what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A sado-masochistic canter through some German books on contemporary society

Everything is going to the dogs, if we are to believe the books to be found on the shelves of average mainstreet German bookshops today. Thomas Wieczorek is a prolific (and angry) German journalist who has been charting the excesses of the power elite over the past decade, for example in The Dumb Republic – how the media, business and the politicians are selling us which first appeared in 2009. His latest title can be translated variously as "Ruined" or Fucked up - why our country is going downhill and who's profiting from this which gives a pretty good sense of its drift. 
Juergen Toth’s Webs of power – how the political and business elite is destroying our country (2013) seems to be a powerful critique of neo-liberalism and its effects on Germany. It plots the tight links between business, politics, media, think tanks etc and therefore covers the same ground as Wieczorek (who is strangely not acknowledged in the notes)

Sasha Adamek’s The Power machine (2013) tries to shine a light into this murky area by focusing first on the two astounding recent resignations of German Presidents and then on the work of lobbyists. Horst Koehler had apparently to go because he was too independent; Christian Wulff for the opposite reason – he was too dependent on and pally with dubious business friends. Adamek suggests that crony capitalism is alive and well in Germany -  
In total, about 18 000 German officers work in Berlin and Bonn ministries. In addition, 620 members of parliament with their average of two employees. Thus nearly 20 000 representatives of government and parliament are facing about 5,000 lobbyists. Statistically, a lobbyist take care of four representatives from politics and government. More than 400 lobbyists paid by corporations or associations also  contribute a desk in the federal ministries.But why we are already living in a corrupt republic? The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was published recently in the 2010 comparative study "Life in Transition Survey II" to the question of how common are experiences of greasing or favors in different countries. Who has made in the past twelve months, an unofficial payment or presents a gift to the other person "like a"? At least ten per cent of the respondents affirmed this specific question. So that more people in this country gave to real acts of corruption as for example the inhabitants of Georgia, Italy or Croatia. The advantage is an integral part of everyday life and thus also the power structure in Germany.
Klaus Norbert is apparently another critical German journalist with several critiques to his name. The title of his latest book is certainly one which I would not normally apply to Germans - Idioten– made in Germany (2011) and shows that restless educational reform is not merely a feature of modern Britain but is also wreaking havoc here in Germany.

Two other books completed my sado-masochistic canter through current German publishers’ lists - Our prosperity and its enemies by Gabor Steingart; and German soil – a participant observation by Moritz von Ustar

The painting is an Otto Dix

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