Saturday, May 07, 2005

Germany and the tyranny of the banks - Gunter Grass

The Gravest Generation - New York Times, GÜNTER GRASS May 7, 2005

I hope this sounded better in the original German (emphases mine):
TOMORROW, it will be 60 years to the day since the German Reich's unconditional surrender. That is equivalent to a working life with a pension to look forward to. It goes so far back that memory, that wide-meshed sieve, is in danger of forgetting it.

Sixty years ago, after being wounded in the chaotic retreat in Lausitz, I lay in a hospital with a flesh wound in my right thigh and a bean-sized shell splinter in my right shoulder...

.... Now, I believe that our freely elected members of Parliament are no longer free to decide. The customary party pressures are not particularly present in Germany; it is, rather, the ring of lobbyists with their multifarious interests that constricts and influences the Federal Parliament and its democratically elected members, placing them under pressure and forcing them into disharmony, even when framing and deciding the content of laws. Consequently, Parliament is no longer sovereign in its decisions. It is steered by the banks and multinational corporations - which are not subject to any democratic control.

What's needed is a democratic desire to protect Parliament against the pressures of the lobbyists by making it inviolable. But are our parliamentarians still sufficiently free to make a decision that would bring radical democratic constraint? Or is our freedom now no more than a stock market profit?

... We can only hope we will be able to cope with today's risk of a new totalitarianism, backed as it is by the world's last remaining ideology. As conscious democrats, we should freely resist the power of capital, which sees mankind as nothing more than something which consumes and produces. Those who treat their donated freedom as a stock market profit have failed to understand what May 8 teaches us every year.

Günter Grass, the author of "The Tin Drum" and, most recently, "Crabwalk," won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999. This article was translated from the German by UPS Translations.
So Germany is now enslaved by international capitalism and the banks? That seems strangely familiar.

I'd have preferred if he'd framed these problems in terms of political corruption and de facto bribery, a problem we face in the US, rather than invoking images of a mysterious conspiracy of international capitalism.

Update 5/8/05: I wasn't the only person to find Grass' writing disturbing. Brad DeLong is a bit more direct.

No comments: