Sunday, November 10, 2019


The tearing-down of the Berlin Wall was the result of both the collapse of the East German gulag and of a Kafka-like bureaucratic misunderstanding by the East German official who misspoke, and by doing so opened the floodgates.

In 1992 Francis Fukuyama published The End of History and the Last Man, in which he stated that history and the Hegelian model might finally have arrived at the end of the marathon.

Gorbachev was considered in the West as a Russian Marcus Aurelius who was lauded for having recognized that the Soviet Empire was a failed project, whose days were counted. While President George H. W. Bush, P.M. Margaret Thatcher and Chancellor Helmut Kohl were sophisticated enough not to humiliate the Russian leader, others were less subtle and found a way to traumatize the Russian pride and psyche.

Today's commemoration of the Berlin saga feels more like a revision than a confirmation.

Indeed yesterday's Utopian projection has evolved into a dystopian situation. The unipolar world is no longer a sustainable assertion. The pax americana is a thing of the past. Putin's Russia proves that skills speak louder than clout. The EU looks more like Eurasia's archipelago than like a force to reckon with. Trump proves again the destructive force of the psychopath in power.

This very "debauched" landscape is in need of urgent repair.  While China and Russia have smart personalities (if disagreeable) at the helm, the US is stuck with a hell-bent president (who might "overstay"). In the West the situation is getting worse because it is losing the moral and intellectual ability to conceive otherwise. If one loses the grasp of diversity one risks ending up in the dead end where Trump's America now finds itself. It has neither allies or shared values. It only frequents opportunistic abettors, by choice .

After the collapse of the Soviet monolith, it felt as if we might have entered a new era of philosophical leaders, less inclined to follow Fukuyama's hasty conclusion than to reconsider the harmonium of a revisited "Concert of nations and cultures". No need to return to the Congress of Vienna or Versailles deceptions. The inclusive curiosity, acceptance of the "bend", of the romanticized "other", became the more desirable options for all to experience. Optimism was in the air.  It was alas short lived.

Even in Germany, the post-Berlin magnum opus is considered today as an almost-failed experiment. The former East Germans still remain "there" and in Eastern Europe more unpleasant occupants inhabit the splendors which were expecting more enlightened occupants.  Did such existential changes have to lead to such mediocre todays?

Europe has gravitasAmerica has mass (unevenly distributed). The old continent always needed the federateur emachinaAmerica was willing to provide one. Now that Europe is in need as never before, America choses to taste its own home brew of slow-death elixir. The odd couple has become an old couple from hell.  One partner choses to stray (Erdogan in the White House next week), the other sulks (Macron). The divorce papers are ready and there is no pre- nuptial. This is going to be ugly.  Tragically, it is hard to find a successor to the Marshalls, JFKs or Kellys. The Democratic contenders are stuck in the web of internal policies, while the GOP has become frankly an ersatz of European 1936 Zeitgeist. Macron is right when he argues that Europe needs to count more on its own means and ways. He should also suggest measures which might alleviate the real existential split which is growing between the Western and Eastern parts. This movie, in perverse progress, needs a scenarist before it flops.

Chancellor Angela Merkel looked subdued in Berlin yesterday. After all, born in then-East Germany, she knows more than most about how dreams can turn into nightmares.

No comments:

Post a Comment