Some rather aberrant reflections about schoolyards, wars, NATO, Russia, and China

Not only scientists, but all people are constantly searching for causes to explain the course of their own lives and that of the world in general. This need becomes particularly strong when death and life are at stake. War makes each of us an explorer of primary causes. Who was responsible for the First World War? Why did Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have to happen? In addition to the official interpretations of the various camps, there are countless private attempts at explanation. What they have in common is that they rarely distinguish between superficial, more or less accidental causes and long-term ones. The external cause immediately responsible for the outbreak of World War I was undoubtedly the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne, but the long-term cause was the race of the great European powers for greater economic as well as military power. This race did not fail to slowly but inexcorably fill the powder kegs in all leading powers of Europe. At some point it had to explode – with or without the complicity of the Serbian assassin Gavrilo Princip. And no doubt, the war in Ukraine was arbitrarily unleashed by one man, Vladimir Putin. That is the ostensible direct cause of its outbreak, but the long-term cause of the renewed confrontation between East and West lies much deeper.

In this context, I am tempted to offer some off-beat reflections on an experience that almost all of us had to go through. Leave a schoolyard unattended, and chaos reigns at first – everyone against everyone – but only for a fairly short time. Usually the fists of the stronger prevail against those of the weaker. Never did I experience that among pupils left to their own devices, something like a multipolar society develops, where everyone has the right to be happy in his or her own way. No, the power of the strongest decides. If there are two equally strong groups, then constant fights are the rule, which are always decided by violence – headlocks, fisticuffs including a lot of other tortures. The situation in a schoolyard will only be stable afte the power hierarchy is clearly established. In my opinion, peace researchers have never been able to sufficiently explain war and peace in a schoolyard, otherwise they would know that this is but the beginning of what is then continued among adults – only that the fights no longer take place with headlocks and fists but with bombs up to weapons of mass destruction.

Schoolyards illustrate human behavior under the condition of enforced spatial proximity. The same pupils, who may treat each other with utmost indifference as long as each goes his own way, instantly get into ranking fights as soon as they have to endure each other in the confined space of a limited school area. Wrestling and mutual blows and punches are then to decide who will determine and enforce a common order. Peace only comes, when the hierarchy is fixed. In other words: a schoolyard is the world en miniature.

Five hundred years ago, the population on the globe was so small and the centers of human civilization were so far apart that most of the time they lived independently from each other: there still existed a truly multipolar world. Since the second half of the twentieth century, this situation has dramatically changed. A population of soon ten billion people now not only has access to all the planet’s resources, but its power centers now threaten every point on Earth with supersonic missiles. There are no longer any areas of retreat. States have become dangerously close to each other, and they constantly try to intimidate their rivals with their muscle games just like the boastful bullies in the confined space of a school.

We know that in the latter peace can only come about in two possible ways. Either the strongest prevail: a monopolar order then develops around them, or a deus ex machina in the form of a teacher intervenes from the outside and suppresses all fights. Obviously, our poor globe has the tremendous misfortune that God is not interested in world affairs, i.e. in armaments and economy – I can understand that quite well. So we cannot count on a deus sine or ex machina to impose an end on the battles for rank between NATO, Russia and China. We humans are forced to work it out among ourselves, all by ourselves. In other words, the situation is exactly the same as in an unsupervised schoolyard.

 Certainly, without Vladimir Putin, the outbreak of war against Ukraine on February 24 of this year would not have occurred, just as without Gavrilo Princip the beginning of World War I would not have happened on July 28, 1914. But in both cases, it was only a matter of time before the smoldering rivalry ignited into open combat. Back then, what was at stake was determining order in Europe; today, the three leading powers are fighting to determine order on the globe. How will the dwindling resources be distributed? Who will end the arms race? Who will enforce the rules that put a stop to the progressive poisoning of nature and the heating of the planet? In a multipolar world, no one can solve these problems, because everyone is trying to gain the maximum advantage for himself. 

