Public sphere

The system of free competition and what it is about

It is well known that in this world “competition prevails”; it is ubiquitous as the principle of the way people deal with each other and as an imperative, anonymous law shaping the behavior of modern individuals.

Politicians show their respect for this fact when providing their citizens with equal opportunities, whether in education or in the economic world, where an antitrust law and an antitrust office make sure that the power of money is competed for properly. But they also do so when they decree reforms to the nation they govern and justify them as a service to their business location, which is facing the challenge presented by other business locations. And they do so especially in all their decisions aimed at security — i.e., in the questions that states and their leadership are so intent on because they face a trial of strength that must be won with the will and ability to use force.

In the economy, which sees to the production and distribution of wealth — not only within nationally delimited societies but, in the age of globalization, all over the world — there is nothing at all that the people in charge do without regard for competition. Setting prices and wages, calculating costs and surpluses, creating and eliminating jobs, introducing new production methods — in short, all aspects of investing are both reactions to the course of competition and actions aimed at succeeding in the contest of businessmen and business spheres. Businessmen or managers are always concerned with their company’s competitiveness; the lack of it is what’s to blame for any failure, unless government obstacles or other adverse business conditions have made it utterly impossible to be competitive. A competitor’s success is of course often evidence that it has violated the principle of genuine, free competition. Putting the comparison of products and prices, productivity figures and returns into practice is the reason for and the purpose of the decisions that management makes in banks and companies large and small; and the current market-economy theorists also regard any real or supposed limitation of this business practice as a harmful restriction of freedom.

Who earns how much and why?
Against moralism in the income debate

Nobody wants to say that prosperity and poverty — free access to the wealth of goods produced in the world and exclusion from them — necessarily belong to our unbeatable economic system; that would be something like critique of capitalism, god forbid. The idea is that there is some match between money earned and job. As if one and the same yardstick showing thousands per month were applied to the different jobs, and one job ended at the second thousand while the other was only just starting at the twentieth or two hundredth. Differences in income aren’t all right just like that, they are all right because they are fair. Just as the double meaning of ‘to earn’ says: receiving income and being entitled to it belong together. The relation being, by common consent, that income depends on what a person deserves, not the other way round.

At least in principle. In the real working world, everybody, when it comes down to it, knows plenty of cases in which the equation between just deserts and financial remuneration doesn’t quite work out.

The social network Facebook
The new home of the bourgeois individual

Facebook, the social network, has been extremely popular with its members: 900 million registered users worldwide tap away at their keyboards, making the site one of the most visited on the web. Facebook, the company, is no less in demand among investors: they look forward to its IPO, estimating its value at $100 billion.

But there are also critical voices: politicians and the media denounce the lack of data protection. The German Consumer Protection Minister has indignantly deleted her user account while warning users to be more careful with their data.

Meanwhile, the “Facebook generation” is said to have instigated the revolutions in the Arab world that have been named after it, thus having advanced global democracy a great deal. The Pirates, the recently founded German internet party, has congratulated them on it.

Rupert Murdoch and the phone-hacking scandal:
On the scandalous achievements of the mass media in a democracy

The motherland of democracy is proud of its independent media: “British journalism has been — and is — some of the best in the world” (Ed Miliband, Labour Party leader, speaking for all in the New Statesman, July 8, 2011). Now one branch of this free press, headed up by the left-liberal Guardian and public broadcaster BBC, has revealed that another branch, a paper owned by media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, has broken the law. Some reporters at News of the World (NoW), the Sunday tabloid owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation, obtained their stories by intercepting mobile phones and bribing policemen. For months on end, an excited public has indulged itself in exposed details of the ‘phone-hacking scandal,’ the deceptive manufacturing of opinion, and the intimate relationship between Murdoch’s media empire and British administrations. It has even been suggested that as a result of this intimacy, the decisions made by the government over four decades under Thatcher, Blair, or Cameron have been determined by a ‘media mogul.’ Right.

Seattle, Melbourne, Prague
Global action against the phantom known as "Globalization"
[Translated from Dokumentation: GegenStandpunkt bei konkret (7), Konkret 2/2001]

Whenever the official delegates from around the world travel to the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank, they are regularly accompanied by thousands of uninvited guests intent on disturbing the meetings of these world market agencies, or if possible preventing them from taking place. The reason: they hold these institutions responsible for the tremendous misery throughout what is truly, since the end of socialism, "one world." In the name of poverty and those afflicted with it, this anti-poverty movement protests — and is thereby proud of maintaining "no ideology" and of making no attempt to clarify its understanding within its own ranks. Its protagonists are of the opinion that any theoretical dispute over the correct explanation of the conditions they denounce would only jeopardize the breadth of the movement. Those affected by poverty ought to know best what they suffer from and what their needs are. However, anyone claiming to have no "ideology" but rather to be directly challenged by poverty and guided by the righteousness of the poor without any mediating thinking, is already following a logic, if only a false one — a real ideology so to speak.

The Kursk has Sunken
How to Reap Political Benefits from a Submarine's Sinking

The Russian nuclear-powered submarine Kursk sank during a maneuver in the Barents Sea. Only a few hours afterwards, actually before, the event became a case for the West and its free media: "Norwegian seismologists registered two explosions in short intervals, a smaller and a bigger one;" "American and British submarines were near the maneuver;" "NATO knows the whereabouts of the Russian submarine fleet at any moment." We scored first, of course, by reporting the disaster before the Russians did. Of course, we had to help as a natural matter of humanity: the Russians couldn't cope by themselves. A British submarine rescue vessel got into waiting position. "GET THEM OUT," a tabloid demanded as both advocate of the victims and in the name of the world's public. The Free World was with the Russians, and the disaster worth a special announcement every day. But, was it really a "disaster?"

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