X Close

Flailing Germany is the future of Europe The farmers' protests exposed Berlin's weakness

Farmers gather in Berlin (Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

Farmers gather in Berlin (Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)


February 2, 2024   6 mins

For much of the Merkel era, Germany stood as an island of economic and political stability amid Europe’s perennially stormy waters. Those days, however, seem like a distant memory. Europe is still in crisis — but now Germany is the epicentre. It is, once again, the sick man of Europe.

Anti-government demonstrations are rare in Germany. So when hundreds of angry farmers and their tractors descended on Berlin in mid-December, to protest a planned cut to diesel subsidies and tax breaks for agricultural vehicles as part of a new wave of austerity measures, it was clear that something was afoot. The government, evidently concerned, immediately backtracked, announcing that the discount would remain in place, and that the diesel subsidy would be phased out over several years instead of being abolished immediately. The farmers, however, said it wasn’t enough — and threatened to step up the protests unless the government completely reserved its plans.

They were true to their word: in the weeks that followed, thousands of farmers staged massive protests, not just in Berlin but in several cities, even blocking the arterial autobahns, and effectively bringing the country to a standstill. The government, in turn, resorted to one of the oldest and most effective tricks in the political playbook: claiming the far-Right were behind the protests in an attempt to delegitimise the farmers and scare people away. Except that, this time, it didn’t work. Not only did the protests continue, they grew, and even attracted workers from other industries — fishing, logistics, hospitality, road transport, supermarkets — as well as ordinary citizens.

As a result, what started as a protest over diesel subsidies has evolved into a much wider revolt against the German government. One of the most common slogans at the demonstrations is: “The traffic light must go!”, a reference to the governing coalition of the Social Democrats, the Free Democrats and Greens. And, much like the Gilets Jaunes in 2018, whose own protests were triggered by fuel prices, the farmers have given voice to a much greater pool of political anger.

As one told the Washington Post: “Originally, we had hoped that the cuts to the agriculture subsidies would be overturned. But… I think it’s clear that this protest is about a lot more. Not only us farmers are unhappy, but other areas, too. Because what’s coming out of Berlin is damaging our county — especially the economy.” Even this approaches euphemism: soaring living costs, plummeting real wages, massive layoffs and a burgeoning housing crisis have sent approval ratings for Scholz’s government to record lows — and Germans are getting restless.

Aside from the farmers’ protests, over the past month the country has been beset by some of its largest strikes in decades: train drivers, local public transit workers, airport security personnel, doctors and retail workers, all demanding higher wages and better working conditions. Further industrial action is expected in the coming weeks. This is particularly astonishing considering that Germany has long prided itself on its non-conflictual model of industrial relations, which has historically emphasised co-operation between trade unions and employers’ federations.

The problem is that Germany’s social peace was premised on an economic model — the once-hailed Modell Deutschland — that is all but bust. Its economic success in the 21st century was founded on two pillars: cheap imports of raw materials and energy (especially from Russia) and high demand in the rest of the world. Over the past few years, though, thanks to a global slowdown and the Ukraine war, both have been tumbled away. Germany was the worst-performing major economy in the world last year according to the IMF, and the country is now teetering on the brink of recession. Industrial production has fallen five months in a row: as Hans-Jürgen Völz (chief economist for the BVMV, which lobbies on behalf of small- and medium-sized businesses) said last July: “One sometimes hears about ‘creeping deindustrialisation’ — well, it’s not just creeping anymore.”

What’s striking is that the German leadership has largely brought this crisis on itself. First, it leapt on the anti-Russian bandwagon and decoupled from its main source of energy; and then it compounded the crisis via two of the German establishment’s favourite obsessions, green policies and austerity. The proposal to scrap fuel subsidies is a perfect case in point. It emerged from a court ruling that the government’s attempt to bypass its own fiscal rules by turning €60 billion originally earmarked for Covid aid towards measures aimed at combating climate change was unconstitutional. The decision to cut the subsidies was thus presented by the government as the only way to meet both its fiscal and climate targets. The message was one that we’ve become accustomed to: “es gibt keine Alternative [There is no alternative].”

