‘Not Relevant to the System’: The Crisis in the Backyards


This essay provides insights into the crisis unfolding in the ‘backyards’ of globalization, that is, in regions that are largely abandoned in terms of capital and are characterized by de‐industrialization and depopulation. We take Eastern Germany as an example to examine how the crisis manifests itself in this context. We look at the turmoil around the failed sale of the Opel car company, the acquisition of pre‐fab housing estates by global investors and risky financial transactions by municipal companies to show how crucial decisions about the fate of urban regions have become widely disembedded from local democratic structures. We argue that regions that are ‘not relevant to the system’ are not only particularly hard hit by the current crisis, but are also at considerable disadvantage when attempting to mobilize power to achieve solutions that are adequate to solve their problems.