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Making yourself comfortable in capitalism

by Herbert Bottcher, T Konicz & T Regenauer Thursday, Jul. 14, 2022 at 3:19 PM

"Whoever has a wife should behave as if he had none, ... whoever buys as if he were not the owner, whoever makes use of the world as if he did not use it" (1 Cor 7:29f). Paul is speaking here to people who were "called" as slaves into the messianic church (1 Cor 7:21).

Making yourself comfortable in capitalism


First published on:

Rainer Bucher's "Christianity in Capitalism".

by Herbert Böttcher

[This 2022 article is translated from the German on the Internet, EXIT! Krise und Kritik der Warengesellschaft.]

The title "Christianity in Capitalism" can - at least among people who are critical of capitalism - raise the expectation that it is about a Christianity that recognizes the 'signs of the times' and sees itself as a Christianity critical of capitalism. Such a perhaps illusionary expectation is disappointed. "Christianity in Capitalism" asks how "Christianity" - ultimately it is about the church - can assert itself - and that in competition with a culturally hegemonic capitalism. In the process, the view of capitalism remains culturally narrowed - quite in line with postmodern times - as if it had nothing to do with production and reproduction. At the same time, the narrowed view certainly ties in with important phenomena.

"According to Bucher, "the capitalist program" stands for "self-reference, the idleness of the always the same, and for operations of closure. In this formulation, a central problem is taken up with regard to the life of individuals in capitalism. They are referred to themselves, are supposed to take personal responsibility for their lives. But all this happens without perspective "in the idling of always the same "3. In order to make such self-referential idling possible, "operations of closure "4 are needed. People who are thrown back on themselves close themselves off within themselves, close themselves off from the other and social problems up to the closed alternative-lessness of a self-contained system.

Responsible for this is "culturally hegemonic capitalism in its profit-oriented administration of the world as a program of subjectivation. That contemporary capitalism is accompanied by programs of subjectivation is obvious. This is, after all, what 'self-reference' stands for. People are supposed to optimally fit themselves into the circumstances so that they can supposedly live well in their lack of perspective. In essence, they are supposed to become an "entrepreneurial self" that prepares itself in incomplete processes of self-optimization in such a way that it has a chance to swim along in the "idling of the ever-same" in the capitalist competition for work and prestige. External determination thus becomes self-determination. And if the individual fails in this, he is also responsible for it.6 He experiences himself as a person who has failed in himself, i.e. who is 'to blame'. The humiliation objectively suffered becomes self-humiliation and thereby confirms the humiliation experienced with authorities.

In his description of the capitalist subjectivation program, Bucher draws on Foucault's analyses of pastoral power7 . It is characterized by the concern of the 'Good Shepherd' to gather his flock and care for them through good leadership. "Such good leadership is not based on coercion, but on the willingness of those led to be led." It is about "voluntary servitude as the highest form of individual freedom. "8 The role of the original Christian pastorate has now been taken over by the modern state. In the neoliberal state, it is accompanied in the marketplace by counselors, coaching and (self-)management programs.

Such subjectification, according to Bucher, proves to be an efficient form of subjugation; "for the currently dominant (neo-)liberalism blurs the difference between shepherd(s) and sheep, which is now to become the 'shepherd of itself'"9. At the same time, the governmental technique of the 'pastorate' is not limited to the market and the infiltration of its logic and mechanisms into more and more social subsystems, but "still works on a hidden and difficult to illuminate level: that of the feelings and longings of the governed "10. This interplay allows capitalism to become hegemonic. It forms itself as a "culturally hegemonic capitalism "11. Thus it becomes a problem for the churches, because it "works exactly where the churches had also saved themselves when the modern state took away their external and internal power as sovereign: on the level of longing and feeling that is called Christian piety "12. In contrast to the churches, which are stuck in an essentialist thinking in categories of ontological entities, capitalism is formatted in an anti-essentialist way. Therefore, its "strategies of desire production, desire fulfillment and contingency management... are more efficient, more flexible, more vivid, more addressee-oriented, more liquid than those of the churches "13, which are prevented by their traditions from successfully asserting themselves in competition with hegemonic capitalism. It should be noted only in passing that Bucher formulates tradition in the manner of an undialectically understood enlightenment from the perspective of what has become victorious and not as a subversive memory against the "omnipresent power of the given facts" that brings "past horrors like past hope back into memory "14 or theologically as an objection of the historically inferior against an "undialectical history of progress and victors "15.

"Culturally hegemonic capitalism" as church crisis

As for the role of the church in the "process of dethroning religion, "16 Bucher has some interesting observations to offer. He sees in the organization of the church as societas perfecta a strategy of ecclesiastical self-assertion as a 'pastoral power' by which the church closes itself off to modernity. The pianic epoch (the epoch of the popes of Pius from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century) forms "the climax of inner-church pastoral power. "17 It reaches "its final crisis with the collapse of the Catholic milieus in the 1960s and with the release of religious self-determination for Catholics ... "18.

The crisis of the church intensifies once again with the processes of individualization that are advancing in postmodernity. It is true that these processes lead to individuals adapting themselves as 'entrepreneurial selves' to the competitive conditions of society on their own responsibility. But they are all the less willing to let the church have a say in their lives and to let it patronize and communalize them. The relationship to religion seems to have become the last residuum of the self-assertion of subjects. Religion or the religious is chosen in a market-like manner and according to customer needs. "Instead of normative integration, there is situational, temporary, experience- and intensity-oriented participation.19 The customers of religion withdraw from the grasp of the church institution. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI tried to 'master' this new situation by fighting. They were fought above all on the cultural level against a 'culture of death' (John Paul) as well as against the 'dictatorship of relativism' (Benedict). The concept of a 'culture of death' aims at a materialistic and consumeristic lifestyle that destroys coexistence. It finds its expression above all in a secularism that turns away from God and puts human life at the disposal of abortion and euthanasia.20 The talk of the 'dictatorship of relativism' is directed against the postmodern relativization of truth claims, through which the claim of the church to proclaim the truth of divine revelation is thwarted21. Against this, the church was to be positioned as a "countercultural social space "22 and secured in an identitarian way through obedience to doctrine and, above all, (sexual) morality. Of course, obedience could only be enforced against those dependent on the church - with sanctions such as refusal or withdrawal of the church's teaching license and even dismissal of employees in the event of deviations from the church's sexual and marital morals.

According to Bucher, the cultural struggle of the two popes failed because they "formatted their protest against the capitalist culture of life as an anti-modern protest and were thus only able to appreciate the strong sides of modern societies, above all their promise of freedom and autonomy, in a very reserved way, if at all. "23 Thus, the struggle against 'culturally hegemonic capitalism' is futile. After all, it is "not a scientific theory to be refuted [...], but a social reality in which one has to exist "24. Thus, a change of strategy is needed. The starting point is, of course, the "social reality", and this shows: "The victory of capitalism is 'reality' for the foreseeable future "25. At this point, the postmodern critique of essentialisms and certainties ends in an - albeit temporary - essential certainty. This is the foundation of 'Christianity in capitalism'. Within the framework of this foundation it is necessary to find ways of existing in capitalism - beyond the "fundamentalist reactions of almost all religions to this cultural hegemony" and the "uncritical affirmation of capitalism "26.

The ignored "hidden site of production "27

Bucher's appeal to internal church-oriented reformers may be that with his critique of the essentialist closed dogmatic and moral theological positions of the church's magisterium he hits an essential core of the church's need for reform and still connects it to the (post-)modern scent of freedom and autonomy. The problem is that it lands without circumstance in postmodern culturalism and its "weak reason," which it positions against essentialist certainties. In the culturalist zeal, however, it overlooks the fact that hegemonic postmodern capitalism also has a "hidden site of production" that is essential to it. It is the place where commodities are produced, freely and equally exchanged at the level of the market, the "sphere of circulation." Marx ironically called the latter "a true Eden of innate human rights. What reigns here alone is freedom, equality, and Bentham. "28 "Cultural hegemonic capitalism" cannot exist without this "hidden site of production." Those who overlook this take the cultural manifestations at face value in false immediacy or reduce the rule of capitalism to a figure of "cultural hegemony." He falls for the 'appearance' that is staged on the cultural level, for the appearance of freedom and autonomy as well as for the appearance of a domination that presents itself solely in cultural dominance.

