Now that the engine of the European economy is about to drown, the once reviled European countries must come to Germany’s aid.
At school, my table neighbor was a spoiled, portly child, always perfectly supplied with sweets. Chewing gum, gummy bears or caramel candies were on his program almost every day. And me, poor devil, no matter how much I begged him, I mostly got crumbs and my mouth watered as he filled his belly next to me, chewing loudly, but not loud enough to alert the faculty. When I got too pushy – and I often did! – he threw me pithy: “You just have to bring your own provisions”. But apart from a toast with butter, there was nothing in my bag. Sometimes it was garnished with an extra slice of sausage, but only if there was enough for everyone. I had three siblings with similar unmet needs. It didn’t hurt me in the end, humility is not a bad virtue and it’s never too early to learn and teach it. But is modesty really still a German virtue?
Today’s Germany reminds me strongly of this past time and my table neighbors. In the euro crisis, Germany was the moralizer par excellence. The newspaper picture vilified the GIPSIs (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland) and urged them to tighten fiscal policies, calling them lazy and blaming them for their unreliability, while the country benefited greatly from the depreciation of the euro and continued to stuff itself with fudge. At the same time, thanks to a weak and therefore easy currency, the Germans were able to flood the world with high-quality “cheap imports”, and since there was no inflation, the unspeakable state of the euro even benefited German taxpayers. At the same time, Angela Merkel licked Vladimir Putin’s lips and stared at China, which is now Germany’s main market.
In addition, in all armed conflicts, Germany was content with the bare essentials and showed a marked reluctance to deal with the essentials. Empathy only came into play once, almost incidentally, at the height of the refugee crisis, and then only briefly. We won’t make it in the end, we should say today. I’m certainly not saying this for the first time, but I want to emphasize it: this “mama” treated Germany like sugar, dipped it in softness and sunk it. “German” values such as stability and reliability were thrown overboard under his regime. Angela Merkel has become the slave of the industry lobby, particularly the automotive industry, an industry that has also ripped off millions of customers through emissions fraud. At the same time, Germany has become dependent on Russian gas, but also on Russian oil. And she interpreted China’s autocracy as an insignificant by-product of the awakening for the good and therefore kept the ball on the ground when criticizing the regime. Let’s not forget that the Chinese appreciate Audi, BMW, Mercedes and machines “made in Germany” and have not let up on the exporters’ lobby in order not to lose favor in the Middle Kingdom. That is why the German economy today is dependent on Russian raw materials and on a market where human rights are violated. Luckily she’s not there anymore. Farewell to the politics of the weathervane? You speak!
Anyone who thought that the change of government would usher in a new and better era in which Germany would finally live up to its leadership role in a responsible and less opportunistic manner is mistaken. In the face of the current turbulence, the half-green, half-neoliberal, three-quarter social coalition has given up all its principles and buried the climate goals with a quiet whimper. Coal-fired power plants, nuclear energy? Only a little, the hour is too scarce.
And Ukraine? It will eventually (maybe someday) get some cardboard tanks and outdated military equipment. The country now urgently needs gas and thus help, even if it is provided by former exiles. Everyone has to save now so that the Germans don’t freeze in winter. So do we, according to our energy minister. Hi?
I have never found myself in a situation where my neighbor at the table begged me to give him a bite of my toast. He probably would have been too proud for that, but that’s not the case with Germany.
Now that the engine of the European economy is about to drown, the once reviled European countries must come to Germany’s aid. It was good that they agreed to this, but a good lesson would not have harmed the Germans. Save, even do without up to the last limit, as the Greeks had been asked to do at the time. And what would it be? Slow down and once and for all banish the freedom to spin at high speed on the freeways as we please? False alarm! It’s better to create new dependencies, even if it means closing both eyes. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other “nations above suspicion” are now being wooed and the speedsters subsidized til they drop. Luckily we are neutral.
But, is this really the truth? The Russians don’t think so at all. We missed the opportunity to stage neutrality with all its consequences. Russian tax revenues from dubious commodity trade or Eastern European oligarchs are difficult to justify morally, but always welcome, especially in the canton of Zug, where I live.
This is why we have struggled with the sanctions imposed on Russia. But did we really have to go with the flow?
Switzerland is currently in danger of undermining its neutrality myth just because others outdo it and we want to support so-called regulated world trade at all costs. This is clearly the wrong way. Because these rules are dirtier than we think. Globalization has allowed the rich to get richer and the poor to be a little less poor, but that’s all. Above all, speculators on the financial markets and those who were not already in need benefited from this development. When, if not now, will we finally change our perspective, for example: we lift our foot (off the gas pedal), we give up Russian gas, dirty Middle Eastern oil, Chinese rare earths, Central American metals and diamonds in African mines? That would really be regulated, morally justifiable, wouldn’t it?