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Commentary :: Social Welfare
The Neoliberal Catechism
24 Jun 2007
Turning away from the state causes old age poverty and endangers life and limb.. The consequences of privatization are faded out in the US and Germany.. Defining freedom as only entrepreneurial freedom and freedom of capital can be easily veiled.


By Matthias Burghardt

[These faith principles, a guide to true faith in the neoliberal doctrine of salvation, published in: NachDenkSeiten, February 2007 are translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]



We have little trust in the state and state intervention. The state is too fat; it must become lean or trimmed. In other words, state functions must be gradually put in the hands of the private economy. If this succeeds, profits will be quickly realized according to economic principles.


First of all, trust in the state, its institutions, authorities and security systems, is permanently damaged. This happened through various campaigns. Channeling the annoyance of the population from mis-developments and simply blaming the state, not the elites and their misguided political decisions, is very effective. The daily propaganda is indispensable and must be spread in all the mass media. Negative reporting, half-truths and untruths and extravagant exaggerations are helpful. The propagandists should be recruited from all social groups and the whole political spectrum if necessary and share financially in the successes of privatization. Besides tending the uncritical mainstream (consisting of submissive believers who confirm one another), the network makes possible the negative propaganda through selfish political decisions. The pressure must be intensified since a majority of the population still prefers the state security systems despite all efforts and investments in propaganda and lobbyists. The strategy of constant state criticism must be supplemented with large-scale deception about the actual effects of privatizations.

An offensive orientation is imperative considering the expected responses even if only a fragment of state activity is rerouted to private organizations. With massive subsidies of the despised state, the way was paved for private old age insurance. One side-effect is that this private care and its subsidy burdens and damages legal pension insurances. This small success is a good beginning and also lowers the inhibition threshold for other areas of life not economized in the past. Despite this process, the trust of the majority of the population in the legal pensions is still a great obstacle. To withdraw more funds from the legal pensions, a legal obligation for private provisions, e.g. profits by law, should be emphasized. The first steps are taken; others must follow.


The consequences of privatization, whether in Germany or other countries, must be faded out. Studies of private old age insurance in Chile, a comprehensive analysis of the privatized railroad in Great Britain and the privatized control of medicines in the US sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry are not at all helpful to our cause. They show clearly that turning away from the state causes old age poverty and endangers life and limb. Instead privatization is flanked with positive terms like "dynamic," "economic," "inexpensive," or simply "trendy and hip." The private provisions or private services must be paid for together with all the costs of propaganda, lobbyists and printing crews. Uncritical persons question the meaning of privatizations and even conclude that the state can manage different functions more inexpensively and carefully in the interest of the insured or patrons. Fortunately the state institutions, authorities and solidarity insurances do not promote themselves and their merits, for example their trifling administrative costs. Finally, they have hardly any possibilities for audibly refuting the daily claims of our many multipliers.

Little help can be expected for the shaken state from the political spectrum since mistrust toward the state has been successfully fomented even in its own representatives while all reservations of the political, social and academic elites toward us can be easily dissipated. Despite the entire barrage against the state, the majority of the population recognizes more and more that the privatizations have not brought any improvements. Liberalization of the electricity market, sale of public housing and privatization of local suppliers, railroad and telecom are examples. Recruiting for a continuance of this course becomes ever more difficult. Therefore references to these failures and dislocations must be disparaged as conspiracy theories.


By Albrecht Mueller


After the end of the Second World War, freedom, justice and solidarity were the balanced principles on which the community of the Federal Republic of Germany was built. However justice and solidarity increasingly became burdens for entrepreneurial conduct. They hinder free competition and oppose profit maximization, the interests of capital and the interests of owners. Therefore subordinating justice and solidarity to economic freedom and liberating the market from mandatory social equalization (solidarity) and state order (justice) must be enjoined. The unbridled free play of forces will solve all problems, we are firmly convinced. The supreme goal is and remains transforming Germany into Germany Inc. with free, personally responsible and competitive individuals.


