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Commentary :: Social Welfare
The Generations Manifesto
22 Dec 2016
Neoliberalism turns the world upside down so egoism, avarice, enrichment and ruthlessness become virtues and solidarity, sharing and the social state become pre-modern threats to the right to absolute free property. Adjusting to the market is stylized as a survival necessity as the super-rich steal away from taxes and financing social necessities – as if all personal and corporate achievement did not depend on social spending.

[The Generations Manifesto published in 2013 is translated by Marc Batko from the German on the Internet,]

We are the citizens of this country.

We are the politics. We are the economy.

We are young and old, poor and rich, powerful and powerless;

fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

We have worries, great worries –

independent of the color of our political convictions.

For a long while, we sat back and watched how the mountains of problems became greater and greater and politics increasingly unable to act. We suffer under homemade natural catastrophes and the consequences of unbridled finance capitalism. We are steering into a global disaster if we do not rethink and form a future together where we all can and will live better.

We witness a disheartened politics that hides and is led again and again by lobby interests. Words like "no alternative" or "no other way" shock and awaken us. We believe and know there are alternatives for which we want to be engaged.

We, the signers of this paper, believe in the formability of our future and in our duty to share in this creation. Therefore we assume responsibility in the measure appropriate to each and every one.

This year is an election year. Therefore we make our choice and formulate 10 demands to all political parties. Our manifesto is an invitation to a dialogue. It is a contribution to transparency and to the education of a great social coalition for sustainability and an active formation of the future.

Many do not know anymore what the parties really want, for what interests they stand and what we can expect from them after the election. We want to know this before we cast our vote.

We know great changes are necessary in a short time to counteract the threats to all of us in the environment, our society and the future of our children.

Therefore we seek a broad joining of forces in the population to revive the political debate, to agree on common values and social goals and to guarantee a sustainable and supportive vision for the future of our children.

We urge all citizens, politicians, managers and entrepreneurs of this country to do all they can for a social, cultural, economic and political change in the sense of a social and sustainable reform.

In ten political and social areas, we name our demands that we consider imperative in this and coming legislative periods for politics, the economy and individual citizens as foundations of action. We have a choice and we want to make our decision.

We believe in this country, in the strength of its people and in our responsibility for other nations and in a life today that is not at the expense of our children tomorrow. We are conscious that we can only reach our goals when politics, the economy, and society cooperate with new élan. Everyone can contribute something to this awakening. We, the signers, are ready for this.

Berlin, June 6, 2013

Claudia Langer
Prof. Peter Hennicke
Prof. Harald Welzer
Felix Finkbeiner
Prof. Dirk Messner
Martin Kloss
Martin Speer
Prof. Gesine Schwan
Marius Muller-Westernhagen
Thomas Jorberg
Benno Furmann
Prof. Niko Paech
Franz Alt
Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsacker
Margret Rasfeld
Dr. Volkker Hauff
Klaus Wiegandt
Prof. Angelika Zahrnt
Dr. Christa Muller
Prof. Holger Rogall
Aglaia Szyszkowitz
Sarah Wiener
Peter Lewandowski
Sonja Schelper
Sigrid Klausmann-Sittler
Walter Sittler
Thomas Sattelberger


In the interest of future generations
and social and ecological balance

Climate change, the greatest threat we humans have ever experienced, is not fought with the highest priority by the Federal Government and all parties. They risk the life and well-being of future generations.

The energy turn, the most important project of our generation, is carried out half-heartedly and inconsistently by political decision-makers. We will hold them responsible if they negligently endanger the chances of this future project because of political party power games.

3. The governing governs without the citizens. They entrench themselves in their ivory-towers without explaining what consequences will result for our life and the life of our children from far-reaching political decisions (as examples, the energy turn, and the Euro crisis).

The politics of the present loads huge debt mountains on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. Even in times of bubbling tax revenues, the state deficit is increased and not reduced and thus the possibilities of coming generations are dramatically cut.

Profits are privatized and losses are socialized. The governing are fooled by the financial industry and ignore the interests of citizens.

Politicians divide society through their inactivity. In the last years, they saw and approvingly accepted the drifting apart of the poor and the rich.

We increase our prosperity at the expense of people in the threshold- and developing countries who often work for us under degrading conditions. It is a disgrace that we wrestle with abundance while millions of people in the rest of the world lack the necessities of life.

Our educational system fails miserably in view of the challenges the future gives to us. All decision-makers in politics, the economy and society know our educational system is unjust and non-transparent and the curriculum of our children do not prepare them for future demands. But courage for radical change is lacking.

The sustainable modernization of the economy is envisioned in beautiful speeches but is lost through misguided framing conditions. As long as subsidies are directed to outdated instead of future-friendly industries and technologies, we gamble away the chances Germany offers as an international pioneer for a green or blue economic change.

The generational contract is canceled unilaterally. The generation of parents and grandparents negligently maintain their living standards at the expense of their children and grandchildren.


Courage, Honesty, and Conduct that is Just to the Generations

Combating climate change must be accepted as a state goal in the constitution. A climate protection law passed at the beginning of the new legislative period must be its basis. When Europe and Germany lead the way in protecting the atmosphere and in marketable techniques for protecting the atmosphere, others will follow – for competitive reasons. Climate protection is a necessity for all of us and not an exaction of burdens.

