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 Atomizing Germany (Today’s Re-Rundown)

Posted March 18, 2024

Atomizing Germany (Today’s Re-Rundown)

“Surely, you don’t think I’m implying — or outright stating — that I’d like to see mushroom clouds above German cities,” says our guest, Sean Ring, contributing editor at The Morning Reckoning. 

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he says. “Germany is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

“But we need to face it: the nation-state known as Germany needs to disappear. Let’s be honest. Europeans will never forgive Germany for either world war. The Jewish diaspora will never forgive Germany for The Holocaust.

“And those present-day Germans who were neither present during those two events nor responsible for the fathers’ sins have carried for decades a burden that’s not theirs.

“The only way to eliminate their supposed guilt is to dissolve the German state.

“This may happen anyway, as Bavaria has had enough of being part of a deindustrializing federation. A failing euro may force Berlin’s hand.

“But I’d rather have a controlled demolition than a surprise eruption. The best-case scenario involves a parting like the ‘velvet divorce’ of Czechia and Slovakia.

“How did it get this way? After all, Germany has only been a sovereign nation since 1871. Let’s go back to see how they can move forward.”

The French: Authors of Their Own Destruction

“Today, we’re used to stories of the Germans kicking French ass regularly. But that wasn’t always the case,” Sean continues. 

“Napoleon Bonaparte played a crucial, albeit unintentional, role in establishing German unification. Although his primary aim was not to unify Germany but to expand French influence across Europe, his actions significantly altered the political landscape of the German-speaking territories, paving the way for their eventual unification in 1871.

“One of Napoleon's most significant acts was dissolving the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. After defeating Austria and its allies in multiple conflicts, Napoleon established the Confederation of the Rhine, a coalition of German states under French protection. This effectively ended the Holy Roman Empire, a fragmented entity that had existed for over a millennium. The elimination of this political structure removed a significant barrier to German unity.

“Napoleon introduced a series of reforms in the territories he conquered or influenced. These reforms included the Napoleonic Code, which modernized legal systems; the abolition of feudalism, which freed peasants from serfdom and feudal obligations; the reorganization of the administrative system, making it more efficient; and the promotion of meritocracy in the bureaucracy and military. These changes modernized the German states, making them more cohesive and capable of supporting a unified nation.

“Although primarily a blockade against Britain, the Continental System encouraged German states to develop their industries to replace British goods. This economic development, alongside the reforms, contributed to a growing sense of economic interdependence among the German states.

“The presence of French troops on German soil and the imposition of French control ignited a sense of German nationalism. The shared experience of occupation and resistance against Napoleon helped to forge a collective German identity among the disparate states.

“The Napoleonic era saw the rise of German Romanticism and the growth of a nationalist intellectual movement. Figures like Johann Gottlieb Fichte and the brothers Grimm contributed to the increase of national consciousness by emphasizing German folklore, language, culture, and the idea of a Volk (people) united by common bonds.

“The Wars of Liberation (1813-1815) saw a coalition of German states, alongside other European powers, rise against Napoleon's rule. The war effort required coordination among the German states and fostered a sense of unity in opposition to French domination. The victory in these wars was celebrated not just as a triumph over France but as a step towards German unity.

“The Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), which aimed to restore European stability after the Napoleonic Wars, reorganized the territories of the German states. Although it didn’t create a unified Germany, it reduced the number of states in the German Confederation (the successor to the Holy Roman Empire) from over 300 to 39, simplifying the political landscape and making future unification efforts more feasible.

“While Napoleon's primary goal was the expansion of French power rather than the unification of Germany, his actions dismantled old structures, introduced reforms that modernized German states, and sparked a sense of nationalism that would eventually lead to the unification of Germany.”

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Your Rundown for Monday, March 18, 2024… 

The Opposition to One Germany

“But not everyone was enthused with the idea of a single Germany. For instance, the great Goethe was opposed to it,” Sean notes. “Here are his remarks, taken from a Hans-Hermann Hoppe blog post:

I do not fear that Germany will not be united; our excellent streets and future railroads will do their own. Germany is united in her patriotism and opposition to external enemies. She is united because the German Taler and Groschen have the same value throughout the entire Empire and because my suitcase can pass through all thirty-six states without being opened. It is united because the municipal travel documents of a resident of Weimar are accepted everywhere on par with the passports of the citizens of her mighty foreign neighbors. With regard to the German states, there is no longer any talk of domestic and foreign lands. Further, Germany is united in the areas of weights and measures, trade and migration, and a hundred similar things which I neither can nor wish to mention.
One is mistaken, however, if one thinks that Germany's unity should be expressed in the form of one large capital city and that this great city might benefit the masses in the same way that it might benefit the development of a few outstanding individuals.
To be sure, the state has been compared to a living body with many parts and a state's capital thus might be compared to the heart, which supports the life and well-being of its near and distant parts. If the parts are very far from the heart, however, the flow of life will become weaker and weaker. A thoughtful Frenchman, I believe Daupin, has drawn up a map regarding the state of culture in France, indicating the higher or lower level of enlightenment of its various 'Departements' by lighter or darker colors. There, we find, especially in the southern provinces, far away from the capital, some `Departements' painted entirely in black, indicating a complete cultural darkness. Would this be the case if the beautiful France had ten centers instead of just one, from which light and life radiated?
What makes Germany great is her admirable popular culture, which has penetrated all parts of the Empire evenly. And is it not the many different princely residences from whence this culture springs and which are its bearers and curators? Just assume that for centuries, only the two capitals of Vienna and Berlin existed in Germany, or even only a single one. Then, I am wondering what would have happened to German culture and the widespread prosperity that goes hand in hand with culture.
Germany has twenty universities strewn out across the entire Empire, more than one hundred public libraries, and a similar number of art collections and natural museums, for every prince wanted to attract such beauty and good. Gymnasia and technical and industrial schools exist in abundance; indeed, there is hardly a German village without its own school. How is it in this regard in France!
Furthermore, look at the number of German theaters, which exceeds seventy, and which cannot be disregarded as bearers and promoters of higher public education. The appreciation of music and song and their performance is nowhere as prevalent as in Germany, and that counts for something, too.
Then think about cities such as Dresden, Munich, Stuttgart, Kassel, Braunschweig, Hannover, and similar ones; think about the energy that these cities represent; think about the effect they have on neighboring provinces, and ask yourself, if all of this would exist if such cities had not been the residences of princes for a long time.
Frankfurt, Bremen, Hamburg, and Luebeck are large and brilliant, and their impact on Germany's prosperity is incalculable. Yet, would they remain what they are if they were to lose their independence and be incorporated as provincial cities into one great German Empire? I have reason to doubt this.

