There is, of course, no single correct interpretation of what is going on in Germany today. It all depends on your point of view. What, however, is clear beyond much doubt is that there is a divide between the published opinion of the people, and that what a majority of citizens are actually thinking. That is a problem, because it badly undermines democracy. It also leads to people in other countries assuming incorrect things about German views on the so-called ‘refugee crisis’.
I work as a general practitioner in medicine, and thus have contact with many people from many different groups of society. These people speak their minds to me in a way they otherwise might not. As a general rule, Germans are mostly uneasy about openly voicing their opinions, at least when their views do not coincide with the official mainstream. They have been brought up this way by politics, by the media, by schools and universities. In some way, it is the consequence of German history. In the aftermath of the terrible fascist regime, a moral system of control and self-control was imposed in the years after the war, and understandably so, and it continues to exist right to the present day.
But its roots go further back than that, perhaps right to the time when reformist Martin Luther openly supported the murderous suppression of uprising peasants. What these people had done at that time was basically demand democratic participation. Unfortunately, most of them were killed by those in power, which probably left its scars on society. Centuries later, in the time of the cold war, ideals of open participation were, at least in the Western part of the country, supposedly held high by a vocal youth and an academic elite, but this was not that difficult in a thriving post-war-economy and as a welcomed showcase for opposing a totalitarian Eastern Bloc.
Today, as a follow-up to all that, everything is about being politically correct. Unfortunately, this is basically also an easy way for discarding and thus oppressing those parts of public opinion which might otherwise harm the economic interests of the super rich. Germany has become a post-democratic country, and many people feel exactly that way. Those that say it out loudly and openly are ridiculed and pressurised by those who otherwise advocate tolerance, and it is happening daily in public and private media and on the internet, probably more so than in other free Western countries.
What people really feel
From my own observations, far more than half of the population are not only critical, but fearful and angry about the millions of immigrants, or refugees, if you adopt the official diction, that are right now crossing the basically unguarded borders into the EU and into Germany, while the politicians they voted for refrain from intervening, or even just listening, in any meaningful way.
We are talking about more than a million people, each year, just coming to Germany. This has already been happening for years regarding those immigrating from other EU-countries, including countries once belonging to the Eastern Bloc, which usually offer far lower salaries than Germany, but that is a slightly different matter, with many cultural roots quite closely intertwined. Still, even then no German was ever asked for his opinion on this important matter. I wonder why.
But now, people are coming from countries economically and culturally far more removed than ever before. Most of these people have no plans of ever going back, and many will in the near future legally fetch several of their family members, thus leading to a probable number of new inhabitants of more than ten million, in the next five years alone. Thanks to the miracle of procreation, these numbers will only explode upwards from there. Germany, already one of the most densely populated countries in the world, has about eighty million inhabitants, but many of these are old age pensioners. The number of people working and thus actually enhancing the gross domestic product is far lower.
When it comes to the new immigrants, these are overwhelmingly people below the age of forty. But most of them have almost no education according to any Western standard, and thus it will be a basically unsolvable challenge of putting all these people into meaningful work in an economy with already millions of unemployed.
The largest group of those already now taking the biggest share out of the social systems are the immigrants of yesterday, and their children. This is a fact, even if an uncomfortable one. On the whole, the immigrants of today and tomorrow will be costing the working people in Germany more money in the next few decades than they will ever be able to give back. Still, they are very useful for some, and that is important to understand.
Who is profiting
For one, all these new people need a place in which they can live. They need food, they need clothes and they need medicine. Do you get my drift? The rich people who make, or own, or somehow offer this are making a hell of a buck, right now, and increasingly so. It’s a huge industry, and because it can claim it is doing something good, it is very hard to criticise openly. I wouldn’t even say this is primarily benefiting rich Germans. It’s just rich people, wherever they live, somehow invested in companies that are holding out their hands for taxpayers money to get these people looked after.
Of course, quite a few of the immigrants will work, and they will work hard. They will also work for very little money, which will lead to everyone else who does not want to work for the same meagre salary in not getting a job at all, at least if they’re not vastly more qualified.
So you could say, the really rich are one group of people who actually rather welcome what is going on, but only because they can afford to live in exclusive communities, send their children to expensive private schools and basically have more money than they could ever need to alleviate the problems arising from an unequal society. Sounds like the United States of America? Well, what a surprise.
You know, it’s important to realise that Germany, like many other countries in Western Europe, was only a very few decades ago one of the most equal, fair and caring societies in the world. Back then, when we still had the Deutschmark and thus control over our own currency, a large number of people could get along on one salary alone, and could still afford to have kids, a house and go on holidays several times a year. Cities were full of people actually speaking the same language and sharing the same culture.
All that has changed. It’s not that the Germans ever were the kindest people in the world. They were ambitious and clever, and that is something that many people in the world admired. Still, Germans also tended to push forwards in queues and were never able to laugh about themselves very well. You could say they were always afraid of being left out and not getting their share of whatever. The thing is, now they really have every right to feel exactly that way.
The rise of neoliberalism
It all started about two decades ago, as neoliberalism began to sweep over the country in the aftermath of German reunification. State funds were being spent in huge amounts on getting the East of Germany up to standards, but rather than strengthening the local economy, mostly some big West German companies were profiting. What was still left of the productive industry was sold for a pittance. In the whole of Germany, former state companies and infrastructure were getting privatised at an enormous speed, but the tax-financed investments of earlier days for a long time kept many things running like a clockwork.