We must actively press ahead with the energy turn both as "green" energy production and as an energy savings turn. The energy turn can succeed at reasonable costs for all actors through innovations in energy efficiency and energy savings in businesses and private households. The energy turn could bring great opportunities for Germany, Europe, and the world. Today's generation is obliged to create a secure energy basis for coming generations.

We demand our right to participate and join in the conversation.

We citizens want to participate actively in the decision-making processes in politics, the economy, and society. If politics does not want to endanger democracy, it must justify and communicate what it does and why. We urge our politicians to leave their ivory towers, seek serious discussions with citizens and make decisions on that basis. Voters must know what they are voting and what politicians they can trust.

We urge the government to revitalize the state finances, reduce the indebtedness and set new priorities and spending guidelines that are more just to the future and more sustainable. The goal is lowering the burdens of interest for the state budget and regaining public possibilities for sustainable future investments. Only a financially potent state can ensure security, education, research, development, social protection and other public goods for all citizens.

We demand a reform and strict regulation of private financial management. Banks are servants of the economy and citizens, not their rulers. "System-relevant" banks take a whole society captive as a hostage. Therefore limiting the power of banks is inalienable. The causal agent principle must be shouldered by those who gained enormous profits with incalculable risks. As bank customers, we demand complete transparency in the use of entrusted funds and a crisis-proof variety of banks.

We demand social justice in Germany. From politics and the economy, we must energetically insist that poverty and deficient equal opportunities must be overcome. An immediate program is necessary to stop the growing drifting apart of the poor and the rich. Sharing in private affluence and public goods must be secured and social cohesion strengthened. An effective lower wage floor would be an essential protective wall against social descent. For us, the higher-paid and well-to-do should obviously make a greater contribution to financing public expenditures. All this can only succeed with a more just financial policy that also puts the expenditure side to the test.

We demand serious efforts to fight hunger, poverty, and underdevelopment in the world. A package of immediate measures to realize the millennium development goals is necessary for this. Multinational businesses must be legally obligated to protect the social- and human rights of employees in their firms and subcontractors and to help raise their living standards to a survival level.

We demand a sustainable development of our economy. Reliable political conditions, binding key goals, and prices that reflect the ecological and social truth, rules for fair competition and dismantling environmentally-harmful subsidies are vital. The sustainable reorganization of our economic system will bring great opportunities for the location Germany since environmentally-friendly technologies and products will be a competitive advantage and export-hit in the future.

We urge a uniform comprehensive reform of the school- and training system because education is the most effective, most social and most economic form of future protection and the fuel of our society. Education is the prerequisite for social participation and creates the innovation potential for our country (cf. "Education is the great transformer" John Kenneth Galbraith). All young persons must have the same chances of entry and ascent in the educational system irrespective of the income of their parents. The curricula, lessons and grading systems of the past must be reviewed and formed so the delight in learning and the talents of youths are promoted in their diversity and their self-confidence is strengthened. The school must be a place of enthusiasm, strengthening self-confidence, unfolding individual potentials and preparing for the momentous challenges of the future.

We demand a new fair generational contract deserving its name. If our chances should have chances for a life that our generation had, we must end the uncontrolled exploitation of nature and the exclusion of the talents and cultural diversity of people. We need new visions and debates about the future of the good life. We want to pass on to our children a society that allows and enables them to realize their dreams (Encourage means to put courage in one another, translator's note). Our children have a right to a life full of opportunities even in times of demographic change.

We demand a strategy of change for Germany, Europe, and the world.

Future-friendliness requires more than a few cosmetic corrections. Joining forces with the threshold- and developing countries has a special meaning for all themes of sustainability on account t of their dynamic development. We must work consistently and with a long breath for a more ecologically and socially just society. We urge all politicians not to make themselves dependent in their decisions on short-term election forecasts, power shifts or lobby interests. We urge them to use their strength unrestrictedly for the well-being of today's and future generations, to increase their collective well-being and to avert harm.


Why isn't fighting climate change the highest state goal?

Why must we produce (still) more energy?

Why aren't election promises believed?

Why is state indebtedness a social asset?

Why is democracy judged according to the market and not vice versa?

Why is "the lower class" so degraded by "the upper class" in Germany?

Why aren't big businesses obligated to observe human rights and social standards?

Why are the economy and ecology often opponents or enemies?

Why should education be so expensive?

Why is the future of our children less valuable than our present?

[Corrections and comments are welcome. Translation is team-work though the team seems a little out of breath. Neoliberalism turns the world upside down so egoism, avarice, enrichment and ruthlessness become virtues and solidarity, sharing and the social state become pre-modern threats to the right to absolute free property. Adjusting to the market is stylized as a survival necessity as the super-rich steal away from taxes and financing social necessities – as if all personal and corporate achievement did not depend on social spending. Without the social contract, we become wolves to each other. Education becomes a profit-center and the state becomes a bonus tool instead of serving the public interest. Marc Batko Email: marc1seed (at)]

"Alternative Economics: Reversing Stagnation" by Marc Batko is a 159-page ebook anthology with Austrian, Swiss, Polish and German critical economists. Mainstream trickle-down economics has no answer to exploding inequality and destruction of the environment.

The appendix "Myths of the Economy" describes 29 state myths, labor myths, business myths and social myths. The state is not a business or a household but can make future investments so the future can be open and dynamic and not closed and static. What is rational from a micro-economic perspective (e.g. competition) can be disastrous from a macro-economic perspective. Wages are not only a "cost-factor" but bring essential demand so society does not devolve into a plutocracy benefiting only the super-rich.
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22 Dec 2016
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