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Helga Zepp-LaRouche Discusses Belt and Road Initiative with GBTimes

[Transcript included] Helga Zepp-LaRouche gave an excellent 42-minute video interview to GBTimes’ Senior Editor Asa Butcher on May 10.  GBTimes is a Chinese multimedia site based in Finland, and established to enhance a dialogue between China and Europe. 


Transcript

GBTimes: We’ll begin.  I’m going to focus on the Belt and Road Initiative today, following on from the Forum in Beijing last week.  If you could describe your feelings on the outcome of the Forum that concluded last week in Beijing.

HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  Oh, I think it was very a really important progress as compared to the first Belt and Road Forum. The first Belt and Road Forum was filled with optimism and the knowledge of all the participants that we were experiencing the birth of a new system of international relations — that was already extremely important.  But I think the Second Belt and Road Forum saw a consolidation of that, so you have actually a new system of international relations which is overcoming geopolitics, and I think this is one of the most important outcomes, apart from, naturally, the enormous economic development which was presented.  But I think the idea that you have a system which has a win-win possibility for everybody to cooperate, is the way to overcome geopolitics, and that is the remaining danger, which after all, caused two world wars in the last century.  So this is a real breakthrough for humanity.

GBTimes:  There’s been a growing criticism and backlash against the BRI.  Do you think this is misunderstanding, suspicion toward this new system?  What are your thoughts on that?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  It’s actually a temporary phenomenon, because the funny thing was, here you had the largest infrastructure program in history, ever, with enormous changes for Africa, for Latin America, for Asia, even for European countries, and the Western media and think-tanks pretended it did not exist for almost four years!  And then, all of a sudden, they realized, “Oh, this is really growing so rapidly; it is including more than 100 countries.” So they started what I think was a coordinated attack, slandering the Belt and Road Initiative, with arguments which I think can all individually can be proven to be a lie.  It comes from the old geopolitical effort to control the world by manipulating countries against each other, and with the Belt and Road Initiative, I think that possibility is vanishing, and that’s why they’re so angry and hysterical.

GBTimes: What could China do to reduce this demonization of the BRI?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  I think China is already doing a lot.  For example, even Handelsblatt, which was very negative towards the Belt and Road Initiative in the past, they had to bring an article which brought out the fact that the whole argument that China is putting the countries of the third world into a “debt trap” is not holding.  For example, the IMF just released figures that there are 17 African countries which may not be able to pay their debt, but China is only engaged in 3 of them, and all of the others have huge debts to the Paris Club and to other big Western banks — so, who’s putting whom into a debt trap?

All of these arguments will be very easy to counter-argue, and the more China makes known its beautiful culture, people will be won over.  Because the beauty of Chinese painting, of Classical music, it will win over the hearts.  And the most people understand what China is actually doing, the less these attacks will be possible to maintain.

GBTimes:  The attacks are more on China than on the Belt and Road Initiative, you say?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  Well, yes.  They’re on China because China is the major motor behind it.  And some of the attacks were that China is supposedly an autocratical dictatorship, and surveillance state and all of these things.  But first of all, concerning surveillance, I think the NSA and the GCHQ have outdone anybody already.  And naturally China has a system which uplifts the morality of the people:  This is based on the Confucian tradition, and for some of the very liberal people in the West, that is already too much, because it disturbs their idea that everything goes, everything is allowed, and from that standpoint, any kind of emphasis on morality is too much for these people.

GBTimes:  Isn’t sometimes criticism of new ideas and initiatives healthy? It’s what we understand here in the West, we don’t openly unquestionably accept new things.  We do question, and we are a little bit cynical sometimes.

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  It’s superfluous.  It’s a waste of energy and it distracts people from accomplishing what needs to be accomplished: Namely, to overcome poverty in Africa, in Latin America, even in Europe.  You know, Europe has 90 million poor people, and I have not seen a plan by the European Union to overcome poverty by 2010, which China intends to do with its own poor people.

So I think it’s a waste of energy, and it comes from what I call, when people put on geopolitical spectacles and have neocolonial headphones, then they see and hear the world quite differently from what it is, namely, they only project their own views.

GBTimes:  Having been writing about China for the last 5-7 years, it has made a dramatic entrance onto the world stage, when I started writing about it many years ago.  And the speed of its arrival, the size of the investments, it can scare a lot of countries — just family and friends who don’t know much about China, they want to know about my job where I’m introducing China to the West, as this bridge.  There’s a lot of a misunderstandings.  Do you think some of it comes from this ignorance? And how could that be changed?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  I have the feeling that everybody who was in China, either as a tourist or as a business person, investing or trading, they all come back and they have a very, very positive view.  People are impressed about what they see, the really incredible fast train system.  Then, if you go in the region of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangdong, Macao, Hong Kong, this is the powerhouse of the world economy, not just the Belt and Road Initiative.

Compare that with the decrepit infrastructure in the United States or many parts of Western Europe, for example.  Less than two years ago, I was in Zhuhai at a conference, and we visited this bridge between Hong Kong and Zhuhai and Macao, linking this entire triangular:  And this bridge was built, I think, in six years or eight years, including planning!  Now, in Germany, we have a famous bridge between Mainz and Wiesbaden, which has been in repair for almost six to eight years, and it’s still not ready!

So, I think if people go to China, they come back and they are completely impressed, because they see that in China, people have now virtues, like industriousness, ingenuity, creativity — these are all values we used to have in the West, like when the Germany economic miracle was made in the postwar reconstruction, these values and virtues were German.  But now, no longer.  Now, we have all kinds of other crazy ideas, and therefore China is taking the lead.

So the people who go to China come back with a positive image, and those who have not been, naturally, they’re scared by the negative reports in the media.  So the more people can actually go and form their own image, the better.

GBTimes:  I have myself, I’ve seen a disconnect between China and Chinese society, and then the role of the Chinese government, the more negative side that gets covered about in the Western media.  Do you think, for instance, with the BRI is just a way to legitimize the Chinese leadership in the world, and to raise it up to the same level that is given to the other countries?  Do you think that’s acceptable?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, it is a challenge.  Some of the Western institutions talked about that there is now a competition of the systems, meaning the Chinese state model and the Western free market model. And in one sense, it is true; the only problem is that if you have the neo-liberal system, especially after the crisis of 2008, only favoring monetarist interests — the banks, the speculators — and the gap between the rich and the poor becomes ever wider, naturally, then, if you have a country where that is not the case, namely, China having a policy which is oriented toward the common good, an increasing well-to-do middle class of 300 million people, which in 5-10 years will be 600 million people, and obviously the vector of development is upward, naturally that is regarded as a threat by the neo-liberal establishment, which only takes care of its own privileges.

