Hey there, back from Amsterdam. Besides attending the European political bureau meeting of the Fourth International over one weekend, I walked around and sat around much of Amsterdam reading and watching people around me get excited by the world soccer cup. I myself can not really get anything positive out of these constant, but controlled “wars” that make chauvinist and nationalist feelings come out everywhere. So I usually just wish that “my countries” are kicked out as early as possible. With neither Denmark nor Norway being in it to start with this time, “my countries” are Germany and Sweden (the latter of which apparently has been kicked out now). Whenever they’re out, the enthusiasts pick some other country to support, quite independently of where they come from themselves, but the feeling of being in the middle of a war usually vanishes quite fast.
This year the feelings are running especially high in Germany where social problems are about to climax. With the population drugged on soccer, the government is taking the opportunity to parse laws on increasing the sales tax (a tax that generally hurts those with little money), while at the same time cutting even more in the spending for the unemployed. The newest idea of theirs is to cut the amount they’re willing to pay for rent and the amount the unemployed is allowed to own. But who cares if Germany might end up as the world soccer champion? As an East German said at the camp ground that I stayed at in Amsterdam: “You saw that old English guy over there? Yesterday [when it was Germany vs. Poland], he fevered for us! I told him: ‘respect, man, respect!’” I don’t know if that meant that he had settled all hard feelings between the British and the Germans following WWII, but according to this soccer fan it was absolutely a deed of diplomatic proportions.
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That might also be everyone suddenly is driving around like a diplomat. Someone got the idea of seeling flags that one can put in the door of any ordinary car. When I saw the first one putting those on both sides of his car, I believed it to be a joke. But when I saw the streets getting more and more crowded with an overly high number of ambassadors or presidents of Germany and the same thing happåened with orange flags in the Netherlands, I started seeing the outlines of a new nationalist movement. The question though is where this will lead once the cup is over, all the wages or hgovernment subsidies have been drunk up, and the government cuts start kicking in. While there have been surprisingly few attacks on foreigners so far during the cup, the aftermath might very well end in a situation very close to the 1930s with leftwing and rightwing youth groups fighting in the streets until one of the groups takes control of the state itself. If it’s up to industry it will be the fascists taking over once more, no doubt.
And that’s where I’m back at my readings: Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich on unemployed US American white collar workers nowadays and Down and out in Paris and London by George Orwell on starving and working at a restaurant in Paris and hoboing around London in the 1920s. The moral of oth is really: Keep the poor and unemployed busy with something or another, so they won’t get any ideas of changing society. The difference lies in Ehrenreich taking this as an unintended consequence of the structure of society and generally being more reformist in her rethorics, while Orwell has talked to rich of his time who prefer the current situation over the only alternativ they can see: “some kind of Marxist utopia”. Now I don’t know exactly what they are doing on purpose, but the pro-nationalist campaign “You are Germany” sure is sponsored by all major industrialists… and now back to the planning of my life.
BTW: I am now as of now a certified high school teacher of English and Social Science!
Woohoo! Even the conservatives should be proud of me for making it within the absolute minimal amount of time.