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Konrad Werner: Politics vs. non-politics

Not everyone can be in opposition. Someone has to actually run the place.

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Photo courtesy of SPÖ Presse und Kommunikation (CC BY-SA 2.0)

So it looks like the next four years of Merkel’s Germany will be a bit like the last four years, and the people who find politics boring (in other words, people who have nothing at stake in the debate, in other words, privileged people), will be able to carry on complaining about “nothing ever changing” while indulging their apathy and having weird sex with each other or eating crisps or whatever it is they do.

After the FDP flaked out on joining the Merkel coalition last week, it seems like another CDU/SPD “grand coalition” is the last turkey in the shop. Or at least the other choices (a minority CDU government with the Greens or a new election) are just wearying ways to get to the same place.

It might mean more Merkel, but at least we’ll have a government, which will be a nice first step because we’re currently living through a battle royale where parties who want to do politics – i.e. come up with policies to solve actual problems – are fighting parties who merely want to fuck everything up. 

These parties do not want to govern. These are vessels that can only carry meaning in a negative state of oppositional non-politics. They are leeches, sucking the energy out of every debate with irrelevant and damaging clickbait. For example: the AfD bangs out wild talk about “zero immigration”, which is not a policy, it’s a siege engine, a disruption tool. It’s about as useful a contribution to the immigration issue as complaining about two-year-old advent calendars. And the other thing is that this path only leads to spiritual emptiness. Even if all the advent calendars in Germany were packed only with little blond white chocolate Baby Jesuses, not a single person who hates Muslims would even be a tiny bit happier.

On the other hand, and I know I’m going to sound like a fool now, there is a chance that the SPD might try and make real demands in the new grand coalition negotiations. Seeing as they recorded their worst-ever election result in September, they might decide that their neo-liberal centrism has finally died. Already, the leftist wing of the SPD is making noises about a universal health insurance system that ensures every gets the same treatment, regardless of income or contribution, and there is renewed confidence in red-red-green agendas in the new parliament.

That could be a big deal. Germany’s biggest problem is rising poverty despite the solidly growing economy, not advent calendars that look too Muslim. Maybe the SPD can do something there. We’ll see. In any case, the SPD can’t go into opposition now like they wanted to, because there’s no government for them to oppose.

Hear more talk like this on Konrad’s podcast, News des Nachrichtens.