Economy and social affairs

Everything was better in the past

(Published May 2020, supplemented July 2021)

The good old days

When you get older and think back, you mainly remember good feelings and beautiful experiences.

You were young, healthy and strong. The world was open to you, you felt up to all challenges. There was more humanity, e.g. camaraderie in the sports club instead of narcissism in the fitness center. Almost all athletes in the 50s and 60s were still amateurs[i].

Then inevitably followed fundamental personal decisions that determined the further course of life and limited individual freedom: Education, career choice, starting a family, place of residence. But the happy memories of youth remain.

After the currency reform of June 20, 1948, the German economy grew.

Millions of displaced persons from the lost territories in the East, and zone refugees from the GDR could be taken in and integrated into the economy and the labor market. The bombed-out cities were rebuilt, the national budget was balanced, and the D-Mark was one of the hardest currencies.

The social market economy with the motto "Prosperity for All" eased the tensions between capital and labor.

Wages rose, there was soon full employment, income disparities were smaller, and people lived more modestly but with more confidence than today. I remember how we noted with amazement that the new head of Mercedes was to receive an annual salary of one million!

No one doubted the security of their jobs, pensions and savings.

Our democracy, with three (actually four) established parties, seemed solid. The politicians had suffered through the Third Reich and World War II. These painful experiences shaped their character; they were aware that seemingly insignificant decisions could have far-reaching consequences.

The Western world, especially Western Europe was peaceful, stabilized by Iron Curtain and Cold War.

For us, the Korean War (1950-1953) remained an episode that triggered a brief boom.

The Vietnam War (1955-1975) became one of the causes of the student protests of '68, which passed but - as we realized only later - changed the political climate, media, schools and universities in the long run. (Cf. "Intelligence ticks left" under "Economy and social affairs").

Washing machines and other household appliances had a much longer shelf life than today, but - measured against income - they were also much more expensive than today. Even in the 1950s, a "Constructa" was an expensive luxury. Also, the design was repair-friendly, the "throwaway society", which depended on continuous growth, with hard-to-repair appliances of limited service life, came later.

In Germany - even in Europe - people felt safe. Organized crime or even a bank robbery could perhaps take place in Chicago or Sicily, but not in the middle of the Federal Republic!

Adventurous young people could travel in a VW van across the Balkans, through Turkey and Iran to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Or through the Sahara.

With the construction of the Berlin Wall on July 13, 1961, Bolshevism or socialism showed its ugliest side in the midst of the Cold War, a side that people today are reluctant to remember. In the meantime, even top German politicians dare to deny that the GDR was an unjust state.
Willi Brandt on the construction of the GDR wall and the coercive measures associated with it, which could not be imagined without Russian consent:
"They mean that not only a kind of state border but the barrier wall of a concentration camp is drawn right through Berlin."
And further:
"The concrete pillars, the barbed wire, the death strip, the watchtowers and the submachine guns, these are the hallmarks of a concentration camp." 

The changing world

Then came upheavals that changed Germany (and the world): automation, reunification, globalization, deregulation, liberalization, Internet, digitalization, (organized) crime, over-indebtedness of many states, unstable financial systems, stock market crash, environmental destruction, multi-culti, global warming, asylum seekers, parallel societies, criminal clans, outbreaks of violence, terrorism, cyber-crime, artificial intelligence (AI).

As a result of the global competition with the fiercest competition of all times, Europe lost entire branches of industry. The West's lead is dwindling, jobs are being outsourced to developing countries.

The now unchecked turbo-capitalism shows its ugly face: the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, the state-supporting middle class dwindles.

Extremist parties make democracy confusing and unstable.

These changes and upheavals came too quickly for most, many of whom feel overwhelmed.

The European Union is less and less able to fulfill the expectations placed in it.

Although the euro was introduced (as a price for German unity or as a substitute for reparations?), it increases the differences between the differently developed economies in the euro zone instead of reducing them.

But the indispensable accompanying measures are missing: Common foreign policy (why does each country of the EU need a legation in all important states? Is not enough a EU embassy?); common economic, financial and defense policies; harmonization of working hours, taxation, retirement age, laws and legal systems; effective fight against corruption, drug trafficking and organized crime, etc. Better not to talk about the overpaid Brussels bureaucracy and the costly mischief of the two parliamentary seats in Strasbourg and Brussels[ii].