So in a certain sense, the challenge does exist, but I think there is the possibility of a learning process, so one can be hopeful that even some elements of the Western elites will recognize that China is doing something right.

GBTimes:  What do you think China could learn from the Western mode?  And vice versa, what do you think the two could learn from one another?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  I think China can learn a lot from the West, but I’m afraid to say, not from the present, contemporaries, or, there is very little to learn.  Naturally, ESA cooperating with the Chinese space agency, there is a lot of exchange possible. But in terms of general, cultural outlook, I think China has to go back about 200 years to find positive things in Europe, or the United States, for that matter.  You know, European Classical culture can be an enormous enrichment for China, but these are composers who are Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, or great poets.  But these are all things which, unfortunately are not dominating the cultural outlook of most Europeans and Americans today.  So there has to be a dialogue across the centuries, and then both sides can profit from each other.

GBTimes: In a sense, you’re very pessimistic about the Western stands at the moment.  Do you think China is the only option available to the West at the moment?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  No, I’m not pessimistic, I’m just saying that you see that some of the elites, or so-called elites, are hardened in their view.  You have others who are absolutely recognizing that the whole mankind needs to cooperate together in new ways, for example, Switzerland.  You know the President of Switzerland, who participated in the Belt and Road Forum just signed a memorandum of understanding, not only for Switzerland, but for a whole group of Central and Eastern European countries, which Switzerland is representing in the international organizations.

So there is a big motion.  You have Italy signing a memorandum of understanding with China, on the development of Africa.  Greece wants to be the gateway between trade from Asia, through the Suez Canal all the way into Europe.  Portugal and Spain want to be the hub for the Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking people around the world.

So there is a lot of dynamics and motions, I’m just referring to some of the monetarist views and those people who talk about the “rules-based order” all the time, but what they really mean is austerity.

So, I’m not talking about the West in general.  I think the West  — I’m an optimist about the potential of all human beings — I’m only talking about certain parts of the establishment in the West.

GBTimes:  You mentioned Italy and Switzerland.  How significant is it that they signed up to the BRI now?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  I think this is extremely important.  First of all, Italy, as you know, is the third largest economy in Europe.  The north of Italy is highly industrialized and has a lot of industrial capability; many hidden champions actually are in northern Italy.  So, if such a country is now, as the first G7 country, officially joining with a memorandum of understanding, this can become the model for all of Europe.  And Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who just participated in the Belt and Road Forum came back and said exactly that: That Italy plans to be the leader in bringing about a better relation between China and Europe.  So I think this is extremely important.

And Switzerland, even if it may be a small country, they are independent; they are sovereign, they are not part of the European Union.  And President Maurer just declared, or his spokesman, that they do not need advice from the European Union because they can make their own policy.  So, I think this is all a new, healthy spirit of self-consciousness and self-assertion, which is very good, and can be indeed a sign of hope for everybody else.

GBTimes:  How do you see it impacting Europe, their participation in the BRI, in the short term, and perhaps in the longer term?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  Well, there are different learning curves: Some are quicker, others are slower.  For example, the so-called four big countries  — that does not include Italy — that did not send heads of state or government, but only ministers, Spain, France, Germany, and I think Great Britain,  by not sending their heads of state sort of expressed their reservation.  But then even the German Economic Minister Altmaier, who on the first day of the Belt and Road Forum basically said, “we have to have transparency and rules,” with the usual kind of arguments, but the next day, he said something much more positive.  He said: Oh, this was much better than I expected, the Chinese are actually trying to solve problems, and I will come back in June with a large delegation of businessmen.  So, I actually find this quite good.  It shows that eventually, I think, I hope, reason will prevail.

GBTimes:  I think some of the obstacles for Western countries, is like Turkey refusing to participate because of the Uighur problem; that there are other issues that aren’t related to the Belt and Road, that China has to overcome first.

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  All of these problems will eventually be solved, because I think the key to solving of any regional, ethnic, historical cultural problem is development.  If people actually see the advantage of turning non-developed countries or areas into prosperous ones, into having more youth exchange, young people understanding each other, people-to-people exchange, dialogue of cultures, bringing forth the best tradition of each culture; plus, naturally, real improvement of living standards, longevity, I think that even if not all develop with the same speed, we are at a tremendous change of an epoch of human civilization.  The idea of these local and regional conflicts will eventually not be there any more.

If I just can point to the fact that now the eight radio-telescopes working together, being able to make, for the first time, images of the black hole in a galaxy which is 55 million light-years away, proving that Einstein’s theory of general relativity was actually correct — now, that, for me is the sign of the future:  Because this image could not have been made by one country alone.  It needed telescopes sited in Chile, in Spain, in the United States, in the Antarctic,  and you needed the whole world actually working together to make such a technological breakthrough possible.

I think that that will be the kind of relationship people will have to each other in the future, and I think this is what Xi Jinping really is the kind of thing he means when he says, “a shared community for the one future of humanity.”  Because the common interest will eventually come first, and then everything else will fall into place.

GBTimes: Another one of the criticisms was currently “all roads lead back to Beijing” rather than a multilateral approach to BRI, where it’s between other country, it always leads back to China at the moment.  Do you think that is a problem?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I don’t know.  First of all, I think Russia has a big influence, I think the African countries are becoming much more knowledgeable and confident about their own role. There are many Africans who speak that, in the future, Africa will be the new China with African characteristics.  So, I think it’s all changing very quickly, and those people who complain that there is too much Chinese influence, well, then they should bring in their active, creative contribution, and define what the new platform of humanity should be.

And I think China has said many times, and I have absolutely every confidence that that is the case, that they’re not trying to export their  social model, but that they’re just offering the experience of the incredible success of the last 40 years of the form in opening-up, and basically tell developing countries, “Here, if you want to have our help in accomplishing the same thing, we are willing to provide it.”  And naturally, the countries of the developing sector, which had been neglected, or even treated negatively by colonialism, by the IMF conditionalities, when they now have the absolute, concrete offer to overcome poverty and underdevelopment, why should they not take it?

So, I think all these criticisms are really badly covered efforts to hide their own motives.  I really think China is doing the best thing which has happened to humanity for a very long time, and I think the Belt and Road Initiative is the only long-term plan for how to transform the world into a peaceful place.  And I think that should be applauded and people should have a cooperative approach.

GBTimes:  My next question was going to be, how confident are you that the BRI will pay off for China, but I get the sense that you’re very confident.

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  Oh, I think it already paying off!  First of all, it makes it more easy for China to develop its own western and internal regions, because they are now sort of integrated into the Belt and Road transport routes to Europe, to Central Asia, integrating the Belt and Road Initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union, and hopefully eventually also the European Union. So I think it is already bringing benefits to China.

