Astonishment. The Beginning and End of Theology

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/28/18853626.php

Debt relief is absolutely essential. Making persons morally liable who are materially in debt is a mistake. Condemning the helpless and broken is completely wrong. They urgently need help. Forgiveness of material debts and moral offenses is one and the same for Jesus. Human existence is crucial.

Astonishment. The Beginning and End of Theology

by Werner Neuer

[This study presented on 11/25/2016 is translated abridged from the German on the Internet, http://www.academia.edu. This was Werner Neuer’s farewell lecture at a theological seminary after teaching systematic theology for 16 years.]

Studying theology is an astonishing voyage of discovery where great discoveries enrich one’s life and the lives of other persons enormously!

I know every Christian does not feel this way. Apart from the Christians who even see the study of theology as a danger for faith, some regard the study of theology as only a limited training phase and as a later necessary and possibly useful activity in God’s reign. Is theology a lifelong voyage of discovery or a limited period in life? True theology presupposes a lifelong learning process that never ends. The institutionalized study of theology is only the beginning of a cognitive journey with every new astonishment. My core thesis is that true theology has much to do with astonishment, with the readiness and capacity for amazement.

The Reformation whose 500th commemorative year we experience underlines the fundamental significance of astonishment for the Christian faith. Martin Luther’s astonishment over God’s boundless mercy enabled him to understand God accepts the sinful person and gives eternal life if he or she simply accepts the accomplished redemption as a child. The astonishment and jubilation over God’s bottomless love was the impulse that made Luther into a Reformer and generated a new consciousness of God’s self-revelation in the word, a new consciousness in Europe and the world that fundamentally transformed the form of theology and the church in the sense of the biblical gospel!…

One doesn’t have to be a Christian to learn astonishment…

The world of faith or the world has infinitely many reasons for amazement that give all of us reason to stop and gain deeper knowledge of the world and faith in God!

This analysis will concentrate on three steps:

I. The loss of astonishment in the modern age
II. Astonishment and the beginning of philosophy and science
III. Astonishment and the beginning and end of theology

I. The Loss of Astonishment int he Modern Age

The Protestant theologian Oswald Bayer correctly criticized: “Our age is characterized by an inability to be astonished.” (1990) The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper made a similar diagnosis in his treatise “On Astonishment”:

“Astonishing things do not happen anymore. Persons cannot be astonished. The dull square or petty-bourgeois finds everything obvious. But what is obvious? Is it obvious that we exist? Is seeing obvious?”

A philosophical axiom impressed me as a high school student in Heidelberg: “Nothing is obvious in the world.” This sentence seemed immediately clear at that time and seems immediately clear today.

What has caused the modern inability to be astonished? 

In his famous address “Science as a Calling” at the beginning of the 20th century, the famous Heidelberg sociologist Max Weber blamed the inclination of modern persons to the intellectualization and rationalization for the loss of astonishment. 

“The increasing intellectualization and rationalization – Max Weber said – has led to the notion that “no mysterious incalculable forces come into play. Rather, all things are calculable. This means the disenchantment of the world.”

Thus, the “demystification of the world” provoked by the rule of the sciences caused the modern incapacity for astonishment. The Hamburg philosopher Ekkehard Martens agrees with Weber:

“In this demystified world, isolated moments are left for lovers, poets, pious souls, simple thinkers or crackpots and children for goal-free amazement. On the other hand, nothing can dissuade the realist or man of the world. Coolness for youths is a sign of adult existence and for perfect self- and world-mastery… We are astonished about many things in everyday life that we did not expect, cannot understand or imagine in the past, about tremendous records in sports, new wonders from science and technology…But we are seldom amazed by everyday life: the frozen lake, the dawn and setting of the sun, the vast landscape, the towering mountains, the starry skies, the blossoming flowers, the newborn child and the laughter of a person. Astonishment could make us stop and reflect about the meaning of the world and our existence has hardly any place in our everyday, it seems, except for the dumb and children.

What conclusions can be drawn from analysis?

Is the loss of astonishment really a loss we must regret? Or isn’t it a sign people have become more rational and “enlightened”? Everything suggests this is a genuine loss, a real loss in humanity.

The astonishment of children is one example (and the astonishment of parents and grandparents over a child’s development). Every child discovering the amazing world is part of healthy development! This discovery of the marvelous world is joined with the necessary questioning “Why?,” with reflection and research about the nature of things. Thus, astonishment is an impulse to the rational exploration of the world and not a naive renunciation on reflection.

A child experiences this exploration of the world as joy and happiness! The Greek philosopher Aristotles declared almost 2500 years ago: “Joy comes from astonishment” (Aristotles, Rhetoric 1,2). The Middle Ages followed Aristotles when it emphasized: What excites astonishment brings about joy: “Omnia admirabilia sunt delectabilia” (Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologica I, II).

The loss of astonishment is a loss in thinking, joy and happiness – a loss of genuine humanity!

Astonishment is an expression of human existence, something specifically human, something that distinguishes persons as livint beings from animals or plants. Astonishment “is an essential part of human existence,” the philosopher Martens said. Neither animals nor machines can be astonished! Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said astonishment was the meaning of human existence: “I exist to be astonished.”

As a result, the loss of astonishment is bound with a loss in humanness!… Like the great Russian author Dostoevsky, Albert Einstein went in the same direction: “Whoever cannot be astonished and love himself in awe is already psychically dead.”

Astonishment is a specific human quality that helps to the joyful discovery of the world while loss of astonishment, visible in the modern age, represents a considerable loss in humanness, an intellectual -mental blunting or hardening that should be deplored. 

II. Astonishment and the Beginning of Philosophy and Science

Astonishment was the prerequisite for the genesis of western philosophy… Mystery belongs to the reality of the world and cannot be rationalistically dissolved. The world can only be “disenchanted” when human reason presumes on principle to explain and understand everything… The philosopher and physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker declared: “Physics leads to deeper mysteries and does not explain away the mysteries of nature.” In their book “How Astonishment came to the Universe,” the astro-physicist Harald Lesch and the biologist and philosopher of nature Christian Kummer said “What is known and understood leads to astonishment or misunderstood mysterious phenomena.”

In summary, the intellectual presuppositions for discrediting astonishment dominant in the rationalistic modern age cannot survive critical examination and should be rejected as a malformation! Regaining amazement as a basic attitude promoting discovery and research and stimulating the sciences and philosophy is vital! Amazement plays an important role for the unity of science and literature, art and music…

III. Astonishment – The Beginning and End of Theology

Astonishment is key for the Advent- and Christmas narrative of the evangelist Luke, that narrative of the incarnation of God’s Son with which Christian faith begins. The announcement and preparation of Jesus’ birth according to Lk 1,21 and 1,63 is greeted by contemporaries with amazement. People reacted with amazement to the appearance of angels and to the naming of John the Baptist. This continues in the Christmas story from Lk 2, 18-33. The shepherds showed great astonishment according to the Luke account… Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas oratorio begins with an ecstatic choir “Rejoice, rejoice!” Since then, Christian theology has been proclaiming with ever new astonishment the grateful joy of redemption, the jubilant adoration of the Trinitarian God revealed to us persons in Jesus!

Astonishment over the amazing reality was the starting point for Christian theology, philosophy and the sciences. The protestant systematic theologian Eberhard Juengel exclaims: “Christian faith comes to life with astonishment.”… God’s creation is treated in philosophy and the sciences. God’s glory and goodness in the world can be known despite the human neediness for redemption. In their discoveries, philosophy and the individual sciences are involved with God’s world even if they ignore the knowledge of God for methodological reasons. Philosophy and the sciences always have reason for inexhaustible amazement since the creation reflects something of God’s being and endless glory (Isa 63)!

However this glory – in a world marked by evil, death and suffering – is only a weak reflection revealed with the baby int he manger, the coming of Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son who could say “I and the Father are one!” In him, God turned his face graciously to us humans once for all! This makes Christmas, Easter and Pentecost into jubilant feasts of accomplished redemption year after year. Every Sunday the week begins with the joyous certainty to the resurrection and the indestructible hope for God’s new eternal world…

The event of Jesus Christ’s incarnation and redemption gives Christian theology a unique and special place as a discipline, not a place for pride or arrogance! This special position is always an occasion for humble astonishment, permanent joy and thankful worship. Like every discipline, theology is marked by effort, exertion and struggle, as Luther rightly emphasized. Astonishment, joy and worship are essential for theology. This should permanently define our faith and perception, our study and our research as Christian theologians! With passion and development, we draw conclusions that deepen and enrich our life for time and eternity…

God’s revelation in Jesus Christ is the theme of our study and determines our life in the present and is not only an event in the past. Therefore, Christian theology is a discovery of the present God who promises to continue and perfect what began in Jesus. The great Swiss theologian Adolf Schlatter who tirelessly referred to the inalienable significance of history for the Christian church and theology underlined the present-ness of salvation history…

The work of God is eternal and not past. The divine work is present to us with the present God… The central theme of our theology is the living Christ who is present to believers in the Holy Spirit and guarantees a perfect eternal future to his community.

We have occasion to be astonished about Christ’s presence in his church, in the world and in the sacraments promised to us and experienced anew again and again and not only about a unique revolution history! Christ is and remains present with his forgiving, comforting and rectifying love! “Behold, I am with you always to the close of the age” (Matt 28, 16). Christian theology is a living, present-referring discipline and not a mere guardian of a glorious religious past. The catholic theologian Lothar Lies SJ rightly admonishes that theology atrophies to a mere religious study when it forgets astonishment over Christ’s presence in the life of the church and believers.

Our meditation about the significance of astonishment for Christian theology is incomplete if we ignore the future promised by God. Theology is based on the future promised by God and not only on an amazing past in Jesus’ incarnation and redemption and on the no less astonishing presence of the Lord in his word and in the sacraments. The future will make small the suffering of our earthly existence in a way that is unimaginable now. One of the most daring sentences of the New Testament is a statement of the Apostle Paul in Rom 8, 18 who experienced immense suffe4ring in his life: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

We should be amazed about this statement. One day we may be astonished about the reality of this promise. Then our amazement or wonder will be complete and joined with eternal joy and eternal love int he everlasting community with Jesus Christ, with our heavenly Father and with the Holy Spirit. Then the often arduously contested earthly form of theology will be ended and transformed into a contemplation of God’s glory and the new humanity created by God and ruled by love. We find the incredible promise toward the end of the biblical revelation” “God himself will be with them. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be any mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former thins have passed away” (Rev 21).

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Ivan Illich: Society Caught in the Fangs of the Need-Makers

by Manfred Bundschuh

[This article posted on 4/11/1977 is translated by Marc Batko from the German on the Internet in Scheidewege, vol 7.]

Correctly naming an epoch helps to discover the possibilities in that epoch. I propose the middle of the 20th century be called “The epoch of the decay of expert rule.”

In their games, children mix up the gibberish now polluting our language with the jargon of chief robbers and cowboys. Now they are called “president” and “director” and not “chief” or “watchman” any more.

In the schooling period, the young were trained in the first third of their lives to develop needs according to rules while in the other two thirds they were only the customers of skilled sellers who defined their lifestyles. Predicting whether the epoch will be remembered with a laugh or a curse would be reckless. I hope it will be remembered like a night when the father drank
away the family’s wealth and forced the children to begin again. Very likely this will be a time when our rapacious hunt for wealth when all freedoms were up for sale and politics was organized violence.

I would like to describe five myths on whose ground we became the slaves of experts. First, we must make clear that the groups of specialists who decided over the production, recognition and satisfaction of needs represent a new kind of cartel. They are established more firmly than the guilds. They are more international than any union and more stable than any party. They have more powers than any clergy and control those to be protected more tightly than any media.

The expertocracy is one of many forms that have control over work. Unions and professional associations decide who should work for how many hours and at what wage. They determine how the work should be done and by whom. The experts go even further. They decide what should be manufactured and for whom. The experts tell us what we need.

Fast transportation systems make persons passengers for 17% of their waking hours…

The first myth enslaving us is the theory that persons are destined to be consumers and that all their goals can be reached by acquiring goods and services.

The second enslaving myth creates a license for expanding corporate rule out of all technical progress. This deception says instruments inevitably become more complicated and inscrutable when they become more efficient for a certain goal and therefore must be used by people who are better trained and who can be trusted.

The third similarly paralyzing myth is that useful tools must be tested by experts before lay persons can use them.

The fourth paralyzing myth is that experts must set growth limits. Whole populations were trained to need what was prescribed to them and now expect rules about what they do not need.

The fifth enslaving myth is radical abstinence. These myth-makers now babble about self-help like the prophets of the 1960s blab about the excesses of development assistance.

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“The Bible refutes everything sold to us as true in capitalism”

Interview with Eugen Drewermann

[This interview posted on June 11, 2018 is translated from the German on the Internet, Aktuelle Artikel by Marc Batko. Eugen Drewermann is a theologian, therapist, church critic and author.]

What significance can the Bible have in the 21st century if it is not merely handed down as a document of a long past epoch? In analyses over decades, the German theologian and psychoanalyst, Eugen Drewermann emphasized the existential dimension of the biblical writings. At the center is a God proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth who makes possible trust in life and enables persons to oppose injustice and violence.

“A camel can pass through the eye of a needle easier than a rich man can enter God’s reign.” In the gospels, we find this answer from Jesus to the question of the rich young man about eternal life. Can this story give us an orientation on wealth and poverty and what we should do in light of an unjust economic system?

The story of the rich young man has often been interpreted as a call to moral asceticism. Give away everything! No one can do this. Jesus warns of money more strongly than of the devil. In the 6th chapter of Matthew, he says we must choose: We cannot serve God and mammon. The rich young man is presented as someone who fulfilled all the commandments. Then he broke down…We think the money in our bank account is our earnings which may be true from a middle-class perspective. This impression is completely wrong in Jesus’ eyes. Nothing belongs to us, not even our life. The prerequisite for being able to work is sour health. We only have a slight influence on that. If we define such happiness as a gift from God’s hands, money is never a possession, a claimed right or property. It is God’s loan.

This story is directed to everyone. Isn’t the Bible a book written from the view of the suffering and for the suffering, for the poor and excluded? How do we as the well-to-do and privileged have a connection to this?

What Jesus said is directed to all people. It is Paul’s discovery that Jesus’ redeeming message that liberates from all the pressures of civil existence is necessary for every person everywhere in the world and at every moment of time. That the Bible sees the world from the perspective of the oppressed and marginalized is a wish of theologians. Jesus adopted this perspective. While the theme money is a basic existential problem, Jesus emphasizes persons. When he sees them first as sufferers, it is as persons who live in contradiction with themselves on account of their anxieties, guilt-feelings and estrangement. Whoever wants to help an individual person who is mentally ill, for example, should put the power systems in question that exploit and estrange him. The structures of power are objectively in the background. Jesus changes reality by overthrowing the value order, not with violence and insurrection.

Where is this seen in the Bible?

This is brought to a finale in the 25th chapter of Matthew. Jesus’ last parable turns around the question what will happen when God comes to judge our life. The Son of man will not ask how rich we are or how we climbed the career ladder. The questions are simple. What did you do to relieve the distress of the persons in your life who were naked, in prison, sick or suffering hunger? These social questions can obviously be translated inwardly. But if we only hear “I was a foreigner” from Jesus, then the migration problem of our days is seen in a new way. In Europe’s screening of millions of people, blocking boats, rescuing refugees in distress at sea hindered by Italian and Libyan military, Europe does everything to screen itself ever more – against a distress for which it is the economic cause.

But isn’t the Bible past?

The Bible is an archaic book with a history of around three thousand years. It is anchored in an Oriental legal system that must lead to unbearable and inhuman conditions if interpreted literally in our days. Reading the Bible ahistorically as happens in fundamentalist and Zionist circles is very dangerous.

That we have something like a “filter” in the person of the man from Nazareth is important. He taught us to read the Bible – his holy book only understandable in his person – with the eyes of love, a love trusting in God in the absolute sense. Jesus filters out violence, possession of power, oppression and extermination of foreign people often shown in symbolic form in the conflict with oneself. In the Bible, Jesus explains how to accompany persons from fear to trust, from aggression to mutual aid and from vengeance to forgiveness.

What does the Bible mean to you very personally?

For me, Jesus’ message is the foundation for living in this world. The words and actions of the man from Nazareth in the gospels allow light to stream through the prison walls and make me believe there is another better world outside. I will not stop believing even if failures are more likely than a real great breakthrough in what we call history.

In the early 1920s, the philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote a text that has remained a fragment: “Capitalism as Religion.” Benjamin was convinced that capitalism was an “essentially religious phenomenon” and not only a religiously-informed creation. In your 2017 trilogy “Capital and Christianity,” you support Benjamin’s thesis and go beyond this saying capitalism is a “religion without God and without grace.” How do you make your argument?

“Capitalism is a religion without grace” by Benjamin can be read on the Internet. Benjamin opposes religion as it was in the past and as it tried to bring about a kind of human debt relief with sacrificial practices. This drives people intentionally and necessarily into ever greater degrees of indebtedness. It causes war instead of preventing it. It is the realized apocalyptic.

Capitalism is the poisoned and developed fruit of a degenerate Christianity.

Benjamin underrated the history of Christianity. Church and state, earthly power and God’s rule, have been “pressed together” since 312 A.D., Constantine’s Battle at the Mohavan Bridge to the present in such a way that it is hard to see clearly w2hat is religion today. Capitalism is the poisoned but developed fruit of a degenerate Christianity. It is the perversion of all redemption claims and promises in Jesus’ message.

But many churches are more critical today toward the state and the economy.

This comes too late when they remember we have an obligation to the poor. The churches sit in the middle of the financial tower that they cannot leave without wrecking everything they built. A fresh start is vital. Luther tested this a half-millenium ago in his indulgence theses and his criticism of interest usury. Unfortunately, he missed attacking the military and the state authority. Instead, the whole Reformation movement was split in the armed resistance of Thomas Munzer in the Peasant Wars and the reactionary answer found by Martin Luther. We need an inner
synthesis. Then we would have Jesus again – healing people by questioning the outward systems of oppression. That would be the right sequence.

The financial crisis of the last years made clear that financial debts and moral culpability are very near each other. For example, the supposedly “lazy” Greeks are blamed for the rotten credits taken by the economic leaders and bank manager. The weak and powerless need debt relief. That is a deeply Biblical theme!

Debt relief is absolutely essential. Making persons morally liable who are materially in debt is a mistake. Condemning the helpless and broken is completely wrong. They urgently need help. Forgiveness of material debts and moral offenses is one and the same for Jesus. Human existence is crucial. For Walter Benjamin, human debt relief occurs in the religions through sacrificial acts. This idea is connected in Christianity with Jesus’ crucifixion. But in reality, Jesus was crucified for rejecting the whole sacrificial praxis in the temple in the hands of the high-priests. Jesus taught a God who did not require sacrifice to forgive persons who did not need any preliminary works to be forgiven.

What is Jesus’ alternative attitude?

Jesus contrasts trust to this praxis – to accept without preconditions, to hope and rely on forgiveness under all circumstances. Therefore, he starts an argument with the high-priests in the temple, the so-called temple cleansing. This is the reason for his recourse to the prophet Jeremiah. In the New Covenant, God forgives without any condition. The temple was destroyed under Nebukadnezar III, 587 B.V. There was no place to bring sacrifices any more. If all this is true, forgiveness is a basic condition for living rightly, not something we must negotiate on economic and moral planes. The whole money-economy first arose out of the sacrificial practices of the priests…Money without culpability is not imaginable; interest is only the expression for that. Breaking with all that would be the end of the capitalist money economy from the foundations of human existence.

You emphasize the necessity of a radical transformation of the state. The state should serve humanity and no longer capital. At the same time, you ask how persons are transformed and who should carry out the transformation of the state. Transformation in your sense and according to Erich Fromm means becoming free from the “fear of freedom.” How can this happen?

The answer is rather clear when you cite Fromm or psychoanalysis generally. Overcoming fear implies a trust enabling a person to be consistent. This is a long process that cannot be commanded from the outside or gleened from demonstrations that cannot be organized in large groups. Transformation happens in individuals. The normal form of overcoming fear is collectivization, the surrender of personal freedom to the mass, the desire to be guided in an authoritarian way. That is the history in which we find ourselves. We have a state that promises us security inwardly and outwardly. We are being rearmed with gigantic sums of money. This does not promote security but creates an alibi for the hegemonial strategies of the US. In addition, the state today is no longer only a power machine with a military will of self-assertion for the economic control of jobs, resources, exploitation and sales routes worldwide. We face a regulation-. disciplinary-, and control-authority in the genes of every individual. Everything is stored so the market has access to the data.

Can we really only change this system from within in slow individual processes? Must not people be organized to stop the wheel of today’s world order? Is there no collective that can be defined positively?

We can only change something when we as individuals stand up for our convictions in freedom. Otherwise, we threaten to become dependent on money, influence, media and the general public. This rearmament removes us from ourselves and is a real danger. It is discussed in the New Testament. In chapter 4 of Matthew, the devil offers Jesus rule over the whole world. He only needed to fall on his knees and worship Satan. One sells one’s soul and instantly has an abundance of money and power.

Proletarians of the world, unite! This ancient dream is unlikely but urgent.

Whoever sees what helps people is obliged to publically support this transformation. Psychotherapists could say unanimously: we need a pedagogy that prevents a great number of people from becoming mentally ill wen their mental illnesses, addictions and personality weaknesses are exploited. What is first analyzed in individual conversations is announced to the public to change the political reality. Physicians act this way. How much does anxiety eat into our bodies? How do we deal with sick persons? How do we resist sickness and death by car accidents?

Here is an example. We have huge industrialized large-scale animal husbandry whose slaughterhouses can only be kept going when animal physicians collaborate. What would happen if they revolted together?… Animal torture must be prevented…

The ancient dream, Proletarians of the world, unite! is very unlikely but urgent. That the lower class itself will rebel is illusory. Rebelling from a position of weakness is hardly conceivable…

Believing in the message of life is the most important form of returning to humanliness and not believing in death any more. The basic feeling of worthlessness and frailty stands in the background of all anxieties. The natural philosophy worldview makes us competitors. Who is the best, the most diligent, the most productive and the most successful – in the struggle over life and death? Only the winners get everything. Second place is the same as destruction. In this merciless world, Jesus’ message has saving significance. There is more to fear than death. That we don’t live rightly should be feared. To live rightly, we need the confidence that we will be in God’s hands and death will not be the last word about our life.

There is more to fear than death. That we don’t live rightly out of pure fear should be dreaded.

Leaving this world means returning to God’s hands and seeing everything with God’s eyes. Resurrection is the key word of Easter. Those who killed Jesus only showed the power of organized sadism. What was said at the Sea of Genesareth is true. Happy are those who can still cry in this world. Happy are those who dare to be defenseless. Happy are those who know and recognize their poverty. Only they are capable of truth, peace and common interests. These words refute everything served up to us as true. The orientation of our life depends on this leap across seventy-thousand fathoms of water (cf. Soren Kierkegaard).

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The Humor of Jesus by M Batko, W Meyer and K Chavent

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/24/18853574.php

THE HUMOR OF JESUS
by Marc Batko

After much meditation and reflection, I firmly believe that Jesus made fun of individualism and profit-oriented economic systems. Winning people to trust the infinite, invisible and transcendent God was surely his central goal. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” he asked his calculating counterpart. “No sparrow falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. You are worth more than many sparrows!”

Jesus seeks to elicit faith and trust from the everyday experiences of his compatriots. Not trusting in the Creator out of nothing seems ridiculous. Could all the magnificence of the universe have arisen through chance or accident? No, that seems preposterous. That birds fly in patterns, that flowers are more radiant than emperors, and that human bodies can heal through self-organization and divine intervention are clear to the unprejudiced eye.

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We are also faced with the temptations of materialism, spiritual pride and megalomania. Perhaps it is the barrage of advertising that convinces us of our inadequacy and imperfection. Advertising is the word of the sellers, not the word of the workers from below. That we are divine and earthly as Kierkegaard taught is drowned out by the unending assault “Buy, buy, buy.”

Life can be lived on many levels or even not lived at all. “Friendship with the world is enmity with God,” we read in James. “Without humility, there is no sense of wonder,” Kierkegaard warned. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near,” was Jesus’ first word. Martin Luther made Jesus’ first word the first thesis in his “95 Theses Against the Sale of Indulgences.”

Back in 2017, http://www.perestroika.de published the “95 Theses Against the Rule of the Financial Markets.” “How can you know the signs of the weather and not the signs of the times?” Jesus asked. A contemporary paraphrase could be: “Are not two mayors or two bankers sold for $1000?”

Trusting God should be a no-brainer. By faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. Faith that is personal and never private is more interruption than custom.

Christian faith that is historical is worlds away from “feel-good cultural Christianity.” Don’t let Jesus and revolutionary faith become a shopping jingle! Build your house on the rock, not on the sand of speculation. There is one friend closer than any brother. Dual citizenship and inrternationalization are fruits of empathy and humility and results of the new person in Christ!

Conventional Christianity and Prophetic Christianity

In his prolific life, Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) sought to introduce New Testament Christianity into the comfortable Christianity of Copenhagen, Denmark. Tame language and social acceptance are central in conventional Christianity. In the US, fundamentalist TV networks (like TBN) emphasize “growing in Christ” and don’t even mention the hunger, suffering, poverty and violence in the atomized and commodified world outside!

Jesus is and was the Messiah inaugurating and representing God’s boundless love and present and future eschatological reign. Christianity is life, not doctrine or dogma. Faith that is always personal and never private is more interruption than custom. Remembrance is key; “there is one friend closer than any brother.” The race is to the most humble and most selfless, not to the richest. Can we become spiritual and post-materialists as a counter-culture minority in a culture that runs after outfielders and tap dancers?

“Without humility, there is no sense of wonder,” Kierkegaard warned. If we don’t become as children, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. The child is the model of obedience and curiosity losing himself or herself in the wonder of the moment. Adults become possessed by their possessions and often miss life by concentrating on the ladder of success. Jesus spent his life comforting the poor and decrying poverty, not fomenting fear and the myth of self-righteousness.

Christianity is historical and international, not insular, morose and comfortable. 

Hearkening back to the prophet Jeremiah, Jesus announced the new spiritual covenant written on our hearts surpassing the old covenant of the temple and the law. Under the lordship of Jesus of Nazareth, stoning adulteresses is forbidden and disciples are allowed to pluck corn on the Sabbath. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” 

The law prepares us for the mercy and boundless love of God and loses its absoluteness. As liberation theologians Benedikt Kern and Julia Lis (cf. the Institute of Theology and Politics) proclaim, charity means toppling the powerful from their thrones. The last will be first and the first will be last. What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me.

By faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Dogmas, ceremonies, rituals and even priests and pastors can detract from the words of Jesus. By their fruits, you will known them. Why do you spend your money for what is not bread?

Consider the lilies of the field, they aren’t competitive and don’t cry for corporate welfare! Outwardly, we fall apart but inwardly we are renewed.

The prophet Jeremiah carried around a broken pot to show the destruction about to befall Israel. The US economy is an economy of indebtedness and enrichment that resists correction and fashions a whole theology justifying speculation, tax havens, tax avoidance, stock buybacks and mini-second betting (the casino economy).

Profit-making is different than profit-maximizing (cf. economist Ulrich Thielemann). When profit is made absolute, stakeholders, nature and the future are taken hostage. “If I don’t maximize my profit, I will be crushed by my competitors and will disappear.”

When profit is made an idol, system criticism is repressed and the fetishes of market and competition are heralded as natural laws.

See how the consumer culture refuses self-criticism and waste criticism! Trump even made the Eli Lilly CEO Alex Azar the Secretary of Health and Human Services even though the price of insulin tripled under his rule of Eli Lilly. Already a millionaire heiress before her nomination, Education Secretary Betsy Devos replaced public schools with private schools and was enriched through student debt charges. 

Now Biden’s new neo-cons, Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, the US assistant Secretary of State, and Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense seem like retrograde copies of the Project for the American Century, Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld. On the eve of the destruction of Iraq, the land of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the cradle of civilization, the neo-cons issued the Project for the New American Century to justify the sole US supremacy and hegemony in the uni-polar world order. In an interview on KBOO.fm radio in the 1990s, Richard Pearl said solidarity meant agreeing with the US. In 1945. the UN Charter prohibited war and threats of war. 

Liberation theologian Dorothee Soelle warned that the arms race kills even without war. In the hubris of megalomania, neo-cons claimed we are an empire and make our own reality to which the rest of the world must adapt! Victoria Nuland admitted the US “five billion dollar investment” in the 2014 coup against the elected leftist Ukrainian president Yanukovich and recently conceded the existence of US-assisted “biological research facilities” in Ukraine. Anthony Blinken refused any phone communication with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov.

War and militarism can never be an answer or solution. Every war has two losers, poet William Stanton argued. The American empire is sure to fall in its insularity and insolence. “The one thing we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history,” lamented Albert Einstein. Defense Secretary Austin calls for total victory and the uncoupling of Russia from Europe. 