But of course, both of those targets are self-imposed. They are the result of political decisions, not laws of nature — something ordinary Germans are more than aware of. They are no longer willing to accept politics mediated by such false binaries, a tactic too-often deployed in order to insulate unpopular policies from political contestation. Indeed, the protestors are already turning that logic on its head. As Martin Häusling, an organic farmer and a member of the German Green Party (which has, unusually, backed the farmers’ protests) told FAZ: “There is no alternative for farmers to driving a diesel tractor. There are no electric tractors yet.”

The voices calling into question Germany’s so-called “debt brake”, a law enshrined in its constitution in 2009 to restrict budget deficits, are also growing. It is becoming increasingly apparent that these self-imposed austerity rules are preventing the government from making badly needed investments in public infrastructure, from schools and public administration to railways and energy networks — as well as, paradoxically, hindering the investments needed to meet the government’s own emissions-reduction targets. As Monika Schnitzer, the head of the German Council of Economic Experts, put it: “Nobody thought it through to the end about what [these rules] could mean in a serious crisis, that there is not enough room to manoeuvre”.

Overall, then, the German model appears to be collapsing under the weight of its own internal contradictions. But these have been building for a long time. Contrary to popular belief, Germany’s post-euro export success was not based on the greater productivity or efficiency of the German economy, but on a series of neoliberal “structural reforms” implemented in the early 2000s that enabled companies to engage in drastic wage compression. This, coupled with the structural underappreciation of the “German euro”, allowed Germany to dramatically increase its competitiveness compared to its European trading partners — and consolidate its hegemonic policy of domination on the European stage.

But it also came at a high social and economic cost: lagging domestic demand, chronic underinvestment, ailing infrastructure, but most importantly in terms of its political consequences, a massive redistribution of national income from wages to profits, resulting in a growing subclass of precarious, low-paid workers. As I wrote a decade ago: “Germany’s export-led model isn’t simply unsustainable in the long run — it has been failing all along.”

However, so long as the economy was growing — and Angela Merkel was there to provide her stern but motherly guidance to the country, while projecting German power on the European and global stage — all this could be swept under the carpet. Until it couldn’t.

It’s important to note that this is more than just an economic crisis for Germany; it’s an existential one. Germany’s self-perception as an economic and geopolitical power is very much part of its national identity — what Hans Kundnani dubbed “Exportnationalismus”, founded upon the belief that Germany’s economic success was a sort of manifest destiny. But the country’s geopolitical fall from grace — from a “Fourth Reich”, as a controversial 2015 Der Spiegel editorial put it, to America’s vassal-in-chief under Scholz — has shattered that belief as well.

This is evident in the surge of anti-establishment “populist” parties on both Right and Left. The AfD has been riding a wave of success for some time, and the latest polls put them in second place nationwide. But new parties are popping up as well, breaking apart the previously stable spectrum of parties. The national-conservative group Values Union recently announced its intention to found a new political party, while Sahra Wagenknecht’s Left-populist response to the AfD is also polling strongly. Though these parties have different guiding philosophies, to varying degrees they all aim to capitalise on a widespread frustration about the economy, immigration, the European Union and the delivery of weapons to Ukraine — and the general mounting hostility towards the ruling coalition.

The German establishment, but also more moderate-leaning Germans, are reacting to the latest populist uprising in typically outraged fashion. Following reports that senior members of the AfD discussed a “master plan” for the mass deportation of German asylum-seekers and citizens of foreign origin during a meeting late last year, massive anti-AfD protests have swept the country — though this doesn’t seem to have dented support for the party.

There have also been calls from politicians and media outlets to ban the AfD — a move that is apparently supported by nearly half of the German public. It goes without saying that attempting to outlaw the country’s second-most popular party wouldn’t just be appalling from a democratic perspective, but would also have unexpected and far-reaching consequences — potentially pushing the country from a fraught political situation towards a state of civic violence.

Amid the surging popularity of Right-populist parties across the continent, Europe would do well to watch its former lynchpin closely. As the saying goes, when Germany sneezes, Europe catches a cold — and this political malady is unlikely to be cured soon.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

battleforeurope

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

63 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Veenbaas
JV
Jim Veenbaas
2 months ago

Germany is a mess, no question. We can only hope this spells the end of the disconnected political technocrats who have been running the show.

