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Economic Crisis: Springtime for Hitler?

Mel Brooks musical "The Producers" will be performed in Berlin in May, writes Der Spiegel (in English). It's not that much of a controversy. Just the usual "Should one be allowed to laugh about Hitler?" newspaper articles.

A bit more shocking is the comment by the heads of the Federation of German Trade Unions Michael Sommer, who suggested that Nazis might rise outside the cinemas as well. DW World:

In an interview with Germany's ARD television, Sommer warned of social unrest comparable to that in the 1930s - when widespread poverty paved the way for the Nazi regime's rise to power. The projected economic contraction of up to six percent is comparable with data from the years 1930, 1931 and 1932, Sommer said.

The article also mentions the violent workers protests in France...

Germany seems to be doing worse than the EU average, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Europe's economy faces a deeper recession and a slower recovery than the U.S. or other parts of the world, making it the region that is most hurting prospects for an early end to the global economic slump. The EU's economy is set to contract 4% this year, even worse than the 2.8% drop projected for the U.S., according to new forecasts published Wednesday by the International Monetary Fund.

When I was in the US over Christmas, I noted a very somber mood regarding the financial crisis. I was surprised that the stock market was a much bigger issue than the war in Iraq. Germans, however, did not quite see and feel the gravity of the financial crisis. They were not that much affected by it yet for various reasons, incl. less dependency on stocks for pensions. Apparently that is changing now. Traditionally Germans used to be more pessimistic than Americans. "German Angst" has been famous around the world. A few weeks ago Roger Cohen from the NY Times had an excellent article in Die Sueddeutsche (in German) about the unusually relaxed Germans.

Now, however, the mood might be changing to what you expect from the German angst. Some politicians and labor leaders talk about the potential of social unrest, while the government remains firm in its conviction that its not time yet for a third stimulus package. And Hans-Werner Sinn, the head of the respected Ifo Institute economic think tank, stressed according to Der Spiegel that the German government's first two economic stimulus packages had created hundreds of millions of euros in demand around the world: "The blow came from the USA," he said, "and Germany served as a shock absorber." It has been a stimulus program for the entire world, he said, noting the strong number of imports coming into a country traditionally known for its exports, writes Der Spiegel.

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Don S on :

A quibble about the 'laughing about Hitler' controversy. The Threepeny Opera is an example of a black comedy, but why is this so? There is nothing inherently funny about petty criminals and murdering people for their savings, but it's the attitude of the opera toward petty murders which is funny. Similarly, The Producers cannot make Hitler funny. What makes people laugh is the parodies. The entire thing is a series of parodies beginning to end. Not only about Hitler and the impossibly tall and blond Stormtrooper who sings the theme "Springtime for Hitler (and Germany)", but parodies of Fosse-style musicals, various American entertainment figures, and the financing of Broadway shows. The 'Hitler' of the Producers isn't the real Hitler but a walking parody. A bit limpwristed and lisping. The moment when he loses his mustache to the showgirl is one of the funniest things I've ever seen..... But it really isn't much to do with Hitler, except to blow him a big, juicy raspberry of disrespect. On the main point, I regret that Germans have had to awake to the fact that the recession is going to hurt them also, but that was inevitable sooner or later. If Germany's export markets don't recover quickly, neither will Deutchland, because you are unusually dependent on your markets. Membership in the EU will buffer things to a degree because EU member states won't easily be able to raise trade barriers, but against that is the fact that Germany exports a lot of precisely the wrong manufactures for a depression. Machine tools don't sell when investment is low, and high quality goods are substituted for by lower quality (and cheaper) goods.

Don S on :

"The blow came from the USA," he said, "and Germany served as a shock absorber." The US has served as a shock absorber for the world for a logn time. Most notably during the Asian financial crisis of the late 90's, but also absorbing exports from and providing demand for aging societies like Germany, Japan, and China. The US market allowed these countries to put off examining the factors keeping their domestic demand from expanding quickly enough to absorb their production. The US didn't do this for altruistic reasons, of course; the imports enabled the US from confronting it's own set of problems for many years as well. It's a mirror-image, a Grand Illusion. And now it's over. Time for everyone to roll up their sleeves and get to work on actually solving their problems, rather than exporting (or importing) temporary supplies of wallpaper to paper over the cracks caused by structural weaknesses. This fact applies to the exporters every bit as much as it does to the importers. Sounds like Germany may finally be waking up to this fact.

