Germany and the Lautenbach Plan: Can We Learn from History?
by Helga Zepp-LaRouche
This presentation was given to a Copenhagen, Denmark "cadre school" for young organizers from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, on Dec. 1, 2002. Mrs. LaRouche spoke by phone. Subheads have been added.
What I want to discuss with you today, is the question of what it takes to be a leadership of Europe today. Because it's very clear, that if we just leave it to the "powers that be," to the governments in place, then we all are in bad shape, because either these governments created the mess in which we are, or they didn't prevent it.
So, what I want to do today, is to focus on the situation in Germany, because this is where a very important debate is taking place right now; and then, in the end, I want to discuss with you, what you can do in Scandinavia, to impact the situation in Germany, and that way have an influence on the development in Europe in general.
A Popular Song, and German Popular Opinion
You all know that on Sept. 22, the Schröder government, which is in a "Red-Green" coalitionconsisting of the Social Democrats and Greensgot voted in. And, only two months later (end of November-beginning of December), this government is already in a complete disaster; and, you know, it is a question, how long it will remain.
Just before the election, sometime around July-August, Schröder realized that he was losing in the polls, that there was no way that he could win the elections. So he made a drastic shift, and he adopted essentially two programmatic points of the BüSowhich is the German equivalent of the EAP [LaRouche's Swedish co-thinkers, European Labor Party]: namely, an absolute firm opposition against the war in Iraq; and then, secondly, he took a programmatic point of our economic recovery programnamely, to use the national bank in Germany, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, to have a state intervention program for jobs creation. This was a watered-down version of what we were saying, but it was clearly copied from us.
Then the Red-Green coalition came in, and coalition negotiations took place. And Eichel, who is the Finance Minister, succeeded, with massive support by the Greenies, to implement an absolutely brutal austerity program, trying to cover the budget deficit of something like 15 billion euros, with massive cuts in the social programs, health care, unemployment money, and so forth. And the whole population got totally enraged.
And, then something very funny happened, and you actually may have heard of it: You probably know this pop band "The Ketchups"well, obviously, I will not sing it to you, but it's a song that was very popular on the charts for the last month. Somebody had the bright idea, to take this very popular song, which everybody knows, and write a new text to it. Basically saying, "Ha ha, I'm your Chancellor. You voted me in. Now, I'm stealing out of your pockets everything I can get. And you voted me in, and now you can't fire me. That's the thorny aspect about democracy. And I keep stealing your money, and I know you have put away some cash somewhere, and I'll find it."
And it goes on and on like that.
So, the whole country is singing this song, which shot up in three days, from newcomer to #1 on the charts. And, Schröder is the absolute laughingstock of the whole country.
Then, another campaign became very popular, namely, that people said, "This guy is stealing our last shirt"; in German, there is an idiom, if you steal somebody's "last shirt," you really take everything away. So, people have started to send in shirtsyou know, blouses, tee-shirts, whatnot. And hundreds of thousands of shirts have been sent already to Chancellor Schröder.
Now, what this really reminds you of, is the sense of the cabarets of the '20s and '30s. For those of you who have looked into that part of history, the political cabaret was very popular; as well, as the Depression and the unemployment became worse, the political cabaret became more funny, more witty, but naturally never had any solution. So, you have, actually, a repetition of that.
The Controversy of Schröder as Brüning
All of a sudden, a very important debate started to erupt in Germany, where one of the former leading Social Democratic politicians, Oskar Lafontaine, who had been kicked out of the party some years ago, accused Schröder of repeating the policies of Heinrich Brüning. Now, Brüning was one of the last Chancellors, who in history is being accused of having prepared the way for Hitler. This is not a light thing to say in Germany, so naturally the freakout was gigantic. And then, another historian called Arnulf Baringa very vicious, right-wing liberal historian from the Free University in Berlin, who had had an earlier career at Harvard at the time when Kissinger was thereand is influential, and clearly has a total Anglo-American profilehe also started to use this comparison to Brüning; and actually said that the people should go out in the streets and topple this government; that they should change the Constitution, because the problem with this Constitution of Germany right now, is, it does not have the possibility of emergency laws, as in the '30s used by Brüning, and therefore this Constitution should be changed.
