Germany’s Better. No, Worse. Wait, What?
— This is a curious story between two Germanies, as told in a couple of recent book names. (The Bloomberg Opinion)
The other rhetorically questions German whether they had already "missed the future." One Jacket cover pledges to show, "Why the Germans are stronger."
It is a dichotomy that I saw all my life as a dual citizen of the United States and Germany, residing both in and of the United Kingdom.
And Asia.-And Asia.
Sometimes Germany looks solid, organized or even illuminated from outside.
It may look hopelessly from the inside, calcified and sometimes benighted — maybe on the brink of terminal decline.
These conclusions also tell us than the observation regarding the observers.
The Britons (as in the first illustration of the book above) are particularly in awe of Germany.
After decades and all of that, they had to admit that even the Krauts still get it backward, and this might result in complications inferiority.
The United Kingdom, particularly.
The Covid 19 pandemic has botched its answer while Germany (in the meantime, at least) is hanging on to a little influence.
With respect to the domestic Cassandras, the reigning pessimism may be clarified by assumptions.
Germans think the dark hand more fascinating intellectually than the luminous hand.
In culture, many are horrified at the Holocaust, rendering them overexcept for patriotic gloating soccer.
And although the Brits don't so categorically neglect humor, as I studied here the Germans battle with irony.
This makes it more challenging for them to taste inconsistencies.
But what about the contestants' substance?
The popular German fascination with laws also starts with both insiders and outsiders.
This undoubtedly describes some of the acclaimed orderliness.
Or does that? Or does it?
If the spread of Covid, for example, is slower than anywhere else in Europe, Germans might wear their masks obediently than their neighbors are more individualistic.
Again, Germany saw some of Europe's most extensive protests where the laws of mask and social distancing were defiantly broken.
The German life is characterized by identical inconsistencies.
A harrowing rite of initiation is their first interaction with the Orwellian Ordnungsamt to warn them of numerous abuses, from parking and waste isolation to noise from their children in daily hours.
In a way, the greatest controversies are absent from German law enforcement.
One example was the German carmakers' widespread deception on diesel (first tried in the United States instead of Germany in 2015).
Another concern being that the balance sheet of the largest Fintech firm in the UK (first surveyed by the British Financial Times) has lately been losing in billions.
In Brussels, too, German speakers are renowned for breaking the laws, typically in terms of budgeting, in other nations.
In the meanwhile, Germany itself is the object of 87 violation lawsuits against the European Union.
The sweetest finding from any fair appraisal is that Germans are like anyone else. They are keen to follow laws when they are correct.
What about the decentralized management of Germany?
This clearly varies from centrally located France or Britain.
But decentralization led to chaos in the fight against the pandemic in this year's equally federal US.
So the peculiarity is that the German federalist tradition of consensus-driven decision-making is deeply reminiscent, which, if any, avoids US dramatization and polarization — a fine incarnation of Chancellor Angela Merkel — a complete typecast of president Donald Trump.
But the search for consensus is often dark: orthodoxy and opposition to reform.
The plus column produces the resulting German mindset fertile biotopes of so-called Mittelstand mid-size and family-owned companies which produce a darking widget, with a world-class reliability and with generation after generation.
In the lower column, Germany's aversion to risk, iconoclasm and blue sky creativity are related to these attitudes.
That, as in the second title of the book above, is what the domestic Cassandras tend to take on.
The future is still invented somewhere-from biotechnology to artificial intelligence-typically Silicon Valley or Shanghai or neighboring Estonia.
By comparison, Germany is lagging behind not only in conventional utilities but in the area of digital transformation, in particular.
My accountant asked me to submit invoices via e-mail last week.
By signing in ink on paper, I had to consent.
These combined considerations solve the inconsistent book titles puzzle.
German is a surprisingly good market, community and civilization at the expense of forsaking reinvention and adjustment.
Another case in point is the economic action this year toward the corona-recession.
This trend is strengthened by other German entities.
Taking the venerable technical school practice that Ivanka Trump has respected.
For one particular occupational niche in a locally focused employer it might be good to cranke highly qualified employees.
But it would make little to train young Germans for the on-going disruption and the need for lifelong learning in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
An interviewer once questioned Merkel what she was dreaming about while she was listening to the term "Germany." Then she reflects and replied: "Airtight glass." Simplicity was disappointing as so many zen koans from this understated Kanzler.
Yeah, Germany is making nice windows; right now, I 'm sitting by evidence.
But the showy banality of the scenario revealed something else.
If Germany is special, "exceptionalism" is not just false, it has become harmful, if it learns from experience.
Today, Germany is neither the strongest or the worst.
It's a nation that has conquered its history, which the British writer A.J.P. Taylor defined in 1945 as "all but restraint ... and anything but normality."
For me it's the greatest Germany that lived.
The view of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners is not generally expressed in this column.
Bloomberg's writer Andreas Kluth is.
He previously served as editor-in - chief and editor of the Handelsblatt Global.
"Hannibal and Me" is the author. He's the author.
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