Browsing through Brad DeLong's blog (looking for something else) I came across an astonishing post on Gunter Grass. I have always seen Grass as part of a trio with Enzensberger and Heinrich Boll. Personally, as a writer, I prefer Boll to Grass, and certainly in the 70's and 80's they may well have been ambiguous in the context of the rise of RAF terrorism. They may indeed be many things, but crypto nazis! Incredible. Still Brad has the courage to let 100 odd commentators tear him apart. If you get it wrong at least do it in style, by getting it wrong bigtime.
Amongst the many things in Grass's article which preoccupy would be this:
"Now, I believe that our freely elected members of Parliament are no longer free to decide. The customary party pressures are not particularly present in Germany; it is, rather, the ring of lobbyists with their multifarious interests that constricts and influences the Federal Parliament and its democratically elected members, placing them under pressure and forcing them into disharmony, even when framing and deciding the content of laws. Consequently, Parliament is no longer sovereign in its decisions. It is steered by the banks and multinational corporations - which are not subject to any democratic control".
This kind of thing could be put to use demogogically by those who would destroy democracy, but it isn't so far from what many 'left' intellectuals were saying in the 70's.
Again the following quote struck me as absolute 'foaming at the mouth' nonsense, but a defence of the holocaust?:
"But are our parliamentarians still sufficiently free to make a decision that would bring radical democratic constraint? Or is our freedom now no more than a stock market profit?
We all are witnesses to the fact that production is being demolished worldwide, that so-called hostile and friendly takeovers are destroying thousands of jobs, that the mere announcement of measures like the dismissal of workers and employees makes share prices rise, and this is regarded unthinkingly as the price to be paid for "living in freedom."
The consequences of this development disguised as globalization are clearly coming to light and can be read from the statistics. With the consistently high number of jobless, which in Germany has now reached five million, and the equally constant refusal of industry to create jobs, despite demonstrably higher earnings, especially from exports, the hope of full employment has evaporated."
It is easy to see what Brad would be worried about here, but I think, at least for the time being, he has gone one bridge too far.
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