Now, this is severe: Because this is not only an attack on the Constitution, in terms of the economic dimension; butapart from Article 48, which is the emergency provision which existed in the '30sArticle 26 of the present Constitution prohibits German participation in any war of aggression. This is obviously extremely important, because Germany by its Constitution, cannot participate in the U.S. war against Iraq; because that, by all international law standards, is a war of aggression. So, what I'm trying to describe to you, is that there is a complete assault on the German Constitution, with the effort to eliminate exactly that, which fortunately occurred after the Second World War, to prohibit that Germany, ever again, would participate in any war of aggression.
This is very hot, because, if you look at the history in the last Depression, in the period between the Black Friday in '29 and mass unemployment, until '33, this period really moved extremely quickly. If people now are talking about Brüning, what is in the air is that something much worse could come. Now, there is no Hitler visibleSchröder, for sure, not; nobody in the CDU [Christian Democratic Union]. But, we are in a period, in which total chaos and "Argentinization" is actually threatening. What I mean by "Argentinization" is that the whole economic system could disintegrate in exactly the same way, as you can see it in Argentina, right now. And that would mean chaos.
So, the track in Berlin, the so-called "insider gossip," is that this government will only last until the Spring.
Hitler Could Have Been Prevented
It is very interesting, and very important for you to understand, that, for the first time ever, somebody outside of our organization has come up with the argument, that if certain economic policies would have been adopted in the '30s, Hitler could have been prevented. Now that's very interesting, because the leading economics professor of Germany, the Kiel Economics Professor Giersch, who was one of the so-called "Five Wise Men," had an article last Sunday [Nov. 24], in which he said: If the economic proposals of a whole group of economists in the '30s, who proposed to have a state intervention, had been adopted, then Hitler could have been prevented.
Now, I just wrote a leaflet, which we will have for mass circulation in Germany, where I say: This is fantastic that this argument now is there, because we are in exactly a similar situation; and let's have a national debate, on how we can get out of this crisis. But, the fact that somebody who is relatively known, like this Professor Giersch, picked up this argumentthis is a bombshell; it's a complete revolution. And I would really suggest, that maybe you can have that leaflet out in Danish, in Swedish, and then have, elsewhere in Europe, discussions: "Could Hitler have been prevented? And, are we in the similar situation today? And what are the economic proposals, which would make such a change possible?"
Let me go briefly into the historical background of this debate, because this relatively unknown, but I think it is extremely important to look at this today.
In 1930, there was a circle of so-called "reformers" in Germanyprofessors, bankers, industrialists, bureaucrats, who, from different points of view, and with different ideological touches, all argued against the free-trade dogma, and said, "We have to deal with the economic depression with other economic options." One of them was Dr. Wilhelm Lautenbach, a high-level economist from the Reich Economics Ministry, who belonged temporarily to the Brandt Commission for the study of the unemployment question; and who was an adviser, first of the Brüning government, and later of von Schleicher.
Another one, was the Lübeck industrialist Heinrich Dräger, who belonged to a study group on money and credit. And, both of them, especially Lautenbach, produced various writings, memos, speeches, and so forth; he wrote one book, which was called, Interest Rates, Credit, and Production. The main argument he made there, is that, in a depression, despite reduced production, sales are down, and then, as a result of thatreduced salesproduction gets further reduced, so forth and so on, and this is a spiral toward lower and lower levels, without a bottom.