Pat Patterson on :

Are they upset by noticing that the financing of the play within the play comes from outright chicanery or merely finally acknowledging Jean-Francois Revel's comment(often attributed to Tom Wolfe) concerning, "...The dark night of fascism is always descending on the United States yet lands only in Europe," might have some element of truth to it.

Don S on :

Haven't you noticed? Facism has taken over the US. Ever since Dick Cheney was able to impose his hand-picked successor on the country.....

Marie Claude on :

yeah, cultivate your paranoia LMAO

Don S on :

Springtime, for Chaney, and USA! Winter for Saddam, and France!

Marie Claude on :

then you're a has been

Don S on :

Putin: "Watch out Georgia, We're going on tour...."

Marie Claude on :

What I read is that is a Nato training was already forecasted since 3 years ago in the aeras. The Russians are showing some irritation, though this is mainly to stand on their position " don't touch our peripherical countries" and GIjoes will comply like last year !

John in Michigan, USA on :

"It has been a stimulus program for the entire world, he said" These are not Joerg's words, they are a direct quote from the article which is paraphrasing Hans-Werner Sinn. It isn't clear from the article the exact size of this vast stimulus programme. If I am reading it correctly, "with a volume of €80 billion" refers to the two stimulus packages already implemented by the German federal government. According to [url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html]the CIA world factbook[/url], in 2008 the Gross World Product (GWP) was $62.25 trillion. It has gone down since then, but probably not more that 10%. I've written these numbers in long form, so you can compare them: 00.080.000.000.000 62.250.000.000.000 As you can see, these numbers aren't even close. They are so far apart, it isn't even necessary to covert from $ to €, nor estimate how much lower the 2009 GWP will be; those adjustments are too small to matter in this comparison. It is utter fantasy to suggest that the existing German stimulus programmes, or the rumored third programme of €100 billion, could have any measurable effect on the world. Even if you believe in neo-Keynesian theory as gospel, including a stimulus multiplier of 1.5 that has never been observed in the real world, the amount of the stimulus is simply too small to make any difference. The American stimulus package, weighing in at $700 billion, was about 10x bigger than the German one. It, too, is too small to have any measurable effect on world demand. Perhaps this will become a running theme here at Atlantic Review (hat tip: Joerg, with apologies): Why is it necessary to state the obvious?

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

Yes, claiming that it has been a stimulus program for the entire world is a bit rich given the size of the program, but then again he did not say that it would be huge. Moreover: Obama had some Buy America clauses in the program. Are they still in? Germany does not have that. Even the car-scrap bonus (Abwrackpraemie) is being paid for cars manufactured outside of Germany. So maybe Sinn was not referring to the size of the stimulus program, but wanted to stress that it is not a protectionist measure. Rather it is global. Unlike some of the American (?)and French (?) stimulus plans... I don't know much about them.

John in Michigan, USA on :

As far as I can tell, some of the Buy American" requirements were dropped from the the US stimulus bill, but some remained. For example, a lot of the bill was for domestic construction projects. These projects have a requirement that raw building materials (steel, concrete, etc) be made in the US. However, the manufactured hardware for these projects (heaters, air conditioning, appliances, earth movers, trucks, etc.) can be made anywhere. Perhaps the plan is to screw China (and India...) without screwing Germany too much. Part of the problem was, one group that often speaks out against protectionism is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But, they were busy putting maximum effort into fighting another initiative called "card check" that would abolish the secret ballot when workers vote whether to join a union or not. It looks like "card check" has been defeated, but at the cost of some protectionism in the stimulus bill. Don't know about the French, Chinese, or Indian plans. We'll see what the WTO says. A WTO complaint could probably hold up stimulus spending. Was a deal struck whereby China wouldn't complain to the WTO? Is that why we're being so nice to N. Korea? Who knows?

