Question sanctions and The cry of the poor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read also:

Oil embargo against Russia – a sanctions policy flop

Günther Grunert | June 21, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read also:

With hyper-morality and loss of reality into the abyss

Rainer Fischbach | August 02, 2022

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

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

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

Read also:

The penultimate nail in the coffin for the German export model

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Throne and altar – the unholy alliance

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

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

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

The blessed poor

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

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

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

Spiritual therapy for the rich

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

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

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

Poverty as a bride

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

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

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

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

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

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

An antisocial religion is at an end

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

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

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

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

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

God’s solidarity with the oppressed

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

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

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

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

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

Capitalist Pharisees

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

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

Wealth that makes poor

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

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

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

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

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

Author Duchrow adds:

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

“This economy kills”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beyond the duty of obedience

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

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

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

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

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

Thematically related article
Failed state

A gigantic wave of poverty is rolling toward Germany – but instead of stopping it, those in power are content to get us in the mood for it.
13.08.2022 by Roland Rottenfußer

The abolition of man
Two years ago, not only a general attack on our freedom began – it is about whether being human on this planet has a future at all.
By Gerald Ehegartner
[This article posted on 9/9/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

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

Free and independent thought seeds

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

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

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

Freedom of thought versus thought factories

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

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

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

The dictates of the narrative

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

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

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

The salvation of the world?

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

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

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

The discord between packaging and content

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

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

Propaganda machine of simplicity versus intelligent diversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The war against life and being human

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

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

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

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

Living thought banks

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

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

From No to Yes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The uprooting of the human being

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

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

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

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

The crazy salvation of the soul

Let’s not kid ourselves:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A human family

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

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

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

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

Here’s to the life that we are!

Sources and notes:

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

WEF Gründung und Aktivitäten mit Unterstützung und Leitung aus den USA

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

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Courage that transforms


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