Some years later, the Euro came to replace the Deutschmark, and with it, mostly unnoticed, Germany lost control of its core financial levers. Then, politics and lobbyists hand in hand paved the way for a deregulation of the labour markets, of insurances and of financial services, on a big scale. Great amounts of savings landed in the private pockets of a few people, usually offering little security in return. And then, oh so surprisingly, the so-called ‘financial crisis’ came, and politics decided on saving basically worthless banks with taxpayers’ money. And now, what started to go bad some years before is getting worse in the way of totally uncontrolled immigration.
Unless, of course, you ask one of the German ideologists. I would put these at about twenty per cent of German society, but what these people say is greatly amplified, and today more than ever. There are two reasons for this. For one, the rich people, who are basically making loads of money with what is going on, own most of the media, which is of course the same as everywhere else. They can thus decide who gets heard and who doesn’t.
Secondly, public media, state schools, state universities and political parties are basically cramped with left-winged opportunist ideologists, partly as a consequence of those vocal people from the post-war decades having made it to comfortable, tax-paid jobs later in their lives. I know this sounds harsh, but it pretty much is the best way to put it, and all else would be mincing words. For these ideologists, the agenda is all about equality, but in a very small-minded, old-communist-party style way, with a fair amount of petit-bourgeois envy as the icing on-top.
Ideologists and their agenda
For many of these ideologists today, the most important issues are things like introducing the symbols _ and * into the German language, in order to even out all those bad anti-feminist words that have been evilly suppressing so many for so long. Or putting up little plastic fences at the side of roads, so that frogs don’t get run over. Or returning beautiful English style parks to their ‘natural’ state by flooding them with water, so that rare birds can thrive there. Or in general, to just be extremely self-referential. Basically, it’s all the things that rich people in their parallel worlds don’t give a toss about, as the middle classes are carrying the costs of these basically self-serving people.
And of course, as these ideologists are so overwhelmingly good people, they are also overwhelmingly pro-immigration, without any kind of filter, selection or limit. A few of them actually are quite immaterialist, and quite a few have very little feeling for the culture and heritage they are living in, so for these there truly is no real impact they need to fear. Many of them don’t even really like the Germans, and thus they think: the less, the better.
And many of them, often being more idealistic than productive, are in their ways already accustomed to living off salaries that somehow magically come from the state. So these people don’t really have much of a moral problem with others also sharing a cake that they themselves didn’t bake. That is, at least as long as their own cake doesn’t get smaller. The thing is, it will in many cases, but many haven’t figured that one out yet, or they are in the happy situation of making sure that savings are made elsewhere, and not on their own front porch, this basically being the case for all politicians in Berlin and Brussels, and for all of their families, too. And then there is that thing called envy, but many less well off ideologists would never openly acknowledge or probably even realise it exists. Basically, if they can’t have the bourgeois life, why should those elsewhere in the middle class?
Imagine all the people
But most of all, for these twenty per cent of German society, it is about the unifying dream that all people can both closely and peacefully live together, even if they are totally different ethnically, culturally, in their religion, their heritage, and in their respect and tolerance of other people. The trouble is, the opposite has always proven to be the case, and it probably always will. Birds of a feather flock together, and differences separate.
Even in a country like the USA, which is united by the agenda-setting of its overwhelming media consumption, its throw-away materialism and its pro-Americanism that is implanted from an early age onwards, this dream is only partially working in reality, and harsh divides cut through classes and nationalities, especially in the less affluent parts of society. Europe is so much different again, as it thrives by consisting of nations with very unique mentalities and cultures, but with a strong unification in moral and ethical values that have evolved over many centuries, even millenniums, basically rooted in the values of Christianity and the Roman way of life.
History has never shown that the dream of homogenous heterogeneity in a close space is a viable one, and it has lastly always lead to segregation, to parallel societies, and in some cases, to civil wars. Most people are egoistic, and in the end, it always boils down to Darwinism. The greater the differences, the greater the tensions. The fact is, the fittest and the most ruthless survive, gathering those culturally similar to themselves around them, with the cleverest at the top and the more aggressive and easy to manipulate somewhere below. With an unprecedented amount of immigration from people culturally as far apart as imaginable, all of what the European post-war Western societies had thought they had left behind will be coming back, and with a vengeance.
Now, please do understand me on this. I know that these are my personal opinions. Many people think differently about these things, but many, and I would say most, also think similarly to how I do. What a democracy needs is to fulfil two basic requirements: It must give people the ability to speak openly about what they think, while giving others the possibility to hear these opinions in an unbiased manner. And it must give people the ability to participate in converting these opinions to actual, meaningful decisions.
Let’s talk democracy
Both of these requirements are not being met in Germany today, at all. People cannot openly voice their concerns, and people are not allowed to vote on important choices concerning their own future. Germans did not vote on the introduction of the Euro, or on the saving of banks with their own money, or on the continuing privatisation of state assets, or on the constant enlargement of the EU towards the former Eastern Bloc, or on the uncontrolled influx of millions of immigrants from countries outside the EU. With such disregard for the opinions of the people, it is hard to feel Germany is still close to the ideal of a true democracy. Perhaps it never was, but it has never seemed less like that than today.
So what is going on in Germany? Well, if you ask me, Germany is heading towards a bleak future. On the outside, and much more so under the surface, it has changed considerably, and it is continuing to change, irreversibly, and for the worse. More people will start to voice their criticism, which will lead to more suppression of opinion. German culture, whatever that is, definitely its heritage, but probably most of all its equality and its freedom, will start to recede in the wake of a new, totalitarian and privatised type of politics, left and ideological on the outside, and brutally neoliberal on the inside.
What once defined Germany, its art and philosophy, its basis of values, and a once strong middle class, will slowly be swept away by corporate unification, materialism and consumerism, much as in other parts of this previously more diverse and more equal continent. In many ways, for Germany, and perhaps for the whole of Europe, the best times very probably lie in the past.
My views in German: http://nicht-mehr-mein-deutschland.de