It’s time to be afraid of Germany again

I have never felt much as a german. I had the luck of growing up in the 80s, with a lively subculture that defined being german as not ever wanting to become german again. The only way to come to terms with my national identity to me still is ex negativo. Yesterday’s treatment of Greece has taught me one more lesson in this. “European” sometimes seemed an idea that was open, fluid and diverse enough for me to embrace it as identity. In its best moments it carried a hope of international solidarity.

Yesterday I have read Wendy Brown on “left melancholia”. She writes: “it’s a Left that has become more attached to its impossibility than to its potential fruitfulness, a Left that is most at home dwelling not in hopefulness but in its own marginality and failure … , whose spirit is ghostly, whose structure of desire is backward looking and punishing.”

Syriza in Greece brought back flesh to this ghost in Europe, they have woven the courage to try an alternative approach into a face, a shape. Though raised by pure desperation it gave many of us hope that more social politics could be possible after all. I am thankful for that. Well, this hope has been crushed over the last weeks. It has got stomped in the face while lying on the floor by a german boot – sorry: government that I have not voted for but still feel co-responsible for. Ex negativo. Shame on “us”. What we see now that the dust has settled is a project Europe that stands for a system of economic nationalism, ruled by its financial elite, ruled through fear and bullying, keeping its weakest members weak by default. “What we’ve learned these past couple of weeks is that being a member of the eurozone means that the creditors can destroy your economy if you step out of line,” Paul Krugman sums it up in the New York Times (“Killing the European project”).
Europe – it’s time to be afraid of Germany again, or as Heiner Flassbeck has put it, rougly translated by me:

“What’s even worse is the intellectual isolation into which Germany is steering with this. Rational human beings all around the globe will ask how it is possible that a whole nation (incl. the biggest part of its media and science) resorts to such a political ghost ride. There will be questions asked that reach far into the past. Questions of which we thought they had been answered but to which we will need to find new answers should it turn out that 85 years were not enough to turn Germany into a cooperative and regularly amenable member of the international community.”

I’ve read and watched a lot this week-end and thought why not share the most interesting stuff as reading list here:

“By infantilising Greece, Germany resembles a child who closes its own eyes and thinks we can not see it. We can. The world is watching what is being done to Greece in the name of euro stability. It sees a nation stripped of its dignity, its sovereignty, its future.”
The euro ‘family’ has shown it is capable of real cruelty, Suzanne Moore, Guardian

“Five months of intense negotiations between Greece and the Eurogroup never had a chance of success. Condemned to lead to impasse, their purpose was to pave the ground for what Dr Schäuble had decided was ‘optimal’ well before our government was even elected: That Greece should be eased out of the Eurozone in order to discipline member-states resisting his very specific plan for re-structuring the Eurozone.”
Yanis Varoufakis announces a text by him that will be published in Die Zeit on Thursday

“What they’ve arguably got is a global reputational disaster: the crushing of a left-wing government elected on a landslide, the flouting of a 61 per cent referendum result. The EU – a project founded to avoid conflict and deliver social justice – found itself transformed into the conveyor of relentless financial logic and nothing else.
Ordinary people don’t know enough about the financial logic to understand why this was always likely to happen: bonds, haircuts and currency mechanisms are distant concepts. Democracy is not. Everybody on earth with a smartphone understands what happened to democracy last night.
Paul Mason in his Channel 4 blog (over the last few days, well, weeks this blog was a great source of info broken down into easy but not oversimplified pieces.)

