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Myths and the worldview

“The cry of decline over the decay of morals is as old as humanity – and the world has not yet perished.“This is how Sebastian Herrmann comforts his readers in the Sonntags Zeitung of 11 April 2021. He affirms: “On the contrary, most people are doing better than ever.“Herrmann claims:” The better we are, the more we feel that things are developing for the worse.”

“Feeling” to live in dark times

As mere feelings, the German magazine “Der Spiegel” of 3 April 2021 had already wanted to explain (away)the fundamentally threatening, short - and long-term problems of the world. Under the title “Wars, crises, diseases: Why the world is still getting better”, the Hamburg paper already spread a lot of hope on its front page.

Ullrich Fichtner is active in the cover story in the inside of the booklet over seven pages as a media cheer-up against “bad-tempered and pessimistic”. It is “a prevailing feeling that we live in dark times”, he notes at the beginning of his completely positive essay. And a little later: “Many people are convinced that everything will end badly in the end.“Reason:” The bad guy always knows how everything turns out: bad.“But very wrongly, as Fichtner says, because:” The future belongs to the smart realists. They know humanity on the good path – and understand hope as work.”

For the award-winning author, who wants to “question the popular sport of black painting”, “hope is a great power”. He refers to the philosopher Ernst Bloch and his famous work “Prinzip Hoffnung”. With this principle, Fichtner tries to “get out of the negative mood and not always filter out the positive immediately.“And behold: the man” does not come out of astonishment”.

Hope thanks to climate goals

For example, he is astonished that there are fewer poor people in percentage terms worldwide today – and more democracies in real terms than in the past. He notes as a positive development that” every year more films are produced in Nigeria than in Hollywood “or that"minimum wages for dancers and musicians are negotiated in Senegal”. Fichtner also draws hope from the climate targets agreed by 195 countries and alliances in Paris in 2015. “Since then, the world has changed for the better every day,” he says happily. And he points to the terrible diseases that have been defeated: cramp, polio, smallpox, measles, all of which have almost been eradicated worldwide.

In short: “The world is moving forward, countries are moving forward, millions of people have a better life.“Soon again in America, as the Spiegel author emphasizes:” In the USA, a climate denier was voted out, and the new president Joe Biden has not only immediately completed the promised return of his country under the umbrella of the Paris Agreement, but is currently cutting trillion packages for the ecological reconstruction of the USA.”

Militarization despite the Corona-crisis hit

All this has received too little attention, the essayist complains: “For reasons of black ecopedagogy”, unfortunately, “it is constantly denied that the many efforts are beginning to be worthwhile, and that there is tangible progress in saving the world”. However, he himself fails to understand that his ecological hope bearer in the USA, President Joe Biden, is again dividing this world confrontationally into friend (EU, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Japan) and enemy (China, Russia, Iran, Cuba).

Even more: Fichtner conceals that the confrontation policy of the USA is accompanied by massive militarization and rearmament. Biden’s” West", which the US president wants to rally behind his world leadership with the help of" his “North Atlantic Pact” Nato, is already spending well over 1000 billion in taxpayers ' money annually on armaments, military and warfare. If one adds the partly heavily militarized “friends” of the USA worldwide (from Saudi Arabia to Australia), Biden’s “coalition of the Willing” is responsible for nearly two-thirds of total military expenditure.  

Overall, the world’s rulers increased their defense and war budgets by 3.9 percent to almost 2000 billion in the corona year 2020. Theo Sommer is appalled by this in the “Zeit” in view of the corona crisis. “It’s sheer madness: they’re getting ready!“And they rattle their sabres louder again: additional U.S. battleships and aircraft carriers in the Chinese and Black Seas, larger NATO maneuvers in Eastern Europe-and in return Russian troop advance on the western border of this country.

** Growth and wear economy displaced**

Such peace-threatening events do not frighten the media cheerleaders: in their “ever better world” the madness of armament does not occur at all. Military and war are mentioned only to report positively that the number of people killed in wars every year is decreasing.

The growth economy, which is recognized as ruinous but still almost totalitarian, does not worry them either. Their concern is not that this wear and tear economy is beginning to live on the finite resources of the increasingly plundered and burdened world after almost two thirds of the year (the “Earth Overshoot Day” was August 22, 2020). The fact that this permanent fiasco continues unchecked hardly bothers you. Herrmann rather raunts in the SonntagsZeitung in a psychologizing way: “When things develop for the better, people appoint ever smaller occasions to catastrophe.”

Fichtner, too, endeavors psychology, which has shown that “people tend to focus their attention primarily on negative and threatening things – and less on positive and pleasant things.” It is reminiscent of Newton, Einstein and Marie Curie. And raves: “The genius of man, his instinct for discovery, his spirit of invention and enterprise, they are manifestly inexhaustible.“He philosophizes with Bloch:” Through the double of courage and knowledge, the future does not come as a skill over man, but man comes over the future.”

That despite desperate warnings from the UN every year 80 million people additionally “come over the future of the world” – and populate it in such a way that it will soon be ten billion, is no problem for him: corresponding concerns can be “simply deleted”.

“Outbreak of optimism” also among economic elites

Population and economic growth continues worldwide, apart from the short-term corona kink. All no problem, claim the media cheerleaders. However, this” feeling " prevails not only in editorial offices, but also in the executive floors of the global economic elites:

“After a year of pandemic with lockdown and deprivation, there is a massive outburst of optimism, “predicted Holger Zschäpitz in die Welt on 12 March 2021, stating:” Top managers are more optimistic than ever before. “It is based on a study by PwC, which shows that 76 percent of 5000 executives surveyed expect massive economic growth in the coming months. This growth brings a “record” and a “change of mood as striking as never before.”

On the other hand, the economic leaders ' concern “about the effects of climate change and environmental damage” has “declined sharply”, reports Zschäpitz. On the other hand, top managers were saddened by the regulations: 87 percent of business bosses saw “requirements and regulations as a risk”. 

“Rebuilding the world” with tree plants in Africa

Regulations for the protection of people and the environment affect the interests of those who would like to exploit nature without restriction. This exploitation is particularly brutal in the deforestation of rainforests: 158 000 square kilometres of tropical rainforest are cut down every year, reports the German information platform “Rainforest Adventure”. For cheerleader Fichtner, this is, of course, a much too “lousy” topic. In the picture, he prefers to describe and show “positive” reforestation actions in Africa: this is the “ecological transformation of the world”.

What is stupid is that in the next issue of the same magazine (April 10, 2021) his tree euphoria was massively relativized: “More and more governments, companies and consumers are paying off their CARBON footprint by planting forests,” you can read there. “A business worth millions – but often completely useless for the climate.“Because “tree planting as a panacea for the climate crisis"is to be called “a political myth”.

“Desire for images in the mirror”

However, Fichtner has experience with myths: he was the discoverer and sponsor of the award-winning “star reporter” Claas Relotius, who was exposed as a systematic forger of more than 50 reports at the end of 2018. Fichtner stumbled upon this affair from the Spiegel editor-in-chief in 2019. Now in the Hamburger Blatt he spreads the power of positive thinking and hopeful stories, even if they are not much more than “political myths”. Or as the title of the third chapter in Ernst Bloch’s quoted work (first volume) aptly reads: “Wunschbilder im Spiegel.”