Russia is part of Europe and has pleaded for its sovereignty rights for twenty years to the deaf uni-polar hegemon. Russia demands that the Ukraine not be armed with nuclear weapons as a NATO state. It can take only four or five minutes for a hyper-sonic missile to reach Moscow from Ukraine.

Austin raked in millions as a Raytheon CEO and adopted a worshipful attitude toward weapons. Financed by the military-industrial complex, the US media resists criticism and the arising multi-polar world and applauds the misanthropic Russophobia and hatred of China.

We are two lost souls swimming in the same fish bowl year after year, the successful British rock group Pink Floyd exclaim. Have we discovered the same old fears? The Project for the New American Century repeats the uni-polar myth that the US can only be controlled by the US Behemoth. Truth and reality must give way to the pathological narcissism and pathological paranoia of the US neo-cons. Still history shows with the United Kingdom that empires can become democracies and accept their interdependent place in a changing multi-polar world.

“Without vision, the people perish”

In elite democracy, the deciders are not the elected and the vast majority are never consulted on issues of war and peace, social security and barbarism. In the last two decades, the US has cancelled important arms agreements with Russia, reestablished the blockade of Cuba and even threatened war (Trump) on three sovereign states before the UN General Assembly.

Housing is a human right and is incompatible with private profits and market logic. Housing is a creative human challenge since we are not clams with built-in housing (cf. Housing as a Human Right). In financial market capitalism, everything is done to avoid frightening the financial markets that are likened to timid, super-sensitive deer. After the 2008 meltdown, the financial or speculative sector should be shriveled and the public sector expanded. 

The collapse of the energy company Enron should have been a warning. Enron added future profits to its current balance sheet and organized 2-day blackouts in democratic districts in San Francisco like the Mission district.

Reconciliation

Reconciliation means relativizing a conflict by finding agreement on a higher level. Back in the 16th century, the philosopher Rene Descartes said the assumption of an existing God was rational and God’s non-existence was irrational. To win an argument, Descartes argued, tell the disputant he is right. To overcome restlessness, learn a little philosophy or theology. 

God is not necessary but more than necessary in our secular world, the Tubingen theologian Eberhard Juengel explained.

The response to the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that rapid change is not only desirable but possible. Japanese philosopher and researcher Kohei Saito wrote. During the pandemic, we learned that we can dramatically change our way of life overnight – we started working from home, bought fewer things, flew and ate out less. “We proved that working less was friendlier to the environment and gave people a better life.”

The singularity of Jesus is a scandal to reason and worldly thinking. Christian theology declares that the universal needs the particular to be concrete and convincing. The penultimate needs the ultimate as its vision and goal. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the theologian and author of Costs of Discipleship, Ethics, and Letters and Papers from Prison, is the highest name in Germany. After attempting a July 20, 1944 murder of the tyrant Hitler, he was martyred in the Flossenburg concentration camp in 1945. “The language of proclamation runs crossways to the language of time,” he exclaimed. “Life is inevitably fragmentary.” “For me, death is not the end but the beginning.”

Kairos time, different from everyday time, is the time of decision, Bonhoeffer taught in his book Ethics. With Hitler’s assumption of power, Germany found itself in a biblical time of decision. “International Jewry was exterminating Germany,” the misanthropic chancellor kept repeating again and again. Because of the “total war,” all power had to be given to Hitler. All areas of life, including churches, schools, and athletic events had to become obedient to Hitler in those twelve dark years.

Concentration of wealth and income leads to a narrowing of debate and censorship. Five or six corporations dominate 90% of publishing and 90% of broadcasting. Conventional, trickle-down and money-out-of-thin-air economics prevail at US universities. System alternatives and system criticism are excluded from the educational system. Scholars, professors, researchers and students are told to accept the dominant myth or narrative of profit maximization. If they refuse, their research and writings will be barred from important journals and their academic accreditation will be jeopardized. This is really neoliberal totalitarianism. 

Capitalism can only survive if it is radically changed so that market distortions and contradictions are removed. In his vital book The One-Dimensional Man, the sociologist Herbert Marcuse showed how the one-dimensional society suffocates in fear and becomes intolerant of criticism. With its massive wealth, the US often seems insolent and arrogant, winning the war after losing all the battles!

The Care economy, the steady-state economy and the de-growth economy are radical alternatives to trickle-down myths and casino economies.

Person-oriented work is vital in transitioning to a post-Fordist and digital economy. With encouragement and humility, nearly everyone could become a formidable translator, researcher or story-teller thanks to DeepL.com. Profit-maximization can be idolatrous and constitutionally offensive. Stakeholders, nature and future generations must be included in economic development. By eliminating tax havens, tax avoidance, stock buybacks and mini-second betting, trillions of dollars can be recovered to aid states and communities in re-balancing distribution and overcoming the food, housing and health crises.

Inequality hurts, economist and 2001 Nobel-prize winner Joseph Stiglitz emphasizes. All of society is affected and even traumatized by exploding inequality. According to the constitution, the Federal government should protect the life, liberty and happiness of all citizens.

But instead of being pro-active, the US government has not strengthened social security as a foundation of life. One earning $5 million only pays social security tax on the first $142K. The US government has not removed the other market distortions: tax havens, the tax avoidance industry, stock buybacks and mini-second betting. The state has become “the errand boy of the banks” (Bill Moyers). inept and inert.
The Prophets and The Warners

“The light shines in the darkness, not only above the darkness” (John 1)

“Behold, I make a new spiritual covenant that I will write on your hearts” (Jeremiah)

“Hearts of stone can become hearts of flesh” (Amos)

“Behold, the injustice of the callous rich and powerful who sell the poor for a pair of sandals” (Amos)

“How can you know the signs of the weather and not the signs of the times?” (Jesus)

“By faith, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ” (Romans)

“I came to bring not peace, but a sword” (Jesus)

“Unless you turn and become as a child, you cannot be born again and enter the kingdom of God” (Jesus)

“Many false prophets and false Christs will come and deceive many” (Jesus)

The Son of man will be known by his wounds suffered for human redemption and the end of human sacrifice.

Jesus is the fulfillment of the land promise to Israel.

Learn to think spiritually, not carnally.
____________________________________________________________________

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

the ceremony of innocence is drowned.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

are full of passionate intensity. 

(William Buttler Yeats, 20th century poet

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The time has come
During Advent, darkness approaches its peak, while at the same time the light of hope shines ever brighter.
by Willy Meyer
[This article posted on 12/21/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/die-zeit-ist-gekommen.]

With each passing day of Advent, darkness increases, yet Christians feel hope, joy and promise right now. Filled with inner gratitude, they light small lights in confident anticipation of their salvation. They have been doing this for many hundreds of years, often in spite of the most adverse circumstances and the ridicule and incomprehension of their fellow human beings. They express their gratitude even in these times of arbitrary exclusion, of a global environmental catastrophe brought about by the military-industrial complex, and of a looming, all-devouring totalitarianism. Are they still in their right mind?

“Rejoice always. Give thanks in connection with everything” (Thessalonians 5:16,18). Rejoice? Give thanks? The way the world is right now, few people feel impelled to such behavior. The world is bad, there is war in many places, lack, fear, oppression, tribulation and misery. On the horizon no ray of light of approaching salvation, rather still gloomy prospects, for it still more concentrated and hopeless, soon available mRNA-triple vaccinations (1) for example, or the digital total surveillance (2). Inflationary rising prices and energy shortage cloud the pre-Christmas mood, everywhere the worry stands gigantic and darkens everything in its shade.

And yet the English author Daniel Defoe had his hero Robinson Crusoe write in his fictional autobiography in 1719: “All of our discontents about what we want appeared to me to spring from the want of thankfulness for what we have.” (“All of our discontents about what we want seemed to me to spring from a lack of gratitude for what we have”) (3). Crusoe was the sole survivor of a shipwreck and spent 28 years of his life on a desert island, which he subjugated in all the glory of Protestant enlightenment. He was, however, just as much a simple man who struggled with his creaturely fate, as Michel Tournier’s adaptation of the novel (Vendredi ou les limbes du Pacifique, 1969) vividly demonstrated.

How is it conceivable that a person in such a hopeless situation would fall for the idea of being grateful for what is, or rather for what he has? In Crusoe’s case, one could start with the fact that at least his bare life was left to him. Moreover, he found everything necessary for survival on his desert island. The fact that he was able to hold out there for no less than 28 years, however, is due in no small measure to his own ability to show gratitude. Gratitude and humility are powerful attitudes that not only bring joy to those who experience them, but also strengthen those who express them.

Gratitude Research

Gratitude researcher Dr. Robert A. Emmons defines gratitude as a conscious process by which we appreciate all the good things in the world, such as beauty and diversity. In doing so, we acknowledge that there are things or living beings outside of ourselves that are worth fighting for, that we are even indebted to them for giving us rich gifts. Religious people often find this recognition easier, since they have an awareness of spiritual dimensions and effective forces anyway (4).

In fact, shown gratitude has a positive effect on the grateful person. Studies show that those who show gratitude subjectively feel better and also experience demonstrable health benefits because of their attitude.

On a psychological level, grateful people are more awake, active and lively; physically, they have lower blood pressure, lower levels of inflammation-promoting biomarkers and deeper night sleep; in the interpersonal sphere, they behave more empathetically, are more helpful and feel less lonely or even isolated. The positive effects listed have been demonstrated in several studies (5). Of course, sincerely grateful people are by no means concerned with personal advantages – quite unlike the Freemason and co-author of the U.S. Constitution Benjamin Franklin (1706 to 1790), who in his autobiography (1771) anecdotally and not very modestly tells how one can win over one’s fellow men for oneself by asking them for a small favor, for which one then shows gratitude (6), a phenomenon that subsequently entered science as the “Ben Franklin effect” (7).

Gratifying effects

Sincerely witnessed gratitude, on the other hand, connects the doer and the thanked, thus laying a foundation for a sense of togetherness and togetherness. The thanker testifies to his dependence, his vulnerability; the obligor to his magnanimity and fellow humanity. In this way, a social bond is created between the two, from which social networks are spun. Now gratitude is not always necessarily directed to a concrete person; it can just as well be directed to life itself, to the world, to nature, to the grace and miracles that surround us, whereby the thankful person consciously locates himself as part of this great creation.

Admittedly, it is no great art to express one’s gratitude in the face of unexpected help or overwhelming abundance. It is quite different when one can feel and even express a sense of gratitude even in difficult times and in the face of overwhelming challenges. Many are currently frightened by the hubris of the powerful, the deep divisions in society, the rampant curtailment of fundamental rights, the ever louder drumming of war. Even the Christmas season has lost its magic and harmony – peace within the family is gone, the churches pay homage to genetic experiments and the climate agenda, the consumer mania buries any spiritual impulse among those who are eager to buy.

Pausing with gratitude

But I feel gratitude. My life is so much richer and easier than that of my ancestors. I enjoy until recently undreamed-of advantages and benefits, immeasurable treasures of knowledge and experience. Certainly, the past two and a half years have not passed me by without leaving a trace. They have turned many friends into strangers and forced me to do without things I had taken for granted in my daily life. They have shaken me to the core; they have called everything into question and demanded truthfulness. I had to realign myself and my life and leave the comfortable path. I had to take a new path, overcome hurdles, show courage and strength, even if I sometimes lacked it. For that I am grateful.

Life has blessed me beyond measure. New friends crossed my path, more satisfying tasks presented themselves unexpectedly, everyday life had to be completely reorganized, values came under scrutiny, fundamental questions were asked. All this did not happen overnight and not by itself. It was neither particularly easy nor painless, nor is the process complete. But I set out on the new path – and for that I am very grateful.

Practicing gratitude

There are ways to initiate a grateful attitude within yourself. At the end of the day, everyone can give thanks for all the beautiful and positive things that have happened to them that day. You can do this in the form of a list, a diary entry, a prayer. Guidance and help can be found in guides such as the book “Thanks!” by Dr. Emmons (8), websites such as Thanx4.org or Greater Good in Action, which explain how to write a gratitude letter or take other steps toward consciously living gratitude.

“A time has arrived for us that brings great joy … From high heaven a shining silence fills hearts with bliss …” The well-known Christmas carol exhorts gratitude not for material goods or individual benefits. Life itself and salvation through turning to and trusting in divine assistance are the gift for anyone who wants to accept it. It does not lie colorfully wrapped under the blinking Christmas tree among countless other boxes. Whoever wants to find it must go out, leave behind familiar comforts and rituals, perceive with all senses and an open heart the abundance, love and light that await us.

We do not live in easy times. But we have the opportunity, thanks to our free will, to choose our view of this world. Despair and self-pity – or amazement and joy? Resentment and anger – or confidence and contentment?

Persistence in habits – or courageously treading new paths? And yes, even this free will is a gift for which we may be grateful and which we should accept mindfully.

“The best thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole secret of life: to give thanks for everything” (Albert Schweitzer, 1875 to 1965).

Sources and notes:

(1): https://de.euronews.com/next/2022/01/19/gibt-es-schon-bald-die-dreifachimpfung-gegen-corona-grippe-und-rsv
(2): https://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wirtschaft-verantwortung/digitale-impfpaesse-fuer-reisen-was-haben-die-g20-wirklich-beschlossen-li.288922
(3): Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe. Penguin 1985, p. 141.
(4): https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/why_gratitude_is_good
(5): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399908004224 and https://gedankenwelt.de/dankbarkeit-ist-gut-fuer-dich-und-deine-gesundheit/ and https://naturheilzentrum.com/de/news/dankbarkeit-gesundheit-dankbar-fuer-das-leben/
(6): Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography and Other Writings, Penguin1986, p. 113.
(7): https://effectiviology.com/benjamin-franklin-effect/

Willy Meyer, born in 1963, is a single father of two children and a teacher. He lives in Hamburg and has been involved locally in education and social change for two years.

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The Festival of Love
Let’s take Christmas as an opportunity to liberate love.
By Kerstin Chavent
[This article posted on 12/20/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Das Liebesfest.]

Christmas is approaching and with it the question of how to give ourselves gifts. How about using the feast of love to actually give ourselves our love – from our full hands, without skimping? This requires the decision not to look at the neighbor to see if he might have received more, but to first give ourselves a gift. After all, we can only give to others what we have ourselves. This brings us into trust. Instead of jealously guarding the love of others, we give it and ourselves freely. In this way, love can step out of the prison of exclusivity and spread throughout the world.

Yours forever! You belong to me! Until death do us part! Happiness as a couple should last as long as possible. We fall in love, float in seventh heaven, make joint plans for the future, walk down the aisle – and in many cases want our hearts back after just a few years. Disappointed and hurt, we sweep up the pieces and enter the war of the roses. Nearly half of all marriages end this way. Nearly 40 percent of closed marriages were divorced again in 2021. In 2005, the figure was 52 percent (1).

In addition, five million people in Germany live as committed singles (2). These are people whose life plan does not include entering into lasting relationships with two people. On average, one in three Germans is single. Most of them live in Hamburg, Berlin and Thuringia. Every second person under 30 lives without a steady partner. In the family formation phase between 30 and 39, this proportion drops significantly. While only one in four people in their thirties is still single, the proportion of singles from the age of 40 levels off at 28 percent (3).

The reasons commonly given for the increase in partnerlessness are that women today are more independent, that the motivation to overcome crises together is declining, that for many people their careers are more important than cuddling, and that we have become too demanding and altogether less committed. With so much choice, one can afford to be picky.

Inclusive exclusivity

Thus, two tendencies cross over that at first glance seem mutually exclusive. On the one hand, we long for freedom and unboundedness; on the other hand, we long for stable bonds in which we feel secure, safe and secure. Both longings get in the way of each other in our way of life. We cannot reconcile fidelity and loyalty with the fact that we also find other people attractive and seductive. Our partnerships usually cannot stand the fact that we also fall in love with others.

The most beautiful thing in the world means we have to choose. Either-or. Either the other or me. As soon as sexual attraction comes into play, it’s over with openness and tolerance.

Nothing is colorful here, there is only black or white, all or nothing. While we cheerfully wave rainbow flags and unhesitatingly choose between soon to be 80 “genders”, it is out of the question for most of us to share our own partner with others.

Since sparks usually stop flying during sex after a few years at the latest, the lust in love only continues in secret. The forbidden fruit is tasted in secret. The life partner should not know about it and is lied to. The relationship threatens to break down because of the truth. Thus many partnerships are based only on the illusion of trust and an honest togetherness. When it comes to love, we play a double game. We no longer show ourselves as we really and truly are, but twist ourselves in such a way that the domestic peace hangs at least somewhat straight.

Distrust and frustration cloud the initial rosy clouds. Often this is the moment we have children. At least genetically, love is supposed to last. The result is 2.15 million single mothers and 462,000 single fathers (4). How many of the 21 million couples in Germany stay together not because of love but mainly because of the children, the house, the car, the bank account, social obligations or habits is not statistically recorded.

Passion that creates suffering

About one-fifth of couples separate because their partner has cheated (5). Even though adultery has no longer been punished as a crime in Germany since 1969, in many cases, as the term implies, the marriage has broken down. Often, the infidelity of one person begins with the jealousy of the other. For this it does not always have to go to the point. For us to fear for the bird in the hand, often a look, a word, a gesture is enough.

There is hardly anyone who is completely unfamiliar with jealousy. We all know what it is like to feel devalued, second-rate, rejected. Accordingly, we think jealousy is something normal and consider it legitimate. Originally, the term means morbid bitterness. It is, as the name suggests, a form of addiction. Addiction is defined as a dependence, an uncontrolled craving for a certain state of experience. The powers of the mind become subordinate to this craving, whereupon the free development of a personality and the social opportunities of an individual may be impaired (6).

“Jealousy,” as defined by the Online Encyclopedia of Psychology and Education, “describes a painful emotion that is felt when recognition, attention, love, respect, or affection is not received, or is received insufficiently, on the part of a valued caregiver in relation to one who is thus actually or supposedly more favored. Jealousy arises when one’s claim to affection or love, perceived or real, is challenged by one’s partner by showing that very affection or love to someone other than oneself, thereby causing a strong fear of loss” (7).

Rejection, indifference, or rejection, which is perceived as painful, are most often set in childhood. However, while the child’s jealousy usually disappears when he or she receives attention from the parents, a jealous partner demands unrestricted attention that is exclusively his or her own.

You alone shall be my lucky star. This exclusivity leads to a spiral of mistrust in which insecurity, fear, grief and anger can result in violence, even murder and manslaughter.

Jealousy excludes love

Nothing offends us more than when love is withdrawn from us. No sooner do we think we have it, than we fear losing it again. The butterfly of happiness seems so fragile that those who have a damaged self-esteem must live in constant fear of being disappointed, humiliated, ignored, betrayed. The partner is clutched ever tighter, the demands become ever more insistent, until the initial dream becomes a nightmare.

As long as we consider jealousy to be a part of love, nothing will change. The majority of marriages will continue to break up, people will continue to be killed out of jealousy, we will continue to get caught up in lies and thus prevent what we want so much: to love and be loved.

But even if we have not been raised religiously, it has been deeply imprinted in us that there can only be one: one God, one love partner, one lid per pot.

For a long time, it made economic sense to tie women to the hearth and give men the assurance that they would not raise and inherit cuckoo eggs. But today, this model of life is outdated. Or does it make someone happy to guard their partner like a gun dog, yapping at everyone when they smell competition? Do we like making ourselves emotionally dependent on another? Do we like ourselves suffering in the role of the angry, nagging, pouting, powerless? Do we feel good about our jealousy? Or do we long to finally be able to love freely and in peace?

New life model

The way out of the dilemma leads us first directly into it. According to the theologian and peace researcher Sabine Lichtenfels, we have to get past the idea that jealousy is our right and an expression of the claim we believe we have on the one who has become involved with us (8). But jealousy does not belong to love. It makes us demanding and evil. When we are in jealousy, we are not in love. Only when we realize that jealousy is a kind of cultural disease can we think about the cure and overcome it.

This is not possible on the personal level alone.

“It is centrally and decisively a political question whether we succeed in developing new social solution models in which love becomes livable without the familiar concomitants of fear of loss, jealousy and hatred.”

But our civilization does not give us a model for this. We have no models of how living together without jealousy can work. Therefore, in order to create a new image of love and new forms of living together, we have to use all our inventive spirit. In this, according to Sabine Lichtenfels, lies our historical task if we want to contribute something to the elimination of general misery.

“Sexual contact with other women or men,” she writes further, “is not a constriction in the relationship, but an enrichment, if we allow it. Sexual contact with one or a third is not a reason to abandon, but the opposite, if we allow it.” What we suffer as an offending rejection, an affront to the ego, can be understood as the fulfillment of the universal longing for love that excludes no one and includes everyone.

Love your neighbor as yourself

The liberation of love is not about having as many sexual partners as possible, but about not banishing love of neighbor from sexuality. What are we burdening each other with, projecting all our desire onto just one person? How many relationships break up because we have not learned that real fidelity is not determined by sex, but by the truthfulness of the relationship, the prerequisite of which is honesty and authenticity?

Learning this is not done with a snap of the fingers, but demands a fundamental rethinking from us. Whether a new, free and lively form of togetherness succeeds depends on our willingness to invest in our own development and to build up the forces of trust within ourselves.

Only when we really stand by ourselves do we no longer have to burden other people with our mistrust, our fear, our frustration and expect them to make our lives more beautiful.

We no longer stand starved before our partner in the hope that he will give us something we don’t have, but share with open hands what we have to give. We no longer suck each other dry and then throw ourselves away when we are empty, but experience a new fullness that is nourished by a flowing give and take. We can make this a gift to ourselves. Let us love our neighbor as ourselves. Let us give ourselves the love we try to wrest from others and share it generously.

Let us look ourselves in the eye and recognize our uniqueness, our specialness, our beauty. When we see that, others can see it too. In this way we become mature for the love of two, which does not need a collar and a leash, but enjoys the beauty of the other without wanting to possess it. Let’s try it. Let’s let go of our fear of being abandoned and alone. We are not alone. We are many!

Open the door

Many of us have a longing to stop feeling constricted, guilty, bitter. The most courageous have long since begun to speak out and to lift the burden from their souls. Do you know this too? Do you feel the same way? A real brotherhood, a real sisterhood are about to emerge, a real solidarity between the sexes, even more so when they love the same person.

If we learn to play with open cards, competition can dissolve, and with it jealousy and envy. We know that we are complete and do not need a lid.

Let us take the feast as an opportunity to stop keeping our love imprisoned in the prison of exclusivity, and let it spread everywhere. May it sound from everywhere: Love is born today! May heavenly hosts give wings to this birth and let it take root deep in the earth. Open the door of your heart and let it flow!

This is how Christmas can be. Not with pinched faces we sit around the tree, but in the consciousness of the life that pulsates in us. Let us not hinder it. Let us no longer allow conventions to be imposed on us that make us unhappy. Let us recognize in our neighbor the loving being, the bubbling spring, the deep clear lake. Let us make this joy for ourselves. Let us give ourselves away. Let us take each other in our arms and feel the happiness of the encounter, the trust, the bliss and let us wish each other a Merry Christmas!

Sources and Notes:

(1) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/76211/umfrage/scheidungsquote-von-1960-bis-2008/
(2) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/173640/umfrage/lebenseinstellung-single-aus-ueberzeugung/
(3) https://www.elitepartner.de/magazin/finden/singles-in-deutschland/
(4) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/318160/umfrage/alleinerziehende-in-deutschland-nach-geschlecht/
(5) https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/1034490/umfrage/umfrage-zu-trennungsgruenden-in-deutschland-nach-geschlecht/
(6) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abh%C3%A4ngigkeit_(Medicine)
(7) https://lexikon.stangl.eu/15438/eifersucht
(8) Sabine Lichtenfels, Soft Power. Perspectives of a new women’s consciousness and a new love for men, Meiga 2017.

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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The lifeblood of the soul

In a time when we are to be educated to be cautious and against each other, it is important to dare to trust anew.
13.12.2022 by Jürgen Fliege

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

The Prince of Hell and Peace in Ukraine is possible

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/21/18853532.php

There is little truth in war. If you want to survive, any means must necessarily be acceptable. In this scenario, lying is not a sin, not something to be outlawed, but simply an option to achieve one’s own goals. It is therefore normality. Basically, no one who is in a war can be accused of lying, because the logics of humanity and decency are then suspended.

The Prince of Hell
After Volodymyr Selenskyj directly accused the Russians of bombing Poland, doubts about the Ukrainian administration are growing in the West.
by Roberto J. De Lapuente
[This article posted on 11/30/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Der Höllenfürst.]

Is there any spiritual lightening now – of all places in the previous heart of darkness, that is, among the leadership of the United States? While two weeks ago for German media and politicians the matter was quite quickly clear, namely that Russia had attacked Poland, the U.S. administration, NATO and also Poland itself expressed themselves more cautiously. They rejected hasty conclusions. For them, it was a Russian stray missile, but probably even a Ukrainian missile that “took a wrong turn”. Even if this reticence should not be interpreted as a signal to Russia, one thing is clear: Western allies are now clearly having doubts about the Ukrainian leadership and its interpretive approaches.

Finally – one might say. And at the same time they are looking with concern at the German foreign minister and the German press that is submissive to her. They would have ice-coldly exploited the incident to finally get to where they have wanted to go for quite some time: Into an open escalation of the conflict. It took a long time before the Ukrainian president and his camarilla were no longer believed unquestioningly. Months of war have passed since then. Now people are getting irritated because it is becoming clearer and clearer: Selensky is not so particular about the truth. Why is this irritating? Is it because war governments lie? Is this something new? Haven’t we seen this before?

Sexiest Warrior Alive

On February 24, 2022 Volodymyr Selensky was suddenly rehabilitated. Until that day, the Western press was quite critical of the Ukrainian president, who came to power in a rather strange way, with the financial help of an oligarch and patron. Corruption and the taking of advantage were still a topic of discussion – and criticism – before that date. Selenskyj was considered the worst president imaginable, backpedaling against a devastated Ukraine and disappointing his own people.

Then came that Thursday last February: from one moment to the next, his image changed. No more talk of machinations and rope-a-dope schemes. Instead, the Ukrainian president and commander was invited to every suitable and unsuitable occasion: If he couldn’t be there in person, he could at least be there via Zoom. People applauded the man who had just been considered the gravedigger of his country. Vogue photographed him and his wife: they both looked good. War could be sexy, if only it and its generals were put in the right light.

Since those days in February, Volodymyr Selenskyy was considered the Sexiest Warrior Alive: suddenly camouflage shirts and khaki shirts were considered especially chic. No matter what his administration trumpeted to the world, people listened to what was said with awe.

Doubts were avoided. If someone at war claimed something, was apparently the watchword of the day, then one should not be skeptical: That would be unkind – one had to be empathetic, to believe without reflection. People at war deserve not to be questioned.

Nothing could be more wrong than this approach. There is little truth in war. If you want to survive, any means must necessarily be acceptable. In this scenario, lying is not a sin, not something to be outlawed, but simply an option to achieve one’s own goals. It is therefore normality. Basically, no one who is in a war can be accused of lying, because the logics of humanity and decency are then suspended.

War is hell

William T. Sherman coined the famous saying that war is hell. For in war the noblest minds become monsters. They have to be. Survival in such a scenario only works if you freeze your moral compass. Sherman knew what he was talking about: He was a general of the Northern States in the American Civil War. While he abhorred war, he made himself guilty during the bloody years. For example, he left “scorched earth” behind him, causing hunger and deprivation. In his own army, he was known as a butcher.

The General of the Army was more or less an insider: he did not simply lose his morals in the war – but he put them on the back burner. For he who is at war adopts its accursed logic. War is the total loss of morality. On every level, on every front, it is suppressed. Whoever is coy here does not simply lose a battle and end up in the history book as a loser: no, he loses his house, his farm, risks the lives of his loved ones – and yes, his own life as well.

All sorts of pure souls have already become beasts in war. Sherman had seen this with his own eyes, he detested war, but as a general he could not make his dislike an agenda: He was subject to the logic of war. Even if the cause of war was just, he considered, the war itself was not. To young men who went to war with enthusiasm, who ran after the glory that could be acquired on the battlefield, he explained again what war really is: namely, hell.

To accuse people in war of using every trick, every twist, purely for the sake of their own advantage, is therefore very convenient. In war, not other rules apply, there are no rules at all – at least hardly any. This is just as true for soldiers in direct contact with the enemy as for responsible commanders in their headquarters.

For this reason, too, war is to be outlawed as a means: Its logic no longer allows for humanity, for sincerity. It is a moral downward spiral from which there is hardly any release.

Warlords are kept at a distance

The last sentences are not meant as a free pass for the Ukrainian president. As a persilschein to be allowed to place him as a pop star at Zoom conferences, because he is not responsible for the dynamics of the war. In this case, however, the responsibility does not lie with him, but with those who applaud him, encourage him, and dress him up for Vogue. That Selenskyj goes along with this in order to increase his benefit is obvious. It is the other side that should, indeed should, keep its distance: namely, Western society, which encourages him and transfigures him into an icon.