For Germany the euro is a simple national interest weapon. … Anyone staying must adhere to German rules and anyone leaving must be destroyed to deter others from doing do. ”
Greece brought a latte to a gun fight by Yves Smith (Naked Capitalism)

Varoufakis thinks that Merkel and Schäuble’s control over the Eurogroup is absolute, and that the group itself is beyond the law. ….
“So,” Varoufakis said, “What we have is a non-existent group that has the greatest power to determine the lives of Europeans. It’s not answerable to anyone, given it doesn’t exist in law; no minutes are kept; and it’s confidential. No citizen ever knows what is said within . . . These are decisions of almost life and death, and no member has to answer to anybody.””
Exclusive: Yanis Varoufakis opens up about his five month battle to save Greece, Harry Lambert (New Statesman)

“’European leaders and the West in general are criticising Greece for failure to collect taxes,’ Stiglitz said. ‘The West has created a framework for global tax avoidance… Here you have the advanced countries trying to undermine a global effort to stop tax avoidance. Can you have a better image of hypocrisy?’”
Germany showing ‘lack of solidarity’ over Greece – Joseph Stiglitz (Dunya News)

The Children of Austerity – debt creates a future of always paying for the past, Johnna Montgomerie (The Sociological Review)

To know the history of the Global South is to know that the continuing demands of austerity placed upon Greece are not the solution to the crisis; they are the crisis. It is to know that plans to liberalise the economy and cut public spending in favour of debt repayment are not designed to help the Greek people but to create spaces of minimal regulation, relaxed environmental controls, low corporation tax and stripped worker protections, a space where the 21st Century laissez faire capitalism can be fully unleashed.”
Greece and the underdevelopment of Europe

Die Deutsche Ideologie – Überwachen und Strafen
Robert Misik (8min video)

Last Exit Europe – Titel Thesen Temperamente von gestern (ARDmediathek (höret und staunet, spätnachts gibt es dann auch mal so eine kritische Perspektive auf diesem Sender. 30min video)

Man spricht deutsch. Trotz seiner NS-Vergangenheit ist Deutschland in Europa dominant
Ingo Stützle, Analyse & Kritik

“Noch schlimmer aber ist die intellektuelle Isolation, in die sich Deutschland damit begibt. Vernunftbegabte Menschen auf dem gesamten Erdball werden fragen, wie es möglich ist, dass sich ein ganzes Land (inklusive des Großteils seiner Medien und der Wissenschaft) auf eine solche politische Geisterbahnfahrt begeben kann. Man wird Fragen stellen, die weit in die Vergangenheit reichen. Fragen, die man eigentlich für beantwortet hielt, für die man aber neue Antworten finden muss, wenn sich zeigt, dass 85 Jahre nicht ausreichten, um Deutschland zu einem kooperativen und normal ansprechbaren Mitglied der Völkergemeinschaft zu machen.”
Die bedingungslose Kapitulation, sonst nichts!, Heiner Flassbeck

So scheitert Europa, Eric Bonse (Lost In Europe)

Das ist staatliche Entmündigung, keine europäische Demokratie“ Interview mit Sven Giegold (cicero)

Und es ist ein guter Zeitpunkt, um Die Anstalt zu Griechenland vom März (noch mal) anzusehen:


EDIT 13.7.15 afternoon:

“Seen as a sort Helm’s Deep, this defeat for the Greeks is monumental, irredeemable. It is the “all is lost” moment. Seen as one opening battle in much larger war, it is hugely valuable. It has drawn the enemy out into the fore, exposed its strengths and weaknesses. It has provided intelligence to others, in Spain and Portugal and Italy, which will ensure they’re better prepared. It has been bravely fought. And smartly, because Greece gets to live to fight another day.”
Alexis Tsipras: Hero, traitor, hero, traitor, hero, Alex Andreou (Byline)

“Im griechischen Referendum konnten wir einen ersten zaghaften Ansatz zur Formulierung einer Alternative erkennen. Und durch das Referendum erlebten wir erstmals eine Solidarisierung (und Polarisierung) der Menschen quer zu den europäischen Nationalstaaten …. Syriza hat das Projekt Europa aus seinem Dornröschenschlaf geweckt.
Ein solches Projekt kann nicht von oben installiert werden, wie dies in den fünfziger Jahren des vergangenen Jahrhunderts noch möglich schien. Sollte dieser veraltete Politik-Ansatz jedoch weiterhin versucht werden, … wird der Aufstand der Griechen nur der Anfang der kommenden Aufstände gewesen sein.”
Wie Europa wirklich entsteht, Wolfgang Michal

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