The following is an edited transcript of Helga Zepp-LaRouche’s introductory remarks to an online Schiller Institute International Youth Conference, Jan. 20, 2024.
Hello! Let me first of all greet all of you.
It is really a big joy to talk to young people from over 20 countries, because right now we are in the most incredible moment in history ever. I know you can say that for many moments of history, but I think we have never been at a time where, on the one side, the dangers to the very existence of mankind have been so great, but, at the same time, it is also a very joyful and hopeful moment, because we are in a transformation in which one system—the old neo-liberal order, the so-called rules-based order—is clearly failing. We are seeing the emergence of a completely new paradigm which promises to become a much better basis for relations among countries internationally.
Let me first speak a little bit about what to do about this war danger. The fact is, that, because you have the collapse of the neo-liberal order, those forces that want to keep a unipolar world, or at least a world in which the old system of the rules-based order keeps dominance over the rest of the world—that clearly is not working. We indeed have the danger that the present crises which we see in Ukraine and very emphatically in Southwest Asia, both unfortunately have the potential of getting out of control and, in the worst case, becoming a global nuclear war. If it would come to that—and we must do everything possible to prevent it—it would mean the annihilation of civilization. Because once you have the exchange of nuclear weapons—and I completely refute the idea that something like a tactical, regional nuclear war is possible.
It is the logic of nuclear war that once one nuclear weapon is used, the likelihood that the entire arsenal of all nuclear forces will be unloaded is extremely high. That would mean that, following such a nuclear exchange, there would be a nuclear winter of about a minimum of ten years, in which all life on Earth would die because of a lack of sun, a lack of food. So, this is why I think the young people, you who have your entire life hopefully ahead of you, have to have a stronger voice in making clear that the powers that be stop a course which is so threatening to the very existence of humanity.
‘World Citizens of All Countries, Unite!’
Therefore, what the Schiller Institute has been trying to do since the war danger has become so absolutely acute—essentially since the war in Ukraine started—we have emphasized very much that we have to teach people in every country on the planet to think about the one mankind first, before thinking about any particular national interest. To think about the one humanity is not a contradiction to being a good patriot, because, according to Friedrich Schiller—for whom the Schiller Institute is named, the great German poet of freedom—there is no contradiction between being a patriot of your own country and thinking and acting as a world citizen.
Now I have coined a slogan, “World Citizens of All Countries, Unite!” Some of you who are familiar with Karl Marx may remember that he coined the notion, “Proletarians of All Countries, Unite!” Since I have the privilege to have been born in the same city as Karl Marx, the oldest city in Germany, Trier, I have just changed that into “World Citizens of All Countries, Unite!”
That is not just a slogan. I believe that as we see the tendency of the Global Majority becoming more prominent, we are also in an era in which, while sovereignty is extremely important and will be important for quite some time to come, nevertheless we are already in a period in which you can see that there will come a time in history where nations will be less important. They will not disappear, because culture, language, tradition, art will always play a very important role, but we for sure as a human species will eventually reach an identity that makes us much more conscious of being the one humanity. I will return to that later on.
There is also one philosophical foundation upon which one can think [about] the one humanity; it’s a philosophical method which has been developed by one of my favorite philosophers, Nicolaus of Kues, who was the founder of modern science in Europe, the founder of the sovereign nation-state. He lived in the 15th Century. He developed a method of thinking which he called the Coincidentia Oppositorum, the Coincidence of Opposites. The main idea behind that, is that the human mind, empowered with creative reason, can always think of the higher one, than the many. Nicolas of Cusa was a Cardinal in the Catholic Church and the Foreign Minister of the Vatican of his time. He arrived at this idea from theological considerations; that the one God has more power than all the many [that] He created.
It’s also something you can access if you are not religious, because in mathematics you have also the idea that there can be always a mathematical power which has more power than the many. I think that that is very helpful, and we should discuss this maybe in the discussion period. It’s a very helpful device, especially in a world where you have some people saying, “America first!” Other people say, “My country is the chosen country.” I, coming from Germany, in the meantime, am extremely reluctant whenever somebody says, “My country is the best,” because we in Germany did not have such great experiences with that.
The Geopolitical Lunacy
But to come at this consideration of thinking about the interest of the one humanity first, I think, is of existential importance when it comes to the danger of nuclear war. Right now, we are in a situation where many people in the West are talking about the coming inevitable war with Russia, with China. You have people in Sweden, Finland, Germany, who are saying the war with Russia will come in two years, in three years, on Swedish territory. Just yesterday, the head of the Military Committee of NATO, Admiral Rob Bauer, said that in NATO, we must have a red alert because of the coming inevitable war with Russia. I think this is obviously propaganda; it’s a narrative, because there is no inevitable danger of a war with Russia. If you look at the reason why people are saying this, it has nothing to do with the actual behavior of Russia or China. It has a lot to do with geopolitics.
It would have been possible to at least design a European common house, as [Soviet President Mikhail] Gorbachev at the time talked about. I will spare you the many aspects of it, but the reality was that our proposal was rejected, because, in the United States and Great Britain, you had the neo-cons, who said, “Oh, wonderful! The Soviet Union is no longer there, now we have won the Cold War, and we can establish a unipolar world, where only we are the dominant power.” There was one fellow in particular who designed this, [Paul] Wolfowitz, one of the defense experts of the United States. He coined the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which was the idea that, now that the West supposedly had won the Cold War, the United States would not allow any other country or group of countries to ever bypass the United States economically, socially, militarily, or otherwise.
Unfortunately, that policy went into effect. At that time, you had an American historian named [Francis] Fukuyama, who said that this was the end of history. What [these circles] meant by that, was that, given the fact that communism supposedly had failed, the whole world would adopt the neo-liberal economic model and the liberal model of social policy. They basically said, that will mean there will be no more war, there will be the end of history.
Defeating the Structures of Sin
The Pope at that time, John Paul II, warned that the West had not won, because the whole world was still under the rule of the structures of sin; that the structures of sin did not only exist in the Soviet Union, but they also existed in the West. The Pope said, if you don’t believe it, look at the condition of the Third World to see the under-development, the poverty [for proof] that these structures of sin still rule.
In the beginning of the 1990s, there was no Russia being an enemy, because [Russian President Boris] Yeltsin, who completely implemented the neo-liberal policies, the liberal economic reforms, did exactly what the Western oligarchy wanted from him. So, there was no problem from their standpoint with Russia—except that the demographic curve of Russia collapsed by one million per year, and the Russian economist Sergei Glazyev called that genocide, because the intention was to reduce the Russian population, ruin Russia already then, under the guise of liberal policies.
China was not an enemy, either, because China was still developing, having made already incredible progress, but it was not yet anywhere near challenging the United States. But then, China became a member of the [World Trade Organization] WTO, which the Western forces had invited China to join. They made the invitation because they thought that once China was part of the WTO, they would also adopt the liberal model and become part of “us.”
That all started to change when [Russian President Vladimir] Putin came to replace Yeltsin, because Putin was determined to undo the liberal reforms, re-establish Russia as a global power, which, under Yeltsin, had basically collapsed. Then they started to say, Putin is really an enemy. And naturally, when China became part of the WTO [in 2001], it really meant that China all of a sudden had access to all the advanced technologies of the West. It started a big jump in productivity in lifting altogether 850 million people out of poverty in China, which was an incredible civilizational contribution.
But eventually, China did not adopt the liberal model of the West, but to the contrary, China turned back to its 5,000-year cultural tradition. The Chinese called this “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Naturally then, China was making incredible motion forward. Finally, in 2013, China felt economically strong enough—it had tried earlier, but had not succeeded—to offer the rest of the world to participate in the Chinese model. This was when President Xi Jinping, in Kazakhstan, announced the Belt and Road Initiative. Then, the economic development started to spread from China. They offered many economic cooperation agreements with countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. By about 2017, the West really started to treat China as an adversary.