And that's exactly what we have today, because consumer confidence collapses, people are afraid of the future, they don't buy any more; and if you then impose austerity, you go down, and down, and down. As Lautenbach said: Therefore, you have to have the conscious intervention, necessary to overcome the depression, and that could only occur through the courage to implement the visionary task for the future. And then, he mentioned the example of the reconstruction of Tokyo after the earthquake in 1923. This was a very severe earthquake, which had completely turned Tokyo into a rubble field, and basically, then, nobody asked where to take the money from: They just issued unlimited credit, reconstructed Tokyo, and that led to an increase of the productivity and living standard of all of Japan, because it had such an incredible revitalizing effect on the economy.
1930 Proposals for Directed Credit
So, what Lautenbach said was: Therefore, what you have to do is, you have to build large infrastructure projects, and the financing has to occur on the basis of [government] bills based on discountdiscountable bills. And the banks should give credit lines to the firms which participate in the project. And the way that functions is, that only the wages are actually paid in cash. The rest of the cost occurs in the form of checks, or bills, so that the actual amount of newly issued credit is relatively small.
Now, the entrepreneur who participates in these projects, can invest in new investments, and repair things, for which he didn't have the money to repair before because of the depression. And then, these bills, issued initially based on discount, after 12-15 months, should be transformed into medium- or long-term Treasury bonds, which will be covered through the growing national income. The credit is only given if a project is necessary and productive. So therefore, real wealth is created, and therefore creates no inflation, because you only give out as much credit as you produce in terms of real wealth; and that way, you actually increase the capital value of society.
Now, Brüning knew about this proposal, but he did not adopt it. Other people had similar proposals, as we already mentioned: Lübeck industrialist Heinrich Dräger, who, in 1931, had written several memos; Franz von Papen and Kurt von Schleicher, who did, indeed [as Chancellors], pick up these proposals. There was another person: Dr. Günther Gerecke; ... Dr. Wagemann, and so forth.
Heinrich Dräger wrote a book in 1932, called Job Creation Through Productive Credit Creation. And in this book, he dealt with the exaggerated fear of inflation, which, as you remember, in 1923, when the Reichsbank basically printed as much money as was required to pay the reparationsmuch, much more than the German economy could compensate in terms of real production. And that then led to the famous hyperinflation, in which, in November 1923, you had to pay for one pound of bread with a trillion reichsmarks, and then it became absurd and people just stopped using this money altogether. In the end phase, they would literally have wheelbarrows of money, with which they would run to the baker to buy a piece of bread. And then the whole became absurd, and stopped.
So therefore, because of this experience, the fear of inflation in Germany was really very, very great. Now, in this book, Dräger dealt with the exaggerated fear of inflation, and said, "If you generate credit only for productive investments, then it will not lead to inflation. Credit should only be used for new, long-term productive values, and lead to an increase of real goods and capital value."
Now, Dräger had a very interesting proposal. He said, "These kinds of credits should have zero-percent interest rate, because these large, long-term projects, have only a very slow amortization, and therefore, one should have no interest on these, at all."
Now, he actually had a very concrete proposalhe proposed, for 1932, to issue 2 billion reichsmarks for such infrastructure projectsfor public projectsand then, when the success would be obvious, and the public acceptance would increase, he said, "Then in 1933, we can use 5 billion reichsmarks. And, then in the period between 1933-39, let's have 30 billion reichsmarks." And then he calculated, that through the initial 2 billion reichsmarks, there would be jobs for 500,000 people created; and then through the secondary wave of investmentfor example, if you build a large infrastructure project, like a maglev train or some other things, you're not only employing the people who are immediately involved, but those people can then go to the baker and buy more bread; they can go to the dentist and have better teeth; so you have a secondary wave of mobilizing the economy. So, he calculated, that for this initial 500,000 jobs, you would have the secondary wave of investments for 2 million jobs. And, he suggested, very concretely, large infrastructure projects: fast trains, power plants, modernization of large cities, and so forth.
And he said: Either we do thatissue credit for these productive investmentsor, if the economy continues to go down, soon we will have to issue credit to finance unemployment payments, because the unemployment will become so big, that we will have to issue credit to pay it.
