Optimism and Pessimism in the West

There's an interesting article in the Technology Review July 2020 (German edition) about perceptions in Germany and the U.S..
Polling shows that the share of Americans who are content with where their country is heading hasn't been greater than 50% since 2004 and has dropped to 20% this summer.
Meanwhile, 78% of Germans are confident that Germany will succeed in the future and only 16% are pessimistic. The German optimism has actually grown during the Corona crisis, and it was pointed out that the Germany government can still dish out extra billions to push what's believed to become technologies of the future amidst a near-global fiscal crisis.

My guess is that the 16% look like a circle in a Venn diagram with those people who think that voting for extreme right wingers is a just dandy idea. The far right has been shown to be fearful in many scientific studies. The fear of change and of 'others' is not exactly a signal of great courage, after all. In other words, far right wingers are fearful pussies, but I mentioned that a couple times already.
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The cultural influence of the United States with its fashion of apocalyptic movies, TV shows and 'dark' movies, comics et cetera doesn't seem to be powerful enough to coin German perceptions.

I can tell that there is cultural influence and political influence, but for about five years I haven't seen any big American motifs getting picked up in Germany other than by Neonazis. German Neonazis gratefully pick up whatever nonsense the American right wing distributes in the internet no questions asked, but other than that? I can't recall any American lead in anything other than IT buzzwordery ("SaaS", "Cloud" et cetera) that's basically just sales talk.

There has been very little discernible influence from most other regions as well, except maybe a little K-pop. 
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I am convinced that cultural affinity can make allying easier and cultural convergence can help fortify alliances. The latter is probably the reason for NATO's survival and unusual prominence.

More attention on the other European nations could help Europe to unify (how good or bad that would be is another topic). A parallel outlook or development can surely help countries to stay partners. The U.S. and Germany appear to go into opposite directions in some regards, and I'm sure we have a similar widening schism between Mediterranean and Central Europe/Northern Europe.

This could spell trouble in the (very) long term.
Governments are and will be trying to address completely different (perceived) major problems, failing to arrive at a consensus and thus failing to cooperate. A disunited West could fail to keep neutral countries from entering a Chinese (or later Indian) sphere of influence and so on.

And talking of the United States, a country in pessimistic (and frightened) mode might be enticed to spend even more insanely on the military and get trigger-happy when spooked again. An American-Sino war is a really really bad case possibility, and it could be sparked just as much by American fears of losing status as by Chinese jingoism and revanchism. I suppose that this possibility exists regardless of which party controls the White House.



  1. Black Lives Matter of was an idea that crossed the pond and had an impact in Europe. I would argue that an American lead still exists.

    1. Well, I did not think of them, but in my defence, there's nothing new but branding in there.
      "BLM" in Germany is 99% anti-racism, 1% anti-police brutality afaik. It has triggered some protests, but I don't rate the import as the cause. We would have had some such protests under some branding or another sooner or later, and the timing depended on some trigger event.

      I don't see any real impact of the protests. The state is till refusing to properly investigate (and publish the findings about) the death of Oury Jalloh, for example.

    2. Oury Jalloh happened in Dessau, like Li Yangjie. This might be a rotten place.

      I do get the police brutality issue in the US and that German police goes on the nerves of people of colour by searching them more frequently than the crime rate warrants. We do have a number of discriminations at the work place, which will be hard to ever get rid off, because maintaining them has economic incentives.
      I have little sympathy for checking all historic personalities for racial biases and destroying their memory in accordance with the current morality verdict, but I do think we should look at criticism by contemporaries and balance accounts we tell about them. For example, handing cultural artefacts and human remains to their places of origin, an act with true economic effects, is just a side note in the debate.

      I see the way BLM is conducted as very much influenced by thinking in the US and it doesn't focus on actual solutions for local problems, but a supranational community signalling of shared virtue. Similar to Fridays for Future, this is shared virtue signalling among a small group of nations and with hardly any reception among the new global middle class countries with their own history of slavery and contributions to climate change and ecological degradation, which aren't as insignificant as they used to be. I do disagree with the direction it takes, but I still see the US as the hub for the spread of ideas among what is termed "The West" and which, from my point of view, has Japan as a fringe member (for some decades the other Asian countries have treated them publicly as an anger vent, giving them few alternatives).

