imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Justice Before Efficiency

by Peter Ulrich Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 at 4:53 AM
mbatko1@hotmail.com

The market economy must be bound to the principles of a fully-developed civil society. More is involved than a belated redistribution. A citizen is basically a social being. To overcome feudalism, precedence must be given to human- and civil rights over the power based on property.

JUSTICE BEFORE EFFICIENCY



Interview with Peter Ulrich



[This interview published in the Swiss WoZ 1/5/2012 is translated from the German on the Internet http://www.woz.ch/artikel/archiv/21581.html. The emeritus professor Peter Ulrich at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland wants to civilize the market economy so it serves society. In this interview, he speaks about the supposed value-neutral ideology of neoliberalism, the partiality of the market and the egoism of owners.]



WoZ: Mr. Ulrich, we are now in the fourth year of an economic crisis. A great lack of orientation exists. Is the crisis also a crisis of thinking?



Peter Ulrich: Certainly! Everyone says economic life must be different but no one says how. We are mired in fog. Many are still blocked in the old ideological dispute “more state” versus “more market.” But this is not the real conflict. A highly developed economy needs an intelligent combination of market incentives and constitutional framing conditions. That is trivial. Our real problem lies elsewhere, in the mixed up relation of market economy and civil society. How can we intelligently organize society so the free enterprise system serves the good life of all citizens? At the moment society is subject to the practical constraints of an economic system with an excessive self-dynamic.



Do you urge a social market economy?



That is too vague for me. A social market economy can have three forms. For libertarians, “social” is only an embellishing decorative epithet. For them, the market economy is social per se. In the second traditional social-democratic way of thinking, the market economy is socially corrected. The goal is producing a certain balance through compromise and redistribution. The third possibility is the one I advocate. The social factor is understood as constitutive for a market economy useful to life. “Constitutive” means ordered constitutionally. The market economy should be socially legitimated. The market economy must be bound from the start to the principles of a fully-developed “civil society.” More is involved than a belated redistribution. I plead for a civilized market economy.



This means the priority of civil-liberal social policy before market-liberal economic policy. Justice should have precedence before efficiency. Today it is often said we must socially tighten our belts in the name of economic efficiency. Here is an example of the rhetoric: “The global location competition forces us and this serves public welfare.” I call this the market-metaphysical public welfare fiction.



How is this a fiction?



The harmonistic belief in the “invisible hand of the market” is taken as a basis for formulating the public interest fiction. This is ideological insofar as particular interests are passed off as general interests.



Is that your definition of ideology?



Yes, ideological messages are always loudly propagated when special interests obviously dominate in public decision-making processes. These special interests are hidden behind public interest rhetoric. The vast population is deluded that everything that helps the interests of capital exploitation is also in the interest of the general public although the general public is often disproportionately burdened.



Isn’t this a perfect description of neoliberalism?



Indeed it is. My question is: Why did this succeed so amazingly for neoliberalism in the last thirty years? In this example, one sees the mastery of functioning ideology very well. Neoliberalism conceals its normative stamp and interest-orientation behind an emphasized practicality. Whoever is for more market is practical. Whoever argues for less market or against the market is impractical or subjective. Although this is ridiculous, neoliberalism has succeeded in hiding under a veil of ideology-neutral free enterprise practicality. Whoever criticizes this is branded as a utopian, an unrealistic romantic or an ideologist. As an economic ethicist, I have often experienced this.



How can you counter such neoliberal thinking?



For example, by asking: who benefits? As an economic ethicist, one has to descend into the dark cellar of the economic thought structure, illumine the darkness with a flashlight and reveal what is hidden in normative background assumptions and preliminary decisions.



The market is powerful. When a “free market” functions efficiently, it reflects the current power relations between the market partners – no more and no less. The market principle is systematically partial for the strong, for those with enormous capital. Whoever has capital and is financially liquid can wait for good business conditions. Whoever sells strawberries cannot wait. He or she must sell under any conditions.



Economic-political recommendations are seldom as neutral as they pretend. Here is one example. Up to the financial crisis, the “Sachverständigenrat”, i.e. the council of experts for the German economy – the name implies impartiality – usually admonished the unions in its fall expert opinion not to demand excessively high wages. The state was urged not to overspend. On the other hand, the council of experts has practically never admonished owners of capital to be reserved with their boundless profit demands or their tax resistance as though profits and taxes had nothing to do with the problematic macro-economic development and the state deficits.



Should the economic wise men have demanded shareholders to minimize profits?



No, this reverser conclusion is obviously absurd. However it consciously reflects a reflexive attitude that I often heard in the economy: “Either we allow businesses to strive for profit maximization in any way or we support an ethic of red numbers.” A business must ensure its long-term investment- and earnings-power and possibilities. A business must not only serve the profit interests of the owners. It can also say: we want to do profitable business and also contribute to the public welfare. We want co-workers, suppliers, communities and coming generations to live a good life. A far more meaningful idea of entrepreneurship results – with many possibilities for innovative business models.