I’m afraid that I’m going to offend the reluctant reader, for example a peace researcher, even more with the following reflections. Let’s assume that the biggest among the pubescent louts are equally strong or that they form shifting coalitions. Then the schoolyard will come to rest only when one of these coalitions proves stable. In fact, the balance of power has always been a reason why wars between states were often decided only years after their beginning. But, not doubt, in the long run, they have always been decided. At some point, the strong defeat the weak and incorporate them into their own dominion. The whole history of mankind since its documented beginning more than ten thousand years ago is a process of incessant incorporations: Families merged into clans, clans into tribes, tribes into peoples and states, states into multi-ethnic superpowers. However, this history was almost never recorded by the losing party who had to suffer it, but by the victors – in retrospect, the past appears as an unending sequence of their triumphs. But this is exactly the problem that we face in our time. Since the second half of the 20th century there can and will be no more such triumphs. A red line has been drawn, that divides the history of man into a before and an after:

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It is at this point that the – terribly dilettantish and, of course, completely unscientific – comparison with a schoolyard completely fails. There, the stronger fists reliably ensured some kind of peace, but in the 21st century such an outcome is out of the question. Neither NATO nor Russia nor China can win and become the sole ordering power. This possibility has been eliminated once and for all since all three powers possess the end-time weapon. Weapons of mass destruction that wipe out life on the entire planet no longer permit victories – their use brings about something radically different: the peace of a planetary graveyard.

Fortunately for us and the future of our planet, the leading players know this quite well (but not necessarily politicians like Donald Trump). Especially the military at the highest level are perfectly aware of the instruments they are handling.  But why are they acting again against their better knowledge, and many of them also against their conscience, by fomenting mutual hatred? The answer may be primitive, but it seems to be correct. They all continue to obey the laws of the schoolyard, which apply among testosterone-driven students in a confined space just as they do on our now terribly crowded and largely plundered planet. all powers want to determine the future order for their own benefit. It is this ambition of the rival powers which constantly increases their rivalry. The balance of terror may have prevented hot war between the main rivals, Russia and the United States, during the Cold War, but both powers demonstrated strength by often brutally making nations on the periphery their pawn victims. A state of lasting stability is never achieved through such a balance of terror – if only because unforeseen inventions – our so-called progress – may suddenly destabilize any equilibrium at any time. Technological breakthroughs ensure, in an almost mechanical way, that the potential for mass destruction and the destruction of nature is continually increased.

Not only we, the individual citizens all over the world, have become powerless in the face of this process, even the politicians of the three rival superpowers behave like its puppets. As long as they face each other – on a multipolar plane – they have no way to stop the economic-military race, because every renunciation, every weakness of their own side amounts to an advantage for the other. For neither side will voluntarily allow itself to be overcome by the other. No matter whether we speak about the USA, China or Russia. A politician who freely agrees to the subordination of his country would be hounded away as a traitor by the scorn of his citizens.

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Abominable, this philosophy of strength and power, some readers of these lines will object at this point. There speaks a hard-boiled realist who knows nothing of love, renunciation, compassion and self-sacrifice for others – a man who just cannot or will not see the best in man, namely his idealism.

It is true that man has been able to endure his own history, which on the surface consists of a chain of never-ending wars, only because for most of them there have always been islands of retreat: Family, friends, communities in which one practiced the opposite of struggle and competition, namely, mutual help to the point of sacrificing oneself for others. Without this omnipresent polarity, from the dawn of history to our present day, it would not have been possible for man to even dream of peace, love and solidarity. Each of us survives the first years of his life solely because he has been loved and protected by others. The dimension of help and love is therefore as elementary to human history and to the life of every human being as the sinister confrontation with the laws of the schoolyard.

To a certain extent, the two dimensions are mutually dependent. It is well known that external aggression mobilizes the willingness to help each other in a threatened community. No amount of prosperity could have prevented Europe from breaking up again, but Putin’s war has brought Europeans closer together. And NATO, dismissed as brain-dead by Emmanuel Macron just a few years ago, is not only undergoing a renewal but even an expansion with the accession of Sweden and Finland. The Russian president claimed that he did not care about Finland and Sweden joining NATO. He had to spread this lie because otherwise he would admit that with his invasion of Ukraine he did not weaken but on the contrary strengthened NATO considerably. 

