Germany’s ‘Krisenmodus’ Has No End in Sight 

The Association for the German Language chose the term Krisenmodus as the ‘Word of the Year’ for 2023. I’m not sure they’ve ever awarded a back-to-back winner, but krisenmodus (crisis mode) looks to have a chance to repeat in 2024.

The current government coalition has lost almost all trust from the public, yet they soldier on determined to make things worse for the vast majority of Germans. The Greens push for more war, the Free Democrats want more social spending cuts, and Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his Social Democratic Party (SPD) are in the middle adopting the worst from both sides and leading Germany to ruin.

The chancellor’s decision making likely won’t get any better after a Christmastime bout with Covid-19 – if he sticks around much longer (more on that below).

On the international front, Deutsche Welle declares that this year “Berlin must find ways to deal with two wars, an increasingly aggressive China, and a world order in transition.”

Led by the ill-equipped and overconfident Green, Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign policy has been disastrous and has spilled over into the domestic arena. Severing itself from Russian energy drained government coffers; at the same time, in addition to the money and weapons already sent to Ukraine, Berlin wants to increase military spending and become more interventionist. After running up the tab in these areas, there are now calls for a renewed fiscal responsibility, which means social spending cuts at home.

A botched energy transition led by the Greens, which has industry collapsing and higher prices for consumers, militarization, and austerity – has proved to be an awful combination for the average citizen. And the data is grim.

Inflation continues to be problematic, the economy is contracting as industry shrinks, exports to China are declining and there is constant pressure from Atlanticists to self-impose a further reduction, living standards are declining, political paralysis reigns on most matters except social cuts and more military spending, wealth inequality grows, and industry continues to leave the country:

Farmer protests are also now taking place across the country in response to the government’s decision to phase out a tax break on agricultural diesel.

Scholz paid homage to the krisenmodus in his New Year’s address (including erroneously blaming blaming Putin for “turn[ing] off the tap on our gas supplies”), centered around the fairytale that Germany’s crises are just a string of bad luck as opposed to the result of government policy. He concluded with the following:

“If we realize this, if we treat each other with this respect, then we don’t need to be afraid of the future, then the year 2024 can be a good year for our country, even if some things turn out differently than we expected today, on the eve of this New Year.”

Such vacuous rhetoric is a sign that Scholz knows the path the country is currently on is doomed and yet plans nothing to change it. If anyone was watching, it was another reminder why Scholz’s approval rating has sunk to a miserable 26 percent and he and/or his government could soon be headed for an early exit.

Will the Government Collapse?

While German law makes the current zombie coalition difficult to kill, it’s not impossible. From POLITICO EU:

In order to avoid a repeat of the helter-skelter politics of the Weimar era, which contributed to the rise of the Nazis, the framers of Germany’s postwar Basic Law sought to ensure stability by creating a political system that required conflicts to be resolved quickly with as little disruption as possible.

As such, they set a high bar for snap elections. Only the chancellor has the power to call a confidence vote in parliament, for example, and only the president can call a new election. That’s why confidence votes in Germany are rare (there have only ever been five) and are usually tactical moves by chancellors seeking to bolster their political standing.

The only case where a chancellor was removed unwillingly was in 1982, when the FDP abandoned its alliance with Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s Social Democratic Party (SPD), forcing him to call a confidence vote that he lost.

The government led by Scholz just barely cleared a recent hurdle that could have led to its downfall. Members of the supposedly fiscally-conservative FDP recently voted to remain a member of the coalition in an internal party vote on the question. Only 52 percent were in favor of remaining, however. The time in government has been disastrous for the FDP, as its national support has crumbled from 11.5 percent in the 2021 election to around five percent today; if it comes in below five percent in the next vote, that  would mean being left out of the Bundestag altogether. The FDP is now determined to rediscover its opposition to government spending.

That will mean even more friction with the other two parties in the traffic light coalition. While the coalition looks destined to limp along, Scholz might be prepared to abandon ship/his handlers are ready to toss him overboard.

Upheaval Across the Board  – Scholz to Resign?

All bets are off on what comes next. New election laws are currently being challenged, it’s looking more likely that threats of banning a certain party will be carried out, and who knows how much worse (or better if you’re an optimist) the situation is going to look when elections are eventually held.

The latest surprise was the German tabloid Bild reporting that Scholz will soon resign due to his embroilment in scandals that predate his time as chancellor.

This move would be to give voters the illusion of change while doubling down on current policies. The most popular politician in Germany, defense minister Boris Pistorius who is also from the SPD would reportedly be nabbed to replace Scholz. He has support from 55 percent of SPD voters, 58 percent of Greens voters, and 48 percent of FDP voters, but also 56 percent from the conservative opposition CDU/CSU coalition.

The public backing of Pistorius comes despite military problems everywhere. Pistorius hailed the decision to base a brigade of soldiers in Lithuania as a “historic moment.” It was quickly evident, however, that Germany isn’t just low on manpower but also facing shortfalls in everything ranging from artillery shells to tents – a problem that would be worsened by sending an equipped brigade abroad. That could be written off as the military trying to boost its budget numbers, and no wonder:

Pistorius regularly amps up the threat of the Russians and Chinese and says Germany must not just spend more to rearm, but also consider reintroducing conscription. In December he told Die Welt the following:

“I’m looking at models, such as the Swedish model, where all young men and women are conscripted and only a select few end up doing their basic military service. Whether something like this would also be conceivable here is part of these considerations.”

All the money and manpower are necessary for missions in “countries that do not necessarily share our values.” This is the only option, Pistorius says, because “the alternative would be to not have any more contacts with these countries and to simply hand them over to the Russians and Chinese, and that would be a lot more dangerous.”

Germany’s second most popular politician shares the same line of thinking as Pistorius – with a twist. Foreign minister Annelena Baerbock has long argued for a more interventionist approach using her definition of feminism to inform Berlin’s foreign policy. Out of all Baerbock’s frightening statements, her Hillary Cinton-esque efforts to dress up the horrors of war in feminist empowerment might top the list. She devoted an entire speech to it last year, doubling down on that selling point for Ukraine:

Because “if women are not safe, then no one is safe”. That is what a Ukrainian woman said to me as we stood near the contact line in the east of Ukraine – before 24 February 2022.

No doubt the women and all Ukrainians feel much safer now, as do the women of Gaza:

Pistorius and Baerbock’s popularity is confounding because the public opposes their positions. From Deutsche Welle:

According to a survey conducted by the nonprofit Körber Foundation in September, in which 54% of respondents said that Germany should be more restrained when it comes to international crises. Only 38% wanted to see greater involvement — the lowest figure since the surveys began in 2017, when it stood at 52%.

In addition, a whopping 71% of respondents were against Germany taking a leading military role in Europe. It seems Germans want one thing above all else: Respite from the turbulence of world politics.

Pistorius and Baerbock promise the opposite, as does the third most popular politician, opposition leader Friedrich Merz, chairman of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which maintains its lead in polls:

Roughly one in three voters would cast their ballot for any of the three parties currently running the government. A CDU-led government, while not much more than a different side of the same coin, could be even worse than the current coalition. They also want to continue to arm Ukrainians to be sent into the meat grinder, and Merz, a former corporate lawyer who has  sat on numerous company boards including BlackRock Germany, would likely opt for even faster financialization of the country.

There are caveats to CDU polling, as well as its potential direction once in government, however. As NC reader Voislav points out:

A couple of things to keep in mind. Germany just passed new electoral law, which is facing a constitutional challenge from CDU. The law is aimed at allocating constituency seats based on the popular vote, which will hurt CSU/CDU as in the past their share of constituency seats exceeded what they would have gotten based on the popular vote. Also, in the last election CSU/CDU was polling in the 30’s as well, but only got 24% of the vote. So it is possible that German polling models overestimate their vote share.

Both these factors may make it difficult for CSU/CDU to form the government, forcing them into a coalition with SDP and Greens (so called traffic light coalition). Last time the grand coalition was formed it hurt CSU/CDU in the next election, so I suspect that there would be a lot of resistance internally to doing this. A coalition with AfD would be more palatable to their base. It could also provide cover to reverse energy policies on Russian gas which are unpopular with their main supporters, West German industrialists and business interests.

Merz has ruled out cooperation of any kind with the Alternative for Germany (AfD), but that position might be softening. In September, the Christian Democrats and the pro-business Free Democrats needed votes to defeat a regional government in a crucial budget bill. They turned to the AfD.