The domination of capitalism, then, is not constituted simply as cultural hegemony, but through the context of the production and circulation of commodities and the spheres of reproduction that are split off from them. As a "commodity-producing patriarchy" (Roswitha Scholz), capitalism is oriented toward the irrational end in itself of the multiplication of capital/money and is inextricably intertwined with the split-off reproductive activities with female connotations, without which commodities cannot be produced and circulate29. In the context of value and spin-off, capitalism is constituted as abstract domination. It is not a determinism from which all actions and phenomena can be blithely derived. However, together with the forms of market and state, economy and politics, subject and object, etc., it sets a framework that cannot be skipped even at will. Even the seemingly autonomous subjects and their freedom cannot step out of this frame, but are forced to move within it.

Those who do not simply fade out the "hidden site of production" can recognize that capitalism has not failed "before the question of justice "30 but is in the process of failing on itself. Capital/money can only be increased if sufficient labor can be expended in the production of commodities. It is also in the supposedly "culturally dominant capitalism" the real-substantial basis of the event. Without sufficient labor being able to be spent and represented in commodities and money, commodity production loses its basis. Marx has spoken of capital as a "litigating contradiction". It consists in the fact that capital "strives to reduce labor time to a minimum, while on the other hand it sets labor time as the sole measure and source of wealth. Companies that reduce labor time gain an advantage in competition, but in doing so undermine labor as the basis of the entire event. As technology advances, companies are forced to replace labor with technology in order to gain a competitive advantage by cheapening and expanding production and conquering new markets. This initially compensated for the loss of value associated with the disappearance of labor. With the microelectronic revolution since the 1970s/80s, this compensation mechanism comes to an end. It becomes possible to replace so much labor with microelectronic technology that its loss can no longer be compensated by the production and sale of larger quantities of goods. Increases in productivity and expansion of markets are no longer able to replace the production of value and surplus value that dwindles with labor. Thus the stage of a final crisis has been reached.32 By final is not meant that dates for the collapse of capitalism can be given, but rather that capitalism now also historically comes up against the logical barrier that can no longer be compensated, which Marx had summarized under the concept of the "processual contradiction" and from which there is no longer any way out within the framework of capitalism.

Now this is anything but a purely theoretical insight. It shows its practical side in the 'multiplicity' of capitalist crises: In precarious employment relationships, the 'becoming superfluous' of people, intensifying processes of division, disintegrating states and world order wars, destruction of the natural basis of life, refugees who encounter closed borders, up to the current war in Ukraine, in which the disintegrating former world powers confront each other in the struggle for self-assertion - and also in subjectivation programs that instruct people to subject themselves to the ever new constraints of capitalist domination, while maintaining the appearance of freedom and autonomy.

Those who perceive these connections will precisely not be able to simply assume the "victory of capitalism," which is "a reality for the foreseeable future. "33 It is true that Bucher recognizes that capitalism is connected with the "construction of a new, far more subtle structure of domination and subjectivation. But he fails to recognize that this construction is not an expression of capitalism's victory, but of its crisis. The responsibility for politically less and less manageable crises is shifted more and more to the responsibility of individuals. The magic word for this is 'personal responsibility'. Under this magic word, the neoliberal privatization strategies were enforced to fight the crisis of capital accumulation, while at the same time dismantling the welfare state as no longer financially viable. As "entrepreneurial selves," individuals are supposed to optimize themselves in ever new and unfinishable attempts in order to be able to exploit themselves as human capital35. Their freedom becomes the freedom of self-submission to the constraints of the capitalist crisis society, their autonomy to resourceful adaptation. And in the case of failure, it is a matter of admitting 'self-blame' and starting anew, in order to optimize the processes of self-subjugation anew "in the idling of the always the same "36 .

For the purpose of relief and 'pastoral' support, there are armies of counselors and therapists, immense cultural events, and religious-spiritual relief and rebuilding programs available on the various markets. In order for the churches to become competitive as providers, they are trying to overcome their relevance crisis by developing into 'entrepreneurial churches' that are able to place their pastoral and religious-spiritual products - geared to comfort, reassurance, relief, event, meaning, religious depth and happiness experience - for customers in demand37. Against this background, the question arises:

How can the church play along here and "not fall prey to culturally hegemonic capitalism"?38

In order to be able to play along without falling into the trap, there is a playful balancing between 'neither' and 'yet', between 'both' and 'as well': neither "culturally pessimistic" nor with "pro-capitalist affirmation of the existing", both "relativizing" and "transforming "39. Theologically, the "balances of the Christian "40 are supposed to do the trick. Here it is teeming with tensions and paradoxes, with the hovering between "now and not yet, between the individual and the social, between freedom and the need for grace [...] within a multiple network of balances "41. Not missing is "the concept of God of Jesus" and the kingdom of God coined by him, which is "first of all an event": "the event of unexpected and unexpected liberation and given concrete salvation "42 - completely liberated also from God's option for the poor and traces of criticism of domination. As a cultural contraindication against the "cold administrative and calculating mentality" Bucher recommends "dance and unintentional creativity "43 as well as - quoting Isabella Guanzini - the "joyful revolution of tenderness" which is to destabilize and even dissolve "the compact monolith of power "44.

In this way Bucher wants to escape the ecclesiastical dogmatically fixed essentialism and to come to terms with capitalism. He escapes the ecclesiastical essentialism only at the price of its now essentialistically charged floating and balancing. He cannot come to terms with capitalism at all. The culturally trivializing view of capitalism corresponds to its postmodern playing with tensions and paradoxes, which is trivializing in view of the dramatic crises. In this way, however, he does not oppose "culturally hegemonic capitalism," but plays along with it. He dances with it on its parquet. In this way, he is definitely on the level of crisis capitalism, insofar as the colorfulness of the postmodern game, its staged designs and virtualities are in relation to the game that is played on the casino of the financial markets. Here, the game is played with "money without value, "45 with money that is no longer covered by labor as the substance of value and can hardly establish a connection to real value and labor. This collapsing connection is simulatively overplayed, that is, it is pretended 'as if' it did not exist. Bucher's dancing and floating balancing pretends 'as if' it can dance away capitalism, but fails to recognize that its colorfulness and looseness is a simulation that can only simulatively escape the uniformity of the capitalist process of exploitation into which individuals are pressed with the help of the programs of subjectivation, and its crises that destroy the foundations of life. Dancing is done to the tune of 'as if not', as 'if' capitalism 'does not' exist - or at least not so right and not so bad. Religion turned in this postmodern way reaches the 'height of time' by succumbing to capitalist appearances and at the same time reproducing them illusionarily. Wasn't there something about "religion as opium of the people" (Marx) or "for the people" (Lenin)?

Floating and balancing in the state of 'as if not

With the formula 'as if not' Agamben had already meant to be able to conjure away capitalism46. He was inspired by Paul, who had written that in view of the messianic time that had dawned with the Messiah Jesus, "whoever has a wife should behave as if he had none, ... whoever buys as if he were not the owner, whoever makes use of the world as if he did not use it" (1 Cor 7:29f). Paul is speaking here to people who were "called" as slaves into the messianic church (1 Cor 7:21). According to Agamben, they are also to remain slaves. He interprets their calling as follows: "Even if you can become free, use your klesis (i.e. calling, HB) as a slave all the more. "47 So it is not a matter of overcoming the status as a slave, but of making the right use of it - and that "as a slave". The relations remain untouched, questions about domination are faded out. Relations of domination are not to be overcome, but only a different use is to be made of them - in the mode of 'as-if-not'. Whoever seizes the world in this mode can "consent to any vocation, for the same reason in the act of consent revoke this vocation. "48 He remains in limbo and 'balances' between consent and revocation - can dance "as if" slavery and capitalism "did not" exist.

