Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president of the SchillerInstitute international think tank, “urged the U.S. to join theBelt and Road Initiative during a forum that shed light on theprinciples and scope of China-proposed global developmentinitiative,” China Daily, the national English-languagenewspaper, reported Tuesday.
China Daily cited Zepp-LaRouche’s videotaped message tothe forum held by the Schiller Institute and the P.R.C. Consulatein Glendale two days ago, on the subject of “China’s Belt andRoad Initiative — A Historic Opportunity for the U.S.A.”
“`We want to cooperate with the Belt and Road Initiative,but we emphatically insist that the U.S. must be a part of it,’Zepp-LaRouche told the forum, which was attended by diplomatsfrom China, Belgium and Kenya, as well as representatives oflocal government,” the paper reported.
“Zepp-LaRouche praised China’s reform and opening-upefforts, which she said has not only transformed Chinaeconomically, but also allowed China to help other developingcountries overcome underdevelopment and poverty. ‘Now, the Westshould not be upset about it, because they could have done thesame thing. Why didn’t the U.S. and Europe develop Africa, LatinAmerica, and most of the Asian countries?’ she asked.”
Notably, China Daily reported that in his presentation onthe BRI to the forum, China’s Deputy Consul General in LosAngeles Shi Yuanqiang said that while the U.S. government did notsend any representatives to the Second Belt and Road Forum forInternational Cooperation this year, U.S. Embassy representativesdid attend, and “in fact, the U.S. had the largest group ofdelegates among all the countries at the second forum.”
Shi emphasized that countless opportunities are availablefor American corporations through BRI projects, China Dailyreported.
CGTN anchor Yang Rui interviewed Helga Zepp-LaRouche and Bill Jones during their recent China trip, which was aired on June 13 for the “Yang Rui Dialogue” program, headlined “BRI Incentives and Risk Assessment.” A transcript is provided below.
YANG RUI: The Belt and Road Initiative has been thrust intothe media limelight for several years. With more and morecountries onboard now, China will not be the party that dictateswhere the cooperation is heading. For all parties’ commoninterests, China will inevitably undergo a range of policyadjustments along the way, to ensure the Initiative deliverswin-win results that are long-lasting and sustainable. But, whatis behind some of the criticisms against the Initiative, and whatcan the BRI us? Unilateralism undermines world economicpatterns. To discuss this issue and more, I’m happy to be joinedin the studio by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and President ofthe Schiller Institute, and Bill Jones, Washington bureau chiefof Executive Intelligence Review.
That’s our topic. This is “Dialogue.” I’m Wang Rui.
Welcome to our show. Do you think the rest of the world hasdeveloped a better understanding about the Belt and RoadInitiative after so many years of debates, discussions and mediafanfare since 2013?
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I would think that the people ofAsia, for sure. I just attended the Conference on Dialogue ofAsian Civilizations, and the reaction to Xi Jinping’s speech wasreally extraordinary, because people realized that they areparticipating in the evolution of a completely new system ofinternational relations, which is overcoming geopolitics. Ithink people are sick and tired of confrontation and war as a wayof solving problems, and they appreciate very much that everyconflict on the planet can be solved through dialogue. So, Ithink this is very well understood in Asia, in Africa, even someof the Europeans are becoming very enthusiastic. As matter offact 22 of 28 EU nations are already cooperating. So I think therest will be a question of time.
YANG : But it seems the top concern of the EU about the BRIhas been the issue of transparency. Bill, what do you make oftheir concerns?
WILLIAM JONES: I think a lot of it is a tempest in ateapot. The Belt and Road Initiative has been transparent to thepeople who are receiving the investment, who are benefitting fromit. There is also an issue that people can see what’s happeningon the ground, with the improvement of the general conditions oflife of the people who are recipients of the Belt and RoadInitiative. The reason that there’s this objective is, however,that people are concerned, on the one hand, that it has been aChinese initiative, not an initiative taken by the EuropeanUnion. It is also breaking with the policies of the EU and ofthe West generally, of demanding conditionalities for anyinvestment that’s made in places like Africa, India, and Asia.China has been intent on building infrastructure: They don’tdemand certain conditions which are not necessary, and they’renot concerned about the different political systems that exist inthose countries: The goal is to improve the lives of the people,and people can see that on the ground. And the objections thatare raised to the so-called “transparency” issues, I think arejust an attempt to stop the momentum that has been created.
YANG : Helga, it seems, some of the member states of theEuropean Union are starting to break the silence, by standing upto the BRI memorandum, such as Italy, which indeed surprisedtheir American friends. Do you think what Italy has done, islikely to trigger a similar domino reactions that the Britishauthorities had done before the rest of the European Union hadfollowed suit, regarding the AIIB?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think the Italian memorandum ofunderstanding with China can be the model for the relations ofall European countries with China, not only in the bilateralagreement, but to have a joint mission, for example, to developthe continent of Africa. Africa will have 2.5 billion by theyear 2050, and either the Europeans join hands with China andother nations to industrialize the African continent, or you willhave the biggest refugee crisis ever in history. And the Italiangovernment, especially Prime Minister [Giuseppe] Conte hasalready advocated that Italy intends to take the lead to bringthe Europeans into cooperation with the Belt and Road Initiative.And the good thing is that, contrary to what some people think,Conte also has a good relationship with President Trump.
So I think the strategic question, number one, is how do weget development among many nations in the world, but finally, theUnited States must be brought into the Belt and Road Initiative,because if you don’t do that, there is the danger of theThucydides Trap. But I think the Italian government is play avery constructive role in all of these questions.
YANG : Secretary Pompeo has been selling the idea, whereverhe goes, that China will be a threat. Why are we so bad?
