Back to the Politics of Cultural Despair

Some years ago the historian Fritz Stern wrote a book about Germany entitled The Politics of Cultural Despair. He used the example of three (now forgotten) bestselling authors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to show the deep aversion of many Germans to the modern world, notably to market economics and democratic politics. For Stern, this was part of the cultural soil in which National Socialism flourished.

Much has changed since the Nazi era. The murderous triumph and bloody defeat of the politics of cultural despair was followed by an economic miracle that made Germany one of the world’s most prosperous countries, with nearly six decades of increasingly stable democracy.

Yet there are still traces within Germany of an attitude that finds modern economics distasteful and the opening of all frontiers to a globalized world frightening. “Pure capitalism” and “globalization” evoke horrific images. Swarms of capitalist “locusts” threaten to descend on defenseless, hardworking people, to quote the unfortunate metaphor used in a recent speech by Franz Müntefering, the chairman of the governing Social Democrats.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/REzOppj;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.