Translated Interview with COMPACT-Magazin
Um die wichtigen Gedanken von Prof. Schachtschneider auch an unsere europäischen Freunde zu verb reiten, hier eine Übersetzung seines COMPACT-Interview auf Englisch (dank an die Wochenzeitung “Current Concerns”!). Bitte verbreitet es an Eure ausländischen Kontakte! Die deutsche Originalfassung war in COMPACT 8/2011 erschienen. Das Heft kann hier noch bestellt werden
“Our Free Democratic State of Law is in Danger”
An interview by Jürgen Elsässer, Compact Magazine, with Prof Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider about the various euro rescue deals*
Jürgen Elsässer: Together with some political economist colleagues you filed a constitutional complaint against the so-called Greece bail-out and the provisional “rescue deal”. How do you consider the German constitution or German democracy to be threatened?
Professor K. A. Schachtschneider: I am talking about the attempts to rescue the euro, which from an economic point of view is virtually impossible. The sums Germany has committed itself to guarantee cannot be paid. They are beyond our state’s strength.
But it is not about actual payments, only warranties?
This is what is said. The issue allegedly concerns only guarantees. But the rescue fund, jointly established by the Euro countries, must first borrow the money from the capital markets and then make it available as credits. When the credit user, in particular Greece, is unable to make repayments, the guarantors, with Germany as the biggest, must assume the payment obligation. The temporary euro rescue deal has so far made our state liable for 123 billion euro; the permanent “rescue deal” – waiting to be adopted – the European Stability Mechanism ESM, will make Germany liable for 190 billion euros. Meanwhile the ESM’s capital is intended to be doubled from 750 billion euros to 1.5 trillion euros; the German portion would thus increase to 380 billion euros. This has apparently become necessary because in the meantime also Italy, which is considered the third biggest national economy in the European Union, has been targeted by the rating agencies due to its national indebtedness. It is inconceivable that Germany will be able to fulfill its promises. 190 billion euros is almost equal to two thirds of a federal budget.
Shouldn’t we have to show solidarity with the Greeks?
The Greeks will not benefit from this money. It will be passed on to the creditors of Greece, the big banks, insurances, and funds. Just as the Greeks today are being forced to sacrifice a part of their incomes to pay the debts, the Germans will be liable with their fortune for the rescue funds tomorrow. This is the financial markets’ dictate over the nations and peoples. Our democracy, our constitutional state and our welfare state will be ruined.
To what extent?
The various euro rescue deals are in no way democratically legitimized. Certainly, the Bundestag agreed in each case, but in contradiction to treaties and the constitution. This is the substance of our constitutional complaint: The Bundestag has the right to represent the people – however, only in the context of the Basic Constitutional Law. But with its agreement on the rescue deals the parliament violated our constitution in different ways. Just think of the property warranty: Citizens’ property is in jeopardy if the national budget and thus more than half of the tax revenue are “mortgaged”. The state will acquire the means at the expense of the citizens’ fortunes and incomes, also at the expense of the poor. However, the state’s incomes are not there to finance foreign states. The basic principle of a state budget is to finance its own state.
The proponents say in times of emergency like these unusual measures need to be taken.
Emergency has no law, the Federal Government and Bundestag argue. They refer to an article in the Lisbon Treaty, which permits “financial assistance” to a member state in the case of a natural catastrophe or the like. This article can also be applied to epidemics, nuclear disasters and acts of terrorism, but in no way to insolvencies of a state due to an over consumption for years. Moreover, it is only the Union which may help, not individual member states. The crisis of the euro and the threat of insolvency for banks are passed off as natural catastrophe here. The euro does not rank among the goods worth protection by our constitution. A currency is a monetary and fiscal policy instrument, a very important one indeed, but no more. Germany gave up the Deutsche Mark, its own national currency, without an ensuing constitutional crisis. The Federal Constitutional Court rejected our complaint against the introduction of the euro in 1998 by arguing that the property rights of the citizens were not endangered, because the euro was protected by a strict stability pact. In the mean time it has turned out that this is not the case. The euro’s stability community has become a euro warranty community.
The euro is conventionalized as the greatest good of the constitution. This ruins the real principles of the constitution. Take the dictate of the welfare state. We are experiencing a de facto de-socialization. In order to maintain the euro, the citizens must make enormous and unreasonable sacrifices, above all the poor: Wages and salaries are reduced, pensions likewise. According to our calculations, the Germans have lost 50 per cent of their purchasing power which they would have without the euro ever since it was introduced. If we still had the Deutsche Mark, wages and salaries would have risen by 50 per cent, above all, because the imported goods would be cheaper through a revaluation of our currency. The export would not have suffered. It never suffered in any revaluation phase of the Deutsche Mark. Every year Germany sacrifices about ten per cent of its gross domestic product to the euro, all at the expense of the population. But the government accepts it, because they want to establish a european superpower and dissolve the sovereign states, above all Germany. If in accordance with the plans the European Union will be extended to Turkey, the North African States as well as Israel, the population of the Union will grow to encompass more than a billion people. The intention is to play superpower next to the US and China. Above all, however, its population will consist of powerless subjects lacking all coherence.
The philosopher Jürgen Habermas also criticizes the democracy deficit in the European Union. Unlike you, he wants to repair these, however, by revaluing the EU Parliament and transforming it into a genuine legislation that keeps the executive under control – the non-elected European Commission.
