"We all must die:" Breakthrough for social Darwinism during the Corona Pandemic. Commentary by Rüdiger Minow
Hardly a German government representative is more notorious than Wolfgang Schäuble - worldwide. During the international financial crisis, when Schäuble was Germany's Minister of Finance, his EU counterparts trembled: Schäuble wanted to force them to adapt harsh austerity measures. Because the foreseeable social consequences would cost lives, Schäuble's tactics seemed to scare Europe with "traumatic effects" and gave it a lesson in German economic ethics: Teutonic brutality and at all costs. "Terrifying," was the assessment the US Treasury Secretary made following his conversation with Schäuble. Paris and Madrid were also apprehensive; Athens called Schäuble an "arsonist," on a rampage through Europe. Schäuble has since climbed higher on the government ladder. Schäuble now ranks second, after the President, in the Federal Republic of Germany's protocolary system. Whatever he says carries weight. And he uses this position. In the midst of the Corona crisis, Schäuble initiated an interview, considered to be an unofficial guideline for the German state's life and death decisions. Its tenor deserves attention, even beyond Germany's borders.
Death is coming Anyway
Should people have to die, because they are deprived of state resources, essential for the economic cycle, such as currently during the Corona crisis? Does the protection of human life have absolute priority in state policy? In the interview, Schäuble has elaborated in 2020 on what he had already made clear in 2012, during the international financial crisis: "If I hear that everything else must take a back seat to the preservation of life, I must say that this, in such unequivocalness, is not right." Protection of human life does not have an "absolute priority in our Basic Law." Death is coming sooner or later anyway. "We are all going to die." (April 26, 2020)
Rivalry of Values
Schäuble's statements are exemplary and are of "national significance" declared the German Ethics Council. The council is government financed and prioritizes "economic rights." They should "not be unconditionally subordinated" to the protection of human life. There is a sort of rivalry of values. If the value of life would have priority, "freedom" would suffer, according to the unanimous judgment of the ethics department of the German Economic Institute (IW). From the standpoint of German constitutional law, according to a former judge on the constitutional court, "the state's efficiency" would encounter its limits, if life were given top priority, where "everything else must lag arbitrarily far behind."
In fact, the government's obligation to the constitution's highest value - the protection of life - must be relativized, just as Schäuble is doing, confirm the majority of Germany's government leaders. Prominent voices from the parliamentary opposition parties are also in agreement that the protection of human life, as the primary legitimized duty of the state is a "question of assessment." From this the FDP draws the conclusion: "therefore, please reopen the businesses." "Enable production." In harmony with Germany's export economy lobbyists and the President of the Bundestag, the chair of the Greens is also one of the relativizers. He finds himself in an alleged "dilemma," when he thinks of the protection of life during the Corona crisis, while a fellow Green municipal politician speaks in plain operational terms; "Let me tell you quite bluntly: We may be saving people in Germany, who, because of their age or serious previous medical conditions, may, be dead anyway in a half a year."
Deliberately blunt or rationalizing inhibited, decisive groupings within German political and economic policy are displaying clear signs of an ethical deterioration, wherein the preservation of economic activity is being counterpoised to the preservation of human life - offensively, by seeking to depict life as a rivaling commodity of existence. However, practical economic activity is no rival to maintaining human life, it transforms nature into the practical material that sustains and satisfies life - as long as economic activity supports life. However, a "dilemma" arises, when concrete individual lives must be sacrificed, because the practical resources of economic activity are unavailable, although the state's primacy for making, first and foremost, provisions for human life was reasonable but neglected. The greater the neglect, the greater are the "questions of assessment."
In the current crisis, it is obvious that the practical resources that economic activity could have produced for the preservation of human life, were not or insufficiently available before death could no longer be avoided. By not providing even the simplest means of protection, the officials have shifted responsibility for life and death "questions of assessment" to the hospitals. This escapism has cost additional lives or overwhelmed the lives of many nurses and doctors.
Protective means that are now being supplied are subjected to usurious trade; survival machines for intensive-care medicine are inciting stock market speculators, betting on company shares of the manufacturers, increasing their wealth. The poor are dying in rest homes and the suburbs. As long as the state allows this situation to continue, the preservation of human life and preservation of the economic activity are indeed in opposition to one another - however not as the advocates of value rivalry are intending. A state that relinquishes the preservation of human life, to that of economic freedom has either given up its existence or become barbarian.
It is not solely a German peculiarity to not draw boundaries between civilization and biology in the event of state failure. The ideology of failure adores the dull stench of predator dens, where the stronger animals feed on the weaker. There, archaic instinct makes the preservation of life superfluous. The predator archaic and its economic ideal - social Darwinism - determine phases of German history, wherein the state can no longer control its economic potency; it must be catapulted beyond its borders or collapse. Then it will be doubtful, whether everything else will recede, if the preservation of life prohibits everything else, namely death. Then a threat can be heard from Germany.
However, if with death, the highest obligation for the state, the protection of human life, falls, then the state's right to the monopoly on the use of force to protect human life against any other claim, falls as well. If the monopoly on the use of force falls, the state falls into its condition that relativized human life and forces to elevate human life again to its permanent right.