That's exactly the situation that we have today.
The Lautenbach Memorandum
On the Sept. 16 and 17, 1931, there was a secret conference of the List Society in Germany, with the already-mentioned Dr. Wilhelm Lautenbach, Dr. Hans Lutherwho was the President of the Reichsbank at the timeand 30 leading industrialists and bankers. So, this is very interesting, because he [Lautenbach] wrote a memorandum. And this memorandum is, today, the absolute key, if you want to get out of this Depression, and have an alternative. Because, you know, when we talk about New Bretton Woods system, and Eurasian Land-Bridge, this Lautenbach proposal actually is exactly the theoretical basis, of what Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the 1930s and '40s, to bring the U.S. economy out of the Depression.
And that is the famous document, that, if that would have been implemented, the economic conditions could have been eliminated, which enabled Hitler and the Nazis to take power two years later. And, I would strongly suggest that you look into this, because this is one of the most decisive arguments, why the state has to intervene, and why productive credit, issued by the state, for clearly defined projects, is not inflationary. And, as to the question of, who should finance all of this? It's clearly answered there.
Lautenbach's memorandum was titled "The Possibilities of Boosting Economic Activity, by Means of Investment and Expansion of Credit." And, in it, he wrote, "The natural course for overcoming economic and financial emergency" is "not to limit economic activity, but to increase it." Lautenbach then said that there are two possible emergency situations: where one is a war economy, and the question of how to convert from a war economy to peacetime production; or, for example, where you have economic and financial emergencies on a national and international level. And it is very clear, that under those conditions, "we should and want to produce more." But, under the condition of a depression and an international financial crisis (which was then the case, and it's exactly the case today), "the market, the sole regulator of the capitalist economy, does not provide any obvious positive directives."
Now, that's exactly the problem we have today: that, under conditions of a depression, the normal market mechanisms don't function any more. If you look at Alan Greenspan, who already in  lowered the interest rates 11 times, and it had absolutely no effect. Normally, if you lower interest ratesyou know, when you want to stimulate the economy, you put in more liquidity, more buying power, and so forthbut, the opposite happened, because people become unemployed, they no longer have any trust, and the economy continues to collapse. Now, we have almost zero-interest-rate policies in the United States, and still, it has no effect.
Lautenbach then said: The economic emergency of the second category, a depression and a collapse of the financial system, was characterized by the "paradoxical condition," that "despite curtailed production, demand is less than supply and first leads to the tendency to decrease production further." Under conditions of depression, there are normally two economic policy reactions: The first was the policy of deflation. The budget deficit was reduced by cutting state expenditures, prices and wages are lowered. At the same time, [bank] credit is restricted. If credits are not curtailed, low interest rates would lead to an outflow of foreign capital, which endangers the exchange rate, and produces still greater scarcity of available capital for the domestic economy. And so forth, and so on.
So, then he basically said: Therefore, the only thing which can be done under those circumstances, is that the state has to intervene, and invest in those areas in which you would invest if the economy were functioning well. And that must be things which are for the common good, which take care of those areas of the economy, in which no private entrepreneur would ever invest, because it's not profitablesuch as large infrastructure projects, which have a long time before they turn a profit, and therefore any idea of "shareholder values" and get-rich-quick, you can forget.
Lautenbach said, the state must intervene in those areas which are in the interest of the common good, and they must be of such a value, that you would invest in them if the economy were functioning well. Because they're profitable and they create real capital value, and, because they do that, they are not inflationary.
Now the biggest problem in a depression is, you have to get rid of unemployment, because unemployment is the biggest cost sector in the economyyou know, you have to finance the unemployed and their families, and they produce nothing, and therefore, it's just the biggest problem. So, if you want to get out of a depression, the biggest job is to get rid of unemployment, and have productive job creation, instead; and invest in those areas, which are a boost for the general economy.