Together they were able to push a tax cut through Thuringia’s parliament against the wishes of the left-wing coalition. CDU General Secretary Carsten Linnemann says that his party remains opposed to forming a coalition with the AfD.

The AfD is an ethno-nationalist party with a neo-Nazi presence that says it wants to pursue a Germany first policy – although their idea of Germany might not involve the millions of immigrants in the country.

I’ve written previous posts on the AfD, but just to summarize: there is a fascist element to the party, but its recent growth is largely due to disenchantment with mainstream parties unresponsive to voter concerns as summarized:

Amongst who count as AfD supporters, people with neo-Nazi attitudes make up roughly 13 percent. Those with far-right authoritarian attitudes account for another 43, which means that 44 percent of those expressing support for the party do so without a general identification with far-right politics.

For about half the AfD’s potential electorate, their vote is a matter of conviction. But on top of that for a large part of the AfD’s electorate their preference is a way of signaling – presumably to what they take to be the mainstream – that they are dissatisfied with the status quo and do not believe that their voices will otherwise be heard. When asked why they might consider voting for the AfD at the next election – as 22 percent of those in survey said they would do – 78 percent said that it would be a sign that they were unhappy with “current policies” with 71 mentioning migration policy, in particular…

Overall, the conclusion of the surveys seems quite clear. There has not been a general shift to the right. In addition to a base of far-right wing support, which makes up 15 percent of the population, the AfD is attracting a protest vote that takes it to slightly more than 20 percent support. This is driven by dissatisfaction with migration policy and a general fear of societal crisis.

This polling supports the conclusions of Manès Weisskircher who researches social movements, political parties, democracy, and the far right at the Institute of Political Science, TU Dresden. He argues that AfD’s support, which is strongest in East Germany, can be primarily traced to three factors:

  1. The neoliberal ‘great transformation,’ which has massively changed the eastern German economy and continues to lead to emigration and anxiety over personal economic prospects.
  2. An ongoing sense of marginalization among East Germans who feel they have never been fully integrated since reunification and resent liberal immigration policies in this context.
  3. Deep dissatisfaction with the functioning of the political system and doubt in political participation.

Rather than trying to confront the rise in AfD’s support with actual policy, the party is under spook surveillance, and the state is inching closer to kicking it off the ballot. At the beginning of December, Germany’s domestic intelligence classified the Saxony state branch of the AfD party as a “threat to democracy.”

Voters refuse to get the message. In a survey conducted Dec. 18 to Jan. 1 by the opinion research institute Civey and the Saxony newspaper, Sächsische Zeitung, the AfD only increased its support, coming in at 37 percent compared to the CDU’s 33 percent.

German elites likely believe that banning the party, which would effectively disenfranchise a quarter of the population, will bring stabilization and allow a continuation of current policies, but it’s just as likely to lead to an accelerated breakdown and Weimar levels of chaos.

And yet such a move would fit entirely with the default response in Germany (as well as across the West nowadays), which is to discredit the voter as stupid, racist, fascist, and oftentimes all three.

Take the farmers’ protests happening now across Germany. Rather than respond to their real grievances, the government’s answer has largely been to smear them as racists or fascists. Economics minister from the Greens, Robert Habeck, said this about the protests: “”Calls are circulating with coup fantasies, extremist groups are forming and ethnic-nationalist symbols are being openly displayed.”

The effort to discredit the farmers is based on the fact the AfD supports the protests and the following:

According to German media outlet Spiegel, members of several right-wing extremist groups, including The Homeland and Third Way, were at a rally in Berlin, as were AfD members. In Dresden, a video on social media showed people carrying flags from the Free Saxony right-wing extremist party clashing with police.

Well, okay. I’m not sure how that invalidates their complaints summed up here: “For a farm like mine, I would lose about 10,000 euros,” said a farmer from Bavaria, Ralf Huber. “For our businesses, it’s a catastrophe.”

What’s crazy about the efforts to smear people with real economic and other policy grievances as Fascists is that there is a pile of evidence suggesting that those grievances ignored can allow fascism’s roots to grow. A 2021 study published in the Journal of Economic History showed that voting data from a thousand districts and a hundred cities for four elections between 1930 and 1933 showed that areas more affected by austerity had more support for the Nazi Party.

Another from 2022 detailed by The Political Costs of Austerity:

Fiscal consolidations lead to a significant increase in extreme parties’ vote share, lower voter turnout, and a rise in political fragmentation. We highlight the close relationship between detrimental economic developments and voters’ support for extreme parties by showing that austerity induces severe economic costs through lowering GDP, employment, private investment, and wages. Austerity-driven recessions amplify the political costs of economic downturns considerably by increasing distrust in the political environment.

Hope on the Left?

On Monday, Sahra Wagenknecht presented her recently announced political party. The “Sarah Wagenknecht Alliance (BSW) — Reason and Fairness” primary focus is on working class issues, which includes repairing ties with Russia and examining whether German interests are congruous with those of Washington. A quick summary of Wagenknecht’s positions from Tagesspiegel:

Wagenknecht has positioned herself as a sharp critic of the federal government’s Ukraine policy and the energy sanctions against Russia. She is for the import of cheap natural gas and against overly strict climate protection policies . She also advocates limiting migration . She has repeatedly described the Greens as the most dangerous party. Additionally, a poll from Bild am Sonntag that shows 27 percent of people in Germany would consider voting for the Wagenknecht-led party.

Other polling shows Wagenknecht’s party already more popular than the war mongering Greens. Should BSW prove popular, Wagenknefcht can expect to pilloried in the media more than she already has. The party is already under fire because out of roughly 1.1 million euros of contributions, 75 euros came from Russia (compared to 7,086 euros from the US).

Wagenknefcht also has detractors on the Left. Oliver Nachtwey writes at New Left Review that, “By juxtaposing ‘globalist’ institutions to national ones, Wagenknecht’s counter-programme offers nothing more than an improbable return to capitalism’s Golden Age.” On the ideas of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘industrial competition’ Nachtwey writes:

Both concepts, which feature heavily in the work of sociologists like Wolfgang Streeck and Anthony Giddens, are dubious from a Marxist point of view, since they substitute internationalism with national-Keynesianism, cooperation with capitalist rivalry. Moreover, if reverting to an embedded national welfare state is difficult in a world where capital flows and productive relations have become transnational, the likelihood is that this project will simply end up producing a regressive form of politics. Wagenknecht exemplifies this danger. Her singular focus on resovereigntization has supplanted a politics of class with one of the nation.

Maybe or maybe that resovereignization is a necessary first step. As Michael Hudson writes in his The Destiny of Civilization:

There is still a tendency to think of nationalism as a retrograde step. But for foreign countries, breaking away from today’s unipolar global system of U.S.-centered financialization is the only way to create a viable alternative that can resist the New Cold War’s attempt to destroy any alternative system and to impose U.S.-client rentier dictatorships on the world.

It’d be a worthwhile experiment for Germany to find out. Of course, the one easiest way for Germany to find a reprieve from its current malaise is to do the unthinkable: make nice with Russia. It might not bring back the past and restore Germany’s economic model, but it would ease the pain. It would at least mean that social spending wouldn’t need to be cut in order to spend more on militarization and energy subsidies.

The fact that both the AfD and Wagenknefcht are still attacked as Putin apologists for suggesting this line of thinking suggests the krisenmodus is going to get worse before it gets better.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Yaiyen

    I believe one of the reasons political parties don’t feel the need to listen to voters, in Germany, for instance, you could argue that there’s effectively only one party — the war party. Regardless of who people vote for, the elites seem to control nearly all parties. This trend is concerning, especially considering the potential for World War 3, and many people may remain unaware.

    If the Democrats secure control of all three branches in the next election, we might witness a end in online free speech and an increased likelihood of World War 3. It saddens me to say this, but our only chance to break away from Europe following the USA’s lead might be if Trump gets elected again. The constant attacks on him make it seem improbable that, under Trump, European politicians could continue large-scale wars without facing a significant public relations nightmare.”

    1. mrsyk

      I’m assuming you’re writing of US politics when you write If the Democrats secure control of all three branches in the next election, an idea which seems to be based on 1 )Republicans are staunch 1st amendment supporters (wrong) and/or, 2) no meaningful legislation/only productive legislation will pass if control of state and legislative is split between parties (wrong again). I’m pretty sure an end in online free speech and an increased likelihood of World War 3 is baked into our future no matter who get’s elected to what.

      Edit: See zaganostra’s comment directly below.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Pre-October 7th Republican legislative attacks on BDS , combined with their behavior since then regarding Israel, Palestine and domestic political discourse, should dispel any illusions about their free speech bona fides.