And from an economic standpoint, the more a country exports high technology goods and technologies, the more than becomes a motor to develop one’s own industry even to high levels.  So it’s like a self-inspiration, so to speak, and that is already paying off.  That’s what any country should do.

GBTimes:  You mentioned technology:  It’s also the digital Silk Road, Digital Belt and Road. Of course, China has a lot of control over its internet, on the Great Firewall:  How much of a barrier do you think that will be for countries to build relationships via the Belt and Road Initiative?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  You mean the G5 question and Huawei?

GBTimes:  Well, partly that, too, but also the control of the internet inside of China, which is difficult for Western companies to do business, to establish themselves, as there are a lot of controls there.  Do you think that could be a barrier, as part of the digital Belt and Road, that’s also being discussed.

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  Well, I think there can be ways of making arrangements which are satisfying to everybody.  This whole question of “digital control” and so forth, is highly exaggerated, because, if you look at who is controlling the internet, you have the big firms, Apple, Google, Facebook, and they are very linked with the Western government’s.  You know, in a certain sense, after the scandal of the NSA listening into everybody’s discussions, which erupted a couple of years ago and which was never changed or remedied or anything, we are living in a world where that already happening.  And I think China is not doing anything more than the NSA or the already mentioned GCHQ doing that in the West.

So I think the fact that China has a competitive system, to this Western system is what causes all of this debate. Because the people who had the control of the internet first, they should like to keep it that way, and they regard China as a competitor, which they don’t like, but that’s a fact of reality now.

GBTimes:  One question I have is why do you think the Belt and Road Initiative is needed, when there’s the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, now?  Do you think the two are mutually exclusive, or do they work together?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: No, I think the Belt and Road Initiative has many financing mechanisms.  You have the AIIB, you have the New Silk Road Fund, you have a lot of the Chinese banks themselves which are doing the investment.  I have been advocating for a very long time, that the West should modify its own credit institutions to work on a similar principle.  Now, that would be actually very possible, because the American System of economy as it was developed by Alexander Hamilton, who created the first National Bank as an institution for issuing credit, that is actually very close to what China is doing.  As a matter of fact, I would even go so far as to say, that the Chinese economic model is much closer to the American System, as it was developed by Alexander Hamilton, and then revived by Lincoln, by Henry C. Carey, by Franklin D. Roosevelt; so if the United States would say, we create our own national bank; and Germany, for example, would say, we go back to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, the Credit Institution for Reconstruction, which was used for the reconstruction of Germany in the postwar period, which was also a state bank, — or it still is a state bank — then you could have a new credit system, whereby each country would have their own national bank; you would have clearing houses in between them to compensate for duration of investment, or the differences between small and large countries with lots of raw materials, or not so much — you need these clearinghouses.  But you could create a new credit system, a New Bretton Woods system with fixed exchange rates, having a stability in the system which the Western system presently does not have.

So, I think that the more countries go to these kinds of credit financing of projects the more stable this new system will become.

GBTimes:  Do you think the United States will ever become part of the Belt and Road Initiative, under the Presidency of Donald Trump, or perhaps whoever is voted in next

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  That’s actually the big question, you know: Will the rise of China be answered by the United States, either with a war, the Thucydides trap which some people have mentioned as a danger? There were in history twelve cases where a rising power overtook the dominant power up to that point, and it led to war; and there were four cases where it happened in a peaceful way.  Now, China, first of all, has offered that neither of these two options should occur, but they have offered a special great power special relationship model, based on the acceptance of the other social model’s sovereignty, non-interference.  And I think Trump with his America, First policy is more inclined to respond to such a model than the previous administrations of Obama and Bush, who had these interventionist wars in the Middle East and everywhere else for exporting their system of so-called “democracy” and human rights.

So I think President Trump has said very clearly that he wants to have a good relationship with China.  He calls President Xi Jinping his friend all the time.  And I think the present trade negotiations actually, in my view, demonstrate that the United States would suffer tremendously, if they would try to decouple from the Chinese economy.  They probably would suffer more than China, because China is much more capable, in my view, to compensate for the loss of the relationship with the United States.

But I think that the hopefully reasonable way would be to say, “OK, let’s use the foreign exchange reserves of China which they have in terms of U.S. Treasuries; let’s invest them through an infrastructure bank in the United States, to help to modernize American infrastructure.”  And that would be an urgent need, because if you look at the U.S. infrastructure, it’s really in a terrible condition, and President Trump, who is talking today, I think, with the leading Democrats Pelosi and Schumer on a new infrastructure legislation; the sums which are discussed here, from what I have heard so far, are so small!  First of all, the Republicans don’t want to have Federal spending; the Democrats are talking only about “repair,” and small issues.

So, what is lacking in these discussions is a grand design, where you would take the approach China has taken for the modernization of its infrastructure:  To have fast train systems among all the major cities, to have slow-speed maglev trains for intra-urban transport.  Now, you could take that same approach and modernize the entire infrastructure of the United States. And if China would, in turn, off that U.S. companies would integrate more into the projects of the Belt and Road around the world, it would be beneficial for both. Some American companies are already doing that, like Caterpillar, General Electric, Honeywell, but that could be a real incentive for the United States to go in tis direction.

Hopefully it will happen that way, because if not, I think a clash between the two largest economies would be a catastrophe for the whole world: So, let’s hope that the forces of good will all work together to get to this positive end.

GBTimes:  Let’s talk about the Schiller Institute itself as a think tank.  What is your day-to-day role in the promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative? How do you work to support it?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  Oh, you know, this all goes back to the life’s work of my husband, who died recently:  Mr. Lyndon LaRouche; who spent, actually, the last 50 years, to work on very concrete development projects. The first such project we presented in ’76 in Paris.  This was a comprehensive plan for the infrastructure development of all of Africa.  Then we worked together with the President of Mexico José López Portillo on a Latin American development plan — this was ’82.  We worked with Indira Gandhi on a 40-year development plan, and also in the beginning of the ’80s, we developed a 50-year development plan for the Pacific Basin. And then, when the Berlin Wall came down, and the Soviet Union disintegrated, we proposed to connect the European and Asian population and industrial centers through development corridors, and we called that the Eurasian Land-Bridge.

So we have been engaged in these kinds of big projects for the transformation of the world economy for the last decades, and naturally, we proposed it to China in the beginning of the ’90s. I attended a big conference in ’96 in Beijing, which had the title, “The Development of the Regions along the Eurasian Land-Bridge.”  And China, at that time, declared the building of the Eurasian Land-Bridge the long-term strategic aim of China by 2010.  Then, naturally, came the Asia crisis in ’97, so the whole thing go interrupted.

