Tune into German television or pick up a German newspaper and the odds are that political news will dominate the headlines. Trying to convince an average German that his centralized state government is incapable of making a positive difference in this country will be met with staunch defenses of a state-citizen’s belief system. Germans in general are absolutely convinced of the superiority of their political and socialist democratic process. Yet, they constantly bemoan outcomes produced by this very process. With six major parties sitting in Bundestag (parliament) and three left-wing parties in various other Bundesländer (states), the word Sozialistische still dominates every party’s philosophy, with the liberal party (FDP, the German "libertarians") being somewhat the exception. It is therefore no surprise that Germany’s support for mandated equality and a mixed economic market — Soziale Marktwirtschaft — has been stifling its economic growth, marching along with a gradual decline of its people’s moral values that had thereto been absorbed and accepted by this old European culture for centuries.
The Germans, as all people, are guided by a belief system. It is the catalyst that influences man’s thoughts and actions and on how he perceives and sees his world in which he lives. They can be, depending on a philosophic underpinning, a combination of a set of ideals, personal experiences or a famously high German IQ. The political belief that holds firm as the German standard is a democracy. It’s a notion that people with completely opposite ideas can come together to some form of consensus with a united policy where every minority, down to Planet Earth, is protected by a myriad of laws. Every success is shared to some extent with the rest of the society.
The strongest influence a belief system holds in a democracy is when it captures the hearts and minds of the majority. It can either bring freedom, prosperity and life, or it will enslave man and bring disaster and death. Unfortunately, as those with a modicum of knowledge of the recent German history know, the latter has dominated over the last 125 years. It also depends on how much of that belief system is based on truth. And, with truth it is understood that its principles and teachings stand firm in their longevity and hold true during any time frame in history and in the future. The underlying teaching is inspiring, hope-giving and exhibits a love for one’s neighbor. A teaching based on these foundations contains wisdom capable of being perceived by all people.
Whether that wisdom is yet to hit Germany is debatable. The country has been soaking in socialist brine for almost 140 years after liberalism was defeated in 1848 during the European Revolution. The end of liberalism left a big void to be filled. The vacuum it created was quickly filled by socialist thoughts of Karl Rodbertus-Jagetzow (1805—1875) with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels being of greater influences. Since their writings and literatures were first written in German, it provided opportunities to reach a large population during the 19th Century. In 1875 the German Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei (SAP) merged with the Sozialdemokratische Arbeiterpartei (SDA) and as such founded one of the first unified worker parties in Europe. Their agenda stood in opposition to the German Imperial Reich and became outlawed with the “Sozialistengesetz” (1878—1890) under Otto von Bismarck. A re-organization tripled their support, receiving almost 20 percent of the votes during the 1890 Reichtagswahlen and officially becoming the SDP (Socialistische Deutsche Partei).
Their supporters consisted of mostly protestant and non-denominational industrial workers, as well as from the broader middle class. The ideology of its followers mainly promoted workers’ rights and labor unions. Their beliefs slowly infiltrated into civic life by founding many clubs within each community; building a strong network of organization. After WWI the party created coalitions with civil center-left parties and became the breeding ground for a charismatic figure like Hitler to ride through the democratic process with a few aggressive methods, like busting heads of its opposition. Teamsters would be proud.
In 1933 the political landscape of the Weimar Republic consisted of NSDAP with 288 seats, SPD with 120 seats; the Catholic Centre Party with 93; the Communist Party with 81; and the Nationalist Party (DNVP) with 52 seats and all others with 23 seats. The overall belief system of the population by a large measure was in socialism, nationalism and its competing ideology, communism with a much smaller Catholic minority.
Munich, Bavaria, with its historical Beer Hall — “Alcohol that inspired Putsch” — is basically a middle-class German city, and very dominated by socialist principles. Although Bavaria is largely Catholic, and one of the few states still promoting Christian values, its politicians — much like its brew makers — are capable of putting together some odd concoctions. One of these odd concoctions is CSU, a Christian Social Party. It is a uniquely Bavarian party and sister party to Angela Merkel’s CDU (Christian Democratic Union). Bavaria’s capital still remains the seat of socialism. Süddeutsche Zeitung, one of the most left-wing publications in the entire country, is headquartered in Munich and is an influential mouthpiece with its dominant belief system.
For a keen observer, the pervasive influence of this ideology can be felt everywhere. Upon arrival it takes an effort see beyond the beautiful landscapes of rural Germany, its legendary rivers and majestic mountains; the awe-inspiring old cathedrals or listening to a brass band play in their traditional lederhosen. It can be quite overwhelming to take in all the history this country has seen. Any tourist would be remiss not to sample its zillion brands of world-class beer, wine, sausage and song. Traveling from place to place, one cannot help but notice the juxtaposition of the different epochs. Some towns and cities are over 1200 years old; others are as modern as modern gets. The negative influence socialism had, and still has, will not be initially visible to a tourist when he or she first visits the country until he starts talking to a German about his belief system, or begins to wonder why everybody is wearing the same colored pants with dyed red hair.
The original root of Germany and subsequent success, which Germany often prides itself, are the stories of individual people. Their belief system was often opposite to the current citizen. Germany’s culture was not founded on an intellectual, man-made philosophy and its collective followers; but derived through the Christian religion, trade, craftsmanship and a desire for higher learning during the Renaissance. No German citizen can take credit for what someone else achieved, but it becomes apparent when national pride can temporarily smooth over one’s own defeat and mediocrity. It is the mind-set of collectivism in which one’s troubles get carried away and merged into an image of power and control.
