"We need political goals set by politics."
How we called the bosses of the German industry and regulated their companies
The climate catastrophe is in full swing, a global recession is racing towards us. If we do not soon develop a radical economic plan that is socially and ecologically just, we can expect our societies to tear apart. The radical right-wingers will have an easy prey in the sea of frustration.
But politics does not dare, the economists are obviously not prepared for this. Words like eco-sufficiency, solidarity economy and post-growth economy are still foreign words from the catalogue of utopias. And if politics does not seriously tackle the greatest challenges, if the myth of eternal growth continues to be beaten down on us, we have to take the Ministry of Economics into our own hands.
As a bogus Federal Office for Crisis Protection and Economic Aid, we have held talks with CEOs and leading positions of 10 German companies, including 4 DAX corporations. We listened in to see whether they were ready for the radical change that is coming anyway. Whether they are ready to be regulated, if the coming crisis scenarios are openly addressed. In this video we document our journalistic-artistic project, which we produced for the international summer festival Kampnagel:
The reactions were amazing!
The meat industry would theoretically be able to switch to 100% vegan food. Vonovia, the largest housing construction company, could imagine to write charity bigger. Although the automotive industry reacts evasively to the issue of nationalisation, the suppliers understand that there will be far less individual transport in the future. Suppliers to the defence and aviation industries also thought aloud about what it would be like to produce trains in the future. The telephone calls were random samples, but they offer an insight into how easy it can be to pursue policies that can be called that: to push through the interests of the whole of society – and not just the microeconomic interests of individual industries or national interests.
The head of Helios, one of Germany’s largest healthcare groups, had in turn held such a paean to the private sector that he compared the dividends paid to shareholders with tax payments. The head of RWE drew a picture of eternal growth and eternal renewable energy supply – as long as it was imported from abroad – that we felt was almost colonial in character.
It was surprising how intertwined the initial reactions of politicians, the media and the largest of our telephone partners – RWE – were. After the first calls, Kai Diekmann, PR consultant of the agency Storymachine, intervened. The German press agency dpa and the Welt am Sonntag took over his framing: we are cheats*. We asked the dpa and the Welt am Sonntag about the course of events on August 2 at 12 noon, but did not receive an answer before the editorial deadline (August 5, 5 pm).
Wer hat davon schon einmal gehört: „Bundesamt für Krisenschutz und Wirtschaftshilfe?“ Seit wann gibt es das denn? Oder einfach nur eine ziemlich professionelle und aufwändige Fälschung??? https://t.co/raKmVWecfd pic.twitter.com/zqElG7oa14
— Kai Diekmann (@KaiDiekmann) July 11, 2020
…and the Internet community helped him find us:
Aufklärung jetzt! https://t.co/kTZbbeJgHN
— Dax Werner (@DaxWerner) July 13, 2020
The complete memory protocols
We confronted the companies with their statements three days before publication and resolved that we were a journalistic-artistic project. The complete memoirs of the interviews we conducted and the companies’ reactions can be found below.
At this point we would like to emphasize that we are not experts in our field, despite all the enthusiasm we have succeeded in doing so. We have done our best and are sure that there can be sophisticated mobility concepts, that we can make the housing and health market more sustainable. We believe that we can also shape the energy sector and use in such a way that we do not have to build electricity farms in countries of the global south that will need their own electricity.
The issues are complex. They certainly cannot be answered individually, but require fundamentally new approaches to economic management and social interaction. Many solidarity initiatives in the Corona crisis have set an example of what this could look like if the facts force us to do so. In the social discourse for the future we are obviously still at the very beginning, and time is short. We hope that we have been able to show a first step in the right direction.
This is a project that takes place and has been supported within the framework of the international festival of Kampnagel.
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