Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A New Germany

Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for Europe - and I mean this as a geographical, not as a political term. Of course, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data", but... there have been enough anecdotes lately like this one. Money quote: "Germans feel they have paid both their reparations and their dues, “and many times over,” said Ms. Stelzenmüller, especially in an uncertain time of globalization and financial crisis. “People want to be normal, in the sense that other people don’t come to us first and say, ‘You have to pay.’ And it doesn’t have much to do with political orientation. All of us are huddling with our backs against the storm.”

Germany is outgrowing its guilt complexes, and beginning to question how long, for bleep's sake, the reparations will last. Of course, the last time this kind of questions popped up the outcome was very ugly. It probably will be this time too. We are, of course, not talking German divisions marching left and right through Europe - this is kind of passé in these days. But European cities may still be smoldering, most prominently Athens - set ablaze by its own unhappy citizenry. This can of worms was kicked about 7 months down the road by the latest bailout given to Greece - Merkel caved in, and probably will have to surrender the proverbial pound of flesh at the ballot box soon enough. But to hope Greek politicians have all
en masse had road-to-Damascus moment recently is beyond naive. The only big question remaining, in my humblest opinion, is whether Greece (again), or someone else (Portugal?) will be the next to come to Brussels (read: Berlin) hat in hand.

This is not a train wreck in slow motion. It's Titanic meets iceberg in slow motion, with Germany in the role of Kate Winslet's Rose, who survives with the bulk of her wealth (the precious jewel) intact, but the love of Jack Dawson (most of the rest of Europe) turned ice-cold by the plunge into ice-cold Atlantic (economic reality).

1 comment:

Nick Rowe said...

I lived in Germany from 1986 through 1988. I loved the country, but the guilt complex then was palpable.

I last visited just before the Wall came down. I remember my friends telling me that few people in the West really wanted reunification - it was just a thing people said. Although the trepidation over unification was justified, I think Germany has done a great job wrestling the problem to the ground.

It's good to see Germany leading Europe but it's tough being the only adult in the room especially when the French are present.