X Close

Wolfgang Münchau: the end of the German era AfD voters are rebelling against a failing economy

Disenchanted protestors in 2016 (Johannes Simon/Getty Images)

Disenchanted protestors in 2016 (Johannes Simon/Getty Images)


August 28, 2023   14 mins

For decades, Germany was a beacon of centrist political stability. During her 16-year leadership, Angela Merkel led a succession of grand coalitions which neutralised the political extremes, and piloted her country through an era of steady economic growth.

Today, that political settlement has dissolved. Germany’s reliance on Russian gas has devastated its industrial economy, while the surface tranquillity of the Merkel era is a distant memory. Alternative für Deutschland, a far-Right populist party, has been the beneficiary of this chaos, surging in the polls to become the second-most popular party in Germany.

To understand this reversal of fortunes and what it means for Europe and the world, Freddie Sayers spoke to Wolfgang Munchau, former co-editor of FT Deutschland, and founder and co-director of Eurointelligence. Below is an edited transcript.

 

Freddie Sayers: Does the rise of the AfD represent a return to Germany’s far-Right past?

Wolfgang Munchau: If you look at the European far-Right parties, the AfD is quite special. Most of the far-Right parties are led by strong leaders: Le Pen, Meloni, Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. They’re shaped in the image of their leaders. That’s not the case with the AfD. So if you wanted to draw some historical parallels with the Nazis in particular, they are very different in that respect. I often forget the names of the leaders — they have joint party chiefs — and they keep changing. There are lots of internal rebellions against them. This is a party that’s been very insurrectionary against its own leaders.

But they are on the far-Right: they have goals that I would consider incompatible with constitutional law. For example, one of the goals they recently pronounced was not only Germany’s exit from the EU (which is legal), but the disbandment of the EU, which is obviously not something that a country can do. Some members of the party have been outwardly antisemitic. I wouldn’t call the party officially antisemitic; it’s not like this is an antisemitic platform. But it has neo-Nazis in it.

FS: Fringe parties always attract fringe figures. Is it fair to judge a whole party — or in the case of the AfD, 20% of the general population who say they might support them — by just those few characters?

WM: No, I don’t think you can. It’s not helpful to characterise any party with a word or adjective. They are on the far-Right, that is clear. They’re not a conservative party. Would I call them fascist? No, and I don’t call Meloni a fascist either. She obviously has roots in the far-Right, in the fascist movement in Italy. But she has moved away and from what we see she governs from the centre-right. The AfD is different in the respect that its policies are very different from someone like Meloni, if you take Meloni as the other far-Right party, the one that actually succeeded to get into government. They want Germany to leave Nato, they want Germany to leave the EU — and the euro, of course.

FS: The original energy for the AfD came out of the immigration issue, particularly in 2015 when Angela Merkel accepted over a million refugees. How has the party’s support developed since then?

WM: 2015 was the moment when its support first grew. But by the 2021 election that had already ebbed away and the party was mostly occupied with internal strife and power struggles among party members. It only ended up at 10% at the 2021 election, which is only two years ago. What happened between 2021 and today is that the party doubled its vote, not much in West Germany, but dramatically in East Germany. To go from 10% to 20% in all of Germany means it had to do extremely well in East Germany, and in some parts of East Germany it is now the largest party. It has won its first mayoral election. It has won its first regional election. Previously, with a system of proportional representation, when you are 20% and nobody wants to form coalitions with you, you can have a lot of MPs and councillors sitting around, but you’re never in power. That is now starting to change — they now have their first people in office.

FS: You’ve previously written that East Germany is the German parallel to flyover country, the industrial heartlands that have been suffering over recent decades in places like the US and in Britain and other countries. That suggests that economics is a big part of the AfD’s appeal.

WM: This is the reason why the AfD is now gaining support. Germany’s economic performance is weak at the moment, for reasons that have to do with Germany’s economic model. The general storyline is that Germany did really well until recently and now it’s doing really badly. But the roots of that date back a long time ago. Germany made itself dependent on Russian gas and, as a result, it also made itself dependent on industry, because that was its strongest sector. It had huge export surpluses — Germany had a current account surplus for many years of 8% of GDP, which for a large industrial country is just mind-bogglingly large.

FS: That was made possible, is it fair to say, by the European Union?

WM: That’s right. We have an internal market, and the currency also helps Germany, because what Germany always does when it is in a monetary union with others is it tries to obtain a competitive advantage by reducing wages, so that costs relative to others are lower, and they can’t adjust because the exchange rate is fixed. For Germany, the fixed exchange rates have always worked like a charm. Another huge factor was that this was the heyday of the fuel-driven car, of the diesel car, the heyday of oil heaters, and all the things that Germany did well. And it was also the time of massive globalisation, when countries like China and other developing countries needed equipment, machinery, and machine tools. And they bought them from Germany. Now that they’re in a much more mature phase of their economic development, they need them less. China has now for the first time flipped the trade balance in its favour.

FS: You mentioned energy. Obviously, Germany has been used to Russian gas and meanwhile, it’s been completely winding down its nuclear power. How much are these energy policies driving the AfD and the political instability?

WM: It is certainly one factor. The Greens insisted on the phasing out of nuclear power, and the other parties accepted that this was not something they wanted to fight because in Germany, you tend to lose these kinds of fights. Both Merkel and the SPD favoured the phasing out of nuclear power and it happened this year. The last power station was switched off in April. And it makes no sense. Because now all the Russian gas has gone and nuclear power is switched off and Germany has increased the share of electricity coming from coal — especially from brown coal, which is an incredibly dirty version — and CO2 emissions are going up again.

FS: So by that account, voters can be legitimately angry — it feels like an own goal?

WM: It got worse earlier this year when the Government introduced the domestic heating bill. You’re going to have the same coming in the UK: the switch over from traditional gas heating and heating systems to heat pumps. And heat pumps work very differently from gas heaters. They’re more like air conditioning systems in terms of technology and the way they’re made. And the Government introduced an initial law that would force every homeowner to install a heat pump starting from January next year. I think there was a deadline for 2030 for existing homes, next year’s deadline was only for new homes. They’ve since watered it down a little bit, but still — how much does it cost to change your house’s heating system? Depending on the house, between £20,000 and £50,000, paid for by the homeowner.

FS: Who has £20,000-£50,000?

WM: Quite — especially East Germans, whose house values may not be much higher than £50,000. The government handled this terribly. And the rise of the AfD came in waves, and this was the last wave — the mishandling. That’s where it came from, from 15% or 16% in support to about 20%.

FS: Do you see this as a rejection of Left-leaning, idealistic but impractical, policies whose real-world effects are starting to be felt?

WM: I would say it is not fundamentally an issue of the Left vs Right. It is an issue of three incompatible parties in coalition trying to compromise — any two of them could have managed it better. For example, had this been Britain or the US they would not have given themselves the same fiscal constraints, which led to chronic underinvestment. This was a country that, when I grew up, was a high-tech country. Today, it’s a low-tech country. It’s struggling with digital technologies, it’s not investing in modern industries. Which is why its dependency on the old industries has become stronger, including its dependency on old diesel cars.

FS: That giant car industry is especially vulnerable now, because they’re not as good at manufacturing electric cars as they were at petrol cars. China has overtaken them.

WM: To put it mildly. The Germans were shocked to see that China came out of nowhere and within three years, China became the largest car exporter in the world. And German companies are struggling to sell their cars in China. That was a big surprise to them. The Chinese actually like their own cars. They are cheaper and they have features that the Germans cannot offer. And the reason for that is that China has the role in the electric car industry that Germany had in the old car industry, where Germany owned the supply chain.

It wasn’t just that the cars were made in Germany — that was almost the minor thing. Germany also owned the factories in the Czech Republic and Spain and many Eastern European countries, and bought them in Asia and then the United States. It was a giant network of suppliers. They championed just-in-time production and they owned the whole thing. Now, China owns the supply chain of the electric car. The batteries, the rare-earth magnets, and all the things that matter for lithium — the new gold. The Germans panicked and got Intel to build a factory for chips. But it’s still essentially geared towards cars. This is a country that had the facility and the ability to be a major player in the digital world and has given up on that.

FS: So where does the blame lie for this? Can we make the case that the whole settlement for those decades was inherently fragile, and Germany above all was naive to think it would last forever?

WM: That’s right — and at the root of it is a system of neo-mercantilism, a reliance on industry for exports and a government that follows the wishes of industry. You remember the diesel scandal where they introduced cheating devices — the reason this came up in the United States and not in the EU was that the EU was looking the other way. The EU testing of cars was defunded, basically, compared to the United States.

So the German government helped companies — indirectly, maybe unwittingly — helped companies commit crimes. And it also adjusted its foreign policies according to corporate needs. The foreign policy of Germany was a business-driven foreign policy. It was not driven by geopolitical or other security interests, it was business-driven, and this has changed with this government. Germany’s model was dependent on globalisation, the type of globalisation which we had from 1990 to about 2020, and it was already fading in the years running up to Covid. Germany was dependent on the Russian gas flowing forever, and on globalisation lasting forever.

FS: These populist backlashes, the rise of parties like the AfD, are in some way understandable, angry reactions to decades of naivety and incompetence.

WS: That’s exactly what it is. It’s the result of a country’s economic model running into the ground. If you work for an industrial company that supplies the car industry, you know that your job isn’t going to be secure. There are a lot of fears about the future. And rightly so — if you’re trained to be a mechanical technician, you are right to be worried because the country may not be able to support enough jobs for this particular, highly specialised segment.

FS: What might happen next? Because the whole world order that we’ve been used to for all these decades is built on countries like Germany fulfilling these roles.

WS: The irony of the situation is, the stronger the AfD gets, the harder it is for governments, because under systems of proportional representation, it is difficult for centrist parties to form classic coalitions of the Left or Right. No one would ever go into a coalition with the AfD. So there’s the hard Right, and there’s also the Left Party, which might disappear. But there’s a prospect of another Left Party coming, which is specifically focused on the Russia-Ukraine war, a party of the Left that’s anti-Nato, anti-weapons deliveries for Ukraine. There is a lot of support for that in Germany. The country is really split on this.

FS: Do you have a sense of what proportion of the population shares those doubts about the policy in Ukraine?