      As a counterexample, we had the 2005 riots in France which didn't spread to the US hub and the 1992 L.A. riots which didn't spread from the US hub, which might have been less significant back then. It's possible that general dissatisfaction with racially unfair treatments contributed to this, but I also see a role of diminishing geography through shared technology of our information infrastructure with a core of protest organizers in mutual contact. So I would argue that we are still beholden to the US as an influencer despite her lack of ideas.

      Regarding the EU, France seems to hold the southern part together and Germany the northern part. As long as these heavyweights maintain their roles and cooperation I consider the drift manageable. The problem I see is Visegrad, which is not held together by the German and French cooperation.

      I wonder why you see BLM Germany as 99% racism, does this mean our police is nice or that racism of society is perceived as a major problem?

    3. German policemen have their mean episodes, but overall the statistics point at their lethality being negligible compared to American LE.
      There's been about ten suspicious cases of migrants dying to police action or in police custody in 20 years (in a 80+ M people country).
      German policemen hardly ever draw their guns.

      Thus I consider BLM in Germany to be almost entirely against discrimination, not about actual killings.

    4. Do you think racism does have economic or security effects on Germany?
      I'm trying to understand if there's a benefit other than morality.
      I see one security benefit that police resources are misallocated in proportion to the crimes committed by blacks.
      Does racism here obstruct our business opportunities in developing countries? There seems to be a complaint of lacking perspectives by entrepreneurial people returning to their parts of the developing world from "The West".

    5. Frankly, German foreign direct investment and trade links largely omit so many places and potential future markets that Racisms can't be the reason.
      Our businesses clearly favour some places for doing business. Nearby countries, China, Japan, US, Canada mostly.
      We're largely ignoring India, Africa, Latin America and most of the Mediterranean countries (save for Italy).

      German news also have their 'elite countries' that get a lot of coverage, and ignore most of the world.

    6. Thank you, that was informative.

  2. "Black Lives Matter of was an idea that crossed the pond and had an impact in Europe."

    Here in Austria the impact is zero. In contrast, Friday for Future had an impact, could be a problem of timing, students are not longer in the city.


    1. Around 50.000 people joined a protest in Vienna at the start of June...

  3. In Spain I have the feeling that BLM demonstrations are a think of the same people already mobilised against discrimination that uses BLM as a opportunity to get free press coverage.

    And our anglicised press enjoys publishing whatever comes from US.

    The police here is the same as @SO has said about the German one: stops more frequently to immigrants but rarely ever draw its guns.

    Any shooting appears really fast national wide and there is only a handful of them each year.


  4. Considering Americans delusional optimism in the past, maybe becoming more pessimistic is for their own best.

    After all, believing you are #1 in spite of all evidence to the contrary only hinders fixing the current problems and is therefore hardly a sustainable attitude in the long term.

  5. You could also see these numbers as a sign for that the Germans are more stupid than others, or rather: more blinded. And that due to an increasingly extreme left trend in Germany, due to their increasingly left ideology, they can no longer see reality as it is.

    Currently every 6 German can be classified as left-wing radical, there was a study about this - that was carried out only a few years ago. And the situation will not have improved since then. Today AfD positions are perceived as right-wing extremists which were publicly represented by Merkel himself 20 years ago and at that time were normal CDU mainstream.

    One should rather say that many Germans have simply lost contact with reality in their decadent worldly luxury and leftism, which is an funny but not unusual combination. Wealthy people were the founders of commmunism.

    One aspect that may also play a role in this is the typical German arrogance and hubris (am deutschen wesen wird die welt genesen) in a new form. The bizarre arrogance and claim to be morally better and the sense of their mission are sometimes greater among left-wing Germans today than in the past among German nationalists. And this is exactly how many Germans are perceived abroad: as an arrogant people full of hubris, who everyone else wants to impose on their (left) ideas. Of course only for the best of all and what is best for everyone, Germans know better than everyone else which is good for all humans.

    The overestimation of one's own possibilities is really the reason for this ridiculous optimism of leftist Germans.

    1. I fail to see Germany as leftist due to the fact that we haven't had real left wing policies for more than the past 40 years.
      The German governments followed a bit the general trends, and even that was often merely faked (Atomausstieg&Energiewende) or a compromise (§218 and most other reforms).
      There was one genuine left-wing policy in 40 years, the introduction of the Pflegeversicherung.

      I trust you that you can imagine far more right wing policies, but I can imagine far more left wing policies, so I strongly doubt that Germany is left wing. You're merely standing to the right of centre and watching the policies from the right wing.

