Posted by: Dirk | September 30, 2012

Europeans demonstrate against neo-liberal policies – the SPIEGEL remains silent

The SPIEGEL has been a left-wing weekly magazine with investigative articles that influenced the Republic. No longer. Some years ago, the magazine has switched from left-leaning to neoliberal. How else can you explain that Saturday’s demonstrations of ten thousands of Poles and Germans in favor of a TV license for a catholic channel and against raising the pension age (Poland) and in favor of redistribution of income from the top to the bottom (Germany) been ignored (as of Sunday, 13:00). The SPIEGEL online has daily news on its website, and even the right-leaning FAZ covers both demonstrations (here and here).

This is sad, but not a surprise. The German president Joachim Gauck, who is without political power (except that he can not sign certain laws and by that stop them), has called for politicians to better explain European policy. There is since the beginning of the crisis a disconnect of what happens in reality and what is reported in the media and how. The introduction of the euro led us into a financial disaster, which in the German media is blamed only on the countries in debt while the “Good Germans” are at the losing end of the story. This is wrong. German banks lent too much money to the wrong borrowers, while German wage cuts made an expansion of demand in the debtor countries possible without leading to higher inflation than that accepted by the ECB. It is the irresponsible lending and the bail-outs that followed that created this crisis. Reading German newspapers and magazines, you would never suspect that.

While the best solution to the economic problem would be writing off debt that cannot be repaid anyway, it would create losers. German savers would lose perhaps some hundred billions of euro. As a result, it would become clear that the neo-liberal policies of “Exportweltmeister” and reforms towards a private pension system have been a disaster for everybody except the export industry and banking and insurance. However, the German policy elite would look quite dumb in retrospect if that were understood. When Greece’s sovereign debts are partly forgiven and the money lost leads to lower pensions in Germany, Mrs Merkel can forget about getting reelected. So, the bad debts will not be written of. The crisis will continue since the political incentives to solve it are not existent.

The problem of Europe is a deep one. It is about finding the right solutions to the right problems. Right now, we haven’t discussed the real problem of political responsibility, and the communication from voters to politicians and back by the domestic media is distorted. Europeans should find the courage to confront reality. Only then we can make progress towards reestablishing a European project that unites its people.


  1. I regularly follow both DW and Spiegel (in English, as my German is not up to scratch) and I had noticed that their coverage seems to have changed recently.

    I would have preferred to be mistaken about this.

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