Thursday, June 2, 2011
by Werner Krauss
While Daniel Johnson's Germany is still one characterized by WWII, Bernd Ulrich paints a peaceful picture of post-war Germany in Die Zeit; a Germany as it presented itself for example during the World Cup 2006. The spirit of his euphoric celebration of the nuclear phase out is inspired by this imagery. Already in 1954, after the defeat on the battle field, Germany surprised on the soccer pitch: "We are back again!" The article breathes the same spirit of "we are back again - wir sind wieder wer"; the nuclear phase out is here presented as another step into a peaceful future; this time from the nuclear cooling ponds to a renewable energy future.
(The article is not online, and there is no English version; the summary and translations in the following are all of my responsibility).
"Why the nuclear phase out is so interesting - despite all warnings", that's how Bernd Ulrich starts his editorial. He looks back on a troubled 40 year history of fights about nuclear energy. The achieved peace now is both precious and costly, he argues. No risk, no fun - he compares chancellor Merkel's surprising turn in the nuclear question with former chancellor Schroeder's (in)famous Agenda 2010: finally, she takes risks; finally she has a project which will be identified with her name.
But the best for him is not that this conflict is finally closed; instead, the best is that this decision bears risks, it is adventurous. Finally, Germans are self-confident again; crazy with self-consciousness. And this self-confidence is based on four characteristics ascribed to "the Germans" by the author:
1) Germans are good in inventing machines;
2) they are pretty good organizers;
3) they are pretty good philosophers, and
4) they are ready to discuss things at the round table whenever necessary.
In short, Bernd Ulrich sees the nuclear phase out as a national project. Germany will be leading in the export of alternative energies; each engineer, each plumber will think about how to avoid emissions and how to save energy; after so many politically boring years, discussions pro and con wind energy, smart grids, the best way to reduce emissions etc. will animate the public sphere; and, best of all, nobody has to be afraid that one of those nuclear beasts will explode. Politics now deserve their name, and politics will change, for sure. It's far from perfect, but it's a start. And, by the way, Germany does not want to conquer the world with renwable energies; instead, it wants to sell the technology. All of this reminds Bernd Ulrich of the democracy movements in the seventies (when he was politically socialized, I suppose), and he is in a celebratory mood now: Rhubarb-Spritzer for all!