Report from Berlin – D. MacBryde

So, along with Steves work out and about in Oklahoma, now Doyle is not only reelected but has joined the Maryland state environment commission. Hummm. Could this signal the development of a “movement”?

As I mentioned earlier, here in Berlin a bunch of us Americans looked at the “inconvenient truth” film — and our next film night may be “The Corporation”. (About what a “corporation” is.) Here, as you might imagine, the content of the gore film is not so new — even the arch conservatives in Bavaria are seeing the glaciers in their back yard, in the Alps, melt. And corporations here, at least all large ones, are required not only to recognize unions, but have union representatives on the board. The question is decision-making in the corporations, and inside the economy, in addition to narrow wage, health and safety, and retirement issues. It is now a broad consensus here that, “of course”, economic activity, and decisions about economic activity, affect social justice and our environment. The recent German federal elections involved such issues.

I had promised to write some about the recent German elections and developments here. Sorry I’m a bit slow getting my act together to do that. The short version is that the “neo-liberals” lost. That does not get us to “the end of history”, or into a utopia (yet, ho ho ho) but the beginning of interesting times here. Also on the city and state level — Berlin is a “city-state”. With a red-red coalition (social democrats and democratic socialists. And a strong German green party. The conservatives are around 20 percent.) The Berlin coalition partners recently agreed on a “Berlin Agenda for the 21st Century” — as the guideline for political decisions on city/state issues. That is being translated into English. The process of getting that done was also interesting, very interesting. A number of “roundtables” (Berlin, with 3.5 million folks, is a bit big for “town meetings”.) With focus on the interactions between economic, social and environmental aspects of the kind of future people here in Berlin want getting on into this century. (On the federal level the issues of peace and security are of course significant — one consideration is migration — some bad-case calculations indicate a potential need for 300 million people in the desertification areas in Africa who will need to move in the next few decades. One result, this week, of current work on the federal German level has been to add an agenda item to the G8 meeting in June, that will be held on the German north coast, to invite the African Union. It will be hot inside, and maybe outside, the meeting. (If the US does not attack Iran in the meantime, if so then all bets are off.)

On one pleasant local note, there was some pleasure here in Berlin a week or so ago as reps from US and North Korea actually met. As had been “urged”. And there now seems to be some positive potential for resolutions in divided Korea. (After the Berlin Wall came down Koreans showed up to look at German reunification. Unfortunately the official “sunshine” policy of the South Korean government, to improve relations with the North with a view to eventual (not easy) reunification, and in the near term a nuclear free peninsula, had been blocked since the beginning of the bush mess–until the meeting here last week.) Anyway — I will try to get something into bloggable form at some point — In the meantime — for things from here, keep an eye open for the G8 meeting in Germany in June, and for “Live Earth” day on July 7th.

David MacBryde

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