Günther ReimannEconomist and journalist
Great ideas have always played an essential role in history and will continue to do so. But they only become an actual political force in society in times of revolutionary upheaval, when the passionate belief in a certain idea motivates those who come to positions of power in the state and can exercise their influence.
At present the world is in an international vacuum. The western world order dominated by the US disintegrated after the collapse of the Soviet empire. A new world order has not yet come into being. Instead there is a kind of interregnum.
The growing consumer needs of senior citizens and of higher income brackets require rapid progress in productivity at sites of industrial production. The ultimate purpose of the maximum development of the forces of production appears to be the parasitic luxury lifestyle of a small minority. This minority grows in number when pension capitalism allows the masses to take part. This requires new territories for tourism to open up. Its financial basis is pension capitalism. In this way, consumers lack any political power.
The growing standardization and regulation of human life in the leading industrial nations of the western world lowers the quality of life, the realm of personal freedom is constricted. The stronger this process becomes, the more value is given to places and countries where one does not encounter state bureaucracy and police violence. There are small countries that exploit their national sovereignty to provide an oasis from state bureaucracy and a place of personal freedom for those evading prosecution, as long as they are wealthy and stand to make the oasis country wealthier as well.
There are any number of doomsday prophesies. There will be no doomsday in the sense that the international monetary and financial system will break down to be replaced by a vacuum. There will be emergency solutions, but these will be integrated into a new international monetary system. Post facto there will be a world plan and an agreement. But first there will be the crisis that makes these partial solutions necessary.
The creeping crisis of pension capitalism will lead to a crisis of social peace. It begins with a new struggle between social classes over the distribution of surplus value and against the system that takes social security from the masses. Concretely, the international monetary crisis is becoming a threat to pensions. The consolidation of the system through pension capitalism is being undermined. A gold standard would bring a newly solid, stable basis for the reconstruction of pension capitalism – temporarily. But during the transition, the pension basis of social peace will be so restricted that there will be new and fertile ground for social-revolutionary crisis. Political parties, whose bureaucracies are rooted in pension capitalism, are being destabilized and deeply compromised. The prospect for a new period of expansion and prosperity – for a generation – can only become a reality after a deep deflationary crisis of pension capitalism, which developed in the fifty years following the Second World War. The creeping crisis of parties and movements who take the defense of pensions as their rallying cry, leads them into tilting at windmills.
The international financial capital funds its competition and its own losses. It is more closely bound to the capital-intensive industrial sector than to the loan-intensive one, where the human labor force competes with machines, whereas in the capital-intensive industries, machines compete against machines that are bankrolled by financial capital. In advanced industrial countries, competition between machines is much more productive of success as the old competition between machines and human labor. For this reason, technical progress in older industrial countries advances more quickly than in the lagging developing nations. The gap between the two in terms of productivity or productivity of labor is growing wider. It will become even wider in the new technical revolution.
As a contemporary I have often been able to observe miscalculations about the future on the part of strategic planners who believed they could shape the future with the power of the powerful. In the twenties they thought that they had overcome the old cycle of crises. Instead there was the collapse of the credit and banking system and a deep depression that could no longer be ended through the old economic cycle. Then the state began to support and to reform the capitalist system as an interventionist on a large scale. The national control in both the US and in Germany under Hitler did not know in advance that they would find themselves confronted by a fatal decision: either a new deflationary crisis or a new inflationism that would begin with budgetary deficit financings. In order to avoid this choice, Hitler began the Second World War. But the consequences had been miscalculated. In the end, the American victors thought they could establish a new world order on the basis of a world capitalism controlled and regulated by them. We now know that these plans were illusions. But they greatly influenced the shape of the post-War world.