A Parable for Germany, seeking redemption in the wrong way


Dying Germany has only one item on its bucket list, and that is redemption. The Germans cannot seek redemption from the crimes of their grandparents because they do not understand what motivated them to do such terrible things. Their great-grandparents during World War I believed in the superiority of German culture, and their grandparents during World War II believed in the superiority of the Aryan race. Today's Germans can only believe that no culture and no race has any claim to precedence, and that all the world's cultures have equal value.

Israel's unabashed nationalism horrifies them, because National Socialism's claim to the status of "master race" was a Satanic parody of the Election of Israel. Jewish strength and success, in German eyes, are an uncomfortable reminder of the Nazis' perversion of the biblical idea of Chosenness.

For Merkel and most of Germany's elite, the appearance on Germany's threshold of millions of Muslim refugees is a final chance at redemption, an opportunity for Germany to redeem itself from the crimes of its past through a transcendent act of selflessness. The Germans turned away from self-sacrifice for the Fatherland to the extreme of self-absorption. Germany became materialistic, irreligious, and Philistine. But self-absorption was a poor distraction from the sense of horror that lingered after the Second World War. The Nazis used terror and horror --Schrecken und Entzsetzen (lit. "dislodgement") to bind the German people to their leadership. The prospect of new horrors arising not from a clash of civilization, but from internal clashes within Muslim civilization, is too much for the Germans to bear, because it recalls the horrors of the past war.

That is why Germans tumbled headlong into their decision to admit millions of Muslim refugees only when the horrors of war presented themselves on Germany's own doorstep. Until the flood of refugees reached Central Europe last summer, Germany showed little interest in their problems. As noted, Germany had prepared to admit only 6,000 refugees in 2015. Not until September, after a news photo of a drowned Kurdish boy went viral, and a dozen decomposing bodies were found in an abandoned truck in Austria, did Merkel declare, "Wir schaffen es." ["We can do it."] It is also why Germany will not reverse this policy no matter what sort of crimes the refugees commit.

Mrs. Merkel's rationality crumbles before the horrific prospect of human suffering. Germany's elites hope that one last, great national valedictory act will open the prospect of redemption.

Ordinary Germans, to be sure, do not like to be assaulted sexually by organized mobs, or subjected to other social pathologies that the refugees bring with them. Despite some objections, including some very vocal ones, Germans nonetheless will do what the Obrigkeit[Authority] tells them, just as they always have done.

Sadly, Germany is looking for redemption in all the wrong places. Its obsession with helping the refugees is not a mistake or a misjudgment, but an existential impulse so powerful that all the evidence in the world of the baleful effects of this policy will not outweigh it. There is no dissuading the Germans from hastening their own destruction. They can only stand as a terrifying example for the rest of us.

David Goldman is an American economist, author and a principle of Asia Times HK, Ltd.