  6. Last Dingo:

    >>The far right has been shown to be fearful in many scientific studies.>>

    The question is what is far right in this studies ? True far right extremism does usualy not result out of fear. Fear is a commmon trait of conservatives and right wing conservatives. But that is not far right extremism. As i was a far right extremist and know therefore this kind of people from own experience and was one of them i can perhaps add a little bit to that. For example i never feared any foreigners, i feeled always very superior to them. What we today call people of colour i regarded as a kind of animals when i was a child - i did not even hate them in this time, this came later. The deep and true reason is imo a genetic cause: it is geneticially programmed to some humans to came to the deep feeling and conviction, that humans are not equivlant, that the worth of humans is different, that therefore the humans which are more worth should have more rights and that it is unjust to say at least to give rights to humans that are not as worthy as you. It is a kind of justice thinking under the assumption that you are higher than the other and therefore deserve more than the other. That has nothing to do with fear, but with a rejection of rational thinking, with a rejection of logic and therefore you search for (pseudo) arguments that fit to your hidden subconscious feelings. That results in hate - and hate, not fear is the fuel and motor of true far right extremism. The usual argument is then often, that this hate results from fear (you hate what you fear) but that is in most cases not true and was for example not true in my case. This hate has imo genetic reasons and is embedded into such humans more than in others and is therefore so difficult to overcome. I think that this genetic cause is underestimated, that every human have it more or less and that it breaks out to become far right extremism if a person has a deep emotinal rejection for rational thinking and then finds pseuo arguments that deliver him an explanation for what he feels. This dominance of feelings over logic you can found in any far right author and thinker from Evola until today. Also for the same reason far right extremism necesseraly uses political myths, myths and mysticism and is anti-scientific.

    For the same reasons it was a long and difficult fight for me to change my worldview because my understanding was underminded by this deeper (emotional) procedures.

    Hate can be an result of fear, but especially within far right extremists this is not the main cause for their political orientation. And what today is called far right extremism is often not realy far right at all.

    1. Your anecdotal self-diagnosis doesn't change that the German right wing obsesses about imaginary or greatly exaggerated problems and fears. Their opbsession with crime is irrational, and their claims about crime are often ludicrous ('1000 rapes at the Kölner Domplattte in one night - I know the location - it's utterly impossible. There may have been a thousand boobs and asses grabbed, and the official police statistic for the event does indeed list almost no rape accusations, but many sexual harassment accusations. What happened there would likely not have been registered as something extraordinary in a 1930's Sylvester night without foreigners).

      The American right wing has similar fears and hysteria, example keyword "caravans". Or the ridiculous B.S. about 'burning cities'.

      Besides, it makes very little sense to obsess about supposedly unjust privileges of people who are distant or poor and powerless anyway while ignoring the extreme wealth inequality (largely by unearned inheritance) among the own people.

      There's a much better psychological explanation for why far right wingers are so hostile to the 'others': Most of them are such failures in life that they desperately want to believe and see that they're not the bottom of the barrel. They focus on bullying or destroying the 'others' instead of fighting for their own improvement because not being at the bottom of the hierarchy is a relative thing. This basic psychological need doesn't require us to be well-off in absolute terms, just to be not as miserable as others. That already checks one box for psychological well-being for people.

      In other words; far right wingers turned the wrong way. They elevate themselves by degrading others who are already poorly off instead of elevating themselves by own effort.

  7. Last Dingo:

    It is really astounding how a few right-wing failures that you had to endure as your NCOs in your Air Force Training Regiment, so completely and one-sidedly shaped your whole attitude in this matter.

    Otherwise you think much more differentiated in all other matters. Of course, the mechanisms you have described are certainly in place for some rights (fear, upgrading your own by depreciating others), but the whole thing is by no means so simple.

    Furthermore, the fear of change (immigrants, society, familiy etc.) is not per se typical for right, but for conservatives. True far right wingers go more in the direction of futurism. And that is the primary point where we are the farthest apart: that what you call right are just normal conservative positions. For you nearly everything that is not leftist radical is fascist and what you call a position of the middle is still leftist. From my perspective, for example, the AFD is not a right-wing party It represents normal positions of the conservative middle. I would like to counter your counter-argument that a much more left-wing policy is conceivable than left-wing politics in Germany at the moment with the thesis that there is much more room to the right than to the left. would you agree with the following statement? From the status quo there is much more space to the right and significantly less space to the left.

