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Dialogue of Cultures
Understanding The Sublime,
Moderator: I want to stress that Mrs. LaRouche is a political leader in Germany. She has just contended for the Chancellorship of Germany. And she got an important percentage of the results, which is very meaningful, because it indicates that there is a growth process for the political movement which she heads; similar to the process you see in the United States, with Lyn (Lyndon LaRouche)don LaRouche. Mrs. LaRouche is the president of the Schiller Institute in Germany, an organization which she has headed for a number of years. At the same time, she is also the president of the Club of Life, internationally.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: Hello, all the friends of the LaRouche movement in Peru. Well, I want to talk today, about two issues: One, which is the question of the Sublime; and what is the importance of the Sublime for the present political situation. And the other one, is how to realize the Eurasian Land-Bridge, as a global reconstruction program, not only for Eurasia, but actually for the whole world.
Now, one can imagine, what Plato would say, if he would see modern-day TV and all the little children being glued to the TV screen, watching these terrible things, which are worse than tragedies: They're just ugly and terrible. But, another tragedian, after whom the Schiller Institute is named, Friedrich Schiller, especially in his later dramas, introduced a different level: exactly what Plato had complained was not yet involved in the ancient tragedians, namely, the level of the Sublime. If you read the later dramas, especially Maria Stuart, Joan of Arc [The Maid of Orleans], Wilhelm Tell, you can actually see, that these are not tragedies. That, despite the fact, that in some cases, the heroes even die, like in the case of Maria Stuart, or Joan of Arc, nevertheless, they're not tragedies, because they accomplish something with their life, which is much beyond their physical existence. And, in the case of Wilhelm Tell, even, the end is not a tragic one, but a very positive one.
Now, the question is, will the present historic crisis end up in a tragedy, or will this crisis be used as a chance? Are there leading forces in the world today, and is the population at large able to elevate itself to the level of the Sublime? And, this is not an abstract question, but it is very much the question: Have we learned the lessons from history? Have we been able to recognize, that certain patterns, indeed, repeat themselves? And, very concretely, have we learned the lessons of the situation of the last Great Depression in the '30s, for today? Because there are many parallels to the situation in the '30s.
Now, I wish you could put in the first slide, which is the slide which shows the overlay, of the curve of the stock market from 1918 to, I believe, 1940; and then, the stock market curve from 1980 to the present day. Do you have this curve there? Do you have this overhead?
[response via translator: They are looking for it, and they will show it. Ah, it's ready.]
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: Okay. Now, if you look at these two curves, you can actually see that it is rather amazing, how similar these curves are. They're almost identical. But, the situation today is obviously much worse as was, interestingly, noted also by the present Economics Minister of Italy, a person with the name of Giulio Tremonti, who is a very interesting person; who pointed to the fact, that the reason why the present crisis is much worse than the '30s, is that, contrary to then, there are already two continents which are in the process of disintegration, much, much, much beyond what the situation was in the '30s: and, that is, Africa, and naturally, Ibero-America. So, that is a very big difference. Another gigantic difference is, that the United States, which was the largest creditor in the 1930s, is, today, the largest debtor in the history of the world financial markets. As a matter of fact, the United States has a $31 trillion debt, out of which $29 [trillion] are different categories of domestic debt, private household debt, corporate debt, and so forth. A debt, which is as unpayable, as the Peruvian debt, or the German communal debt, or similar categories of debt.
Now, what is much, much worse than in the 1930s, is the gigantic derivatives bubble. In the speculative bubbleplease show the slide (if you have it), which shows the relationship between the banking capital assets, and the derivatives. Now, if you have that slide there, you can actually see, that the speculative bubble has taken on such an enormous proportion, that it is becoming actually ridiculous. And, there is no way in the world, how the world economy can continue to life with the debt, and with the derivatives on top of it.
If you look at the different economic processes, which went on, the New Economy bubble burst. And, since that started to happen in March 2000, $18 trillion were actually wiped outjust eliminated. Then, you had the mega-bankruptcies: Enron, WorldCom, all going bankrupt with as much debt as a normal country. You know, in the case of Enron or WorldCom, it was always between $60 billion debt, or $80 billion debt. And, at the same time led to a tremendous confidence crisis, because the management was caught, in many cases, to be criminals, committing fraud, they pocketed millions of dollars, while at the same time laying off 60,000 workers, causing the pension funds of their firms to go bankrupt. So, you have now, one-quarter of all American pensioners, have to apply to go back to work, because they lost their pensions, which were involved in the stock market, and so forth.
