How has the demonization of the Indian economy helped
Factories, banks, stock exchanges
Two figures of thought are fundamental to the anti-Semitic worldview: On the one hand, abstract and misunderstood economic mechanisms are personified in the figure of 'the Jew'. On the other hand, an artificial contrast is constructed between a “creating” and a “raving” side of capital, between industrial and financial capital, the latter being fantasized as Jewish. Even without an anti-Semitic twist, both figures of thought are present in an abundance of images that attempt to explain the capitalist economic structure. This is the case where it is not social conditions but “greedy” managers or banks and stock exchanges that are identified as the real root of undesirable economic developments. The more pronounced these images are, the more opportunities they offer for anti-Semitic interpretations of the world. Preventive work against anti-Semitism must therefore take up and deconstruct these thought figures on which anti-Semitism is based. Conversely, a better understanding of the actual functioning of the capitalist economy can help to remove the basis of an anti-Semitic interpretation of the world.
The participants have basic knowledge about the functioning of the production and financial spheres in the capitalist economy as well as about their mutual dependencies. They know that in both spheres trading is equally profit-oriented and there is speculation on future profits. They see through the problem of figures of thought that differentiate between “good”, “productive” capital and “bad”, “exploitative” financial capital and are able to critically reflect on one-sided demonizations of the financial sphere.
In preparation we recommend using the method The Burned Corpse of Ocarina Island.
Material download, projector / smartboard, board / pin boards
105 min (25 min / 35 min / 45 min)
Step 1: Creating a diagram together
Exercise (25 min)
The participants sit in a circle of chairs with a clear field of vision on a board or large pin board. The team members hand out twelve laminated sheets of paper, each of which is printed in color on both sides: on the front is a term with a picture, on the back a short explanation. Two to three participants each share a sheet. These term sheets form the basis for the production cycle that is now to be created together (Figure 1) (see material).
For the following visualization of the diagram on the blackboard or pin board, the team members have another set that is only printed on one side (see material). The team members hang these twelve diagram sheets on a board or wall, unsorted and clearly visible for everyone. The sheets of paper previously distributed to the participants remain with the respective small groups until the end of the exercise.
The participants now have a few minutes to discuss the term on their sheet and its explanation in their small groups. Then each group should briefly explain to the other participants what the term assigned to them means.
Once all the terms have been introduced and explained, the participants begin to consider in which context and in which order they could be in a production cycle. To do this, the team ends first set a starting point with the term sheet “entrepreneurs”, which they hang on the board or pin board. Ask the relevant group to explain the term again and to suggest another term that could logically follow it (“business idea”).
Here and in the following, the procedure is always the same: The proposal of a group is discussed with all participants and the corresponding term, as long as the team ends agree to this order, is noted on the board or pin board. Now the group in question explains this term and in turn makes a suggestion for the further sequence. Once all groups have placed their terms, the production cycle is closed and Diagram 1 is completed.
Note: Experience shows that developing the production cycle is quite easy for the participants. However, discussions often arise about the correct order of the terms “workers” and “machines / work equipment”. For the exercise it is not important which of these terms is mentioned first, because both variants are possible. Nevertheless, we recommend starting with the “manpower” and arguing as follows. Companies first need specialized specialists who are able to decide which forklift truck, which roller or which raw material is best suited for production.
In the case of the term “workers”, reference should also be made to the conflict of interests with entrepreneurs in negotiating the wage issue: while entrepreneurs are keen to keep their wage expenditure as low as possible, workers are interested in higher wages.
Special attention must be paid to the term sheet “Market” because it illustrates the risk factor: The market represents the moment in the cycle in which it becomes clear whether the hope of selling the products on which the business idea is based actually works. This speculation is the main reason for production. The hope for profits can be disappointed here as well as with the later discussed speculation on rising share prices (see step 3).
In principle, the team members should ensure that terms that may appear too abstract for the participants are adequately explained. For example, the term “consumers” should be specified in such a way that both workers and entrepreneurs can assume this role.
Step 2: Supplementing the diagram (with image analysis)
Guided conversation (10 min)
After the joint creation of the production cycle, the participants work out the mutual interdependence of the production and financial spheres in a second step. The existing diagram is supplemented bit by bit with additional elements (supplement diagram 1) (see material). The participants now look again at the jointly created production cycle. The team members direct their attention to the term “entrepreneurs”: The sequence of the cycle shows that entrepreneurs develop a business idea that they need capital to implement. The participants are now asked to consider how the required capital can be raised.