George K
GK
George K
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

When the German trains are being late that’s surely the sign of the end of time

Philip May
PM
Philip May
2 months ago
Reply to  George K

Tres amucant.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Philip May

Très amusant surely?

Julian Farrows
JF
Julian Farrows
2 months ago

We are all far-right now.

Ian Barton
IB
Ian Barton
2 months ago

EU = cheap migrant Labour for big business.
Cheap migrant Labour for big business = political unrest.
Net Zero = even higher taxes on the already restless.
Its not complicated – and it’s not left v right.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago

Some notes:
Germany’s housing crisis goes way back, especially in big, desirable cities such as Munich. I lived there 20 years ago as an Erasmus student and was lucky to nab student digs – otherwise I would have been flailing as affordable housing was scarce even then. Therefore, the adjective “burgeoning” in this article seems a bit inappropriate.
In the postwar world, I question whether Germans really prided themselves on being a “geopolitical power”. Most of the time, Germans prefer it when their governments hang back when it comes to geopolitics. The tone is very much “why is this our business? Why do we have to get involved?” Subtext (at least in the last 20 years): leave us alone to be comfortable and wealthy, bitte.
The problem with Germans (and I say this as a lifelong Germanophile) is their desire for an idea, a principle, morals, rules which they can commit themselves to wholeheartedly and then stand back and say “we did it properly, most accurately, to the highest degree, the best”.
This is basically a good thing and has allowed them to develop world-beating industries where these virtues come to the fore. But ti also makes them prone to extremes and – on occasional – intensely irritating. Especially when there’s another attempt underfoot to become world champion in morals and the attitude of “die Welt wird am deutschen Wesen genesen” (the world would heal if everyone was like the Germans) takes hold.
What we are seeing now is the cumulative disaster of this kind of masochistic perfectionism having been applied in multiple areas: energy policy, more or less anything to do with EU membership/euro, migration, climate policy.
The virtues that made the Germans so successful in the postwar period are now threatening to ruin them.

Wilfred Davis
WD
Wilfred Davis
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

This is an example of informed and informative insight that makes reading UnHerd comments rewarding.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Thanks! I always like the comments under the articles about the US and Canada – often just as good as the article itself, especially if the response is “this article is guff, this is what I think”.
My understanding of those countries is pretty patchy so I like any opportunity to observe live discussions about them by the people who live there.

Steve Jolly
SJ
Steve Jolly
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I often try to comment on the American articles I find particularly far-fetched or ridiculous. From the UK authors, they tend to be either a result of limited understanding of the peculiarities of American politics or a lack of knowledge of American history pre-WWII. Quite forgivable. I wouldn’t presume to intelligently comment on UK politics, though I do get the vague sense that things are even worse over there. The articles from American authors tend to suffer from the same maladies as all American media, that is they tend to be subtly or not so subtly spun towards a particular political, social, racial, or religious group. There’s really no such thing as a ‘neutral’ American publication. Polarized politics has bled into absolutely everything over here. It’s so inescapable that the media source most consistently trusted by Americans is the BBC.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“the world would heal if everyone was like the Germans”.
What a truly astonishing remark!
Have the modern Germans completely forgotten/sanitised their simply appalling (recent)history? And may I ask did you learn/hear that in Munich of all places?

Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
2 months ago

Agreed, why is Katy bigging up the Germans? They frigged the euro in their favour, cheated on their car emissions, screwed us over Brexit, I don’t even need to mention WW2…? Plus they are quite unemotional. (Just sayin’)
Also my partner and I were refused accomodation in a bed and breakfast in the late 90’s because we were English! They are no better than anyone else, stop being sycophants please…

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

You think this extremely critical article is “bigging up” the Germans?

Someone was nasty to you once in Germany? I’ve never experienced that I must say, but perhaps I’ve been lucky. One German corporation cheated the emissions testing regime? Of course no British corporations do anything bad, do they, such as pumping vast amounts of sewage into our rivers?. Germany has (or had) many good points, many services far better run than in the UK.