We were very happy when Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road in 2013, because, in the meantime, we had kept working for this.  We had many conferences, actually hundreds of conferences and seminars all over the world.  So this is has been one major point of what the Schiller Institute has been doing for the last decades.  So naturally, we are very happy that now, what was only planning on our side is now being realized by the second largest economy in the world, and therefore, it becomes reality: And that makes quite happy.

GBTimes:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?  I’ve asked my questions and a lot more.  Is there anything we haven’t touched upon, you’d like to talk about?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  We could talk a little bit more about the culture of the New Silk Road.

GBTimes:  Please — in what way?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  Well, I think that the New Silk Road, or the Belt and Road Initiative, it’s not just about economics and infrastructure.  But I think equally important, if not more important, in my view, is the cultural side of it:  That it could lead and will hopefully lead to an exchange of the best traditions of all cultures of this world.  And by reviving the best traditions, like Confucianism in China, Beethoven in Germany, and Schiller; Verdi in Italy, and so forth and so on, it will ennoble the souls of the people, and I think that that is the most important question right now, because I agree with Friedrich Schiller, according to whom this institute is named: That any improvement in the political realm can only come from the moral improvement of the people.  And therefore, I think it’s also very interesting to me that President Xi Jinping has emphasized the aesthetical education as extremely important, because the goal of this is the beautiful mind of the pupil, of the student.

Now, that is exactly what Friedrich Schiller said, who in the response to the Jacobin Terror in the French Revolution, wrote his Aesthetical Letters in which he develops his aesthetical theory, which I find is in great cohesion with what Xi Jinping is saying; and that has also to do with the fact that the first education minister of the Chinese Republic studied in Germany, and he studied Schiller and Humboldt; his name was Cai Yuanpei  — I’m probably pronouncing it wrong again  —  but he was the first president of the Beijing University, and I think there is a great affinity, a much greater affinity between the thinking of the aesthetical education as it is discussed by Xi Jinping and as it does exist in the Schiller-Humboldt tradition in Germany, in particular.  I would just hope that that kind of a dialogue could be intensified, because then I think a lot of the prejudices and insecurities about the other culture would disappear, and you would bring back and bring forth the best of all sides.

GBTimes:  How could this be accomplished, do you think? What sort of forms?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: You can organize conferences, you can more consciously make the poetry known — I think poetry is very, very important, which is naturally not so easy, because as Schiller said, you have to be a poet in two languages to do justice to the poetry of one language.  You could have more conscious theater performances, not just as an entertainment but involving students, children, adults, and make more exhibitions, make more deep-level understanding of the other culture.

I think China is doing an enormous amount of that, but I would have still some suggestions to make it more than entertainment, because many people go to these things, and they don’t quite “get it” what it’s all about; and then, it was nice, but the deeper philosophical, poetical, musical meaning could be made more pedagogically intelligible, and I think that would be a way of opening the hearts of more people, because they would recognize what treasures are there to be discovered.

GBTimes:  Do you have any closing words on the Belt and Road you’d like to share with our readers?

ZEPP-LAROUCHE:  I think we are probably the generation on whom later generations will look back to, and say, “Oh! This was really a fascinating time, because it was a change from an epoch to another one.”  And I have an image of that, which is, this change that we are experiencing right now, is probably going to be bigger than the change in Europe between the Middle Ages and modern times.  In the Middle Ages you had people believing in a whole bunch of axioms, the scholastics, Aristotelianism, witchcraft — all kinds of strange beliefs — and then, because of the influx of such thinkers as Nicholas of Cusa, or the Italian Renaissance, the modern image of man, of science and technology, of the sovereign nation-state, all these changes happened, and they created a completely different view of the image of man and of nature, and the universe, and everything we call “modern society” was the result of this change.

Now, I think we are in front, or the middle of such an epochal change, where the next era of mankind will be much, much more creative than the present one, and that’s something to look forward to, because we can actually shape it, and we can bring our own creative input into it.  And there are not many periods in history when that is the case:  So we are actually lucky.


Schiller Institute NYC Chorus Memorializes LaRouche in Bronx Concert

On Sunday May 5th, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus performed the Mozart Solemn Vespers, African-American Spirituals, and Verdi at a concert dedicated to the memory of Lyndon LaRouche in Little Italy of the Bronx. The chorus was joined by five professional soloists and orchestra, and everything, except the Bach organ prelude was performed at the Verdi tuning of c=256 Hz.

250-300 people turned out in the pouring rain to hear this wonderful program, which opened with the church organist playing a Bach organ prelude, and ended with Italian Opera arias sung by the soloists. Although there were several young children in the crowd, there was not a sound, except applause, which erupted after the first amen in the Vespers. One person commented that the Vespers was performed in such a transparent way that the genius of Mozart leapt out at him—the orchestra playing counterpoint to the chorus, as another voice, and not a unison.

may-5th-bronx

Having everyone’s best loved Italian Opera arias sung by African-American, Chinese, and Greek soloists definitely demonstrated the universal quality of great music, and thrilled the Italian-Americans in the audience, and several were heard to be singing along by the end.

Also in attendance was the Ambassador from Sri Lanka to the UN, who was recognized by the priest and by Dennis Speed in his welcoming remarks, who expressed a dedication to the memory of those who had perished in the Easter massacres in Sri Lanka, killing over 300 people, including children in Sunday School. In dedicating the concert to Lyndon LaRouche, Dennis quoted from LaRouche’s review of the Mozart opera La Clemenza di Tito, and spoke of Lyndon’s critical insights and support for the choral process in Manhattan.

“All Classical art speaks directly to you, as an individual personality; it addresses the question each of us must ask ourselves at some point in our lives, or perhaps even repeatedly,
‘Who am I, and what are we? Since we are all born, and shall die, what is the meaning of that individual existence we occupy between birth and death? What is the continuation of that life, even after we are dead?’ Thus, great Classical art touches the same issues as Christianity and the themes of Judaism treated by the great Moses Mendelssohn.

“So, Mozart speaks to you personally, through La Clemenza di Tito, from the operatic stage. “Mozart does not preach; he evokes the experience of the discovery of the principle of agapë within the cognitive experience of the individual member of the audience, by means of the unfolding, ironical development within the drama as a whole. In the history of Christianity, for example, it has been the similar re-experiencing of the Passion of Christ from Gethsemane through and beyond the Crucifixion, which has been the artistic quality of reliving that impassioned experience upon which the strength of Christianity has depended. There is perhaps no more conclusive demonstration of that, than is supplied by J.S. Bach’s
St. Matthew Passion.

“…At the time of his death, and earlier, Mozart was essentially a leading Christian of his time, as his Ave Verum Corpus expresses this principle of Classical artistic composition with wonderful succinctness.” 

