Dear Colleagues: First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to the organizers of the conference, who invited me to speak here. I would like to start my talk with a quotation from the quintessential British imperialist, Winston Churchill, who, in 1940, wrote in a letter, that "Great Britain was fighting not against Hitler, and not even against National Socialism, but against the spirit of the German people, against the spirit of Schiller, so that this spirit would never be reborn."
But now we are here, at a conference which was organized by the Schiller Institute, and it is our kind of asymmetrical answer to the British Empire. Crisis has become a code word of our time. But the question is-a crisis of what? We are told that it is a crisis of finance, it is a crisis of state, it is a crisis of education-so, it is a crisis of everything. But what does this mean, to be a crisis of everything? A crisis of everything means a systemic crisis. It is a crisis of the social system, and this social system is capitalism.
So, first, a crisis of capitalism, and only secondly, a crisis of civilization, mankind. But what is capitalism? Descartes used to say "define the sense of the words." My working definition is that capitalism is a complicated institutional system which limits capital in its own long-term and holistic interests, and ensures expansion in space, externalizing the crisis, and exploitation.