Now, when we look at, say, our investment in theinfrastructure building in Africa, it seems to amount to aproject, a mega one, of industrialization, a massive project ofindustrialization. What about the consequences arising from, forexample, the trade war that is just started between the UnitedStates and China? What do you think of the impact of this tradedispute between Washington and Beijing upon Africa, and ourbusiness presence there?
JONES: It’ll be absolutely disastrous, because it willhinder, it will place an obstacle in the free development of theBelt and Road Initiative; it’ll raise suspicions that really haveno basis whatsoever. And it’s disastrous for the United States,itself: President Trump is not going to be able to create astrong economy in the United States through trade embargoes ortrade tariffs. He has to invest in infrastructure, he has toinvest in science and technology. And there are certain attemptsto do that now, over the last couple of weeks, in terms of thespace program in the United States and the attempt to have adiscussion with the Democrats over infrastructure. But if hedoesn’t bring down these tariffs, if he doesn’t create a goodrelationship with China, this is not going to work.
China, in fact, can help in building infrastructure: Theycould invest in an infrastructure bank in the United States withmuch of the money that is now held in Treasury bills, in order tobuild high-speed rail in the United States. The U.S. economy isgoing down, not because of trade, and not because of China, butbecause of a failure of governments over decades, in investing inindustry and technology.
YANG: The idea of a China threat covers many things, such asideology. Well, many say that the Cold War is making a comeback.So, does it mean, Helga, that many African countries have to takesides?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: The Chinese model is very attractive to theAfrica countries, because it shows a way of how to overcomepoverty, the miracle which China has undergone in the last 40years is admired by many Africans, and they are now demanding tobe treated more equally by the Europeans. They don’t want tohear Sunday sermons and words about human rights and goodgovernance, and no investment. They demand from the Europeans,direct investment and not development aid which disappears intothe pockets of the NGOs.
So, I think we are in a period of transformation, whereeither the West finds its way back to better traditions, like thehumanist periods of the Classical period of 200 years ago, wherethere was actually a much larger affinity between the moralvalues of the European classics and China. For example, if youlook at the similarity between Confucius and Friedrich Schiller,after whom the Schiller institute is named, they have the sameidea of the moral improvement of the population. Confucius talksabout the aesthetical education of man; Xi Jinping has put a lotof emphasis recently on the aesthetic education of the students,because the goal of this is the beauty of the mind, and this isthe ideal which used to be the case for Europe, and for the earlyAmerican republic! The problem with the West is that, as you cansee in the United States, they have turned away to a very largedegree, from the ideas of their early historical period. Butthey’re going down: The West is in a moral collapse, the economyis far from being in such a great shape as they say, and thestatistics would say. So it’s really a question for the West tochange.
And I think there are many countries, you mentioned some inEurope already, which absolutely are willing to find a new model.I think it’s not so much a question of choosing; I think we arewitnessing the creation of new paradigm of internationalrelations, where the best of all countries and traditions mustcome into it.
YANG: Increasingly, there’s no question that much of thestrength that China can project into a continent like Africawould largely depend on the construction of “soft power.” What doyou know about Confucius schools in Africa? Why do you think theUnited States considered things we teach Confucius schools in theUnited States a threat, whilst it seems these schools are verypopular in the African continent?
JONES: Well, you see in the United States, there is a groupof people, some of whom are in the Trump Administration of aneoconservative bent, who have never come to terms with the factthat China will become a major industrial power. And they haveinitiated a major campaign similar to what was done during theMcCarthy era, to blacken China’s name on all levels — in thearea of economy, in the area of culture, in the area of socialgovernance. And so you have this situation where major scholars,who are most knowledgeable about the United States are now beingrestricted from coming to the United States! And this is a veryserious thing, because, it’s not only that we agree to disagree,but we must also find the common interests: We’re all on thesame globe, we have major problems that we have to resolve, notleast of which is population alleviation not only in China, butpopulation alleviation in the world. And we need populationalleviation in the United States: We haven’t talked about thatfor 40 years. That should be on the agenda. And China’sinitiative, to try to educate Americans about the ideas ofConfucius and to learn the Chinese language, which is a basicelement in learning another culture is learning their language,the Confucius Institutes have been very important in providing ameans of learning the Chinese language. Chinese right now,still, is one of the most important second languages in whichschoolchildren are trying to learn, because they realize this isgoing to become the most important language.
YANG: Language learning is fast becoming an instrument inbuilding interconnectivity, a very critical idea for ourunderstanding of the BRI. During the Cold War, the former SovietUnion was accused of spreading its ideology of communism. Today,one major factor that has prevented United States fromundertaking an all-out Cold War against China, the rising power,is that China is not as aggressive as the Soviet ideology: Wewant to build a community of shared future.
So, do you think what the United States is concerned with,holds any water? Where do you stand about the issue of ideology,of course, in the context of how to build a soft power, and theestablishment of Confucius Institutes?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think that what China is doing is amoral model of improving the livelihood for people, but alsodemanding that the people improve. Xi Jinping has talked aboutthe role of the artists, that they have to uphold the morality ofthe population. I think that one of the reasons why certaingeopolitical factions in the West are so negative, is because theliberal system has reached a point of degeneration, whereeverything is allowed, every perversion, every new pornography,every new violence, the entertainment “industry” in the West hasreally become terrible! And I think that the people who aremaking their profit with these kinds of things, they don’t likethe idea that somebody says, you should be morally a betterperson.
But I think we have reached a point in history, where, youknow, we are at the end of an epoch. I don’t think that thechanges we are experiencing are just the Chinese model versus theliberal model. But I think that we are experiencing a change asbig, or bigger than the difference between the Middle Ages inEurope and modern times, which will mean completely differentaxioms. And I think what Xi Jinping discusses in terms of the“shared community for the one future of humanity” it is reallythe idea of how you can put the interest of the one mankind aheadof any national interest. So, I think the way to look at thepresent situation is, where do we want to be in a 100 years fromnow? We will have fusion power. We will have the ability tohave limitless energy; we can create new raw materials out ofwaste by separation of the isotopes. We will have space travel.We will have villages on the Moon.
So, I think that at that time, humanity has to be one, orelse we will not exist! Take the recent imaging of the blackhole: This was only possible — first of all, it proved thegeneral relativity theory of Einstein, which is a wonderful thingall by itself, because it will mean new breakthroughs in science,at all levels. But, this was only possible, because you hadeight radio telescopes at different points in the world, inSpain, in Chile, in the United States, in the Antarctic, whichtogether could make this image! You could not have done such aproof of a physical principle of the universe by only one countryalone. And I think that that particular incident of imaging theblack hole, gives you a taste of the kind of cooperation mankindwill have in the future. And the key question is, do we getenough people to understand that in time, to make this jump?
YANG: Thank you so much. You’re watching “Dialogue,” withMme. Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and President of the SchillerInstitute, and Bill Jones, Washington bureau chief of ExecutiveIntelligence Review.
Welcome back: The BRI would not only cover the Sub-Sahararegion. Most countries in the South — I’m talking aboutSouth-South cooperation — would benefit from infrastructurebuilding. Let’s do a case study: Hambatota Port in Sri Lankahas caused many debates as to whether China has developed aconspiracy theory, whether the Western media concerns about the“debt trap” would hold any water? I would like to have yourthoughts very quickly.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think this is turning the truth upsidedown. Because if you look, why is Africa underdeveloped? Fivehundred years of colonialism, and then about 70 years of IMFconditionalities. If you look at the 17 poorest countries inAfrica, which are in danger of defaulting, only in 3 of them isChina involved, but all the rest are indebted to the Paris Club.So the debt trap was created by the IMF before, and China isactually giving many grants and —
YANG: Do you agree, Bill?
JONES: I do agree with that. I think we’ve seen the debtsituation spin out of control, long before the BRI. We haveneeded international financial reform that we have been talkingabout, that Helga’s husband, Lyndon LaRouche has pointed out fordecades, prior to his recent death, of trying to change thefinancial system, in order to create credits for infrastructure,instead of credit for repayment of old debt. These countries inAfrica have been saddled with debt by the IMF, not by China. Asa matter of fact, most of the countries that are in the biggestdanger of their debt being a problem, are those which are notinvolved in the BRI — countries in Africa. And therefore, whathas to be done, is really a reform of the international financialsystem, in order to perhaps even write off some of this debt, andto insist, as we go forward, that any debt that’s given out willgo to increase the physical production capabilities of thesecountries, because if it does that, then it’s debt that’s goingto be repaid. But if it goes to repay old debt, or if it’s thecasino society that we’ve known over the last 20 years, it’sgoing to become a bubble, and we’ve got to change the way we dobusiness in that respect.
YANG: What about financing vehicles, Bill? Is that a majorissue for the beneficiary countries?
JONES: What we actually need is the creation of somethinglike an infrastructure bank in the United States, which wouldallow China to help invest in infrastructure there. Foreigndirect investment by China now becomes something of a problem,because of the atmosphere that has been created by the neo-cons;but otherwise, China could help with this. China has a differentorientation toward finance. Chinese finances to the Belt and Roadgo to transportation infrastructure. It brings the countriestogether, it creates a greater production capacities, and it hasbecome, I think, a template for how a functioning, how a healthyfinancial system has to operate. We’ve got to get away from whatused to be called the “bankers’ arithmetic,” in which moneychased after more money. The money has got to be used to financephysical economy, and then it becomes a means of growth for thepopulation, and is no problem in terms of repayment, because thepopulation becomes richer.
YANG: I wonder if you have followed very closely thedevelopment between Malaysia and China, on the construction ofthe east coast railway link, that has a lot to do with how we dorisk assessment, political and legal; and this helps us go backto one of the earlier questions on the issue of transparency. Sodo you think this poses a serious challenge to the prospects ofthe BRI in developing countries, some of which are youngdemocracies, according to Western standards?
JONES: Well, I think a lot of this is a matter of alearning curve that the BRI has been through over the last fiveyears. The Malaysia situation was unfortunate, but it haslargely been resolved, and it’s been resolved because China hasbeen very flexible in dealing with the countries on the BRI, andI think they have a clear indication, a clear orientation forimproving the situation in the countries in which they areinvolved. And if problems arise, or if discrepancies occur, Ithink they have shown a willingness to diplomatically resolve theproblem to the benefit of the countries that are involved. Andthey have to do that.
Look, a lot of mistakes were made by the Western countriesin terms of initial attempts to industrialize Africa, and as aresult of that, they left. They left Africa in the dust. Chinais there, there may be some mistakes in individual cases, butChina learns the lessons and does not leave, and this is theimportant thing: Because the fortitude of continuing with theproject, which is the most important project for mankind today isabsolutely necessary, and I think the Chinese government hasshown the fortitude necessary to move forward on this.
So, yes, problems may occur. They have occurred in thepast. They have been resolved, and I think they will be resolvedin the future, if they would occur again.