Love and hate are mutually dependent in Russia too. Anyone who follows Russian-language propaganda knows that hatred of the “collective West” is accompanied by mantra-like invocations of unity and mutual aid and sacrifice. We hear that both the U.S. and despised, decadent Europe would prefer to wipe Russia off the map and appropriate its raw materials. In order to prevent the global Russiaphobians from achieving their goal, all Russians are called upon to resolutely oppose the enemy. In the Western camp, the calls are less shrill, but enemies become more similar over time, because each of them naturally strives to use the most effective weapons in the military as well as ideological struggle. What this means on the battlefield is clear from the outset. The war of howitzers wreaks the same havoc in the cities of Ukraine when waged by the Russians or by the Ukrainians. War crimes occur – at least in part – simply because of the develish logic of such weapons. As for the ideological struggle, it boils down to both sides lying without restraint whenever death or life is at stake.

I spoke of a red line separating our time from the entire past, because the schoolyard model has lost its validity for all history to come. Since mankind invented nuclear and hydrogen bombs and supersonic missiles, there can be no winners on the battlefield. However, the ambition of the main rivals, Russia, the USA and China, to become powers determining the world order, and the hatred of the rivals who want to prevent them from doing so, remains unabated. The struggle therefore continues below the nuclear level, and it is being fought in the peripheral states. In the cold war of the first phase from 45 to 1990, these were mainly Third World states. Europe felt itself safe. Today, after Ukraine, the second phase of the new cold war could now spread to the European Union. Eruope is no longer safe. Possibly, with Putin’s blessing, the war will soon encompass Belarus.

I am afraid that love, this second omnipresent dimension and constant next to struggle and hatred, does not offer any solution to our unique historical situation. At present it is already obscured by outright hatred on all sides. Rather, it is growing fear that could promise a way out of danger. Fearing the catastrophe of mutual destructions, Americans and Russians must be ready to substantially limit their sovereignty, recognize each other as equals, unite to form some kind of joint world government. At this point it should not be forgotten that such a wish was first expressed on the part of Russia. On December 20, 1991, Boris Yeltsin proposed that his country join NATO. At the time, people reacted with amazement and incomprehension. China did not yet play a role. Russia seemed to have just stepped down as a major power from the world stage. People wondered where to find the enemy if the whole world were only NATO?

But that was the solution then, and it still is today. I, for one, cannot imagine any other.

Germany – a Banana Republic?

The critics of representative democracy suspect it of disenfranchising voters because they are prevented from voting directly on legislative proposals. This accusation ignores social reality, which has changed fundamentally since ancient Greece and the Germanic Thing, where free men (women were still excluded) decided on war and peace and many other basic concerns. Modern society has become so complex that most decisions require technical expertise that can only be provided by specialists. Continue reading Germany – a Banana Republic?

The Verdikt

The ruling against oil company Shell, forcing it to reduce CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030, is a landmark – the dawn of a new era. For the first time, the fate of a major corporation is no longer exclusively in its own hands, nor ruled by government regulations; instead, it is civil society that determines its freedom of action. Continue reading The Verdikt

Future – God’s eighth Day of Creation?

When studying and trying to understand the past, we always do so in order to cope with the present and be better equipped for the future – that’s a truism. But our endeavors become difficult when the past provides us with contradictory signals so that the future turns into mystery. Then it can happen that our certainties waver and we look for completely new orientations and even concepts. Continue reading Future – God’s eighth Day of Creation?

Yes, we can – No, we must! Build a better, sustainable World

When contemporaries talk about the dark years of Nazi rule, they want to make us believe, consciously or not, that they themselves would have been immune to the poison of inhuman propaganda. The fact is, however, that about 99 percent of Germans did not openly resist the regime, and a large part of them were eager to clap their hands at the big parades. Only a few took refuge in a kind of internal emigration offering invisible and silent resistance. Those, who today pretend to know precisely how they would have acted in those somber times, can muster hardly even one percent probability that they would have actually put their own lives at risk through open resistance.

When people have the bad luck

to live in a dictatorship which nips in the bud any open resistance, they have no choice but to close their mouths if they do not want to expose themselves and their relatives to immediate danger. Only uncritical later born ones imagine that they would have been the exceptions, that is the few opponents or even resistance fighters. They behave like people believing in former lives. When asked what they figure out to have represented in earlier times, they invariably assume the roles of the greats: Napoleons, Caesars, or Alexander, although the probability that they were merely part of the overwhelming majority of poor servants, slaves, or peasants is immensely greater.

Meanwhile, few people doubt

that we humans are social beings, who find it infinitely painful not to belong to some group of like-minded fellows. In the long run, we cannot stand to being looked down upon by others or being cut off as outsiders. It is not only external pressure that causes us to adapt to others, but the same pressure also comes from within each of us. Without a common language and common convictions, that is, some common identity, people find it hard to live. This is precisely why it is such a terrible misfortune when a criminal regime abuses this basic need for common language, convictions and identity for its own purposes.

