“Press in crisis
Journalism is in denial about itself
by Jan Schoenmakers
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.blog-der-republik.de/der-journalismus-verleugnet-sich-selbst/.]
If you live on a powder keg, you have to avoid sparks. Therefore, especially in crises, truthful, trustworthy communication and respectful communication in society is more important than ever. Thus, the more explosive the situation, the more important the fourth estate in the state becomes. It is failing spectacularly right now – as it has in recent crises. As someone who has worked in public communications for 15 years, I lament hurt, disturbed and increasingly repulsed by a journalism that no longer adheres to its own self-imposed code of honor, the International Federation of Journalists’ Code of Ethics (https://www.ifj.org/who/rules-and-policy/global-charter-of-ethics-for-journalists.html).
Its core elements, in remarkably clear language, are:
1.) Focus on the undistorted presentation of facts whose origin and accuracy the journalist has verified (no hearsay, no mere third party opinions).
2.) Fair formulation and balance of commentary and criticism, where both sides have their say and there is a right of reply
3.) Information gathering with an open mind, no infiltration, no publication of semi-private chats or unofficial conversations
4) Fast, complete and explicit correction of errors
5.) Clear separation of opinion and commentary, no advocacy of one’s own political or economic agenda
6.) Avoidance of reporting that actively contributes to devaluation, anger or hatred towards persons, groups and positions
7) No detective or auxiliary sheriff activities for police, intelligence or law enforcement.
Regardless of where you stand politically, it is easy to see that ALL of these core elements are trampled on daily by almost ALL of the media:
1.) Facts are replaced by internet rumors, hearsay, personal assessments of the journalist, and experts speculating off the cuff. Fatally, this often also applies to self-proclaimed fact-checking formats.
2) The bias in the media reaches into the stratosphere when it comes to morally charged topics. In some cases, downright hunts are organized, and there is a universal consensus about who “should not be given a forum” – from the left as well as from the right, but none of those who are committed to neutrality are neutral.
3) The covert “frying pan” of people, parties and companies with faked e-mails, chat protocols and recordings of private conversations has become a general popular amusement.
4) Errors in one’s own reporting are often corrected only after media lawyers have forced this in court – proactive correction as a matter of honor is a thing of the past.
5) A separation of opinion and commentary hardly exists anymore. On the contrary, today’s journalism prides itself on writing everything from an attitude of “enlightening,” “educating,” “inspiring” rather than simply informing. The product is increasingly the attitude toward life, not the truth.
6.) Journalists now regularly label individuals and groups as “terror preachers,” “gushers,” “climate chaos,” “cowards,” “antisocials,” and worse, empirically proven to drive hatred and discrimination.
7) Investigative formats often pride themselves on helping the police along instead of critically accompanying their work, and measure their success in terms of investigations initiated. In addition, there is a lusty court of opinion that works toward the dismissal and other sanctioning of people who are not legally guilty of anything.
It is as always where people and functions have great responsibility: as beneficial as it is when they use it wisely and ethically, it becomes harmful when they go astray with it. Where journalism itself becomes a political and cultural actor, instead of being a neutral, careful mirror of society, it becomes gangrenous. Drunk on their own power to “change” something, to have an “impact,” to shape society in the service of a cause or attitude, journalists lose their ethical and systemic justification and necessity. For politics, we have politicians and activists. For nagging and feel-good affirmation, we have social media. For propaganda and lobbying, we have government and business. Journalism needs to cleanse itself and become itself again. Only then will it survive – and even become more important and possibly more lucrative than ever. And only in this way will democracy survive and be able to heal a divided society.
Jan Schoenmakers is founder and CEO of the Big Data & AI startup HASE & IGEL. The company has frequently attracted media attention, among other things with the first study on the effectiveness of lockdown measures in Germany as well as the proof that Google Trends data, on which among others the economic experts rely, is not valid. HASE & IGEL is Schoenmakers’ fourth startup. The social scientist, who worked in the energy industry for a long time, regularly publishes articles in magazines, journals and scientific anthologies.
China’s mediation proposals for negotiations and a Global Security Initiative (GSI)
By Willy Sabautzki
[This article posted on February 27, 2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, Vermittlungsvorschläge Chinas zu Verhandlungen und eine Globale Sicherheitsinitiative (GSI).]
The ongoing bellicose escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has already left deep scars around the world. And there is no end to the conflict in sight anytime soon.
The war has already resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries, destruction of vital facilities and infrastructure.
U.S. and NATO-supplied tanks, missiles and other sophisticated weaponry are reaching the expanding battlefield, accompanied by media drunkenness on war and moralizing final-victory fanaticism, while Russia is mobilizing more personnel to seek a military solution in its bellicose approach as well.
A diplomatic solution had not yet emerged. Instead of peace talks, the warring and conflicting parties have become further entangled in a dangerous spiral of military escalation through the use of ever more powerful weapons systems. The beneficiaries of these acts of war can be documented and described: https://www.isw-muenchen.de/online-publikationen/texte-artikel/5058-ausgestorben-zu-viel-panzer-zu-wenig-hirn.
The Cold War mentality, which has not abated since the oft-cited end of the Cold War, combined with the hegemonic pretensions of the self-proclaimed champions of a rules-based order, has led to the constant expansion of NATO. Its U.S.-determined expansion strategy runs counter to the understanding of a multipolar public interest. The harsh realities of the past year have given the world a fairly clear understanding of the U.S. global order narrative.
As such, Russia’s hegemonic claims to secure its own sphere of influence, which over time now seem to take a higher priority than the pan-European security architecture worth supporting, run counter to the aforementioned global public interest.
The Global South speaks out
The ever louder calls for a ceasefire in the Ukraine war and for negotiations are joined above all by the dialogue initiatives and efforts from the Global South. In this context, the initiatives of Brazilian President da Silva, the declared willingness of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi to participate in any peace process, and above all China’s
published position paper “China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis,” which systematically sets out China’s position in 12 points. 
As a responsible major country, China is not involved in the Ukraine crisis, but unmistakably signals its willingness to play a constructive role in promoting a solution. In my view, this document demonstrates China’s sincerity and goodwill to actively promote peace talks.
China has demonstrated a factually demonstrable constructive role on several occasions recently within the framework of the current structures of world community organizations.
The country strives for the greatest possible convergence of interests in world governance. With its socio-political-ideological orientation, its foreign policy aspirations are geared towards building a community of states involving mutual economic, social and cultural relations in order to build more consensus, combine greater forces and take more action for the cause of global development and security.”
Shortly before the release of the 12-point program outlined below, China had released another concept paper to the international community that is worth mentioning:
Global Security Initiative (GSI) Concept Paper.
In a concept paper on the Global Security Initiative (GSI) released on February 22 this year, China calls on the international community to address security challenges “in a spirit of solidarity” as tensions between China and the United States increase and the war between Russia and Ukraine continues. The paper outlines what China is advocating for as early as April 2022 during an Asia Forum on universal and common security, rejecting unilateralism and a Cold War mentality. “Security is a right of all countries in the world and not the exclusive right of some countries. It should not be decided by a few individual countries” stressed Foreign Minister Qin Gang on the occasion of the paper’s release.
More than 80 countries and organizations have already expressed their support for the initiative, The Chinese Foreign Minister stresses that China will host high-level GSI events “at an appropriate time” in the future.
The Global Security Initiative GSI aims to address the root causes of international conflicts, promote global security rules (security governance), and support joint efforts to bring greater stability and security to a time that is “full of challenges.”
China’s Concept and Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis.
In the aforementioned 12-point position paper, the Chinese state government reiterates its opposition to war-mongering and emphasizes the need to respect the sovereignty of all countries.
China clearly rejects the escalating war rhetoric, including the threat of using nuclear weapons.
The China Initiative likewise includes an appeal to all states to act in a supportive manner to end and negotiate a settlement of the belligerent dispute.
The 12 points in detail
1) The sovereignty of all countries must be respected. Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed. The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld. All countries, large or small, strong or weak, rich or poor, are equal members of the international community. All parties should jointly uphold the basic norms of international relations and advocate international fairness and justice. Equal and uniform application of international law should be promoted, while double standards should be rejected.?
Move away from the Cold War mentality. The security of one country should not be sought at the expense of others. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs. The legitimate security interests and concerns of all countries must be taken seriously and given due consideration. There is no simple solution to a complex problem. All parties should contribute to creating a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security architecture in accordance with the vision of common, comprehensive, cooperative, and sustainable security and with a view to long-term peace and stability in the world. All parties should oppose the pursuit of their own security at the expense of the security of others, prevent bloc confrontation, and work together for peace and stability on the Eurasian continent.
Cessation of hostilities. Conflicts and wars benefit no one. All parties must remain rational and exercise restraint, avoid fanning the flames and escalating tensions, and prevent the crisis from deteriorating further or even spiraling out of control. All parties should support Russia and Ukraine to work in the same direction and resume direct dialogue as soon as possible in order to gradually de-escalate the situation and eventually reach a comprehensive ceasefire.?
Resumption of peace talks. Dialogue and negotiations are the only viable solution to the Ukraine crisis. All efforts that contribute to a peaceful resolution of the crisis must be encouraged and supported. The international community should continue to advocate the right approach to promote peace talks, help the parties to the conflict open the door to a political solution as soon as possible, and create conditions and platforms for the resumption of negotiations. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.?
Resolving the humanitarian crisis. All measures that help alleviate the humanitarian crisis must be encouraged and supported. Humanitarian action should follow the principles of neutrality and impartiality, and humanitarian issues should not be politicized. The safety of civilians must be effectively protected, and humanitarian corridors should be established for the evacuation of civilians from conflict areas. Efforts must be made to increase humanitarian assistance in affected areas, improve humanitarian conditions, and ensure rapid, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access to prevent a major humanitarian crisis. The United Nations should be supported in coordinating humanitarian assistance to conflict areas.
Protection of civilians and prisoners of war. Parties to the conflict should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, avoid attacks on civilians or civilian facilities, protect women, children, and other victims of the conflict, and respect the fundamental rights of prisoners of war. China supports the exchange of prisoners of war between Russia and Ukraine and calls on all parties to create more favorable conditions for this purpose.
Nuclear Power Plant Security. China opposes armed attacks on nuclear power plants or other peaceful nuclear facilities and calls on all parties to abide by international law, including the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and resolutely avoid man-made nuclear accidents. China supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in playing a constructive role in promoting the safety of peaceful nuclear facilities.
Reducing strategic risks. Nuclear weapons must not be used and nuclear wars must not be fought. The threat or use of nuclear weapons should be opposed. Nuclear proliferation must be prevented and a nuclear crisis avoided. China opposes the research, development and use of chemical and biological weapons by any country under any circumstances.
Facilitate grain exports. All parties must fully and effectively implement the Black Sea Grain Initiative signed by Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Nations in a balanced manner, and support the United Nations in playing an important role in this regard. China’s proposed cooperative initiative on global food security offers a viable solution to the global food crisis.