The World Land-Bridge
We observed this very closely, because we had our own plan for a World Land-Bridge, for a Eurasian Land-Bridge extending into all continents, which we published in 2014 as a book called The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge. We were quite surprised that, for the first four years, there was almost no coverage about the New Silk Road in the Western media. But then, at the end of 2017, all the security papers [strategic reports and analyses—ed.]—of the U.S. first, and then all the European allies—started to treat China as an adversary, as a competitor, but also more and more as a threat.
The effort to maintain the unipolar world was expressed by, among other things, altogether five eastward extensions of NATO. While the West had promised that NATO would not move an inch to the east after the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO moved 1,000 kilometers to the east, closer and closer to the borders of Russia. In 2014, the Western powers made the Maidan coup [in Kiev], which was a fascist coup financed by—among others—the U.S. State Department for $5 billion. This was admitted to by [then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs] Victoria Nuland.
The idea was that NATO would extend into Ukraine. From the standpoint of the security interests of Russia, this was unacceptable, because it would be like during the Cuban Missile Crisis [in 1962], when the Soviet Union brought their missiles, which were nuclear-armed, to Cuba. It came to a similar crisis. It should be obvious to anybody that, if NATO is trying to do the same thing the other way around by bringing offensive weapons systems to the border of Russia, this would be a reverse Cuban Missile Crisis. This is when the war in Ukraine really started; it started actually in 2014.
After that, the sanctions regime against Russia became more brutal all the time. Eventually, this even led to the weaponization of the dollar after Russia’s special military operation had started on February 24, 2022. At that point, we entered the present showdown phase of the situation. The Western democracies—and I almost have to put the word democracies in quotations—tried all the time to pull the majority of the Global South countries of Africa, Latin America, and Asia into the camp of the so-called democracies. But the countries of the Global South looked at this whole situation and, since they had been the victims of colonialism for almost 600 years, they did not buy the narrative put out by the U.S. and European media. They refused to take the side of the West, basically insisting they would remain neutral. From that time, there was an absolute explosion in the tradition and memory of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The spirit of Bandung, the first Afro-Asian conference of 1955, came back with a vengeance, one can say. The countries of the Global South more and more were being encouraged by China, because they had for the first time an alternative for development. For all these years before, the West had not given them credit to build infrastructure. Why did the Europeans not, in the years after the Second World War, give them long-term, low-interest credits to build infrastructure—ports, railways, industrial parks? They did not. Instead, they had the IMF conditionalities, which meant that the so-called Third World countries would have to spend the money they made from exporting raw materials, not to invest in health systems, not to invest in infrastructure, but to pay their debt to the banks of the Paris Club first.
The Rise of the Global Majority
So, therefore, what then happened is that the Global South became stronger and stronger; the countries of the BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa—became more active. Eventually, at the end of last year, in the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, they decided to become the BRICS+. From January 1st of this year, it’s the BRICS-10. Ethiopia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia (which is in the process of becoming a member), the Emirates, and Iran are all members of the BRICS. And about 30–40 more countries have already applied to become part of the new economic system, which is also intending to create a new reserve currency, to have their own economic system. After the weaponization of the dollar, when the U.S. and European banks confiscated about $300 billion of Russian assets, and $9.5 billion of Afghanistan assets, these countries started to think maybe it’s not such a safe thing to have your assets in dollars; maybe we should have trade in our own currencies—rupees, reals, rubles, and others.
Basically, that is where we are right now, because this year Russia has the chairmanship of the BRICS+, and I absolutely expect that in the present situation the BRICS will make a gigantic step forward to become a new economic system. This is a system which is very different than the so-called rules-based order, because they do not have a secretariat, they do not have a common policy they want to impose on the rest of the world, but among them, they respect each other’s sovereignty, the different social systems, that every country can choose their own path for development.
Genocide Can and Must End
I think there has to be another point in the picture. With the recent suit by South Africa against Israel for committing genocide in Gaza, this is a world-historic event, because, as it has been stated by many people, how can you deny that there is genocide going on in Gaza when the TV stations of the whole world are streaming live what is going on in Gaza every day? When you seal off a tiny strip of land, and you make sure that for three-plus months no food, no electricity, no medicine, no water is coming in, and even the United Nations is saying that it is expected that the number of people dying from disease as a result of this will be much higher than the number of those who will have died from the bombings, the intent is very clear.
So, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, the South African government presented this case with 84 pages documenting what is going on in Gaza. I watched the first three hours of the presentation and some of the second three hours. I have never seen such an airtight legal argument, not only showing the dimension of the humanitarian crisis, but also the clear intent. When you have all the top officials of Israel talking about the [biblical] Amalek, talking about [people who are] animals, that nobody should survive, and then seeing the soldiers dancing in a frenzy—Anyway, I think the significance of this is historic, because it proves that the country of South Africa, which went through apartheid and overcame a system of racism of the worst kind, has taken the leadership for the whole world, while the West, those countries with the so-called high moral standard, talking about democracy and human rights, when confronted with this incredible situation in Gaza, are covering up and not bringing it to the ICJ.
It was South Africa which saved the honor of humanity. That is symptomatic of the kind of change we are seeing in the world right now. I think this will have reverberations, because the whole Global Majority is siding with South Africa.
An Urgently Needed Sea Change
And I’m very sad to say that Germany took the wrong side in this battle by siding with the United States and Israel, with the mistaken argument that, because Germany committed a genocide more than 80 years ago, that we have to stand by the side of Israel, no matter what they do. This is a wrong idea, and I’m very saddened by it. Hopefully, we can remedy it. I see hope that we can remedy it, because there is something positive to be reported from Germany.
That is that—actually, almost unexpectedly—a couple of weeks ago, the German farmers started to take to the streets to protest against cuts in their various budgets and subsidies for fuel which threaten to bankrupt them. They are now on the streets; they had on one day more than 100,000 tractors out. They basically blocked all the main highways. They had one full week of demonstrations, and it is not stopping. They are now joined by the truckers, who are also protesting, as well as by many other segments of the population who are also supporting them, because their own existence is at stake as well. The bakers, the restaurant owners, other categories. Hopefully, the industrialists will realize they are in a similar position, because this present neo-liberal system is threatening Germany to crash completely against the wall.
Now, let me make another point. I think what we see right now with the fight of the German farmers and the fight of the Global South, is actually the same fight. Now, that may not be apparent to people in Bavaria or people in Somalia; they may not look at it this way. But actually, if you really understand what is going on, it is the same fight. Because, what are the countries of the Global South fighting against? They are fighting against a system of control of the terms of trade. They are now demanding that every country of the developing sector has the right, not only to develop their own resources, but to increase the production chain, the value chain in their own countries by developing industry, agriculture, infrastructure, building new cities, going into new areas of science and technology. In other words, becoming a middle-income country in the near future. Who is trying to block that? It’s the institutions of finance, of Wall Street, the City of London, it’s the military-industrial complex of the North, of NATO, and the food cartels. If you look at the charts of who are the powers that be in Wall Street, in the City of London, and other financial centers, these complexes finance military-industrial and food cartels and reinsurance companies. They are so interwoven that you cannot separate them one iota.
Therefore, the farmers are fighting against these same cartels that the developing countries are fighting against—the same thing. They have much more in common than meets the eye.
Principles of Change and Action
One of the things we want to accomplish is to merge these two powerful motions to become one, because the only way, in my view, to get out of this crisis, is by uniting the people of Europe and the United States with the people of the Global South. I cannot see any other solution, because that is the one New Paradigm we have to accomplish. We have to come to this New Paradigm by ending the 600 years of colonial rule for the Global South.
Let me quickly introduce my Ten Principles, because about two years ago, I started to suggest a new security and development architecture which has to replace the present geopolitical order. If some of you have thought about it already, I would like us to discuss how to actually put such a new security order on the table. The Ten Principles which I proposed: First of all, the absolute sovereignty of every country needs to be respected. There must [be] the absolute eradication of poverty on the whole planet. A universal health system in every country; universal education for every newborn child and adult. A credit system which can finance that. A World Land-Bridge to bring infrastructure to all corners of the planet. And then three philosophical ideas—namely, this method of the Coincidence of Opposites as a method of solving problems, and the discussion of how to find out the truth. How do you differentiate between opinion and narrative, and the actual truth? And there is a method which natural science gives us right now as a way of indeed finding the truth and the effect of ideas in the physical universe. And finally, the discussion about the image of man; that man is good by nature. That is not too long a discussion, but we can come back to it in the Q&A.
