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Freitag, 13. April 2012

Steffen Roski - Seven theses concerning Bertelsmann

Seven theses concernng Bertelsmann

  • It is an encouraging signal for the critics of neo-liberalism that the so-called “reforms” could not prevent collective interdisciplinary entrance to the topic “Bertelsmannisierung”, which means the growing influence of the media corporation Bertelsmann on German and international politics and policies. Multi-dimensionality in theory and analysis connected with a variety of critical-emancipatory perspectives beyond the mainstream of "normal science" fertilize political practice. Critics of Bertelsmann practice not in worth-neutral abstentionism, but know that to analyze this global player with scientific methods always means to work in the realm of "praxis", i.e., directly society-changing!
  • Bertelsmann is a serious and financialstrong participant on the capital side, which is able to fuel processes of social brain drain, i.e., to incorporate persons from their academic-intellectual and political-administrative circles into its complex power structure and networks. Bertelsmann is dependent on the reflexive knowledge of willing intellectuals in order to plan the company strategies and operational objectives. They also serve to legitimize its influence and to public-effectively communicate polical formulas.
  • Strategies against the neo-liberal mission of the Bertelsmann company can be effective only on the basis of clear analysis. There are lots of theory options: Marxist political economics, regularization theory, elite theory and power structure research, left functionalism, organizational theory and further more. They serve to clear the fog around the globally operating empire of media and services from the provincal city of Gütersloh in order to make counter-systemic cross-linkings able to unfold their full effectiveness.
  • The gradual erosion of the political area by benchmarking, by control with economic indices and indicators as well as by management by competition lies in the most characteristic interest of Bertelsmann, which offer appropriate planning and evaluation equipments, for example for the local government policy and the municipal administration as well as for the ranges to health and education (schools and universities). The company group attached media (e.g. the television stations of the RTL Group and the newspapers and magazines at Gruner und Jahr) manufacture thereby a public opinion which pay homage to the cult of productivism and individualism and squints spellbound on the next rankings.
  • Bertelsmann takes a key position in post-industrial, post-fordistic, tertiary, knowledge-based society as a global media and service company. Bertelsmann's agents and think tanks - Bertelsmann Foundation, Centre for University Development, Centre for Applied Political Research, Corporate University - do not only observe social developments passively. Instead, these institutions are characterized by active strategic acting (from classical lobbying to subtle attaching of fine-meshed power networks). For more than over a decade Bertelsmann is one of the key actors of capital side. Its oprative goal is the construction of a new social development model and accumulation regime.
  • Bertelsmann needs the state. The German state creates once the legal basic conditions favorable for working the Bertelsmann Foundation. On the other hand there is no better contracting party for the services octopus Arvato, a subsidiary company of Bertelsmann. Arvato promises the public hand, whether it be municipal administrations, hospitals, universities and schools to be able to achieve by the supply of economic indices and with it by the abstraction of contentwise criteria “everywhere at the same time the miracle of a reduction of costs with a quality increase.” (See Michael Felder: "Verwaltungsmodernisierung, die Transformation von Staatlichkeit und die neue Sozialdemokratie" (“Administrative modernization, the transformation of governance and new labor”), in: UTOPIE kreativ 121/122 (2000), p. 1090-1102; Quotation p. 1095) Bertelsmann has thus a high interest in the resolution of the central contradiction of neo-liberalism, i.e. the only negative definition of the role of the state in view of its also further existing meaning for economic processes, in order to make productive use of it in the interest of the corporation.
  • An important postulate of the critical Bertelsmann analysis reads: neo-liberalism and neo-nationalism do not exclude themselves - they cause each other. There is not a contradiction between the campaign "Du bist Deutschland" - “I am German(y)"”, the increasing controlling of public ranges over economic indicators and the production of an all-comprehensive regime of fierce competition. On the one hand, the capital-serving regulatory state must be most sensitive in relation to capitalism-critical analyses. Neonationalist campaigns are suitable for the stigmatization of critics in order to produce a society-far opinion climate that labels them in the long run as public enemies. On the other hand, the strategy of Bertelsmann consists in offering privatization and deregularization. Its operative business model is established to secure the conditions of the corporation's further existence. Those suffering from privatisation and deregularization stand under permanent savings obligation and thus the classical conception of solidarity is threatened, “as a productivistic reconstruction of justice is aimed at.” (Felder, op.cit., p. 1094) This will unavoidably lead to crises, which must be controlled politically and ideologically in the context of the nation state. Neo-nationalism serves here as balance mechanism. It is not the first time that the German capital is playing with the fire.