Ending unilateral sanctions. Unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure cannot solve the problem; they only create new problems. China opposes unilateral sanctions not authorized by the UN Security Council. The countries concerned should stop abusing unilateral sanctions and “sweeping jurisdiction” against other countries to do their part to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis and create conditions for developing countries to expand their economies and improve the living conditions of their people.
Maintaining industrial and supply chains. All parties should work seriously to preserve the existing global economic system and resist using the global economy as a tool or weapon for political purposes. Joint efforts are needed to mitigate the effects of the crisis and prevent it from disrupting international cooperation in energy, finance, food trade, and transportation and undermining global economic recovery.
Promoting post-conflict reconstruction. The international community must take steps to support post-conflict reconstruction in conflict areas. China stands ready to provide assistance and play a constructive role in this regard.
The audible positive responses to Chinese initiatives, as well as the peace forces mobilized in many places, give reason to believe that there is some room for responsible political action and a related willingness to talk about resolving the Ukraine conflict. Even if the principle of hope is particularly weak at this time and on this issue, and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine still remains at a stalemate, no one can afford a long-term war of attrition with more deaths and destruction.
The implications have aroused great vigilance in the international community. The impact of this crisis on the large number of countries in the Global South, but inevitably also on “us,” is direct and strongly felt. This is precisely why the countries of the Global South do not want to join sides, as evidenced by the voting results in international bodies (UN General Assembly). They hope and desire to be able to persuade the parties involved to reach a peaceful solution without violence.
Against this background, the significance of the position paper released by China on Friday becomes even clearer.
China’s Position on the Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis. fmprc.govcn Feb. 24, 2023.
isw-report 130, China and its role in a multipolar world order, 2022.
Tough times ahead for tenants with index-linked leases
by David Stein
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.sozonline.de/2023/02/der-indexmietvertrag-eine-neue-melkkuh/.]
The inflation rate in Germany remains at a high level. The German Bundesbank expects an inflation rate of 7.2 percent for the new year, higher than at any time since 1951; in October 2022, it had still been 10.4 percent. However, a permanent decline is not to be expected. The massive loss of purchasing power and the high cost of living, in particular the continuing rise in food prices, will continue to hit people on low incomes in Germany hard in the near future.
For many, this is now compounded by the fear of hefty rent increases. Not only because of rising ancillary costs, but also because of a significant increase in the basic rent. This affects tenants who have concluded an index-linked rental agreement with their landlord.
What are index-linked rental agreements?
In the case of an index-linked lease, the landlord can adjust the basic rent annually by as much as the general cost of living has risen. The decisive factor is the consumer price index of the Federal Statistical Office, to which the rent is linked. Such rental agreements are legally permissible (§557b BGB). In the case of an index-linked lease, it is not possible for the contracting parties to predict exactly how high the rent will be during the term of the lease.
In practice, index-linked rents have not played a major role in rental agreements for private apartments in Germany to date. They did not yield a return for landlords because consumer prices rose much more slowly than local rents – especially in metropolitan areas. According to the Federal Ministry of Building’s 2020 Rent Report, only ten percent of leases signed by private landlords contained such index rent clauses. As long as inflation developed at a low level, the development of rents was restricted in the cold rent in index-linked leases.
In the meantime, rising inflation has turned the tide. High inflation, as reflected in the consumer price index, now allows landlords disproportionately large rent increase options under index leases.
Who benefits from inflation
One in two new leases signed in metropolitan areas is an index lease.
According to market analyses by the Hamburg Tenants’ Association, almost half of all new leases in Germany’s major cities contain such clauses. According to these analyses, especially in major cities with tight housing markets, rental agreements are increasingly being linked to the general price index, particularly in new-build apartments as well as in older buildings. Tenants usually have no choice but to accept these contractual clauses according to the dictates of the landlord.
As a result, rent increases are possible even above the local comparative rent, so that especially in the case of residential property where no rent increases are otherwise to be expected following apportionable modernization measures, the landlord side benefits in times of high inflation compared with other instruments of rent increases. It is true that index-linked rents may not be more than ten percent above the local comparative rent when the contract is concluded. However, subsequent increases in line with the consumer price index are no longer covered.
Tenants are burdened twice by the rise in energy prices in index-linked leases, because both the ancillary costs and the basic rent increase. Landlords, on the other hand, benefit twice from inflation – at least if they financed the purchase of the rented apartment with loans during the low-interest phase. Because while everything is getting more expensive, the interest rate on the loan remains unchanged. Loans can then be repaid more quickly thanks to higher rental income.
Index rents also have an impact on the rest of the housing market. Disproportionately higher index rents (compared with other rent increases) are included in the rent index. As a result, they contribute to an above-average increase in local comparative rents, which in a chain reaction enables greater increases in other rental relationships. As a result, cold rents also become more expensive for households that have not agreed on an index rent.
The Left Party already called for the abolition of index-linked rental agreements in the Bundestag in July 2022. New contracts should be prohibited and the tenants’ side of existing contracts should be given the right to adjust the contract so that the rent level is incorporated into the system of the local comparative rent. This motion was not subsequently discussed in parliament.
Due to the tight situation in Hamburg’s housing market, in November 2022 the state of Hamburg made a push in the Bundesrat for a cap on index clauses. Rent increases were to be limited by law to 3.5 percent. This would protect tenants who are currently burdened by inflation and high energy prices anyway and often have no choice but to sign such contracts. A cap of 3.5 percent per year would also prevent a sharp rise in local comparative rents and thus influence the rent index.
However, this initiative did not find a majority on December 16 due to the blockade of the Christian Democratic states. Instead, a waxy declaration by Bavaria to the federal government was adopted, stating that a regulation in tenancy law was necessary to “dampen” the increase in index rents. However, this declaration does not commit the federal government to anything. The federal government, led by the FDP-led Federal Ministry of Justice, is responsible for amending tenancy law.
The federal government could, of course, launch a legislative initiative to cap index-linked rents on its own initiative, especially since Federal Minister of Construction Klara Geywitz (SPD) already described index-linked leases as a “problem” to the press in the summer. However, the Chancellor’s Office will not take up the issue in the interest of cohesion among the diverging coalition parties, especially since Justice Minister Bushman and the FDP have already rejected such an initiative before, citing freedom of contract and the usual stoking of market illusions. The interests of land owners always take precedence with this party anyway.
The pressure on the federal government to legislatively cap index clauses will now have to come increasingly from outside. Without the mobilization of tenants’ initiatives and local tenants’ associations and their networking, the federal government will not move on this issue. At the moment, these initiatives are still focusing on resistance to the exploding utility bill. The elimination of the anti-tenant burdens from rising cold rents in index-linked leases must be linked to this.
There is another way: Spain and Portugal passed a rent cap in the summer as part of their anti-crisis packages. The rent may increase by a maximum of two percent per year (France also introduced a temporary limit on annual rent increases of 3.5 percent in the summer of 2022). Since the ownership rate on the Iberian Peninsula is almost 75 percent (in Germany it is 49.5 percent) and thus only 25 percent live for rent, the government’s protective shield for low-income citizens is broader and has a different focus, including increases in minimum wages and income-related assistance. However, the experience with these measures is also important for Germany’s tenant protections.
The “Uprising for Peace” protests brought tens of thousands onto the streets. A first assessment of the rally by Christine Buchholz, Jan Richter and Ulrike Eifler
[This article posted on 2/27/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.marx21.de/aufstand-fuer-den-frieden-friedensbewegung-nicht-alleine-lassen/.]
The rally “Uprising for Peace” was a great success. The organizers speak of 50,000 participants. This is much closer to reality than the police, who spoke of 13,000. This is remarkable not only in view of the cold wet weather, but also because the defamation of the rally in recent days came from different directions. Minister of Economics Habeck warned in the ARD-Brennpunkt on Feb. 24 – until the beginning, various newspapers, portals and radio stations repeated his statement. The rally reflects a growing dissatisfaction among the population with the course of the German government with regard to the Ukraine war and the concern about a further escalation of the war. If one places the rally in the context of many other – mostly small – protests that have taken place around the anniversary of the war, this protest could become the starting point for a new anti-war movement.
2. the composition of the rally was mixed, as usual at the big classical peace demonstrations of the past. There were many middle-aged, elderly people, but also families there. The participants were East German in character, although there were visitors from various parts of Germany. According to our estimates, there were several hundred members of DIE LINKE present – across currents and branches, from all state associations (in addition to Berlin, there were larger contingents from Brandenburg, Saxony and Hesse), activists from the student association LINKE.SDS and from the Linkjugend Solid from Berlin.
In the run-up to the rally, several right-wing structures had called for participation, and right-wingers were also present at the rally in isolated cases or in small groups, but without being able to leave their mark on it. Jürgen Elsässer, who had tried to take over the rally in the run-up, was stopped by a group of participants, mainly from the LEFT, with a handful of companions, after the stewards of the rally could not stop him. They surrounded him with banners reading “There is no peace with AFD & Co” and “Solidarity instead of racism – Refugees Welcome – accept Russian deserters” and confronted him and his group with shouts of “Nazis out”. With megaphones we explained (until the beginning of the stage program) to bystanders who Elsässer was and that the “Nazis out” shouts did not mean the participants of the peace rally, but Elsässer and his squad. Finally, the group left the rally under police protection.
4 The initiators had declared in advance that AfD and right-wing extremists were not wanted. The stewards communicated the demo consensus at the entrances to the rally site, but were in part overwhelmed and in part contradictory in their implementation. The underestimation of the danger of the extreme right also exists in the peace movement, so we must continue to argue and make it clear that AfD, Compact & Co do not stand for peace, but for rearmament, militarism and war and that they must be consistently excluded from events of the peace movement.
5 DIE LINKE was visible through individual flags, two high banners (one against rearmament, arms supplies and war, another against the right), as well as through 120 demo signs, which two Berlin district associations had created on their own initiative. In addition, isolated flyers from the district associations were used. A central distribution material that, like the flyer from the BO Wedding, opposes the war, arms deliveries and the AFD, would certainly have been helpful. Even better would have been an invitation to a central event of the LEFT about 14 days after the rally.
6 This rally was not a “cross-front” event. Individual fascists felt encouraged to come. There are people in this movement who are open to cooperation with fascists and who articulate this clearly. I.e. it is a movement full of contradictions and not without problems. The leadership, however, is not a cross-front, but a selective alliance. That is why it is crucial that DIE LINKE gets involved now – practically and politically. Whether a peace movement becomes successful – and not a cross-front – also depends on who fights for its direction with which arguments.
7 We consider it a big mistake due to a serious misjudgement that DIE LINKE did not get involved in the struggle for the orientation of this movement from a central level, but commented on it from the sidelines. We call on the party to begin a discussion now about how it can be effective in building the movement against war and defining its role in it.
