Sunday, February 1, 2015

Greece: German Religious Fanatics and No Revolution

"History does not repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes." - (?) There's lots of rhymes here. I am reminded of the mid-19th Tories, who starved the Irish. Merkel and the Euro-austerians are the same kind of inhuman fanatics, just as much fanatics as any pulpit pounding Fundamentalist. The morality of the Merkel's Christian Democratic Union is grounded in the same Lutheranism (NYT article, worth a read) so influential on the US right. Angela Merkel is herself the daughter of a Lutheran convert pastor, a man so devout he moved his family to East Berlin to evangelize the Communists. Because of this childhood, she is likely to personally dislike any socialist faction. In 2012, Merkel said, “Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world." (Link to Christian site that agrees.)

Now, the Lutheran ideal of charity is a curious thing. Martin Luther advocated giving the poor loans from a chest of contributions to get them back on their feet. Good, as far as it goes, but how when the poor cannot repay? How when everyone is poor and cannot contribute enough? This is apparently how Merkel and Germany regard Greece. Merkel and her austerians know that Greece could not repay, that indeed no nation of the European Union, including Germany itself, can repay its loans, without bringing in money from outside. Hence the statement of a German official that every country in Europe must run a positive balance of trade, like Germany. Only who are they to trade with? Every nation cannot run a positive balance of trade!

Merkel's combination of "grew up in East Berlin" and devout Lutheranism makes it unlikely that the German Christian Democratic Union party will accept any deal with Greek leftists, no matter how much sense such a deal makes. The atheism of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may also weigh against the Greeks, as its majority Eastern Orthodox church. For this reason, I believe, the Greeks will have no success in their negotiations until the German government falls and a government more in touch with reality comes to power. This will be very hard. The Germans have internalized false beliefs about economics, and will not easily set them aside. Syriza also faces hard opposition in its own country: neither wealthy Greeks nor the Church of Greece will be easily persuaded to pay their fair share of taxes.

…and what of Spain and Italy? It is striking how much this is a conflict of Southern and Northern European Christian morality, despite the atheism of the Syriza leadership. I worry that the atheists of Syriza's leadership may not realize they are facing fanatics, and try to negotiate when this is not possible. It does seem to me that there is a real possibility that the austerians will win.

(Revised to add information on Merkel's family background and speculations about her likely attitudes towards Greece and Syriza.)

1 comment:

reason said...

I sort of have trouble understanding while Merkel is seen as the crux of all this. Germany may be the most powerful economy in Europe, but it is still just one country in a union of 28 or 19 (depending on whether you see the Eurozone or the EC as the relevant measure).