 2021, which focused on the empirical study of cultural heritage and identities in the Europe of the future, we also analyzed classroom content. What you called “colonial” structures still have an impact. For example, in the subject of history, the history of German minorities is kept silent. Non-whites and people of non-Christian religion have contributed just as much to the development of Germany; however, they do not appear in history lessons! This is also true for the German colonial history, which is either completely concealed or only told from the perspective of the colonizers. This German history of violence is glossed over by a limited perspective and the continuity of the colonial belief in superiority to the murderous dehumanization as also during National Socialism is hidden. Thus, the ideology of superiority is continuously and subtly transmitted in school lessons. This is also the case in the subject of geography, where Western societies are portrayed as developed, superior and helpful, while so-called “emerging countries” are portrayed as backward and in need of help. Thus, a pejorative image of people from these countries is reproduced through educational content and knowledge based on a colonial self-image, which is necessarily racist, is solidified.

How can postcolonial approaches change that?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: A postcolonial view of pedagogy-especially (high) school pedagogy-understood as a practice of producing and transmitting knowledge makes it possible to perceive a globalization of Western knowledge and techniques of knowledge production. This is what I call, following the historian and political scientist Achilles Mbembe, “colonial knowledge.” By this he understands the totality of techniques and sciences, myths and knowledge, which since the 15th century have made it possible to destroy the conditions for the renewal of life on earth.

A serious accusation. What do you base it on?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: The essential feature of this construction of knowledge is the degradation of the Other, the non-white European, as the antithesis of oneself. This constructed hierarchy makes it impossible to share and increase knowledge, to unite people. Even with regard to the treatment of nature, it would have been important to share very different sources of knowledge. Instead, colonial knowledge was imposed by force. The West has set our planet on fire. To extinguish it, we need all archives of knowledge with their different references to the world. We cannot do it any other way. Therefore, it is urgent to initiate a paradigmatic change in education, not only in Germany, to correct this deplorable state of affairs.

How do you characterize “colonial knowledge”?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: Colonial knowledge is a narcissistic development narrative. On a constructed ladder of human development, it places the West at the top and assumes that everyone else must pass through the same stages of development. It is self-referential: although the scientists, “explorers,” artists, and missionaries from the West have scoured the world, the knowledge produced in the process is always only their own, because they have constantly compared others to themselves in order to consider their own development. That is the problem.

But isn’t it normal to compare oneself with others, especially when the other is foreign? What is the problem?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: In the colonial context, comparison always led and still leads to hierarchization and the self-construction of the West as superior. If you ask yourself why racism is so constitutive of Western societies, you can find the answer in this structure of knowledge production and its transmission. In German education, racism is structurally reproduced, because the others become a marginal part of Western knowledge, an epiphenomenon. They are involved as objects, as consumers of this knowledge, but not as producers. Their knowledge is not present, it is de-thematized. You can see this in textbooks and curricula. Indeed, you do not find this knowledge there. So the view of history is falsified by the Western superiority narrative and historical facts are suppressed.

Do you have an example?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: A person educated in Europe seriously believes in what was called ‘Greek miracle’ in the age of so-called Enlightenment. That is, that the new quality of ancient thought is a sign that God has given reason to the people of Europe and therefore they also have the right and the mission of mission. But with this one falsifies 5000 years of scientific history in the Mediterranean area. The theorems of Pythagoras and Thales, for example, had been around for a long time. The scholars in ancient Greece themselves never made a secret of the fact that they spent educational stays in ancient Egypt, which, by the way – as we now know after considerable struggles for the restoration of historical truth – was populated by black people through and through. For this, one has only to read some of the writings of ancient Greece. But because Hegel constructed a Greek miracle, we believe in a kind of divine moment and the superiority of white Europeans over the rest of the world.

To what extent does this colonial knowledge determine the identity formation of people of color in Germany?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: Identities are relational, they develop in relationships. I need the other to recognize me. If this happens in an environment where racialized people are seen as successors to less developed “quasi-humans,” whose history is distorted or not told at all, this also leads to a distorted self-perception. The postcolonial perspective now allows people of color to become aware of and correct this distortion. After all, our identities are hybrid and complex. We are, after all, much more than our skin color or gender.

A very concrete field of work for pedagogy is the school. You have long called for textbooks and curricula to be revised so that “colonialism, neocolonialism, and postcolonialism are adequately represented as structuring moments in the current world order.” You are still waiting for a corresponding decision by the ministers of education, aren’t you?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: Yes, there are many a declaration of intent and here and there a commissioner for the topic, but the problem has not yet been tackled at the root. Schools and their curricula are, after all, a reflection of society. Current research shows that textbooks and curricula still contain far too little discussion of racialized others – and not just in the subjects of history or social science. No mathematics textbook points out that the statement about semicircles and triangles formulated in Thales’ theorem was already known and used in Egypt and Babylonia. Something like this produces again and again the image of the superior European and the inferior African who must be helped to develop.

And you contradict this image.

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: How could I not! In 1974, at a conference organized by UNESCO in Cairo, the scholar and most famous African Egyptologist Cheikh Anta Diop scientifically proved linguistically, archaeologically, historically, and with the help of C 14 dating techniques et cetera, that the ancient Egyptians were black Africans who had created a civilization that also influenced ancient Greece. The Egyptologists present had to concede that all the civilizing elements that made up their own culture had been lived in Africa thousands of years ago. What is and was very difficult to accept for Europe, respectively the construct called the West, is the fact that they owe all the civilizing foundations of their modernity to this Africa, which they so exploited, humiliated, dehumanized and constructed as a radical antithesis to themselves. This fact is one of the most important foundations of the epistemicides, the destruction of knowledge, that the Eurocentric racist worldview has made possible.

But isn’t the accusation of deliberate falsification of history too far-fetched? Is it not also a problem of source material? Here the written evidence, there oral traditions?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: That Africa had no written culture is also such a narrative that falsifies history. Ethnographic as well as linguistic research confirms this in different parts of Africa that were considered authentically African. Thus, symbolic systems, including graphic systems have been found in different regions. Contemporary West African spellings, for example, are found in several geographic zones. The period of oral culture was the period of brutal oppression through enslavement and colonization. For writing can be dangerous when living under colonial occupation. Orality in such a context is an instrument of transgressive resistance. It is part of the system of domination that knowledge that is not allowed to be is not given discursive space. A decolonization of knowledge makes it necessary for the West to decenter, to remake itself, and to enable the formation of new knowledge, which is literally fed by the world archives.

Which brings us to the concept of education, which you question. You’ve done research on the competencies of young refugees. What were the results? And to what extent is this a postcolonial issue?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: I’ll start with the second question. It was about the competencies of refugee*migrants from Africa in Hamburg. To associate people from Africa with competencies at all is already a challenge for representatives of colonial thinking. In addition, I try to assume a countermovement when it comes to the causes of flight. Causes of flight are usually shifted to the countries of origin. This perspective ignores the fact that the causes of wars, economic poverty and political crises are global and that the West is often implicated in them. Therefore, migration policy is not about a humanitarian or charitable gesture by the West, but about the West assuming its political responsibility.

And the competencies?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: What competencies are for an education system depends on the recognition and acknowledgement, i.e. the utilization in the educational institutions here, of the competencies of refugee* migrants often acquired in the informal or non-formal sector of their countries of origin. So far, so banal. But the exciting question is: How do the refugees manage to cope so well under the difficult conditions in Germany with all the structures that deprive them of freedom and with the experiences they have had on the run? Their competence is the ability to defy the adversities of life, to pull themselves out of the mud by their own bootstraps and to play with the rules of the system they cannot escape. I have called this “the habitus of the art of survival.”

But what specifically follows from this different perspective on refugees?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: Apart from the question of how we can use these competencies in our education system, a recommendation for action: We should transform these structures characterized by foreign determination into enabling structures, so that people do not have to be resilient, but find structures that enable them to live well even without “the habitus of the art of survival.”

You became known in church circles because you were very critical of colonial remembrance culture in Hamburg’s Michel. Did your intervention have an effect?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: I first spoke out critically in 2002 in a speech to the church council about, among other things, the memorial plaque commemorating the German soldiers who were killed in the extermination of the Herero and Nama. At that time, the topic was not so present. Activists picked up on that. In 2013, there was a big discussion in the church and different proposals on how to deal with this culture of remembrance. The debate is still going on, and I am still being interviewed. So the intervention had an effect.

How would you like to deal with such historical evidence of the colonial era?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: They are and remain a challenge in the literal sense. While they pose a problem, they hold the potential to positively shape a postcolonial reading out of a negatively charged past. The prerequisite, however, is that historical testimonies can play a political and pedagogical role. This means that through public debate, the history that is linked to it is differentiated and viewed from different perspectives. It is not about assigning blame, but about using such places and confronting the population with the question of what colonialism actually is and what it still means for the place today. So my plea is to use these places for public education.

A good year ago, the “Network for Academic Freedom” was formed in Germany, in which more than 600 scientists are now organized. You see freedom of speech and research endangered by gender studies and postcolonial research. How do you assess that?

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: The opposite is true: networks like this endanger our freedom of research and our freedom in general. These are reactionary movements that we can also observe in France and the United States. They are waging a kind of war against a set of real or imagined enemies, i.e. liberals, leftists, Marxists, minority, immigration and queer activists, decolonial feminists, Islam et cetera. One of their privileged narratives is that the descendants of the colonized, whom we have kindly integrated into our scientific system, are trying to destroy us instead of being grateful. I evaluate such movements as retreats of nostalgic:ins of a Eurocentric, culturally, religiously, and identitarian monolithic society. Postcolonial thinking, on the other hand, is a thinking of entanglement and concatenation. It emphatically points out that identity emerges in diversity, in relations and dispersion; that reference to oneself is only possible in co-constitution, that is, with others. Therefore, postcolonial perspectives bet on a future that will realize the emergence of a universal and fraternal community. However, this has as a prerequisite the abolition of the colonial figures of inhumanity and racial difference. The values that the West proclaims as universal are in fact universalized in postcolonial approaches as a principle for all people. Whether the members of this strange network want the same, however, I dare to doubt.

The worry is that it is not about complementing but destroying the principles of the Enlightenment….

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: Thank you for this question, postcolonial thinking differs from Eurocentrist racist thinking precisely in that the Other is precisely not destroyed, but in principle a co-constitution with others is sought. Therefore, it is first of all about the critique of a very specific conception of reason, humanism and universalism. The critique exposes the violence inherent in this form of reason. And the postcolonial reading addresses the gap that separates European ethical thought from its practical political choices under colonial conditions. So the gap between the order of discourses and the order of practices.

Now they have to explain that again.

LOUIS HENRI SEUKWA: Take the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. From a postcolonial perspective, the timing is problematic. It was the barbarities of the Second World War, which Europeans suffered, that made them declare that human dignity is inviolable. But genocides by Europeans against other non-European peoples existed before that war, and colonialism was still in full swing at that time. The victorious powers received African countries as spoils of war. From this you can see that when colonial knowledge talks about man, it talks only about itself. And postcolonial theory now demands: take your ideals and ethical principles seriously and apply them to all people. So it is not about the destruction of these principles, but about their universality. We need an Enlightenment 2.0, if we want to use the term at all.

The conversation was conducted by Stephan Kosch on May 19 via zoom.

Dr. Louis Henri Seukwa is Professor of Education at the University of Applied Sciences in Hamurg.

Stephan Kosch is editor of “zeitzeichen” and closely follows all topics of sustainable business.

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Diversity as a gain for all

Interview with Wuppertal New Testament scholar Claudia Janssen on feminist theology, what has been achieved, and the future of gender-just theology

by Claudia Janssen, Kathrin Jütte and Reinhard Mawick
[This interview published in June 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Vielfalt als Gewinn für alle | Gespräch mit der Wuppertaler Neutestamentlerin Claudia Janssen über feministische Theologie, das Erreichte und die Zukunft einer geschlechtergerechten Theologie.]

Vielfalt als Gewinn für alle | Gespräch mit der Wuppertaler Neutestament…

zeitzeichen: Frau Professorin Janssen, feministische Theologie
Deconstructing the Divine. Roland Peter Litzenburger: King of the Jews (1973) from the cycle Christ the Fool.
Photo: Viktoria Litzenburger-Schreijäck
Deconstruction of the Divine. Roland Peter Litzenburger: King of the Jews (1973) from the cycle Christ the Fool.

TIME SIGN: Professor Janssen, doing feminist theology is a very personal and political activity, which is how many theologians formulate their definition of feminist theology. What is yours?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: For me, feminist theology is not a special theology, but the central approach to theology. That’s where my heart beats. And for theology to become capable of speaking again in social questions, for people who learn to do this theology to become capable of speaking theologically in the processes of social transformation. So that they can actively participate in these questions and look at them from a theological perspective, asking themselves self-critically what social developments mean for theology. Socially, politically, theologically, that belongs together for me and constitutes the core of feminist theology.

Asked personally, how did you come to feminist theology?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: In my home country we had a political community work with Easter marches and peace work. And our pastor gave me a book by Dorothee Sölle and Fulbert Steffensky when I was a teenager. I devoured their books. At my first church congress in Hanover in 1983, when I was 16 years old, the focus was on the social issues of disarmament and the NATO double decision. The Bible studies by Luise Schottroff and Dorothee Sölle provided the impetus to go into theology. To be socially articulate and politically engaged, to have a great piety, that characterized Dorothee Sölle and also Luise Schottroff. This connection appealed to me from the beginning, and it still carries me through theology.

Those church congress appearances in the 1980s were very moving. How and when did feminist theology emerge in the first place?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: About fifty years ago. Important impulses came from the USA, the theologian Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel translated these texts. And they are rooted in the social women’s movement of the 1960s and early 1970s. It was never about founding a special theology for women, but about a paradigm shift, that is, to change theology in order to be able to help shape and transform social processes, always with the question of gender justice. I have understood feminist theology from the beginning as a justice movement. Justice not only for women, but in the relationship between women and men, also with a broad view of issues of racism and ecology. Important debates from the 1980s-1990s have advanced feminist theology, such as the question of Christian anti-Judaism. The fact that these questions are so widely discussed in theology today is also a merit of feminist theology.

How do the drafts of feminist theology of the past decades differ from those of today? Or would you say that it is rather a further development?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: I see it as a further development in continuity. Whether we are dealing with a clash between feminist theories and gender studies is being discussed in the disciplines. In sociology or in the social sciences, I see much greater conflicts. When I look at the feminist discussion in the present, I see a great continuity with the feminist theology of the 1980s and 1990s, with a natural acceptance of gender studies. There is a critically constructive dialogue. If I formulate what feminist theology is today, it would mean an approach to this multidisciplinary field of gender studies. Looking at social positions with a political commitment to feminism.

Is there even a need for a specifically feminist theology today? When one actually has the betterment and liberation of all people in mind?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: In a good world, there would be no need for it. But the MeToo debate, for example, shows that these questions are not outdated. Verbally, we may be much further along, but the power structures have changed little, especially globally. What makes feminist theology work is that it never just has this small fixed view of our Western well-off world, but a global one.

What do you think feminist theology has achieved so far?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: It has initiated important debates. In terms of science theory, it is a contextual theology. Embedding this diversity of approaches in social issues has changed theology. The Protestant churches have recognized that in the training of their pastors, gender competence is fundamental for the pastorate. This is anchored in the examination regulations, my chair here in Wuppertal is called “New Testament and Theological Gender Studies,” and at the beginning of the year we opened an institute for feminist theology, theological gender studies and social diversity. Compulsory courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels are part of the curriculum. At the Kirchliche Hochschule Augustana in Neuendettelsau, the professorship for feminist theology and gender studies has just been reoccupied.

In your opinion, what makes more sense for the institutionalization of the subject? To link it to a classical theological discipline, as in Wuppertal, or to have a separate chair, as in Neuendettelsau?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: The discussions are already old. The vision is to implement gender issues as a cross-cutting dimension of thinking, acting and theological research, especially in language. This should also be anchored institutionally. But in the meantime, in fact, only the two ecclesiastical universities with their chairs are left. In the cutbacks, this subject is the first to fall away. I offer an introduction to theological gender studies and teach basic concepts in feminist theology, critical masculinity studies and queer theory. We “translate” theories from the social sciences into theology. The goal of the summer term is to introduce a gender certificate. This requires participation in a lecture course, two or three other courses, and a practicum project. It’s important for Theological Gender Studies to set itself up as its own subject because the theoretical framework has become so large, because gender issues have become a paradigm guiding research academically. But to really be able to study it, students need a similar knowledge to exegetical methods, for example. They need to learn new vocabulary like essentialism, deconstructionism, or intersectionality. And they also need to reflect theoretically on these terms before they can integrate them into their theological thinking. From that point of view, it would be good to have a dedicated chair. The combination with the New Testament, however, makes it possible to show in an exemplary way what profit, what diversity opens up when gender issues are centrally understood as a cross-sectional dimension of a subject.

You have described feminist theology as action-oriented and also activist. Practically an active shaping of socio-political reality. Is that the reason for the often voiced reproach that it is not scientifically-theologically connectable?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: If it were exhausted on this level, yes. But that is the starting point and the basic principle of contextual theologies. To work on social processes theologically as well, to become capable of conversation in order to be able to influence social debates again, this process is an important one, and of course it shakes up self-evident things, professorial ponderousness. If you look at the tone from the time when Dorothee Sölle was to be given an unpaid teaching position in Mainz – it is unbelievable with what blatant misogyny it was acted. Mean-spiritedness and administrative tricks were used, and feminist theology was accused of being emotional and polemical. In the 1990s, the battles were still being fought openly; now they are more subtle. For example, over third-party funding applications and over publications. The battles are still there, and arriving at scientific discourse also means penetrating the citation cartels, getting publications published, providing reviewers.

So there are still reservations about feminist theology?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: What is outstanding is indeed that gender issues are understood as a cross-cutting issue or dimension for any theological or social action. That’s why my professorship in particular is so important; it integrates these issues. I am a New Testament scholar, and the gender question is a central theme in the biblical texts and precisely not just brought in as a new hermeneutical approach from today. But there is a lot of resistance to it; although the approach is no longer declared heretical or devalued, it is not an integral part of theological research either. At least not in the German-speaking world. In Scandinavian countries or in parts of US theology it is more self-evident.

Where are the similarities and differences, in terms of Germany, with your Catholic colleagues?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: I look primarily from the perspective of exegesis; there is hardly any difference among the researchers. The denomination becomes relevant in view of the understanding of ministry. When I look back a hundred years on the development in Protestant theology, I see that the ordination of women fundamentally changes the church and theology. Also in terms of anthropology. There is a great solidarity with the Catholic militants:inside, like Mary 2.0. It drags like chewing gum to have to repeat the biblical arguments over and over again. That women were disciples and in leadership positions, that there were women apostles. And that’s why theology as a whole is affected by the importance of exegesis.

If one has the improvement of all people in mind, must not contemporary feminist theology also be deconstructionist? Based on Galatians 3:28: ” … here is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: Yes. And when I see the more recent discourses, who is publishing in gender studies and, of course, presupposing deconstructionist theories, they are often the same author:s who have written on feminist issues. This continuity is very strong. Consider the work doing gender, doing religion, edited by Ute Eisen, Angela Standhartinger, and Christine Gerber. Perhaps this is a distinctive feature of feminist theology, that this absorption of current theories also has a very strong impact on the further development of feminist research. The British journalist Laurie Penny puts it this way: I see myself as queer, but politically I argue feminist. So as long as there is this inequality of women, it’s important to be able to put up statistics to show how many women are in the ministry and how many men. That’s where I have to be able to argue politically, that’s the only way Equal Pay Day works.

This is new to many people. Reactionary critics claim that gender justice and gender theories endanger the divine order. How do you deal with this unchanging front?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: The anti-gender argumentation quite often goes hand in hand with backward-looking ideas of family, society, especially masculinity. This criticism is not very rational, but emotional and points to a crisis of masculinity today. This means that young men must be encouraged to embrace change and to perceive the diversity of role models as enrichment. Often there is no argumentation, but a backward utopia is created from the gut. Everything should become the way it has never been. These people have no visions of a changing society or positive images of the future, but are directed against everything that is not white, not male, not heteronormative. Unfortunately, an exchange based on factual arguments very rarely works.

In recent months, the question of whether transwomen are considered women or not has come to a head, also in debates in the Bundestag. What is your opinion on this?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: I have several trans* people among the students, and I try to strengthen them theologically as well by working on bodies, gender, and deconstruction. For me, this is theologically relevant because creation is diverse and because it is divine creation. That diversity is inherent there. I always wonder why we want to know better than God what creation means. I think that is hubris. In the first creation narrative, it says “And God created them male and female.” There are ideas even in ancient times that assume that the first being is androgynous. In the second creation narrative, “Adam,” the original human being, is then divided into two parts. There is no mention of a “rib” in Hebrew; the word used here is “side.” After the separation, one side is still called Adam and the other Eve, this has led to many misunderstandings in the history of impact. There are Jewish interpretations that read it as the original being male and female.

This thinking has a distant relationship to Platonic thoughts …

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: Yes, we have had binary thinking only since the Enlightenment. The American historian of culture and science, Thomas Laqueur, who has done research on the cultural approach to sexuality, says that people in ancient medicine tended to assume a single-genderedness. According to this model, female and male sexual organs were not thought to be fundamentally different; rather, they were assumed to be analogous to each other – for example, the vagina was a penis turned inward. The gender order, what we call gender today, thus had to be culturally fixed. Masculinity was defended in this way because gender was considered changeable and vulnerable to attack. Binary thinking is a recent thinking, as is the notion of an autonomous individual. This too is a construct of the Enlightenment. With modern gender theories, we are in some ways close to ancient discourses.

In the coalition agreement of the German government, it is planned that in the future self-disclosure will be enough to give oneself a new gender identity. What do you think of this initiative?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: That is a complex question. I experience how humiliating these procedures are that people go through. In the current situation, I see that no one changes gender voluntarily or arbitrarily. Trans* people are forced to deal intensely with their own bodies, with the question of what masculinity or femininity means. I can hardly imagine what it is like to live in this tension between the outer body gender and the inner knowledge of the actual other gender. I admire those people who openly engage in the process of transition. And there are many who do not want to commit themselves at all. This possibility must also remain. The necessary process of further development is now being triggered by politics. That’s why I think it’s right to define it legally and at the same time accompany it socially with discussion processes. Until it becomes a matter of course that gender is not defined in binary terms, which has long been known in the human sciences. I think it is important that it is precisely such courageous people who step out into the open who initiate thought processes and processes of change, and it is important to support them legally and accompany them theologically.

If you were to formulate a vision for the future of gender-conscious theology, what would it be?

CLAUDIA JANSSEN: That it changes theology as a whole, with an acceptance for diversity and difference. And that it awakens an awareness that it is a gain to live in diversity and openness to one another, and yes, that it ensures that theology as a whole once again becomes socially relevant and credible, an interlocutor with other social variables.

The conversation was conducted by Kathrin Jütte and Reinhard Mawick via video conference on February 22, 2022.

Claudia Janssen

Dr. Claudia Janssen has been professor of New Testament and Theological Gender Studies at the Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal/Bethel since 2016. Previously, the 55-year-old worked, among other things, as a study director at the Study Center of the EKD for Gender Issues in Church and Theology and as a theological advisor to the Evangelical Women’s Work in Germany. Since 2011, she has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Marburg.

Kathrin Jütte is editor of “zeitzeichen.” Her special focus is on social-diaconal issues and literature.

Reinhard Mawick is editor-in-chief and managing director of zeitzeichen gGmbh.
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“Bringing the finite back to life”
Sociologist Harald Welzer on an economic and cultural model that systematically ignores finitude, even abolishes it. And why renunciation doesn’t have to be a bad thing

by Harald Welzer, Philipp Gessler and Kathrin Jütte
[This discussion posted in January 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://zeitzeichen.net/node/9457.]

“The place is falling apart right before our eyes.” Spoil excavator in the Garzweiler 2 opencast lignite mine.

TIME SIGN: Professor Welzer, we want to talk about stopping and turning around. Your topic in your new book is stopping. When you hear the word repentance, can you do anything with it? Or do you find that repentance is a somewhat outdated term?

HARALD WELZER: No, why? But honestly, I’ve never thought about the word repentance, whether that’s old or new or whatever.

In your book, you talk about stopping and starting over. The word conversion implies both movements.

HARALD WELZER: Yes, but maybe I don’t use the word repentance because it has a certain pathos, like: Stop, turn back! That kind of thing. Besides, that would also imply that you were already at a point before that you absolutely had to go back to. Neither is my concept.

You write in your book, which is almost a wise book …

HARALD WELZER: … oh, that’s a sign of getting old, when you start writing wise books already now …

… well, anyway, you write, we have to get used to finiteness, to stopping again, also to the finiteness of the earth’s resources. Does it help to know about finiteness in order to be able to stop?

HARALD WELZER: Yes, one motive for writing this book lies in my personal experience of finiteness: I almost died after a heart attack. But I had long had the idea of writing about quitting. Because we have problems of finitude, they are problems that characterize this century.

What do you mean by that?

HARALD WELZER: We have an economic and cultural model that systematically ignores finitude, in other words, is virtually unaware of it, and has even abolished it. This leads to attempts to solve problems of finiteness with the wrong concepts. This is what I wanted to write about. And it was only through my own case of almost dying that I realized that this cultural concept of infinity has a correlate in our mentality and in our psyche. That’s why in my book I think on the three levels socially, culturally as well as individually. This is very helpful and also opens up new perspectives on bringing the category of finitude back into life.

Now you have described that it is so difficult for us to think finitude and also to stop. Why is that so difficult for us? Because we have unlearned to think in these categories? Is it really a kind of untraining over the past centuries or decades that the finite is basically repugnant to us?

HARALD WELZER: Because you take the notion of training: It’s just that. We are subject to the idea that we live in a state of limitlessness. And we also live in a training program of individual infinity. Another aspect of the notion of infinity, of course, is that you can increase everything infinitely. Every limit is to be exceeded. Everything is to be improved, optimized, increased.

This thinking extends into everyday life.

HARALD WELZER: Yes, you can see that when people strap Apple Watches around their wrists. These are training tools for not being satisfied with yourself. “You still have to walk a thousand steps, your pulse rate is bad today, you didn’t sleep really well either – but sleep better next night!”

Individuals should continually optimize themselves.

