There is war in Ukraine. So once again, we get to witness just how ruthless states can be when they see their self-preservation at stake. The warring powers leave no doubt that they alone decide when their existence is on the line and what that entails for their people. And yet, the same people, across the globe and especially in Europe, feel morally obligated to take sides.
Have they lost their minds?
Right in the middle of our beautiful Europe with its wonderful peaceful order, suddenly there’s war again? Just how could it come to this? Yes, how indeed? One thing is for certain: war did not just break out all of a sudden in the midst of the most beautiful peace. Nor did some crazed Russian autocrat rush into war for some inexplicable reason. As is always the case, the reasons for this war were created in peace. They were created by states that have once again reached a point in their dealings that they each think they have to inflict a crushing defeat on the other.
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.
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.
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?
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.
America's president has never left any doubt that he means what he says and does what he means. He has announced ad nauseam that the guiding principle of his presidency, “America first,” will mark the start of political offensives on several fronts. He wants to give a boost to domestic capital growth, not just out of cronyism with the rich and super-rich in the country, but for strategic reasons:
“A growing and innovative economy allows the United States to maintain the world’s most powerful military and protect our homeland.”
To this end, he wants free but above all fair world trade; by this he means a substantial correction to the global flow of goods and money, to the effect that the heaps of money other nations have one-sidedly earned in and on the USA and have accumulated in the form of American debt to such an extent that on balance America actually has no money at all, flow back to their country of origin and true homeland. This includes recovering from its partners and allies funds that America has spent protecting them militarily. The strategic goal pursued by the President is rather clearly stated in the strategy paper quoted by his government: the United States has to remain the most powerful military power in the world.
While the American espionage and subversion agency, the CIA, announced just last week that, on the basis of their information, it would be unlikely that Iran is working on a nuclear weapon, President Obama used the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the occasion for an overt threat of war, which he garnished with a promise: “I do not bluff!”
Since its beginnings in the markets for American mortgages, the great financial crisis has gone on for over three years now, and for the moment, those in charge are rather satisfied with themselves. A number of bankruptcies have been wound down or prevented by the state. Masses of worthless financial assets have been stowed away in bad banks or carefully written off, with state license and assistance. The ultimate powers have boldly intervened, preventing a massive financial meltdown by having their central banks provide liquidity and by granting loans from special government funds. Speculation against particularly heavily indebted eurozone countries and their common currency has been averted. After the deep recession of 2009, good money is being made again in the financial industry and the real economy — at least as far as German exports are concerned.
On the other hand, that mustn’t fool anybody into thinking that the crisis is “already” over. Experts are warning against announcing prematurely that all is clear and interpret “market signals” this way: from the money markets, which speculate on and then against the dollar and the euro; from the capital markets, which spurred on Greek bankruptcy while at the same time buying low-yield German bonds; from the global commodity markets, on which German firms are enjoying unexpected export success while America is failing as an “economic locomotive”; from the Chinese market, too, whose welcome boom is now suspected of crumbling soon. These are all reasons to worry — but about what exactly? Is inflation looming because of the masses of state-created liquidity? Or is deflation to be feared instead because of the weak U.S. economy, a lack of economic growth in Japan, and austerity policies in Europe? Will the crisis be followed by another bubble inflated by state credit, cheap money, and dyed-in-the-wool speculators? Or should one brace for longer-term stagnation and, at best, a dual-speed world economy? What kind of a risk does rapidly rising government debt pose? Or is there still too little of it to promote a sustained economic upturn? Is the speculation against Greece and the euro a scandal? Or do the speculators only bring up a painful subject, exposing the common currency as a misconstruction that cannot cope with the crisis? Is the credit guarantee for over-indebted eurozone countries a step toward regaining fiscal stability — or toward abandoning it once and for all? And so on, and so forth.