    3. sszorin

      You are silly, like the moron who wrote the article. There is no “war party” in Germany whatsoever.
      That is why Germany screwed up its response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
      Further, if there were a “war party” in Germany then Germany would have been prepared to wage a war.
      But, Germany is totally incapable of waging a war. Its army is a joke, At the beginning of the war in Ukraine the German army had only 30 ! tanks in battle-ready condition.
      A “war party” would not be scared of fighting but the German government is scared to death of Putin.
      Aside from Baerbock the government is incompetent, stupid and cowardly.
      She is the only bright spot.

  2. zagonostra

    …you could argue that there’s effectively only one party — the war party. Regardless of who people vote for, the elites seem to control nearly all parties.

    Yes, this is true, and has been in Western/Liberal Democracies for sometime now. Previously it was masked but high standards of living and pseudo conflicts over identity issues but now it becomes ever more evident with each new headline.

    1. pjay

      Yes. When reading articles like this I am always struck by the very strong parallels in the political development of every Western “democracy,” despite the considerable historical and institutional differences between them. For example:

      “Rather than trying to confront the rise in AfD’s support with actual policy, the party is under spook surveillance, and the state is inching closer to kicking it off the ballot. At the beginning of December, Germany’s domestic intelligence classified the Saxony state branch of the AfD party as a “threat to democracy.”

      “Voters refuse to get the message…”

      All you have to do is substitute “Trump” for “AfD” to describe the current political circus in the US.

      Also sounding familiar is Nachtwey’s criticism of Wagenknecht. Anyone wondering why people are turning to the right need only read that idiotic example of doctrinal purity from the academic “Marxist” “internationalist” “Left” (obnoxious irony quotes are necessary here).

    2. Gregorio

      The best we can hope for at this point is maintaining a partisan, divided government that insures as little as possible gets “accomplished.”

    3. sszorin

      “pseudo conflicts over identity issues”

      There are NO “pseudo conflicts over identity issues”.
      There is a Culture War to destroy what remains of the Christian civilization of the West. The ideological vehicle of those who are waging this war is Je wi sh Marxism. Among other things, identity politics is a pillar and a tool of Je wi sh Marxist dogma.

  3. vao

    Both these factors may make it difficult for CSU/CDU to form the government, forcing them into a coalition with SDP and Greens (so called traffic light coalition).

    This would actually be the “Kenya” coalition (CSU/CDU=black, SPD=red, Green=green…) The current coalition (SPD, Green, FDP=yellow) is the “traffic-lights” coalition. The other well-known coalition is the “Jamaica” coalition (CDU/CSU, FDP, Green).

  4. DC

    Baerbock is the second most popular politician in Germany? Wow.
    Well, as has been often said, the people get the government they deserve.

    1. MD in Berlin

      The figures are a bit deceptive. Baerbock and Pistorius have enthusiastic backing from the war faction. Scholz is too cautious for the warmongers, too belligerent for the peaceniks.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Most popular in this case means 38% approval rate, so with 71% opposing the policies of the “most popular”, there’s possibly only 9% overlap of people who approve of a politician who clearly acts against their interest…

        1. Greg

          I wonder if “popular” is determined by polling that ends up being little more than a recognition check?

          I know in NZ political polls for “who is preferred prime minister”, once you get past the two main parties leaders, everyone else gets ranked according to media time rather than any actual qualities they may have as leaders or people.

          It would make sense if this was the case here as well – the ranking may simply reflect “people recognise this name on a list of a dozen random politicians”.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Maybe a German Maidan is not so out of the question. People like Schulz, Habeck and Baerbock may see no problem with cutting subsidies and social services so that money can be sent to the Ukraine or the military but too many Germans have the ‘schnauzer voll’ – they have had enough. Trying to go after farmers is bad enough as they, well, grow the food that people need to eat. Unless the German regime just decides to import all food needs. But now I read that ‘Train drivers in Germany have gone on a large-scale strike, with major transportation disruptions across the country expected to last for several days.’ As a result, around 80% of usual long-distance services were canceled and the train platforms are standing empty. Inflation has been eating at these worker’s wages and one of their demands is €3,000 to compensate for it. We are right now only 10 days into 2024 and already a great country like Germany has been destabilized & deindustrialized and it wasn’t the Russians and it wasn’t the Chinese that did it – it was the German political class and the nobodies that they selected to be Germany’s leaders.

    1. Acacia

      > Maybe a German Maidan is not so out of the question.

      USian spooks would no doubt he happy to “help”, just like they did in country 404.

      1. Feral Finster

        No, the Americans would impress upon Berlin the necessity to do to protestors what Trudeau did to the truckers.

        1. Daniil Adamov

          At least unless a genuinely independent-minded government comes to power, in which case they would pull in the opposite direction. But that is fantasy for the near term.

          1. Feral Finster

            Daniil, these are germans. They *like* being slaves, Nothing else could give them the delight they get when their American Master tells them to drop to their knees and service Master.

        2. Don

          What exactly did Trudeau do to the truckers, who were not truckers in particular, but for the most part just anti-masking, ultra-right, libertarian hooligans?

          Let them hang around for weeks until everyone was beyond sick of them and they themselves became bored, and happy to have an excuse to head home?

          None of them are in jail, or ever will be, and everyone is just glad to have seen the back of them.

          1. Feral Finster

            We get it, you don’t like the protesters.

            But, lest you forget, Trudeau invoked emergency powers, froze protester bank accounts and asked insurers to revoke their insurance coverage, among other things.

            1. Bill Malcolm

              I haven’t a clue what country you hail from, but as a Canadian, I agree with Don. The measures you describe lasted from a Monday to Friday, when bank accounts were released.

              The greaseball fraternity was what made up the “truckers”. Genuine dopes who had their leadership usurped by actual extreme right goodballs of the Ezra Levant variety. As they piloted their steeds to Ottawa, these ‘leaders” demanded the government resign, all parties!, and said they would govern in concert with the existing governor-general. Hey, what a brilliant idea! Then the Ottawa police sat on their hands, and did not protect local citizenry from rank hooligans.

              There is so much missing from your “precis” of what happened in the trucker convoy incident, including the further incidents in Windsor ON and the Alberta / US border that you simply know bugger all about, never mention, and obviously haven’t the first clue about. You know less than half the story.

              Not that I’m surprised — I’ve never read any decent commentary on Canadian politics by foreigners. Gormless BS, sure. And that’s about it. Jumped-to conclusions fearlessly expressed by someone who’s talking through their hat.

              I see no need for me to write a 20 page essay on what actually happened, because despite the effort, I imagine it would get dismissed in a few sentences by someone without the first notion of the dynamics that were actually involved. I mean “experts” on Canada are a dime a dozen outside our borders, right?

              I have no time for Trudeau, even less for Poilievre the weasel opposition leader or Singh, the namby-pamby social democrat leader. I didn’t vote the last two elections because all these pols are useless. But for overseas opiners to wander around with nonsense filling their heads about the trucker incidents just shows the total lack of knowledge of what happened.

              If NC moderation allows your unsuppoted claptrap to appear unmolested, I expect them to publish my own unsupported claptrap — from a mere citizen of the actual country involved.

              1. Yves Smith

                Please read our moderation Policies. Most comments automagically appear. We have tripwires because certain words, like “asshole” often come with bad faith arguments.

                Also if you read our Policies, we do not moderate based on content but on making various types of bad faith arguments or just plain getting nasty. Feral was making arguments that as you indicate were based on slipshod foreign coverage (I have seen pretty extreme claims made by both Trudeau and trucker defenders and have not have the time or energy to sort them out).

                We do have “Making Shit Up” as a basis for getting demerits, but generally that happens when someone makes a pretty questionable challenge to what an article or moderator said and does not substantiate it.

                So we do appreciate you trying to clear this up factually. But you appear to have a misunderstanding of how moderation works.

              2. Feral Finster

                So which exactly of my assertions is wrong and what is your basis for saying so?

                Mostly, all you’ve done is lay out your prejudices.

  6. Jams O'Donnell

    Trump may not belong to, and is despised by, the select group who run the US, but he operates under the same rules. Even if he wanted to do something radically different (doubtful), his policies would be ‘interpreted’ and ‘enhanced’ by the same people in the war society which has operated US foreign policy for decades. Under the guidance of his son-in-law he is an even more enthusiastic Zionist than Biden. How would his election counteract “an increased likelihood of World War 3”?