For many - including some politicians - the discussion about the gender asterisk is more important than the rise of China as perhaps soon to be the dominant world power.

Policy failure or politicians' failure?

Terrorist acts by extremist groups are new to Europe. Here, the state authorities often seem helpless.

War is also being waged again in Europe: in Ireland, in the Balkans, in Armenia and in Ukraine, ugly civil wars have raged and continue to rage.

German soldiers - unthinkable in the 1950s and 1960s - are sent on "peace missions" to the Balkans, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. Quite a few - too many - come back in coffins.

The results of these costly "peace operations" are more than meager and, for example, in Afghanistan after 19 years (2020) rather counterproductive. The "democratic West" squanders many billions here and reaps the hatred of the Islamic world.[iii].

The vulnerability of the economy, politics and society, as well as their weak points, is now being ruthlessly exposed by the Corona crisis.

The euro and the EU will probably just survive this crisis; with the help of record-breaking debt, through which our politicians want to postpone the expected crash and the feared mass unemployment beyond the coming election year (2021).

But both the EURO and the EU will hardly be able to withstand another serious challenge. The UK's exit is a warning shot that nobody seems to want to hear!

Do we have the strength for urgently needed reforms?

Is it any wonder that many long back to the "good old days" of the 1950s through the 1980s, when people could feel safe, the world was stable and seemed to be on a good path?[iv].

Personally, I started my professional life pretty much at the same time as the currency reform.

I experienced the technical and economic rise of the Federal Republic of Germany during my work in trade and industry and my university studies, as well as the moral and political decline and the serious political mistakes of the last decades, which now endanger all the achievements of the post-war period.

“It is time for a jolt in Germany and Europe to try the formulation of our former Federal President. And now. 2021 and 2022 are years of directional decisions. For Germany - but ultimately also for Europe. Because this super election year is not just about the Chancellery. It's about which economic policy, yes: which economic order should shape the coming decade. "
Christian Sewing (Steingart's Morning Briefing, 9/7/2021).

After the most crushing defeat in German history, almost everyone was depressed at first, many depressed. Then, with the currency reform, a mood of optimism slowly set in. Things were now looking up noticeably, and almost everyone was positive about the future.

In recent decades, fears about the future[v] have grown, not least because our state was run down during the Merkel years: Railroads, roads and bridges are dilapidated, the Bundeswehr[vi] and the navy have been cut to the bone, the overflowing bureaucracy operates almost as it did in the 19th century, digitization is a buzzword that the state apparatus either hasn't heard of or doesn't feel up to. Social costs, e.g. for old-age pensions, health and asylum seekers, are running away. Trust in politics and politicians is approaching zero. People want to cover up obvious weaknesses with political and media propaganda.
The typical state of an internally torn late civilization that either has to muster the strength to push through far-reaching - even painful reforms for many - or is stumbling into decline with a lot of media and political shouting.

Unless something changes soon, we will leave our grandchildren a run-down country with shaky political structures, a huge mountain of debt (the national debt of Germany is now (2021) over EUR 2.3 trillion) and the infrastructure of a developing country.

But the world has never been better!

Economists and sociologists strongly disagree with this image of a "better time" only decades ago, which many older people have been shaped by personal impressions. From their point of view, we have never been as well off as we are today:

Central Europe has been at peace for 75 years; the longest period of peace since the "pax romana", the Augustan Peace in the 1st century!

In previous centuries, there were at least two wars per century in Europe, not to mention the numerous colonial wars. Today's happy period of peace is supposedly mainly thanks to the EU, which, however, is currently facing major challenges.

Despite the dramatic increase in the population, prosperity would be higher than ever in the majority of countries, even in developing and emerging countries.

The possibilities of the scientific and technical civilization, which hurries from one innovation to another, seem limitless. Research is flourishing, new scientific discoveries are rolling out and surprising new possibilities can be expected.

In all problem areas, the trend is considered to be downward; for still existing economic, political and social upheavals, one can hope for practicable solutions. Politicians can sit back and carry on as before[vii].