You have often criticized the current explanation that our supposedly perfectly ordered egoism relieves citizens of moral standards. Are we living today in a system without morality?



No, our life-world does not end in the economic system. A citizen is basically a social being. Mutual respect and acknowledgment are essential for everyone. That is the core of morality. But there is a middle class ideology today that stylizes the identity of the free citizen as a possessive citizen. Libertarians defend this possessive individualism that even rejects democracy as far as it restricts the freedom of individuals. Our alarm bells must ring out. Absolute egoism dominates in this thinking. Property makes one free – that is largely true in a capitalist order. Whoever takes this seriously and is not a cynic must conclude that all citizens should have enough property to live free.



But libertarians do not draw this conclusion.



Whoever takes this logical step is a liberal, not a libertarian. A libertarian is ultimately an egoist who does not want to share anything with others and makes an ideology out of this. This also means running down the state and reducing the state to preaching a policy of empty treasuries and so on.



In Switzerland, libertarian positions are now gaining ground… Do these people pose a danger for democracy?



The influence of this circle has grown over the years. The change in the hierarchy of power is reflected here. The propertied have an increasing political influence. Therefore the political danger from this side is much greater than from the weak left. Someday, our grandchildren could say a Golden Age existed in the postwar era that unfortunately was swept away. This is a real danger.



You use the term “neo-feudalism.”



In feudal society, the law of property and human rights were not sharply distinguished. The people who lived on a farm were serfs of a feudal lord without rights. The modern age realized the idea of inalienable human- and civil rights. These rights are increasingly evaded by the law of property. The crucial concern is organized capital in the form of businesses and no longer ownership of agricultural land. On financial markets, stock packages are traded enabling acquisition of control and power over businesses. This represents power over people who are dependent on this enterprise. The typical case is when jobs are shifted abroad – even when a firm is economically profitable. Then a great public outcry arises because feudal times seem to be recurring.



To definitively overcome feudalism, precedence must be given to human- and civil rights over the controlling power based on property more forcefully than in the past. Then the mass dismissals of workers as a pure means for increasing profit would not be as simple as today.



In your book “Civilized Market Economy,” you write: “Whoever is existentially dependent on others cannot really speak publically. Are we unfree today?



We should not ignore the achievements we enjoy today. Still the realization of freedom is a historically unfinished project. The elementary rights of personality, equality before the law, freedom of religion and speech and the inviolability of the person against all kinds of incursions stood at the beginning – and still stand at the beginning in some countries. In Switzerland, we still have problems in questions of cultural identity as the head-covering debates and the minarette prohibition show. In principle, the fundamental personality rights are undisputed. In a second step, political civil rights were added. People often forget women could not vote in Switzerland until 1971. The third stage involves social and economic civil rights. In the Middle Ages, people said city air makes one free. Today, we have to say that purchasing power makes one free. We are still caught in the middle of this development. The right to property was guaranteed as the only economic civil right at an early historical time. The AHV (i.e. the Swiss old age pension scheme and disability insurance) was added in the middle of the 20th century. Apart from that, the socio-economic basic rights are only weakly developed. This development will continue because real conditions require it.



What will happen? With the present balance of power, the initiative for a national inheritance tax, e.g., has a very hard time…



I am not so pessimistic.



Redistribution from top to bottom is increasingly difficult in Switzerland even though the majority would profit from this. Solidarity with the rich seems greater than with the poor.



Switzerland would be different than it is if social changes had been impossible. Leading thinkers urged 250 years ago: Let us create democracy! At that time the old elite replied the man on the street cannot manage this, the people are overstrained. But history shows that society some time or other was enlightened enough to implement reasonable ideas. There are enlightened ideas with an irresistible and irreversible attraction on people. It is only a question of time.



That sounds very optimistic.



History does not move linearly. There are relapses. Fascism and Stalinism were horrible examples in the 20th century. Certainly, the modern age overstrains many people. We are not half as modern socially as we believe.



How can modern ideas gain acceptance?



The partiality of the existing rules must become so blatant that the majority of citizens seek change because they recognize the possibility of a more just social order. Then the solidarity with the privileged of the old order also disappears.



That is the old impoverishment theory according to which people revolt if life gets bad enough.



We now have the vote in a somewhat functioning democracy. Either we go through the valley of tears or we recognize the causes of the problems as come-of-age citizens and tackle them.



The Occupy movement is a counter-project. Although the desires of the “99 percent” are broadly accepted, this acceptance has not reached far enough for a change.



In one’s daily routine, the individual faces practical constraints and thrashes about to maintain him- or herself in this situation. This was always true. Therefore the education elite often launched certain developments. The U.S. constitution of 1789 and the first Swiss constitution of 1848 as well are marvelous achievements of the middle class elites at that time. The time was ripe and a tremendous accomplishment happened.