This suspended balancing act is bought by the emptying of the contents Paul is concerned with. These contents essentially include the critique of Roman rule and the insistence on overcoming the relations of rule characterized by superiority and subordination. Therefore, for the 'called' and baptized, "There is no longer Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female" (Gal 3:28). The Pauline critique of domination49 owes much to its rootedness in the domination-critical God traditions of Israel. They distinguish between Israel's God of liberation and idols that legitimize domination. Only against this contextual background can the Pauline formula of 'as if-not' be understood. That Roman relations of domination are to be overcome is implication and inheritance of Israel's faith in God, out of which the Messiah Jesus lived and without which the kingdom of God cannot be understood. But if they cannot be overcome as a whole at present, at least the messianic community should be a place where they have lost their validity. Therefore it is necessary to live 'as if' the Roman rule 'did not' exist, but not as slaves, but as liberated ones who count on its overcoming - and not only with the end of time50.

Bucher's fading out of the rootedness of Christianity in the Jewish tradition

Although Bucher does not mention Agamben at all, his interpretation of Paul as 'balancing and floating' in a state of 'as-if-not' is omnipresent in his ideas of a "Christianity in Capitalism." At the same time, it stands for a tendency that can also be found in Alain Badiou51 and Slavoj Žižek, to whom Bucher explicitly refers. Judaism has been overcome and become irrelevant with Paul, Jewish particularism has been replaced by Christian universalism. When Bucher refers to the kingdom of God, he speaks only of Jesus' "kingdom of God" message and interprets it as an "unexpected event of a new beginning," a revelation of a "'perspective on how we can live in the tensions and paradoxes as human beings.'"52 There is no mention of Jesus' message of the kingdom of God being rooted in trust in Israel's God of liberation. From him Israel hopes that he will enforce his kingdom of liberation against historical relations of domination. This is precisely what Jesus' practice and proclamation of the kingdom of God is intended to make a reality. Because he challenged Roman rule with this message, Jesus ended up on the Roman cross.

Isolated from the critique of historical rule rooted in the Jewish tradition, the "church is also understood as a network of events and testimonies for a non-capitalist culture of human life "53. Floating and balancing, it is possible to live comfortably and edifyingly with and in it, 'as if' the "hidden site of production" and the domination associated with it 'did not' exist. The suffering associated with this site, which escalates the more it comes up against its limit, can be 'overplayed' in a postmodern way. For the 'shaping' of the sites of a 'non-capitalistically determined culture of human life', 'loving attention, humility and trust' are then sufficient. And not to forget: "Loving attention means: to perceive reality as it is, and to meet it as it is with love. "54 There is now also the balance between 'playing along' and 'falling away' abandoned.

Agamben's "empty messianism "55 corresponds to Bucher's content-empty kingdom of God. Analogous to Agamben's "empty messianism" it becomes empty of content because the Jewish roots are ignored and its contents are absorbed in general existentialist-sounding empty phrases or even with general 'truths' reminiscent of counsellor phraseology. Jesus' talk about the kingdom of God, however, is rooted in the contents connected with the name of God, especially with the memory of suffering, which cannot be calmed by floating balances, but cries for salvation and liberation - and this implies with the hope for its eschatological end 'beyond time' criticism of domination and resistance against it in time.

Vivian Liska56 has analyzed how German-Jewish thought, which still lived on in modernity, has been distorted or erased in the postmodernity that defines the present. In the process, tensions between supposed Jewish particularism and enlightened universalism are immobilized in a principle of the impossibility of overcoming contradictions. They must, as it were, remain in abeyance and be balanced. Such ontologizing perpetuation of contradictoriness comes across as anti-essentialist in Bucher.

A "final legitimation of Christian theology"?

"Perhaps the ultimate legitimation of Christian theology and its concept of God is anyway: to expose alien gods and drive out their demons. For these gods and the demons will not disappear from world history, on the contrary. They are stronger than ever in culturally hegemonic capitalism," Bucher writes at the end of his book57. The distinction between God and idols, however, is not the "last legitimation of Christian theology," but its "first," not in the sense of an ontological first cause, but as that which must first characterize it, shape its thinking. But then it cannot exist without letting itself be shaped by the biblical, and that means above all Jewish, memory of the thought of God and the memory of suffering under domination conditions present in it. There is nothing floating to balance. The suffering that cries out for salvation gives 'to think', gives up to consider in an analyzing way what makes people suffer in history, in order to be able to overcome conditions that let suffer and not even to resign oneself shrugging with past suffering in the memory of the name of God.

But then it is one of the challenges of contemporary theology to link up with a way of thinking that seeks to understand capitalism in its context of suffering and fetishism. Those social theorists like Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno, who have been ignored in postmodernism or trimmed down to postmodernism, should be the preferred interlocutors of theology. In their thinking, the central heritage of what characterizes Jewish thinking and is thus also indispensable for Christianity is alive: the memory of suffering, the sensitivity for the victims of a history of victory, whose progress goes over dead bodies and should have been recognizable at the latest since Auschwitz as a history of catastrophe and is currently going its way in the 'apocalyptic' crises of capitalism, without this making Christians and churches take notice and irritating and interrupting their thinking and acting in any significant way.

The 'weak' postmodern balancing of tensions and the perpetuation of tensions and paradoxes are a cultural accompaniment of the capitalist crisis dynamics. Thus, there is no escape from the identitarian and uniforming compulsion of capitalist rule, which makes social relations equal to the exploitation of capital and renders everything that does not or cannot conform to it superfluous and consigns it to non-existence. Gods, demons, fetishes do not simply exist as individual phenomena, but as an expression of the fetishization of social relations as a whole, in short, as their subjection to the irrational end in itself of the multiplication of money/capital and the splitting off of the reproductive realms. But then it is about more than a "culturally hegemonic capitalism" and about something other than a victorious capitalism in which it is necessary to exist culturally and religiously. It is about a capitalism without perspective, marked by its crisis, which is about to destroy the foundations of life and is exposed to the temptation to demonstrate its greatness in the face of its emptiness in the rampage of a nuclear strike. We do not need a Christianity that makes itself comfortable balancing and floating 'in capitalism', but a Christianity and churches that delegitimize its rule 'in' capitalism and seek to overcome it.


Fed and ECB in monetary policy impasse.

A brief background on the aporias of bourgeois crisis policy in the transition of the world economy from pandemic to war crisis.

by Tomasz Konicz

[This article published on 6/11/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

From pandemic to war - the world economy is obviously not coming to rest. On its website, the Tagesschau even sees the world economy threatened by "multiple crises".1 But when it comes to the economic fallout of the rapidly advancing erosion of the capitalist world system, the question now arises whether it makes any sense at all to speak of a pandemic or war-related economic crisis, or whether it would not be more consistent to finally understand the successive economic shocks as stages of one and the same systemic crisis process.

In its latest assessment of the global economy, the World Bank has had to revise its earlier growth forecast significantly downward.2 According to this forecast, the global economy is expected to grow by only 2.9 percent this year, compared with 4.1 percent in January. This would almost halve global economic momentum, which reached a whopping 5.7 percent in 2021 due to the gigantic, debt-financed stimulus measures taken by many countries. For many developing and emerging countries, which can only achieve social stability with high growth rates, this economic slowdown is already dangerous - especially against the backdrop of skyrocketing food prices. Moreover, the World Bank warned of the growing risk of a prolonged period of stagflation due to the rapid rise in prices, similar to the crisis phase in the 1970s, when economic stagnation was accompanied by inflation sometimes in double digits (See also: "Back to Stagflation?").3

The OECD made similar corrections, according to which global economic output is expected to grow by only three percent this year.4 At the end of 2021, the forecast was still 4.5 percent. For 2023, the association of 38 industrialized countries forecasts economic growth of 2.8 percent instead of the previously assumed 3.2 percent - if there is no new crisis spurt, of course. According to the OECD, the economic slowdown in the coming year will also be accompanied by an easing of the inflation wave, which is expected to fall from 8.5 percent this year to 6.0 percent in 2023.

The massive revisions that had to be made by the OECD and the World Bank within half a year not only illustrate the futility of economic forecasts in the manifest systemic crisis that late capitalism is entering, they also reveal an increasingly clear link between inflation and economic growth. At the latest since the outbreak of the pandemic, to which policymakers responded with massive money printing, especially to finance government stimulus measures in the U.S. and the EU, the increasing inflationary dynamic has taken root. This is due not only to the war - it is not pure "Putin inflation" - and disrupted global supply chains, but also to the expansionary monetary policy of central banks.5

Flood of money and inflation

This connection between the great pandemic-induced flood of money and global inflation was most recently discussed, for example, before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, which Biden administration Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen faced in early June.6 The accusations of the Republican opposition, according to which the White House triggered inflation and the "overheating" of the economy through its .9 trillion stimulus program, are dishonest in several respects: On the one hand, Donald Trump has launched similarly costly support measures, but these primarily included tax breaks for the rich and corporations, whereas with Biden - despite all the cuts - it was still possible to push through some relief for the middle class and low-income strata. And it is precisely this circumstance that the White House has now been reproached for, for example, by identifying social subsidies for children as "inflation drivers.