Pat Patterson on :

The stipulation that these projects be made using American made steel and iron is still in the stimulus bill but it's an odd requirement. Because of the prior beating almost to death of US Steel, Nucor, and AKS to survive they are now the lowest cost producers of finished steel and iron products in the world. It, the stipulation, amounted to a promise to continue buying American steel that the governments has now announced would abide by prior agreements to avoid WTO complaints. What is worrisome for many municipalities, who have been jumping up and down in anticipation of finally finishing that parking lot or casino, is that any money received from the government means that all projects are now required to be paid at prevailing wage. Which has created the refusal of some communities to accept the money because of the extra costs it will mean to already budgeted and appropriated projects. No insult intended but prevailing wage means that salaries are paid according to what the local union contract calls for even if a non-union company has the contract. Right-to-work states do not recognize unions as the sole bargaining authority and that workers are not required as a condition of their job to join the union.

John in Michigan, USA on :

OK American steel companies are now more competitive, and would probably win many contracts without "buy American" provisions in the law. But did American concrete, wood, drywall, aluminium, etc. producers undergo the same reforms? It seems to me they will benefit. Also there was that scandal re Chinese drywall that was contaminated. Canadian wood producers are particularly screwed by this. Good point about what is "worrisome for many municipalities". Another thing they have to worry about is, they now have to take a "shovel ready" project and review it to ensure it complies with the new "buy American" limitations. This will cause additional delays. Given the populist anger that dominates Congress right now, I wouldn't want to risk having a single foreign box of nails in my project! Of course, the stimulus bill was never about fixing the economy, it was always about rewarding interest groups and giving the appearance of leadership and action. That is why "green" projects that won't start contruction for 3-5 years and won't have green benefits for 10-50 years, are now considered "emergency" measures. Even Keynesians (which I am not) should have refused to let themselves be exploited in order to pass the so-called stimulus bill. See "stating the obvious" above.

Pat Patterson on :

You got me on the other manufacturers though I think aluminum was lumped into the steel and iron requirements. But just yesterday the, now forgiven economist, Goalsbee of the-ignore-what-we-say-regarding-NAFTA letter, basically said that they would not erect any barriers to imports and would not renegotiate any part of NAFTA. It is odd that the President and Congress claim to have created a Keynesian stimulus package without actually studying one of them. Its very similar to when Pontiac rebadged a Korean econo box import as a LeMans without noticing that the original was an honest to God five-seater full size car with a V8 and a trunk that could hold a set of golf clubs and not just one smelly diaper bag.

Brad Peck on :

John, You are correct that we are fighting card check, but we generally have dozens of issues at play. We were quite outspoken on the “Buy American” provisions, and have about 1,000 angry comments on our blog to prove it. You can search Google for "buy american" site:www.chamberpost.com for our commentary and the um, "feedback" Thanks, BP

John in Michigan, USA on :

Welcome, Brad, and thanks for commenting. I grew up in the Detroit area and have seen decade after decade of decline. I used to defend the auto industry and sometimes even their union partners and their partners in government...but when they (mostly) squandered the incredible prosperity we had in the 90's, I gave up in disgust. No amount of crisis-inspired, knee-jerk "Buy American" laws will save them now. They will save themselves...or not. Time will tell. Real Americans Drive What They Want.

Zyme on :

Where has the American patriotism gone? Your statements remind me of a Belgian, whom I asked whether the reports are true, which consider Belgium to be falling apart. "Nah I don't think so", he said, "but if it would, I wouldn't care" With patriots like him, it can only be a matter of time ;)

Zyme on :

What surprised me most during the publishing of the latest predictions about Germany's performance in the coming 2 years was the reaction from the government. One does not expect the experts at spinning facts into messages to sit around and make a helpless impression. Our lovely leaders have good reason to be worried - the system they depend upon depends on the welfare of the people. Elsewhere people may make themselves resonsible for economical downfall, here the system lives from creating wealth. It is always fascinating when talking with colleagues in private to hear their real opinions for example on the right of the "basic" citizens to vote and have a say in the country's policies. Although the amount of cynicism and contempt is breath-taking, it is also clear that none of these heading into the judicial branch will ever raise their hand against a system that feeds them well - as long as it does so. So should the downturn go on, extremist parties may quickly receive a more brain-storming kind of supporters.