HARALD WELZER: Yes, and you find that pore-less in every segment of society, from school to self-concepts at work to the consumer goods you buy. There’s always this in there: “This has to be increased now!” This is fatal, of course, because first of all it looks past the empirically regrettable fact that life is finite, that is, after a certain moment I am no longer capable of increasing. And conversely, the same applies to the famous limits to growth.

In the past, this was also called reversal. Did people used to be more aware of the concept of finiteness?

HARALD WELZER: Yes, of course, for many reasons. Finitude as a social fact was much more present. But reversal? I have no difficulty with stopping, for example, when I’m hiking. Just turning around, whereas many people I hike with would never do that, because you have to finish the path you once started. I also don’t really have a problem with quitting in jobs and many things, even relationships.

Why not?

HARALD WELZER: Quitting opens up a different space. On the other hand, when I turn back, I turn back into something that has been there before. For me, stopping is more obvious analytically and also as an opening of experiential space.

How much does stopping have to do with renunciation? This is slightly reminiscent of the polemic that the Greens only ever want to preach renunciation. And renunciation is no fun, they are fun and games killers. Do we have to give up things when we stop?

HARALD WELZER: Yes, why not? I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Incidentally, with the coalition agreement of the traffic light coalition, the Greens’ farewell to renunciation has become law. The word prosperity comes up incredibly often.

The FDP probably pushed that through.

HARALD WELZER: Yes, those are the yellow pages. I would turn the term renunciation differently: The question is, what are we renouncing under the given conditions? The moment I say renunciation, the status quo takes on something completely unquestioned. It stands there like a monument and is great. And everything I change about it is associated with renunciation.

What would be better?

HARALD WELZER: I would simply turn it around: We’re doing without an awful lot right now. When we live in the city, we forego peace and quiet, space to move around, good air, all kinds of things, because it’s structured that way by certain means of transportation. We forgo a self-designed healthy lifestyle under the conditions of increase, we forgo contemplation, encounters. I can draw up a huge list of renunciations under the conditions of the present and then say, I don’t really want to do this renunciation anymore, let’s think about how we can renounce less.

So renunciation must also be fun, if we understand you correctly?

HARALD WELZER: Then we are in a semantic contradiction, because if something is fun, we don’t need the concept of renunciation. We can also do things differently! I find that much more interesting. Or like this one elderly gentleman I quote at the end of my book with the famous sentence: “I teach refugees to repair bicycles. Why? Because I can.” And being able to do things is a great thing. In that sense, being able to change things is also a benefit. It’s not to be associated with renunciation.

It comes down to a new perspective?

HARALD WELZER: Yes, what I do is constantly try to formulate a different assertion of reality by saying: let’s talk about something else. Or let’s flip the optics.

Now, you could argue that what you’re describing is a first-world view, because we live in abundance and have experienced abundance. Now if someone from the poor south of the world says, I want to experience that abundance too – and only then am I happy to do without certain things. Wouldn’t that be understandable?

HARALD WELZER: Yes, absolutely. Whereas I think that can be a protective claim to maintain our lifestyle. I’m happy to take that from a member of an indigenous people or something, but not from somebody from the FDP. Because, of course, the intent is clear when I build the backdrop that everybody wants to live the way we do. So then, of course, I have a great legitimacy to keep doing what I’m doing.

It’s an excuse for non-change.

HARALD WELZER: I always suspect there are two groups of people who always get called out when you don’t want to change anything. One is the members of the coming societies, and the other is the Hartz IV recipients. When someone from the FDP comes around the corner with the Hartz IV recipients, I no longer believe a word he says, because at not a single point does anyone underprivileged play a role in their political agenda. They are not even taken note of. They don’t even exist, and if they do, it’s only as a cardboard cutout to say we don’t want to change anything.

Now, thinking in terms of the needs or necessities of the next generation is something that is inherent in people. Saying that I want my children and grandchildren to be well off is something very human. Has that somehow been lost to us in spite of this or in large parts of society?

HARALD WELZER: We have been talked out of it. First of all, because for decades the economy has been based on this completely insane image of homo oeconomicus. And not only has it preached this, but it has also set the world up as if we were all just utility maximizers. Consequently, in school, for example, children have also been conditioned to become individual utility maximizers, as well as later in the workplace. It is a simple story that certain ideas about the world do not remain imaginary, but also shape the world properly.

It’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

HARALD WELZER: Yes, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. But certain ideas about people being like this lead to the state being organized according to this idea of people. In the end, I have a collection of individuals who all believe about themselves that they are terribly individual. But from an anthropological point of view, this is not the case, because people do not exist in the singular. Plain and simple. In this respect, there is no such thing as the individual utility maximizer. But nevertheless, these self-images are very common. In a sense, it is my work to destroy these self-images.

But can such a reversal or cessation that you call for succeed at all in a global capitalist world? After all, capitalism thrives on the ever-more. That is, isn’t a demand for cessation automatically a statement against a capitalist world?

HARALD WELZER: Of course. The place is falling apart right before our eyes. We have an incredible number of symptoms of the fact that what has worked well for a while, from which a great many people, including myself, have profited for a while, is no longer sustainable. We have a poster hanging in our FuturZwei office that says, “It wasn’t all bad under capitalism.” Unfortunately, that’s true. Capitalism has many merits, but it’s also brutally destructive. The difficulty is simply to turn this successful model into something else.

For many, that may be a provocation.

HARALD WELZER: Of course it’s a provocation, but I also give talks to bankers, to savings bank directors or people who run a company and have their annual meeting with their customers. It’s interesting that there’s an openness to discuss such things there, too. We’re no longer in a concrete era, in which people always formulate such beliefs as: “Without growth, everything is nothing. We need the market after all.” But there are few competing offers. That’s a problem.

What are the material consequences for you personally of the change in mentality that you have made?

HARALD WELZER: It’s a process. For me, it’s a misconception that many convinced people have, that from time x, when the insight comes, they suddenly have to do everything differently. And then if they sin, they have a problem. I would always say it’s gymnastics or training in both directions to get used to living differently. Letting things be is not something that you can do overnight without further ado, but that requires training. In that sense, I am in a training program.

Can religions contribute to this cessation or cessation training?

HARALD WELZER: I think so. I would say it’s very helpful if you can have the conviction that the world, is not the only world there is, so if there is a transcending moment. I think that’s basically helpful and necessary. For me personally, however, religion doesn’t offer that; perhaps I’m too rationalistic for that.

The interview was conducted by Philipp Gessler and Kathrin Jütte via zoom on November 25, 2021.

Harald Welzer, born in 1958 in Bissendorf near Hanover, habilitated in social psychology in 1993 and in sociology in 2001. Among other things, he was professor of social psychology from 2001 to 2012 at the private University of Witten/Herdecke, and he is also co-founder and director of the non-profit foundation “Futurzwei. Stiftung Zukunftsfähigkeit.” Welzer has written many books, most recently the bestseller: “Obituary for Myself.”

Philipp Gessler is editor of “zeitzeichen.” One focus of his work is ecumenism.

Kathrin Jütte is editor of “zeitzeichen”. Her special focus is on social-diaconal issues and literature.

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The De-Generation and Before Closed Gates

https://la.indymedia.org/news/2022/09/301253.php

We live in a madhouse, a prison of insanity. The ruling elite is made up of lunatics and murderers. Only, we don’t know it. Don’t want to know. Everything we know is wrong. Lunatics and murderers! The lie is so huge that we believe the giant lie of the corrupt system.

The De-Generation

Musician and philosopher Robert Scheer processes his impressions of social decline in impressionistic linguistic images.

by Robert Scheer

[This article posted on 9/28/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-de-generation.]

Corona continues to drive Robert Scheer’s writing around and around. For it is not over. In eight thematic snippets, the author impressionistically sketches the world as it presents itself to him. The bleating of the sheep included.

1. the science behind it

At almost 50 years of age, I have acquired two skills in life: Doing nothing and being in the coffee house. There is nothing to say about doing nothing on the one hand, or infinite things to say on the other. Maybe one day I will reveal my incredible knowledge in this area, but not now.

This report is about the café, people and stupidity. At least since I studied philosophy at the University of Haifa, I became enthusiastic about sitting in a coffee house. There I learned what I had to learn in life: nothing. And a lot of it!

As the dear reader can already see, doing nothing is strictly connected with sitting in the café in my case, and vice versa. The scientific formula is:

Doing nothing = Sitting in the coffee house.

Sitting in the coffee house = doing nothing

2. the Hungarian way of life

A great influence on me had some Hungarian writers from the “Golden Age”, that is 100 years ago. In Budapest coffee houses, writers like Sándor Márai and Dezsö Kosztolányi sipped their black, talked, read the newspaper and wrote. Certainly, the fate of a Hungarian poet is unusually hard, since a true Hungarian poet is known to be someone who, well, kills himself.

Hungarian literature is literally full of suicides. You really have to prove what you can do, so to speak. In Hungary, things are serious. A real Hungarian writer simply has to kill himself – otherwise he will miss having his name mentioned in the annals of literature. Cowardly writers are not revered by the Hungarian people, they simply disappear from the literary stage as if they had never been there. They are forgotten.

I should not be misunderstood: It is not only artists who commit suicide in Hungary. In Hungary, suicide is a kind of national sport. The Hungarians are always world leaders in this.

Czech writers, like their Hungarian colleagues, are also an endangered species. Unlike the Hungarians, the Czechs prefer jumping from high windows.

Jump – and good night! For the Hungarians, it doesn’t matter how you commit suicide, as long as you do it. To make the picture complete, I had to mention these “dark sides” of the typical Hungarian coffee house goer, according to the motto: Not everything is as it seems.

You have to imagine it like this: A Hungarian goes to the coffee house, talks, drinks, laughs, reads, writes, laughs, drinks, and then … it’s all over. Not for wimps. Not for the generation of sleep sheep woke.

3. masquerade

For two years, in the so-called “pandemic”, I did not seek out a café. Yes, doing nothing in itself I probably continued to do, but in isolation, so to speak, at home. Since recently it was allowed to go to the café without a mask, I risked a visit. After so much time, it felt strange to be back. Especially since I used to be a professional coffee drinker, I didn’t let my inhibitions show.

As I ordered a cappuccino, I noticed that both the waitress and the people around me had a washcloth on their faces.

I rubbed my eyes.

Instinctively, I wanted to ask everyone why, why they were wearing a mask if no mask was necessary at all, perhaps because of pimples or ugly features on their faces? But when I saw the sheep’s eyes of the people, I decided not to ask anything. Living dead, I told myself, scratching my head.

“Three euros.”

Baaaaay, I said.

The staring eyes seemed to ask: Excuse me?

Suddenly it was as if a voice whispered something in my ear.

De – ge …

“Your cappuccino …”

The young waitress ducked me.

My face cut a smile. “Thank you.”

I took my cappuccino to an empty table and dropped into a chair. I looked around. Only the young people sitting at the small tables showed faces. Interesting, smiling faces – without pimples. Everyone who was about to order something had masks on.

De – ge – ne …

The coffee didn’t even taste bad. It’s not the black that’s the problem, I told myself, running my tongue along my upper lip.

De – ge – ne – ra …

Pop music played in the background. People were talking, laughing. Like before, I remembered, like two years ago. Outside, the sun was shining; a perfect spring day.

De – ge – ne – ra – tion.

DEGENERATION!

I took a sip of my black stained with foamy white.

Määäähh.

All of Germany.

Määäähhhh.

The whole world. Going under.

Degenerated people. Degenerated generation. Degenerated city, my city Tübingen. Degenerated mayor. Everything completely degenerated.

After reading a few pages in a book and finishing the drink that had gone cold, I walked out of the coffee house. On the street I saw many people wearing masks. Tragic carnival atmosphere. All fake.

4 The breath of nothingness

With quick steps, I made my way into nature. The trees seemed to beckon me with their majestic branches and twigs, welcoming me into their immediate vicinity.

Hello!

Hello!

I breathed in.

I breathed out.

Ahhhhhh.

Birds flew free in the skies, singing as if their lives depended on it.

Chip … chip chip.

A framed picture of a Hungarian writer appeared in my mind’s eye before bursting like an aerial balcony.

Boom!

Was that … me?

I took a breath.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Spring renewal reigned in nature, a rebirth, a celebration. A few butterflies fluttered across the grass. A squirrel listened up, looking like a statue.

Nature knows when to bloom and when to die. She possesses the knowledge, the sacred knowledge. After the day comes the night, one cycle follows the next: cycles of seconds, cycles of minutes, cycles of days, cycles of months, cycles of years, cycles of millennia, cycles of millions of years. Infinite cycles in the labyrinth of life.

Through the millennia, the system has dumbed us down, I thought, and sat down on a bench.

Slowly I closed my eyes, waited a few moments, then opened them again. The light shone with golden, radiant colors. A dog was barking. A child was crying.

A loud woman’s voice said, “Don’t cry, Felix. You’re not getting any ice cream!

Papa, Papa! Felix tried his luck with his father.

No ice cream!

But Mama … one scoop, just one … Ahhhhh.

Felix!

The dog barked a few more times, woof woof, woof woof. Felix cried and wanted ice cream.

Not today, Felix!

A scoop … chocolate … chocolate ice cream … Ahhhhhhh.

We are going home!

Ice cream! Ahhhhhhhhh.

Stop it! Felix!

From afar, the wailing of sirens sounded, and as it approached, it intensified and intensified.

People’s laughter.

Hahaha.

5 The eternal return of the seasons

The year actually starts on March 21, I thought to myself. That’s the natural calendar, that’s when the sun is on the horizon, slowly rising, the day and night are the same length. The peak of the sun’s rise is on June 21; this is when the day is the longest, while the night is the shortest. On September 21, the sun sets on the horizon; again, night and day are of equal length. On December 21, the sun is at its lowest; the day is shortest and the night is longest. For three days the sun stands still without moving, then on December 25 it rises again, reborn. In infinite “primitive” cultures these things were understood: The eternal cycle.

Everything is one, one is everything.

Cell phones, masks, diseases, vaccinations, war.

Circus for the people.

Life is a stage.

The sky cut by numerous airplanes.

6. dumbing down with system

We are the barbarians, we are the primitives, because we have forgotten the simplest knowledge. We only look down – never up. We are led to believe that the first of January is the beginning of the year. We have become so stupid that we consider September as the ninth month, October as the tenth, November as the eleventh and December as the twelfth.

September in Latin means seven, October eight, November nine, and December ten. The Roman emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus took two months for themselves: July and August.

We live in a madhouse, a prison of insanity. The ruling elite is made up of lunatics and murderers. Only, we don’t know it. Don’t want to know.

Everything we know is wrong.

Kindergarten, school, university are there to destroy our thinking.

Bewilderment.

This can’t be true!

Yes, it is!

Reality is infinitely tragic.

Lunatics and murderers!

The lie is so huge that we believe the giant lie of the corrupt system.

Dog barking sounds as if from another reality.

Woof, woof …

Rex! Stop it, Rex.

Woof!

We think we understand. We rationalize. But the lie remains a lie. Only the fewest can bear reality. People flee from freedom as if it were something unbearable, monstrous, dangerous for them. We are constantly on the run from ourselves.

Enough is enough!

We are so dumbed down that we believe the stupidest of the stupidest – and the system laughs itself to death.

Hahaha, hihihi.

It’s time for a change!

7. in the camp 2.0

I looked up. In the sky I saw unnatural white lines, similar to the masterpieces of modern art. Meaningless. Decadent. Sick. Sick-making. Chemical spray poisons.

The best of all worlds, the brave new world.

The system wants the best for us.

Great Reset. Agenda 2030. population reduction.

Chiptchip.

Chiptchip.

Reality or illusion?

Peace means war, health means disease.

The injection is good … for whom?

The climate story is good … for whom?

Hahaha, hihihi.

They are laughing up their sleeves, the psychopaths, the mentally disturbed. They hate us.

The red line has been crossed.

Don’t be afraid.

Enough is enough!

8th Nation Degeneration

Like a farm, I said to myself, sitting on the bench. Slaves on the farm.

Animal Farm.

Määäähhh.

Degenerate …

But freedom is there.

And the truth – it never dies.

Hallelujah.

Nation degeneration – time to wake up!

My eyes moved from left to right, from right to left. The sunny panorama seemed divine in its beauty. My eyes focused on the center where something was moving.

What … what is that?

A bird?

A buzzard?

An … angel?

Happiness?

I rubbed my eyes.

A dream?

A warmth rose inside me.

Goose bumps.

Yes, a white dove!

Robert Scheer, born in 1973, was born in Romania. In 1985 his family emigrated to Israel. He worked as a rock musician, interpreter and music producer. In 2004 he graduated from the University of Haifa in Israel with a Master’s degree in Philosophy, Art History and German. He is currently continuing his studies at the University of Tübingen, where he also works as a bookseller and construction worker. He has been a freelance writer since 2008 and has published “The Scent of Sussita,” “Matthew Passion,” and “Jewish Jazz,” among others.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Before closed gates

The Corona measures had serious consequences for students, and yet colleges are considering whether to close again.

by Ronny Ebel

[This article posted on 9/28/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/vor-verschlossenen-toren.]

According to a survey at Freie Universität Berlin (FU), exhaustion, fear of the future and loneliness characterize students’ lives. Corona measures did not benefit young people, even though almost half believe in their protective function. None of those responsible resigned; there was not even an apology. But instead of the universities making a promise to stay open, they are considering closing again in the winter semester of 2022/23. The reason: they want to save energy. But that would make the situation worse for students.

The survey at Freie Universität Berlin

From the end of February to mid-March 2022, there was a university-wide survey on studying under pandemic conditions at Freie Universität Berlin (FU) (1). 1,950 students participated, 1,446 of whom fully completed the 50+ questions.

“Sixty-one percent of them were enrolled in an FU bachelor’s degree program at the time the survey was conducted, and 24 percent were enrolled in a master’s degree program. The other participants indicated that they were studying for a state examination (13 percent) or studying as part of an ERASMUS semester, [email protected] or on a diploma” (2).

The results were presented in May 2022.

At the outset, one more note: This survey was initiated by students, not by the President’s Office. Therefore, the FUCSI team – the FU Corona Study Initiative – deserves special thanks at this point, because without this survey, those involved would still not know how students are doing today. Now for some of the results.

Energy-sapping teaching

One question asked, “Which term most closely matches your experience in terms of teaching this semester?” Forty percent marked the answer “tough / draining / stressful,” and another 17 percent marked the answer “boring / colorless / uninspired” (3), “whereas only a quarter of the students used mainly positive terms to describe their own experiences during the past semester” (4).

Students’ concerns and problems

“Just over one-third of students, in response to the question about how they were feeling, reported feeling either ‘not so good’ or even ‘really miserable.’ Those who reported feeling good or even very good accounted for another third of the survey participants. Student concerns and problems show up as varied and pronounced” (5).

In response to the question “Which of the following worries and problems are currently on your mind?” most, 60.46 percent, answered “Difficulty concentrating.” In second place: “exhaustion” (57.68 percent). Behind: “Fears about the future” (51.22 percent). In fourth place: “Loneliness” (37.84 percent). Followed by: “Digital teaching is a burden on me” (35.87 percent). In sixth place: “Fear of not being able to connect” (35.33 percent). In ninth place: “Financial worries” (33.29 percent) (6).

In the total of 16 responses, only one was about Corona. In tenth place among the worries and problems was “Worrying that I or someone close to me will get Corona” with 27.99 percent (6). Very surprising, since Corona measures were, after all, the reason for the restrictions on campus.

Friendships and online teaching

“More than half of the students have not yet made friends in their studies with whom both content and personal exchanges are successful. Just under a quarter stated that they had not yet even found anyone at all for an exchange outside of courses” (7).

It should not be forgotten that “courses” actually refers to online teaching. After all, it determined the course of study for many students for four semesters – summer semester 2020, winter semester 20/21, summer semester 2021 and winter semester 21/22. The result mentioned here thus also reflects the consequences of online teaching.

Speaking of online teaching: “Two-thirds of the students felt that their academic productivity had been reduced. For just under half of these, the lack of an adequate work environment was an important reason” (8). Fittingly:

“More than half of the students did not regularly use the FU libraries as a place to work. However, one in five students stated that they would like to use a library workstation regularly, but that this would be hindered by short opening hours and/or the need to wear a mask at work throughout the day” (9).

Mask recommendation = mask obligation

In the meantime the mask obligation at the university does not exist any more. At least not officially. In the FU-Berlin, there are still notes in many places, on the windows or doors, telling people to wear an FFP2 mask:

Mask recommendation

Thus this “recommendation” gets a rather official character. A high proportion of the students wore the mask in the summer semester in the seminar, although this obligation no longer existed there since the beginning of May. A brief reference by the teacher to the mask recommendation at the beginning of the seminar was sufficient for students who entered the room without a mask to quickly put one on. This increased peer pressure, and so a recommendation basically became a rule. After a few minutes, almost all but two or three students were sitting there with a mask. In summer. At 25 degrees in the shade.

If you want to wear a mask, you can do that; it was possible before March 2020. But when students learn in an environment in which they only put on the mask because they are reminded in a friendly but vehement manner to please wear one, then that no longer has much to do with voluntariness. A university should avoid this atmosphere at all costs.

Apart from the question why young people, who are hardly affected by COVID, had to wear masks, there is also the question why it still has to be FFP2 masks. The German Society for Hospital Hygiene e. V. published a statement in March 2021, which clearly states that a “FFP2 mask wearing requirement endangers the population” (10).

It is more than surprising why universities in particular, which emphasize the importance of correct, scientific work at every opportunity, consistently ignore any evidence here over such a long period of time.

Belief and knowledge

Before I get to the Governing Board’s response to this survey and the energy savings universities are making, I want to point out a figure that is startling:

“Fewer than half of students felt that 3G regulations on campus were fully complied with. Fittingly, only 43 percent of students felt fully adequately protected from contracting the coronavirus on campus” (11).

This figure is very interesting; after all, protection from “infection with coronavirus” was not in place at any point in time, and yet 43 percent “felt” well protected from it. This is because it was clear that the 3G rule did not prevent infections. The University of Leipzig, for example, wrote this clearly on its website in August 2021 (12). In addition, the COVID injection also does not provide lasting and relevant protection against infection (13).

Ergo: 43 percent of the prospective academics who participated in this survey thus believed in something that was never the case.

And that’s as late as February/March 2022, the date of the survey. That’s worrisome. How can that be? Where did these 43 percent get their information, what were their sources?

The reaction of the Bureau

So now that it has been shown that the 3G rule, COVID injection, mandatory FFP2 masks, all the signs, chaperones, Plexiglas screens and markings at the university were of no benefit – what benefit would they be with predominantly young people who had never been greatly affected by COVID? – the presidency had no choice but to react.

On July 15, 2022, the notice was published on the FU-Berlin website:

“Summarized in one sentence, one could say: not everyone was well – but it felt good to know that we were not alone in this” (14).

This is little consolation for the 24 percent of students who were unable to make friends and for the 37.84 percent who cited “loneliness” as their biggest problem.

First Vice President of Freie Universität, Professor Klaus Hoffmann-Holland, is quoted in the release as saying:

“It has been and continues to be a central concern of ours throughout the pandemic to be in conversation with students about their perspectives. The results of the FUCSI initiative are a valuable asset in this regard” (15).

This sounds very effective, but unfortunately it is not quite true. Because even under his leadership – in the meantime the presidium is composed differently – there was no exchange. In February 2021, students wrote an open letter to the Presidential Board expressing their wish to discuss the measures with other students at the university (16). The authors of this letter are still waiting for a response from the Presidential Board.

Online teaching

Last but not least, it turned out at the beginning of this year that the video software Webex from Cisco, which has been used at the FU since the summer semester 2020, was not legally secure. This is the conclusion of the Berlin data protection authority: “Cisco is unlawfully transferring personal data to the USA” (17). The FU has known this since November 2021, and yet Webex continued to be used (17).

The agency asked the FU in August to “completely stop using Webex by the end of September” (18). But the FU went on a confrontational course in September:

“It would continue to use the video conferencing platform Webex from the manufacturer Cisco Systems – without waiting for the discussion previously offered by the presidency for mid-September” (18).

Are the universities closing again?

Although the consequences of the Corona measures, also thanks to this survey, should by now make all those in charge want to keep the universities open at all costs, they are considering closing them again. But this time it’s not about Corona, but about energy savings:

“But students think less about Putin when they hear such announcements than about the Corona years 2020 to 2022: The number of mentally ill students skyrocketed at universities. The German Student Union complained that it needed to invest millions in therapists and counselors. Demand exploded for psychological counseling services at universities. In many places, such as Cologne, an admission freeze was temporarily imposed” (19).

At the end of August, SPIEGEL ran the headline: “Students must choose between food and warm showers” (20). Shortly thereafter, the government also considered students in the third relief package. Even though no one knows exactly who will receive what aid and when.

In the meantime, the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main has already been more specific. Again, the same picture: it is known that students since 2020 “increasingly suffer from loneliness and depression” and that online teaching reduces “the potential of students.” Nevertheless, Goethe University is ‘considering closing the university for days or even weeks this winter’ (21).

In Düsseldorf, on the other hand, students ‘only’ have their hot water turned off. Anja Steinbeck, the rector of Heinrich Heine University tweeted on September 16:

“The universities have made a commitment to the state of NRW to save 20 percent energy. To achieve this, the hot water network has been switched off and temperatures in the buildings will be lowered earlier in the evenings. In addition, new opening hours f. the libraries are in effect.” (22)

Sources and Notes:

(1) See: “FUCSI Survey First university-wide survey on studying under pandemic conditions by students for students.” The two analysis papers are at Downloads: https://www.geisteswissenschaften.fu-berlin.de/studium/fucsi/index.html

(2) “FUCSI Survey Winter Semester 2021/22 Status of Paper: 05/19/2022 – Attachment to General Evaluation Paper – Student Survey on the Evaluation of Studying under Pandemic Conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 1.

(3) Ibid. Page 5.

(4) “FUCSI survey winter semester 2021/22 Status of the paper: 17.05.2022. Please also see the attachment in the FU box. Evaluation paper: student survey on the evaluation of studies under pandemic conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 2.

(5) Ibid. Page 2.

(6) Ibid. Page 2.

(7) Ibid. Page 2. The scant quarter mentioned was exactly 24 percent, these stated, “I haven’t met anyone at the university yet with whom I interact outside of classes.” See: “FUCSI Survey Winter Semester 2021/22 Status of Paper: 05/19/2022 – Attachment to the General Evaluation Paper – Student Survey on the Evaluation of Studies under Pandemic Conditions at the FU Berlin,” page 5.

