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by Daniela Dahn
Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 at 2:06 PM
The central question remains unanswered: why no society in the past could permanently guarantee freedom and equality. Are we lacking in brotherliness and human relations? Are we not equal to the size of the task? Or are we prisoners of structures that force us to act against our will?
STATE WITHOUT SHAME: CONTRADICTIONS
By Daniela Dahn
We know we live falsely. Uniting freedom and equality does not succeed. The elites sell democracy and nature dirt cheap
[This article published in: Freitag, 12/17/2010 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.freitag.de/datenbank/freitag/2010/60/staat-ohne-sham/print.]
The year 2010 was the year when the chasm between our desires on how we want to live and how we actually live grew again with the five-euro-increase for Hartz IV recipients, banker bonuses, child poverty and luxury education. In the spring of 2010 the book “Gleichheit ist Gluck” (Equality is Happiness) provoked debates. With UN statistics, two British researchers showed that well-being depends on how equally wealth is distributed, not on how much one owns. Inequality produces stress, pours out hormones that make us sick and leads to violence, nihilism, conflicts, future fears and a society in which the rich themselves are endangered.
That the book received a prize for “new and challenging ideas” was heartening and a little comical. This challenge is really not new. “Freedom, equality and brotherhood” has been a binding program since the French Revolution whose motto became Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1945. In their origin, the attempts at socialism in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America were not monstrosities of totalitarian rulers but the emancipator acceptance of this challenge.
Equality was made absolute – as freedom was made absolute on the other side. One loses its value without the other. People are now more intensely aware of this. However the central question remains unanswered, why no society in the past could permanently guarantee freedom and equality. Are we lacking in brotherliness and human relations? Are we not equal to the size of the task? Or are we prisoners of structures that force us to act against our will?
PRINCIPLES OF REASON
Reflection about this has taken place in all regions and cultures. The idea of an “earth that supports everyone in the same way” “so they receive the same” pervades the Bible. “Justice comes through the law.” Confucius recognized: “People become ashamed of misery and poverty in a state governed according to the principles of reason.” People are ashamed of wealth and renown in a state not governed by the principles of reason. According to what principles is a state governed where people are not ashamed of anything – like our present society?
The principles that govern here are obviously the commands of self-enrichment of an unscrupulous elite. We live in a basically inverted world. Most know this. Nine of ten Germans, as Emnid recently concluded, want another economic system. What a gain in knowledge! They do not expect capitalism to solve the problems that are lined up. Are the banks the real parallel society, pirates that take citizens as hostages? No one brings them to trial because no one makes laws against them. Everyone knows the crisis is not over. Its supposedly skilled mastery has transformed society again in a precarious direction. New jobs are welcome. But what if they are temporary, subcontracted work and mini-jobs? Only 38 percent of employees have unlimited full time work. That is another step downwards in the Hades of the anxiety society.
THE WRONG TRACK
Even where true jobs arise, the wrong track is followed: armaments for example or cars and not public transportation. The poorer live at the great traffic congestions where it is loud and unhealthy. These are ghettos of the lower class established by the market, of people who have no voice or no longer believe they have a voice. No one can hear nature’s cries for help. The legislators dependent or in bondage to lobbies spare us and businesses of the real prices because they do not include the consumption of nature. To the coming generation, they leave trillions in state debts. What you get for a life on credit is a ruined environment.
Misguided by interest machinations and profit maximization and in a waking coma so to speak, we create the instruments of our self-destruction. Obviously incapable of finding a meaning of life outside accelerated growth of material goods, we bring on disaster. Adorno spoke of the uncaring disregard of things that necessarily turn against people, of the “ideology in which people maintain the status quo with a bad conscience. There is no true life in the false.” This verdict directed after 1989 against all East biographies with an unrelenting accusation points to the destructiveness of private property in middle class society.
What holds this society together? Resentment debates? Bets on resentment debates? The duty of disobedience toward the state? Will we ring in the end of spectator democracy and rule cliques or bow to an oligarchic elite? Everything is at stake.
Kurz, Robert: “Everything Under Control on the Sinking Ship”
Mueller, Sebastian: “The Growth Madness”
Steinart, Heinz: “The Attack of Corporations and the Rich on the Rest of Society,” Dec 2010
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