It started with the tent city in Tel Aviv; it continued with “Occupy Wall Street;” now they are demonstrating from Berlin to Madrid. Against what? Against the “capitalistic dictatorship,” the banks, the European Central Bank. And against “Dagobert Fuck.” In Tel Aviv, it was still concretely about higher rents. In the meantime, a world-wide Woodstock of rebellion prevails that remains oddly diffuse.
It is not physical politics, such as the protests against Vietnam or Iraq, although politicians like Gabriel and Obama at once tried to surf the wave. Attention is the greatest good in the Andy Warhol age (“15 minutes of fame”). The protest is the program, although the reason is very tangible. The 50 fat years of the West are over; the big crash has produced extremely real fears of decline and loss of future. Real politics has a real purpose; however, the blockade of the European Central Bank is a displaced act. Why turn on an institution that is still halfway able to function? What would Europe look like if it had to rely on politicians alone?
Socialize the banks like in the Soviet empire? That failed not only because of its overly powerful government, but also because of its fourth-world capital market. At a ZEIT matinee, Joachim Gauck asked, “Wouldn’t our deposits really be safer if our politicians had the say in the financial economy?” The national banks most greedily (and stupidly) helped themselves to the glittering derivatives; the private Deutsche Bank was somewhat more prudent. The financial bubble in 2008 didn’t burst thanks to greed and excess alone, because there is no bubble without cheap money, and the amount of money and interest are always and everywhere determined by the government. Capitalists take what they can get; the government, however, gives — as in Spain, where government-supported savings banks financed the wildest speculations.
Ditto in America, where politics had forced the government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to provide weakly qualified customers with mortgages. At the end there were 27 million — half of all loans — that the lenders no longer considered creditworthy. Home-ownership for all! Today, Gabriel wants to break up the banks; virtuous business banks should not be gambling investment banks at the same time. Only, the separation in America was rescinded by a good social Democrat named Bill Clinton.
Where then does the belief in good government and evil capital come from? This capital cannot maintain the excesses — bonuses and gains — that are justifiably being damned without the government. Recklessness is not recklessness if the government guarantees. Do we therefore break that that is breaking us? Then comes the public economy that doesn’t even create equality but rather corruption and power for the few. The economy belongs to the nomenklatura, not the people.
Democracy can be corrected. That is the true desire of the occupiers. But the political wave riders are pretending when they erase the responsibility the shared responsibility of the government. Surfing is easier.