(8) “FUCSI survey winter semester 2021/22 Status of the paper: 17.05.2022. Please also refer to the attachment in the FU box. Evaluation paper: student survey on the evaluation of studies under pandemic conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 1.

(9) Ibid. Page 1.

(10) DGKH statement, “FFP2 mask requirement in Berlin endangers more than it helps.” 03/31/2021. https://www.krankenhaushygiene.de/informationen/824

(11) “FUCSI survey winter semester 2021/22 Status of the paper: 17.05.2022. Please also see the attachment in the FU box. Evaluation paper: student survey on the evaluation of studies under pandemic conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 1.

(12) The website of the University of Leipzig stated the following: “Persons with 3G status can also pass on infections.” In the meantime, this interview with Professor Hofsäss has been deleted, but you can find the message in the archive here: https://archive.ph/qKEyi

(13) Starting with conditional approval, “All vaccines available to date have been approved without the appropriate studies having been completed. Whether from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or AstraZenca, none of these agents have had the usual 8 to 10 years of development, but rather were launched in 8 to 10 months.” https://tkp.at/2021/08/08/schluss-mit-der-bedingten-zulassung/ – February 2021: “The fact is that most vaccines – including those for influenza – do not protect against infection and infectivity, that is, the possibility of passing on the infection. The exception to this is the polio vaccine.” https://tkp.at/2021/02/24/impfen-mehr-schaden-als-nutzen-erfahrungen-mit-risiken-und-nebenwirkung/ – November 2020: “Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said, ‘Ideally, an antiviral vaccine should do two things … first, reduce the likelihood that you will become seriously ill and go to the hospital, and second, prevent infection, thereby interrupting disease transmission.’ But even the ongoing Phase III trials are not actually designed to prove either. None of the trials currently underway are designed to demonstrate a reduction in serious outcomes such as hospitalizations, use of critical care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.'” https://tkp.at/2020/11/17/impfstudien-belegen-weder-schutz-vor-schwerer-erkrankung-noch-verhinderung-von-infektion/ – December 2020: “However, data to date do not indicate whether the vaccine also interrupts transmission of the virus.” https://tkp.at/2020/12/20/moderna-chief-medical-officer-impfstoff-verhindert-nicht-infektion-nur-schwerere-erkrankung-mit-geringer-risikoreduktion/ – Immunologist Andreas Radbruch affirms that the ‘vaccine’ never prevented infection: Twitter user Pace wrote on September 17, 2022: “Thanks for the classification. But if I understand you correctly, this means in reverse that vaccination never prevented infection anyway because it induces virtually no mucosal AB. Correct?” https://twitter.com/theotherphilipp/status/1571169192736444416 Radbruch answered on the same day: “exactly.” https://twitter.com/Radbruch_lab/status/1571230118797787137 – Stöhr in September 2022 at Talk im Hangar-7: “And one has not written in just from the beginning, reasonably, that such a vaccination can never protect against the infection certainly all and always. That’s not possible at all, with these respiratory pathogens” (22:19 to 22:35 min.) https://www.servustv.com/aktuelles/v/aa-29cffn9851w11/ – Stöhr continues: “The promise was actually there from the media and from the non-experts, the experts knew from the beginning that the infection cannot be prevented at all.” (00:28 to 00:34 min.) https://twitter.com/talkimhangar7/status/1568695832949714944

(14) “Our campus is a good place to learn.” In a survey, students at Freie Universität asked their fellow students how they felt during the pandemic in the winter semester of 2021/2022. The findings may be helpful for the coming semesters. 07/15/2022. https://www.fu-berlin.de/campusleben/lernen-und-lehren/2022/220718-fucsi-studie/index.html

(15) Ibid.

(16) The Rebels. FU Berlin students call for debate room on Corona policy in open letter. https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-rebellen-2

(17) Conference systems at universities: Freie Universität sticks with Webex. Berlin’s data protection commissioner found that the FU’s conferencing service was not legally secure because of data disclosure. The university has formed its own opinion. By Steffen Stierle. 07.01.2022, 09:48. https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/die-freie-universitat-halt-an-webex-fest-4776133.html

(18) Dispute over video conferencing system: FU won’t let Webex be banned. Berlin’s data protectors wanted to force a platform change at Freie Universität. But the university says it has optimized Webex as much as possible. By Amory Burchard. 09.09.2022, 17:17. https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/streit-um-videokonferenzsystem-die-fu-lasst-sich-webex-nicht-verbieten-8628244.html – Here is the official statement from FU Berlin: “Freie Universität Berlin is sticking with video conferencing platform Webex. Presidium of the university: “Legally compliant use for the winter semester guaranteed.” No. 146/2022, 09.09.2022. https://www.fu-berlin.de/presse/informationen/fup/2022/fup_22_146-webex-wintersemester/index.html

(19) Will students soon have to go back to distance learning? Published 08/16/2022. by Till-R. Stoldt. https://www.welt.de/regionales/nrw/article240486335/Energiekrise-Muessen-Studenten-bald-wieder-in-die-Distanzlehre.html?wtrid=socialmedia.socialflow….socialflow_twitter

(20) “Students must choose between food and hot showers.” SPD and FDP want to relieve now also students in view of strongly risen energy prices. This is overdue, says Asta representative Amanda Steinmaus – but the proposals were not enough. An interview by Dayan Djajadisastra and Helene Flachsenberg 30.08.2022, 15.58 Uhr https://www.spiegel.de/start/entlastungspaket-fuer-studierende-was-der-asta-verbund-nrw-jetzt-fordert-a-fcf42bac-2a98-4fe5-8ce7-45ffbbd4aef3#ref=rss

(21) Comment “Please no lockdown winter at universities: rather open day and night.” The university in Frankfurt (Main) is considering closing the university for days or even weeks this winter. Our author is a student – and pissed off. Franka Klaproth, 12.9.2022 – 06:52 Uhr. https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/mensch-metropole/bitte-keinen-lockdown-winter-an-universitaeten-lieber-tag-und-nacht-geoeffnet-li.265106#Echobox=1662959620

(22) https://twitter.com/anja_steinbeck/status/1570759670620622850

Ronny Ebel, born in 1987, is studying in Berlin after completing two apprenticeships. He is concerned with human behavior and its individual and collective effects. His focus is on self-reliance and democratic participation.

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The De-Generation by Robert Scheer and Ronny Ebel, 9/28

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/09/30/18852318.php

We live in a madhouse, a prison of insanity. The ruling elite is made up of lunatics and murderers. Only, we don’t know it. Don’t want to know. Everything we know is wrong. Bewilderment. This can’t be true! Reality is infinitely tragic. Lunatics and murderers! The lie is so huge that we believe the giant lie of the corrupt system.

The De-Generation
Musician and philosopher Robert Scheer processes his impressions of social decline in impressionistic linguistic images.
by Robert Scheer
[This article posted on 9/28/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-de-generation.]

Corona continues to drive Robert Scheer’s writing around and around. For it is not over. In eight thematic snippets, the author impressionistically sketches the world as it presents itself to him. The bleating of the sheep included.

1. the science behind it

At almost 50 years of age, I have acquired two skills in life: Doing nothing and being in the coffee house. There is nothing to say about doing nothing on the one hand, or infinite things to say on the other. Maybe one day I will reveal my incredible knowledge in this area, but not now.

This report is about the café, people and stupidity. At least since I studied philosophy at the University of Haifa, I became enthusiastic about sitting in a coffee house. There I learned what I had to learn in life: nothing. And a lot of it!

As the dear reader can already see, doing nothing is strictly connected with sitting in the café in my case, and vice versa. The scientific formula is:

Doing nothing = Sitting in the coffee house.
Sitting in the coffee house = doing nothing

2. the Hungarian way of life

A great influence on me had some Hungarian writers from the “Golden Age”, that is 100 years ago. In Budapest coffee houses, writers like Sándor Márai and Dezsö Kosztolányi sipped their black, talked, read the newspaper and wrote. Certainly, the fate of a Hungarian poet is unusually hard, since a true Hungarian poet is known to be someone who, well, kills himself.

Hungarian literature is literally full of suicides. You really have to prove what you can do, so to speak. In Hungary, things are serious. A real Hungarian writer simply has to kill himself – otherwise he will miss having his name mentioned in the annals of literature. Cowardly writers are not revered by the Hungarian people, they simply disappear from the literary stage as if they had never been there. They are forgotten.

I should not be misunderstood: It is not only artists who commit suicide in Hungary. In Hungary, suicide is a kind of national sport. The Hungarians are always world leaders in this.

Czech writers, like their Hungarian colleagues, are also an endangered species. Unlike the Hungarians, the Czechs prefer jumping from high windows.

Jump – and good night! For the Hungarians, it doesn’t matter how you commit suicide, as long as you do it. To make the picture complete, I had to mention these “dark sides” of the typical Hungarian coffee house goer, according to the motto: Not everything is as it seems.

You have to imagine it like this: A Hungarian goes to the coffee house, talks, drinks, laughs, reads, writes, laughs, drinks, and then … it’s all over. Not for wimps. Not for the generation of sleep sheep woke.

3. masquerade

For two years, in the so-called “pandemic”, I did not seek out a café. Yes, doing nothing in itself I probably continued to do, but in isolation, so to speak, at home. Since recently it was allowed to go to the café without a mask, I risked a visit. After so much time, it felt strange to be back. Especially since I used to be a professional coffee drinker, I didn’t let my inhibitions show.

As I ordered a cappuccino, I noticed that both the waitress and the people around me had a washcloth on their faces.

I rubbed my eyes.

Instinctively, I wanted to ask everyone why, why they were wearing a mask if no mask was necessary at all, perhaps because of pimples or ugly features on their faces? But when I saw the sheep’s eyes of the people, I decided not to ask anything. Living dead, I told myself, scratching my head.

“Three euros.”

Baaaaay, I said.

The staring eyes seemed to ask: Excuse me?

Suddenly it was as if a voice whispered something in my ear.

De – ge …

“Your cappuccino …”

The young waitress ducked me.

My face cut a smile. “Thank you.”

I took my cappuccino to an empty table and dropped into a chair. I looked around. Only the young people sitting at the small tables showed faces. Interesting, smiling faces – without pimples. Everyone who was about to order something had masks on.

De – ge – ne …

The coffee didn’t even taste bad. It’s not the black that’s the problem, I told myself, running my tongue along my upper lip.

De – ge – ne – ra …

Pop music played in the background. People were talking, laughing. Like before, I remembered, like two years ago. Outside, the sun was shining; a perfect spring day.

De – ge – ne – ra – tion.

DEGENERATION!

I took a sip of my black stained with foamy white.

Määäähh.

All of Germany.

Määäähhhh.

The whole world. Going under.

Degenerated people. Degenerated generation. Degenerated city, my city Tübingen. Degenerated mayor. Everything completely degenerated.

After reading a few pages in a book and finishing the drink that had gone cold, I walked out of the coffee house. On the street I saw many people wearing masks. Tragic carnival atmosphere. All fake.

4 The breath of nothingness

With quick steps, I made my way into nature. The trees seemed to beckon me with their majestic branches and twigs, welcoming me into their immediate vicinity.

Hello!

Hello!

I breathed in.

I breathed out.

Ahhhhhh.

Birds flew free in the skies, singing as if their lives depended on it.

Chip … chip chip.

A framed picture of a Hungarian writer appeared in my mind’s eye before bursting like an aerial balcony.

Boom!

Was that … me?

I took a breath.

Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Spring renewal reigned in nature, a rebirth, a celebration. A few butterflies fluttered across the grass. A squirrel listened up, looking like a statue.

Nature knows when to bloom and when to die. She possesses the knowledge, the sacred knowledge. After the day comes the night, one cycle follows the next: cycles of seconds, cycles of minutes, cycles of days, cycles of months, cycles of years, cycles of millennia, cycles of millions of years. Infinite cycles in the labyrinth of life.

Through the millennia, the system has dumbed us down, I thought, and sat down on a bench.

Slowly I closed my eyes, waited a few moments, then opened them again. The light shone with golden, radiant colors. A dog was barking. A child was crying.

A loud woman’s voice said, “Don’t cry, Felix. You’re not getting any ice cream!

Papa, Papa! Felix tried his luck with his father.

No ice cream!

But Mama … one scoop, just one … Ahhhhh.

Felix!

The dog barked a few more times, woof woof, woof woof. Felix cried and wanted ice cream.

Not today, Felix!

A scoop … chocolate … chocolate ice cream … Ahhhhhhh.

We are going home!

Ice cream! Ahhhhhhhhh.

Stop it! Felix!

From afar, the wailing of sirens sounded, and as it approached, it intensified and intensified.

People’s laughter.

Hahaha.
5 The eternal return of the seasons

The year actually starts on March 21, I thought to myself. That’s the natural calendar, that’s when the sun is on the horizon, slowly rising, the day and night are the same length. The peak of the sun’s rise is on June 21; this is when the day is the longest, while the night is the shortest. On September 21, the sun sets on the horizon; again, night and day are of equal length. On December 21, the sun is at its lowest; the day is shortest and the night is longest. For three days the sun stands still without moving, then on December 25 it rises again, reborn. In infinite “primitive” cultures these things were understood: The eternal cycle.

Everything is one, one is everything.

Cell phones, masks, diseases, vaccinations, war.

Circus for the people.

Life is a stage.

The sky cut by numerous airplanes.
6. dumbing down with system

We are the barbarians, we are the primitives, because we have forgotten the simplest knowledge. We only look down – never up. We are led to believe that the first of January is the beginning of the year. We have become so stupid that we consider September as the ninth month, October as the tenth, November as the eleventh and December as the twelfth.

September in Latin means seven, October eight, November nine, and December ten. The Roman emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus took two months for themselves: July and August.

We live in a madhouse, a prison of insanity. The ruling elite is made up of lunatics and murderers. Only, we don’t know it. Don’t want to know.

Everything we know is wrong.

Kindergarten, school, university are there to destroy our thinking.

Bewilderment.

This can’t be true!

Yes, it is!

Reality is infinitely tragic.

Lunatics and murderers!

The lie is so huge that we believe the giant lie of the corrupt system.

Dog barking sounds as if from another reality.

Woof, woof …

Rex! Stop it, Rex.

Woof!

We think we understand. We rationalize. But the lie remains a lie. Only the fewest can bear reality. People flee from freedom as if it were something unbearable, monstrous, dangerous for them. We are constantly on the run from ourselves.

Enough is enough!

We are so dumbed down that we believe the stupidest of the stupidest – and the system laughs itself to death.

Hahaha, hihihi.

It’s time for a change!
7. in the camp 2.0

I looked up. In the sky I saw unnatural white lines, similar to the masterpieces of modern art. Meaningless. Decadent. Sick. Sick-making. Chemical spray poisons.

The best of all worlds, the brave new world.

The system wants the best for us.

Great Reset. Agenda 2030. population reduction.

Chiptchip.

Chiptchip.

Reality or illusion?

Peace means war, health means disease.

The injection is good … for whom?

The climate story is good … for whom?

Hahaha, hihihi.

They are laughing up their sleeves, the psychopaths, the mentally disturbed. They hate us.

The red line has been crossed.

Don’t be afraid.

Enough is enough!
8th Nation Degeneration

Like a farm, I said to myself, sitting on the bench. Slaves on the farm.

Animal Farm.

Määäähhh.

Degenerate …

But freedom is there.

And the truth – it never dies.

Hallelujah.

Nation degeneration – time to wake up!

My eyes moved from left to right, from right to left. The sunny panorama seemed divine in its beauty. My eyes focused on the center where something was moving.

What … what is that?

A bird?

A buzzard?

An … angel?

Happiness?

I rubbed my eyes.

A dream?

A warmth rose inside me.

Goose bumps.

Yes, a white dove!

Robert Scheer, born in 1973, was born in Romania. In 1985 his family emigrated to Israel. He worked as a rock musician, interpreter and music producer. In 2004 he graduated from the University of Haifa in Israel with a Master’s degree in Philosophy, Art History and German. He is currently continuing his studies at the University of Tübingen, where he also works as a bookseller and construction worker. He has been a freelance writer since 2008 and has published “The Scent of Sussita,” “Matthew Passion,” and “Jewish Jazz,” among others.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Before closed gates
The Corona measures had serious consequences for students, and yet colleges are considering whether to close again.
by Ronny Ebel
[This article posted on 9/28/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/vor-verschlossenen-toren.]

According to a survey at Freie Universität Berlin (FU), exhaustion, fear of the future and loneliness characterize students’ lives. Corona measures did not benefit young people, even though almost half believe in their protective function. None of those responsible resigned; there was not even an apology. But instead of the universities making a promise to stay open, they are considering closing again in the winter semester of 2022/23. The reason: they want to save energy. But that would make the situation worse for students.

The survey at Freie Universität Berlin

From the end of February to mid-March 2022, there was a university-wide survey on studying under pandemic conditions at Freie Universität Berlin (FU) (1). 1,950 students participated, 1,446 of whom fully completed the 50+ questions.

“Sixty-one percent of them were enrolled in an FU bachelor’s degree program at the time the survey was conducted, and 24 percent were enrolled in a master’s degree program. The other participants indicated that they were studying for a state examination (13 percent) or studying as part of an ERASMUS semester, [email protected] or on a diploma” (2).

The results were presented in May 2022.

At the outset, one more note: This survey was initiated by students, not by the President’s Office. Therefore, the FUCSI team – the FU Corona Study Initiative – deserves special thanks at this point, because without this survey, those involved would still not know how students are doing today. Now for some of the results.

Energy-sapping teaching

One question asked, “Which term most closely matches your experience in terms of teaching this semester?” Forty percent marked the answer “tough / draining / stressful,” and another 17 percent marked the answer “boring / colorless / uninspired” (3), “whereas only a quarter of the students used mainly positive terms to describe their own experiences during the past semester” (4).

Students’ concerns and problems

“Just over one-third of students, in response to the question about how they were feeling, reported feeling either ‘not so good’ or even ‘really miserable.’ Those who reported feeling good or even very good accounted for another third of the survey participants. Student concerns and problems show up as varied and pronounced” (5).

In response to the question “Which of the following worries and problems are currently on your mind?” most, 60.46 percent, answered “Difficulty concentrating.” In second place: “exhaustion” (57.68 percent). Behind: “Fears about the future” (51.22 percent). In fourth place: “Loneliness” (37.84 percent). Followed by: “Digital teaching is a burden on me” (35.87 percent). In sixth place: “Fear of not being able to connect” (35.33 percent). In ninth place: “Financial worries” (33.29 percent) (6).

In the total of 16 responses, only one was about Corona. In tenth place among the worries and problems was “Worrying that I or someone close to me will get Corona” with 27.99 percent (6). Very surprising, since Corona measures were, after all, the reason for the restrictions on campus.

Friendships and online teaching

“More than half of the students have not yet made friends in their studies with whom both content and personal exchanges are successful. Just under a quarter stated that they had not yet even found anyone at all for an exchange outside of courses” (7).

It should not be forgotten that “courses” actually refers to online teaching. After all, it determined the course of study for many students for four semesters – summer semester 2020, winter semester 20/21, summer semester 2021 and winter semester 21/22. The result mentioned here thus also reflects the consequences of online teaching.

Speaking of online teaching: “Two-thirds of the students felt that their academic productivity had been reduced. For just under half of these, the lack of an adequate work environment was an important reason” (8). Fittingly:

“More than half of the students did not regularly use the FU libraries as a place to work. However, one in five students stated that they would like to use a library workstation regularly, but that this would be hindered by short opening hours and/or the need to wear a mask at work throughout the day” (9).

Mask recommendation = mask obligation

In the meantime the mask obligation at the university does not exist any more. At least not officially. In the FU-Berlin, there are still notes in many places, on the windows or doors, telling people to wear an FFP2 mask:

Mask recommendation

Thus this “recommendation” gets a rather official character. A high proportion of the students wore the mask in the summer semester in the seminar, although this obligation no longer existed there since the beginning of May. A brief reference by the teacher to the mask recommendation at the beginning of the seminar was sufficient for students who entered the room without a mask to quickly put one on. This increased peer pressure, and so a recommendation basically became a rule. After a few minutes, almost all but two or three students were sitting there with a mask. In summer. At 25 degrees in the shade.

If you want to wear a mask, you can do that; it was possible before March 2020. But when students learn in an environment in which they only put on the mask because they are reminded in a friendly but vehement manner to please wear one, then that no longer has much to do with voluntariness. A university should avoid this atmosphere at all costs.

Apart from the question why young people, who are hardly affected by COVID, had to wear masks, there is also the question why it still has to be FFP2 masks. The German Society for Hospital Hygiene e. V. published a statement in March 2021, which clearly states that a “FFP2 mask wearing requirement endangers the population” (10).

It is more than surprising why universities in particular, which emphasize the importance of correct, scientific work at every opportunity, consistently ignore any evidence here over such a long period of time.

Belief and knowledge

Before I get to the Governing Board’s response to this survey and the energy savings universities are making, I want to point out a figure that is startling:

“Fewer than half of students felt that 3G regulations on campus were fully complied with. Fittingly, only 43 percent of students felt fully adequately protected from contracting the coronavirus on campus” (11).

This figure is very interesting; after all, protection from “infection with coronavirus” was not in place at any point in time, and yet 43 percent “felt” well protected from it. This is because it was clear that the 3G rule did not prevent infections. The University of Leipzig, for example, wrote this clearly on its website in August 2021 (12). In addition, the COVID injection also does not provide lasting and relevant protection against infection (13).

Ergo: 43 percent of the prospective academics who participated in this survey thus believed in something that was never the case.

And that’s as late as February/March 2022, the date of the survey. That’s worrisome. How can that be? Where did these 43 percent get their information, what were their sources?

The reaction of the Bureau

So now that it has been shown that the 3G rule, COVID injection, mandatory FFP2 masks, all the signs, chaperones, Plexiglas screens and markings at the university were of no benefit – what benefit would they be with predominantly young people who had never been greatly affected by COVID? – the presidency had no choice but to react.

On July 15, 2022, the notice was published on the FU-Berlin website:

“Summarized in one sentence, one could say: not everyone was well – but it felt good to know that we were not alone in this” (14).

This is little consolation for the 24 percent of students who were unable to make friends and for the 37.84 percent who cited “loneliness” as their biggest problem.

First Vice President of Freie Universität, Professor Klaus Hoffmann-Holland, is quoted in the release as saying:

“It has been and continues to be a central concern of ours throughout the pandemic to be in conversation with students about their perspectives. The results of the FUCSI initiative are a valuable asset in this regard” (15).

This sounds very effective, but unfortunately it is not quite true. Because even under his leadership – in the meantime the presidium is composed differently – there was no exchange. In February 2021, students wrote an open letter to the Presidential Board expressing their wish to discuss the measures with other students at the university (16). The authors of this letter are still waiting for a response from the Presidential Board.

Online teaching

Last but not least, it turned out at the beginning of this year that the video software Webex from Cisco, which has been used at the FU since the summer semester 2020, was not legally secure. This is the conclusion of the Berlin data protection authority: “Cisco is unlawfully transferring personal data to the USA” (17). The FU has known this since November 2021, and yet Webex continued to be used (17).

The agency asked the FU in August to “completely stop using Webex by the end of September” (18). But the FU went on a confrontational course in September:

“It would continue to use the video conferencing platform Webex from the manufacturer Cisco Systems – without waiting for the discussion previously offered by the presidency for mid-September” (18).

Are the universities closing again?

Although the consequences of the Corona measures, also thanks to this survey, should by now make all those in charge want to keep the universities open at all costs, they are considering closing them again. But this time it’s not about Corona, but about energy savings:

“But students think less about Putin when they hear such announcements than about the Corona years 2020 to 2022: The number of mentally ill students skyrocketed at universities. The German Student Union complained that it needed to invest millions in therapists and counselors. Demand exploded for psychological counseling services at universities. In many places, such as Cologne, an admission freeze was temporarily imposed” (19).

At the end of August, SPIEGEL ran the headline: “Students must choose between food and warm showers” (20). Shortly thereafter, the government also considered students in the third relief package. Even though no one knows exactly who will receive what aid and when.

In the meantime, the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main has already been more specific. Again, the same picture: it is known that students since 2020 “increasingly suffer from loneliness and depression” and that online teaching reduces “the potential of students.” Nevertheless, Goethe University is ‘considering closing the university for days or even weeks this winter’ (21).

