Sunday, June 5, 2016

Handler und Helden Redux

A year after World War I started (1915), the German economist, Werner Sombart, published a book entitled Handler und Helden (should be an umlautt over that "a"in "Handler"), English translation: Merchants and Heroes.  It was his contention, quickly picked up and propagandistically spread by the German war machine, that the Germans were heroes (Helden), their entire civilization in fact, while the British were a bunch of boring meaningless merchants (Handler), whose century long Pax Brittanica was a big snooze that needed a big shaking up and overthrowing by some God-fearing Helden from Germany.  We know how that sort of thinking ended up a couple of decades later when Wagner-Helden-drenched Hitler really went for the Gotterdammerung big time, killing millions.  So much for merchant-Handler boredom!

Well, this sort of thinking is back.  On May 25, George Will in the Washington Post , who has fervently criticized Donald Trump as a de facto fascist, nevertheless resurrected parts of this terminology in English to characterize the Brexit debate.  In this case, those in UK favoring Brexit are "rebels" against the boring bureaucrats of the European Union, who have "removed the grandeur of Europe" in favor of "commerce."  Will recognizes that the appeal here is not that far from Trump's but he distinguishes the British case by focusing on Boris Johnson, "who went to Oxford" and supposedly is poetic and intellectual and all that.  But he is all for the rest of the European nations to also dispense with the  EU, not noticing that most of those in those nations pushing such ideas are racist nationalists who, well, look a lot more like Mussolini than Boris Johnson.

I do not have a strong view  about Brexit, although it seems that most of those in UK supporting it do look a lot like Trump, if not worse.  I suspect that establishment forecasts of total economic collapse in UK  if Brexit passes, may be exaggerated, although there are lots of reason to expect their GDP growth rate to fall in the near future, quite likely into recession territory, if it does pass.  And, of course, everybody is expecting that if Brexit passes, the Scots will revive their independence move so as to rejoin the EU. But, hey, who needs Great Britain anyway?  Let them be Helden-heroes in their decline and collapse.against those awful EU Handler.  Let us return to the good old days of WW I (if not II or III or IV) when Handler und Helden killed millions to prove their nationalistic points.

Barkley Rosser


Bruce Webb said...

Barkley you have to admit: "At least it is an ethos".

Bruce Webb said...

With an emphasis on the "ethnos". said...