21st Century Socialism.

As all of Germany seems to engage either in market or Marx bashing these days, I thought it is time to add my two cents to the debate – and I’ll do it with the help of the US Europhile Jeremy Rifkin, who gave the “Stuttgarter Nachrichten” an interview about an old book of his, “the end of work.” The current German debate – the “Kapitalismuskritik” (“capitalism critique”) – is the result of a surprising lack of political imagination, a lot of disappointed social democrats, an important regional election in May, and the lack of a referendum about the European Constitution that would serve to channel the electorate’s fears, as it just happens in France.

Despite the fact that almost everyone, including business professors, in Germany – just as everywhere else – agrees at least theoretically, that there are issues to be debated with respect to the way our economy works, including obvious CEOcratic excesses, the political participants don’t seem to be able to update their class-struggle vocabulary to the needs of the 21st century. While I always thought “the left” had won a conceptional edge over so-called free-market fetishists by accepting that markets are “one coordinational mechanism among others”, I’m not sure about that anymore after having to endure the conflicting and confusing use of so many economic terms by leading German Social Democrats.

Thus, I suppose it was a good idea of the German government to invite Jeremy Rifkin to talk about his ideas concerning the future, or rather the end of work as we know it.
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