Olaf Scholz’s government has announced relief measures to help Germans pay their energy bills. But what they really need is wage rises — and government action that stops gas giants from profiting from this crisis.
Hans Zobel is a historian and works in adult education.
Europe’s partial ban on Russian oil is forcing states to look for alternative energy sources. But Berlin’s shifting positions show that Germany’s concern is its own power on the world market — with green issues little more than a fig leaf.
Last Friday, authorities gave the go-ahead for Tesla’s Gigafactory near Berlin. The fast-tracked approval for the electric auto plant makes a mockery of environmental and labor standards — but suits the agenda of superficially “greening” German industry.
Ahead of today’s German election, all the main parties have emphasized the need to green the auto industry. But the state’s strategic support for electric cars isn’t an attempt to save the planet — it’s about enhancing German capital’s supremacy over its foreign competition.
Upon its launch ten years ago, Germany’s Industry 4.0 program promised a fourth industrial revolution changing the way we work. Yet for all the talk of novelty, it followed age-old capitalist imperatives: using labor-saving technology not to lessen our workload but subject us to even tighter workplace discipline.
Two hundred years since his birth, Friedrich Engels is often considered a man rooted in the culture of 19th-century thought. But if not all his predictions ring true, his critique of the rising industrial capitalism offers penetrating insights into our own present.
With US hegemony in decline, China and the European Union are each vying to impose their own leadership over the next wave of digitalization. Donald Trump’s talk of “America First” expressed this rivalry in especially crude terms — but even after his departure, the contest among the main world powers is only intensifying.