Thu Jun 7th, 2007 at 03:43:57 AM EST
As I noted in this morning's Salon, one of Germany's most prominent dailies quoted a prominent retired politician as saying:
Our economic system is outmoded, the interests of capital exclusively dominate the world.
Admittedly, there is nothing about this insight that is particularly noteworthy.
Except that the person speaking is Heiner Geissler, who used to be Helmut Kohl's pit bull. Let's savor the irony.
from the diaries. --Jérôme
At one time or another over the course of his career, Heiner Geissler was a lot of things: secretary general of the CDU, vice-chairman of the CDU/CSU fraction in the Bundestag, Federal Minister for Youth and Family. But no one ever thought him a bleeding heart. Here is an excerpt from his reply to Joschka Fischer in a parliamentary debate over the deployment of medium-range missiles in 1983:
|Der Pazifismus der 30er Jahre, der sich in seiner gesinnungsethischen Begründung nur wenig von dem heutigen unterscheidet, ... dieser Pazifismus der 30er Jahre hat Auschwitz erst möglich gemacht.|
|The pacifism of the 30s, which scarcely differs in its ethical foundations from that of today, ... this pacifism of the 30s is what made Auschwitz. |
That was then. This is now:
Hintergründe - Politik - FAZ.NET - Heiner Geißler: "Protests can help Merkel"
|06. Juni 2007 |
Die Kritiker der Globalisierung haben prominente Unterstützung aus dem konservativen Lager bekommen: Der frühere CDU-Generalsekretär Heiner Geißler trat der Organisation ,,Attac" bei. Im F.A.Z.-Interview spricht er über Gewalt und Betonköpfe.
Herr Geißler, freuen Sie sich, dass morgen der G-8-Gipfel beginnt?
Das ist ein Grund zur Sorge, denn die wichtigen Tagesordnungspunkte der Kanzlerin werden wohl nicht zu Beschlüssen für politisches Handeln führen.
Sie wollen Beschlüsse und fürchten also nicht, dass sich acht Staaten zur illegitimen Weltregierung aufschwingen?
Nein. Unser Wirtschaftssystem ist überholt, die Kapitalinteressen dominieren einseitig die Welt. Wenn man wie Ludwig Erhard geordneten Wettbewerb will, braucht man, solange es keine Weltregierung gibt, multilaterale Abkommen.
Sie sind kürzlich Attac beigetreten. Könnte das Netzwerk ohne G-8-Gipfel überhaupt auf seine Anliegen aufmerksam machen?
Mehr als hundert Organisationen von Greenpeace bis Pax Christi, vor allem aber auch Attac haben die G-8-Treffen gegenüber 1975 gewaltig verändert. Die reichen Länder wurden durch die Proteste sensibilisiert. Die Bundesregierung oder wenigstens die Kanzlerin hat erkannt, dass die friedlichen Demonstranten ihre Bundesgenossen sind.
Sie glauben nicht, dass Sie Ihrer Parteivorsitzenden, der gastgebenden Bundeskanzlerin, in den Rücken fallen?
Das Gegenteil ist der Fall. Die Demonstrationen können der Kanzlerin nützen, auch wenn einige Betonköpfe dies nicht kapieren.
|06. June 2007 |
Critics of globalization have received prominent support from the conservative camp: former CDU secretary-general Heiner Geißler has joined Attac. In an F.A.Z.-Interview he talks about violence and die-hard reactionaries.
Mr. Geißler, are you pleased that the G8 summit begins tomorrow?
It is a reason for concern, because the chancellor's important agenda items will not lead to resolutions for political action.
So you want resolutions and are not afraid that the eight nations could constitute themselves as an illegitimate world government?
No. Our economic system is outmoded, the interests of capital exclusively dominate the world. If we want regulated competition, like Ludwig Erhard, we need multilateral agreements as long as there is no world government.
You recently joined Attac. Could this network gain attention for its goals at all without the G8 summit?
Over a hundred organizations, from Greenpeace to Pax Christi, but above all Attac, have changed the G8 meetings considerably compared to 1975. The rich nations have been sensitized by the protests. The German government, or at least the chancellor, recognizes that the peaceful demonstrators are their allies.
And you don't believe that you are stabbing your party chairwoman, the chancellor hosting this event, in the back?
The opposite is true. The demonstrators can be useful for the chancellor, even if a few die-hard reactionaries don't get it.
With its final question, the FAZ would seem to be suggesting that Geissler is being untrue to his party. But by invoking Ludwig Erhard, Geissler would seem to imply that the party - and more broadly, German conservatism - has become untrue to itself.
Ludwig Erhard was Konrad Adenauer's Minister for the Economy. He was also the architect of the social market economy, the framework in which the Wirtschaftswunder occurred:
The social market economy seeks a middle path between socialism and capitalism (i.e. a mixed economy) and aims at maintaining a balance between a high rate of economic growth, low inflation, low levels of unemployment, good working conditions, social welfare, and public services, by using state intervention.
Basically respecting the free market, the social market economy is opposed to both a planned economy and laissez-faire capitalism. Erhard once told Friedrich Hayek that the free market economy did not need to be made social but was social in its origin.
In a social market economy, collective bargaining is often done on a national level not between one corporation and one union, but national employers' organizations and national trade unions.
Geissler came of age politically in the late Adenauer years (and the era of Erhard, his successor), when restraints on capitalism, social welfare, state intervention and collective bargaining - as a recipe for prosperity - were all part of the conservative program.
And then there's that big "C": Now in Germany, you seldom hear politicians referring to "Christian values" unless they're talking about Turks or fetuses. Geissler, however, on his own representation at least, seems to take his Christian values seriously (judging by all the Christian-themed political books and lectures). And he seems not to be using the revised Bible where it says, "Blessed are the markets for they shall enrich the few."
So while Geissler has remained true to his (Adenauer-era) conservative roots, the "Christian" parties have embraced the "turbo-capitalist" ideology. And obviously, he is not happy.
It would not do to interpret these remarks as representative of any meaningful conservative anti-neoliberal backlash. But Geissler and his remarks indicate that there is a serious conservative case (at least within the context of German political history) for opposing unfettered global capitalism.
And for those of us with longer memories, the specter of hardliner Geissler calling the neolibs "diehard reactionaries" is priceless.