WM: I think it’s about half? There was a recent poll asking about the next stage of weapons, deliveries of cruise missiles, and there was a strong majority against. Now that’s a specific question. The other polls that I’ve seen were in the 50/50 area and weakening. A bit like in the United States, it started with very strong support, and the support is still there, but it’s weakening, though it’s not flipped completely. But the longer this goes on, the harder it will become.

FS: Could you not make a similar argument there that voters are seeing the impacts of that policy — on energy prices, on dividing the world economy, on bringing in a kind of new Cold War situation with Russia and China — and they don’t think it’s worth it?

WM: Oh, absolutely, that’s exactly the reason. They are making the connection between the support of Ukraine and the fact that they know that Germany is dependent on China and Japan and Russia. And they see that this is a policy, or a change in the world environment, that is not in Germany’s favour. Voters are not entirely stupid. When they vote for the AfD or for parties that are opposing this, they may be dependent on that old structure, or they may have known nothing else. There is a sense that this is now interrupted, and it is interrupted due to politics, and the Government is doing something unreasonable by supporting Ukraine.

FS: So it’s rational whether you agree with it or not.

WM: The AfD captures a lot of that. But there may soon be a party on the Left led by Sahra Wagenknecht, a very sort of maverick politician, who has left or who is on the verge of leaving the Left Party, who may be forming a new party of the Left. And that party was also on opinion polls at potentially 20% of the electorate.

FS: What programme might a new party offer that might capture wider support?

WM: I think the least likely programme is the one that I would suggest, which is: we’re going through a transition and it’s going to be hard. We need to remedy the lack of investment in modern technologies and we should accept that the future doesn’t lie in machine tools. So we should deregulate our bureaucracy and let companies be companies, and deregulate their taxes, and while we may not subsidise them, we will certainly leave them to flourish. And the country has enough talent, so they should be able to figure this out. What I’m suggesting is very boring in many ways — I think it would work, but it’s not going to happen.

But if there were a Trump-like character with a “Germany First” approach to industrial policy, something like what Gerhard Schröder was. I always thought of him and Berlusconi as the first European populists. They were centrists and there was nothing extreme about them in terms of their political views. They were just very pro-business. And I think some characters like that could re-emerge, to say: “This has been a mistake, the support for Ukraine, our support for the United States.” I think it would start off with becoming more US-sceptic.

The Germans hated Trump so much that they thought anyone who came after him was good. And they didn’t quite see how dangerous for them Biden would be. First of all, there is the anti-China policy that is really not in Germany’s economic interest. The US Inflation Reduction Act is a massive programme of subsidies for companies to leave places like Europe to resettle in the United States. A programme like this is causing enormous difficulties for German companies. Volkswagen, instead of investing in a massive factory in Germany which they had planned, are now doing this in the United States. There’s an awful lot of stuff like that happening.

What I could see happening is that a character would come in opposition to the United States, and I think that would probably be the focus, in saying: “We’re not a geopolitical nation, we are not good at this stuff. Let’s trade, let’s do what we’ve always done, and let’s be friends with our companies and let the needs of our industry dictate where we stand politically.” A pragmatic view. And if the war ends, it’s not our business who runs Russia or China.

FS: That would have huge ramifications for the world, if a party became popular in Germany that was explicitly saying: “Let’s just be pragmatic. Let’s make friends again with Russia. Let’s make friends again with China. Let’s worry about our economy and our energy prices and our industrial heartlands first, and leave international adventures to one side.”

WM: Exactly. I think they would probably phrase it the way you do, not in the Trump language. It would be basically what Merkel did. It’s not fundamentally different. Merkel sort of dabbled in geopolitics, but ultimately, that was the policy she deployed. Her big shortcoming, for which she’ll be remembered historically more than anything else, is the fact that this economic decline that Germany’s seeing now has its root in policies that she undertook but that didn’t have immediate consequences. During the Eurozone crisis, we always talked about kicking the can down the road, and used metaphors of that sort. But that is exactly what happened. Everything they did resolved none of the problems. There was always a long timetable for everything.

FS: If this current decline trajectory continues, what do you think happens to Germany and to Europe, without a strong Germany at its centre?

WM: People often make the mistake when of thinking Europe will blow up. I always get questions from the Eurosceptic British media like “Does this mean they will leave? Is there going to be another Brexit?” The biggest danger to the EU is not that it blows up. It’s not going to blow up; we’ve seen with the UK how difficult it is to leave. And if you have the euro as your currency, it will be 10 times as difficult to leave. I don’t think any country can do it.

The much bigger danger for the EU is that it becomes toothless and ineffective.

FS: We talk quite often about the West being in decline, but it sounds like Europe in particular is going to face a tough future.

WM: It’s going to be a tough period, that’s for sure. These periods end and countries have gone through periods of decline and then recovered. The UK was an example in the Seventies and Eighties. I can’t exclude that we strike lucky at some point again. But this is going to be a difficult period, and what makes me particularly sceptical is that I don’t see anyone who has an idea, a bright idea, of how to solve the problem, even if that person was only a fringe political figure. Most of the political debate is between people who want to subsidise industry and want to subsidise green technologies, but there’s never somebody who tries arrest the decline to see how one could change and innovate this economic model, or reform this economic model. It’s all the same, again and again.

There is a decline in the Western dominance in the world. And the EU being very dependent on the US for its protection but also dependent for globalisation for its economic success is in an impossible position. And it hasn’t even started to discuss what it needs to do to survive in this new world.

FS: Hearing you talk about the likely trajectory of Europe, it puts the Brexit question into a slightly different colour. Big picture, at least in the UK we are at liberty to make a radical new economic pivot if we want?

WM: Except that you don’t! There would have been one valid and good Brexit argument that I would have accepted: “We will do Brexit because we can improve on the economic model. We can do this differently.” That’s not happening. I think this is the great tragedy of Brexit. The UK’s economic model was shaped by the government of the Eighties, with development zones, and it’s very much geared towards the Single European Market. You probably remember Heseltine, the Thatcher government, trying to position the UK as the prime location for international investors that were entering the European Single Market. The Blair administration continued this process of European business integration. And that was the business model: the City was the Eurozone’s banker in the UK. The UK didn’t want to join the Eurozone, but it wanted to be the bank of another currency zone.

One could have conceivably thought of a new age, a digital model, but the UK still has the same old rules— on data protection laws, for example, and many others. And that’s to do with the fact that British governments did not focus on this, given that the UK has a strong foundation in science and technology, just as Germany does, they could have used these strengths to forge a new business model around these ideas. That didn’t happen, and that’s why we’re reading stories of Brexit being a disaster.

FS: It is too late now?

WM: It’s not too late, it can be done. I said I don’t see anyone in German politics who actually focuses on the economic model, but I don’t see this in UK politics either. A prime minister who thinks he can reduce inflation, or an Opposition which basically wants to do the same thing as the Government is doing — but nothing that pertains to this debate. Whatever the differences are, it is not essentially about the economic model.

FS: If you were a betting man, which of Germany and the UK do you think will be in a relatively stronger position in 10 years’ time?

WM: I would say the UK.


Freddie Sayers is the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of UnHerd. He was previously Editor-in-Chief of YouGov, and founder of PoliticsHome.

freddiesayers

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

68 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
10 months ago

An interesting interview, with many things I can agree about, but also many things to challenge. I get the sense that Munchau is a long term technocratic consensus insider, who has suddenly been slapped awake by patterns which have been brewing for a long time suddenly snapping into focus over the last couple of years, and as such he can see a bunch of stark realities ahead for Germany, but is nevertheless unwilling to totally let go of all of that past consensus. I know very little about the AFD, but he called them far-right, but any non-progressive hearing that in the UK will instantly know that UKIP and TBP and even the Tories are routinely labelled that, and so will dismiss that assessment even if it is actually true of the AFD. He also equated their political ecosystem with amongst other things, anti-semitism, which begs the question: how would Munchau then classify the UK Labour Party of the last several years under Corbyn, with figures like Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson in positions of prominence – as in, was Labour far-right too? A big hole in the analysis for me was no mention of the absolutely dire state of German age demographics. I also didn’t get a clear sense of why Germany never engaged full scale in the tech industry over the last three decades, notwithstanding a very highly educated populace, not on the electronics side (chip makers etc) nor software. I also never got a very clear sense why Germany put their head on the chopping block by creating dependence on a Russia led by Putin, for godssake. I also didn’t get a clear picture of why they collectively appear to want to *still* maintain dependence on China, despite the lesson of getting kicked in the nads by Putin. I also never got a clear picture why this psychology has grown across Germany, where they will buy into a seeming merchantilist pragmatism about creating deep business ties with people who are very clearly not your friends, and yet simultaneously buy into Trump derangement syndrome, to the point where you forget to cultivate relationships with people who in truth have had your back all these decades, underwriting your military security.

Last edited 10 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

An excellent comment full of good questions. For me Munchau’s outstanding bloomer was to label the AfD “far right” and “not conservative” when in fact it has taken over many of the policies and voters whom Merkel shed from the CDU.
You might say that the party is “far right” as in “far to the right of the current consensus”, but isn’t everybody – everybody outside the administrative-metropolitan caste, that is? And isn’t the label therefore nothing but a linguistic dodge, designed to smear without trace, as it were?
He then plays with the toxic issue of anti-Semitism, acknowledging that it forms no part of the AfD’s official platform but insinuating its presence on the fringes of the party. As others have pointed out, the fringes of many parties – of right, left and centre (anyone recall the unpleasant remarks of a certain Liberal peeress with regard to Israel?) – are tainted by the views of cranks.
Worst of all, he ascribes Europe’s political malaise to economic woes, which are – as you have so unanswerably pointed out – the result of “consensus” decisions. And the diagnosis is wide of the mark in principle. Yes, riches can dull the ache of sorrow but if that sorrow proceeds from deeper, more intractable problems than mere poverty, then wealth is nothing but a sort of analgesic in the face of a cancer.
And the cancer we face is nothing short of civilisational suicide, in which the natural fabric of human society, which proceeds from family through clan towards tribe and nation, complete with natural and customary gender roles and stringent assimilationist demands, has been replaced by an abstract, moralistic, left-liberal-to-Marxist gibbet. Caught in this instrument of torture, human nature is twisted towards a degree of “virtue” so extreme, so self-destructive that it has settled a pall of depression across the western world. We will either escape this gibbet or it will kill us.