8. as unsavory as the participation of nazis is – if we do not participate in protests as soon as right-wingers try to appropriate them, then we become susceptible to blackmail. On 2/25, those who were part of the protest were able to be effective anti-fascists. We must not leave the peace movement alone, especially in the face of the massive media pressure that awaits them. The Easter marches and Liberation Day are coming up with similar challenges – whether we like it or not.
9. DIE LINKE is needed: Our visible presence has relieved or reassured many participants who were uncertain about their participation due to media disparagement and who told us of their turmoil. But our appearance as LINKE at the protest also showed that we can unite the party in action. Let us become capable of action again as an anti-war party!
Before the end of the pandemic
With the pandemic explanation creeping out of social focus, the question is how the systematic dehumanization could have worked.
By Javier Y. Álvarez-Vázquez
[This article posted on 2/23/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/vorm-ende-der-pandemie.]
We have witnessed firsthand in the Corona crisis an opinion-forming machinery reminiscent of the anti-Semitic propaganda of the 1930s and early 1940s, but with a completely different motivation: To save human lives! Really? At least that is the justification argument for such a policy. However, the strategic way of thinking is the same today as it was then: to deny people their humanity in order to then be able to do inhuman things against fellow human beings without a bad conscience. How could this succeed at all?
The strategic way of thinking
Under the slogan “We save lives!”, “We protect the population from getting sick and dying”, “It is a matter of life and death!” the Corona crisis managers have demanded absolute obedience from us, the citizens, so far (1). And this at the expense of the dignity of all! Thereby Germany, as state and population, has repeated an enormous mistake in its newest history: It has handed over itself together with the basic rights as well as the dignity of each human being again into the power of the authorities. Professor Dr. Gertrud Höhler seeks to understand this humanity disaster astutely as well as unmistakably as follows:
“Psychologically, Germany follows the restriction of its fundamental rights willingly, even with restrained passion for the renunciation made, because the hour of the great debt relief seems to have come. Redemption from the collective trauma is on the horizon. Almost a century separates the state of emergency of 2020 from the nation’s most serious aberration, which failed to recognize a dictator. And again the Germans choose risk. Once again, they are handing over the state, their res publica, to politics, which is taking decisive action – this time to save lives, they say. At great moments in their history, the Germans miss the right measure. Today, in the certainty of being on the side of the good. The immoderate good is tempting” (2).
The peak of the violation of human dignity by the excessive and encroaching Corona measures is reached wherever people try to dehumanize other people. In this sense, the fundamental question is: How do people manage to dehumanize other people?
Own experiences in the past
The topic of dehumanization – another word for it is “dehumanization” – concerns me a lot. Especially because I once experienced it myself. In January 2009, I was insulted and physically attacked by an unknown person in Heidelberg: kicked from behind, punched and pushed against the wall of a building. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Passers-by saw everything and no one raised their voice against it. Until the owner of a bar, who had also seen the whole thing from his pub, rushed to my aid. It was an Italian. And he told the stranger to stop it immediately. “Can’t you see he’s a human being!”
The stranger replied to the good Italian, looking me in the eye, “He’s not human!” That was the worst thing for me. That hit me hard. To experience that a fellow human being denies me my humanity.
Redefining the human image opportunistically
I connect this, my experience, with the vaccination policy during the Corona pandemic. The word “inoculate,” “vaccination,” originally comes from viticulture and fruit-growing. In that context, that word meant “to plant” or “to graft.” And in the corona crisis, this meaning reached us with the idea of the grafting process of fruit trees – transferred to humans through pharmaceutical medicine. Namely, through the medical attitude, teaching and practice of trying to cure or prevent any disease almost exclusively with pharmaceuticals. Those who had been vaccinated were considered “refined”, those who had not, were not. For it was not a question of natural, healthy immunization, but rather of “immunity” artificially induced by the refinement process of vaccination. This is the only way to maintain the business of the pharmaceutical industry.
Getting vaccinated was just the rite of passage to the newly defined humanity: the “ennobled” human being! The rest was considered inferior and even dangerous. In this sense, the non-vaccinated threatened the new normality of the “behavioral change” of the population (3).
This was at least one of the latent basic attitudes of the currently prevailing belief. Immersed in a threat hysteria as well as in a complacent savior or protector delusion, the “non-vaccinated question” loomed large for vaccination advocates and vaccination demagogues, for which they urgently sought a solution. “How can we convince, convert these people?” they asked themselves. But the answer has always been there: the final solution in the form of coercion, structural and institutionalized coercion, namely the direct as well as indirect obligation to be vaccinated.
That was the goal of the vaccination campaign: everyone must be vaccinated – absolutely! The rhetorical dehumanization has taken many forms in the history of mankind. The dangerous thing about it was and is precisely that it translates into attitude and action. The dehumanization process can be summarized abstractly as follows: The Other was made into a stranger, the stranger became an enemy, the enemy was renamed a “vermin”; the human being degenerated as a “vermin” was then allowed to be ostracized and even destroyed. Unfortunately, this propaganda in the sense of the dehumanization process in the consciousness of the public worldwide has been successful again and again.
The dehumanizing features of the Corona crisis management were therefore worrying because the “new” opinion-forming media apparatus adhered to an amazingly similar way of thinking as in the past. Fundamentally, it was about viewing, feeling, treating the other as “not equal.” Unlike in the past, the recent rhetoric connected not to the issue of “ethnicity” but to that of vaccination status. “Those who do not allow themselves to be vaccinated are denied basic characteristics of being human”: accountability, sense of community, i.e. solidarity, social relevance, economic as well as political significance, or even cultural significance.
The basic idea behind every attempt at dehumanization is to deny the person to be dehumanized rights that are otherwise due to every fellow human being as an equal counterpart. This justifies every injustice against the disenfranchised.
This was the justification of the Heidelberg Unknown and this is what the recent vaccination policy sought to enforce. The narrative was as clear as day to me: the non-vaccinated was, if not a non-human, at least not a human being of equal worth. This mindset, which translated into political action, is not only contrary to constitutional law. Above all, it is also contrary to human rights.
The vaccination campaign, I almost want to say vaccination propaganda, showed clear distinguishing traits that set a dehumanization process in motion. In this rhetoric, the human being “ennobled” by vaccination represented the new image of man. The separation that emerged also marked a difference in the recognition of basic rights. Those who were not ennobled by vaccination were not, in essence, human beings of equal dignity with the status of “an equal” and therefore do not have the same basic rights as the “ennobled” human being.
Back to the matter itself, to the dignity of the human being
Freedom and equality, however, must always be thought of together. Whoever looks a fellow human being in the eye and wants to recognize him as a human being must also want to recognize him as free and as his equal. Humanity and human love are therefore not compatible with any form of dehumanization.
How are we to be able to develop humane, just measures if the main criterion for humanity, namely human dignity, is abolished from the outset? Or as Gertrud Höhler once again put it very succinctly:
“Dignity is a guardianship that guides both citizens and state authority to successfully deal with challenges” (4).
The first step toward the destruction of human life consists precisely in the intellectual but fatal abrogation of human dignity. Human dignity is more than a beautiful philosophical concept. It is not only a spiritual heritage of Renaissance humanism. It is the holy of holies of humanity as a spiritual-cultural form of life of the human organism.
It is more vital than oxygen and water when it comes to leading a human life in self-determination and autonomy. These are its coordinate axes. Human dignity saves us all from any kind of dehumanization.
Sources and Notes:
(1) A revised version of this article will appear shortly in: Javier Y. Álvarez-Vázquez. 2023. annihilation situation – the end of the pandemic: ethical-philosophical problems of the Corona crisis. Norderstedt: Paper Books.
(2) Gertrud Höhler. 2020. human dignity is inviolable. Munich: Heyne, p. 20.
(3) On the term “behaviorchange” in the context of the Corona pandemic, see Bill Gates. April 23, 2020. “The First Modern Pandemic: The scientific advances we need to stop COVID-19.” Gates Notes: The Blog of Bill Gates. https://www.gatesnotes.com/Health/Pandemic-Innovation, accessed January 30, 2022.
(4) Gertrud Höhler. 2020. human dignity is inviolable. Munich: Heyne, p. 23.
Javier Y. Álvarez-Vázquez teaches theoretical philosophy and anthropology of mind at the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig. Previously, he lectured at the Universities of Puerto Rico and Heidelberg. Recently, his theory of enarrativity on human constructive reasoning was published under the title How? Enarrativity and the Cognition of Explicative Thinking: A Theory of Constructive Reasoning. Currently, his research and teaching focus on the reflexive consciousness of the late modern subject and its reasoning logic. In 2023 his first popular science essay Vernichtungslage – Das Ende der Pandemie: Ethisch-philosophische Probleme der Corona-Krise will be published.
Poverty as a means of domination
The rampant impoverishment of living conditions in Germany represents a social explosive.
By Tilo Gräser
[This article posted on 2/17/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/armut-als-herrschaftsmittel.]
Millions of people in Germany live in poverty. Their number is increasing, as current reports and analyses show. The responsible politicians are not doing anything about it, but are making the situation of those affected even worse. As the “Poverty Report 2022” points out, the situation has been exacerbated by the policies of the Corona years, during which the self-employed in particular suffered drastic losses of income. The continuing humiliations in many areas of life have also worsened the psychological situation of millions of people.
13.8 million people in Germany are considered poor – that is 16.6 percent of the more than 84 million German citizens. This was pointed out by the Paritätische Wohlfahrtsverband in its current “Poverty Report” in June 2022. Anyone who has less than 60 percent of the median income is officially considered to be affected or threatened by poverty. This limit is currently 1,148 euros per month for single people in Germany. Further information is available on the website of the National Poverty Conference (NAK):
Poverty Report 2022″ points out that “an unusual increase in poverty was registered among the employed, especially the self-employed (from 9 to 13.1 percent), who suffered financial losses in large numbers during the pandemic.” In addition, there were “poverty peaks” among pensioners (17.9 percent) and children and young people (20.8 percent).
The development had intensified as a result of the Corona crisis, as association managing director Ulrich Schneider explained in this regard at the end of June 2022:
“Never before has a higher value been measured on the basis of the official microcensus and never before has poverty spread so rapidly in recent times as during the pandemic.”
The Corona crisis had “significantly affected” above all people without employment subject to social security contributions, mini-jobbers and small self-employed persons. This can also be read about it in the current “Distribution Report” of the Economic and Social Science Institute (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade unions, published in November 2022.
According to the “Poverty Report,” there are regional differences that clearly show a social divide in Germany. Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Baden-Württemberg and especially Bavaria would “stand out positively.” In contrast, five German states had above-average poverty rates: North Rhine-Westphalia, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt, Berlin and Bremen at the bottom, “far behind with a poverty rate of 28 percent.” And: “Poverty-political problem region No. 1” remains the Ruhr area, Germany’s largest conurbation with 5.8 million inhabitants. According to the report, more than one in five people in the former industrial heart of the Federal Republic live in poverty today.