In the debt crisis, Germany set the tone. For years, Germany lowered wage costs, was competitive and profitably exported. At the same time, Greece incurred debts. The demand for German exports fell. Now Germany complains about Greek debts and insists on austerity measures. Is there a basic imbalance or disproportion in Europe?



This is an essential cause but not the only cause of the present crisis in Europe. Germany has always had a high-performance industry and a high measure of competitiveness. For that reason, Germany has greatly profited from the European market and the euro. The D-mark would have been upgraded, too, analogous to the Swiss franc. As an avoidable error, Germany followed a very one-sided neoliberal economic policy in the last twenty years.



…above all under the Left-Green government…



Right. Under the leadership of the SPD and Schroeder, Germany pursued a one-sided export-oriented economic policy that from a Swiss perspective led to an incredibly low wage level even for highly-trained workers. Not surprisingly the other EU countries cannot keep pace any more.



Germany’s economic strength has a political effect. Angela Merkel calls the shots in Europe.



She defends the practical constraint logic of the current system. She always says, “There is no alternative.”



Will Europe become increasingly authoritarian on account of these developments?



From the beginning, political Europe had a deficit in democratic structures and became increasingly technocratic. The beginnings of democracy – like the EU parliament – are weakened, not strengthened. This is a dubious development. From a Swiss view, it is even astonishing. Thinking of democracy on several planes – on the local community-, canton-, federal- and Eur5ope-planes – is not a problem. But I do not see any efforts in this direction. The people is increasingly seen as a disturbing factor by Europe’s political elite.



The peak of this development was when Giorgos Papandreou had the audacity to let the Greek population vote on the austerity package.



I was amazed over the media reactions even in Switzerland. People could have said: Marvelous! A prime minister had the courage to say: the decision is so far-reaching that it must be legitimated democratically.



The crisis seems to strengthen rather than weaken neoliberal capitalism. Are we heading for an authoritarian capitalism?



There is a very alarming element in this crisis: the combination of constant intensive cost-pressure in the location competition with the new precariousness in the world of work together with the arising social distress. This hides the danger that we could be headed for an ambivalent social-police-state.



What do you mean?



The social cushioning maintains law and order. While the comparison is somewhat spiteful, I recall that it was planned to centralize the police and social departments in the canton of Zurich some years ago. That did not happen consciously and fell apart after the voters declined the proposal, as it called to mind third world conditions where social unrest is put down with force. Instead people could say: we don’t want to simply repress the symptoms of unsolved problems but correct the social conditions – in a civil society where everyone can lead a self-determined life under reasonable material conditions.



“INTEGRATIVE ECONOMIC ETHICS”



The economist Peter Ulrich (63) is an emeritus professor of economic and business ethics. In 1987, he founded the Institute for Business Ethics at the University of St. Gallen (HSG) which he directed and shaped up to 2009. He developed an “Integrative Economic Ethics” (Cambridge University Press, 2008/2010) that sought to connect practical economic logic and ethical reason. He is a member of Kontrapunkt, a group of scholars and social scientists at Swiss universities that meddle in current debates with contributions on “public reason.”

Report this post as:

Local News

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 1:27PM

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 12:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 12:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 4:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J10 11:58PM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M30 10:20PM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 12:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 1:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 2:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 3:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 2:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 1:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 1:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 4:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 1:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A26 10:37PM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

14 Disturbing Facts About Scott Gottlieb, Trump's FDA Head J20 10:47PM

Behind the scenes at fbi National Academy J20 2:47PM

Treasury Takes Aim at Shell Companies J20 11:18AM

Paraphysique de l'intelligence J20 9:08AM

Oklahoma GOP Senator Jim Inhofe's Bloody Record J20 4:01AM

Globalization: hope on the horizon despite Fake Liberals. J20 3:41AM

Sorry President Trump,Ted Cruz Texas Judicial System,is Worse Than Many Shithole Countries J19 4:49PM

The Shortwave Report 07/20/18 Listen Globally! J19 4:33PM

The System Question as a Survival Question J18 8:54PM

Nation's Largest Voting Machine Co., ESS, Admits Lying Re Having Installed Remote Control J18 11:55AM

Du pain et des jeux J18 9:53AM

Paraphysique de martyrologie J17 8:00AM

Children Incorporated Earns 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator J16 11:24AM

Democratic Socialists of America J14 4:57PM

Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's J14 4:18PM

Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento J14 12:54AM

FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution? J13 3:52PM

Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians J13 2:59PM

The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally! J12 4:36PM

Social Policy as Social Infrastructure J12 3:38AM

Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud J12 1:50AM

Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner.. J11 6:48PM

June 2018 Honduras coup update J11 3:35PM

Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support J11 1:40PM

New York Women in Film & Television Announces 2018 NYWIFT Ha Phuong Scholarship Recipients J11 10:14AM

Trapps de la domination, trapps de l'aliénation J11 1:31AM

Please Work For The Defeat Of Brett Kavanaugh And Why J09 8:54PM

Transinhumanisme ( transe inhumanisme ) J09 12:44PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy