Thursday, October 27, 2011

Krieg den Palästen!

I note briefly that the Communist firebrands at The Economist--citing a Congressional Budget Office report--have chimed in on one aspect of the 'Occupy' protests: the 'we are the 99%' slogan.

Their comment:
"Whatever the cause, the data are powerful because they tend to support two prejudices. First, that a system that works well for the very richest has delivered returns on labour that are disappointing for everyone else. Second, that the people at the top have made out like bandits over the past few decades, and that now everyone else must pick up the bill. Of course it is a little more complicated than that. But this downturn ought to test the normally warm feelings in America of the 99% towards the 1%."
And if there's anything I like, ladies and gents, it's having my prejudices supported.

Thank you, Economist, for bringing so much joy to my lunch break.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In case you were wondering where Helmut Kohl learned his moves

Today's Grauniad, after referring to Wolfgang Schäuble as one of those conservative politicians who might have succeeded Helmut Kohl:

In the end a younger mentor of Kohl's – Angela Merkel – became the next CDU chancellor seven years later.

She certainly looks young for her years, I must say.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

German Atlanticism of times past: No snakes in this here Garden of Eden

Something I ran across while looking up British press responses to the work of Oswald Spengler: a review of Ohne Amerika Geht Es Nicht (roughly: 'It won't work without America') by Emil Müller-Sternheim.

OHNE AMERIKA GEHT ES NICHT. Von E. Muller-Sternheim. (Vienna: Amalthea-Verlag.)—This is a curious book. Imagine all the criticisms of the United States which have recently been put forward by various writers, and then imagine a decided, even enthusiastic refutation of all of them, and one would have some idea of this volume, which is dedicated to President Hoover.

As the title implies, the writer holds that without the active assistance of America Europe is doomed, not only in the economic sphere but in culture, art, morals—almost in every respect. The thesis is developed in a very lively fashion and, incidentally, contains criticisms of Malthus, Karl Marx, Ricardo and Oswald Spengler, who is treated as a representative of European snobbery. All the less favourable aspects of American civilization are passed over, and at the end one wonders whether there can be any snake at all in this Garden of Eden.

The American woman has a laudatory chapter to herself; American State-education is analysed, entirely to its advantage as compared with German. The Kellogg Pact and the League of Nations are described as supreme achievements of American statesmanship, and America is strongly defended against charges of “denationalization” of its immigrants, which had been brought against her by German critics.

As a reaction against superficial condemnation the book certainly is of interest, but one doubts whether even the most patriotic American would care to accept all Herr Muller-Sternheim’s assertion [sic] without qualification.

The Times Literary Supplement, 6 November 1930, 918. (Paragraph breaks added)  

The book certainly sounds interesting (not least for the dedication to President Hoover); however, ...minor quibble: I happen to know some rather patriotic Americans, and, pace the (unnamed) reviewer, I think they'd eat this sort of thing up 'without qualification'.


While we're dealing with the topic of American-style German love:

Olli Schulz und der Hund Marie, 'America-Ibiza Connection'

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Spreading one's person over the territory of the little man; or, notes on loving thy fellow passenger

New research interests (the origins of which I've been meaning to write about) have led me to examining Anglican thinking about society and international relations in the 1930s.

Said research has led me to the Guardian, which refers not to the better known contemporary paper of that name but rather an Anglican (more specifically, Anglo-Catholic) newspaper. In looking through the volume for 1935, I ran across the following comment which has nothing to do with my project but  -- since I have spent some fair amount of time on British trains in my life -- I found interesting.

Comfort for the Third-Class

The third-class railway traveller is being better cared for than he was twenty-five years ago, and at Euston Station last week visitors were able to compare a typical train of 1910 with one of the best of 1935. The improvement in the third-class accommodation proved the eagerness of the railway companies to consider the needs of the poorer traveller.

The best of all reforms is the provision of arm-rests; no longer will the bulky traveller be able to spread his person over the territory of the little man, for each will get the space that he has paid for. It is a pity, however, that while the long-journey traveller is being thus considered the unfortunate passenger on the suburban services is but little better off than he was forty years ago. On some lines, indeed, he is worse off, for whereas once upon a time the rule was ‘five a side,’ to-day, by a slight widening of the coaches, six are packed in.

‘Six a side’ in trains to-day has been the cause of more bickering and ill-feeling on the way to work or on the homeward struggle than any amount of political argument. Moreover there are often about eight other passengers standing in a compartment, to the discomfort and irritation of all. It is difficult for a man to love his neighbours on a journey from, say, Liverpool Street to Ilford.

'An Onlooker's Diary', Guardian, 10 May 1935, p. 304. (Paragraph breaks added)

A question to those who might know this kind of thing: when did 'third class' rail travel disappear?

I mean as an explicit category, of course, and not as a subjective experience.

(The 'historical bycatch' series; explanation.)