The man is a warlord. And because of this status, he becomes more unpredictable every day. Whoever drags him in front of the camera, fades him in at book fairs or award ceremonies, lets someone who is in hell fraternize with an audience that knows nothing about this moral perversion, and indeed wants nothing to know about it. Should one sympathize with the leader of a warring nation so openly and unabashedly, cozy up to him?

War is a crime. And crimes happen in every war. There is no such thing as morally sound warfare. However, one likes to present this theory to the public in order to gain approval.

The moment you get close to someone who is at war, you accept his values perverted by the events. One descends with him into hell. And one loses the sober view. In Germany, you can feel this in the fact that the rhetoric of many people already sounds as if they, too, were directly in the war zone.

No, one should rather keep these warlords and commanders at a distance. And bring them to you only if they want to sit down at a negotiating table where they are ready to renounce hell. In any case, Selenskyj can hardly be blamed for taking advantage of the media presence in the West: for him, it is part of warfare.

Those who grant him this warfare: You have to be tough with them. For they place among us a man who no longer has a moral compass, nor can he. They incite him with it also still, provide for the fact that the hell perpetuates itself. Those who give him a forum keep the war alive and slowly but surely transfer those who have to live in it to death.

Roberto J. De Lapuente, born in 1978, is a trained industrial mechanic and ran the blog ad sinistram for eight years. Since 2017, he has been co-editor of the blog neulandrebellen. In 2012, he became a columnist for Neues Deutschland, and since 2018 he has written regularly for Makroskop. De Lapuente has a daughter and lives with his partner in Frankfurt am Main. In March 2018, his book “Right Wins Because Left Fails” was published.

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Peace in Ukraine is possible: here’s what it could look like
by Jeffrey D. Sachs
[This article posted on 12/9/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Frieden-in-der-Ukraine-ist-moeglich-So-koennte-er-aussehen-7370912.html?seite=all.]

Artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd’s sculpture “Non-Violence” or “Knotted Gun” under a blanket of snow at UN headquarters in New York City.

The war in Ukraine is an extremely dangerous war between nuclear superpowers. Now there are positive signals from Washington and Moscow for negotiations. The mistakes of the past must be corrected.

There is a new glimmer of hope for a quick end to the war in Ukraine in the course of negotiations.

In his press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, President Joe Biden stated:

I’m willing to talk to Mr. Putin if he actually has an interest in finding a way to end the war. He hasn’t done that so far. If that’s the case, in consultation with my French friends and my NATO friends, I’m open to sitting down with Putin to see what he wants, what he has in mind.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman countered that Russia was ready for negotiations aimed at “safeguarding our interests.”
Jeffrey D. Sachs is a professor at Columbia University. He has advised three secretaries general of the UN.

Now is the time for mediation based on the core interests and negotiating leverage of the three main parties to the conflict: Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.

The war is devastating for Ukraine. According to EU President Ursula von der Leyen, Ukraine has already lost 100,000 soldiers and 20,000 civilians. Not only Ukraine, but Russia, the U.S., and the EU – indeed, the entire world – could benefit enormously from an end to the conflict, as both the nuclear threat that hangs over the world today and the devastating economic consequences of the war would be eliminated.

No less a figure than Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark A. Milley has urged a negotiated political solution to the conflict, noting that Ukraine’s chances of military victory are “not high.”

There are four key issues that must be negotiated: Ukraine’s sovereignty and security, the thorny issue of NATO expansion, the fate of Crimea, and the future of the Donbass.

Above all, Ukraine demands to be a sovereign country, free from Russian domination and with secure borders. There are some in Russia, perhaps including Putin himself, who believe that Ukraine is truly part of Russia.

There will be no negotiated peace unless Russia recognizes Ukraine’s sovereignty and national security, backed by explicit international guarantees from the U.N. Security Council and states such as Germany, India, and Turkey.

Russia’s main demand is that NATO drop its intention to expand to Ukraine and Georgia, which would completely encircle Russia in the Black Sea (adding Ukraine and Georgia to existing Black Sea Nato members Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey).

NATO calls itself a defense alliance, but Russia sees it differently, well aware of the U.S. penchant for regime-change operations against governments it opposes (including in Ukraine in 2014, when the U.S. was involved in the overthrow of then-president Viktor Yanukovych, who was a pro-Russian).

Russia also claims Crimea, where it has stationed Russia’s Black Sea Fleet since 1783. Putin warned George Bush Jr. in 2008 that Russia would retake Crimea if the U.S. extended NATO into Ukraine. Crimea had been handed over by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to Ukraine from Russia in 1954. Until Yanukovych’s fall, the Crimean issue was prudently handled through Russian-Ukrainian agreements that gave Russia a long-term lease on its naval facilities in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Great powers must show greatness

There are fierce disagreements between Ukraine and Russia over the Donbass, with its predominantly Russian population. While Ukrainian language and cultural identity predominate in most of Ukraine, cultural identity and language in the Donbass are Russian. After the fall of Yanukovych, the Donbass became a battleground between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian paramilitaries, with the pro-Russian forces declaring the independence of the Donbass.

The 2015 Minsk II Agreement was a diplomatic agreement to end the fighting based on autonomy (self-government) for the Donbass region within Ukrainian borders and respect for Russian language and culture.

After the signing, the Ukrainian leadership made clear that it rejected the agreement and would not honor it. Although France and Germany vouched for the agreement, they did not press Ukraine to comply. From Russia’s perspective, Ukraine and the West thus rejected a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

In late 2021, Putin reiterated Russia’s demand that NATO not expand further, especially to include Ukraine. The United States refused to negotiate NATO expansion. Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg provocatively stated at the time that Russia had no say in the matter and that only Nato members would decide whether or not Russia should be encircled in the Black Sea.

In March 2022, a month after the Russian invasion, Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyy made substantial progress toward a pragmatic end to the war through negotiations based on nonenlargement of NATO, international guarantees for Ukraine’s sovereignty and security, and a subsequent peaceful resolution of the problems in Crimea and the Donbass. Turkish diplomats were the very skillful mediators.

But then Ukraine left the negotiating table, perhaps at the urging of Britain and the United States, and pursued a policy of blocking negotiations until Russia was driven out of Ukraine militarily. As a result, the conflict escalated, and Russia annexed not only the two regions of the Donbass (Luhansk and Donetsk), but also the Kherson and Zaporizhzhya regions.

Recently, Zelenskyy further inflamed the situation by calling for cutting Ukrainian ties to Russian Orthodox institutions, thus severing religious bridges between ethnic Russians and many ethnic Ukrainians that date back a millennium.

With both the United States and Russia now cautiously approaching the negotiating table, the time has come to mediate. Possible mediators include the United Nations, Turkey, Pope Francis, China and perhaps others, in whatever mix. The contours of a successful mediation are actually clear, as is the basis for a peace settlement.

The most important point for mediation is to recognize that all parties have legitimate interests and legitimate grievances. Russia has unjustly and violently invaded Ukraine. The U.S. unlawfully conspired to overthrow Yanukovych in 2014 and subsequently heavily armed Ukraine while pushing NATO expansion to encircle Russia in the Black Sea. After Yanukovych’s fall, Ukrainian Presidents Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky refused to implement the Minsk II agreement.

Peace will come when the United States refrains from further NATO expansion toward Russia’s borders, Russia withdraws its forces from Ukraine, and refrains from unilateral annexation of Ukrainian territory. Similarly, Ukraine must end its attempts to retake Crimea and accept the Minsk II framework. All parties must agree to secure Ukraine’s sovereign borders under the UN Charter, guaranteed by the UN Security Council and other nations.

The Ukraine war is an extremely dangerous war between nuclear superpowers in a world that desperately needs peace and cooperation. It is time for the U.S. and Russia, two great powers of the past and the future, to demonstrate their greatness through mutual respect, diplomacy, and joint efforts to ensure sustainable development for all-including the Ukrainian people, who are most in need of peace and reconstruction.

This article appears in cooperation with US news portal Common Dreams. The English original can be found here. Translation by David Goessmann.

Jeffrey D. Sachs is a university professor and director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, where he directed the Earth Institute from 2002 to 2016. He is also President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Commissioner of the UN Broadband Commission for Development. He has served as an advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General and is currently SDG Envoy to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Sachs is the author of the recent book, A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2020). His other books include: “Building the New American Economy: Smart, Fair, and Sustainable” (2017) and “The Age of Sustainable Development,” (2015) with Ban Ki-moon.

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Critique of religion and market religion and Post-colonialism

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/18/18853481.php

Critique of religion as critique of fetishism is a critique of earthly gods, which are false gods. “Man is the highest being for man.” Marx develops it further in other words and formulates his idea of the liberation of man in the Communist Manifesto. There he says: “In place of the old bourgeois society with its classes and class antagonisms comes…the free development of all. ”
Critique of religion and market religion
by Franz Hinkelammert
[This article posted on 4/30/2018 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.neuewege.ch/religionskritik-und-marktreligion?search=Befreiungstheologie.]

With modernity, a new critique of religion is developing. Its interest is not in the religious in the narrow sense. It is concerned with society as a whole: to what do people attach their hearts? To which earthly and which heavenly gods? A common thread runs from the prophets in the Old Testament to Pope Francis. In the middle: Karl Marx.

Karl Marx is a critic of religion. He focuses it on the critique of earthly gods. For him, they are directly linked to the economy. Marx quotes Christopher Columbus as saying: “Gold is a wonderful thing! He who possesses the same is master of everything he desires. Through gold one can even make souls enter paradise. “1

This fascination determined by gold characterizes the conquest of America. Already the Indígenas had recognized during the Conquista: Gold is the god of the Christians! And indeed, they were hardly mistaken. The Peruvian liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez tells about it: “It happened that a chief called all his people together. Everyone was to bring what gold he had, and everything was then to be pooled. And he said to his Indians: ‘Come, friends, this is the God of the Christians. So we want to dance something before him, then go to the sea there and throw it in. Then when they learn that we no longer have their God, they will leave us alone. “2

In the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes considers money as the blood of Leviathan. The philosopher uses this name to refer to the emerging capitalist market. For him, Leviathan is the mortal god among the immortal god who inhabits heaven. At the beginning of the 20th century, the French writer Léon Bloy takes up this idea in a book to which he gives the title: The Blood of the Poor. In it, he states: money is the blood of the poor.

A few years after Bloy, the philosopher Walter Benjamin adopted this position in his fragment Capitalism as Religion3 and thus reignited the debate. The same thesis can be found, albeit more distantly, in the sociologist Max Weber, when he asserts that “the old many gods, disenchanted and therefore in the shape of impersonal powers, are rising from their graves. “4 Money is undoubtedly one of the most important of these impersonal powers. Today Pope Francis speaks of the idolatry of money and the deification of the market.

The market is an earthly god

Returning to Karl Marx, he analyzes a capitalism whose central reference is the market. This market he considers from the beginning as an earthly god. In the preface to his 1841 dissertation, Marx says that “philosophy”-here already to be understood as a critical theory-sets its “spell [against] all heavenly and earthly gods that do not recognize human self-consciousness as the supreme deity. “5 A little later, Marx focuses his critique of religion on the critique of these “earthly gods.”

Marx thus considers “human self-consciousness” to be the “supreme deity”-it is opposed to all “heavenly and earthly gods.” In his 1844 Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, he uses the formula “man as the supreme being for man” instead of “human self-consciousness.” He writes: “The critique of religion ends with the doctrine that man is the highest being for man, that is, with the categorical imperative to overthrow all relations in which man is a degraded, an enslaved, an abandoned, a contemptible being. “6 For Marx, man is a degraded being as soon as anything else is declared the highest being.

Thus, Karl Marx submits a criterion of distinction for both religion and the gods of these religions, which must not be confused with an attack on religion itself. This differentiation holds true even if Marx assumes that religion becomes superfluous as soon as man recognizes himself as the supreme being for man. However, if it turns out that religion does not become superfluous, then this criterion for the “distinction of the gods” retains its validity.

Marx says: God has become man.

Implicitly – I would like to claim – Marx thus puts forward a thesis that can hardly be reconciled with the widespread conception of him: God became man. However, this is not a thesis in the religious sense, but in the anthropological sense. Marx also sets forth what man does when man becomes the supreme being – God, if you will – for man. This thesis, too, hardly corresponds to popular conceptions of him: then man overturns all conditions in which he is “a degraded, a subjugated, an abandoned, a contemptible being.” In these few words Marx sketches a praxis for which another world is possible. With such a practice, man finds self-realization. And he thus faces the capitalist market, its money and its capital.

Thus I have worked out the paradigm of Marx’s critique of religion and at the same time the paradigm of Marx’s humanism – a humanism of praxis. It seems to me that it is the paradigm of critical thinking in general.

False gods want human sacrifice

The later Karl Marx takes this critique of religion further. But he is always concerned to criticize religion in the name of man, not in the name of any true god. Gods are always false gods as soon as they demand human sacrifice. Marx calls these false gods fetishes. Conversely, therefore, gods that do not demand human sacrifice are not false gods. This can be concluded even if Marx is silent about it. Undoubtedly, Marx develops his entire critique of religion in the tradition of the Jewish and Christian critique of idols. Therefore, my thesis is: Marx’s critique of religion is ultimately idolatry critique, i.e. idolatry critique.

For Karl Marx, the critique of religion becomes a critique of fetishism. Admittedly, critique of fetishism can be equated with critique of idolatry. But still, for Marx it is not a simple play with words, but a shift of his focus. The later Marx does not even mention the heavenly gods anymore, but only the earthly ones. He defines them – concentrated on market, money and capital – as fetishes.

Criticism of religion always runs the risk of being directed at a particular religion. Marx, however, formulates a universal claim. Consequently, he cannot limit himself to the critique of Christianity, from which he started. He must continue his critique of religion as the basis of his critique of political economy. It is now directed against earthly gods that can be experienced and can therefore also be carried on scientifically. These become visible in the earthly gods – in that these visibly transform man into a “degraded, a subjugated, an abandoned, a contemptible being”. How these earthly gods accomplish the transformation of man and what laws they follow in the process – this is what the critique of political economy has to prove.

Subsequently, Karl Marx expands his categorical imperative: “Capitalist production therefore only develops the technique and combination of the social production process by simultaneously undermining the spring sources of all wealth: the earth and the worker. “7 Not only man becomes a subjugated being, but also nature, which for Marx is the extended body of man. There is no human life without the life of nature.

Critique of religion as critique of fetishism is a critique of earthly gods, which are false gods. However, it must provide a criterion for what it calls “false.” Marx had already formulated the same criterion in the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right: “Man is the highest being for man.” Marx develops it further in other words and formulates his idea of the liberation of man in the Communist Manifesto. There he says: “In place of the old bourgeois society with its classes and class antagonisms comes an association in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all. “8

The Marxian criterion is here extended to the universal emancipation of man, which excludes no one. Such a concept of freedom far exceeds the bourgeois one. There, bourgeois society and its members are free, even if some have to starve. For Marx, however, freedom starts from the liberation of the body. It can at the same time be considered a criterion of justice: “To each according to his ability, to each according to his need. “9

Revolution in heaven as on earth

Latin American liberation theology is placing itself in a new relationship with Marxism, especially since the beginning of this century in the wake of the collapse of Soviet socialism and its consequences for Marxist thought. This is happening in a direction similar to that taken many decades earlier by Leonhard Ragaz, the founder of the New Ways, albeit with different arguments.

What has happened in the last decades is not completely new. Hegel had already claimed that no revolution was possible without reformation. After the Second World War, and especially in Chinese communism, the thesis was spread, which also seems to me to be true: No revolution on earth without a revolution in heaven. Such a thesis implies of course the reverse: No counter-revolution on earth without counter-revolution in heaven.

No revolution on earth without a revolution in heaven.

Today’s Pope Francis refers to this counterrevolution: “One of the reasons [of today’s injustice] lies in the relationship we have established with money, because peacefully we accept its domination over us and over our societies. The financial crisis we are going through makes us forget that at its origin there is a deep anthropological crisis: the denial of the primacy of man! We have created new idols. “10 Francis further concludes, “God is perceived by these financiers, economists, and politicians as ungovernable, even dangerous, because he calls man to fully realize himself and to oppose every form of slavery. “11

The Pope’s statement is in line with Karl Marx’s statement about man as the highest being for man. The Pope’s thesis is in response to the Reaganian theology of counterrevolution, which is clearly being perpetuated by Trump and which has apocalyptic fundamentalism as its foundation. Through this counterrevolution, the class struggle from above is explained in extremis. The pope challenges a God who calls man to secure his self-realization in the ceaseless struggle for liberation from every form of slavery. In so doing, he presents a God who himself shares the humanism of Marx’s praxis.

This position for man as the highest being for man is thus transformed by Francis into a revolution in heaven. It now enables movement in the left. The consequence of Marx’s humanism of praxis is valid: market, money and capital are there for man, not man for the market, for money and for capital.

The confrontation with counterrevolution cannot be limited to ideological analysis. We must carry forward the Marxian critique of religion in today’s conditions if we are to meet the challenges of the present effectively.

Columbus, in Letter from Jamaica, 1503. – Karl Marx: Das Kapital, Vol. I. MEW, vol. 23, Berlin 1968, p. 145.

Cited in: Gustavo Gutierrez: God or the Gold. Freiburg 1990, p. 197.

Walter Benjamin: Capitalism as Religion [Fragment]. In: Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann and Hermann Schweppenhäuser, 7 vols, Frankfurt am Main 1991, vol. VI, pp. 100-102.

Max Weber: Science as a Profession. Stuttgart 1995, p. 34.

Karl Marx: Difference of the Democritical and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature. Preface. MEW, vol. 40, p. 262.

Karl Marx: On the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction. MEW, vol. 1, p. 385.

Karl Marx: Das Kapital, vol. I. MEW, vol. 23, pp. 528/530.

Karl Marx/Friedrich Engels: Manifesto of the Communist Party. MEW, vol. 4, pp. 459-493.

Karl Marx: Critique of the Gotha Program. MEW, vol. 19, p. 21.

Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, November 24, 2013.

Pope Francis: address to the ambassadors of Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Botswana, May 16, 2013.

Book tip ? Michael Ramminger/Franz Segbers (eds.): “Overturning all conditions … and toppling the powerful from their thrones.” The common heritage of Christians and Marx. Hamburg/Münster 2018, 240 pp.

Franz Hinkelammert,
*1931 in Emsdetten/Germany, is a social philosopher, economist, and liberation theologian. He is a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica. He is the author of many works on liberation theology, critique of capitalism and globalization.
fjhinkelammert [at] gmail.com

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Globalization of hope
by Sebastian Pittl
[This article posted on 4/13/2019 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.neuewege.ch/globalisierung-der-hoffnung?search=Befreiungstheologie.]

Postcolonial theology is of greater importance today than ever before and makes a relevant contribution to understanding contemporary challenges. Guiding it is the question of the multi-layered interconnections of Christianity, modernity, and colonialism – and their consequences.

More than 85 percent of the globe has a colonial past. In addition to the great colonial empires of England and France or the former empires of Portugal and Spain, modern colonial actors include the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Denmark, the United States, Russia and Japan. The wounds of this period are still open today. In addition, there are new wounds caused by an aggressive neo-colonialism, which is also a central theological challenge today. As examples, one need only think of the worldwide overexploitation of resources by international corporations; of the pressure exerted by Western countries on many states of the “South” to conclude free trade agreements that destroy domestic markets; or of the consequences of climate change, caused primarily by Western states, from which in a disproportionate way precisely the populations of the poorest countries suffer.

What is now called “Western modernity” is so deeply shaped in its formation by the structures and history of colonialism that it cannot be adequately understood without an analysis of the same. Not only is the rise of Europe as the leading economic and military region of the world inconceivable without colonial history, but also essential elements that are now considered achievements of a modern “Western” civilization, such as international law or human rights, have their origins in colonial contexts. In philosophers such as Kant and Hegel, moreover, the disastrous interconnections of the Enlightenment and modern racism become apparent.1

As legitimizing instances of European conquests and the “civilizing mission “2 that followed, but also as critics of the murder, mistreatment, and enslavement of indigenous populations, Christianity and its missionaries were enmeshed in European colonial history from the very beginning. The activities of missionaries not only had a massive impact on societies outside Europe, but also contributed significantly to the formation of Europe’s view of itself and the world.3

Postcolonial Research

From what has been said, it is clear that the topic of “theology and postcolonialism” is neither a matter of the past nor something that concerns only non-European contexts. Contemporary postcolonial research does not only focus on challenges for the countries and churches of the so-called “global South”, but takes a look at a fundamental condition under which every encounter of people, cultures and religions takes place today, also here in Europe.

At the same time, the term “postcolonialism” refers to a very specific approach to deal with this global condition. What is explicitly called “postcolonialism” or “postcolonial studies “4 is a research perspective that, starting from the prominent studies of Edward Said, Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhaba, and others, has established itself in recent decades, first and foremost in the Anglo-Saxon world.

Proponents of postcolonial studies are not the first to critically examine Western colonialism. Analyses of and resistance to colonialism, especially in the colonies, themselves go back as far as the beginnings of the European colonial system. Prominent Christian examples in this regard are the two Dominicans Antonio de Montesinos and Bartolomé de las Casas, who already at the beginning of the 16th century vehemently criticized the establishing Spanish colonial system, but also manifold indigenous resistance movements. In recent decades, the various liberation theologies in particular have addressed the issue of colonial and neocolonial structures.

With postcolonial studies, there is a twofold shift from these earlier forms of critique of colonialism. First, the locus of analysis and critique shifts to Western, initially primarily U.S., universities. Second, the creative reception of poststructuralist theories shifts the focus: the attention of postcolonial studies is initially less on economic and political structures than on the construction of systems of meaning and signification, that is, language, texts, and discourses.

Postcolonial theory is not a homogeneous doctrine.

Consequences for theology

It is probably thanks to the successful establishment of postcolonial studies in the Anglo-Saxon academic world that the first approaches to postcolonial theology were also developed in the USA after the turn of the millennium. In contrast, the reception of postcolonial thought within German-speaking theology has been very hesitant. On the contrary, as interest in liberation theology has waned over the past two decades, attention to the topic of colonialism within German-language theology actually seems to have declined.

It is important that a counterpoint be made to this. This for three reasons: First, the examination of historical and contemporary forms of (neo-)colonialism is of greater importance today than ever before for a theology that wants to remain capable of speaking in the face of the global challenges of the present (migration and flight, destruction of the global ecosystem, neo-imperialism, terrorism and fundamentalism, et cetera). Second, the perspective of postcolonial studies can make a relevant contribution to the understanding of these challenges that can be profitably received by previous forms of their theological treatment (for example, liberation theological). Third, postcolonial theorizing is increasingly used by churches with colonial histories in developing local theologies, making engagement with these discourses relevant also in terms of promoting intra-church understanding.

Guiding questions here are the connection between (theological) knowledge and power, the challenge of developing an understanding of mission under postcolonial conditions, the multi-layered interconnections of Christianity, modernity, and colonialism, and the consequences of taking colonial and neocolonial experiences seriously for speaking God, understanding the Bible, theology of religion, and church pastoral ministry and development cooperation. Even within the critical strands of contemporary Western theology, such as feminist or political theology, latent Eurocentrisms are evident, as theologian Saskia Wendel demonstrates. She underscores the importance of postcolonial theory in exposing these Eurocentrisms.

“Postcolonial” pontification

Postcolonial theory is not a homogeneous doctrine, but a diverse, sometimes even contradictory assemblage of different methods and tools that are significantly shaped by the specific challenges of their respective contexts.

Pope Francis, a pope from the “end of the world, “4 has in recent years not only inscribed in a series of remarkable symbolic gestures the “margins” of the globalized world at the center of an institution that has long claimed to be the highest representative instance of both secular and spiritual power.5 In doing so, he has also criticized-in sometimes drastic images-the structures of domination and exclusion of the neoliberal “empire” of our day. Already in 2013, even before the great migratory movements of 2015, he spoke on Lampedusa of a “globalization of indifference” that makes people insensitive to the suffering and the “cries of others.” Repeatedly in recent years and months, he has also used the image of a “Third World War” spreading piecemeal. The driving force of this “war”, from which above all the “weakest” and “last” would suffer, was a “whole network of interests, […] money [… and] imperial or economic power”.6 Francis contrasts this destructive dynamic with the vision of a “globalization of hope”. This is something that grows primarily “among the poor,” in postcolonial language one would say the “subalterns,” as the actual subjects of change. For Francis, the globalization of hope is necessarily multiform, as are the people and cultures of this earth.

It seems not inappropriate to measure the relevance of a contemporary mission theology also by the extent to which it is able to contribute to such a “globalization of hope”. A postcolonially informed mission theology will try to make this contribution in humility, without naïve claims to purity and innocence, but in awareness of colonial entanglements in the past and present, and in an effort to show solidarity with the poor and excluded, regardless of denominational or religious affiliation. Christian hope can undoubtedly not be reduced to liberation from economic, political and symbolic marginalization. But the fact that it transcends these does not mean that it can be indifferent to them. As the Spanish-Salvadorian Jesuit Ignacio Ellacuría noted more than thirty years ago, Christian hope transcends the inner-worldly commitment to justice, liberation and reconciliation precisely because it does not – in the truest sense of “trans-cendere” – bypass this commitment but rather passes through it, thus driving it, correcting it and only in this way finally also transcending it.7?

Cf. Achille Mbembe: Critique of Black Reason, Berlin 2014.

Cf. Pope Alexander VI’s papal bull Inter Caetera II (1493), which divided the territories yet to be “discovered” and conquered outside Europe between the Spanish and Portuguese empires.

Cf. Clemens Pfeffer: Koloniale Repräsentationen Südwestafrikas im Spiegel der Rheinischen Missionsberichte, 1842-1884. in: Stichproben.Wiener Zeitschrift für kritische Afrikastudien 12/22 (2012), pp. 1-33.

Thus Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, in his greetings immediately after his election as pope in 2013.

Sebastian Pittl: From Rome to Lampedusa: The Eccentricity of the Church in the “Center” of Europe, in: Quart (2/2014), pp. 13-14.

Cf. Pope Francis: press conference on the return flight from Bangui to Rome, November 30, 2015.

Cf. Ignacio Ellacuria: Historicity of Christian Salvation. In: Jon Sobrino (ed.) Mysterium Liberationis. Basic Concepts of the Theology of Liberation. Lucerne 1995 (1995), pp. 313-360, 318.

?The text is based on the introduction of Theology and Postcolonialism. Approaches – Challenges – Perspectives. The book was published following the conference on the topic held in March 2017 at the Institute for World Church and Mission (IWM) at the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Sankt Georgen in Frankfurt am Main.

Abridged and revised by Geneva Moser

Sebastian Pittl,
*1984, studied theology, psychology and philosophy in Vienna and Madrid. Since 2015, he has headed the research area of Intercultural Theology at the Institute for World Church and Mission in Frankfurt am Main. He is editor of the anthology Theology and Postcolonialism. Approaches – Challenges – Perspectives. Regensburg 2018.

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War in Ukraine. Nato taboos fall, 12/13/2022

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/16/18853438.php

U.S. Anti-War
War in Ukraine. Nato taboos fall
by R Bathon, H Neuber, P Fess & R Streck

This military-scientific glorification of a war that has long been hopeless for both sides, which is also supported by some media, leads to the postulation of the prospect of victory against one’s better judgment. What is meant, however, is more likely a victorious peace. A peace that can only lead to new wars that will possibly be even more catastrophic.
Financial warfare: debt system and dollar hegemony
by Philipp Fess
[This article posted on 12/15/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.heise.de.]

Why reforming the World Bank and Monetary Fund suits the U.S., and why the label “development aid” hides imperial interests. Climate change colonialism? (Part 2).

Environmental protection and geopolitics have a closer relationship than is known to the general (and pro-climate) public. This is true not only of the “new Bretton Woods moment” announced at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt (see Part 1).

In 2010, the UK Guardian reported on leaked documents that revealed “how the US launched a secret global diplomatic offensive to break opposition to the controversial Copenhagen Accord.”

They had been published by WikiLeaks, the disclosure platform against whose founder Julian Assange the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was plotting assassinations. The “Copenhagen Cables” (=Depeschen) are one of many reasons.

Part 1: Climate finance: a “new Bretton Woods”.

After all, it was precisely that CIA on whose behalf the State Department obtained compromising information on diplomatic representatives within the United Nations (UN) who opposed the “fight against climate change” – even though the actual climate protectors saw nothing more than a rotten compromise in the Copenhagen Accord.

What is particularly interesting now is the form of persuasion that the U.S. used.

After all, the Copenhagen Accord pledged a total of $30 billion to the poorest nations, which were the worst hit by climate change. “So some countries needed little persuasion,” the Guardian concluded. And those who were skeptical because of previous broken promises were simply blackmailed. Sound adventurous? It isn’t.

