Today, we can say without a doubt that in several countries of the world labeled as Western, developed democratic market economies, a brain death, defined as a general loss of cognitive consciousness, has occurred in terms of visions for the future and social models to follow. I believe that a textbook example of this can be found in Germany, because as the dominant country of the European West, the fate of our region and, more specifically, our country, are directly tied to German developments for better and for worse. This is a fact and explaining it any further would be superfluous.
I consider Angela Merkel — formerly called Mutti, an endearing term Germans usually use to refer to their own mothers — to be a person blessed with an outstanding intellect and a well-versed politician, not unlike Thilo Sarrazin. Merkel calls herself a conservative, a Christian, and a Democrat, while Sarrazin is a left-wing social democrat in the Brandt and Schmidt tradition, who was recently expelled from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) for his anti-immigration views, albeit after what was the third attempt to remove him.
Merkel swears she can solve the challenges facing the country (“Wir schaffen das”), while Sarrazin is of the opinion that Germany is more likely to downsize (“shafft sich ab”) because the German state has reached the limits of its capacity.
It is self-evident that the two findings are directly opposed to one another. Moreover, the two popular parties (CDU and SPD) have long been governing in a coalition, and nuanced differences in their politics can only be found only through very close scrutiny. In such a situation, an observer who is worried about the Germans — and in this context also about his own country — can do nothing else but start and explore the available facts and look for a solid basis for well-founded opinions.
Founded at the same time that modern Germany came into existence in 1871, the three large banks that define the German financial world, Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank and Commerzbank, which were involved in financing German-owned industry, agriculture, and exports, are now but shadows of their former selves.
Dresdner Bank has even been removed from the register of companies, and the market value of Commerzbank, which has a gigantic balance sheet, is “rivaling” that of Hungary’s OTP Bank, which is many times smaller as a financial institution because it accumulates losses as actual losses.
Deutsche Bank is no different. In addition to its long-standing losses, the former world premiere bank has become a money laundering operation, and the majority of its foreign owners do not use it as a bank. Legally speaking though, it is a German bank, most pertinently because the federal government will have to spend billions of euros again to bail it out.
Meanwhile, the migrant influx which began in 2015 has resulted in overcrowded German prisons, with the ratio of foreign convicts rising to 51 percent in 2019 from 43 percent in 2016 in Berlin, to 61 percent from 55 percent in Hamburg and to 36 percent from 13 in North Reine-Westphalia. Rising crime is not the only issue either, with the threat of terrorism and societal divisions also growing.
The auto industry, the flagship of the German economy, including the still German-owned Volkswagen Group, is also in big trouble.
Merkel took over power and established herself at the top of a Germany that was already a completed construct in 1998. She was propelled there thanks to the charisma of her mentor former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. She immediately subjected Kohl to “friendly fire”, which was in fact anything but friendly. (This was previously unknown in party politics, although there were even harsher disputes on the left.)
For the first time, she removed Friedrich Merz, blessed with serious talent, from the head of the party faction and pushed the veteran Wolfgang Schäuble into the background. Later, other potential competitors suffered a similar fate, such as Karl-Theodor Guttenberg. Those she has raised next to her were either not talented enough or had a lot to hide. Meanwhile, the CDU, with a Christian-conservative past, has been strongly shifted in a left-liberal direction, making it barely distinguishable from the Social Democrats and the Greens today. (The benefit of courting the Greens, from Merkel’s perspective, was to help successfully decommission nuclear power plants.)
Based on the above, readers should decide for themselves whether “Mutti” has permanently saved or destroyed what was thought to be Germany for centuries.
Title image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the meeting of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group at the Reichstag building, home of the German federal parliament, in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Michael Kappeler/dpa via AP)