    1. Alex Cox

      Based on his last presidency, Trump seems incapable of picking people who will implement his policies. So a second Trump presidency will presumably be much the same – some populist and anti-war rhetoric, followed by business and war as usual.

      1. NYMutza

        One important thing that Henry Kissinger recognized, and perhaps Trump doesn’t is the power wielded by the bureaucracy. Kissinger maneuvered to disempower the bureaucracy and so he was able to dictate foreign policy as he saw fit to do (while keeping his boss happy). Trump accomplished very little in his first term because he was hamstrung by the bureaucracy which to a great extent simply ignored him. And so the beat kept on.

      2. Feral Finster

        Trump is weak, stupid and easily manipulated.

        The establishment has little to fear from Trump. It should fear a competent populist, a Huey P. Long, for instance.

  7. eg

    German elites who think it clever of themselves to ban the AfD risk entering into territory warned against by JFK: “Those who make peaceful change impossible will make revolution inevitable.”

    1. Feral Finster

      The ban is baked in the cake. If the only way the establishment can retain power is by banning the only real opposition, then that they will do just that.

  8. Tom67

    About the AFD: there is something very interesting going on. Second and third generation Turkish voters are turning to the AFD. Their parents arrived in Germany, worked hard and became modestly wealthy. Now they see millions of people from the 3d world entering Germany and entering the welfare state almost immediately. The SPD and the greens don´t know, what will hit them. Sure there are Fascist elements in the AFD. But there is also a black member of the Bundestag and some prominent Muslims in regional parliaments. They are all united in demanding the closure of the border. And that is tremendously popular exactly among previous immigrants. Just the other day I talked to a Turkish shopkeeper who supports the AFD and I hear the same things from a big factory (1200 employees) in my area. Much like in the US where Trump is getting increasingly popular among Latinos.
    As to Wagenknecht: she is undoubtedly the best German politician and very popular to boot. She has some excellent people in her new party like finance specialist Fabio di Masi but no real organisation to back her up. I am doubtful about her prospects.

    1. ddt

      Funny how 2nd, 3rd generation wants to lift the drawbridge now that they got theirs. I believe it’s the same, to some extent in the US.

      1. Kouros

        I think it is more to it than meets the eye.

        I am first gen Canadian and I would really, really love for the fed government here to tone down with immigration, which has skyrocketed since I came here 30 years ago. Nevermind those with work visas.

        The fact is services have not kept up with demand health, education, housing, etc.). And where I live, the carrying capacity of the natural environment cannot keep pace with the rate of growth. I am struggling to force the responible gov ministry to properly characterize aquifers for their resilience to drought and it is a haaard slough…

        1. Chorles

          I agree with your feelings on immigration in Canada, but I think I have a different point of view on why it became a problem. The formula in Canada is not the old economic immigrant system, we are bringing in ‘sponsored’ employees to work at rates Canadians would never accept, legally below minimum wage. Canadians wouldn’t accept the rates because they aren’t survival wages in Canada. These are replacement workers, they aren’t immigrants, don’t have a path to citizenship, and have no idea of how poor their life will be here. Essentially we’ve colonialized foreign workers, to put it nicely. At the same time we have a growing population of underemployed, employed homeless, employed destitute and now unemployable. Of course, they should have fought each other to rise to the top, but, oh well, why should we create a path to success for other Canadians. The liberal ideal of survival of the fittest needs an arrogant ignorance of it’s results to rest of humanity.

          1. JBird4049

            >>>The liberal ideal of survival of the fittest needs an arrogant ignorance of it’s results to rest of humanity.

            It is more accurate to say it is “The neoliberal ideal of survival of the fittest needs an arrogant ignorance of it’s results to rest of humanity.

            What is called liberalism today has little to do with the liberalism of even forty years ago, forget about classical liberalism, which is the basis for the American Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and American political philosophy generally. As for economics, just look at the New Deal, which has been dumped by the modern Democratic Party.

    2. Kouros

      My sister, not Turkieyish, but first gen immigrant in Germany would vote for AfD, unless I convince her to go for Sarah, if her party will be on the ballot in Frakfurt area.

  9. MD in Berlin

    Another fantastic piece Conor, maybe you should be our Chancellor…
    Couple of thoughts and observations:
    – Simply by forming, the BSW (Wagenknecht party) expands the spectrum of public discussion in significant respects, especially opposition to war, and potentially creates a pole for participation and action.
    – I’d go further, and posit that a decent vote for BSW in June will force the government to moderate some of its policies.
    – There is also an initiative to set up a right-conservative party between AfD and CDU. Hans-Georg Maassen. Not yet clear if it’s going anywhere.
    – At a deeper level, I’d posit that – on top of the material woes of austerity, inequality and economic deterioration (none of which are really noticed by the chattering classes) – there is a deep crisis of legitimacy hidden under a thin veneer of normality.

    1. CA

      A fantastic essay and just as incisive a comment:

      “I’d posit that – on top of the material woes of austerity, inequality and economic deterioration (none of which are really noticed by the chattering classes) – there is a deep crisis of legitimacy hidden under a thin veneer of normality.”

      I would suggest that a recurring crisis of legitimacy in Germany has played out terribly in accentuating ethnic distinctions that characterized the terrible German cruelty in what is now Namibia at the beginning of the last century and recurred before the subsequent devastating wars. German identity crises frighten me.

    2. Feral Finster

      n.b. creating an “Alternativ” to the “Alternativ fuer Deutschland” and using that to siphon off support for the genuine article is very sharp and clever tactics. Esepcially as there are a lot of voters out there who have misgivings about the AfD but see no other option.

  10. Aurelien

    It helps to go back a bit in time.
    After 1945, the German government’s main priority was to get itself accepted once more by its neighbours as a full partner, and live down as quickly as it could the first part of the twentieth century. This meant one the one hand, favouring European integration from the beginning, and enthusiastically supporting supranational initiatives, designed to show that Germany would never again seek to throw its weight around in Europe. In practical terms, this meant ceding political leadership of Europe to France, especially in the area of foreign policy. This also corresponded to a general mood in the country, which still choked on much of its history. As a German diplomat said to me thirty years ago “It’s very hard to be a German. It’s much easier to be a European.” As a result, the Germans put the accent on their economy, and on ostentatious political initiatives to show they had broken with the past.

    But of course other nations were primarily worried by a rearmed Germany, and the deal was that the Bundeswehr would be completely integrated into NATO, with no ability to carry out operations by itself. A consequence of this was that, to reassure their neighbours, the Germans became probably the most Atlanticist of all European states, publicly going along with the NATO consensus on any security issue. This was one of the principal reasons why NATO continued after 1991: it was a guarantee that the Germans were still under control. Whilst the Bundeswehr was well-equipped and trained, it wasn’t really a serious force intended for combat and everybody knew this. Conscription was unpopular and there were many ways to get out of it. The public mood was–and remains– generally antimilitarist, not helped by the deployment of foreign troops on their soil.

    All this has changed, of course, and with EU enlargement, the departure of almost all foreign troops, and the steadily increasing dominance of Germany within EU structures at the expense of France, it looked as if Germany was on the way to becoming a “normal” power finally. But what Ukraine showed was that the German political system, hamstrung by all these sensitivities, had never really matured, and was oscillating between over-caution and needless aggression. The addition of a neoliberal globalist ruling class actually had the effect of legitimising traditional German hatred and fear of Russia through the use of the Brussels discourse of transexual rights and anti-nationalism.
    So, skipping wildly over lots of detail, the German political system, like others but for different reasons, isn’t able to cope with the current crisis.

    1. Tom67

      You are in some ways right, Aurelian. In other ways not. There are still 40 000 US troops in Germany and no politician will reach the federal level who has not been vetted by the US. Germany is not a souvereign country in the way France or Britain are. Also – and very importantly – Germany is not the old West Germany anymore. From the outside it might look like that. The East has indeed been carpet bagged and all important positions have been taken by West Germans. But the anger in the East is now boiling over. Germany is a federal country and this year will see elections in the East that will either make it ungovernable or see absolute majorities for the AFD. The East sees things radically different. They neither read nor watch the main media and Russian flags are quite prominent in the demonstrations there. Not that they want the GDR back. But the whole war propaganda is most definately falling on deaf ears. I don´t know that the federal center will do. There´s a precedent in the Weimar republic when the center send troops to Saxony after they elected a goverment that included Communists. I don´t think it will come to that. More likely the federal government will simply lose control. Think Hungary and the EU but within Germany. That will decrease the clout of Germany and increase the importance of France. So much for the better! From my German perspective France leading the EU is infinitely better than some German stooges picked by the US.