So, it's a gigantic crisis. And, the United States has become the epicenter. If you think Peru has big problemsit may be hardbut, the epicenter of this present crisis, is the United States. And, now the housing bubble, you know, all the swindles with third mortgages and whatnot, is the last bubble to burst.
This is now coming to a very acute phase. On the Jan. 1actually in a couple of days from nowthere will be a new government in Brazil, and they will face an unsolvable situation with $500 billion debt. And, either way, if they capitulate, or if they capitulate to the IMF, there is no way, how this debt can be paid.
Then, you have German collapse: I can only tell you, the "German economic miracle," which used to be world-famous, it is about to disintegrate. Many old firms, which took 100 years or more to build, over six, seven generations, are just vanishing! It is unbelievable how quickly the economic collapse in Germany is taking place.
Now, that has created a very interesting situation. Because, the present Schroeder government, only was voted in on Sept. 22, and he won the election, because he made a shift in the last months, on two issues: He totally, 100%, opposed German participation in any war against Iraq. And that expressed exactly the sentiment of the German population, who do not want to have this war. And, he took one important element of the BueSo programthat is the program of the party I representnamely, to use a German national bank, called the Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau, or the Credit Bank for Reconstruction, which played a crucial role in the post-war reconstruction in Germany; to use that to fight unemployment today, which is exactly what we have been campaigning on for a long time.
Unfortunately, when he came into the government, because of the Red-Green coalition, the finance minister announced a very dramatic, brutal austerity package. And then, one other leading, former Social Democrat accused the Schroeder government of having the same policy as the Chancellor Bruening, who was the third to last Chancellor in the Weimar Republic, before the National Socialists [Nazis] took over; or, however, Hitler got appointed, and then basically made a "cold coup," with the Reichstag Fire. Now, to accuse the present Social Democratic government of making the same brutal austerity program, which everybody associates with that that is what led to Hitlerbecause the unemployment then was 6 million, and that made it very easy for the Nazis to capitalize out of the situationthat has caused a complete freakout in Germany, especially among the Social Democrats, but, you know, it's unfortunately also true! Because austerity under conditions of mass unemployment and depression, is the worst you can do.
It is very interesting, because the other major thing which happened, is, that an economics professor, who used to be a complete liberal, picked up one of our arguments: Namely, that if you would have changed the economic policy in the '30s in time, that you would have eliminated the social conditions which allowed Hitler to come to power.
Now, I want to tell you very briefly this historical background, which you may not know, because it's from German history. In the early '30s, between 1930-31, there was a group of economists, both from the trade unions, from the General German Trade Union Association, a guy called Woytinsky, who, when the unemployment, because of Bruening's austerity measures, became worse and worse and worse, demanded in a very elaborated, beautiful program, an international program to combat the Depression, through the increase of the buying power of the population. And, he said, the way to do that, is we have to have a European-wide infrastructure program, to create more productive jobs, and increase the buying power of the population; and that way, we can get out of this crisis. [See EIR #16, April 11, 1997]
Now, this is a paper, which I would urge youand I heard from the previous discussion you had with Lyn (Lyndon LaRouche), that there are several labor representatives present, in this audience, today. I think it is a reading-must for any trade unionist today, to study these papers, from the trade unionists from the '30s, and that there is presently a debate in Germany, saying, "If these policies would have been followed, then Hitler would not have come to power."
On the so-called "conservative" side, there was also a group of people, among them, Wilhelm Lautenbach, and othersWagemann, Draeger, and so forthespecially Lautenbach, who in September 1931, presented a proposal to the Friedrich List Society (named after the famous German economist Friedrich List), in which he said, "The worst thing you can do, when you have a depression and a financial crisis, is to have austerity. On the contrary, the state must invest in those categories, in which one would also invest, if the economy would be in good shape. And, then you eliminated unemployment, because unemployment is the biggest cost-factor for a national economy. And you create real wealth, because, if you follow clearly scientific principles in these investments, you will realize, that the tax revenue you will get after you re-start the economy is bigger, than the initial credits given, simply because of the increase of the productivity of the whole economy. And therefore, this is the only way that you can get out of this crisis."
Now, this program is absolutely important today. Unfortunately, in 1932, the Social Democratic leadership rejected it. And, when von Schleicher, who was the last Chancellor before Hitler came into office, in December 1932, and he tried to get a very broad coalitionfrom trade unions, social groups, business groupsto put this program through, it was too late. And the SPD [Social Democratic Party] leadership rejected it. And, then through a whole, real nasty operation, including Hjalmar Schacht, Hitler was brought into power, in January 1933, and then it was too late.