I know some Germans and they do actually have a sense of humour! And even like British humour. The complacent belief that only the British have a sense of humour or produce good comedy is just the usual British conceit, part of our endless superior / inferior mindset – which are two sides of the same coin.

Germany is a big complex and very diverse country of over 80 million people. These sweeping generalisations are ridiculous. All British people are repressed, small minded, culturally bereft, insular hypocrites perhaps?

By the way, I am patriotic and pro-British. But the best of British doesn’t consist of dissing other peoples.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

“All British people are repressed, small minded, culturally bereft, insular hypocrites perhaps?”
That’s something to be proud of

Jon Barrow
JB
Jon Barrow
2 months ago

I understand what K is saying – I think she means it’s an ingrained cultural imperative, in the German dna; not a logical, debateable, stated position.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

Ah! I didn’t realise you were a member of the identitarian Left.

I thought right wingers are supposed to think that the “sins of the fathers should NOT be visited upon the sons (and daughters?)”. There is almost noone now alive who lived at the time of the Third Reich.

Andrew Stoll
AS
Andrew Stoll
2 months ago

“Am deutschen Wesen mag die Welt genesen” (Rough translation; ‘The world may benefit from the German spirit’) is a 19th century political slogan which aimed at uniting previously independent acting German speaking states under (Prussian) Kaiser Wilhelm I. Meaning the ‘German world’ – not the whole world. The original meaning is often misunderstood and misused.

Matt M
MM
Matt M
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

makes them prone to extremes and – on occasional – intensely irritating.

I used to work with SAP, the German software company. You could never just call them and ask them a question. You had to book a meeting in a fortnight’s time and they would come with a team of twelve engineers. It was impressive but in a world where agility and speed are of the essence, it was anachronistic and occasionally, intensely irritating.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Yeah that sounds familiar. Working with Germans is always a mixture of complete admiration for their precision and thoroughness and wanting to shout “OMG, JUST GET ON WITH IT!!!”

Matt M
MM
Matt M
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

It’s funny how national characters come out when you work with people. Americans are hard working, very direct, happy to change direction quickly and are very focused on the bottom line. Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans, Canadians work less hard than the Americans, are generally similar to them in creativity/agility but are usually nicer to each other in the office. Indians and Chinese (Hong Kongers) work hard but tend to require direction from above and a reluctant to deviate from the plan. Eastern Europeans are industrious and bright but tend to be too blunt which can lead to friction within the team.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

I love seeing all the differences.
I find Poles, Czechs, Slovaks etc. extremely hardworking, refreshingly honest (or blunt, depending on your perspective)…but love to whinge and whine. Not because they are having a particularly bad time, but because it’s simply part of the Slavic mentality (which carries over into eastern Austria too). Hungarians tend not to be whingy, but brood, darkly.
Recently found myself working with an American for the first time and was simply astounded at the drive, the flexibility of thinking, the “roll your sleeves up and let’s do it” attitude…all of which I was in absolute awe and happily allowed myself to be swept along with it, it was wonderful! However, what was lacking was a sense of what really was impossible and which goals were no longer worth pursuing. I understand that boundless optimism has made the US into what it is, but they will get themselves into massive tangles with that belief that positive thinking can overcome everything.

predrag eror
PE
predrag eror
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Absolutely spot on, as a Easter European professional, working in Austral-Asia, Middle east and elsewhere( I have visited 90 countries )with all kind of different nationalities , all stereotypes about nations, very much make sense.

I can not agree more that we Serbs are as an average whingy and if successful overconfident and blunt .

Back to the subject, in my opinion smart text, Unheard is the best magazine!

Mangle Tangle
MT
Mangle Tangle
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Spot on. RE Indians, an exaggerated respect and fear of the ‘boss’ is engrained in their culture.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Hence March 1918 and all that followed.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Who would want to use SAP
Whenever I have come across it it has been hugely expensive and way over budget and required a huge amount of resource

Michael Cazaly
MC
Michael Cazaly
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

In short, the Germans have the outlook of children…things are black or white, and once they have decided which it is will pursue it no matter what the consequences.
And children with power are exceptionally dangerous.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

I never thought of it as childlike – “naive earnestness” is the phrase which most springs to mind.

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

That’s just a truly ridiculous remark, just really beneath anyone’s intelligence on here.

