The interview with Christian Lindner, German Minister for the Economy, published by Republic on the day of his meeting with his Italian counterpart Daniele Franco, a testament to how ordoliberalism is an extraordinarily persistent ideology will remain for times to come. An ideology that is embodied in the neo-chamber government of civil servants and technicians and not an economic-social theory. Moreover, its theoretical foundations are very fragile and all linked to the historical period in which it was born. A very powerful ideology destined to become hegemonic, just as it has become despite the pandemic and despite the social and psychological pain that emanates from societies affected by contamination.
The central stage is where Lindner declares: “I am not ideological. But I have ordoliberal ideas and I see myself in a certain continuity in the representation of the interests of my country. But I also believe that Germany‘s interests and values are absolutely compatible with common European interests”. With the following, as clearly explained when answering the question about the ideas expressed by Macron and Draghi on the need to rewrite the European treaties: “I do not think – says Lindner – that the pooling of risks and the relaxation common rules make us progress. However, of course, a way will have to be found to improve the Stability Pact by ensuring that debt relief does not take away the margins for investment in advanced technologies, environmental protection and other important priorities”.
And here immediately comes to mind the fact that has never been sufficiently stressed: that is to say how much targeted only on two productive and economic-social sectors, Germany centralized the funds necessary for the PNRR (environment and digital), as well as France (she added social inclusion), while Italy dispersed them in no less than six supply chains, without even having been able to spend EU funds and now having to quickly and judiciously articulate the thousands of requests for debts and subsidies.
In short, Germany, with the new government under Social Democratic leadership, it had seemed to many that they could return to the historic positions they had held in their standard-bearer Helmut Schmidt. I remember the day, at the end of September 2012, when still full of energy and about to set off on a trip to Singapore, Schmidt summed up an extraordinarily simple and effective critique of Germany’s European policies. during the speech of thanks for having received the Preis des Westfälischen Friedens in Münster, awarded every two years to personalities who fight for unity and peace in a federal Europe. It was in the midst of the sovereign debt crisis. It was a voice that, outside the choir, opposed what he called a “numbed and frightened public opinion”; attacked German “national egoism” and claimed that the European Union “could have failed because of the Germans”. Finally, he recalled former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and the work he had done for European integration and launched himself against “German public opinion unfortunately conditioned from a national point of view- self-centered “.
The leader of the German Liberals, on the other hand, explains in the interview how the centralization of the different European national capitalisms only aims to deceive the adoption of neo-Keynesian policies. We must reduce public debts, he pleads, but at the same time we must not tie our hands at the ECB, in the German sauce, however. And if the Recovery Fund can improve, it is only to “carve out the margins to invest in the economic future”, so as to guarantee the EU this ecological and digital transition for which it will be necessary to spend a lot more than the already planned mutualisation of debt embodied by the Next Generation EU. And this is inevitable, also because Germany, admittedly irreversibly a land power and not a sea power and reluctant to armed intervention in international relations, according to Lindner, will have to expand its international role. What happens in the confrontation in Ukraine will be fundamental. The fact that Lindner announces in this interview that the Scholz government he will not be weak with Putin as he offers to train officers and personnel of the Ukrainian army in Germany implies that alongside digital and climate funds, an increase in military spending is expected. This does not accord with the deliciously ordoliberal assertion with which the interview ends: “As of next year, we will return to the fiscal constraints that our Constitution imposes on us, with a very strict limit on the annual budget. Here is our dual strategy: targeted investment spending, but severe fiscal constraints must apply to redistribution, current spending and social spending”, “the Next Generation Eu was a single response to a single event”, ” we need to understand how to value banks that have a particularly high share of government bonds on their balance sheets. Because the risk is that private and public debts mix and that the risks linked to public debts are transferred to the financial sector of another country”.
In short, this time too ideologies are ideologies because they contradict their own presuppositions. And in this case: where to find the resources desired by the minister if not in a profound change in the economic policy of the EU? Otherwise, the only answer is that they will find themselves extracting them from the less powerful nations of the continent. And what is that Macron and Draghi they want to avoid. But it is precisely for this reason that the German problem is fundamental for growth. For the German ruling class, it must continue to be based on the continuity of the economic policy based on exports and low wages and therefore in a constant and increasingly solid alliance with China, subjecting all other European nations to this design.
Compared to the period between the two world wars, nothing has changed in the German imperial growth strategy. Only the living space has changed, it is now much wider: not only would it dominate Europe without sharing, but it would go beyond the Urals to reach China. Congratulations.
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