In Düsseldorf, on the other hand, students ‘only’ have their hot water turned off. Anja Steinbeck, the rector of Heinrich Heine University tweeted on September 16:

“The universities have made a commitment to the state of NRW to save 20 percent energy. To achieve this, the hot water network has been switched off and temperatures in the buildings will be lowered earlier in the evenings. In addition, new opening hours f. the libraries are in effect.” (22)

Sources and Notes:

(1) See: “FUCSI Survey First university-wide survey on studying under pandemic conditions by students for students.” The two analysis papers are at Downloads: https://www.geisteswissenschaften.fu-berlin.de/studium/fucsi/index.html
(2) “FUCSI Survey Winter Semester 2021/22 Status of Paper: 05/19/2022 – Attachment to General Evaluation Paper – Student Survey on the Evaluation of Studying under Pandemic Conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 1.
(3) Ibid. Page 5.
(4) “FUCSI survey winter semester 2021/22 Status of the paper: 17.05.2022. Please also see the attachment in the FU box. Evaluation paper: student survey on the evaluation of studies under pandemic conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 2.
(5) Ibid. Page 2.
(6) Ibid. Page 2.
(7) Ibid. Page 2. The scant quarter mentioned was exactly 24 percent, these stated, “I haven’t met anyone at the university yet with whom I interact outside of classes.” See: “FUCSI Survey Winter Semester 2021/22 Status of Paper: 05/19/2022 – Attachment to the General Evaluation Paper – Student Survey on the Evaluation of Studies under Pandemic Conditions at the FU Berlin,” page 5.
(8) “FUCSI survey winter semester 2021/22 Status of the paper: 17.05.2022. Please also refer to the attachment in the FU box. Evaluation paper: student survey on the evaluation of studies under pandemic conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 1.
(9) Ibid. Page 1.
(10) DGKH statement, “FFP2 mask requirement in Berlin endangers more than it helps.” 03/31/2021. https://www.krankenhaushygiene.de/informationen/824
(11) “FUCSI survey winter semester 2021/22 Status of the paper: 17.05.2022. Please also see the attachment in the FU box. Evaluation paper: student survey on the evaluation of studies under pandemic conditions at the FU Berlin”, page 1.
(12) The website of the University of Leipzig stated the following: “Persons with 3G status can also pass on infections.” In the meantime, this interview with Professor Hofsäss has been deleted, but you can find the message in the archive here: https://archive.ph/qKEyi
(13) Starting with conditional approval, “All vaccines available to date have been approved without the appropriate studies having been completed. Whether from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or AstraZenca, none of these agents have had the usual 8 to 10 years of development, but rather were launched in 8 to 10 months.” https://tkp.at/2021/08/08/schluss-mit-der-bedingten-zulassung/ – February 2021: “The fact is that most vaccines – including those for influenza – do not protect against infection and infectivity, that is, the possibility of passing on the infection. The exception to this is the polio vaccine.” https://tkp.at/2021/02/24/impfen-mehr-schaden-als-nutzen-erfahrungen-mit-risiken-und-nebenwirkung/ – November 2020: “Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said, ‘Ideally, an antiviral vaccine should do two things … first, reduce the likelihood that you will become seriously ill and go to the hospital, and second, prevent infection, thereby interrupting disease transmission.’ But even the ongoing Phase III trials are not actually designed to prove either. None of the trials currently underway are designed to demonstrate a reduction in serious outcomes such as hospitalizations, use of critical care, or deaths. Nor are the vaccines being studied to determine whether they can interrupt transmission of the virus.'” https://tkp.at/2020/11/17/impfstudien-belegen-weder-schutz-vor-schwerer-erkrankung-noch-verhinderung-von-infektion/ – December 2020: “However, data to date do not indicate whether the vaccine also interrupts transmission of the virus.” https://tkp.at/2020/12/20/moderna-chief-medical-officer-impfstoff-verhindert-nicht-infektion-nur-schwerere-erkrankung-mit-geringer-risikoreduktion/ – Immunologist Andreas Radbruch affirms that the ‘vaccine’ never prevented infection: Twitter user Pace wrote on September 17, 2022: “Thanks for the classification. But if I understand you correctly, this means in reverse that vaccination never prevented infection anyway because it induces virtually no mucosal AB. Correct?” https://twitter.com/theotherphilipp/status/1571169192736444416 Radbruch answered on the same day: “exactly.” https://twitter.com/Radbruch_lab/status/1571230118797787137 – Stöhr in September 2022 at Talk im Hangar-7: “And one has not written in just from the beginning, reasonably, that such a vaccination can never protect against the infection certainly all and always. That’s not possible at all, with these respiratory pathogens” (22:19 to 22:35 min.) https://www.servustv.com/aktuelles/v/aa-29cffn9851w11/ – Stöhr continues: “The promise was actually there from the media and from the non-experts, the experts knew from the beginning that the infection cannot be prevented at all.” (00:28 to 00:34 min.) https://twitter.com/talkimhangar7/status/1568695832949714944
(14) “Our campus is a good place to learn.” In a survey, students at Freie Universität asked their fellow students how they felt during the pandemic in the winter semester of 2021/2022. The findings may be helpful for the coming semesters. 07/15/2022. https://www.fu-berlin.de/campusleben/lernen-und-lehren/2022/220718-fucsi-studie/index.html
(15) Ibid.
(16) The Rebels. FU Berlin students call for debate room on Corona policy in open letter. https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-rebellen-2
(17) Conference systems at universities: Freie Universität sticks with Webex. Berlin’s data protection commissioner found that the FU’s conferencing service was not legally secure because of data disclosure. The university has formed its own opinion. By Steffen Stierle. 07.01.2022, 09:48. https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/die-freie-universitat-halt-an-webex-fest-4776133.html
(18) Dispute over video conferencing system: FU won’t let Webex be banned. Berlin’s data protectors wanted to force a platform change at Freie Universität. But the university says it has optimized Webex as much as possible. By Amory Burchard. 09.09.2022, 17:17. https://www.tagesspiegel.de/wissen/streit-um-videokonferenzsystem-die-fu-lasst-sich-webex-nicht-verbieten-8628244.html – Here is the official statement from FU Berlin: “Freie Universität Berlin is sticking with video conferencing platform Webex. Presidium of the university: “Legally compliant use for the winter semester guaranteed.” No. 146/2022, 09.09.2022. https://www.fu-berlin.de/presse/informationen/fup/2022/fup_22_146-webex-wintersemester/index.html
(19) Will students soon have to go back to distance learning? Published 08/16/2022. by Till-R. Stoldt. https://www.welt.de/regionales/nrw/article240486335/Energiekrise-Muessen-Studenten-bald-wieder-in-die-Distanzlehre.html?wtrid=socialmedia.socialflow….socialflow_twitter
(20) “Students must choose between food and hot showers.” SPD and FDP want to relieve now also students in view of strongly risen energy prices. This is overdue, says Asta representative Amanda Steinmaus – but the proposals were not enough. An interview by Dayan Djajadisastra and Helene Flachsenberg 30.08.2022, 15.58 Uhr https://www.spiegel.de/start/entlastungspaket-fuer-studierende-was-der-asta-verbund-nrw-jetzt-fordert-a-fcf42bac-2a98-4fe5-8ce7-45ffbbd4aef3#ref=rss
(21) Comment “Please no lockdown winter at universities: rather open day and night.” The university in Frankfurt (Main) is considering closing the university for days or even weeks this winter. Our author is a student – and pissed off. Franka Klaproth, 12.9.2022 – 06:52 Uhr. https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/mensch-metropole/bitte-keinen-lockdown-winter-an-universitaeten-lieber-tag-und-nacht-geoeffnet-li.265106#Echobox=1662959620
(22) https://twitter.com/anja_steinbeck/status/1570759670620622850

Ronny Ebel, born in 1987, is studying in Berlin after completing two apprenticeships. He is concerned with human behavior and its individual and collective effects. His focus is on self-reliance and democratic participation.

https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Has the West stopped diplomatic negotiations over Ukraine?

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/09/22/18852173.php

Has the West stopped diplomatic negotiations over Ukraine?
by David Goessmann

As U.S. critic Noam Chomsky points out in an interview, a diplomatic end to the war remains possible. But only if the West, led by the U.S., does not continue to block negotiations. The decisive stumbling block for negotiations is Ukraine’s possible membership in NATO. The U.S., however, continues to leave this open, while Russia is strictly against it.

Ukraine: has the West stopped diplomatic negotiations?
by David Goeßmann
[This article posted on 9/6/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,
https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Ukraine-Hat-der-Westen-die-diplomatischen-Verhandlungen-gestoppt-7254763.html.]

Russian and Ukrainian presidents meet in Minsk in 2014. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, promising negotiations continued until spring, but then ended abruptly. Image: MYKOLA LAZARENKO / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In the spring, an agreement between Ukraine and Russia was within reach, Foreign Affairs reports. But negotiations suddenly broke off. What does this have to do with a visit by the British prime minister at the time?

A diplomatic solution, he said, was not possible as long as Russia was at war in Ukraine. At least not one that is acceptable to Ukraine. Therefore, he said, the only way left is the military way of pushing Russian troops out of Ukraine and thus calming the conflict. This is the logic that prevails in the U.S. and Europe in the face of the Ukraine war.

The chances for negotiations are indeed slim at the moment. It looks very much as if the Ukraine war could continue for a long time, with all the consequences that means, especially for Ukrainians:inside.

The gloomy outlook is reinforced by the fact that late last week Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj cancelled all decrees on the formation of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) to settle the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and disbanded the negotiating delegation. Telepolis has reported on this.

But, as U.S. critic Noam Chomsky points out in an interview also on Telepolis, a diplomatic end to the war remains possible. But only if the West, led by the U.S., does not continue to block negotiations. The decisive stumbling block for negotiations is Ukraine’s possible membership in NATO. The U.S., however, continues to leave this open, while Russia is strictly against it.

As the U.S. journal Foreign Affairs now reports, during negotiations with Russia in April, the Ukrainian leadership appears to have been willing to agree on a deal to end the war. Author Fiona Hill refers to statements by several former U.S. officials:

Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the broad outlines of a negotiated interim solution (…): Russia would withdraw to its Feb. 23 position, when it controlled part of the Donbass region and all of Crimea, and in return Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries.

But the negotiations eventually broke down. U.S. journalist Branko Marcetic, editor of the U.S. magazine Jacobin, points out that a visit from then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was likely the reason. He refers to a report by the Western-oriented news site Ukrainska Pravda.

Based on sources close to Selensky, it reported on May 5 that Johnson had paid a surprise visit to Kiev. Afterwards, the Ukrainian delegation had suddenly announced that a high-level meeting between Vladimir Putin and Selenskyj, which had been within reach before, was now no longer possible.

Johnson clarified the West’s collective position at the meeting in Ukraine and delivered two messages, according to Ukrainska Pravda:

Putin is a war criminal and must be pressured instead of negotiating with him. And the second is that even if Ukraine is ready for an agreement with Putin, they will not go down that road.

If it is true that the West stopped diplomatic negotiations in the spring, it also means that the path of negotiations is still open if direct talks between Moscow and Kiev are resumed. For that to happen, however, the U.S. would have to give Russia a promise that it does not want Ukraine to join NATO.

Journalist Connor Echols on Responsible Statecraft believes it is conceivable that recent agreements between Ukraine and Russia on grain exports and regarding the visit of inspectors to the Russian-held Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant could provide a foundation for diplomacy.

Both Kiev and Moscow have shown that they want to mitigate the secondary effects of the conflict, and they are willing to negotiate with the other side to achieve this. But as long as this war drags on, people around the world will continue to suffer, and the specter of disaster-whether from an accidental attack on a nuclear power plant or an uncontrolled escalation to nuclear war-will continue to loom. It is time for Russia, Ukraine, and the West to recognize that there is only one way to put an end to these risks: Put down your weapons and sit down at the negotiating table.
(David Goessmann)

https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Nobody knew China landed on the moon and Bill Gates

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/09/20/18852116.php

Nobody knew that China landed on the moon

by Urs P. Gasche
The ignorance is a proof of how one-sided big media inform about China. Almost only negative things are reported.
[This article posted on 9/18/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Bezeichnend: Niemand wusste, dass China auf dem Mond landete – infosperber.]

In 2020, China was the second and so far only country besides the USA that was able to put a flag on the moon.

The USA declared China “enemy number one” about twenty years ago. Since then, the Pentagon and think tanks supported by it have been organizing an information war against China. European media vigorously participate on the side of the USA.

It is rightly reported time and again that the Chinese party regime is increasingly authoritarian, treats the Uyghurs inhumanely and increasingly suppresses political dissenters.

But not everything is black or white in the world’s fourth-largest country, which is home to twenty percent of the world’s population, or more than 1.4 billion people. However, information about positive developments is sparse. Soon we will be to the point where spreaders of good news from China will be silenced as “China-readers” or “Xi Jinping-readers.”

It fits into the black-and-white picture, for example, that China is repeatedly portrayed as the world’s biggest CO2 polluter by comparing China’s total CO2 emissions with countries like Italy or France instead of comparing emissions per capita.

Or that it is reported that an incredible 30 million Chinese are once again being sent into a Corona lockdown, without mentioning that it is 30 million out of a population of 1.4 billion. More than half of the Chinese have never come into contact with a lockdown since the outbreak of the epidemic.

Or that the media hardly notice when China transforms huge desert areas into forested and fertile regions with massive reforestation.

Or that our major media only report briefly at most on China’s technical and scientific successes, such as the unmanned landing on the moon in 2020. The situation was quite different at the beginning of September 2022: the media did not wait until the Nasa rocket reached the moon, but already reported in detail and in prominent places about the launch, which had been postponed twice.

It could therefore not really come as a surprise that in the RTL show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” on September 5, neither Günter Jauch (by his own account) nor the candidate, nor a single one of the many viewers in the studio, was able to answer the 32,000-euro question correctly:

“Flags of which countries have been hoisted on the moon so far?”

When the candidate took the audience joker, no one stood up at first. Only after some delay did a man come forward and guess “only USA”.

Obviously, no one on the show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” could remember one of the mostly brief reports in 2020 about China’s first unmanned moon landing.
Moon flag USAUS flag on the moon. Although there is no wind there, the flag seems to flutter. © Images with USA flag.

The facts: On July 20, 1969, two U.S. astronauts landed on the moon. Edwin Aldrin hoisted a US flag (the astronaut stuck a solar wind sail, developed at the University of Bern, into the lunar sand even before the US flag).

On five more unmanned Apollo moon landings the USA left more flags on the moon.

Not all flags are stuck in place anymore. After his return from the moon Buzz Aldrin had reported that the flag was blown over by the wind of the engine during the departure.

For the flags that may have remained, Nasa assumes that the colors have since faded due to sunlight. The 1969 U.S. flag was made of nylon. Nasa had purchased it for $5.50 at a department store.

Chinese flag on the moon

The Chinese flag (200×90 cm) may withstand the adverse conditions longer. It was specially designed to withstand the conditions on the moon longer.

The correct answer of the 32’000 Euro question is: In 2020, China was the second and so far only country besides the USA that was able to put a flag on the moon.

Zhurong on Mars.CGTNSelfie of the Chinese Mars robot “Zhurong”. Video here. © CGTN

Additional question for additional joker: Who remembers China’s rover vehicle “Zhurong” taking video footage on the red planet Mars in 2021?

*****

Whether lunar and Martian landings are desirable given the current problems on Earth is another question.__________________________________________+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here’s how the Bill Gates power machine dominated Corona politics
Billionaire Bill Gates (center), Prince Charles (right) and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau © Phil Noble

by Urs P. Gasche
The Gates lobby exerted massive influence on governments and WHO. This is what research by “Politico” and “Welt am Sonntag” reveals.
[This article posted on 9/19/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.infosperber.ch/wirtschaft/konzerne/so-dominierte-die-bill-gates-machtmaschine-die-corona-politik/.]

“We relied enormously on their advice in the pandemic,” says a U.S. government official. “Especially in the early days.” The German government, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, were also personally approached by Bill Gates by phone and with letters.

These quotes and information emerge from documents, meeting minutes and witness statements, which journalists from the “Welt am Sonntag” and the online platform “Politico” said they had gathered over six months.

Most government officials in the U.S., as well as government members and their employees in other countries, had to be assured anonymity. Most of them were not allowed by their positions to talk to the media.

The conclusion of the “Welt am Sonntag”: “Important decisions were not made by the heads of state and the World Health Organization, but by the foundation of Bill and Melinda Gates and their network.”

The Gates lobby network includes the “Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation” in Seattle (“A better world by 2030 is within our reach”; foundation assets around $70 billion), the London “Wellcome Trust “* (investment portfolio 38 billion pounds), the vaccination alliance GAVI in Geneva, and the CEPI “Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations”) in London and Oslo.

Here are Politico’s key findings:

The four organizations have spent nearly $10 billion on covid since 2020 – as much as the lead U.S. agency tasked with fighting it.
The organizations collectively gave $1.4 billion to the World Health Organization (WHO)*, where they helped shape a major initiative to distribute Covid 19 vaccines and test kits. This program failed to achieve its original goals.
The organizations’ exponents had unprecedented access to the highest levels of government and spent at least $8.3 million lobbying legislators and officials in the U.S. and Europe.
Officials from the U.S., the EU, and representatives of WHO rotated as staff to these four organizations, helping them solidify their political and financial connections in Washington and Brussels.
The leaders of the four organizations promised to close the justice gap. Yet during the worst waves of the pandemic, low-income countries found themselves without life-saving vaccines.
Exponents of three of the four organizations successfully claimed and lobbied that lifting intellectual property protections was not necessary to better provide Africa with vaccines. But granting production licenses or partially suspending patent rights would have helped save many lives, according to activists.

The lobby network
Networking. PoliticoNetworking brings many conflicts of interest © Dan Page/Politico.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates contributed most of their fortune and found others to do the same. For example, investing legend Warren Buffett. The foundation has been instrumental in curbing polio and Ebola in Africa.

Wellcome Trust*

A globally active charitable foundation, established in 1936 with the legacy of pharmaceutical entrepreneur Henry Wellcome. It is now the second-largest organization in the global healthcare sector, which itself also invests its assets in pharmaceutical companies. The Wellcome Trust regularly receives grants for projects from the Gates Foundation. The two organizations have collaborated frequently in the past. They have also formed joint alliances, mainly for the development of vaccines.

GAVI Vaccine Alliance

The alliance aims to improve immunization coverage in low-income countries. Partners are the Bill & Melinda Foundation, WHO, Unicef and the World Bank. Self-declaration: “Since its inception in 2000, GAVI has helped immunize more than 822 million children in the world’s poorest countries, preventing more than 14 million deaths.”

CEPI

“The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations was formed by the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust with the governments of India and Norway to develop new vaccines and make them available affordably.”

(Sources: Publico, Welt am Sonntag, Infosperber)

“Politico” concluded the following from its research:

“The four health organizations, working closely together, spent nearly $10 billion fighting covid around the world. But governments had no control over them. And the four organizations failed to achieve their own goals.”

Successfully lobbying for unrestricted patent protection

The Gates network works closely with pharmaceutical companies. It was important for their profit maximization that they did not have to make any concessions on patent protection, although they profited from billions of taxpayers’ money to develop and produce the vaccines.

“Welt am Sonntag” and “Politico” have compiled some figures:

Bill Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust and the CEPI and GAVI initiatives together spent at least $8.3 million on lobbying in Germany, the U.S. and the European Union since the pandemic began. In the U.S., data from the lobbying registry there show, representatives of the four organizations met with officials from the National Institutes of Health, White House policymakers and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services beginning in the spring of 2020. The vaccine organization, CEPI, lobbied for several pieces of legislation that would give the initiative a lot of taxpayer money for its projects.

A senior U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official under Trump tells Today that members of Congress were “strongly approached” by CEPI and its allies. The lobbyists, he says, tried to “insert their language regulations into every official document that was produced at the time.”

Eventually, the U.S. government under Donald Trump pledged $20 million to CEPI. Successor Joe Biden even increased annual spending to $100 million in his budget proposal.

CEPI also approached the German chancellor. Executive Director Richard Hatchett asked Merkel for financial support. “Without this investment, CEPI will not be able to continue the Covid vaccine development program,” Hatchett wrote in a March 4, 2020, letter, attaching a document titled “Call to Action.” In it are arguments “why CEPI is the right vehicle” for global vaccine development.

Nine days later, the German government announced it would fund CEPI with 140 million euros.

Against cheap production in developing countries

In spring 2020, the issue was whether scientists could develop a vaccine and ensure that as many manufacturers as possible could produce it cheaply. This is what the organization Doctors Without Borders, among others, is campaigning for.

Or whether pharmaceutical companies that produce vaccines are granted patent rights.

The Gates Foundation and its partners CEPI and GAVI lobbied on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies. They produced several “white papers” outlining detailed ideas on how to proceed, and then distributed them to politicians and relevant government officials. These letters were part of the network’s major lobbying offensive.

In April 2020, the governments of Germany, France, and Spain passed resolutions that largely mirrored the “white papers” of the Gates Foundation and its partners. CEPI and GAVI, organizations also funded by Gates and the Wellcome Trust, were given the lead to produce and distribute test kits, drugs and vaccines. The initiative was given the name ACT-A for “Access to Covid-19-Tools Accelerator.” WHO was to receive only “oversight” of the campaign.

An organization called Covax was created to distribute the vaccines. The plan was for nation-states to buy vaccines together from manufacturers in large quantities and according to terms to be negotiated, and then distribute them around the world.

But this did not suit either the Gates network or the pharmaceutical companies. The latter wanted to retain control over production and distribution.

Finally, the donor countries pledged to provide a total of 7.4 billion euros. 30 pharmaceutical companies and research institutes received grants from several organizations in Gates’ network to develop vaccines, tests and drugs.

According to research by “Welt am Sonntag” and “Politico,” $2.4 billion went to vaccine development alone. Oxford University in London received the largest sum from CEPI, the Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, $442 million, for basic research to develop a vaccine. The university’s scientists initially said they would make their research results freely available.

But the Gates Foundation quickly suggested that the university “work with a multinational company to ensure that researchers have the full range of skills and resources at their disposal.” As a result, the university relented and struck a deal with AstraZeneca. The pharmaceutical company was thus allowed, and still is, to use the research results exclusively.

Promises not kept

The Gates Foundation and its network failed to deliver on their promises: Corona tests, vaccines and drugs were available much later than promised. This was stated by an audit group led by the New York-based consulting firm Dalberg Global Development Advisors. The four organizations involved had issued the order themselves.

The Gates network had further promised to supply the inhabitants of developing and emerging countries with 500 million test kits by mid-2021. By the end of June 2021, only 84 million had been delivered. They planned to deliver 245 million doses of covid medicines to Africa and other developing and emerging countries. By mid-2021, only 1.8 million doses had arrived.

And of the promised two billion doses of vaccine to be delivered by the end of 2021, barely half had been distributed.

No vaccine production in South Africa

Finally, the specific issue was that a research center proposed by the WHO was to be established in South Africa to reduce dependence on Covax for vaccine distribution.

Initially, the ministry believed that the manufacturer Moderna would “provide its active ingredient as a basis” for this. But the pharmaceutical company Moderna refused to make its vaccine available for replication. The network around the Gates Foundation supported Moderna.

“Welt am Sonntag” and “Politico” quote Adam Moe Fejerskov, who interviewed a hundred active and former employees for his book on the Gates Foundation: “The Gates Foundation acts like a chameleon. It often changes its appearance to the outside world.” Sometimes it appears like a charitable NGO, sometimes like a callous investment bank. But it’s always about more than just handing out money. “If Gates is serious about a project, he wants to be in the driver’s seat, too.”

Jörg Schaaber, founder of the pharma-critical organization BUKO Pharma-Kampagne, spoke of a “relapse into feudalism.” A handful of philanthropists decide the “weal and woe of the world,” he said. U.S. Lawrence Gostin, a health law expert at Washington’s Georgetown University, said, “What we’re seeing here is the worst kind of influence peddling because it’s behind closed doors.” He said the public cannot understand the decisions of the foundations, even though they are directly affected by those decisions. He added that this also applies to the WHO and to politicians of nation states, even though they fund the foundations’ projects.

A German health politician commented: “The design flaw of our system is that the world cannot do without these philanthropists. And this fact alone gives them enormous power.”

“No one really holds these actors accountable. And yet they have a huge impact on how we respond to a pandemic.”
Sophie Harman, professor of international politics at Queen Mary University of London

“To put it bluntly: Money buys influence. And that’s the worst kind of influence. Not just because it’s money […] but also because it’s privileged access behind closed doors.”
Lawrence Gostin, professor of public health at Georgetown University in Washington DC

Gates network: ‘Governments are accountable’

The organizations themselves defend their actions. The Gates Foundation has its board chairman Mark Suzman respond to a question. He says: “In some regions of the world, ACT-A has certainly shown success. He is critical of the vaccination campaign, but not specifically of the foundations: “Here, the world as a whole failed, because countries with high incomes initially claimed the available supply for themselves.”

Spokespersons for CEPI and GAVI also blame governments. They have not made enough money available and provided too little support, they say. Jeremy Farrar, chief executive of the Wellcome Trust, replied to the researchers that the initiative had “certainly not gone perfectly.” But without it, the world’s response to the pandemic would have been “poorer and much more fragmented.”

Clearly, nation states are overwhelmed. In any case, the chairman of the World Economic Forum WEF, Klaus Schwab, stated in the September 17 NZZ:

“In promoting cooperation and addressing global challenges, the role of business remains crucial.”

International networking Bill Gates
International networking. Among them, financially powerful Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation © Politico
_____________________

How WHO became increasingly dependent on private sponsors.
What conflicts of interest the Wellcome Trust is involved in.
https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Pandemic and the Policy Roots for a Steady State Economy

https://steadystate.org/pandemic-and-the-policy-roots-of-a-steady-state-economy/#comments

Pandemic and the Policy Roots of a Steady State Economy
July 9, 2020
by James Magnus-Johnston

Over a decade ago, a chorus of voices called for sensible policy priorities for a post-growth transition; it took a pandemic for a few of these priorities—like a universal basic income—to become a reality nearly overnight. Not that recent policy reforms have been conducted with a steady state economy in mind. Rather, politicians have been attempting to “stimulate” a moribund economy.

Let’s imagine for a moment, however, that instead of “keeping the wheels on” and propping up a struggling growth economy in the midst of a pandemic, we intentionally build the better world our hearts know is possible. How do we nurture the roots of a just transition?

As a result of global economic hardship, many jurisdictions have recently instituted ideas that inch us closer to a steady state economy, including cash benefits that resemble a basic income and increased work flexibility. New Zealand has demonstrated to the world how to prioritize wellbeing over GDP. Many other places have begun to tax environmental costs in the form of a carbon tax.

It feels like the transition to a post-growth society may slowly be taking root, but it’s worth considering some of the reasons to be even more intentional about choices going forward.
Limit Inequality to Preserve Social Stability

During the global pandemic, cracks of injustice have been exposed, including racial, financial, and gender disparities. Manifestations of inequality are complex and structural. Fundamentally, however, when people are unable to meet their needs or control their destinies, it’s more likely that political cleavages will be exacerbated.

I recently wrote about warrants for a universal basic income, but wealth inequality remains a concern after a UBI floor is established. Herman Daly writes that by permitting wealth disparities in which the richest earn 500 times more than the poorest, the sense of community necessary to foster a just and democratic society becomes prohibitive. He notes that “rich and poor separated by a factor of 500 have few experiences or interests in common and are increasingly likely to engage in violent conflict.”

Growth is said to improve income inequality because it provides new opportunities for the poorest members of society. However, over the last decade, growth has not been shared equitably and has disproportionately benefited society’s most privileged. Reducing poverty and ensuring social cohesion and stability requires meaningful income redistribution, including a basic income, a minimum employment income, and—perhaps controversially—a maximum income for top earners.
Homelessness and post-growth society

Economic growth benefits the wealthy quite exclusively, further widening the income gap and rending communities. (Image: CC BY-SA 2.0, Credit: Ed Yourdon)

Let’s consider the latter, which will be harder to accomplish. In the USA, where the cracks of injustice have been particularly jagged, corporate America has a 500-factor wealth disparity. Czech argued in Supply Shock (2013, New Society) for launching sectoral salary caps at fifteen times the minimum in-sector salary, noting the popular precedent for salary caps (albeit with gaudy salaries) in professional sports. In Enough Is Enough (2013, Berrett-Koehler), Dietz and O’Neill touted the Mondragon cooperative, in which members earn a maximum pay of nine times the minimum. Even starting at a limit of 100 would be better than the present-day skewness. If a minimum of $20,000 per year was the floor of a basic income, a maximum of $2 million per year would be allowed to reward ambition and initiative. Those who perform their work at a minimum level of income could live simply but with lower levels of stress than many high-paid executives. Many already do, enjoying it and devoting their extra time to public service or recreational subsistence pursuits such as firewood gathering, fishing, and mushroom picking.

