Joe Kaeser, the Greens and the dawn of a green capitalism with a human face?
With his AfD criticism, the remark that he prefers headscarf girls to BDM girls, his support for the unconditional basis income and his offer to Luise Neubauer, member of the Green Youth and leadership alpha woman of Friday for Future Germany, to become a member of the Siemens supervisory board, Siemens boss Joe Kaser showed a clear profile . He also appeared on the Green Economic Council and there was broad agreement between Annalena Baerbrock and him as the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemine Zeitung (FAZ) reported:
“It is not known whether Joe Kaeser actually filled out the Green membership application offered by Annalena Baerbock. But it should not be far from that. At the Green Business Congress in Berlin on Friday, the Siemens boss presented himself as a great climate friend. “Super great”, “absolutely brilliant”, “really really cool”: With these words he hailed the expansion of renewable energies, the conversion of the automotive industry towards electromobility and much more. This Congress is not the Greens‘ first approach to business. For months, those in charge of the party have been looking for specific contact with companies, especially co-chairwoman Baerbock.
She spoke at the BDI’s annual meeting last year; In an economic advisory board, the party has also gathered around 50 not only Green-friendly managers, with whom she meets regularly. In the past, the Greens of the economy would have said „Not like that“, remembers Baerbock: „Of course we have changed.“ And so it was anything but an exchange of blows that took place on the stage of the Kosmos cinema in Berlin-Friedrichshain. At first Kaeser lectured on the fact that companies must serve society, that is the only reason they would exist. Regarding the controversial Siemens project in an Australian coal mine, he said: „We should never have done that.“ He received around 16,000 angry emails in the days that followed. His teaching: “The facts can be what they want – reality is determined by the perception of the people.” In Germany, the coal phase cannot end fast enough for him: “It cannot be that we need until 2038 so that we can are carbon free. If you want, you can do that until 2030. „
At one point, however, the cuddle course on stage began to falter: when it came to the market. Kaeser countered Baerbock’s praises of a “socio-ecological transformation” with “I don’t like this word so much, I miss the market.” To which Baerbock replied that the market itself was initially neutral, neither good nor bad. „Politics must steer it in such a way that it contributes to prosperity.“ For example, the Greens want to dictate that the auto industry must use a certain amount of carbon-neutral steel. 10 percent at the beginning, then gradually more. These are the program items that managers like Kaeser still do not like to hear, despite all their enthusiasm for the climate. “2 to 2.5 million people and their families depend on the auto industry,” Kaeser recalled. “That is the prosperity of the country.” However, the two quickly agreed that only new electric cars should be allowed to be registered today. „If you are in government next year, you only have four years, you will never make it,“ said Kaeser, referring to the ambitious climate goals of the Greens. In the end, he allowed himself “a little address to your party”: As much as he was in favor of a socio-ecological market economy – with the emphasis on the market -: “You won’t be able to do it with bans.” For the first time you could hear a pain-filled moan in the up until then quiet hall . And laughter when Kaeser advised to change consumer behavior in gentler ways. „If someone wants to drive a SUV, then llet him do so !“ He shouted into the hall. “But then it doesn’t cost 500 euros, but 5,000 euros in taxes a year.” The Greens could then invest the difference in their socio-ecological transformation. With that the hall was reconciled. „
Has Siemens always been a haven of green ideology? Some can still remember other times. At least the Siemens Foundation, under its chairmen Armin Mohler and then Meier, was the think tank and the ideological stronghold of the New Right in the 80s and 90s, which worked diligently on a neo-fascist axis between the Front National of Marine Le Pen’s father and Republican chief SS-Schönhuber and held lectures with the whole right-winged spectrum of the New Right, Conservative Revolution and neofascist movement. In left-wing and Marxist literature, analyzes were often made between the connection between the respective capital groups and political movements and parties – from Sohn-Rethel to “Strategies of the German capital” or in all of Chinese, Soviet or GDR literature. Simplified, it was assigned schematically that the representatives of the old industries (coal / steel Stinnes / Krupp / Thyssen: I paid Hitler) supported right-wing and right-wing extremist parties and movements, the new industries (electrical / chemical Siemens / IG Farben) the democratic forces of the Weimar Republic. For this purpose, the corresponding bank connections, especially Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank, were examined then translated in a West-/East tendency and divide within each parts of the monopoly capital, typically not only for the Cold War and also to see a looming conspiracy of Ford and „The internaional Jew“, Lindberg and the British Clevden Club or Set which was sponsored by the aggressive imperialsit anticommunist parts of the monopoly capital. According to this point of worldview: It was only with the world economic crisis in 1929 that the new industries switched to the right in Germany. In Britain and the USA you had the right marching on the street, side by side with the Kluk Klux Klan or in Britain fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, Unity Midford, while in both Anglosaxon counrties Keynesiansim and a switch to the left occured. Not to communism, but in Republic worldview after the Mc Carthy era not „new communism“, but “ socialism“. So it will be interesting to see whether this scheme is still applicable today in the event of a renewed global economic crisis or financial crisis and whether the New Industries, above all Siemens, will turn around again and like Mohler will once turn to an axis AfD / Front National or whether the economic framework conditions and international constellations have changed as a result of globalization, new disruptive technologies and neoliberalism, especially since the question is whether the electronics and chemical industries will still be part of the new industries in the future.