In the recent election campaign, which Sara mentionedthe BueSo campaignI had made that issue, one of the leading issues: That, since we are, again, in an economic crisis, we must learn the lessons from history; go with the Lautenbach Plan today, and so, as a result of it, one of the leading newspapers had an article by this economics professor Giersch, who picked up exactly that argument, saying, that if these economic programs would have been implemented in the '30s, the whole history would have gone differently.
Now, here we are, at the point: Have we learned the lessons of history? Because, today, we have a very concrete framework for the Lautenbach Plan. It exists in the form of the Eurasian Land-Bridge. The Eurasian Land-Bridge is, basically, the idea to integrate the entire Eurasian continent through infrastructure, so-called "development corridors," and so forth. Just to show you, that this is not an abstract idea, but that the LaRouche movement is identical with the development of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, let me very briefly tell you about this. Please take the slide with the "Paris-Berlin-Vienna Productive Triangle" from 1990. When the [Berlin] Wall, between East and West came down, in November '89, you all remembersome of you remember, who are old enough, that this was the end of the G.D.R. [East Germany], the end of the Soviet Union later on, and there was no more divisionno more Iron Curtain, dividing Eastern and Western Europe.
Through the collaboration of Lyn (Lyndon LaRouche) and myself, we proposed, at that time, to develop the East, which had just went bankrupt. As a matter of fact, the whole global financial system of today, of the free market economy, is as bankrupt, as the G.D.R. communist system was in October '89. So, there was a tremendous chance, because, for the first time in the 20th Century, one could put the East-West relationship on a completely new basis. So, we proposed to take this area, between Paris, Berlin, and Vienna, which has the size of Japan, and still represents the largest concentration of industrial capacity, and beef it up through investment in high technology, Transrapid [maglev], high-temperature reactors [for nuclear energy production], and similar things; and then, develop so-called "corridors" into the East, to Warsaw, to Kiev, to Moscow, to the Balkans. And, if that policy would have been followed, there would have been a completely different development: A peaceful relation between East and West.
Now, we know, that this was, unfortunately, not done, at the time. But, in '91, when the Soviet Union disintegratedtake the next slide, with the ABC infrastructure lines [along the Land-Bridge]: We proposed, then, to immediately expand these corridors, all the way from Western Europe, to China, to Indonesia, to India, and basically integrate the entire European-Eurasian continent, into one economic zone.
This was a very important conception, because these were not just transport linesrailways, high-speed trains, waterways, and so forth, but it was the idea to use these transport arteries, around an integrated transport system of highways, waterways, high-speed railways, energy production and distribution, and communications, to then use these infrastructure arteries to develop so-called "corridors" of 100 kilometer width: to build new cities; to build new agriculture; to industrialize the agriculture; to have new industrial investment. Because, the idea was not to build infrastructure as during the colonial times, when you just would build these railways to extract raw materials, like you have in Latin America, where, if you have transport lines, they normally from the raw materials to the coast, to be exploited, but there is no integrated infrastructure grid, connecting all of Latin America. And, the same problem exists in Eurasia. So, the idea was, to bring in this infrastructure to industrialize the areas, to uplift the populations, to increase the productivity of the people in these countries, and in this way, for the first time in history, give the so-called "land-locked areas" of the worldthose areas which have no access to the oceans or to riversthe same geographical advantages, as if you have a nation which is sitting on the sea, or connected through large river systems. Now, this was projected to be 25 years. So, you have to say, totally, goodbye to the idea of quick money and shareholder values, because there is no way you can get profit out of this in a month. Because, it takes about 25 years, before a baby is developed to be educated, a skilled laborer, or engineer, or doctor, or something like that. So, you have to have long-term thinking, as it always was the case, when there was positive economic development.
So, we proposed to the Chinese government, to conduct a conference on this, with all participating countries, which finally took place in 1996, with 34 nations participating, including myself and another member from the Schiller Institute as speakers. And, this was actually a very powerful conference, in which the Chinese government committed itself to making this conception the long-term perspective until the year 2010 for China.
But, there was also opposition from the British. Then, in '97, the Asia crisis came. You remember, this was the beginning of the global crisis, with South Korea, Indonesia, Japan. Then, in '98, you had the Russian state bankruptcy. But, we kept organizing, despite all of these difficulties. We made interventions into IndiaIndia, which had no idea about these conceptions in the beginning. We organized for a strategic alliance of China, Russia, and India. So, for a long time, this went along very slowly, and was put on the back burner many times. But, now, with the financial collapse, and China is realizing, that it is losing its U.S. export marketsall of Asia is losing the United States as export markets: This is now the hottest issue on the agenda.