Increased Work Flexibility, But with Greater Social Infrastructure

As a result of the pandemic, those with stable employment have found themselves in the midst of a work-routine transition. While full-time employment for all may be hard to provide without growth, it’s also true that growth already provides too much employment for some and not enough for others, particularly those denied opportunity on the basis of race or gender. With greater freedom over their work hours, people can embrace healthier, more balanced, and more life-affirming routines.
Dog and post-growth society

In many sectors, flexible hours and telework put less stress on people and planet.
(Image: CC0, Credit: Allie)

Intergenerationally, baby boomers have high-income jobs and continue accumulating earnings. Some of them are abandoning the rat race, spurred by pandemic fears, but it’s primarily the younger generations experiencing the pros and pitfalls of working less. In addition to a lack of opportunity, youth also face income stagnation, poor employment prospects, high debt loads, and fears that climate change will interfere catastrophically with the economy in their retirement years. It stands to reason that the post-covid welfare state should institutionalize supports for part-time and flexible work routines—starting with an unqualified UBI and universal childcare benefits. In Canada, there are calls to amend the Labour Code so that employees have the right to request a flexible work arrangement from their employers, particularly if they are providing care for loved ones.

The industrialized world’s “40-hour work week” and the “nine-to-five” workday are relatively recent historical inventions that many of us see as the norm rather than variables we have freedom to control. Yet numerous studies have shown that many workers would prefer to spend less time working, while few would prefer to spend more.

There are examples of successful alternatives. Germany’s Kurzabeit job-sharing program, in which 1.4 million workers and 63,000 employers participated in 2009, has lowered unemployment rates while effectively reducing the number of hours worked per person. There are similar success stories in France, the Netherlands, and the U.S. state of Utah.

With greater work flexibility, people are more likely to provide necessary care for loved ones, consume less, and embrace more creative pursuits. All this improves our overall quality of life and takes pressure off the biosphere.
Prioritize Wellbeing Over Income

As we seek to cultivate a new normal in which health is prioritized, New Zealand offers a glimpse of the way forward while the USA lurches toward a health catastrophe. As I mentioned in a recent post, the postwar-capitalist framework equated economic “health” with income growth, price stability, and full employment. The pandemic has revealed how problematic it is to think of “health” as a capitalist metaphor (as in the USA) rather than a desirable end goal (as in New Zealand). Using GDP and stock market values as measures of overall economic health made sense in the postwar era, when growth was necessary to improve human wellbeing by raising material living standards. In much of the Global North, it is now necessary to focus instead on improving wellbeing without growing our material footprint.

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WeAll) has suggested that the pandemic’s “Great Pause” provides us with an opportunity to focus on our wellbeing by reminding us that:

(1) The stock market does not represent or reflect our economic reality.

(2) We will enter a recession, and that’s okay.

(3) Economic policies can help us endure the Great Pause.

(4) We can build back better.
Going Forward

Policy ideas that appeared difficult or impossible just a few short months ago have suddenly become palatable and necessary, especially in the ways they may indirectly address pervasive inequality and injustice. Daly wrote in 2013 that such reforms would appear palatable “only after a significant crash, [or] a painful empirical demonstration of the failure of the growth economy.” Well, here we are in the midst of a radical disruption; and here we are, nurturing the roots of a just transition. Whichever way events unfold over the coming years, it’s clear that returning to the pre-pandemic status quo is less realistic and more difficult than embracing the change that’s well underway.

James Magnus-Johnston headshotJames Magnus-Johnston is a PhD researcher at McGill University in the Leadership for the Ecozoic program.

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Link for “Alternative Economics: Reversing Stagnation” $6.95

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/604567

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Question sanctions and The cry of the poor

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/09/12/18852025.php

In Germany, we tend to moralize and romanticize in politics. This prevents us from taking a sober view of world events. We fail to recognize that the U.S. is ruthlessly asserting its own interests, against enemy and friend. By now it should have become clear that the interests of the EU and the U.S. have long since ceased to coincide.

Question sanctions, not “social cushioning”
By Herbert Storn
[This article posted on 9/6/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Sanktionen hinterfragen, nicht „sozial abfedern“ – MAKROSKOP.]

The narrative of a “temporary victim” is no longer tenable. The sanctions path taken by the German government is dividing Germany and causing lasting damage to its economic structures.

The contradictions come to light almost daily: in the reporting of well-known newspapers, public-law media or in statements by politicians. Because Russia breaks international law, Germany and the EU break international economic law. Supply contracts with Russia are blocked, as are payment flows, assets are seized, the certification process for Nordstream 2 is stopped, and the U.S. threatens all related companies with fines. At the same time, a media storm of indignation sets in as soon as Russia, as is to be expected according to the laws of logic, curbs natural gas exports to Germany. “We” don’t actually want the gas, but at the moment we do.

It is also interesting to note what is and is not sanctioned in different countries. France, which is almost entirely dependent on Russia and Kazakhstan for its uranium fuel supply, has managed to ensure that hardly anyone finds out that these energy supplies have not been sanctioned. EU member Hungary has recently increased its imports of Russian natural gas, via a Russian-Turkish pipeline. NATO member Turkey continues to expand its economic ties with Russia, paying in rubles without complaint.

As understandable as it is to wish for an end to the war, it is dangerous to rely on sanctions policies to do so.[1] Sanctions against Russia were intended to force Putin to end or shorten the Ukraine war because the damage to Russia as a result of sanctions would increase with each passing day. This narrative is meant to promote the willingness of the German population to make sacrifices: what is “a bit of freezing” against shortening the war?

Read also:

Oil embargo against Russia – a sanctions policy flop

Günther Grunert | June 21, 2022

In fact, it has long been felt that it does not remain with “a bit of freezing.” On the contrary, the effects of the sanctions policy are becoming clearer in Europe with each passing day, while in Russia the value of the ruble has risen, even higher export surpluses are being recorded, GDP is forecast (with all due caution) to fall by only 4 percent instead of crashing, and supply chains are now being shifted to China and India. The war continues unabated. Russia has expanded its replacement strategies.

So anyone who thinks sanctions can shorten or end the Ukraine war should at least look at findings that already exist on sanctions policy. And these are neither pleasing nor encouraging.

Former Mayor of Hamburg Klaus von Dohnanyi devoted an entire chapter to economic warfare and sanctions in his recently published book, National Interests:

“In its history, the United States has not only taken innumerable steps of violent ‘regime changes’ and waged wars for this purpose with devastating consequences. It has also launched economic wars and developed for this purpose the instrument of ‘sanctions’ against states that did not want to conform to the U.S. political view.”

And Trump’s “America First” policy, which will be continued by Biden, has not least Germany in its sights. Germany’s export surplus model is a thorn in the side of the U.S., not least because of China’s significant role in German trade. Cooperation with Russia has also always been an irritant to the U.S., the Nordstream 2 pipeline the crown of all irritants, so to speak.

In this respect, it is no wonder that the USA has already become the largest exporter of liquefied gas. The fact that the extremely environmentally harmful fracking gas became an export hit could only be achieved with the help of the sanctions policy. The fact that American fracked gas is 7 times more expensive than Russian natural gas and causes lasting damage to the American soil during its production, not to mention the transportation, is accepted with approval by a green-led Ministry of Economics.

In parallel, the oil and gas companies in the top 100 increased their stock market value by 19 percent, according to the Ernst&Young consulting group. The Saudi oil company Aramco leads the ranking and is currently the most valuable company in the world. Ecological transformation, my ass.
Sanctions policy leads to ecological disaster

Instead of using a relatively environmentally friendly transitional medium such as Russian natural gas, transported via a ready-made pipeline, resort is being made to fracked gas, which is the dirtiest in terms of extraction, transport and use – and this is being done by a green economy minister, of all people.

The same thing is happening with sanctioned oil. Instead of taking the most favorable route in every respect via the Druzhba pipeline and the refinery in Schwedt, Russian crude oil is now being shipped once around the world to end up as fuel on Western markets via Indian refineries. This, too, is the result of a policy driven largely by green ministers.

Read also:

With hyper-morality and loss of reality into the abyss

Rainer Fischbach | August 02, 2022

So anyone who wants to judge the sanctions should not narrow them down to the Ukraine war. Above all, the effects should be noted soberly, but not unemotionally.
The narrative of the “temporary victim” is not tenable

According to many experts, the sanctions are damaging the German economy more than Russia’s, without changing its war policy. And the economic sanctions are further driving social division.

Even more, the narrative of a “temporary victim” is untenable. The sanctions path taken by the German government is damaging economic structures in Germany so permanently that the president of the DIHT believes that “all of us” will become 20 to 30 percent poorer. The consequences of the 500 percent price increases on the electricity exchanges have not even reached the consumer yet, only their harbingers. The sanctions are doing massive damage above all to the EU countries that impose them – including Germany in particular, says political scientist Andreas Nölke. For him, the Ukraine war is another “nail in the coffin for the German economic model.”

Read also:

The penultimate nail in the coffin for the German export model

Andreas Nölke | June 07, 2022
Sanctions are on target – as far as the social situation is concerned

Some leftists concede that the sanctions are unfortunately not (entirely) accurate. In truth, however, they are very accurate in one respect: sanctions have a socially graduated effect and reinforce social disparities because they lead to shortages, price increases and economic crises that hit the poorer part harder than the richer. This can be observed in all countries.

It is therefore a shortcut to call for the “social cushioning” of sanctions policy instead of making sanctions policy itself the object of criticism. In the meantime, Die Linke has also joined in, insofar as it does not demand an end to sanctions, but only their “social cushioning,” and thus differs only gradually from the government.

This also applies internationally: Poorer countries suffer more and more existentially from the sanctions than rich countries due to the enormous increase in price and shortage of food and goods worldwide. So far, the media has managed to attribute this to the war, ergo Russia. In fact, however, it is the sanctions policy that leads to the immense price increases of food and foodstuffs. And price increases can be compensated all the less, the poorer countries are.
The alleged “values-led policy”

In a Deutsche Wirtschaftsnachrichten interview with the Secretary General of the German Group of the Trilateral Commission, Dr. Josef Braml, he is asked, “But aren’t the conflicts with Russia and China also about defending ‘Western values’?” Braml’s answer is quite clear:

“No. It’s about interest politics. We have the values discussion because we can hide our interests behind it. Europe would also be well advised to define its own interests – and to communicate them openly. The task of diplomacy is then to balance one’s own interests with those of competitors or adversaries without causing distortions or war. In Germany, we tend to moralize and romanticize in politics. This prevents us from taking a sober view of world events. We fail to recognize that the U.S. is ruthlessly asserting its own interests, against enemy and friend. By now it should have become clear that the interests of the EU and the U.S. have long since ceased to coincide.”

This statement is noteworthy if only because Braml is closely associated with authoritative Western advisory networks. Over the past twenty years, he has been an advisor to leading Western think tanks such as the Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institution, and the World Bank, and has served as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In this respect, it is not surprising that the sanctions policy only appears to follow a “values-led” foreign and economic policy, as the Greens always emphasize, but in reality follows a power-political and economic logic whose strategists are on the other side of the big pond.

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[1] On the topic “Ukraine war: economic sanctions – for whom? What for?”, Makroskop has already hosted a webinar on May 19, 2022. In it, the Ukraine war was placed in the geopolitical context, namely the mixing of a regional confrontation between Russia and Ukraine with the international conflict over world order. On the one hand, the claim of the U.S. and the West to global hegemony, on the other hand, the striving for a multipolar system, especially in China, Russia but also India, Brazil, South Africa and other countries of the Global South.

Herbert Storn is a publicist, a member of Gemeingut in BürgerInnenhand, and a member of the state board of GEW Hessen. In 2019, Büchner Verlag published Germany first! The Secret German Agenda. 2021 in the same publishing house Business Crime – Skandale mit System
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The cry of the poor
Churches have long made themselves available to power as appeasers-but there is a strong tradition of politically liberating theology.
By Roland Rottenfußer
[This article posted on 9/9/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/der-schrei-der-armen.]

“To believe in God is to be in solidarity with the oppressed,” said liberation theologian Jan Sobrino of El Salvador. In Christianity, critiques of capitalism and socialist-like concepts have a long tradition, dating back to the Gospels themselves. Throughout history, churches have often sided with the rich and powerful. Nevertheless, the spark of solidarity with the socially vulnerable never quite died out and flared up again in the Latin American “liberation theology” of the 20th century. Beyond theological sophistry, this millennia-old debate asks us a question that is still relevant today: are religions there to provide the narratives of the respective authorities with a divine nimbus? Are they an aid to escaping the world and a spiritual sedative to dress up misery on this side with comfort on the other side? Or does their very task lie precisely in radically taking the side of the exploited and oppressed – with the authority of those who, through their faith, have freed themselves to some extent from worldly fears and considerations?

“Christ walks in a poncho” was one of the slogans of the grassroots churches in northern Peru. The campesinos, small farmers of Indian origin, had been farming in the inhospitable mountain landscape for generations. A hard bread. Any disturbance of the usual routine can threaten their existence. In the years after the turn of the millennium, the campesinos in Cajamarca, Peru, suddenly had problems with the nearby Yanacocha mine, the largest gold mine in South America. The metal-laden steam from the mines settled on the fields as a rusty-brown smear. As a result, the cows died.

The campesinos began to fight back. For a long time, they were supported by a church that had championed the rights of the poor since the Second Vatican Council. The legendary Bishop José Dammert Bellido had built up a self-confident Indian church in Cajamarca until his retirement in 1992. He had trained 3,000 campesinos as church workers, some of whom performed priestly functions such as Bible readings and baptisms. The courageous priest Marco Arana continued the work of the bishop and founded the environmental and civil rights movement “Grufides”. With numerous non-violent actions, he supported the peasants in their struggle against the mine operators.

But Marco Arana had to deal with death threats soon after he began his activities. Six campesinos had been murdered, presumably by mine security forces. The violence had increased when local bishop Lázaro stabbed Arano, the priest under his authority, in the back. The bishop had announced when he took office in 2004 that he would clean out the “pigsty.” Insiders reported that he had the gold mine operators give him a car every year. In 2006, Bishop Lázaro wrote a pastoral letter in which he called on several committed priests to immediately stop their “agitation” and to “confine themselves to their actual priestly duties.”

Throne and altar – the unholy alliance

What are the “proper priestly duties”? Undoubtedly, two views of the church clashed in Peru that could not be more different. Two traditions of biblical interpretation that have been fighting each other since the origins of Christianity. The connection between throne and altar, as it had been in the offing since the Roman emperor Constantine, between ecclesiastical pomp and the display of worldly power, was opposed by a current of socially committed Christianity that invoked the commandment of poverty in certain passages of the Gospel.

The Evangelist Luke is regarded as the unwitting founder and reference point of any kind of “left-wing theology.” In his Gospel, written between about 80 and 90 AD, there are – compared to Matthew, Mark and John – a conspicuously large number of passages in which the social difference between rich and poor is a theme. The famous Christmas story with its romanticism of a stable and a manger has been handed down exclusively in the Gospel of Luke. It relocates the birth of Jesus – which is not historically proven and is often doubted – in a “lower class milieu”, in the midst of the animals of the field and the simple shepherds. The Son of God bedded on straw – here the myth of God’s descent into the “lowliness” of humanity finds a striking and extremely popular expression.

Even before Jesus’ birth, however, social revolution is proclaimed in Luke: “He exercises violence with his arm and scatters those who are proud in their hearts,” it says about God the Father. “He pushes the mighty from their thrones and lifts up the lowly. He fills the hungry with goods and leaves the rich empty” (Luke 1:51). The leftist revolutionary who proclaims this is none other than Mary, the mother of the founder of religion. However, in the rich tradition of Marian devotion, especially in Catholicism, this “aggressive” aspect of Mary plays only a minor role compared to her gentle qualities – grace and mildness. Mary’s “hymn of praise” is a typical role-reversal fantasy, which will shape the rhetoric of Luke’s Gospel in the following. The poor are to be placed in the position of the rich in the “kingdom of God” and vice versa.

The blessed poor

Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount says, “Blessed are you poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who hunger here, for you shall be filled. (…) Woe to you who are rich! For you have lost your comfort. Woe to you who are full here! For you will hunger” (Luke, 6, 20-24). Further behind in the Gospel the warning against greed: “Watch and beware of covetousness, for no one lives by having many possessions” (Luke 12:15). In the parable of “Rich Man and Poor Lazarus,” the rich man finds himself after his demise in an agonizing realm of the dead and has to watch the poor man, who has also died, enjoying himself in “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke, 16, 19). Of course, there is also the story of the rich man to whom Jesus advises to give everything he has to the poor. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke, 18, 25).

Such an accumulation of socially engaged passages has earned Luke a reputation as an evangelist of the poor and a socialist-minded writer. In fact, however, the Jesus of Luke’s Gospel is not concerned with an idealization of involuntary poverty, but with the ideal of voluntary renunciation of possessions as a prerequisite for discipleship-the surrender of ego, to choose a neutral term.

The de facto communism and propertylessness of Jesus’ community of disciples became the model for propertyless monastic communities and poverty movements in later Christianity.

Spiritual therapy for the rich

The rich, meanwhile, are exhorted to see attachment to material gain as an obstacle on the path to salvation. They are to forgive debts, return wrongfully appropriated property, and generally donate a large portion of their possessions to the poor. These instructions are first of all “spiritual therapy” for the rich, but they are also the outline of a fundamental social order which – in contrast to the modern economic order – is capable of closing the gap between rich and poor.

These two aspects become particularly clear in the story of the tax collector Zacchaeus, whom Jesus instructed to give half of his goods to the poor and to give back four times as much to people he had defrauded (Luke 19:8). Zacchaeus is the prototype of the exploiter, the enemy image of all socialists. Tax tenants in Judea at that time were collectors for the Roman state. But they often added many times the amount demanded by Rome in order to shamelessly enrich themselves from the population of their own country. Zacchaeus is a beautiful example of a sinner’s repentance and forgiveness.

But it would certainly be a misunderstanding if the churches, with reference to Zacchaeus, were to ally themselves with exploitative structures and thereby let the necessity of the repentance of the “sinner” fall under the table. One can certainly say that “leftist” interpretations of the Gospel have a basis. Jesus denies the rich the moral right to keep their possessions merely because they can lay formal legal claim to them.

Poverty as a bride

It is impossible to give here an overall view of the socially engaged currents of church history that follow the Gospel of Luke. Famous, for example, is the “Address to the Rich” (370 A.D.) by Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea:

“The rich are just the same: they consider the goods that belong to everyone as their private property, because they were the first to appropriate them. To the hungry belongs the bread you keep for yourself; to the naked the cloak you hide in the chest; to the poor the money you bury.”

When we think of “buried” riches today, we may well think of money hoarded in bank accounts and withdrawn from circulation. Basil’s contemporary, the Greek bishop Grogor of Nyssa, even explicitly addressed the problem of interest: “What difference is it to come into possession of other people’s property by burglary (…) or to take possession of what does not belong to you by coercion, which lies in interest?”

A great innovator of the commandment of poverty, as it can be read especially from the Gospel of Luke, was Francis of Assisi (1181 to 1226). In his native town, a gray, torn, repeatedly patched habit can still be seen today, an extreme expression of his unpretentious attitude of mind, averted from all worldly things. Francis of Assisi was the son of a rich merchant. When his friends, also from the “upper class”, once found him alone and pensive in an alley, they asked if he was thinking of “taking a wife”. Franz is said to have answered: “I am thinking of taking a bride, but this one is much nobler, richer and more beautiful than you are able to think and imagine.” This bride was poverty.

Francis sold everything he owned in his father’s house for the reconstruction of a neglected chapel near Assisi. When his father publicly confronted him for this and threatened to disinherit him, Francis stripped himself completely and vowed to belong only to God from then on. Since then, St. Francis – and in his succession the Franciscan and Poor Clare orders – have initiated innumerable social projects and have generally remained faithful to their vow of personal frugality. The strong charisma of Francis of Assisi is certainly also due to his traditional cheerful mood – convincing proof that a consistently immaterial attitude to life is very well capable of establishing a fulfilled life.

The poor Franciscans were thus also a constant provocation for an increasingly ostentatious church, which tended to interpret away the social message of the Gospel. We find a literary trace of this dichotomy in Umberto Eco’s novel “The Name of the Rose.” In this famous medieval novel, a debate is described between representatives of the Franciscan Order and a legation of Pope John XXII, which revolves around the necessity or non-necessity of the Church’s poverty. But let us return to modern times.

An antisocial religion is at an end

The politically engaged Church received a major boost after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 with the emergence of so-called liberation theology in Latin America. It was initially a movement of the poor themselves, landless peasants and slum dwellers, who read out of the Bible a message of liberation from hardship and oppression. They interpreted the biblical stories, such as the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, as something that had immediate consequences for their daily lives. The church hierarchy was ambivalent about grassroots efforts from the beginning. Part of the Catholic clergy traditionally sided closely with the powerful and the propertied.

In other countries around the world, too, the link between Christianity and politics was discovered to be a powerful instrument of social change. Recourse to the widely recognized authority of biblical statements served to lend weight to the justified claims of the poor and oppressed, to spur their courage, but also to prevent violence. Thus, the leader of the black civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, “expressed his conviction that every religion which is supposedly concerned about the souls of men, but does not care about social and economic conditions, is already spiritually marked by death and is only waiting for the day of burial. (…) A religion that ends with the individual is at an end.”

Since the 1970s, theologians such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, who coined the term “Teología de la liberación,” Ernesto Cardenal and Leonardo Boff demonstratively threw their weight behind grassroots Christian movements in Latin America. They created a theoretical foundation with writings such as Boff’s “Cry of the Poor,” but did not see themselves as founders of the movement, but rather as its mouthpiece.

The liberation theologians did not understand the Bible’s message of redemption exclusively in a transcendental sense, but found in it a secular-economic, even social-revolutionary message.

Thus they could not avoid criticizing the church hierarchy, which they accused of serving the exploitative interests of the propertied classes by dumbing down the poor. In Germany, the activities of sympathizers of the Latin American liberation movement culminated in the statement of theologian Helmut Gollwitzer: “Christians must be socialists.” Gollwitzer was also a friend and supporter of Rudi Dutschke, the leader of the 1968 student movement in Berlin.

God’s solidarity with the oppressed

Jon Sobrino, one of the most popular liberation theologians who had his center of life in El Salvador since 1957, expressed the view of liberation theology particularly succinctly: “To believe in God is to show solidarity with the oppressed.” Sobrino was also an advisor to Archbishop Óscar Romero, who was murdered by a death squad in 1980. Military advisers from the United States were probably behind the murder. In his last sermon before his assassination, Romero had said: “No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is against the law of God. (…) I beg you, I implore you, I command you in the name of God – stop the oppression!”

In 1985, the Brazilian Leonardo Boff was sentenced to a year of silence by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and later deprived of all ecclesiastical functions. Ratzinger accused Boff, among other things, that in his view Jesus Christ had not commanded a particular church form, so that others than the Catholic church model were conceivable from the Gospel. Further, that revelation and dogma played only a subordinate role for Boff and that he had described the historical abuse of power of the church institution in an unnecessarily polemical and disrespectful way. In his justification to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Boff said, “The church of the rich for the poor denies the power of the people to liberate themselves.”

In the 1990s, Leonardo Boff launched sharp attacks against the spreading ideology of neoliberalism, in keeping with the tenets of liberation theology:

“Liberation theology emerged in the sixties from the cry of the poor. This cry resounds until today. And it has become a loud cry because it no longer concerns only the Third World, but two-thirds of humanity. Not only the poor are crying out, but also creation, our earth, which is being plundered. In the 1990s, the issue is not liberation but social exclusion as a result of the new modes of production, the world market and neoliberalism.”

And Boff notes with bitter irony, “If this development continues, the poor lose their privilege of being exploited. They will simply be excluded, declared nothing, and, like Brazilian street children, for example, shot by death squads like troublesome dogs.” In another interview, the feisty theologian said, “I believe that change is possible because I cannot accept a God who is indifferent to this world, but only one who turns to the poor, to those who suffer. His grace gives strength to resist, strength to liberate.” Theology, he said, “must be open to such challenges, to the cry of the poor. Otherwise there will remain a gap between the world of faith and concrete political reality.”

Capitalist Pharisees

But what about socially committed Christianity in our latitudes, in the “rich” countries of the West increasingly threatened by a new poverty? Here, the forces critical of capitalism received encouragement from unexpected quarters. In his 2003 book “What Would Jesus Say Today?” Heiner Geißler, the former secretary general of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who was once considered a conservative hardliner, asked the unconventional question: “Are capitalists allowed to call themselves Christians?” Geißler’s answer: “Those who absolutize the stock market value and the share price of a company and allow only the interests of capital to count economically belong to the group of people who, as Jesus says, have a lot of money and for whom it will be difficult to enter the kingdom of God.”

About the “Pharisees” in his own party, Geißler, a former Jesuit student, said: “To go solemnly to church every Sunday (…) as a political showman, so to speak (…. ), but at the same time to demand deep cuts in the social net, the reduction of social welfare, to abolish the protection against dismissal, to allow wage dumping as an element of competition, instead of a citizen insurance to privatize the risk of illness and need of care and to ship it to the capital market, is not only economically wrong, but leads as in the USA to a division of society and is not compatible with the message of the Gospel. ”

Wealth that makes poor

An eloquent example of the spirit of liberation theology in Germany is an essay by evangelical theologian Ulrich Duchrow, published in Carl Amery’s readable anthology, “Letters to Wealth.” Duchrow frames his contribution as a fictional correspondence between two fictional characters: the Argentine bishop Teófilo Lucano and the German bishop Justus Zumkehr. The Argentinean states on record:

“It is not about poverty as such. Rather, it is about wealth that makes poor. It is about mechanisms of enrichment that are declared to be necessary to nature and are thus idolized. Poverty is the consequence. Therefore, the church cannot avoid coming into conflict with this wealth. Only in this way can it help to tackle the causes of the present misery. As we know, it is not enough to take care of those who have fallen among the robbers. It is necessary to take care of the robbers and even the causes that and why there are robbers.”

