First Newsletter on Philosophy, Economy and Politics
by Wolfgang Behr
The "First Newsletter on Philosophy, Economy and Politics" gives some basic ideas of STRING, which is an innovative political project. It wants to create a new discourse about the future of mankind, which is based on the fundamental change of the oldest political paradigm, which is collectivity, towards individuality.
Traditional nation-states, which try to act on a global scale, are very often faced with barriers,
i.e. other states, which are equally restricted by a defined territory, a limited number of people,
limited resources and so on.
When the globalisation of the human civilisation is in its final stage, the world-wide activities or
structures (resp. their protagonists) reach political power, which are based on the most abstract
and culturally disconnected principles and thus fulfill the same function in every society (think
of the production and the use of a car).
Therefore mathematics has become the secret global
language of our epoch. Mathematics and its fast slave, the computer, shape the progress of
nearly all sciences and technologies. And they are decisive instruments of the economy as well
as of its globalised markets. Computer and mathematics give the current form of capitalism -
which is the dynamic integration of economy, science and technology - its striking effect and its
breath-taking acceleration. Today in no other field a newcomer can conquer more power and can
conquer it faster than with economic success.
Doubtlessly we should be content that a more or less neutral systemic process is about to
organise mankind's world-society and not the ideological concepts of fundamentalist or even
fascist style combined with military power. But the question arises, whether our global society
after the long way of democratisation should end in the hands of one of the last democraticly
uncontrolled powers, which is the economy, especially in its global financial dimension.
This way of democratisation started in ancient Greece and Rome, continued with the British
"Habeas corpus"-act and the "Bill of rights", the great American and French constitutions
(1787, 1791) and finally lead to modern welfare states which have made the majority of people
in a country quite independent in their personal lives.
Moreover, economic globalisation is contradictory in itself. If there are no limits for capitalist
activities and financial transactions (which become more and more games of hazard), the
permanent change of market conditions will destroy the secure living of many people. Apart
from all social and human aspects of this evolution, there is the danger that the mass markets
may break down. But without mass markets the base of economy (the world-wide turnover)
will be largely diminished.
The prediction of a 20:80 society, where 20 % of highly productive people shall poorly feed the
rest, reminds me awkwardly of planned economies of old socialist style. In the end there
remains only one big transnational world-company, which produces everything from jumbo-
jets to toilet-paper, from medicine to ballet-shoes - and only few have enough money to buy
these products. That is quite the opposite of an active society and economy!! (Not to mention
the totalitarian tendencies of such a non-political world system.)
Basically we have here the problem of common properties, which should not only include good
air, water and soil, the climate, rain forests or the stock of fish in oceans, but also the existence
of well-functioning, highly developed, cultural diversified and peaceful societies. The world-
society itself - in spite of all gaps and conflicts - already begins to be such a value in itself,
which should be cherished intelligently.
Tragically current economic management is influenced by a military mentality, which is
extremely self-centered and only follows the values of conquering. This shift may have its
origin in the Cold War or in the strictly rationalist character of modern capitalism. Anyway, the
economy as today's global leading power really does not seem clever enough for the complex
task of giving an appropriate political order to our world-society.
It is very important to understand that the power of these globalised markets and its "global
players" is not as visible as traditional power has been. This new power needs, for example,
the traditional states - who else could guarantee property? Further it depends highly on the fact
that the "rest of mankind" keeps quiet and stays involved in the game. We can even call it an
"absent" power, because it does not take political, i.e. general responsibility for the societies.
The "market" as the main principle of world-order does not mean much more than the
dominance of the strongest, this time in our post-military world. And again we can see the
contradiction mentioned above: Modern economic participants are highly individual, whether as
producers or consumers. But if the economy should replace politics instead of being
accompanied by politics, it cannot act according to its modern function. It takes an ideological
form: liberalism (which was the opponent of socialism and therefore is a relict of the Cold
War!). Finally it destroys individuality (i.e. possibilities of acting freely) instead of creating it.
