The Lives of Others

This article is primarily about France’s descent into authoritarianism under Macron, but this passage caught my eye:

A recent poll found only 18 percent of Germans feel they can speak freely in public. More than 31 percent did not even feel free to express themselves in private among their friends. Just 17 percent of Germans felt free to express themselves on the internet, and 35 percent said free speech is confined to small private circles.

Whether this is related to the fact that for the past 14 years Germany has been presided over by someone who not only grew up in East Germany but seemed to do rather well under it I leave as an exercise for the reader.

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14 thoughts on “The Lives of Others

  1. I don’t think that this is a Merkeleffekt.

    It’s more likely part and parcel of a point you were making yesterday whereby it is no longer sufficient to tolerate ‘the other’ but it must now be ‘celebrated’.

    No diversity is allowed if that entails a departure from progressive liberal orthodoxy which is itself constantly shifting under pressure from competing interests.

    If you feel unwilling to ‘celebrate’ you would be much better shutting up.

  2. I’d certainly recommend “the lives of others” a fascinating and very well made film.

    The bit that struck me was, post wall, the writer who thought he was one of the movers and shakers bumping into the former party boss (I think he was a party boss) who laughingly told this rather pompous writer that OF COURSE his house had been bugged and he knew all about it.

    I have to say, I did rather warm to the stasi captain as the film went on (or at least understand him). He seemed to be the only one with genuine belief and any sort of underlying morality. He was working for a corrupt system which was incapable of being anything else and he came to understand the trap he was in.

    The former party boss and the writer landed on their feet. He ended up doing a paper round!

  3. The relentless march of the PC worldview and the closing down of ‘badthink’ debate and opinions explains precisely the advance of Trump, Brexit, AfD and the like. The tighter they try to squeeze normal people the more will slip between their fingers. The joy of seeing the Donald throw stuff back in their lefty faces and their horrified reaction is quite wonderful. I hope BoJo does something a bit similar over here.

  4. Actually, this is caused by the ECJ; while claiming freedom of ‘expression’ exists they’ve ruled that ‘hate’ speech is forbidden. And ‘hate’ speech is defined in a least one incident as speaking badly about groups of people. Given that, with the exception of a few remaining hermits, we are all members of several overlapping groups, you’d better watch what you say! European values, FTW!

  5. The de-balled Germans badly need a new Frederic the Great to emerge from the ashes to reunite this once great nation.

    Now is the time, especially since the barren old pig is near death in the final stages of Mad Cow Disease.

    ……………………

    A crowd has gathered in one of Bremen’s chief streets and is staring at a group of pictures in a shop window. Two or three youngsters look with flashing eyes at the scenes depicted.

    The first photograph is of Mussolini-stern, with firm jaw. The German boys look at one another, nod, and say: “That’s the kind of man we want here.”

    The second photograph shows thousands upon thousands of patriots meeting in Danzig in their khaki uniform, carrying red banners with the sign upon a white circle in the middle. “Danzig shall remain German” run the words underneath. “Thirteen years ago Danzig was torn from the Fatherland by the brutal Treaty of Versailles.” The youngsters, I can see, are burning with indignation when they look upon that scene.

    The third photograph depicts French soldiers dragging a German policeman through the streets of a German town. French cavalrymen are riding alongside, some of them smiling scornfully. Underneath the photograph are the words: “The attack on the Ruhr ten years ago. A despicable blot on France’s honour. Germany, awake!“

    The German youngsters look at each other, and one says: “To think that we Germans have stood that disgrace for thirteen years! But we will stand it no longer. Bardon will bring us honour again.”

  6. Mark,

    I thought the rather more important part of that conversation was the final line.

    (ex) Party boss (who had been shagging writer’s girlfriend): you couldn’t give her what she wanted

    Writer (with disgust): “And to think people like you used to run a country.”

    A great film.

  7. Pedant general

    That’s why I developed a respect for the stasi captain. He believed and kept to the rules. I know, I know, in another Germany he may well have been herding people onto cattle trucks so we can certainly argue if he is worthy of respect. That said, there was a core of decency in him that had been perverted to a rotten cause.

    The party apparatchiks had none, and the writers decency assuming he had any, was for sale.

    While since I watched it (I have the DVD somewhere) but wasn’t it that the party boss threatened to loose the stasi unless he got a shag?

  8. Europe is a lost cause, and German cars that used to be good now suck.

    But moving on to the topic — where is the boundary between free speech and good manners? OK, I know. No-one cares about good manners in these woke times — and maybe former reality never matched our current rosy view of good manners in earlier days.

    Still, good manners meant that one would not (for example) bring up the topic of religion or homosexuality unless one was very sure of the current company. That was a voluntary restriction on “free speech” in the interests of comity, and most people apparently did not feel oppressed by their own good manners.

    “Free speech” as enshrined (for example) in the US Constitution was implicitly political speech. People should be free to speak for or against matters of legitimate political interest — abortion, capital punishment, slavery, whatever. The mistake was the expansion of “free speech” to cover everything, and in the process destroy the concept of good manners. Since “free speech” could no longer be constrained by individual good manners, now it has to be constrained by politicized notions of “hate speech” imposed by a Political Class. And we are left with neither free speech nor good manners.

  9. If you want self-censorship, try Switzerland. The Nationalist Pasty always polls way above its declared support.
    I take Gavin Longmuir’s point, but good manners are somehow beside the point. The old Officers’ Mess code was fine when we were united. But now we are fragmented. By Brexit for the UK, the first adult generation in France that no longer has links to the countryside, etc. Sex, politics and religion are the most interesting subjects. At a wild guess, about 80% of the blogoshpere.

  10. “Free speech” as enshrined (for example) in the US Constitution was implicitly political speech. People should be free to speak for or against matters of legitimate political interest — abortion, capital punishment, slavery, whatever. The mistake was the expansion of “free speech” to cover everything, and in the process destroy the concept of good manners.

    I think a lot of it, honestly, was the “the personal is political” tactic used by the radical left. “Don’t discuss sex, politics or religion in polite company” ceases to be a functional rule when everything is declared to be political.

  11. manners and laws are two different tools for managing how people in groups treat each other.

    they differ in sanction applied, who determines guilt, etc. each has their place

    deciding that if people wont be nice then we need to make them be nice (hurty words are hurt) was to use the wrong tool (different but related the twitter mob thinking it is the same as the social sanction that takes place in a small group)

  12. I’d say such a poll needs to be controlled by comparing it with previous years’ results. For all we know, back in 2004 the number of Germans who felt they could not express themselves freely in public was 17.8%, and back in 1990 it was 19%. Perhaps there is an element in German culture which requires the individual to express a great deal of self-control in public (as opposed to, say, Italian or Greek or Nigerian), and it is this element which is restraining individual behavior, and being reported in the polls.

  13. There is at least one building at the College of Wooster, in Ohio, where every faculty office door sports exactly the same PC posters. Apparently the faculty can choose how to arrange them.

  14. “A recent poll found only 18 percent of Germans feel they can speak freely in public. More than 31 percent did not even feel free to express themselves in private among their friends. Just 17 percent of Germans felt free to express themselves on the internet, and 35 percent said free speech is confined to small private circles.”

    The numbers are worse than these for the Great Unwoke in the USA.

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