Germany, You Have a Problem

Right now, you can still say that even conservative politicians in Germany – including the governing chancellor Angela Merkel – lean further to the left than members of the Democratic party in America. German is simply a leftist state. And that goes not only for politics or Germany's panicy fear of American conservatives like Bush. Few people in Germany go to church, for example, and in fact religion in general is often made out to be something evil.

I was watching one of Germany's ubiquitous talkshows the other night and the subject was raising kids: Should one use discipline or not? The round of guest included two freaks. Besides a children's psychologist and a guy who had written a book, they had invited a cabaret star who wore green lipstick and a young advertising copywriter with a Mohawk haircut who was raised by anti-authoritarian principles and proud if it, etc. But those weren't the freaks.

The freaks were a young (in her twenties), pretty violinist who had become world-famous before she was ten. She was successful, clearly happy and well-adjusted, and she contributed something to society. She said she was raised not so much with "discipline" than with "rewards:" If she practiced, she given certain privileges. The show host immediately said: "Like one of those seals in a circus you give herrings to." She smiled. Only in Germany would a show host compare a successful, well-adjusted person who is clearly an example to young people to a circus act.

They had invited even more of a freak: A Christian. He was a father of eight kids (this is a signal in Germany that something is wrong) and he insisted that his kids all did some kind of sport and learned an instrument. He also disciplined his kids using "violence." They didn't give him a chance to say what he meant by "violence" – I suspect he meant spanking – but immediately jumped all over him and basically accused him of being a child abuser. Especially the guy with the Mohawk haircut, who apparently thought he was a rebel, jumped all over the guy.

(Coincidentally - it looks like America is making a move to ban spanking. A new bill is being introduced in California which would outlaw spanking of children under 3. Will it get past republicans? Maybe: Schwarzenegger is European when it comes to rearing children. In the nineties, the UN called for violence of all kinds to be banned from the rearing of children, and in 2000 Germany appended its constitution with a clause that doesn;t quite outlaw (or make a crime of) spanking, but does guarantee children a non-violent upbringing. That clause has yet to be tested in court. But most Germans agree that spanking is not good for kids and parents who dfo it are monsters.)

It was interesting because it was clear who belonged to the establishment and who didn’t: The two guys who dressed like "freaks" to signal their rejection of society were clearly accepted members of liberal German (media) society, while the family father and the over-achiever were the weirdoes.

But that is changing, and it is changing now. I never thought it would happen, and I suspect most Germans don’t suspect it will happen, but it is: A groundswell of conservatism is breaking.

It's visible on the bestseller lists. About a year ago, a news anchor man wrote a very short book called "Schluss mit lustig" in which he called for a return to religious values. It is still on the bestseller lists. Shortly after that, a TV show host wrote a book called "Das Eva Prinzip" in which she called for women to return to the home and bear children. (I haven’t read wither book – what's really in them, I only know from press reaction). Also a bestseller. There are others as well along those lines. In fact, the book that inspired the TV-discussion about "discipline" is called "In Praise of Discipline" and recommends that parents forget all the anti-authoritarian stuff return to being the boss in the household.

Especially that second book is causing quite a stir and a raft of anti-Eva-Principle books. Most newspapers and TV shows as far as I can see are shocked that one of their own – the writer is a TV talk show host – could write such a horrible backwards book. They look at her a s a freak, an anomaly. But the thing is, people are buying it. It's a bestseller. There are a lot of people out there who don’t really like the German media's liberal values and are looking for something else. The book writers have discovered this audience and it's only a matter of time before the media and politicians also discover them.

Sound familiar?

A Newsweek article from a few months ago also predicted that there was going to be a swing toward conservatism. The article took a look at European demographics. As you know, the birth rate in Europe is down and sinking. Germans, in their typically apocryphal fashion, are already talking about "dying out." That's to the advantage of the conservatives, because conservative and religious families tend to have more children and they raise their children to continue having more children. Within a couple of generations, Germany will be conservative. Maybe not as conservative as America, but conservative enough.

Which means it will be time for me to move back to the States, because at around that time the USA will already be swinging back in the other direction.

They say everything that happens in America comes to Europe ten years later, and in this case it's true. If the liberal establishment doesn't want to get rolled over by this wave as by a bulldozer, they'd better take it pretty seriously and do something about it now. But of course they won’t.

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