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Rainer Mausfeld and the Silence of the Lambs

by Nico Beckert and Bernhard Romerke
Consciousness should be manipulated so the subjected do not even know centers of power exist beyond the seemingly democratically controlled political surfaces. The media are no longer the watchdogs of the public interest over the centers of power. Neoliberalism is no longer recognizable as ideology.

By Bernhard Romerke

[This book review published on February 4, 2019 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

Psychology professor Rainer Mausfeld chose this picture for the cover of his new book “Why are the Lambs Silent?” The majority of the population in today’s concrete capitalist states of the West are hoodwinked or led up the garden path by the ruling elites. Officially we live in a democracy but really in an “oligarchy of economic and political elites” in which central areas of society elude all democratic control and accountability. The metaphor, the “lambs” in the form of today’s population majorities do not cry but are silently brought to the butcher.

The picture of the lamb is traditionally in another context. The ancient Greeks compared the people with a herd inclined to irrational reactions and therefore needing leadership by shepherds, the enlightened elite. “Democracy is the only legitimate form of rule.” This idea prevailed since the 19th century. Forms of democracy had to be developed that were risk-free for the ownership class. To that end, organizational forms of power were developed abstractly so the indignation, outrage or rage of the subjected could not find any political addressants anymore. Their consciousness should be manipulated so they do not even know “centers of power exist behind the seemingly democratically controlled political surface.”

The media are no longer the “watchdogs of the public interest over the centers of power.” Neoliberalism is no longer recognizable as ideology. Poverty and precariousness in western societies appear as regrettable but inevitable side-effects of “market forces.” They cannot be voted out.

The figure of the politically-active public intellectual largely disappeared with the “neoliberal de-politicization of society.” Intellectuals and journalists now appear as “gatekeepers of power.” They are marketers of the freedom illusion, “the white-washers of the powerful. Their function is to deform the perception of reality and reshape the public consciousness so power is not disturbed.” The more obvious is the discrepancy between ideology and reality to the population, the greater the need for droves of willing intellectuals and journalists.”…

System criticism is subjected to “differentiations” until it evaporates in the academic fog… System criticism is delegitimated to stabilize the status quo…All criticism is decried as “conspiracy.”

Rainer Mausfeld: “Why are the Lambs Silent? How elite democracy and neoliberalism destroy our society” (2018)


Rainer Mausfeld, “Neoliberal Indoctrination,” 2017,

Rainer Mausfeld, “We Live in a Time of Radical Counter Enlightenment,” 2018,

Rainer Mausfeld, “Why are the Lambs Silent?,” 2016,


The World Economic Forum in Davos is predictable and boring. Looking behind this monotony is important

By Nico Beckert

[This article published on 1/29/2019 is translated from the German on the Internet,]

I didn’t want to write anything about this year’s meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. Every year the same ideas are repeated. Around 2500 economic thinkers, politicians, academics and “important figures from society” meet for (in)formal exchange. Previously the Oxfam reports about the increasing inequality in the world published every year and the WEF report about “Global Risks” (Global Risk Report) were given a week of media attention… Uncomfortable opponents of the globalized status quo are embraced and glamorized by the media. The global economic decision-makers feel firmly in the saddle and far removed from changing the status quo.

A brief glance behind this monotony is important because Davos is so preditable and boring. A 2-minute CNN video was widely circulated.

The video included a short excerpt from a podium discussion. The moderator of the Washington Post referred to a demand of the US Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently elected to the House of Representatives. She asked the founder and CEO of the IT-giant Dell, Michael Dell, whether he would support a 70% tax on people earning over $10 million. The hall erupted in laughter.

Michael Dell replied that he and his wife established a foundation. There he paid in much more over the last 20 years than he would pay to the state with a 70% tax rate. He was convinced he could do more with the money as a private donor than the US government. These statements are repeated again and again by wealthy donors… The moderator of the Washington Post only reacted with laughter.

The video also includes this exchange. Michael Dell asked: “Show me a country where such a tax rate has ever worked!” After a brief silence, a professor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Erik Brynjolfsson replied: “The US.” Whereupon the moderator interjected: “Only for a short while.” Brynjolfsson declared to a visibly astonished podium that an income tax rate (top tax rate) of 70% existed in the US between the 1930s and the 1960s and was even as high as 95%. These taxes functioned and the economy did very well at that time.

If one believes Brynjolfsson, high income taxes and the related growth are the exact opposite of what lobby organizations like the INSM, the Alliance of Taxpayers, or media and politicians argue again and again. Taking a standpoint like Brynjolfsson’s requires courage…

One should not nurse any illusions. The meeting in Davos did not serve to rescue the climate or “improve the world.” Both are official goals of the meeting. In truth, the managers come to form networks and do business. Surprisingly, there was laughter instead of critical questions… The tame reporting was not surprising.


Nico Beckert, Taxes: The Great Bluff, 2018,
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Rudolf Hickel
Thu, Feb 28, 2019 7:11PM
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