A look at the past year helps to put things in perspective: The accelerating inflation, which has now reached more than eight percentage points, was accompanied by GDP growth of 5.4 percent - the highest level since the 1980s.7 This expansion, in which the Federal Reserve effectively used freshly printed money to buy up debt incurred by the U.S. government to stimulate the economy, occurred in response to the tremendous economic collapse that followed the outbreak of the pandemic, which caused U.S. GDP to contract by 3.4 percent in 2020. Conversely, one might ask what the U.S. economy would look like now if Washington had dispensed with these stimulus programs.

In fact, U.S. economic policy has averted a depression, if only at the price that wage earners in particular now have to pay at the supermarket checkout: the price of inflation. Central banks have also bought up bonds and debt instruments in past crises, for example after the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2007/08, but on the one hand the dimensions of this "quantitative easing" are many times larger this time than they were then8 and on the other hand the financialization of capital seems to have reached its limits, since the previous phases of expansive monetary policy led to an inflation of financial market prices in the inflated financial markets - and thus contributed to the rise of new speculative bubbles.

Central bank money printing thus represents - along with collapsing globalization and the full-blown climate crisis - one of the three major factors contributing to the current wave of inflation (see also "Three-Way Inflation").9 Meanwhile, the Fed has raised key interest rates to between 0.75 and one percent in an effort to control this inflation - despite a 1.5 percent contraction in U.S. GDP in the first quarter of this year.10

In the U.S., the right-wing opposition blames the Biden administration and its already stunted approaches to social policy11 for inflation; in Europe, the ECB is at the center of primarily German criticism. In the EU, the disputes over the monetary policy stance are overlaid by the divergent interests of the southern periphery and the German center.12 In Berlin, resentment of the ECB's ultra-loose monetary policy is growing, while the south of the eurozone, which has suffered from Germany's trade surpluses since the introduction of the euro, relies on zero interest rates and ECB bond purchases to finance stimulus measures and keep its high debt burden sustainable. In Italy, public debt now exceeds 130 percent of GDP. Consequently, there is a good indicator of the crisis potential in the euro zone: It is the so-called "spread", the interest rate difference between German and Italian government bonds,13 which rises in the event of any impending crisis surge in the EU, as capital flees to "safe havens" such as the FRG or the USA in such a case. This spread has just climbed to its highest level since the outbreak of the pandemic.

This is why the European central bank is much more hesitant than the Fed in raising key interest rates - a new euro crisis, in which rising interest rates could cause the mountains of debt in the south of the currency union to collapse, is to be prevented at all costs.14 Consequently, in "German Europe "15 - two decades after its founding and a decade after the first euro crisis - the monetary impasse that threatens to blow up the currency area is once again emerging: The ECB would actually have to raise interest rates quickly and significantly in order to curb inflation, which is now more than eight percent.16 But at the same time, the "currency guardians" would have to keep interest rates low in order to prevent a new debt crisis in the south. Italy, whose public debt-to-GDP ratio is 134 percent, is the third-largest economy in the eurozone.

The crisis trap of monetary policy

Again, the European Central Bank could, on the one hand, fight inflation by raising interest rates rapidly and significantly, but in doing so it would risk a debt crisis in southern Europe and, in effect, the disintegration of its currency area. On the other hand, the ECB could continue to prioritize economic policy, keeping interest rates low to prevent a new euro crisis. However, this would give inflation a further boost, so that there would be a risk of the euro area following the example of Turkey,17 where "interest rate critic" Erdogan has had key interest rates cut again and again despite the rapid rise in prices in the country - and has now driven inflation in Turkey to a stately 73 percent.

Inherent in the system, the political class can either choose the option of further indebtedness up to the point of hyperinflation or take the path of tough austerity programs that lead to recession and the onset of a deflationary spiral, as Schäuble's austerity sadism exemplified in Greece during the euro crisis. In the permanent capitalist crisis, bourgeois monetary policy would in fact have to lower and raise interest rates at the same time, which is only an expression of the aporia of capitalist crisis policy, an impasse in which the capitalist "administration" of the systemic crisis finds itself at the end of the neoliberal age.18

This crisis trap19 does not only apply to the euro area, it is effective in all capitalist center countries, which have so far been able to postpone its snapping shut by the expansion of the financial sphere, by permanently rising mountains of debt and ever new financial market bubbles.20 A look at the long-term development of key interest rates shows this self-contradiction of monetary policy, which unfolded more and more with each thrust of the historical crisis process21 . Both the ECB22 and the Fed23 have historically tended to lower their policy rates further and further since the 1980s, with the major financial crisis thrusts of the 21st century acting as the triggering moments of each low or zero interest rate phase. Key interest rates in the euro area, sometimes in negative territory, were more than three percent when the euro was introduced. After the bursting of the dot-com bubble (2000), the real estate bubble (2007) and the outbreak of the euro crisis, they have been lowered further and further. Since 2014, a de facto zero interest rate policy has prevailed in the euro zone, accompanied by ever more money printing.

Similarly, the Fed pursued a very expansive monetary policy after the outbreak of the real estate crisis in 2007 and thus contributed significantly to the formation of the gigantic liquidity bubble, which had to be laboriously stabilized with further injections of trillions of euros during the course of the pandemic.24 The distortions on the inflated financial markets, which began even before the outbreak of the war, indicate precisely that this financialization of capitalism can hardly be maintained any longer. The ever more piled-up global financial house of cards is threatening to collapse. At its core, this was a debt dynamic that lifted the debt burden of the world system, which was choking on its productivity, to 351 percent of world economic output25 .

Should the capitalist crisis management no longer succeed in initiating a new bubble formation on the world financial markets in reaction to the current "multiple crises" - as said German leading media meanwhile call the capitalist systemic crisis - then a gigantic devaluation thrust is inevitable. This would not only devalue many "financial market goods" circulating in the financial sphere in the most diverse forms - as shares or derivatives - but also the financial market junk accumulated in the balance sheets of central banks (mostly government securities and mortgage or loan securitizations).

The financial market collapse, for instance in the form of a European debt crisis, would spill over into the "real" economy, which is, after all, highly dependent on lending and the credit-financed demand generated in the financial sphere. This would result in the devaluation of production capacities in the form of company bankruptcies, of resources that are no longer saleable, and of the commodity labor, which would suddenly become superfluous. And only here is there still "room for maneuver" for bourgeois crisis policy: As described above, it can determine the form that this devaluation process will take. Either monetary policy can follow Erdogan's example and march in the direction of hyperinflation, or it can take its cue from Schäuble and follow the path of deflation through austerity.

For a progressive, emancipatory left, however, there is only one perspective left if it still wants to act in the crisis according to its concept: the perspective of categorical critique. Instead of opportunistically concentrating on immanent pseudo-alternatives or bourgeois trivialities,26 it would rather be a matter of denouncing as such the monstrous end in itself of capital. This is and remains the fundamental prerequisite for making an alternative to capitalism and thus a system transformation conceivable at all.


Class struggle or litigating contradiction?

Where can the decisive contradictions be located that drive capitalism into ever new spurts of crisis?

by Tomasz Konicz

[This 2022 article is translated from the German on the Internet, EXIT! Krise und Kritik der Warengesellschaft.]