Last edited 10 months ago by Simon Denis
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Judging by the comments on this forum over recent weeks, we are inevitably doomed.
The cancer of socialist entitlement has infected nearly every arm of the state, and the demos have obediently trotted behind.
It is NOT if but WHEN.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

I am beginning to believe that this is so. How can we escape? Sterile, ageing, resettled, watched, outnumbered and controlled – we can rage against the dying of the light on websites like “UnHerd”, but as for stopping the decline – I foresee little chance now. As for the demos – well, quite!
Another Classical Liberal shibboleth bites the dust. The people is not, as we imagined or hoped, composed of sturdily independent or courageous individuals, but represents a flock, a herd indeed, moving to the sound of established signals and recognising uniforms, not the people who wear them. Hence when the pipes and trumpets sound the alarm over “Covid”, the flock trots into the pens, dons the masks and waits in obedient misery for the all clear.
Since humanity turns out to be a herding animal, perhaps those of us who bridle at the socialist gibbet must try to understand the real ties which give the herd its free, authentic identity and yes, as you pointed out months ago, these are ethno-cultural – although the Old Liberal in me still trembles at some of the implications in this point and seeks a degree of nuance and compromise…
But perhaps a confident ethnos rich in powerful rams, as distinct from a gelded demos, led by anxious bellwethers, might be rather better at distinguishing the shepherds from the wolves; might trust rather more to its sense of smell and distinguish friend from foe – and thus, paradoxically, recover some of that Old Liberal independence of spirit.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

In a very recent interview for The Times, Lord Jonathan Sumption KS had this to say about the recent great COVID panic:-
“I thought it was a failure of government and a failure of self-confidence and nerve among the British people generally, which will have terrible consequences for future generations.”
As a rather aged Dinosaur I can only but agree with him.
As I see it the it main problem has been our simply appalling State education system. For years it has pursued an unparalleled campaign of vilification against everything we used to love and respect about England. In the process even if inadvertently, it has also destroyed the ‘family’ as a source of courage, pride and discipline.
Of course all my peer group think the same as I, but we are also very aware that we are a fast diminishing minority. Racked with angst we now realise we should have been more proactive when Heath destroyed Powell, when Crossland destroyed the Grammar Schools, and so many other disasters, but we weren’t!
However too late now, what’s done is done, and at least I will not see the “terrible consequences” that Lord Sumption so correctly predicts.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

I think you pinpoint exactly the sources of our current malaise. As for proactively opposing the disasters, I can only suggest that it was very difficult, and for exactly the same reason that opposition is all but impossible today: the establishment had “come to a view” (the wrong one, naturally) and closed ranks to assert it. With no party to spearhead resistance, the public is faced with a choice: accept or rebel. Option two is always unattractive to a settled people like the English. The one occasion on which this establishment fortress was overcome was Brexit, and they’ll never let it happen again.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

In 1971 the late George Shipway, a former Indian Army Cavalry Officer turned schoolmaster* published a brilliantly cynical novel entitled The Chilean Club.It described an attempted contemporary coup by a group of disgruntled old cavalry officers! Apparently it was NOT well received by the wretched establishment. I can thoroughly recommend!
A couple of years later, under the leadership of the late General Sir Walter Walker, KCB, CBE, DSO, we had the emergence of Civil Assistance (CA), which aimed support the civil power in the event of a General Strike, very much a possibility in the early 70’s. Fortunately things ‘improved’…..we joined the Common Market (joke) and the threat of anarchy subsided.
Now we seem to have gone ‘full circle’.

(* Cheam interestingly, where the young King to be was being tutored!)

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

In 1971 the late George Shipway, a former Indian Army Cavalry Officer turned schoolmaster* published a brilliantly cynical novel entitled The Chilean Club.It described an attempted contemporary coup by a group of disgruntled old cavalry officers! Apparently it was NOT well received by the wretched establishment. I can thoroughly recommend!
A couple of years later, under the leadership of the late General Sir Walter Walker, KCB, CBE, DSO, we had the emergence of Civil Assistance (CA), which aimed support the civil power in the event of a General Strike, very much a possibility in the early 70’s. Fortunately things ‘improved’…..we joined the Common Market (joke) and the threat of anarchy subsided.
Now we seem to have gone ‘full circle’.

(* Cheam interestingly, where the young King to be was being tutored!)

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

I think you pinpoint exactly the sources of our current malaise. As for proactively opposing the disasters, I can only suggest that it was very difficult, and for exactly the same reason that opposition is all but impossible today: the establishment had “come to a view” (the wrong one, naturally) and closed ranks to assert it. With no party to spearhead resistance, the public is faced with a choice: accept or rebel. Option two is always unattractive to a settled people like the English. The one occasion on which this establishment fortress was overcome was Brexit, and they’ll never let it happen again.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

In a very recent interview for The Times, Lord Jonathan Sumption KS had this to say about the recent great COVID panic:-
“I thought it was a failure of government and a failure of self-confidence and nerve among the British people generally, which will have terrible consequences for future generations.”
As a rather aged Dinosaur I can only but agree with him.
As I see it the it main problem has been our simply appalling State education system. For years it has pursued an unparalleled campaign of vilification against everything we used to love and respect about England. In the process even if inadvertently, it has also destroyed the ‘family’ as a source of courage, pride and discipline.
Of course all my peer group think the same as I, but we are also very aware that we are a fast diminishing minority. Racked with angst we now realise we should have been more proactive when Heath destroyed Powell, when Crossland destroyed the Grammar Schools, and so many other disasters, but we weren’t!
However too late now, what’s done is done, and at least I will not see the “terrible consequences” that Lord Sumption so correctly predicts.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago

I really hope you are wrong.
But I would not bet more than 10 quid on it.
Even at odds of 100 to 1.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Interesting. I would bet far more on a tolerable and, quite possibly, benign outcome. I used to be a historian and, as a result, I am aware that at any point in time in the past there were usually at least five existential threats and that society was usually being very slow to respond to them. Yet over the last three hundred years things have got better and better – with only a few calamities en route. I would probably agree with you about the nature of the current threats but I can also list the historical parallels with our current predicament and how, eventually, we escaped. Maybe it’s different this time but probably not. I think the fatalism of many UnHerd readers is excessive. Time for that Roosevelt quote about fear?

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Interesting. I would bet far more on a tolerable and, quite possibly, benign outcome. I used to be a historian and, as a result, I am aware that at any point in time in the past there were usually at least five existential threats and that society was usually being very slow to respond to them. Yet over the last three hundred years things have got better and better – with only a few calamities en route. I would probably agree with you about the nature of the current threats but I can also list the historical parallels with our current predicament and how, eventually, we escaped. Maybe it’s different this time but probably not. I think the fatalism of many UnHerd readers is excessive. Time for that Roosevelt quote about fear?

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

I am beginning to believe that this is so. How can we escape? Sterile, ageing, resettled, watched, outnumbered and controlled – we can rage against the dying of the light on websites like “UnHerd”, but as for stopping the decline – I foresee little chance now. As for the demos – well, quite!
Another Classical Liberal shibboleth bites the dust. The people is not, as we imagined or hoped, composed of sturdily independent or courageous individuals, but represents a flock, a herd indeed, moving to the sound of established signals and recognising uniforms, not the people who wear them. Hence when the pipes and trumpets sound the alarm over “Covid”, the flock trots into the pens, dons the masks and waits in obedient misery for the all clear.
Since humanity turns out to be a herding animal, perhaps those of us who bridle at the socialist gibbet must try to understand the real ties which give the herd its free, authentic identity and yes, as you pointed out months ago, these are ethno-cultural – although the Old Liberal in me still trembles at some of the implications in this point and seeks a degree of nuance and compromise…
But perhaps a confident ethnos rich in powerful rams, as distinct from a gelded demos, led by anxious bellwethers, might be rather better at distinguishing the shepherds from the wolves; might trust rather more to its sense of smell and distinguish friend from foe – and thus, paradoxically, recover some of that Old Liberal independence of spirit.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago

I really hope you are wrong.
But I would not bet more than 10 quid on it.
Even at odds of 100 to 1.

Stephen Barnard
Stephen Barnard
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

“…Unpleasant remarks of a certain Liberal peeress with regard to Israel…” Can you be more specific?

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

If you don’t mind, I’d rather not. Why dredge up names and risk the rekindling of reproaches heaped, like burning coals, upon the lady’s head at the time? I merely wished to point out that even centrist persons and forces are not immune to odd or disreputable opinions.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

If you don’t mind, I’d rather not. Why dredge up names and risk the rekindling of reproaches heaped, like burning coals, upon the lady’s head at the time? I merely wished to point out that even centrist persons and forces are not immune to odd or disreputable opinions.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Ah, I see the answer you want. Woman back in the kitchen and the bedroom serving her husband, bringng up his kids and scraficing her own persona subjugated to this passive roll. It’s not going to work. The Taliban are working on it now, I’m sure you’ve noticed! It will fail. It will be an economic distaster.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

Many women relish the role of wife and mother – which you libel as “subjugated” and “passive”. As many wives and mothers will tell you, they are anything but. And are they really better off parading about in imitation of males, coarsening their characters as the playthings of promiscuous boys and leaving it too late to have children; drinking themselves silly at weekends and dying alone or “cared for” by complete strangers? Do you really think your threadbare, selfish, strident, empty “liberalism” has anything more to offer than the quest for sensation followed by a miserable death? As for Islam – yes, it exaggerates badly; but traditional Christian civilisation did not deprive women of rights – hence monogamy; hence the expectation that men should be chaste and faithful, too. And the world it conjured into being was at least capable of reproducing itself. Your world, by contrast, is withering away within a single generation. Ach, you can keep it. Much good may it do you. Two sterile worlds now face each other where Islam meets the former Christendom: one, a place of female subjection to religious dogma; the other, a place of female subjection to feminist insanity.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago

Women have worked on farms for thousands of years and when factories, mines and mills, they worked in them. Pre 1800 , 80 % of Britons lived in the countryside and farms were self sufficient. Women made clothes, cooked, brewed, baked bread beer, grew herbs for food and medicines, made cheese, butter, curtains. Up to the early 18 th century many breweries were run by women as it was associated with brewing.
Only after the 1850s when industry and urbanisation produce a large middle class, perhaps 15 % of the population did women not work out side of the home. When it came to shops, pubs and small businesses women worked with the husband. The wives of farmers and minor gentry would in effect be running hotels, as they would be cooking for the unmarried farm labourers. Often the wife did the accounts. While the husband was away on the estate/farm on business the day to day running was done by wife ; the same for merchants.
In 1900 vast numbers of women worked as domestic staff who were very poorly paid, even in 1939.
The women writers such as Austen, Brontes, Virginia Wolf, etc come from the upper middle class who have inherited money and give a very distorted view of most womens lives; they never worked . Also in two world wars, vast numbers of women left domestic service and worked in factories, middle class women became nurses and even saw combat – WAAF in Battle of Britain , nurses and members of SOE. Nancy Wake GM was asked if she had any regrets ” Yes, I did not kill enough Nazis”.
Nancy Wake – Wikipedia
Violette Szabo GC fought off members of the Das Reich 2 nd SS in order to enable her resistance colleague to escape.
Violette Szabo – Wikipedia
Odette Hallows GC said her most important role was being a Mother
Odette Hallowes – Wikipedia
British women have in their lives been SOE Agents or been nurses in combat, intelligence officers, Mothers and Wives; they are not mutually exlusive.
What I never understand is why women who say they are feminists do not ploclaim the heroics of of women who served so valiantly in WW1 and WW2.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

Many women relish the role of wife and mother – which you libel as “subjugated” and “passive”. As many wives and mothers will tell you, they are anything but. And are they really better off parading about in imitation of males, coarsening their characters as the playthings of promiscuous boys and leaving it too late to have children; drinking themselves silly at weekends and dying alone or “cared for” by complete strangers? Do you really think your threadbare, selfish, strident, empty “liberalism” has anything more to offer than the quest for sensation followed by a miserable death? As for Islam – yes, it exaggerates badly; but traditional Christian civilisation did not deprive women of rights – hence monogamy; hence the expectation that men should be chaste and faithful, too. And the world it conjured into being was at least capable of reproducing itself. Your world, by contrast, is withering away within a single generation. Ach, you can keep it. Much good may it do you. Two sterile worlds now face each other where Islam meets the former Christendom: one, a place of female subjection to religious dogma; the other, a place of female subjection to feminist insanity.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
10 months ago

Women have worked on farms for thousands of years and when factories, mines and mills, they worked in them. Pre 1800 , 80 % of Britons lived in the countryside and farms were self sufficient. Women made clothes, cooked, brewed, baked bread beer, grew herbs for food and medicines, made cheese, butter, curtains. Up to the early 18 th century many breweries were run by women as it was associated with brewing.
Only after the 1850s when industry and urbanisation produce a large middle class, perhaps 15 % of the population did women not work out side of the home. When it came to shops, pubs and small businesses women worked with the husband. The wives of farmers and minor gentry would in effect be running hotels, as they would be cooking for the unmarried farm labourers. Often the wife did the accounts. While the husband was away on the estate/farm on business the day to day running was done by wife ; the same for merchants.
In 1900 vast numbers of women worked as domestic staff who were very poorly paid, even in 1939.
The women writers such as Austen, Brontes, Virginia Wolf, etc come from the upper middle class who have inherited money and give a very distorted view of most womens lives; they never worked . Also in two world wars, vast numbers of women left domestic service and worked in factories, middle class women became nurses and even saw combat – WAAF in Battle of Britain , nurses and members of SOE. Nancy Wake GM was asked if she had any regrets ” Yes, I did not kill enough Nazis”.
Nancy Wake – Wikipedia
Violette Szabo GC fought off members of the Das Reich 2 nd SS in order to enable her resistance colleague to escape.
Violette Szabo – Wikipedia
Odette Hallows GC said her most important role was being a Mother
Odette Hallowes – Wikipedia
British women have in their lives been SOE Agents or been nurses in combat, intelligence officers, Mothers and Wives; they are not mutually exlusive.
What I never understand is why women who say they are feminists do not ploclaim the heroics of of women who served so valiantly in WW1 and WW2.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Also the AfD was born from two libertarian professors in I think 2011, and was an antistifling regulation and bureaucracy party. Since they think rationally, not hysterically, they moved to an anti migrant position, and their votes ( and publicity) began to grow.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Judging by the comments on this forum over recent weeks, we are inevitably doomed.
The cancer of socialist entitlement has infected nearly every arm of the state, and the demos have obediently trotted behind.
It is NOT if but WHEN.

Stephen Barnard
Stephen Barnard
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

“…Unpleasant remarks of a certain Liberal peeress with regard to Israel…” Can you be more specific?

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Ah, I see the answer you want. Woman back in the kitchen and the bedroom serving her husband, bringng up his kids and scraficing her own persona subjugated to this passive roll. It’s not going to work. The Taliban are working on it now, I’m sure you’ve noticed! It will fail. It will be an economic distaster.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Also the AfD was born from two libertarian professors in I think 2011, and was an antistifling regulation and bureaucracy party. Since they think rationally, not hysterically, they moved to an anti migrant position, and their votes ( and publicity) began to grow.

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Demographics is the new bullshit. You can’t have a young population for ever as these youngsters sadly are bio-conditioned to age. It’s just another attempt and rationalisation to postpone addressing the issue of too many people.
The world would be a better place with fewer humans as we are not the only inhabitants of this biosphere and other creatures warrant their space as well but we are the species that is destroying it for all others including ourselves.
Please note that I am not advocating a cull. Nature has its own way of dealing with plagues. We just should be a little more thoughtful and slow down the catastrophe that is coming. Homo-sapiens should become a little more sapient. Really a lot more.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

You are right, I believe, with regard to over population on this planet by humans. Nature does have it’s ways. Infertiility in men is rising fast across the planet, not just in the Westernise countries.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Reality is that overpopulation is happening mostly in Asia and Africa.
Most of this people, like Muslim countries and Africans are just devouring resources while contributing very little.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

You are right, I believe, with regard to over population on this planet by humans. Nature does have it’s ways. Infertiility in men is rising fast across the planet, not just in the Westernise countries.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Reality is that overpopulation is happening mostly in Asia and Africa.
Most of this people, like Muslim countries and Africans are just devouring resources while contributing very little.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I agree with Simon. Excellent post. But I don’t think it’s so much a question of not seeing any politician with bright ideas. It’s more about political courage and leadership. British governments since 2016 and especially 2019 haven’t dared to take advantage of the nimbleness Brexit could confer to do things differently. The agility of the non-civil service based Vaccine Task Force pointed the way. But nobody in government nor the Labour opposition has the guts to say anything other than what they think will retain or win power.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

The agility of Vaccine Task Force was waste of national resources on, as we know now, pointless pseudo vaccines.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

The agility of Vaccine Task Force was waste of national resources on, as we know now, pointless pseudo vaccines.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Great post.
This guy was editor of FT Germany.
FT is globalisers Bible.
I am surprised that Freddie did not ask the obvious question:
How can you be friends with people like China who want to steal your technology and using slave labour usurp your place as the leading power in areas of technology your currently dominate?
It looks like Germany is implementing Morgentau plan all by itself.
The main danger for Europe is that when Germans feel unhappy for whatever reason they blame others for their misfortune.
And start marching.
It might not end well.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

” … anti-semitism, which begs the question: how would Munchau then classify the UK Labour Party of the last several years under Corbyn, with figures like Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson in positions of prominence – as in, was Labour far-right too?”
You’re somewhat naive if you buy the anti-Semitic Corbyn myth – it was an internal hit-job by top-brass Blairites in Labour:
“Despite Corbyn’s popularity, the party’s top unelected officials and parliamentarians fought him at every turn. Labour’s paid, professional staff deliberately made the daily tasks of party management difficult for Corbyn’s team. A 2020 leaked report containing Whatsapp messages and emails of party officials revealed not only that they had sought to undermine Corbyn’s 2017 general election bid, but also that they routinely referred to Corbyn, his team, and his few political allies in defamatory and degrading terms. “To them,” write journalists Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire in their book Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn, “Corbyn and Corbynism was never legitimate.” 
https://jewishcurrents.org/the-jews-expelled-from-labour-over-antisemitism
https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/unkillable-myths-corbyns-labour-party-and-anti-semitism

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

All that doesn’t in fact answer what you think Livingstone, Williamson et al, and the large numbers of members (whose actions are still visible for any who want to care to look for them, from driving out Jewish MPs to innumerable twitter threads about Israel and Jewish influence, to putting up a wave of pro Palastine flags at Labour conferences instead of the Red Flag, let alone the Union Jack) were up to? Do you believe they (and Corbyn) were the subject of witch hunts or the Jewish MPs?

**Edit: I infact had a bit more of a look at both those magazines, and while everyone knows where the MorningStar is coming from, JewishCurrents is unfamiliar to me. I have to say, the tone throughout is a throwback to narratives I used to hear in my student days – a tedious mix of victimhood and apologism. And that figures: the article you quoted is written by an American PhD student. Personally speaking, I stopped taking such people seriously decades ago.

Last edited 10 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

All that doesn’t in fact answer what you think Livingstone, Williamson et al, and the large numbers of members (whose actions are still visible for any who want to care to look for them, from driving out Jewish MPs to innumerable twitter threads about Israel and Jewish influence, to putting up a wave of pro Palastine flags at Labour conferences instead of the Red Flag, let alone the Union Jack) were up to? Do you believe they (and Corbyn) were the subject of witch hunts or the Jewish MPs?

**Edit: I infact had a bit more of a look at both those magazines, and while everyone knows where the MorningStar is coming from, JewishCurrents is unfamiliar to me. I have to say, the tone throughout is a throwback to narratives I used to hear in my student days – a tedious mix of victimhood and apologism. And that figures: the article you quoted is written by an American PhD student. Personally speaking, I stopped taking such people seriously decades ago.