If you do that, Lautenbach argues, you can actually see, that through the initial investment and the secondary wave of job creation, you create more tax revenue than you have given out as credit in the beginning. And that has to do with the fact, that it is the human cognitive power of the person, which creates wealth. It is the cognitive ability to, again and again, have adequate hypotheses about the lawfulness of the physical universe. And if such increase in knowledge occurs, this is called "scientific progress"; and if you then transform that scientific progress into a technology, and you apply it in the production process, it increases the productivity and it creates more wealth. And that is actually the basis for the existence of society.
Because of this beautiful capacity of human labor, you can actually create more than you initially had, and that's the whole secret of why we have come as far as we have come in human development. And, in economic terms, this means, that if you give such productive-oriented credits, the income you get later on, in terms of tax revenue, is always bigger than that which you have initially issued.
Why It Was Not Done
Now, that is actually an incredible perspective, and it was a very real discussion. But, naturally, he was prevented in this period. Well, you knowa clear, international opposition. Eventually, Dr. Wagemannwho was actually not as good as Lautenbach, who had made such a plan in 1931, and who was relatively a liberalthere was an emergency in light of the unemployment, so he made a proposal, by the end of 1931, which was relatively moderate, to increase the liquidity of the banks by 3 billion reichsmarks for such investments: This caused complete hysteria. One of the representatives of Chase National Bank, Benjamin Anderson, at that point said, this plan would be considered by the United States as a signal for a new, paper-money inflation, like the one in '23, because it would lead to an unrestrained money emission, and a total loss of confidence in the Reichsbank.
What happened with these proposals? There was a clear alternative to Hitler on the table. Brüning did not pick up the Wagemann proposal, and then, in May '31, the Depression really became virulent: You had the collapse of the Wiener Kreditanstalt, the collapse of the Danat Bank in July '31. And even Brüning, at that point, was so shocked, that he considered organizing 1 billion reichsmarks for public big projects. But, the problem was, that since he didn't go with the Lautenbach/Wagemann/Dräger proposals, he only thought to get the money through foreign credits. And since the reparation agreements forbade any direct credit creation through the Reichsbank, nothing really happened; because the foreign countries were not willing to give such credits. And so therefore, a lot of time was lost; the unemployment became bigger; and the only real effort was made by von Schleicher, but this occurred very latein December 1932when you already had 6 million unemployed.
Now, remember that, on Nov. 6, 1932, the Nazis in the election had a relative defeat: They got 2 million less votes, as compared to July '32. In November '32, von Papen made the proposal to dissolve the Reichstag, form himself the government based on the Reichswehr [the military]which was a real provocative proposal, given the fact that you had all this right-left violence, Nazis, Bolsheviks, street fights, and so forth; and von Schleicher, who was Defense Minister at the time, told Reichs President Paul von Hindenburg, that this was a very bad idea. But, von Hindenburg insisted to appoint von Papen, as Chancellor; but, except for two of his ministers, they all voted for von Schleicher instead.
So, who was this guy von Schleicher? He became, on Dec. 2, 1932, the last Chancellor of the Weimar Republic. He was, actually, a very interesting figure. He came from a Christian-humanist background. He, already in 1918, together with the Supreme Commander General Groener, negotiated an agreement between the Social Democratic Reichs President Ebert and the Reichswehr, which saved the extremely young republic from civil war, then; because, at that point, you had already anarchists and radical elements. And he played a key role in creating a very broad alliance, from workers to the Reichswehr, to save the republicthe idea that he had pursued in 1918. And he tried to build a united political front which was supposed to be a coalition of the moderate right wing, the trade unions, the Social Democratsall relevant social forces. And he wanted to push through, with this united front, a state credit kind of program, to restart the economy.
When he became Chancellor, in December 1932, he already had the agreement for such a collaboration in the united front from many forces. For example: the general trade union association, with their chairman Leipart; the Catholic trade union movement; the Christian and free trade unions; the Reichsbanner; the Stahlhelm; the Jügenbewegung; the German rural community association, under its president Gerecke (Gerecke was one of these economists, who had formulated the jobs-creation program, who was inspired by the proposals of the Dräger Circle for productive credit creation).