YANG: The last two remaining questions will be about, firstof all, the alleged westward expansion of the BRI through theEurasian continent. The other, of course, is the Maritime SilkRoad: Do you think this idea of a Maritime Silk Road, Helga, willhelp ease tensions further between China and other countries thathave competing claims on the maritime stakes in southeast Asia?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think the combined concept of the BRI andthe Maritime Silk Road is really a program for the reconstructionof the world economy. And in the beginning, people said, “thisthis railway from east or west or north or south, more beneficialfor China or for Russia?” And I kept saying, “don’t worry aboutit, take it a couple of years from now and all of these networkswill grow into one.” This is why we published this report “TheNew Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge.” Because, if youlook at it from the standpoint of the evolution of mankind, it isvery natural that eventually the infrastructure will reach allcontinents, will open up all interiors, will connect the maritimeconnections. And for example, Portugal and Spain and Greece andItaly, these are countries that want to be not only the hub forthe Eurasian Land-Bridge on the land line, but they also want tobe hubs for the maritime connection, connecting to all thePortuguese-speaking, Spanish-speaking countries. So, I thinkthis will also grow into a World Land-Bridge connection.
YANG: Bill, what do you think of the connection, betweenChina’s BRI and President Putin’s vision for the EurasianEconomic Union?
JONES: I think they will tend to converge, not on allpoints, but in the basic orientation, because what PresidentPutin wants to do, is to take those countries which have beentraditionally associated with Russia and create some kind ofcommon economic entity. But, the Belt and Road is providing theinvestment for all of these countries, including Russia, whichbenefits tremendously from it. And therefore, there is a meansof really bringing together the two most important countries inEurasia around a common goal of developing infrastructure,transportation infrastructure, and improving the conditions oflife in all these countries. So I think there is thisconvergence going on that will become greater with time.
A memorial event celebrating the life and legacy of American statesman, Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr. was held in Manhattan, June 8th, 2019 with simultaneous satellite events watching across the country. See the full program below.
Introduction – Dennis Speed
Prologue – Helga Zepp-LaRouche
Lyndon LaRouche in His Own Words
Dennis Speed, narrator
Hall Johnson (arr.): “When I Was Sinkin’ Down”
Hall Johnson (arr.): “I Don’t Feel No-Ways Tired”
Reginald Bouknight, tenor soloist
Schiller Institute Festival Chorus
Diane Sare, director
J.S. Bach: “Jesu, meine Freude,”BWV 227
Schiller Institute Festival Chorus
Andrés Vera, violoncello
Bruce Director, contrabass
John Sigerson, director
The Third Trial of Socrates
Dennis Speed, narrator
Roland Hayes: “They Led My Lord Away”
Elvira Green, alto
Roland Hayes: “Crucifixion”
Frank Mathis, baritone
Johannes Brahms: “Dem dunkeln Schoß der heil’gen Erde”
Schiller Institute Festival Chorus
John Sigerson, director
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata for Violonello and Piano, Op. 69
I. Allegro ma non tanto
III. Adagio cantabile
IV. Allegro vivace
Andrés Vera, violoncello
My-Hoa Steger, piano
Ludwig van Beethoven: “Adelaide,” Op. 46
John Sigerson, tenor
Margaret Greenspan, piano
Johannes Brahms: “Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer,” Op. 105, No. 4
Elvira Green, alto
My-Hoa Steger, piano
The Triumph of Lyndon LaRouche
Dennis Speed, narrator
Robert Schumann: “Mit Myrthen und Rosen”, Op. 24, No. 9
John Sigerson, tenor
Margaret Greenspan, piano
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: “Ave verum corpus,” K. 618
To be sung by everyone
J.S. Bach: Chorale “Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden” from St. Matthew Passion
Schiller Institute Festival Chorus
[Transcript included] Helga Zepp-LaRouche gave an excellent 42-minute video interviewto GBTimes’ Senior Editor Asa Butcher on May 10. GBTimes is aChinese multimedia site based in Finland, and established toenhance a dialogue between China and Europe.
GBTimes: We’ll begin. I’m going to focus on the Belt andRoad Initiative today, following on from the Forum in Beijinglast week. If you could describe your feelings on the outcome ofthe Forum that concluded last week in Beijing.
HELGA ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, I think it was very a reallyimportant progress as compared to the first Belt and Road Forum.The first Belt and Road Forum was filled with optimism and theknowledge of all the participants that we were experiencing thebirth of a new system of international relations — that wasalready extremely important. But I think the Second Belt andRoad Forum saw a consolidation of that, so you have actually anew system of international relations which is overcominggeopolitics, and I think this is one of the most importantoutcomes, apart from, naturally, the enormous economicdevelopment which was presented. But I think the idea that youhave a system which has a win-win possibility for everybody tocooperate, is the way to overcome geopolitics, and that is theremaining danger, which after all, caused two world wars in thelast century. So this is a real breakthrough for humanity.
GBTimes: There’s been a growing criticism and backlashagainst the BRI. Do you think this is misunderstanding,suspicion toward this new system? What are your thoughts onthat?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: It’s actually a temporary phenomenon,because the funny thing was, here you had the largestinfrastructure program in history, ever, with enormous changesfor Africa, for Latin America, for Asia, even for Europeancountries, and the Western media and think-tanks pretended it didnot exist for almost four years! And then, all of a sudden, theyrealized, “Oh, this is really growing so rapidly; it is includingmore than 100 countries.” So they started what I think was acoordinated attack, slandering the Belt and Road Initiative, witharguments which I think can all individually can be proven to bea lie. It comes from the old geopolitical effort to control theworld by manipulating countries against each other, and with theBelt 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 ofthe BRI?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think China is already doing a lot. Forexample, even Handelsblatt, which was very negative towards theBelt and Road Initiative in the past, they had to bring anarticle which brought out the fact that the whole argument thatChina is putting the countries of the third world into a “debttrap” is not holding. For example, the IMF just released figuresthat there are 17 African countries which may not be able to paytheir debt, but China is only engaged in 3 of them, and all ofthe others have huge debts to the Paris Club and to other bigWestern 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 willbe won over. Because the beauty of Chinese painting, ofClassical music, it will win over the hearts. And the mostpeople understand what China is actually doing, the less theseattacks will be possible to maintain.
