Weimar 1. Juli 1983

Spiegel:

Alexander Kobylinski in Weimar, 1983

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Sicily provided the Allies with their first opportunity to occupy any part of Axis home territory. By a startling political turn, the new régime upset one of the few positive benefits of the old. Mussolini, alone among rulers of Italy, had mastered the Mafia. The American occupation régime was largely staffed by mafiosi, whose excellent Italian fitted them for the task and whose cover was good; they soon had Sicily back under the corrupt domination of their secret society.

—M.R.D. Foot, Resistance, (London: Biteback Publishing Ltd, 2016), 348.

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National identity

German history provides few models for constructing a national identity. Such a presumed German ‘national identity’ has not been a historical constant, but is a product of only the last two centuries, has fluctuated greatly over time, and been based on shifting sets of ‘German’ territorial borders since the Napoleonic conquests.

—Ian Kershaw, The Nazi Dictatorship, (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 280.

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Mündigkeit

Die Mündigwerdung ist übrigens auch der Antrieb der beiden wichtigsten Stimulanten von Wohlstandsgesellschaften: des Auf­steigers und des Migranten. Im Ideal ist die Integration in eine fremde Kultur und Gesellschaft eine Art Mündigkeitsmarathon.

—Ulf Poschardt, Mündig, (Stuttgart: J. G. Cotta’sche Buchhandlung Nach­folger GmbH, 2020), 10‑11.

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Mindsets

Ed Pilkington, The Guardian:

Black members voted for masks, in order to prevent more families losing six loved ones. White members voted against masks, to preserve the fundamental right not to attach a cloth to your face.

In a 4-4 tie, the ordinance failed. As he left the chamber, Dr Saliski uttered just one word: “Unbelievable.”

Unbelievable accurately describes America today.…

The most worrying aspect of the tone being set by Trump is that it is starting to shift the mindset of ordinary Americans. Everywhere you look there are anecdotal signs of people falling in line with the president – shrugging and saying it’s no big deal.

So no more Leibniz or Zeno jokes – I still like the thought, but sometimes I bore even myself. What interests me here are the observations “unbelievable accurately describes America today” and the mindset of ordinary Americans is being shifted. Leaving aside consideration of what the mindset of ordinary Americans was pre‑pandemic and pre‑Trump, for several years now I have been seeing a constant stream of media criticizing the Trump Administration for flagrantly lying, there were several years of Märchen about the evil Dr. Putin robbing poor Hillary Clinton, and now an elderly dementia sufferer is being championed as the Democratic savior. What has this done to the critical thinking abilities of ordinary Americans – not what might it do, or what is it starting to do, but what has it done? When Ed Pilkington says “unbelievable accurately describes America today” or Nick Bryant says America is “a country in an irreconcilable state of division and decline; a broken superpower” these seasoned journalists are describing their observations of a society which displays manifest irrationality and decline. Where are the analyses of the mindsets of the Americans who experience this decline while assuring themselves theirs is the nation with the best Netflix shows on Earth?

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Tranquility

Los Angeles Times:

Beverly Hills is facing criticism after officers arrested 28 people during a peaceful protest against police violence overnight, two weeks after imposing an unusual ordinance banning demonstrations in residential areas that “disrupted the tranquility.”

…after protesters marched for several hours, police deployed a long-range acoustic device, also known as a sonic cannon, and declared the demonstration an unlawful assembly shortly before midnight.…

A total of 28 people were taken into custody, most on suspicion of unlawful assembly, though one person faced an attempted arson charge after allegedly trying to set fire to a large American flag that was attached to a building, said Sgt. Thomas West of the Beverly Hills Police Department.…

“Last night’s protest in a residential area,” Friedman said, “was a violation of the City’s Civil Emergency Order.”

The arrests occurred in a residential section of the city north of the glitzy shopping district.

The order, which took effect June 13, states that no more than 10 people are allowed to gather for an assembly in a residential area between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. An assembly is defined as a gathering in a public place that consists of 10 or more people who have a common goal…

The protest “included bullhorns and amplified music and disrupted the tranquility of the residential neighborhood during hours when many people would ordinarily be sleeping,” the order states.

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That’s not impotence, it’s, ah, “lack of trust”. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket: lack of trust.

Die EU hingegen wirkt im militärischen Bereich wenig beeindruckend. Solange also die russische Führung an militärisch herbeigeführten Grenzveränderungen und Kriegen zur Durchsetzung der russischen Hegemonieansprüche in Osteuropa festhält, wie dies ganz aktuell im Osten der Ukraine der Fall ist, wird ein besseres und vertrauens­volleres Verhältnis zwischen den beiden kontinentalen Nachbarn fast unmöglich zu erreichen sein.…

Die Krim und die Ostukraine haben jedoch gezeigt, wie schnell sich die Dinge ändern und militärisch neue Fakten geschaffen werden können. Den in Berlin so beliebten Satz »Gewalt ist keine Lösung!« würde man in Moskau niemals unterschreiben. Die Krim und Syrien zeigen aus Sicht des Kreml gerade das Gegenteil.

—Joschka Fischer, Willkommen im 21. Jahrhundert, (Köln: Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2020), 163‑164.

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Technique

Nick Bryant, BBC:

Since the turn of the new century we have spoken of a post-American world. But my fear is we are facing a post-American America: a country in an irreconcilable state of division and decline; a broken superpower in a broken world.…

Before too long, I hope New York will return to its charismatic self, and you’ll get to experience this epic global city.…

But to be truthful, Honor, something I’m not hoping for is a speedy return to normal. Because one thing that’s become glaringly evident during these months of global shutdown and these weeks of global protest – normal no longer works.

I was struck by several phrases in Bryant’s piece.

The idea of a “post-American America” I think nicely describes a US tramping through the broken shards of the American Century. The country has seemed to me to be in an irreconcilable state of decline for decades. One sign of this has been the inability of most Americans to begin to be able to conceptualize it, let alone discuss it. The hope that New York will “return” to its charismatic self here communicates well the limits of the British speaker to grasp the implications of what he himself has just said: as a metropolis in a land experiencing irreconcilable decline New York will not be returning to anything. This trip is one-way.

Bryant concludes with the pithy “normal no longer works”. “Works” is here in context suggested to be a desired condition, and it is of concern to Bryant that that which had previously worked does so no longer. This got me to thinking about Jacques Ellul, and the Technological Society.

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Wenn das Vereinigte Königreich nicht mehr Mitglied der EU sein wird, dann werden drei ehemalige europäische Großmächte, ja Weltmächte, am nord­westlichen, süd­östlichen und östlichen Rand Europas gelegen, Nachbarn der Europäischen Union sein: Großbritannien, die Türkei und Russland. Alle drei wollen oder haben keine Mitgliedsperspektive.

—Joschka Fischer, Willkommen im 21. Jahrhundert, (Köln: Verlag Kiepenheuer & Witsch, 2020), 147.

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How the Virus Won

New York Times:

The spread of Coronavirus in the US is not the product of long-standing infrastructure deficits, economic or political choices. This was not the foreseeable result of policy. Americans battled the adversary bravely, but here there were invisible outbreaks, hidden infections. The epidemic spun out of control. This can be contrasted with the German experience — Germans were fortunate to not be faced with invisible outbreaks and their infections were not hidden. The epidemic there proceeded on a straight and narrow path, and, being German, was much less prone to spin out of control.

Civil authorities do not fail to institute social distancing measures, individuals do not fail to observe restrictions — outbreaks just flare. There is nothing you can do about it. No one can see where the virus will go next. The virus goes places. The virus has agency, while we, however, are observers.

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