      1. Vicky Cookies

        Thank you for bringing up the foreign troops stationed in Germany. Much of the commentary about the Atlanticist orientation of that country’s political class has missed the fact that, like with Japan or South Korea, when a country is occupied by huge numbers of foreign troops, it can hardly be surprising when, say, a pipeline is destroyed, harming the country’s interests, and nothing is done about it. It is difficult to govern with a gun to your head.
        Where the more sociological explanations of the leanings of the ruling classes of Europe have more explanatory power would be, I think, in the EU, to the point that an ascendant French as opposed to German leadership of that institution may not make much difference. Western European rulers seem to understand themselves as Western, which is to say engaged in the continuing project of exploiting the rest of the world (the “jungle”, in Borell’s words) whether led by France, the UK, or the U.S.

        1. Alex Cox

          10,000 US troops – mostly airforce – are stationed in Britain. After Germany and Japan, it is the largest occupation force the US deploys.

          1. Revenant

            Indeed – but I think they are mostly NSA….

            The US spooks and “diplomats” have lately developed an unfortunate habit of forgetting which side of the road we drive on and running people over or crashing into them and then fleeing the country (another one just did it at the end of 2023). To be fair, some of our own spooks have at the same time decided to Purge them (a GCHQ employee stalked a US woman working at GCHQ and stabbed her in her car in a supermarket car park in Cheltenham). The Five Eyes appear to be suffering from a touch of “You lookin’ at me? Eh? Eh?”. :-)

        2. NYMutza

          None of the countries where tens of thousands of US troops are stationed can be considered sovereign states. The American ambassadors in those countries wield more real power than their presidents and prime ministers.

          1. caucus99percenter


            Note what Jürgen Elsässer’s AfD-adjacent Compact magazine says about itself: “Compact does not stand for a pre-set political line but rather an attitude: it’s the ‘magazine for sovereignty’. … Positive changes are possible only [when they are] from the people, by the people, for the people.”

            Decoded into plainer language, this is the pitch: “Look, folks, the truth is that today Germany is not sovereign. We’re the only ones willing to level with you about that, as well as trying to move the needle toward real sovereignty. The other parties, their media, and the elites pretend not to notice this lack of sovereignty and — because they hate and distrust you, their own people, due to 1933–1945 — actually think it a good thing if you, the German people, never truly regain your sovereignty ever again. Are you going to go along with that? No? Then join us and show ’em what real democracy looks like and that you still have some self-respect!”

    2. Revenant

      50 years? A hundred years! You need to go back further, to 1850 and the rise of Germany and the Franco-Prussian war. The post-WW2 settlement for Germany had to put a hundred years of monsters in the tomb and seal the lid tight shut. Which is why the original 1944 Morgenthau plan for German reconstruction was obliteration – to expunge her as an industrial power and reduce her to agrarian statelets, in practice if not in in actual form like the comic opera states of pre-Prussian unification.

      This plan was only ripped up in 1947, allegedly out of compassion for the suffering it might cause the German people but in reality because Britain, France and the USA choose to reindustrialise her and rearm her to fight the Soviet “menace”. Since 1947 (and before, with Operation Paperclip), it has been “former” Nazi’s all the way down for the Allies….

      It turned out that the Soviet threat to Europe failed to exist and Germany was never required to play the half of her role as a buffer strip where tactical nukes would make the rubble bounce. Her parallel reindustrialisation was however a wild success, sent into hyperdrive by reunification and access to the Druzhba pipeline to East Germany for cheap Russian oil and gas. Now her political class cannot distinguish myth (phoney German remilitarisation with dysfunctional Wunderwaeffen and a structural shortage of materiel) and reality (German deindustrialisation for lack of cheap energy), which ironically is the same problem the Third Reich had (I just finished Adam Tooze’s book on the economy of the Third Reich and its rhymes with the current German / EU situation are uncanny, down to the shortage of oil and commodities and the hunger for markets and supplies from the East to achieve parity with the USA).

      1. Tom67

        Your whole point is moot. You think there is some elite in Germany that wants to advance German power or at least her interest. There isn´t. Only in the marginalised opposition there are some people like Wagenknecht who actually care. But the political elite is anyhow not that important. More importantly there is neither a financial nor an industrial elite that gives a fig leaf. Big industry is owned by Blackrock and so is the shitshow called Deutsche Bank. There is though a huge Mittelstand. That is SME´s who are world leaders in their particular niches. They are being eyed greedily by Blackrock et al. Up to now Big Finance could not get their hands on them and nor could the internet platform players integrate them into their worldwide networks. They are (were) to specialised for the platforms and (were) to financially independent to be taken over by Blackrock and P&E. That is about to change. The plunder of what remains of German industry will begin shortly. Actually not to different what they did to Midwest industry. We watched from Germany as P&E gutted our competitors. It´s easy. Overload the company with debt. Pay off the debt by using money formerly earmarked for capital investment and then – once the company can´t for the lack of investment compete anymore – sell the patents and the intellectual property to some Asian country where they actually care for the well being of their citizens.

        1. RSHayesIII

          How will PE wrap its tentacles around all these non-listed family-held companies? Didn’t the PE buyouts in the US depend on the companies being publicly traded? This might be an idiotic question I am just trying to understand why this is such a major threat now, as opposed to previously…

        2. J_Schneider

          Correct. and that’s why German companies are voting with their feet and investing mainly outside Germany and some consulting companies have noticed. When one goes through their reports the picture is pretty clear – high energy prices, red tape, energy insecurity, shrinking market and lack of qualified labor. The first 4 points are direct products of this crazy traffic lights coalition.

      2. Maxwell Johnston

        Nice summary, thanks. Germany has long had a remarkable ability to overrate itself and get way out over its skis. It’s amazing how history (almost) repeats itself. How the Germans will extricate themselves from their current mess is quite beyond me.

        I find it amusing that the USA spent almost 80 years since 1945 weaning Germany and Japan away from militarism, only to encourage them recently to revert to their old habits. But the locals don’t seem very keen on abandoning their high living standards in pursuit of dubious geopolitical goals. Perhaps the Yankees taught them too well:

      3. Polar Socialist

        In 1947 USA needed Germany to buy stuff made in USA to avoid another depression – none of the issues causing the Great Depression had really been fixed, and with the end of WW2 the US government had no reason to keep pouring money to the industrialist.

        So, Germany had to be revitalized against all the agreements made with the other Allies to keep Germany down, and it was a surprise even to French and British that USA suddenly created West Germany out of the blue and thus divided Europe for the next 45 years.

        The “Soviet menage” was due to the re-industrialization and re-armament of West Germany, not the other way around. Until then Stalin tried to achieve a holistic European security system with a neutral buffer zone between Soviet Union and Germany.

        1. Revenant

          I’d be interested in what books there are on the Morgenthau plan and the formation of West Germany and the real drivers. The Soviet threat could definitely have been a fig-leaf for Keynsian reflation. After all:
          – the Marshall Plan was very generous to the losers of the war whereas Britain, ostensibly Ally #1 (if we ignore the bit about seizing the Empire and emptying the Bank of England) got nothing, which is not what you would do if you really believed in the threat.
          – for the military industrial complex, arguing to rearm Germany would have been a double win, the USA having to make those arms so the Germans can fight the Russians and then arm itself in case it subsequently has to fight the Germans!

          But I’ve not read anything about this. I will have a look on the intertubes….

          The same happened with the reindustrialisation of Japan. Eisenhower planned to keep it as a rice paddy but the Korean War forced the hand of rearmament or rearmament forced the Korean War. Again, something to read up on….

    3. Kouros

      I think it is worth analysing/mentioning the difference between the Soviet occupation of DDR and US occupation of FDR and how mentalities got transformed.

      Me thinks the eastern Germans are healthier mentally than their western ones. And while the eastern ones where under Russian boot, the level of demonization for killing 25+ million Russians was not impinged on them but rather a normal relation was sought.

  11. ciroc

    Although war with Russia is far more likely to lead Germany to ruin than a resurgence of Nazism, it is so disloyal to the people that German politicians criticize the AfD while provoking Russia with impunity.

  12. Mikel

    “All the money and manpower are necessary for missions in “countries that do not necessarily share our values.” This is the only option, Pistorius says, because “the alternative would be to not have any more contacts with these countries and to simply hand them over to the Russians and Chinese, and that would be a lot more dangerous.”

