Germany | 20.05.2005 The Year of the Locust

The insect metaphor is finding plenty of resonance in German media.

A senior politician sparked the current debate on capitalism in Germany by comparing foreign investors to a plague of locusts. But some say the use of such populist rhetoric masks a deep-seated aversion to capitalism.

The hum started in April, when SPD party secretary Franz Muntefering unleashed a stream of rhetoric likening foreign investors to a swarm of insects.

I must admit to being quite shocked at the similarity between the language and images used to describe private equity, and propaganda about Jews from the 1930s. What's going on here? Seems like a thinly veiled form of an ancient hatred.

Gordon Haave explains:

In Europe, at least relative to the US, there are a lot more stakeholders in public companies. First are the politicians, who get cash subsidies from the large corporations. See Societe Generale.

Then there are the workers who through various workers' committees try to influence corporate policy. Add to that journalists, Greens, and other sorts who, in essence, shake down the large public companies.

Companies run with ruthless efficiency by owners in London and NY threaten all of that.


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