To avoid being seen as eccentrics by their peers, many then adopt opinions and actions they would previously have vigorously rejected. The hatred that Hitler stirred up against the Jews had appeared offensive to many people, so they looked all the more for reasons to justify their silence. Did Germany not regain much prestige abroad? And had the regime not succeeded in ending the terrible unemployment within the country in a very short time? Very few understood that in order to pay off the resulting debts, the regime expropriated the Jews then robbed in merciless wars all of Europe.

Even regimes that, in comparison to Hitler’s thousand-year Reich

cause infinitely less suffering and harm, can count on our social needs as long as they are able to produce some undeniable achievements. Vladimir Putin successfully ended the chaos of the 1990s (partly promoted by the West); he has given his country’s economy a remarkable boost despite Western sanctions, and with a surprisingly effective armament has turned Russia into a superpower again – a power that has nothing to fear from anyone but terrifies the rest of the world with its latest nine-times supersonic nuclear missiles that no existing ballistic defense is able to intercept. For these achievements Russians are very grateful and willing to accept the crimes of their leadership: the occupation of Crimea in violation of international law and the unbroken chain of murders and assassinations of resistant opposition members.

It is no different with China

Anyone who believes that the one-party system there is built on shaky foundations is completely mistaken about this rapidly rising country. In reality, American democracy is currently much more at risk of imminent collapse than the regime in Beijing. While a civil war and final transition of the greatest Western democracy to an authoritarian system under presidents like Donald Trump now seems entirely possible, China is showing the world a model of stability. The Muslim minorities in Xin Jiang and the people of Tibet are ruthlessly oppressed, but this is accepted by the majority, because the government can justly claim that no other regime ever brought material prosperity in so short a time to a people bitterly poor still half a century ago. It now seems likely that the billion-strong nation will reach 75 percent of the American gross national product as early as next year.

Everything in China is new, monumental and nowhere else do people believe so unconditionally in the blessings of science. In the fight against Covid-19, the country strictly followed the recommendations of its expert epidemiologists and achieved a resounding success, while Western countries, above all the USA, are completely incapable of decisive action due to rampant internal dissent. Nothing is new in the US, far from it: the infrastructure is crumbling and is threatened by decay, much like in Third World countries. Only American science still remains a leader in many fields, but it must increasingly assert itself against a superiority of medieval creationists and fake news propagandists. Meanwhile, China’s government rides on a wave of success, it is silencing the opposition with an argument that is hard to contradict. We will make you rich and admired all over the world – what more do you want? What has the American one percent plutocracy to offer? It has made itself rich above all others while a majority got relatively poorer. No wonder, then, that democracy is losing more and more credibility in its oldest homeland.

Dictatorships remain in power for so long,

as a majority believes their promises. The later born ones should therefore be honest and not contradict probability. 99 percent will always shrink back from any statement or action that a resolute regime punishes with labor camps or death: they prefer to cooperate and will rather behave as opportunists. We may count those among the chosen few who at least do not take part in the general adulation and keep an inner distance – in dictatorships this is the only kind of resistance that does not endanger their lives.

Accordingly, there are situations in which people are almost powerless

This is an important lesson, because today you cannot talk about any topic without being confronted with an immediate objection: “But what can we do?” During most epochs of human history, 95% of all human beings could do little or nothing, if one understands by that the change of a given political and social order. At best, they could – even under the Nazis – preserve their inner freedom. During the thirteen years of the Third Reich, was there the slightest possibility for individuals to create another better world? Certainly not! There was only the possibility to keep a consciousness of decency and truth in one’s head and to preserve this ideal for future times.

What does this look into the past have to do with our present situation?

At first glance very little, but at second glance very much. Nobody has to fear for his life, even if he represents the most adventurous or even downright insane views, as for example the proselytes of the QAnon movement. In Western countries this freedom even extends to the president of a world power, who may openly disregard and discredit elementary truths of science. Not only ludicrous opinions, but obvious fakes have conquered the public life in the United States and elsewhere and are not only tolerated by disoriented masses but frenetically applauded when emanating from the very apex of political power.