In summary, this view, propagated by the mainstream, paints an optimistic picture of the present that suggests an even better future with far more benefits for all people.

So, apart from the Corona crisis, which is expected to pass soon, we are doing splendidly, better than ever before!

Why don't we realize that?

Because with all the progress, with all the real or only apparent achievements, we are not satisfied and happy.

Why do you think?

Man does not live by bread alone (Matth. 4,4)

Our world is characterized by materialism, not to say obsessed with the material.

Man sees himself as a primate with a particularly large brain, which is distinguished from the rest of nature by its superior thinking ability.

All efforts, all efforts of our civilization are directed towards external, visible phenomena.
The natural sciences set the direction with their worldview, which is limited to the earthly. Not only the exact sciences, but also economics, ecology, politics, even philosophy and religions are dominated by intellectual thinking.

The everyday processes, the supply of the population, with their increasing demands, mostly still function quite well in the industrialized countries; because here the mind is in its actual field of action, the gross materiality.

But when ethics, peacefulness, genuine humanity, religiosity, tolerance, a sense of responsibility, far-sightedness or even wisdom are required, the mind must lead the way through its sensibilities (not to be confused with "gut feeling", which is characterized by prejudice), otherwise even the most well-intentioned approaches will fail.

If even unspiritual impulses such as feelings, emotions, extremism, fanaticism, fundamentalism, dogmatism, atheism, ideology dominate, then the endeavors get out of hand, get out of control, create mischief.

The inner, the actual values of man, his feelings are drowned out by the dominance of thinking with its belief in science. True humanity withers.

Even in art today, feeling does not always play the decisive role. Inspiration, higher inspiration are often not felt or are even replaced by abnormalities. -

In Christian doctrine, man consists of the body and the immortal soul, to which paradise is promised, provided only the mind believes superficially in the church dogmas.

Personally, I prefer a tripartite division of human nature and assume an immortal core, the "spirit personality", surrounded by subtle and gross material shells.

The spiritual core, the actual human being has gone out from the spiritual realm as an unconscious spirit germ. He must dive into the materialities in order to develop in a denser environment, with sharper contrasts, from the unconscious to the conscious. Finally - after a long path of development - he may return to his home, the spiritual realm, as a fully developed, self-aware human spirit.

The nature and time of the development of the spirit depend on its decisions, which determine its life path and lead to the necessary inner experiences, which shape the true, the spiritual values of man. For the human spirit is given the freedom of decision, which, however, is inseparably connected with the responsibility for its decisions and their consequences.[viii].

During the earthly departure, the earthly man leaves behind his earthly body, the gross material cover, together with the brain and lives further in the hereafter as a "human soul", i.e. as a human spirit with a fine material cover.

In the transcendent, the soul can purify itself further, i.e. gather new experiences. After that, the soul either comes back to earth to incarnate again into an earthly body.
Or, after many lives on earth, it has refined itself to such an extent that it can detach itself from all ties to the gross materiality and develop further in the fine materiality until it is finally able to discard the fine material shell. Then the gate opens for this fully mature soul into its true home, which religions call "paradise.

Crucial on this long development path is the spiritual development. Only through this is our actual goal attainable. Deep sensations that glow through the spirit lead to the necessary experience that matures the spirit personality, that is, the actual human being.

Pure intellectual achievements, which are not guided by feeling, mean little for the spiritual development. Superficial thinking, everyday earthly activities, learned knowledge, faith without understanding, unclear feelings, blurred imagination, hardly touch the feeling, the movements of the spiritual core. However, the developments of the spiritual core are the goal and sense of necessary earth incarnations, as well as of being in transcendental regions.

The expression of spiritual experience lies in our inner sensations, which must act as guides and use the mind only as a tool for earth life. For the language of the spirit is the sensation. Through it we can experience eternity values and guide our way of life on God-ordained paths.

A humanity that is completely devoted to external appearances, to material processes, and lets the earth mind dominate, loses its soul values and genuine humanity. It must impoverish itself mentally and spiritually. The necessary connections to supporting creative forces break off, and the crash of such an earth-bound humanity threatens.