Teófilo Lucano, respectively Ulrich Duchrow, then specifies his economic analysis. The mechanisms of exploitation would have “to do with the introduction of private property – not in the sense of utility property, but of property with the help of which one can pursue wealth accumulation according to market laws. The connection of absolutized disposal property – interest – money – loss of mortgaged land/debt slavery on the one hand and growing large-scale land ownership with cultivation by slave labor on the other hand – is thus structurally a mechanism that reverses the blessing cycle and thus necessarily comes into opposition to Yahweh.” He then quotes the Bible, “No slave can serve two masters. You cannot serve both God and mammon” (Luke, 16:13). The liberation of the rich from mammonism is, psychologically speaking, “addiction therapy.”

The text gets extremely specific in economic theory, criticizing churches for their practice of profiting from interest on monetary investments:

“If, on the other hand, the rate of interest is higher than the rate of growth, the owner of monetary assets robs the other participants in the economic process, that is, especially the working people, of their fair share of what they have earned together. (…) The argument that the churches need the interest income at market conditions (…) is equivalent to the plausible statement that robbers also need something for their livelihood.”

Author Duchrow adds:

“Neutrality in an asymmetrical system means taking sides with power and wealth. If the church wants to be church, it must side with God. And God takes the powerful down from the throne and lifts the lowly from the dust.”

“This economy kills”

Is the accusation of siding with power justified? Ex-Pope Benedict XVI issued a stinging doctrinal condemnation against liberation theologian Jon Sobrino as recently as 2007. The Latin American spreads in some of his books “considerable deviations from faith and church” and could thus “do great harm” to the faithful. He emphasizes too much solidarity with the poor and oppressed and too little faith and salvation through Jesus Christ. Moreover, Sobrino emphasizes too much the human character of Jesus and neglects his divinity.

So, will Jesus continue to be clothed in gold and purple? Or does he walk along, as the Peruvian campesinos think, “in a poncho,” in the costume of the common people? Will he be found in bishop’s regalia or rather in the torn habit of Francis of Assisi? Does the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus absolve the churches of their duty to care for the poor, which may also mean taking a stand against unjust enrichment mechanisms?

Should a distant, transcendent God continue to be worshipped at the expense of and past the people? Or does “incarnation of God” not mean precisely that the high ethical principle of love of neighbor has, as it were, descended to earth in order to become a concrete reality here in our environment?

The current Pope Francis gave many cause for hope, and not only through the interesting choice of his name. “This economy kills,” he said in his teaching letter “Evangelii Gaudium” (2013).

“Man in himself is considered like a consumer good that can be used and then thrown away. (…) Until the problems of the poor are solved from the root, renouncing the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and addressing the structural causes of income inequality, the world’s problems will not be solved.”

In his 2020 encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” Francis wrote in a similar vein:

“The market alone does not solve all problems, even if at times we are made to believe this dogma of the neoliberal credo. It is a simple idea, repeated like a prayer mill, that always pulls out the same recipes before every burgeoning challenge.”

The Pope accuses capitalism of a tendency toward uniformity within world culture:

“Local conflicts and disinterest for the common good are instrumentalized by the global economy to impose a single cultural model. Such a culture unites the world but divides people and nations.”

Whether the Catholic Church, in its current state, comes anywhere close to living up to the encyclical’s claim is another question.
Vaccinated and tested redeemers.

Since 2020, the churches have also largely caved in to the Corona narrative, stripped themselves of their universal claim, and in many places become patronage cults for holders of 3G certificates.

While Jesus embraced lepers, most of his “followers” supported that segregationist zeitgeist that had declared parts of the population lepers in the first place without need. Not a few priests turned into vaccinated- and at best tested-redeemers.

These sad developments may not be the essence of the Christian impulse, nor, as we can hope, may they have been the last word. However, merely muddling on after the Corona cultural rupture will not be enough. As long as only falling incidence figures, not real insight, lead to a normalization of the situation in the churches, open wounds will remain in many previously excluded people, which will be very difficult to heal without a credible plea for forgiveness.

After all, the subject of Corona by no means exists completely independently of the discourse on capitalism, which is the focus of my article. Corona and the subsequent staged crises around war, inflation and gas shortages have made the “cry of the poor” described by Leonardo Boff resound louder again. The numbers of the poor are increasing rapidly. Pope Francis, who among other things declared vaccinations a “moral obligation,” at times proved to be part of the problem rather than pointing to solutions. His appeal helped swell the coffers of some pharmaceutical giants, while de facto occupational lockdowns, investment in rearmament, and inflation caused wantonly by disastrous energy policies are sinking more and more people into poverty.

Unfortunately, there is little doubt that growing poverty will be the big issue of the coming years – especially in countries like Germany that have been relatively rich for a long time. How will the churches position themselves in the upcoming conflicts? Will they hope, with Leonardo Boff, that God’s grace will give them “strength to resist, strength to liberate”? Or will they confine themselves, as Bishop Lázaro recommends, to their “proper priestly tasks,” which would then probably amount to politically ineffective or even system-stabilizing soul care?

Beyond the duty of obedience

Behind this conflict there is another one, which concerns the relationship of the faithful to “his” authorities. On the one hand, there is Paul’s sentence (Romans 13): “Let every man be subject to the authority that has power over him. For there is no authority except from God; but where there is authority, it is ordained by God.” This sentence seems to clumsily want to transplant power narratives into people’s souls.

When one observes how priests went against the spirit of the Gospels in many ways-from blessing arms to 2G churches-one can even say that Paul’s sentence about authority may have been the only one that could be relied upon to be faithfully “cared for” by the churches at all times.

On the other hand, there is the sentence from the Acts of the Apostles, “One must obey God more than men.” This suggests that there can also be an opposition between God and the secular authorities, and that the Christian must clearly take God’s side in case of conflict. As, incidentally, also in the area of tension between “God” and “Mammon”. Theologically, both Bible quotations are difficult to reconcile with each other, although of course this has also been attempted in a subtle way. From a socio-political point of view, however, it seems clear that only the second sentence, the one from the Acts of the Apostles, is liberating. It releases religious people from an automated obedience to worldly power, gives them support and dignity, which are derived from a supra-worldly realm. It presents a perspective from which the oppression and plunder narratives of governments can be relativized and overcome.

In authoritarian, controlled societies, only two kinds of worldviews are ever tolerated: first, an atheistic-materialistic one that leads to obedience to the authorities because no source of value-setting beyond them is recognized; second, an embedded-religious attitude that, in an adventurous mental construction, brings God and governance into congruence and redirects the “freedom of a Christian man” (Martin Luther) to the lack of freedom of a churchgoer who belongs to the state. But one can also argue quite differently: If I am an atheist, I do not have to obey, because I know that government action does not spring from any sublime mystical mystery, but only from realpolitik considerations of always only very relative validity. If, on the other hand, I believe in God, I don’t have to obey anyway, because the “moral law within me” (Immanuel Kant) is always the more reliable guide compared to the more random results of worldly power haggling.

Roland Rottenfußer, born in 1963, studied German and worked as a book editor and journalist for various publishing houses. From 2001 to 2005 he was editor at the spiritual magazine connection, later for the Zeitpunkt. He worked as an editor, book copywriter and author scout for Goldmann Verlag. Since 2006 he has been editor-in-chief of Hinter den Schlagzeilen and since 2020 editor-in-chief of Rubikon.

Thematically related article
Failed state

A gigantic wave of poverty is rolling toward Germany – but instead of stopping it, those in power are content to get us in the mood for it.
13.08.2022 by Roland Rottenfußer
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The abolition of man
Two years ago, not only a general attack on our freedom began – it is about whether being human on this planet has a future at all.
By Gerald Ehegartner
[This article posted on 9/9/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-abschaffung-des-menschen]

Isolation, exclusion, keeping our distance, masking our faces, preventing free breathing and creative expression, banning celebration, touch and socializing – all these measures have been catalysts for the reduction of living humans to functional robots. This downward spiral culminated in Corona inoculation, an updated form of baptism into a new cult. As a rite of passage, the Corona inoculation heralded the transition from the old religious cult to a modern scientific cult, which is now paving the road to transhumanism. Threat scenarios and the associated fear made and make this possible. Again, it is the warmth and dignity of the human heart that is to be sacrificed on the altar of a new death cult.

Free and independent thought seeds

Only, how could it come so far? A brief look at living forces of the earth may illustrate this: More than 90 percent of seed diversity has been lost on our planet to date. The beauty and fertility of light-soaked and free seeds have been replaced by artificially created hybrid seeds that interrupt the natural cycle for a few seed corporations. Farmers now had to and still have to purchase seeds from the seed factories, as these only bear fruit once a season.

Not enough, these corporations manipulate the genetics of the seeds and claim ownership on those. Living biodiversity has been giving way to an artificially created monoculture for decades. The same corporations that tame the fire of seeds also supply the synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and insecticides that drive soils into burnout and kill those creatures that live in a mysterious symbiosis with soil and plants. Soils have become little more than lifeless supports that promise support to manipulated plants.

Every thought stands metaphorically also for a seed, made fruitful by the light of the heart.Its individuality in connectedness with all life is a great promise for the future, a true example of free potential development.

Freedom of thought versus thought factories

Looking at our seed world, the question inevitably arises whether our thoughts still circulate freely and are able to express themselves through the body in an unbiased way. Or do we meanwhile think delivered thoughts, hybrid thoughts, produced in factories – in so-called thought factories? And if so, do these factories also intervene in the genetics of delivered thoughts?

Old and new media transport the thought images we think. We pay either in the form of money – or if we receive information for free, then with our data. Thus we ourselves become the product. Information is supposed to bring us into formation. Messages direct us and supervised thinking leads away from ourselves – directly into Plato’s cave.

A few information pipelines, so-called news agencies, feed the widely ramified information network. Financially highly potent organizations like Project Syndicate monopolize the information. Think tanks in collaboration with intelligence agendas provide the desired content, the ultimate goal of which usually means control. Foundations and lobbying organizations such as the World Economic Forum have been and continue to be set up to promote the distribution process of the thought seed particularly effectively. These function as hubs to expand the information cycle.

The dictates of the narrative

The Davos Group, ostensibly founded by the Council on Foreign Relations, is a prime example. Klaus Schwab, recruited by the likes of Henry Kissinger as part of a CIA-sponsored Harvard program, provides the grand narrative. Kissinger was and is a hawk whose flight pattern sometimes looks deceptively like a dove of peace.

Schwab’s book, The Great Reset, was followed by another modest “great” with the publication of The Great Narrative. Schwab, the go-getting transhumanist, wants to make history, and so he dictates his narrative. A narrative, however, is a main narrative, a highway of thought that does not encourage free-riding narrative, decentralized, biodiverse poetry, but amounts to a clear dictate of thought and narrative. It is that genetically engineered hybrid seed that is to be sown on all soils of this earth, displacing free, independent seeds.

Yuval Harari, the shrewd and not exactly warm military historian, provides context to this by means of a humanity narrative that leads directly to transhumanism. He is not so much an admonisher as a mouthpiece and gatekeeper, providing the supposedly alternative-less vision of the transhuman Homo Deus.

The salvation of the world?

Bill Gates is just as much a master of this gate narrative. His Green Revolution in Africa, initiated with the Rockefeller Foundation, provided manipulated seeds and, in parallel, the necessary chemicals. His foundation made a lot of money on both, while the bill was paid by the local small farmers whose small-scale agriculture was destroyed. This has about as much to do with green as the nuclear power company Terra Power, founded by Gates, has to do with true earth power. Gates, celebrating himself in the velvet robe of philanthropist and world savior, has about as much connection to Mother Earth as a five-star general has to pacifism.

Every question that cannot be answered with monopoly, money, power and technology, including vaccination, seems wrongly posed. Nothing seems sacred. So it is not surprising that saving the environment is reduced to technocratically saving the climate.

Gates’ influence on media is enormous; Der Spiegel alone received 4.8 million euros from his foundation in recent years. Who can still look (himself) in the mirror here? Is Bill Gates the false prophet and false messiah of our time? And is he also the first pope of a spiritless, transhumanist church, which for the first time does not worship a higher, living intelligence, but an artificial one of a meaningless materialism? If humans have lost their connection to life and thus to their sense, they are ready as apparently dead material for every death cult in the realm of the dead. There the mice hang from the ledges, the shadows are turned upside down. Every single value seems to be twisted, and in the delusion man no longer experiences himself as a living subject, but rather as a dead object.

The discord between packaging and content

The warlike, divisive and exclusionary enemy thinking is sold to us as peaceful, sustainable, healthy, solidary and green. Never before have packaging and content been so obviously at odds. The exclusion of an entire population group from public life on the basis of vaccination status, and this within a Western community of values based on democracy, plurality, prohibition of discrimination and tolerance, was not only a fall from grace, but a double bind that cannot be resolved with all the argumentative finesse.

One cannot preach tolerance, brandish rainbow colors, and at the same time practice exclusion in the name of inclusion. Hype of one minority and demonization of another in no way reflects an inclusive society. This approach is divisive, even if it claims otherwise.

Propaganda machine of simplicity versus intelligent diversity

The propaganda machine, in any case, runs so superbly that most of us languish in the certainty that propaganda is a Russian phenomenon, the word itself a Russian vocabulary.

The same thinking we learned since the beginning of the Corona pandemic is currently providing the matrix for the Ukraine conflict. The most evil thing that can be imagined at the moment is probably the unvaccinated Russian.

Many of us are not aware of how psycho-operations, social engineering, agenda-setting and so on are used to interfere with our world of thought. Especially so-called democracies make use of sophisticated methods of control, which dictatorships do not need, as they push people in the desired direction with open and often brute force.

The methods of manipulation are manifold. Framing, distortion, permanent repetition, aestheticization, demonization, gaslighting, nudging, contact guilt, good-evil stenciling, invisible censorship – to name but a few – deprive us of the diversity of thought variants. Ultimately, only a minority are aware of these propaganda tools. The majority of those who claim intellectuality, reflectiveness, and independent thinking have little knowledge of them. Not a few succumb here to a complacent deception. Intelligence and liveliness, however, thrive in diversity. Simplicity and monoculture cannot be our goal, even if they promise quick returns for a few.

Artificial intelligence (AI) – the lifeless god of the transhumanists?

The control of humans is heading in a direction in which – as Harari proclaims with a piercing gaze – they can be regarded in the future as hackable animals without free will. With the help of technical innovations, man swindles his way up to a heaven of gods in which, digitized and merged with machines and technology, he believes he can escape death as an automaton, while he worships AI as the new god – a completely isolated and mindless data package that is to be fed completely measured into the data stream for a few.

The church still separated us from God with fear and guilt by foisting upon him the most pathetic of all human characteristics that could be imagined – such as the eternal desire for revenge by means of hellfire due to a short human existence. And this, mind you, in the name of love. No father or mother, however defective, would be able to do that.

Transhumanism, in the core the church of the pure, unconscious materialism, however, immediately gets rid of God and puts the ego, that part which believes in the separation, on its throne for it.

Because of the separation, this split-off part exercises permanent control by means of its helper – the mind. Thus the gift of the mind mutates into a dictatorial, lifeless artificial instrument of information utilization. The outsourcing of this inherent, artificial intelligence in the form of an AI and the subsequent fusion with it is thus only logical.

The war against life and being human

Only, is this our vision of being human on this beautiful planet? If we have learned anything in recent years, it is that centralization, surveying, control, clocking, and civil obedience result in a death cult dressed up with science.

We don’t need control over free seed, just as we don’t need control over our thought. The full-bodied promises of the seed or chemical companies could not be fulfilled until today. On the contrary, the apparent conquest of our thinking, feeling and bodies can be perceived as war, as invasion and colonization.

We live in the midst of a great war, which is reflected openly or covertly as psycho-, information-, environmental-, economic-, cyber-, social war and so on. Its weapons are not only state-of-the-art weapons systems, but anything and everything that can be turned into a weapon.

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and actors such as Bill Gates, who seems to pull all the strings of international health policy, planned a new pandemic treaty that would disenfranchise nation states and undermine all voice structures. Further attempts in this direction are likely to follow. Health here again serves as a fig leaf for a transnational dictate that could lead to an international dictatorship. Ultimately, all of this represents a war against being human, against life itself. The freedom of being human, our dignity are thus at stake.

Living thought banks

So I plead for protective thought banks, for free exchange of thoughts. The idea of a locally and regionally anchored earth democracy with central-universal basic values described by Vandana Shiva would lead to self-determination over the natural foundations and promote true freedom of opinion. It would bring the power of self-creation in a non-hierarchical society to fruition.

But we must first begin within ourselves, rediscovering our true greatness and dignity. It is time to stand up and honor our true greatness. Our value is immeasurable simply because we exist. No one can measure our worth and trade with us. We are not fearful people, we are powerfully loving people building a bright future together in the present.

From No to Yes

Many of us have put our needs aside in recent years to stand up for freedom and dignity. Our empathy made us speak a clear No against the current mass psychosis, against control and lies. Now is the time to also pause again and again and speak a clear yes to ourselves. We are powerful, much more powerful than we think. Our power is based on empathy towards all life and towards ourselves. Love addresses injustice, it is not a light-love-force-jacket, put on by those who work on our inability to act. And love at the same time creates a vision. Where the need of the time and one’s heart’s vision intersect – at that point we leverage the world. It is not so much about political left or right, at the moment we need much more the connection of bottom and top. Grounded and lifted, we are connected to all life. Spirituality in its various forms of expression is for many currently the vehicle that guides them through this time of upheaval.

While seemingly powerful circles want to save failed materialism by means of transhumanism, we no longer ride this dead horse.
The living human layer

It is time to dismount and set out, to where our dreams, visions, our destiny lie. The genetically engineered seeds of fear and powerlessness can no longer harm us. We no longer allow ourselves to be talked into who or what is considered a weed, and we no longer allow anything foreign to be planted in our brains. We think our own thoughts. We love our humanity, the warmth of human expression. We are big, much bigger than we think.

And we live our abundance, which we share. It is not BlackRock, Vanguard and Co who manage our world with trillions of dollars, we manage our inner wealth in a self-determined way and enter our inheritance.

A new, living human layer is forming, on which free seeds flourish. Within this is a layer of humor that makes us laugh, that unique expression of human existence.

The earth is not a plaything for a few global players, humanity is not led by errant global and young global leaders. We do not need a controlled movement that leads us into impotence and according to orchestrated zeitgeist hypes some groups and demonizes others.

“The fox takes care of himself, but God takes care of the lion,” William Blake put it. So we have to decide for ourselves whether we want to be sheep, foxes or lions.
Grassroots movements start with oneself and not on TikTok, Instagram and Co. In their vitality, they grow from the bottom up and should not be confused with deceptively similar-looking artificial turf that is laid down from above.

The uprooting of the human being

Anyone with a vestige of discernment will also be aware that the current transgender agenda does not represent a living movement and is not grounded in compassion for transgender persons, but instead advances an uprooting of the human being. Once again, a necessary valorization has been manipulatively spun.

The contradiction of sex and gender, by the way, has nothing to do with true marriage of female and male. Every true fusion creates the fire of ecstasy, which was and is the main point of attack of the religious and now scientifically colored cult.

The transgender agenda, respectively that of the gender ideology, could rather be a preparation for not being able to distinguish between living and non-living in the future. This is an essential prerequisite for the fusion of man and machine. If people lose the feeling for the living and their roots, then they leave their home and are seducible in their confusion. A reification of life would reduce our fire to a residual flame. An unworthy spectacle.

Especially our children are seeds to be protected. They mature into plants that, when protected from influence, unfold their great promise for the future. It is not for nothing that the immune system of our society, the family, which ideally is embedded in a larger community, is being massively questioned.

The crazy salvation of the soul

Let’s not kid ourselves:

It is the abolition of the soul that transhumanism beckons with.

Only, it is the soul that makes man human, gives him life, greatness and beauty. For millennia we have been listening to a fundamental story that should be a warning to us: the story of the sale of the soul to the devil, luring with grandiose promises. Now we are witnessing an update of this narrative in the form of a manifesting science fiction movie. But what do we gain by losing our soul? Do we not become a fallow piece of land, exploited to endure the refuse of fear, guilt and inferiority? Do we not become soulless shells in the realm of the cult of death?

Let us fight for our soul! It is she who gives us warmth, who gives us our unique fragrance and sound. She, the messenger from distant shores with the promise of eternity, makes us dance, sing and laugh. She stops the function key and melts the ice of separation. She breathes life into us and bathes our lives in light. If we listen to the stories and songs of our soul around the campfire of the heart, then that irresistible space opens up that those who want to treat us as lifeless objects fear.

“The dancing were thought mad by those who could not hear the music,” Friedrich Nietzsche is said to have formulated.

George Bernard Shaw wrote, “What we need is a few crazy people; look where the normals have got us.”

Let’s tear the masks of conformity off our faces, let’s dance naked in the sun. Let’s leave the prefabricated corridor of opinion, the laid-out rails of the narrow-gauge railroad. Civil disobedience is an expression of one’s greatness. Jesus, as a loving rebel, would probably not have worn masks.

Yes, let us dance instead of marching in step, let us laugh at all the madness of our time. Let us let our soul lead us again. While the world outside threatens to become colder and colder, let us sit around our inner campfire and listen. We respond to cold with warmth, to stiffness with movement, to fear with courage. Yes, being human itself is in danger. But we begin with the salvation of our soul, which connects us with all life and makes us human. This is the promise of immortality in the midst of a transient world. Not the linear extension of matter by all technical means will fulfill the longing for transcendence. This attempt will be shipwrecked and abandoned to the laughter of the gods.

Transcendence can never be reached technically and fought for by means of a still more mature materialism. In truth, it opens the lid to a new, mysterious dimension beyond the five senses.

A human family

So we leave the dirty harbor of resource exploitation and sail with the true ship of fools towards Utopia, where the potentials of the free seeds are allowed to unfold in their true greatness and grow towards the sun of freedom.
We are lions, we are children of immortality, holy fools of God. In the face of the madness that is piling up, we laugh, for nothing and no one can threaten us at our core.

Instead of the great narrative, the great fool is now active.

Our greatness is non-negotiable. We are one human family, now rising together to take up our inheritance. This is the end of isolation and the beginning of a new connectedness.

Here’s to the soul, to being human, and to freedom of thought.

Here’s to the life that we are!

Sources and notes:

Auf US-Initiative soll ein großer Schritt in die WHO-Pharma-Diktatur beschlossen werden

WEF Gründung und Aktivitäten mit Unterstützung und Leitung aus den USA

Gerald Ehegartner is a teacher, vision quest guide, wilderness educator, theater educator and author of the two trickster novels “Kopfsprung ins Herz – Als Old Man Coyote das Schulsystem sprengte” and “Feuer ins Herz – Wie ich lernte mit der Angst zu tanzen” as well as the new book “Gedanken in einer (w)irren Zeit – tiefsinnige und humorvolle Texte zu brisanten Themen unserer Zeit”. For more information, visit geraldehegartner.com.

Organized crime among “representatives of the people” endangers our democracy.
31.08.2022 by Markus Gelau
Courage that transforms

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https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

How the West betrayed Mikhail Gorbachev by Thomas Palley and Leo Ensel

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/09/06/18851908.php

Gorbachev wanted to transform the Soviet Union from a closed, repressive system into an open, communicative socialist system that would be part of the European family. This effort was called glasnost (openness) and was advanced through the reform movement called perestroika.
How the West Betrayed Mikhail Gorbachev and Fueled the Ukraine Conflict

by Thomas Palley
[This article posted on 9/2/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Wie der Westen Michail Gorbatschow verriet und den Ukraine-Konflikt schürte – Relevante Ökonomik.]

Mikhail Gorbachev died on August 30, 2022, and since then Western leaders have been heaping praise on him. These eulogies obscure how the West betrayed Gorbachev after his fall and how that betrayal fueled the Ukraine conflict.

The story is complicated because Gorbachev’s overthrow was triggered by Communist Party hardliners, so the problems that subsequently plagued Russia were also due in significant part to Russian actions. Nevertheless, Gorbachev sought a partnership for peace, prosperity, and democracy. After his fall, however, the West reneged on its handshake agreement with him.

A Tribute to Gorbachev’s Inspiring Vision

Before turning to the details of this betrayal, a tribute to Gorbachev is in order. Gorbachev wanted to transform the Soviet Union from a closed, repressive system into an open, communicative socialist system that would be part of the European family. This effort was called glasnost (openness) and was advanced through the reform movement called perestroika.

His aspiration is recorded in his historic speech to the Council of Europe in 1989. In it, he called on Western Europe to join with the Soviet Union to create an open, fraternal, and prosperous Europe that would overcome the hostilities of the Cold War. His speech concludes with a call for the inclusion of the Soviet Union in a harmonious Europe:

“We are convinced that they need a Europe that is peaceful and democratic, a Europe that preserves all its diversity and its common humanistic ideas, a prosperous Europe that reaches out to the rest of the world. A Europe that strides confidently into the future. In such a Europe we see our own future.”

Tragically, his vision was not to become reality. Instead, it was shattered by a spiral of events triggered by the hardline coup d’état of 1991, U.S. hostility, and the naiveté of Western European leaders.

The Communist Coup d’état of 1991

The demise of Gorbachev’s vision began with the August 19, 1991, coup in which Communist Party hardliners attempted to overthrow him in order to halt the perestroika reform process. Although the coup failed, it unleashed forces that tore the Soviet Union apart and began Gorbachev’s political downfall.

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic announced its independence on August 24, followed by a similar declaration by the Belarusian Republic on August 25. The Moldavian Supreme Soviet declared independence on August 27, the Azerbaijani Supreme Soviet split on August 30, and the Kyrgyz Soviet on August 31. There were fifteen soviet republics. By November, only three (Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan) had not declared independence. Gorbachev no longer had a Soviet to lead and resigned as president on December 25, 1991. The next day, the Supreme Soviet declared itself and the Soviet Union no longer in existence.

In hindsight, the failed coup by the hardliners was the starting gun for the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as the bosses of the Communist Party struggled to seize the power that would pave the way for their coming depredations. In Russia, Boris Yeltsin, who was president of the Russian Soviet Republic, won the race.

Expansion of NATO to the East

Even after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the disaster of economic shock therapy and the looting of Russia, Gorbachev’s vision could still have been realized. However, it was decisively thwarted by NATO’s eastward expansion.

As documented by Ambassador Jack Matlock Jr, the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, a crucial element in Gorbachev’s ending of the Cold War was the agreement that there would be no eastward expansion of NATO beyond the inclusion of East Germany. This handshake agreement was critical to Russia’s national security.

