I’m off to Berlin in the morning, I’ve visited it several time over the past few years and each time I marvel at the sense of history and the place Berlin holds in the history of Europe, I am sure that the last 100 years of European history pivots around this city of 3.5 million spread over the the Eastern part Germany will feature in most of the past 100 years, to me the symbol of this history is the Bundestag or formally as it was know the Reichstag. As a Parliament it is an unimposing building, quite nice, but unimposing.
The Bundestag has seen the current problems before, and despite the criticism of the Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Germany is utterly determined not to make the same mistakes again that led to the rise of fascism and the years that still haunt this country. The reasons for German very cautious approach to the current crisis is that spending its way out of the Euro Crisis could lead to inflation, and it was inflation that was the catalyst for the rise of Hitler, a people in poverty, looking inwards, being isolated saw a glimmer of hope of the charismatic, very German, Adolf Hitler – and the rest they say is history.
One of the major criticisms levelled at Germany is that it holds most of the financial cards but is unwilling to lead the game, and looking at what is happening in Greece can you blame, the anti-German feeling is rife, and in the G8 summit Germany is being blamed again – in a sense justifiably, and in another unjustifiably.
True Germany is not allowing the European Central Bank to ‘print money’ like Germany did in the 30′s, but then again Germany has worked hard for its position. It has a social system that it has paid for, it has not borrowed excessively and it has only paid itself a ‘living wage’ according to its income, it has been prudent – unlike Greece. It has created a system of governance and workers rights that ensure social stability – yes in May you tend to a spate of car burnings in Berlin, but social unrest is not a feature of the German political scene, in effect it has created a ‘stake holder’ society long before it became political currency in the UK, and the Big Society is the norm in Germany, and it works.
The problem of economic crisis we are living through – and we are living in historic times, the decline of the West and the rise of China as economic superpower – is the tendency of Governments, like the current one in the UK, to lurch towards the right. The attack on the Welfare State is almost complete, the NHS has been effectively privatised, the Social Security system has been slashed making thousands of people who are disabled marginalised as scroungers and the undeserving poor that exist on ‘hand outs’ from the State in its largesse, but many of the disabled are now facing an uncomfortable living.
The Right needs two things to increase, a threat and group to demonize, to blame, to punish. All the ills of the Nation can be blamed on them, the weakest as often the best targets.
The Threat is the current economic crisis, and the target group are the poor, the weak, and the destitute. The next group will be the Workers. The current Queens Speech includes proposals to make it easier, a lot easier, for Companies to sack people, this is needed, so we are told, to increase productivity. FACT Germany has a far more integrated Worker / Employer structure and is far more profitable – but a fearful workforce is far more compliant. Health & Safety Legislation will be repealed, again to make business more efficient – of course workers are now more replaceable with a large unemployed pool created.
The problem is, Government should be about the people it represents and not Big Business and vested interests – but that is fascism for you. I am a monarchist, but I find it ironic we are celebrating the Diamond Jubilee in a year when the elite are grasping more and more control from the people. We need to be in this together, not scrambling over the weakest in society to ensure our own wealth.
I am naive, I just found out Scissor Sisters is a gay group – I honestly didn’t know, or even care, I just like their music – and perhaps saying that when times get tough we can exhibit the best of human nature not the worst.
Welcome to fascist Britain