Now, many countries started to react to the question of a new Roman Empire, coming from the Anglo-Americans, and they started to organize all kinds of alliances among themselves. One of these alliances was the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; then, there was just recently the ASEAN Plus Four summit in Phnom Penh, and they discussed to have one gigantic project along the Eurasian Land-Bridge, namely, the development of the Mekong Delta, which is a very power water region, which has tremendous potentials. Then, President Putin of Russia just recently went to China and to India, and consolidated the idea of a Russia-China-India Productive Triangle, as a peace perspective for Eurasia.
Now, South Korea, which has no interest to have North Korea as part of the "axis of evil," and have nuclear bombs flying around the Korean Peninsula, is pushing very, very actively, the idea of an Iron Silk Road, as a peace policy, between South and West. And there are very, very active steps being taken by South Korea, North Korea, Japan, China, and Russia, to have this total development of the Trans-Siberian Railway from Pusan in South Korea, through North Korea, China, Siberiaall the way to Rotterdam; to have that as a gigantic development-and-peace perspective.
If you look at the last Eurasian Land-Bridge map, the newest one (put up that slide, please), then you can actually see, that if you such a trans-Eurasian infrastructure conception, then, that includes also the Near East, the Middle East, and the [Persian] Gulf. And, there is only one way, how that tormented region in the world, which right now is really in terrible danger, can be put on a peace perspective: And, that is in the context of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, where all the different countries work together. And especially (take the slide with the water, please), the slide, you can see here, irrigation and desalination plans, which are part of this idea, because you can then turn the desert into blooming gardens.
Now, a lot of conferences are taking place on this. Just over the [Dec. 28-29] weekend, now, there were many conferences in Central Asia, in Iran, in Russia. And, all of these countries are working, working, working, on this perspective.
Now, Schroeder, the Chancellor from Germany, is just now going to China, to Shanghai, with a gigantic delegation from German industry. And the reason why they are going there is, because, on Dec. 31three days from now, the first part of the Transrapid maglev train is being completed from the Pudong airport to the city of Shanghai, which is a line of 30 kilometers, and, they did this in 22 months.
Now, this has blown the minds of everybody in Germany, because, in Germany for 10, 15, 20 years, they have not been able to get permission for this, studies for that; and the Chinese bought this technology, in a joint-venture, built this 30 km long line, in just 22 months. So, they are completely shocked, that the Chinese today display virtues, which the Germans obviously lost: industriousness, efficiently, and so forth. And the Chinese saved that beautiful technology. And, I can say "beautiful technology," because Lyn (Lyndon LaRouche) and I were travelling with the maglev train about a year ago, in a test area in Germany, and it is absolutely beautiful, because it accelerates from 0 to 450 kph in a very brief period of time (I don't know exactly, maybe a minute or two minutes); and then it goes smoothly. And you don't feel any acceleration at all. It goes smoothly at the speed of 450 kphyou can show, now, the slide of the Transrapidand, this can be not only for passenger transport, but for goods as well. And, when the Land-Bridge is being built, and all these new citieswe are planning to build 1,000 new cities along these corridor linesthen the Transrapid will be the obvious way to save money for both transport of people and goods.
So, watch reports about the opening of the Transrapid in Shanghai; and German-Chinese cooperation is actually a very important breaking point. And, if there is a chance for Germany to get out of its present crisis, it can only be through these kinds of agreements with other countries. Because Germany has almost no raw materials at all. And, it only functions when it concentrates on exportGermany only functions when it exports up to 40% of its production. And the obvious places for Germany to export to, are areas with large populations, like China, India, but obviously, also Latin America.
So, I am very happy about this Transrapid, because I claim it, also, as our victory, because, for many, many years, we were the only ones campaigning for this, especially in China, in Russia, in India. So, it is also our victory, that this is actually happening. And, it gives you a taste, you know, that things which look difficult for a long time, can, all of a sudden, come to a point of fruition.
Now, this is actually, as I said, not a program only for Eurasia. If you look at the polar map of the Eurasian Land-Bridge, then you can actually see, that near the Bering Strait, the Eurasian Land-Bridge is supposed to be connected to North America, Central America, all the way down to Chile. And that, basically, through Egypt, and also Tunisia and Gibraltar, we will build this Eurasian Land-Bridge all the way to South Africa. So that, hopefully, sometime soon, you can travel by the Transrapid, all the way from South Africa to Chile. (I mean, you may not want to do it, because you may want to go by plane, but, it's an important idea, in order to connect the economies of the world in this way.)