The History and Ideas of Lyndon LaRouche
Let me introduce one other train of thought. That is, I want to encourage all of you, and actually excite you and interest you to study the ideas of my late husband, Lyndon LaRouche. Because the fact that our movement exists at all is a miracle. We were supposed to be smashed and not exist, eradicated from the face of the Earth. Why? Because Lyndon LaRouche had developed a method of thinking which is the way to set people free. It’s how to unleash your own creativity and to give you the key that actually almost everybody can become a genius; however, it requires a certain amount of industriousness; it’s not falling like manna from heaven. But it does require work.
Let me give you a couple of ideas of why I’m saying that. Our movement is based on the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche, who developed a method of thinking which is based on physical economy; it’s based on a method of identifying the axioms of thinking, not just going by what people say, but immediately looking at it analytically. Identify the axioms and assumptions on which certain statements are made. That way, you find an unmistaken key to every area of knowledge. That method of thinking enabled him to already make a prognosis about the present situation today, where we have a systemic collapse of the neo-liberal order. He already identified that in 1971, when President Nixon decoupled the dollar from the gold standard and introduced floating exchange rates.
He recognized that the taking down of the old Bretton Woods system—the credit system which was established in the postwar period—and replacing it with a system which was entirely oriented towards profit maximization and therefore the disrespect for the common interest of the general population, would lead inevitably to a new depression, a new fascism, and the danger of a new nuclear war, unless you would replace this system with a completely different economic order.
I can only encourage you to look into the writings of what we have published in the last 50 years to see how absolutely accurate he was in predicting every turn of the present financial system for the worse. Many newspapers and liberal economists had insisted that no economist could ever know that the world financial system would enter the present crisis.
We can prove that that is not true, because all the steps which occurred, he identified with absolute precision. The reason why the United States economy is in such a poor condition, except for its military-industrial complex, is because they did the outsourcing of their production to cheap labor markets. They shifted from an orientation of the common good to a shareholder-value society. They changed from having full-chain production in your own country; they changed to the just-in-time mode. They went more and more to the idea that money makes money, which ended up in the derivatives trade, which now amounts to $2 quadrillion in outstanding derivatives contracts, which are unpayable. That is why we are right now in danger of a total collapse of the financial system.
Man in the Universe
LaRouche’s method of thinking is very much associated with understanding what is it that moves society forward. What is the source of wealth? Namely, that is entirely the creative powers of the individual which are able again and again to come up with new ideas, identifying qualitative breakthroughs in science, in great art; identifying principles which give us new insight into how the physical universe works. When we apply these principles in the production process, it leads to an increase of the productivity of people, of industrial capacity, and productivity in general, leading to an increase in physical wealth, again and again.
So, it is not the possession of raw materials; it is not the control of the terms of trade—what the free-market economists are saying. It is entirely the ability of the human mind to use its creative powers to make discoveries of physical principles, qualitatively new principles. Then applying them in production and in this way increasing the power of man over nature and over the universe. That is the right which has been denied to the developing countries until the recent struggle, in which the Global South is insisting that you have to use your innate right to apply this principle to your own economies.
This is basically associated with the image of man. The ecologists are trying to convince people that man is a parasite, that man is a burden to nature. Some even go so far as to say that women should not have children anymore, because every newborn child is a burden to nature. There are books like that in Germany and the United States. Some other people are saying that man is only the steward of nature and should face not being different than the other species, that even plants have an equal right to human beings. I think this is a fundamentally wrong conception, and Lyndon LaRouche, already very early in his creative work, which lasted, actually, I would say eight decades—that’s about right—very early on, recognized the importance of space travel. This is very important for the young people today, because we have a huge cultural crisis.
There are studies everywhere that young people have a concentration span like a grasshopper; they are married to their electronic devices, and are increasingly incapable of interacting socially and thinking about a year in their own life which is not located in the here and now.