Interesting in this context are the discussions as to whether, as a result of Trump’s America-First economic nationalism and criticism of globalism and the corona crisis, a decoupling of the global economy and the international supply chains and a restructuring will occur. The question of whether globalization is irreversible, partially reversible or restructurable, and the question of whether the globalized economic system is still sustainable and desirable, is also catalyzed by the climate crisis, Friday for Future and the delivery difficulties for pharmaceutical drugs and other sectors and goods .
However, now with Biden´s new policy which includes a Green New Deal,a Western New Silkroad and other infrastructure programs and industry policy as state regulations for a socio-ecological transformation of he old capitalism into a green sustainable, carbon free, climate neutral green stake holder capitalism with a human face, a paradigm shift from neoliberalism to more Keynesiansim and state intervention, the Paris Climate Accord, the hoped-for New Green climate neutral hydrogen EU, a new economic model could emerge wich is supproted by many modern capita factions of the new industries like Joe Kaeser and Siemens while heavy industries, oil, gas and so called old industries might try to prevent this development. However, a faction of big business and monopoly capital would have no problem to promise a genderneutral, climate neutral, diversified beyond races, some sort of racecless , social justice providing and digitalized new orld and paradise which could be profitable for them. A lot of CEOs at big corporations received a letter. It was from Larry Fink, the chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment management firm, which means those CEOs probably paid attention. The letter calls on CEOs to curb their appetite for short-term profits and focus more on long-term growth and making a positive contribution to society. If Black Rock, Joe Kaeser, Goldman Sachs, Davos-WEF Schwab, Elon Musk, Rossmann,most parts of the Silicon Valley including the guys from the Burning Man festival get involved, this might create a powerful lobby. In the German newspaper Freitag, the author euphorically interprets Joe Kaeser´s involvment with the Green Party as symptomatic for this hoped- for paradigm change:
Let´s go to the promised land Green capitalism When a Siemens boss calls up at the Green Party conference, the time has come: Society is going green, and Annalena Baerbock is leading it
Elsa Koester | Issue 25/2021
Hear the good news: There is another promised land! After decades of the utopian drought of neoliberal end times, they lie before us: the lush meadows of green capitalism, the endless expanses of fertile, still unused earth, the endless power of the elemental forces. Milk and honey may not flow in this country, but what is flowing here! The powerful currents of knowledge, wind and water are dragging us into the 21st century, and it will go down in the books as the century of green capitalism. Joe Kaeser knows that. The ex-Siemens boss is actually on the digital stage as a representative of the industry at the Greens and explains at their party congress what the economy now needs from politics in order to be able to grow and prosper: a reliable regulatory framework! Securing social peace! And investment in sustainability! Joe Kaeser stands on the green stage and says: „The success concept is called a socio-ecological market economy.“ The Initiative New Social Market Economy trembles there, of course. The think tank, founded in 2000 by the employers‘ association Gesamtmetall for the hot times of neoliberalism, fears nothing more in this election campaign than exactly that, the triumph of the ecological market economy. The neoliberals therefore started a broad advertising campaign with the slogan: “Green bans do not lead us to the promised land.” They are right about everything: with the fact that green capitalism is probably not the promised land for their capital. And with the fact that Annalena Baerbock is the one who wants to lead exactly there.
