Bernd Hamm

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Person.png Bernd Hamm  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(Academic, Statecraft/Analyst)
Bernd Hamm.jpeg
Born5 August, 1945
Died19 June, 2015 (Age 69)
Alma materUniversity of Bern
German sociologist. His main areas of work included the criticism of capitalism, neoliberalism, globalization and the “deep state".

Bernd Hamm was a German sociologist and professor. His main areas of work included the criticism of capitalism, neoliberalism, globalization and the “deep state”.[1]


After elementary school and grammar school (1955 to 1961) and an apprenticeship as a typesetter (1961 to 1964) with subsequent employment, he earned his Abitur in correspondence courses and evening grammar school (1967 to 1969). From 1969 to 1974, Hamm studied sociology, economics and business administration as well as public law at the University of Bern, where he completed a doctorate in 1975.[2]

From 1974 to 1978 Hamm headed a planning office and was a sociological advisor to the city planning office in Bern in Switzerland. In 1977 he was appointed to the professorship for settlement, environmental and planning sociology at the University of Trier. In 2008 he retired early in protest against the Bologna university "reform", which destroyed and made uniform the European university traditions.

In 1991 he was the founder and managing director of the Center for European Studies at the University of Trier with a focus on sustainability, Eastern Europe and the development of an integral study program. In 1992 he held the Jean Monnet Chair and in 1993 the UNESCO Professorship for Europe in a global perspective. In addition, he held numerous visiting professorships and teaching assignments in Germany and abroad.

From 1983 to 1995 he was a member of the German UNESCO Commission. Hamm lived in Berlin since 2012.

On Media

“First, the process of concentration in the media has progressed rapidly, both internationally and in Germany. There are only a few corporations left that dominate the media landscape. Secondly, the owners - from Springer to Bertelsmann, Bauer, Burda or Holtzbrinck - all tend towards a politically conservative, business-friendly, socially and ecologically insensitive worldview. Take Bertelsmann, a corporation that makes its money primarily with entertainment, across all media types. At first sight, that just looks like making money - and what is actually being propagated is an extremely conservative, Christian-inspired idea of ​​how society should be. This becomes much clearer, however, in the case of the Bertelsmann Foundation, which has been involved in the forced Americanization of our universities and the business-oriented restructuring of local administrations - rather than for the common good - with great success..That also applies to the low profile giant Holtzbrinck: It has now bought up all the important paperback series (apart from Suhrkamp) (along with numerous newspapers) and immediately discontinued critical series - such as Rororo-Aktuell or Fischer.”
Bernd Hamm [3]

“A good example is Spiegel, which was turned to the right under Stefan Aust and became more and more similar to Focus Magazine. This was perhaps most evident in the journalistic treatment of the attacks of September 11, 2001: After Aust and Schnibben had more or less codified the official line in their book, any doubts about this interpretation were fought off, ridiculed and declared an unfounded conspiracy theory.”
Bernd Hamm [3]

“This has to do with the simple fact that we can only receive any information that relates to things beyond our immediate perception only secondarily, through media. These media are no longer - if they were than ever, but our constitution, for example, is based on that, our political self-image is based on - neutral, objective observers and reporters, and they are no longer the controllers of power. Rather, they have become instruments in the hands of the mighty. This includes that the media, even predominantly capitalist companies, will of course not attack the basic principles of capitalist social organization - unless profit can be made from them selectively. This also means that the media systematically keep silent about what at heart drives our societies: the conflict between capital and labor, what Marxists call the class struggle. The media here are a party, namely part of capital and dependent on it, and for this reason alone will do everything to present our society as at least in principle socially just and democratic, even if that no longer corresponds to reality.”
Bernd Hamm [3]

Opinion polls are now part of the everyday tools of politicians. Just as TV research at the market research institute GfK now maps the preferences of the TV audience to the second and thus influences the supposedly advertising-free editorial program, opinion polls help politicians to align their statements as closely as possible to the taste of the majority. This is what the election manifestos of the "people's parties" look like - the same formulas everywhere, the same contradictions everywhere, the same claim to represent the center. The real political mission of the Enlightenment was precisely the opposite: to protect the weak from exploitation by the strong. That doesn't happen in the media anymore.”
Bernd Hamm [3]

“The rule of capital over the media, worldwide as well as here, will continue to perfect. Since there are hardly any alternatives, it is also becoming increasingly difficult to obtain the information that is essential for forming one's own critical opinion. The consciousness industry has achieved its goal: Our perception of things, our opinion-making follows an industrially organized process. It is particularly indicative of this that media research...devotes little attention to it. For them, the "responsible consumer" is the most important object.”
Bernd Hamm [3]

The Four Circles of Power

Strongly influenced by C. Wright Mills ’classic work The Power Elite, Hamm's structural research developed a model with four concentric power circles[4]:

  • In the innermost circle we find the global money elite, the richest individuals, families or clans with assets well over a billion euros.
  • The second circle consists of the CEOs of large transnational corporations and the largest international financial magnates. They are primarily concerned with increasing the wealth of the innermost circle and thus also their own.
  • In the third circle are the most important international politicians, some in government functions, others as advisors in the background and in international institutions, as well as the heads of the military. This political class in the narrower sense has two tasks: They must organize the distribution of the social product in such a way that as much as possible is transferred to the two inner circles; and it must supply the political circus of a supposedly pluralistic democracy with the necessary legitimacy.
  • In the fourth circle we find the science leaders, the media moguls, lawyers, sometimes also prominent writers, stars from film and music, artists, a few representatives from NGOs or the churches, a few top criminals - in short: everything that the members of the inner circles appreciate for their decoration. They enjoy access to the powerful, are well paid and will do everything possible not to lose these privileges.


A Document by Bernd Hamm

TitleDocument typePublication dateSubject(s)Description
Document:Power and the Global Ruling Classpaper4 June 2014Globalisation
In depth structural survey global power, who exercises it and how it is organised
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