For example, former EU Climate Change Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard, and former U.S. National Security Advisor (now U.S. Trade Representative), Michael Froman, considered “neutralizing, co-opting [“co-opt”], or marginalizing” uncooperative countries like Venezuela and Bolivia. Bolivia and Ecuador had their U.S. development aid cut off a few months later. Apparently, they did not want to be blackmailed.

Why this anecdote?

It shows that in the context of (supposed) environmental aid, the United States is willing to use its financial power as a weapon. The question is, what does this mean for “green” reform of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)? After all, the “Bretton Woods institutions” have always been under massive U.S. influence.

World Bank, IMF and U.S. “unconventional warfare”.

Both UN specialized institutions are based in Washington. The World Bank is traditionally headed by a US-American (currently: David Malpass), the IMF by a representative of the EU (currently: Kristalina Georgieva). The IMF and World Bank were founded in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire, USA.

The original purpose was to rebuild after World War II and stabilize the international monetary system to avoid devaluation struggles and prevent world economic crises such as the last experienced Great Depression of 1929.

In addition, the twin institutions were intended to combat poverty and income inequality – unofficially, they also served to ward off communist influence. Since the late 1960s, the focus has increasingly shifted from infrastructure projects to health, nutrition and family planning.

The World Bank Group consists of four sub-institutions with different tasks. Broadly speaking, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA) grant (long-term) loans, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) organizes cooperation with the private sector, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) protect foreign capital investments.

The IMF, for its part, is supposed to guarantee monetary stability and remedy problems in the balance of payments, among other things through the notorious structural adjustment programs, in which loans are tied to (austerity) conditions. Because these usually have a very “market-oriented” character, critics speak of a “triad of privatization, deregulation, liberalization.” Now to the influence of the United States.

The United States holds the largest shares of more than 15 percent in each of the two UN specialized agencies (World Bank: 16.45, IMF: 17.43). Under the “one dollar, one vote” principle, the U.S. holds de facto veto power because “substantive” decisions must be made by a majority of 85 percent of member states.

Moreover, the Western alliance of the G10, including Ireland, Australia and Korea, together account for more than 50 percent of the votes. So with a little “persuasion,” the U.S. can bring all member countries in line.

In February 2019, the portal mintpressnews reported on another WikiLeaks document that – in more ways than one – holds a lot of explosive power. The document, called “Unconventional Warfare – Field Manual,” was reportedly released by Army Special Operations Forces (ARSOF) on Sept. 30. It states:

ARSOF may use financial power as a weapon in times of conflict up to and including large-scale general warfare. […]
Manipulation of U.S. financial power can influence the policies and cooperation of state governments. Financial incentives and disincentives can build and sustain international coalitions that conduct or support U.S. campaigns […]

Participation in international financial organizations such as the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) provides diplomatic-financial opportunities for the United States to achieve such coalitions.
ARSOF: Unconventional Warfare – Field Manual.

The “Reform Dictatorship from Washington”

The possibilities of financial warfare outlined here are the specialty of U.S. economist Michael Hudson, whose contributions Telepolis has recently picked up on several times, whether in the discussion of the sabotage of NordStream II or the question of a new world order.

Hudson has published extensively on the influence of the U.S. on the World Bank and the IMF, with his 1972 work “Super Imperialism” gaining greater notoriety. It states:

Vis-à-vis debtor countries, U.S. diplomats, through the World Bank and IMF, enforce the Washington consensus and demand that debtors raise their interest rates to raise the money to pay foreign investors.

These unfortunate countries dutifully implement austerity programs to keep wages low, sell their public property to pay their foreign debts, deregulate their economies to allow foreign investors to privatize electricity, telephone services, and other national infrastructure previously offered at subsidized prices to fuel the growth of these economies.

Michael Hudson: Super Imperialism – The Economic Strategy of American Empire.

For a less scholarly but more autobiographically based assessment, see the book Confessions of an Economic Hitman (2004) by former energy company strategy consultant Chas. T. Main, John Perkins. The preface states:

As an EHM [=Economic Hit Man], John’s job was to convince Third World countries to take out huge loans for infrastructure development – loans that were much larger than necessary – and to guarantee that the development projects were given to U.S. companies like Halliburton and Bechtel.

Once these countries were saddled with huge debts, the U.S. government and its allied international aid agencies were able to control these economies and ensure that oil and other resources were put at the service of global empire building.
John Perkins: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

The neoliberal impetus of the Washington Consensus, the “reform dictatorship from Washington,” is now, and at least since the world financial crisis of 2007/2008, seen by many experts as outdated. Nevertheless, quite a few continue to see the key to reducing the structural weaknesses of the so-called developing countries in an “opening to the world market.”

In terms of imperialism, however, these demands miss the point. For the role of the United States is not limited to instrumentalizing the multilateral financial institutions.

Dollar imperialism and its impending end

Alex Gladstein, Chief Strategic Officer of the nongovernmental organization Human Rights Foundation (HFR) and ardent Bitcoin advocate, has spent the past two years insightfully examining the ambivalent role of the World Bank and IMF, as well as Michael Hudson’s U.S. super-imperialism (examples here and here).

In an insightful piece for Bitcoin Magazine, Gladstein also addresses Hudson’s analysis of US dollars as a vehicle of “financial colonialism.” The core element is the transition from the gold standard (repealed in 1971 by U.S. President Nixon under the impact of runaway inflation) to what Hudson calls the “debt standard” (“Treasury Bill Standard”):

[The] U.S. was able to convince other nations to save in dollars rather than gold by guaranteeing that the dollars could be exchanged for gold. But in the end, U.S. officials bamboozled the world, refusing to exchange back billions of dollars that had flowed into the hands of foreign governments under the promise that they would be as good as gold because of the fixed repurchase rate.

This deception allowed the U.S. government to finance an ever-expanding military-industrial complex and an inefficient welfare state without having to make the traditional compromises that a country or empire must make when its deficit becomes too large.

Because U.S. policymakers found a way to incorporate American debt into the global monetary base [!], the U.S. never had to repay its debt. According to Hudson, America counterintuitively transformed its Cold War debtor status into an “unprecedented element of strength rather than weakness.”
Alex Gladstein: The End Of Super Imperialism

An echo of Hudson’s perspective can also be found in 2015 in political scientist Ian Bremmer, whom Telepolis quoted in an earlier post with his thesis of a “geopolitical recession” of the world power USA:

So how does America express its power? It does so with drones and surveillance, and most importantly, with the dollar. The ability of the United States to use the dollar and financial access as both a carrot and a stick to advance America’s national security interests, in many different places and ways with both adversaries and allies, is very strong indeed.
Ian Bremmer

With U.S. dominance, “coercive diplomacy” [“coercive diplomacy”], along with “financial warfare,” will also come to an end, Bremmer said in 2015.

End of the neoliberal phase?

Telepolis spoke with Peter Wahl, co-founder of the NGO World Economy, Ecology & Development (WEED) and a founding member and member of the coordination circle of Attac Germany, about the issue of debt imperialism. He agrees that an end to the “neoliberal phase” is on the horizon.

“The debt system is a very important part of the dollar hegemony.” And this is being massively challenged right now, according to Wahl. “It started already with the euro, and for some years now we have seen China, Russia and the emerging markets conducting their trade at least partly in their own national currencies.” Then came Russia’s Swift exclusion.

The exclusion from the “U.S.-dominated” international payments system set a “major precedent. “This could lead to a split in the international financial system,” Wahl believes, “and tend to ensure that the unified globalization in the financial sector will fall apart.”

Wahl is not yet in a position to judge how the global economy will develop: “People are obviously prepared to go down new paths,” he says, referring to the $369 billion for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) or the European Union’s Next Generation Program (NGEU), “but in the end these are all just patches.”

The energy transition, the transformation of the entire industrialized world, will require far more sacrifices, Wahl believes.

The 74-year-old is one of the few who also recognize national interests behind the U.S.’s global climate protection efforts (see Climate Policy as a Geopolitical Weapon).

What does this mean for the “green reform” of the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Bank and the Monetary Fund? Is climate protection being used as a “geopolitical weapon” here, too? And why are investment bankers so keen on the energy transition? That’s what the third part of this short series will be about.

________________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s how government agencies are increasingly influencing the press
by Harald Neuber
[This article posted on 12/14/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, So nehmen Regierungsstellen zunehmend Einfluss auf die Presse.]

Topics of the day: AfD sees dead people. Germans are losing purchasing power. And the government is visibly influencing the media.

Dear readers,

1. how the crisis is reducing Germans’ purchasing power.

2. how the AfD interprets unavailable Corona figures.

3. and how the government is building up a network of propagandists.

But one after the other.

Buy, buy, buy – before the money is gone!

In Germany, too, the purchasing power of the population is shrinking sharply, writes Telepolis author Ralf Streck today. A preliminary annual assessment of the wage archive of the Economic and Social Research Institute (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade unions, currently assumes that we are dealing with a historically high loss of real wages.

Collectively agreed wages are expected to fall by 4.7 percent in 2022, writes the WSI. According to the institute’s calculations, collectively agreed wages have risen by an average of only 2.7 percent compared with the previous year. The inflation gives the WSJ thereby even still optimistically with only 7.8 per cent up to the end of the year.

Mass deaths with the AfD

An excess mortality is undisputed above all in the autumn of the current year – a cause of death statistics was not published however yet even for 2021, writes today Telepolis editor Claudia Wangerin: The Federal Statistical Office speaks of delayed data supplies by health offices and of personnel bottlenecks.

This situation is fueling speculation. “The AfD is heavily involved in this – a data analyst commissioned by it was supposed to get to the bottom of the matter, but apparently did not do so with an open mind,” writes Wangerin: According to this, there was an increase of 1,082 percent in deaths recorded under the ICD-10 code R96 for “sudden death”. Telepolis has asked real experts.

Poles want to expropriate in Germany

The European Council meeting on Friday is eagerly awaited. Because until then Germany and Poland want to agree on the future of the PCK refinery in Schwedt. This was reported by Handelsblatt on Monday, according to Telepolis author Bernd Müller.

The point of contention is still that the Russian energy company Rosneft is the majority shareholder of the refinery. The Polish government had made it clear months ago that it would only help supply the refinery if the Russians were ousted. As the Handelsblatt now claims to have heard from Polish and German government circles, the Poles are still insisting on expropriation.

Government and media: with carrot and stick

According to a report in the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel, Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) has accused the previous government under Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) of partially influencing media coverage at the height of the Corona pandemic through background discussions with selected journalists.

Kubicki told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that he “considers the procedure at the time to be legally questionable, especially since no one can understand what criteria the federal government applied when selecting its interlocutors.”

The FDP politician, who has made a name for himself since the beginning of the pandemic with his critical assessment of the Corona policy, is basing his opinion on a brief report by the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag.

Referring to a ruling by the Federal Administrative Court in mid-September 2019, it states that the disclosure of information by the government to the media should “not amount to a regimentation or control of the media or part of it.”

Now, it is a matter of interpretation whether that was the case in the background talks by then-government spokesman Steffen Seibert. In the Tagesspiegel interview, Kubicki sees this as a given.

State influence on the media has increased not only in the pandemic, but also in the context of international politics – Russia’s war against Ukraine acted as a catalyst. For example, the Internet magazine Nachdenkseiten reported at the end of September on an interministerial paper on programs of the German government.

Under the title “Ongoing activities of departments and authorities against disinformation in connection with RUS war against UKR”, ten pages would list “meticulously the corresponding activities of the federal ministries and subordinate authorities”. These state measures also sometimes classify media coverage as part of a “hybrid threat.”

This development is dangerous for democracy and media freedom because it is covert and lacks transparency. Three developments can be observed:

1. government agencies deliberately influence media through information access;

2. government agencies reward the media with access or money, for example by placing advertisements.

3. government agencies take action against media.

Direct attacks on the media – which one would really only suspect in authoritarian states from Moscow to Budapest – are carried out by an increasing number of front organizations. The “Center for Liberal Modernity” of former Green politicians Ralf Fücks and Marieluise Beck has made a name for itself in this context.

This organization has recently received millions from various federal funds. One of its most important projects, called “Gegneranalyse,” is devoted to aggressive criticism of the media. All financed by the government!

How one-sidedly this project “Gegneranalyse” intervened in the discourse and debate about the pandemic policy in the case of the Corona pandemic is made clear by a quick look in the archives: “Corona protest movement: The New Cross Front?” it says, or “Corona Protests: A Threat to Democracy?”

It is then about “how right-wing radicals react to the corona crisis,” how “conspiracy theorists (gather) in Berlin” to “revolt against the ‘corona dictatorship,'” how corona skeptics:inside take to the streets against pandemic measures and for “peace, freedom, democracy” – or one writes about “corona-denying and anti-genderist positions.” A discussion of corona policy mistakes, collateral damage, questions of democratic control, or even government corona fakenews? Missing! All funded by the government!

It is disturbing that such organizations and structures are increasingly emerging and acting under the guise of concerned media criticism or having their staff pose as journalists. In this way, they influence political and media discourse without it always being clear who is speaking and on whose behalf.

It is therefore necessary to be clear what we are talking about: organizations that act in the interests of the government. Activists, not journalists. And in no case independent actors.

Articles on the topic:

Harald Neuber, Sabine Schiffer: “Opponent Analysis” and Center Liberal Modernity: The Press as Enemy?
Harald Neuber: How the state fight against disinformation is getting out of hand
Harald Neuber: Russian propaganda vs. NATO framing: How would you have answered the following question?
______________________________________________________________________

Climate finance: a “new Bretton Woods”
by Philipp Fess
[This article posted on 12/14/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Klimafinanzierung-Ein-neues-Bretton-Woods-7393981.html?seite=all.]

How the World Bank, IMF, and U.S. sow doubt about whether climate action is about “development aid” – or painting global growth capitalism “green.” Climate protection colonialism? (Part 1).

For some Telepolis readers, this text may open doors. Others may find absurd the notion that what we commonly think of as development aid can have exactly the opposite effect on so-called developing and emerging countries. Still others may doubt that climate protection measures can be “abused” at all.

In any case, “green” development aid opens a new chapter in an old debate that urgently needs to be revisited. The following three texts are intended to contribute to this.

A fund for the history books

Greta Thunberg has spoken of “greenwashing.” More than 30,000 guests from all over the world gathered at the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (Conference of the Parties, COP) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18. “Greenwashing?” Only because Coca-Cola, one of the world’s biggest “plastic sinners” and union “killers,” stepped up as a major sponsor?

Only because political leaders and lobbyists of the fossil energy industry arrived in hundreds of private jets? Only because the US and EU have an overly friendly (taxonomic) relationship with (fracking) gas and nuclear energy? Only because it was foreseeable for the climate activists that the results of the conference would not satisfy their need for escalation?

The 19-year-old is right: there are many reasons to talk about greenwashing. And yet there was virtually no talk about one – and of all things, it is being celebrated as a “historic” success for Cop27. The talk is of the agreement on the Loss and Damage Fund.

This fund aims to “provide financial support to the countries most vulnerable to and affected by the impacts of climate change,” as summarized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

This is expressly not (!) about environmental reparations, as the countries of the global south demanded as early as 1972, at the first UN World Environment Conference in Stockholm.

Rather, it is about concrete projects of compensation and prevention. The measures range “from the construction of coastal walls to the development of drought-resistant plants” (it is fortunate that Monsanto and the Gates Foundation have already helped to launch the corresponding genetic technologies).

Of course, all this has to be paid for. The New York Times writes of nothing less than the “largest mobilization of international capital in history”.

According to the UNEP’s “Adaptation Gap Report 2022” (subtitle: “too little, too slowly”), in order to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 160 to 340 billion US dollars must be paid annually to the so-called developing countries by 2030.

And the report’s authors warn that if climate change “accelerates,” the sum could rise to $565 billion annually. So it’s good that countries agreed to pay into the joint fund. Or not?

“Drastic” reforms of the Bretton Woods institutions

Exactly what the fund should look like has not yet been finalized. Germany’s special envoy for climate policy, Jennifer Morgan, said in early December that a decision on the “institutional design” would be made at COP28 in Dubai. Yet in Sharm El-Sheikh, fairly clear cornerstones were already outlined. For example, by David Malpass, President of the World Bank:

At COP27, recommendations were made to the multilateral development banks to significantly increase our climate finance […] I very much welcome these calls. Successful climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions requires a concerted global effort, and we are committed to that effort.
David Malpass

And Malpass was far from alone. Advocates for what the New York Times calls “drastic reform” of the World Bank and IMF include International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, U.S. Treasury Secretary (and ex-Federal Reserve board member) Janet Yellen, and “UN climate envoy” and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Germany’s Development Minister Svenja Schulze pledged her support for the reform back in October. But it had apparently been planned for much longer – and independently of the climate summit in Egypt.

IMF Director Georgieva spoke of a new “Bretton Woods moment” as early as the fall of 2020. The 1944 conference of the same name established the postwar monetary order and prompted the creation of the World Bank and IMF, which is why people refer to them as the “Bretton Woods institutions.” Georgieva was not referring to the climate crisis, however, but to the Corona crisis.

Thanks to financial injections by member countries into the Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust and the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust, she said, the IMF has been able to maintain its “financial firepower” and triple its ability to lend to countries in need. That should be kept in mind.

Likewise, that the invocation of a new Bretton Woods involves more than just reform of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. After all, the 1944 conference also established the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency – a decision that critics say laid the foundation for U.S. geopolitical dominance in the decades that followed. We will come to that as well.

What might be the parallel to the present is made clear by a post on the website of the official Bretton Woods Committee:

The new G20 effort to explore digital central bank currencies (CBDC) as part of a roadmap to improve cross-border payments, and its broader implications for the international monetary system, represents a rare multilateral attempt to recalibrate international monetary relations.

Perhaps CBDC can pick up where Bretton Woods left off.
The Bretton Woods Committee

The Strange Connection between Capital and Climate Protection

Telepolis has already addressed the monetary necessities and sociopolitical dangers of a CBDC in an earlier article.

The same applies to the memorable mixture of private capital and public institutions in so-called impact investing. This is also reflected in the tenor of COP27. And the next most prominent advocate could not be more prominent:

We need to reconvene Bretton Woods and completely revamp and reform the world banking system and give developing countries access to private capital.
Al Gore

It is questionable, of course, to what extent the opposite is not the case and private capital should be given access to the so-called developing countries.

At any rate, this is how one could understand French President Emmanuel Macron, who a few days later at the Asia-Pacific Economic Community (APEC) summit in Bangkok called for “cooperation between the public and private sectors” to solve “common problems” such as climate change (Telepolis reported). The president sounded a very similar note at COP27:

These institutions [the World Bank and IMF] must come up with concrete proposals to activate these innovative financing mechanisms, open up access to new liquidity, develop new concessional financing ideas for emerging economies, and propose solutions that take into account their vulnerability
Emmanuel Macron

Better than former investment banker Macron, however, is former U.S. presidential candidate Al Gore, who embodies the strange link between markets, growth and climate action.

Generation Investment, which Gore co-founded, says it has $36 billion invested in funds run by private and public companies that specialize in “sustainable” investments in the ESG (environment, social, governance) sector. The convergence of interests with World Bank reform is hard to miss.

Gore had already outlined his vision of a green future through public-private partnerships in a 2016 speech to a Master of Business Administration (MBA) class at Stanford Business School – the course of study that critics consider the “ideological transport vehicle of finance capitalism.”

A summary of the speech states:

Gore lays out a vision of a world in which nation-states no longer dictate the pace of change. The sustainability revolution is increasingly driven by local, on-the-ground projects and the enlightened self-interest of the private sector. And at the heart of this movement, Gore said, is the role of investors in identifying opportunities and financing forward-looking enterprises.
Stanford Graduate School of Business

In a 2010 article worth reading, Wirtschaftswoche quotes philanthrocapitalist George Soros: Emissions trading is “not very transparent and prone to manipulation,” says the major investor. Concludes, “That’s why it’s so popular with financial types like me.”
Who is accommodating whom here?

So once again, one must ask the question: Who is accommodating whom here? The arguable thesis this text series seeks to establish is this: “green” development aid is a “facelift” of an old principle that critics have called economic (debt) imperialism. The next two parts are intended to support this thesis.

The fact is: parallels between the old and new (inglorious) roles of the IMF and the World Bank are also observed among experts. Thus writes political scientist Aram Zai in an interview with the Goethe-Institut:

In this sense, the SDGs [Social Development Goals of Agenda 2030] are very much in the tradition of development policies that emerged in the context of the Cold War and the decolonization of the United States and its allies to prevent countries that were becoming independent from defecting to the socialist camp.

This was done by promising them that, with the support of the West, they could become prosperous or “developed” countries within a capitalist world economic order. This promise came true for only a very small minority of countries […] The SDGs are a renewal of this promise.”
Aram Zai

Part 2 of this series will explore what else lies behind this (false) promise.
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War in Ukraine: Nato taboos fall
December 13, 2022 Roland Bathon
[This article posted on 12/13/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Krieg in der Ukraine: Tabus der Nato fallen.]

The fear of an escalation of the conflict seems to be fading in the control centers of NATO. This is evident from the arms deliveries to Kiev. There is a danger hovering over everything.

For a long time, it was considered an unwritten law when it came to Western arms deliveries to Ukraine: the country’s own weapons should not be suitable for attacking the Russian hinterland. There was a valid reason for this, explained by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the Aspen Security Forum in July: supplying such weapons could provoke Russia and lead to a possible third world war.

Despite these officially expressed concerns, there were already the first reports in August, for example in the U.S. magazine Politico, according to which the U.S. is not only supplying Ukraine with what is officially announced. The talk quickly turned to high-precision projectiles, cluster munitions – and long-range missiles.

Nevertheless, the official line was initially adhered to. As late as the beginning of December, the Wall Street Journal reported that the rather effective Himars multiple rocket launcher, which Kiev had received from U.S. stocks, had been modified before delivery in such a way that it was no longer suitable for launching long-range projectiles flying deep into the Russian hinterland. Again, U.S. officials’ reasoning to the U.S. newspaper was that they did not want to escalate.

First hinterland strikes with own conversions

Then, a few days later, when the Ukrainians hit three airfields deep in the Russian hinterland with missiles, there was talk that the projectiles were self-modified conversions of Soviet drones. One of the airfields hit, on the Volga River, was 630 kilometers from territory controlled by Kiev.

When asked how such conversions are possible, the Latvian online newspaper Meduza points to Ukraine’s ability to freely purchase components on the international market, unlike Russia.

Such in-house conversions, however, are not comparable in combat power to the original Western long-range missiles compatible with Himars, according to Meduza. The warheads are smaller, he said, and their accuracy is lower.

The Ukrainians also failed to completely destroy a long-range bomber in the three attacks, he said. Meduza notes, however, that Ukraine will do everything it can to obtain better weapons with which to attack targets deep inside Russia. Also to force the Russians to deploy parts of their defensive equipment far from the front lines.

London: “Open-minded” to supply of long-range weapons.

That possibility increasingly appears to exist. According to the Reuters news agency, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated that they are now open to supplying Ukraine with longer-range weapons systems.

Such statements are also reported in Germany. “Ukraine is not obliged to limit itself to its own territory to defend itself against Russian aggression,” the Ukrainian online newspaper Strana quotes deputy German government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann as saying.

In this context, she quotes an unspecified article in the British Times that the U.S. is now less afraid of escalation by Russia. The fear, she says, is only that any U.S. threats deployed could be intercepted by the Russians, which would put them at a military disadvantage of their own.

In fact, Ukrainian military actions on Russian territory have been a reality for some time. In earlier months, however, they were always limited to the immediate border area and Russian staging areas near Belgorod, Kursk, or in Crimea for lack of other options. Morally, they feel the Ukrainians, as the attacked, have the right to attack any target in Russia from which attacks on their own country originate. Geopolitical considerations are secondary for them.

The debate resonates with the question of whether greater involvement of the West as a warring party is not even in Kiev’s interest, because such a development would favor access to a greater number of weapons.

The fear of a global military escalation is precisely the stumbling block that is currently preventing the delivery of German battle tanks and U.S. killer drones to Ukrainian troops, both of which Kiev is vehemently demanding.

If these demands are now met, a dangerous poker game is being played. For it will quickly become clear whether threatening words from Moscow in the event of any escalation of the war by the West – and such an escalation will then be present – were just hot air or will have serious consequences for Russian combat operations. In the latter case, additional victims are certain to be Ukrainians in the war zone again with a high probability.

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Real wage losses like never before in Germany
by Ralf Streeck
[This article posted on 12/14/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Reallohnverluste wie nie zuvor in Deutschland.]

“Profit inflation” and mistakes of the traffic light government: not only energy companies, more and more industries use price increases to cash in on inflation.

In Germany, too, the purchasing power of the population is shrinking sharply. A preliminary annual assessment by the collective bargaining archive of the Economic and Social Research Institute (WSI) of the Hans Böckler Foundation, which is close to the trade unions, currently assumes that we are dealing with a historically high loss of real wages.

Collectively agreed wages are expected to fall by 4.7 percent in 2022, writes the WSI. According to the institute’s calculations, collectively agreed wages have risen by an average of only 2.7 percent compared with the previous year. The WSJ even gives an optimistic estimate of inflation of just 7.8 percent by the end of the year.

A political value

One could also call this a whitewash, since the foundation obviously worked with the data from the statistics authority Destatis. As is well known, however, Destatis uses the “consumer price index” (CPI), which is particularly heavily embellished. But even according to the CPI, an official inflation rate of 10 percent was just confirmed in November. As we have discussed here several times, the inflation rate is primarily a political value.

This is already evident from the fact that the official German inflation rate according to the “Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices” (HICP), which is used by the European statisticians at Eurostat, was found to be 11.3 percent in November.

Even the former chief economist of Deutsche Bank, Thomas Mayer, criticized the fact that for the euro zone, too, more and more parts had been removed from the calculation of the inflation rate in order to make the inflation rate appear lower.

This, too, had led to the European Central Bank (ECB) being able to drag the problem out even longer with absurd forecasts. Ordinary people are now paying a high price for this.

So we have long been dealing with an even significantly higher loss of purchasing power. But this is partly concealed by the institute, which is close to the unions, because otherwise the unions, with their rather timid wage agreements, would be in an even worse position. The head of the WSI collective bargaining archive also cites this as a reason to save the unions’ honor:

“On the one hand, no collective bargaining at all took place in 2022 due to long-term effective collective agreements in many sectors. On the other hand, currently agreed, significantly stronger, wage increases and inflation premiums will often not take effect until 2023,” says Thorsten Schulten. Despite everything, he has to conclude:

Against this background, there will be a real wage loss this year that is unprecedented in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Thorsten Schulten

Who will be hit particularly hard

For many people, however, who work in industries where there are not even collective wage agreements, or for many self-employed people, the loss of real wages is even significantly higher, since there have been hardly any increases, if any at all. People who are particularly weak in social terms also have to suffer even more severe losses in purchasing power.

As is well known, the Hartz IV increase amounted to a whopping 0.67 percent. By the renaming to the citizen money the rule set is increased now around 50 euro on 502 euro. That lies within the range of the official inflation rate of 10 per cent, but does not even make past losses good.

The real loss of purchasing power is particularly high for people living on the subsistence level. This is because the lower the income, the higher the proportion that has to be spent on energy and food. However, these are the items that have become particularly expensive, at 38.7 percent and 21.1 percent respectively.

The figures known so far show that the optimistic forecasts made by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) are already wastepaper. The IfW had expected that “the purchasing power of private households will slump by 4.1 percent in the coming year, more than ever before in reunified Germany”.

It can be assumed that this forecast value for the coming year will already be exceeded in 2022. Whether there will then be a new record in 2023 depends on whether the fight against inflation, which the ECB was ultimately forced to do, actually works and whether the unions finally push through wage agreements that are commensurate with inflation.

Otherwise, we can expect strong stagflation like in the UK. Shrinking purchasing power, as in the Kingdom, of course additionally drives recessionary tendencies, which is particularly dramatic when inflation is high.

Causes of high prices

Much depends, of course, on political decisions, which have so far been conspicuous by their absence, especially in the case of the traffic light coalition. For example, effective action should finally be taken against speculative profits, so-called “windfall profits”, which are also called “profits falling from the sky”.

Because they drive inflation massively. Telepolis had besides already pointed out that the high energy prices, like also for example the fuel prices, cannot be justified with high oil prices.

At no point in 2022 has the price of oil even approached the all-time record of nearly $150 per barrel. In 2008, a barrel of oil cost almost as much without gasoline prices reaching highs like they are now. In July 2008, the average price of diesel rose to a high of just under 1.54 euros.

Currently, however, a barrel of oil costs less than 90 euros, but diesel still costs around 1.80 euros at the gas station. Furthermore, only speculation and greed explain these high prices.

Since the ECB had to raise interest rates in the meantime, however, the exchange rate against the U.S. dollar has improved somewhat again. Since the euro had fallen partly even under the parity to the dollar, over it energy became additionally more expensive. Oil and gas have to be paid for in dollars.