SPD, CDU and left torn apart
Because they have finally been found, the new fields for capitalist expansion. What we are currently observing is not just a simple green paint job, but a fundamental paradigm shift in the economy and society, as we last saw it after 1968. At that time, capitalism, shaped by mass production and the welfare state, fell into economic and ideological crisis. The demands of the global democracy movement of the 68s showed a way out: It was the colorful meadows of human creativity and care that gave capital new fields. After the age of industrial mass production came the service and data economy. And now, after the economic crisis of 2008, we are experiencing the transition to a green production regime.
Joe Kaeser thinks it’s great because his company will benefit from this restructuring: „Nobody has changed a company so profoundly and geared it so strongly to the future as Siemens,“ says the ex-manager with a proudly swollen chest. And the Initiative New Social Market Economy doesn’t think that’s so great, because if an industry can hardly switch to sustainable, then it is probably heavy industry. In these times, “the economy” is just as divided as “society” and “politics”: While some, along with their profit interests, but also their values, their lifestyles and identities, are still fully stuck in fossil fuel industrial capitalism, the others already live, trade and produce according to the logic of the green production regime. Instead of fossil energies, renewable energies are becoming resources; instead of mom, dad and child, social bubbles become units of consumption and life; Instead of the principles of mass production and the massive exploitation of humans and nature, it is about sustainability and welfare.
The Greens were the first party to present a program that comprehensively translates the necessary restructuring of society and the economy into political measures: the CO₂ price will redirect the economy and transport towards sustainability; Massive investments enable municipalities to convert entire cities to green; The world of work and the welfare state are being adapted in order to be able to implement this “great transformation”. Baerbock and Robert Habeck promise the promised land: “climate-neutral prosperity” from which “society as a whole benefits”. So it is not an achievement by the staff of this party that they are at the center of the election campaign.
It is the needs of the economic system that force them into this position. And the other parties? They have no choice but to run after them. “Green capitalism, but” is the headline of the election programs: “Climate-neutral industrial country, but secure jobs”, this is how Armin Laschet presents the CDU program. „Climate-neutral and digital, but social“ is how the SPD future program reads. “Climate neutral, but very social and without war”, this is how the left’s program can be summed up. Even Christian Lindner’s FDP demanded after the judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court: „It is advisable that all parties of the democratic center come together to discuss a path to climate-neutral Germany“, „but entrepreneur-friendly“ could be added. The AfD remains the only party that completely opposes the paradigm shift.
The “but” indicates that all parties apart from the two poles, the Greens and the AfD, are still torn between fossil industrial capitalism and green capitalism. These two political currents cannot be classified as left or right, but as progressive or conservative. Sahra Wagenknecht, for example, stands like no other politician for the paradigm of the Fordist welfare state: redistribution, social security, good working conditions as social policy. Worker pride and patriarchal nuclear family as identity politics. Car and Mallorca vacation as freedom. This policy was once progressive because it was based on what the working class could squeeze out of capital.
Today it is conservative: because its implementation would make it necessary to rewind the transformation of economic and identity processes. But the enormous power of the capitalist thirst for appropriation at the sight of still undeveloped green meadows could not yet be countered by any social force: neither machine-wreckers prevented industrialization nor conservatives prevented the humanization of production after 1968. “The spirit of capitalism owes its triumph to the ability to take up and deal with the criticism directed against it,” is how sociologists Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello described the transformation of the economic system in the 1970s. At that time it was criticized that capitalism sucks out bodies and destroys human abilities. Well, the system switched: Creativity, knowledge and diversity became new resources, identity, belonging, fun, rest, entertainment, relaxation were now produced.
Nevertheless, “the economy” initially turned against change: Ford naturally tried to put down the mass strikes of its workers. But then companies were founded that corresponded to the “new spirit of capitalism” and benefit from it: Toyota, for example, overtook Ford because it made its production processes more flexible and switched to just-in-time production. Service companies sprang up, as did social media corporations. The more companies benefit from change, the closer the social tipping point comes: The new production paradigm is becoming hegemonic. What Toyota is to the incipient neoliberalism, Tesla is to the incipient green capitalism: The company has long since stopped selling cars, but rather identity, political attitudes and data streams.
