Labor fetish and anti-semitism

by Lothar Galow-Bergemann

„Work makes you free“ was written above the gate of the Auschwitz death camp. How did the Nazis come up with that? Isn’t work something meaningful, something good? What does it have to do with Auschwitz, of all places? A great deal. Because work and meaningful activity are, contrary to popular belief, two different things.

german version

[This article published on 3/10/2022 is translated from the German on the Internet]

Published in Jungle World, 03/10/2022.



The work society

The highest law in our society is not written anywhere, but everyone knows it: We have to work all our lives to earn money so that we can live. This working and the positive reference to it seems to us like a law of nature. But even the origin of the word „work“ in different languages should make us wonder. The ancient Greek ponein (to work) comes from ponos (toil, burden), the French and Spanish words for work travail /trabajo derive from the vulgar Latin tripalare, which means nothing other than „to torment, to stake.“ In Russian, work is called rabota, which comes from rab, „the slave.“ And the Germanic arba simply means „the servant. Weiterlesen

Enough sweating!

by Lothar Galow-Bergemann

In a study worth reading, sociologist Steffen Liebig examines models of working time reduction from a social and ecological perspective

german version

[This article published on January 20, 2022 is translated from the German on the Internet.]
published in Jungle World, January 20, 2022

For decades, trade unions have made little progress in demanding a reduction of working hours. After the struggles of the 1980s over the 35-hour week, a leaden calm settled over the country for what felt like an eternity. The temporary introduction of a four-day week at VW between 1994 and 2006 gave rise to certain hopes, but these were soon abandoned. All in all, there was a threat of regression. Although hardly a trade union conference went by without a new standard for working hours being demanded in eloquent and well-founded terms, the results were not forthcoming. Those who for decades have only been able to make demands and move practically nothing are obviously in crisis. This shows the dwindling power of the trade unions under the conditions of global competition between locations and technologically driven productivity growth. Weiterlesen

Why are there so few reasonable and so much absurd Corona protests?

Speech by Lothar Galow-Bergemann

german version

Tradução em português

at the vigil „Cross-thinkers“ get in the way – stop anti-Semitic conspiracy ranting! on April 17, 2021.
(This article published on 4/27/2021 is translated from the German on the Internet.]

Along with the Covid 19 pandemic, hair-raising and dangerous conspiracy fantasies are spreading. People are fabricating about secret plans by evil billionaires to implant microchips in them and about a „Merkel dictatorship“ acting on their behalf. The belief that they are at the mercy of malicious, greedy and unimaginably powerful dark forces is just as deep-seated in them as the conviction that they themselves are in legitimate resistance to it. More and more frequently, open anti-Semitism is also expressed, which insinuates that „the Jews“ are the real masterminds of evil.

Unfortunately, it cannot be said that what we are currently witnessing at the demonstrations of the alleged „lateral thinkers“ has nothing to do with the rest of society. After all, at the latest since the financial and economic crisis of 2008, a great many people believe that „it’s all the fault of those up there.“ Criticism of society is confused with anger at „greedy billionaires“, „pack of lies“ and „lying press“. This works in right-wing, left-wing and „alternative“ milieus just as well as in the supposedly „good middle of society. Weiterlesen

Class struggle is too little

by Lothar Galow-Bergemann

german version

(This article published on January 23, 2020 is translated from the German on the Internet.] Published in Jungle World #4/2020, January 23, 2020.

Many leftists, who for decades focused on identity politics and forgot about the social question, are practicing self-criticism for good reason, because by doing so they left the interpretation of important social conflicts to liberals, conservatives and fascists. Even if some have lost sight of the working class – it exists and class struggles are necessary. But class struggle today can at best achieve makeshift and unstable successes for individual groups of the working class; it can no longer provide lasting answers to the social question. Because the constraints of capital exploitation block the solution of all decisive questions for the future, social struggles today must directly pose – theoretically as well as practically – the system question. And it is precisely here that the problems with the class struggle begin. The class interest of the working class has long since turned out to be the system-immanent interest of those who depend on the sale of their labor power. There is a lack of system-busting potential. Weiterlesen