“The Germans didn’t listen to him then, and they didn’t listen to him after the Cold War. That’s why we’re mulling over Germany’s dissolution now.

Reasons to be Together

“Of course, there were many reasons for the German-speaking people to feel they should be one country. Here are a few besides Napoleon’s outsized impact:

  • “Zollverein (German Customs Union): Established in 1834, the Zollverein was a coalition of German states that standardized policies and tariffs across member states, effectively creating a single, more extensive market. This economic unity facilitated trade and industrial growth, fostering a sense of economic interdependence among the German states.
  • “Rising German Nationalism: The 19th century was the age of nationalism in Europe, as people began to identify more strongly with their nation or the idea of a nation than with their local lordships or kingdoms. In the German states, there was a growing sense of a shared German identity, language, and culture, which contributed to the desire for political unity.
  • “Efforts of Prussian Leadership: Prussia, under the leadership of Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian Chancellor, played a crucial role in the unification process. Bismarck's diplomatic skills and policies, including the manipulation of political events and strategic military actions, were instrumental in uniting the German states under Prussian leadership.
  • “The Role of Wars: Bismarck utilized wars as a means to achieve unification, notably through the Danish War (1864), the Austro-Prussian War (1866), and the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). These conflicts helped to resolve disputes among the German states, excluding Austria from German affairs (thus allowing Prussia to take the lead) and rally the German states around Prussia against external enemies.
  • “The victory against France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) was a decisive moment in German unification. It galvanized support among the southern German states, which had remained independent, to join the North German Confederation led by Prussia. The Treaty of Frankfurt in May 1871 ended the war and marked the official unification of Germany.

“On January 18, 1871, the German Empire was proclaimed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. King Wilhelm I of Prussia was crowned as the German Emperor, marking the official unification of the German states into a single nation-state.

“Be that as it may, there are now compelling reasons for the Germans to go back to the future.

The Way Things Were

“How about some tangible benefits to Germany breaking up into its new principalities and baronies?

“Decentralization and Economic Efficiency: One of the core arguments for breaking up Germany into smaller states centers around economic efficiency and regional specialization. Smaller, independent states could tailor their economic policies to local needs and strengths, fostering innovation and competitiveness. This flexibility could lead to a more dynamic European economy, where regions can adapt quickly to global market changes without the constraints of a one-size-fits-all monetary policy.

“Mitigating Systemic Risk: As Professor Philippe Bagus critiques in his The Tragedy of the Euro, the eurozone's current structure creates systemic risks due to its economies' interdependence. Smaller, sovereign states with their currencies could isolate economic shocks, reducing the risk of contagion. This model would encourage responsible fiscal policies, as states can no longer rely on the European Central Bank (ECB) or larger economies like Germany to bail them out.

“Enhanced Democracy and Self-Determination: A breakup would theoretically bring the government closer to the people, enhancing democratic participation and accountability. Smaller states, like Lichtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, and Singapore, foster a stronger sense of community and identity, as policies and governance are more closely aligned with the regional population's values and interests.

“Reducing Inter-Regional Tensions: Bagus points out how the euro has led to tensions between eurozone countries, with wealthier nations often shouldering the burden of supporting weaker economies. A similar dynamic exists within Germany, where wealthier states contribute more to the federal budget, leading to resentment. Smaller, independent entities would eliminate such imbalances, potentially leading to more harmonious regional relations.

“Reviving Historical Identities: Before unification, the German territories were composed of independent kingdoms, duchies, and free cities, each with its unique culture and traditions. Breaking up Germany could revive these historical identities, enriching Europe's cultural tapestry. This renaissance of regional identities could bolster tourism and global interest in the diverse cultural heritage of the former German states.

“Strengthening European Unity through Diversity: Ironically, decentralizing Germany might lead to a stronger, more cohesive Europe. By acknowledging and embracing the continent's diverse cultures and histories, Europe could forge a more genuine unity that respects the autonomy and uniqueness of its regions.

“Medievalists of the world, unite!” 

Wrap Up

“It’s time to call time on Germany. Otherwise, they’ll never escape the yolk of guilt.

“For a while, a united entity may have seemed like it was needed.

“But this time, we should heed Goethe’s advice. There’s no reason for a united Germany anymore.

“Let a thousand duchies bloom!” Sean concludes. 

Market Rundown for Monday, March 18, 2024

The S&P 500 is up 1% to 5,165. 

Oil is up 0.85% to $81.75 for a barrel of WTI. 

Gold is down 0.10% to $2,159.70 per ounce. 

And Bitcoin is down 0.15% to $68,220. 

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