Don S on :

Experts at spin? The present German government? the one including Steinieheinie, the man who threatened to invade Switzerland? Tony Blair was an expert on spin. Not Angela and the Idiot. Steinmaker is particularly entertaining. He has an impeccable sense of timing. After happily cogitating for a while on the coming economic dominance of Deutchland he opens his mouth and says something dumb, which has come to be the certain signal that disaster is about to strike the German economy. If Angela managed to tape his mouth shut (or have him 'disappeared') Germany would be much better off..... ;)

Zyme on :

I guess you are mixing up Steinmeier with Steinbrueck?

Don S on :

No, not really, Zyme. I don't know much about the former except that he's running against Merkel. The latter is a sometime idiot with an unusual talent for saying things which turn into idiocy in record tjme.

David on :

"Social Unrest / Soziale Unruhen" is not necessarily a bad thing, since it can lead to positive change. The "unrest" is a response to a broken, unjust system. We had a prolonged period of "social unrest" in the 1960s in the US. But it was a period of intense creativity which, in the end, led to a more just society for minorities and women.

Zyme on :

I doubt very much that our elites are looking forward to a period of intense creativity, as in the end, only the current order supplies them with the power they have. They will do their utmost to distract the electorate instead of debating any kind of real reformation.

Don S on :

I don't think David was talking about the comfort level of the 'elites', Zyme. There were really political revolutions in both major parties in the 60's and early 70's. David refers to the takeover of the Democratic Party from the radicals of the 30's by the radicals of the 60's, but the takeover of the GOP by the Goldwater conservatives was every bit as consequential. Arguably more consequential. Your 68'ers were the revolutionaries of the 60's and 70's, now they are The Powers That Be. They may look powerful now but it's not a given that they will stay that way.

Zyme on :

"Your 68'ers were the revolutionaries of the 60's and 70's, now they are The Powers That Be. They may look powerful now but it's not a given that they will stay that way." Your word in god's ear, as we say here.

David on :

I wasn't referring to any political party, but rather to "social unrest" which led to the civil rights movement = activism from below. In Germany, the best recent example would be the mass protests in the GDR (exactly 20 years ago) which led to fall of the Wall.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Added to Tips for our Readers: [url=http://www.upi.com/Emerging_Threats/2009/04/22/Germany-Political-crime-at-record-high/UPI-75671240413982/]Germany: Political crime at record high[/url]. It turns out that in 2008 they started counting "propaganda-related offenses" as part of "political crime". This apparently increased the % of far-right political crimes more than it increased the far-left %. Overall, far-right crimes still outnumber far-left crimes. "propaganda-related offenses" (left or right) would almost certainly be protected speech in the US system. But I wonder, is there really equal enforcement of far-left and far-right "propaganda-related offenses"? We can all imagine what the illegal far-right stuff looks like. Are bans against the Red Army Faction logos, etc. from (or whatever its called now) equally enforced? Do they consider the Communist Party logos, etc. far left? How about Hamas or Hezbollah logos, etc. or any group on the left whose charter includes elimination of Jews or holocaust denial (as is typically the case on the far-right). Any Germany residents have knowledge on this?

Zyme on :

"Are bans against the Red Army Faction logos, etc. from (or whatever its called now) equally enforced?" No "Do they consider the Communist Party logos, etc. far left?" No "How about Hamas or Hezbollah logos, etc. or any group on the left whose charter includes elimination of Jews or holocaust denial (as is typically the case on the far-right)." No I like these kind of questions, quick to answer. Leftist crime is for example anarchists attacking police squadrons or "globalization critics" burning a manager's car and damaging his home estate, leaving messages behind difficult to misunderstand. Rightist crime is raising your arm the wrong way, wearing third reich looking uniforms or beating up the minority kind of people.