This is the first thing in common with a dark past

In Germany we involuntarily think of the jeering crowds that cheered Goebbels or Hitler. But as a matter of fact, we gave a farewell to the freedom of thought just a decade ago. A striking break in Germany’s intellectual history was the way the country’s intelligentsia dealt with Thilo Sarrazin. Even those who did not agree with the opinions of the former social democratic senator, should have said with Voltaire that he not only had the right to express them, but that his fears should be taken seriously.

But there was no willingness to do so. It was considered unforgivable that he questioned the self-image of his compatriots, according to which they had thoroughly “overcome” their past and could not only boast of the greatest tolerance toward strangers, but even lived in the greatest harmony with them. Sarrazin denied this and insisted that cultural differences acquired in youth can be so persistent as to become a serious, insurmountable obstacle to a mutual beneficial coexistence. Self-righteous German intellectuals did not want to hear such admonitions. From the outset, a real intellectual confrontation with Sarrazin’s theses was therefore out of the question. What was to be heard instead was a goat’s song of indignation all over Germany and Austria, where the self-declared defenders of political correctness demonstrated their abysmal contempt for a man, who merely repeated what serious scientists had long before him said and proved with relevant numbers in lots of unheeded scientific articles. Sarrazin’s only scientifically untenable fault had been that at one point he confused culture with biology attributing a special gene to the Jews.

Only German Chancellor Merkel made a valid objection

The book was “not helpful,” she said. That’s right. In the scarcest conceivable formula, she touched upon the extremely difficult problem of uncomfortable, sometimes really destructive truth. As already mentioned, in his book “Deutschland schafft sich ab! (Germany abolishes itself) Sarrazin had only presented insights that were not at all controversial in professional circles. But it cannot be denied that his insights were in no way helpful if Germans wanted to successfully integrate strangers and win their confidence.

Does this constitute a valid argument to suppress all unhelpful truths? Certainly not. The great damage was not caused by the book but by the furious outcry of its enemies. Had it not been for the witch hunt that followed its publication, the book “Germany abolishes itself” would hardly have caused greater damage, but it would have saved the government from recklessly accepting more foreigners into the country than the population is ready to welcome with active help instead of being overpowered by distrust and finally xenophobia. I guess that the sober civil servant Sarrazin, so totally averse to fanaticism, never wanted to achieve more.

The nationwide outrage of the self-righteous,

which at that time included above all people who did not necessarily shine with more knowledge and argumentative intelligence, but who insisted all the more on their moral superiority, marks the beginning of an intellectual regression in Germany called “political correctness” elsewhere. The rapid progress of this new pressure for conformity is now everywhere to be seen. Especially in American politics under President Trump, who elevated lying and the whitewashing of problems to the rank of a working principle.

But we are hardly in a better position in view of those imminent challenges that currently worry us far more than immigration. As far as the latter is concerned, we did perhaps really manage – at least for the time being – to turn foreigners into good and equal citizens who enrich our societies. Provided, of course, that in the coming years there will not be millions of new asylum seekers who bring the specter of xenophobia back to life. But now there are other problems or rather crises that threaten us a lot more. “Yes, we can” has a much less convincing ring, though it is certainly true that “we must” overcome them.

Here, of course, I am thinking first and foremost of the great environmental and climate crisis,

which will remain with us even when there will be no more talk of Corona. But what does actually happen? In a grotesque way, discussions are dominated by taboos and bans on speaking and thinking. The freedom to openly speak ones mind is being deliberately destroyed by the outraged, the wishful thinkers, the populists, the hypocrites and the reptile conjurors of political correctness.

Bertrand Russell, at his time a globally respected mouthpiece of a left-wing world conscience, was still allowed to say what is anathema today, namely that humanity is destroying itself through uninhibited reproduction and that nature will take revenge if mankind were to prove unable to oppose this development with the means of intelligence, namely targeted family planning. In this case, nature, so Russell, would just mobilize its usual apocalyptic horsemen, namely wars, epidemics, etc. Nobody today is allowed to utter such an elementary truth. Such freedom has been destroyed, not least by a well-known Austrian writer who populistically distorted Russell’s warning by conjuring up the horror image of “superfluous human beings” – as if family planning meant that we wanted to eliminate our fellows.

