THE GAME WITH IGNORANCE
Manipulation as Agent of Status Quo
By Florian Hauschild
[This article published on August 10, 2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://le-bohemian.net/2011/08/10/das-spiel-mit-der-unkenntnis/.]
It is no secret that the economic and political education of most people in Germany is poor. Deficient basic knowledge takes away the basis of a democratic social system. Unfortunately the German educational system has failed in making the characteristics of our social system understandable to broad sectors of the population.
Themes like the architecture of the financial and monetary system, media competence and critical thinking are often simply put aside. The great orchestra of corporate media, PR-writers and smear campaigns can easily profit from this ignorance.
The louder the orchestra plays, the more likely systemic backgrounds and complex information perish or are covered up.
If your basic attitude weeks ago was “I don’t have time to occupy myself with anything,” now you think you only have to click on SPON or look up FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung) and find the answers to all your questions, explanations and perhaps even enlightenment. Say farewell to all these notions as fast as possible. They will not succeed. Don’t believe those who hold everything is very simple and the culprits in everything can be easily named.
Let us look back. The large part of the European public was fixated on “the markets” before some of the billions of losers worldwide in the great redistribution monopoly began expressing their frustration in England. This attracts your attention since physical violence is always somehow “more real” than structural violence.
Suddenly the standard media user discovered the economic order, the monetary system and rule and began asking how everything is connected. Click on Spiegel online and it is so beautiful. The live ticker of DAX does not offer any explanation.
The live ticker and rehashed opinions of analysts are only the tip of a media system completely off course. Frank Lubberding comments in FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeiner Zeitung) newspaper:
“Such news is without any information value. The media becomes the mere amplifier of market developments and loses all critical distance. This logic is no longer limited to the online offers. Spiegel titled its print edition on Monday “Is the world going bankrupt?” It reads like a preparation for the coming drama that the published stages in its online ticker. The media do not report about the markets. They have become part of a common shared business model.”
Albrecht Mueller remarks:
“Stock market and economic journalists act as though the revelation of a gigantic gambling casino had not occurred with the financial crisis.”
What the corporate media now deliver to us – speaking very bluntly – is nothing but the systematic reinterpretation of worldwide oppression, exploitation, mass expropriation and impoverishment into a kind of sports event in stock exchange tables. No thought is wasted that the neoliberal social- and business model has long failed. No word that millions of people take to the streets for similar reasons in Spain, Greece, Israel and North Africa. A worldwide economic and financial order decays to a pure end-in-itself and no longer serves people. In east Africa, there aren’t demonstrations; people are already dying.
Enthusiastic economic journalists try to develop proposals and discuss how the already failed social order can be kept from “the worst.” A more expansive monetary policy of the central banks and climbing again on the stage of madness are discussed as supposed solutions with the prospect of “at least saving time.” Beware: fear is not a good counselor.
The problem in all this is that such writers are often manipulated or biased, believe the fairy-tale of a “crisis,” insist worse things are on the horizon if neoliberalism is now finally buried, are influenced by fear-slogans and horror-scenarios and so misjudge the real problem: the order of the economic and financial system.
A system that since time immemorial has impoverished millions and allows them to mercilessly go down like flies forces broad sectors of the population to personal exploitation and serfdom. A system built on an ideology in which everything – even the person – becomes a product and money is represented as the measurement for all these products is legitimated by apologists who trivialize the most blatant derailments of social life as “normal.”
But the people who now take to the streets and organize in Spain, Greece, Israel, Chile, England and many other countries have felt these “trivialities” and “normalities” in their own lives. In Germany, on the other hand, apathy still rules in many places that were actually affected in the past.
GROWTH, GROWTH AND MORE GROWTH!
By Roland Spitzer
[This article is translated abridged from the German on the Internet, www.Gesellschaft-und-Visionen.de.]
Growth, growth and more growth! This is the magic formula that should help us to prosperity according to the coalition. Growth sounds good! Many people join in the choir of growth advocates. The meaning of growth is not explained. The growth of incomes of broad sectors of the population is not meant because too many people must organize their life with less and less. Growth in education is also not meant. If growth in education were important, thousands of students would not be protesting against cuts in the educational system!