GBTimes: The attacks are more on China than on the Belt andRoad Initiative, you say?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, yes. They’re on China because Chinais the major motor behind it. And some of the attacks were thatChina is supposedly an autocratical dictatorship, andsurveillance state and all of these things. But first of all,concerning surveillance, I think the NSA and the GCHQ haveoutdone anybody already. And naturally China has a system whichuplifts the morality of the people: This is based on theConfucian tradition, and for some of the very liberal people inthe West, that is already too much, because it disturbs theiridea that everything goes, everything is allowed, and from thatstandpoint, any kind of emphasis on morality is too much forthese people.
GBTimes: Isn’t sometimes criticism of new ideas andinitiatives healthy? It’s what we understand here in the West, wedon’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 energyand it distracts people from accomplishing what needs to beaccomplished: Namely, to overcome poverty in Africa, in LatinAmerica, even in Europe. You know, Europe has 90 million poorpeople, and I have not seen a plan by the European Union toovercome poverty by 2010, which China intends to do with its ownpoor people.
So I think it’s a waste of energy, and it comes from what Icall, when people put on geopolitical spectacles and haveneocolonial headphones, then they see and hear the world quitedifferently from what it is, namely, they only project their ownviews.
GBTimes: Having been writing about China for the last 5-7years, it has made a dramatic entrance onto the world stage, whenI started writing about it many years ago. And the speed of itsarrival, the size of the investments, it can scare a lot ofcountries — just family and friends who don’t know much aboutChina, they want to know about my job where I’m introducing Chinato the West, as this bridge. There’s a lot of amisunderstandings. Do you think some of it comes from thisignorance? And how could that be changed?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I have the feeling that everybody who was inChina, either as a tourist or as a business person, investing ortrading, they all come back and they have a very, very positiveview. People are impressed about what they see, the reallyincredible fast train system. Then, if you go in the region ofShenzhen, Zhuhai, Guangdong, Macao, Hong Kong, this is thepowerhouse of the world economy, not just the Belt and RoadInitiative.
Compare that with the decrepit infrastructure in the UnitedStates or many parts of Western Europe, for example. Less thantwo years ago, I was in Zhuhai at a conference, and we visitedthis bridge between Hong Kong and Zhuhai and Macao, linking thisentire triangular: And this bridge was built, I think, in sixyears or eight years, including planning! Now, in Germany, wehave a famous bridge between Mainz and Wiesbaden, which has beenin repair for almost six to eight years, and it’s still notready!
So, I think if people go to China, they come back and theyare completely impressed, because they see that in China, peoplehave now virtues, like industriousness, ingenuity, creativity —these are all values we used to have in the West, like when theGermany 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 istaking the lead.
So the people who go to China come back with a positiveimage, and those who have not been, naturally, they’re scared bythe negative reports in the media. So the more people canactually go and form their own image, the better.
GBTimes: I have myself, I’ve seen a disconnect betweenChina and Chinese society, and then the role of the Chinesegovernment, the more negative side that gets covered about in theWestern media. Do you think, for instance, with the BRI is justa way to legitimize the Chinese leadership in the world, and toraise it up to the same level that is given to the othercountries? Do you think that’s acceptable?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, it is a challenge. Some of the Westerninstitutions talked about that there is now a competition of thesystems, meaning the Chinese state model and the Western freemarket model. And in one sense, it is true; the only problem isthat if you have the neo-liberal system, especially after thecrisis of 2008, only favoring monetarist interests — the banks,the speculators — and the gap between the rich and the poorbecomes ever wider, naturally, then, if you have a country wherethat is not the case, namely, China having a policy which isoriented toward the common good, an increasing well-to-do middleclass of 300 million people, which in 5-10 years will be 600million people, and obviously the vector of development isupward, naturally that is regarded as a threat by the neo-liberalestablishment, which only takes care of its own privileges.
So in a certain sense, the challenge does exist, but I thinkthere is the possibility of a learning process, so one can behopeful that even some elements of the Western elites willrecognize that China is doing something right.
GBTimes: What do you think China could learn from theWestern mode? And vice versa, what do you think the two couldlearn 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 withthe Chinese space agency, there is a lot of exchange possible.But in terms of general, cultural outlook, I think China has togo back about 200 years to find positive things in Europe, or theUnited States, for that matter. You know, European Classicalculture can be an enormous enrichment for China, but these arecomposers who are Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, orgreat poets. But these are all things which, unfortunately arenot dominating the cultural outlook of most Europeans andAmericans today. So there has to be a dialogue across thecenturies, and then both sides can profit from each other.
GBTimes: In a sense, you’re very pessimistic about theWestern stands at the moment. Do you think China is the onlyoption available to the West at the moment?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: No, I’m not pessimistic, I’m just sayingthat you see that some of the elites, or so-called elites, arehardened in their view. You have others who are absolutelyrecognizing that the whole mankind needs to cooperate together innew ways, for example, Switzerland. You know the President ofSwitzerland, who participated in the Belt and Road Forum justsigned 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 internationalorganizations.
So there is a big motion. You have Italy signing amemorandum of understanding with China, on the development ofAfrica. Greece wants to be the gateway between trade from Asia,through the Suez Canal all the way into Europe. Portugal andSpain want to be the hub for the Portuguese- and Spanish-speakingpeople around the world.
So there is a lot of dynamics and motions, I’m justreferring to some of the monetarist views and those people whotalk about the “rules-based order” all the time, but what theyreally mean is austerity.
So, I’m not talking about the West in general. I think theWest — I’m an optimist about the potential of all human beings— I’m only talking about certain parts of the establishment inthe West.
