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Merkel 'Berlusconizing' politics, philosopher claims

The Local · 8 Apr 2011, 14:07

Published: 08 Apr 2011 14:07 GMT+02:00

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Raising the spectre of Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is battling accusations he slept with an underage prostitute, Habermas this week launched a blistering attack on the German political scene and what he considers the “pitiful state” of European unification.

“One can no longer see the point of it; whether it actually is about anything more than the next election result,” Habermas wrote of Merkel’s programme in an opinion piece published by daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

This has shown itself particularly in Merkel’s initial support for former Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, he wrote. Despite serious allegations that Guttenberg was guilty of plagiarism, Merkel had wanted to keep him in her government because he was popular.

“She has, with cool calculation, cashed in the constitutional idea of public office for a few pieces of silver that she hasn’t even been able to pocket at the ballot box.”

Habermas went on to write that the incident had “Berlusconized the political culture of the country.”

Habermas broadened his attack, in flame-throwing rhetorical style, to German politics generally, saying elected representatives were acting wholly according to opinion polls and election cycles.

Politicians were following “shamelessly the playbook of a poll-driven pragmatism of power.”

People’s perception of this trend has led to a new willingness to protest, as seen in the Stuttgart 21 demonstrations.

European unity was one victim of this loss of purpose among the political elite, he wrote. A strengthening of the European parliament in Strasbourg was needed, yet politicians were shrinking from such fundamental change.

“The European unification process, which has always been carried out above the heads of the people, is now at a dead-end,” he wrote, adding that the European Union was now in a “pitiful state.”

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Under “a Eurosceptic like Merkel,” Germany had laid a claim to European leadership while instead pursuing national interests.

“The prioritization of national considerations has never before been so naked in appearance as in the robust opposition of a chancellor who ... for weeks blocked European help for Greece and the rescue fund for the euro.”

DPA/The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

21:17 April 8, 2011 by Slimtots
Makes sense
00:08 April 9, 2011 by vonSchwerin
"Habermas broadened his attack, in flame-throwing rhetorical style..."

Habermas needs to STFU. He thinks that because he's a famous philosopher that he's qualified to comment on anything, but his rhetorical style often makes things worse.

During the Historikerstreit, his participation and opining made the debate much fiercer and blew it up such that it went way beyond the academic world. Soon the FAZ and Die Zeit were involved. The whole thing got nasty and personalized, which only drove the principal parties to rhetorical extremes. If Habermas had kept his opinions to himself, the socalled Historians Debate would not have gotten so ugly. (And I think Nolte was wrong, but Habermas's modus operandi did not help the anti-relativising crowd.)
00:19 April 9, 2011 by dogmatix
Habermas has some very valid points and I personally don't believe Merkel stands a chance of remaining Bundeskanzler(in).

She bet on the wrong horse regarding v. Guttenberg. Despite papers like BILD rooting for him, the general mood of the Germans is now mistrust.

She bet on the wrong horse regarding Westerwelle, our foreign minister. While nobody would have been happy about a German engagement in Iraq, Libya is a different matter. Nobody I know trusts Gaddafi further than they can throw a cheesecake underwater!

She bet on the wrong horse regarding nuclear energy. The mini earthquake in the last election showed this. Just imagine: the Bundesland having had a CDU govarmint (deliberate typo!) now has the first green Ministerpräsident!!! All voices within the B-W CDU critical of nuclear energy were silenced.

All this, and more, usually not reported on here, leaves people guessing where Angela Merkel and the CDU-FDP politicians really stand.
00:20 April 9, 2011 by derExDeutsche
'One of Germany¦#39;s most famous living philosophers'

.... and all he could come up with is 'Berlusconizing' ?

You're in trouble, Germany. Somebody send this man some hallucinogens. He needs to pry his imagination beyond the cover of BILD.
00:40 April 9, 2011 by dogmatix


civil, well reasoned discourse

>>If Habermas had kept his opinions to himself, ... OH, WOW!!

>>You're in trouble, Germany. Somebody send this man some hallucinogens. ... civil and well reasoned indeed!!!
16:46 April 9, 2011 by maxbrando
Does this mean she is consorting with underage male hookers?? Hoohoo!!
01:15 April 10, 2011 by Larry Thrash
Philosophers are a dime a dozen. There are more philosophers in this world than anything else because they aren't required to know anything. Just flapping their lips spewing their political views.
12:56 April 10, 2011 by Deutschguy
Habermas is way over the top on this.

Merkel might have made mistakes, but polling the electorate to determine what they want, or at least how you have to present ideas to make them palatable, is a wise course. Otherwise, everything you say will be seized upon by a crass media and political opponents and twisted beyond its intended meaning, only for the purpose of causing political damage.

If the German public wants to go slower on nuclear power or European integration, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Merkel's stance(s). True, zu Guttenberg and Westerwelle ended up being disappointments. That is not the sum total of Merkel's administration.

This Habermas guy could never be elected to anything, and if he were, he would fail at governance within six weeks. He believes that if he thinks that something is a good idea, then it's full speed ahead, regardless of public opinion.

There is no conflict in German politics with Stuttgart 21 protests and a Kanzlerin that takes a slower approach to the EU or nuclear power. Both are part and parcel of a healthy political process. She's engaged, and the public is engaged. That's good.
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