Are there greater possibilities in health care? Life was very different 15 years ago. Terms like medical co-pays and practice fees did not occur in our language. A basic provision could accelerate “growth” by covering the fees for the first consultation. Then treatments, medicines and therapies would be ensured separately! In the future, the diagnoses of the family doctor will be either telling them they are healthy or declaring they are really sick. Then he will explain to them how they can be treated through their private supplementary insurance…
Neoliberal politicians discover impulses for economic growth. In Frankfurt, there are many bank skyscrapers heated by fossil energy. These resources are scarce and become increasingly expensive! The social and the utilitarian are connected here!... Pollutants are blasted into the environment.
From a neoliberal view, enormous growth potentials exist here. Every bank skyscraper could be heated cheaply…
Through cancellation of death grants, relatives of these persons will not be able to bury them at their own expense. Happily we have the market! The market will react immediately. What would we do without the market? Corpses would lie on the side of the road promoting epidemics!
The market cannot realize growth in areas like culture, inexpensive public transportation or sports buildings. But who or what is the market? Mises, Hayek and Friedman as representatives and defenders of the market never explained what this market really embodies! The market is an undefined phenomenon! The market seems to be something like Dracula – or God. No one has ever seen him living but he hovers above all of us - like a Damocles sword! Nevertheless the current German government makes the greatest efforts to make possible growth, growth in redistribution from bottom to top! Hundreds of billions of Euros are raised in the short-term to ensure and expand the assets of wealthy people today!
These are the achievers who would suffer incredibly in case of a state bankruptcy!... Compared to these losses, cuts for pensioners or public servants are only peanuts! Our society could not function any more without these achievers like investment bankers for example (also called unconvicted criminals)!
It is time to reflect whether big banks or the majority of the population are too big to fail! What is really too big – a handful of bankers or millions of citizens of this country? These millions are condemned to fail – they are not too big since everyone only acts individually and cannot hope for the parties’ support! Officials (sometimes even women) want to maintain their social status…
At present there doesn’t exist any publically effective party in Germany that champions the interests of millions of people who are forced out of society more and more! This cannot be expected from the German political parties CDU, CSU. FDP, Greens or even the SPD! Even the Left party (Die Linke) doesn’t accept this challenge!
A vacuum arose here, a vacuum where it isn’t known who or what social current will fill this void! We do not know what challenges the future will make to us! One thing seems certain: today’s parties will certainly not give any answers!
THE PHILOSOPHICAL HOSPITAL
[These notes from the “Philosopher Talk” website are translated abridged from the German on the Internet, ]
…Everywhere we are flooded with information. Is there something behind all this? How do things change when we think? Can one stand by and watch thinking? We will try. In a loose sequence, “The Philosophical Hospital” presents a philosophical talk about the themes of the times moderated by the cultural expert Birgit Stammberger and the philosopher Ulrich Lolke.
PART 1: “CAPITALISM AND DEPRESSION”
In the last years, the number of mental disturbances has drastically increased. As a result of mental diagnoses, more than eight percent of employees often cannot carry out their vocation for a long time. In the meantime, shelves are full of advice on mental disturbances from calls to connection to understanding “depression as a life chance.” The question how sick does our society make us is a theme in all areas of culture, literature and the social sciences. One time the emphasis is on the depressive society and another time the “exhausted self.” Society sacrifices its norms and values to the pursuit of profit. General prosperity, the family and social connections lose value. Does capitalism make us sick? Or has psychiatry replaced the social sciences and given us its terms with no social analysis?
Is depression an expression of resignation before the super-complexity of capitalism? What is wrong with our society in which depression is offered as a description of a capitalism in which everything is possible and nothing succeeds any more and describes more than a state of mind?
A DIABOLICAL PROJECT
Goethe’s Faust and the Capitalist Economy
Is this a foreseeable sequence – capitalism, turbo-capitalism, predator capitalism and financial crisis? Skepticism has accompanied capitalism since the beginnings of industrial accumulation. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, contemporary of the efficient steam engine of James Watt, watched his Faust climb the ladder as statesman, general, early capitalist and big businessman. In the last years, Germanists and economists discovered: with Faust, Goethe created a tragic hero who was thrown off track and left floundering by the power of economic acceleration. For Faust, money in the form of capital became an alchemist material, the wonder-drug with which the time and transitoriness of the person became inconceivable – a disastrous and devilish project.