GBTimes: You mentioned Italy and Switzerland. Howsignificant is it that they signed up to the BRI now?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think this is extremely important. Firstof all, Italy, as you know, is the third largest economy inEurope. The north of Italy is highly industrialized and has alot of industrial capability; many hidden champions actually arein northern Italy. So, if such a country is now, as the first G7country, officially joining with a memorandum of understanding,this can become the model for all of Europe. And Prime MinisterGiuseppe Conte who just participated in the Belt and Road Forumcame back and said exactly that: That Italy plans to be theleader in bringing about a better relation between China andEurope. So I think this is extremely important.
And Switzerland, even if it may be a small country, they areindependent; they are sovereign, they are not part of theEuropean Union. And President Maurer just declared, or hisspokesman, that they do not need advice from the European Unionbecause they can make their own policy. So, I think this is alla new, healthy spirit of self-consciousness and self-assertion,which is very good, and can be indeed a sign of hope foreverybody else.
GBTimes: How do you see it impacting Europe, theirparticipation in the BRI, in the short term, and perhaps in thelonger term?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, there are different learning curves:Some are quicker, others are slower. For example, the so-calledfour big countries — that does not include Italy — that didnot send heads of state or government, but only ministers, Spain,France, Germany, and I think Great Britain, by not sending theirheads of state sort of expressed their reservation. But theneven the German Economic Minister Altmaier, who on the first dayof the Belt and Road Forum basically said, “we have to havetransparency and rules,” with the usual kind of arguments, butthe next day, he said something much more positive. He said: Oh,this was much better than I expected, the Chinese are actuallytrying to solve problems, and I will come back in June with alarge delegation of businessmen. So, I actually find this quitegood. It shows that eventually, I think, I hope, reason willprevail.
GBTimes: I think some of the obstacles for Westerncountries, is like Turkey refusing to participate because of theUighur problem; that there are other issues that aren’t relatedto the Belt and Road, that China has to overcome first.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: All of these problems will eventually besolved, because I think the key to solving of any regional,ethnic, historical cultural problem is development. If peopleactually see the advantage of turning non-developed countries orareas 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 eachculture; plus, naturally, real improvement of living standards,longevity, I think that even if not all develop with the samespeed, we are at a tremendous change of an epoch of humancivilization. The idea of these local and regional conflictswill eventually not be there any more.
If I just can point to the fact that now the eightradio-telescopes working together, being able to make, for thefirst time, images of the black hole in a galaxy which is 55million light-years away, proving that Einstein’s theory ofgeneral relativity was actually correct — now, that, for me isthe sign of the future: Because this image could not have beenmade by one country alone. It needed telescopes sited in Chile,in Spain, in the United States, in the Antarctic, and you neededthe whole world actually working together to make such atechnological breakthrough possible.
I think that that will be the kind of relationship peoplewill have to each other in the future, and I think this is whatXi Jinping really is the kind of thing he means when he says, “ashared community for the one future of humanity.” Because thecommon interest will eventually come first, and then everythingelse will fall into place.
GBTimes: Another one of the criticisms was currently “allroads lead back to Beijing” rather than a multilateral approachto BRI, where it’s between other country, it always leads back toChina at the moment. Do you think that is a problem?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I don’t know. First of all, I think Russiahas a big influence, I think the African countries are becomingmuch more knowledgeable and confident about their own role. Thereare many Africans who speak that, in the future, Africa will bethe new China with African characteristics. So, I think it’s allchanging very quickly, and those people who complain that thereis too much Chinese influence, well, then they should bring intheir active, creative contribution, and define what the newplatform of humanity should be.
And I think China has said many times, and I have absolutelyevery confidence that that is the case, that they’re not tryingto export their social model, but that they’re just offering theexperience of the incredible success of the last 40 years of theform in opening-up, and basically tell developing countries,“Here, if you want to have our help in accomplishing the samething, we are willing to provide it.” And naturally, thecountries of the developing sector, which had been neglected, oreven treated negatively by colonialism, by the IMFconditionalities, when they now have the absolute, concrete offerto overcome poverty and underdevelopment, why should they nottake it?
So, I think all these criticisms are really badly coveredefforts to hide their own motives. I really think China is doingthe best thing which has happened to humanity for a very longtime, and I think the Belt and Road Initiative is the onlylong-term plan for how to transform the world into a peacefulplace. And I think that should be applauded and people shouldhave a cooperative approach.
GBTimes: My next question was going to be, how confidentare you that the BRI will pay off for China, but I get the sensethat you’re very confident.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, I think it already paying off! First ofall, it makes it more easy for China to develop its own westernand internal regions, because they are now sort of integratedinto the Belt and Road transport routes to Europe, to CentralAsia, integrating the Belt and Road Initiative with the EurasianEconomic 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 exportshigh technology goods and technologies, the more than becomes amotor to develop one’s own industry even to high levels. So it’slike a self-inspiration, so to speak, and that is already payingoff. That’s what any country should do.
GBTimes: You mentioned technology: It’s also the digitalSilk Road, Digital Belt and Road. Of course, China has a lot ofcontrol over its internet, on the Great Firewall: How much of abarrier do you think that will be for countries to buildrelationships via the Belt and Road Initiative?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: You mean the G5 question and Huawei?
GBTimes: Well, partly that, too, but also the control ofthe internet inside of China, which is difficult for Westerncompanies to do business, to establish themselves, as there are alot of controls there. Do you think that could be a barrier, aspart of the digital Belt and Road, that’s also being discussed.
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think there can be ways of makingarrangements which are satisfying to everybody. This wholequestion of “digital control” and so forth, is highlyexaggerated, because, if you look at who is controlling theinternet, you have the big firms, Apple, Google, Facebook, andthey are very linked with the Western government’s. You know, ina certain sense, after the scandal of the NSA listening intoeverybody’s discussions, which erupted a couple of years ago andwhich was never changed or remedied or anything, we are living ina world where that already happening. And I think China is notdoing anything more than the NSA or the already mentioned GCHQdoing that in the West.