Lyndon LaRouche

The chorus, now in its 5th year, has 80 members from Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and northern NJ, and the singers range in age from 27 to 89, and include college students, young professionals and retired people, a Chinese concert pianist, and a Bishop from a Church in Harlem, who also speaks German. They have all developed over the years, to the point that new members often flee, intimidated by the quality of the Manhattan rehearsal, and we have to call them back and assure them that many of the people they think sound so good, also couldn’t read music when they joined. (And many still can’t.)

The audience was largely from the neighborhood of the church, which is a very well-known Italian area, and has Italian shops, restaurants and bakeries which have been in the same families for over a century, in several cases. Italian-Americans from all over Westchester County, NJ and Connecticut come here to get their favorite Italian foods. These shop owners have been regular patrons of the chorus, buying ads in our programs for the last 3 years, and always asking us, “When are you going to hold a concert in the Bronx???” They were thrilled that we finally were at their church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

The associate priest, who is from Ghana, loved every minute of the concert and asked us to come back. When we said, “Yes, maybe next year.” He said, “I wish you could be here every day!”

Video coming soon!

To find out more about the NYC Schiller Institute Chorus, visit sinycchorus.com.


At the Dawn of a Musical Revolution:

Mozart’s Solemn Vespers

The following was written by Schiller Institute music director, John Sigerson, who conducted the May 5 performance in New York City.

By the time he composed the Vesperae solennes de confessore in 1780, the 24-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was already a vastly accomplished composer who had produced 14 masses and hundreds of other works. Yet in this work, a setting of one of the most ancient offices of the Catholic Church, we experience vigorous new buds of a musical and scientific revolution—a revolution that today is making it possible to raise all humanity “out of the dust, and lift the needy out of the dunghill” (Psalm 113, “Laudate pueri”).

For today, we can celebrate the fact that the nation of Italy, cradle of the high Florentine Renaissance and of the Church, has reached out to officially join with history’s greatest movement to eliminate poverty worldwide, China’s “New Silk Road” or “Belt and Road” initiative, a policy grounded in Confucian principles which resonate with those of the best of the Western Christian humanist tradition.

“But wait a minute!” you might be saying to yourself. “How could a revolution in music possibly launch an economic plan to eliminate poverty worldwide?” The answer is both simple and complex: We are all human, and unlike other animals and inanimate things, our ability to make breakthroughs in our spiritual grasp of universal principles governing the created universe, enables us physically to devise new technologies, and also new forms of culture, to harness those principles for the betterment of all mankind. Every truly great physical scientist, from Nicholas of Cusa and Kepler to Einstein and Vernadsky, every great physical economist from Gottfried Leibniz and Alexander Hamilton to Lyndon LaRouche, and every great Classical composer from J.S. Bach to Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, well knew that connection.

The nature of what is best termed the Mozart-Haydn Revolution in Music, in fact occurred about two years after Mozart composed the Vespers, i.e. in 1781-82, when Mozart, who had just moved his family to Vienna, participated in discussions with Josef Haydn and others at the salon of Baron van Swieten, who from Berlin had brought back manuscripts of the virtually suppressed works of Johann Sebastian Bach. For both Mozart and Haydn, the explosive impact of Bach’s works such as The Musical Offering and The Art of the Fugue unleashed “a new way of composing” (in Haydn’s words), based not on melodic forms, but rather on more fundamental elements underlying those forms. This new method has been described by Norbert Brainin, the late first violinist of the legendary Amadeus Quartet, as Motivführung, or motivic thorough-composition; it frees all the voices in a composition to generate new forms in such a way, that it is not the sounds of the music—however pleasant they may be—but rather the underlying, soundless musical/poetic ideas which govern the development.

Returning to Mozart’s 1780 Vespers, in hindsight we see here the buds that bore that rich fruit, in relation both to J.S. Bach, but also to Mozart’s older friend Josef Haydn.

Take, for example, the second piece in the series, “Confitebor,” a setting of Psalm 111. Anyone who has heard J.S. Bach’s famous cantata “Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme” will immediately hear this echoed in the opening bars of the “Confitebor,” which also happens to be in the same key of E-flat Major. Had Mozart seen or heard that cantata? Probably not in performance. The original Lutheran hymn with that melody was first published in 1599 by Philipp Nicolai, and stood in many Lutheran hymnals. But more likely, is that it was suggested to Mozart directly, via a member of Bach’s large family which extended throughout Europe.

Consider this: In April 1778, J.S. Bach’s fourth son, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, traveled along with his own son Wilhelm to London, where he met up with his brother, Johann Christian Bach. Two years later, in 1780, J.C.F. Bach composed his own cantata “Wachet auf” as a tribute to his father, further developing its theme. We can only speculate that when he met his brother in London two years earlier, his plans to compose it were already ripening, and that it formed part of their discussions.

Now pursue the trail further: Five months later, in August 1778, Johann Christian Bach traveled to France, where he met 22-year-old Mozart at the estate of Louis, Maréchal de Noailles. (France had recognized the new American republic in April 1778; de Noailles was a backer of the American war against the British Empire, and his granddaughter’s husband had joined with Lafayette in George Washington’s army.) J.C. Bach, then 42, was a long-time mentor and friend of Mozart, having first met him in 1764 when Mozart’s father took the eight-year-old prodigy to London. Much later, Mozart’s sister Nannerl recollected that

“Herr Johann Christian Bach, music master of the queen, took Wolfgang between his knees. He would play a few measures; then Wolfgang would continue. In this manner they played entire sonatas. Unless you saw it with your own eyes, you would swear that just one person was playing.”

Could J.C. Bach have suggested the “Wachet auf” theme that his brother was working on, to his younger friend? Perhaps, perhaps not, but the facts alone already give an idea of the rich interpenetration of ideas among Europe’s greatest musical minds. The Vesperae solennes, far from being a “solemn” work which its title might suggest, is bubbling with optimism and kernels of ideas which he developed in his later works, especially his operas. In fact, these little idea-lets fly by so quickly, that one scarcely has time to take one in, before yet another cascades in.

In part, this lack of time to develop ideas was an evil from which Mozart was already plotting to escape, namely from the Bishop of Salzburg’s strict edict that no work of sacred music last longer than 30 minutes! Fortunately, we today do not have to adhere to the Bishop’s arbitrary rule, and so we shall take a bit longer than that, in the hope that you may manage to take in as many snatches as possible of these great ideas.


Houston Concert: The Healing Power of Mozart & Spirituals

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus, with Maestro Dorceal Duckens, our great pianist Joshua, and newly added string players, made beautiful music unto Heaven during our May 5th concert at the Riverside United Methodist Church, 3rd Ward, Houston. Ironically, the lights in the church sanctuary were not working the day of the concert; thus, creating a dramatic setting as the sun set through the church’s gorgeous stained glass windows. With wonderful acoustics in the church, and the evening sun filling the sanctuary, the concert made a big impact on the audience. The “Mozart Effect” on the 50+ attendees in audience was palpable.