And so, on Dec. 15, 1932, the von Schleicher government declared this economic program. And he said, "This is neither capitalism, nor socialism." And he even considered nationalizing the coal and iron industries.
But, the problem at that point, was that the left-SPD [Social Democratic] faction leader, Rudolf Breitscheid, refused collaboration with von Schleicher, and said, "We do not talk to reactionary generals."
End of December: Von Schleicher, again, made a proposal for appropriation with the Social Democrats, and even proposed at one point, prohibition of the NSDAP [National Socialist German Workers Party, or Nazi Party]. But, Breitscheid rejected it again. It became so absurd, that by Jan. 11, 1933, the SPD leadership forbade the trade union chairman Leipart any dialogue with von Schleicher, at a point when he was just trying to meet and work out these things.
Now, this is all the more incredible, because on Jan. 4, 1933, there was this infamous meeting between von Papen and Hitler, in the house of the banker, Schröder, where the deal was made to put Hitler into power. And, this then occurred two weeks later. So, this was a highly dramatic situation.
Now, if von Schleicher had six months' time, and he wanted to invest half a million reichsmarks in these projects, then this, indeed, would have eliminated the conditions for the Nazis to take power. And, as we know, it was through Anglo-American intervention, with Schacht and money-stealing, to get money to the Nazis by Montagu Norman from the Bank of England and J.P. Morgan from New York, and Harriman and so forth; so Hitler was really imposed.
But, the conditions would have existed to prevent this from happening.
Then and Now
Now, I find this part of history is extremely important to quickly absorb and study now, because, as the depression is worsening, we are again in a period that such things happen. There were lots of people who saw themselves exactly in the same form; but, the economic policies and so forth, were similar. And the question is: Have we learned anything from history? Today, again, we have a depression, and we have an international financial crisis. And, if you leave these trends by themselves, if you just insist on debt payment, on a parity program, on monetary policies, then, indeed, you will have, on a global scale, a combination of 1929 stock market collapse, 1932-33 mass unemployment, 1923 hyperinflation; and eventually, on a global scale, chaos and "Argentinization," a collapse of the entire structure of the state.
Now, on the other side, the alternative is on the table, more powerfully than even in the '30s: In the '30s, just imagine, if in Germany, they would have done the same thing as Franklin D. Roosevelt did in America. Not only would there have been no Depression, but there would have been no Second World War! Today, we have, in the form of the proposals which Lyndon LaRouche, my sweet husband, has proposed for many years, we have a much more powerful alternative.
For example, the Italian Parliament has already, with a majority, voted for a New Bretton Woods system, a new financial system. We have signatures from other parliamentarians in many other countriesRussia, Australia, Poland, Hungary, and many moreand, we're in the process of collecting more of those. We have it in the form of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, which no longer is just an economic proposal, which has worked for a long time. Because, for a long time, we were the only ones to propose a Eurasian economic integration. But now recently, in a big summit of the ASEAN plus Four countries in Phnom Penh, ASEAN plus China, Russia, Korea, and Japan, they clearly said, that they want to go for economic integration, not only for the economic benefits of everybody, but as a clear war-avoidance policy.
So, these proposals are now on the table. And, the question is, can we mobilize the European populations to implement these proposals, before it is too late?
Development and Peace
Now, let me add one other consideration. It is very clear, that the crisis we're experiencing today, is not just an economic and financial crisis; but it is, fundamentally, an epochal change, a tectonic change, where the outcome is absolutely open: Either the outcome of this historic epoch, is a dark age; or it can be, at the same time, a completely new age of reason, of economic cooperation, of optimism, and cultural renaissance.