Stolen Time

Why Capitalism Forces Us to Do Without and Why We Could Work Less

By Lothar Galow-Bergemann and Ernst Lohoff

Excerpt from a text in the book Shutdown. Klima, Corona und der notwendige Ausstieg aus dem Kapitalismus ISBN 978-3-89771-292-8, Unrast Verlag, 14,00 €

deutsche Version

The world as we know it is disintegrating at a rapid pace. For years, the word crisis has taken on a life of its own – regardless of whether it is a matter of climate, finance, economics, social systems, democracy, migration, or international relations. In the critical social sciences, people talk of an age of „multiple crises“ (Brandt/Wissen 2017). With the spread of the corona virus, this general crisis has come to a head at a speed and scale that hardly anyone could have previously imagined.

The corona and climate crises demonstrate how ‚our economy‘ is failing to meet the existential challenges of the time. Eternal growth, maximum profit, and rising share prices are the lifeblood of the economy. Without them, it immediately begins to crumble. The climate crisis reveals that growth programmed for infinity will amount to the destruction of the planet in the medium rather than the long term. The challenge posed by the corona pandemic, on the other hand, has abruptly demonstrated that such an economy can produce mountains of corpses in a very short time1 if it is not subjected to massive intervention. At first, many countries tried to rein in the market economy to varying degrees and, on the whole, not very successfully. Incidentally, in doing so, they did a remarkable job, in the blink of an eye, of reducing to absurdity much of what had previously been considered irrevocable and sacred – from the “debt brake” to faith in the supposedly beneficial effects of the market itself. For a brief moment, it became clear that acting against the economic logic of capital is not only possible, but also necessary for survival. This is an important experience that should be sustained, because it is highly valuable for any emancipatory movement.

But it did not take long for the brutal constraints of capital exploitation to gain more and more ground against the lukewarm health policy measures. Weiterlesen

Porque há tão poucos protestos sensatos e tantos protestos absurdos diante do coronavirus?

Discurso contra a vigília dos “opositores da vacina” – chega de murmúrios de conspiração antissemita!, 17 de Abril de 2021.

de Lothar Galow-Bergemann

Original in deutsch – Mit Dank für die Übersetzung an Krisis – Crítica da sociedade da mercadoria

english version

Juntamente com a pandemia de Covid-19, estão se espalhando fantasias de conspiração perigosas e assustadoras. As pessoas falam sobre planos secretos de bilionários malvados para lhes implantar microchips e uma “ditadura de Merkel” agindo em nome deles. A crença de que estão à mercê de forças obscuras malignas, gananciosas e inimaginavelmente poderosas, está tão arraigada nelas quanto a convicção de que elas próprias são uma resistência legítima. Com uma frequência cada vez maior, exprime-se um antissemitismo aberto, que pressupõe “os judeus” como os verdadeiros controladores do mal.

Infelizmente, não se pode dizer que o que estamos assistindo atualmente nas manifestações dos alegados “pensadores laterais” (Querdenker) não tem nada a ver com o resto da sociedade. Porque, o mais tardar desde a crise financeira e econômica de 2008, muitas pessoas acreditam que “a culpa é toda dos que estão por cima”. A crítica social confunde-se com a raiva dirigida aos “multimilionários gananciosos”, ao “pacote de mentiras” e à “imprensa mentirosa”. Isso funciona nos meios da direita, esquerda e “alternativos”, bem como no pretensamente bom “centro” da sociedade.