In the meantime, however, 1.06 dollars must be paid for one euro again. Even above that, the ECB’s interest rate hikes, which it had to be forced to do, have also had an inflation-inhibiting effect, because capital flight has been curbed. Therefore, the peak may now have been passed in the euro area as well. The HICP had risen to 10.6 percent in October and fell to 10 percent in November.

But to effectively reduce inflation, antitrust laws would also have to be changed. But the traffic lights do not do that either. “Excess profits” continue to be taxed here, not even to a small extent, while, as in the case of the oil companies, profits have exploded.

Excess profits tax as a means of combating speculation

So-called excess profits, whether from speculation or as windfall profits, should, however, be completely collected throughout the EU in order to prevent dumping.

In Italy, of all places, where the conservative Mario Draghi introduced the first excess profits tax of 25 percent, the radical right-wing Giorgia Melonie now wants to double it for large companies in order to flush billions more into the coffers.

The 50 percent is to be payable if a company’s energy revenues in 2022 are at least ten percent above the average level for 2018 to 2021. However, this still rewards those in Italy for their speculatively high prices, which drive up inflation.

In Greece, an excess profits tax of 90 percent comes closer to combating speculation in real terms, but there, as in Romania (80 percent), it is limited only to electricity producers. Here, too, they don’t really want to step on the toes of those who are currently skimming off the top. That’s why only 400 million euros are collected through the tax in Greece, whereas in Italy it has already raised about 10 billion euros.

In Germany, however, a government that claims to have a left-wing and social approach refuses to introduce any excess profits tax and even put the brakes on an EU gas price cap that has demonstrably lowered inflation in Spain. In Spain, the inflation rate is now 6.6 percent.

Of course, no one should be surprised if, in view of the inaction of the traffic light government, in which the FDP with Christian Lindner obviously determines that in the meantime not only energy companies use inflation as an excuse to cash in strongly.

“Profit inflation”: inferences about price increases

Among other things, the narrative that the Ukraine war is to blame for high energy prices and inflation was also used to this end. Yet inflation in Germany was already at six percent last November, more than three months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Eurostat.

A study by the Ifo Institute just made it clear that many companies have used high inflation as an excuse to “maximize profits,” as Tagesschau reported Tuesday. There was no mention of massive speculation, because the ifo Institute does not speak of it either.

The institute has calculated that not even the already speculatively strongly increased prices for energy and intermediate inputs can explain the extent of inflation in Germany. The term “profit inflation” is used because companies in some sectors of the economy have used the price increases to boost their profits.

This process was suggested by data from official statistics on economic output. From this, differences between nominal and price-adjusted value added were determined. “This allows conclusions to be drawn about price increases that were not caused by higher input costs,” the press release says.

Construction, agriculture, forestry, trade, hospitality and transport.

During the Corona pandemic, private households had accumulated large savings, it said. These have now been liquidated, fuelling consumer demand, explains Joachim Ragnitz. The deputy head of Ifo’s Dresden branch goes on to explain that relief measures by the government are also likely to have helped support demand, thus expanding scope for price increases.

“Particularly in agriculture and forestry, including fisheries, as well as in construction and in the trade, hospitality and transport sectors, companies raised their prices significantly more than would have been expected on the basis of increased input prices alone,” says Ragnitz.

Some companies seem to be using the cost surge as an excuse to also improve their profit situation by raising their sales prices.
Joachim Ragnitz

In agriculture, companies initially used up their stocks of fertilizers and feedstuffs, but had already factored into their calculations the expected price increases for repeat orders, he cites a concrete example.

Regulation?

But at the neoliberal institute, which sometimes comes up with untenable theories, such as that inflation should hit higher incomes harder than lower incomes, there is of course no desire for regulation. There is no reason for government intervention in prices, they say.

An excess profits tax is also rejected because of an alleged “distorting effect on the scarcity signals of the market,” as it is neither in line with the market nor legally enforceable, says Ragnitz. Nor, of course, does he want to see any evidence that companies are colluding behind the price increases.

That is why antitrust measures are not helpful. But a drive past various gas stations shows that this is wrong. In today’s information society, there is no need for backroom deals between the heads of the oil companies to agree on overpriced fuel.

In view of what ifo has determined, however, and contrary to Ragnitz’s statements, changes to antitrust law are urgently needed. After all, it is obvious that companies in an oligopoly position are massively using their position in the market to inflate profits. To put an end to this, both an excess profits tax close to 100 percent and modern antitrust law are needed.

Ragnitz, on the other hand, believes that “only more competition” will help against excessive price increases. That’s the old neoliberal canard, that consumers could then “also buy cheaper products and thus dampen profit inflation.”

The only problem is that the cheaper products don’t exist, as can be well seen at gas stations only as an example. Of course, there is nothing to be read at the ifo Institute about a demand to break up the oligopolies in order to at least ensure more competition.

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Scholz: EU geopolitics and new Cold War between China and U.S.
by Philipp Fess
[This article posted on 12/12/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Scholz-Geopolitik-der-EU-und-neuer-Kalter-Krieg-zwischen-China-und-USA-7373381.html?seite=all.]

The (historically) oblivious chancellor on a multipolar world order with the U.S. at its head, NATO saber-rattling for world peace, and other semantic balancing acts. An exegesis.

After a U.S.-China think tank of economists, journalists and lawyers presented its concept for a “better” world order in Foreign Affairs in early September (Telepolis reported), the German chancellor also had his say in the renowned political magazine in early December.

In Germany, however, the article entitled “Die globale Zeitenwende – Wie ein neuer Kalter Krieg in einer multipolaren Ära vermieden werden kann” (The global turning point – How a new Cold War can be avoided in a multipolar era) attracted little attention. But it should have.

Olaf Scholz (SPD) surpassed the authors of the “US-China Trade Policy Working Group” not only by lengths of text, but also in dressing his arguments in ambivalent rhetoric. In some cases so ambivalent and informal that he rivaled his predecessor and advisor Angela Merkel. Even the major German media can no longer close their eyes to some of the parallels.

What is hard to believe is that, just as in the text of the transpacific think tank, there are hidden jibes in Scholz’s work, too, that challenge the prevailing transatlantic narrative and make daring criticisms of the U.S. hegemon.

Scholz criticizes the superpower for its geopolitically motivated policy of interests in Ukraine, strongly condemns its softening of the nuclear weapons doctrine in the face of an imminent Third World War, and finally accuses it of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) inhumane plans to murder Julian Assange, who has merely uncovered war crimes that must now finally be tried in The Hague.

Don’t think so? You shouldn’t either. Because Scholz unsurprisingly did not mention these issues with a single word.

History forgotten

Actually, it is a kind of funeral speech. For Scholz buries – with Merkel-like pathos – the “resilient world order” that heralded the fall of the Berlin Wall and ushered in a time of peace. At that time, Europe had finally been able to “grow together” and, above all, to disarm, because the countries of the former Eastern Bloc left the Warsaw Pact and soon joined NATO.

Everything would probably have been perfect had an “imperialist” and “revisionist” Russia under Vladimir Putin not brought the peace order to an abrupt end:

“Instead of seeing the peaceful overthrow of communist rule as an opportunity for greater freedom and democracy, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin called it [2005] the ‘greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.'”

Will Foreign Affairs readers be taking their chins and thinking about NATO’s eastward expansion? After all, the Soviets had made their failure to do so a condition for reunification at the time and had received assurances to that effect – even if this has been willingly ignored in the one-sided portrayals since the turn of the century. Just as the assurances themselves were ignored.

George H. W. Bush, ex-chief of the CIA responsible for numerous regime changes, who appears in Scholz’s text rather as a liberator well-disposed towards Europe, is said to have said to Helmut Kohl with regard to the Soviet conditions: “To hell with them! We won, not them.”

But Scholz tells a different story.

That of the revisionist Putin, who already in 2007 at the Munich Security Conference had the audacity to “brand the rules-based international order as a mere tool of American domination.” The rules-based international order to which Scholz pledges his “unwavering support” in the article.

That Putin is far from alone in his judgment, however, and that even authors of the newspaper in which Scholz’s article appears share his opinion, was elaborated by Telepolis in the text mentioned at the beginning of this article.

But even this does not fit the story that Scholz tells.

International Law for the Chosen

The story begins with Russia’s war against NATO aspirant Georgia, followed by the annexation of Crimea in 2014, the undermining of arms control treaties, and the “brutal military intervention in favor of the Assad regime in Syria”.

Scholz nonchalantly passes over the role of the U.S. in the Caucasian war, ignores the entire history of the Maidan revolution with obvious U.S. interference, and glosses over the mutual accusations regarding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) – which the Tagesschau still tried to present in a differentiated way in 2019 – as well as the origins of the conflict in Syria, which can be traced back to one of many regime change attempts by the CIA. Such a one-sided account speaks volumes. But it doesn’t stop there. Scholz writes:

When Putin gave the order to attack, he destroyed a European and international architecture of peace that had been built over decades. Under Putin’s leadership, Russia flouted the most basic principles of international law enshrined in the UN Charter.

“Look who’s talking,” the US American would say: look who’s talking. After all, Scholz is a member of the party that, together with the Greens and the Left, sent the Bundeswehr to Kosovo without a UN mandate.

The humanitarian intervention directed against the communist enemy of the system, Slobodan Miloševi?, by the German government, which had sworn in the supposedly beneficial year of 1990 never again to start a war (bypassing international law), was given a reverberating name by the Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2008: “Die Bonner Zeitenwende” (“The Bonn Turn of Time”).

And in view of the wars that the U.S. has waged or supported in numerous countries – from Indochina and Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the drone war – which are also questionable under international law, it is difficult to maintain the claim of the untouched peace architecture.

But then the title of the article could just no longer say “Zeitenwende.” This is a narrative that Scholz sometimes exaggerates into the irrational to such an extent that one almost has to wonder whether his text does not subversively want to flaunt it as such.

Germany’s New Security Strategy and the EU as a “Geopolitical Actor with Weight”

Thus, the turn of the times also applies with regard to a Europe that is no longer free and pacified and faces the threat of an “imperialist Russia.” One that intends to divide the European continent “into zones of influence [and] divide the world into blocs of great powers and vassal states.” How Scholz knows the Russian strategy so well, he does not reveal.

The threatened Europe, the chancellor continues, must be expanded and transformed into a “geopolitical actor with weight.” Germany, he said, will take responsibility as “one of the main guarantors of security in Europe” by “investing in our armed forces, strengthening the European arms industry, increasing our military presence on NATO’s eastern flank, and training and equipping the Ukrainian armed forces.”

More military, more security. The new Germany is again relying on deterrence instead of diplomacy and détente. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who is known as an expert in international law, has already declared that “change through trade” has failed.

It also fits in that Scholz sees Sweden’s and Russia’s neighbor Finland’s accession to NATO less as a provocation than as a strengthening of “Euro-Atlantic security. At the same time – and hold on now – NATO’s action should “not lead to a direct confrontation with Russia.”

Nation-state sovereignty as an obstacle

As far as peace negotiations with Putin are concerned, Scholz consistently advocates an absolute lack of compromise.

No “dictatorial peace” in which Russia imposes conditions, is the watchword. There is clearly a need for Franco-German talks here, because Emmanuel Macron recently struck a different note with his security guarantees for Russia.

The EU’s new saber-rattling doctrine, which Germany, on the other hand, is pursuing together with France, is also to be reflected in a new “National Security Strategy,” “which we will adopt in a few months,” Scholz writes.

In addition to military unity on the outside, the chancellor is also propagating political unity on the inside. The intergovernmentalists and those who already accuse the EU of a democratic deficit will not like his plans:

[…] quick decisions [are]an essential prerequisite for success. For this reason, Germany has proposed to gradually expand the practice of majority voting in areas where decisions currently require unanimity, such as EU foreign policy and tax issues.

Blockades like those from Hungary or from EU candidate Serbia would then be history. But enough of that. After all, according to the article, Olaf Scholz started out to avoid the Cold War.

“The third world war begins with forgetting” – and Scholz likes to forget

Does Scholz want to play the same confrontation card on the China issue? Yes and no. Scholz is using a tactic here that has also worked wonderfully so far with embarrassing questions about secret agreements with bankers or omitted financial investigations: Simply “forget” – or deny that the problem exists:

Many […] see a new Cold War coming, with the United States and China positioned as adversaries. I do not share this view. […] Rather, I believe that we are currently witnessing the end of an extraordinary phase of globalization […] in which the United States became the defining world power – a role it will maintain in the 21st century. […] China’s rise is neither a justification for isolating Beijing nor for limiting cooperation.

Can you still keep up with that argumentatively? While the U.S. is supposed to continue playing hegemon in a world that has all of a sudden gone off the rails, “China’s growing power […] does not justify hegemonic claims in Asia and beyond.” And it gets even more contradictory.

For Scholz promotes “dialogue and cooperation even outside the democratic comfort zone” and cites the new U.S. National Security Strategy as a model. The security strategy in which China is named as “the only competitor […] with the ability to reshape the international world order” – and thus as a potential threat.

At the same time, however, China could keep “a dangerous Russia” in check – a country for which Scholz and Friends rule out “dialogue and cooperation” from the outset. “No country should be another’s backyard,” the chancellor writes, also quoting the German foreign minister.

The sentence refers, of course, to Russia’s doctrine toward a “military presence on NATO’s eastern flank,” but at the same time also to China and the simmering conflict over the island nation of Taiwan. What was that again about Cuba in 1962?

“World War III begins with forgetting,” is the title of a recent New York Times article by political scientist Stephen Wertheim of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. And the author also offers an explanation as to why it is not only our chancellor who is so forgetful:

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the generational shift, World War II was presented as a moral triumph rather than a cautionary tale. […] Presidents began invoking World War II to glorify the struggle and justify U.S. global dominance.

The supremacy that is already set in stone for our Chancellor in the 21st century. And which some say is what Scholz has pledged his “unwavering support” to.

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Striving for peace – taking war seriously

by Werner van Gent, Athens
Those who want peace must recognize the signs of war early. This is the only way to prevent senseless fighting and suffering.
[This article posted on 12/13/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,

Editor – This article by former war reporter Werner van Gent first appeared in the interfaith newspaper “zVisiste”.https://www.infosperber.ch/politik/nach-frieden-streben-den-krieg-ernst-nehmen/.]

Sometime in the early 1980s, I became a war reporter. That had never been my dream job as a correspondent. But when wars broke out in “my” area – I was also living part of the time in Greece at the time – I wanted to report on them, and I was determined to do so.

I quickly learned how dangerous this work was and how brutal and uncontrollable the military violence was. The severely wounded on the front lines in the Iran-Iraq war, the children who had lost their eyesight in bomb explosions, the victims of Saddam Hussein’s chemical warfare, and later the mine victims in Kosovo.

Anticipating wars

Now the war in Ukraine has revived all these horrible images and impressions. At the same time, they have strengthened a basic conviction in me: Wars must be foreseen and prevented. Until last February 24, 2022, I believed that Putin could not even think of this war. That was a mistake, he obviously thought it very well and thus showed the world: Economic relations do not guarantee peace. That he may have been mistaken about the course of the war merely confirms the old adage that in a war only the first shot can be calculated.

The key question we all have to ask ourselves – including me as a media professional – is: Why did we slide into this catastrophe with our eyes open? What made us deaf and blind? Was it the cheap gas, was it the long peace in Europe?

Unfortunately, the debate about the war is now largely dominated by military experts – among them, incidentally, only a few women – who glorify the war with tables of troop strengths, with diagrams of the most modern weapons systems and with detailed maps. This view suppresses the unbearable images of horror.

Stale “peace of victory”

This military-scientific glorification of a war that has long been hopeless for both sides, which is also supported by some media, leads to the postulation of the prospect of victory against one’s better judgment. What is meant, however, is more likely a victorious peace. A peace that can only lead to new wars that will possibly be even more catastrophic. The war in Ukraine has long since determined our daily lives, perhaps even our survival. In any case, we can no longer ignore it. And we have become a party to it without wanting to. The civilian population has felt the same way in all the wars I have reported on. Only they raged at a safe distance from our country.

For a long time, peace and conflict research was considered a playground for unworldly utopians. Today, there is an enormous need to catch up here. If we want to do something for peace in the long term, we must learn to think the unthinkable. Precisely because the Putins, Erdogans and all the other potentates are doing so. Early signs must be recognized and evaluated without ideology. In the Ukraine war, unfortunately, this task was not performed in time.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

“Free Julian Assange!” say Latin American leftist leaders

https://multipolarista.substack.com/p/free-assange-latin-america-left

‘Free Julian Assange!’ say Latin America’s leftist leaders: Lula, AMLO, Petro, Maduro, Ortega, Kirchner, Evo, Zelaya
Latin America’s leftist presidents are leading the campaign to free Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks journalist has support in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and more
by Ben Norton
Dec 8
WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012

A movement is growing in Latin America to demand the freedom of political prisoner Julian Assange, the Australian journalist persecuted by the United States for his work exposing its war crimes.

Most of the major leftist leaders in Latin America have called for Assange to be released from the maximum-security British prison where he has been held since 2019 and subjected to torture.

Current and former Latin American presidents who have expressed their support for the beleaguered journalist include Brazil’s Lula da Silva, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Honduras’ Manuel Zelaya.

It was the socialist ex president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who gave asylum to Assange in the first place.

Assange, the founder of whistle-blowing journalism publication WikiLeaks, was trapped in Ecuador’s embassy in London, England for seven years, starting 2012, in what United Nations experts determined to be an illegal form of arbitrary detention by the governments of the UK and Sweden.

In 2019, British authorities stormed the Ecuadorian embassy and arrested Assange. The UK’s judicial system subsequently rubber stamped Washington’s extradition request, and the WikiLeaks journalist faces up to 175 years in prison.

The United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, visited Assange in London’s brutal Belmarsh prison and reported that he suffers from “all the symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture.”

“While the US Government prosecutes Mr. Assange for publishing information about serious human rights violations, including torture and murder, the officials responsible for these crimes continue to enjoy impunity,” the UN expert noted.

The CIA, which has organized coups against many left-wing governments in Latin America, even made plans to kidnap and kill Assange. The infamous US spy agency is now being sued by journalists who were victims of its illegal spying operations.
Ecuador’s Rafael Correa and Andrés Arauz

Ecuador’s former President Correa has always been one of Assange’s most vocal supporters.

Correa’s successor, Andrés Arauz, has also praised Assange. A leftist economist and former central bank manager who served as a minister under Correa, Arauz came close to winning Ecuador’s 2021 elections.

“Real and also Ecuadorian journalism is that of Julian Assange,” Arauz tweeted with pride, referring to the fact that the WikiLeaks publisher was given Ecuadorian citizenship.

Brazil’s Lula da Silva

Brazil’s left-wing President-elect Lula da Silva met with Assange’s colleagues from WikiLeaks on November 28, 2022.

Lula said he “sent my solidarity” and expressed hope that “Assange will be freed from his unjust imprisonment.”

Lula governed Latin America’s largest country from 2003 to 2010 and will return to power on January 1, 2023, after winning the October 30 elections and defeating current far-right leader Jair Bolsonaro.

Lula @LulaOficial

Colombia’s Gustavo Petro

A week before they spoke with Lula in Brazil, the editors of WikiLeaks traveled to Colombia to meet with its new President Gustavo Petro.

Petro, the first-ever left-wing leader of Colombia, said he “supports the worldwide struggle for the freedom of the journalist Julian Assange.”

“I will ask President Biden with other Latin American presidents so they don’t put charges on a journalist only for saying the truth,” he added.

Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega

Nicaragua’s socialist President Daniel Ortega said in 2021 that “Assange earned the recognition of the people, and for that he won the peace prize of the peoples of the world.” (He added, “Not the Nobel Prize, which is given to those who destroy, invade, kill, bomb.”)

Ortega noted that Assange’s supposed “crime” was “having denounced the violations of human rights, the crimes committed by the North American leaders in killings, in bombings.”

The revolutionary Sandinista leader condemned the hypocrisy and authoritarianism of Western governments, noting their roots in racism, monarchism, and fascism.

What do UN human rights bodies have to say on Julian Assange, whose only crime was to denounce the tortures, massacres and murders of the Yankee government? President Daniel Ortega:

Venezuela’s elected President Nicolás Maduro has been one of the most outspoken world leaders in defending Assange.

When the journalist was imprisoned in 2019, Maduro harshly “condemned the atrocious decision” as “a shameful affront to international law and his human rights.”

The Venezuelan government stressed that Assange is a victim of “political persecution” by the US government, and his “crime is having revealed to the world the darkest and most criminal face of the ‘regime-change wars’ that the US empire executes, and in particular the massive killings of civilians and the shameful violation of human rights in Iraq.”

Nicolás Maduro @maduro_en
RT @jaarreaza: #COMUNICADO | The Government and People of Venezuela reject the atrocious decision to deprive Australian-Ecuadorian citizen Julian Assange of the right of diplomatic asylum, and his subsequent arrest in London, clumsily and shamefully […] t.peq.cc/6GMx

“The Australian-Ecuadorian journalist should not be delivered to the US, where his life is in danger of a rigged judicial process,” and “where there clearly exists the intention to end his life,” Maduro added.

“Out of the respect of the right to asylum, out of the respect of international law, Julian Assange must be freed immediately, his life and its integrity must be protected and respected,” the Venezuelan president stressed.
Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Mexico’s left-wing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has praised Assange as the “best journalist of our time, in the world.”

Criticizing US government hypocrisy, AMLO called for the Australian “prisoner of conscience” to be freed, and he asked, “Are we going to take the Statue of Liberty out of New York? Are we going to keep talking about democracy? Are we going to keep talking about the protection of human rights, of the freedom of expression?”

In a press conference, the Mexican leader even played a clip of the “Collateral Murder” video published by WikiLeaks, which shows the US military killing journalists in Iraq.

At the press conference in which Mexican President AMLO called for Julian Assange to be freed, he showed a clip of the “collateral murder” video published by @wikileaks, which exposed US war crimes and killing of journalists in Iraq. Read more here: multipolarista.com/2022/06/21/mex…
6:29 PM ? Jun 22, 2022

Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was president from 2007 to 2015 currently serves as vice president, has repeatedly expressed support for Julian Assange.

On December 5, 2022, Kirchner met with the same WikiLeaks editors, Hrafnsson and Farrell, as part of their tour of Latin America.

In 2019, Kirchner tweeted, “In the upside-down world, fake news circulates freely and those who reveal the truth are persecuted and imprisoned.” She emphasized the importance of “the citizens’ right to information,” and tagged Assange, thanking him for his journalistic work.

Then in June 2022, while serving as Argentina’s vice president, Kirchner wrote, “The decision to facilitate the extradition of Julian Assange not only puts his life at risk but also marks an alarming precedent for all of the world’s journalists who investigate and look for the truth: journalistic disciplining for everyone.”

Bolivia’s Evo Morales

Bolivia’s socialist ex-President Evo Morales warned in June 2022 that the “decision of the United Kingdom to accept the request of the United States to extradite Julian Assange is a grave attack on journalism, on democracy, and on the search for truth.”

Morales added that Assange “exposed the unpunished crimes of the empire, that is his only ‘crime.'” The former Bolivian leader reassured “all our solidarity with him and his family.”

Honduras’ former President Manuel Zelaya has been a very outspoken defender of Julian Assange.

Zelaya was overthrown in a US-backed right-wing military coup in 2009. Today, he officially serves as an advisor to Honduras’ current President, Xiomara Castro, who is his wife.

Zelaya created an organization called the Anti-Imperialist People’s International in Defense of Humanity and Nature (Internacional Antiimperialista de los Pueblos en Defensa de la Humanidad y la Naturaleza), which launched a campaign to free Assange.

“The world demands the immediate freedom of Julian Assange,” Zelaya declared. His campaign has been publicly supported by Paraguay’s left-wing former President Fernando Lugo, Ecuador’s ex foreign minister and defense minister Ricardo Patiño, Colombian lawmaker Piedad Córdoba, the lawmaker Nidia Díaz from El Salvador’s leftist FMLN party, and prominent socialist Argentine intellectual Atilio Borón.
Twitter avatar for @manuelzr

In September, Zelaya sent a letter to British Prime Minister Liz Truss, requesting a reversal of the extradition decision and freedom for Assange.

In 2020, Zelaya insisted, “Assange, for informing humanity about the hidden horrors of power, should be given an award.”
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By Ben Norton  ·  Hundreds of paid subscribers

It’s fascinating how the Central and South American leaders express themselves. Same message from all but different wording, distinctive emphasis, reminiscent of the political culture they each grew up in.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

How critical journalists are muzzled in Europe

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/10/18853366.php

Besides the case of Julian Assange, the case of the Basque Pablo González has stood out for almost a year now. Poland wants to keep him in solitary confinement for at least a year without presenting any evidence for the accusations of alleged espionage for Russia. His offense is apparently to have done research in eastern Ukraine, which alarms Ukrainian and Polish intelligence.

Human Rights Day December 10

Critical journalism leads behind bars even in the EU
Basque journalist Pablo González is accused of spying for Russia. Poland wants to keep him in solitary confinement without presenting evidence or bringing charges. Something is moving in the Assange case.

We have been drawing attention to the case of Pablo González in this space since the spring, and with it the fact that the freelance Basque journalist has been imprisoned in Poland on the dubious charge of being a spy for Russia.

He faces up to ten years in prison there for this. Again and again, without providing any evidence for the accusations, the pre-trial detention was extended by three months at a time, as it is now again. The Polish judiciary does not give any reasons. They like to cite the risk of absconding because of the expected high prison sentence, but otherwise they keep the reasons secret.

The journalist will therefore also have to spend Christmas behind bars in the Polish prison Radom, and thus he will then sit in solitary confinement for a year without any charges being brought.

The accusation that he is a spy of Putin was constructed in an abstruse way. Among other things, the fact that he has Spanish and Russian citizenship and two passports was used. It has long since been disproved that he only allegedly posed as a journalist, as he was accused of doing, in order to be able to move freely as a spy.
Source: Telepolis

Documentary film Ithaka now also in Germany
What’s it about.
It’s about crimes committed by governments and a man who, with his vision of justice, founded an organization to expose just that. He succeeded very well and this is where the problem starts. Because it is not the criminals who are currently behind bars, but the man who published the crimes and protected whistleblowers.

The world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has become a symbol of an international arm wrestle over journalism freedom, government corruption and unpunished war crimes.

“Ithaca shows how far the richest and most powerful nations in the history of the world will go to hide their crimes. Ithaca cuts to the heart of how freedom of the press and our right to communicate are slowly being dismantled before our eyes.” – Gabriel Shipton, brother of Julian Assange and producer of the documentary.
Source: FREEASSANGE.EU

Note Moritz Müller: This film tries to bring the human being Julian Assange and what he has achieved and also his family to the fore. On the page of FREEASSANGE.EU you can find the further screening locations, tonight and in the next days and weeks. Partial contributors to the creation of the film are present in the cinema.

Flights to the World Climate Conference: Government causes 308 million tons of CO2
Flights by the German government to the World Climate Conference emitted millions of tons of CO2. The German Foreign Office states that there is compensation. However, criticism is not absent.

During outbound and return flights in connection with the World Climate Conference in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, members of the German government and their employees emitted about 308 million tons of carbon dioxide.

This is according to a recent written response from the German Foreign Office to a question posed by former AfD member of parliament Joana Cotar.

The climate conference was held in the Egyptian resort from November 6 to 18. According to the Federal Foreign Office, the emissions mentioned include all flights incurred in the context of the German government’s participation in the conference.
Source: ZDF
____________________________________________________________________________

How critical journalists are muzzled in Europe
by Ralf Streck
[This article posted on 11/30/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://overton-magazin.de/top-story/wie-kritische-journalisten-in-europa-mundtot-gemacht-werden/.]

Pablo González

Next to the case of Julian Assange, the case of the Basque Pablo González has stood out for almost a year now. The one Poland wants to keep in solitary confinement for at least a year, without presenting evidence for the accusations of alleged espionage for Russia. His offense is apparently to have done research in eastern Ukraine, which has put him in the crosshairs of Ukrainian and Polish intelligence services.

Basque journalist Pablo González will also spend Christmas behind bars in Poland’s Radom jail – about an hour and a half’s drive south of the capital, Warsaw (Does Poland want to break the will of journalist Pablo Gonzales, who has already been imprisoned for three months without charge?). So he will probably have to continue spending the next three months in solitary confinement, because last weekend the Polish judiciary extended the pre-trial detention of the journalist, who has Spanish and Russian citizenship, again by three months. Reasons were not given by the Polish judiciary. Previously, they were happy to cite the risk of flight because of the expected heavy prison sentence, but otherwise they are keeping the reasons secret and continue not to press charges.

Based on the fact that he has two passports, a good part of the accusations that the journalist is a spy for Russia. For this, he faces up to ten years in prison in Poland. Allegedly, he used his journalistic activity only to be able to move freely, it was claimed from Warsaw. A monthly transfer of 350 euros from Russia was also cited. This came from his father, who rents an apartment in Moscow and supports his freelance son with part of the income.