At present, it almost seems as if a third party - in addition to trade unionists and capital functionaries - is sitting at the negotiating table in future wage negotiations. Rising inflation1 will play "a central role" in this year's collective bargaining talks, in which the salaries of around 10 million wage earners will be negotiated, according to initial outlooks on this year's wage rounds.2 In view of the accelerating rate of inflation, the unions are under pressure to negotiate substantial wage increases, otherwise there is a threat of real wage losses. The chairman of IG-Metall, Jörg Hofmann, spoke in this context of an "ordinary increase" due in the fall of 2022.3

The first warnings of a wage-price spiral that would accelerate price increases are already being voiced. Focus4 recalled, for example, the stagflation period of the 1970s, when the oil price shock caused inflation in the FRG to rise to 7.1 and 6.9 percent in 1973 and 1974, respectively, to which the unions responded with intensified class warfare, with high wage settlements of around 13 percent in 1974. In response, the Bundesbank had raised key interest rates to control accelerating inflation, which caused the Bonn Republic to slide into recession. Unions in many other Western countries acted similarly during the stagflationary period of the time: The increasing union struggles of the 1970s are precisely an expression of the increasing struggle for distribution between organized labor and capital. And they actually led to the formation of the wage-price spiral that made possible the neoliberal counteroffensive in the Anglo-Saxon countries, including the busting of the unions in the 1980s under Thatcher and Reagan.

At present, however, there can be no talk of such a wage-price spiral. This is clearly not the case in Germany either: Real wages have even stagnated over the last 12 months, as the Federal Statistical Office5 recently reported for the third quarter of 2021, so that this factor has not played a role in inflation6 to date. Even in the U.S., where there have indeed been wage increases in recent months, as the massive stimulus pacts financed by money printing caused the active wage workforce to fall by around four million during the pandemic, these price increases of the commodity labor power remained within "normal bounds," as even the IMF put it. The pressure to raise wages also remained "subdued" in most other industrialized countries, stated the Financial Times.7

The usual warnings of business-oriented or right-wing media against too large wage increases thus seem unfounded - or at least premature. En passant, however, it also becomes clear here that the class struggle, the class conflict between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, which the traditional left sees as central to understanding capitalism, is not the cause of the current crisis phenomena. The struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie cannot be essential to capitalism and its current crises, if only because more and more masses of people are superfluous to capitalism and no longer constitute a "working class." Here, traditional leftists commit a serious analytical error if they want to grasp the present too much in the horizon of the old workers' movement. It is precisely not the "class struggle" that fuels inflation, which is obviously fueled by other factors, by other contradictions of the capitalist reproduction process. Rather, just the opposite could be the case, as Tagesschau noted in its warning of a wage-price spiral,8 since the current inflation could lead to future wage rounds being more "contested."

The situation was similar during the stagflation period of the 1970s, which was accompanied by high inflation, frequent recessions, and rising unemployment and ended the period of postwar Fordist prosperity in the West. The phase of relative wage partnership between capital and labor in the "economic miracle" of the 1950s and 1960s, when the opening up of new markets provided scope for wage increases, gave way to the tougher distribution struggle, additionally fueled by inflation, of the tendency toward shrinking profits in the crisis period of the 1970s. The falling profit rate at the end of the Fordist boom led into the stagflation period with its class struggles gaining in intensity9 - and not vice versa, as neoliberal ideology likes to postulate. Thus, the idea suggests itself that the class struggle is a dependent variable in its intensity - and dependent on another fundamental self-contradiction of capital.

Crisis as a historical process

Karl Marx clearly identified this self-contradiction of capital, which makes the world system unstable and self-destructive, in his theoretical works, but he never elucidated the concrete relationship between the external, especially in the 19th century everywhere apparent class struggle, and the internal, crisis-driving contradiction of capital. What, then, drives capital into ever new crises? In the Machine Fragment10 of the "Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie "11 capital was described as the "processive contradiction" that tends to get rid of its substance, the value-creating labor in commodity production:

"Capital is itself the processing contradiction [by] striving to reduce labor time to a minimum, while on the other hand it sets labor time as the only measure and source of wealth. It therefore reduces labor-time in the form of the necessary in order to increase it in the form of the superfluous; it therefore sets the superfluous in increasing measure as the condition - question de vie et de mort - for the necessary."

Labor, valorized in commodity production, constitutes the substance of capital - but at the same time, capital strives to minimize labor through rationalization and automation in commodity production. This process is market-mediated: blind, uncontrolled by society as a whole, driven by the dynamics of generating the highest possible profit (see "Back to Stagflation")12. The actions of the market subjects aiming at profit maximization, the capitalists oriented to business logic, produce a blindly processing dynamic of exploitation on the level of society as a whole, which confronts them as an anonymous factual constraint mediated by markets.

The decisive factor in the unfolding of the inner contradiction of capital is thus its capacity for innovation, ergo the instrumentalization of technical-scientific knowledge in commodity production for the purpose of profit maximization. Through productivity increases and the accompanying cost reductions, individual capitalists can achieve competitive advantages (extra profits) in a branch of industry and drive competitors out of the market until these new production techniques are generally adopted and generalized. After this, the game starts all over again - again innovations take place in individual companies, which are later imitated and lead to general productivity increases. This results in steadily increasing productivity, and a decrease in the necessary labor force in a given industry. The longer such an industry (for example, textile industry or heavy industry) exists, the more its reproductive structure changes from labor-intensive to capital-intensive production.

Capital thus tends to get rid of its own substance through anonymous market competition. The ingenious moment of Marx's conceptualization of the processive contradiction, however, consists in the fact that here both this tendency to desubstantialization and the mode in which this can be bridged in space and time are named: "processing," or simply expansion.

Capital must expand, or it collapses on itself. Its inner contradiction can only be maintained in "processing," in a permanent movement of expansion that proceeds in three dimensions. On the one hand, historically seen, the "peripheral" or "external expansion" of the capitalist world system has to be mentioned, which - starting from Europe - consisted since the early modern times in the bloody, mass-murderous incorporation of peripheral regions into the world market for the purpose of exporting capital and importing raw materials by imperial powers. In addition, there are still possibilities of "internal expansion," in which new social fields of capital exploitation are opened up - this historical process, in which all social fields are subjected to the logic of exploitation, was only largely completed after the end of World War II.

Crucial in the perpetuation of the processual contradiction of capital, however, is qualitative or "technological expansion," since technical progress-which leads to rationalization in existing industries-also contributes to the emergence of new industries, which in turn exploit labor and open up fields for capital exploitation. Over a period of time, certain industrial sectors possess the role of a leading sector before being replaced by other, new industries: For example, since the beginning of industrialization in the 18th century, the capitalist world system has been undergoing an industrial structural transformation in which the textile industry, heavy industry, the chemical industry, the electrical industry, vehicle manufacturing, etc. served as lead sectors that exploited masses of labor.

But this is exactly what is no longer working, after the labor has evaporated within the commodity production due to the rationalization thrusts of the microelectronic revolution, and the total mass of labor rationalized away far exceeds the new creation of profitable labor. Since the beginning of industrialization, we have had to deal with meta-cycles that were driven by the aforementioned "processual contradiction": As soon as mass employment in an older sector diminished due to advancing technological development, the same scientific and technological progress gave rise to new industries that absorbed the "surplus" labor. Thus, in the 19th century, people fleeing the countryside were absorbed by the industries of the cities, something that cannot by any stretch of the imagination be said today in the metropolises of the Third World with their huge slums (this has been frighteningly expounded by Mike Davis in his book Planet of the Slums). The period of stagflation (See "Back to Stagflation)13, which was followed by the neoliberal age with its intensified "class struggle from above" and the financialization of capitalism, was precisely an expression of this historical crisis process, which makes the late capitalist world system accumulate ever higher mountains of debt. The capitalist systemic crisis must thus be defined as a period of history - neoliberal, characterized by globalization and financialization - in which the debt of the world system increases faster than its economic output, the system exists de facto on credit - and which is characterized by phases of manifest crisis outbreaks in which speculation and debt bubbles burst, increasing in size, and have to be contained by crisis policy at ever higher cost. Capital presents its own inner barrier, which is becoming ever more pronounced and tends to drive the system toward social and ecological collapse.

This crisis period is only fully understandable under reflection of the explained Marxian concept of the "processive contradiction": Severe system crises namely occur when this multidimensional expansion movement is no longer possible without further ado, when the mass of exploited labor in the old branches of industry decreases without new branches of industry being able to absorb the superfluous wage laborers. As soon as no new fields of expansion are available to capital valorization, it shifts to the sphere of finance, leading to bubble formation and debt processes. This was the case, for example, in the "Roaring Twenties" of the 20th century, which preceded the crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In this context, the crisis theorist Robert Kurz described the capitalist development from 1929 to 1945 as an enforcement crisis that paved the way for Fordism, including mass motorization. The "new" Fordist accumulation regime (mass motorization), which provided capitalism with its "Golden Age" (Hobsbawn) in the 1950s and 1960s, experienced its breakthrough precisely in the total mobilization during World War II. Capitalist "postwar prosperity" was based on the piles of corpses of World War II, after the end of which there was de facto no demobilization: the mass war production of tanks, airplanes, etc. passed over into the mass production of cars.

Class struggle from above as a crisis reaction

As the long postwar Fordist boom came to an end, so did the era of social partnership between capital and labor. The intensified class struggle from above, which - after the bloody prelude in Chile in 1973 - began at the latest with the neoliberal turn in the U.S. and Great Britain, was precisely a consequence of the crisis, specifically of the fall in the rate of profit in most core capitalist countries that began with stagflation. This was the starting point for the neoliberal "reforms" of "Reaganomics" by U.S. President Ronald Reagan (1981-1988) and "Thatcherism" by the British head of government Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990). Profit rates in the U.S. actually recovered noticeably, although this was at the expense of the American working class. Thus, since the Reagan era, the real, inflation-adjusted wages of the U.S. population have stagnated. Today, U.S. wage earners earn less, in effect, than they did in 1973.

To put it in Marxian terms: Through the intensified class struggle from above, the lowering of the cost of the "commodity labor power," the share of necessary labor time in variable capital could be shortened, that of surplus labor increased. The falling rate of profit was rehabilitated by raising the rate of surplus value. The breaking of trade union countervailing power in both countries formed the precondition of the partial reorganization of profit rates in commodity production, whereby a crisis of demand (stagnating mass demand with increasing productivity of labor) was postponed by the financialization of capitalism and ultimately debt-making.

The intensified class struggle together with neoliberalism since the 1980s thus formed a reaction to the intensification of the internal, litigious contradiction of capital. It is precisely these consequences of the crisis that confront all actors within the economy and politics as increasing, objectified contradictions or "factual constraints". The subjects react to them system-immanently with an intensification of competition: politicians and states, which enforce social cuts in the context of the competition for locations, corporations, which find ever more brutal forms of exploitation - but also wage-earners, who increasingly resort to mobbing. A murderous competition is thus taking place at all levels. The consequences range from burnout to running amok.

The market-mediated silent compulsion of the ever "tougher" conditions compels the character masks of their respective social function to execute it under penalty of their own downfall. The capitalist who is not able to increase the exploitation of his human material in the increasing competition on the "tighter" markets will perish in the crisis competition. The same is true for the capitalist economies as national "locations", which are also in a crisis-induced race to the bottom.

Against the background of what has been said so far, a clear assessment of the class struggle now also seems possible. This is thus a distributional struggle within the reproduction process of capital, the intensity of which is determined by its concrete, historical unfolding of contradictions. In periods of strong economic expansion, as in the postwar boom up to the 1970s, forms of "social partnership" can emerge between the functional elites of capital and the trade unions as representatives of the wage-earners (of "variable capital," as Marx puts it). As long as markets expand strongly, high profits can be agreed upon with wages that turn wage-dependents into consumers, always under the condition of a positive recognition of the so-called laws of the economy. This changes relatively quickly in periods of crisis, when for every capitalist it is primarily a matter of perpetuating the irrational end in itself of capital accumulation, if necessary also at the expense of their own wage-dependents - and then "releasing" them en masse, since they are no longer economically exploitable. Then the class struggle as a struggle for recognition as working human material becomes the people's undoing. Ultimately, class struggle means submission to the imperatives of capital, which are in no way questioned. That the workers also like to proudly identify themselves with "their industry" and with "their business location" is not surprising.

But this also means that the class struggle as a distribution struggle has no inherent objective transformational potential. It is a struggle for shares in a real production of value that is melting away as a result of the crisis - but without questioning this irrational form of social reproduction. The class struggle (ultimately also the historical class struggle of past times) thus moves within the forms of capitalist socialization (value, labor, capital, state) and seeks emancipation and recognition in these categories rather than against them.

The intensifying class struggle is thus a distributive struggle on a descending spiral. The militancy with which this crisis-escalating "class war" is propagated conceals its lack of radicality, since the causes of the crisis and the fetishistic form of social reproduction under capitalism are not reflected here. To put it vividly: The foundation on which the class actors act, the expenditure of labor in commodity production, is increasingly disintegrating (The current pandemic-induced labor shortage does not change this much, which is moreover caused by the gigantic economic stimulus measures and the Fed's money printing program).

Only the reflection on the aforementioned "litigating contradiction", on the tightening inner barrier of capital, could lead to posing the "social question" beyond the class struggle. It is necessary to fight for the "good life" against the crazy capitalist exploitation movement, which has always been the basis and the framework of the class struggle. The class struggle never came up with the idea of finding a meaningful use of resources. Especially in wage struggles it becomes clear that it is only about paying labor better and distributing the capitalist produced dirt better. The beneficiaries of such struggles can only be those who are still "lucky" enough to be exploited by capital in the centers of the world system. Those who are superfluous for capital, such as refugees, slum dwellers, etc., are not included in the class struggle at all. The formation of a necessary transformational consciousness and a corresponding emancipatory movement, however, must not be limited to the "social question" alone, but must focus on all contradictions and lines of struggle that are increasing due to the crisis (especially since they overlap anyway), such as the struggle against fascism, religious fanaticism, racism, sexism, the climate crisis, the increasing danger of war or authoritarian and anti-democratic tendencies in the state apparatus - these struggles would have to be understood and propagated as moments of a transformation struggle that is necessary for survival: a struggle for the shaping of a post-capitalist society that would prevent the impending socio-ecological collapse.


Tragedy and Hope

Synchronicities in world political events over the past several decades suggest they were orchestrated by a high finance clique.

by Tom-Oliver Regenauer

[This article published on 7/8/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

"Coincidence" may be just another word for plans we don't see through. Unfortunately, political events since the 19th century seem to fit together too well to believe in coincidence. The higher up you look at the global power structures, the more you get the impression that you are dealing with a well-oiled machine. Over the decades, the oligarchs have become increasingly adept at camouflaging themselves. Whenever they appear in public, they are presented to the population by an army of PR professionals as benevolent philanthropists. But for the most part, these power structures appear in the form of supranational organizations that give no less of an impression of acting in the interests of the people. However, internal documents or comprehensive and water-tight witness reports from the "inner circle" have repeatedly found their way into the public domain. The belief in coincidence is increasingly turning out to be just that: a belief.

"The powers of finance capital had a (...) far-reaching goal, none less than the establishment in private hands of a system of worldwide financial control capable of dominating the political system of any country and the world economy" (Carroll Quigley).

Incompetence, incompetence, lack of expertise, solidarity, social pressure, ideology, factionalism, stupidity, ignorance, greed, obsession with power - or simply coincidence: with these and various other classifications, quite a few people, even those who are critical of the official course or narrative of the day, try to explain the abstruse events of the past two and a half years as well as the actions of key figures in the public eye.

Even skeptical and well-informed contemporaries, however, often vehemently refuse to acknowledge that, for example, the international concerted action in the wake of the Corona crisis was no accident. That there may have been a plan. That crises are deliberately induced or amplified by interest groups in order to use the disruptive momentum for change processes that would otherwise be difficult to justify. And even more devastating: that elections, forecasts, polls and projections are rigged. The entire system a mere facade? That cannot and must not be. Although even a 2014 study by the elite Princeton University came to the sobering conclusion for every Democrat that there is no correlation between what the U.S. voter wants and what the government actually does.

That the state is not primarily concerned about the people and that criminal collusion, association and conspiracy are the rule rather than the exception is blatantly demonstrated time and again by the U.S. government in particular. Whether Watergate, Iran-Contra or the assassination of John F. Kennedy, whether sterilization of 70,000 Native Americans, state-organized terrorism in South America, illegal experiments on human beings in the course of the MKUltra program, abuse of homeless people for medical tests or even the clandestine, nuclear contamination of three small U.S. towns during Operation Green Run - the multitude of criminal encroachments of the U.S. government against its own population is almost unbelievable. Anyone who wants to see for themselves the unscrupulousness that the state has done and continues to do to its citizens in the land of unlimited opportunity will find a great deal of material in the CIA's virtual reading room.

That's because the Freedom of Information Act means that a large number of formerly classified documents are now accessible to everyone. They show: In Washington and especially Langley (headquarters of the CIA), they were really not too shy for anything.

Why should this be any different today, when the digital-financial and military-industrial complex has much more efficient methods and tools at its disposal than ever before?

Thus, politics in late modernity occupies the position that the church held in the Middle Ages. The speeches and appeals of the supposed representatives of the people are the sermons - and the elections, which have to be repeated at regular intervals, are the creeds of the adepts, disciples and frightened as well as obedient congregations. What is the contemporary counterpart to the ecclesiastical sale of indulgences is left to the reader's imagination. After all, there is no lack of choice.

Many may simply lack the time, leisure and energy in the dystopian present to deal in detail with all the wild and disturbing events of our time, their political, financial and economic backgrounds, and their historical, social or cultural context. This is understandable - and also no coincidence. Others lie to themselves because self-knowledge and the collapse of their worldview can be extremely painful. In a tragic way, they probably hope to never have to see themselves again. Some just don't want to see it and prefer to take the path of least resistance anyway. They stay out of everything. And another group probably consists of middlemen, hangers-on and accomplices.

The facts are obvious and are usually freely available. Optimism, on the other hand, is often based on a lack of information or on ignorance and self-denial. Whether it is COVID-19, the Ukrainian war, food shortages, monkey pox, an economic and energy crisis or the postulated climate catastrophe - for all these transformation processes, crisis scenarios or catalyzing events, there are documents from official bodies and responsible actors that suggest that the current state of affairs was deliberately brought about - or that circumstances that led to it were at least accepted with approval. Even if they are exclusively to the disadvantage of the country's own population.

The best-known example of this these days is probably two publications by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos: "The Great Reset" and "The Great Narrative. Although the first book clearly states that the supposed pandemic is seen by the economic elites as an opportunity for the neo-feudal restructuring of the world economy as well as of social coexistence, and appeared suspiciously early after the beginning of the Corona crisis, the mainstream media still likes to deny that the "Great Reset" is a criminal conspiracy organized similar to the Mafia.

In the minds of many people, there still exists the mirage of smoky salons and mystical places where a handful of aged gentlemen secretly meet to make conspiratorial plans to achieve world domination. They don't want to see that cronyism and corruption are taking place in public today - disguised as cooperation. Yet that is precisely what is now happening. The criminal conspirators of our time sit in parliaments, talk shows, boards of directors and editorial offices. The neo-feudalists of the "Fourth Industrial Revolution" are bent on creating social consensus rather than confronting adversaries. After all, resistance makes change more expensive.

It is correct that this was quite different in the past. That is why the strategy has been adapted. Before elite undertakings such as the Bilderberg Conferences, the Trilateral Commission, Chatham House alias the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and its German counterpart, the Atlantic Bridge, the U.S.-China Business Council or the Bohemian Club were given a marketable facade to take the wind out of the sails of opponents through manipulative public relations, these secretive circles of the ruling caste preferred to operate in secrecy - and with violence if the wind blew against them.

This changed with the spread and consolidation of mass media and, above all, the Internet. What could no longer be kept secret was successively softened and made public. In the case of particularly conspicuously inhumane undertakings, the first thing to be done was to change the name. For example, Foreign Affairs, the magazine of the Council on Foreign Relations, was called Journal of Race Development until 1922; the Journal for Biosocial Science of Cambridge University was called The Eugenics Review until 1969, and so on.

Moreover, publicly accepted organizations for the implementation of strategic goals of high finance had long been established. The more pronounced corporatism became, the less the oligarchs themselves had to appear. They now rule indirectly, through the United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the European Union, or the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

That the creation of many of these organizations is due to the instigation of a manageable number of super-rich oligarchs, financiers and families is neither a secret nor fiction. For the arrogance of this self-appointed ruling caste goes so far that they themselves write extensively about their megalomaniacal fantasies of omnipotence.

Take David Rockefeller, for example, who was the first representative of the Rockefeller clan to publish a biography, although the family's roots can be traced back to the early 17th century and to Neuwied near Koblenz. The title of the nearly 700-page book, published in 2003, is "Memoirs of a World Banker." With unabashed immodesty, the financial mogul, who died in 2017, explains in his memoirs how he felt about globalization - in Rockefeller's case, that is indeed a euphemism for world domination - and how proud he was of the massive influence he exerted on geopolitical conditions by means of organizations he financed, directed or founded, such as the CFR or the Trilateral Commission.

"We are at the beginning of a global upheaval. All that is missing is a major global crisis before nations accept the New World Order" (David Rockefeller, Bilderberg Conference 2005).

More information around the globalist goings-on of the Rockefellers and their astonishing influence on financial and geopolitical affairs of the last century can be found in the official family archive, the Rockefeller Archive Center. Particularly interesting are the collections on the organizations financed by the family, for example the Population Council, the Social Science Council or the aforementioned Trilateral Commission, which was founded by "private individuals" according to its own website, but does not mention the name of the initiator. The influence that a clan like the Rockefellers, which plans across generations, can exert on world politics by means of foundations, think tanks, and NGO vehicles should be readily apparent after viewing the family's own documentation and can hardly be dismissed out of hand.

The Rockefellers also exemplify how the public appearance of the super-rich neo-feudalists has changed over time. The family was widely hated for its nefarious business practices. Not for nothing did patriarch John D. Rockefeller and his son take pains to change their image with the advent of television as a medium. Away from the ruthless, unscrupulous, reclusive big capitalist at the beginning of the 20th century, to the generous, friendly and publicly perceptible philanthropist of the dawning media age. The Smithsonian Channel aptly describes it in a video report on the striking image change of the Rockefeller clan, saying:

"Thanks to the proliferation of the film medium, audiences can now see the lives and lifestyles of the rich and famous. The kings of thieves become celebrities."

Now, the Rockefellers are just one powerful industrialist clan among many that undoubtedly continues to influence the course of the world to this day. The Carnegies, among others, have had comparable successes. Andrew Carnegie published a book as early as 1886 in which he called for the globalization of America, since only this course could lead to worldwide dominance of the establishment he represented - disguised as democracy.

The Rothschilds, whose name is widely known because of fine wines, were incomparably more influential. Even the Wikipedia page on the subject, which is rather scarce in view of the family's actual influence, gives an idea of the possibilities of political influence that were open to this family in the course of its more than 200-year history. Who would like to learn more about it, finds remarkable information in the official and very extensive family archive of the Rothschilds. Since 1789, the unimaginably rich clan has influenced the course of the world to an unprecedented extent - and to this day, mostly in secret. The Rothschild name never appears on the well-known rankings of the super-rich. Due to its historical influence and its perfidiously organized corporate, foundation and shareholding structures, the family has no need to do so. They only appear in public with superficial charitable activities and a few small private banks.

This influence has long made the House of Rothschild a target for critics. And rightly so. Because in this case, too, it is - quite banally - a matter of organized crime. It does not matter at all that the family has Jewish roots, even though this is of course the usual defense strategy of the clan and its supporters - to hurl the anti-Semitism club at every critic of the Rothschilds. Therefore, it must be briefly noted at this point that I would denounce and condemn the family's practices just as much if they had a Buddhist, Muslim or Christian background. For this is not about religion, but about fraud, theft, white-collar crime, corruption, anti-democratic machinations, obstruction of justice and warmongering at the expense of all human civilization.

Also the documented background of the technocracy movement, which has existed for almost a century, the dark history of eugenics as well as the development of China or Russia in the 20th century give every reason to believe that the recent world history is not based on clumsy coincidences, but that the events took their course organically. A contrary assertion contradicts already after examination of the information indicated so far every logic.

Those who, after reviewing the aforementioned documents, evidence and circumstantial evidence, would still like to partout the point of view that there are no superior, long-term and international strategies or plans that have led to the current status quo of the planet and the "rule-based world order" proclaimed by the oligarchy, strategies that are completely independent of political spectrums, processes and events, will find additional evidence for this working hypothesis in the will of Cecil Rhodes, which is freely available as a book in PDF format.

