[. . .] Over the past few years, we have not only achieved greater unity in the party, we have also refocused the image of the Social Democrats.footnote1 In recent times, throughout the years of Kohl’s government, something has gone missing from our society—something which is essential for the proper functioning of society. I am speaking of a sense of public spiritedness, a sense of social responsibility, a sense of social justice. In the light of all the mistakes of the recent past, it has become necessary to announce once more the fact that a large party exists that, like no other party, absolutely insists on upholding social justice. There is a large party that says ‘yes’ to protection against wrongful dismissal in the workplace, a party that says ‘yes’ to the continued payment of wages when workers fall ill, a party that says ‘yes’ to earnings-related unemployment benefit and fights against any reductions, that says ‘yes’ to income support and fights against reductions. We want a country where social justice rules. That is why we are the German Social Democratic Party.
The coming election has to be about a change of policy. It must be about a change of direction. Social justice no longer rules in our country. Social responsibility has been forfeited. Let me give you two examples.
First example: not so long ago there was a discussion about whether here, just as in America, the goal of a business should be to increase the value of shares in that enterprise. Such an example shows the extent to which our society has lost its way spirituallyfootnote2 over the last few years. Actually the primary goal of business is not to increase share values. The goal of business is, first and foremost, to bear a social responsibility for the work-force entrusted to it. Indeed, the goal of business is to bear a social responsibility for society as a whole.
Another example: it is no coincidence that ever fewer training places are on offer to young people. This too is connected to our spiritual orientation. It relates to a situation in which considerations of cost are put first, and the humane values of our civil society are essentially neglected. A society that allows young people, at the beginning of their working lives, to be chucked on the scrap heap is not a humane society. That is why we want to change it, comrades.
To demonstrate this much-needed change of policy, the first thing I want to speak about is international cooperation. The fostering of interna-tional cooperation is a part of our tradition. Our party’s fundamental principles cannot be defined in a regional or a national context alone. Solidarity—a key value—is a global value. It cannot be portioned out just to Länder or regions. That’s why we are the party of social and inter-national cooperation. We intend to make international cooperation the hallmark of a future federal government led by the spd.
International cooperation is imperative. Globalization is the word on everybody’s lips. But to avoid reaching the wrong conclusions, we have to look very closely at what globalization actually means. It is a fact that financial markets are global. It is true that we are witnessing ever more world-wide financial speculations, which interfere in the economic life of individual countries. Many people harboured all sorts of hopes when the system of fixed exchange rates collapsed, and flexible exchange rates were set, but it is also the case that those hopes remained unfulfilled. A number of the world’s nations have been subject to ghastly developments. That is why international cooperation—in the context of the g7—means undertaking the attempt to act against speculation, and against all money movements that are not economically justified. In other words, we need to get back to fairly stable rates of exchange. At the very least, rough targets have to be agreed, in order to inhibit speculation and once more enable rational economic decision-making.
That is one response to globalization. If you abandon international financial markets to untrammelled speculation, then you mustn’t be surprised if the result turns out to be the one that we have witnessed in numerous countries.