Will Germany Choose Another Gotterdämmerung?
The ideological notion of egalitarianism derived from the French Revolution -- "liberté, égalité, fraternité" -- infected Europe with an anti-hierarchical mindset that was to cause the fall of royal houses and empires, gradually followed by a radically new configuration of nation-states based on other political paradigms. But as experiments in pure democracy and socialism have proved, hierarchy always exists, even when it is called by another name. It merely goes underground for a time, only to rise again in a new form. Nations, international organizations, and global enterprises will continue to have layers of many classes, and the rich, powerful, and clever will rise to the top when the formerly disinherited are gone.
Such is the present case with Germany and the European Monetary Union. Germany is poised to once again rise to the top of the European heap. Regardless of the egalitarian notion that all nations in the union were equally creditworthy, time has proved that some European nations are more equal than others. The debt profligacy of Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Spain has given stronger countries within the EMU, especially Germany, opportunity for deep reflection and reassessment.
Germany has formerly been circumscribed by other European nations due to her role in World Wars I and II. The universal fear that the tragedies of both wars would be repeated and that those fears necessitated the evisceration of German might was in some ways absorbed by Germany herself, as indicated when she put into place self-inhibitors such as the absorption of worthless East German Ostmarks at the time of reunification in 1989 as a price for equal entry into the EMU.
But now Germany is in the position, ironically, of having been strengthened economically by the flight of monies into German banks as the nations of Europe comprehend the disasters facing weaker members. Further, as Conrad Black points out in his article, "Facing Euro Collapse: An end to Europhobia," Germany has benefited from an "enfeebled Euro useful to German exports." As German goods have become cheaper, Germany has benefited.
Black goes on to point out that Germany "doesn't enjoy subsidizing the Mediterranean welfare societies, but so effective a manufacturer is it that 49 percent of its GDP is exports." And therein lies an enormous German strength. Unlike the weaker economies such as Greece, which relies heavily on tourism, Germany has retained its manufacturing base along with its astonishing capacity for solid engineering. Add to its manufacturing capacities the advantages of its location at the geographical heart of Europe, its political stability and the availability of qualified workers, and an innovative and successful program for utilization of energy, and one has the recipe for an ongoing economic boom not duplicable by weaker members of the EMU. As the U.S. has increasingly found to its financial sorrow, manufacturing remains a base of economic health, and the erosion or absence of that foundation ensures economic weakness.
Given Germany's basically strong manufacturing economy, the question is as follows: does she wish to self-immolate in a financial Gotterdämmerung by bolstering weaker economies in order to save the EMU as it currently exists? Does she want to inhibit herself, as she has in the past, in order that participating nations remain "equal"? Does she have to continue to do penance for the sins of the past by deliberately remaining chained to a notion of what is "equal"?
Or, as Iain Murray has pointed out in his recent American Spectator article entitled "The Euro Was Always a Bad Bet," might Germany retreat to a smaller Eurozone comprising the stronger economies, including that of France?
That remains to be seen, but what other choices does Germany have?
Perhaps neither financial immolation nor retrenchment to a reduced Eurozone will be the path Germany takes. Perhaps she will refuse to be "equal" to other European nations and tread toward a path of increased power and superiority as a nation centered on German rather than pan-European interests.
A weakened NATO and the possible diminution of U.S. military presence within Germany suggests that Germany's manufacturing capacity might once again be utilized for the resurrection of military capacity even as her economy continues takes advantage of the same manufacturing skills to increase exports to nations familiar with superb German engineering. The combination has worked in the past.
Perhaps Germany will become willing to ditch the egalitarian assumptions underlying the Eurozone as well as the European Union -- namely, that diverse individual nation-states can be subsumed under a larger, semi-globalist entity which seeks to ensure forced equality among member nations.
In this case, other visionary entities with globalist ambitions, the U.N. being one such entity, would be hard-pressed to persuade nation-states that all members will be absolutely equal, sharing equal slices of the power pie -- a dangerous notion which seems to have been absorbed and promoted by the current U.S. administration.
Reduction or the demise of radically egalitarian notions about the ability of globalist entities to absorb wildly diverse peoples and tribes under one identity umbrella will continue to rise to the surface. Nations, Germany included, will have an existential identity crisis such as the United States is currently having as it seeks to promote multi-culturalism as a universal good.
If asked to think of themselves as global citizens and their countries as interchangeable pieces of a global puzzle, people will most often opt instead to think of themselves in terms of national and regional identity, as the term "global citizen" is too amorphous and vitiates the individuality defined by and attached to a particular nation, tribe, and culture.
In others words, hierarchies established by national power and identity may once again manifest.
Perhaps Germany will be an example of the resurgence of national identity. For it certainly seems that Germany has the best prospect for becoming a resurgent and dominant national power within Europe.
It could be that Germany will once again find herself at the top of a reconfigured European hierarchy if it chooses not to go the way of Europe, but instead the way of Germany.
Fay Voshell can be reached at email@example.com.