Who loses, who wins
After Tesla, the entire economy is reorienting itself green. The first medium-sized companies are demanding a higher CO₂ price, as recently the Federal Association for Sustainable Economy, to which companies such as BioCompany, Voelkel, GLS Bank, solar energy producers as well as carpenters and hotels belong. “In view of the criticism that has now arisen from some associations, we would like to make it clear that THE economy is not against higher CO2 prices,” the association said after the Green Party conference, “if associations like the BDI, BDA or BVMW explain something like that, then that it says above all, something about the importance that these fossil-fueled business lobby associations attach to climate protection. ”Of course, that’s not true. Rather, it says something about the importance of fossil fuel carriers for the various capital groups – and that group for which it is no longer important is growing. Society as a whole is now also producing new values and ways of life: cultural diversity, a combination of the urban with tranquility and rurality, fitness and health instead of burnout and beer belly.
The first industrial unions recognize that the future of their companies depends on how quickly they implement the green turnaround: IG Metall is calling for a transformation fund for the green restructuring of the steel industry, work councils in car companies are organizing protests for the faster switch to electric motors. At this economic tipping point, the Greens become the leading party. Or, in the words of Joe Kaeser: „The force that succeeds in optimally integrating the three elements socially, ecologically and economically, can write a new chapter in the history of our country.“ What some perceive as a change in ways of life is of course perceived as a prohibition by those who hold on to old ways of life. Not only the employers‘ association Gesamtmetall sees its profits in jeopardy – a large part of the workers will also lose work, recognition and prosperity. The Greens are well aware of this.
“We will create climate-neutral prosperity,” Habeck announced at the party congress, “but on the way there will be many individual problems, individual fates.” Some jobs would be new, others would perish – not all of them would be able to cope with the change. „If we respond with a social system that says: it’s your own fault, you better make an effort, or go wash and shave,“ warns Habeck, „then Germany will fall apart.“ Of course, when capitalism no longer had any means of expansion, growth had to be sustained through greater exploitation: in neoliberalism, people were squeezed like tired lemons.
But now there are the green meadows! If the growth rates in green capitalism are right, redistribution can take place again. This is how it looks, the new production regime. How market economy and how social it will be – this will be fought for in the coming years. Once the transformation is implemented, the SPD and the Left on the one hand, and the CDU and FDP on the other, will find their roles in it. However, it is set that it will be ecological. The Greens become the leading party, whether they govern or not. You are writing a new chapter, and not just in the history of this country, as Joe Kaeser says. But in the long history of an astonishingly changeable global capitalism that always wants to reach the promised land. That it never arrives – that is another matter.”
Well, Moses Annalena Baebock, our leader, prophet and chancellor candidate will lead us to the gender and climate neutral paradiseand thereby new profits. The Green Party just founded a Bundeswehr Green organization which tries to bring in the German military the new idea for future gender-, antisexist, ecological, humanitarian out-of- or in- the border missions. Maybe if the carbon free, green hydrogen EU is jeopardized because the renewabe energies in Europe are not enough and that the shortage could be compensated only by sun belts and solar parks ins the MENA region and the increasingly Islamist instable second hoped-for sunbelt from West Africa to Somalia., some reasonable Greens will propose a military misson to stabilze the sunbelts for the green hydrogen EU. However, Robert Habeck is only travelling to the East front Ukraine with a steel helmet and demanding German or European defensive weapon exports to Ukraine. At the same time the German newspapers of the Springer Publishing House BILD and Welt as Burda´s Focus magazine started to launch their anti-Baerbock campaign which led the hoped-for commander-in chief to an interview about security and foreign policy with the German conservative newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) where she confused the term nuclear first use with nuclear first strike . Now Springer and Burda are reporting that Putin has launched a desinformtion and hybrid warfare campagn againt the Green Party and her chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock. However BILD, Welt and Focus were and are supportative for anti-Baerbock news, fake news-are they also part of Putin´s campaign as Fox News and Breitbart didn´t do that against Hillary Clinton? A very selective and even embedded shizophrenia perception of new old Cold warriors?