    1. My opinion on Fascists/far right wing was shaped by decades of life experience and way too much time spent on history studies as well as news from many countries over decades.

      "I would like to counter your counter-argument that a much more left-wing policy is conceivable than left-wing politics in Germany"

      German federal policy has been conservative-dominated for almost all of the past 40 years. Of course there's more room to manoeuvre to the left than right. Examples
      - UBI ~ 1,000 €/month and adult, higher child UBI
      - deletion of §218
      - actual fight for carbon equivalent neutrality (this is considered "left" in two-party countries)
      - much more progressive effective income (all incomes) taxation with 90% tax rate on annual incomes greater than 250k €
      - anti-trust breakup of media conglomerates
      - near-100% taxation of inheritances and corresponding evasion schemes
      - starting money for young adolescents (five figures, roughly the budget as inheritance tax revenue)
      - much better stipends for low income family university students
      - forced labour union membership
      - voting rights at age 16
      - federal plebiscites
      - actual, not fake parity of capital owners and employees in control of companies
      - no Leiharbeit any more whatesoever
      - crackdown on fake self-employers and their main customers
      - earlier pension entry
      - renationalization of all postal services (would be difficult in the EU)
      - policies against super luxury goods (new construction of large homes in urban/suburban areas, expensive cars)
      - no bailouts for companies, ever (instead, change of bankruptcy laws that enables the government to restock a company with equity capital once the shareholder value was wiped and top management sacked)
      - cracking down on financial sector white collar crimes such that next time there's something like CumEx, the involved banks would go bankrupt and dozens if not hundreds of involved people going to jail for up to 15 years

      See? There's a left range of policy options that you do not appear to be able to see yourself. Your mind was fed hatemongering about the far left, not policy discourse.

      "the AFD is not a right-wing party It represents normal positions of the conservative middle"

      Well, that is B.S. and you know that easily 9/10th of Germany understands that you wrote B.S. there.

    2. Last Dingo:

      Many of the things you wrote here could also be far right policy and are core contempt of far right extremism. The things you mentioned are neither right or left - or to say it better: this are things the right and the left critisize both about our current society and both sides want many of this things mentioned changed.

      What you wrote is more a critic about the current state of affairs and the current political system which is for sure not far right. You can here the exact same critic from far right extremists and i share many of this ideas.

      That 8/10 of the german population will think that this thesis is B.S. shows therefore only clear that there is a drastic left shift in germany and that many germans are leftists or even left wing extremists.

      Incidentally, this is not a rating. I have nothing against leftists per se and many ideas of the left are by no means wrong, on the contrary. But it is a fact that, from a purely objective and neutral point of view, the party program of the afd is just cdu mainstream of the 90s and before. And at that time the cdu was by no means considered a far right extremist movement and it wasn t.

      Between what the afd wants today and real right-wing extremism lie worlds. I know for sure from own experience. And the fact that 80% of Germans actually can't even recognize the difference is a problem. The constant nazi-croquette obscures the view of actual true far right extremism. In fact, it relativizes National Socialism by equating normal conservative positions with it.

      And finally I should perhaps say that I am not in any way for the afd, precisely because (in simple terms) it acts against environmental protection and for plutocracy and precisely because it is de facto a 90s cdu.

    3. Some examples for extreme right wing policy from fascist italy:

      Voting rights for women
      A lowered voting age of 18
      A lowered retirement age
      Formation of government panels to oversee industrial sectors
      Nationalization of all military contracts
      A progressive income tax designed to eliminate wealth inequality
      85% tax on profits made from state contracts

      Now many of these positions could be also left wing policy. As everyone can see its not that easy.

  8. Last Dingo:

    I even think, that your assumptions are dangerous. This is precisely because your views on this matter are currently predominant in Germany. If you perceive actual right-wing extremists primarily as failures who only act out of fear, then you don't understand the actual danger of some of the people driving in this area and underestimate them. And societies can change, can change extremely quickly in their basic social-cultural flow if the external circumstances change. If you do not understand that a majority (!) of the real right-wing extremists do not work out of the mechanisms mentioned, then you cannot really ward off the danger that they pose and expose yourself to the risk that a social upheaval could occur.