Lyndon LaRouche made many speeches about why it is so important to lift the eyes and the mind to the stars and start to think about space science, space travel. The obvious fact which everybody who starts to look into it is aware of, is that our planet Earth will not be livable forever. Because of certain processes in the galaxy and the cycle of the Milky Way, sometime in about 2 billion years, our planet will not be so livable anymore.
Going Out Into the Universe
We have to think about expanding in the universe at large. This poses all the right challenges. Just yesterday, the Japanese landed an object on the Moon; it may not function perfectly, but they are now the fifth nation to do so. It is very clear that our present phase of space exploration is just in baby shoes. Think about two, three, four generations from now. Once we conquer different fuels for space travel, like fusion for example, the travel time to Mars and other planets will become much shorter. Therefore, it will be much more realistic for us to explore nearby space.
The moment we leave Earth, we are leaving the gravity zone of Earth, and therefore we are entering a relativistic space and time. That completely changes the kinds of physical laws we have to deal with, which Einstein enabled us to even think about. And even before, [Islamic philosopher and physician (980–1037)] Ibn Sina had similar ideas, but that’s a different discussion.
If you think about the fact that we, with our lives, not only have to solve the problems of the present transformation of an old order, which is still colonial, into a New Paradigm where the one humanity will be the first consideration. Later, when we think about space travel, the concept of one humanity will become much more obvious.
We should not think about who controls the Moon or other such silly headlines you can read these days, or who will weaponize space to better conduct war on Earth from space. No, this comes to the very question of the identity, of who are we in the universe. When you look, for example, at what the Hubble Space Telescope found, or now the James Webb Telescope, there are at least two trillion galaxies. This, for me, is one of the most mind-boggling ideas. When you look up to the stars, and you think there are so many stars. But this is just a tiny tip of the iceberg. Two trillion galaxies—we are just at the very beginning of exploring what the universe is all about, how it functions, and how we can maintain the existence of the human species in an immortal way.
Obviously, each of us is mortal. We are born, and we die. And in the short span between these two occurrences, most people are wasting it, because, before they even get to the idea that they could contribute something lasting with their life, they become old and senile, and they have missed the opportunity to do so. But the reality is, that once you understand that our identity as human beings is not limited to our biological existence, but that when we truly develop our creative potential and contribute some knowledge to the existing body of knowledge of mankind as a whole, and in this way increase the ability of mankind to have a durable existence, this exists even after we are dead. In this way, we are creating immortal ideas in science, in art, that we contribute to the immortality of the human species at large, but also participate in that immortality if we produce such valid ideas.
Reaching for the Adulthood of Mankind
I have an absolutely optimistic view about the future of mankind, because I think that once we create a world where geopolitical confrontation is overcome by the idea that we have new relations among nations respecting the other and bringing forward the best traditions; that we have a dialogue of civilizations and cultures where each nation and each civilization actualizes the best they have ever produced in terms of culture, poetry, science, all the beautiful things people in past generations have produced; and we enter a dialogue with the other nations to bring forward the best they ever have produced, then we will really grow up.
I always compare the present situation in the world with that of four-year-old boys. I have a horror of those four-year-old boys because they tend to kick each other. We, as nations, should not behave like four-year-old boys. When we develop our creativity in the way I was trying to convey before, relating to the creative potential of the other person, the other nation, and vice versa, we will enter the age of adulthood of mankind. There is absolutely no limit to what we can accomplish as the only creative species known in the universe so far.
I think that is where we are, on the verge of reaching this. This is why I’m saying this is the most exciting moment in history. While the danger of complete extinction in a nuclear war has never existed as now, at the same time, if we overcome this present difficulty—because in the long arc of history, it’s not more than a difficulty—and actually truly realize what we are as a creative species, I think that we will enter a period of a new renaissance which will be much more human and much more beautiful than anything we have experienced so far. And I want to invite you to be part of it, and think about yourself as shaping it, of not just sitting there watching how it develops. Become an active part in making our world more human, more livable, and more beautiful! Thank you.