- What options are there for entrepreneurs to get hold of capital?
If you have named the bank as a possible donor, the term “bank” is placed in the middle of the existing diagram. The end of the team and the participants then work out some exemplary relationships between the bank and the production cycle. Central processes of lending and interest-bearing repayment are shown one after the other to individual actors, namely entrepreneurs (investment loan), consumers (consumer loan) and workers (savings account).
The respective relationships between these actors and the bank are shown in the form of arrows and integrated into the diagram one after the other. Green arrows symbolize the granting, red arrows the repayment of the loan.
Note: If you worked beforehand - as recommended - with the method "The burned corpse of Ocarina Island", then a reference to the criminal history negotiated there can be helpful in the introductory question about possible sources of capital for entrepreneurs ("What did Martin do, to get money for the opening of the hotel? ”).
Evaluation (10 min)
When the completion of the production cycle with banking and credit transactions is complete and diagram 1 is completed, the end of the team and the participants turn to the interdependencies of the production and financial spheres. In order to clarify the mutual dependency of both spheres on each other, the participants discuss what consequences it could have if some of the connections shown failed to materialize.
In a first round of talks, the participants consider what consequences the loss of banks and investment loans would lead to for a company. In doing so, they work out: Entrepreneurs would hardly have access to outside capital. This could have serious consequences for a large number of companies. Particularly cost-intensive projects could not be financed (e.g. the expansion of a rail network at railway companies, research into new drugs at pharmaceutical companies or expansion into new markets). It may also no longer be possible to maintain existing production (e.g. if the company does not have sufficient equity capital to purchase workers, machines and raw materials).
- What would be the consequences for a company if there were no more banks or if there were no investment loans?
In the second round of discussions, the participants think about the consequences for the bank if the loss of savings deposits would be. In the course of the mind game, it becomes clear that banks are also heavily dependent on their customers' savings accounts. If these deposits were withdrawn on a larger scale, the bank would not only have less money available for lending, but - depending on how many loans the bank has financed with the savings deposits - its very existence could also be threatened.
- What are the consequences for the bank if the savings accounts were no longer available?
The third and final round of the conversation deals with the question of the consequences for the bank if there are no loan repayments or interest income. Here the participants open up: This scenario would pose existential problems for the bank, since the corresponding loans would have to be written off. Furthermore, the bank is essentially a company like any other. In order to be able to survive in the long term, it has to make profits - on the one hand to cover its expenses (wage and material costs), on the other hand to make a profit that ensures the continued existence of the company and legitimizes the existence of the company in general.
- What does it mean for the bank if loans can no longer be repaid or if the bank does not receive any interest on the loans?
Merging (5 min)
With a look at the examples discussed, the team members summarize again that there are dependencies and interactions between the production and financial spheres, i.e. both are dependent on each other. In addition, there are structural similarities, because in both spheres actors act for profit and speculate on profits (which is also associated with certain risks). So the purpose of companies is not the good of mankind, but to sell products for a profit. The purpose of banks is not to provide capital to businesses in need, but to make a profit. Because all those involved are subject to the conditions of competition, they have to adapt accordingly in order to ensure their economic survival.
Against the background of mutual dependency and structural analogies, it is not enough to distinguish between a production that serves people and a credit economy that is only oriented towards profit. Nevertheless, there is criticism of the economic conditions
often formulated in such a way that it is directed unilaterally against the monetary and banking system, i.e. the financial sphere. This will be shown as an example in the following analysis of an image representation.
Image analysis (10 min)
The participants sit with a clear view on a (canvas) wall or smart board, on which the team ends project an image that assumes that a person is dependent on banks and interest rates (see material). The joint image analysis is carried out in a moderated discussion and follows a three-step process consisting of description, interpretation and classification of what is depicted on the basis of key questions.
In the first step (description), the participants are asked to first reproduce the individual picture elements. They are limited to a description that is as factual as possible, which does not require any further interpretation. In the picture they identify a working figure, a bank and a factory. The unhappy-looking figure chained to the bench shovels an indefinite material onto a pile in front of the factory. At the same time, she shovels money that flies in the direction of the bank. A percentage sign is attached to the chain.
- What can be seen on the picture?
- Which buildings, figures and symbols are depicted here and how do they relate to one another?
- What is the facial expression of the person depicted and what exactly is they doing?