It is very clear to me, since a long timesince a couple of decadesthat Nicolaus of Cusa, who was one of the greatest thinkers of European history, for sure: He was the founder of the modern nation-state; he's the founder of modern science; he was a Cardinal in the 15th Century; and, he developed profound ideas. For example: He has this conception, that the laws of the macrocosm, and the laws of the microcosm, are exactly the same. Which means that the laws of creative reason, the microcosm, and the laws of the physical universe, the macrocosm, are identical. And that is the only reason, why the mind can know, with absolute certainty, things in the physical universe. I mean, that is one of the most beautiful things: that the human mind can produce an idea. And if you try to weigh an idea, if you measure it, if you try to smell it, you can't do any of these things to an idea, because it's immaterial! It doesn't weigh anything, it has no length, it doesn't smell. But it exists! And, if this idea is a universal idea, if it concerns a universally valid principle, then it can change the physical universe. Now, that's one of the most beautiful things to think about: That something which is completely immaterial, an idea, indeed, can have an effect in the physical universe. Nicolaus had this beautiful idea, that concordance in the microcosmpeace in the physical order at largecan only exist, if all microcosms develop in the absolute maximum way.
Well, this is something that is applicable, also, to the political order. You can have peace in the political world, only if all microcosms, all sovereign nation-states, develop in the maximum way. I mean, you cannot have imperialism, where one large country dominates the others, at the expense of their development. According to Nicolaus, then peace is impossible. But, only if each country, each sovereign nation-state, each microcosm, develops its most beautiful potentials, and regards this as its self-interest with the other microcosm, which also develops itself in the best possible way: Only on that basis, you can have peace.
Now, that basically meansand then an idea, which many other thinkers had, later on, also, including such people as Vernadsky, or the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo Ghosh: that only if you implement the cosmic order in the political world, then you can have peace and progress.
I'm absolutely convinced, that we have reached, for the first time in human history, a moment where we are all sitting in the one boat. You cannot have two continents collapsed in misery and deathlike Africa and Latin America are doing right nowand somehow think, that we in Europe are sitting behind a big "limes wall," and can enjoy ourselves, and survive. In former times, you had cultures going under, like the Roman Empire collapsed; the Byzantine Empire; the Incas; the Aztecs; and many other empires collapsed; and in other parts of the world, people didn't even know about it, because it took a lot of time to travel, and it didn't bother people, because it was so far away. And, other areas of the world had beautiful renaissance periods, like the Gupta period in India in the Fifth and Sixth Centuries B.C., and the Sung Dynasty in China, and so forthand Europe was in a dark age.
Global History Is Made by Individuals
Now, for the very first time, because of the globalization (what I mean by real globalization, is nuclear weapons, AIDS and other pandemics, communications, and so forth), we are all so much connected, that either we come out of this together, and create a human order, a political order which is worthy of human dignitya just, new world economic order, which allows the survival of all people; or, we all will not make it. So, I'm actually optimistic, that, when challenged with a great evil, man has the absolute capacity to respond with an even greater Good.
Now, this, however, is not some mechanistic historical materialism, or dialectical materialism; but, history is made by individuals. And therefore, we put so much emphasis on Friedrich Schiller, and why the Schiller Institute is actually named after him; because it requires the absolute decisive intervention by outstanding individuals, who regard themselves as world-historical individuals. Who say, "I take upon myself, the fate of mankind. I'm not just sitting here like a cow, eating grass, enjoying myself. But, I'm the one, who is taking responsibility for what will happen to this historical period, in which I'm born."
And this requires that you feel compassion. That you have to take all of mankind into your heart. You have to say, "I love the people in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia, as much as I love my little niece or nephew, or people in my immediate environment." And only if you have that absolute human capacity, to say, "I will make the difference. I will not allow this beautiful world to go down the drain, as it is in danger now. But, I will be one of the persons who change history, at a moment, where any option is still open."
So, what I want to tell you, is: Think about it, and be such a world-historical individual. And, then, everything is possible.