    Many realy dangerous people i knew are neither failurs in live nor fearful but to the opposite. They do also not fear change - they would even hate foreigners to the death if nothing would change at all and no illegal immigrant would come. The same was in my case: i hated muslims and non-white people to the extreme but not because of illegal immmigration or change or fear or whatsoever. Because of my obsession with race and blood i started studying biotechnolgy (i know) and then with my growing knowledge began to change my views. In the end i found no explanation for my feelings (which partly are still there) than genetic reasons and i am still convinced that the genetic part of behaviour is underestimated today. Today because of the overhwelming left-wing agenda genetic reasons are regarded inferior to enviroment, education, culture etc. Therefore imo there is strong genetic component (amongst others) for true far right extremism as the majority of far right extremist i knew does not fit to your psychological explanations.

  9. Last Dingo:

    My thesis is, that xeonophobie is geneticaly programmed into every human, by some more, but at least in everyone. This was an biological advantage in earlier times of our human race. This genetical xenophobia can then be mitigated or overcome by education, culture, social circumstances - or, to the opposite it can thrive. It depends on the circumstances. And by some it is simply very strong. That would also explain why the percentage of people with right wing extremist world views is so stable by around 10 to 20 % amongst the population for many decades despite many efforts to change this. The question is then if the circumstances allow such an avantgarde to take over the society or not (which should be avoided because it is in the todays modern world an disadvantage). If you realize that there is genetic reason for xenophobia and that it is innate in every human only then one can realize the danger that lies in this point.

    If the avantgarde takes over the innate xenophobia buried by culture, socialization and education can then pave the way in much larger sections of the population and can then be used for the purposes of right-wing extremists. This explains the corresponding breaks in the cultural development of some peoples in history, not least in Germany.

    1. "Phobia" means "fear". Not "sense of superiority over".
      Fear-induced caution towards foreigners was an evolutionary advantage at a time when there was nothing punishing a clan that made another clan drunk and butchered it in sleep to take its hunting grounds.
      Arrogance and being dismissive of them? Not so much. That could easily have you gotten killed. You know, like many Nazis got killed.

      As I wrote, I think right wingers are fearful pussies. I laugh at their idiocy when i see what ridiculous horror stories they believe in.
      They're easily scared pussies.

    2. The better word instead of xenophobia would be Misoxenia which means not fear of foreigners but hate to foreigners.

      Genetically innated xenophobia is the starting point but that then evolves by some into Misoxenia and changes therefore its character, motivation, origin, source etc

      Therefore it differs from an fear induced aggression.

      The reason for this is imo pseudospeciation. Such people develope an understanding of other humans as an other species and therefore their behaviour changes from intraspecific aggression to inter-species aggression. And the resulting hate an violence is then like between any other inter-species conflict.

  10. Phobia means fear but xenophobia (literally: fear of strangers) does not only apply to a fearful position to foreigners. It is also simultaniously used for hate against foreigners. But this too points differ in that: xenophobia as an fear of others is genetically innate and for logical reasons as you also have explained as in earlier times being fearful of foreigners was useful and clever. (the question is here, if it is not also useful and clever today against specific groups of foreigners as they are for sure not our friends (as group).

    But you missed my point here, that from this innate fear things can develope in any direction. This innate fear can be overwritten by culture, education or even an high grade of curiosity by some humans. Or it can stay as an fear of foreigners (which is imo the case for many so called german right wing conservatives like in the afd) or it can develope through culture and education to an form of hate which then has nothing to do with fear.

    The fear is only the geneticaly innate starting point. The hate against foreigners which then grow out of it is completly different and not fear motivated. It is a change to the state of mind before. A change as the change to loose this fear for example out of curiosity, education etc

    And as you has explained also this hate is not an advantage, it can gives you disadvantages and so on, but it has nothing to do with fear or simple right wing conservative positions and for that exact reasons such conservatives that dominate for example the afd and suprisingly great parts of the csu (some csu members are more right wing than the afd average) are not ! true right wing extremists.

    The difference between true right extremism and right wing conservatism lies exactly in this point. The conservaites act out of fear (especially the fear of change) and the true right wing extremists act out of irrational hate that is the motivation for them for its own. For that simple reasons right wing extremists are not scared - although their hate is for sure an idiocy.

    To underestimate and to disregard true right wing extremists like you do here is an problem. Thankfully at least in germany today there are realy very few of them. The great majority of so called right wingers in germany today are simply conservatives. The afd program for example differs only in nuances from standard cdu positions of the 90s as i have told already.

    That the afd average is regarded right wing by an majority of german people today only shows the dominance of left wing extremism in germany today and the hubris, arrogance, incompetence and idiocy of the left wingers in their naive believes about human nature.