I’ve been reading up on the BBC News website about the euro crisis and came across their correspondent Gavin Hewitt’s blog and subsequent comments by readers. And what struck me was a noticeable anti-German sentiment among many of the comments. This is grossly unfair and naïve to boot. The general tone of the anti-Germanism was that sooner or later the ‘Germans will take over’, that the future of Europe should not be in the hands of a country which ‘started two world wars’ and similar bullshit. This is nothing but barroom talk of the most ill-educated kind. And what has Germany done to attract such animosity? Well, nothing as far as I can see. What it has done is to run a tight ship, keep its state borrowing down and to make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently. What exactly is wrong with that?
There is a useful phrase which cynically, but accurately, describes a curious aspect of human nature. You might know it: No good deed goes unpunished. It seems to me apt in the circumastances. It so happens that the German governments of the post-war years have been enthusiastic about the EU and its institutions and so far that enthusiasm has ensured that Germany is providing the lion’s share of the bailout cash for Greece, Portugal and Ireland. It’s true that it isn’t just goodwill which is behind their actions – if the eurozone goes up the swannee and Germany’s customers for its exports can’t afford them any more, that is bad news. So Germany is doing its best to ensure that crisis never happens. But that isn’t the full story. For better or worse Germany – or rather its government – still believes in the EU and that the peaceful future of Europe depends upon it. And that is another reason why it is taking a hit to bail out the feckless Greeks. (Incidentally, it is well-known that the better off you are in Greece, the less tax you pay.
Part of the problem has been that successive Greek governments have simply let that state of affairs continue.) But there could well come a point, and it might well come sooner than we expect – or some fear – that the Germans tell themselves ‘enough is enough’ and ask themselves ‘why are we putting up with this shit?’ And that thought might occur to the electorate sooner than it occurs to the government. The next federal elections in Germany are in just over two years, and that is not a long time in political terms. It might be about now that both the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats take the pulse of the country and decide a little less euro jubilation might be called for if they are to have any chance whatsoever of beating the opposition.
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For the past two nights there has been rioting in London in mainly black areas. It has carried on all day today in different parts of London. Actually, what mainly went on in Tottenham on Sunday night was looting. It started after a man was shot dead by police in Tottenham, but that seems to me a poor excuse for a bout of overnight all-out thieving. On the radio this morning an community activist, or something like that, from the area, spoke of unemployed black people ‘exercising their agenda’, whatever the fuck that means – nothing, I think. I don’t doubt that unemployment has a lot to do with it, but I can’t see why that justifies all-out looting. It also becomes rather murky when the number of blacks rioting is equalled by the number of whites, which rather make me think that any talk of this being caused be racism – which it might well soon from those intent on convincing us that the looters were ‘exercising their agenda’ – is just so much bullshit. It would be useful to point out that there is a considerable number of unemployed blacks and whites who don’t choose to ‘exercise their agenda’ by indulging in a spot of looting.
UPDATE: The rioters have now set fire to buildings in Croydon, which is to the south of London, and the rioting has now spread to Kilburn, West London and Birmingham. I've been watching the news live on TV, and it is pretty obvious that this is action by hooligans. There is nothing in it to do with racism.