So I think the fact that China has a competitive system, tothis Western system is what causes all of this debate. Becausethe people who had the control of the internet first, they shouldlike 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 Beltand Road Initiative is needed, when there’s the AsianInfrastructure Investment Bank, now? Do you think the two aremutually exclusive, or do they work together?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: No, I think the Belt and Road Initiative hasmany financing mechanisms. You have the AIIB, you have the NewSilk Road Fund, you have a lot of the Chinese banks themselveswhich are doing the investment. I have been advocating for avery long time, that the West should modify its own creditinstitutions to work on a similar principle. Now, that would beactually very possible, because the American System of economy asit was developed by Alexander Hamilton, who created the firstNational Bank as an institution for issuing credit, that isactually 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 modelis much closer to the American System, as it was developed byAlexander Hamilton, and then revived by Lincoln, by Henry C.Carey, by Franklin D. Roosevelt; so if the United States wouldsay, we create our own national bank; and Germany, for example,would say, we go back to the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau, theCredit Institution for Reconstruction, which was used for thereconstruction of Germany in the postwar period, which was also astate bank, — or it still is a state bank — then you could havea new credit system, whereby each country would have their ownnational bank; you would have clearing houses in between them tocompensate for duration of investment, or the differences betweensmall and large countries with lots of raw materials, or not somuch — you need these clearinghouses. But you could create anew credit system, a New Bretton Woods system with fixed exchangerates, having a stability in the system which the Western systempresently does not have.
So, I think that the more countries go to these kinds ofcredit financing of projects the more stable this new system willbecome.
GBTimes: Do you think the United States will ever becomepart of the Belt and Road Initiative, under the Presidency ofDonald 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, eitherwith a war, the Thucydides trap which some people have mentionedas a danger? There were in history twelve cases where a risingpower overtook the dominant power up to that point, and it led towar; and there were four cases where it happened in a peacefulway. Now, China, first of all, has offered that neither of thesetwo options should occur, but they have offered a special greatpower special relationship model, based on the acceptance of theother social model’s sovereignty, non-interference. And I thinkTrump with his America, First policy is more inclined to respondto such a model than the previous administrations of Obama andBush, who had these interventionist wars in the Middle East andeverywhere else for exporting their system of so-called“democracy” and human rights.
So I think President Trump has said very clearly that hewants to have a good relationship with China. He calls PresidentXi Jinping his friend all the time. And I think the presenttrade negotiations actually, in my view, demonstrate that theUnited States would suffer tremendously, if they would try todecouple from the Chinese economy. They probably would suffermore than China, because China is much more capable, in my view,to compensate for the loss of the relationship with the UnitedStates.
But I think that the hopefully reasonable way would be tosay, “OK, let’s use the foreign exchange reserves of China whichthey have in terms of U.S. Treasuries; let’s invest them throughan infrastructure bank in the United States, to help to modernizeAmerican infrastructure.” And that would be an urgent need,because if you look at the U.S. infrastructure, it’s really in aterrible condition, and President Trump, who is talking today, Ithink, with the leading Democrats Pelosi and Schumer on a newinfrastructure legislation; the sums which are discussed here,from what I have heard so far, are so small! First of all, theRepublicans don’t want to have Federal spending; the Democratsare 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 themodernization of its infrastructure: To have fast train systemsamong all the major cities, to have slow-speed maglev trains forintra-urban transport. Now, you could take that same approachand modernize the entire infrastructure of the United States. Andif China would, in turn, off that U.S. companies would integratemore into the projects of the Belt and Road around the world, itwould be beneficial for both. Some American companies are alreadydoing that, like Caterpillar, General Electric, Honeywell, butthat could be a real incentive for the United States to go in tisdirection.
Hopefully it will happen that way, because if not, I think aclash between the two largest economies would be a catastrophefor the whole world: So, let’s hope that the forces of good willall work together to get to this positive end.
GBTimes: Let’s talk about the Schiller Institute itself asa think tank. What is your day-to-day role in the promotion ofthe Belt and Road Initiative? How do you work to support it?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Oh, you know, this all goes back to thelife’s work of my husband, who died recently: Mr. LyndonLaRouche; who spent, actually, the last 50 years, to work on veryconcrete development projects. The first such project wepresented in ’76 in Paris. This was a comprehensive plan for theinfrastructure development of all of Africa. Then we workedtogether with the President of Mexico José López Portillo on aLatin American development plan — this was ’82. We worked withIndira Gandhi on a 40-year development plan, and also in thebeginning of the ’80s, we developed a 50-year development planfor the Pacific Basin. And then, when the Berlin Wall came down,and the Soviet Union disintegrated, we proposed to connect theEuropean and Asian population and industrial centers throughdevelopment corridors, and we called that the EurasianLand-Bridge.
So we have been engaged in these kinds of big projects forthe transformation of the world economy for the last decades, andnaturally, we proposed it to China in the beginning of the ’90s.I attended a big conference in ’96 in Beijing, which had thetitle, “The Development of the Regions along the EurasianLand-Bridge.” And China, at that time, declared the building ofthe Eurasian Land-Bridge the long-term strategic aim of China by2010. Then, naturally, came the Asia crisis in ’97, so the wholething go interrupted.
We were very happy when Xi Jinping announced the New SilkRoad in 2013, because, in the meantime, we had kept working forthis. We had many conferences, actually hundreds ofconferences and seminars all over the world. So this is has beenone major point of what the Schiller Institute has been doing forthe last decades. So naturally, we are very happy that now, whatwas only planning on our side is now being realized by the secondlargest 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’veasked my questions and a lot more. Is there anything we haven’ttouched upon, you’d like to talk about?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: We could talk a little bit more about theculture of the New Silk Road.
