An article by Nick Cohen in the online edition of ‘The Guardian’ led to my revisiting the blog at a time when I had no real inclination to do so.
The over the top sanctimonious praising of Germany for coming to terms with, and atoning for, its past while simultaneously contending that it is that same guilt ridden past, or what is in fact known in Germany as Vergangenheitsbewältigung, that is making Germany incapable of making, what he deems to be, the right decisions, should at best be treated with contempt.
He asserts that “The euro has been a wonderful boon for Germany. It has held down its exchange rate and allowed its exporters to trade at a crushing advantage.” and while this is not wholly wrong, wasn’t Germany the economic powerhouse of Europe long before the introduction of the Euro? Might it not simply be that Germany actually manufactures products which are better than those made elsewhere? Of course, the truth is that the assault on the Euro is coming from that very same speculative capitalism that attempted to destroy the East Asian economies as early as 1997. It is a system which this man of the crudest half eduction appears, at least by implication, to support. Furthermore, it is a system that is only held together by those selective wars of aggression which he urges Germany to participate in.
Of course, the real problem is that Nick’s Deutschlandbild is at best informed by a series of prejudices that have very little to do with the reality of what that country is or indeed was. For instance, while Brüning’s austerity measures did earn him the title of der Hungerkanzler, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that, after the summer of 1932, those measures actually led to an upturn in the German economy which Hitler was to benefit from, even if I personally don’t agree with the measures.
Furthermore, today the austerity measures are not only being applied in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Greece in Italy but also, even if less harshly, in Germany and elsewhere in the euro zone and, outside the euro zone, in the United Kingdom. Of course, Nick does not actually disagree with austerity measures as such, he just wants to paint a little picture where the rest of Europe has to suffer so that the “German bourgeois hypocrites, who mouth pious platitudes” can continue to their ride on the gravy train when in actual fact Nick actually supports those institutions that ensure that bourgeois hypocrites generally can continue living the good life.
Finally, the historical analogies are quite simply wrong, the hypothesis is weak and once again we have an Oberschreibling, a möchtegerne intellectual, in the service of both speculative capitalism and his political masters. The last thing that they, of course want, is a strong Euro or, indeed, a Euro at all.We would perhaps be better to look at the Asian crisis of 1997 and not to the Weimar Republic, if we are looking for historical analogies.