WITHTwo German party leaders, Lars Klingbeil from the SPD and Markus Söder from the CSU, recently spoke of Russia. It read like two schoolboys sharing the cheat sheet. In view of the Russian march against Ukraine in the FAS, Söder said that “constant new threats” against Moscow were “not a solution”. Klingbeil painted in “Spiegel” how Russia would feel if “new threats” came from the West every day or even “the question of mobilization”.
These sentences could have come from the left, or from the AfD. Apparently, the horseshoe theory, according to which political extremes meet, is not entirely complete. Even in the main stream, people are sometimes close together.
Of course there are also differences. The social-democratic idea that one only has to stop “threatening” Russia, then it will surely stop attacking others, sounds like advising the seven little kids to refrain from any “mobilization” against the wolf, then they will he certainly won’t eat them, but invite them to a vegan picnic. This is a tradition in the SPD.
Die Tradition des Sacri Egoismo
From the protest against the creation of the Bundeswehr in the 1950s to the “change through rapprochement” in the 1970s and the “rapprochement through integration” in Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s years as Foreign Minister, large sections of social democracy believed that Russia could be “intertwined” in this way ‘ that it will become a good member of the family of nations. In the end, Germany was only intertwined with it itself – to the point where it might no longer want to risk sanctions because otherwise the Russian gas would no longer flow.
With Söder, the fairy tale is told a little differently: He doesn’t say that the wolf is actually a sensitive animal, you just have to be nice to him. He says: What does the kid care if another kid gets eaten? You have to act “also according to interests” and make sure that sanctions “do not harm us”.
Allies and neighbors sell this attitude as lightheartedly as the famous Bremen (or Bavarian) merchant sells his grandmother. In the outer circles of the political right it has a long tradition under the keyword “Sacro Egoismo”. Shaped by an Italian conservative in World War I, it has returned with Donald Trump’s “America First” and Boris Johnson’s Brexit, as well as in the sovereignty of Jarosław Kaczyński.
Söder is close to this school. As early as 2018, when the Union was arguing about whether Germany should close its borders to refugees at the expense of its European partners, he claimed that the “time of orderly multilateralism”, i.e. reliable alliances, was over. Germany must gain “respect” by looking after its interests “itself”.
Now both variants of the fairy tale flow together, the left and the right. They boil down to the same thing: when the wolf comes, go into hiding and don’t give a damn. In the case of the Brothers Grimm, the hunter solved the problem in the end. In real life one hopes for America.