    He must be trying to top Borrell’s garden vs jungle comment…

    Every country in the world has adopted some form of neoliberal economics or, rather, the rich are getting richer EVERYWHERE.
    Authoritarianism is part and parcel of governments everywhere. This will get worse with more subjugation to supranational organizations. The neoliberals have formed these organizations and they will not be reformed away from the big money they serve.

    Just how much unhinged and extremist financialization equals sharing their values? Because at the end of the day, the culture war speeches, panels, litigations, and policies are more a tool of division than actual concern for lives.

  13. hemeantwell

    Conor, thanks for picking up on Nacthway’s boilerplat criticism of Wagenknecht. Whatever does he think the alternative to a national focus is? Varoufakis’ Democracy in Europe movement? However appealing that might be, it is terribly abstract and aspirational. For that matter, while one is indulging in abstract and aspirational mode it shouldn’t be that difficult to imagine a transition from a collection of proposals such as Wagenknecht’s to Varoufakis’. Lots of cans being kicked down the road, but at least Nordstream would get repaired.

    1. ultrapope

      Extremely insightful piece, thank you Conor. And in total agreement with you hemeantwell with respect to the Nacthway boilerplate criticisms. Felt like I was reading a ChatGPT generated article the whole time…

      Speaking of which: Anyone know of any English language translations of interviews with Wagenknecht or of anything she has written? As always, google is useless.

  14. LY

    It boggles the mind what the German Greens are doing, with the cognitive dissonance between the policies they’re supporting and green ideology. War? Coal? Importing fracked natural gas via tankers burning dirty fuel? Perhaps a disconnect between the local and national Green party levels? It’s a speed run of the neoliberal and neoconservative infestation of center-left parties.

    And where are the German trade unions/worker councils?

    1. Tom67

      The unions are shit. They have become something like Soviet era unions. The leadership selects the delegates and the delegates the leadership. It´s a parasitic class that hides their connivance with management by voicing woke and DEI pieties. Even their leaflets are some sort of woke gibberish. German is a very grammatical language and the union leadership (even the metal workers) has decided to use some sort of “gender inclusive” grammar that a university graduate will understand. But not a worker who has just basic schooling. And certainly not people whose mother tongue isn´t German. I know for a fact that there is great dissatisfaction in the big factories here in the South of Germany.
      Germans from the East are reminded of the last days of the GDR. There it was the same. Ideology coating a rotten system. With the big difference though that at least things like housing and health were not geared to profit making.

      1. Kouros

        Not true.

        But the elites in every country doesn’t mind if they immiserate the population if they have lots to gain.

        Latin America and its compradror class. Also, for me, the Phanariot period in Romanian principalities is very relevant. SUbordination to the Sublime Porte has brought immense benefits to the landlord class (boyars) with rural population in serfdom after 1600s.

        1. Feral Finster

          To give but one example – it is abundantly obvious that the United States blew up Nordstream, yet we don’t see so much as a protest sign.

          Even when you get a european to admit the obvious, that the United States committed an act of war against Germany, they just stare at their shoes and mumble something about how they are bad slaves who deserve their beatings.

          1. Kouros

            I dunno. In my last visit to Romania, for a 30 years graduation party, the group almost came to blows on the debates surrounding the WAR. Fortunately, due to food, drink and dancing and nice surroundings and humor, it didn’t come to pass. Nevertheless, the pro Russia group won hands down, due to the sheer amount of valid arguments and facts.

            1. Feral Finster

              That anyone is still on the pro-US side in spite of all the facts and arguments against them is telling.

              And the Romanian political establishment? How much independence do they show?

  15. dingusansich

    You have to admire the sheer chutzpah of a Robert Habeck, champion of Ukrainian freedom fighters, who says of the farmer protests: ”Extremist groups are forming and ethnic-nationalist symbols are being openly displayed.”

    Heavens! Can’t have that in Germany. But help jog my memory. Where have such atavistic displays been seen recently? Somewhere in Eastern Europe maybe? In a country toward which the German foreign minister feels such tender solicitude that she will not allow German voters to intrude upon it?

    I’m put in mind of a remark by Brecht: “Some party hack decreed that the people had lost the government’s confidence and could only regain it with redoubled effort. If that is the case, would it not be be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?” And so it has.

    1. Feral Finster

      Pointing out the hypocrisy of a sociopath is a waste of time.

      Force and fraud, reward and punishment are the language that the sociopath understands.

  16. JohnnyGL

    Wow, I’d don’t think I’ve ever seen a real lefty version of neoliberal TINA, but this is damned close:

    “Moreover, if reverting to an embedded national welfare state is difficult in a world where capital flows and productive relations have become transnational, the likelihood is that this project will simply end up producing a regressive form of politics.”

    Does anyone know if New Left Review is backed by any of CIA/NED/CATO? If not, they should demand compensation for the help they’re already providing with howlers like that.

    1. MD in Berlin

      Not that I know. NLR’s blog Sidecar runs genuinely interesting pieces. Nachtwey’s piece is worth reading, even if I think he’s got it wrong. Exemplary of the parts of the (real) left here in Germany who are sticking with the Left Party. Often on the grounds of Wagenknecht’s position on asylum. I think they are backing the wrong horse, but there is a case to answer.

  17. Skip Intro

    Cancel Culture Meets Geopolitics?

    This quote by Scholz is revealing; either countries ‘share our values’ or they are shunned along with, by implication Russia and China:

    “countries that do not necessarily share our values.” This is the only option, Pistorius says, because “the alternative would be to not have any more contacts with these countries and to simply hand them over to the Russians and Chinese, and that would be a lot more dangerous.”

    Has Pistorious promised/foreshadowed/confessed (economic) war against China when he takes over the Fourth Reich?

    1. CA

      The contrived turning of the Chinese to German and global threat is astonishing and frightening:

      “But small missions, in particular in the area of military consultancy or cooperation also with countries that do not necessarily share our values will be essential,” he said.

      “The alternative would be to not have any more contacts with these countries and to simply hand them over to the Russians and Chinese, and that would be a lot ore dangerous.”

    2. Skip Intro

      I seem to have attributed to Scholz the quote i also correctly attributed to Pistorius. I suppose one captured shill for the arms industry is as good as another.

  18. lyman alpha blob

    You have to love the politicians spouting off about China’s “aggression”. China is “aggressive” in helping underdeveloped countries build modern infrastructure. The West should be supportive of that – after all, it gives them all kinds of new things to bomb when they come to those same countries to “help”.

    Next we’ll hear German politicians tell us how “authoritarian” China and Russia are, as they go about banning their own domestic political parties.

    As far as Pistorius and Baerbock being very popular individually despite voters strongly opposing their actual policies, that just goes to show that nobody really knows anything any more. What was once a promising internet 30 years ago has proven a danger to the global elites, who have now largely captured it to use for their own propaganda purposes. I’m about done with the “information age” already.

    And I’m curious about the critique that mentioned Wolfgang Streeck. Is he a supporter of Wagenknecht, or just someone who has similar positions? I’ve read quite a bit from Streeck and he came across as an eminently reasonable person to me. Maybe the critique from the left is from someone trying to be a bit too pure? Seems like you could be in favor of national sovereignty and still be for class politics and improving the lot of the non-PMCs. In fact given today’s situation in Germany, it might require it, in order to implement some wage standards, etc.

    1. CA

      Deutsche Welle declares that this year “Berlin must find ways to deal with two wars, an increasingly aggressive China, and a world order in transition.”

      [ An astonishingly irrational Deutsche Welle declaration, but evidently the strain of race-baiting in German politics is still not recognized and dismissed. German accusations of severe, threatening human rights abuses in China have been persistent, no matter obvious falseness:

      December 9, 2023

      “Forced labor” fallacy debunked by facts

      BEIJING — The so-called “forced labor” allegation against China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has been countered repeatedly by facts and has only revealed itself as malicious slander.

      As many facts have proved, the “forced labor” fallacy is simply trying to undermine the prosperity and stability of Xinjiang and contain its development.

      Earlier on Tuesday, German carmaker Volkswagen said in a statement that external auditors hired by the company found no evidence of forced labor at the company’s plant in Xinjiang. According to Volkswagen, a report by MSCI ESG containing allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang is “factually incorrect and wholly misleading.”

