Peace Through Economic Development:
AN OUTLINE OF THE PRODUCTIVE TRIANGLE PROJECT

by Ralf Schauerhammer, Fusion Energy Foundation, Germany

Printed in the American Almanac, 1993


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The concept of the ``Productive Triangle'' was published at the end of 1989 by the American politician and economist Lyndon H. LaRouche--directly after the successful revolutions in the Eastern European countries concluded--and submitted by a work group at the beginning of 1990 in a well worked-out form. The essential features of this report have in the meantime appeared in every major language, and been circulated among specialists. Before I present a summary of the essential points of the concept of the Productive Triangle, I would like to present the cornerstones on which this concept is constructed, since that is the only way to understand why this concept has been, through the present day, the only realistic and practically realizable proposal for the future of Europe.

I would also like to do that because various proposals that have taken up parts of the Productive Triangle--the proposal of Deutsche Bank chief economist Norbert Walter; or the proposal of the Thuringian prime minister, Joseph Duchac--show that the authors have not taken these conceptual cornerstones seriously enough, or have not sufficiently understood them.

These cornerstones are:

  1. The concept of the Productive Triangle is intended as an intervention into the world economy. In this connection, it should be noted that a) the command economy of currently existing socialism has ruined the national economies subject to it; b) the march into the ``post-industrial society'' in the West has brought most national economies of ``the free market'' to the brink of collapse; and c) the physical existence of the nations of the developing sector is threatened through the so-called debt crisis.

  2. Given a realistic evaluation of the existing physical potential of all national economies, only a Europe working together in a Productive Triangle, together with Japan and some emergent developing countries, can pull the world economy out of this precarious condition.

  3. The investments proposed for the Productive Triangle presume that the principles of ``physical economy'' will again be considered. These are the principles that in the last century made America into the leading nation economically.

  4. The backbone of the policy of the Productive Triangle is investments in infrastructure. Only on this foundation can the productive mid-range of industry come into existence. Along with the energy sector--here the irrational anti-nuclear policy must finally be stopped--the transportation sector is of decisive importance.


Paris-Berlin-Vienna

Consideration alone of the population density and the heavily populated regions of Europe allows us to identify the topology of the Productive Triangle. It is characterized by an area in the center--the Triangle Paris-Berlin-Vienna--with linear regions going out from there--which we call, borrowing from the structure of galaxies, ``spiral arms,'' that reach throughout all of Europe to North Africa and the Soviet Union.

The core is the curved triangle with apexes in Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. The northern side runs from Paris through the steel region near Charleroi, through the Ruhr region to Braunschweig to Berlin. The southern side runs from Paris through the Metz-Nancy-Saarbrücken region through Stuttgart-Munich to Vienna. The eastern side of the triangle stretches from Vienna through Prague and Northern Bohemia through Dresden to Berlin.

The area of this triangle is approximately 320,000 square kilometers--almost exactly the area of Japan. Even now, by global standards, it has the greatest density of industrial infrastructure and the highest standard of education and culture. The most dense and productive areas of northern France, Belgium, and what was formerly West Germany are part of the Triangle, as are what was formerly East Germany, western Czechoslovakia, and northern Austria.

Today, almost 92 million human beings live in this core region, which gives an average population density of 288 humans per square kilometer. Also characteristic of this region is that half of these 92 million human beings live in the immediate commuter-belt around the ten large industrial areas of the region.

Important infrastructural corridors radiate out from this central Triangle in all directions. We can give as an example the axis Paris-Berlin-Warsaw, which branches a) to Ukraine (Kiev-Kharkov); b) to White Russia (Minsk and then to Moscow); and c) to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia (through Leningrad). A further ``spiral arm'' stretches from the region of Chemnitz-Dresden-Prague through Wroclaw to the triangle of Katowice-Ostrav-Krakow and further to the Ukraine.

Another development arm reaches through all of Italy to Sicily and North Africa, and another, from Lille in France to Metz-Nancy to Strasbourg and from there to Lyon and Marseilles along the Mediterranean coast to Spain. From there, it can be continued through Barcelona to Tarifa across the Strait of Gibraltar to North Africa.

Corresponding spiral arms spread out in western and northern directions.

Altogether, the spiral arms encompass a region of 1.07 million square kilometers--three times the area of the center. The total region has a population equal to that of the United States, but in only one-seventh the area.


Canals

Central Europe, with the river system of the Seine, the Rhine, the Elbe, the Oder, and the Weichsel in a south-north direction, as well as the Danube in a west-east direction, has a unique ``fundamental structure'' for a shipping network. A northern east-west channel connection from the Rhine to the Weichsel in large part exists, and the Main-Danube canal, which will soon be finished, will complete the link from Rotterdam to Odessa. Along with making these rivers navigable for freighters of the Europa class--that is, those which carry up to 1,600 tons of freight--the establishment of connections from the Oder and Weichsel to Danube, and from the Seine and Rhône to the Rhine, are the most important preconditions for a European inland navigation system for the next century.

I would now like to make clear, using a concrete example, how important the question of a transportation network is, a fact that is always forgotten in the calculation of profitability and utilization of individual sections of the network. A firm in the vicinity of Regensburg was forced--since the Main-Danube canal is not finished, and the unit was too large for surface transportation--to send a boiler unit to be delivered to Ludwigshafen down the Danube, through the Strait of Gibraltar to Rotterdam, and from there up the Rhine to its destination. Freight costs were 500,000 deutschemarks [$295,000]; after completion of the canal, the freight costs will be less than one-tenth that.


A European Rapid Train Corporation

If we consider the different transportation technologies, with regard to their potential flow density, we recognize that the backbone of the transportation infrastructure of the Productive Triangle can only be created by means of a high-speed rail network. The Trade and Industry Council of the state of Baden-Württemberg, has just published a report on new rail construction proposals, in which they take this back to the mid-19th century: ``Practically, the work of Friedrich List and Heinrich Harkort, who in their time introduced a German rail network optimal for the then conditions, must today be repeated for Bahn 2000 on a European scale.''

Incidentally, the rapid development of the railway network in List's time, in a politically completely fragmented Germany, proves how the continually cited technical, juridical, or economic barriers that will supposedly hinder the buildup of a modern transportation system in Europe can very probably be overcome.

For the Productive Triangle, we propose the creation of a European Rapid Train Corporation that will construct and operate a completely new high-speed rail network. This network will then set the standards by which national rail corporations and transportation firms can orient themselves. If we go about the matter in that way--and not, as previously, by considering integration as strictly the closing of gaps between various national projects--then it will be possible to make development leaps in the practical realization of the high-speed network. Especially in Eastern Europe, there is the option to not first bring specific rail lines up to a standard that was attained in the 1980s in the West, but rather to immediately embark on the technologies of the next century. Concretely, that means immediate investments in magnetic levitation rail lines to achieve speeds of 180 mph or more, rather than construction of rail lines for 100 mph speeds.

In Eastern Europe, there is the option to not first bring old rail lines up to a standard that was attained in the 1980s in the West, but rather to immediately embark on the technologies of the next century. Concretely, that means immediate investments in magnetically levitated rail lines for AVERAGE speeds of 180 mph or more, rather than construction of rail lines for 100 mph speeds.

Therefore, we propose the following:

  1. Formation of a European Rapid Train Corporation, in which national rail corporations, airline corporations, and private firms can participate.

  2. Construction of a completely new high-speed network 7,200 kilometers long, of which 4,500 kilometers must be constructed as a first priority.

  3. Separation of passenger and freight transport in the network.

  4. Establishment of the goal of 500 kilometers per hour speeds for passenger transportation on the European-wide network, with connections to airports and commuter traffic of large population centers.

  5. Containerization of high-speed freight transportation, with use of standardized cars for ``piggyback'' truck-train transportation.

  6. Construction of a European research institute for rapid transportation (the proposed site is Dresden).


Reconnecting East and West

The most important high-speed lines will run along the development corridors already sketched, in which the development of east-west connections will receive particular importance for historical reasons: 1) The north east-west corridor: Paris-Lille-Ruhr region-Berlin-Warsaw (with a spur from the Ruhr to Erfurt-Dresden, on to Krakow). 2) The central East-West corridor: Paris-Metz-Frankfurt-Dresden-Krakow. 3) The southern East-West corridor: Karlsruhe-Munich-Vienna-Budapest-Belgrade. 4) Important north-south corridors are, for example: Hamburg-Berlin-Dresden-Prague-Vienna; Hamburg-Stuttgart-Milan; London-Paris-Marseilles.


Advantages of Magnetic-Levitation Rail

High speeds on railroads are meaningless if time is lost because of long waiting and switching times. For that reason, new loading depots will be necessary for high-speed transportation in which, upon the arrival of trains, the appropriate loading palettes are so arranged that they can be coupled to the cars to be loaded or unloaded as the train comes in. The loading process will then be done perpendicularly to the direction of travel, and will be done simultaneously for all cars, which will enable the unloading of the entire train to take hardly longer than that of a single car. Easily steerable mag-lev technology is especially appropriate for these loading lines.

For passenger transportation, an attractive alternative to the still sharply increasing individual transportation can only be offered by general separation of freight and passenger transport and with new technologies such as mag-lev technology. Mag-lev transportation attains its importance not only because of higher final speed, which is of primary importance in the spiral arms of the Triangle, but primarily through its travel dynamics, which has a special importance for the shaping of the network in densely populated areas. We must consider, for example, that important stations there will lie on the average only 90 miles from one another, but often only 35 to 50 miles. If the number of transfers for individual passengers is kept small, that promotes not only rapid, but also dynamic travel. In this connection, it is interesting that the Transrapid 07 (Magnetically Levitated Train now being tested) covers a stretch of 100 miles more rapidly than the high-speed ``ICE'' train, even while making a stop at the halfway point.

