A number of things can be observed in and about Israel in the course of the year 2019. Taken alone and and even more so taken alongside each other, some of these phenomena rank among the customs in all established democracies of the West, which Israel decidedly is part of, some of them are due to the populism increasingly widespread in the West, and some of them are rather unusual in Western nations.
Competition of Capitalists will appear continuously in the political quarterly magazine GegenStandpunkt. This page provides an overview of the table scheme as it has been finalized so far. Updated January 17, 2021. (Download PDF version.)
There is one achievement the capitalist mode of production can count on making a good impression with, or at least commanding respect: unstoppable technological progress, seen in all kinds of consumer goods along with the means for producing them. It is popularly illustrated by sophisticated equipment in fashion at the moment. On suitable occasions it is measured in the few hours and minutes of working time required for producing a certain product nowadays as compared with the past. “Downsides” are not ignored: the oversized “footprint” left by the consumption of resources, destruction of the environment, loss of jobs due to “rationalization” — all this is recognized as problematic. But “rationalization” is still called by that name; and the solution of choice for the excessive load on “nature” is considered to be — alongside a personal willingness to do without things — more technological progress. Yet it is quite clear that neither free choice nor rationality is the reason for the unstoppable technological progress the capitalist mode of production impresses with. It is caused by a practical constraint that industrialists actually create for themselves.
Apparently, you can’t reveal it often enough. It doesn’t matter that the man has almost a full term behind him. Seasoned journalists still see the final verdict about Donald Trump as being that he is above all a man with no sense of decency. Three and a half years of America first!, his implementation of impressive visions and revisions of American world politics, of the ‘homeland,’ and of the most powerful office in the world — everything he does on and around the job is perceived solely as evidence of a defective moral sensibility.
In the market economy, growth is an officially and quite generally recognized necessity. It is taken for granted that the growth of the economy is the precondition for prosperity; when growth slows down or actually stops altogether, there is a risk of want and need. Those who warn that continuous economic growth is an absurdity go more or less unheard in the culture section. Critics who maintain that a growth geared solely to immediate economic performance is too narrow a focus for society’s well-being and who call for broader criteria and values to be included are suspected of being anti-consumerist or anti-progress, or accused of ultimately having no idea of human nature and inherent human needs. Even the most sober reference to “natural limits of growth” will face the accusation of being divorced from reality. And indeed it is — reality being that those in charge of business definitely do not know or recognize any ‘natural limit’ that could thwart the economic purpose that is in effect and being practiced: a market economy needs growth. The only question is why? Where does this absolute necessity come from?
It’s strange how so-called populists have acquired the reputation of being a danger to democracy. The list of their sins includes stirring up discontent as grist for their mills, dividing the people and declaring themselves to be their only true representative, telling the people what they want to hear, making unrealistic promises to them and offering ‘simple solutions’ to complex problems, engaging in nationalistic and xenophobic rabble-rousing, cultivating an authoritarian personality cult and showing no respect for the rule of law.
It’s strange because populists carry on so extremely democratically. It’s as if one knew of a democratic competition of political parties other than one where good democrats with a pronounced will to power not only seize on popular discontent wherever it is loudly proclaimed, but also track it down, dig it up, and incite it in order to direct it against the those in office and in favor of themselves. It’s as if one didn’t know very well that a democratic politician shows no limits to his shame when it comes to going from on high among the masses in order to be celebrated as one of them.
Those who run businesses are said to have certain tasks, expected to achieve this and that, and sometimes accused of neglecting their duties. However, the members of this profession don’t perform any of the positive or negative functions attributed to them unless they do their job. And that is to increase the wealth at their disposal — regardless of whether a nation’s public credits them with creating jobs or blames them for destroying jobs, whether public opinion says they are protecting the environment or damaging it, contributing to growth or jeopardizing it…
President Trump's “America first!” targets the whole world. But the degree to which the US is affected by the politics in other states comes down to more than the differences in numbers that the President loves to read from the figures of America’s negative bilateral trade balance. There is one rival above all others — actually just about the only one — that is ultimately incompatible with “America first!”: the People's Republic of China.
The journalists of the world have two closely related adjectives for Trump’s style of rule: unseemly and undemocratic. The editors of GegenStandpunkt do not want to make the new resident in the White House more decent than he is. But a look at his conduct in office during his first hundred days shows quite clearly that there is nothing un- or even anti-democratic in Trump’s style of rule; and the standards that the guardians of democratic decency bring against Trump are not one bit better.