However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West took advantage of Russia’s weakness to expand NATO to its borders. The result was the destruction of the basis of trust and the emergence of lasting fears on the Russian side regarding military conditions.

NATO was founded as a Cold War defense alliance. It is understandable that it continued, but the eastward enlargement was a clearly aggressive act that worsened, not improved, the security of the original NATO member states. The new members had negligible military assets, but all brought with them a massive risk of conflict. Almost all had no democratic traditions, a long history of political intolerance, a history of conflict with Russia, and were intolerant of ethnic Russians within their borders. Joining NATO meant that the original member states committed themselves to defending countries that could be expected with a high probability to provoke conflict with Russia.

Hostility of the USA

Nevertheless, NATO’s eastward expansion always made sense from the U.S. point of view. First, the U.S. adheres to the neoconservative doctrine that the U.S. should exercise global hegemony. This means that no country should be able to challenge the U.S. as the Soviet Union once was. Russia still had that power, making it a constant threat in the eyes of neoconservatives.

Second, the U.S. is protected by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Consequently, it never suffers direct damage or repercussions from conflicts of its own making. Given this, NATO’s eastward expansion was virtually cost-neutral to the United States.

Third, Gorbachev’s vision of a Europeanized Russia posed a fundamental threat to U.S. hegemony (military and economic) by allowing Western Europe and Russia to make common cause. This made Gorbachev’s vision strategically subversive.

European naiveté

On the other hand, Europe has lost much by the failure to realize Gorbachev’s vision. First, Europe suffers from the direct damage and repercussions of many conflicts. The conflicts in Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan have shown this, and the Ukraine conflict shows it again.

Second, Europe has foregone a major economic opportunity by following the strategic lead of the United States. Russia and Western Europe are a match made in heaven economically. Russia has natural resources and needs capital. Europe has capital and needs natural resources. Both have scientific know-how and educated populations.

Third, NATO’s eastward expansion has created a U.S. Trojan horse that promises to destabilize Europe in the 21st century. The new member states are more loyal to the U.S. than to Western Europe. Poland has repeatedly demonstrated this. It has purchased U.S. military and civilian aircraft in place of European aircraft and now has a full-scale autonomous U.S. military base established in Poland.

The blame for Europe’s failure lies primarily with France and Germany, which are at the forefront of Europe and have failed to develop an independent geopolitical project. This failure may also be due to the U.S. capture of European leadership – a sort of “Manchurian Candidate” effect that is reflected in the career paths and resumes of its leaders.

Epitaph

Mikhail Gorbachev did not want the collapse of the Soviet Union or the end of socialism. He wanted to open a new chapter for Russia and help forget the horrors of the 20th century. He rode the tiger in hopes of humane social change, but the tiger threw him off.

Even after he was thrown off and the Soviet Union perished, his vision of a Russia embedded in a peaceful and democratic Europe might still have been possible. But that would have required U.S. goodwill and intelligent European leadership – neither of which was (and is) present.

That is why the eulogies of U.S. and European leaders ring hollow. These leaders represent the political establishment that ultimately betrayed Gorbachev’s vision, and this betrayal explains why he is a shunned man in his homeland today.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For peace: Put Nordstream 2 into operation!
The sanctions policy of the West against Russia and China leads to deglobalization – and so soon to world war? […]
Almost day after day, we are now being lectured on how wrong it was to have placed ourselves “in Russian dependence” with the pipelines. But first of all, this dependence was mutual, that is, it was not dependence at all. If Russia had not also been dependent on the West, the whole sanctions policy against Russia would have made no sense. Interdependence was the essence of globalization. And yes, it served peace. To quote Daria Marin again, “The foundation of the European Union is, after all, the Coal and Steel Agreement, where the idea was to make German and French industry so dependent on each other that there would be no more war in Europe. That worked.” If it is now claimed that Russian aggression shows that “change through trade” does not work, things are turned upside down. For Russian aggression did not precede the economic war on trade relations, it followed it.
Source: der Freitag

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“Mikhail Sergeyevich, I want to thank you!”

Leo Ensel / 1.09.2022 Mikhail Gorbachev fought tirelessly for peace and freedom. Twice the author was allowed to meet him personally.

I am not a child of war, but a child of the Cold War. Born in the mid-fifties, raised in a Catholic-conservative milieu in the Rhineland, I grew up with the fear of ‘the Russians’. At some point they would come, invade us and introduce their communism here – at least if the Americans did not protect us!

Later, in the eighties, the fear of an all-destroying nuclear war replaced the fear of ‘the Russians’. Like hundreds of thousands of other West Germans, I took to the streets to protest the deployment of American medium-range missiles, which, we were convinced, dramatically increased the danger of nuclear war in Europe. The situation seemed hopeless: both superpowers armed to the teeth, entangled in a disastrous spiral of rearmament. Every ‘rearmament’ was promptly followed by a ‘post-rearmament’, the warning times amounted to only four minutes at the end – and both German states in the middle of it! The potential battlefield of the superpowers. In an emergency, no stone would have been left unturned. And we all knew that.

“Somebody has to start quitting!” was a somewhat helpless slogan.
And then a miracle happened.

One side really started to stop. And meant it, too. And it was our ‘enemies’ of all people! The sclerotic communist system – against all expectations – actually began to change. All of a sudden it became interesting to listen to the speeches of the chairman of the communist party. No more phrasemongering, no more proclamations of ultimate wisdom from Moscow! Now the magic words perestroika and glasnost dominated. And the new rulers had a sense of humor. Instead of the Brezhnev Doctrine, there was now talk of the ‘Sinatra Doctrine’: “I did it my way!” The new hero on the world political stage: young, energetic, possibly even honest, good-looking, open-faced, with an attractive smart woman at his side. And he could laugh too! Another magic phrase made the rounds: “We will do something terrible to you: We will deprive you of the enemy!”

And then it went blow by blow: one Soviet disarmament proposal followed the next. Until the initially suspiciously reluctant West had to ‘admit defeat’. All land-based medium-range missiles in East and West were withdrawn and completely scrapped. For the first time, an entire category of weapons had been eliminated! There followed the peaceful revolutions in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the fall of the Berlin Wall, German reunification, the elimination of 80 percent of all nuclear warheads worldwide, and the Charter of Paris, in which NATO and the Warsaw Pact sealed the end of the Cold War. The vision of the “common European home” seemed within reach. For a blink of an eye in world history, even Kant’s utopia of “perpetual peace” seemed to have moved into the realm of possibility.

The road to Gorbachev

That I would ever in my life – and even twice – have the opportunity to meet Mikhail Gorbachev personally and to talk to him, that would never have occurred to me in my dreams during the years of the ‘Gorbi-mania’! And for that – paradoxically! – relations between Russia and the West had to deteriorate drastically.

In early March 2014, when Crimea was still part of Ukraine, I sat down at my desk and thought about ways out of the new escalation spiral. When I had finished a first concept, I contacted the German-Russian Forum (DRF) and was promptly invited to Berlin to the congress “Europe: Lost in Translation?”, which the DRF organized together with the “World Public Forum – Dialogue of Civilizations” of Putin confidant and former president of the Russian Railways, Vladimir Yakunin. I had a thesis paper with me, presented my thoughts in a working group – and was astonished when in the final session one day later the head of the working group, Professor Ruslan Grinberg (head of the section “Economics” of the Russian Academy of Sciences), read out two paragraphs of my paper in full! I approached Ruslan Grinberg after the congress, and he asked me if I would like to write a detailed essay for his journal “??? ???????” (World in Change). I asked him what kind of magazine it was and got the answer: “I publish it together with Mikhail Gorbachev.”

I didn’t need to be told twice! I wrote the essay, it appeared in the fall of 2014 – and it became the beginning of a wonderful Russian-German friendship, in which everything revolves around the question of what contribution we both – he as a Russian, I as a German – can make to de-escalation in the New East-West Conflict. Together we developed the concept for an international “Broad Coalition of Reason”, inviting all people from the directly and indirectly affected countries, for whom de-escalation is more important than their respective national narratives, to join forces. Our “STOP!!! Appeal,” whose goal is to rescue Mikhail Gorbachev’s New Thought policy, and its underlying concept have been published in both Germany and Russia.

It goes without saying that with Grinberg’s, as it turned out, excellent relations with Gorbachev, the desire to meet the former president of the Soviet Union in person arose from my side every now and then.

On April 18, 2017, the time finally came.

“I’m right there with you!” – Visit with the Nobel Peace Prize winner

The Gorbachev Foundation, a sweeping three-story new building from the noughties, is located on Leningradsky Prospekt, one of Moscow’s major arterial roads, from the Belorussian Railway Station northwest, almost to Sheremetyevo Airport. As in any metropolis, the traffic there is heavy in both directions day and night, and at rush hour there are traffic jams that go on forever. Ironically, the building is flanked by two new buildings that would certainly not exist without the historic upheaval initiated by Gorbachev: to the left, a high-rise building of the Mercedes-Benz agency in Moscow, and to the right, a training center of the Russian Internet provider Yandex with a Starbucks café on the first floor.

I had prepared well for the meeting and had brought our most important texts on the “Broad Coalition of Reason” in Russian. But already in the car on the way to Leningradsky Prospekt, my throat almost tightened with excitement. I trotted dutifully after Ruslan Grinberg, who moved confidently through the foundation building, we rode in the elevator to the third floor, everywhere on the corridor walls photos of Mikhail Sergeyevich with politicians from all over the world or together with his wife, headed for an open door that led into a large room – and there he sat at his desk at the other end, a burgundy polo shirt under his jacket, in the background the large painting with the portrait of his beloved Raissa. We went up to him, shook his hand, Ruslan and I sat down on either side of an adjacent table opposite him – and for the first quarter of an hour I sat in front of him like a first-grader who didn’t even dare to sip the cup of tea his secretary had brought me. At least it was comforting that even Ruslan Grinberg next to me didn’t seem to feel much different!

The first thing I got out was what I had always wanted to say to him: “Mikhail Sergeyevich, I would like to thank you. No man has done so much good for mankind in the last century as you have! I am thinking, above all, of nuclear disarmament.” Whereupon he held out his hand to me across the desk, congratulated me on this earth-shattering realization, and jovially said, “I’m right there with you!”

Arrogant? Conceited? – No.
He was right! Just as embarrassing as the delusions of grandeur of the small would be a ‘delusion of smallness’ of the really big.

How the Cold War ended

It was as if I had given him the agreed cue with my thanks. He immediately began to tell it. It was the story of his struggle for nuclear disarmament and the ending of the Cold War. Gorbachev began with Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex – and only weeks later did it dawn on me: This was not just some commonplace phrase, but the speech of an elder statesman who knew very well from experience what a powerful opponent he was up against on both sides of the Iron Curtain: an opponent who, like the ancient Hydra, grows two new heads for every one that is cut off, and who is far from being defeated! Gorbachev explained that he and Ronald Reagan had succeeded in nuclear disarmament because both he and Reagan had known what a nuclear war would mean. (And I confess: With respect to Ronald Reagan this was new to me in this sharpness!)

For the first time, he said, he became aware of the enormous destructive power of the atomic bomb when, during his time as regional secretary of Stavropol, a qualified man traveled from Moscow and showed a small circle of local officials a film with original footage of the consequences of an atomic bomb explosion: the now familiar scenes of lightning, houses and trees literally blown away by the shock wave. Afterwards, they all went home completely exhausted.

Gorbachev reported on the summit meetings between him and Reagan. First, in November 1985 in Geneva, when Reagan was the first to beat all the crimes of communism around his ears, until he himself countered with the question: “And who used the atomic bombs in Japan? Nevertheless, the two managed to reach a first groundbreaking agreement with their joint declaration that a nuclear war could never be won and therefore should never be started, and that neither side should seek superiority. Then there was the crisis and the lull in negotiations thereafter until he, Gorbachev, vigorously pushed for a quick further summit, which took place in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986. And how his proposed worldwide halving of all nuclear warheads, indeed the abolition of nuclear weapons altogether, ultimately failed because of Reagan’s rigid stance on SDI (Strategic Defensive Initiative). And how Gorbachev – he sometimes speaks of himself in the third person – saved the day by publicly reinterpreting the failure as a breakthrough, thus preparing the ground for the conclusion of the INF Treaty in December 1987. All the way to the walk with Ronald Reagan across Red Square in June 1988, where, in response to questions from journalists, he described his earlier remark that the Soviet Union was the “evil empire” as out of date. And he indicated his disappointment that the United States had not kept its agreements after the end of the Cold War.

Gorbachev lectures

I was torn as I listened. As a journalist, I would have been happy to have so much first-hand background information on ending the Cold War. But I wanted more. I wanted to win Gorbachev over to our “Broad Coalition of Reason” to prevent a new Cold War. Again and again, when Ruslan Grinberg had just translated a passage of Gorbachev’s, I took a breath, wanted to interject and say, in essence: “That is precisely why it is so important that we now -” But he was already continuing!

Gorbachev was lecturing.
With the habitus of a man who is used to having people hanging on his every word.
I did not intervene.
At some point I gave up.
I was afraid of spoiling the mood.

Yet he obviously enjoyed telling everything in detail. The meeting didn’t seem to be a compulsory exercise for him. He was not arrogant. Neither was he in a hurry, nor did he convey to me that it was a great grace just to have a private audience with him. He was friendly, approachable, present, addressed me by my first name, asked me about my age and profession, and carefully leafed through my book on fear and nuclear armament, which I had written for the West German peace movement in the early 1980s. He spent a particularly long time on two maps in the appendix, on which the exact locations of the nuclear warheads stored at that time in the Federal Republic and the GDR were marked.

And then, towards the end of our meeting, something like a conversation took place. I told Gorbachev about our initiative and handed him my texts. He immediately pounced on our “STOP!!!” appeal, quickly skimmed the text with the gesture that immediately captures the essence, began to scribble around in it, and spontaneously drew a thick line through a passage. Later, I took a closer look: It was – hardly a coincidence! – the passage “25 years after the end of the Cold War, a new ‘Berlin Wall’ is being built further east.”

At the end he referred to his age and illnesses, but said that soon it would be spring and warmer – and then he would very much like to come back to Germany. Russian-German relations were particularly important to him. The farewell was very friendly.

I had spent a total of 75 minutes with Gorbachev. And, as Ruslan Grinberg assured me afterwards, I had obviously had a good day with him! Of the dreamed support of our “Broad Coalition of Reason” by Gorbachev we have heard nothing more – but nevertheless …

In terms of content, at any rate, he has always expressed himself almost in unison in his essays and public statements.

The second visit

On August 20, 2019, I had the opportunity to visit Gorbachev a second time. Again together with Ruslan Grinberg, but this time accompanied by another unusual man. Karl Schumacher, a successful medium-sized businessman from the Ruhr region of Germany, who over the years had done an infinite amount on his own initiative for another world savior: Stanislav Petrov, a lieutenant colonel in the Red Army, who, when in the fall of 1983 the sirens blared in the Soviet missile defense center near Moscow, reporting the approach of American intercontinental ballistic missiles five times in a row – as it turned out only later, a false alarm – had kept his nerve and by acting prudently had very probably prevented World War III.

And it was quite different once again.

Gorbachev, mentally fully there, but physically weakened. This time we did not sit in front of him, but in another room next to him, gathered around a table. He was touchingly friendly, even more approachable, and at the same time seemed much more thin-skinned than the first time. We talked about the security situation after the end of the INF Treaty.

?As we parted, I squeezed both his hands and asked him with a wink, “??????????, ??????? ??? ??? ?????? ???!” (Please save the world a second time!)

For a renaissance of new thinking

At the age of 88 and already in failing health, Mikhail Gorbachev published his last book, “What’s at Stake Now – My Call for Peace and Freedom” – right on time for the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – and even then it read like his political legacy. (It was largely ignored in the leading German media).

Here he takes another big swing. Using the example of the militarization of world politics, ecology, and the process of globalization with its consequences in all areas of life, he shows how current his New Thinking is in the third millennium. And how necessary this has to be followed by a new action on all levels. After all, nothing less than the (survival) of mankind in the 21st century is at stake.

Gorbachev goes all out. Again and again, one gets the impression that it is not an elder statesman who is speaking here, but the Secretary General of the United Nations: “We are ONE humanity! We all live on ONE planet!” His approach is as easily formulated as it is difficult to implement.

On August 30, Mikhail Gorbachev passed away. The fact that he had to watch helplessly at the end of his life how the political heritage of his New Thought was wilfully driven to the wall is the worst tragedy, the greatest humiliation, but also the greatest disgrace for the present political actors in the West as well as in Russia that is conceivable at all.

All the greater is the challenge to his political heirs, i.e. to all people who are not prepared to accept the current spiral of escalation without taking action. In the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev demonstrated how it is still possible to get out of an almost hopeless and dangerous impasse – if there is an unconditional will to do so. The intellectual tools for this, the New Thinking he helped to develop, have never been as valuable as they are today!

Now it is up to us to be good heirs.

15 opinions

Peter Langhammer, Lindberg
on 1.09.2022 at 12:28 pm

I too thank Mikhail Gorbachev for making it possible for me and a whole generation of people in many affected countries to live in peace and freedom and the hope of a good future for us and our descendants on this earth – and thank likewise all those involved at that time who embarked on this path.
After my childhood and youth at the “Iron Curtain”, where our world ended, this was truly a turning point.
My greatest respect!
It was a gift, an opportunity, such a favorable meeting of important people and factors at the right time, which we all perhaps did not appreciate enough and in any case did not guard and defend with sufficient care.
I also thank Mr. Ensel for this moving review and his commitment and join his call to be good heirs of this thinking and feeling for peace and freedom and good relations between ALL peoples – actively and with all my heart!

Paul Schön, Vienna
on 1.09.2022 at 1:06 pm

And I would like to thank Leo Ensel for his always well written and informative articles that reveal an emotional closeness to the people described. Gorbachev comes across here as a sympathetic poser who is probably under no illusions. From today’s perspective, he has done more than many others. He showed up the leadership of the GDR as vassals of the USSR and made it clear to them that the fate of the world is decided in Moscow and not in East Berlin. They stuck to it, even if Egon Krenz still resents it today and can’t get out of writing apologetic books. Gorbi made good use of his power and his little time at the top. An honorable transition of the Soviet system into a prosperous democracy would not have been possible even for greater geniuses of power and leadership; the problems were too enormous. After all, the big stealing, cheating and selling out began only under Yeltsin.

Hanspeter Gysin, Basel
on 09/1/2022 at 1:27 pm

Gorbachev’s merits, especially around the nuclear partial disarmament, in honor, but the man has addressed all his life primarily to those in power. Never to the working class, never to the progressive trade unions, never to movements working under self-determined effort for a better, social, truly democratic world. I don’t remember him calling even once for the dissolution of NATO, which would have been a prerequisite to end the cold wars. On the contrary, he has allowed himself to be bamboozled by it. With the best will in the world, the bottom line is that he lost.

Peter Langhammer, Lindberg
on 2.09.2022 at 09:45 hrs.

Which governing politicians in Germany, in Europe, in the West today seriously address “the class of working people, … the progressive trade unions, … movements that are working under self-determined effort for a better, social, truly democratic world”?
Who of you today demands the dissolution of NATO?

And what is achieved by them in important questions of (super)life on our earth? Wars, colonization, hunger, poverty, more and more blatant social inequality, land theft, climate change, extinction of species …

Even if at that time certainly some things could have been solved theoretically still much better, by the turn of the times initiated by Gorbachev at that time the world was given a chance which looks for her equals until today!
Wasted was this chance imho in all the time afterwards …

Jürg Zingg, Bern
on 1.09.2022 at 13:27 o’clock

Unfortunately, just again the work of Mikhail Gorbachev shows that evil too often triumphs over good. And too few people of his stature try to improve the world.

Michel Mortier, Zug
on 9/1/2022 at 7:04 pm

We owe it to people like Stanislav Petrov and Mikhail Gorbachev that Europe did not become a nuclear debris field. That they were Russians is beside the point.
Where are such people today, who prove again that man is guided by reason and solidarity, and not by lust for power?

Jürg Brechbühl, Aeschau
on 1.09.2022 at 7:05 pm

From the “coalition of reason” then nothing has become. Probably we think too much of “reason” here in the West.
Gorbachev actually did a lot for world peace. Nevertheless, one must clearly see that he was a Soviet and a part of the apparatus. He was simply realist enough to realize that the Eastern bloc was economically down and needed a way out.
Unfortunately, the Putain then abused the new freedoms to enrich himself and his cronies not only massively, but to subjugate and systamtically plunder his country. It is not about a new “Iron Curtain” but about a small clique of crooks plundering Russia.
I have just read Anders Alsund (2019): Russia’s Crony Capitalism read.

Peter Langhammer, Lindberg
on 09/2/2022 at 09:25 AM

We humans seem to have a hard time with freedoms and their responsible use.
What would have been a realistically implementable, better alternative for Gorbachev?
To what extent individuals have plundered Russia in the last decades I cannot judge, that it is so is probably undisputed. But wasn’t the foundation for this laid primarily in the Yeltsin era, when U.S. influence in Russia was at its greatest?
The western oligarchy plunders not only its own countries, but the whole earth – for 5 centuries: human beings, all other life and all resources, what remains (in the truest sense of the word in view of climate change) is scorched earth, peoples traumatized by colonization and wars, a collapse of living diversity and life systems.
So let everyone first sweep in front of his own door …

Hans L. Schmid, Herrenschwanden
on 3.09.2022 at 6:20 pm

Thank you very much, Mr. Ensel, for your exciting report!
Right now leaders like Michael Gorbachev are needed in the East as well as in the West to end the war, by millions of citizens all over Europe forcing their leaders on http://www.our-new-europe.eu to stand up “with unconditional will”:
-Nationally: for democracy, freedom and human rights – with glasnost and perestroika;
-International: for an end of war – by disarmament instead of rearmament, negotiations instead of destruction and humiliation of the enemy, and for a “common European house” in which all European countries successfully cooperate – also Russia, Belarus and a neutral Ukraine as a bridge between East and West!

Indeed, “Now it is up to us to be good heirs” – to end the war and to create peace, freedom and democracy in Europe!

Does the DRF, “??? ???????”, the “Broad Coalition of Reason” and the “STOP Appeal” exist? – Could “Our New Europe” participate in it?

Peter Langhammer, Lindberg
on 3.09.2022 at 8:22 p.m.

I would like to mention, for the sake of completeness, a completely different view of M. Gorbachev, as formulated for example in R. Lauterbach’s obituary in Junge Welt and the accompanying comments: https://www.jungewelt.de/artikel/434016.nachruf-der-verschlimmbesserer.html

I appreciate R. Lauterbach’s articles very much for the most part. But even if the aspects mentioned in his obituary may be “objectively” true, I find it disappointing how much there and even more in the commentaries Gorbachev’s work and the resulting historical opportunity are reduced to the competition of two systems and Gorbachev is judged very negatively.

In such a tense situation as it was then – and is today! – it probably needs readiness for openness and trust (naivety?), also for giving, to reach big goals like peace. The crass developments in the time after should be blamed on those who are actually responsible for them.

https://marcbatko.academia.edu

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Economic war instead of climate policy and Russia is the enemy

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/09/04/18851895.php

Economic war instead of climate policy
Destruction of nature

Sustainability and capitalism do not go together. Because capitalism needs growth and drives environmental destruction. The consequences: Species extinction, drought stress for trees, water scarcity. A consistent climate policy would have to get down to the nitty-gritty, but at present it is overshadowed by the economic war.

By GEORG AUERNHEIMER | Published 3 days ago in: Environment
Low water, like here near Au am Rhein, endangers nature. And is a problem for shipping and industry.
[This article posted on 8/18/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.hintergrund.de/globales/umwelt/wirtschaftskrieg-statt-klimapolitik/.]

The climate catastrophe is here, it’s not coming first. But people are mostly concerned with the consequences of the economic war. How expensive will gas become? How will I get through the winter? Many are looking for distraction at events. And people go on vacation as usual by car to the south or to the seaside. Traffic jams on the highways, long lines at the airports. For the government, the climate catastrophe is not an issue either, at least not for the time being. For them, weakening Russia has priority.

Meanwhile, water is running short in some communities. Many villages in France and Spain have run out of water. Fish and other aquatic animals are dying because the rivers and streams have little water, some are already dry, and are warming up too much. Trees are losing their foliage ahead of time. In the cities, the heat is unbearable. No more proof is needed for their inhospitability. Shipping has to be reduced, partly stopped. Farmers complain about crop failures because of the drought. The farmers’ association is demanding financial bridging aid from the state and – this is already the ultimate in foresight – funds to promote drought-resistant varieties. No doubts about monocultures and factory farming.

Sustainability has been invoked for decades. All kinds of products and facilities are certified as climate-neutral. Often, this turns out to be a deceptive package that is expected to be effective in advertising. Enterprises make themselves climaticneutral by a tricky compensation business in the emission trade. A plantation is set up somewhere, for example in Kenya. Thanks to the newly created CO2 sink there, they can continue to emit greenhouse gases here.

So much for the cunning of reason!

Whoever has read Marx and has become aware of the connection between the ruling mode of production with its immanent urge for growth and the heating of the atmosphere, is currently faced with the following situation: The government, in which a green party is significantly involved, proclaims that one must become independent of Russian gas and that this is good because it will also make one independent of fossil fuels. However, since weakening Russia is a priority for them, they are not afraid to import fracking gas and continue to operate coal and nuclear power plants at the same time, in contradiction to this. If sufficient substitutes for gas from Russia cannot be obtained, as many experts assume, the economy, already weakened by the pandemic, the disruption of global supply chains and inflation, will indeed collapse. But rearmament and war are simultaneously driving CO2 emissions to record levels. No breathing space, then, to help the climate. If businesses have to close and the cost of living skyrockets, it will only bring mass unemployment and poverty.

Only a peace policy would also be a climate policy. For peace could offer the chance to gradually transform the economy in international cooperation. Admittedly, this is an almost utopian idea, if one is aware of the economic drivers of this system and also considers the international balance of power. Hardly anyone but them dares to think of a “radical system change,” as participants in the “System Change” camp in Hamburg are currently calling for1.

The growth imperative

How is sustainable development to be possible with this economic system? As early as 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio, participants had to admit to “conflicting goals” between the desired ecological sustainability and economic interests. The existing economic system could not be questioned at such a summit. Capitalism had just emerged victorious from system competition. Nothing has come of the great announcements and plans of Agenda 21 adopted at that time.

