(By Ray D.)
The New York Times “International” section today ran an article reflecting the current mood in Germany: Pessimism.
“Germans are gloomy because there is a general realization that the formulas that have worked so well for this country in the decades after World War II are not working anymore, and nobody knows exactly what to do.”
Interestingly enough, the “experts” in the German government and media seem to know exactly what the USA needs to do to be a more socially and internationally responsible country. So why is it that the same army of Oberlehrer (know-it-alls) can’t seem to fix their own country’s problems? A mystery indeed.
“Yet the mood, clearly, is bad. The left-of-center coalition government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has about the lowest poll results of any recent chancellor. If a new election were held now, the opposition conservatives would be swept into power in a landslide. If that does happen in 2006 when elections will be held — and many political experts believe that it will — Germany could potentially be following the pattern of the United States after the Carter malaise and Britain in the depressing years before Margaret Thatcher in opting for a conservative revolution."
A conservative revolution in Germany? Following the pattern of the United States? How could such a thing be possible? What would become of the French-German-Spanish Socialist axis of appeasers?
It is interesting to note that Chancellor Schroeder's SPD has had some of the lowest poll results in history for months on end now. Yet the German media are still fixated on criticizing Bush. If they bothered to steadily criticize their own leader as much as Bush maybe the country wouldn’t be in such a “malaise” to begin with. But if you dare point out that bias, then you must be a Bush-loving, ultra-conservative neo-con.
The truly fascinating aspect of any German self-criticism is how sudden and how extreme it is. When the media really does focus on the domestic situation, it is with a sort of “Weltuntergangstimmung,” a mood that the world is about to come to an end. SPIEGEL’s “Lachnummer Deutschland/Germany: A Joke” cover is a good example. Last year, SPIEGEL dedicated cover after cover to Bush and Iraq. Then, out of the blue, Germany is a joke, a total disaster. This certainly isn’t well-balanced journalism, but it sells, and I guess that’s what really matters.
“But among experts especially, there is a growing feeling that Germany needs some strong medicine if it is to overcome its difficulties, and strong medicine in Germany would mean something genuinely historic for Europe: a dismantling of the elaborate welfare state in the Continent's biggest and economically most powerful country that would surely reverberate in the other welfare states of Europe."
"Germans have awakened from their dreams of the eternal welfare state," Mr. Sinn said, explaining the gloomy national mood, and giving it an objective basis. "They've been confronted with reality, and that is never nice."
Did someone in Europe say “reality”? Now that is scary…