      Volkswagen said the employees have a low work intensity and are being remunerated above average rates… ]

  19. Irrational

    Thanks to Conor for the great summary and to the commentariat for some incisive comments.
    Since there is so much talk of the government collapsing and Scholz being replaced, I decided to see if we could see a repeat of 1982 – in other words the FDP switching sides to the Christian Democrats. Not only does the CDU/CSU have 10 seats fewer (197) than the Social Democrats (207), but the FDP at 92 has a full 26 seats less than the greens. So FDP + CDU-CSU would need to get AFD on board. I don’t see that happen at national level despite what has been happening at regional/community level.
    I also suspect SPD would wait another 6-12 months to bring in a fresh face and capitalise on a bounce in popularity – too much can go wrong now with nearly 2 years to the next election.
    It would take massive demonstrations to force change and a recent INSA poll says 45% of Germans prepared to hit the streets (sources all seem pay-walled, sorry) , so who knows?
    Again, just my personal view – happy to be contradicted by some of the German residents commenting here.

    1. vao

      So FDP + CDU-CSU would need to get AFD on board

      leading to what is known in Germany as the “Bahamas” coalition.

  20. R.S.

    The party is already under fire because out of roughly 1.1 million euros of contributions, 75 euros came from Russia (compared to 7,086 euros from the US).

    Just a funny minor detail. If you believe this article:

    it’s not that those 75 EUR came from Russia. Those two donations came from German accounts, but the customers used “Russian IP addresses” (for online banking, I presume).
    Mit Bezug zu Russland gingen zwei Spenden von insgesamt 75 Euro ein – diese kamen von deutschen Konten, aber russischen IP-Adressen.
    So desperate, I love this stuff.

    And Bild was already running hit pieces on W’s banker in December, accusing him of this and that, like having a photo of the Kremlin on his Facebook page.

  21. Altandmain

    What’s missing from all of this from the Establishment? A sense that politicians are supposed to serve the people that elected them.

    Perhaps only Sahra Wagenknecht and the AfD understand this. They seem to understand that Germany’s long term future is at stake and the subservience towards the US has served German interests very poorly. There’s also the matter of Nordstream, which I get the feeling many Germans are avoiding because they don’t want to face the implications.

    The German people need to take a hard look at the US – the Rust Belt after NAFTA and bringing China into the WTO, along with the “deaths of despair”. That’s their future as a nation if they don’t get it right.

    Germany is a nation well known for its manufacturing, but very limited natural resources. Putin, who has been historically very pro-German, along with the entire Russian Establishment have been alienated from Germany. So there goes the cheap energy. Foreign Minister Baerbock has been going around the world and has angered a large part of the world. This means that Germany has hurt its relations with a large part of the world, including many potential export customers. That doesn’t bode well for the future, both expensive resources/energy, and possible loss of customers. In that regard, the Germans are in even worse shape than the US, which is quite wealthy in resources.

    I suspect that the CDU will win the next election, then do everything possible to form a coalition to block the right (AfD) and left (BSW) anti-mainstream parties from getting into power. At that point, I think the crisis will worsen, because it will become clear that both “main” parties in Germany, the CDU and Social Democrats, can only make things worse.

    This is a crisis of legitimacy. Throughout all of this, keep in mind that German living standards are clearly in trouble and none of the Establishment parties can do anything except make it worse. At that point, there is the grounds for possibly more major change, such as Germany being more aligned with Russia and China.

    Another matter is that if the German economy goes, it will have a cascading effect on the entire EU economy.

    1. Feral Finster

      You speak truth, but since nobody of influence and authority in Germany will suffer personally, your words will fall on deaf ears.

      1. jobs

        The West’s core problem: none of the people destroying their countries for personal gain will face any personal consequences.
        Said destruction will continue until this changes, drastically.

    2. Tom67

      I wholly agree with your take. What is also needed is a firm repudiation of “wokeness”. Wagenknecht does exactly that and draws the veil. Wokeness is the ideological cloak that ultraliberal capitalists use to hide the ugly reality. That is why she is hated so much by what remains of “Die Linke”. They hate her ferociously because once the cloak is lifted all the cushy DEI jobs and various other woke possibilities for employment will be gone. Good riddance!

      1. Willow

        Dynamics of Woke is a form ‘queen bee’ bullying. I.e. a matriarchal form of control. Useful when this type of control dynamic ensures compliance with norms which are beneficial. E.g. cleanliness and hygiene which pre-20th century were paramount concerns. Now counterproductive ‘Woke’ has replaced this empty space and used by elites to reinforce their power structures. To get rid of Woke something new will need to be found to replace it. Real risk is that we go back to patriarchal forms of control – internal conflict, fascism & war.

        1. Feral Finster

          Think of Woke as high school, all over again. The Cool Kids can do no wrong, but when the uncool kids do exactly the same thing that the Cool Kids do, they get raked over the coals.

          Actually, much of adult human discourse is just high school, writ large.

          1. djforestree

            Regarding Feral Finster’s comment at 5:27 pm,

            Wasn’t Frank Zappa the one who said: “life is like high school with money”?

            (Thanks from the great article and comments!).

    3. fjallstrom

      If the German economy goes there will be effects on the EU economies, but I don’t think it’s straightforward what effects, in particular in the Eurozone. Remember a big problem for other countries in the Eurozone is Germany or rather Germany’s exports to the rest of the Eurozone.

      Germany’s export surplus means that other countries runs a deficit in foreign trade. Eurozone rules – largely decided by Germany and enforced by the ECB – says the countries can’t balance this by running public deficits for very long. They can’t print the money to pay Germany. They are also banned by EU rules from limiting German goods or supporting their own production. Three sector accounting then leaves the private sector which through austerity is forced to try to run deficits. With disastrous results.

      We will see where this goes, but it isn’t straightforward.

  22. AG

    thx for this NC piece.

    I assume the government does wait for the US election which will predate German elections, as scheduled, by one year.

    re: farmers.

    Farmers are priviledged due to EU subsidies.
    I believe 84.000 Euros as average income.

    Then add the ownership of vast chunks of land which is inherited from generation to generation.
    Then look a that farming gear. Those machines are worth hundreds of thousands of Euros.

    In short, farmers in Germany are rich.
    (Spanish farmers have been heavily criticizing them for being preferrentially treated by the EU, e.g.)

    As to the argument of food supply, 70% of vegetables and fruit comes from outside Germany.
    So German farmers are mainly in for the meat.

    It shouldn´t come as a surprise that German law enforcement without much ado put environmental protesters into prison (!) while German car manufacturers were having their show in Munich at the IAA. Impossible with farmers.

    Of course I agree that denouncing protests against the government, as has become habit by now, is ridiculous as a standard reaction.

    As to the numbers: Germany has about 250,000 farming businesses. How many farmers are out protesting now?

    They know very well that their current number (25 years ago 500,000 businesses) is artifically held high.

    Huge amounts of milk and foodstuffs are either thrashed or sent to African nations ruining the farmers there by flooding their domestic markets.

    When was there such a ruckus over cutting social and unemployment expenditure as introduced by Schröder (Scholz´s teacher) in his infamous agenda 2010?

    When was there even an attempt of 20% of the lowest income recipients to take out to the streets?
    When did anyone demand that???

    Last point: the worst thing is the right-wing shift of the entire spectrum of opinions put into motion first by Schröder then carried on by Merkel.

    By now you cannot argue publicly in favour of progressive immigration rights.

    The fact that NATO 2022 for the first time introduced immigration as number 3 threat to Europe next to RU and CHINA seems to interest nobody.

    People at the EU borders are dying every single day ( and tortured and shot and beaten in the African “brother” countries bought by the EU) but they talk about AfD, a party that hadn´t even been around when many of these anti-human laws in the EU and in Germany were actually passed!

    And as well AfD bears hardly any responsibility for the current policy since they are by actual seats a fringe party and cannot pass laws even if they wanted to.

    Over the course of the coming 2 years it will become evident that AfD will be used to fight Wagenknecht and what little is left of the Left.

    AfD presence integrated in a coalition with the CDU/CSU will in essence be meaningless. After all the personnel of the former not so long ago was by and large part of the latter.

    p.s. I still think CSU boss Söder has much better cards – had he not stepped back in 2021 he would have won the election against Scholz which however would have made no difference at all with such an SPD which has only “social” as a PR label.

    Yes as a matter of fact we are indeed fucked in the FRG. why? In a nutshell, complete corruption and failure by the so-called educated classes.

    1. RSHayesIII

      This author of this post has been drinking the German far-left state media kool-aid. German politics have tilted massively LEFT since Merkel, not right. And unrestricted immigration has been highly destructive. To assert there is a prevailing opposition to “progressive” immigration when the de facto status is open borders is completely bizarre.