Previously, the importance of mag-lev rail has been misunderstood, just as the importance of high-speed transportation generally was 25 years ago. The development of high-speed locomotives began in Japan with the Shinkansen that went into operation in 1964 on the Tokyo-Osaka line. In Europe, it was still another decade before this concept was seriously taken up, since there were doubts about its economic feasibility. The Shinkansen reaches a speed of 220 kmph, and covers the 513 km line in 169 minutes. Daily, 130 trains run, with 10-minute intervals maintained during rush hours. With $5.2 billion revenue and $2.2 billion in expenses per year, the Shinkansen is the most profitable rail operations in the world. In Japan, a mag-lev line from Tokyo to Osaka is already planned for the year 2000 that should reduce travel time by 75-90 minutes, reaching a speed of 500 kmph. It is certain that, with the new ``Mag-lev Shinkansen,'' today's 200 million travelers per year can be doubled.

As an example of how new mag-lev routes can even be sensibly tied to existing plans for the construction of the ICE network, we have proposed a mag-lev line from Berlin to Frankfurt, with connections to the new ICE north-south connection of Hamburg-Munich, a proposal that has already been taken up politically.

With regard to the transportation infrastructure of Europe's future, I would like to state in closing that, within the concentrated regions as we will find them in the core of the Productive Triangle, a transportation system can only be practically realized if it makes possible extremely high transportation flows, as we have proposed, through integration in ``transport pipelines'' on streets, rails, mag-lev lines, and, possibly, energy transport arteries.


Energy

The second essential infrastructural pillar of the Productive Triangle is energy supply. The energy supply of the future will strengthen the trend toward increased use of electricity. All future technologies, such as laser, plasma processes, direct reduction processes, industrial heating, and so forth, point in this direction. Merely for the replacement of the economically totally unfeasible facilities in Eastern Europe and Soviet nuclear reactors of the Chernobyl-type, as well for as an urgent emergency program for Italy, a capacity of 84 gigawatts is necessary.

That makes one thing clear: Without a renaissance of nuclear energy, it won't work! The momentary trend toward noble gas installations, with low investment costs but higher operational costs, will prove to be a national-economic boomerang in a few years.

The importance of the nuclear energy question goes far beyond this purely economic question. An example was established in the campaigns, fueled with conscious lies, against nuclear energy that even today frighten away major investments in great projects. If, however, industry cannot trust that political perspectives are stable enough that investments in long-term infrastructural projects--for example, nuclear power--do not become too risky, then that will be the death blow for every industrial area.

The renaissance for nuclear energy means also, however, that we must learn from the errors of the past. The decisive error with nuclear technology was that, although its special advantage of being universally applicable, which makes it independent of geographical conditions and occurrence of raw materials, was certainly constantly emphasized, the development of the technology did not do justice to that, and was too much limited to use in industrial states. From the standpoint of world energy supply, small, inherently safe units make sense, in which connection it should be considered that 25 years ago ``small'' units of around 500 megawatts were considered to be large power plants, even in the industrial nations.

The high temperature reactor in this connection is particularly suitable. This reactor type, however, primarily makes possible the introduction of nuclear energy into the heating market. Of course, in the Productive Triangle alone, there will be an additional need for nuclear plant capacities, merely in the electricity sector, of 135 GW(e) if we set as a target to secure 70% of the need for electricity through nuclear power--as France did in reaction to the oil crisis of the 1970s. But it is only through the incorporation of nuclear process-steam and process-heating will the universal character of nuclear technology become clear. Today, hardly any politician wants to hear anything about that; if, however, we wish to protect the responsibility of the Productive Triangle as the locomotive for the world economy, we must state this simple truth.

A further advantage of the high temperature reactor is that its prestressed concrete construction is possible without the complex knowhow for large reactor pressure containers. That means that countries of the Southern Hemisphere could build this reactor type within the foreseeable future. Ultimately, complete units can be build in centers of production in the Productive Triangle and then shipped to developing countries on pontoons. Because of the special fuel element construction, which uses no metal but rather ceramic material, the safety reserves of the reactor are large, and the demands on maintenance personnel reduced.

Without nuclear technology, no practical energy infrastructure can be realized in the Productive Triangle. Let me tell it like it is. At a time on Earth in which, every 11 seconds, a child dies who could be saved with food or medicine that costs a few dollars, it is immoral to give out millions of dollars for the ``decontamination'' of supposedly radioactive powdered milk, whose radioactivity is far below that of the fertilizer that day in and day out we spread on our fields.

These infrastructural measures are the basis for the construction of productive, mid-size industrial firms, whose central importance to the national economy will discussed further.

A massive expansion of investment goods export will accompany the realization of the Productive Triangle. This transformation of the investment areas will lead to a clear shift in the structure of employment, with 5% of those employed in the near future being involved in research and development. The service sector will decline in importance, while research and development will increase. Flexible, mid-size industrial firms will play the key role in this high-tech market, firms that can especially quickly adapt to, employ, and disseminate new technologies.

I have presented the elements of the fundamental structure of the Productive Triangle. To breathe life into this politically and economically is the greatest task that stands before us. Unfortunately, it must be said that a year has just been wasted in relative inactivity. May a stimulus go forth from this conference that will change the situation as quickly as possible.


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The preceding article is a rough version of the article that appeared in The American Almanac. It is made available here with the permission of The New Federalist Newspaper. Any use of, or quotations from, this article must attribute them to The New Federalist, and The American Almanac.


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