In the second step (interpretation) the participants think about what the individual elements of the picture stand for. In doing so, they make references to the previously created diagram. In this context they recognize that the working figure and factory represent the production cycle, while the bank serves as a symbol for the financial sphere. The anklet symbolizes credit debts and interest obligations, which lead to the fact that the income from the arduous work (money) goes exclusively to the bank.
- What do the individual elements, symbols and actions in the picture stand for?
- What do the working person and the factory symbolize, what does the bank symbolize?
- What do anklets and percent signs stand for and what is the money shoveled towards the bank to represent?
In the third step (classification), the participants try to capture possible statements in the picture. They work out that the illustration does not reflect the reciprocal relationships between the production and financial spheres, but wants to denounce a one-sided dependence of people on the money and credit economy. This is symbolized above all by the chain that ties the working figure to the bank via interest. It is also assumed that the bank benefits from the work of others and generates an effortless income. A parasitic existence is ascribed to finance capital compared to productive capital.
- What message does the picture convey? How do the spheres of production and finance relate to one another?
- Which aspects from the previously created diagram are missing here?
- What should be expressed with the anklet and what with the money shoveled into the bank?
- How do you rate the statement in the illustration yourself?
Note: The team members should make sure that the participants understand: By making the analyzed image representation exclusively between production and the financial sphere, it simply leaves out elementary aspects. For example, it ignores the fundamental conflict of interests between entrepreneurs (low wage costs) and workers (high wages). Instead, the picture highlights the debt trap and the alleged exploitation by lenders as the only disproportion between the complex economic relationships. This represents a one-sided condemnation and demonization of the financial sphere and its institutions.
The point of view problematized in the image analysis is also described in some places as “interest bondage” - a term that is heavily burdened not least by Nazi propaganda. The misleading distinction between a “creating” and a “grabbing” capital points to a central ideologue of anti-Semitism.
If the light and visibility conditions in the room are unfavorable for viewing the projected image together, you can also print out the image several times and output it directly to the participants. Collect the pictures again after the exercise!
Step 3: Input on the stock market and price formation (with image analysis)
Guided conversation (20 min)
For a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of the financial markets, the participants learn in a last step the central importance of the stock exchange for the capitalist economy as well as the basics of share price formation.
Initially, the team members remind you that in the previous step the bank was identified as a possible provider of capital for entrepreneurs. The participants now collect ideas as to which other sources of capital can be available to a company. If the stock exchange was named as the answer, the participants have the opportunity to apply their existing knowledge on the topic.
- What other options besides the bank are there for entrepreneurs to access capital?
- What do you know about the stock exchange and its function?
After the participants have gathered their initial knowledge, the team ends give a brief overview of the history and function of the exchange, which can roughly follow this pattern:
“In 1602 an 'East India Trade Company' was founded. At that time, Dutch merchants were looking for investors to finance their risky trade trips. Investors could buy shares in the company and share in the profits. The first share was born.Even today, the exchange offers a framework for entrepreneurs who want to collect funds for their cost-intensive projects. To do this, they issue shares through banks when they go public, which represent shares in the company. A wide variety of investors from all over the world become participants in the company and are therefore entitled to profit sharing or the hope of rising prices. However, there is no guarantee for this. "
In order to make the described process of share trading easier to understand, the team ends now create diagram 2 for the function of the stock exchange (see material). You visualize this diagram on a separate part of the board or on another pin board.
They proceed in stages: First, you place the terms “entrepreneur” and “bank”; with colored arrows they make their business relationship (shares versus capital) clear. Next, place the terms “private person” and “other companies” and illustrate their trade with the bank (shares for profit sharing). Finally, they place the term “stock exchange” on which the shares can be traded.
If the general processes of stock trading are clearly shown in the form of diagram 2, attention is directed to the price formation on the stock exchange in order to make the mechanisms of price fluctuations understandable. To this end, the team members show a digital presentation (see material), which they project onto a (canvas) wall or smartboard.
On the basis of this, the team ends explain that the company shares (shares) are traded on the stock exchange. Two parties meet there: the buyers, who assume that the company's profits will rise, and sellers, who are more pessimistic. The price rises or falls depending on which of the two parties is more strongly represented. In principle, there is no limit to the price of a share. The irrational developments that share prices can take are shown by recurring speculative bubbles, in which shares shoot up to unimagined heights within a very short time, only to collapse again relatively quickly.
What such a price fluctuation and the bursting of a speculative bubble can look like is demonstrated by the team ends by showing an example of an Intershop AG share price during the financial crisis of 2000/2001.
