Masochists yearn for submission and humiliation. They could also be called passive sadists – they enjoy delivering suffering to those who have passion, but also enjoy suffering themselves.
This two-faced collective condition has repeatedly surfaced in history.
Winston Churchill reportedly said that you either have the Germans at your neck or at your feet. And a remnant of this sadomasochistic tendency can be found in Germans' relationship to this “grand coalition”.
It is no accident that the somewhat xenophobic “poverty migrant” debate was held at the same time as drastic new government borrowing plans were nodded through. Aggression here, passivity there.
The new version of the “grand coalition” shows previous mistakes can make you .
Eight years ago, in Merkel’s last “grand coalition” government, the value-added-tax (VAT) rate was increased by three percent. Today, in contrast, a pension reform is being advanced which will cost €160 billion by 2030.
Germany already has around €2 trillion of debts with interest payments of around €40 billion a year – the second-largest expense in the government’s budget.
Spending with the heart
Despite record tax income, Angela Merkel and Sigmar Gabriel are happily sucking up more money. The Swabian housewife has discovered the thrill of splurging. To hell with it.
In her address to the Bundestag, Merkel used a pretty phrase to justify her spending. "No-one with a heart," she said, could be against new pension payments.
According to a popular saying, it is better to give away your whole heart than all your money. How does that work? Well, if you give away your heart you still have it – but give away money and it's gone.
Those who argue only with the heart, and who do not believe in the resurrection of the Grimm Brothers' Star Money fairytale, will end up in Greece sooner or later.
"No-one with a heart," can oppose an increase in student grants, more basic unemployment support, new hospitals, more money for education, better old-age care – hearts are expensive.
Sunny, windy, costly and dirty
The consumer notices this with the coalition’s second major project – the Energiewende [moving away from nuclear power sources to renewable energy].
The average household is already paying €260 extra each year for the expansion of renewable energy and this will only increase. And because coal is cheaper than gas, new coal power stations are constantly being brought online.
The carbon dioxide emissions are coming close to GDR levels. The Economist magazine summed up this experiment with the words, "sunny, windy, costly and dirty."
Merkel responded by saying that foreigners were watching Germany with "curiosity and scepticism." She neglected to put in percentages – 95 percent scepticism, five percent curiosity.
Creating peace, with weapons
And it is jolly good that the Bundeswehr is now, thanks to its glorious baptism of fire in Afghanistan, going to be sent to Africa soon. Ursula von der Leyen [defence minister] and Frank-Walter Steinmeier [foreign minister] want to give up on Germany’s old “culture of restraint”.
In its place comes the concept of creating peace with German weapons in central Africa. Germany is, to a certain degree, changing tack – Goodbye Obama, Bonjour Hollande!
Never again abstention in the United Nations Security Council as with Libya! (although was it not weapons from Libya which were smuggled towards the south and used to arm African Al-Qaeda rebels? Ah, never mind.)
The “grand coalition” will continue like this, for four years. All we've had so far is a taster. The main dish will involve billions more being pumped into the next euro rescue. And in the end, no-one will take responsibility.
How did the [satirical theatre] Distel put it? "What we do not like, we forget, and what we forget didn't happen. This is an old custom in Germany, and we never forget customs."