The ruling system follows the growth imperative. Yes, one can speak of growth compulsion. Certainly, no modern economy can manage without growth. Population dynamics alone will force it to do so. And where there is still poverty, and poverty that is not caused by extreme distributive injustice, the efficiency of the economy must be increased. But growth in capitalism is not geared to the needs of people, of society. The driving force is profit, or more precisely, the increase of profit. The promise of use value attached to goods is only the prerequisite for their sale and thus for profit. The shoe industry, as soon as all consumers have shoes for every purpose and every season, must create a new shoe fashion. Bicycle manufacturers must launch new models as soon as sales stagnate. They must make it clear to consumers that today you can no longer be satisfied with a touring bike, that modern, sporty temperaments need a road bike and a mountain bike, perhaps even a fat bike. Innovation is in demand. The drive to innovate historically made up the progressive trait of this economy, something Marx and Engels well recognized. The relief of many heavy physical jobs by machines was definitely progress.2 But today, many innovations are superfluous or even harmful. It is just a matter of opening up a new market. They are inventions or creations like the energy drinks of the beverage manufacturers3 or mowing robots or some apps on the ICT market. It is also possible, in order to prevent the market from becoming saturated one day, to build devices that only work for a limited time, or vehicles that become obsolete prematurely – built-in obsolescence. When nothing else helps, the state sometimes steps in, for example with a clunker premium.

Money must “work,” is the motto. The money that is supposed to work or be exploited becomes capital. Thanks to the work of those who have been contracted, surplus value is generated. For those who work, whether they are employed directly in production or in the organization of production, can appropriate only a portion of the wealth they generate. What is siphoned off as profit by the owners of capital awaits new investment.4 Economic growth is also driven by competition. Every company must see that it maintains market share or, rather, conquers new ones. Those who leave new ideas and customers to the competition are out of the game.

At this point, advertising must not go unmentioned. Services for capital, such as advertising or management consulting, offer an opportunity for profitable value creation. In addition to labor, advertising itself consumes resources, sometimes on a gigantic scale. Just think of the huge consumption of paper.

The reference to the “persistent lull in accumulation “5 that has been going on for decades does not solve the problem that capitalism is always looking for new opportunities for exploitation. It may be that they are not always directly linked to resource consumption. If money can no longer be invested in products because the market no longer offers anything, then it is invested in valuable objects that promise an increase in value, such as land or buildings. Financial products are in demand whose value, insofar as they do not promise value enhancement through mere speculation, ultimately results from the purchase of company shares, sometimes even entire companies. Agricultural companies are now attractive. In turn, loss of value can only be secured through growth. And growth is not possible without constant intensification of the exploitation of labor and thus without metabolism with nature.

Ecologically disastrous is the to a large extent socially senseless growth. This is the crux of the matter. The reference to the investment fatigue in the industrial sector, which has already lasted for decades, therefore does not invalidate the critique of growth. One industrial sector that is currently booming is the defense industry. Is there a more senseless, destructive growth? Zinn (2015) speaks of “the unproductive use of society’s surplus product. “6

Consumerism long habitual

When, after the last great war, there was no more money to be made from the production of tanks, fighter planes, bombers and bombs, at least for a time, consumers with greater consumption needs were needed. To make the so-called economic miracle possible, citizens with new ways of thinking and behaving had to be brought in. Educational personnel were not needed for this. We children learned in the 1950s to help ourselves to vending machines to get sugar stuff or chewing gum. In general, we were open to all the temptations of the new world of goods, which the older generation did not understand at all. Sayings such as “Save in time, then you have in need” could still be read on kitchen towels for a while. The next step in this socialization process was the supermarkets in the 1950s. There was no more thinking: What do I need? People simply let themselves be guided by what was on offer. Especially in the supermarket, one also found the fruits of the unfair trade with the countries in the South, for which the banana symbolically stands. Then everyone who could afford it got excited about the new mobility with the car, even if it was only a Goggomobil or a Lloyd at the beginning.

So much for the gateway drugs to consumerism. The attraction of automobility is maintained by ideological attributions. It allows for a seemingly self-determined life, more individuality and, as crazy as it is, it makes you feel more equal. On trains, class segregation is directly displayed. In contrast, when Meier leaves the company, his boss gets into a Porsche, but he himself only gets into a VW Golf. But at the traffic light, the boss has to wait just like him. According to social scientists: Automobility has “something equalizing about it. “7 And at the same time, a car can improve one’s status. Meier may be able to score points with his colleagues by having a faster car. Settlement and transportation policies eventually forced people to drive by separating their homes from their jobs and by neglecting public transportation.

In the meantime, the desired consumer attitude has long since become habitual. Only citizens from the former GDR still needed tutoring. No wonder that eco-apostles like Nico Paech were only able to convince a small community of the need to refrain from consumption.8 Along with exports, consumerism keeps the economy going. Poverty in the millions is not a threat to the system as long as the middle and upper classes maintain their “imperial way of life”.9 Moreover, at least the food trade can still do good business even with the unemployed and the working poor. They are offered cheap products without any nutritional value.

The energy turnaround that is not an energy turnaround and that no one wants

The “energy turnaround” conjured up by the government is not one. Whether the renunciation demanded for it can count on acceptance in the long term remains to be seen. In a class society with a few percent of rich and super-rich people, the measures announced by the government should actually be perceived as an imposition by the “little people. It is likely that they will be forced to comply. Only the fight against evil now seems to awaken in some the willingness to give up. Whether they are aware of the implications of renouncing Russian gas remains to be seen. In any case, the “path to a post-growth economy” (Paech) has not yet been taken. Changes in attitude are hardly to be expected. Energy consumption may decline somewhat. But there can be no talk of a cunning of reason in the sense of ecological reform. Fossil energy remains the lifeblood of the system.

It could be, however, that the economic war instigated by the transatlantic alliance will lead to an economic crisis of such magnitude that, despite a booming defense industry, growth will tend toward zero. The mass of consumers will then be forced to cut back. But even then it is doubtful whether this would initiate a learning process.

Using nature’s unmistakable warning signals and calling for energy conservation, switching to renewable energy sources in the long term, reducing water consumption through behavioral changes and technical solutions, and initiating a radical change in transportation – that would be an agenda appropriate to the situation. A consistent climate policy would have to get down to the nitty-gritty at some point. How, for example, is a sustainable energy turnaround to be enforceable with energy utilities in the hands of private investors? Incidentally, a consistent climate policy can only succeed with international cooperation based on trust. The current wars make such cooperation impossible, especially the war in Ukraine, which is apparently programmed by the transatlantic alliance for ultimate victory. It is to be feared that the economic crisis will be exacerbated by the climate crisis and vice versa.

Endnotes

1 Junge Welt v. 10. August 22, p.4

2 See Marx u. Engels (1848): Manifesto of the Communist Party. MEW 4, p. 464 f.

3 Just think of Red Bull. In 2021, over 9.8 billion cans of the drink were sold. The fortune of the “inventor” Mateschütz was estimated at 26.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Bull, retrieved 08/16/22).

4 The wording leaves open how and whether investments are made at all. (See below!) The fact that, in addition, part of the profit flows into the account of the entrepreneur or the shareholders hardly needs to be mentioned.

5 Zinn, Karl Georg (2015): Of capitalism without growth. Hamburg, p.41 u. 58. The gross national product does not indicate growth in this understanding.

6 op. cit., p.111

7 Brand, Ulrich & Wissen, Markus (2017): Imperiale Lebensweise. On the exploitation of people and nature in global capitalism. Munich, p.136.

8 Paech, Nico (2012): Liberation from Abundance. Towards a post-growth economy. Munich.

9 Brand & Knowledge (2017). The objection that the term “imperial way of life” hides inequality within the affluent societies of the center is understandable, but superfluous within a critical discourse community.
The Author

Georg Auernheimer was Professor of Intercultural Education at the Faculty of Human Sciences at the University of Cologne until his retirement. Since then he has worked as a political publicist. His most recent publication was “Wie gesellschaftliche Güter zu privatem Reichtum werden. On Privatization and Other Forms of Expropriation” (PapyRossa, 2021).

Most recently published by him on hintergrund.de: War damages environment and climate
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Russia: the enemy to be kept down, but a useful one
by Friedrich Homann
[This article posted on 8/20/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Russland-Der-kleinzuhaltende-aber-nuetzliche-Feind-7238073.html?seite=all.]

U.S. government documents prove: After the demise of the Soviet Union, Russia was in no way to become part of a European security system. Its emergence as a globally relevant great power was to be prevented. Background and Commentary.

Some 8,000 km of sea and land mass protect the U.S. from Russia. Nevertheless, at least according to political declarations and relevant think tank analyses, the U.S. feels threatened by Russia and therefore ostensibly feels compelled to take appropriate defensive measures both in its own “Western Hemisphere” and in Europe.

In view of the multiple superiority of the USA/NATO and a nuclear attack ruled out on the basis of second-strike capability, there could be no question of Russia’s real ability to attack, for example by way of the occupation of neighboring European NATO states or even Germany currently speculated about in the West. Especially since, once a region has been conquered, the question always arises as to what happens next?

However, the recent appearance of new Russian hypersonic missiles, which can also be armed conventionally, has improved a possible Russian combat situation with the USA – at least until the USA catches up with Russia: Russia could now also reach American territory conventionally vice versa without significant missile defense and thus, in a mirror image, at least catch up with the possibilities of the USA on the European continent.

Beyond the threat scenery prepared by the media, however, since the collapse of the Soviet Union the U.S. has in fact been pursuing its actual core objective of not allowing a rival great power, i.e. Russia and for some years now also China, to emerge on the Eurasian continent.

Inspired by its own political-moral exceptionalism (“city upon the hill”), but driven by its own national interests (Manifest Destiny), the U.S. has since the beginning of the last century claimed the role of the world’s policeman, without whom a global order supposedly could not be established. This is illustrated by the following quotes:

It is impossible for the allied [European] powers to extend their political system to any part of the [American] continent without endangering our peace and happiness; … It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should regard such interference in any form with indifference.
Monroe Doctrine, December 2, 1823, [insertions by author].

Our manifest destiny to settle the continent [North America] destined by Providence for the free development of our annually multiplying millions.
John L. O’Sullivan 1845, [insertion by author].

Chronic injustice or impotence leading to a general loosening of the bonds of civilized society may, in America as elsewhere, eventually require the intervention of a civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may, in flagrant cases of such injustice or impotence, compel the United States to exercise an international police power, however reluctantly
Theodore Roosevelt, Corollary, 1904

“The religious and political ideals [of the United States] merged into a general ideology of superiority over all other nations, American exceptionalism. It forms the basis and justification for American expansionism and influence” (…) and leads “to the idea that the United States is a ‘model’ for the rest of the world.”
Restad, U.S. Foreign Policy Traditions: Multilateralism vs. Unilateralism since 1776; [insertion by author.]

The Role of Ukraine in U.S. Military Strategy.

As far as the prevention of a “great power Russia” is concerned – against the background of its own superiority and its claim to world domination – Ukraine plays a decisive role in military strategy, as Mackinder (Heartland Theory) and Brzezinski (The Great Chessboard: Without Ukraine, Russia is not a great power) have already pointed out.

If Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, the U.S. will occupy military posts directly on Russia’s doorstep. The latter then has its back to the wall militarily – without a buffer zone and fallback territory.

The goal of containing Russia and preventing its possible great power status has been doggedly pursued by the U.S. since the collapse of the Soviet Union, especially alongside Nato’s eastward expansion via the stepping stone of Ukraine.

Here is a brief overview: After the 2004 Western-backed but unsuccessful “Orange Revolution” to prevent the Russia-friendly Yanukovych government and the 2008 failed U.S. attempt to admit Ukraine to NATO, the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s Yanukovych government, largely supported by the United States, followed.

We have invested more than $5 billion to help Ukraine achieve these and other goals.
Victoria Nuland, 2013

Since 2014, military cooperation (interoperability) and joint maneuvers with NATO have taken place on Ukrainian soil. In 2019, the Verkhovna Rada also enshrined in the Ukrainian Constitution a “strategic orientation of Ukraine toward full accession to the EU and NATO.”

In mid-2021, a protest movement emerged in Belarus, i.e., on Russia’s northwestern border – which from Russia’s perspective can hardly be seen as a coincidence, but rather as a preliminary weakening initiative – in the wake of the elections there.

Although this revolt, which was supported by the West, ultimately failed, if it had succeeded it would not only have meant a break in the relatively close political ties for Russia, but also an additional military destabilization in the run-up to the Ukraine conflict, which was in any case seen as inevitable by the United States and Russia.

Against the backdrop of these events and the underlying power struggle between the U.S. and Russia, in December 2021 the latter offers the U.S. and NATO to start negotiations on a common security architecture in Europe and announces robust military measures (“special military operation”) in case of failure to do so.

Incidentally, a month later, in January 2022, a seemingly called revolt flares up in Kazakhstan, that is, on Russia’s southeastern border. By deploying an CSTO contingent primarily provided by Russia, the uprising was put down. Had the protests in Belarus and Kazakhstan succeeded, a military cordon encircling Russia would have emerged from the north through the Baltic states, then south through Belarus and Ukraine, and then NATO aspirant Georgia to destabilized Kazakhstan.

The strategic military role of Ukraine for the USA and thus the perceived threat situation – from Moscow’s point of view – is thus sufficiently documented.

Since the USA and NATO did not agree to negotiations on a new security architecture in the course of January/February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. On Ukraine’s side, the U.S. acts as the main sponsor of the belligerent conflict by supplying weapons, reconnaissance data, military training of Ukrainian soldiers, and extensive financial aid in the billions of dollars.

As if to confirm Russia’s assessment of NATO’s threatening eastward expansion and Ukraine’s strategic military role for the U.S., in February 2022 then-President Poroshenko called the Minsk agreements merely a pretext for Ukraine’s parallel rearmament:

Our goal was, first, to stop the threat, or at least delay the war, in order to secure eight years to restore economic growth and build strong armed forces.
Poroshenko, February 2022, RT

These developments – only sketched here – on the Ukrainian war fit seamlessly into the containment strategy pursued since 1991 by the United States against Russia or the prevention of its possible great power status.
Russia’s original desire to join NATO

The assertion that NATO is the European security system which, even in the case of an enlargement to include Ukraine, would only have a defensive character and therefore pose no threat to Russia, as stereotypically repeated by the West, misses the point in terms of military and power politics.

In fact, NATO does not represent a “pan-European” security architecture. If it were, Russia would have had to be accepted as an equal partner in the NATO alliance in the past. However, despite Russia’s demand, this was ultimately purposefully avoided.

In a BBC interview on March 5, 2000, Putin said in response to the journalist’s question about how he saw NATO – as a potential partner, rival or enemy?

Russia is part of European culture. And I cannot imagine my own country isolated from Europe and what we often call the civilized world. Therefore, it is difficult for me to imagine NATO as an enemy … Russia strives for fair and open relations with its partners. The main problem here lies in attempts to discard previously agreed common instruments – mainly in resolving issues of international security.

We are open to equal cooperation, to partnership. We believe that we can talk about deeper integration with NATO, but only if Russia is seen as an equal partner. You know that we have constantly opposed the eastward expansion of NATO.

And when asked whether Russia’s accession to NATO was possible, Putin stressed:

I don’t see why not. I would not rule out such a possibility – but I repeat – if and when Russia’s views are taken into account as those of an equal partner. I would like to emphasize this again and again.

The situation that was established in the founding principles of the United Nations – that was the situation that prevailed in the world at the end of the Second World War. All right, the situation may have changed. Let’s assume that there is a desire among those who perceive change to install new mechanisms to ensure international security.

But to pretend-or to assume-that Russia has nothing to do with it and to try to exclude it from that process is hardly feasible.

And when we talk about our opposition to NATO enlargement – mind you, we have never made any region of the world a zone of our special interests – I prefer to talk about strategic partnership. Their attempts to exclude us from the process is what is causing resistance and concern on our part. But that doesn’t mean that we shut ourselves off from the rest of the world. Isolationism is not an option.

The West’s position rejecting accession is expressed to The Guardian by George Robertson, a former British defense minister who was NATO secretary general from 1999 to 2003. According to his [Robertson’s] recollection, Putin had made it clear at their first meeting that he regarded Russia as part of Western Europe and an equal partner in NATO and asked him, Robertson, when Russia would be invited to join NATO?

Robertson replied, “Well, we’re not inviting anyone to join NATO, they’re applying for membership.” In response, Putin reportedly replied, “Well, we’re not in line with a lot of countries that don’t play a role.”

Even when President Putin asked U.S. President Clinton about this in 2000, only an evasive answer came. In a conversation with director Oliver Stone, Putin recalled one of his last meetings with Clinton:

“During the meeting I said, ‘We would consider an option for Russia to join NATO.’ Clinton replied, “I have no objections.” But the entire U.S. delegation became very nervous.
Putin, quoted by Oliver Stone, Tass, June 3, 2017.

In February 2022, Putin added in his televised address, according to the Russian news agency Tass, that the real U.S. stance had “become obvious in the following actions of this country” at the time, including “support for terrorists in the North Caucasus, the dismissive attitude toward Russia’s security concerns and demands, the expansion of NATO, and the withdrawal from the anti-ballistic missile treaty.”
No NATO membership, but no great power status for Russia either.

This is not just Putin’s subjective assessment of events. That Russia was never to become an equal partner within the European security architecture or NATO was a matter of governmental determination for the U.S. shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Rather, NATO was for the U.S. the all-important anchor on the Eurasian continent more than 6,000 km from its own territory (the so-called “bridgehead”) to prevent the emergence of a rival great power in Europe and thus to maintain its own hegemonic position as the sole world power.

This power-political objective that the U.S. pursued and continues to pursue with NATO in Europe is documented in U.S. government-official strategies adopted in 1994/96, five years before the above BBC interview in 2000. These are the U.S. National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement from 1994 and 1996, excerpts of which are reproduced here in German translation.

The background: All former socialist states were to become potential NATO members in the course of the NATO initiative “Partnership For Peace (PFP)” launched in 1993/94 – with the exception of Russia. For Russia, however, although a participant in the PFP initiative, only “healthy relations” with and “regular consultations” with NATO were explicitly envisaged.

So definitely no membership. On the other hand, Russia’s reemergence as a great power was to be prevented, because on European soil, as the documents put it, there was to be no more “great power competition” (but only one great power). Excerpt from the document National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement, 1994:

Page 2: “A NATO summit in January 1994 endorsed the Partnership for Peace and other major new initiatives to ensure that NATO is ready to meet the European and transatlantic security challenges of this era and to establish the security relationships that will bind former communist states to the rest of Europe. Since then, 21 countries, including Russia, have joined the Partnership for Peace.

Page 21: “The first and most important element of our [the U.S., inset] strategy in Europe must be security through military strength and cooperation. The Cold War is over, but the war itself is not over.”

Page 22: “Many institutions will play a role, including the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the United Nations. But NATO, the largest political-military alliance in history, must be central to this process.

Only NATO has the forces, the integrated command structure, the broad legitimacy, and the necessary cooperative habits to attract new participants and respond to new challenges. …. NATO is playing an increasingly important role in our European integration strategy by expanding the scope of our security cooperation to Europe’s new democracies. Twenty-one nations, including Russia, have already joined the Partnership for Peace, which will pave the way for a growing program of military cooperation and political consultation. …. The goal of future NATO expansion, however, will not be to draw a new line in Europe further east, but to extend stability, democracy, prosperity, and security cooperation to an ever-widening Europe.”

Excerpt from National Security Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement document, 1996 (excerpt):

Page 37: “Many institutions will play a role, ….[see above] But NATO, the largest political-military alliance in history, must be central to this process. The NATO alliance will remain the anchor of American [!] engagement in Europe and the linchpin of transatlantic security. That is why we must keep it strong, vital, and relevant.

For the United States and its allies, NATO was always far more than a temporary response to a temporary threat [from the Soviet Union, now defunct]. It was a guarantor of European democracy and a force for European stability. Therefore, its mission persists, even though the Cold War is in the past.”

Page 38: “The North Atlantic Treaty was always open to admitting members who shared the Alliance’s goals and respected its values, its commitment to borders and international law, and who could contribute to its strength. Indeed, NATO has expanded three times since its founding. In January 1994, President Clinton made it clear that “The question is no longer whether NATO will admit new members, but when and how we will do so.”[Who not to admit is clear from the next paragraph., inset.]

“Participation [in the PFP, inset by author] does not guarantee that a participant will be invited to begin accession talks with Nato. Any such decision will be made by NATO at a time of its choosing based on an overall assessment of the Alliance’s security and interests. [So there is no claim to membership after that, not even for Ukraine!, [insert author’s note] ….

Expanding the Alliance will advance our interests [those of the U.S., it’s the U.S. National Security Strategy!, author’s insertion] by reducing the risk of instability or conflict in the eastern half of Europe – the region where two world wars and the Cold War began. [The question here is which state is the U.S. targeting in Eastern Europe as a source of risk in perspective?, author’s insertion].

It will help ensure that no part of Europe falls back into a zone of great power competition or a sphere of influence. [This refers to Russia’s role as a possible future great power to be prevented by NATO; the emergence of another (new) great power is to be ruled out from the outset, author’s insertion]. As the President has made clear, NATO enlargement will not be aimed at replacing one division of Europe with a new one; rather, its purpose is to enhance the security of all European states, members and non-members alike. In this regard, we have a strong interest in ensuring that Russia engages as a major player in matters of European security. We are committed to a growing, healthy NATO-Russia relationship, including a mechanism for regular consultations on common concerns.”

Thus, on the part of the U.S., it has already been made clear officially by the government in 1996 that Russia, despite its participation in the Partnership for Peace program, should not be accepted as a Nato member from the beginning, but should definitely remain on the outside, handing over the potential risk factor in Eastern Europe.

After all, if all other Eastern European states can and should become declared members of NATO, only Russia, which should not belong to the alliance, would remain as a potential source of conflict in Eastern Europe. According to the U.S. strategy, therefore, all that was conceded was “healthy relations” with NATO and “regular consultations.”

The U.S. thus wanted to keep Russia’s security policy perspective open, and it was to be the subject of case-by-case interest considerations or agreements, depending on Russia’s completed development. Today, even the minimal security policy instruments of “healthy relations” and “regular consultations” are no longer on the diplomatic platter of the U.S. and NATO; we are now in a battle of democracies against autocracies.
The implications of US security strategy

Nato is thus conceptually not a “pan-European” security system, because the alliance expansion focused exclusively on the states of Eastern Europe, which are territorially opposite Russia.

Turkey, as a Eurasian country, was already integrated and the republics of former Yugoslavia are now majority members (Kosovo is home to the largest U.S. base in Europe – Camp Bondsteel); Moldova as well as the Caucasian countries of Georgia, Armenia and, conditionally, Azerbaijan are also considered suitable alliance candidates.

Russia should not and should not be an integral part of a European security architecture. Since it is not an integral part of NATO, Russia’s security interests cannot be the subject of the protection to be jointly organized by the alliance due to its lack of membership. They are not taken into account “inherently” in the system, but at best form an external bargaining chip that the alliance may or may not respond to depending on its interests.

The U.S. and NATO have prospectively and potentially assigned Russia the role of adversarius, a potential cause of conflict in Eastern Europe, because of its position outside the security system.

Under these conditions, the European security system that exists and advances to Russia’s border, i.e., NATO, represents from Russia’s point of view both a military threat and an instrument for keeping its otherwise possible global role small. The latter can be welcomed in the West, but it does not change Russia’s view, claims and reactions.

At the same time, this “non-membership of the threatening Russia” secures for the USA the continuous benefit of being able to use this situation as a justification for orders to the military-industrial complex (Dwight D. Eisenhower), which plays an important role in American economic performance anyway.

Without an enemy, there is nothing for this complex. Russian membership in NATO or a pan-European security architecture worthy of the name would therefore only be counterproductive for the USA and this complex.

In addition, the U.S. wanted and wants to prevent Russia from becoming a great power in the event of a resurgence of Russia’s strength. It should be kept as small as possible in terms of power politics. This interest in weakening Russia as much as possible in the long term is now served by the proxy war in Ukraine, a country which, as described above, is of extraordinary strategic importance for Russia (Brzezinski), which the U.S. and NATO helped to trigger by refusing to negotiate and then actively supported.

As explained by the U.S. on several occasions, the longer the war in Ukraine lasts, the better, because the stronger is the hoped-for weakening of Russia.

However, weakening and keeping Russia small are also to be achieved by means of the sanctions regime of the West, which has been planned “for a long time” (according to Chancellor Scholz and Foreign Minister Blinken), but which is obviously ill-calculated. To put it in a nutshell, or rather to blurt it out hastily: “We will ruin Russia,” as Foreign Minister Baerbock proclaimed. There is no better way to express the long-term strategy of the USA.

In the security strategies presented above, the strategic planners from the American state apparatus have well concealed, under the veil of securing democracy and providing protection for the European states, the core goal of the USA pursued from the very beginning: the power-political grip of the USA on Europe or the continent of Eurasia.

For it is banal and yet fundamental: If Russia had been integrated into a European security system as an equal partner, there would be no need for American troops on European soil – due to the lack of an enemy in the neighborhood. The factual justification for the deployment of the alleged world policeman, at least in this region, would no longer exist. If Russia were an equal member, the Europeans would have their own independent security system, a “European Security Council,” so to speak, for resolving conflicts of interest.

And further: If there were such an “all-European” security system, the current war in Ukraine would not exist. The threat perceived by Russia today as a result of the advance of the USA and NATO to the east would not exist. No foreign military alliance perceived as threatening would make the deployment of a “special military operation” necessary. For Russia would sit together with the European states at the table of the European “Security Council”.

However, the price for peace in Europe, made possible by a truly “all-European” security system, would have to be paid by the United States. It would lose its power-political grip on the European continent. The European “head” for the transatlantic “bridge” would be crumbled, control centers for operations in Russia but also Asia and Africa like in Ramstein would be obsolete. This would also mean the end of the imperial influence of the very distant island state of the USA on the Eurasian continent. However, the USA is not prepared to pay this price for the time being.

In the age of the renaissance of unenlightenment and Franciscan needlessness (securing German, European interests?) with simultaneous high moral standards, the reality in Germany and the EU looks tragically different: In enthusiastic assimilation to the US-American way of thinking as well as interests, the European states support the war in Ukraine with all their might and are ready to sacrifice their own interests and prosperity for it without need.

The drive and assertiveness to protect their own – German and European – (security) interests, as von Dohnanyi writes, are gone. The political diagnosis is self-destructive altruism in favor of the United States.
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https://marcbatko.academia.edu

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