Merging (5 min)
The team ends now to summarize again: With the help of the previously developed diagrams it has been shown which central function the stock exchange plays in the capitalist economy and how important it is for companies. Via share trading on the stock exchange (but also outside of it), investors can participate in companies and participate in their profits, but they also share the risk associated with the business. In addition, investors can also buy some or all of a company - and thus gain control over business decisions. The strategies of profit maximization can also include breaking up or liquidating the company.
Note: The representation of the function of the stock exchange and the price formation mechanism is roughly simplified here and has been reduced to essential points in line with the learning objectives. The team ends would do well to deal with the matter in much more detail in advance in order to be able to answer more specific questions if necessary. Asking the participants' previous knowledge about the stock exchange (before creating Figure 2) provides a point of orientation in order to be able to address specific questions and assumptions of the participants in a more targeted manner. For their own preparation, the team members also have background information on the history and function of the exchange (see material).
Even if anti-Semitism is not explicitly discussed in this exercise, the end of the team should be aware that the stock exchange institution is always an essential target of anti-Semitic attacks on the financial sphere imagined as 'Jewish'. As the epitome of the abstract, it stands for internationality, rootlessness and greed for profit and is conceived in contrast to concrete work or the sphere of production. To some, the ups and downs on the stock market seem to be the cause of crises; others condemn speculation because it appears to make it possible to earn an effortless income at the expense of others. Not every shortened understanding of the financial sphere is necessarily anti-Semitic, but the following applies: the more undifferentiated and mystified it is perceived, the greater the opportunities for anti-Semitic interpretations.
Image analysis (15 min)
The team ends project the image of “grasshoppers” onto a (canvas) wall or smartboard (see material). The joint image analysis takes place again in a moderated conversation and in three steps of description, interpretation and classification.
Note: The subject of the image analysis is an excerpt from the cover of the “Economic Policy” magazine of the service union ver.di (October 2007). The end of the team can find further background information on the so-called "grasshopper debate" in an attachment (see material).
In the first step (description), the participants name the individual picture elements without interpreting them in more detail. You can see an approaching swarm of grasshoppers and the words "Financial capitalism - greed for money in its purest form!" In the course of this, the term financial capitalism should be discussed, which postulates an excessive influence of the financial sphere.
- Who would like to describe the picture? What can be seen on it?
- What could the term “financial capitalism” mean?
In the second step (interpretation), the participants determine that the locusts are supposed to symbolize financial capitalism and that this is equated with ruthless greed for money. Because large swarms of locusts continue to harvest crops and thus destroy people's livelihoods, they are widely regarded as a symbol of a plague. The representation of the huge swarm points to an extremely threatening scenario.
- What are the locusts supposed to symbolize?
- What do you know about grasshoppers? What are their properties and what do they generally represent?
In the third step (classification), the participants interpret the image against the background of the previously developed content. They find that financial capital is assumed to be parasitic because it is represented as a swarm of locusts. If you equate the locusts with financial investors, they appear as greedy pests that are not interested in people, but only in profit. Like a threatening swarm, they seem to ruthlessly attack productive companies and markets and devour them before moving on. In the deeper visual language, the financial sphere appears as vermin that feed on the economy / production and destroy it in the process.
- What message does the picture convey?
- How are financial capitalism or the financial sphere described here when they are symbolized by the swarm of locusts?
- Which actors could the locusts represent and why?
- If the locusts refer to financial investors, which characteristics are attributed to them by this illustration?
- How do you rate the statement in the illustration? Is such a representation correct and tenable with regard to the previously worked out connection between the production and financial spheres?
Merging (5 min)
The team ends once again bundle important findings from the exercise. They state that there are manifold relationships, dependencies and interactions between the production and financial spheres. Therefore, they do not represent an antagonism, but both are mutually dependent on each other. In the capitalist economic system, banks and stock exchanges fulfill necessary functions.
For this reason, the distinction between productive capital that appears “good” and “useful” and speculative capital that appears “bad” and “exploitative” is to be rejected. The one-sided demonization of the financial sphere ignores the fact that the basic principle of capitalism (also in production) is to achieve the maximum possible profits.
Anyone who blames individual actors for the - undoubtedly existing - negative excesses of capitalism overlooks the fact that all those involved are subject to the conditions of the market and competition. Of course, one can criticize the behavior of individuals, the unequal distribution of wealth and the associated power structures or condemn it for ethical reasons. A criticism of social conditions should not be based on supposed character traits such as greed for money, but on factual contexts and be aware of objective interests.
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