The 60 percent threshold repeatedly ensures that the role of this so-called relative poverty in Germany, one of the richest countries in the world, is questioned or presented as not so serious. In the process, comparisons with the situation of people in other parts of the world who live in extreme poverty are often misused.
“For those politically responsible, it naturally has a calming effect and relieves themselves when the phenomenon is located exclusively in developing countries,” commented the renowned poverty researcher Christoph Butterwegge in August 2021 in the magazine Ossietzky. In it, he referred to those affected by extreme or existential poverty in Germany, whose numbers are also increasing:
“homeless people, totally destitute drug addicts, ‘street children,’ who are mostly homeless youth, unaccompanied underage refugees, EU foreigners without entitlement to social benefits, and ‘illegals,’ who are better described as illegalized migrants.”
Butterwegge clarified what relative poverty means, which refers “to the wealth that surrounds it and the wealth that produces it.” It affects “those who can satisfy their basic needs but can only afford the bare necessities and cannot participate in social life, or cannot do so to a sufficient extent, due to a lack of financial resources.”
The social researcher has published several books on the subject. He made it clear that it was not the behavior of those affected that was the cause. Instead, he said, the decisive factor is “the socioeconomic conditions under which they (have to) live. In a society as rich as ours, poverty is not God-given or nature-given, but ultimately systemic, that is, caused by the existing relations of ownership, power and domination.”
In an article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in July 2022, the poverty researcher wrote:
“The poor are subject to a triple exclusion in our society: economically, they often lack the durable consumer goods and personal services that are considered normal for the materially better-off. Their social relationships suffer from the resentment toward ‘hard workers,’ ‘shirkers,’ or ‘lazy people’ that the tabloid media and private broadcasters deliberately spread among the majority population. Politically, they cannot assert their interests, but as a rule remain without influence on state action, which is patriarchal toward them at best and repressive at worst.”
Butterwegge recently made it clear in several interviews and articles that poverty is “increasingly penetrating the middle of society.” The current “distribution report” of the WSI already mentioned also announces this. According to it, the financial gap of households below the poverty line compared to average earners has grown by one third between 2010 and 2019. Income inequality had also reached a new high.
Even before the Corona crisis, the number of poor people was increasing, according to the annual WSI report. In the 2010s, for example, when the economy was generally performing well, the poverty rate rose from 14.3 to 16.8 percent, it said. And, “The rate of very poor people, who had less than 50 percent of the median income at their disposal, increased from 7.9 to 11.1 percent during the same period.” That means more than eight million individual destinies in one of the richest countries in the world.
In addition to the Corona crisis, current policies related to the war in Ukraine are exacerbating the situation of poor people, the WSI says. Especially households at the lower end of the income hierarchy would be hit hard by high energy prices and inflation.
Psychologist Georg Rammer, like social researcher Butterwegge, has long warned of the individual and societal consequences, writing in the journal Ossietzky in 2018:
“Poverty unleashes its destructive power in conjunction with stark inequality. This makes people and societies sick – this is well known and proven by countless studies.”
According to Rammer, poverty and inequality mean systematic disadvantage not only in material terms, but also in social and psychological terms.
“Minimum wage and Hartz IV, mini-jobs, temporary work et cetera do not allow a life in dignity. For those affected, this means having to do without everyday things they take for granted and being excluded from many opportunities.”
Poverty means permanent stress, constant mental strain in families and does not allow for a self-determined life. The consequences are often fear, shame, feelings of guilt, depression and withdrawal. The social causes are individualized.
Rammer recalled that as early as 1999, social physician Gerhard Trabert listed the diseases that occur more frequently as a result of poverty: Heart disease, stroke, cancer, stomach and liver diseases, anxiety, depression, accidents, digestive and respiratory diseases, sleep and menstrual disorders, headaches and back pain. Suicide attempts would be up to 20 times more common among the unemployed than comparable groups of employed people. “As a result, life expectancy is eight to 11 years shorter among the poor than the affluent.” The psychologist likewise referred to the social and psychological consequences for children: “Poverty and its consequences are ‘inherited’.”
Like poverty researcher Butterwegge and the “Poverty Report” of the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, the current WSI “Distribution Report” points to another consequence: Poor people have less trust in the actions of political actors. “This is where the foundations of our democratic togetherness begin to falter,” the authors say.
“All of this is perceived as a threat not only by the poor themselves, but also across the entire population: 70 percent of Germans say they fear increasing social division.”
Butterwegge has criticized German politics for years for its inaction in the face of high poverty figures. Writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, he said that political leaders in Germany were exacerbating the situation of those affected in connection with the war in Ukraine: The established parties and the (media) public in the Federal Republic had been more concerned about Ukrainian refugees than about local homeless and houseless people. In some cases, emergency shelters had even been vacated because the operators of such facilities received more money when they housed Ukrainian refugees.
“While several hundred poor people were in jail because they could not pay the fine for their ‘fare evasion,’ Ukrainians were allowed to use public transport for free.”
The social researcher warned:
“This is how you create prejudice and resentment against people who equally need help. As in the course of the ‘refugee crisis’ in 2015/16, the danger of racism thus grows, which in the final analysis can be traced back to competition between underprivileged population groups.”
Right-wing populist movements, organizations and parties would suck honey from this, “interpreting their demagogic propaganda as the result of the machinations of a corrupt elite and a wave of immigration into the German social systems.”
Butterwegge is one of those social scientists who clearly declare that “the economic structures, property relations and distribution mechanisms of the Federal Republic must be fundamentally questioned” if poverty is really to be combated. They complain that poverty and inequality have increased as a result of the pandemic. But they refuse unfortunately to recognize and to name that the policy in the Corona crisis and the thereby purposefully made fear of the virus SARS-CoV-2 arose exactly from the same conditions and interests. Thus, they fail to point out that it is not a virus but the same forces that are responsible for the growing poverty and the corona policies that exacerbate it. Yet they have the analytical tools for such insights.
Necessary means of power
In 2009, Butterwegge had clearly written in the magazine Ossietzky: “Poverty is wanted!” It arises “not in spite of wealth, but because of it.” Poverty, he said, is a structural feature and functional element of a capitalist market society that subordinates almost all areas of life to the paradigm of competition and neoliberal models.
“Poverty is necessary for the maintenance of existing power and domination relations, since it keeps those directly affected, the unemployed and workers alike, under control. Poverty serves as a political-ideological bargaining chip, a material instrument of discipline, and a social threat at the same time: it demonstrates to those people who are poor that their ability or willingness to work has not been sufficient to establish themselves, and it demonstrates to those people who are not poor that they must remain loyal in order not to fall.”
It is the same policy that creates poverty and sends society into such shocks as caused by the Corona Crisis.
Psychologist Rammer wrote in 2018:
“Government statistics do not serve as a basis for fighting poverty, but as a deterrent. In addition to the terror fear of the citizens, the fear of social decline is supposed to work; lurking in the background is the fear of old-age poverty and the feeling of guilt for not being able to convey a good livelihood to the children. The fear is combined with shame: The infamous blame of the poor, that they themselves are the cause of their misery, has been internalized by many of those affected.”
The humiliation and personal devaluation, the destruction of self-confidence were intended “collateral damage” – as was the weakening of the unions, according to Rammer. Poverty and inequality act as violence and are equivalent in their effect to systematic bodily harm. “They destroy self-esteem, fail compassion and respect, and drain vital energy.” The psychologist emphasized:
“To fight and defeat oppression and exploitation presupposes self-consciousness, emancipation and rebellion on the part of those affected. Such class struggle is not in sight.”
There is nothing to add to this four years later. The “National Poverty Conference” (NAK) stated in November 2022: “The harsh discrimination and branding of socially excluded people, who suffer particularly from the current crisis,” had come even more to the fore with the new “citizen’s income.”
Editorial note: This text first appeared under the title “Poverty – social explosive and means of domination” in early February in the magazine ViER issue 1/23 (online see www.vierte.online).
Tilo Gräser, born in 1965, has a degree in journalism. He has worked as a correspondent for RIA Novosti Germany/Sputniknews and has worked for various media and as a press officer. His main areas of expertise are politics, social affairs and history.
A sustainable humanity
The Decline of the Occident
Our generation is gambling away the gains of centuries of European culture and leading the continent into moral and economic bankruptcy.
by Michael Hüter
[This article posted on 2/3/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/der-untergang-des-abendlandes-2.]
The sticky climate activists of these days do not represent the first generation that saw itself as the “Ietzt.” End times predictions existed in many epochs of mankind, they can be found for example in Nietzsche’s critique of decadence or in the work of Oswald Spengler, later also in the multiple warnings of an ecocide. But one thing is certain: The way in which the generations currently setting the tone – the old and middle-aged – are destroying everything that has been built up before at breakneck speed is the very last thing. The work of destruction is taking place on all levels: economically, socially, collectively-psychologically and culturally, but also quite banally through war and other forms of organized killing. Children, where they are still born at all, are pushed aside, traumatized or burned up. The decline of Europe is particularly striking – because of the great fall of this once very developed continent. The causes of this devastating development are manifold. Among the most serious, however, is the education in obedience that has been practiced for centuries – and the willingness of citizens to be educated.
“The role played by education in all political utopias since antiquity shows how obvious it is to let the renewal of a world begin with those new by birth and nature. (…) But even the children whom one wants to educate to become the citizens of a utopian tomorrow, one in truth excludes from politics. By preparing them for something new, one knocks out of the newcomers’ hands their own chance of the new.” (1) Hannah Arendt
Two great literary dystopias of the 20th century, George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, have been on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s pictures again for years and more frequently than ever before. Not only “alternative” but also state media up to ARTE have published numerous documentaries about the person and work of these two authors and visionaries.
The Corona Complex, Klaus Schwab and Cos “Great Reset”, transhumanism and – not only political – decadence, where the eye reaches and the mind ends, have made it possible and almost completely accomplished: Europe on the way to China 2.0 – Only digital unconditional basic income (Social Credit System), facial recognition cameras at every and last corner, digital central bank money and voilà, it is finally done:
The new totalitarianism “à la Davos”, served by Schwab, Leyen, Gates, WEF, WHO and Co, the list is not complete, will soon have robbed us of almost everything. Freedom, human dignity and also all possessions. Because, as almost everyone knows by now, WEF boss Klaus Schwab predicts: “In 2030, you will own nothing and be happy.
In this “brave new world” à la WEF and other people and institutions, the 99 percent of the dispossessed will not be one thing above all: Happy. Or will they? – In any case, the new slogan is: unhappiness is happiness!
Back to George Orwell and 1984. At the center of the work are unmistakably the slogans of the “Ministry of Truth”: War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!