While the church was not full, those in attendance reflected a broad outreach of our organizing around the city. We had a number of pastors, several members of the Ebony Opera Guild, members of our director’s church, Chinese contacts of the Schiller Institute, and a few members of the Riverside Church. Many attending knew Maestro Duckens only as a great singer and were amazed to discover he is also a great conductor! Also in attendance was the vocal coach from another local opera company, as well as the Choir Master from a local church.  A couple drove over an hour after they had seen the concert advertised on an online blog. Before the concert, while speaking to a member of the chorus, the couple was very curious about the connection between Schiller the poet, economics, politics, and music but as they were leaving, they shook the member’s hand and promised they were going to look up Schiller when they got home.  One of the directors from a homeless center was amazed. He had never heard Mozart performed before and had no idea about his role in the American Revolution. Another woman, employed by the church, told a member of the chorus she used to be a singer until she developed nodes on her vocal chords and could no longer sing the high soprano notes. Imagine her fascination when she learned we sing at the C=256 pitch to preserve the human voice and instruments! During the performance she was observed singing softly with every Spiritual. Another attendee, who has followed the work of the Schiller Institute and chorus member Kesha Rogers’ campaigns for congress, told a member afterwards that this concert had “healed him” since he had just suffered the loss of a child two weeks ago.

houston-vespers-ii

Worth noting is the impact the Mozart Solemn Vespers on this audience, many of whom knew the Spirituals well. One of the “church ladies” remarked to a chorus member, “you guys were full of the Spirit—even the Mozart was like that!” In observing the ladies during the concert, he noted how they looked at each other in amazement during the intense contrapuntal sections. One turned to two others and mouthed, “I want to clap” after the Laudate Dominum, but held herself back, as did the rest of the audience, until we had completed the entire work.  Following the event, we had a small reception where several of the attendees joined us for discussion; people were just beaming with joy.

Several people inquired about joining our chorus. This was certainly on a higher level than anything that we have done before. We truly unified and brought the community together from all walks of life around beautiful bel-canto music that moved the mind and soul. We were so happy to be joining our friends there in NY as both choruses sang in harmony together in different space times.

For more information about the Schiller Community Chorus or how to join, visit our Houston Chorus page.


SONGS OF A NEW WORLD – Concert June 15th 2019, Quincy MA

A contribution to the struggle for the Inalienable rights of all human beings. To Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. For the United States to overcome our cultural crisis, we must create a new unified culture, founded on the most beautiful ideas and discoveries, contributed by the American experience to the treasure chest of human culture.

Please, join our Community Chorus in celebrating and investigating through music on June 15, 3 PM in Quincy!

WP concert June 15 image

Antonin Dvorak, who was brought to American for the purpose of creating an American classical music culture, by Jeanette Thurber, the founder of the National Conservatory, recognized that that creative surge among American composers and the people in general could be ignited by the beauty and profound ideas found in the American folk music, known today as the spirituals.

Said Harry T. Burleigh:

“It was Dvořák who taught me that the spirituals were meant not only for the colored people, but for people of all races, and every creed.  In New York, I was with Dr. Dvořák almost constantly.  He loved to hear me sing the old plantation melodies.  His humility and religious feeling – his great love for common people of all lands – enabled him to sense the pure gold of plantation song… he understood the message ever manifest:  that the eventual deliverance from all that hinders and oppresses the soul will come, and man – every man – will be free.”

Although the experiment was attacked and shut down to a certain degree, the hypothesis is valid and still reverberates. The fragments exist for the artist, and the chorus, to pick them up and out of them weld together, in one harmonious whole, a nation, through the development of a uniquely American, noble school of classical music.

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Jen at SchillerBostonChorus@gmail.com


Beijing Review Publishes a Major Article By Helga Zepp LaRouche

The prestigious Beijing Review on Thursday, April 17, published a major article by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, titled, “Roads to the West—Geopolitical Spectacles Make it Impossible to See the Solutions.

Zepp-LaRouche starts,

“For the last several years or so, Western media and mainstream politicians have chosen to largely ignore the Belt and Road Initiative, which Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed in 2013. The initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, efficiently addresses the infrastructure needs of developing countries, which the West simply pretended not to exist.

“But, at a certain point it dawned on the Western establishment that China was not only building an enormous amount of railway lines, ports, bridges, power plants and industrial parks in Asia, Africa and even in parts of Europe, but that the prospect of poverty alleviation offered by China instilled an unprecedented spirit of optimism.”

See the full article here.


French Dailies’ Supplement on Belt and Road Covers Schiller Institute Dossier

The major French dailies Le Figaro and Le Monde published a full-page paid supplement on the Belt and Road Initiative last week which includes three articles: a larger one entitled “BRI: Soon Six Years of Implementation”; a second one entitled “One China-Europe Link Is Already on a Good Track,” and one last article, about one fifth of the page, on the Schiller Institute’s book-length dossier “The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” headlined “Everything You Want To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge.'” The three articles are written by People’s Daily journalists.

The first two articles are full of updates on the ongoing great Silk Road projects; the third, on the Schiller Institute and its dossier, was written by Ge Wenbo, who has already several times covered our work in Africa.

The articles are a paid supplement, published in both papers. The articles are shorter in Le Monde, in particular on our dossier, which became a small box with the same title.  The translation follows:

“All You Need To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge'”

“Last year, on Nov. 6, the Schiller Institute, an international think tank, published the French version of its dossier ‘The New Silk Road, a World Land-Bridge To Bring Geopolitics to an End.’ The presentation, which took place in the Paris 5th arrondissement municipality, recommends countries to take part in the Belt and Road Initiative.

“Contrary to the analysts on the other side of the Atlantic, often prisoners of the ‘geopolitical’ software in which the winner always wins to the detriment of the loser, we try to show here that a new win-win paradigm is not only possible but indispensable.  Whereas the New Silk Roads must be known because of the major opportunity they represent for international trade, above all they must be known, explains this dossier, as a multilateral alternative to financial globalization, a true leverage to restart growth and a chance for peace. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president and founder of the Institute, affirms that since its launching in 2013, the BRI has shaped the world. The Chinese initiative will have a growing influence over more and more countries and improve the future.”

A photo of a container ship at berth accompanies the article with a following caption: “Container ship CSCL Star, with thousands of containers onboard, sailed from Shanghai and reached France’s port of Le Havre a month later. That port plays an important role in the implementation of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.” 