I strongly doubt whether Habermas can be called a philosopher. He’s a sociologist. I do not know any of sentence Habermas developed himself, although I read and often quoted the majority of his writings. His discourse theory is taken from Apel and it was initiated by Kant in his Critique of Pure Reason. Anyway, Habermas is not a democrat. He wants a new world order without nations, a de-nationalized world community. The European Parliament cannot be democratic due to the size of the EU. There is no such thing as a european people who can be considered a subject of a european democracy. The right to vote is not egalitarian. The Luxembourgers need less than 10 per cent of votes for a seat in parliament than the Germans. Habermas does not want to accept that there are nations and fabulates about civil society as the political subject instead. For him this civil society is however not identical to citizenry; it consists of those who sufficiently influence the political discourse, thus of those self-appointed politicians. This is the de-democratization of democracy, democracy being intrinsically dependent on all citizens living in equality and freedom. Only small units, i.e. the nations in Europe, can be democratically constituted.
If Greece becomes ungovernable under the dictate of savings programs – is a military intervention by the EU on the basis of the Lisbon Treaty possible?
Task forces are available, there are the police and constabulary troops of the EU. They will counter every insurgency. The prohibition to kill clause was undermined by the Lisbon Treaty. The insurgents will be shot at, as we can see in Libya and Syria today. The EU is preparing for the coercive implementation of political centralization.
But Brussels cannot invade Greece without the Greek government’s agreement, can it?
According to the EU treaties it does requires the agreement of the respective government. But that is cheap reasoning. The Greek government has no longer been representing the Greek people. If it cannot rely on its own police and its army any more, it will admit EU troops in the country.
Is the European Union developing towards a dictatorship, or will everything go down in chaos?
The first thing is the lever for the second. The economic collapse will provide the opportunity for establishing dictatorial conditions. We are in a situation of crisis whether we glide into a dictatorship or not. For a long time very small circles have been the top dogs. Party leaders meet on the European level, in the Council of Ministers or at EU summits. There the decisions are made and the parliaments do not dare to contradict any more. These few decision makers can be made dependent. An lobbyists busily contribute. We are experiencing a de facto de-parliamentarization of decisions and thus the disempowerment of the peoples, the vehicle of which being the internationalization of politics. More and more authorizations for the European executive are justified by factual constraints, although the executive has not been elected. This would be impossible without the feudal party oligarchies. The Federal Constitutional Court is to blame for that, because it defends the party monopoly tooth and nail, for example by means of the national party financing or the proportional representation with its five-per cent clause. The parties choose their representatives in parliament, and there is a systematic adverse selection which puts the temperamentally worst on top of the list. When they are members of parliament – mainly for several terms – they have less interest in the common weal than the ordinary citizen. Just remember the “Panorama” program on TV prior to the adoption of the constitutional treaty, when seven members of parliament were asked eight simple questions on the contents of this treaty. Not a single one of these 56 questions was answered correctly.
You are afraid that the EU is developing towards a central state with dictatorial authority. But aren’t we also observing the opposite, that nation states are completely and recklessly making their own policy past EU institutions? Didn’t France trigger off the Libya war on its own authority? Didn’t Denmark reintroduce its border controls? In other words: Won’t the feared centralization fail because of the chaos?
That may happen. Only Germany soft-pedals constantly. It does not define its own interests any more. France on the other hand is very self-confident. Nothing in the European Union will happen against France’s will. Paris only seeks collaboration with Germany because it wants to make use of our economic power for its own advantage, for its own power.
Even German citizens may not realize we are moving towards a dictatorship. But haven’t we just achieved the pull-out from nuclear energy by a grassroots mass movement?
I share the opinion that the employment of nuclear power cannot be justified, because we cannot guarantee its safety. My doubt is, however, whether the pull-out will lead to an increased weakening of the German economy and that is what certain circles may be reckoning with: the weakening of Germany in order to implement the European authoritarian state.
If there is a threat of democracy being abolished, each citizen has the right to resist – this is what article 20, paragraph 4 of the Basic Constitutional Law says. Has the time come?
You bet. I argued accordingly at the beginning of July before the Federal Constitutional Court: Our free democratic state of law is in danger. Important legal maxims are ruined by the rescue deals for Greece and the euro, as for instance the property guarantee, the welfare state principle, and the rule of law. Democratic institutions are deprived of their power and there is no more separation of powers.
You refer to the strong position of the European Commission, which not only implement but formulates the laws in place of the parliament?
Not only. It also concerns the European Court of Justice, which can define EU law with great practical effect for all member states via framework judgments, although it is as little democratically legitimized as the European Commission. Anyway, this political order has nothing to do with our free democratic basic order any more, and therefore each citizen has the right to resist according to our Basic Constitutional Law. I am not calling to fight with Kalashnikovs, which is useless. It’s about demonstrations, voting abstention or voting for parties committed to freedom. This process is in full course in the surrounding countries and it will finally also spread to Germany. •
* First published in Compact, Issue 8/2011 (www.compact-magazin.com)
(Translation: Current Concerns)
“Every year Germany sacrifices about ten per cent of its gross domestic product to the euro, all at the expense of the population. But the government accepts it, because they want to establish a European superpower and dissolve the sovereign states, above all Germany. If in accordance with the plans the European Union will be extended to Turkey, the North African States as well as Israel, the population of the Union will grow to encompass more than a billion people. The intention is to play superpower next to the US and China. Above all, however, its population will consist of powerless subjects lacking all coherence.”