Last edited 10 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

An excellent comment full of good questions. For me Munchau’s outstanding bloomer was to label the AfD “far right” and “not conservative” when in fact it has taken over many of the policies and voters whom Merkel shed from the CDU.
You might say that the party is “far right” as in “far to the right of the current consensus”, but isn’t everybody – everybody outside the administrative-metropolitan caste, that is? And isn’t the label therefore nothing but a linguistic dodge, designed to smear without trace, as it were?
He then plays with the toxic issue of anti-Semitism, acknowledging that it forms no part of the AfD’s official platform but insinuating its presence on the fringes of the party. As others have pointed out, the fringes of many parties – of right, left and centre (anyone recall the unpleasant remarks of a certain Liberal peeress with regard to Israel?) – are tainted by the views of cranks.
Worst of all, he ascribes Europe’s political malaise to economic woes, which are – as you have so unanswerably pointed out – the result of “consensus” decisions. And the diagnosis is wide of the mark in principle. Yes, riches can dull the ache of sorrow but if that sorrow proceeds from deeper, more intractable problems than mere poverty, then wealth is nothing but a sort of analgesic in the face of a cancer.
And the cancer we face is nothing short of civilisational suicide, in which the natural fabric of human society, which proceeds from family through clan towards tribe and nation, complete with natural and customary gender roles and stringent assimilationist demands, has been replaced by an abstract, moralistic, left-liberal-to-Marxist gibbet. Caught in this instrument of torture, human nature is twisted towards a degree of “virtue” so extreme, so self-destructive that it has settled a pall of depression across the western world. We will either escape this gibbet or it will kill us.

Last edited 10 months ago by Simon Denis
Chris Keating
Chris Keating
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Demographics is the new bullshit. You can’t have a young population for ever as these youngsters sadly are bio-conditioned to age. It’s just another attempt and rationalisation to postpone addressing the issue of too many people.
The world would be a better place with fewer humans as we are not the only inhabitants of this biosphere and other creatures warrant their space as well but we are the species that is destroying it for all others including ourselves.
Please note that I am not advocating a cull. Nature has its own way of dealing with plagues. We just should be a little more thoughtful and slow down the catastrophe that is coming. Homo-sapiens should become a little more sapient. Really a lot more.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I agree with Simon. Excellent post. But I don’t think it’s so much a question of not seeing any politician with bright ideas. It’s more about political courage and leadership. British governments since 2016 and especially 2019 haven’t dared to take advantage of the nimbleness Brexit could confer to do things differently. The agility of the non-civil service based Vaccine Task Force pointed the way. But nobody in government nor the Labour opposition has the guts to say anything other than what they think will retain or win power.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Great post.
This guy was editor of FT Germany.
FT is globalisers Bible.
I am surprised that Freddie did not ask the obvious question:
How can you be friends with people like China who want to steal your technology and using slave labour usurp your place as the leading power in areas of technology your currently dominate?
It looks like Germany is implementing Morgentau plan all by itself.
The main danger for Europe is that when Germans feel unhappy for whatever reason they blame others for their misfortune.
And start marching.
It might not end well.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
10 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

” … anti-semitism, which begs the question: how would Munchau then classify the UK Labour Party of the last several years under Corbyn, with figures like Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson in positions of prominence – as in, was Labour far-right too?”
You’re somewhat naive if you buy the anti-Semitic Corbyn myth – it was an internal hit-job by top-brass Blairites in Labour:
“Despite Corbyn’s popularity, the party’s top unelected officials and parliamentarians fought him at every turn. Labour’s paid, professional staff deliberately made the daily tasks of party management difficult for Corbyn’s team. A 2020 leaked report containing Whatsapp messages and emails of party officials revealed not only that they had sought to undermine Corbyn’s 2017 general election bid, but also that they routinely referred to Corbyn, his team, and his few political allies in defamatory and degrading terms. “To them,” write journalists Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire in their book Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn, “Corbyn and Corbynism was never legitimate.” 
https://jewishcurrents.org/the-jews-expelled-from-labour-over-antisemitism
https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/unkillable-myths-corbyns-labour-party-and-anti-semitism

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
10 months ago

An interesting interview, with many things I can agree about, but also many things to challenge. I get the sense that Munchau is a long term technocratic consensus insider, who has suddenly been slapped awake by patterns which have been brewing for a long time suddenly snapping into focus over the last couple of years, and as such he can see a bunch of stark realities ahead for Germany, but is nevertheless unwilling to totally let go of all of that past consensus. I know very little about the AFD, but he called them far-right, but any non-progressive hearing that in the UK will instantly know that UKIP and TBP and even the Tories are routinely labelled that, and so will dismiss that assessment even if it is actually true of the AFD. He also equated their political ecosystem with amongst other things, anti-semitism, which begs the question: how would Munchau then classify the UK Labour Party of the last several years under Corbyn, with figures like Ken Livingstone and Chris Williamson in positions of prominence – as in, was Labour far-right too? A big hole in the analysis for me was no mention of the absolutely dire state of German age demographics. I also didn’t get a clear sense of why Germany never engaged full scale in the tech industry over the last three decades, notwithstanding a very highly educated populace, not on the electronics side (chip makers etc) nor software. I also never got a very clear sense why Germany put their head on the chopping block by creating dependence on a Russia led by Putin, for godssake. I also didn’t get a clear picture of why they collectively appear to want to *still* maintain dependence on China, despite the lesson of getting kicked in the nads by Putin. I also never got a clear picture why this psychology has grown across Germany, where they will buy into a seeming merchantilist pragmatism about creating deep business ties with people who are very clearly not your friends, and yet simultaneously buy into Trump derangement syndrome, to the point where you forget to cultivate relationships with people who in truth have had your back all these decades, underwriting your military security.

Last edited 10 months ago by Prashant Kotak
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
10 months ago

Strange that this article doesn’t really reference the influence of Merkel’s immigration policy on the level of support for AFD. Maybe technocrats just can’t see beyond the money – so they fail to understand the importance of democracy and historical culture in the minds of their demos.

Last edited 10 months ago by Ian Barton
Ian Barton
Ian Barton
10 months ago

Strange that this article doesn’t really reference the influence of Merkel’s immigration policy on the level of support for AFD. Maybe technocrats just can’t see beyond the money – so they fail to understand the importance of democracy and historical culture in the minds of their demos.

Last edited 10 months ago by Ian Barton
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago

Something is nagging me about these ‘west in decline’ interviews. Many of the analysts just assume we will snap out of it and all will be well again. That may be true or even likely, but it’s not inevitable. Problems in the west are very fixable, but it requires a level of competence that I don’t think the ruling elite possess at the moment.

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think you are right Jim about the level of competence in Western leaders. I would add a lack of interest in fixing the problems created by their own policies is also a major issue. They seem unable to think beyond the narrow neo-liberal economic consensus that no longer works for the ordinary citizen.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Hear hear

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Hear hear

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The quality of leadership is a global issue. Listened to an interesting thesis by Brian Klaas (UCL) regarding the increasing prevalence of psychopaths in power for a variety of reasons, including the fact that good people are not prepared to pay the price of intrusion and attack in modern public life. Jordan Petersen has also raised the issue of psychopaths’ ability to destabilise society on social media. Through the amplification of digital 3% of the society can take it down. Klaas also leans into the “you get the leader you deserve” argument …. humans abhor uncertainty. The “strong man” is an evolutionary bias we bring from a time when physicality was the determinant of a tribe’s survival.
Positively? Just finished Howe’s The Fourth Turning is Here. Leaders are forged from crisis, not identified in moments of calm before the storm. Let’s hope so.
That said, my bigger concern is not the issue of leadership, but the paucity of ideas for structuring our affairs. Far too much academic horsepower in the West is being expended on DIE, gaming research grants, dealing with weak student-pleasing administrators, and managing grade-hungry students challenging assessments, teaching and anything that gets in the way of the entitleent their £36k annual fees brings. Whilst not all ideas come from universities, it is a critical feeder into the wider society.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Blair’s determination to send everyone to university took the plumbing out life and left us drained.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Blair’s determination to send everyone to university took the plumbing out life and left us drained.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Come on.
It is not an issue of competence.
It is conscious decisions of higher orders to flood the West with immigrants from incompatible cultures to destroy societies, so they can be controlled.
Serfdom is coming.

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I think you are right Jim about the level of competence in Western leaders. I would add a lack of interest in fixing the problems created by their own policies is also a major issue. They seem unable to think beyond the narrow neo-liberal economic consensus that no longer works for the ordinary citizen.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The quality of leadership is a global issue. Listened to an interesting thesis by Brian Klaas (UCL) regarding the increasing prevalence of psychopaths in power for a variety of reasons, including the fact that good people are not prepared to pay the price of intrusion and attack in modern public life. Jordan Petersen has also raised the issue of psychopaths’ ability to destabilise society on social media. Through the amplification of digital 3% of the society can take it down. Klaas also leans into the “you get the leader you deserve” argument …. humans abhor uncertainty. The “strong man” is an evolutionary bias we bring from a time when physicality was the determinant of a tribe’s survival.
Positively? Just finished Howe’s The Fourth Turning is Here. Leaders are forged from crisis, not identified in moments of calm before the storm. Let’s hope so.
That said, my bigger concern is not the issue of leadership, but the paucity of ideas for structuring our affairs. Far too much academic horsepower in the West is being expended on DIE, gaming research grants, dealing with weak student-pleasing administrators, and managing grade-hungry students challenging assessments, teaching and anything that gets in the way of the entitleent their £36k annual fees brings. Whilst not all ideas come from universities, it is a critical feeder into the wider society.

Andrew F
Andrew F
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Come on.
It is not an issue of competence.
It is conscious decisions of higher orders to flood the West with immigrants from incompatible cultures to destroy societies, so they can be controlled.
Serfdom is coming.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago

Something is nagging me about these ‘west in decline’ interviews. Many of the analysts just assume we will snap out of it and all will be well again. That may be true or even likely, but it’s not inevitable. Problems in the west are very fixable, but it requires a level of competence that I don’t think the ruling elite possess at the moment.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
10 months ago

I stopped reading when he kept describing Meloni as far-Right. To these people, anyone who shares the views of a majority of the population, rather than their own little circle, is far-Right.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
10 months ago

I stopped reading when he kept describing Meloni as far-Right. To these people, anyone who shares the views of a majority of the population, rather than their own little circle, is far-Right.

Graeme
Graeme
10 months ago

The heat pump thing should not be called a “mis-handling”. It’s impossible to consider a policy of impoverishing a huge number of citizens for a stupid and pointless reason – to force them to install “heat pumps” – and not think “This is a stupid idea, and my governing party will have nothing to do with it.” Impossible, that is, unless you’re a malign actor who hates people. But that hardly counts as “mis-handling”.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
10 months ago
Reply to  Graeme

It is particuarly troubling for East Germany where the AfD is flourishing. .The cost of a heat pump is up to 20% of the average house price. East Germany has also not been infested with Green cultism in the same ways as West. The combination of proposed impoverishment and scepticism challenging.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

The heat pump lunacy also had a profound electoral effect recently in Bremen.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

The heat pump lunacy also had a profound electoral effect recently in Bremen.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
10 months ago
Reply to  Graeme

It is particuarly troubling for East Germany where the AfD is flourishing. .The cost of a heat pump is up to 20% of the average house price. East Germany has also not been infested with Green cultism in the same ways as West. The combination of proposed impoverishment and scepticism challenging.