Rhodes was one of the most influential people of his time and in his last will he described unmistakably how he intended to give posthumous emphasis to his visions of a reordering of the world - namely by founding secret societies that were to infiltrate politics, the economy and the financial world and, according to the ideas of Rhodes and consorts, influence them in the long term.

After his death, Lord Alfred Milner, who governed the British colonies before Winston Churchill, continued his plans and founded, for example, Milner's Kindergarten, which later gave rise to the legendary Round Table movement, which one must assume persists today in organizations such as Chatham House, the CFR, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the Trilateral Commission. After all, the money trail is rarely deceptive in criminology.

"Why shouldn't we create a secret society with only one goal, the promotion of the British Empire and the subjugation of the whole world under British rule, for the restoration of the United States, to make the Anglo-Saxon race one empire? What a dream! But yet it is probable, it is possible" (Cecil Rhodes).

What a brainchild Cecil Rhodes was is made clear by another quote from the one-time financial mogul and namesake for Rhodesia (now the Republic of Zimbabwe):

"The native must be treated as a child and denied the right to vote. We must adopt in our relations with the barbarism of South Africa a system of despotism like that which operates in India."

Some may now object that these are the power-obsessed, maverick and fascistoid visions of individuals, aged ideas that have nothing to do with the present. That exactly this is not the case is shown by renowned academics and generally recognized authors such as Professor Antony C. Sutton (1925 to 2022) or Professor Carroll Quigley (1910 to 1977). Anthony Sutton authored books such as "Wall Street and the Rise of Hitler," "Roosevelt and International High Finance," "Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution," and "Trilaterals on Washington," the latter with Patrick M. Wood, who now runs the news site

In his works, Sutton uses in-depth research to reveal the covert forces that worked and continue to work behind well-known historical events. And when reading his writings, it quickly becomes clear that it is always the same influential circles that influence the course of the world to their advantage.

Whether Russia, China or Hitler's Nazi regime - Anglo-American high finance had its fingers in the pie everywhere and made history as we know it today possible in the first place. Anyone who takes the trouble to analyze the relevant historical evidence of the past 100 or 200 years can hardly come to any other conclusion.

"The argument that the two parties should represent opposing ideals and policies, one perhaps on the right and the other on the left, is a silly idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be nearly identical so that the American people can throw out the scoundrels at every election without profound or wholesale changes of course" (Carroll Quigley).

Sutton's comments are supported by the work of Carroll Quigley, who taught as a professor at Georgetown and at the elite universities of Harvard and Princeton, and whose contacts with the U.S. establishment gave him access to the secret archives and documents of the Council on Foreign Relations or the Royal Institute of Foreign Affairs. His most famous student is probably Bill Clinton, who publicly thanked his former professor during a speech in 1992.

Quigley worked for nearly twenty years on what is probably his best-known book, Tragedy and Hope, a tome that runs up to 1,300 pages, depending on the edition, and was published in 1966. Until now, this life's work was available in German only in a greatly abridged version. Now, for the first time, Kopp-Verlag is offering a complete and affordable translation of the book.

"Tragedy and Hope - A History of the World in Our Time" is so significant because Quigley was closer to the powerful circles he writes about than any author before him. That is the reason he was able to access the sensitive information in the first place. Another may be that he was initially quite sympathetic to the agenda of Anglo-American high finance. His influential friends probably did not expect Quigley to drag their secret plans and anti-democratic machinations into the light of day.

Yet that is exactly what he did. Even though the "explosive" parts of the book make up only about five to ten percent of the more than 1,000 pages, these sections are more than exposing. And in the course of his two decades of work on Tragedy and Hope, Quigley must have realized that the activities of this power-drunk clique of super-rich globalists are not worthy of support, but should be condemned. The following excerpts from his book underscore this assumption:

"For the first time in its history, Western civilization is in danger of being internally destroyed by a corrupt, criminal ruling cabal that revolves around Rockefeller interests that include elements of Morgan, Brown, Rothschild, Du Pont, Harriman, and Kuhn, Kuhn-Loeb, and other factions as well. This junta took control of American political, financial, and cultural life in the first two decades of the twentieth century."

"This system was to be controlled in a feudalistic manner by the central banks of the world, acting in concert, through secret agreements reached in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks, themselves private companies. Each central bank (...) sought to dominate its government through its ability to control government bonds, manipulate foreign exchange, influence the level of economic activity in the country, and influence cooperative politicians through resulting economic rewards in the business world."

The personal and professional consequences Quigley faced after the publication of Tragedy and Hope are reminiscent of today's Cancel Culture. For despite his undisputed reputation as an excellent academic, historian, and author, he was attacked, shunned, and defamed by the groups he had exposed with his work. Funding for his research was cut off.

In the public eye, he was accused above all of not having cited sources in Tragedy and Hope. However, considering that his research was primarily based on confidential documents that were not made available to anyone before or after him and were considered secret or non-existent, the omission of footnotes naturally makes sense.

However, Quigley drew lessons from these incidents. He held back his next book, The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden, even though it had been completed since the late 1960s, and decreed that it could not be published until after his demise. This is what happened in 1981, four years after Carroll Quigley's death. What he still left out in "Tragedy and Hope" for understandable reasons, source references, footnotes and quotations, he supplied posthumously with this work - and thus cleared any doubts about the seriousness of his previously stated theses.

"Professor Carroll Quigley presents crucial keys without which the political, economic, and military events of the 20th century can never be fully understood" (Google Books).

"The reader will see that this is true of past, present, and future events. Everyone is familiar with the Rhodes Scholarships established under the terms of Cecil Rhodes' seventh will. What is less well known is that Rhodes, by means of five earlier wills, left his fortune to establish a secret society dedicated to the preservation and expansion of the British Empire. And what is apparently not known to anyone is that this secret society (...) exists to this day (...). This group, as I will show, is one of the most important historical facts of the twentieth century" (Carroll Quigley).

Now, the more than 1,000 pages of "Tragedy and Hope" are not light fare and few readers can be expected to read it in its entirety, as Quigley himself admitted at the time. Unfortunately. For if more people were aware of these historical facts, the present would appear to them in a completely different light.

For this reason, it is gratifying that the American author Joe Plummer has taken the trouble to compress Quigley's life's work to a generally tolerable level. In 2014, Plummer published his book, Tragedy & Hope - The Illusion of Justice, Freedom and Democracy, which is only 224 pages long and summarizes the most important passages from the original work and condenses them to a size that is tolerable for the general public.

Plummer's summary also includes valuable tips on further reading and brief explanations of Quigley's remarks that help the historically unversed reader better understand the context of the original work. On his website, Plummer makes the entire book available for free, along with additional notes, information, and text that comprise another nearly 600 pages. An insightful 2016 interview with Joe Plummer by historian Richard Grove can be found on YouTube.

It should be indisputable that the attitude of the state toward its people, as well as the history of the past 100 years, appear in a different light than the history books teach, in light of the historically verifiable information from reliable sources cited above. For history is always written by the winners.

Even the most die-hard skeptic should at least have quiet doubts about the official account of one or another economic, geopolitical, social or technological development. And also about the benevolence of the state toward the people living on its territory. This is especially true in view of the fact that the world of 2022 bears striking similarities to the future that technocratic neo-feudalists like Rhodes, Carnegie, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (since 1917 House of Windsor), the Rockefellers or the Rothschilds envisioned more than a century ago as the ideal for their ruling caste.

"On this originally financial basis (...) a power structure emerged between London and New York in the 20th century that penetrated deeply into university life, the press, and the practice of foreign policy" (Carroll Quigley).

Of course, despite this almost overwhelming abundance of incriminating evidence, everyone is still free to assume that all the synchronicities of recent history are pure coincidence. With logical thinking, combination ability and reflection such an attitude of mind has then however only little to do. Faith is in this case probably the more accurate description.

Tom-Oliver Regenauer was born in 1978. After completing a business education, he worked in various industries and roles, including as an operations manager, corporate and management consultant, and international project manager with assignments in more than 20 countries. Since the mid-1990s, he has also been active as a music producer and lyricist and runs an independent record label. The German-born author has lived in Switzerland since 2009 and published his first book in early 2021. He regularly publishes texts on current topics on his homepage. For more information, visit

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