WE THE SCATTERED IN THE INSULT SOCIETY
By Hans-Peter Martin
[This article published on September 24, 2018 is translated abridged from the German on the Internet, www.heise.de. Hans-Peter Martin is the author of "Game Over. Prosperity for a Few, Democracy for No One and Nationalism for Everyone." (2018).]
The situation is highly explosive - and there is no escape. A loud bang and crash are unavoidable. So much systemic poison in so many scenes cannot be controlled.
The best-selling author Hans-Peter Martin, former "Spiegel" correspondent and independent Europe parliamentarian, published his new book "Game Over" in September 2018.
In many ways, "The Globalization Trap" in which Harald Schumann and I warned of the "attack on democracy and prosperity" proved unfortunately a prognosis. Now, it is "Game Over" for the West, for our civilization model. Capitalism functions even without democracy and without observing liberal human rights. With its capitalist surveillance communism, the People's Republic of China is the real winner after the Cold War and the greatest danger for a future in freedom.
How could we fail so blatantly? All four pillars of our past democracies are eroded with hyper-globalization and digitalization, stock market crash, climate change and mass migration: the legislative, the executive, the judiciary and the so-called "fourth branch," the media. Liberal democracy without a stable social foundation proves to be a faulty design. Unbearable economic inequality and all-pervasive uncertainty flow into national chauvinism. The war spiral turns.
This is not a future scenario. It is happening now. We are in the middle of a global revolution. Trumpism - even without Trump - is not coming; it is here. Apartments are not becoming unaffordable; they are unaffordable. In many EU states, the elections of right-wing nationalist governments are not threatening; they are already in power. Wake up!
Highly explosive - and no escape
Politically and economically, we live globally in a permanent crisis mode. The risks pile up. But all the risks are made by human hands and are not natural disasters. Maybe that is the real catastrophe. No one can predict which problem will lead to the Big Bang - with the sheer multitude of simultaneous trouble-spots and w3ith the many problems and dilemmas in so many areas. The situation is highly explosive - and there is no escape. The Big Bang is on the horizon. So much systemic poison in so many scenes is not controllable.
The desire for acknowledgment drives nearly all persons. Whoever receives it has the hardest of all currencies in his or her hands. However, rewarding efforts at social balance and peace is no longer rated highly in the new world order. Rather, resentment intensifies from victory to victory. "Animosity" and aversion is fed from unconsciou8s antipathy, prejudices and a feeling of inferiority. Family after family, party after party and land after land are corroded by it.
Insatiable resentment practitioners now pay respect to each other. Animosity against others unites them. The elites revolt against the multitude of fellow citizens; the majority are against the establishment. Far too many people experience the open society as an insult society, unjust, unfair and excluding. That their personal idea of fairness is often very subjective e and devalues others is drowned out.
Thymus is the theme, the angry mood joined with the need for self-respect and being esteemed. Liberals have seriously underrated the power of feeling. The Homo oeconomicus and the Homo politicus also do not act enlightened or "rational" when the financial markets do not act rationally. Be cause they feel foreign in their own country and resist political Islam, new Hungarian, Polish, Czech, US-American, Austrian and Italian nationalists gain political power.
Neo-nationalists are also mobilizing in Holland and Germany. In the 2014 elections, Swedish chauvinist democrats almost doubled their national voter turnout to 11% and even reached 23% in polls in the summer of 2018 on a level with the governing social democrats. In Brazil, right-wing nationalists seize power under the watchful eye of the military. How will the separatists develop in Europe from Catalonia to Scotland?
The common "cultural identity" is cultivated and pompously celebrated. Vladimir Putin has long followed a match plan that welds his fans together. Russia humiliated after the Cold War opposes the NATO-dominated European Union. The logical consequence of such an insult society is the war society. Many past democracies are now failing.
The Democracy Weariness of the Elites
Democracy weariness is spreading everywhere and hardly knows any social limits - throughout the population and on the top. In a multitude of conversations in the US, Europe, Singapore and China, US multimillionaires, European bankers and leaders of western industrial corporations listed on the exchanges and successful members of the middle class vehemently criticized current representative democracies.
In the 1990s, the top 20% of income recipients in the West were still the greatest opponents of non-democratic governments while the bottom 50% could be gained for the dominant military. Since then, attitudes have been turned upside down. In al most every region, the rich now tend to support military dictatorships more than the poor. In the US, the approval among the wealthy rose from 5% to 16% and in Latin America from 21% to 33%. Instead of 19%, a third of the US upper class has been convinced for several years that having a "strong leader" who "didn't need to worry about elections or the parliament would be good or very good. Whoever ascribes Donald Trump's success to only the exploited citizens of the Middle West or older white voters makes a misjudgment.
The trend to undemocratic alternatives among rich and young US citizens is very strong. In 1995, only six percent of the young rich were for the army's assumption of power; today, they are 35%. This is not an isolated case. In EU states, 17% of young, wealthy Europeans were positive about a military government, three times more than two decades ago. Anti-liberal policy is supported more and more by the young, rich and privileged.
A new social justice could be indispensable in the midst of globalization. More and more profiteers seek the abolition of democracy. The poorer see authoritarian solutions in their rebellions. Past democracies could not survive this pincer movement.
Progress without Democracy
Kishore Mahbubani, professor of politics from Singapore, supplies ideological fodder to the upper class in the West and East. "That the West aggressively forced and forces democracy, human rights and freedom of the press on the third world is a colossal error." The West should finally learn tolerance and accept other societies."
Improvement of economic living conditions is crucial. The People's Republic of China delivers the best geopolitical achievements even if the best geopolitical discussions are carried out in the US capital Washington. 853 million people were delivered from extreme poverty since the 1980s in the kingdom of the middle and realized breathtaking growth rates. Previously such an economic awakening only occurred in Mahbubani's manageable home Singapore.
Peter Wolf, salaried employee in a German world company, says what many economic fanatics think and where so many positive experiences are made: "China fascinates because so much is underway. People accustom themselves to changes without great discussions." Decisions are made non-transparently but are carried out quickly. New cities, airports, train stations and railroad tracks - everything is built at record speed without costly procedures and citizen protests. Capitalism booms without democracy. Isn't that true?
Many laws are not upheld anymore. A prosperous economy does not need democracy if it is highly developed. Even a great number of educated citizens who create prosperity cannot force democracy. Most innovations do not need any extensive freedom of speech. What was regarded as a basic law of the modern age proves to be only a dogma. The "equality" of people is a value but not a condition sine qua non of economic progress.
Neo-nationals - from Hungary's Viktor Orban and Italy's Matteo Salvini to the Trumpists in the US - have understood this and secure their power. Trumpism without Trump, a new German national movement that can make the AfD (anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany) into a government party and the imminent European EU final game intensify the war spirals. The answer must be a radicalism - emerging out of the political middle - an economic reflection on the social market economy in the framework of a liberal-democratic basic order.
A "New Game" is only possible by taking all of these terms seriously - in a credible sharing - socially, economically, politically and digitally.