González was born in Russia as the son of a “war child.” Children from the Basque Country were evacuated to various countries after the 1936 coup. In Russia, González is listed under the name Pavel Rubtsov (father’s last name). It was even claimed by Poles that they were forged passports, which has long since turned out to be false.

Almost nothing has changed in the dramatic situation, including the harsh prison conditions, since the arrest in Poland in February. About it Krass & Konkret had reported several times. Also to the last detention examination the Polish public prosecutor’s office presented again no proofs for its heavy reproaches.

Between all chairs

“They have now robbed Pablo of a year of his life and that is irreparable damage,” explains Galician photographer Juan Teixeira, who was traveling with González. “It could have been me,” he explains. The Galician has traveled with González on all seven of his research trips to Ukraine in recent years. These also took both of them to the east of the country, since the warlike conflict began there in 2014. The fact that they researched and reported from there did not please many in Ukraine, who wanted to hang a cloak of silence over the events. Having worked and researched on “both sides of the conflict,” he found himself “caught between all the stools,” explains his Basque wife, Oihana Goiriena.

González was informally interrogated by the secret service in Ukraine a few weeks before his later arrest in Poland. Already at that time he was accused of being a “Russian spy”, his photographer colleague reports. After the unpleasant contact with the Ukrainian secret service, both journalists initially returned to Spain. After Russia’s invasion, however, González was drawn to the region again. Among other things, he reported for the Spanish television station “La Sexta,” for the newspapers “Público” and the Basque “Gara” from the border town to Ukraine Przemysl about the refugees who streamed in large numbers across the border into Poland. There he was eventually arrested by the Polish secret service ABW and initially even disappeared completely from the scene for a few days.

“I’m sure they have me on their radar, too,” Texeira says. “They probably understand me as a supporter or something, because everything Pablo did in Ukraine, I was always there,” he says. There is no proof of the accusations, which is why they cannot be presented, the photographer says. He, too, has had no contact with his friend for ten months now. He, too, has written him letters that he doesn’t know if they ever arrived. González, who has been under a strict contact ban and in solitary confinement since his arrest, is unable to reply.

Solitary confinement like Julian Assange’s

Detention conditions continue to be harsh. “I am locked in the cell for almost 23 hours a day on average,” his wife quotes from one of the six letters that were let through to her in more than nine months. It took several months for the first letter to reach them. They are not allowed to make phone calls, not even on the birthdays of their three children. “When they let me out of the cell, I am always handcuffed,” she continues, quoting from the letter. He reports that he cannot see outside. He says the window cannot be opened; it lets in light, but one cannot see through it.

Because of the conditions of detention and the ban on contact, one can also speak of sensory deprivation, as has been used in a more pointed form for years against the inconvenient Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In his case, experts have been speaking of “torture” for two years. Assange has already been subjected to solitary confinement in the British high-security Belmarsh prison for about three and a half years, which have left heavy marks on him.

“The charges against Assange are a dangerous precedent and an attack on press freedom,” Der Spiegel, Le Monde, El País, The New York Times and The Guardian have just denounced in a jointly signed open letter to the US government. “Twelve years after the embassy leaks, it is time for the U.S. government to stop prosecuting Julian Assange for publishing secret documents,” they demand, noting, “Because journalism is not a crime.”

That’s exactly the case for González. Reporters Without Borders is calling for his release, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) already demanded, unsuccessfully, six months ago, a “fair and transparent trial” in which he would not be punished for his journalistic activities. “Reporting is not a crime,” CPJ also believes.

In some ways, González’s situation is even worse than Assange’s. Even contact with the lawyer he trusts is consistently prevented by Poland, because Gonzalo Boye is an internationally renowned and successful lawyer. Even contact with the family was completely prevented for a long time. It has only been slowly softening for some time. At first, González had received only a few visits from the Spanish consul.

Even the request of the member of the Bundestag Andrej Hunko was rejected last week “without any justification” by the Polish authorities, Hunko told Krass & Konkret. He wanted to visit the journalist as part of his work for the Council of Europe and announced, “I will raise the case as a European policy spokesman both in the EU and in Council of Europe debates.” Hunko is not the only one who is surprised by Spain’s behavior; after all, “Poland is under criticism in the Council of Europe and in the EU for serious flaws in the rule of law.”

In Western intelligence circles, Gonzalez is portrayed as a Russian agent

Boye has no doubt that Poland is trying to “break the will” of his client with the harsh terms. He alludes to González thus admitting to alleged espionage. If Poland had evidence of this, “they would have shown it long ago.” Boye thinks that Poland has reached a dead end and knows no way out. Piotr Niemczyk, the ex-director of a Polish secret service, has a similar view. In an article in “Gazeta Wyborcza,” he virtually mocked his former colleagues for what had happened. The fact that a “Russian spy” was standing up for human rights and supporting refugees fleeing from Putin seems rather Spanish to him.

But in Western intelligence circles, González is defiantly held up as an example of extensive Russian espionage. At the Aspen Security Forum in the U.S., the head of Britain’s MI6 asserted that Russia had large espionage capabilities. This has been reduced in Europe thanks to the expulsion of 400 spies, Richard Moore explained. He also spoke about arrests of Russian agents, citing journalist Pablo González as an example. However, he did not provide any evidence for his accusations. He also spread the Polish nonsense that González had only “pretended” to be a journalist. Wrongly, he also stated that González had intended to go to Ukraine to act as part of Russian destabilization. What is correct is that he had left Ukraine.

Left-wing MP Hunko agrees with Boye’s assessment that apparently “the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights” does not apply in Poland. That is supposed to guarantee “presumption of innocence and rights of defenders.” “Not a single European provision on the fundamental rights of the treatment of prisoners, not a single provision of the Charter of Fundamental Rights regarding due process, has been respected,” the lawyer told Krass and Konkret. Boye has also consistently criticized the Spanish Social Democratic government. The did not stand up for the respect of the journalist’s fundamental rights, let Poland “undermine the foundations of the EU.”

In fact, during the visit to Warsaw in the summer, the head of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, did absolutely nothing to improve the situation for the journalist. Although Sánchez is also aware of the doubts about Poland’s rule of law, he did not criticize the country, but asked for “respect” for Polish justice. “The Spanish government logically respects the rule of law in Poland, and therefore the Polish judicial system, just as we always ask to respect the Spanish judicial system and that of any EU country.”

Indeed, neither Boye’s lawyer nor the journalist’s family or friends expected anything from the self-proclaimed “most progressive government in Spanish history,” and so it is also not surprising that Poland has continued to extend the pre-trial detention without bringing charges or presenting evidence. Despite everything, the international pressure, as also built up by Hunko, is slowly showing some effect in Warsaw. Last week Goiriena was able to visit her husband for the first time. She hopes that this marks a turning point and sees “a crack in the contact barrier.” The visit, she says, gave the battered and emaciated journalist “strength” again and “courage.” She hopes that further visits will be possible, even if they continue to take place under the eyes of a secret service employee. Finally, she said, she has also been able to tell him how great the support is for him.

Pablo, she said, has asked her to “explicitly thank everyone who cares about his situation.” Knowing that he is no longer alone has filled him with energy to remain steadfast in this struggle, which will be neither short nor easy, Goiriena explained after the visit. She was in Poland accompanied by Boye, and following the visit, the two met with the new Polish legal team. This will now be coordinated by Boye and will also ensure that his wife’s visit is not a one-time experience.
Related Posts:

Murder cover-up by Spanish judiciary to prosecute Puigdemont lawyer?
Spanish journalist held for two weeks in Polish high-security prison with contact ban
Is Poland trying to break the will of journalist Pablo Gonzales, who has already been detained for three months without charge?
The rigged game of four countries against Assange and press freedom
“Mockery of justice”: Assange may be extradited to the U.S.

Mengel says:
November 30, 2022 at 7:42 am

The facade is crumbling more and more….

Thanks to §130 there may soon be this type of prisoner status more often….

By the way, thanks to Mr. Rötzer for dragging this chapter of the dark European side into the public eye.
Reply
AeaP says:
November 30, 2022 at 8:11 am.

If the “value west” had even a hint of value orientation, Poland would have to be kicked out of the EU in high dudgeon and Ukraine would not be allowed in in the first place. Instead, these so-called “democracies” are kowtowed to. This gives a deep insight – into an abyss of pathetic hypocrisy and double standards.
Reply
Show 1 reply to this comment ?
Eckart says:
November 30, 2022 at 8:20 am

@ Mengel
The § 130 StGB is a rule that is applied very selectively, because it has become even more dangerous to be right yourself when the state is wrong.
Reply
Show 1 reply to this comment ?
ColMeyer says:
November 30, 2022 at 8:27 am

Commendable to bring the story to the public. But the commitment to Western democratic values must be, I guess, so the “Russian raid”.
Wouldn’t want to be a journalist.
Reply
Gerd says:
November 30, 2022 at 8:58 am

“How critical journalists are muzzled in Europe”.

Who says Gonzales is a “critical journalist” ? Maybe he would have published the same bullshit as Spiegel-Online.
Because he was running around in Eastern Ukraine ?

He was not accredited.
Reply
Show 3 replies to this comment ?
Jock the Prepper says:
November 30, 2022 at 9:27 am

! § > The rule of law means that the exercise of state power is permitted only on the basis of the Constitution and of formally and substantively constitutionally enacted laws with the aim of guaranteeing human dignity, freedom, justice and legal certainty < § ! https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verschwindenlassen In case someone is still not quite clear what is actually meant! Reply Show 2 replies to this comment ? North Country Traveler says: November 30, 2022 at 9:50 am. Thanks for pointing out this sad fate. Actually, when Assange is pointed out, it is always clear that he is mentioned vicariously and that it is only the tip of the iceberg. Every politically persecuted person and prisoner in Europe should receive the best possible support. At the same time, everything must be done to completely expose the responsible politicians. They all have enough dirt on them. Reply umbhaki says: November 30, 2022 at 11:58 am In Russia, as is well known, unruly journalists are shot (see Politkovskaya e. a.), although it usually remains open who gave the order in each case. This is not nice and is also a violation of all kinds of (human) rights. It deserves all criticism. In Ukraine, which, as we know, defends the rule-based order against Russia for the whole world, unruly people like to be publicly exposed or tortured a bit before being killed. This is not nice either, but at least it ends in a relatively short time for the victims. In the rule-based world of the good Christians, on the other hand, insubordinate journalists like Assange or González are psychologically put to death over a period of years, in a long, never-ending, carefully thought-out process of suffering. The sadism revealed here dwarfs even the methods of the Ukrainian Nazis. We can truly be proud of ourselves, we liberal rule-based Christian people. Hail to our leaders and their henchmen! Hosanna to the LORD on high, Madam Foreign Minister! Reply eggmen says: November 30, 2022 at 5:58 pm "No member of the press shall be threatened, harassed, assaulted, arrested or killed because of his or her work. On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists, we vow to continue to protect and promote the rights of a free press and the safety of journalists. On this International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, we call on other governments to hold accountable those who target journalists with harassment, intimidation and violence. We renew our commitment to an open and free press at home and abroad. " Well, who said that??? https://twitter.com/SecBlinken/status/1587807060195958786?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw And what about J. Assange??? Well, who believes "stinky Blinken" who "vows" in the name of the USA to continue to protect and promote the rights of a free press and the safety (this already borders on shameless hypocrisy, yes after "lying") of journalists. Reply Simon says: November 30, 2022 at 6:41 pm "Although Sánchez is also aware of the doubts about the rule of law in Poland, he did not criticize the country, but asked for "respect" for Polish justice. "The Spanish government logically respects the rule of law in Poland, and therefore also the Polish judicial system, just as we always ask to respect the Spanish judicial system and that of any EU country."" I would also have been surprised if one crow pecked out another crow's eye. Anna Lena has great faith in the British judiciary, after all. Reply oskarwagenrecht says: November 30, 2022 at 7:27 pm The list of crimes against the own population in the EU is getting longer and longer and the silence of the media is getting bigger and bigger. And should something nevertheless push itself from these unpleasant events under the carpet to the daylight, then ten fact checkers come along and put it in perspective. Just happened with the execution of the captured Russian soldiers (https://friedliche-loesungen.org/en/feeds/kriegsverbrechen-ard-faktenchecker-und-kriegsvolkerrecht) by the ARD. The more the beautiful appearance in the EU with its luminosity decreases, the more the states must use force against their population. A real left could help here, but thanks to many pro-American subs in the PdL there is no anti-imperialist left any more. In an interview, Leftist politician Diether Dehm says "The Left will end up in Nirvana" and also goes after NATO supporter Ramelow. If ordinary people like the single mother or the worker at Amazon don't get the idea of voting Die Linke, then "the party has done something fundamentally wrong," but instead of correcting the course, "they are still beating their hooves," Dehm stresses. In an entertaining interview on Odysee, Dehm explains how he views the possible formation of a party by Sahra Wagenknecht and how, in his view, Die Linke has failed across the board in the Ukraine war. https://odysee.com/@RTDE:e/die-linke-wird-im-nirvana-enden-left-politician-diether-dehm:b Learning from History: History always repeats itself twice - the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce, Karl Marx once said. More than 150 years later, cabaret artist Lisa Eckhart has followed this insight and made it short: "80 years of Stalingrad. And history repeats itself. Once again we are cold. And the Russian is to blame. But this time we are wiser. This time the Germans think to themselves: Why wait until after Stalingrad. You can freeze at home, too." Kai Ambos Double standards - The West and Ukraine The German discussion about the Ukraine war is based on the assumption that our condemnation of the Russian war of aggression is shared by the whole world. However, this assumption is incorrect and it is time to ask self-critically about the reasons for this. The Russian breach of the prohibition of the use of force, the fundamental norm of.international law, seems sublimated...

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

The American century was yesterday

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/10/18853344.php

The American century was yesterday
by Roberto J De Lapuente and Oscar Lafontaine, 12/2

“The people can always be made, with or without the right to vote,
to follow the orders of the leaders. It is very simple. One need
nothing to do but to tell the people that they are being attacked, and to reproach the pacifists of their lack of patriotism and claim that they are putting the country in danger. This method works in every country.” (Hermann Goering said this when in prison in 1946)

The American century was yesterday
The Americans had their day – now it’s time for Europeans to emancipate themselves, finds Oskar Lafontaine in his new book. A review.
by Roberto J. De Lapuente
[This article posted on 12/2/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.rubikon.news/artikel/das-amerikanische-jahrhundert-war-gestern.]

Quo vadis, Europe? The continent is made up of vassals of a hegemon whose best days are already numbered. Instead of the European vassals taking advantage of the geopolitical moment and throwing off their U.S. shackles, they remain in the now internalized relationship of subjects. This has self-destructive consequences. For Washington is not willing to accept that the hour has struck for the empire of the 20th century. And so the American hegemon is preparing to embroil Europe in a suicidal economic war with Russia. The goal is to prevent Russia and Europe from coming together to form a significant counterweight to the United States. In his new book “Ami, it’s time to go: Plädoyer für die Selbstbehauptung Europas” (Ami, it’s time to go: Plea for Europe’s self-assertion), Oskar Lafontaine makes the case for an emancipation of Europe.

For months, we have been talking about the “Ukraine war,” but the term is no longer useful. This conflict has long since become something much bigger – a war by proxy. And if we are going to be honest about it, we should also come clean about it: The Federal Republic is a vassal of the United States. It – and Europe in its entirety.

As a vassal of the agonizing overseas world power, the continent is running to its doom. There is only one possibility: to free Europe from this dependence. It must realize that the days of the superpower are over. The Americans had their time in Europe. But they should finally be a thing of the past. For our own sake.

Thou shalt have no other world powers beside me

Hence the title of Oskar Lafontaine’s new book: “Ami, it’s time to go! A Plea for the Self-Assertion of Europe” is its title. The Americans had their time. But today, as a superpower, they seem to have fallen out of time. They are concerned with securing their position of world power. And they are doing so even though they have become a fragile nation that hardly promises anything positive.

As early as 20 years ago, the French historian Emmanuel Todd wrote a swan song for the supposed world policeman. Its title was “World Power USA: An Obituary. In it, he outlined the aggressive foreign policy of the Americans as the last gasp of a superstate that is more dependent on the world than the world is on it.

Lafontaine also cultivates this insight: He argues that we do not need the Americans. At least not in the way the Americans understand the international order. They stage trouble spots in order to present themselves as indispensable.

The U.S. administration knows that a wedge driven between Europe and Russia consolidates the global influence of its moribund world power. It also knows that its own country is weak, torn and in decline. But if you outmaneuver the global competition, you stay on top.

The American century is over. The unipolar world order is coming to an end. That the “policeman” of this world order would not simply withdraw silently was to be expected: And indeed, the Americans already pursued a clear goal after the end of the Soviet Union, which was: Thou shalt have no other world powers beside me.

This unfounded anti-Americanism again?

We now see daily in the news what the consequences of such a unique position madness are. We are at war. Even if everything is done to describe this realization euphemistically. Even the German president repeats on a regular basis that we are not a nation at war.

Along the way, we accept deindustrialization and impoverishment as collateral damage. The madness determines the events, radical forces demand more and more commitment, more weapons, more money, more commitment to Ukraine.

Because of the freedom of Ukrainians? No, because the U.S. wants to be the only world power and resists a world order in which it must sit at the same table with other nations.

Lafontaine himself builds on this in his book: He seems to realize that he will now be accused of anti-Americanism. So he makes it clear that he certainly appreciates America. Just not the foreign policy of the U.S. administration. This is somewhat reminiscent of a now rather old act by the cabaret artist Hagen Rether. During the Bush era, one often read in the German press that such “unfounded anti-Americanism” was now spreading again. Rether defended himself against this, saying that he was not an unfounded anti-Americanist. His anti-Americanism is much more well-founded.

Oskar Lafontaine’s theses are also well founded. And they are not presented to the reader in a pompous manner, but rather as one is accustomed to from him: without false shyness. Saying what is: That is Lafontaine’s specialty. And he certainly doesn’t hold back. That this federal government not only makes bad policies, but “is the stupidest one we’ve had since the Federal Republic came into existence”: Who dares to say such a thing so bluntly today?

Capitalism as a warmonger?

By the way, “to say out loud what is”: This saying goes back to Ferdinand Lasalle, the founder of the original Social Democracy in Germany. For him, this was the “most revolutionary deed.” In this sense, Oskar Lafontaine is of course a revolutionary. And if we take a closer look, he cultivates the values of a social democracy that no longer exists today: At least not where it says social democracy.

Whether capitalism should be regarded as the causal driver of war, as Lafontaine does in his book, is at least debatable. The cause, one could say with a view to history, is actually man. After all, there were wars long before capitalism – and it will probably be no different after it.

Lafontaine, by the way, not only does not mince words with those who are whipping this country into madness: He also makes a commitment. “It is absolutely necessary that we take our cue from Willy Brandt,” he says: “We must once again become a nation of good neighbors.” This is not a Sunday phrase, but the seed of peace. And that is only conceivable with Russia – with or without Putin, it makes no difference: The Russians will remain our neighbors. Unless, of course, one follows the crude logic of the agitators from the Green camp, who want to ruin Russia once and for all.

Meanwhile, Lafontaine recommends that the Greens rename their foundation, which is named after the writer Heinrich Böll. After all, Böll was a war veteran and pacifist. He suggests changing it to a Madeleine Albright Foundation or a Carl von Clausewitz Foundation. Petra Kelly would probably agree.

Oskar Lafontaine “Yank, it’s time to go: plea for Europe to assert itself”

Roberto J. De Lapuente, born in 1978, is a trained industrial mechanic and ran the blog ad sinistram for eight years. Since 2017, he has been co-editor of the blog neulandrebellen. In 2012, he became a columnist for Neues Deutschland, and since 2018 he has written regularly for Makroskop. De Lapuente has a daughter and lives with his partner in Frankfurt am Main. In March 2018, his book “Right Wins Because Left Fails” was published.

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The Prince of Hell

After Volodymyr Zelenskyy directly accused the Russians of bombing Poland, doubts about the Ukrainian administration are growing in the West.
11/30/2022 by Roberto J. De Lapuente

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“It is always only a vanishing minority that wants war” (Oskar Lafontaine)
by Florian Rötzer
[This article posted on 12/1/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://overton-magazin.de/top-story/oskar-lafontaine-es-ist-immer-nur-eine-verschwindende-minderheit-die-den-krieg-will/.]

The pamphlet “Ami it’s time to go!” by Oskar Lafontaine has just been published. In an interview, Lafontaine explains why Germany and Europe should break away from the U.S. as a world power, that the goal must be to end the bloodshed in Ukraine, and why a “fascistoid way of thinking” has also taken hold among representatives of the German government.

You’ve just published a new book with the very provocative title “Ami it’s time to go!” That, of course, hearkens back to the days of the 1970s, when that became a slogan in the context of the Vietnam War. Aren’t you afraid that this will now immediately be put on the track that Lafontaine is anti-American, putting your thoughts to one side?

Oskar Lafontaine: Yes, that’s the normal reflex. Nevertheless, we must always try to have a debate about sensible security policy in Germany. I hold the core thesis that a world power that wants to remain the only world power and therefore wages trade wars, covert wars, drone wars and bomb wars can never lead a defense alliance. That is why I say we need a NATO without the U.S., an independent European defense. Where the U.S. is leading us can be seen in the Ukraine war, which is really a dispute between the U.S. and Russia, which is known to all who have not yet been completely poisoned and misled by false narratives.

If we leave out the back story of the Ukraine war, many governments say that now you see the danger coming from Russia. Russia would also go further to increase its zones of influence. That’s why the protective power of the U.S. is all the more important now, they say, to fend that off.

Oskar Lafontaine: This is the classic case where the truth is turned upside down. The U.S., against the advice of many U.S. politicians, has pushed NATO to Russia’s border. Now German and U.S. troops are on the Russian border. This could not have been imagined some time ago. In addition, there are missile bases near the Russian border and soon to be on the Russian border whose missiles have a flight time of five minutes or less to Moscow. Missiles without warning times are the knife on the opponent’s neck. Those who put the knife to their adversary’s neck are not pursuing a peace policy. I would like this to get around in Germany and for people to think about the mistakes that Germany is also making.
Lafontaine’s pamphlet “Ami it’s time to go!” has been published by Westend Verlag.

The German government has announced that Germany should also become a leading military power. So, with Scholz’s big thump, it is also going into armaments policy and trying to increase the size of the Bundeswehr. But it is apparently not quite clear how far integration into NATO should go or whether a European defense alliance should emerge. If I understand correctly, you are arguing for a European defense alliance that breaks away from NATO.

Oskar Lafontaine: Better from the U.S., because it’s misleading to talk about NATO here. Many people believe that NATO guarantees our security. But you have to know that NATO is the USA or the USA is NATO. And if NATO wants to do anything, it needs the approval of the USA. The U.S. has the say and decides alone what happens, to the extent that it does not ask the allies at all about important things. They even go so far as to blow up a central supply pipeline in Europe without any consideration for their allies – keyword Nord Stream 2. That was the U.S. or they gave the order for it or at least said do it, we agree. That shows what a devastating state NATO is in.

You say that a peace solution is needed and that this war in Ukraine must be interrupted. How do you envision that? Russia is certainly not going to stop the war right now. And with Ukraine, Selensky has also put himself in a situation that he can’t get out of. How should or could a peace solution work?

Oskar Lafontaine: Selensky may be a decisive piece on the chessboard in the opinion of many, but he is not. In the end, he has nothing to say, to put it bluntly. What happens in Ukraine is also decided by the USA, no one else. Therefore, there can only be a peace negotiated by the U.S. and Russia. The USA is financing the war in Ukraine for the most part. They have been supplying weapons for many years, they are financing the system. If the U.S. says this is the direction it is going, then the Ukrainians have to follow, whether they want to or not. Of course, there are always attempts to break out, as we have seen now when a so-called defensive missile landed in Poland and some have even expressed the suspicion that the Ukrainians deliberately launched these missiles into Poland to draw NATO into the war. Such aspirations exist among Selensky and his entourage as the FAZ also recently noted. But the decision lies with the USA, there is no question about that.

Istanbul has shown that there were efforts to find peace. This is being discussed, also in the United States. But then Boris Johnson, on behalf of the U.S., said, Selensky, you can’t make peace because the U.S. administration thinks there should be fighting until Russia is down and can’t make war. This is what the U.S. Secretary of War, mistakenly called the Secretary of Defense, has said. With this attitude, of course, there can be no peace. But it is also incredibly cynical, because it forgets that people are dying every day on the battlefields of Ukraine. Ukrainians are dying and Russians are dying. You have to see both. And if you want to save human lives, you have to start the ceasefire tomorrow.
“Listening to some now, it sounds like nuclear war is a video game”.

You say this is a proxy war. Could it be that for the U.S., which has long located the great enemy in China, this war with Russia over Ukraine is an intermediate step to the other confrontation that NATO will be drawn into. Would you see it that way, too?

Oskar Lafontaine: That is in the logic and has also been said in many U.S. papers. I recently found a quote from Kissinger in his book “Diplomacy” – “The Reason of Nations” is the German title. He wrote: “We must prevent the emergence on the Eurasian continent, that is, in Europe and Asia, of a power that is a match for us. You have to make sure that Europe is weaker, and of course that Russia remains weak. And when you talk about Eurasia, of course, you have to make sure that China stays weak. This has been the goal of U.S. policy since the end of World War II.

The dangerous thing for the protectees of the U.S., that is, the Europeans, is that they are drawn into these wars. You can see that in Germany. I’ll just take the drone warfare that’s being conducted over Ramstein. It is a war that is illegal under international law, in which innocent people are also killed almost every day. In this respect, Germany is a party to the war, whether we like it or not. And we have to get out of it. We cannot support such a policy, especially since it always carries with it the risk of nuclear conflict, i.e. madness beyond people’s imagination.

If you listen now to some in Russia or in the West, that is, in the U.S. first and foremost, but also in the Federal Republic, it sounds as if nuclear war is a video game. This is a terrible development. The awareness that existed in the peace movement of the 1980s, that nuclear war is an unimaginable madness, no longer exists. Mrs. Merkel said something about this in the last Spiegel, which also plays a role. She said that the memory of the horror disappears with the contemporary witnesses, which means that the spirit of reconciliation also disappears. There she saw something right. If you listen in on the discussions now, it’s hard to bear.

There is some hope that the Pentagon will say, this can’t go on, we can’t advise escalating further, we have to come to a cease-fire and a negotiated peace. That’s what Chief of Staff Mark Milley had said publicly. It is an interesting phenomenon that in the U.S. the military advises reason, while the entourage around Biden, i.e. Secretary of State Blinken and above all this unspeakable Nuland, who is already responsible for the coup in Ukraine, keep pushing for escalation. One can only hope that the U.S. military will prevail.

We always talk about the U.S. or now the Biden administration, but who is behind this long-term policy to contain Russia. Is it the politicians, is it the parties, is it a certain industry or interests of a certain group. After all, it’s not the U.S. as such.

Oskar Lafontaine: Sure, it’s primarily the people who make a living from it. The fact is that people don’t want war. That has always been the case. It is always only a vanishing minority that wants war. That’s why you have to stir people up through the media. In the U.S., it’s the military-industrial complex. Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the U.S. presidents, said many years ago in his farewell speech that one must not give the military-industrial complex too much power or too much leeway, because that is highly dangerous. Today, the arms industry dominates Congress because virtually all elected officials there are more or less financed by it. That’s why there is also the insane arms budget, or rather war budget, of the United States, which, at more than $800 billion, is beyond all measure. The military-industrial complex is complemented by the financial industry and other forces that determine U.S. policy.

You are now talking about a “plea for European self-assertion.” And you suggest that Germany and France can become the nucleus of the Europe that breaks away from the United States. But if we look at Europe, the ties between the eastern states, i.e. the Baltic states, Poland, Romania, etc., and the U.S. are much stronger than in western Europe. Do you see any chance at all of keeping the EU together if such a thing were to be pursued?

Oskar Lafontaine: It is correctly observed what you express in your question. That’s why I also say that France and Germany must take matters into their own hands. The Baltic states, for example, because of their special history and situation, are right at the forefront when it comes to reinforcing the image of the enemy and inciting war. I have to say this so clearly. The Poles, too, because of their history, are always ready to see Russia as an enemy image. But that leads nowhere. We do have a successful experiment. That was Willy Brandt’s policy of détente. During that time, there was no war in Europe. When one stopped, there was the Yugoslav war and now the Ukraine war. Now we don’t have a policy of détente, but a policy of tension. People are betting on escalation.
“We are now living in a madhouse as far as the debate is concerned.”

You probably also know that a demonstration organized by right-wing circles took place in Leipzig over the weekend, with Compact in the background, using your motto “Ami go home” as a slogan. Compact talks about the USA being the “main enemy of Germany” and an “occupying regime”. Would you then welcome the proximity to these right-wing nationalist circles? There, Sahra Wagenknecht is also becoming a figurehead for the new chancellor. So they’re trying to find a connection to your positions. How do you see that?