John in Michigan, USA on :

That's what I thought. I didn't mean to make them easy to answer, but somehow I'm not surprised that they turned out to be easy to answer! I remain interested in hearing from anyone who is of a different opinion. Particularly: if the things Zyme and I listed are not considered far-left, what exactly would be an example of an unambiguous, far-left propaganda crime in Germany? What would be an example of an unambiguous far-left political crime (other than propaganda crime)? I suppose I am asking for a definition of the Ur-political-crime, in a leftist context. We all know what it is in the rightist context. And yet, taking a simple mirror image of the Ur-crime on the right, doesn't seem to be the answer. Thanks.

Zyme on :

"I suppose I am asking for a definition of the Ur-political-crime, in a leftist context." Well unfortunately there dont seems to be an official "list" of political crimes :) The wikipedia list of political crimes goes like this: Preparation of or incitment towards an offensive war High Treason Continuation of a political party that has been forbidden Usage of propaganda means of anti-constitutional organisations Evasion of the military draft Incitement of the people Creation and support of a terrorist group Apart from the usage of anti-constitutional symbols and incitement of the people there do not seem to be a lot of political crimes that happen on a daily basis. These are almost exclusively right-wing crimes - which has a simple reason. The current state defines itself as the anti-thesis of its predecessor, the Third Reich. Just like the Third Reich tried to make everything different from the Weimar Republic and so forth (now make a guess what the next one will do - but you didnt hear it from me, ok? :D) Left-wing propaganda does not play a role because its time is assumed to be over. Islamist propaganda plays little role because of a shrinking but still existing Multi-Kulti bonus.

Zyme on :

Btw John, how are such things handled in the USA? When a party is founded today that specifically aims at changing the system, what happens? Is freedom of speech valued higher than political stability? How did the US behave in the past? For example, during the Cold War, have communist organizations been persecuted? Or what happened to fascist movements during WW2?

John in Michigan, USA on :

Zyme, In the US, it is impossible to ban a person, a political movement, or a political party. You can march anywhere, holding any sign or symbol, as long as you have permission of the owner of that land. There can be no propaganda crimes, nor political crimes (at least, not as I understand the term). This is due to the First Amendment and also a deep belief in radical free speech. The theory is, even if an extremist group gains power, we have enough checks and balances to prevent them from doing too much damage. Still, if an extreme group somehow won a super-majority in both the legislature and the state governments, they could in theory re-write the constitution from scratch, dissolve the union; create a monarchy; abolish all private property and even abolish money itself, or whatever. This why Americans like to think of ourselves as revolutionaries, even today, and even though a revolution is unlikely. We like to think that our Constitution, plus our mores, culture, and people, would moderate a poorly conceived, impulsive, or temporary revolution, but at the same time, [i]these institutions would permit and even facilitate a revolution, if a revolution were truly needed[/i]. This radical, revolutionary heritage partly explains the feeling of American exceptionalism, particularly as applied to the "old world" of Europe. Paradoxically, this commitment to radical free speech may actually be a stabilizing force. It is supposed to steal the wind from the sails of any violent, radical movement: if they don't have the numbers to win at the ballot box, what makes them think they can win by force of arms (particularly when their neighbors are also armed...). So far, this has worked pretty well. Naturally, there have been deviations from, or challenges to, this vision. Early on were the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_and_sedition_act]Alien and Sedition Acts[/url] of 1798. More recently we've had Red Scares (1917–1920 and 1947–1957) and restrictions on commercial speech (starting in 1942 when we decided we had to protect people from advertisers, marketers, etc.) Today, challenges to radical, free political speech include: the movement to outlaw hate speech; certain aspects of the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GWOT]GWOT[/url] (which is now apparently called "overseas contingency operations against man-caused disasters"...glad they cleared that up!); restrictions derived from our campaign finance laws, and I suppose there could be more examples. Some would also argue that the Two Party System has become so entrenched, that meaningful political action outside of it is impractical.

Zyme on :

Well thank you for this insight. Truely, such an approach proves that the will of the people has sustained the system for more than two centuries, so chances are good that it isn't going to disappear in the foreseeable future. So what does it tell you that in Germany (and to a lesser degree in the surrounding monarchies) there is no room for revolution and a comparatively strict regulation of freedom of speech? Maybe our elites are often having nightmares - or a bad conscience..