From a historical point of view, the excessive relevance of economy is the result of the big lack
of political perspective for our world. The traditional centres of power are paralysed or forced
into defending positions, because political actions according to historical traits and patterns does
not make sense any more (a situation which already exists since the Cold War). The room for
initiatives leaves more and more the material spheres of power that is territories, resources and
military power. And capitalism is the candidate with the biggest advantage in the new
"Cyberspace-arena" of the "global village", because it offers the best mixture between concrete
and abstract elements. The great problem of capitalism, however, is its tendency to lose contact
with the life of the individual, a life which essentially has slow, local and non-rational aspects.
We need a new global, political perspective for our next steps - independent from the economic
globalisation (and in cooperation with it!). This perspective could be found in the development
of a peacefull world community of mankind whose possibility begins to emerge in our days
after long decades of fighting and suffering. This community becomes apparent when people
show their compassion and help people at the other end of the world. The belief in mankind's
greatness does not mean to shut one's eyes to hatred between the poor and the rich or to the unspeakable atrocities, people have committed and commit to members of their own species - does not mean to shut one'
s eyes to innumerable front-lines, whether big or small, all over the world.
This belief wants to stress positive chances of the world-society.
Therefore we should create a great political world-event, a historic moment, which is followed
by a fantastic festival. These cannot be spectacular enough to bring the world-wide human
community into a shining existence. This event should be the (temporarily limited) institution of
mankind and the apotheotic cultural culmination of all people on earth.
We have the means to master such a great task and to realise such a magnificent project. Many
traditional institutions and activities of our societies f.e. international organisations may help us.
But in the end only we ourselves, each of us and we all together could realize that great political
event. Only as individuals we are free and independent enough to create a vivid community of
lite can represent or replace us in this project!
In this scenario the material security of all people gets a new sense and will become again an
important goal. We have to use our best skills and all our energy to translate it into action. Only
with material independence as the basis of political freedom, or at least with a concrete prospect
on it, everybody could play his new political role in a great new world-community.
The situation of too many people in the world is still far from being acceptable. Call it the lack
of education, formation, work, or money, call it the absence of initiative or chances - the
experience of our post-war period (since 1945) has shown that direct help - irreplaceable as it is
and remains - doesn't really change the situation of the poor. Individuals who wants to
empower themselves for the task to become independent, need a new attention to education, to
social formation and to the meaning of being an adult. And they need a new form of distribution
- not of welfare, but of the innovative progress.
The "weakness" of the individual which is no longer supported by the power of the great historical
collectives may be the standard by which mankind can survive in the future. In its effect, this
standard could be compared with the prehistoric small groups, the standard by which mankind
has survived hundreds of thousands of years until the invention of settledness.
The "weak" individual should be provided with the best personal equipment, with sustainable
means for survival even in hard conditions and with a strictly functionalized institutional help.
Of course he can remain embedded in the culture and in the community of people next to him.
(Take a little bit of science fiction to imagine all this.)
To find this individual "weakness" we have to go back to one of our oldest tools, the language.
The infinite variability of language is like an empty sheet of paper on which every man can
"write his own text". In doing this, he can establish himselves as a unique spirit and an
independent, self-confident personality. People have to learn this process of individualisation
by language, which should be understood as a new modern kind of initiation. Initiation could transform
individual "weakness" into personal strength.
The language, which is the essential tool of abstract thinking, paved the way for homo sapiens
sapiens and has given him the means to create his current appearance. And for about three
thousand years the writing of language has opened him the possibility to run bureaucratic megasocieties of millions (meanwhile billions) of people.
Nowadays, when the community of mankind is an incontestable, though still unfinished reality,
language could help us again. Its individual dimension is the basis for transcending the law-
based societies, which subdivide mankind and which are apparently not able to bring the global
political situation into a durable order. Each of these societies, whether a state, a transnational
company, a church or any other organisation is marked by its paranoia and its egoism. After the
experience of this century (120 millions of murdered people in KZ's, Gulag's and other wholesale murders, perhaps the same number of killed and murdered people in the numerous wars), the dominance of the collectives can no longer represent the civilising progress,
because it includes a high risk of destruction and apocalypse. Collectives could plunge billions
of people into an abyss.
Therefore we need a revolutionary change of the oldest political paradigm, resp. of the oldest
political priority, which is the collective, towards the individual, towards the importance of
every single person. We will certainly not renounce the use of collective institutions (and will pay tax for them), which run
for example the infrastructure, which maintain an operative but carefully controlled police, a
rational jurisdiction or the abstract system of money. We should make them, however, as
flexible and decentralized as possible. And we should give the people - ourselves - that highest
level of independence from these strictly defined collective systems, an independence,
however, which still guarantees the functioning of these systems.
