Monthly Archives: February 2017

The refugee crisis as victory of neoliberalism

When the Spanish Jews had to flee Spain in 1492, Sultan Bayezid II issued a formal invitation to Jews expelled from Spain. This was only partially a humanitarian gesture as it had economic reasons, too. The Muslim Ottomans were mostly disinterested in business enterprises and were more than happy to leave these to members of the religious minorities.

Ye call Ferdinand a wise king he who makes his land poor and ours rich!“ the Sultan is said to have said.[1]

The Migration in 2015/16 to Germany has deep economic aspects. The export-oriented, German economy is in dire need of man power. The German magazine Der Spiegel quoted a study of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, claiming that Germany needs more than 500’000 immigrants per year to compensate for the shortage. The same study demanded that measures be taken "so that Germany as a country of immigration will also become more attractive to third country nationals". [2]

This stands in sharp contrast to the US Treasury’s criticism in October 2013, which criticized Germany’s export-intensive economy:

Germany’s anemic pace of domestic demand growth and dependence on exports have hampered rebalancing at a time when many other euro-area countries have been under severe pressure to curb demand and compress imports in order to promote adjustment. The net result has been a deflationary bias for the euro area, as well as for the world economy.“[3]

Others share this criticism, but go even further. Economist Prof. Heiner Flassbeck in an interview:

We generally have far too low wages in Germany. A minimum wage would have a positive effect on the entire tariff range. This would enable wages to approach the level at which they would have to be in order not to jeopardize the European monetary union.[4]

[emphasis added]

The hard core neo-liberal inclination was already displayed during the rescue of the banks and during the Greek crisis. Germany not only works against the Greek population by saving the banks from losses, it works against its own people, too, by not raising salaries. In addition, it threatens the cohesion of the European union and works tirelessly to increase exports for maximisation of profit for the top %1.

In short, a thoroughly neo-liberal policy.

The slogan wir-schaffen-das“ («we’ll make it») is therefore just means to an end. Flattering the liberal-left by suggesting effort to actively provide humanitarian aid, the left was silenced. Who can critique a «we’ll make it» that is the only reasonable statement when human lives are stake.

The actions of the German government were, however, very far from we’ll make it. Instead of calling out a state of emergency, the burden to deal with the refugee crisis was left to the countries. In Berlin, refugees had to wait for weeks until they were registered. The necessary emergency aid was largely provided by volunteers and countrywide coordination was lacking.

Threats such as closing swimming pools[5] or remarks that refugees astonishingly have the money to drive hundreds of kilometers through Germany by taxi[6], do not correspond at all to the above maxim but foster xenophobic tendencies.

The shift to the right in Germany – with massive gains of the far right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) – is no threat to the neo-liberal agenda. The AfD represents through and through neo-liberal positions.[7] Calls for the abolishment of the euro are secondary as certain demands will never be implemented and serve only as propaganda. But other positions have majority appeal and thus the AfD could become the ‘kingmaker’ of further social dismantling. And if the Alternative should no longer be perceived as an alternative in the future, the confused and disoriented voters will most likely return repentantly to classic neo-neoliberal parties (CDU and FDP).

The elections are in 2017 and the refugee crisis had its maximum in 2015 so the CDU had enough time to change from «we’ll make it» to «the borders are tight». The EU-Turkey deal de facto abolished asylum law and "Queen Angela" has done what the conservative voters expected from her: close the borders. Therefore the right is pleased.

The refugee crisis as a whole becomes a triumph of neo-liberalism: A Syrian war – not unrelated to global neo-liberal word order[8] – creates refugees that become welcomed economic fodder for the German export-industry, an industry that threatens other economies with its surplus. The high immigration numbers lead to a swing to the right, which hits the Social Democrats (SPD) more than the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and brings a party into being that is completely neo-liberal at its core. With the new workforce Germany becomes even stronger economically forcing other counties to adapt neo-liberal policies to remain competitive. With the influx of ‘fresh slaves’ the aggressive German economy can set the race to the bottom in Europe to a new level.[9]

The result is presentable Islamophobia and xenophobia and a laughing, neo-liberal economy which has not only received the desired man power but also a society that argues about immigration and Islam instead looking at of the root problem of our time – the neo-liberal agenda.

***

3Report to Congress on International Economic and Exchange Rate Policies, October 30, 2013, p. 4, https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/international/exchange-rate-policies/Documents/2013-10-30_FULL%20FX%20REPORT_FINAL.pdf

8 US foreign policy is based on neo-liberal capitalism. The situation in Syria is at least partially the result of US interventions that are based on furthering economic interests.

9 The expression fresh slaves is in no way intended as derogatory towards refugees but expresses that fact that refugees are easily exploitable. A refugee will take any job that prevents him from perishing.

Leave a comment

Filed under politics

The daily Trump resistance

Do not try to cure one evil with an even worse:

And it is important to resist them. And there are lots of really great ways to resist them, such as getting courts to restrain them, citizen activism and, most important of all, having the Democratic Party engage in self-critique to ask itself how it can be a more effective political force in the United States after it has collapsed on all levels. That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that. Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving. But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.

Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now

cf: http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/17/rogue-elephant-rising-the-cia-as-kingslayer/

Leave a comment

Filed under politics, Uncategorized

SNB, bailout Greece – buy the Greek government debts!

Switzerland suffers for many years from the strength of its currency. After three years of intervention, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) removed the cap on its currency which it had imposed. Until then, it had bought €174 billion.

Greece suffers a debt crisis for more than six years with no end in sight. The debts stand now at approx. € 320 billion and growing.

Free to birds with one cage opening:

SNB, bailout Greece – buy the Greek government debts!

The SNB shall grant an interest-free loan to Greece to facilitate an advance repayment. As the lenders to Greece – the European Union, the banks and the IMF – know well that Greece will never be able to pay back these debts, an advance repayement allows the Greek government to actively negotiate a haircut on the lenders.

The interest-free loan will free Greece from its creditors, end foreign intervention in Greece’s domestic policy and restore Greek autonomy. Greece can then give up the harsh austerity measures and reduce the huge tax rate that suffocates its economy.

For the SNB the issuing of the interest-free loan is just part of its monetary policy to weaken the Swiss Frank. The acquisition of approx. €300 billion will counteract deflation, weaken the Swiss Franc and therefore improve exports, save jobs and enkindle tourism.

The main advantage for Switzerland lies in the investment in people: Helping a country to regain independence will foster friendship for centuries to come – an insurance not one single bank – not even the ECB – can give.[1]

The Swiss rose against the local sheriff from Habsburg and freed themselves in 1291. Now Switzerland has the unique opportunity to help the Greeks freeing themselves from the new Habsburg sheriffs.

1 E.g. If Switzerland suffers from atomic incident and 25% of the Swiss have to emigrate, I am sure Greece would welcome us!

Leave a comment

Filed under politics, Uncategorized

Real Trump-resistance is fact-based

In his article in the Swiss newspaper NZZ, Slavoj Žižek warns rightly that the left’s response to Trump’s election should not just be self-complacent moral indignation but include hard self-criticism. I can’t agree more. Even when I embrace and welcome actions of icons like Meryl Streep or companies that back away from the new president, there is a big danger just below the surface. When large companies known for their precarious social impacts[1] or celebrities that belong to the establishment and supported Hillary Clinton[2] are now portrayed or portray themselves as the spearhead of resistance, the anti-Trump movements descends into a rebranding event for the establishment where the exponents of society fight as the brave against the villain (who is eventually removed) and where at the end the Statue of Liberty is replaced by a statue of Hillary, the new Jeanne d’Arc of America … In other words, a Hollywood-like show for a big whitewash of the current establishment and its economic order.

True critique has to address more than the person of Trump. Even when Trump is vulgar and lacks almost all presidential qualities, it is the things he stands for that have to be addressed and fought against: Unconstitutional decrees first, but also increased military spending, social injustice, tax exemption for the rich, illegal wars, etc.

As Žižek writes, the left has the unique opportunity to renew itself. The left lost because they (i.e. the Democratic Nomination Committee) sidelined and boycotted Bernie Sanders, because they ignored the urge for true change, because they – the establishment – wanted to go on and on with profits for the rich and losses for the poor ignoring the underprivileged in the middle of their country. With Trump in the Oval Office the left (the DNC and the Democrats) should finally see the writing on the wall and act. Only a radical departure from the current economic system that is socially, ecologically and morally corrupt and rotten can bring a change. Only a departure from the neo-liberal credo will mobilise the masses.[3]

For once the press is not blindly parroting and blandishing the actions of the White House as they usually do. It is therefore the time for true critique.

Overcoming Trump means …

  • replacing the aggressive, (regime-changing) foreign policy of the last 65 years with a policy of mutual respect, acceptance of international law and the pursuit of peace (including the abolishment of nuclear weapons worldwide)
  • reducing military spending from 50% gradually to 5%[4]
  • ending NATO[5]
  • ending the fossil fuel era and shifting to 100% sustainable energy
  • preventing climate change[6]
  • reducing threats to democracy like extreme wealth concentration[7]
  • ensuring minority rights and counteracting racism[8]
  • lessoning the gap between rich and poor
  • creating a single payer health care system

We truly don’t need self-complacent moral indignation and self-presentation.

Real Trump-resistance is fact-based!

***

1 e.g Uber

2 e.g. Madonna

3 Unless the masses are not deluded into a war or the like, see here

4 There is no military threat to the US anywhere in the world.

5 Contrary to public opinion, NATO is not a defensive but an offensive and often aggressive alliance. It did not defend during the last 20 years but invade and kill.

6 Climate change will not be preventable any more but it can be contained according to the Paris agreement.

7 Trump’s rise to presidency is just the most recent attack of unregulated, excessive wealth on democracy – with unprecedented impacts.

8 Education is the key to counteract racism. One has to start in kindergarden …

 

1 Comment

Filed under politics

A Double Standard

US interference in other election is standard procedure but the US gets outraged about  alleged  (proves are still missing) interference by other states.

Read this very good article about the ‘double standard’:

A Double Standard? By Marc Trachtenberg

Leave a comment

Filed under politics