Don S on :

Zyme, It tells me that German elites still behave as Bismark did. I don't think you really had freedom of expression, even under Weimar. At least after Ludendorf and the other crazies got going. The Austrian and his shmoes did, but then they had powerful backers, didn't they?

Don S on :

Not that the US has been perfect in such respects. Witness the lynch mobs in the South for a long time, when things like that happen it meant blacks didn't really have freedom of expression. Now the shoe is rather on the other foot, however. When the Klan wishes to express their freedom of expression, police presence is required to ensure that the Klan is not physically discouraged by strongly-held views of their fellow citizenry. That is I mean that said dissent can be expressed in visible and verbal ways, but one isn't permitted to beat the crap out of a Klansman. A shame, really....

John in Michigan, USA on :

Yes, slavery, and in the North, segregation, were major deviations from the vision. I didn't include them, nor other things, because those deviations involved many more issues besides free speech. But there is a common theme: what is the true meaning of the Revolution? Is Federalism (i.e. a strong union, which doesn't permit states to unilaterally resign or seccede) part of our radical, revolutionary heritage, or is Federalism counter-revolutionary? It was this question, much more than slavery, that led to the US Civil War. When the North prevailed, it meant that Federalism would prevail. Federalism needed to prove that it was revolutionary, so it ended slavery, which was indeed a radical and much needed step. Unfortunately, America wasn't radical enough to make African-Americans fully equal, until much later. The Republican-dominated South experimented with full equality during the post-war Reconstruction. In 1871, there were more African Americans in the Congress than ever in our history, [i]including today[/i]. But, there was too much opposition, or not enough follow-through, in a war-weary nation. Perhaps there are limits to how much change a country can absorb in a single generation. We had to wait until the Democratic Party finally caught up to the Republican party's earlier radicalism. Heh. OK, many Americans would disagree with this last point. Other Americans or scholars of America: Any major mistakes it what I've written?

Zyme on :

There is still a good deal of hope I have for the future, despite the gridlock constitution. The younger generation is no longer affected by the "never again" sentiment and will instead be ready to defend our nation's interest, as it is the first generation in a long time which is truely being proud of its nationality. So I expect a style of policy like in the 50s and 60s under Adenauer and Kiesinger in the long run, self-confident and ready for sacrifices. Back then we were having the same constitution, but somehow it was possible to consider the army, prisons and schools to be "institutions free of basic rights". I am not saying this is nessecarily a good thing, but it proves that different people rule differently, and with the right judges the highest courts can actually support them.

Zyme on :

This was supposed to be a response to #6.2.1.1.2.1.1.3 :)

John in Michigan, USA on :

Zyme, What does this say about Germany? A great question. Perhaps it explains Pat's (and my, and others') surprise to learn, [url=http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1224-German-Soldiers-in-Afghanistan-Drinking-Instead-of-Fighting.html#c17626]in a previous discussion[/url] (starting at Pat's comment #9), that large parts of the German Basic Law cannot be altered, that that attempts to do so makes one an "enemy to the free and democratical order" i.e. a traitor. Perhaps you understand some of our frustration at the explanation that, in effect, the basic law was imposed on Germany by the allies, so Germany's hands are tied. This just doesn't seem like the sort of thing Americans would do, it seems contrary to our view of human nature and sovereignty. To us, it seems self-evident that, ultimately, no such restriction is natural or sustainable: "[url=http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/index.htm]When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people...to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them[/url]..." and so on. But, maybe, in the heat victory, we succumbed to the idealism of "never again", and made your Basic Law unalterable. Or, maybe one of the other allies insisted on a no alteration clause? England? Russia? France? In any case, I think making parts of the Basic Law forever unalterable was a mistake. Instead, there should have been an expiration date in that clause. After that date, the German people can modify all parts of their Basic Law, subject to some sort of super-majority test. Perhaps that expiration date should have been 10-15 years after reunification? An expiration date was how the delicate question of de-Ba’athification was handled in Iraq: "Article 7 of the constitution banning the ‘Saddamist Ba’ath’ falls under Section One, which, according to article 122 cannot be amended until 2018 (at the earliest, only after ‘two parliamentary election cycles’), and only then after surmounting the obstacles of a two thirds majority of parliament, followed by a national referendum, followed by a presidential approval." [url=http://talismangate.blogspot.com/2009/04/folly-of-attempted-rehabilitation.html]Source[/url]. Japan is comfortable making changes, although they are going very slowly and so far have limited themselves to re-interpreting the exact meaning of "defense", rather than going the route of formal amendment to their Basic Law. As you and others point out, it is unclear why Germany would want this freedom, when it gets protection from NATO without having to protect the other members of NATO in return. I think Japan is being more realistic. They recognize that an "mutual" defense alliance, that is unbalanced or asymmetrical, is unfair to both sides. Worse, it might prove unreliable just when it is most needed. Also, they understand that at some point, full sovereignty must be theirs, and that any true democracy must stand (or fall) based on the will of the people alone. These are good ideas, even if they are American.

