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by Jens Berger
Email: marc1seed (nospam) yahoo.com
18 Nov 2013
Market-conforming democracy," Angela Merkel's guiding idea, is a pleasant-sounding description of plutocracy where the forms still exist but their substance is "financialized," where myths of privatization. corporate beneficence and self-healing markets are zombie gods and where the outside of the cup is cleaned while ignoring destruction of nature and poverty/exclusion.
Market failure is the time to reflect on state and market and on the purpose of the state in a post-growth and post-monoculture world, a world where time prosperity and inner growth fell by the wayside in the frenzied leap in consumismo and financial over-development. Time to de-accelerate, to slow down, time for alternative economics, for access not excess and enough not more (cf. www.steadystate.org). The future could be full of community centers, free Internet books, cloud workers and soft power!
By Jens Berger
[This conversation from 11/8/2013 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://hpd.de/node/17138. Jens Berger, free journalist and political blogger, is an editor of NachDenkSeiten  and Spiegelfechters . In this Dresden discussion, he grapples with the questions "What does the world cost?" and "How can we prevent the economization of society?"
The well-known and often accepted pieces of popular or folk wisdom "money rules the world," "everything is for sale" and "money is power" express what has long been manifest in society. Free enterprise principles and mechanisms spread in all areas of life. Pure economic benefit is in the limelight and simply not questioned any more. The problems how we can live together and what are the value of things that we produce, buy and treasure are hardly thematicized in public. "Economization" is encountered in all areas of life and leads to a "market-conforming democracy."
Politics is politics for the few powerful and rich in which the large part of the population is ignored. Politics no longer pursues the goal of providing for the well-being of the people. The Occupy movement shows the breadth of this theme.
In her oath of office, Angela Merkel swore her dedication to the well-being of the people. In the meantime she equates the people's welfare and the prosperity of the financial markets. In every speech, she emphasizes the well-being of the financial markets means simultaneously the welfare of the people. Thus she concentrates on the well-being of the financial markets. The people's loss of trust is hardly mentioned. Turn your attention to the trust of the financial markets. Speculators hardly concerned about trust are given free reign. They seek to gain the greatest possible profit from their transactions undisturbed and unmolested. Trust is only based on the government giving the greatest possible support to their projects. The banks would have to fear for their exorbitant profits if a crisis of trust existed on the financial markets. But that is not the case now. Instead the chancellor proclaims a market-conforming joint-determination of the parliamentarians. A paradigm shift on the central position of markets has taken place here.
However did trust in the markets and the financial system first lead to the crisis? Was there really a crisis of trust? No. Banks like to lend their money to the state at low interests, even below the inflation rate instead of lending at higher interests to other banks or investors and taking responsibility for that. Thus the mistrust is toward their own branch, the other banks, and not toward the state.
"BAILOUT UMBRELLA" FOR THE PROSPERITY OF THE BANKS
The state compliantly jumped out of the way and immediately unfurled the "bailout umbrella" when the speculative transactions went wrong. The state helped them out of a real mess. Thus there were no signs of a crisis of trust between the state and the financial markets. This is only the pretext for making unpopular decisions that only serve the well-being of the financial markets and their profits and by no means the welfare of the people.
To the people, self-regulation of the markets and privatization as better solutions for more prosperity turned out to be lies and brought about the exact opposite of what was proclaimed.
The representation of the Euro-crisis as a state debt crisis is only a neoliberal pretext to make social expenditures irresponsible and simultaneously cut spending. Politicians are not afraid of publically spreading this fraud by appealing to economists recognized worldwide (without naming them). Releasing state indebtedness from responsibility in the financial crisis lacks all reality because the state had to give millions in the bank bailout. All the doors were opened to the speculators. A real debt problem occurred through higher risk charges at interests in the theoretical financial crisis. However this has nothing to do with state indebtedness.
CAUSES OF THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
Real-economic causes including wage dumping in Germany leading to a distorted competitive situation were real causes of the financial crisis. An export surplus arises and engenders import deficits on the other side. This leads to imbalance in the European economic circulation. Another aspect is that a state cannot really save. The model of the "Schwabian housewife" from Ms. Merkel is not true at all for a national economy. The "Schwabian housewife model" is conservative and short-sighted and has nothing to do with the functioning of a national economy. Saving today would be hoarding money withdrawn from the economic circulation. If everyone saved and no one needed credits any more, banks would be superfluous and the economic circulation would break down since there would be no money to invest or pay wages.
Markets are seen as independent and influential actors and politics has to orient itself there. This seems an increasingly obvious result of the euro-crisis. Soothing markets, unfolding bailout umbrellas and organizing crisis summits indicate that politics has long let the economy go. The term "market-conforming democracy" coined by German chancellor Angela Merkel is evidence of that. The change of markets from service provider to political factor was silently carried out as without alternative. Lobbyists from the economic and banking realms determine politics to a great extent. There are no competent experts in the German Bundestag that do not come from the banking sector that could control the banks. Those who caused the fraud are the controllers.
Despite high and mighty, pompous promises, a control or reform of the financial markets has not occurred - only little touch-up jobs. In Jens Berger's metaphor, this is like replacing a window sill in an otherwise disintegrating house whose foundations are already tottering.
DEMOCRACY AND MARKET
The question whether today's modern democracy must keep up in speed with the markets is out of place because democracy has to focus on the benefits and well-being of the people and has nothing to do with speed or infinite growth. The influence of markets and financial branches on politics should not be absolute or unrestricted. Politics only exists now for the rich and powerful. The government has long been talked out of decision-making in politics and citizens cannot join or share in any deliberative process. The meaning of democracy falls by the wayside. "Democracy is suspended by anonymous financial markets" (Jens Berger).
The banks and not the people seem to be the sovereign. Jens Berger reveals the lies and deceptions of pension promises by simply raising the question: should we trust investments in other countries?
On the other hand he recommended complementary currencies and cooperative banks. The 2008 crisis hardly damaged these possibilities. However they do not have a lobby. Lobbyists of big business sit in the Bundestag and bring their influence to bear.
Market-conforming principles have already deeply penetrated collective and individual thinking and acting and affect individuals, democratic systems and public institutions.
Jens Berger's interesting and very comprehensive address clarified several errors and ways of looking at things. The questions from the public brought many more aspects into play. The lecture series is supported by the Dresden Drama Society and the chair for Political Theory and the History of Ideas of TU Dresden.
Mark Blyth, "Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea," March 2013
Ulrich Thielemann, The Case against the Business Case and the Idea of "Earned Reputation," 62pp, 2008
Ulrich Thielemann, The Economic Fall, April 2012
Ulrich Thielemann, "Studying Economics Today is Like Brainwashng," April 2012
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