panem et circenses

Two inte­res­ting, but also kin­da con­tro­ver­si­al arti­cles that appeared on Der Spie­gel Online today, the web­site of the Ger­man wee­kly magazine:

The first one on the ailing Ger­man blo­gos­phe­re (in Ger­man) that has been busy try­ing to con­stant­ly pole­mi­ze its­elf and the lack of more influ­en­ti­al power-blog­gers who also par­ti­ci­pa­te in poli­tics (com­pa­re that with Loic LeMeur & Sar­ko­zy in Fran­ce). Now while the­re are qui­te a few talen­ted Ger­man blog­gers, the use of blogs is cer­tain­ly not as widespread as in other Euro­pean countries.

Poli­tics = ran­ge of (con­tro­ver­si­al) sub­jects of which some are cove­r­ed by the main­stream media, some by the blogosphere.

This may of cour­se be due to dif­fe­rent rea­sons, but then — also — the­re’s a vivid news cul­tu­re in Ger­ma­ny and somehow free media that covers world affairs. Just com­pa­re that with the US media and see why the­re are much more poli­ti­cal blog­gers in the USA.

Com­pa­ring the­se worlds, I think, just does­n’t make sen­se (I could go on for ages on this sub­ject — just look at the Ger­man sec­tion of Glo­bal­Voices!). On the other hand, I’d pre­fer much more poli­ti­cal acti­vism. Acti­vism as such, howe­ver, is often (unfor­tu­n­a­te­ly) labe­led as left-wing socia­lism — and if you look at today­’s public image of the Ger­man par­ty “Die Lin­ke” which was main­ly for­med by for­mer mem­bers of the (~com­mu­nist) East Ger­man par­ty SED and disap­poin­ted socia­list from Ger­many’s oldest worker’s par­ty SPD, you’ll instant­ly rea­li­ze that many Ger­mans (of cour­se not all, see below) today are fed up with poli­tics and don’t give a damn about who actual­ly rules as long as poli­tics do not switch to an extre­me and do not reac­ti­ve the usu­al sto­ries on Nazis & Co. I guess it’s simi­lar in other coun­tries. I am sure the­re’s a reci­pro­cal­ly pro­por­tio­nal rela­ti­on bet­ween poli­ti­cal acti­vism and living conditions.
I think this also star­ted way back in the 1970s and 80s when green issu­es star­ted com­ing up on the agen­da and acti­vism cen­te­red around this abso­lute­ly neu­tral ran­ge of sub­jects (~ nuclear was­te). No war, dif­fe­rent kind of demons­tra­ti­ons. And then, also, Ger­ma­ny today lacks a ran­ge of cha­ris­ma­tic lea­ders. Or do you real­ly think that Ange­la Mer­kel, Ger­many’s chan­ce­lo­ret­te, is that sexy? Exactly.

Which of cour­se gets me to the upco­m­ing visit by Jesus Super­star Barack Oba­ma to Ger­ma­ny. Rumour has it that other Euro­pean nati­ons are qui­te pis­sed about the atten­ti­on his visit gene­ra­ted and that Ger­ma­ny will actual­ly have a big­ger times­lot than the Bri­tish or Fran­ce. Vanity.
Now, with such a visit on the sche­du­le and an ade­qua­te edi­to­ri­al on Der Spie­gel, it may be rather obvious that the edi­to­ri­al depart­ment pla­ced a link to this sto­ry: “Flirt­hin­wei­se fürs Fein­des­land”. And while Der Spie­gel is defi­na­te­ly not THE insti­tu­ti­on or THE only credi­ble maga­zin out the­re, they at one point in the past inven­ted some­thing I real­ly, real­ly like: a sec­tion cal­led “eines­ta­ges — Zeit­ge­schich­ten auf Spie­gelOn­line”, which is like a mul­ti-autho­red, edi­ted & mode­ra­ted public blog for rea­ders who may con­tri­bu­te their own sto­ries, images and vide­os of his­to­ri­cal events, espe­cial­ly sin­ce the end of the 2nd World­War on just about anything.
This sto­ry “Flirt­hin­wei­se fürs Fein­des­land” actual­ly talks about a book­let issued by the USAr­my at the end of WW2 and fea­tures a rather sho­cking short film cal­led “Your Job in Germany”:

Your Job In Ger­ma­ny was a short film made by Frank Capra and Dr. Seuss for the United Sta­tes War Depart­ment in 1945, inten­ded to be shown to U.S. sol­di­ers about to occu­py Ger­ma­ny. It urged against fra­ter­niz­a­ti­on with the Ger­man peop­le, who are por­tray­ed as tho­rough­ly untrust­worthy. (source)

I was a bit sho­cked when I saw this short film today and then thought: well…despite of the appa­rent need for such pro­pa­gan­da back then (bet it’s simi­lar for the Iraq & other “freed” nati­ons) — may the fading inte­rest for com­mon poli­tics in todays Ger­ma­ny also be an indi­rect / not so obvious result of the poli­ti­cal influ­ence the US had on Euro­pe in the past?

In the end, the­se dis­cus­sions are not about poli­tics, but about sel­ling newspapers/magazines and edi­t­ing inte­res­ting sto­ries peop­le want to read about. It’s a busi­ness. And tha­t’s just one of the many rea­sons out the­re why the Ger­man blo­gos­phe­re has in the past fai­led to crea­te more influ­en­ti­al (!) poli­ti­cal blog­gers. This, howe­ver, does not also imply that ppl aren’t inte­res­ted in politics.

Inte­res­tin­g­ly, the SPON arti­cle also men­tio­ned that the Ger­man edi­ti­on of Wiki­pe­dia is the second lar­gest in the world — which instant­ly remin­ded me of this arti­cle by Ethan Zucker­man whe­re he men­tio­ned the ailing Ara­bic-lan­guage edi­ti­on of Wiki­pe­dia & huge num­ber of blog­gers in Egypt.

The remai­ning ques­ti­on is: is this dis­cus­sion about poli­ti­cal acti­vism (= con­tri­bu­ting ide­as to socie­ty), or about citi­zen media?

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