Our innermost being, the human spirit, painfully feels this aberration, the abuse of the freedom of choice given to us, and wants to warn us, to admonish us to turn back. The widespread fear of the future is an inarticulate warning signal. But we have forgotten to listen to our feelings, to make contact with higher forces through them and, with their help, to take paths that harmonize with the unchangeable laws of God.

Instead, we listen to the mind bound to the brain, which pushes us into ways alien to nature and, like locusts, ravages the earth until it is stripped bare.

Foreign to us is the thought of how our, often selfish, earthly activities will probably be judged in the "hereafter," in the "other world" into which we must inevitably enter after our earthly demise.
No one wants to know about the old saying "For their works follow them".

Due to its nature, everything higher is alien to the earth mind. It can never understand spiritual things, and the true knowledge of God is closed to it.

The wrong ways of the mind fixed on matter lead by natural law into the earthly and spiritual decline.

The necessary conversion requires spiritual awakening!

Through noble thinking and willing let us find contacts to promoting creative forces and strengthen our feeling!

Then contentment and happiness can take hold of us!

[i] As late as 1972, the Austrian skier Karl Schranz was sent home from the Sapporo Olympics because he had once helped out as a ski instructor. That's how strict the IOC President Avery Brundage (1887-1975) at that time still the amateur statute, which was undermined in the countries of the Eastern Bloc long ago, as I could experience personally already 1956 in Warsaw at a national fight with the Polish national team in epee fencing.
[ii] Already Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) recognized that democracy is a particularly expensive form of government. (Cf. "A Prophet of the Mass Age" in "Short, Succinct, Curious" page 408). A typical example is offered by the Federal Republic with 16 state governments and with 16 state parliaments. Half would be amply sufficient for the federal structure of the FRG decreed by the Allies.
[iii] Cf. book review "The Hatred of the West. 
[iv] Further thoughts on the "changing world" can be found under "Economy and social affairs": "Economy instead of humanity", "Globalization of immorality", "The End of the Social Contract, "The start of the 21st century", „Farewell to the (Social) Market Economy?", "Do we need the eco-dictatorship?"; and under "Ecology": "What apocalypse is coming?".
[v] I will never forget a dinner in the 1990s to which a friend invited me to a Bundeswehr casino. (At that time Volker Rühe, called "Rüpel" was minister of defense). There I sat together with two captains who told me unbelievable stories about the Bundeswehr. I could only say "that can't be true", "that's impossible", but, as a "white vintage" who had never been in the Bundeswehr, I had to be taught by two experts.
Despite the possibility of being denounced as a "right-wing extremist," I would like to say something about my idea of the Bundeswehr:
Before German soldiers, after the Second World War, are sent into battle again (as was the case for the first time during the Yugoslavian war in 1991-2001), politicians must first know what they want and, in particular, think about the end. And, if the war deployment is unavoidable, please only under the following conditions:
The soldiers must be convinced,
* That they have the best training,
* That they have the best weapons,
* that behind them is an optimally organized institution that can provide them with the best possible care in the event of an emergency,
* that the German people entrust them with their security and rely on the loyalty and bravery of the soldiers.
Whoever then does his military service in this sense and is prepared to also use his life deserves the appropriate respect. Silly sayings of the peace movements are just as inappropriate as questionable political figures, without any expertise, as defense ministers.
[vi] The "german angst" is not an invention of disliked foreigners, but the expression of our awareness that we Germans failed in a special way in the first half of the 20th century, and made ourselves guilty.
[vii] The book "Factfulness" by Hans Rosling (Ullstein Verlag) sees only positive developments and is best suited to reassure politicians.
[viii] Here comes the difference between Ethics of Mind and Responsibility Ethics (Max Weber, 1864-1920) comes into play:
Ecclesiastical Christianity is ethics: "The Christian does right and leaves success to God." (Max Weber).
The Grail Message "In the Light of Truth" by Abd-ru-shin (publisher of the Grail Message Foundation, Book review) is Responsible ethics. It demands that you take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.
This dichotomy between ethics of mind and forward-looking ethics of responsibility divides our society, for example, on the refugee issue.