If you look at either the dark or the better sides of German history, their seriousness, the power of ideas and philosophy, (Luther, Goethe, Hegel, Kant, Nietzsche etc) this could not be further from the outlook of children.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

May be one misunderstanding is that Germans and there culture are quite distinct from the rest of Europe since they escaped the clutches of the Roman Empire.
The BAP has some interesting things to say on this subject, particularly about German music

Mike Downing
MD
Mike Downing
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Their ‘Achille’s heel’ no less. How often Greek mythology gets simply and memorably to the heart of the human condition and its contradictions.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

That’s hardly surprising is it, considering both they and the Ancient Romans virtually invented the Western World?

Katja Sipple
KS
Katja Sipple
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“The problem with Germans (and I say this as a lifelong Germanophile) is their desire for an idea, a principle, morals, rules which they can commit themselves to wholeheartedly and then stand back and say “we did it properly, most accurately, to the highest degree, the best”.

This is the best description of the German mentality that I’ve ever read. I am a quarter German through my half Austrian and half Bavarian mother, but having been socialised in England, I have always had more in common with my English father’s side of the family. Every country has its idiosyncrasies, but the “am deutschen Wesen soll die Welt genesen” attitude has ironically been most pronounced under Merkel and the subsequent Scholz coalition government. It’s a bizarre combination of misguided morality, virtue signalling, self-flagellation, and German efficiency/knowhow. In their fervour of “never again” they have been steadily sliding down the slippery slope to exactly the never again they always invoke, which has become a poorly defined and utterly vague threat.
I vividly recall how Merkel’s critics were treated back in 2015 and beyond. I was one of those critics, and people with whom I had been friendly, suddenly turned into vicious and spiteful individuals who threatened to denounce you and even ruin your social/professional reputation for daring to write that Merkel’s (in)action was a disaster. They didn’t even realise how much their actions resembled what happened in the 1930s and 40s.

I like most of the people in rural Bavaria and Austria, but the leftist, self-righteous city populations are another story.

Stephanie Surface
SS
Stephanie Surface
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

After the war the Germans were working like crazy and emerged as an economic super power, very much like the Japanese. Their ability in engineering and committing themselves wholeheartedly to their new goal to show the world, that they could build a “good” Germany and making amends for their past. But because they were trying to stay away from any geopolitical ambitions, they put their faith in the Market Economy, created by Ludwig Erhard, believing in their strong currency, the Deutsche Mark, and were proud of the perfectly engineered German car.
But after the reunification, when German politicians were worried, that their country could become too much of an economic super power, they decided with their European allies, and in agreement with the US, to dissolve Germany into a European Union. The French were only happy with this new political Union as long as they retained the political say in this relationship and Germany would remain a sort of economic beating heart. But this basically was the first step to the downfall of the “new German soul”. They had to give up their beloved German DM. As I was told by disappointed German friends and relatives: “nobody asked us”… Although they were assured by the new European Bureaucrats, that there will be no difference as the Euro would be as stable as the DM with an independent ECB, very much like their Bundesbank. All this came crashing down in the 2009-10 debt crisis, and the Germans had to acknowledge, that the one pillar of their political philosophy was crumbling down. They were also trying to embrace the new Green Religion like the rest of their Western allies, always sticking 100% to Green rules and regulations. Now the Germans reluctantly have to acknowledge, that their beloved car is becoming redundant, which stood as a symbol for their engineering prowess.
Most Germans now seem to be totally confused, coming to another crossroad.
The “good” Germany under Merkel also had to prove to the world that they were champions in the migrant crisis, opening the doors to millions of “asylum seekers”. Merkel told her fellow citizens: we will create a more “colourful” country (Wir Schaffen Das!)
Now all the familiar rules have changed, how will they ever adjust to being not only the “good” Green Germans, but also losing their industry, and having the enormous task of integrating millions of people from totally different cultural backgrounds.
Only time will tell….

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

You’re talking about the last 20 years but should look much further back into the Reich’s history and see what might happen when it commits itself to an idea. It always is some variation of the Reich’s superiority. Masochistic? You’re mistaken.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago

TRACTORS today, TANKS tomorrow?

