Reading about the connection of the Bild to Rudi Dutschke’s shooting, I can’t help thinking about the parallels to the Gifford shooting in the US. The anti-Springer slogan in ’68 was “Bild schoss mit!”. Perhaps now we need ‘Palin schoss mit’?
Someone wrote to me about Ödön von Horváth, a Weimar-era playwright and novelist who wrote these wonderful absurdist pieces about how nuts fascism was — the point being that its inherent craziness hid how evil it was. His work is laugh-out-loud funny while being shiver-down-your-spine chilling. But he was a Hungarian living in Berlin and eventually had to flee the Nazis. An epically difficult thing in itself, and he must have felt a unfathomably-deep sense of relief when he finally got to Paris… where he was promptly struck by lightening and killed while taking a victory stroll down the Champs Elysee. How can we not champion this guy? He must not be forgotten.
Dealing with shrinking cities in eastern Germany:
One of the IBA’s more radical ideas is that of “city islands” in Dessau-Rosslau. The planners have “kind of disassembled the city into pixels and put it back together again using a cut-and-paste method,” as Brückner explains. According to the concept, Dessau-Rosslau would abandon the model of a more compact central city, leaving only islands of houses. “Buildings will be cut out and in the empty spaces we will insert countryside,” Brückner explains.
Germans have less faith in their political system than at any point in the post-war period, mainly due to what they see as a weak response to the financial crisis, a poll published Sunday showed.
Inspired by the Swiss minaret ban, a reasonably unpleasant German group is trying to force a pan-European referendum on banning minarets. Apparently
The Lisbon Treaty, which has now entered into force, contains a provision for referenda subsequent to the collection of one million signatures in favor of the measure in question. Just how such a process might work, however, has yet to be sufficiently established.
If that’s true, surely we’re about to be deluged in referendums? A million signatures on a European level is nothing. It’s the kind of number Greenpeace could collect without breaking a sweat, for instance, let alone any party organization.
I can’t find much trace of it in the Lisbon Treaty (but the treaty is massive, and I have no idea where to look). The closest is this delightfully vague and toothless provision:
Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of
Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties.
The procedures and conditions required for such a citizens’ initiative shall be determined in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. [article 8A.4]
In September, a German military cock-up killed 142 people. mostly civilians. Here is a lengthy article covering not just the details of the incident, but how politicians on all sides downplayed it in the run-up to the election, knowing how opposed the German public were to the war:
“Not a single politician or senior military official told the public the full truth. The subject was to be kept off the radar during Germany’s fall parliamentary election campaign, so as not to ruffle the feathers of an already skeptical electorate. Now the incident has been magnified to a far greater extent than would have been the case if those involved had decided to come clean with the public in the first place.”
Much as I love Germany’s political system of consensus and coalitions, it does tend to result in situations just like this — where the political class stand together against public opinion, and nobody has much incentive to rock the boat.
Sign and Sight, in its weekly guide to the cultural pages of German newspapers, is keeping up a relentless focus on Chinese art. I’m struggling to figure out how much this is a reflection of a genuine trend in the German media, and how much it’s just the interest of S&S’s writers, editors or backers.
Also in Der Spiegel, polling of Turkish Germans:
Turks are the largest ethnic minority in Germany and make up almost 4 percent of the country’s population. Yet only 21 percent of those polled feel happy to call Germany home.
Wikileaks seems to be getting a steady stream of German political documents, at the moment particularly concerning coalition talks. Unfortunately I’m no longer following German politics closely enough to figure out the backstory and meaning of the leaks.
Maybe it’s because I’m leaving, but Berlin seems even more politically alive than usual at the moment. Today, tens (hundreds?) of thousands of students have been on the streets, as [part](http://www.taz.de/1/zukunft/wissen/artikel/1/bildung-statt-banken/) of a week-long [strike](http://www.bildungsstreik-berlin.de/page/index.php?show=call) against attempts to privatize and charge for education.
The government response has been, rather pathetically, to [call them](http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/studium/0,1518,630965,00.html) ‘behind the times’. Bleating that markets = modernization = good was pretty shaky at the best of times, but now it seems positively ludicrous. And the students’ [demands](http://www.bildungsstreik-berlin.de/page/index.php?show=call) are much saner:
- Self-directed life and learning
- Free access to education, and the abolition of tuition fees, training fees, and childcare costs
- Public financing of the education system, without corporate influence
- Democratization of educational institutions, and strengthening of their self-government
I went along to support the Berlin demonstration earlier today, and found myself strangely weepy. I don’t know if they can win, mind, given the current hopelessness of the SPD and the rest of the European centre-left.
From a more radical corner, the squatting scene is [headed for a busy week](http://rockstar.blogsport.de/2009/05/27/heisser-juni/). [One place](http://brunnen183.blogsport.de/) is due for eviction tomorrow — and then on Saturday comes [something more ambitious](http://tempelhof.blogsport.de/) — a massive, and pre-announced, attempt to squat the currently disused Tempelhof airport. It sounds insane, but I’m gradually coming to see the logic of it. Turning an abandoned space into a temporary hippie playground appeals both to my head and my heart.
By the way, part of the reason for the dearth of posts is that I’m also writing:
- At Metblogs, about Berlin
- At Eurozine, reviewing French journals for the fortnightly review, and doing occasional translations
- At Livejournal where, as always, most posts are friends-locked
All that remain here are the dregs; the posts too dull, too long, too confused or too obscure to go elsewhere. Appealing, eh?
In cheerier news, I’ve finally got round to half-reviving the comments; I’m hoping OpenID will give me at least some hope of weeding out the spam.