Arnold Toynbee, one of the most renowned historians of modernity, could still maintain that the fossil-industrial revolution invented in Great Britain would probably be no more than an interlude in history, because in the future humanity must once again reduce its consumption of resources to an ecologically acceptable minimum while putting a definite end to the poisoning of nature produced by the remains of consumption.

But the most clear-sighted thinker, whose entire life’s work was to warn of and to avert the ecological catastrophe, is undoubtedly Herman Daly, who may therefore rightfully be considered the “pope” of ecological enlightenment. Daly never shied away from speaking the truth without any compromise. For example, he explained that none of the usual measures, such as taxes, help against the squandering of resources, but only definite upper limits on their consumption. But these could only be adhered to if states decoupled their economies from each other so that each of them was responsible for consumption and the poisons it produced. Daly also clearly recognized that Karl Marx’s definition of exploitation was too narrow. Exploitation also occurs when the wealthy classes encourage the proliferation of the poorer ones in order to secure a constant supply of cheap labor (it is no coincidence that the poor in ancient Rome were already called proletarians, that is child-makers). As a scientist of his time, he was still allowed to state such and similar unsavory truths. Today the hypocrites, trivializers, and beautifiers shiver with indignation when confronted with such insights.

But the resistance always gets really fierce when cherished illusions are frontally attacked. Under the prevailing political conditions, a green revolution is simply impossible. We are just as powerless as people were under the National Socialist regime. Admittedly, we can take all kinds of positive actions on a small scale – under National Socialism Germans were able to do so as well. Within their own families they could do a lot to ensure private peace. But it was, of course, an illusion to believe that in this way the crimes of the regime could be prevented.

With regard to the climate crisis, we find ourselves in exactly the same situation. We can certainly vote for the Greens, give up air travel, some may change the car for a bicycle and even deny themselves the pleasure of meat, but this will not avert the climate catastrophe. The reason is to be found in the dynamics of power.

The power spiral

The leading giants USA, Russia and China, but also some smaller states like India, Pakistan, Iran or North Korea, are so focused on each other that they constantly scan the strength of their rivals, i.e. their level of armament and economic power, in order either to catch up with them or at least not to lag behind them. It is completely unthinkable that any one of these states should voluntarily leave the arena of this race, unless a world power grants it protection or an economic collapse drags it down. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1989, but hardly ten years had passed when the new Russia re-entered the arena of the global arms race. True, Europe remained aloof as if it could change righteousness for armament. But it could do so only because until Obama it trusted that the US would never allow it to come under Russian rule.

The spiral of military and economic power makes it impossible for anyone to reduce the consumption of resources if that puts him at a disadvantage vis-a-vis his rivals. The American military alone, with its aircraft carriers and jets, is one of the main consumers of fossil fuels – not to mention all other resources. This should deliver us from the illusion that a serious reduction in the consumption of resources is possible as long as the global spiral of power continues to turn.

In the future – and under present political conditions -, it will only turn faster, since emerging giants like China are not at all willing to comply with the American demand to join the US and Russia on questions of disarmament. Not only does China first want to become as rich as the West, it also wants to become equally powerful by equipping its military with a nuclear arsenal at least as large as that of Russia and the US. The same rush for military strength is apparent in India and may in generally be observed in all states as soon as they get economically strong. Under these circumstances, a reduction in resource consumption and environmental poisoning is simply out of the question. Only Corona has brought about an involuntary break, but not in China, the country that causes the greatest environmental pollution.

For thirteen years, it would have been an illusion

if the Germans had believed that they could change the political or social situation in their country. They were de facto condemned to powerlessness. With the exception of Corona, our lives are infinitely easier today, but none of us can change the great environmental crisis now threatening the entire world. Again, it is a regime, this time the power spiral of global actors, that prevents effective resistance. Of course, a single state like Austria or even the whole of Europe could drop out of the race and ban all processes that demonstrably pollute nature. But the consequence would be that such an individual state or Europe as a whole would reduce its own competitiveness to such an extent that its exports collapse because its rivals displace its goods on the world market. That would be a solo run paid for with weakness. But weak states are – as we, the former colonial powers, do, of course, know very well – easy victims of the strong.

Is all that remains mere powerlessness and a sure the way

into catastrophe? No. Just as many Germans, after the thirteen dark years of their history, retained within themselves the image of another better world and translated this image – however imperfectly – into post-war reality, so the global community, which is more interwoven today than ever before, will have to take the final step towards global unity in order to become once again master of its destiny. Only after this terrible race, this final struggle of humanity against itself, is brought to an end, will men come to grips with the existential crisis of fossil-industrial civilization.

