Thursday 10 May 2012

Sick As A Parrot

The sorrowful bird above is a recent birth to a well known family of Leipzig parrots.  Apparently, it has been rejected by its mother but has been taken to heart by the locals and with wider coverage.

A while ago there was an isolated polar bear cub called Knut who faced a similar predicament.  The trouble began when the cub got bigger and rather less cuddly.  The problem with the parrot is what economic doctrine the European Central Bank (the ECB) might teach him.

There has been a good deal of attention given to elections in Greece, France other places and the UK local elections.  Occasionally, the US Presidential Election intrudes on our screens, if only when the usual issues arise.

Almost nothing has been said about the elections in Germany.  These in the regions, or Bundeslander, the partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic matter a deal and are pointers to the future and any potential policy changes there.

Shortly, the big one is about to go the polls, Nordrhein Westfalen, although opinion has it that whatever the changes in the balance of the parties, actual things may not change much given the imperatives governing German policy at the present.

These are that Germany is frantically trying to prop up the Euro system via the ECB.  This is not simply out of sincere belief in the EU but because some of its major banks could be in deep trouble if things go any more haywire.

In addition to the Big Banks and what happens in Frankfurt, the financial centre, there are a great many smaller banks, notably the Landesbanks that have not been as wise and careful as we expect German institutions to be.  Some of these are not in good shape and giving cause for concern.

The political issues at present in Germany mirror those in other countries in many parts and we will have to see what emerges.  But Germany is not the centralised state with an all powerful governing city. 

Thanks to British wisdom and guidance along with American beliefs in State Rights in 1955 the Federal Republic was founded as a decentralised entity with powerful regional and city authorities reflecting the history and traditions of Germany.  I was there.

However, the upshot is that ancient history can intrude on the present.  What we seem to have is a revival of The Schleswig Holstein question, see the many Wikipedia items on this.  This is because old minorities seem to be back in business:

In the mid 19th Century, notably in the 1860’s in the run up to the creation of the German Empire in 1871 this question was at the heart of the struggle.  It was very difficult as well as being very old.

Lord Palmerston, the British political leader and sometime Prime Minister once said:

“The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it.”

We have become so accustomed in the last 150 years to regard Germany as one nation, although divided between 1945 and 1990, we forget that for centuries it was a complex collection of more than 300 states of different kinds.

Perhaps the eagle of Brandenburg is about to be replaced by a sick parrot.


  1. Thank you. After these last two items, I cannot decide to be slightly fearful, or be very afraid. Being somewhat ancient and having had a lot of history drummed into me, maybe the latter.

  2. A deep gratitude from me as well. The historical references and penetrating prose free my mind from the shackles of linear conventional wisdom found elsewhere. The style and wit of your writing continues to inspire a defiant spirit in my effort to develop a narrative for the mad world In which I'm doing time. No small feat.

    Keep it going.