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Reawakening Germany’s Nationalism: What Could Go Wrong?

If for some inexplicable reason you wanted to reawaken German nationalism, how would you go about it? Theodore Dalrymple suggests a three-part strategy. And good news: current events have already set the ball rolling...

by
Theodore Dalrymple

Bio

May 17, 2010 - 12:09 am

If for some inexplicable reason you wanted to reawaken German nationalism, how would you go about it? I suggest a three-part strategy.

First, you would replace the rock-solid German currency by one with very shaky economic foundations, against the wishes of almost the whole German population (which, of course, you would not deign to consult).

Second, you would make sure that same population paid for the gross and dishonest profligacy of the Greek government: a profligacy that was rendered possible by the adoption of the very currency that the German population did not want in the first place.

Third, you would do everything possible to ensure that the crisis will spread, last for a long time, cost a fortune in failed attempts to solve it, and fall mainly to the Germans to pay for.

It goes without saying the second and third parts of the strategy should be against the wishes of the German population whose opinion, however, should be bulldozed aside as being of no account.

There are two great advantages to the strategy I have proposed. The first is that it would achieve what many people might otherwise have thought impossible: it will morally justify and render respectable German nationalism in the eyes of all reasonably impartial observers. Why, indeed, should the Germans, who have practiced economic prudence and providence for sixty years, at least relative to everyone else, pay for other people to live above their means and to retire early on high pensions?

The second great advantage of the strategy I have proposed is that the hostility it evokes in the Germans would be thoroughly reciprocated in those countries to whose rescue the Germans population, against its will, would supposedly have come. This is because, along with the German rescue, will come hard and even harsh conditions, such as that governments should reduce the number of drones that they employ. The Germans will be seen to have thrown their weight around precisely because they are Germans; and self-pity will not permit the “rescued” to see that they and their own governments are to blame for their sorrows.

With a little luck and attention to detail, the situation might evolve into war, first civil and then international.

It was interesting to read the French press during the evolution of the crisis. With its habitual Cartesian clarity, the French political class has spoken, all but unanimously, of the need for European solidarity with Greece.

What does solidarity mean in this context? Who is supposed to have solidarity with whom, given that four fifths of the German population (and a majority of the French) never wanted the common currency that was imposed on them, and that the majority of the German population sees no reason why it should pay for the ouzo of useless Greek civil servants?

The solidarity is that of the political, bureaucratic, and apparatchik class of Europe against everyone else. That class is reacting like someone who, hearing deep and ominous rumbles in the ground below below, tries to paper over the crater of a volcano.

Theodore Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His new book is Second Opinion: A Doctor's Notes from the Inner City.
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