Two respected German authors, previously lionized by the media and academia alike, have suddenly found themselves in disfavor because of a jointly authored book that has been swiftly branded controversial. American readers may recall an analog in the case of Professors John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard, who came under fire for their 2007 work, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
This affair began only recently. Its protagonists are far less prominent than Mearsheimer and Walt, and so far, it is barely known outside Germany. But it deserves attention because it illustrates the atmosphere of extreme intolerance that is now all-pervasive on Germany’s public scene and because of the implications it has for the future of a major power. Suffice it to say that the major media are both unable and unwilling to address the German nation’s existential crisis due to its leaders’ ideological fanaticism and suicidal subservience to foreign masters.
Philosopher Richard David Precht and social psychologist Harald Welzer published last month a book on the German media scene entitled The Fourth Estate: How Majority Opinion Is Made, Even If There Is None. It diagnosed a strong media tendency towards bias, simplification, moralization, and defamation. They conclude that there is a deepening gap between published opinion and public opinion: the major media are loath to deviate from what they define and uphold as the approved narrative, thus becoming mere echo chambers in opinion-making.
All of the above is hardly novel to the unzombified majority of Americans, but in Germany, such subversive notions are supposed to belong to the left and right fringes. What makes the book particularly irksome to the German media machine is that both authors are men of the liberal left with impeccable mainstream credentials. Welzer, and especially Precht, have been regular guests on the leading talk shows for many years, and they feature prominently on nonfiction bestseller lists. Precht, in particular, is erudite, handsome, and witty in live performances. He publishes a lot, writes easily, and earns handsomely from his works.
The trend to unthinking media unanimity has been in the making for a long time, say Precht and Welzer, but it acquired mature form with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine last February. The Fourth Estate explores how the big German media, including practically all the commentariat, have vehemently and uncritically propagandized the view that Germany must support Ukraine in every way possible, unlimited military assistance included. The leading daily newspapers and TV networks have become predictably moralizing, rather than informative institutions.
“Alpha-journalists” have turned newsrooms into military headquarters for operations against Moscow. To a public that in reality remains deeply and evenly divided, they present their peculiar position on the conflict in the East as an accepted and irrefutable majority opinion. To Precht and Welzer, the conflict in Ukraine revealed “an incredible unanimity” in the media landscape and “enormous predominance of certain hardened positions” which are not subjected to critical scrutiny. A narrow circle of “alphas” effectively dictate to politicians what decisions to make. They are “adrenaline junkies” without a clear idea of the consequences. They resort to slander, moralizing, simplifying, and defaming—techniques taken from social networks—in order to force decision-makers to do the “right thing,” and to do it quickly, without delay and without thinking. Other media professionals follow them in order not to be marginalized.
Immediately after the book was published its authors were subjected to a barrage of abuse in media comments. The long-standing Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrij Melnyk, had already given his verdict on Twitter before the book was even available for purchase: hands off this vile pamphlet! These two arrogant, self-absorbed ignoramuses who despise Ukrainians are always wrong about everything. Just ignore these two narcissists, do not buy! Melnyk’s rant was widely reported, even though His Excellency had not read the book himself.
Crude insults subsequently turned to sneers and mockery, with Precht and Welzer becoming “media clowns.” On Markus Lantz’s popular talk show on ZDF (Die Rolle des Journalismus in der heutigen Zeit, Sept. 29), to take one recent example, they received loads of scornful grimaces from an archetypical “alpha,” Melanie Amann of Der Spiegel, and derisory laughter from Robin Alexander, deputy editor-in-chief of Die Welt.
The charge is not stated openly, but Precht and Welzer stand accused of biting the hand that feeds them. Especially Precht, as more famous of the two, is often reminded that the media “created” him. However, we are not told why the media—which is supposedly responsible and professional—neglected to smell a “clown” from the start or at any later stage until a month ago. Needless to add, the substance of the argument is never discussed.
But Precht and Welzer are regrettably correct in their analysis. It is why the German media cannot and will not explore who sabotaged the Nord Stream, a major escalation in America’s undeclared war not just on Russia but also on Germany itself. Such investigation must not be done, because if German political, economic, and civilizational interests are considered in realist terms—without the ideological blinkers of “common values and ideals”—it transpires that the Federal Republic has a more natural community of long-term geopolitical interests with Russia than with the United States.
The fundamental German-Russian compatibility is that they are traditional European nation-states pursuing limited objectives by limited means. By contrast, the leaders of the United States in both parties still subscribe to the notion of America’s exceptionalism and to the propositional creed rooted in Puritan millenarianism. In geopolitical terms, like Russia, but unlike the U.S., Germany is a continental power. Also, like Russia, but unlike the U.S., Germany has limited and rational strategic and security objectives. They can and should be allies, as Bismarck knew.
German elites should not be comfortable with an imperialist ideology that dooms their country to a satellite state at the disposition of a superpower. But that debate may be over now. As the Nord Stream pipes rot, filled with salt water on the bottom of the Baltic Sea, there is no going back for Europe’s most industrious, most productive, most innovative nation. Its future path will be as dark as that originally proposed in the Morgenthau Plan for postwar Germany.
The plan was not implemented because the U.S. needed Germany’s economy and recruits during the Cold War. But now that the focus has shifted to keeping the West European Rimland firmly under the Woke Empire’s political, military, economic, and cultural control, Germany will have to revert to deindustrialized insignificance envisaged by the Secretary of the Treasury in 1944.