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Cat Defender

Exposing the Lies and Crimes of Bird Advocates, Wildlife Biologists, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, Exterminators, Vivisectors, the Scientific Community, Fur Traffickers, Cloners, Breeders, Designer Pet Purveyors, Hoarders, Motorists, the United States Military, and Other Ailurophobes

Friday, August 12, 2005

Jeremy Rifkin's Der Spiegel Interview Offers No Real Solutions for Either Europe or the World

Because he has had some kind things to say about animals in the past, Jeremy Rifkin is usually worth reading. However, the best that can be said for his recent six-part interview with Der Spiegel is that his intellectual tour de force was underwhelming.

First of all, he offers absolutely no practicable advice as to how Europe can get out of the constitutional crisis that it now finds itself in. He skirts all of the major issues. Zum Beispiel, what should the scope of the EU be? What nations should be included and which ones should be excluded? Accordingly, how are traditional rivalries and suspicions, such as those which exist between Frankreich and Old Blighty, to be overcome? In discussing economic matters he recommends the Scandinavian model as a halfway house between the Anglo-American model and the French and German socialist systems but he does not offer any details as to how this mixing of diverse systems would work or could even be realized. Tant pis, he is completely silent as to what Europe should do about the current Verfassung. From abroad, it looks as if Europe is going to have to start over from the beginning unless the political and economic elite decide to junk democracy altogether and impose the constitution by legislative fiat.

On matters as diverse as employment, energy, and immigration, Rifkin makes even less sense. In one of the articles he writes that the solution to Arbeitslosigkeit is job-sharing, i. e., instead of one person working forty hours a week, two people would work twenty hours each. This is in itself nonsense in that one reason unemployment is so high in Deutschland and elsewhere is because employers are shedding workers (outsourcing, hiring immigrants, automating, etc.); also, fewer workers mean lower payroll taxes and health care costs for employers. Nonetheless, after having said all of that, Rifkin continues in the next breath to say that Europe needs fifty to one-hundred million new immigrants. If Europe does not have enough jobs for its own people why then does it need more immigrants? In the United States, the capitalists love immigrants because they want cheap labor and the thrill of running a plantation. Also, immigration creates the need for new schools, hospitals, mass transportation, housing, basic necessities, etc., all of which not only stimulate the economy but also substantially increase employment in the public sector. Of course, the money for increased governmental spending has to come from somewhere and in the United States it comes from sky-high property taxes (some people are actually being taxed out of their own homes!) and loans from China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. It is therefore difficult to see what Rifkin's pro-immigration policy is going to do for the five million workers unemployed in Deutschland and the ten per cent of the French workforce without jobs.

With regard to his so-called third sector economy, it appears that he is talking about starving artists. If he is proposing that artists should be paid for simply being artists, where is this money to come from? Secondly, although the mass media are growing in size every day because of both increased demand and monopolization, the number of creative jobs ( writing, thinking, performing, etc.) is actually shrinking. Zum Beispiel, in the United States seven conglomerates control a lion's share of all book publishing, four record labels dominate the music business, and Clear Channel owns more than sixteen-hundred radio stations and is the booking agent for just about all popular music concerts. Capitalists and fascists are not in the habit of cultivating divergent views.

As far as cultural integration is concerned, Rifkin offers up the model of the Peace Corps to what he calls the "Erasmus Generation." It is difficult, however, to see how this would ever work since Europeans cannot even get along with themselves let alone with the Muslims. Moreover, the continuing strife between Americans, Angles, Europeans, and Jews on the one side and Muslims on the other side makes this proposal all the more impractical. Besides, who is going to pay the "Erasmus Generation" for their time and trouble?

Rifkin's energy and environmental proposals are also farfetched. First of all, his call for a switch from fossil fuels to a hydrogen economy would only be feasible if some cost efficient method of producing hydrogen from either wind or solar energy could be developed. Under George Bush's plan to develop a hydrogen-powered automobile, ninety per cent of the energy needed to produce the hydrogen would come from fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas; the remaining ten per cent would be supplied by nuclear power. Leaving that aside for the moment, it is doubtful that any industrialized economy is going to invest heavily in alternative energies so long as there is a drop of crude left in the ground. Ergo, it looks like wars, terrorism, and the destruction of the environment are going to plague the world for some time to come.

All of the questions confronting Europe and the world today are first and foremost questions of power. It is impossible to change the world's politics, economics, or much of anything else for that matter without radically altering how power is disbursed and this can only be achieved through revolutions. The world today is run by and for the benefit of those in power. Rifkin knows this as well as everybody else; it is merely verboten to admit it. Globalism is the fascism, colonialism, imperialism, and the old plantation system of yesteryear dressed up in new clothes and out on the town is search of the world's cheapest labor and natural resources, the lowest taxes, the least amount of social responsibility, and the weakest environmental and worker safety laws. The capitalists own not merely the means of production but all politicans, journalists and, tant pis, the election processes too. In an article back in May for Die Zeit, Guenter Grass was right on the money when he called "der Macht des Kapitals ... eines neuen Totalitarismus"