2020 to 2022: “War is peace”, according to the Ukraine war propaganda of Germany, England and other states, “Freedom is slavery”, see “Corona protection measures”, lockdowns, collective vaccination coercion et cetera, and “Ignorance is strength”. The last slogan now describes almost every politician in the US and Europe. No matter what ideology or “color”. Left is right! Totalitarianism is democracy!
Also our western “spectacle democracies”, according to Giorgio Agamben, have perverted and have come to their end. In addition comes, what probably not even Orwell and Huxley could have dreamed in this totality: Healthy is sick! – See the new term normality “symptomless infected” or “symptomless diseased”.
As other writers and commentators of recent months and years have noted: The two “dystopias” 1984 and Brave New World have not only been realized in many parts of the world, but they are merging, as are the two inhuman ideologies of capitalism and communism. Totalitarian China has recently become a shining example not only for Klaus Schwab, Ursula von der Leyen, Bill Gates and Co, but also for politics from “left”, “green” to “conservative” and especially the tech giants, first and foremost Mr. “Big Brother” himself: YouTube. The video deletion orgies on the part of YouTube in the years 2020 and 2021, keyword “digital book burning”, make the analog book burnings of the 20th century by National Socialists and Communists literally “look old”.
1984 and Brave New World are almost complete. So far, so “good.”
What really amazes me as a historian and childhood researcher: There has been complete silence, especially in Europe – even among intellectuals and other critical minds – about a third and equally epoch-making work of 20th-century cultural history: The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler. Orwell’s 1984 appeared in 1949, Brave New World in English in 1932, and Spengler’s “cultural dystopia” The Decline of the West appeared as early as 1918 to 1922.
As is well known, the prophet counts for precious little in his own country. But 100 years after the publication of this work, which was often criticized for its “cultural pessimism,” and in view of the collective mass hypnosis in the name of a “pandemic,” the question arises whether Spengler’s prophecy of the downfall of Western, i.e. European, culture is not actually taking place “suddenly and unexpectedly” before all our eyes.
In my book Childhood 6.7, first published in 2018, I wrote the following about Oswald Spengler’s work:
“Some historical detail and some theses in Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the Occident are refuted or arguable today. But the overall finding that the cultural philosopher presents in the chapter Cities and Peoples is of timeless and enduring correctness. A few passages of text:
‘And now, from the fact that existence is becoming more and more rootless, wakefulness more and more strained, there emerges at last that phenomenon which had long been widespread in silence and now suddenly comes into the bright light of history to put an end to the whole spectacle: the barrenness of civilized man.’ This is not something that could be understood with everyday causality, for example physiologically, as modern science has naturally tried to do. Here is a thoroughly metaphysical turn to death. The last man of the world cities does not want to live any more, certainly as an individual, but not as a type, as a multitude; in this total being the fear of death expires. That which afflicts the true peasant with a deep and inexplicable fear, the thought of the extinction of the family and the name, has lost its meaning. The continuation of the related blood within the visible world is no longer felt as the duty of this blood, the lot of being the last is no longer felt as a doom. Not only because children have become impossible, but above all because the intelligence increased to the utmost no more finds reasons for their existence, they remain out. (…) Where reasons for questions of life come into consciousness at all, life has already become questionable.'”
Let’s stay right in the years before “Corona” and recall once the factual state of child, family and “education”. For more than a decade, from 2010 to the beginning of 2020, the disastrous and well-known (!) findings on the following generation were:
Already every second child in Europe suffered from – at least – a chronic disease. Every fourth child needed some kind of therapy. The fourth most frequent cause of death among adults was cancer! – And it has long been on the rise among children as well. In this decade, from 2010 to 2020, x times more children, mind you, died annually from cancer than from corona or whatever viral disease in the years 2020 to 2022. (2)
In the last decade of the European post-war order, serious criminal offenses, drug and alcohol consumption, keyword “binge drinking”, generally increased massively among children and adolescents – as it had already done two decades before. And that’s not all: by the time a child is 6 years old, about 50 percent of parents have been separated or have already separated. By the age of 10, only about 15 percent of young people experienced their parents as a couple living together in the same household!
Even before “Corona”, one third of all children in Germany lived in a so-called “Hartz IV family”. For many years in Germany/Austria and presumably also in other European countries a family from the third child on is acutely endangered by poverty!
Child poverty has been increasing for decades, and in a “double pack”: Since the end of the 1970s, starting from Germany, birth rates have been falling continuously throughout Europe, more continuously and drastically than in any other cultural area or continent.
For decades, Germany was one of the countries with the lowest fertility rates in the world. For many years, the fertility rate in almost all EU-27 countries has been below the necessary reproduction rate: around 1.5 children per woman. Europe – and this has long been officially known and published dozens of times – was on the verge of a demographic implosion long before “Corona”. Besides Germany, the situation has been most drastic in Italy for years. (3)
To illustrate this point of creeping demographic doom somewhat: With a total population of 81.3 million, there were about 8.1 million families with minor children under 14 in Germany in 2014. Of these, around 4.3 million are families with one child, 2.9 million with two children, and 867,000 with three or more children, so-called multi-child families.
The one-child family is the clear majority in many European countries. The multi-child family has become a minority. Their share of the total population is only about 7 to 8 percent! This trend has been declining for a long time. On the other hand, not only the number of billionaires has been increasing for a long time, but also the number of cars and pets. In Germany, “before Corona,” there were four times as many vehicles, or 43.8 million, and three times as many pets, about 31 million, as children. While in 2014 the turnover for pet supplies such as food and accessories was already circa 4.44 billion, every fifth child in Germany was already at risk of poverty.
The figures are strikingly similar for Austria. With a total population of about 8.5 million, there were 411,000 one-child families, 269,000 two-child families and 81,000 multi-child families. There was a small difference only in the number of vehicles. In Austria, there were about 7.5 times as many vehicles as children. The situation was/is not much different in many other European countries.
In short, in the last decade of “Old Europe,” according to Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush, the family made up only about 30 to 35 percent of the total population in Germany and Austria. The proportion of children and young people in these countries was a low 16 to 18 percent of the total population! EU-27-wide, the figure is 18.9 percent. And of the few children in the supposedly rich Europe, one third live in – sometimes severe – poverty! So while Europe is getting poorer and poorer in children, not only the wealth of the billionaires is continuously increasing, but also the amount of national debt! It lies at present for the EU-27 states altogether with approximately 13.2 trillion euro! In the entire history of mankind the following generation never had to carry such a high load of national debts and old people! Not to mention other global fields of conflict! Possibly the children of the slums of Mumbai have soon a better future prognosis than the children of Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Rome or other cities and regions of Europe. This continent is endangered in very many things and at the same time highly dangerous! Apart from the USA, which is not the subject of this essay.
Last but not least: Even before “Corona,” the structural illiteracy rate in Germany was already around 18 percent. – After completing compulsory schooling, mind you!
A small but all the more bitter anachronism of occidental history and culture: At the beginning of the so-called industrial revolution, i.e. about 200 years ago, before the implementation of total mass schooling, the illiteracy rate was just as high as in recent years! (4)
Not only a “total war”, but also “total schooling” and “total education”, from Kita to Abitur, can lead a state or continent into the downfall. (5)
Let us summarize the findings of the “last decade”, from 2010 to 2020, of the old Europe, in several senses of the word, before the “Great Reset”:
Never in the entire history of mankind – outside of times of war, natural disasters and actual epidemics such as the plague – has an entire continent, a “culture” had so many adults, childless and old people on one side and so few children on the other. From “top” to “bottom” presses a lot of mass and power. – Not only in questions of demography!
And the few at the very bottom of the inverted social pyramid, the children and young people, show a drastic finding in psyche and physique. – Their “silent cry” has not been heard for a long time. In the “Occident” children have been collectively degraded to orphans with parents and the so-called “educational system” to a care system.
No, not the small group of masochistic-narcissistic and sometimes radical group of “climate gluts”, who in pseudoheroism dub themselves so, are the “last generation”. – Mistake!
The group of people who will actually or inevitably have to be defined as the last generation from now on is the great majority of the currently 35- to 65-year-olds! They are the ones who, at least for more than a decade, have been burying everything: craftsmanship, art, awareness of nature and in general, humanism, universal values, commitment, true (human) education and dignity, respect for all living things, in short: European culture.
One thing the history of this planet shows a hundredfold: no single “climate change” can bring as much lasting destruction and human suffering as a “cultural change”. – The collapse or even decline of a culture has sometimes been followed by barbarism. The vast majority of the “last generation,” the 35- to 65-year-olds, have learned nothing from history! It is highly uprooted, alienated, narcissistic, normopathic, egoistic and in any case one of the most empathy-less for a long time. It has long been trans-humanistic!
Almost every single one of the 35- to 65-year-olds is no longer afraid of being the last, to return to the above quotation by Oswald Spengler. This self-destruction instinct of the great mass and majority of “adults”, which has been thriving in secret for decades, discharged itself in 2020 to 2022 almost explosively on the small, helpless group of the following generation, which has already been weakened for decades anyway. In the name of the so-called “Corona protection measures” the largest collective child abuse and coercion of all previous cultural epochs took place in many, primarily western countries. For the first time in the history of mankind the child protection was perverted into a protection against children!
From now on it was no longer said that children had to be protected against assaults, maltreatment or generally the misbehavior of adults, but the adults against children, because they were viral teacher-, grandpa- and grandma-killers. (6) So much irrationality and especially pathology has not even occurred to authors of the genres of science fiction and horror!
Let’s stop and note for a moment: The Orwellian slogans “War is peace”, “Freedom is slavery” and “Ignorance is strength” have been extended by real political and social actions from 2020 onwards by the following slogans: Misfortune is happiness! Healthy is sick! Child is danger! Children were literally deprived of breath for a whole two years in many places without any evidence-based scientific data, through mask coercion. Breath is life! (7)
Still hidden, lurking deep down in the collective subconscious, the final slogan of occidental culture could be: Death is life!
Because: Although at the latest from autumn 2020 the majority of the “last generation”, above all the “educated” adults like school and university employees or also academics called, was aware that children and young people are absolutely not affected by the so-called Sars-CoV-2 virus, in states like for example Germany and Austria almost the whole following generation was urged and coerced to an experimental gene injection called mRNA vaccination. (8) And now they fall ill or die “suddenly and unexpectedly”. – Especially the few still healthy boys of old Europe! (9) If the same “virus vaccine cure” number, as that of 2020 to 2022, had been tried on young people, 18 to 28 year olds, in the 1960s to mid 1970s, the streets and universities would have burned!
One thing the “last generation,” the 35- to 65-year-olds, really don’t need is to be proud of the most conformist youth in nearly five decades! A society in which the youth no longer questions, no longer rebels and first of all resists the “old people”, but instead blindly obeys, such a society is truly senile, has come to the end of its life.