We know exactly what to do in order to make this happen. My book “Yes, we can – No, we must! Build a better, sustainable World!” says as little really new about measures we have to take as do most of the books written after Herman Daly’s fundamental work. But one thing it does illuminate in a completely new way and in all its facets: The book shows in detail why we – i.e. every state on earth, no matter how green it pretends to be – are completely incapable of putting this program into practice under the prevailing political conditions.

Nobody likes to hear this bitter truth,

because, even when we are powerless, we like to placate our conscience with comforting illusions. But it is precisely this self-deception which makes us run blindly towards disaster. “Yes, we can – No, we must! Build a better, sustainable World!” is an illusion-free call for honesty and a sharpened conscience. That one of the most honest and illusion resistant of all warners, Herman Daly, gave it his special praise is certainly a recommendation: “Dear Dr Gero Jenner, Thanks for sending me your cogently reasoned, well informed, and clearly written book. I hope it is widely read. Best wishes, Herman Daly” (July 14, 2020). 

This may be an additional reason to overcome taboos, mental prohibitions and political correctness, for that is what the book is all about.

Jenner on Jenner: Outline of a mind-related biography

As human beings we are controlled by emotions and by our intellect – at any time both are invariably involved, even if it sometimes seems as if we are dealing with either purely emotional people or pure intellectuals. A mathematic formula, for example, which to an average person may seem as cold, lifeless and repellent as a prison wall, may produce enchantment and ecstasy in a mathematician who perceives it something extremely beautiful and elegant. In other words, he experiences much the same feelings as a musician who is playing Mozart or Bach. Feelings and the intellect don’t present themselves to us with an either-or, but we may definitely speak of prevailing tendencies.

Continue reading Jenner on Jenner: Outline of a mind-related biography

The Virus in our Heads

Almost daily I watch one or the other transmission of the Russian-speaking channel 1TVRUS, because I want to know about the mood of our largest neighbor. The English-language programs of RT (Russia Today) are less informative in this respect, because they are geared towards Western expectations. “Vremja pokazhet” (Time will tell) is aimed at a Russian audience. It’s a talk show that’s louder and wilder than any other I know. Regularly discussants shout down each other, as if the volume of their voices were decisive for the quality of opinions.

Continue reading The Virus in our Heads

Is Democracy still alive?

We are used to measuring this form of government above all by the degree of freedom that a government grants its citizens. Viewed from this perspective, the picture is as bright as it is gloomy. No one prevents me from expressing even the most absurd opinions. I may even call publicly for the overthrow of the government, provided that this is done without insulting specific individuals and without denouncing the democratic constitution as such. Continue reading Is Democracy still alive?

Thymos and Logic – Why we know, yet do not act

Francis Fukuyama, arguably America’s most profound political scientist, enriched our understanding of man and history by an important notion of Greek origin – “thymos”. This term, used extensively by Plato in “The State”, is well suited to illuminate our present situation. The Greek philosopher speaks of thymos to describe a decisive dimension of human action. In his opinion, man does not obey reason alone; in truth, something else is added, namely will, desire, passion, anger, self-assertion – in short, “thymos”. Whoever ignores this driving force hardly understands human behavior. Continue reading Thymos and Logic – Why we know, yet do not act

Strong Men, Weak Peoples – the Uncertain Future of Democracy

A critical reviewer would probably have to accompany this essay in the manner of Wikipedia: “additional evidence required”. Nevertheless, I dare to publish it, because I fear that there will never be enough evidence on this topic – but instead lots of different opinions. What I may offer the reader are mere impressions, everyone may supplement them in his own way and with his – hopefully better – knowledge. Continue reading Strong Men, Weak Peoples – the Uncertain Future of Democracy

Fake Reality – two Reasons why even the Greens are only telling half the Truth about Climate Change

Dedicated to William E. Rees Continue reading Fake Reality – two Reasons why even the Greens are only telling half the Truth about Climate Change

Apocalypse – When?

Military competition is certainly no invention of our time, nor is war. We saw that comparatively simple but revolutionary technical innovations such as the use of horses, stirrups and combat bows were able to wreak havoc in the hands of nomads. Continue reading Apocalypse – When?