Among the famous German inventors was Johannes Gutenberg who invented the printing press in 1440 and revolutionized printing. Felix Hoffman invented the aspirin. More famous names are Karl Benz, Alois Alzheimer, Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin, Wolfgang von Goethe, Ludwig van Beethoven (just to name a few); all these minds and geniuses did not receive their inspiration from obedience to a collective desire or some egalitarian kolkhoz. They were driven to discover, invent, write and compose because of something other than their belief in their state-government and its quirky philosophy. The only proven function it is capable of producing is to suffocate man’s spirit through continual intervention in human affairs.
To keep the memories of old greatness, the old cultural landmarks are being preserved with the subsidies from the local and federal government. The argument can be made that state subsidies preserved the old buildings and historical landmarks and would be reasons to support its socialism for the greater good of the community. The argument can also be made that government funds to universities finance research and give everyone opportunities to receive free higher education. But what is rarely acknowledged is the detrimental effect of the state-controlled education where top minds head abroad to conduct research and get paid in the process. How much more could have been achieved through private enterprise to finance the preservation of historic buildings and churches or private schools? And the most horrible thought for many Germans would be the idea of allowing families to home-school their children. The federal government has made this option obsolete in their constitution, and elevated itself as the only guardian over the minds of children. Imprisonment awaits those who do not send their children to public schools.
The idea of deregulating the social network, legal support and protection of the state is a devastating thought to a German state-citizen, and would probably bring on a state of hyperventilation. After almost 4 or 5 generations of being brainwashed with socialist propaganda in schools and universities through intellectuals of the same ilk, the younger generation is not even close to understanding the reality of what the real world is like. Strikes and protests organized by labor unions will be an increasing occurrence in Germany over the next few years. France’s recent student revolt of a labor law allowing employers to fire younger workers during the first two years without an explicitly disclosed reason, may easily become a reality one day in Germany.
The idea that someone might actually have to pay for education, that a job is not a life-long guarantee with mediocre performance; nor that benefits are a worker’s right but a privilege, that doctors actual need to be paid for their services, and that nothing is free in life is an incomprehensible concept to a generation who for decades was brought up in the milieu of socialism. Their fears and paranoia are to be consoled through more and more laws protecting their entitlement. Even if it means lower standards of living by a declining income per capita and increasing unemployment and social hardship; they would rather support a perverted state-government than seek to free themselves from its clutches.
The overall GDP per capita in Germany is only 10 percent higher than the average EU25 income per capita, which equates out to roughly $27,000. Luxemburg, Ireland and Switzerland are three of the highest income countries in the European Union. With the stagnant economy, it may not be long until the German living standards compete for the lowest among the EU members. This is when the function of the political apparatus has achieved its purpose. Equality. It finally balanced out to the lowest denominator. Socialists can then congratulate themselves for a job well done.
Germans have forgotten the economic miracle of the early 1950’s under Ludwig Erhard that brought them economic growth and freedom, and made them a giant in the export market. Since the late 1960’s socialist mentality again used the democratic process to find itself in the perfect position of suffocating Germany’s social and economic structure. It successfully has killed all self-governing communities and centralized them into larger cities. The states pledge their allegiance to a glorious state government, if they want to get assistance and grants. It took the modernized state only 40 years to run down its economy; bankrupt its states and cities, only to a raise a new generation of entitled and melancholic people who continually bemoan their situation.
It is impossible to make any rational or factual arguments with anyone whose belief is in socialism and big government spending, especially when their beliefs are so strongly reinforced by popular intellectuals. It will most likely result in an emotionally heated disagreement that brings no results. Their most common defense to deflect a rational argument will be their insistent blame of capitalism or persons in their opposing political and social Weltanschauung. They will use the standard collection of popular socialist buzzwords as if they were coming straight out of Marx’s mouth.
The only way to come out of their denial is when their belief system fails and lets them down. The betrayal would let them see the deception of false promises that only brought them tragedy; a tragedy those older generations of Germans still remember. However, how history is taught in order not to forget the mistakes of the past has been the failure of state authorities in many Western nations. The belief system of a people-friendly philosophy will always be a strict observer of teaching history in the proper context. Reality is always reflected in an accurate recollection of the past and not altered by making heroes out of murderers; worshipping and glorifying a state-run institution that preaches protection from the reality of life.
This is where Germans failed. Their recent WWII history, although documented in great detail in movies, books, and articles, never explain the root cause of the successful support of Hitler’s agenda which democracy helped elect. It never taught the real threat of socialism that replaced their moral belief system; but adopted it again after the post-war years. Since the state is responsible for the education of the young, it would contradict itself by telling the truth, since its survival depends on the ignorance of the majority. Germany’s political engine elected to march down the road of political correctness in order to be redeemed in the eyes of the international community. It created a fictitious reality in which the intellectual thoughts of 140 years of Sozialismus are still the predominant force that reflects their warped worldview.
As Germany’s economic situation worsens with dissatisfied and increasingly pessimistic people in every Bundesland, its new coalition administration will make little difference to change the real cause of their problems. Their daily squabbles between the two right and left wing parties on how to best re-distribute their high taxes between the many different social programs, how to best smother a private business with more regulations and taxes or how to best regulate their health care system to death is an ongoing battle of the Bundestag.
A German reads and sees this nonsense daily in his morning paper and in the news media; enough to make him choke on his breakfast roll. Is he able to recognize that the monster he created with his belief system is only mirroring the lowest nature of man? Abandoning a belief system that bears no fruit or very little is having to admit defeat; a blow to any human that relied on bureaucracy to get him through life. Replacing it with a belief system that can actually bear fruit in abundance would be the first step in turning his current depression around.
Sabine Barnhart [send her mail] moved to the US in 1980 and lives in Fort Worth, TX with her three children. For the past 15 years she has been working for an international service company.