Thursday, April 14, 2005

Capitalism Threatens Democracy and Causes Unemployment, Says German Government

The German government has in its last two terms presided over a huge increase in unemployment, which now stands at 5.3 million.

As elections loom, scapegoats are sought. Voters have been known to blame their governments for such mishaps, and this one's got the government's fingerprints all over it.

So it is good to see that the socialist government's SPD leader, Müntefering, has been leafing through his well-thumbed copy of Karl Marx's Das Kapital, looking for inspiration. The bushily-bearded Victorian sage's strictures about proto-capitalist practice may seem somewhat removed from today's economic context, but they are always handy when a soundbite is needed.

"Greed for profit is a danger for democracy," Müntefering warned in a speech yesterday, sounding disconcertingly like a 1930s vintage apparatchik. "The role of the state must become more important. The state must create (Gestalten)." He also warned against "economisation" and "the internationally growing power of capital".

Sentiments aimed at mobilising the right-on leftist vote. But also, sadly and incomprehensibly, the seemingly sincere sentiments of a key figure in the current German government. A man who shapes the policies which blight the biggest European economy - and with it the whole of Europe.

Paraphrased, the sentiments are quite stark: "Unemployment is caused by greedy capitalists; capitalism's only pursuit is profit; international capital is especially evil. The state needs more power to defeat the evils of business and to create jobs."

It defies belief that such playground polemics can emanate from the mouth of a senior mainstream politician in the West. (The North Korean News Agency, which sets the doughtiest standards of hard-core, Cold War type anti-capitalist propaganda, would hesitate before issuing drivel so unimaginative and dated.) Alas for Germany. Alas for Europe. Like the Bourbons of old, our politicians have forgotten nothing, and learned nothing.

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