The spiritual cause of the ‘European intifada’

Me, for the Acton Institute.

Others are not so optimistic. In Germany, historian Rolf Peter Sieferle has made even more of a splash. His account of German political psychology and its effects, Finis Germania, has enjoyed good sales just as it has been roundly condemned by the prestige press. Die Zeit called it a book of “brazen obscenity.” (He has not been able to enjoy his surprise bestseller, having taken his own life last September.)

A former socialist who grew disillusioned with his generation’s naivety, Sieferle wrote that “[a] society that can no longer distinguish between itself and the forces that would dissolve it is living morally beyond its means.” In fact, he argued, Germans actually want to disappear because of a belief that Germans are uniquely guilty due to the Holocaust – that they carry a blood guilt as “the absolute enemies of our common humanity,” becoming “a scapegoat people.”

This was perhaps why in 2015 German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the momentous decision to open her nation’s borders. The numbers involved, and the future implications for our continent, are staggering; the reasons for her decision remain a mystery. Earlier that year the chancellor had told Reem Sahwil, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who wanted to stay in Germany, that if she allowed Sahwil’s family to stay in Germany, all Africans would want to join them. Germany “cannot cope with that,” she said.

Many in the German media criticised the coldness of Chancellor Merkel’s response and so when in late August migration pressure looked like overwhelming Greece and Italy, the Germans snapped. In August 2015, Merkel announced her open door policy, cloaking it in moral terms. “Universal civil rights were so far tied together with Europe and its history,” she said. “If Europe fails on the question of refugees, its close connection with universal civil rights will be destroyed. It won’t be the Europe we imagine.” As she told them, “Wir Schaffen das” – “We can do this.”

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