Sonderweg: The Closing of the German Mind

Germany's September election displayed the effects of its 68ers' "Long March through the institutions." Herewith an assessment and a critique.

Issue: Winter 2002-2003

The Germans are always late, wrote Thomas Mann, and the results of Germany's elections this past September surely count as evidence. Most of what used to be called Western Europe during the Cold War has turned its back on the left-wing, high-tax crypto-utopianism that has long stifled its economic development and warped its political culture. But by re-electing Gerhard Schröder's "red-green" coalition, German voters have precluded a long overdue modernization of their economy and society. They may also have saddled themselves with the reigning political elite for another eight years-such is suggested by the pattern of postwar German politics-and the inability of this elite to generate positive change risks leaving the door open for all sorts of demons and derelict ideas to fill a widening vacuum.

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