Graeme
Graeme
10 months ago

The heat pump thing should not be called a “mis-handling”. It’s impossible to consider a policy of impoverishing a huge number of citizens for a stupid and pointless reason – to force them to install “heat pumps” – and not think “This is a stupid idea, and my governing party will have nothing to do with it.” Impossible, that is, unless you’re a malign actor who hates people. But that hardly counts as “mis-handling”.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
10 months ago

An arrogant technocrat, full of shit and self entitlement. He’s a parasite whose ideas have been in power for the last 30 years, and led to a current political failure, but who think they should keep rerunning the show.
Europe has a post-democratic governance problem, a problem where majority opinion on some topics (such as immigration) does not t ranslate in policy. Yet this does not seem an issue for his highness Munchau
Rough times ahead

Richard Rolfe
Richard Rolfe
10 months ago

He’s a lifelong financial journalist. Where on earth did you get the idea he’s an arrogant technocrat? Do your homework before you comment.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Rolfe

There’s the rub – he’s a financial journalist. What he said about German companies not being able to adjust is nonsense. The Mittelstand is incredibly inventive and nimble, but they are self-financed and never show up in the financial press, so he knows nothing about them.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

That is true. Financial journalists mostly write about Big Business these days and movements in the finance industry.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

That is true. Financial journalists mostly write about Big Business these days and movements in the finance industry.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Rolfe

There’s the rub – he’s a financial journalist. What he said about German companies not being able to adjust is nonsense. The Mittelstand is incredibly inventive and nimble, but they are self-financed and never show up in the financial press, so he knows nothing about them.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
10 months ago

What a pathetic comment! He is a journalist and I was impressed by his candour.

Richard Rolfe
Richard Rolfe
10 months ago

He’s a lifelong financial journalist. Where on earth did you get the idea he’s an arrogant technocrat? Do your homework before you comment.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
10 months ago

What a pathetic comment! He is a journalist and I was impressed by his candour.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
10 months ago

An arrogant technocrat, full of shit and self entitlement. He’s a parasite whose ideas have been in power for the last 30 years, and led to a current political failure, but who think they should keep rerunning the show.
Europe has a post-democratic governance problem, a problem where majority opinion on some topics (such as immigration) does not t ranslate in policy. Yet this does not seem an issue for his highness Munchau
Rough times ahead

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
10 months ago

“[The AfD is] on the far-Right: they have goals that I would consider incompatible with constitutional law. For example, …”
Excellent. We love examples in place of unsubstantiated hoo-hah:
“… one of the goals they recently pronounced was not only Germany’s exit from the EU (which is legal), but the disbandment of the EU, which is obviously not something that a country can do.”
That’s all you got? (!)

Last edited 10 months ago by Chauncey Gardiner
AC Harper
AC Harper
10 months ago

If you consider the AfD to be far-Right then in the UK Labour is far-Left.
I suspect the centre-right and centre-left want their cosy political cartel to continue so every party outside that narrow view must be labelled as extreme, whether it is true or not.

AC Harper
AC Harper
10 months ago

If you consider the AfD to be far-Right then in the UK Labour is far-Left.
I suspect the centre-right and centre-left want their cosy political cartel to continue so every party outside that narrow view must be labelled as extreme, whether it is true or not.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
10 months ago

“[The AfD is] on the far-Right: they have goals that I would consider incompatible with constitutional law. For example, …”
Excellent. We love examples in place of unsubstantiated hoo-hah:
“… one of the goals they recently pronounced was not only Germany’s exit from the EU (which is legal), but the disbandment of the EU, which is obviously not something that a country can do.”
That’s all you got? (!)

Last edited 10 months ago by Chauncey Gardiner
Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
10 months ago

The Malaise of Germany‘s economic downturn started all with the unprincipled policies of Merkel, always trying to run behind events, avoiding any conflict by closely following Germany’s left leaning MSM. As Southern European countries were facing major economic problems, having to stay within the strict rules of the Euro (which was created in the image of the Deutsche Mark), Merkel tried to overcome the problems with huge rescue packages, some bordering on being unconstitutional, instead of recognising the root of the Euro problem. Therefore the founders of the AfD came up with new ideas of loosening the rules and creating a Southern and a Northern Euro as an “Alternative” to her angry speech in the Bundestag:”There is no Alternative to the EU or the Euro!”
For me it is amazing how Münchau criticises the AfD as almost unconstitutional, because it supposedly wants to “dissolve” the whole of the EU. Never knew, that it was against the German Constitution to convert the current EU of unelected bureaucrats into a Union Of Nation States, very much a concept already envisioned by DeGaulle’s “Europe des Patries”. Of course nobody knows if this idea will be politically possible or even wanted by major European countries or even by most Germans.
After Fukushima physicists Merkel, who should now better, again tried to accommodate the fears of many Germans, mostly hyped again by MSM, that the perfectly functioning nuclear plants could malfunction (earthquakes in Germany ??) and decided, that they should all be shut down by 2023. No foresight or anticipation, that anything could go wrong in the relationship with Russia ( and her fickle leader Putin) , which would then become the main supplier of Germany’s all important energy.
Her open door migrant policy finally increased voters’ frustration by turning in masses to the AfD as all major parties showed no resistance or programs how to stem this flood of mostly young men from third world countries. By that time nearly all original Founders of the AfD left the party as the right wing nationalistic wing became more influential.
But the main point why Germany’s industry is in trouble, like many other highly industrialised Western countries, is “Green” government interference and the lack of real Free Market Capitalism, replaced by corporatism with huge rules and regulations according to the new “Green Religion”. Looking up Wolfgang Münchau on Wikipedia, he seems to have written a book called “The End of Social Market Capitalism” and supposedly criticised the founder of Germany’s successful “Wirtschaftswunder”, Ludwig Erhard. So I’ll take his advice with a grain of salt. Many highly successful German Mittelstands Companies are currently planning to move away, turning to countries with less regulation and better and cheaper energy supply.
Just one more point, why does he think that the U.K. will be better off in the long term? I assume, if the right government comes along and makes a bonfire of regulations and turns its back on the Green Religion, it will be the perfect place to open new high tech companies without any interference by the highly bureaucratic EU.

Last edited 10 months ago by Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
10 months ago

The Malaise of Germany‘s economic downturn started all with the unprincipled policies of Merkel, always trying to run behind events, avoiding any conflict by closely following Germany’s left leaning MSM. As Southern European countries were facing major economic problems, having to stay within the strict rules of the Euro (which was created in the image of the Deutsche Mark), Merkel tried to overcome the problems with huge rescue packages, some bordering on being unconstitutional, instead of recognising the root of the Euro problem. Therefore the founders of the AfD came up with new ideas of loosening the rules and creating a Southern and a Northern Euro as an “Alternative” to her angry speech in the Bundestag:”There is no Alternative to the EU or the Euro!”
For me it is amazing how Münchau criticises the AfD as almost unconstitutional, because it supposedly wants to “dissolve” the whole of the EU. Never knew, that it was against the German Constitution to convert the current EU of unelected bureaucrats into a Union Of Nation States, very much a concept already envisioned by DeGaulle’s “Europe des Patries”. Of course nobody knows if this idea will be politically possible or even wanted by major European countries or even by most Germans.
After Fukushima physicists Merkel, who should now better, again tried to accommodate the fears of many Germans, mostly hyped again by MSM, that the perfectly functioning nuclear plants could malfunction (earthquakes in Germany ??) and decided, that they should all be shut down by 2023. No foresight or anticipation, that anything could go wrong in the relationship with Russia ( and her fickle leader Putin) , which would then become the main supplier of Germany’s all important energy.
Her open door migrant policy finally increased voters’ frustration by turning in masses to the AfD as all major parties showed no resistance or programs how to stem this flood of mostly young men from third world countries. By that time nearly all original Founders of the AfD left the party as the right wing nationalistic wing became more influential.
But the main point why Germany’s industry is in trouble, like many other highly industrialised Western countries, is “Green” government interference and the lack of real Free Market Capitalism, replaced by corporatism with huge rules and regulations according to the new “Green Religion”. Looking up Wolfgang Münchau on Wikipedia, he seems to have written a book called “The End of Social Market Capitalism” and supposedly criticised the founder of Germany’s successful “Wirtschaftswunder”, Ludwig Erhard. So I’ll take his advice with a grain of salt. Many highly successful German Mittelstands Companies are currently planning to move away, turning to countries with less regulation and better and cheaper energy supply.
Just one more point, why does he think that the U.K. will be better off in the long term? I assume, if the right government comes along and makes a bonfire of regulations and turns its back on the Green Religion, it will be the perfect place to open new high tech companies without any interference by the highly bureaucratic EU.

Last edited 10 months ago by Stephanie Surface
Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago

Let’s be very clear about some facts: The three main shocks to German business – COVID restrictions, rejection of cheap and reliable Russian natural gas, and rejection of nuclear energy – were all irrational, ideology-driven choices, not externally-imposed constraints (unless you count the US blowing up Nord Stream as an externally-imposed constraint – but it’s scarcely an Act of God).
Unlike the UK, Germany still has an excellent education system capable of turning out good mechanical technicians. If you serious believe that AI, cloud technology, and digitalisation is going keep planes flying, trains running, and power stations turning, then you need to shut down your smart phone and get out more.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jürg Gassmann
Jim Haggerty
Jim Haggerty
10 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

I agree but increasingly those planes, trains and power plants are being built by the Chinese and will be serviced by them as well. The Asian countries continue to move up the value chain and compete with the technical expertise of the Germans. It will take them a bit longer with AI but not much longer

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Haggerty

The dark secret about a consumer economy is that you need to put money in consumers’ pockets so they can spend. This is something bleeding heart liberals like Henry Ford understood, but most “free-market” brainiacs and WEFers who are “advising” our politicians evidently don’t.
Another dynamic that completely escapes most current politicians in the US as well as the EU and its members is that if you want to subsidise your consumers so that oligarchs can continue exploiting workers, then you need to generate a tax income that funds the subsidies. And that tax income won’t come from the oligarchs, they invest in politicians to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago
Reply to  Jim Haggerty

The dark secret about a consumer economy is that you need to put money in consumers’ pockets so they can spend. This is something bleeding heart liberals like Henry Ford understood, but most “free-market” brainiacs and WEFers who are “advising” our politicians evidently don’t.
Another dynamic that completely escapes most current politicians in the US as well as the EU and its members is that if you want to subsidise your consumers so that oligarchs can continue exploiting workers, then you need to generate a tax income that funds the subsidies. And that tax income won’t come from the oligarchs, they invest in politicians to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
10 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

The interesting economic comparison is not with the UK of today but of the 1870s-90s. Committed to free trade it ceased to be the “workshop of the world” and lost ground steadily to inter alia Germany (the equivalent of China today). The British were complacent partly because at least they continued to provide the capital stock for the new factories overseas … until they weren’t. Now contemplate the investments in China by the German car industry as suggested by Munchau.

