On rare occasions Merkel gets to hear criticism from the plebs. Last week a man took heart & confronted her with what he (and I) perceives as her abolition of democracy. The response reflects her own lack of understanding what Western values even are. She starting e.g. with the claim that in undemocratic countries he would have to fear for his life for posing such questions to her. She does not understand that not every country outside North Korea is already a Western Nation.
The Erich Honecker bathwater-drinking article:
Her most recent piece:
Her bathwater-guzzling interview with Angela Merkel:
I pronounced her surname wrongly throughout the entire video. Of course, I do not apologize.
The referred interview:
The Bertelsmann video.
One of the most often cited reasons for the collapse of the Weimar Republic, the democracy thriving between both world wars, is that culturally Germans did not cherish the order that was given to their state by foreign forces. In other words, Germans never embraced the values that make a democracy a democracy.
For a democracy to last a people must be willing to rise up in anger over government overreach and may do so even violently. Formally the German constitution gives that very right in Article 20, section 4.
In earlier posts I have described how the opposition in Germany is often accused of trying to abolish the constitution and democracy as a whole. The smallest criticism on the lack of term limits, the voting system, or lack of citizen participation is considered hostile.
Formally, of course, this behavior cannot be defended because the constitution, like any constitution, opens paths to change aspects of it. Legally the core that may not be changed is defined as
- the protection of human dignity
- the principle of democracy as such
- due process and rule of law (in German coined ‘legal state principle’/Rechtsstaatsprinzip)
The second point, the principle of democracy, again is defined as
- the absence of a wanton and violent government
- the Bill of Rights/Human Rights as defined in the constitution
- sovereignty of the people
- separation of powers (executive, legislative and judicial power – I bite my tongue here)
- the transition of power, particularly in the executive branch
- the legality of the administration
- the multi-party system
Apart from the fact that many of these things aren’t really in place the collectivist idea that we must be ruled by parties speaks lengths about the tribal culture that Germany still is.
But is the culture even such to defend any such principles?
A recent poll of more than 21,000 participants by polling company Civey came to the conclusion that a surprising number wants conservatives to be excluded from the public discourse completely. As things still are in Germany 2017 public discourse by and large is conducted through television shows.
These talk shows are already problematic in the way they are run. Imagine you watch a discussion and the host says nonchalantly ‘we come to this later’. In German talk shows this sentence is frequently heard and makes perfectly clear that the whole conversation is orchestrated. It goes so far as they prepare videos that will be played in between just coincidentally matching what the guests try to talk about. All of these shows are broadcasted on state television, which may not be called that way. It must be called public broadcasting for whatever difference it makes.
With that background info you will understand the impact of the poll. The public discourse is a charade anyway, but even a participation of people whose views may differ is too much for Germans.
In the current year only four members of conservative party (AfD) have been invited to such talk shows. The other 158 guests generally had very different political affiliations. This information was given to the participants of the poll before they cast their choice.
The poll specifically asked: Shouldn’t members of the AfD be invited …
- …much more often?
- …a bit more often?
- …as often as is the current level (four out of 162 just about right)?
- …less often?
- …not at all?
- …huh (don’t know if more or less often)
35% of respondent want AfD members to disappear from public space (the talk shows) altogether. Another five percent doesn’t care (option 6 ‘huh’). About 9% think four invitations are too many. About 17% think four people so far this year is just about right.
I bore you. The sum is about 66% who think it is proper behavior of the state television to exclude the voices of the only conservative party, which is currently polling at about 9-10%.
Only 23% percent say that there should be much more invitations, given that – sorry for the repetition – we are talking only four occasions in this year (which sees the general elections in autumn).
And it is not even clear if these 23% would defend the right of any other group to publicly voice their opinion.
Based on Jürgen Fritz Blog
Before I get to the meat I have to define a word that I can’t define. Bear with me!
‘Populisten’ is not the translation of populist. Populist means pushing for policies that are wildly popular in the electorate. The folks at Breitbart.com use that term. It must not be confused with the German word populisten. Nobody ever uses it for himself and a meaning is only assigned at the very moment an opponent is smeared. So in a way the headline reads ‘Bertelsmann says one third of Germans are trash.’
So what is Bertelsmann’s on-the-fly definition for populisten? Jean-Jacque Rousseau is one. If you believe in a government that respects the sovereignty of the people (they use the very word ‘Volkssouveränität‘) you are one of these evil populisten. They even invent a new word, the detestable ‘provolkssouveränität’!
The US founding fathers are also populisten for they were sceptical about a concentration of power and the elites as a group.
Robert Vehrkamp, one of the authors of the study, condescendingly says, “Populisten in Germany are rather disaffected democrats than radical enemies of democracy as such.”
People who don’t believe in the sovereignty of the people and who -after Germany has seen two dictatorships over the course of the last hundred years- feel elites can still be blindly trusted are most likely to vote for Merkel’s CDU or the Green party (and they are supposed to be the good people).
For everybody who pays attention that doesn’t come as a surprise. For a cynic like me it is rather a surprise that one in three Germans do believe what the founding fathers believed and another third partly believes in democracy (as it was defined by those who created it).
To begin with there are naturally so many ills of the constitution, the Grundgesetz, that I just come down with the most important shortfalls.
It is a Book
That sounds silly, particularly for people who don’t live in the English speaking world, but there is a problem in itself when a constitution is not concise. The reality of the thought out and crisp US American constitution is that everybody read it and is constantly talking about it. Only a people that knows what needs to be defended when it matters will defend it.
It is already Outdated
First it sounded like a good idea to restrict government power by defining exactly what the government can do and would allow for nothing else. However, that did not only lead to the oversized text, but required the writers to know everything about the future. Debates whether the writers had thought of the internet, gay marriage and so on haunt Germans forever more.
It is treated like a Religious Book
Like any religious book the Grundgesetz is never read, always believed to say what the individual basing his argument on it wants it to say and must not be contested, not even amended beyond some petty left-wing policy goals. To leave ‘the ground of the Grundgesetz’ is a phrase uttered whenever somebody is accused of apostasy. The name Grundgesetz replaces the words democracy, human rights and so forth, leaving the populace wildly uninformed. Germans regard their constitution as an embodyment of their values, which are actually the zeitgeist of the day. They see it less as a document to restrict the powers of the government. The saints of that ‘religion’ are called the ‘Fathers of the Grundgesetz’ and nobody can say who they are and why they are always right.
It doesn’t do what it says it does
Church and state are seperated. Problem is that churches are legally organs of the German state and even school indoctination is commanded by the Grundgesetz. The contradictions go on and on, hardly mentioned, hardly discussed. Who would? Nobody reads it! And doesn’t government and media put out ‘legal constitution experts’ to safeguard the people against government overreach? Isn’t that good enough? For Germans it is.
It doesn’t enforce Democratic Principles
The government is elected in a way that the majority party leadership, the government and the leading functions of the parliament are in the hands of the same people. These small circles of power don’t even change much over the course of multiple elections. The Supreme Court is hardly explaining on what legal section they base their judements on. Only G-d knows how they manage to demand law changes to set government payments to the penny.
That is just a quick overview of what is wrong with both the text and the practice.
Disclaimer: Since the government is a tad nervous at the moment, I confirm that the constitution must be respected. Changes are applied by the channels that the constitution itself sets and must not result in the removal of our freedoms.