David on :

"any group on the left whose charter includes elimination of Jews or holocaust denial" I am not aware of any such group on the left. Can you please enlighten us?

John in Michigan, USA on :

Note that I did not say "elimination of all Jews" but simply "elimination of Jews". Hezbollah and Hamas qualify, according to the ADL and many other, reliable sources. Do I really need to provide links?

David on :

Yes, please provide links to leftist groups in Germany "whose charter includes elimination of Jews or holocaust denial".

John in Michigan, USA on :

[url=http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1215331214512&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull]Germany: A hotbed of Hizbullah activity[/url] [url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117676512831571906.html]Hezbollah's German Helpers[/url] [url=http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/germany-does-not-ban-hezbollah-tv/]Germany Does Not Ban Hezbollah TV[/url] Hezbollah's eliminationist manifesto: [url=http://www.adl.org/main_Israel/amnesty_international_report.htm]Amnesty International Report: Ignoring Hezbollah's Reign of Terror[/url] [url=http://www.adl.org/images/israel/hezbollah_IHT1_FINAL.pdf]A nice picture[/url] (PDF file) I suppose I lose the argument because I called it a charter rather than a manifesto :-P

David on :

You lose the argument because the links are to Hezbollah, not to any German left parties or leftist organization. Are you saying that Hezbollah and Hamas are "leftist" organizations? Kindly explain. The truth is that the RAF committed its last act of terrorism (the assassination of Alfred Herrhausen) in 1990, while right-wing extremists make violent attacks on "foreigners" and others virtually every day in Germany. In Germany - as in America - the threat of violence is coming from right-wing extremists.

John in Michigan, USA on :

So you are saying, if some neo-Nazi party was created outside of Germany, but later established a presence in Germany, it would be permitted? If an organization exists in Germany, it is subject to regulation by the German state, is it not? "Are you saying that Hezbollah and Hamas are "leftist" organizations? Kindly explain." Next, I'll be asked to define the meaning of "organizations". "In Germany - as in America - the threat of violence is coming from right-wing extremists." Naturally. When Left-wing orgs commit violent acts, they are actually engaging in the right of resistance. Back in the real world, the residents of most prisons (US or German) poll towards the left, not the right. Childish. I've corresponded with you long enough to know that you know better. Doing your best to inhibit international dialog. Well done there, Harvard.

David on :

"Back in the real world, the residents of most prisons (US or German) poll towards the left, not the right." I'd love to see some data supporting this assertion.

John in Michigan, USA on :

When I have done so in the past, you just ignore me and change the subject. You do not appear to be having this discussion in good faith. Until you are, I can't be bothered. Why not check for yourself?

David on :

John, I am a volunteer tutor in a youth detention facility and work with "kids behind bars". The biggest problem we have is with gangs. I am now tutoring skinheads and white supremacy gang members, trying to get them to value diversity. I have yet to encounter any kid in this facility who espouses "liberal" viewpoints. True, I don't work with adult inmates, but I doubt there is much difference in the emotional makeup.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Well, thanks for volunteering. I think we agree that there are a number of problems in the US prison system. When I was in college, we used to go counter-protest the skinheads. But, I stopped going, because the bulk of the counter-protesters were were as un-American as the skinheads themselves. The two extremes seemed to feed off each other and I saw no point in enabling that whole circus. All Republicans to the left of Pat Buchanan officially repudiate the skinhead vote. Meanwhile, racist groups like La Raza, which have a strong presence in the US prisons, are actively solicited by mainstream Democrats, including our current President, and also McCain (not as successfully) So we've each had different, anecdotal experiences with extremists. So far the only one to bring data to bear on the prison question is Joe.

Joe Noory on :

That's all very nice, and I'm quite sure that you're the only selfless person who ever walked the earth, but the rest of us have to put in persepctive the fact that in the prism (or prison) of your world view, the only interest you seem to have is "the winning of arguments".

Joe Noory on :

[url=http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060112/elxn_prisoners_vote_060111/20060113?s_name=election2006&no_ads]Here[/url]'s a data point from Canada, cleaned up so as not to chafe lefty sensibilities about other polls I read about where upwards of 75% of prisoners polled WOULD vote Liberal or NDP over Tory. [i]Updated Wed. Jan. 11 2006 10:13 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff Friday was voting day for prisoners across Canada. About 35,000 were eligible to vote, and many seemed to be voting Liberal in order to protect privileges that Conservatives threaten to take away.[/i]

Joe Noory on :

The same kind of nitwits who come out and march for any cause characterized as asti0-establishment have an ugly habit of marching with militants who as part of their idea of "justice for Palestina" also are found [url=http://www.zombietime.com/zomblog/?p=230]advocating[/url] the [url=http://erikwottrich.blogspot.com/2009/03/anti-semitism-on-rise-in-malmo.html]elimination[/url] of the Jewish people. Aside from any 25+ year old attributions you may have about the RAF, the "radicals" who support these types of demonstrations are leftist. In fact, when you look at the skinheads' concept of how much control the government should have over society, it's rather easy to say that they are far more to the left than the right, as was Hitler who employed Bolshi rhetoric and employed an idiot's form of class-warfare populism to gain power.

Don S on :

Springtime for Hitler in Germany circa 2009? I think not. Nor do I think an outcropping of fascism in whatever form likely anywhere in a major Western country (i.e. the US, Germany, France, UK, Japan). The conditions are not favorable to a reprise of fascism or any of it's variants (Nazi-ism, Falangism, etc) in any of these places, which are stable democracies. That doesn't mean a lack of social unrest but I believe the social unrest will take a form far more similar to the riots of the late 60's in the US and Western Europe and possibly the advance of fringe parties in Europe and major factionalism within the established political parties or a third party in US politics. The politics of the 30's in the US, UK, and France might be another guide to predict what may happen. All three major outcroppings of fascism in the 20's and 30's (Italy, Germany, and Spain) shared a single characteristic: Democracy was new and relatively feeble in all three countries which succumbed. That cannot be said about most countries in the core of Europe or North America. Fascism is possible in other places under the right conditions. It's possible in Eastern Europe, Russia, perhaps India. I find Russia the most likely incubator for a new fascism, although it's very far from certain even there. One last point: should we be gravely concerned about a reprise of Fascism? I would argue - perhaps not. Italy was Fascist for a decade prior to the ascent of the Nazis - was it a threat to international order? Not much of one! Spain was no more of a threat fopr many years even after WWII. No, I would argue that facism is a mortal threat only when a linchpin country succumbs. If the US, China, Russia, perhaps India or Brazil were to fall, that would be a huge problem. If Poland, Ukraine, Greece, or Italy were to go facist it would be much less a concern. Germany? Nein. If Germany has a revolution it will be a leftist one, not national socialism.

Marie Claude on :

I had like that the german fellows sort out what is real about the german "far-right" ... being neo-nazi the polemic is discussed here http://rsmccain.blogspot.com/2009/04/pam-geller-poster-girl-for-eurofascists.html "Next month, Geller will attend a conference in Cologne, Germany, on the Islamicization of Europe. One of the key figures in the German group sponsoring the Cologne conference is Manfred Rouhs. He has appeared at events with neo-Nazi activist Axel Reitz who, in turn, has appeared at events with neo-Nazi activist Christian Worch". and a Danish gives his ideas here : http://europenews.dk/en/node/9663

John in Michigan, US on :

MC, these are outstanding links, by the way. Sorry for the late complement.

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