Jim Haggerty
Jim Haggerty
10 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

I agree but increasingly those planes, trains and power plants are being built by the Chinese and will be serviced by them as well. The Asian countries continue to move up the value chain and compete with the technical expertise of the Germans. It will take them a bit longer with AI but not much longer

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
10 months ago
Reply to  Jürg Gassmann

The interesting economic comparison is not with the UK of today but of the 1870s-90s. Committed to free trade it ceased to be the “workshop of the world” and lost ground steadily to inter alia Germany (the equivalent of China today). The British were complacent partly because at least they continued to provide the capital stock for the new factories overseas … until they weren’t. Now contemplate the investments in China by the German car industry as suggested by Munchau.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
10 months ago

Let’s be very clear about some facts: The three main shocks to German business – COVID restrictions, rejection of cheap and reliable Russian natural gas, and rejection of nuclear energy – were all irrational, ideology-driven choices, not externally-imposed constraints (unless you count the US blowing up Nord Stream as an externally-imposed constraint – but it’s scarcely an Act of God).
Unlike the UK, Germany still has an excellent education system capable of turning out good mechanical technicians. If you serious believe that AI, cloud technology, and digitalisation is going keep planes flying, trains running, and power stations turning, then you need to shut down your smart phone and get out more.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jürg Gassmann
Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
10 months ago

I was surprised to hear Freddie use the term ‘reset’ in the interview wrt Putin and Russia. I recall Hillary Clinton presenting Sergey Lavrov with an actual reset button in 2009 (no joke). She was regularly talking about a reset with Putin. Later, in 2014, after the little green men took over Crimea and other areas of Ukraine (and also managed to blow a Malaysian airliner out of the sky) Clinton and Obama didn’t have much to say about the reset. Earlier (2001), George W Bush said he ‘looked into Putin’s eyes’ and ‘saw his soul’. Later, in 2018, he lamely said it looked like Putin had ‘changed’ (sounds like a marriage with an abusive spouse who maybe was always abusive and never actually changed except the occasional shots turned into actual beatings). Aleppo, Freddie? There’s a reason Sorovikin is called ‘General Armageddon’ and I’m pretty sure he had Putin’s approval. Lastly, we know of Russian mercenary armies (oops!, I mean Private Military Contractors no doubt performing Special Military Operations) working in Africa now to secure resources. Oh! Let’s not forget the murders committed on UK soil of Putin’s political enemies.

Whatever one thinks of the war in Ukraine, looking to do a ‘reset’ with Mr. Putin seems like a fool’s errand. History has shown that.

Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
10 months ago

I was surprised to hear Freddie use the term ‘reset’ in the interview wrt Putin and Russia. I recall Hillary Clinton presenting Sergey Lavrov with an actual reset button in 2009 (no joke). She was regularly talking about a reset with Putin. Later, in 2014, after the little green men took over Crimea and other areas of Ukraine (and also managed to blow a Malaysian airliner out of the sky) Clinton and Obama didn’t have much to say about the reset. Earlier (2001), George W Bush said he ‘looked into Putin’s eyes’ and ‘saw his soul’. Later, in 2018, he lamely said it looked like Putin had ‘changed’ (sounds like a marriage with an abusive spouse who maybe was always abusive and never actually changed except the occasional shots turned into actual beatings). Aleppo, Freddie? There’s a reason Sorovikin is called ‘General Armageddon’ and I’m pretty sure he had Putin’s approval. Lastly, we know of Russian mercenary armies (oops!, I mean Private Military Contractors no doubt performing Special Military Operations) working in Africa now to secure resources. Oh! Let’s not forget the murders committed on UK soil of Putin’s political enemies.

Whatever one thinks of the war in Ukraine, looking to do a ‘reset’ with Mr. Putin seems like a fool’s errand. History has shown that.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
10 months ago

they have goals that I would consider incompatible with constitutional law. For example, one of the goals they recently pronounced was not only Germany’s exit from the EU (which is legal)

So this goal is illegal but also legal. Uh, got it. And…

the disbandment of the EU, which is obviously not something that a country can do

… which is also legal. So they have goals he’d consider incompatible with the constitution but can’t name any, and the EU was built by countries that wanted to create and expand it, but can’t be unbuilt the same way because ????

under systems of proportional representation, it is difficult for centrist parties to form classic coalitions of the Left or Right.

No it isn’t difficult. The system allows any kind of coalition. The fact that Germany’s self-proclaimed “centrist” parties refuse to work with the AfD, which has a bog-standard conservative manifesto, says a lot about those parties and nothing about PR as a system.
The rest of the article is slightly better, but not by much.
It’s always such a slog with such establishment types. Illogical statements flow like water. They seem to “think” by memetically copying claims from people around them giving results very reminiscent of AI when you push it hard. The sentences are grammatically correct but the ideas within them don’t make sense or connect to each other in logical ways. False claims and non-sequiturs are the order of the day.
Freddie usually challenges his interviewees intellectually, but here Münchau gets off quite easily I thought.

Last edited 10 months ago by Norman Powers
elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Oh well he did predict the UK as being in a better position in 10yrs time. Hope springs……

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

Oh well he did predict the UK as being in a better position in 10yrs time. Hope springs……

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
10 months ago

they have goals that I would consider incompatible with constitutional law. For example, one of the goals they recently pronounced was not only Germany’s exit from the EU (which is legal)

So this goal is illegal but also legal. Uh, got it. And…

the disbandment of the EU, which is obviously not something that a country can do

… which is also legal. So they have goals he’d consider incompatible with the constitution but can’t name any, and the EU was built by countries that wanted to create and expand it, but can’t be unbuilt the same way because ????

under systems of proportional representation, it is difficult for centrist parties to form classic coalitions of the Left or Right.

No it isn’t difficult. The system allows any kind of coalition. The fact that Germany’s self-proclaimed “centrist” parties refuse to work with the AfD, which has a bog-standard conservative manifesto, says a lot about those parties and nothing about PR as a system.
The rest of the article is slightly better, but not by much.
It’s always such a slog with such establishment types. Illogical statements flow like water. They seem to “think” by memetically copying claims from people around them giving results very reminiscent of AI when you push it hard. The sentences are grammatically correct but the ideas within them don’t make sense or connect to each other in logical ways. False claims and non-sequiturs are the order of the day.
Freddie usually challenges his interviewees intellectually, but here Münchau gets off quite easily I thought.

Last edited 10 months ago by Norman Powers
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

It wasn’t that long ago that opposition to the EU was a left wing policy.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago

Yes, I recall in1971 the common maket debate.

elaine chambers
elaine chambers
10 months ago

Yes, I recall in1971 the common maket debate.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
10 months ago

It wasn’t that long ago that opposition to the EU was a left wing policy.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
10 months ago

“The much bigger danger for the EU is that it becomes toothless and ineffective”.

This is not an inchoate risk that could be realised in the future. The EU IS toothless and ineffective in all but minor situations. It is also a German sickness to overestimate the power and the ability of the EU.

Otherwise a good Interview, I’m a big fan of Münchau.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
10 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

For me Münchau is part of the left leaning German/European MSM. He was co-editor of the German Financial Times… The EU leadership is a menace and has too much power on every day life, especially business in the EU. UvL is a close friend of Merkel’s and screwed up every post she had. Yesterday a “biting” new media law, DSA, kicked in, checking social media for “harmful” content. This isn’t toothless and the rules and regulations the commission seems to come up daily aren’t toothless either

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
10 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

For me Münchau is part of the left leaning German/European MSM. He was co-editor of the German Financial Times… The EU leadership is a menace and has too much power on every day life, especially business in the EU. UvL is a close friend of Merkel’s and screwed up every post she had. Yesterday a “biting” new media law, DSA, kicked in, checking social media for “harmful” content. This isn’t toothless and the rules and regulations the commission seems to come up daily aren’t toothless either

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
10 months ago

“The much bigger danger for the EU is that it becomes toothless and ineffective”.

This is not an inchoate risk that could be realised in the future. The EU IS toothless and ineffective in all but minor situations. It is also a German sickness to overestimate the power and the ability of the EU.

Otherwise a good Interview, I’m a big fan of Münchau.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago

“Voters are not entirely stupid”
Well that explain a lot of how Mr Munchau sees the world

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago

“Voters are not entirely stupid”
Well that explain a lot of how Mr Munchau sees the world

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
10 months ago

“No one would ever go into a coalition with the AfD.” That simply means that in 5 years, after complete collapse of the Teutonic Green Walhalla, AfD will not need any coalition to form the government. The green Germany is one gigantic lie anyway, it has been always running on Russian gas, now on Polish and German coal. And, as we found out, they see the “solution” in increasing the dependence on China and Russia. And leave NATO.I hate to bring to their attention that the US bases in Germany have always served a double purpose: to defend Europe against Russia and to make sure that there will be no need for the Operation Overlord II.
Germans would love the business as usual with Putin. In addition to economic gains they want to have leverage over Central and Eastern Europe again. Nordstream II was build to bypass those countries and made them entirely energy dependent on Germany and Russia.
In terms of digital technology Germany and, EU in general, are absolute world “leaders” in regulating it. That’s a proven recipe for progress.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
10 months ago

“No one would ever go into a coalition with the AfD.” That simply means that in 5 years, after complete collapse of the Teutonic Green Walhalla, AfD will not need any coalition to form the government. The green Germany is one gigantic lie anyway, it has been always running on Russian gas, now on Polish and German coal. And, as we found out, they see the “solution” in increasing the dependence on China and Russia. And leave NATO.I hate to bring to their attention that the US bases in Germany have always served a double purpose: to defend Europe against Russia and to make sure that there will be no need for the Operation Overlord II.
Germans would love the business as usual with Putin. In addition to economic gains they want to have leverage over Central and Eastern Europe again. Nordstream II was build to bypass those countries and made them entirely energy dependent on Germany and Russia.
In terms of digital technology Germany and, EU in general, are absolute world “leaders” in regulating it. That’s a proven recipe for progress.

