Tagged: Germany

Hellfire club

Robert Oppenheimer is the most tragic public figure of the twentieth century.

One doesn’t see crazy anti-communist paranoia much anymore.

Whatever happened to existentialism?

It is ironic (and common) that people who lack culture fight against “losing” what they never possessed. See Pegida.

It’s great to see real Germans stand against the Rechtsextremismus that has long percolated in the East.

Before they make me run

Mr Piketty is a significant improvement over recent heroes of the bookish left, eclipsing the likes of Negri, Hardt, and Graeber.

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Patrioten gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes: looks like 1990-92 all over again. At that time, the targets were refugees from the Balkans. It was not safe for a “foreigner” to travel in the former DDR lands. Halle and Dresden were dangerous.

The DDR had pockets that were never fully de-Nazified. Traditions of xenophobia and revanchism were nursed over the decades in secret, breaking out into the streets after the Wende. in the early 1990s, Vietnamese and Angola workers were attacked in broad daylight throughout the former East Lander. Buildings housing asylum seekers from the Balkans War were torched. Helmut Kohl pandered to the tiny following of neo-Nazi Parties by blaming foreigners for high levels of unemployment in the post-reunification East.

Pegida is the political inheritor such Rechtsextremismus, which has always played the victim card — “stab in the backism” — to the hilt. It is better financed and more media savvy than its competitors on the right.

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There is no “culture” that is not always already multicultural. The idea that cultures exist in some pristine state, hermetically sealed off from “external influences,” is risible.

Wherever I may roam

Berlin

I travel with G. to the archive in Potsdam, in the former east. Right across the Glienicke Bridge, where Cold War spy swaps took place. The U-Bahn glides over the leafy neighborhood of Wannsee. The “Final Solution” was decided somewhere down there. This doesn’t seem right. Off the train and onto a bus that stops after crossing the spy bridge. The archive must be here somewhere but all we see are a few Soviet troops, loitering in front of a non-descript building. But this building is the one I’m looking for.

I’m not as comfortable during this stay in Germany as I was on my first visit. A xenophobic fever runs high after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Neo-Nazis attack foreigners, asylum seekers, with impunity. There are attacks in Berlin on buses, despite Prussian-like police presence. Further east, the police infrastructure is weak or non-existent. I must travel east to an archive in Merseburg. G. tells me I can’t travel alone. One of my friends from New York sends me several sheets of American flag stickers, which will keep me safe.

East and West Berlin is still divided by culture. The former East Germans are called Ossies by West Germans, the Wessies. When I look for an apartment at a rental agency, the nice young man points to the map of Berlin, identifying each Nazigebiet (Nazi area) in East Berlin. The apartments are cheap because they have no central heating. I encounter an Englishwoman, who reports she was attacked by skinheads. The new fascism is equal opportunity.

At a party, I meet a skinhead who is anti-fascist. He’s part of an anti-fascist skinhead group.

Kreuzberg is where the Turkish “guest-workers” live. No neo-Nazi or fascist skinhead turns up there because the Turks fight back. So do the Autonome, the anarchists who break up skinhead rallies with bricks and wooden clubs

New York

Now at ___ University, straight out of Straight Man. These people, my putative colleagues, are beleaguered. What was an attempt at making unity turns rancorous. The lead organizer, accused of exclusion, which he denies, but which everyone knows is true, leaves the table, the room, the universe, ten minutes before quitin’ time. Then, before that, another one – one of my putative colleagues – says something like “I am the only ___ woman left and that tells me I HAVE NO FUTURE HERE.” You can fill in that blank. I stifled the urge to laugh for this person had challenged some logical laws, if not physical ones. “This is really bad,” I conclude, washing my mind of an hour and a quarter of wasted words.