So, you actually see, that we are really talking about a global reconstruction of the world economy.
Now, that brings me back to the question of the Sublime, and should we act out the tragedy of the present world crisis, by just staying within the framework of the existing parameters; or, can we elevate ourselves, and doeven if it's a little bit difficult, and requires some mental and emotional development and stepsshall we elevate ourselves to the level of the Sublime, and go for that solution, which is so clearly on the horizon?
Now, when Schiller discussed the Sublime, he actually wrote two beautiful treatises about it: He said, what it means is, that you cannot have your identity only in the physical existence. Because your physical existence is a weak one; you are afraid of all dangers, and so forth, and fear is the biggest enemy of man, because it turns him into a slave. Only if man elevates himself, and connects himself, puts his identity on universal principles, that he can have an identity, which is not subject to the fear of dangers.
Leibniz, another of the absolute greatest thinkers of our known human history, made the famous remark, that we are living in the "best of all possible worlds." Now, if you look at the misery in the world today, I mean, people sometimes wonder, how could Leibniz said such a thing, and maybe, he didn't anticipate how severe the crisis would become. But, if you think about it, that the world is not a linear extension of space and time, but that it is actually an ever-enlarging manifold of degrees of freedom, in which human cognition is that which drives the development further, then you can actually see, that the good thing is, that man is made in such a way, that a very great evil is provoking an even greater good in him.
Now, I can see that, right now. Because, if you remember, when it became clear, that this present American administration was preparing to go for war against Iraq, for a very long time, it was actually our movementand Lyn (Lyndon LaRouche), in particularwho said, "This war must be prevented, and it must not happen. And it is not inevitable, because we can move forces in the diplomatic process in the United Nations, but especially in the United States itself, and get forces together to stop this war." Now, over Christmas, the Pope came out with a very, very powerful statement, which today is in the headlines of all the European papers, saying, "This war must be prevented, at all costs." And, all the international church leaders are now picking up, what, for a long time, was said by Lyn (Lyndon LaRouche), alone: Namely, that this war is a war of aggression; it must not happen.
Now, I think the world is shaken up, because, everybody knows, we are looking at the potential abyss of mankind. And, we witness, right now, exactly such a situation, where the view of a very big danger is evoking a much larger good in people. And therefore, I believe, that with the same mobilization, which now went into the effort to not have this war, could lead to assigning the solution of reasonnamely, the New Bretton Woods system and the Eurasian Land-Bridge.
What we have to do, in addition: We have connect the perspective of economic cooperation, as it is presented in the Eurasian Land-Bridge, with the idea of the Dialogue of Cultures. Because, all the many different cultures in the world have produced their best traditions. Now, for example, you cannot think about European culture, which had, obviously, had a very big influence in Ibero-America, without thinking, for example, about Dante and the Divine Comedy. And, it is very interesting for the changing spirit of the time, that the last part, the last stanza of the Paradise section of the Comedy, was presented over Christmas, in front of a viewership of 11 million people on Italian TV, causing a complete excitement in the population. And, the way how this last canto ends, is that Dante is able to reach Paradise and is looking for one moment into God's face. And, when he looks in God's face, he sees the whole eternity, and that way, is uplifted to be more than just a man.
And, this is very beautiful, because this is exactly the quality of the Sublime, which is needed. Now, Dante was an absolute stepping-stone and founding father for the Italian Renaissance, which obviously also went back to Plato, and was triggered by a revival of Plato.
If you look at all the other, beautiful high points in civilizationAndalusia in Spain, which brought the best of the Arab Renaissance to Europe; you had, then, Cervantes, Goya. Then, if you want to emphasize the best traditions in Germany, you have to go and make Schiller one of the most important spearheads of this. And especially the idea of the Sublime, the "beautiful soul," which Schiller identifies as being only the genius, because it's only the genius, who is truly free, and creates new degrees of freedom, through his creative action.
Now, I'm absolutely convinced, that not only is it absolutely possible to pull this world out of this mess, of the economic crisis, by having a just, new world economic order based on a global reconstruction, based on the Eurasian Land-Bridge; but, I also think, that especially with the youth movement, which Lyn (Lyndon LaRouche) has catalyzed in many countries of the world, there are young people who say, "We reject these axioms, which have led to this crisis. And we look in the best traditions of the whole of universal history, and we make that our own. And, then we create a new Renaissance through the connection of these different cultures."
So, I'm absolutely optimistic, that we are in a very good situation. And I think, that, therefore, we have a very good possibility, that the next year can really become the turnaround for mankind to go into a better direction.
And, that is what I wanted to tell you.
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