Let us recall once again the findings child/youth/family before the great mass psychosis named “Corona”:
2010 to 2020: Never before in the entire history of mankind the proportion of children/youth compared to adults/old people was so small in a cultural area or continent, and the physical/psychical findings of the under 20-year-olds were so alarming together with the future prognoses of this group of people. And nevertheless this small group of people, the following generation, in a monstrous tour de force and unprecedented historical extent, is collectively abused, abused, coerced in physique and psyche!
The causes for this comprehensive political and social failure are manifold: The large group of the employed, the unemployed as well as the poor and the old already found themselves before 2020 in a social order of the following character: Destroyed public with at the same time greatest possible isolation of the individuals. A conglomerate, before which the political theorist and totalitarianism researcher Hannah Arendt warned already decades ago repeatedly!
One of the most devastating developments took place in the last 20 years: Especially children and young people disappeared almost completely from the public and thus visible space. In the name of “work and consumption,” 85 to 99 percent of children from the age of one to 18 spend their time in state-run care reservations called crèches, daycare centers, elementary and other schools. Full-day, mind you!
Historian Philipp Blom identified another cause in his 2017 essay What’s at Stake:
“People in the rich world just want the present never to end. (…) Hardly anyone in the rich world still seriously believes that their own children will fare better, that hard work will be rewarded, that politicians want to or can act in the interests of their constituents, that humanity can expect a better tomorrow. – So rather no change. – So maintaining the status quo becomes the ultimate goal.”
One of the main causes that enabled the great collective failure of the last few years, from 2020 to 2022, had already been recognized over 100 years ago by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who named it thus: “The state is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Cold it also lies; and this lie creeps out of its mouth: ‘I, the state, am the people.'”
We should write one thing above all in the history books and immediately in the children’s books for our children, the few who follow Europe: The greatest crimes in the history of mankind took place in the last 120 years not in civil disobedience, but in civil obedience! More dangerous and destructive than anything else – for culture, nature and man – is the western “education system” of the last about 200 years. (10)
Finally once again to Oswald Spengler and his epochal work The Decline of the Occident. A detail of his work that has been ignored in recent decades and is currently piquant: after the fall of the Occident, of Christian/European culture, he sees the rise of Russian culture. In view of the war in Ukraine since 2014, this American proxy war, Ukraine against Russia with European and primarily German “support,” Spengler’s prophecy might come true after all. Von der Leyen, Baerbock and Co’s call for a “destruction of Russia,” which did no harm to Europe, will not come true. Other megalomaniac and male leaders of this continent, from Napoleon to Hitler, have failed before in a “war against Russia.” Conversely, the death blow of Europe will not come from Russia either. The danger to the “Occident” lurks from within, that is, through a demographic implosion et cetera, and from the West, across the great pond.
In 1947, the German poet Paul Celan published the poem Todesfuge, which later became famous. In it, recurring, the phrase: “Death is a master from Germany.”
In ten years at the latest, poets will not be the only ones to modify this sentence, perhaps varying it thus: Death is a German/American master. His company name: BioNTech/Pfizer. The executing persons were: …
In 1959, the Austrian poet Ingeborg Bachmann wrote: “Truth is reasonable for human beings.
However, decades earlier, the Italian Maria Montessori recognized and named the most causal, most far-reaching and ultimately only true drama of Western culture and cause of its downfall: all our errors we transfer to our children, in whom they leave indelible traces.
Sources and Notes:
(1) Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future. Exercises in Political Thought I, in Essay: The Crisis in Education, p. 255 ff, Munich: Piper Verlag, 2012.
(2) This fact was already proven and known in the fall of 2020 by different, national as well as international data. I go into this in detail in October 2020 in the following interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4o2MPwxlcHc
(3) The reasons for the lack of children in Europe are numerous and complex. In addition to the decreased desire to have children, the infertility of “civilized” man has been increasing for decades. Pollutants, chemicals and various poisons in the environment and food, radiation and much more. A problem that has long since affected almost every so-called industrialized nation, even outside Europe. Japan, like Germany, has been suffering from a threatening shortage of children for decades. For years now, China has also been massively affected by “childlessness”. I deal with this and other topics in detail in: Michael Hüter, Kindheit 6.7 Eine Geschichte der familialen Sozialisation, Kindheit, Erziehung und Beschulung des Menschen, Edition Liberi & Mundo, 2022.
(6) On this complex of topics “corona measures” for children I have written numerous cautionary articles as well as given interviews as of April 2020(!). All of them are listed in the media archive of my website: https://www.michael-hueter.org/presse_und_statements
(8) The pressure from the teaching staff to get vaccinated against “Corona” was not only immense for pupils of public schools, but especially for students at universities. Although de facto in Germany as well as in Austria, here formally only briefly, there was no legal obligation to vaccinate, in many places students without vaccination status had no admission to universities! Once again, as during the 1930s National Socialism, teachers and academics in general, especially lecturers and professors, were particularly and anticipatorily sycophantic and obedient. – With the difference to the 1930s that in the “Corona years” with the coercion of young people to an even experimental “vaccination” the physical integrity of others, protectees/trainees, was put at risk! – And once again, in order not to endanger in the end the own “status”, obedience to authority! Nothing learned from the history applies now above all to the representatives of the so-called “education system”. Anyway: “We did not know”, does not work again! Already now, not only for the following generation, is valid: They did not want to know! Because from the beginning other expertises and scientific data of universities, renowned professors, scientists et cetera were callable at any time and by mouse click!
(9) On the subject of high “excess mortality” since the onset of mRNA vaccination in the EU countries, there are now numerous international data. Particularly revealing for the worrying correlation/conspicuousness that with beginning also of the mRNA vaccinations with children and young people, the age group of the 5- to 14-year-olds in addition, the over-mortality is clearly higher than with the old ones, see, among other things, the data of EOROMOMO: https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps Briefly: The “over-aging of Europe” is further developed by the gene injection. I address this issue in the following interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NewZc8V_C1Q
(10) More extensively in: Michael Hüter, Childhood 6.7, 2022
Michael Hüter, born in 1968, studied history, German language and literature, philosophy and art history at the University of Salzburg. From 1996 to 2012 he worked as a freelance pianist and composer. In 2014, the piano solo CD “It’s my way to paradise” was released. Nine years of legal custody proceedings and numerous researches on the plight and suffering of separated children led to the book “War on Fathers”. This book was revised, updated and published in June 2020 under the title “Ich will zu dir! Separation children, mother poisoning, state terror” republished by Edition Liberi & Mundo. In 2018, “KINDHEIT 6.7. a manifesto” was published. The book and bestseller, which was investigatively researched for years, is a history of childhood and at the same time a critique of civilization. A passionate plea and manifesto for children to grow up again in a humane and “species-appropriate” way, for a new appreciation of family socialization and for complete educational freedom. The author is the father of three children. More information at: www.michael-hueter.org.
An educational paradox
Our schools need to be democratized.
23.02.2023 by Patrick Zimmerschied
The end of capitalism
Author Ulrike Herrmann’s critique of capitalism has some blind spots.
By Felix Feistel
[This article posted on 2/23/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/das-ende-des-kapitalismus-2.]
The end of capitalism has often been invoked. The current economic system forces ever further growth, which leads to total destruction on a planet with limited resources – actually old hat. In the context of the debate about climate change, the discussion about the end of this economic system is germinating again. In her book “The End of Capitalism,” Ulrike Herrmann, an author for the taz and a trained banker, has summarized all the arguments that are used by the mainstream as dazzle grenades and smoke candles to divert attention from the real, structural problems of the system, and speaks out in favor of an authoritarian vision of public-private management.
It is quite astonishing that an author who only a few years ago landed a bestseller with the title “Kein Kapitalismus ist auch keine Lösung” (No capitalism is no solution either) suddenly writes a book that proclaims the exact opposite and thus also reaches No. 1 on the Spiegel bestseller list. This is exactly what Ulrike Herrmann has achieved with her book “The End of Capitalism”. Her starting thesis: Due to man-made climate change, we as humanity can no longer afford capitalism. Because this form of economy necessarily emits carbon dioxide, which fuels climate change. Right at the beginning, she refers to the Fridays for Future movement, which starts from precisely this premise and calls for radical systemic change. However, the movement does not address what this might look like. Ulrike Herrmann attempts to fill this gap.
On the history of capitalism
But first she explains what capitalism is and how it came about. She traces the historical emergence of modern industry and also dispels some of the ideologies of economists. For example, in the early stages, no particular amount of capital was required to get capitalism started. Nor were there even markets for many products.
The first machines were not elaborately built by scientists and engineers and then sold; simple people, mostly craftsmen, constructed them without prior knowledge in order to solve very specific problems with them. For example, the first automatic water pump was built to drain a coal mine. It was only worthwhile in this location because it consumed an enormous amount of coal, which was naturally available in the coal mine. The unsaleable broken coal could simply be burned in the pump. Only later did water pumps become more efficient, allowing them to be used in other industries. Most factories were set up with little financial resources, which, moreover, the entrepreneurs usually borrowed from their families.
Industrialization began in England, and many historians still puzzle over why there of all places. Ulrike Herrmann finds a conclusive explanation here: plague epidemics that had swept through the country shortly beforehand had mainly affected the lower classes and led to the deaths of many poor people. Because fewer workers were thus available for previously low-paid jobs, wages were raised sharply – and even a working lower-class family could support itself quite well on what it earned. And only where workers’ wages are high is it worth replacing human labor with machines. After all, the high acquisition costs only pay off if wages are saved in the long term as a result. Thus, the high wage level in England has led to a spread of industrialization.
This also explains the predicament in which developing countries find themselves today. In these countries, the wage level is so low that it is not worthwhile to use machines. Instead, they rely on cheap human labor.
To escape this predicament, the state would have to intervene massively and take over the financing of machines, as has happened in China. The author thus refutes another myth of economics, namely that of the free market. This has never existed, and it is also rather an obstacle to the emergence and spread of capitalism. Instead, Great Britain and the United States at the beginning – and China to this day – relied heavily on protectionism through high tariffs and the partial prohibition of imports.
Slave labor in capitalism
Moreover, Ulrike Herrmann argues that neither slave labor nor colonies were relevant to the emergence of capitalism. This is because colonies were not profitable from the beginning, nor were they necessary for the economy per se, since mainly luxury goods were produced there. This may be true at the level of society as a whole, but the author overlooks the fact that individual entrepreneurs and landowners were able to make a lot of money from luxury goods, which in turn could be invested in industrial ventures. Moreover, the importance of private trading companies such as the East India Company is underexposed in this context.
Slave labor, in turn, was said to be the most expensive of all work, which is why it was not worthwhile. Thus, in the north of the USA, where mainly unprofitable grain was cultivated, no slaves could be employed, but only wage laborers, who were also expensive, but just not as expensive as slaves in terms of maintenance. These were found only in the south of the USA, where luxury goods such as cotton and sugar cane were so profitable that slaves could be afforded. So it was logical that the north of the USA, of all places, industrialized, while the south did not for a long time. But also here it must be taken into account that agriculture – from whose profitability Herrmann derived the expensive keeping of slaves – did not first industrialize for the purpose of lower production costs. Thus, some things do not really fit together here.