GBTimes: Please — in what way?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: Well, I think that the New Silk Road, or theBelt and Road Initiative, it’s not just about economics andinfrastructure. But I think equally important, if not moreimportant, in my view, is the cultural side of it: That it couldlead and will hopefully lead to an exchange of the besttraditions of all cultures of this world. And by reviving thebest traditions, like Confucianism in China, Beethoven inGermany, and Schiller; Verdi in Italy, and so forth and so on, itwill ennoble the souls of the people, and I think that that isthe most important question right now, because I agree withFriedrich Schiller, according to whom this institute is named:That any improvement in the political realm can only come fromthe moral improvement of the people. And therefore, I think it’salso very interesting to me that President Xi Jinping hasemphasized the aesthetical education as extremely important,because the goal of this is the beautiful mind of the pupil, ofthe student.
Now, that is exactly what Friedrich Schiller said, who inthe response to the Jacobin Terror in the French Revolution,wrote his Aesthetical Letters in which he develops hisaesthetical theory, which I find is in great cohesion with whatXi Jinping is saying; and that has also to do with the fact thatthe first education minister of the Chinese Republic studied inGermany, and he studied Schiller and Humboldt; his name was CaiYuanpei — I’m probably pronouncing it wrong again — but hewas the first president of the Beijing University, and I thinkthere is a great affinity, a much greater affinity between thethinking of the aesthetical education as it is discussed by XiJinping and as it does exist in the Schiller-Humboldt traditionin Germany, in particular. I would just hope that that kind of adialogue could be intensified, because then I think a lot of theprejudices and insecurities about the other culture woulddisappear, and you would bring back and bring forth the best ofall sides.
GBTimes: How could this be accomplished, do you think? Whatsort of forms?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: You can organize conferences, you can moreconsciously make the poetry known — I think poetry is very, veryimportant, which is naturally not so easy, because as Schillersaid, you have to be a poet in two languages to do justice to thepoetry of one language. You could have more conscious theaterperformances, not just as an entertainment but involvingstudents, children, adults, and make more exhibitions, make moredeep-level understanding of the other culture.
I think China is doing an enormous amount of that, but Iwould have still some suggestions to make it more thanentertainment, because many people go to these things, and theydon’t quite “get it” what it’s all about; and then, it was nice,but the deeper philosophical, poetical, musical meaning could bemade more pedagogically intelligible, and I think that would be away of opening the hearts of more people, because they wouldrecognize what treasures are there to be discovered.
GBTimes: Do you have any closing words on the Belt and Roadyou’d like to share with our readers?
ZEPP-LAROUCHE: I think we are probably the generation onwhom later generations will look back to, and say, “Oh! This wasreally a fascinating time, because it was a change from an epochto another one.” And I have an image of that, which is, thischange that we are experiencing right now, is probably going tobe bigger than the change in Europe between the Middle Ages andmodern times. In the Middle Ages you had people believing in awhole bunch of axioms, the scholastics, Aristotelianism,witchcraft — all kinds of strange beliefs — and then, becauseof the influx of such thinkers as Nicholas of Cusa, or theItalian Renaissance, the modern image of man, of science andtechnology, of the sovereign nation-state, all these changeshappened, and they created a completely different view of theimage of man and of nature, and the universe, and everything wecall “modern society” was the result of this change.
Now, I think we are in front, or the middle of such anepochal change, where the next era of mankind will be much, muchmore creative than the present one, and that’s something to lookforward to, because we can actually shape it, and we can bringour own creative input into it. And there are not many periodsin history when that is the case: So we are actually lucky.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
“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.”
The major French dailiesLe Figaro and Le Monde published a full-page paidsupplement on the Belt and Road Initiative last week which includes threearticles: a larger one entitled “BRI: Soon Six Years ofImplementation”; a second one entitled “One China-Europe Link IsAlready on a Good Track,” and one last article, about one fifthof the page, on the Schiller Institute’s book-length dossier “TheNew Silk Road Becomes the World Land-Bridge,” headlined“Everything You Want To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge.'” Thethree articles are written by People’s Daily journalists.
The first two articles are full of updates on the ongoinggreat Silk Road projects; the third, on the Schiller Instituteand its dossier, was written by Ge Wenbo, who has already severaltimes covered our work in Africa.
The articles are a paid supplement, published in bothpapers. The articles are shorter in Le Monde, in particular onour dossier, which became a small box with the same title. Thetranslation follows:
“All You Need To Know about the ‘World Land-Bridge'”
“Last year, on Nov. 6, the Schiller Institute, aninternational think tank, published the French version of itsdossier ‘The New Silk Road, a World Land-Bridge To BringGeopolitics to an End.’ The presentation, which took place in theParis 5th arrondissement municipality, recommends countries totake 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 thewinner always wins to the detriment of the loser, we try to showhere that a new win-win paradigm is not only possible butindispensable. Whereas the New Silk Roads must be known becauseof the major opportunity they represent for international trade,above all they must be known, explains this dossier, as amultilateral alternative to financial globalization, a trueleverage to restart growth and a chance for peace. HelgaZepp-LaRouche, president and founder of the Institute, affirmsthat since its launching in 2013, the BRI has shaped the world.The Chinese initiative will have a growing influence over moreand more countries and improve the future.”
A photo of a container ship at berth accompanies the articlewith a following caption: “Container ship CSCL Star, withthousands of containers onboard, sailed from Shanghai and reachedFrance’s port of Le Havre a month later. That port plays animportant role in the implementation of the 21st Century MaritimeSilk Road.”