The innovative progress of science, economy and technology could provide us with the proper
means for an individual local subsistence (HighTech-Selfproviding), but only if we put political priority to local
subsistence. This will perhaps not happen at 100 %, but in the long run there is no doubt about
the possibility of such decentralized forms of living - all over the world. Working for money
should lose step by step its compulsive character, but will remain a question of ethics, skill and
the diversification of live and work.
In addition, this concrete independence of man could be the most important step to democratize
economy. A company in which people - who do not have to work - work voluntarily "has won
Our current problem is the lack of a concrete political will with a global dimension, which
would enable us to carry through such projects. The short-sighted fight of big companies for
hegemony cannot help us. What we need is a new vision of our future. We are living in the
"middle of the ages", because in these decades we have gained quite an exact retrospective view
of our origins and the origin of the world. This retrospective view should give us a great idea of
human life and should show us by which principles we may manage our world in the future. A
philosophical approach to human life and to politics brings every single person into the focus of
historical interest as a mental and self-determining individual. It withdraws authority from those
big monsters such as states, churches, organisations or oversized companies, but also from old
traditions. Furthermore it corresponds with the weak position we have as a vulnerable species
on that marvellous "space shuttle" called earth. In the hands of philosophy with its reflective
and reserved manner HighTech could solve our material problems. Nowadays, however,
under the yoke of narrow-minded and selfish collectives, technology is abused and is already
destroying the basis of live of future generations. Our civilisation has enough potential to put an
end to the struggle for survival at any price (life or death), which has become contra-productive
for everybody. Suddenly the philosophical "weakness" turns into strength of mind!
The change of the paradigm of collectivity towards individuality cannot be overrated and the so-
called democratic societies have already taken big steps in that direction. But for three reasons
this is not enough to build an reasonable world-order. Firstly the state-bureaucracies and the
collective power of democratic societies still have, in fact, priority over citizens, a common
feature of all political systems. Secondly, all the states together have not prevented the rise of
non-controlled, more or less dangerous, transnational powers, such as huge companies or
investment funds, or criminal organisations. Thirdly the democratic societies still could not
reach the level, on which all their own citizens would have enough opportunities to subsist out
of their own power.
I am convinced that the strong political form of individuality, as I have indicated here, is the
only way to give an acceptable order to our world-society, because it does not impose a
hegemony upon anybody. To bring the individual into power is a question of the world-wide
vote for individuality in the world-event described above. And it is a question of the peaceful
continuation of a modern development of the world. But in the end it is up to every person, to
every woman and every man, to claim this individual status and to fill it with life.
With the concept of the individual and its present importance I do not intend to address nations,
religious or cultural communities, companies or other collective entities. I intend to address
other individuals, to address you as individual - not as a representative of a collective! My
intention is the foundation of a revolutionary new way of life, which starts with the world-
event, the existence of politically independent individuals and the modern initiation as the three
sides of the new world-constitution. I call this constitution STRING. In accordance with Lewis
Mumford we can call our present worldsystem a "mega-machine". Perhaps this "hardware"-
period is inevitable, but now we have to dematerialize mankind's integration.
The people who have power and responsibility in societies all over the world are not at all
unburdened by STRING. It is just the opposite, the situation of the world is highly sensitve
and dangerous - in some countries it seems even desperate and hopeless -, therefore we need
everybody to transform our extraordinary global civilisation into a stable, free and living
community. STRING does not replace efforts for improvement and progress, but wants to
complete these on a very fundamental level. STRING offers no guarantee for success!
We cannot obtain ideal objects, perfect worlds (they are without life!). We are dependent on
slow changes - big upheavels include a risk of catastrophes, which cannot be estimated. It is
high time we find a long-term perspective in our global activities - and there is no serious
alternative to the political and economic (material) authorization of the individual.
Politics finally has to follow culture. For whom have Beethoven, Frank Zappa or Shin-ichi
Matsushita written their music? For a nation-states? For privat persons?
No, not at all, but for individuals as the composers are or have been themselves - and sometimes for the whole mankind!