The author does not attribute any importance to slavery for capitalism because the economies in which slaves were used on plantations did not contribute anything to industrialization. Thus, she shortens capitalism too much to pure industry instead of including the capital market behind it, which explains the production of luxury goods on plantations as well as the profit interest of the individual plantation owner or slave trader. She considers capitalism too much on the macro level and too little on the micro level, where it does, however, have its effect: in the compulsion to make money, the mantra of (personal) growth, and finally also in quite normal greed.
Further, Herrmann writes that since slaves do not receive wages, they did not represent a market for mass consumption. On the one hand, this is correct, but on the other hand it ignores the global dimension of capitalism. This is because the goods produced in the colonies were not primarily for the colonies themselves, but for the domestic market. Slaves were never intended to be consumers in this model. This did not change until the establishment of mass consumption, which led to the end of slavery in the Western Hemisphere. It seems that the author assumes too much about the current state of capitalism and does not take into account some developments and changes.
Capitalism and Democracy
The history of capitalism is necessarily brief but is presented quite consistently, and many aspects are illuminated that are otherwise usually left unmentioned. Nevertheless, the author subverts her own purpose in the very first pages, for the introduction does not proceed without a tribute to capitalism. Capitalism, she claims, is what made prosperity possible in the first place. One may object: If the British lower class was paid high wages before capitalism existed, and even peasants and simple field hands could afford luxuries like tea, then prosperity was there before capitalism existed. So the question is, what exactly does the author mean by prosperity, and at what point is it achieved for her.
She also believes that capitalism made democracy possible. This raises the question of which country she thinks she lives in that she finds democracy fully realized anywhere in the world. What is generally called democracy is usually little more than oligarch rule by party systems merely called democracy. Further, she argues that capitalism is a system that requires peace and stability rather than bringing war. She justifies this with the strong interconnectedness of industries and trade, which are only possible in times of peace. As an example, she cites the start of World War I, which entrepreneurs did not believe would break out and by which they were completely surprised. She goes on to say that the steel industry would not have produced any innovation worth mentioning in times of war.
She overlooks the fact that the steel industry did not have to innovate, since it earned enough with its goods in times of war even without innovation. Moreover, the first tanks were invented during World War I, albeit not in Germany but in Great Britain. Lack of innovation is not an argument against bellicose capitalism, nor has networking prevented industry from investing in war.
Moreover, Herrmann overlooks a completely different aspect: both world wars were massively financed and helped along by the financial industry, namely Wall Street, as economist Ernst Wolff has pointed out. In addition, industry profited enormously in both world wars and produced numerous innovations. One need only think of the chemical industry, which invented warfare agents such as gas for war and concentration camps. It may be that the entrepreneurs in the factories did not necessarily need or want this war.
But it is strange that an author who deals with capitalism leaves out the possibility that crises are exploited by capital owners to enrich themselves and open up new markets.
At least Ulrike Herrmann addresses the monetary system in a later section, in which money is created out of nothing through loans. However, she brushes off any criticism of this system by claiming that interest is not to blame for the growth compulsion; it is merely needed to pay the banks’ costs. Moreover, employees spend this money in turn, which means that the money remains in circulation. She does not address the mismatch between fictitious book money and real money caused by interest, which is ultimately responsible for all crises.
Capitalism and climate change
The author speaks of a necessary end to capitalism due to climate change, equating – as almost everyone does in public debate these days – environment and climate. Thus, she emphasizes the need for developed countries to lower their standard of living by stating the consumption of industrialized countries like Germany, the USA or Australia in “used up earths”: Thus, if the whole world lived as the U.S. does, it would need the resources of five Earths. Immediately afterwards, however, it changes the reference value by contrasting this figure with the carbon dioxide emissions of a developing country.
This is comparing apples to oranges. Environmental health is reduced to climate alone, equating environmental degradation with high CO2 consumption. These are clumsy simplifications that make her argument vulnerable to attack. Moreover, she makes no mention whatsoever of the fact that the narrative of man-made climate change is, at the very least, controversial. Instead, she establishes it as a dogma, and derives all of her further exposition from it.
In doing so, she concludes that there can be no green growth. She also takes aim at nuclear power, which has become a beacon of hope for many in the face of climate change, and elaborates that it covers only a vanishingly small share of the world’s energy needs. What’s more, nuclear power is an investment that gobbles up horrendous amounts of money without ever seeing a return on that expenditure. In addition, the cost of disposing of radioactive waste is borne by the general public instead of the energy companies. However, this will continue to pollute the environment for millennia, and there is not a single final repository that can safely house the nuclear waste.
But even when it comes to the topic of supposedly renewable energies, they are not interested in the waste any further. As the public debate currently has it, Herrmann assumes that more wind turbines and solar panels must be built, without taking into account the disastrous consequences for the environment. Here, then, the motto climate = environment applies again, and so everything must be done to “protect” the “climate,” no matter how much environment is destroyed. In doing so, however, it dispels the myth that the energy turnaround would be cheap and, in the final analysis, would bring everyone a windfall. The opposite is true; the energy transition will be very expensive. At the same time, she admits that there can’t be enough “renewable” energy capacity to drive the economy. Their solution: green shrinkage.
Because green growth, which economists assume, cannot exist. The rebound effect alone cancels out every effort. This means that fewer raw materials are not consumed when goods are produced more efficiently and goods or services become cheaper. The opposite is the case, as lower prices make it possible to produce in higher quantities and also to sell these products. In turn, falling prices for travel mean that people do more of it. But the CO2 tax has no effect either, because it cannot be observed that people consume less or get rid of their cars. What’s more, the tax goes to the state, which spends the money straight back on creating jobs or paying for subsidies.
Therefore, the economy would have to be shrunk green. However, a normal downturn is accompanied by massive chaos, as historical examples show. For example, the Great Depression of 1928 ultimately facilitated the rise of Nazism. Instead, the world should emulate the model of the British wartime economy beginning in 1939. During this period, the government took charge of many economic processes. It determined what should be produced and in what quantities, forced industry to produce goods essential to the war effort, and also took charge of the distribution of all goods necessary for human life. In this way, sufficient food was available to the British even during the hard times of the war, so that no one had to go hungry.
Instead, the lower classes in particular benefited enormously, because they were better nourished than they had been for a long time. Luxury goods and goods of which too few were produced to be distributed evenly were given away according to a points system. In addition, the wealthy upper class could continue to afford many of these goods.
To accomplish all this, the British government measured for the first time what the country’s needs were and what goods, commodities and resources were available. It then calculated how much was needed to serve the war economy. The gross domestic product was also invented for this purpose. So this value, which has persisted to this day, is a means of war, which says a lot about our society today, which elevates GDP to a god-like authority.
The author wants to implement this war economy in order to make the German economy “climate neutral.” In doing so, the state is to become the central authority that distributes resources and goods, up to and including food, according to a fixed budget per person. According to the author, people’s standard of living will fall, but smartphones and vacations will still be possible. Only air travel and private car traffic will no longer take place. Exactly how much the standard of living should drop depends on how much “green” energy is available for the economy. Because the author holds on to this and ignores the devastating consequences for nature.
The economy itself should remain in private hands, but be managed by the state. She thus advocates a mixture of state and private economy, a public-private partnership, which the World Economic Forum also envisions for the future. Considering the fusion of economic power with political power, which the author does not address at all, this turns the state into the administrator of the Western oligarchy. Nor does it seem to her that there is any need to create instances that ensure that the state actually acts for the benefit of the people. It simply presupposes an existing and functioning democracy, which in fact does not exist. Thus, the idea of a path to this state-led shrinking economy for the benefit of the people is missing.
Throughout the book, the author argues in a very shallow and superficial way. She reduces capitalism mainly to industry and energy production, but holds on to much of it for a supposedly green future. Herrmann, for example, considers the pharmaceutical industry an important part of civilization that should not be dispensed with. Her idea is that if only everything is powered by “green” energy, the economy will already be “climate neutral,” which she then equates with “ecological.”
As befits the prevailing debate on the subject, Herrmann completely overlooks the destructive impact on nature of these supposedly green technologies. This is because nature does not figure at all in the equation, which is solely about reducing “greenhouse gas emissions.”
Nor does it address at all the deeper interconnections of capitalism and the multiple causes of environmental degradation. Neither does it address the distortions of the monetary system, nor the compulsion to wage labor, which leads to absurd mobility. It does talk about the loss of jobs due to shrinkage; but instead of reducing work across society as a whole, it simply wants to retrain the workforce. With bans, it thinks it can counteract automobile traffic instead of focusing on limiting the need for mobility.
Rationing of food and CO2 budgets are also intended to pave the way to the green economy. This, in turn, remains in private hands and is only managed by the state. Hermann is not aiming at a real end of capitalism, as the title of the book suggests.
Only the distribution of resources and products is to be changed and the growth compulsion is to be ended, whereby Ulrike Herrmann even writes that after a phase of contraction further, albeit smaller, growth is to be possible again. The author does not dare to address the real causes of environmental degradation and does not want to overcome fundamental structures, she only wants to reform them.
Herrmann can be agreed that capitalism is responsible for great injustice on earth, produces inconceivable poverty and destroys the environment. This system would indeed have to be overcome if we wanted to find the way to a just and environmentally friendly society. However, Ulrike Herrmann does not provide a real solution or a way to get there, although she points out many important aspects, clears up some myths and ideologies and refutes the flattened ideals of green growth or the invisible hand of the market. Unfortunately, it is an eloquent distraction from the main problems and advocates a paternalistic state to which power over distribution and supply is to be transferred in its entirety.
Socially and ecologically sound management remains an issue that will determine the future of us all.
Felix Feistel, born in 1992, writes in many ways about the idiocy of this world and also against it. In a world reduced to numbers and data, which has always been alien to him, he searches for humanity and the meaning of life. He tries to use his powers and talents to create a world worth living in by opposing injustice and destruction. Despite the madness that is rampant everywhere, he is not willing to give up his belief in the goodness of man and his potential to transform the planet into a paradise. He is a member of the Rubicon Youth Editorial Board and writes for the Young Feathers column.
Distorted beyond recognition
The dictionary of the new normal is growing in size. Part 2.
16.02.2023 by Thorsten Krawinkel
An authoritarian sect
The Psychology of Totalitarianism
Mattias Desmet’s book is a landmark in clarifying and undoing the mechanisms that provide the ground for totalitarian systems.
By Kerstin Chavent
[This article posted on 2/28/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-psychologie-des-totalitarismus.]
Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University, uses sound examples and analysis in his book, The Psychology of Totalitarianism (1), to make clear how the phenomenon of mass education works. Fears and discontent arise out of social isolation and meaninglessness, which are exploited and channeled by government officials and the mass media. Building on the work of Hannah Ahrendt, it not only sharply critiques cultural groupthink, it also suggests ways in which individuals can succeed in not sacrificing themselves to the collective.