Houston Chorus Performs Mozart’s Vespers & Spirituals

The Houston Schiller Institute Community Chorus invites you to their performance of

Mozart’s Solemn Vespers, K.339 & Selections from African American Spirituals

Sunday, May 5th, 2019

Riverside United Methodist Church, 4920 Cullen Blvd, Houston, TX 77004
Conducted by Maestro Dorceal Duckens

Both pieces performed at the Verdi tuning of c=256 Hz.

Admission is free, suggested donation $10.00

RSVP


Zepp-LaRouche Interviewed by Kirk Meighoo on BRI and New Paradigm

Kirk Meighoo in Trinidad & Tobago, a former Senator and a notable academic and political figure in the country, has done a beautiful 1-hour podcast with Helga Zepp-LaRouche as his guest. The podcast centered on the issue of the Chinese role in development around the world, as part of the global New Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, BRI). Zepp-LaRouche reviews 45 years of initiatives from her husband, Lyndon LaRouche, and herself, for the kind of American System economics embedded in the BRI, and evaluates how the United States can be brought aboard.

 


Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Jacques Cheminade Interviewed on China’s CCTV-13

Interviews with Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Jacques Cheminade appeared on a newscast by CCTV-13 reporting on U.S. reactions to the just-concluded National People’s Congress. CCTV journalist Wang Guang reported on the reaction of U.S. think tanks to the ideas presented during the Two Sessions with regard to U.S.-China trade and the Belt and Road Initiative.

The broadcast then shifted to an interview done with Helga at the Morristown Schiller Institute conference. Zepp-LaRouche said:

“I personally think it is the most important strategic initiative, because it is a concept with which you can overcome geopolitics. Geopolitics has been the cause of two wars in the 20th Century, and the idea that you can not have blocs of countries or nations against nations, but that you have what Xi Jinping always calls the ‘community of the shared future of humanity,’ that you put the one humanity first, is a strategic concept which allows you to overcome the divisions which existed in previous centuries.”

This was followed by Cheminade, who said,

“The Chinese way is to a world integration through common development, what President Xi Jinping calls a ‘win-win’ system. So that is a future. The Chinese want a world development. They don’t want to impose their model, but they don’t want the other models to impose upon them.”

Helga’s clip was also aired on CCTV Plus, an English-language CCTV site, on a program entitled “Foreign Experts Applaud Development Concepts.”


Movisol Conference on BRI in Milan

The conference “Italy on the New Silk Road” organized by Movisol (LaRouche’s movement in Italy) and the Lombardy Region (state legislature) in Milan Wednesday, was a success, with Undersecretary Michele Geraci (of the Task Force China in the Italian government) opening it and emphasizing the importance of the MOU which Italy will sign with President Xi Jinping on March 22 in Rome, of the benefits for Italy of this cooperation with China, including for the development of the Italian Mezzogiorno.

Undersecretary of the Task Force China in the Italian government, Michele Geraci and EIR's Claudio Celani.

Undersecretary of the Task Force China in the Italian government, Michele Geraci and EIR’s Claudio Celani.

Geraci was followed by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, who explained the more profound meaning of this important development for the rest of the world, the realization of the New Paradigm for which Lyndon LaRouche and the Schiller Institute have been working for the last 30 years. See a full text of Helga’s remarks below.

There was a short message from Sen. Tony Iwobi, the first Nigerian parliamentarian elected for the Lega, about the historical significance on the Transaqua project, which was then described in detail by Engineer Bocchetto of Bonifica, which is working on the feasibility study with China.

Geraci, Celani, Zepp-LaRouche and Movisol leader, Liliana Gorini.

Geraci, Celani, Zepp-LaRouche and Movisol leader, Liliana Gorini.

Liliana Gorini, chairwoman of Movisol, concluded the conference by thanking the Lombardy Region, which had helped to organize it, and dedicating it to Lyndon LaRouche, who is known in Italy not only as the “visionary” of the New Silk Road, as former Economics Minister Giulio Tremonti defined him Tuesday in Corriere della Sera, but also as the main promoter of Glass-Steagall and LaRouche’s Four Laws, and reminding people how many parliamentarians who had heard him speak at the Italian Finance Committee at the Parliament in Rome in 1998, admitted years later that he was completely right.


TRANSCRIPT OF HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE’S REMARKS

ZEPP-LAROUCHE: It is in one sense quite amusing to see what high waves the possibility of Italy signing the MOU with China is causing right now.  Because, when Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road in 2013 and then proceeded to make treaties in the meantime, I think it’s with 112 countries, an enormous growth developed, six major industrial corridors, the Belt and Road Initiative became very quickly the largest infrastructure project in history, ever.  And the strange thing was that for about four years, in the mainstream media in the United States and Europe, there was practically no reporting about this.

And then, all of a sudden, in an obviously coordinated way, the major think tanks of Europe and the United States started a series of attacks, studies, that China is causing countries to fall into a debt trap, that it’s just an effort to replace the United States as the dominant force in the world, to become Chinese imperialists, that the Belt and Road projects are not viable, that China is an authoritarian system and Xi Jinping is a dictator.  So all of a sudden, you had a barrage of attacks on this concept.

The funny thing is, if you would ask and listen to the leaders of the countries cooperating with the Belt and Road, like the Africans, the Asian countries, the Latin American countries, they would be full of praise and say that with the Chinese cooperation, they have for the first time, the opportunity to overcome the underdevelopment and poverty they had suffered as a result of Western colonialism, and 70 years of IMF conditionalities, which prevented them from having exactly that kind of development.  And they were full of praise, calling China a friend — so you get a completely opposite view.

I have come to the conclusion that everything in the Western mainstream media are saying about China is fake news, and just a lie.  And it comes from the fact that many people in the West simply have lost the ability to imagine that any country, let alone China, could promote something which is, indeed, for the common good of all of humanity. When Xi Jinping talks about the “shared community of the common future of mankind,” or the “community of destiny,” he means it!  And isn’t it obvious that in the time of thermonuclear weapons, in international space travel, of conquering all the problems of the world, that we have to think about the one humanity first, before we talk about national interests? As a matter of fact, the concept of a win-win cooperation for the Belt and Road Initiative, it has all the economic aspects which are beneficial to all the countries that have participated.

But it is much more than that:  Because from the standpoint of the evolution of mankind, if you take a step back, and don’t take a look at the conflict between Marseille and Trieste, which I understand is obviously very important for the Italians, but if you look at the larger point of view, isn’t it natural that infrastructure development would eventually open up all continents and connect them?

