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The Ostrich Strategy

by Jens Berger Wednesday, Mar. 02, 2011 at 8:03 AM

The word crisis describes a turning point where a decision about direction must be made. A dramatic turning point where business as usual is not an option does not correspond to our picture of an ordered world.



By Jens Berger

[This article or blog published January 11, 2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.spiegelfechter.com/wordpress/4809/scheitern-als-chance-2.]

The word “crisis” in ancient Greek describes a turning point where a decision on direction must be made. However the word “crisis” has a purely negative connotation in modern usage. The world stood at the abyss during the Cuba crisis. A marriage experiencing a crisis is felt to be negative. This looks somewhat different to the rival. The negative connotation of the word “crisis” is probably evidence for our lack of imagination, our fear of risk and our conservative world view. We would just love for the world to simply turn around and not change too much. However a dramatic turning point where “business as usual” is not an option does not correspond to our picture of an ordered world.

The general public understands crisis management as the removal of the turning point that constitutes the crisis. Therefore “sitting out” crises or repressing the crisis situation from one’s consciousness are popular strategies. The world’s existence may have been annulled if Kennedy or Khrushchev repressed or sat out the Cuba crisis. Repressing and sitting out are the worst conceivable strategies in marriage crises. Paradoxically these discoveries are not in force in public and political consciousness regarding the financial and economic crisis. Nevertheless this ostrich-strategy is a more recent phenomenon. The worldwide economic crisis of the 1930s represents a turning point at which the great economies made very different decisions about direction. In the US the “leftist” candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt won the presidential election and rang in a genuine change of paradigms with the “New Deal” and rigid financial market regulations. Germans made the fateful decision to allow the rightwing populist Adolf Hitler to dictate the direction of the country – light and shadows, crisis as turning point.

If “crisis” is defined as the turning point where decisions on direction must be made, then the current financial- and economic crisis never occurred. Although there was a relatively brief time window when genuine changes of paradigms were entirely possible, politics worldwide preferred to put its head in the sand. The states worldwide “bailed out” their banks and rediscovered Keynesianism in presenting gigantic economic programs. The corrections of the financial system were only of a cosmetic nature. The financial market architecture and the framing economic conditions were not reformed. The entire world sees the foundations of our house are crumbling while we are content with changing the shutters.


Who is really “we”? Isn’t it the confusing swamp of lobbies and politics that wants to avoid serious corrections of the system? No, despite all deficits, we have a democracy and no one will be forced at gunpoint to accept the parties that refuse all reforms of the system. There isn’t a loud or even silent protest at the ballot box in Germany. On the contrary, a people that voted FDP “out of protest” in the last Bundestag election do not want any paradigm change. It is obviously simpler to shift culpability and responsibility to “those above.” But unfortunately the world is not so simple. System-conforming politicians, lobbyists and the media may indoctrinate us with their ideology and put guns to our heads. We urge and press for retreat ourselves. This was not different in 1932 than today. All this does release those responsible in politics, science, media and the economy. The reverse conclusion that the people as a collective victim is also untenable.


Whoever does not want to answer collectively for the consequences of collective action steals away from responsibility. This naturally does not mean inferring from the guilt of the collective to the individual culpability of persons. In our society, there are many decent ones who accept neither personal nor collective responsibility. However the ostrich-strategy of our political representatives has been democratically legitimated several ti8mes by the absolute majority of the people. Even today polls show that this line is explicitly approved by a very large majority of the people. This repressive attitude of voters is more than schizophrenic. In many polls, the majority of voters confess their desire for fundamental reforms of the financial system. When called to vote, this majority votes for parties that reject fundamental reforms. Is this advanced cognitive dissonance? Ignorance? Schizophrenia? Or do themes like the financial- and economic system have a low priority among voters so parties with partly diametrically opposed views are supported? The self-imposed lack of come-of-age existence of the voters is a probable explanation. Even if the voter does not want to argue with the program of the parties, the gutter or popular press accelerates exorbitantly. Capitalism is given a nostalgic-romantic tinge refurbishing its unjustly ruined reputation – on account of the extremist leftwing reproach of social coldness.

Much rage and anger fomented by leftist demagogues and others may arise through the necessary reconstruction of the redistribution state which created our system crisis. However there have long been solutions tested in praxis for the short-term intensification of social problems. The money by the state and our achievers by dismantling the state bureaucracy and welfare can be invested in better and more efficient surveillance, private security services, military firms and in private top-security residential areas. In a word, the money is ultimately available for one’s own security

However the healing effect of total capital accumulation will finally make unnecessary all conflict around ideologized political concepts and the completely inefficient and economically hardly helpful social form of democracy. So it slowly dawned on liberals that democracy is a location-disadvantage.

Who wants to grapple with politics and ideas out of touch with reality when enough supply exists for the demand for every market actor and one can be completely devoted to consumption and personal profit maximization? There was no time any more for civil disobedience or protest. What for? One could be a wholehearted customer and producer, freed from the annoying pre-modern citizen duties. The life of every individual could then concentrate finally on the essential, reproduction.

At last we would have a “Brave New World” deserving this name. No growth limits would exist in this new world. Capitalism is randy and welcome in the new realpolitik! Capitalism is not the problem but the solution, as we all know now.

Comment: This is completely convincing. One should not forget a part of the “human capital” must be selected from the parasitic “achievement elite.” The old, sick, refractory and the like are part of the creation of ideal capitalist conditions, the so-called fascism, in gas chambers when they do not bring any returns any more.
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