Let us imagine: A squad of gunmen ringing us out of bed early in the morning. A credit institution that blocks our accounts overnight. A government agency threatening to take away our children. Family members who are left to die alone. Sick people who cannot be treated. First aid that may not be given. Park benches that must not be sat on. Songs that may not be sung. Protest that is forbidden.
It is obvious today that many mistakes have been made in Corona politics. Some of those responsible have begun to withdraw from the limelight. Information has become public that reveals the vaccination campaign to be not only useless, but highly dangerous. Still, much of the population clings to a narrative that has done incalculable damage. Most people in Europe still think totalitarian systems can only exist elsewhere or belong to the past.
Only those who express criticism of the current Corona, Ukraine or climate policy are made to feel what we wish would never happen again. Only those who critically examine a matter have enough distance to also recognize the connections. Those who conform to the given opinion cannot see the forest for the trees. He shimmies from regulation to regulation and clings to a deceptive security that makes him believe that things are all right this way.
The good thing
Mattias Desmet, professor of clinical psychology at Ghent University, has succeeded in writing a work that makes history with “The Psychology of Totalitarianism.” He traces the narrative that has led to a large proportion of people today allowing themselves to be captured by a narrative that costs them their freedom, their dignity, and possibly their lives.
How is it that we are on the cusp of total surveillance not eighty years after the totalitarian movements of the 20th century? How is it possible that a broad majority continues to cling to the belief that it is being done for their own good?
It is the belief in the “good cause” that provided the fuel for the mass movements of the Inquisition, the terror of the French Revolution, Stalinism and Nazism. A majority was convinced of doing right and of being useful to the collective.
The most astonishing thing is that even the victims – as SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann described it at his trial – made an effort to ensure that their own extermination went as smoothly as possible. The Judenräte, made up of Jews, were given just enough responsibility to believe that they were participating in something meaningful. Because, according to Eichmann, if you don’t like doing something, then the cause suffers.
The conviction of doing something “good” can lead the masses to collaborate in the worst crimes. The world must be freed from evil, from vermin, from aristocrats. Corona vaccination protects life. The war against Russia protects democracy. The fight against climate change is the condition for survival on this planet. Those who do not go along with it are antisocial, criminal, inhuman, a danger to the community, and must be eliminated. The destruction of dissenters is, so to speak, part of good manners.
In the beginning was the psyche
In contrast to dictatorship, according to Hannah Ahrendt, the essence of totalitarian systems is psychological. They require, in addition to a willingness to blindly sacrifice personal interests and points of view to the collective, a radical intolerance of dissident voices, a paranoid denouncer mentality that ensures that state control penetrates to the very core of private life, a susceptibility to absurd indoctrination and propaganda, the adherence to a logic that transcends all ethical boundaries, the loss of all diversity and creativity, and a self-destructiveness that means that totalitarian systems always end up cancelling themselves out.
It takes courage to recognize how many of the conditions are met today. The particular situation in which we currently find ourselves demands it. On the threshold of total war, we are faced with the all-important question of whether to continue to swim with the tide and risk ultimately losing everything that defines us as human beings, or whether to step out of the increasingly torrential current and reflect on what we actually are. Do we remain impervious to what is at stake, or do we dare to approach the fundamental questions of life?
One of the deepest fears of human beings is being excluded from the community. Integration is essential to our survival. Isolation ultimately always means death. Accordingly, our whole lives revolve around the question of how we appear to others. What do they think of us? Unlike animals, our belonging is characterized by uncertainty, and our communication by ambiguity, misunderstanding and doubt. Unlike a young animal, a human child never knows exactly what its mother actually wants from it. Thus, we are always searching for what exactly we have to do in order to be loved and acknowledged.
But our efforts to make the rules unambiguous and conclusive are doomed to failure. This is because the words of human language never have a definitive meaning and are always context-dependent. Thus, our need for certainty always remains unfulfilled. In adult humans, this can lead to a kind of permanent readiness for specifications and instructions. How do I have to behave in order to belong?
How far we are willing to go to accept ever stricter regulations is currently becoming clear with the Corona crisis, the MeToo movement, the Black Lives Matter discourse or the climate debate. In parallel, a constantly growing administrative apparatus ensures that there is less and less room for subjective decisions. Thus, in a politically correct manner, we allow ourselves to be driven more and more into a corner, into the arms of totalitarian leaders who pretend to have the facts on their side in order to free us from insecurity.
For mass education to take place on a large scale, four conditions are needed. These conditions, according to Mattias Desmet, were met before the rise of Nazism and Stalinism, and they are met today: the state of general loneliness and social isolation, a lack of meaning in life, the presence of much free-floating fear and psychological unease in the population, and much unbound frustration and aggression.
When a suggestive narrative is disseminated on this ground, naming an object of fear – the Jews under Nazism, the aristocrats under Stalinism, the anti-vaccinationists during the Corona crisis – the stage is set for the population to fall into a kind of frenzy. What one thinks no longer matters; what matters is that one thinks it together. The masses believe in a narrative not because it is true, but because it creates a new sense of connection.
The Corona era showed it: The more absurd the measures are and the more they demand of you, the more enthusiastically the masses follow.
Nothing exists anymore outside the circle of light of the prevailing doctrine. Everything that falls outside the circle disappears into the darkness. The corona virus, the corona victims and the corona measures are illuminated. No light is shed on the collateral damage. It matters little, if at all, how many people are harmed or die as a result of the measures.
The process resembles hypnosis. But unlike classical hypnosis, in the phenomenon of mass education, the hypnotist is also mentally seized. In this case, the leader’s sphere of attention is usually even more narrowed than that of the masses. This is because he usually believes fanatically in the ideological basis of the narrative that dominates the mass. To say it with Goethe’s words: He believes to push, but he is pushed.
From the dead universe …
One of the great merits of Mattias Desmet’s book is not to draw enemy images, and thus to show the individual his possibilities. For, like mass education, conspiracy thinking is designed to keep people down. An elite is to blame for the prevailing conditions. But it is basically not “those up there” who direct the masses and determine events. It is an ideology.
It is not greed for money and sadism that characterize the rulers of the masses, but an ideological drive: reality must and will be adapted to the ideology. The totalitarian leader believes so fanatically in his ideology that he considers it justified to manipulate, lie and deceive without limit in order to realize it. Money and power are only intermediate goals. The ultimate goal is the realization of an ideological fiction that justifies the elimination of entire populations.
The ideology, according to Desmet, that underlies the current mass hypnosis is the mechanistic worldview that has spread since the Enlightenment. According to this, everything begins with a big bang that sets the machine of the universe in motion. Through a series of mechanistic effects, first various inorganic elements and eventually living things were created. According to this thinking, the world is a dead mechanistic process, a chain reaction of collisions of elementary particles that continues endlessly without purpose or goal.
Somewhere along the line, life and man were unintentionally brought forth. In this thinking man and world are machines which can be manipulated as such arbitrarily. If the machine is disturbed, it is repaired. The ultimate goal is to eliminate death. The human being needs to do nothing more than to be programmed accordingly. Without having to question himself as a moral and ethical being, he enjoys a maximally comfortable life, the bill for which he only has to pay later.
… to total control
It is this thinking that has led to the transformation of the entire society into an Internet of Bodies. According to the transhumanist ideal, the merging of man with machine is seen as an unavoidable necessity. To get climate problems under control, we must switch to meat from 3-D printers, electric cars, and an online society. To protect ourselves from coronavirus, we need to replace our natural immunity with artificial immunity created with mRNA vaccines.
Only through digital monitoring of human bodies by a technocratic state can we overcome the problems of the future. There is no alternative. Those who do not support the technological solution are naive and unscientific. Totalitarianism and technocracy profile themselves as the epitome of rationality and scientificity. The technocratic paradise will make the population happy and healthy – or at least offer the greatest chance of doing so.
It is this mechanistic ideology that led to social isolation, a lack of meaning, free-floating fear, and a state characterized by latent frustration and aggression. It provided the breeding ground for the great and lasting mass formations, which in turn led to the emergence of totalitarian state systems. Thus, totalitarianism is basically the symptom of a naive belief in the omnipotence of human ratiocination.
At the crossroads
The liberation from this thinking comes from science itself. The great physicists of the 20th century recognized that the smallest units of matter are not physical objects in the ordinary sense of the word, but swirling energetic systems, vibrational patterns, information, in short: ideas. In essence, the material manifestations we perceive are mental phenomena that respond to the consciousness of the researcher.
Thus, the end point of science is not perfect rational understanding and perfect control over reality, but acceptance of the limits of human ratiocination.
The nature of things, the new physics teaches, cannot be grasped rationally. Reality cannot be reduced to mechanistic schemes. The certainty we strive for and with which we try to explain the world to ourselves does not exist.
So we stand at a crossroads, like the child confronted with the fundamental uncertainty of its existence. We can shrink back from fear and follow the mechanistic-technocratic path of numbers, statistics and facts to the end. Or we can defy our narcissistic fear and accept the uncertainty that the ultimate knowledge is outside of man. It lies dormant in things. Man receives it by resonating like a string on the frequency of things.
Speaking the truth
This brings us to the core of our existence: the ability to feel our way into the things we explore, into our own experience, in order to put it into words and speak it out to the other. Our future, Desmet argues, lies not on the mechanistic-transhumanistic path, but in grasping the enormous influence of the psychic on the physical.
It is authentic, truthful speaking that can free us from mass education and totalitarianism. The way to freedom happens without violence. It leads through overcoming rhetoric to an honest and sincere expression of our subjective truth. Let’s keep at it. Let us not give up. Let’s keep going. Let’s let our words ring out in the quietest and most respectful way possible, not intrusive, and always sensitive to the irritation and anger they may provoke.
If ten to twenty percent of the people can manage to sound an alternative voice in a reasonable way, then that group can succeed in undoing mass education. We can circulate an alternative narrative of a universe filled with meaning again. In this way, we write a new story in which the mind stops screaming and the murmurings of the things of life become audible.
A recent verdict has resulted in Mattias Desmet no longer being allowed to use his own book as a textbook (2). But it is confidence that has the last word. Like all totalitarian systems, this one will eventually destroy itself. Until that happens, we know what we can do.
Sources and Notes:
(1) Mattias Desmet: The Psychology of Totalitarianism, Europa Verlag 2023.
Kerstin Chavent is an author and language teacher living in the South of France. Published in German so far are “Die Waffen niederlegen”, “Das Licht fließt dahin, wo es dunkel ist”, “Krankheit heilt” and “Was wachsen will muss Schalen abwerfen”. It was her experience with cancer that led her to write. Her themes are dealing with illness, raising awareness of creative potential, and awakening consciousness in a changing world. Read more on her blog, “Conscious: Being in Transition.”
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