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Between Austerity Mania and Megalomania

by Robert Kurz Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2010 at 1:28 PM

The more capitalism invokes its rationality, the more irrational it seems to be. Fewer and fewer persons handle more and more tasks. This savings mania was forced to the detriment of quality controls. The economy should be a part of life, not a steamroller crushing self-determination


By Robert Kurz

[This article published in: Neues Deutschland 9/17/2010 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

The more capitalism invokes its rationality, the more irrational it seems to be. The survival competition on the markets leads to an economic cost-cutting policy at any price. Fewer and fewer persons should handle more and more tasks. Wages should fall; breaks should not even occur any more. Greed is normalized and that affects working conditions. In the crisis, this savings mania was forced to the detriment of quality controls. Recall campaigns, breakdowns, disturbances and scandals pile up. The radicalization of economics strikes back on the business administration itself. The capitalist term “efficiency” is completely empty and refers only to abstract profit maximization which obviously has finally entered the stage of its historical incompetence. Efficiency does not refer to the concrete substance of production.

The economic austerity mania has expanded into day-to-day life. Personal relations should be carried out like businesses and brought into line through cost reductions, not only schools, research institutions, theaters or playgroups. The individual person is even regarded as a business on two feet and reduced in tests to a pure “rationalization potential.” The satirical slogan “sleep faster, comrade” appears as deadly serious crisis capitalism. The general pressure of an empty “increased efficiency” has characteristics of an obsessional social neurosis.

The imperialism of the economy has two faces. While on one side a penny-pinching greed of the abstract time-regiment governs time in the toilet that is even monitored in factories, an almost feudal squandering culture is manifest. An economic megalomania blooms in the tangle with politics corresponding to the economic austerity mania. The German railroad with its absurd prestige project Stuttgart 21 is a classic example: the projected costs according to independent experts rose from 4 to 7 to 12 billion euros. There is no money for tracks in local- and goods-transportation. This pyramid building strikes back on its architects since investment ruins are foreseeable as a consequence.

The ruinous economic prestige thinking has also expanded in all social areas like the miserly austerity rage. These are two sides of the same coin. Local communities that thin their administrative- and transportation personnel crave mega-events (like Duisburg and the disaster of the love parade). Others want to wave a magic wand for international stadiums even though they simultaneously nearly ration toilet paper. The same “entrepreneurs of their labor power” who make themselves fools of the performance-bustle, round-the-clock surveillance and senseless rationalization programs of their lifetime plunge into debts for neurotic prestige-consumption for which they scrimp and save are not signs of stability. A society totters between extremely conflicting behavior patterns. Whoever rationalizes to death must act the big shot as larger than life. Both are forms of estranged total burnout. But the high-class world now goes to pieces.


Robert Kurz, “Crash and War” 2002

Robert Kurz, “The Demystification of the West” 2002

Robert Kurz, “Double Dip” 2002

Robert Kurz, “Everything Under Control on the Sinking Ship” 2003

Robert Kurz, “The Flexible Person” 2003

Robert Kurz, “The Metaphysics of Work” 2002

Robert Kurz, “The Myth of Productivity” 2001

Robert Kurz, “The Philosophy of Short-Sighted Shareholder Value” 2003

Robert Kurz, “Radical Capitalism Criticism” 2002

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