Weiterlesen

L’antifascisme face au djihadisme

Lothar Galow-Bergemann

en allemand

Traduit de l’allemand par SOLITUDES INTANGIBLES

[Preface du traducteur:]
Les mouvements et mobilisations antifascistes accordent en France peu d’intérêt aux phénomènes djihadistes. Au sein des discussion antifascistes, la focalisation sur l’instrumentalisation de la question du djihadisme par les discours et dispositifs racistes, l’attention portée à la nécessaire déconstruction de la figure de l’ennemi intérieur musulman et à la place de celle-ci dans la gouvernementalité anti-terroriste laissent peu de place à la réflexion sur la réalité du djihadisme comme fait social et politique. Par ailleurs, la tendance à vouloir identifier dans les groupes sociaux subalternes des sujets révolutionnaires potentiels, combinée à une compréhension instrumentale du fascisme qui appréhende uniquement les mouvements fascistes du point de vue de leur utilité pour la mise en œuvre des projets hégémoniques des classes dominantes, amène l’antifascisme à ignorer le rapport entre fascisme et les tendances autoritaires du sujet du capitalisme en crise ainsi qu’à sous-estimer la propension au fascisme dans l’ensemble de la population, y compris au sein des classes populaires. Le texte de Lothar Galow-Bergemann propose de revenir sur ces angles morts de l’antifascisme en insistant sur la nécessité d’une compréhension et d’une lutte contre le djihadisme sur la base d’une théorisation adéquate du rapport entre fascisme et capitalisme. Weiterlesen

1968 and The Discourse of Compassion: The Long March to Social Inclusion

Lecture by Andrei S. Markovits

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Karl W. Deutsch Collegiate Professor of Comparative, Politics and German Studies, Professor of Political Science, Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Professor of Sociology The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

held on the 5th of June 2018 in Stuttgart, Germany

[We are publishing this text with kind permission by the author]

Deutsche Version

– Dedicated to the memory of my friend and colleague MOISHE POSTONE             (1942 – 2018) –

Thank God for the dominance of the decimal system that has allowed me to come to speak to you today. It is merely due to this fascinating convention and transcultural habit as to how we humans categorize things in decanal segments — salaries, expenses, the stock market, political and sporting competitions, our ages (personal, political, historical) and, of course, the commemoration of events – that we accord certain “round anniversaries” such significance. Weiterlesen

What is Anti-Imperialism? Notes on the decline of the Left

by Emanzipation und Frieden (Emancipation and Peace)

Thanks to korynmalius for the translation  (Original in deutsch)

In 1910, Finance Capital: A Study of the latest phase of capitalist development, by Rudolf Hilferding, was published. The author was a member of the SPD and became finance minister, in 1923 and again in 1928/29. In 1916, Vladimir Lenin, who was to be the leader of the Russian October revolution, wrote Imperialism: the highest stage of capitalism. This text founded what we know as Marxism-Leninism, it was the essential source of Soviet foreign policy, and serves many anti-imperialists, even today, as a basis for their political views. Weiterlesen

Thank you dear Americans. And please stay another 70 years.

June 6th 1944 – June 6th 2014 – 70 years D-Day

D-Day

in german

Dear Americans,

On June 6th in 1944 your soldiers landed at Normandy. Together with your allies, against the fierce resistance of the Germans, you put an end to National Socialism, the Shoa and the war of annihilation. Later you took care for democratic structures in western Germany. Without your victory the world would be more like a graveyard now.

But dear Americans, please don‘t believe that the people in Germany are very fond of you for that. Germans might be leftists, Christians or Nazis – but most of them agree in one point: they despise you. They might claim that they just criticize your policy but you can forget about that. Weiterlesen

What is regressive anti-capitalism? Notes on the difference between critique of capitalism and critique of capitalists

by Emanzipation und Frieden (Emancipation and Peace)

Thanks to korynmalius for the translation 🙂 (Original in deutsch)

Since 2008, the crisis refuses to go away. The idea of an eternally prosperous market-economy is dead and gone, and so is the “critique of capitalism”. But, unfortunately, something lurks under this title: resentment. This is also true for part of the Left, who, although—I will grant you this—at least it fights the populist slogans about “those lazy Greeks who wait for our hand-outs”, in other respects is in the same category as what you can hear down the pub. Weiterlesen

True and False Causes of the Financial Crisis

Englische Übersetzung der Rede von Lothar Galow-Bergemann zum Neujahrsempfang der Aktion 3. Welt Saar am 23. Januar 2009, erschienen am 27. Juli 2010 auf der Seite von Baltimore IMC

The jubilant singing about free enterprise as the supposedly best of all worlds sounds much quieter than at the beginning of the 90s. Capitalism produces crises, wars and catastrophes. We urgently need alternatives. This is now a matter of survival. Weiterlesen