Paul MacDonnell
PM
Paul MacDonnell
2 months ago

Good article.. I’m not sure if I agree that there was under investment in infrastructure but I could be wrong. The problem seems to be that the country has committed industrial suicide.

Note to Unherd subs. It is linchpin, not “lynchpin”.

Simon Boudewijn
SB
Simon Boudewijn
2 months ago

CRT says different

Andrew Dalton
AD
Andrew Dalton
2 months ago

ha – I had to think about that

Dermot O'Sullivan
DO
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 months ago

First, it leapt on the anti-Russian bandwagon
Not a bad article but when an inaccurate statement like the one above appears, my scepticism rises. Please correct me, but my recall is that Germany did an awful lot of belly aching before commiting to reducing their dependency on Russian energy. When the Bundeskanzler finally came out with their decision, it was quite clearly not an easy or straightforward one.

P.S. They were also taking lots of flak for their dallying – including in here!

Richard Calhoun
RC
Richard Calhoun
2 months ago

Interesting analysis, but I fear the causes of Germany’s downfall have not been addressed.
The proportional representation electoral system has facilitated the rise of extremist parties and enabled Germany’s enduring bias towards a mercantilist economy.
The deeply flawed German political and economic system has been well and truly found out.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

Short version: government is both evil and incompetent.

AC Harper
AH
AC Harper
2 months ago

Do you hear that? Silence.
All over the Western World, and Germany in particular, the cans are no longer being kicked down the road because there is no more road.
Although there have been some noteworthy exceptions, politicians have been able to defer making hard choices. Using inflation and interest rates as a means of making borrowing ‘cheaper”. Calling borrowing to fund running costs as ‘investment’. Dodging capital costs by engaging commercial companies to provide infrastructure facilities on a rental basis. Using trade restrictions to wage war by other means.
And many politicians used to a cosy life on the never-never don’t know how to respond.

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 months ago

A couple of years ago, there was a report that claimed the Rand Corporation had cobbled together a plan to weaken Germany. The Corporation, of course, vigorously denied the claim, https://www.rand.org/news/press/2022/09/14.html, but as events have unfolded, was it really false?
America was involved in – at the very least, knew about – the plan to blow up Nordstream, which has impacted energy prices. We were among the countries pushing for the importation of people unfamiliar with the native culture and often, hostile to it. How’s all that worked out? Maybe Rand’s hands are clean, but something happened.

Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
2 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yes, America loathes rivals, they were concerned about the friendly and improving relations between Germany (via Kohl and Merkel) and Russia, so they destabilised Europe (to keep us down and more reliant on them) The blowing up of the Nordstream 2 pipeline was the biggest act of sabotage since WW2 and America was responsible! Shameful.

Gayle Rosenthal
GR
Gayle Rosenthal
2 months ago

There is something rather dim-witted about Germans and neo-liberals in general. For almost 100 years liberal and quasi-socialist governments have been pumping “free money” into economies through entitlements and other means to level the playing fields and give labor contingents a better standard of living. What do we get from third party money ? Inflation and self-generated shortages, that’s what. The capitalists have profited by cheap labor, most recently immigrant labor, so they are reluctant to shut it down, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.
For the next 100 years there will be political and social strife as Islamists and Europeans fight over the spoils of wealth that have been created. Living standards are going to stagnate and the knee-jerk reaction will be to crush free speech and confiscate more and more of the productivity of the capitalist class. It’s a road to hell but then …. life is a narrow bridge.

Michael Daniele
MD
Michael Daniele
2 months ago

As Monika Schnitzer, the head of the German Council of Economic Experts, put it: “Nobody thought it through to the end about what [these rules] could mean in a serious crisis, that there is not enough room to manoeuvre”.
This made me laugh out loud. Then I got to thinking about how much fun it would be to attend a meeting of the German Council of Economic Experts, and had several more minutes of chuckling.

Steve Murray
LL
Steve Murray
2 months ago

Indeed! That group title is like something out of Monty Python.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

The WEF-influenced uniparty has to go. Net zero, open immigration, DEI are big frauds perpetrated by people insulated from the real world.