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
10 months ago

Germany was the big beneficiary of the Euro.If its economy continues to decline then money will flow out and into countries like Greece who under a re-elected Greek Conservative govt are attracting increasing foreign investment.It would be ironical if in a few years time Germany wants to leave the Euro whilst Greece ,Ireland,Italy and Portugal want to stay in

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
10 months ago

Germany was the big beneficiary of the Euro.If its economy continues to decline then money will flow out and into countries like Greece who under a re-elected Greek Conservative govt are attracting increasing foreign investment.It would be ironical if in a few years time Germany wants to leave the Euro whilst Greece ,Ireland,Italy and Portugal want to stay in

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
10 months ago

Anyone who visited Germany great cities and cultural centers must be full of admiration. IF you visit Munich now, one of the most livable culturally rich cities in the world you wonder why would anyone not want to be German.
But they squandered all of this in their fanatical, never ending drive to dominate. EU for Germany is just a tool. Munchau is just another enthusiast of German hegemony and he is afraid that it may be challenged. So let’s abandon relationship with the US, leave NATO, and try to restore German hegemony in Europe working with Putin and Xi.
Merkel pushed UK out of Europe and her unilateral move to open the borders of Europe to refugees started slow demise of EU. But they cannot help themselves. They have to rule if not by military power than by economic dominance. But at the same time, being fanatics they are, they determined to push the Green Teutonic Valhalla suicide pact on their neighbors.
The solution is always the same: looking for “allies” that would help them impose their rule on Europe. US will not do so of course they desperately want get back to working with Russia on the “softer” Ribbentrop-Molotov pact to squeeze Eastern Europe. Russia overtaking Ukraine and terrorizing Poland was the perfect outcome for Germans. It did not work but they are not abandoning hope.
They think that Russians will forget the millions murdered by Nazis, that Poland will forget six years of terror and slaughter of millions of Poles and Jews, that Europe would tolerate any unilateral imposition from Germany. They are mad.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrzej Wasniewski
Roger Sponge
Roger Sponge
10 months ago

When in Poland during martial law, I asked a room full of people if they hated the Russians. Someone whose father was shot at Katyn answered, “I don’t like them,” he said. “They’ve stolen our land, burnt our universities and churches and raped our women. And we’ve done the same.” His voice trailed. But the Germans…”
”What’s the difference?”
”They tried to destroy us and our language for no other reason than we existed”
The room nodded very firmly in agreement. Time has passed and there are more Germans now than then who cannot be held responsible in any way whatsoever for Germany’s horrendous past. There are undoubtedly many honourable Germans.
But reunited Germany is barely 30 years old. It was born from two appalling regimes. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. WWII for Poland only ended in 1989. We in the west have no idea what it was like to live with the everyday constant suspicion, lack of trust, deceit, lies, propaganda, corruption, betrayals, cruelty and grey depressive atmosphere amongst our neighbours, family and colleagues.
Andrezj, I don’t know whether you’re right as it’s a while since I’ve been to Germany and Poland. But I certainly know that anyone who down votes you must explain why. Because I know where you’re coming from.

Roger Sponge
Roger Sponge
10 months ago

When in Poland during martial law, I asked a room full of people if they hated the Russians. Someone whose father was shot at Katyn answered, “I don’t like them,” he said. “They’ve stolen our land, burnt our universities and churches and raped our women. And we’ve done the same.” His voice trailed. But the Germans…”
”What’s the difference?”
”They tried to destroy us and our language for no other reason than we existed”
The room nodded very firmly in agreement. Time has passed and there are more Germans now than then who cannot be held responsible in any way whatsoever for Germany’s horrendous past. There are undoubtedly many honourable Germans.
But reunited Germany is barely 30 years old. It was born from two appalling regimes. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones. WWII for Poland only ended in 1989. We in the west have no idea what it was like to live with the everyday constant suspicion, lack of trust, deceit, lies, propaganda, corruption, betrayals, cruelty and grey depressive atmosphere amongst our neighbours, family and colleagues.
Andrezj, I don’t know whether you’re right as it’s a while since I’ve been to Germany and Poland. But I certainly know that anyone who down votes you must explain why. Because I know where you’re coming from.

Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
10 months ago

Anyone who visited Germany great cities and cultural centers must be full of admiration. IF you visit Munich now, one of the most livable culturally rich cities in the world you wonder why would anyone not want to be German.
But they squandered all of this in their fanatical, never ending drive to dominate. EU for Germany is just a tool. Munchau is just another enthusiast of German hegemony and he is afraid that it may be challenged. So let’s abandon relationship with the US, leave NATO, and try to restore German hegemony in Europe working with Putin and Xi.
Merkel pushed UK out of Europe and her unilateral move to open the borders of Europe to refugees started slow demise of EU. But they cannot help themselves. They have to rule if not by military power than by economic dominance. But at the same time, being fanatics they are, they determined to push the Green Teutonic Valhalla suicide pact on their neighbors.
The solution is always the same: looking for “allies” that would help them impose their rule on Europe. US will not do so of course they desperately want get back to working with Russia on the “softer” Ribbentrop-Molotov pact to squeeze Eastern Europe. Russia overtaking Ukraine and terrorizing Poland was the perfect outcome for Germans. It did not work but they are not abandoning hope.
They think that Russians will forget the millions murdered by Nazis, that Poland will forget six years of terror and slaughter of millions of Poles and Jews, that Europe would tolerate any unilateral imposition from Germany. They are mad.

Last edited 10 months ago by Andrzej Wasniewski
John Riordan
John Riordan
10 months ago

I agree with pretty much everything here – very insightful it all is. I very much hope that Germany doesn’t fall back into a loss of interest in geostrategic concerns – it would guarantee Europe’s slide into global insignificance.

On the matter of Brexit he’s right too. The lack of vision for a model of independent self-government has allowed Brexit to become a BRINO outcome – so far, that is. So he’s right that we don’t want to make a radical economic pivot because the “we” he’s talking about is a democratic consensus with a mandate to carry it out, not just the voices of the Brexit victors from before the 2019 general election, and that consensus doesn’t presently exist. Maybe we’ll reach one, maybe not.

Last edited 10 months ago by John Riordan
Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 months ago

Only one person who loves Mrs Merkel more than me – Mistah Putin.
He sold Germany and Europe a lot of gas, and now the vacuum left in his absence has led the populist Right to assert themselves against the Atlanticists.
As usual, Washington and London stand squarely behind such maneouvres.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
10 months ago

Only one person who loves Mrs Merkel more than me – Mistah Putin.
He sold Germany and Europe a lot of gas, and now the vacuum left in his absence has led the populist Right to assert themselves against the Atlanticists.
As usual, Washington and London stand squarely behind such maneouvres.

r ll
r ll
10 months ago

Merkel dragged the country down, do not forget she was from East Germany as well. She let in too many immigrants , far too many into a country of that size, and all muslim, a liefstyle that contradicts what Germany is about, I know, because i lived there in 1974-1977 and 1984 in the US Amry. It was a great place then, but the Germans need to drop the “guilt complex” from WW2 they still carry around like a “ball& chain”, its not helpful to move forward. Germany willl get better with time, and gets back the middle and embracing their culture.

r ll
r ll
10 months ago

Merkel dragged the country down, do not forget she was from East Germany as well. She let in too many immigrants , far too many into a country of that size, and all muslim, a liefstyle that contradicts what Germany is about, I know, because i lived there in 1974-1977 and 1984 in the US Amry. It was a great place then, but the Germans need to drop the “guilt complex” from WW2 they still carry around like a “ball& chain”, its not helpful to move forward. Germany willl get better with time, and gets back the middle and embracing their culture.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

Lest we forget:-

“Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt,
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt.”

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

Lest we forget:-

“Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt,
Wenn es stets zu Schutz und Trutze
Brüderlich zusammenhält.
Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt,
Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt.”

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

How long before Zyclon B is contemplated?

Or has it been superseded by COVID II?

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Chris Keating
Chris Keating
10 months ago

Have you been drinking Charles? Your comments, not that I agree with many of them, are usually better than this . In the outer reaches, it never ceases to be contemplated.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

In future Keating please address me as Stanhope or Mr Stanhope, and not as Charles, as I find such familiarity quite unnecessary, not to say a little vulgar.
As to your insolent question no, never before 6pm, what about you?
I am glad to hear that in the “outer reaches” as you charmingly call them, ‘they’ are thinking of the future. Given your misanthropic remarks of earlier today I presume you must support them?

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Perhaps Mr Stanhope was thinking about Canada’s MAID legislation which now accounts for 7% of deaths in Quebec. History suggests slippery slopes abound, particularly when the body is no longer held to be the creation of a higher power (whatever that might be).

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Thank you.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan Grabston

Thank you.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

In future Keating please address me as Stanhope or Mr Stanhope, and not as Charles, as I find such familiarity quite unnecessary, not to say a little vulgar.
As to your insolent question no, never before 6pm, what about you?
I am glad to hear that in the “outer reaches” as you charmingly call them, ‘they’ are thinking of the future. Given your misanthropic remarks of earlier today I presume you must support them?

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
10 months ago
Reply to  Chris Keating

Perhaps Mr Stanhope was thinking about Canada’s MAID legislation which now accounts for 7% of deaths in Quebec. History suggests slippery slopes abound, particularly when the body is no longer held to be the creation of a higher power (whatever that might be).

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
10 months ago

What a cheerful thought ….

Chris Keating
Chris Keating
10 months ago

Have you been drinking Charles? Your comments, not that I agree with many of them, are usually better than this . In the outer reaches, it never ceases to be contemplated.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
10 months ago

What a cheerful thought ….

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

How long before Zyclon B is contemplated?

Or has it been superseded by COVID II?

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope