Germany's enigma

Image: Felix Mittermeier
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By HUGO ALBUQUERQUE*

Western Europe's largest economy has shown itself to be subservient to the United States and the Western axis, even when this goes against its vital economic interests.

Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis was banned to enter Germany and to participate in German political activities, even via videoconference. Shortly before, the American philosopher Nancy Fraser – who is Jewish – was disinvited from teaching at the University of Cologne. Both cases were due to their pro-Palestinian positions.

These surprising and gigantic censorships occur in a context in which countless activists against the genocide in Gaza, including Israeli Jews, were repressed, investigated and even arrested. The position of Olaf Scholz's government is one of unconditional support for Israel, repeating what he already did on the Ukrainian issue, completely opposing any peaceful exit.

Olaf Scholz's cabinet – a coalition led by Social Democrats, with Greens and Liberals – takes a dogmatic stance with the support of the establishment German, and this includes large media corporations. Most of the German opposition, the Christian Democrats at the head, also agrees with this, generating a climate of total witch hunt.

In both cases, the German position is unilateral and unquestionable. At the same time, the country, so known for its unresigned austerity, spends resources on militarizing itself while spending what it never wanted on Ukraine. This apparent enigma leads to the question of why Germany would have gone crazy. Has she really gone crazy?

Why complete subjection to NATO on the Ukrainian issue?

A few years ago, Germany was pushing the Minsk Agreements, which in theory would seal peace between Russia and Ukraine. Former Prime Minister Angela Merkel recently declared, with a strange pride, that she worked around the clock to ensure that the Agreements were never actually implemented – all to defend himself against accusations that he “collaborated with Russia”.

The German political and media climate, so intransigent, demanded that Merkel prove that she had been lying to Russia all along. The current opposition leader and Merkel's former rival among the Christian Democrats, tycoon Friedrich Merz, was dealing with sanctions against Russia as “a mistake” and called on the parties for peace, until he adopted a hard-line anti-Russian speech.

Under the allegation that Russia is an expansionist dictatorship, Germany sided with NATO's imperialist position, forcing its political elite into shameful penances. On the other hand, direct economic interests of Germany, which benefited from the gas trade with the Russians, were unceremoniously sacrificed.

The Nordstream gas pipeline itself, which linked Germany and Russia, was destroyed during the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, but despite the gigantic damage to Berlin, no relevant authority deigned to defend an investigation – the origin of which could only originate from NATO itself, since that this was also widely harmful to the Russians.

For decades, Germany was fed by Russian gas, which met the energy demands of the titanic German industry; On the one hand, it was fast, easy, big money for Moscow, but on the other hand, it maintained a typical metropolis-colony relationship, with the Russians seeing their deindustrialization in slow motion, while the Germans grew stronger.

Much of the Russian national reconstruction in the 2000s took place precisely through the use of gas resources, through its public banks, to pay off the external debt of the final years of the Soviet Union and the 1990s. But the Russians became addicted to the medicine who saved their own lives and settled into the position of energy exporter.

On the other hand, Germany created the conditions for its industry to remain on national territory, instead of simply leaving for China. The almost infinite supply of Russian gas seemed to be the differentiating element in maintaining German competitiveness – at a time when the cost-benefit of Chinese labor demolished the claims of Western unions.

The most naive might assume that cutting into one's own flesh, in economic terms, would only prove the purity and honesty of the German position when it comes to Russia. But this only indicates the subjection of the German economic apparatus to strategic dictates that Berlin does not control, since the side that the country has taken is expansionist and does not offer greater democratic guarantees.

Among other points that contradict the thesis of the Germans' “all-round idealism”, is that Russia never wanted to start this war, never truly opposed Ukrainian neutrality and the only red line for Moscow – known to all parties – concerned , precisely, to the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Black Sea.

Repression of the Palestinian cause

It is possible to imagine that Germany had an “emotional” reaction to the Hamas attacks on Israel due to the crimes committed by Nazism against the Jews. But how could Germany tolerate Israel's disproportionate and insane response against Palestinian civilians, precisely because of its past?

What's even worse is the use of its police apparatus to repress protesters, silence intellectuals and artists, as in the case of the last Berlin Festival, in which even a Jewish Israeli documentary filmmaker Yuval Abraham, who co-directed the winning documentary In the Other Land, and was considered “anti-Semitic” being investigated by the German authorities.

The repression of pro-Palestinian demonstrations, systematically disqualified as “anti-Semitic”, began to be prohibited, as well as the use of the slogan “From Rio to the Sea”, resulting in state persecution of activists - even when they are Jews. There are simply no equivalent concerns, such as any compliance with what Israel does in the Gaza Strip.

Scholz, once again, builds a rational argument – ​​the justice of a cause that demands an unequivocal position from Germany – followed by a literally unconditional adherence of its government, which does not call into question any act – however dubious it may be. – from its allies, whether Ukrainian or Israeli.

This total positioning extends from geopolitics to the application of rights such as freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate. Strangely, we are talking about a country that a decade ago authorized the operation of an extreme right-wing party, the Alternative for Germany, and never treated anti-immigration marches with the same harshness with clear islamophobic character.

O Alternative for Germany, known by its German acronym, AfD, even has ironic links to the Netanyahu family, with the son of the current Israeli prime minister serving as legend poster boy – interestingly, a year ago, it was Roger Waters to be investigated for condoning Nazism in Germany, precisely because of its anti-Nazi performance.

The exchange of one anti-Semitism – hatred of Jews – for another – hatred of Palestinians, who are indeed Semites! – becomes the watchword, even though the parties of the establishment Don't leave it for less. It is a “perfectly normal” government of social democrats, greens and liberals that harasses the Palestinians – and is undisguisedly Russophobic.

The German minotaur

Effectively, the liberal explanation that all this is justified as a rigorous application of the “paradox of intolerance” or the criticism that Germany has “gone crazy” or its current government is just “dumb” has simply failed. Another reading, of how Berlin could, at the same time, support the invaded in the Ukrainian case and the invader in the Israeli case is insufficient.

Perhaps the work of the now censored Varoufakis will help us understand this process a little more. the global minotaur (Literary Autonomy) gives us clues to understand how a global economy of unbalanced balances was created from the 1970s onwards – with the United States feeding on its two deficits, like a great Minotaur.

But, certainly, two other following works, And the weak suffer what they must? (Literary Autonomy) and Adults in the room (Literary Autonomy) are definitive in the sense of prospecting the foundations of current Europe, the mystery of problematic integration, and the practical dilemmas that this concerns – and Germany occupies a central role in this conversation.

Varoufakis unraveled like few others the role of Germany from a country defeated and then rebuilt by the United States to be, paradoxically, the center of a Europe that should be unified around it – and not the “allies” England and France – producing a technocratic State that contaminated the DNA of the future European Union.

What has changed in Germany?

In addition to Germany having rebuilt itself around its central bank, and this being based on an intrinsic idea of ​​austerity, this had effects on German society itself, in the sense of not reforming it. Like former Red Army Faction fighter Lutz Taufer, points out in his testimony, German denazification was far from real.

Post-war West Germany saw the Allies punish the cream of Nazism in Nuremberg, but countless high-ranking figures were spared and reinserted into German society – without further explanation or resocialization. This turned defeat into a taboo and the conservation of numerous authoritarian devices.

Lutz Taufer effectively pointed out as well as Germany supported the Vietnam War, even if timidly under a social-democratic government, in contrast, for example, to Sweden or Austria, which are equally European and social-democratic. It is, at the same time, a geopolitical and internal issue – where the internal plan never contradicted the dictates of the Cold War.

And in addition to economic progress that guaranteed adherence to blind Westernism, obviously, the decision on this subjection is still in the interest of German elites – in the same way that Greek elites agreed to austerity programs that, in the end, , they only passed on the costs of the crisis to their working class.

But from an “economic irrationality” that serves the rationality of the elites and their interests – and the bourgeoisie has always been internationalist itself – to arriving at an increasingly caricatured regime should not be a surprise, even though it has already happened in the 1960s and 1970s with the repression of the dissident left.

It is not as simple an explanation as saying that Germany is still a country under occupation that does not even have a Constitution in formal terms – but rather a Basic Law, itself written under the occupation of the Allies – and is therefore subject to strategic command. of the United States: there is a good deal of voluntary servitude.

There is, of course, an essential difference between the austerity of the 2008 post-crisis and the current moment, as the sacrifices that the German ruling class admits to Germany also affect it – and not just its workers. In this sense, would we have a new Treaty of Versailles? Maybe, but it's more complex.

At this very moment, the German bourgeoisie prefers to obey and, therefore, bear losses to remain in a game that was very profitable for them. What would it cost to obey today? It is a very deep cultural aspect, which we also saw in relation to the Treaty of Versailles – which was overturned by Nazism, initiating another type of “blind obedience”.

Recently, the English – and Jewish – filmmaker Jonathan Glazer, after winning the Oscar for best foreign film for the excellent Zone of intereste, gave a perhaps surprising speech to the Academy that awarded him: he compares the indifference surrounding the Auschwitz extermination camp, the subject of the film, with what is happening today in relation to Gaza.

O Zone of interest, a British-Polish production recorded in German, notes that things have changed little in Germany in recent decades, and this is not just a geopolitical element, but a profound constitution of the culture of a unified Germany – and its legal-political procedures.

Once like a farce…

Not surprisingly, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels between 1845-1846 wrote the articles that resulted inthe german ideology. In it, particular elements of a Germany on the verge of reunification – although this would only happen in the 1870s – already appeared dangerous. What would have changed since then? A lot, but not enough to change the core of Germany.

Far from being a question of “essence”, this deals with the structures of old Prussia, which served as the basis for modern Germany, creating a modus operandi of bureaucracy – both in moments of moderate chauvinism (Bismarck's long government) or radical chauvinism (Hitler or William II) and in moments of relative (Versailles) or total (the Plaza Agreements or now).

In moments of total subjection, when the German elite also accepted to do penance among the people, we saw, paradoxically, a determination similar to chauvinist moments: an unquestionable pastoral determination to punish or be punished, added to a cold Cartesian organization of misfortune – even if it's her own.

One can appeal to the spirit of the old Protestant ideology, although what one sees is a curious process of reproduction and resilience of political structures, from the old Kingdom of Prussia, through all three Reichs until we reach the modern Federal Republic – which continues to project itself upwards and beyond as the immobile engine of the European Union.

In the end, from the extremist drifts of the German right to the dominance of an institutionalist, and adherent, lineage of the left, Germany keeps responding in a similar way to different crises – the current one, the clash between the imperial West and a rising East that challenges, for the first time in two hundred years, this hegemony.

In other words, the strategic subjection to the United States and the actions of Washington technocrats is real and very present, but the point is that the way German technocracy responds to this – and its ruling class – coincides with several other historical movements. It is, therefore, not just a situational factor.

The current simulation of a parliamentary system, founded on the deepest humanitarian values, used to attack difference appears to be a perfect realization of an Orwellian delusion – in which Germany turns freedom into a way of oppressing and peace into a way of supporting the war. After almost two centuries, German ideology remains the order of the day.

* Hugo Albuquerque He is the publisher of Revista Jacobina, editor of Autonomia Literária and a lawyer.


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