The majority of the population associates something positive with the term "freedom," for example political freedom, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. This could help us in the public debate. Defining freedom as only entrepreneurial freedom and freedom of capital can be veiled very simply. The system framework for competition and the welfare state oppose our interests again and again. The goal "prosperity for everybody" is not proclaimed explicitly any more. However the majority of the population that holds to balancing measures that bridle business conduct and demand that capital serve the public interest. The threat of reducing jobs or shifting jobs abroad could trigger a slow rethinking. Happily the fear of losing one's job has also seized the middle class that dreads the social crash and therefore is ready to give up social gains and forego sharing in economic growth. The use of lobbyists, experts, study groups, commissions, initiatives and rating agencies bears fruit. Under the mantle of independence, our dogmas prevailed. Our word creations appear throughout the political spectrum, whether "deregulation," "flexibility," "privatization," "mobility" or "new freedom." All the terms exude the positive promise of greater freedom. Even dismissal has a very new dimension through freedom. "Release" imparts joy in living and hope for a new beginning.

Through untiring proclamation of our doctrine, we succeeded in almost completely obliterating macro-economic thinking from the heads of the elites and replacing the last economists with managers. Our supply-side doctrine and an immediate conversion of our ideas cannot be evaded any more. The massive pressure we can produce in the short-term through the media and our multipliers hangs like a Damocles sword over the decision-makers and makes resistance pointless. After nearly eliminating unions as serious equal debaters, groups critical of us in the past are subordinated to our dogma of the "new freedom."

Thus the Evangelical Church in Germany carries on its reform debate under the watchword "Church of Freedom." Hans Tietmeyer, chairperson of the "Initiative of the New Social Market Economy," described the last social encyclical of the Catholic Church with the guiding principle "Rethinking the Social." Solidarity and charity could be replaced by the neoliberal principle: "Everyone for himself." In a political declaration, the churches simultaneously declared our course in the past years as sacrosanct. Loud resistance or a protest movement cannot be expected from this side. Despite these successes, our doctrine must be presented more than ever as without alternative since its realization facilitates ever lower wages, further precarity of working conditions, longer working hours, less industrial safety, lower corporate taxes and increased profits in the interest of our capital owners. Thus the planned corporate tax reform will fuel the tax dumping competition in Europe and free us from responsibility for society and financing the community. Fortunately there are presently no signs that political decision-makers are returning to a pragmatic demand-oriented economic policy. Nevertheless the anti-cyclical economic policy must be tirelessly branded "harmful," "job-destroying," "from yesterday" and a "thing of the devil" since it would help the public welfare and create more justice for the majority of the population. This would clearly oppose our great goal of degrading the strong welfare state to a night-watchman state (with only rudimentary instruments to tame the market and distribute from top to bottom). Only freedom can create justice and solidarity. This must be stressed. A lower class is part of a modern, dynamic and liberal society. This lower class is less mobile, flexible, too comfortable and thus responsible for its fate. Therefore we need not be persuaded by our few critics and have a bad conscience. Ultimately the liberated achievement-oriented society can confidently leave the dependent to welfare or the diakonia, the last incorrigible good persons. In the long-term, care can replace justice and personal responsibility can substitute for solidarity.


All persons and groups who weigh the principles of freedom, justice and solidarity equally without granting a priority to any of the three are obstructive. Regrettably, the German constitution that presupposes the welfare state considerably weakens the argument against the welfare state. This is also true for the obligation of property for the public interest (cf. Article 20 of the German Constitution).

The justice idea is unfortunately so simple that everyone can understand it. Everyone should be treated the same. Efforts to inflate the term through word creations, redefine it in our interest and falsify the original meaning have to be strengthened. We created terms like "new justice," "participatory justice" and "empowerment justice." The majority of the population is harmed by their stubborn compliance and the brainwashing of the old values.

Happily the political elite is more open. The flexibility of the labor market, the dethronement of employee representatives, the labor market reforms, privatizations, cuts in the social net, the shattering of trust in the solidarity security systems and the monetary- and tax policy in our sense show that politics is very willing to ignore the majority opinion, the desires of the population and the demand for a strong welfare state and just policy.

It is extremely dangerous that countries in the European Union rely on a strong welfare state where no one is left behind, that have a just tax policy burdening strong shoulders more than weak shoulders. Where everybody shares in financing the community, the economy flourishes, responsibility for the public interest is accepted and all people are free. Therefore these countries must be stylized as "not comparable with Germany."

The population must not grapple offensively with the results of political development in the past since the way of "liberation" in all areas of life and the overthrow of the welfare state have not brought improvements for them and our country. While objectively correct, this is ultimately a confession of the failure of our doctrine. This would be like a maximum credible accident and would inhibit or completely paralyze the rebuilding process. Therefore a discussion should be nipped in the bud with all means. If individuals do begin this discussion, stigmatizing them as conspiracy theorists should be enough.

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