Oskar Lafontaine: I can only remind you of Enzensberger, who has just died and once said: “Fear of applause from the wrong side is a characteristic of totalitarian thinking.” So that means you can’t depend on what any right-wing groups or magazines write. And to that extent, one must be able to think about the role of the United States without considering articles in right-wing magazines. The slogan “Yank go home” comes from the movement against the Vietnam War, and that was not a right-wing movement. There is an idiotic logic in the media. If the AfD says we need good relations with Russia, then whoever says that is right-wing. According to this logic, which has unfortunately spread to politics, Willy Brandt would be a right-winger today. We are now living in a madhouse as far as the debate is concerned.

How can you tell the difference for yourself? Just carry on or take a stand on it?

Oskar Lafontaine: No, you shouldn’t make the right-wingers the judge of what is right or wrong. Then you would have to try every day to distinguish yourself in some way. I think the eager journalists and politicians who always talk about being close to the AfD are the AfD’s best propagandists. By constantly talking about AfD proximity, they enhance it, whether they want to or not. That is, they are involuntary helpers of the AfD. No, you have to represent your own thoughts. And here I’ll invoke Enzensberger once again: one must not fall into totalitarian thinking by shying away from applause from the wrong side.

I still don’t quite understand how you would try to politically detach Germany and France from the United States. Could you be more specific about that?

Oskar Lafontaine: In France, we have the tradition of Gaullism .De Gaulle said again and again that a country must decide for itself about war and peace. That’s why, for example, he would not have tolerated the Ramstein airbase on French soil, because as a general he knew that it would involve him in any U.S. operation. He didn’t want that. And a man like Macron is also in this tradition. He has tried again and again to get an independent policy off the ground. He has also said that NATO is brain dead and has repeatedly demanded that Europeans strengthen their own defense. In Germany, unfortunately, he has no one to talk to.

At the moment, things are quite bad. If the press reports are correct, it is the case that there is disgruntlement between Germany and France on a whole range of issues. From what I can read or take note of, the fault lies with the Germans because they are playing the Americans’ poodle too much instead of coordinating with France and developing a common policy.

If it is not possible to organize a joining of forces with Germany and France, as, for example – and I say this quite deliberately – Gerhard Schröder tried to do when he refused the Iraq war and acted together with Chirac, if it is not possible to develop this axis, then I see no way out of the fatal dependence on the United States.

At that time, there was already a split between the “new” and the “old” Europe. The new Europe saw itself on the rise and joined the Iraq war. The Iraq war started a split that was, of course, desired by the U.S., but which would deepen as France and Germany joined forces.

Oskar Lafontaine: Sure, but you can’t be guided by that. We cannot find security in Europe without a reasonable relationship with Russia. Russia is a nuclear power, we must never forget that. But many people forget that. When I hear the speeches, I have the impression that they don’t know what a nuclear power is, what its capabilities are. Of course, this leads to complete misconceptions, even among the Eastern European states. When you see how they keep igniting and are ready to escalate, then they rely on the fact that nothing will happen.

But we have known since the discussions of the 1980s that this reliance on nothing will happen is a game whose outcome no one can know. We have been close to nuclear war many times. I gave the well-known examples in my argument, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, where a Soviet officer prevented a torpedo from being fired from a submarine that was cruising near Cuba. Or in Okinawa, where a U.S. officer disobeyed an order to fire nuclear torpedoes because it could not be true, since targets in China were also listed. The most famous case is Colonel Petrov, who in 1984 saw intercontinental ballistic missiles on approach but did not press the red button because he thought it was a computer error.
“How can we overcome the thinking that is expressed in the phrase, ‘We must keep supplying weapons because weapons save lives’?”

Of course, that can always happen. Some say that this war mood that prevails in certain circles, among the Greens, on the government side as a whole, but also in the U.S., is borne of the belief that it is finally a just, good war against an absolutely evil enemy. You can leave all the other wars behind, and even forget about Nazi Germany, because you’re finally going to a new, just, good war. Do you see that as a background as well?

Oskar Lafontaine: You can see it that way, but of course I wonder what happened there, because for me that is fascist thinking. If, for example, Mrs. Baerbock says that Russia must be ruined, then that is fascist thinking. This kind of thinking is characterized by the fact that people are left out of the equation. This is what we are seeing in the current debate in Germany. The people who die every day are rarely mentioned in the sense that a cease-fire must now be achieved. No, they talk about a victorious peace. Crimea must be reconquered, and we must supply more and more weapons.

The German foreign minister has even stooped to the assertion – she probably doesn’t even know that she has thus adopted the slogan of the U.S. weapons fools – that weapons save lives. How guns save lives in the U.S. is something you can see over and over again. This is an aberration that I call fascistoid. That’s why all those who want peace must join forces and say: When we talk about a community of values, we must not talk in terms that hardly anyone can imagine anymore, but we must simply admit that we see people as our sisters and brothers and that we will do everything to prevent them from losing their lives. That is the primary thing, not to take back Crimea or to keep the Russians down.

Where does this fascistoid mood come from, as you call it?

Oskar Lafontaine: It’s hard to say. One reason, as I said, interestingly enough, was mentioned by Mrs. Merkel in Der Spiegel: Awareness of the horror of war is disappearing with the contemporary witnesses, and with it the willingness to reconcile is also disappearing. That may be one reason why people no longer really know what happened back then, or why they no longer develop the feelings that are necessary to say: We want to do everything we can to ensure that something like this never happens again.

I think there is another reason, and that is the disappearance of the religious. This may sound strange coming from me, but Dostoevsky already wrote: When God is dead, everything is permitted. Other writers have also commented on this. Malraux, for example, once said: This century will be religious or it will not be. By this he did not mean that everyone must adhere to a faith, but that the values that religions have imparted, charity in the Christian West, for example, that is, compassion for others, are the basis of a peaceful world. If this is gone, and this can be seen in the intention to ruin Russia, then the willingness or the basis for peace is no longer there.

But that can’t mean that it’s now absolutely necessary to build new churches again.

Oskar Lafontaine: No, the question is, how can the thinking be overcome that is expressed in the sentence: “We must always supply weapons because weapons save lives” or in the sentence: “We must ruin Russia”? This can be overcome only by humanism, if one wants to take this term. It is based on seeing one’s fellow human being as a sister or brother. Cultural exchange, for example, can bring people together and can awaken love for each other’s culture. That’s why it is so fatal that Russian artists are now also being disinvited. That is a step toward barbarism.

 

Oskar Lafontaine was born in Saarlouis on September 16, 1943. Two years later he lost his father, who died as a soldier at the age of 29. In the course of his political life, he was mayor of Saarbrücken, prime minister of Saarland, chairman of the SPD, candidate for chancellor and federal finance minister. In March 1999, he resigned from all his previous political posts in the SPD in criticism of Gerhard Schröder’s government course. He was founding chairman of the DIE LINKE party, which was formed on his initiative from the PDS and Wahlalternative Arbeit & soziale Gerechtigkeit (WASG), chairman of the Left Party parliamentary group in the German Bundestag and top candidate in the Saarland state parliamentary election campaigns in 2009, 2012 and 2017. He led the Left Party parliamentary group in the Saarland state parliament from 2009 until his party resignation in March 2022.

blu_frisbee says:
December 1, 2022 at 9:50 am

It is bourgeois ideology to always ask only for might and right, never for property.
Capitalism carries war like the cloud carries rain.
War does not come from the delusions of evil men.
Capitalism is unrestrained money multiplication as an end in itself.
Corruption is nothing external or foreign to an otherwise flawless capitalism,
but capitalism itself is the flaw and corruption as it prevails.
LaFontaine believes if one exorcises the evil delusion paradise breaks out.
His worldview and diagnosis are wrong.
What remains is the ravings of a madman on the Titanic against the madness of the captain….
Marxists no longer appear in the discussion at all.
   
Since when is it anti-American to ask an uninvited “guest” to go home? We don’t want anything from the Yanks, the Yanks want something from us and if we object it doesn’t mean we are against the US, we just want to be masters in our own house, which is covered by international law.
 
Wolfgang Koethe says:
December 1, 2022 at 2:47 pm

In the “Brothers Karamazov” there is a chapter that also appears as a small single volume: “The Grand Inquisitor.” In it, Dostoevsky tells how Jesus appears in Seville, where the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition is doing his mischief. He immediately has Jesus arrested and wants to burn him at the stake.
This means here the idea (Jesus), which stands in the way of the system (Inquisition, church), “disturbs the order” although Jesus (the idea) founded the church.
When Dostoevsky read the legend of the Grand Inquisitor to students at St. Petersburg University in December 1879, he wrote an introduction which says: “When faith in Christ is falsified and mixed with the objectives of this world, the meaning of Christianity is also lost. The mind falls prey to unbelief, and instead of the great ideal of Christ, only a new Tower of Babel will be erected. While Christianity has a high conception of the individual human being, mankind will be regarded only as a great mass. Under the guise of social love, nothing but manifest contempt for mankind will flourish.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …

  
Russian Hacker says:
December 1, 2022 at 4:04 pm.

From a Russian perspective, Oskar is absolutely right. In Russia, people would agree with him.

Peace in Europe can be guaranteed only with Russia and not against Russia. It is not USA what can guarantee peace in Europe, USA can threaten peace in Europe only because it is in its interest. The USA does not care about the fate of Europeans. Europe is not an ally for USA, but first of all a potentially dangerous competitor. For the USA, it can at best be used as a sales market and cannon fodder against its direct competitors Russia and China.

Only in one thing I would disagree with Oskar.
A guarantee of peace in Europe cannot exist exclusively among Europeans, but only together with Russia. Neither Russians nor Europeans can be interested in another big war in Europe. Europe without USA (and Great Britain) does not need to be afraid of Russia at all. Europe and Russia could become best friends, and benefit from close cooperation, there are no ideological, cultural, religious or other fundamentally insurmountable hurdles. What is needed to secure peace in Europe in the long term would be at least the sovereignty of Europe excluding the influence of the Anglo-Saxons (USA + GB) and at least a rapprochement with Russia at eye level. The recognition of Russian security interests. Russia has nothing against the Europeans in principle and does not need their lands or resources. It also has no claim to world domination and does not seek global dominance and hegemony like USA. All Russia wants is to be left alone and to develop peacefully and undisturbed and to profit from trade and cooperation with other countries. Russia would also like to cooperate with USA and GB, it is the Anglo-Saxons who cannot imagine this and would prefer to wipe Russia off the map. Also not only since yesterday, for Great Britain and later also USA Russia had always been the final opponent. For many centuries they have been fighting Russia as they can. They see in Russia and since newest time also in China a potential competitor, which could question their world domination claim (!). The hostilities are a one-way street. Only in the Second World War there was a short-lived alliance of convenience between Anglo-Saxons and Russians. However, that was purely pragmatic, as Hitler was out of control and threatening GB. As soon as Hitler was defeated (and the Russians carried the biggest burden), the alliance was over and the Russians became the number one enemy again.

The current conflict is also due to the fact that Russia simply can’t keep plugging away and backing down. As Oskar correctly noted, the Anglo-Saxons are putting a knife to Russia’s neck. Russia simply cannot tolerate that, it has gone way too far. Russia has never wanted war in Ukraine and has tried to avoid it for as long as it could. Much too long, actually. This war could have started in 2014 and would have been much easier for Russia at that time. Russia did everything to avoid it, while the Anglo-Saxons and their European poodles did everything to set Russia and Ukraine against each other. They helped nationalists in Ukraine to take power, who immediately started terrorizing Russians living in Ukraine. There is hardly anything more effective to provoke Russia than that. And then they prepared Ukraine for war with Russia. Militarily pumped up to one of the most powerful armies in Europe. At the same time Ukraine remained the poorest country in Europe, its fate is completely indifferent to the USA, they need it exclusively as cannon fodder and battering ram against Russia. Russia could no longer stand idly by and watch all this. The absolutely anti-Russian brown Ukraine, driven by hatred against everything Russian and equipped with the most powerful army in Europe and territorial claims, finally with the claim to become a nuclear power and the prospect of being accepted into NATO, Russia’s patience and appeasement policy had been brought to its limit. It could not go on like this, it reminded the Russians too much of the rise of the Third Reich, which was not only tolerated but also supported by the Anglo-Saxons at that time and was built up for the war against the then ideological opponent, the Soviet Union. GB and USA allowed Hitler very much and helped him to make the Third Reich the biggest military power in Europe in the shortest time. They threw one country after another into Hitler’s throat. They allowed him to annex Austria and crush Czechoslovakia without firing a single shot. They even recognized it in the Munich Conference of 1938. They cleared the way to the East for him. However, they miscalculated with Poland in the process. They wanted Hitler to march across the Balkans toward the Soviet Union and steer clear of their ally Poland. If Hitler had gone through Czechoslovakia and the Balkans and left Poland alone, they would have remained neutral without any doubt, if not appeared at his side when he got into trouble.

But this time, too, they miscalculated and enormously underestimated Russia. The plan to ruin Russia, or at least to bring about a regime change, has not worked. It is time to realize it. It is completely hopeless. Despite all efforts, Russia will not be brought down without a direct confrontation, without a Third World War. But the Third World War is not an option for the West either, because Russia is not just a nuclear power, it is the strongest nuclear power in the world with the most nuclear warheads and hypersonic technology. A direct confrontation between the USA and Russia would undoubtedly set in motion a spiral of escalation that would be unstoppable and would lead to mutual nuclear strikes in the shortest possible time. Without understatement, this would be the end not only of Russian and Western civilization, it would be the end of the world. If Russia and USA would use even a fraction of their nuclear weapons, it would cause a global climate catastrophe. Because of the enormous amount of ash ejected into the nuclear sphere, the light of the sun would be obscured for years, if not decades. The average temperature would drop by a dozen degrees. All plants on earth would perish and with them all animals and, of course, people. The earth would change first into an ice planet with glaciers which reached almost to the equator and finally into a desert planet on which there is hardly any life. Maybe in very remote places some people would survive, but they would have to start from scratch in a hostile and radioactively contaminated world.
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wrmfr says:
December 2, 2022 at 8:37 am

To the article of Oskar Lafontaine and the comment of ‘Russian Hacker’ I want to add a publication of Scott Ritter that is already a few days old:
Analyst Scott Ritter: “German politicians’ position is stupid”
Analyst Scott Ritter: “The position of German politicians is stupid”
Unlocked on 11/21/2022 at 15:26 by Sanjo Babi?
(Image: Screenshot RT DE / Own work)
In an interview, military analyst Scott Ritter expressed that Germans are deluded about their own strength. He said that the German people should wake up, otherwise there is a threat of nuclear war in Europe. This is reported by the magazine “RT DE”.
RT DE further reports: “In an interview, U.S. strategic analyst Scott Ritter clears up numerous ideas Germans have about their country, their politics, and above all their military and economic strength.
Germany’s policies are firebrand and oblivious to history, Ritter says. Germans should wake up, he said, because German politicians’ current policies would lead Germany and Europe into a nuclear war that would destroy Europe, perhaps even the world.
Ritter vented his anger at German politics. In his view, Germany has become deluded. Ritter asked when the Germans would finally start learning from their history. Germany had tried to fight Russia several times before, and it had never turned out well for Germany. Why is Germany so eager to be drawn into war, the analyst wonders.
The German military could not win a conventional war against Russia. The Bundeswehr, he says, is not to be taken seriously. It lacks capacity, equipment, everything. To believe that you can keep getting involved in the war in Ukraine because you have NATO behind you is naive and extremely dangerous, he says. A confrontation between NATO and Russia would inevitably lead to nuclear war, he said:
“A conflict between NATO and Russia ends only one way: with the nuclear annihilation of Europe, including Germany.”
In view of this obvious connection, he said, German policy is insane.
The claimed German strength, he said, is an illusion. Germany is a weak country, he said. Its economic success, he said, is based on the availability of cheap Russian energy. The idea of being able to isolate Russia completely misses the reality and the factual circumstances.
Ritter takes the meeting of the G20 as an example: If one subtracts the G7 from the G20, BRICS would remain. Ritter thus illustrates that strong alliances have meanwhile emerged outside the collective West, which are increasingly questioning the significance of the West. Rhetorically, Ritter asks the Germans how their heating and energy costs are. All EU countries have the problem of dwindling purchasing power and rising production costs due to the Western sanctions regime, Ritter points out. The situation is different, however, for countries like India and China. The countries in the new alliances benefit from cooperation with Russia. Those who want to isolate Russia are sending their own economies into the basement, Ritter makes clear.
The interview is an urgent appeal and at the same time a warning from an expert to abandon the confrontational course toward Russia. If Germany maintains this course, it can only lose. ”
Source: RT EN
Analyst Scott Ritter: “German politicians’ position is stupid” – Extremnews – The Somewhat Different News
https://www.extremnews.com/lifestyle/internet/a47518dee166425
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zdago says:
December 2, 2022 at 11:11 am

Hermann Goering once said…
…the following while in prison at Nuremberg in 1946:

“Well, of course, the people do not want war. Why should also
poor farm laborer want to risk his life in war, if the best
if the best he can get out of it is that he comes back with his bones intact?
with his bones intact? Of course, the common people do not want war.
war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany.
in Germany. That is clear.

But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always easy to convince the people.
and it is always easy to get the people to participate, whether it is a
whether it is a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliament or a
dictatorship, a parliament or a communist dictatorship.
(…)

The people can always be made, with or without the right to vote,
to follow the orders of the leaders. It is very simple. One need
nothing to do but to tell the people that they are being attacked, and to reproach the
pacifists of their lack of patriotism and claim that they are putting the
that they are putting the country in danger. This method works in every
country.”

Too bad that this is not common knowledge !
Possibly this knowledge would put politics in a somewhat different light !

Recent article
The botched energy transition
Stop the war!

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The geopolitical confrontation between China and the West and Peace logic

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/06/18853294.php

The geopolitical confrontation between China and the West and Peace logic
by Karin Kulow and Jurgen Scheffran

The main issue is monopolarity or multipolarity. And this also raises the question of geopolitical hegemony. In other words, whether Western interests will remain supreme and Western value systems will therefore be of universal significance?

The geopolitical confrontation between China and the alliance of the West

by Karin Kulow

[This article posted on 11/21/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.isw-muenchen.de/2022/11/die-geopolitische-konfrontation-zwischen-china-und-dem-buendnis-des-westens/.]

With the nonviolent collapse of the Eastern bloc, which saw itself as a real socialist bloc, and the concomitant dissolution of its Warsaw Military Treaty alliance, it was clear to the United States and the entire West that they had emerged as the victors from the contest of antagonistically opposed social systems that had decisively shaped the international order since the end of World War II. Buoyed by this victory pose, then U.S. President George Bush senior, in an unctuous speech to both chambers of the U.S. Congress in the fall of 1990, immediately proclaimed the beginning of a new era; “an era in which the peoples of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony,… in which the strong respect the rights of the weak.” For US political scientist Francis Fukuyama, the implosion of the USSR and the anti-Western bloc system it led even marked the end of history. And the strategic concepts presented by U.S. neoconservative think tanks henceforth defined the 21st century as that of the United States – namely, as so-called Pax Americana.

However, instead of also dissolving as a military alliance – like its erstwhile eastern counterpart – U.S.-led NATO was now given the task of enforcing this Pax Americana. Initially, NATO’s focus was on the need to fight Islamist terrorism – as a substitute, so to speak, for the lost image of the enemy. With the new strategy adopted at its summit meeting in Madrid at the end of June 2022, however, it is unabashedly heading for a confrontation with China. Both economically and militarily; by extending NATO’s sphere of influence to the Indo-Pacific. Precisely because China, which is rising militarily and economically, represents the greatest challenge from the U.S. point of view. The war against Ukraine, which Russia launched on February 24, 2022, in violation of international law, serves as a welcome justification for this. Like this New NATO Strategy, the G7 summit decisions in Elmau, Germany, are guided by the desire to assert the U.S., and thus the West, as the bulwark of a rule-based international order and the defense of such explicitly Western values as democracy and the rule of law.

Extract from isw-report 130 “China and its role in a multipolar world order”. Order here!

However, as the past three decades have shown, the Pax Americana sought by the West is encountering increasingly serious resistance. The main issue is monopolarity or multipolarity. And this also raises the question of geopolitical hegemony. In other words, whether Western interests will remain supreme and Western value systems will therefore be of universal significance? Or to what extent the emerging and developing countries, which together represent the majority of the world’s population, as is well known, are in a position to no longer be primarily the object of international events? That is, above all, to function as subjects, in that they have an equal say in shaping the world order as well as existing international institutions. As absurd as it may seem on the Western side, more than a few analysts even see the Russian war in Ukraine as a geopolitical “game changer” that could usher in the end of the United States’ hegemonic status. This is also the view of Sebastian Hellmann, a China expert at the University of Trier, who sees this war as a geo-economic turning point.

The global strategic claim of the USA

Guided by the awareness that it had achieved a historic victory with the collapse of the Eastern bloc in 1990, there is no question that the U.S. should have the sole hegemonic role in the world. Not only all of its presidents, regardless of their political persuasion, have left no doubt about this, even if their reasons differed somewhat. Former President George W. Bush, for example, came up with the clear neoconservative paradigm – stability through hegemony. He said that the world would be better off if the USA, as the only remaining hegemonic superpower, ensured global order. And thus, at the same time, he had also clarified how the new era proclaimed by his father and predecessor in the presidency should actually be shaped. While former President Barack Obama sought to justify this claim to hegemony with the exceptional position that the United States now occupies. Or, as the current U.S. President Joe Biden put it with the slogan issued for his presidency: “America is back and ready to lead the world! (America is back and ready to lead the world) manifests. The U.S. Congress also internalizes this leadership claim in various ways. For example, in the report presented by the US Congressional Research Service in January 2021, according to which the exercise of “global leadership”, i.e. hegemony in the world; the “defense and promotion of the liberal international order”; the “defense of freedom, democracy and human rights” as well as the prevention of the “emergence of regional hegemonic powers in Eurasia” should apply as foreign policy principles.

Whether the U.S. wants to admit it or not. But this claim to global strategic leadership is already proving to be extremely questionable in various respects:

It is based on the erroneous assumption that the U.S. view of the world and the NATO and G7 decisions inspired by it, which according to Joe Biden’s order of “democracies versus autocracies” amount to a confrontational division in international affairs, are shared in the same way everywhere on the globe. All the more so since the attempt is being made to suggest that the USA alone, like the West as a whole, is on the right side of history. That it is they who defend the good against the evil – at the moment still primarily in the shape of Russia, but already with a clear finger pointing toward China. That, in principle, it is pretended that the previous Western supremacy and the associated colonialist and neocolonialist relations of exploitation in the countries of the global South are perceived as a pure blessing. As if sanctions imposed by the West against unpopular states were not seen by the affected populations as a kind of economic warfare that primarily affects the weakest members of society, but instead as a proven means of non-violent politics.

Strictly speaking, it is also undemocratic in that it is based on the presumptuous principle of the “right of the strongest. Namely, those factors that justify the exceptional position of the U.S., including such as decisive and superior military clout, powerful economy, top technological capacities, political alliances and, last but not least, the so-called soft power, are to be used primarily to give priority to its own interests worldwide. Until then, in violation of international law, to instigate several regime-change wars in the Near and Middle East region or to wage a war in European Kosovo in violation of international law. But these are now either to be forgotten or even to be considered legitimate. As necessary wars for the establishment of the international reorganization under US aegis. How else could it be explained that for all the human and material destruction associated with these wars, which continues to have an effect to this day, no sanction has ever been imposed by the West, nor have any responsible politicians ever been called to account. All the more so as the whole double standard of the West is exposed again and again in all this.

By coupling this claim to hegemony with the use of the democracy versus autocracy battle cry against China to steer a dangerous course of confrontation, it contributes, nolens volens, significantly to the destabilization of the international situation. As much as Russia’s irresponsible war in Ukraine plays into the hands of the U.S., it is more than negligent to try to instrumentalize it in order to simultaneously weaken China as its declared main rival in shaping the future world order. For example, when the intelligence chiefs of the U.S. FBI and the British MI5 jointly appear before the press at the beginning of July 2022 to present the Chinese government as the greatest long-term threat to the economic and national security interests of the West, this is almost playing with fire. The accusations made against China in the context of this are already outrageous because they reveal the entire arrogance of the West’s striving for power. Above all, China is accused of wanting to replace the United States as the world’s leading power and of wanting to draw countries that have been associated with the West onto its side. The fact that states previously associated with the West are also interested in close relations with China as an emerging economic power obviously does not fit into the Western world view. Not to mention the fact that such accusations against China should actually be addressed to China itself, which is why various concerned US voices are being heard in this regard. These are those who warn against driving Russia even closer to China’s side by weakening its position even further. For example, scholars from the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. In their view, the U.S. strategy should not be based solely on its reasserting leadership and protecting democracy, because China and Russia are linked not only by the same worldview but also by the complementarity of their resources and capabilities. Or the admonition of such an experienced ex-politician as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in an interview with the Bloomberg information portal from late July 2022. For all his understanding of wanting to prevent China’s hegemony, this should nevertheless not be attempted with endless confrontations. Rather, he said, the geopolitics of today require “Nixonian flexibility” to defuse existing conflicts between the United States and China, as well as between Russia and the rest of Europe.

Out of sheer fear that further transformations in geoeconomics as well as geopolitics will take place to one’s own disadvantage, the question of hegemony is declared to be the question of fate at the international level. The monopolarity sought by the U.S. and its transatlantic allies obviously sees itself challenged by the international structure, which is clearly moving in the direction of multipolarity. This, however, offers the states of the global South in particular visible opportunities to recalibrate their political and economic relations accordingly. As a result, the countries of the global South no longer feel compelled to subordinate themselves to U.S. claims to dominance in every case, but are able to take their own interests into account first and foremost. And these, in turn, are already structurally and almost globally linked in many ways with China – as well as with Russia. The global shift of power in the direction of Asia is obviously already an irreversible objective reality. If there is currently a lot of talk in the West about being on the right side of history, the declared U.S. striving to reverse this multipolarization process that has already begun could also be interpreted as an attempt to turn back the wheel of history.

Karin Kulow

Author, Arabist and Islamic scholar

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Future-oriented science instead of geopolitics

Peace Logic Perspectives on the Ukraine War

by Jürgen Scheffran

[This article posted on 12/1/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://wissenschaft-und-frieden.de/artikel/zukunftsorientierte-wissenschaft-statt-geopolitik/.]

It is indisputable that Russia is waging a war of aggression against Ukraine in violation of international law. The question is how to counter it. Geopolitics seems to be the tool of the hour, while a peace-logical response is largely ignored. But geopolitical strategies foster rivalries and endanger the future of the planet. A future-oriented peace science is therefore needed – more than ever.

On October 16, 1914, after the German declaration of war on Russia and France, almost the entire faculty of German universities and technical colleges supported the war. They followed the so-called Manifesto of the 93 “To the Cultural World!” which justified the defense struggle: “From the German side, the utmost has been done to avert it. […] Those who have the least right to act as defenders of European civilization are those who ally themselves with Russians and Serbs.

The mood at the time ranged from shock at the overwhelming threat to enthusiasm at the national unity that had finally been achieved. While there were initially massive protests and anti-war demonstrations, the SPD leadership did a U-turn at the start of the war and agreed to war credits in a “truce” with the Kaisertreuen in the Reichstag.

Alone against the war

But not everyone bowed to the war effort. Albert Einstein was alarmed by the patriotic mood of almost all his fellow scientists, and felt lonely as an intellectual and pacifist. In the summer of 1914, together with two other colleagues, he signed the “Appeal to the Europeans” written by Georg Friedrich Nicolai, which was not published due to lack of further support. Farsightedly, it said, “The struggle that rages today will probably produce no victor; it will probably leave only the vanquished.” They expected that “all European relations conditions would fall into an unstable […] state.” That the authors were right soon became apparent. The daily routine of war made life difficult for many, mass unemployment, food prices rose and poverty increased. Scientists died at the front or contributed their expertise to the war.

Just as the catastrophic end of the First World War was foreseeable, so was the path to it. Some scholars and intellectuals who observed the socio-economic, industrial, and military logics of the times foresaw the great systemic confrontations. For example, Ivan (Jan) von Bloch, a Polish-Russian industrialist who was a friend of Bertha von Suttner, described the coming great war in his six-volume work of 1898 (Scheffran 2014). For this he was nominated for the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, shortly before he died. The example of British meteorologist Lewis Frye Richardson also shows the relevance of sober science. Richardson used a model after World War I to study how armament dynamics had built up, which later prompted him to issue warnings about World War II (Scheffran 2020).

The Present of the Past

Barely a hundred years after World War I, a German government again finds itself embroiled in a war to shift borders by force of arms. A German chancellor of the SPD calls for a change of era and mobilizes war credits for rearmament and arms deliveries to a hot war that must not be lost. The public mood fluctuates between horror at the threat and enthusiasm for a hitherto unachieved unity of Europe. Geopolitical considerations dominate the public debate, leaving little room for dissenting opinions. The economy threatens to collapse into a deep crisis, the populations of all warring parties have to pay for the war, suffer from sanctions and high food prices. The struggle leaves only the defeated.