      1. AG

        re: public and left – right:

        You don´t have to agree with my assessment. But I assure you I am making up my own mind and am no parrot of “far-left state media”.

        Actually I don´t think such a thing even exists, it´s a contradiction in itself: far-left + state???
        That ain´t workin´.

        German media has experienced a major right turn since 2008 crisis after various take-overs. Obvious to everybody reading those “legacy outlets” be it Die Zeit, taz, SZ, FAZ, FR, Tagesspiegel. Additionally to to Springer´s BILD or Die Welt, now Politico too.

        That HAS changed public discourse substanially. Neglect won´t help that.

        Numbers have dropped for almost all of them papers. They have expelled staff, lowered the quality benchmarks.
        Same for state radio/TV. (major protests inside Bayerischer Rundfunk throughout 2023, the affairs of RBB etc.)

        From personal conversations I can tell you that major editors have left SZ, a sinking ship.
        Those who have stayed, like Kia Vahland, Willi Winkler, Titus Arnu, Brembeck, Seibt are mostly forced to write about all kinds of things not their fortes in too little time to fill the pages.

        All to the detriment of dissenting views.

        And then the political right-turn: Just look at the pro-NATO stance the paper has taken e.g. since Febr 24th 2022. One Atlantic Bridge proponent after another putting out propaganda.

        Did you read the reviews and conversations re: Mary Sarotte´s “Not One Inch” e.g.?
        I am mentioning it since NC had Helmer´s review of that.

        Did you care to look at what these papers have been reporting since Oct. 7th?

        It´s hair-raising. SZ to this day is running human-interest stories about HAMAS hostages almost every day.
        Look at the ratio of articles covering those and the plight of Arabs.

        Nothing about the Intercept´s revelations about Springer press bias, about CNN´s censorship via IDF, “genocide” with questionmarks. Everything and everybody criticizing the government is an anti-semite or a Nazi.

        Israel correspondents for taz? Go and look for “ethnic cleansing” in the past few years. Go and look for IDF terror operations “Cast Lead” or “Protective Edge”. UN GA condemnation of Israel annually?

        Sarah Wagenknecht? Only insinuations that she is a right-wing U-Boot.

        Even New Left Review bought a text on her by none other than Oliver Nachtwey.

        A German sociologist who gave a dozen interviews for all these papers promoting his book about AfD voters picturing them as pathological and crazy by design.

        No wonder other sociologists criticized that. But you wouldn´t find those in the major papers.

        Last example Nordstream: How many stories did SZ, Der Spiegel, Die Zeit feature about the Ukrainian yacht nonsense. For weeks.

        Once investigative icon Hans Leyendecker was insulting Hersh “He has lost his mind.”

        What is this if not a right-wing turn? And this OF COURSE in lockstep with politics.

        After all the reporters and the people they report on send their kids to the same kindergarten, attend the same parties, same golf clubs.

      2. Yves Smith

        Sorry, that is bogus. The “open borders” are a pre-existing condition due to EU rules regarding mobility of labor. See the famed Polish plumbers in the UK before Brexit. Any number of political commentaries and polls show increased support for the right wing. This is also what nearly always happens in bad economic times.

        And personal attacks on readers are verboten here. I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet elsewhere.

      3. fjallstrom

        There are at least three levels of migration policies that is often confused.

        1: Open borders for workers within EU. It’s in general popular as a right while causing friction when others use it. There are no serious proposals to limit the right to work within EU but large numbers of East European workers can be gestured to in order to demand more illiberal asylum policies which would be irrelevant.

        2. Festung Europe. The Schengen rules that make asylum seekers the problem if the first EU country they get to. Carrier rules that fines commercial carriers like airlines if they carry someone who ends up seeking asylum. And payments and collaborations with North African countries and Turkey to prevent anyone coming to EU. This is the real external policy that is rarely discussed or known, and it prevents asylum seekers from getting further than the border countries (on either side of the border). Unless you are rich you are supposed to get trapped in a slave camp in Libya or drown on the way.

        This temporarily broke in 2014 when Greece refused to play it’s part and let people through. The Refugees Welcome demonstrations were genuine, politicians running in front and calling it a parade while negotiating with Turkey and Greece to put the wall back up, was less so. But the walls are back up and has been so years.

        3. National rules for asylum policies. This is the level most discussed, but matters least except for Spain, Italy and Greece. These rules can range from very liberal to very illiberal and it matters little because it doesn’t change either 1 or 2 above. This only changes what happens if a refugee manages to bribe and sneak their way all the way to Germany so that they can apply for asylum in Germany without falling under Schengen rules.

        So no, Germany doesn’t have open borders unless you are referring to the right to work within EU or perhaps the Ukraine exceptions (which where political and might change now that Ukraine needs those people on the front).

    2. eg

      Successful nation states subsidize their agricultural sectors for strategic reasons. This will NEVER change.

  23. AG

    p.s. BSW once established legally as a party will seek a different name, one without Wagenknecht in it.
    So BSW is provisional only.

  24. Willow

    West has very likely pushed Germany down the path where Germany ends up solidly on Russia’s side at some point in the future. For those in old East Germany the optimism of Western liberalism will sour and romanticism of a ‘new Russia’ style socialism will take hold. In West Germany old-style religious & fiscal conservatism will look to Russia as a champion against the West’s social & economic decadence. Ongoing friction with Poland (which is strongly aligned with UK) will drive Germany further away from US/UK. How this plays out for Germany’s place in Europe and elite power structures depends on the level of internal conflict (Maidan) generated. Things are going to get ugly.

    1. eg

      Bismarck would approve of a German rapprochement with Russia. It was arguably Kaiser Wilhelm II’s petulant firing of the old rascal which has led to much suffering for the German people ever since.

  25. vidimi

    if Ms Baerbok is the second-most popular politician in Germany then that country really is doomed.

  26. Doly Garcia

    Good points. A couple of comments:

    “the alternative would be to not have any more contacts with these countries and to simply hand them over to the Russians and Chinese, and that would be a lot more dangerous.”

    This is a very common wrong-headed way of thinking. Handing over the influence of countries to the other block isn’t “a lot more dangerous” than defending them with the army. It may be an unwise move politically, but war is always intrinsically dangerous, even more so when the war is lost, which is always a danger whenever a war gets started. The only time when it’s a wise political move is when you are very certain of winning the war, and even in that case, failing to defend the country with arms wouldn’t be particularly dangerous, because an influential country with the power to win a war usually can manage to assert their influence in some other way later on. Losing influence gracefully and without war is usually safer than losing influence disgracefully, when you look at history.

    “And yet such a move would fit entirely with the default response in Germany (as well as across the West nowadays), which is to discredit the voter as stupid, racist, fascist, and oftentimes all three.”

    Look, I live among common people. I’m one of them myself. And I assure you that the average voter thinks that the average voter is stupid, and the main reason they vote is because they don’t want the other stupid guys to win. The average voter defends voting because they’ve never been told that voting is anything but good (and events in Jan 6 in the Capitol could be seen as a pretty chilling reminder of that – the only thing the average voter truly believes is that voting is good, and apart from that, there isn’t much coherence or logic there). Also, the average voter is pretty racist and xenophobic, and proud of it, at that. As for “fascist”, if by that you mean ready to join any cult dressed up as a party (whether it’s far right, far left, or something else), sure, that’s also true.

    What I’m trying to say here is, I know the upper middle class wants to believe there is some sort of “wisdom of the crowds” effect in democracy, but here living at the bottom, I don’t see a lot of evidence of it. It probably existed in the past, in a different information environment, when it wasn’t easy to automate customized gaslighting, which is what we have with modern political campaigns. But it’s gone. It’s truly gone. Sorry to break the news to you.

  27. AG

    re: Wagenknecht

    A German commentary from today (translated via google) on German major conservative daily FAZ. The paper published 3 major articles about Wagenknecht, among others by Nachtwey. All three denouncing her of course in the most freakish manner.

    One seriously comparing her to Mussolini.

    “There is clearly great concern among those in power about the possible success of Sahra Wagenknecht’s new party. This is the only way to explain why the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) has published three full-page articles in the last few months that attempt to put Wagenknecht and her movement on the right side.”

  28. caucus99percenter

    A heads-up: a certain website with the initials Z H has re-posted this essay in full. Do they have NC’s authorization?

    www. (that domain name) .com/geopolitical/germanys-krisenmodus-has-no-end-sight

Comments are closed.