Peaceful German Empire?

Friedensmacht Deutschland, Plaedoyer fuer einen neuen Patriotismus, by Alfred Mechtersheimer. Ullstein Verlag, Berlin 1993, 415pp. 29,90 Mark.

FORMER BUNDESWEHR OFFICER and member of the Bundestag, Alfred Mechtersheimer, has produced a provocative book, provocative above all for his erstwhile political friends. He still shares their ideals of peace and environmental protection but in a way that most of the Left will not want to follow, namely the nationalist one. And he starts from the the principle which was and is the creed of the German alternative movement, "Think globally, act locally". He convincingly argues that the United Nations fails because it ignores this maxim by acting globally. The Common Market too; it impedes reforms and strengthens nefarious developments as well as providing governments with pretexts for inaction when the people would support sensible reforms. In foreign policy Mechterheimer argues that Germany should "go it alone". A positive, exemplary way could be a starting point for other states and a model of social organization. The provocation here is that a precondition for all this is that Germany should be treated as a sovereign state, on an equal par with the victors of 1945. So Germany's many professional self-haters in the media reacted with predictable outrage to this book: Nolte plus Himmler yelled the headline of the far left magazine Konkret.

Can a political initiative based on both pacifism and nationalism hope to win any influence? Before it can, the post-war system, which still sustains an entire political class in Germany, will have to break down. If it is really true that the current system in Germany is being undermined from within by the unrelenting corrosion of pacifistic and nationalistic scepticism, let us hope that the new Germany will be both and as strong and as peaceful as the author supposes.

Peter Rungen

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