In view of such associations, it can be objected that the historical situation today is completely different from that of a hundred years ago and that similarities can be explained by general war logics. Germany has learned from the lost world wars and the won Cold War, has become more civil, does not wage war itself, but stands by the attacked side, legitimized by a democratically elected parliament. Today it is no longer about “fatherlands” but about a feminist foreign policy.

However, the question may be asked whether the choice of means does not put all this at risk. By using military means, Russia and Ukraine, and the West providing the toughest sanctions and heavy weapons, all parties are escalating the conflict and prolonging it with growing damage. They undermine lessons of history, revive geopolitical power struggles with cold and hot wars, lay the groundwork for new violent conflicts, consume enormous resources, obstruct negotiated solutions, marginalize civil society, peace forces, and dissenters. What is suppressed is the question of how this came about, how mutual disregard and threats contributed to it.

Back to the future

In addition to the past, the future, about which supposedly nothing can be said, is also blanked out. As with the world wars, the dangers of today’s world situation have been described before – including by the author of this article, summarized in an article four months before the war began (Scheffran 2021). In it, it is shown, among other things, that after Putin took office, there were warnings of a new Cold War (2000), the Iraq war and other wars of the West prepared the way for it (2003), complex crises and conflicts endangered international security (2008), an unstable world situation as in the First World War was possible (2009), connections between climate change, flight and conflicts emerged (2012) or multiple crises developed in the globalized world (2016). The conclusion: “The situation is reminiscent of the upheavals of a hundred years ago, with World War I, the Spanish flu, the Great Depression, and fascism leading to World War II” (Scheffran 2021, p. 218).

Statements about the future are often dismissed as know-it-alls in politics, and preference is given to “safe” disaster science over “unsafe” prevention science, which is only called to the front when things are already burning. In order to look into the future in a scientifically permissible way, however, no prophecies are needed; it is sufficient to recognize development directions, path dependencies or red lines, the interaction of which exceeds critical limits. These observations are also not deterministic insofar as the systems under consideration are made and steered by people and can be changed by political decisions. This presupposes that the truth can be spoken publicly. In the “free West” this should be self-evident without being personally discredited, even when it comes to categories of “good” and “evil.” With the resurgence of geopolitics in politics and the media, however, independent peace science is coming under pressure.

Return of geopolitics

At the beginning of the 20th century, the theory of “geopolitics” developed in the wake of the colonialist tradition of geography emanating from Europe, which could be instrumentalized for power politics.1 While geopolitics was discredited in Germany for a long time due to its personal and ideological entanglement with National Socialism, it regained importance after German reunification. With the Ukraine war, the influence of geopolitical think tanks is increasing. Geopolitical argumentation on the part of the new old system rivals is recognizable. Putin’s neo-imperial aspirations tie back to Russia’s colonial expansion (example Crimean War 1853-1856) and the founding of the Soviet Union based on it. Conversely, the Eurasian landmass aroused desires in the West, from Napoleon’s conquest of Moscow to U.S. geopolitics in the Cold War and after. Still and again, the book by former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Grand Chessboard” (1997), is used as a central argument today. In it, he articulated the goal of U.S. geostrategy that there should be no challenger controlling the Eurasian landmass and challenging U.S. dominance.

These goals can in turn be used by Putin to denounce threats to Russian security interests by the West. After initially courting Russian recognition in the West and engaging in partnership and trade, the continued deterioration of relations dashed all hopes. NATO’s roughly 16-fold military superiority, NATO and EU eastward enlargements, Western military interventions in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the buildup of European missile defense, and the denunciation of arms control treaties motivated Russian threatening and violent actions in the post-Soviet space.

This also applies to the war against Ukraine and its antecedents. When Russia’s military threats on the border with Ukraine failed to lead to negotiations in early 2022, Putin launched the attack on Ukraine. Support for separatists, territorial gains in Ukraine, and “punishment” for its westward orientation are possible motives for the invasion, which also serves as leverage to show Western impotence to the world. For this, he is willing to pay a high price, which has not deterred him from his reckless plan any more than Western superiority has. With the onset of the war, such rationalizing explanations of Russian behavior were relegated to the corner of the “Putinversteher,” while Putinologists trumped each other with speculations about who understood Putin best. They vacillated between the strategic genius, the irrational demon, and the ruthless dictator – explanations whose scientific foundations are questionable.

If Europe and Russia weaken each other and the European peace order lies in ruins, this need not contradict U.S. interests; on the contrary. In the short term, it strengthens the unconditional unity of the West and NATO under U.S. leadership, cements Russia’s separation from Germany and Europe, allows profits from fracking gas, the mobilization of the arms machine, provokes the ideological struggle between democracy and autocracy as in the Cold War, and opens up domestic political advantages in upcoming elections. Although some see the key to managing the Ukraine war in Washington, it remains unclear whether and when this key will be used.

Finally, this war and its aftermath can also be seen as a preparation and test case for the confrontation with China, currently the real challenger and antagonist of U.S. hegemony. Thus, the conflict with Russia could foster conditions for the coming war with China (NATO members’ willingness to mobilize, U.S. claim to leadership, militarized rhetoric, and response to developments in China).

Bloc Confrontation and Global South

With the Ukraine war, the Global South is increasingly playing a role as a geopolitical actor. Although the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against Russia’s war of aggression on March 2, 2022, with a majority of 141 states, the 35 abstentions (including China and India) and five votes against (Russia, Belarus, North Korea, Syria, Eritrea) showed significant differences. Some states expressed understanding for the Russian position, did not support the Western coalition, and are willing to join a counter-coalition of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) states. They see opportunities to bring their interests to bear in a bloc confrontation – as they did during the Cold War.

Because of colonial experiences, a “Global West” is viewed critically; it is accused of Eurocentrism, double standards and injustice in asserting its interests, if necessary by force and against the rules. Thus, the West appears as a “villain” (von Weizsäcker 2022) that wants to impose its value-based model of liberal democracy on others, for which it itself took centuries, partly at the expense of the colonies. The geostrategic chess games envisaged by Brzezinski (1997) and others touch not only the interests of Russia and China, but also of Central Asia, India, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, which do not count themselves among the Western democracies.

If Putin succeeds in creating a new division in the world (“The West and the rest”), this would be a success for him that extends beyond the Ukraine war and his regime. If the West was initially intoxicated by the new unity, since the G7 summit in June 2022 the realization of the world’s disunity seems to have reached the leading nations of a Western-oriented world order, especially since the parallel BRICS counter-summit did not come by chance. Now the Western world order must show what it can offer to fellow competitors. If weapons and sanctions destabilize the West and the world and polarize societies, they can become counterproductive. The corresponding populist movements are waiting for their chance to use this weakness in their favor, and not only in Western democracies.

Armament is not a turning point

For years, arms spending has been on the rise worldwide. The “turn of the times” proclaimed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz is forcing this rearmament in order to maintain the existing world order by force. However, this is not a turn of the times – it is a way back, especially since this was already prepared before 2022 (see, for example, Bunde et al. 2020).

More suitable for a true turn of times are three megatrends: the socio-ecological transformation, the influence of the Global South, and the role of social media and civil society (Scheffran 2021, p. 222): “The aforementioned trends have the potential to turn times, as after the French Revolution at the beginning of the 19th century or with the First World War at the beginning of the 20th century.”

For such a turning point in time, we need a resilient energy supply and sustainable climate protection within planetary boundaries, which also serve to secure peace and show ways to a viable and livable world (“viable world”) in the common house of the Earth. The coexistence and cohabitation of different world orders to address these problems is more promising than further geopolitical power struggles that put not only the West at risk, but also the planet. Peace science must therefore advocate for a peace-logical transformation – even and especially in times of dominant geopolitics.

Note

1) For the history and tradition of geopolitical world (explanation) images and war logics, see W&F 1/2013 “Geopolitics”.

Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

Russia’s war in the mirror of western international law nihilism and propaganda, 11/30

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2022/12/04/18853261.php

This war, which in principle started at the latest with the Western-backed pro-Western coup in Kiev in 2014, is not a pure Russian-Ukrainian war, but a multidimensional war: It is a war between Russia and the West, perhaps even a war between the West on the one hand and the East and Global South on the other hand on Ukrainian soil. It is about global hegemony, it is about whether the West can once again secure its global hegemony or whether the world of states will be structured in a multi-polar way.

Russia’s war in the mirror of western international law nihilism and propaganda
by Alexander Neu
[This article posted on 11/30/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Russlands Krieg im Spiegel von westlichem Völkerrechtsnihilismus und Propaganda.]

The covert war between Russia and Ukraine that has been ongoing since 2014 took on a new, overtly belligerent quality on February 24, 2022. According to the Russian linguistic regime, the war of aggression is not called a war, but a “special operation,” although it has all the characteristics of a war. The avoidance of the term “war” is intended to rebut the accusation of a breach of the mandatory prohibition of the use of force codified in the UN Charter, which is immediately associated with the term war. According to the motto: Since we do not call this war, it is not war and therefore the action does not constitute a breach of international law. With the Orwellian renaming, the Russian leadership is adopting a habit of Western war propaganda. By Dr. Alexander S. Neu.

Who does not remember the years of “well drilling by the Bundeswehr (German army)” in Afghanistan, in which 59 soldiers and many more Afghans lost their lives. Until 2009, when the German Michel was jolted out of his well-deserved humanistic deep sleep in view of the bombing of two tanker trucks, arranged on the instructions of the then German Colonel Klein, with over 100 civilians killed. It was the then defense minister and until then unrecognized plagiarism expert KT zu Guttenberg who used the term “war” publicly for the first time shortly thereafter. No less trivializing was the designation of the US-led NATO’s war of aggression against the remnants of Yugoslavia in 1999, which was also not called a war, but euphemistically referred to as an “air campaign.”

With the following words, the then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder tuned the population in Germany to the “altruistic” and thus, in the Western self-image, unproblematic war under international law, without calling the war by its name, indeed downright negating it:

“Dear fellow citizens,

This evening NATO has begun air strikes against military targets in Yugoslavia. (…). We are not waging war, but we are called upon to enforce a peaceful solution in Kosovo, also by military means. The military action is not directed against the Serbian people. (…). The German government did not take its decision lightly, after all, for the first time (sic!) since the end of World War II, German soldiers are on combat duty.”

According to the wording of the last sentence, the 2nd World War was probably also just a combat mission …

At least G. Schröder in the context of the unconstitutional secession of Crimea and the integration of the same into the Russian Federation in 2014, which was against international law, revealed the double standards so readily practiced by the West by admitting that this NATO war of aggression was also against international law:

“That’s when we sent our planes into Serbia, and they, along with NATO, bombed a sovereign state – without any Security Council decision.”

This unusual but refreshing admission by the former German chancellor caused a sniffle in political and media circles in Berlin – after all, the previous narrative, cultivated with much propagandistic effort, of a mere “air campaign” that was somehow covered by international law, seemed secure. For their part, the “scientific” support for this narrative construct was provided by those who actually knew better and yet willingly placed themselves in the service of the German government and NATO, thereby doing their guild no favors: The “international law experts”, they tried with astonishing imagination to interpret the NATO war of aggression as conforming to international law after all, while these “international law experts”, in turn, have no problems understanding the letter and spirit of the UN Charter in the case of the current Russian war of aggression. NATO war propaganda showed itself very creative in downplaying its war against Yugoslavia in its facets. Thus, human casualties were definitively reified or dehumanized as “collateral damage” and the bombing of civilian infrastructure – including hospitals, trains, electricity plants, etc. – was categorized as a “legitimate” military objective. Breach of international humanitarian law? Missing.

The extent to which U.S.-led NATO had the remaining Yugoslav civilian infrastructure in mind as an object of destruction was made clear not least by the statements of its chief propagandist for domestic living rooms, Jamie Shea. In an overzealous flow of words, Shea also spoke of “bombing Yugoslavia back to the Stone Age”. CNN and the New York Times reported that the massive destruction of Yugoslav infrastructure, including the power supply, was intended to stir up discontent among the population and thus “encourage” them to revolt against the Yugoslav government.

Just as a reminder, if today we are outraged by Russia’s unlawful attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure as well. Unfortunately, I don’t recall any media or social outrage in Germany or other European NATO countries. No “stand with Yugoslavia” or showing of the Yugoslav flag in the windows of the do-gooders was heard – on the contrary. There were also no international demands for sanctions against NATO member states or demands for exclusion from international governmental organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE or the UN, with which Russia is currently confronted. The war of aggression against Iraq in 2003 by the so-called “coalition of the willing” under the leadership of the United States, which violated international law, has not been a violation of international law to this day, according to Western interpretation. The federal governments, starting with the red-green coalition, have not declared this war of aggression to be illegal under international law. There is a lot of prevarication up to the point of ridiculousness.

The attacks of the NATO member state Turkey on Syrian territory against the Kurdish YPG militias supported by the USA and against the declared will of the Syrian government under the pretext of self-defense are no different. In addition, there is the permanent occupation of Syrian territory in the north and west of the country, which is directly directed against the Syrian state or Syrian sovereignty and jurisdiction, up to and including open and massive support for Islamist terrorist organizations (especially in Idlib province). All of these violations of law are still not recognized by the federal governments as illegal under international law. One is in the phase of examining international law, so the argumentation goes, for which the federal government apparently needs several years. In 2018, it took the Scientific Service of the German Bundestag a few weeks to respond to my request to prepare a corresponding expert opinion on international law.

This expert opinion, entitled “International Law Assessment of Turkey’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ against the Kurdish YPG in Northern Syria,” undoubtedly identified Turkey’s breach of international law. Critical reporting by our mainstream media on this factual cover-up of Turkey’s actions by the German government? Missing! In contrast, the media are proving very eager to scandalize Russia’s war in violation of international law.

If our mainstream media also showed such a sensitivity to international law when it came to Western breaches of law, their massive criticism of breaches of law by non-Western states would also be more credible. But in all cases mentioned, the war of aggression of the US-led NATO against the rest of Yugoslavia, the US war of aggression against the Iraq war, the also de facto Turkish war of aggression against Syria as well as Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, breaches of international humanitarian law took place/are taking place. And in all cases, without exception, it is also a clear violation of the mandatory prohibition of the use of force of the UN Charter (Art. 2 para. 4).

In not a single case can/could the right to self-defense be credibly argued: Neither was Russia attacked by Ukraine in February 2022, nor was the NATO treaty area attacked by the rest of Yugoslavia in 1999, by Iraq in 2003, or by Syria since 2011, which definitely renders an appeal to self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter invalid. Also, there was/is no legitimizing UN Security Council resolution for any of these wars of aggression.

It is interesting that Russia’s president, V. Putin, brought the genocide accusation into play with regard to the inhabitants of the two “people’s republics” in eastern Ukraine to Chancellor O. Scholz during his visit shortly before the Russian arms race. In this way, the Russian president obviously tried to fall back on the Western legitimation figure of humanitarian intervention (central argument of NATO in 1999) for the envisaged war against Ukraine.

Humanitarian intervention, as well as its modernized variant, the responsibility-to-protect doctrine (R2P doctrine), are intervention constructs with an ostensibly humanitarian motive by Western strategists. Neither of these legitimation figures is established in customary international law, and they are certainly not codified in the UN Charter, since there is as yet no conclusive agreement on which authority may order such a military intervention against a sovereign state. The global South in particular is highly sensitive to this issue – memories of Western colonialism and imperialism run too deep – and therefore fears the abuse of this doctrine for Western power politics. And indeed, the abusive “application” of the R2P doctrine was not long in coming: In the case of Libya in 2011, the UN Security Council arbitrarily adopted an R2P-based mandate for intervention, but not for regime change.

But that is precisely what the U.S.-led coalition pursued against the Gadhafi government and interpreted the UN Security Council resolution accordingly. Gaddafi was overthrown and brutally killed. This blatant abuse of the R2P-based Security Council resolution by the West for the purpose of power-political self-interest certainly did not allay the fears of the Global South and ultimately led to the doctrine’s failure to gain majority support in the world of states for a long time to come.

In short, there are two exceptions to the mandatory prohibition of the use of force in the UN Charter, which is binding on all UN member states: individual and collective self-defense (Art. 51) in the event of a previous attack on a state’s own territory. And the authorization by the UN Security Council of military coercive measures (Art. 42) for the purpose of “maintaining or restoring international peace and security” (Art. 42).

The UN Charter is clear, and that makes sense. The consequences of arbitrary interpretations of the UN Charter by various parties to the conflict (including, incidentally, the understanding by sympathizers of one side or the other), on the other hand, are fatal to the stability of the international system. There are always some excusable motives for a breach of law. If, however, the excusing motives why military action had to be taken here and there against a state in circumvention of international law are in the foreground, the direct consequence is the end of modern international law and, along with it, the anarchization of the world of states – in short, a return to the laws of the jungle.

For in the emerging multipolar world order, the precedent set by the breach of international law has an immediate imitative effect. During the unipolar era and the hubris that unfortunately – not inevitably – went hand in hand with it, did the West really believe that its idiosyncratic interpretations of the law, even to the point of openly breaking the law, would remain permanently without consequences?

The breach of international law in Crimea is the answer to the breach of international law in Kosovo, strictly speaking even the answer to the recognition policies of the secessionist Yugoslav republics of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina practiced by the West in violation of international law, and thus the dismantling of Yugoslavia as a subject of international law. Did the Western capitals really assume that these precedents, which they set without coercion, would not be taken up by other great powers at some point? Do Western desk strategists really believe that centuries of Western global dominance would last forever? Do they really believe in the West that the East and the Global South will accept without resistance the new boondoggle with the term “rules-based international order” instead of the UN Charter and the new project of “democracies versus autocracies” for the purpose of de facto securing Western dominance?

If this is really believed in the political and media West, it would be downright naive. The outcome of the recent G-20 summit in Bali should be a wake-up call. The outcome of Bali fell short of the West’s expectations (isolation of Russia). Russia even co-sponsored the final declaration, which means that there was no 19:1 final declaration – i.e. without Russia – and thus the attempt to isolate Russia before the world public was not really successful. The continued naivety of the eternally dominant and “highly civilized” West is likely to cost Europe and Germany dearly.

Realpolitik, i.e. understanding the new, consolidating global constellations of forces, dealing with them constructively, i.e. not in a bloc-bound manner, but in peaceful coexistence and on the basis of the UN Charter, is the only viable way out if European and German interests are to be given any validity in the multipolar world of the 21st century.

More on the topic:

War in Ukraine: why the West is so reluctant to compromise – part 1

War in Ukraine: Why the West is so reluctant to compromise – Part 2
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War in Ukraine: Why the West is so reluctant to compromise – Part 1
by Alexander Neu
[This article posted on 10/17/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, Krieg in der Ukraine: Warum sich der Westen so schwertut, Kompromisse einzugehen – Teil 1

With Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine and the Western response, the world may be headed in leaps and bounds toward the nuclear abyss: The escalation dynamic is gaining speed. More and more conventional weapons with better and better effect are being moved by the West to Ukraine, while at the same time asserting to the domestic public and Russia that they are not a party to the war. The Russian side, meanwhile, no longer regards these measures as mere provocation, but assesses the arms deliveries, training and the provision of satellite- and drone-based reconnaissance data to Ukraine in real time as participation in the war by NATO member states. But anyone who calls for diplomatic solutions against this backdrop is given a media and political pass. By Dr. Alexander S. Neu.

Obviously, in the face of embarrassing operational defeats of the Russian armed forces, the protagonists of massive support for Ukraine feel virtually vindicated and encouraged to defeat Russia, or at least to prevent a Russian victory. Whatever that might mean in concrete terms, there are certainly different interpretations of it.

The problem, however, is that Russia is not just any state like Iraq or Libya that can be completely dismantled without taking any risks themselves. Russia is the leading nuclear power, along with the United States. And the obvious weakness of Russia’s conventional forces is more than compensated for by its possession of nuclear weapons. In 2020, Russia updated and published its nuclear doctrine under the title: “Basic Principles of the State Policy of the Russian Federation in the Field of Nuclear Deterrence.” On the conditions of the use of nuclear weapons, it states:

“17. The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction against any actor and/or its confederates, as well as in response to an attack against the Russian Federation with the help of conventional weapons, if the existence of the state is threatened as a result.”

In short, Russia rejects a nuclear first strike unless a conventional attack would have a destructive effect close to a nuclear strike, thus calling into question Russian statehood. And it is the Kremlin that decides when such a dimension of its own damage has been reached. Would a complete recapture of the four territories annexed by Russia and also of Crimea by Ukrainian forces be such a case? Well, if Russia integrates these territories into its territory as equal regions, i.e. no two-class integration, Russia would have to use nuclear weapons in case of doubt, following this logic.

And sometimes the political decision-makers in the West act as if it were completely out of the question that the war would ultimately take on a nuclear dimension, that it was a bluff on Putin’s part and that he only needed to be shown the hard edge and then he would withdraw from Ukraine in remorse. And those in the West who point out that Russia’s threats should not be misunderstood as a bluff are not taken seriously or even defamed. This was also the case with former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In several public appearances, she warned against taking Russian President Putin seriously. Instead, she called for a negotiated solution and cooperation with Russia precisely to prevent further escalation toward World War 3.

The problem, however, is that such voices do not want to and should not be heard. In the ever tighter socio-political discourse about what one is still allowed to say and what one is no longer allowed to say, if one does not want to expose oneself to the danger of ostracism and media execution, statements and demands that point in the direction of diplomatic solutions, empathy, trust-building, etc. have also disappeared from the political vocabulary of Western politics. Whoever uses them nevertheless is at least a “Putin-understanding”, i.e. is being hunted down by the media and politically.

In this way, Angela Merkel’s statements are also reduced to base motives. To this end, a few political scientists and Merkel “experts” have their say, explaining that Merkel is more concerned with justifying her Russia policy in retrospect and thus saving her political legacy and reputation. At least as far as the foreign and security policy statements of these “experts” are concerned, it must be said that they are not particularly pronounced.

A multidimensional war

However, the real motive for the continuation of the war wanted by the West seems to be another one besides the legitimate territorial restoration of Ukraine: The U.S. and the U.K., in particular, put pressure on Ukraine to end the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, which had been ongoing in March, without results, and to focus instead on a victorious peace for Ukraine, as well as to push through Ukraine’s NATO membership after all.

Michael von der Schulenburg recently published an extraordinarily good article on this topic under the title “Ukraine must be about winning the peace and not the war” on the NachDenkSeiten. In the article, Schulenburg states that the sole purpose of the special NATO summit held in March was to end the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, in order to withdraw the ground from Russia’s core demand of a neutral Ukraine, which Ukraine was quite prepared to meet at that time, according to reports. Ukraine is to become a NATO member come hell or high water. So exactly the point that Russia has defined as an absolute red line.

And with this it becomes clear that this war, which in principle started at the latest with the Western-backed pro-Western coup in Kiev in 2014, is not a pure Russian-Ukrainian war, but a multidimensional war: It is a war between Russia and the West, perhaps even a war between the West on the one hand and the East and Global South on the other hand on Ukrainian soil. It is about global hegemony, it is about whether the West can once again secure its global hegemony or whether the world of states will be structured in a multipolar way.

In favor of the global dimension is the refusal of many states of the global South to join the West’s sanctions against Russia. Of course, one can also argue against the global dimension by pointing to the UN General Assembly resolutions in which over 140 states condemn Russia for its war and annexation of Ukrainian territory. But the point is also that Russia’s demand for a secret vote in the U.N. General Assembly was rejected, so some states felt compelled to vote along Western lines to avoid fearing Western sanctions on their part. A secret ballot might have produced a different result, in which the new geopolitical shifts in power would have been more apparent. But this is speculation.

If one shares the thesis that this is a comprehensive, multidimensional war involving nothing less than the potential end of centuries of Western global hegemony, then one also understands the West’s determination to sustainably secure Ukraine in the Western sphere of influence, rather than to bring about pacification through a neutral status and seek mutual concessions. After all, continued Western control over Ukraine would be to its detriment not only with regard to Russia, but beyond that in the Euro-Asian region. So it’s all about the big picture.

It is against this background that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s recent statement that “Russia’s victory is NATO’s defeat” should be assessed. The fatal aspect of the statement is that NATO is thus tying its fate to Ukraine. “If NATO loses the war, disintegration tendencies for the Western military alliance are not unlikely – in any case, the geopolitical power shift toward Eurasia would gain sustainability.

And more than that, Russia’s fate is also linked to the war against Ukraine: If Russia were to lose the war, it would lose its great power status, which is by now tarnished anyway; indeed, even a breakup of the Russian Federation could not be ruled out, as separatism could feel emboldened on Russia’s periphery to take advantage of the weakness of the Russian central state, as the Russian constituent republic of Chechnya once did in the context of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. We would not even have to speculate about the political survival of the Russian president.

It is therefore only secondarily about Ukraine and certainly not about the people in Ukraine. Thus, two completely self-inflicted questions of fate are diametrically opposed to each other, which does not bode well.
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War in Ukraine: Why the West is so reluctant to compromise – Part 2
by Alexander Neu
[This article posted on 10/21/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=89314.]

Given the self-inflicted fate issues on the Russian and NATO sides, an exit strategy is enormously difficult. But conceivable, remember the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, which also threatened to plunge the world into a nuclear Armageddon. A balance was found that was both painful and face-saving for both sides. Unfortunately, in addition to the complicated geopolitical confrontation, there is another dimension that once again complicates the resolution of the conflict. By Dr. Alexander S. Neu.

The multidimensional war and its cultural-civilizational component

A rational person might ask what would be so wrong with a neutral Ukraine, if this Russian demand ensures world peace. What would be wrong with a complete or at least partial return of the territories annexed by Russia to the sovereignty of Ukraine, but with these territories given comprehensive autonomies? What could be so wrong with a multipolar world constituted on the basis of the UN Charter? And finally, what could be so wrong with the peaceful coexistence of different cultures, economies and forms of government – especially since humanity has quite different existential challenges to overcome. After all, the West has been calling for social and cultural plurality and diversity for decades. Why, then, does the West practice a foreign policy that amounts to an export of Western values without any alternative – and is sometimes even prepared to wage wars to achieve this?

The contradiction, however, is obvious: plurality and diversity are only desirable as long as they run in the “right” direction. A constant narrowing, as already noted, of the spectrum of opinion and debate within society, accompanied by social sanctions, can be observed in the various spheres of society, right up to academia. Those who do not behave in a politically correct manner must leave the playing field. And what is politically correct is determined by… well. The formulated values that are supposed to guide politically correct behavior are morally charged. Morality, however, prevents, even prohibits, rational debate, because the moral argument could be refuted in a rational debate. That is completely unacceptable to the moralizers. Our values are the good values, morally sound, and therefore we are naturally the good guys. In the undercomplex reverse conclusion, the other values must automatically be bad – or at least they are not equal. In their own value logic, Western values must therefore formulate a claim to universality. They must therefore apply to all people and all cultures – or almost all. In the case of our strategic allies, such as Saudi Arabia or Turkey, exceptions are sometimes made for strategic reasons – always with a stomachache, of course.

The claim to universality of Western values then leads to an explicit values-based foreign policy. Values, not interests and empathy, thus become the guiding principles of foreign and security policy. The protagonists of a value-based policy strive, consciously or unconsciously, for an absolute hegemony of Western civilization. Western civilization, because it embodies good values, is superior to all other civilizations and cultures, the unshakable belief goes. This culminates in the U.S. self-image of being an exceptional nation, “God’s own people,” and thus having rights that other states and peoples do not have. This ideology of exceptionalism has also spilled over to the Europeans, but less with religious than with moral zeal, whereby the entire West sees itself as something special, accompanied by special rights that lie beyond the UN Charter. The foreign policy topos for this is: “rule-based international order,” i.e., the Western order. This is not formally defined, but the political use of this topos clearly refers to the Western hegemonic order.

This Western self-image of civilizational superiority contains a (cultural) racism: It cannot be to have to speak and act on an equal footing with Chinese, Russians, Arabs or Africans, according to the subliminal thought, which, however, is never expressed publicly. And therefore, reasoned considerations of mutual balancing of interests, respect of state and political sovereignty towards non-Western states and cultures are still unthinkable for the West. Acceptance at eye level of the Other, of the non-Western, would call into question the Western way of life with its claim to universality, which is currently still absolutely unthinkable, but must be conceivable without alternative.

A concession to the Russian side to be found on a real-political and rational basis would be more than just a geopolitical defeat, it would also be a civilizational defeat in the eyes of its protagonists. And this civilizational superiority postulate sometimes weighs heavier than a nuclear Armageddon. In any case, it weighs demonstrably more heavily than the overdue common fight against the looming climate catastrophe. Coal-fired power plants are to run longer, fracking gas is in vogue, and Fridays for Future is calling for longer operating times for nuclear power plants.

The Russian is making it possible, one might be inclined to say.

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