Pedro the Exile
P
Pedro the Exile
2 months ago

massive anti-AfD protests have swept the country
really?I am aware of some protests but……

James Kirk
JK
James Kirk
2 months ago

Always amused at the German’s idea of orderliness. 40 years ago I lived there for three years. You had to speak German to anyone over forty, unlike other countries who’d let you struggle a while before switching. I came to the conclusion they were enthusiastically lazy. They’d go out on a lawn with nail scissors to remove an offending daisy instead of waiting and getting the mower out. Gardening was almost routine changing of spare parts supplied by the Blumenhaus on every corner. Aldi were selling cheap chinese tat long before we were.

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
2 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

As I recall, more that 50 years ago ‘they’ used to ‘kill’ about 20K pa on their splendid roads, when we could only manage a paltry 8K or so. Those were the days!

James Kirk
JK
James Kirk
2 months ago

The Greens established themselves long before ours with photos of dead brown forests; the Greens’ ambition to have a world population of 500 million. Werner von Braun would have had them on the Moon by 1950 if they’d not attacked Russia and declared war on USA.

philip kern
PK
philip kern
2 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

My experience was entirely different. I went as a 14 year old in 1976–while studying German in school. Couldn’t find anybody who would let me try out my poor version of German. Everybody spoke English with the exception of a man in a smaller town who sold sporting goods. But he gave me a steep discount on some football gear.

Richard Calhoun
RC
Richard Calhoun
2 months ago

Interesting analysis, but I fear the causes of Germany’s downfall have not been addressed.
The proportional representation electoral system has facilitated the rise of extremist parties and enabled Germany’s enduring bias towards a mercantilist economy.
The deeply flawed German political and economic system has been well and truly found out.

Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
2 months ago

Not true, They like others under the power and influence of America have succumbed to the Elite designs, Net Zero, which I believe was made up by the Americans to hobble China…

James Love
James Love
2 months ago

Canada has a human rights protest by truckers and the Liberal government also called them “far right”. They invoked Marshal Law and shut down their bank accounts. It was a peaceful protest that blocks several streets in front of the parliament buildings. The Truckers Protest revealed the illiberal underbelly of Canada’s elites.

Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
2 months ago
Reply to  James Love

Agreed, the ‘illiberal media’ also painted the group far right even though a lot of their number were native Canandian and Sikh!
This ‘liberal/establishment’ media regime is disgraceful, the American media is disgustingly biased, so obviously bought and paid for by the elites.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago

Hard to see the euro staying above the doller with the German economy tanking. What happens if the euro loses 20% against the doller ? This is sometjing i would like to see explored more here on unherd.

Carl Valentine
CV
Carl Valentine
2 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Their exports will be more competitive and cheaper USA imports will help bring money printing inflation down to allow for guess what? More money printing and debt…

Andrew Fisher
AF
Andrew Fisher
2 months ago

Fazi makes some decent points. But remember. He’s a Marxist, so his anti capitalist “solutions” would bring about a far bigger disaster.

Alan Hawkes
AH
Alan Hawkes
2 months ago

As one western country after another begins to splinter among economic contradictions The thought that keeps rising in my mind is that what we have here is the next version of events that have repeated since the Bronze Age Collapse, analysed in Joseph Tainter’s book, The Collapse of Complex Societies.

Chris Hayes
CH
Chris Hayes
2 months ago

There were three planks to Germany’s economic success: a devalued currency (€1 = DM1.4 – 1.5), effectively reducing the cost of German exports; cheap energy from Russia; and a booming Chinese economy sucking in their exports.

Now, with Russian energy cut off and the Chinese economy slowing, they are reaping the rewards of the Euro – which has, in effect, been an economic ducking stool exporting unemployment and misery to Europe’s peripheries – all the while sanctimoniously refusing the bail out their neighbours.
Alexander Herzen summed them up succinctly when in the 19th Century he observed that “where an Englishman or a Frenchman would be stopped by their conscience, a German would have to be stopped by a policeman.”

Malcolm Beaton
MB
Malcolm Beaton
2 months ago

With Brexit in place and the restraining hand of Britain gone-Germany is effectively “in charge” of the EU
Historically both times Germany has been in this dominant position-things haven’t gone well
Malcolm Beaton