We are contemporary witnesses of a past that does not want to go away. Schools are in the eternal Cretaceous period. The ghosts of yesterday are alive and kicking – at least since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the return of inflation.

Do you remember? We had been promised modernity as a festival of good ideas, with a liberal civil society at its heart, a strong push towards digitization in companies and schools, and the end of this oil age that glued country and lungs together.

On the contrary, we experienced the dystopian social vision of Aldous Huxley from 1891 (“Modern man has invented a new vice: speed”) as such a fast-paced and varied entertainment program that media scientist Neil Postman was concerned: “We’re having a great time.”

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But things turned out differently. We are contemporary witnesses of a past that does not want to go away. Schools are in the eternal Cretaceous period. The ghosts of yesterday are alive and kicking – at least since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and the return of inflation – and we’re scared to death at the beginning of this winter.

1. The fossil fuels are suddenly in demand again as if they were gold nuggets. Governments across the West are keen on coal and gas, which is why stocks in the relevant companies are experiencing their third spring.

OPEC, the cartel of oil sheikhs, is once again putting pressure on the world to cut production. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen fumes that capping is neither helpful nor wise. The world economy will suffer.

2. The armament business is booming; in the armaments forges of America and also of the Federal Republic, extra shifts are being driven. The managers and shareholders of these companies live in the best of all worlds, also because this is by no means a restart of the Cold War, but the end of the European post-war period. It’s not just a threat anymore. It is shot sharply. Make peace with more guns.

3. The old dollar dominance has been revitalized under the pressure of events. The American currency is thriving, triumphing over every other currency that dreamed of replacing it.

The fall of the euro against the dollar has tangible advantages for the Americans because the USA can now buy cheaper and brings us a serious disadvantage: the increasing depreciation of our currency means that we are importing inflation.

4. The unsettled western societies, in France, in Italy, in Germany and also in the USA, are looking for the new scapegoat. Lo and behold, he looks like the old one: there are ugly scenes at Europe’s external borders, and inland attitudes toward migrants and people of Jewish and Muslim faith are darkening.

The right-wing populist has made a big appearance in many countries and the AfD in Germany is also feeling the upward trend, according to the most recent Forsa survey.

In Lower Saxony the party achieved a double-digit result last night; in France Marine Le Pen and in the USA Donald Trump have good chances of being elected. The national, written off yesterday as a relic of the past, is now seen by many voters as the last resort in a world of madness.

5. The state puffs itself up. He has practiced self-responsibility during the pandemic and is now preparing to ration gas. During the Corona period, he published his dispatches on keeping your distance, washing your hands and sneezing in a species-appropriate manner; now he gives tips on heating, showering and using washcloths.

In the hour of need, it presents itself as a savior state that, with its access to the money press, injects those billions of injections that don’t solve the problems, but help to anaesthetize them.

The overburdening of the social security systems is suppressed and the need for reform derived from this is postponed. Germany should not be renewed now, but warmed up.

Conclusion: This present is neither pleasant nor sustainable. But we used to think so. The good news in the midst of this fog of the present: In the face of multiple crises, at least we can’t unlearn how to be amazed. Or to quote Kurt Tucholsky: “The greatest sight there is is the world – look at it.”

Gabor Steingart is one of the best-known journalists in the country. He publishes the newsletter The Pioneer Briefing. The podcast of the same name is Germany’s leading daily podcast for politics and business. Since May 2020, Steingart has been working with his editorial staff on the ship “The Pioneer One”. Before founding Media Pioneer, Steingart was, among other things, Chairman of the Management Board of the Handelsblatt Media Group. You can subscribe to his free newsletter here.