So now, all of a sudden, you have this eruption of anti-China propaganda, but it comes from the fact that we are now at a  point where something is happening, which has already happened 16 times in history, namely, that the up-to-now dominant power is being surpassed by the up-to-now second largest power. And in history this has led 12 times to war, between those two competing power, and 4 times it was just that the second power surpassed the dominant power without war.  China has emphasized many times, they don’t want, obviously, to follow the 12 examples where this conflict would lead to war, but they also don’t want to simply replace the United States in the role of the leader of an unipolar world, but that they want to build a completely new system of international relations based on sovereignty, on respect for the different social system, on non-interference, and actually proposing a completely new system of international relations.

So, the big question strategically is you have the conflict between the United States and Russia, which is obvious, because of the cancellation of the ABM Treaty, then the Russian reaction to that, and now the cancellation of the INF Treaty — so there are many who think that we are actually close, in worse strategic crisis than during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, because of the relations between the United States and Russia. But if you talk to some strategic insiders on both sides of the Atlantic, they easily admit that the much more dangerous conflict is actually the one between the United States and China:  Will the United States accept the rise of Asia, and the Belt and Road Initiative is just the obvious expression of that?  Or, is what was said by the RAND Corporation a couple of months ago, that it’s better to have the war with China now, than in 10 years, because the casualties will be less?

Well, obviously, this is something we have to change, and I think that the best way to change it is, indeed, to bring in this reality of a new paradigm of thinking altogether:  We have to leave geopolitics.  We have to leave the idea that there can be a legitimate interest of one country, or a group of country, against another bloc of countries, because this was what led twice to world war in the 20th century.  As a matter of fact, I think the potential to overcome this conflict is absolutely there.  I know in Europe, many people are fainting when you mention the name of President Donald Trump, but President Trump is not seeking confrontation with Russia — as a matter of fact, he wants to have an improved relation with Russia, which he proved in the summit with Putin in Helsinki.  And despite the present trade tension, President Trump always talks about President Xi Jinping as his very good friend, and China being a great country and that he wants to actually have a good relationship between the United States and China.

So the attacks on Italy, coming from the White House — the [i]Financial Times[/i] mentioned this Garrett Marquis — is not representing the same view as Trump.  It comes from a faction of the neo-con which are unfortunately also in the Trump Administration, but the factional situation in the United States is very divided.  You have the Democrats and the neo-cons trying to get Trump out of office with Russiagate, but on the other side, I think President Trump has proven a tremendous sustainability against the efforts to drive him out of office, and his supporters are absolutely backing him, and the chances that there will be a second Trump Administration are actually very, very high.

Now one of the accusations against China and the Belt and Road Initiative is that it would divide Europe.  I think everybody knows Europe is divided already, without China:  You have the North-South conflict because of the EU austerity policy, which impoverished, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, gave no development to the East European countries, so they are now happy to cooperate with the Belt and Road initiative, because the EU did not provide these things.  Now, the second area of division is obviously the migrant issue, where you have the division between East and West — the East European countries do not want to have any part of the proposed quota system of the EU.

Now, what Italy is actually doing in this context is really a role model, because the kind of cooperation between Italian firms and Chinese firms in the development of Africa is actually the only human way to address the refugee question.

So you have right now 13 countries which have already signed the MOU with China; you have, now with Italy, the first G7 country (which is really overrated, because the G7 is no longer that important as compared to the G20, for example).  And you have many ports — Mr. Geraci said, if actually all the ports of Europe which are already wanting to be a hub between not only the New Silk Road over the land route, but also hubs to the Maritime Silk Road, Portugal and Spain becoming the hub for all the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries around the world.  So there is a completely changed attitude developing very quickly.

Now, also even in Germany and France, the two countries which are now trying to put the brakes on the most, apart from the EU Commission, there are many cities which are absolutely recognizing their self-interest to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative.  You have three states in Germany — Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria, and Brandenburg — which all the time have huge delegations back and forth; you have many cities whose mayors are complete fans of cooperation with China, and it is an increasing dynamic, which is growing more rapidly than you would think.

So, if you would ask my prognosis, I think the perspective of unifying Europe, not necessarily under the EU bureaucracy, but in the conception of de Gaulle, more like a “Europe of the Fatherlands” uniting with China, with Russia, with the Belt and Road Initiative, the Eurasian Economic Union [EAEU], and European countries, to cooperate fully in this new paradigm is absolutely there.

Well, I think that that is also the only way how Europe can impact the strategic situation:  Because if you had a united Europe of the Fatherlands cooperating with the Belt and Road Initiative, including Germany and France, that would be the best way to get the United States to also give up their opposition — which I said, is not Trump himself, but these other forces — and get the United States to join the new paradigm.  And I think this is the [i]only[/i] hope we have to avoid a catastrophe where we would end in World War III with nuclear weapons, meaning the extinction of civilization. So in that sense, what Italy is doing right now, is of the greatest historical importance, because Italy, with what you are doing, with the MOU but also with the joint ventures with China in Africa, can become the role model for all the other European countries.

But the New Silk Road is not just an economic concept. Obviously, infrastructure, investment, all of this is extremely important, as the backbone, but it has a much more, and not so well-known cultural/moral dimension, which I think is best expressed in the fact that the Chinese thinking is actually based on the Confucian theory, namely, that you absolutely must have harmony among all the nations, developing all in a harmonious way.  And when some think tanks say that there is now a competition of systems between the Western liberal model and the state-guided model of the Chinese state economy, well, what they really mean is, China has developed its whole policy based on a Confucian orientation, which means that the state is also in charge of the moral improvement of its population through the aesthetical education.  As a matter of fact, Xi Jinping has said repeatedly, that he puts the highest emphasis on the aesthetical education, because the result of this is the “beauty of the mind” and the “beauty of the soul.”

So the problem is, the reason why some people in the West regard that as a competition, is because Western neo-liberal and liberal philosophy has moved away from that conception:  We are no longer humanists.  We are no longer thinking as during the Italian Renaissance or the German Classical period, but we have replaced that with a liberal thinking of “everything is allowed,” every degenerate form of culture is allowed, everything goes — I don’t want to elaborate that, but if you look at the violence, the pornography in the entertainment, we don’t have to worry.  We will lose that competition of the systems, simply because we are not taking care of our future generations, but allowing them to completely morally decay.

And that is why I think that we have to understand that the only way how Europe can persist in the coming future is not through military power — what Mr. Macron is proposing is ridiculous — but we will preserve our European culture [i]only[/i] if we return to the greatest tradition of our own history, meaning reviving the spirit and the ideas and principles of the Italian Renaissance, of the Ecole Polytechnique of France, of the German Classical music, literature, and poetry.  Only if we rise again to our best traditions can we persist in the coming world.

So I think that the cultural dimension of the New Silk Road is as important, if not more important, than the question of economics.

I would be happy to take any questions.  Thank you.


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