Obama: When Change Reaches Europe

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[Global: View From Europe]

The change that was brought about last November 4, 2008, in the United States is gradually reaching minds on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, here in Europe.

Last week on Thursday January 8 and Friday January 9, French president Nicolas Sarkozy staged an international symposium in Paris, France, on the topic “New World – New Capitalism”, and devoted it to the “moralization of capitalism”.

His guests were former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German federal chancellor Angela Merkel and Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, among others. As the two-day gathering unfolded, president Sarkozy let on: “One shouldn’t sink into Ì€anti-capitalism, one should just moralize it”. Former British Prime minister Blair opined that the European Union is minded to reform the international institutions that were put in place last century.

German federal chancellor Angela Merkel suggested the creation of a “UN Economic Council” beside the UN Security Council. She held up the “Social Market Economy”, the German version of the “Welfare Market Economy”, as a model for the capitalism of the 21st century.

President Sarkozy went to lengths of averring that Europe won’t wait until the U.S. agrees. The French president demands that the G20- summit next April 2 may yield concrete reforms. He warned that even without the U.S. Europe would steamroller throughreforms pertaining to the transparency of financial markets and the moralization of capitalism.

Was the presence of Liberian president Johnson-Sirleaf only a tokenism?

To set the record straight, it was current U.S. president G. W. Bush who invited emerging countries last November to the financial crisis summit in Washington, D.C. If President Sarkozy had his druthers, developing and emerging countries would have been debarred from that gathering.

Furthermore, President-elect Obama didn’t wait for the outbreak of this financial crunch and meltdown to call for the “moralization” of capitalism. Is there any world leader today whose moral sinew is greater than that of President-elect Obama? Is there any world leader more transparent than President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden? For example, Biden says what he thinks; he doesn’t need to “tactically” and “strategically” conceal his thoughts and to fawn upon other people: he isn’t Janus-faced.

Again, this columnist was the first intellectual in Europe who, in an article published in German, called for the upgrading, incrementing and moralization of capitalism. Even a few months ago, Friedrich Merz, a former floor leader and/or whip of the CDU – the Christian Democratic Union --, the party of federal chancellor Angela Merkel, in the German House of Federal Representatives, penned and published, some months ago, a book in which he clamors for the upgrading of capitalism.

When you increment a programming language in computing sciences, the result is not the same language; for instance, the “C programming language” was incremented and the result was the “C++ programming language”, and not the same “C programming language”.

I even propounded – based on the labor core value of the “Classical African society” unearthed by the late Tanzanian philosopher and president Julius Nyerere – the “Participatory Market Economy” as the “Market Economy” of the ultramodern age of the 21st century and as synthesis of the “Free Market Economy” and/with the “Nanny Market Economy”, which is practiced in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada and what have you. The aim was, among others, to address and to accommodate the concern of some conservatives in the U.S., in Canada and in other countries around our global world-village. These conservatives believe that the “Welfare Market Economy”, styled in Germany “Social Market Economy”, is sheer Socialism.

We demonstrated that the “Nanny Market Economy” harbor some shortcomings though it also has many merits. The loopholes are oftentimes abused. In some cases, the “Welfare Market Economy” encourages sloth. Now then, Apostle Paul writes in the Bible that if somebody doesn’t want to labor, she or he shouldn’t eat either.
In addition, these are some basic rules of an industrial capitalistic society: Don’t financially and/or economically milk the State/Government; work in order to earn your livelihood. (Stéphane Leman-Langlois). That’s what we learn from the “Classical African society” Nyerere reminded us of.

And that’s the reason why President-elect Obama wants to send people in the U.S. to work. Moreover, one should always remember this saying: “The devil finds work for idle hands.”

In the way of transparency and moralization of capitalism, the global community will henceforth expect France and Germany to set a good example. In his book “Le demon est-il allemande?”  (2000)  -- in English, “Is the Devil of German stock?”, Michel Meyer explains that the State in France is the driving force behind economic activities. This variety of capitalism can be termed “Colbertist market economy”.

In the same book, Michel Meyer argues that Germany is a country fraught with subtle cartels and is the world leader in this regard. Meyer declares that only a perceptive observer can see through that fact and situation. He debates with himself and wonder why German competitors can at the same time engage in conniving; the answer is to be found in the following wheeze widespread in many circles in Germany: “There is honor among thieves”. The French version of this saying is: “Wolves don´t tear each other´s guts out.”

The French journalist quotes Lina Heydrich, the widow of the Nazi war criminal Reinhardt Heydrich; she told him: “ Let´s us rather work together. Against the threat from Russians. And also against Americans who lord it over us. Many Germans see eye to eye with me on this issue.”

The moralization President Sarkozy is crowing about is at bottom an educational problem. As long as students and graduates don´t enjoy the kind of appropriate education that enlightens, sharpens and edifies their intelligence, they will always indulge in immoral and unethical practices that spawn more problems rather than solve them. The prevalent financial meltdown is an example among others.

This situation is due to the fact that the foundation of pedagogy – theory and methodology of education – was shifted from moral philosophy to psychology. The solution to this problem is to base education and pedagogy on moral philosophy again, on psychology and on instructional communication. Teachers and professors need to be familiar with those components so as to be in a position to help students overcome the challenges of this new century.

To act morally also means to recognize that the U.S. financially helped European countries after World War II to reconstruct and to build up capitalistic economies within the framework of the “Marshall Plan”. The Union didn’t crow over European countries and the States didn´t gloat over the dreadful and economic plight of European countries then.

Withal, to stand up for moralization means that former colonial masters ought to take their cue from the landmark colonial settlement and agreement that was firmed up last year between Italy and Libya, and recognize that they owe former colonized countries a moral as well as an economic debt.

Eventually, many people in Europe guess that President-elect Obama has set very high standards in politics, also by selecting co-laborers of sterling worth. They wish that this may also happen in European countries.

Will other leaders, rulers and officials around our global world-village be wise enough and/or less envious to follow in his tracks?  

Black Star News columnist Mathias Victorien Ntep is a PhD candidate at the Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

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