Crisis, Doomsday And The End Of The World As We Know It

I don’t usually tend to panic when reading newspapers, but when German journalists start writing articles critical of the media’s “eternal ramblings about doomsday,” I get very nervous indeed. This is news, in other words, primarily because this isn’t news to me.

Evelyn Finger’s main concern here is the German obsession with “the” Krise (crisis) in general (crises plural) and the latest so-called Krise der Demokratie (crisis of Democracy) in particular.

“In the meantime (it started out long ago with “the oil crisis,” she believes) we have become all too accustomed to terms like education crisis, energy crisis, climate crisis and, most recently, financial crisis, debt crisis and euro crisis. We have all hoped that these crises would not prove to become any more threatening than they already are, especially since our linguistic capacity to express more crisis seems to have been exhausted: World financial crisis! But a new threatening term has been spooking the debates as of late: A crisis of Democracy. Is there really such a crisis or is the chatter about it the real problem?”

We all know the answer to that question, of course. She rightly finds this obsessive German Angslust (passion for fear) ridiculous and has no trouble exposing it for what it is; mindless, self-indulgent, neurotic nonsense. But I do wish she would have had the decency to have warned me first. I don’t like stumbling accross articles like this in German newspapers, articles that make sense by expressing something we used to call “common sense.” If I had wanted to read articles like that I wouldn’t have bought a German newspaper in the first place.

But thanks anyway, Evelyn. You may have shaken me up a bit, but I really do hope you have a pleasant week.

Das Wort Krise hatte seinen Schrecken schon fast verloren. Es klang in den letzten Monaten auch bei dramatischer Nachrichtenlage etwas schwach und durch häufigen Gebrauch abgenutzt.

What Identity Do I Wear Today?

So what do you want, Germany? The Germans don’t even know themselves what they want with Europe and/or Germany: In a survey this September by Der Spiegel, clear majorities of Germans said that it wasn’t right to help Greece and other countries with the bailout fund and that Germany was not benefiting from the euro zone. But a clear majority also believed that European institutions should be given more power in a crisis. Classic German schizophrenia again or what?

Not that it matters or anything. In the final analysis nobody is asking you what you want: The European Union is a union not of peoples but of heads of state. “General Franco was a head of state, too.”

Nope, I still don’t know what “Europe” is supposed to mean here, but I keep getting the sneaking suspicion that I’m not the only one living in Europe who feels that way. It’s just that I, as a non-European, have the luxury of being able to admit that I don’t get it and that I don’t really care.

But as this latest crisis develops, one thing seems certain. Whatever Europe may be, it clearly has something to do with illusion.  Illusion with an s on the end. With lots of illusions. One illusion after the next. Here’s one, for example:

Europe is founded on the illusion of German money without German control. And that bargain has worked, until now, because of the way Germany sees itself within Europe (which itself, as the polls suggest, is an illusion).

“As a good German one has to be a good European.”

“Die Noch-Supermacht”

Like S&P, Germany ITSELF believes that it’s time for “the yet superpower” to start saving big time and pronto. And I for one would listen (you know, like listening to E. F. Hutton when they used to talk?) because the Germans have had a whole lot of experience in giving good advice like this as of late. Just look at how their recommendations have helped Greece, for instance.

“The danger is that the Americans are still lulled into a false sense of security.”

“Möglich, dass Obama dann (nach der Wiederwahl) wirklich anfängt zu sparen.”

Get Yer Ya-Ya’s and Your Canned Goods Out!

Oh, my, God. The Scheechaos (snow chaos) has now reached Berlin! You know, like the Red Army once did?

What’s even more shocking is that it’s reached the taz too (the newspaper for all the lefty-anarcho-chaos experts living here). And even more shockingerer still is that Berlin’s environmental minister (yup, cities like Berlin have one of those) Katrin Lompscher (Left Party not Green–can’t you be both?) has called for a freakin’ Krisengipfel (crisis summit). You know, just like the one they had recently somewheres but I can’t remember where, about something, but I forget. Only this Krisengipfel will be worse, or better, or whatever.

We’re all going to die or something!

“Deutschland macht dabei auch ein gutes Geschäft”

Germany is also getting a good bargain in the deal.

What deal you ask? You know, the one the Germans love moaning about so much at the Stammtisch (regulars’ table) these days: How poor Germany has to bail everbody out in Europe (Greece, Ireland, who’s next?) and how said poor Germans are poor victims yet again and blah, blah, tra, la, boo, hoo, hoo.

But there’s always a rest of the story.

Sure, the Germans have to “contribute” the most to this way cool European rescue parachute that keeps getting pulled these days, but they also have the most to gain if everything goes right.

How so? Some call it, I don’t know, refinancing. They borrow the money on the bond market for 3 percent and then loan it to the Greeks and the Irish (and the next folks to come along) for 5.8 percent. If these countries die Kurve kriegen (turn the corner), then the money comes rolling back in–and a big sweet profit to boot.

So dry your eyes over there at the Stammtisch already and take a deep breath after you order your next beer. Es wird alles gut. Everything will turn out good in the end. Maybe even real good.

“Wer sich selbst am Anleihemarkt für knapp drei Prozent refinanziere und an Krisenländer wie Griechenland und Irland Kredite zu einem Zinssatz von 5,8 Prozent ausreiche, könne selbst ordentliche Gewinne einstreichen.”

Greeks to boycott German products they can’t afford to pay for right now anyway

Pissed off about a Focus magazine cover depicting Venus de Milo (some old Greek actress or something) flipping off the rest of Europe (meaning Germany) and carrying the title “Crooks in the Euro Family”, the Greek Consumer Association has called for the boycott of German goods which nobody in Greece can afford to buy right now anyway.

The Greeks are a little touchy these days because their government/state/civilization is on the verge of bankruptcy or something (like join the club already). The Germans are a little touchy these days because the Germans are always a little touchy.

Die Verfälschung einer Statue der griechischen Geschichte, Schönheit und Zivilisation, die aus einer Zeit stammt, wo sie (die Deutschen) Bananen auf Bäumen gegessen haben, ist unverzeihlich und nicht hinnehmbar.”