Prussian anti-liberal culture was the stumbling block for peace and stability in Europe in the last two centuries. Nazism was a sort of degenerative spin-off of that culture pushed by extreme historical conditions sat by catastrophic WW1 outcomes. The heinous trench conditions, the senseless massacres in battle fields, military inadequate choices and often disastrous, famine and economic nightmare due to vexatious rules of Versailles’ Treaty, the fear of International Bolscevism – Spartacism was its German conjugation – and the alienation of part of German territory and people, built a strong sentiment against Weimar Republic and generally against ruling establishment. The differences between two realities – Atlantic culture and Continental Europe attitude – already born different, increased.
Continental Europe culture and Anglo-American “philosophy” got two different souls and society structure. Geopolitics influences the former; strategy leads the latter. Germany needs its Lebensraum (vital space) on near territories; a sea power (as Usa or UK) has the earth as acting scene, sea lines and facing shores’ control among its primary tasks; “Oceans are the lifeblood of the interconnected global community” we can read on US Navy 21st Century Seapower document. Society is stronger than the state machine in the Atlantic civilization, and economy is a tool for both. In central Europe, state leads overall; the role of financial interests is downsized and political establishment more stable. Germany needs Russia as market and economic partner because Moscow has plenty of raw materials Berlin has not.
Germany bears a post-WW2 ballast – as defeated country – that restricted its political road map, the selection of its leadership and the horizon of its ambitions. Holocaust is the Scarlet letter printed on each German, who restricts any public move out of a cast political framework, fortunately. As Thomas Mann stressed, denazification after WW2 became immediately a degermanization, maybe it wasn’t a so good idea. Stick together Nazi and German identity formatting was understandable, close to WW2 end, but was even dangerous in perspective. This initiative was based on a social pact, a weak point of WW2 winner’s strategy. Low profile governments gained people support in exchange of a strong welfare and economy. It could last until economic condition, and welfare flourishes, otherwise could become a timing bomb. German identity raised strongly again as political issue, still keep in matching Nazi and German ID could result in a political epic fail.
The cold war condition, that put Germany on the dangerous limes of Warsaw Pact, bent any Berlin ambitions to recover even a fraction of its past role. Germany was an obedient and tamed ally of USA by the NATO membership. Identity issue was just an erased item on an old political agenda at the bottom of a trash can. However, history went on and came the Mauer Fall, then 9/11, 2008 financial crisis and 2015 migrant social tensions.
Meanwhile, Trump’s age launched a “speak out policy” that stated eventually – but clearly – that USA wanted to leave its role of an “old way” hegemonic power: no more extra bills to pay to gain allies friendship and support, especially in Europe. In shortcut, Trump reverted American globalist’s agenda strong points.
Washington has to be focused on China’s challenge and now needs active and sincere partner not tamed or hesitant ally. For Germany “fabricated” leadership was a shock. Germany was abruptly pushed to enter history again, but isn’t yet prepared for this task. Germans are not ready and there is not a politically mature leadership that could deal between identity issues and global market turmoils, without put in danger traditional balance of power and international relations. There is not a foreign policy thinking if not its simple economic declination. There is not a new global weltanschauung if not taking some drafts from the past culture. Free thinking and discussion in Germany are a narrow path, if any politician or intellectual just put a foot outside this passage, media depicts him or her as anti-democratic if not worst. That is the main charge against German establishment and is actually the weak point of Bundesrepublik: there are not enough rooms to refresh and revamp political thinking. At the time of turbo-globalism – out of control – that’s a vital problem.
As a key member of Western alliance Berlin should defend UE from Moscow influence, but geopolitics tells Russia is a natural partner. Washington has to reshape Eastern Europe strategy and views Germany with attached its economic Lebensraum. It isn’t an easy job.
Angela Merkel was the perfect icon of the past German political leader, by the book of “defeated country.” It is not a coincidence kanzlerin’s star has set. The problem now, for Washington and for Europe too, is that a modern leadership, to fulfill these requirements, needs a new electoral base. Nevertheless, there is not, so far. Take, for instance, Grünen party leaders and voters, they have a utopian weltanschauung that can work only if full security matters still stay under Washington responsibility at a time Americans want and need pay less for ally protection. AFD (Alternative für Deuschtland) was a spin-off of CDU, established by some economists. This party now has two main streams: one liberal and moderate (a minority), another on the way of traditional anti-Western attitude. One of AFD more popular leader, Björn Höcke, introduce himself as “a Prussian who wants to defend German identity.” His party resumed Bismarck concept of German centrality as the stability broker in European stage. This is a mindset fitted to clash with the American economic “philosophy” without a huge work of political brokerage that could take years to work, if viable.
In short cut, we can say that Prussian attitude doesn’t like global markets and their project to dissolve states and people identity to build a new generation of “consumer,” clustered inside a different type of public and political frame. A consumer/citizen without any anthropologic, religious or ancestral identity, chosen by doom, will be a fragile social actor, full of needs, totally bent to any kind of market manipulation. A global market that recorded many blunders and social damages in the last decade, and that reached a zero appeal mark in several, so called, developed countries and were opposed in some poor areas around the world. That was the time of Nobel’s prize to Mohamad Yunus (2006) and his micro credit revolution, rapidly co-opted by the global system, then eliminated through the usual scandals, mirrored by media. Yunus’ Grameen Bank idea to free lesser from the slavery of never-ending debt, aimed the foundations of a rapacious and unethical international financial system, almost unchained from the fence and limits of any public economy framework. “One day our grandchildren will go to museums to see what poverty was like” is the famous Nobel laureate quote. Today the Yunus’s dream is still far beyond the horizon, unfortunately.
Honestly, we have to say that in 90ies, when global forces acted positively, a lot of underdeveloped regions witnessed a great increase in middle class purchasing power and life standard. However, soon the project – too complex to be achieved – had a downturn, especially after 9/11 shock and economic and social dynamics, ignited by an already failed project, started to make damages. That is the bad face of the market.
This is a perspective that could be awful not only for “our” Prussian guy, but for millions of people. Americans first reacted and elected Donald Trump; Italian populist “revolution” then came, gilets jaunes movement and anti-establishment protests in other Europen countries.
During the period between 2015 and 2017 the 38 per cent of new births, were not Germans national. These are numbers that tell a lot about the country’s future. The demographic policy of West Germany, starting from 70ies, was supporting a crunch of birth rate, as happened all over the Western world, China and India too, for example. Aged population and strong immigration policies were the obvious outcome. When immigration public policies were not anymore politically sustainable, a new narrative prompted on the media stages: humanitarian emergency. This narrative arrived to an end stop in 2015. Meanwhile, during the 70ies, in DDR pro-birth policies were launched, obtaining a different upshot. Reunification melted together so distinct situations and, not for fate, AFD has it roots in Eastern Germany.
Maybe the project was not only about the labour market change, totally bent to international finance greed. It was intentionally planned to dilute German 82 millions population with a strong ignition of foreign nationals, to cancel any past identity surge hazard. However, this is just an assumption. Anyway, the Germany future is now full of incognita; Hanna Arendt warnings are still effective and German factor is again on world stage.
Pierre Chiartano is an internationally known senior journalist living in Italy. He also is the Contributing Editor of Blitz.