Last Saturday, April 15, 2023, will be etched in the consciousness of German society: The last 3 nuclear power plants remaining on the grid were shut down in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Lower Saxony. Until recently, they contributed about 5% of the current electricity demand. The applause of the current governing coalition under Chancellor Scholz (SPD), the Greens and the FDP is restrained. This is because the current major tensions felt by the population, the Russia-Ukraine war, arms deliveries to a war zone, the consequences of the EU-issued sanctions lists (according to an article in “Foreign Affairs” from April 13, 2023, the OECD estimates, that the war will reduce global economic output by $2.8 trillion in 2023!); due to this war, rapidly rising heating and electricity costs, medicine shortages (still the consequence of the 3 years pandemic effects globally) and general inflation rates are dampening the tremendous complacency among the Greens and those who have pursued the phase-out of nuclear energy for over 40 years. It was the CDU-FDP government under Chancellor Merkel (who occasionally spoke proudly of her training as a physicist) that decided in 2012 to phase out nuclear power till 2022. Just two years earlier, a decision had been made to continue operating nuclear power plants.
This column is not about the pro and con of nuclear energy. It’s about the obvious irrationality in political decision making based on ideological prejudices. In Europe alone – as the editorial of the FAZ almost gloatingly listed April 14th – the following countries have so far relied or are considering to continue operation or new construction (in the case of further development of modular NPPs) of electricity generation from nuclear power: France, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Great Britain. Not to mention China, USA, Russia and many large countries of the world, also not speak about the CO2 reduction so vehemently demanded by the German Greens. (Even Greta Thunberg mentions nuclear power again and again as the CO2 poorest source and most climate-friendly energy production).
For 40 years green ideologists, together with Club of Rome and other international institutions, have fought against the development of NPPs. The author of these lines has been able to observe the beginning of the green movement with all its ideological facets at the end of the 70s and has often expressed himself critically.
The “change of times” (Zeitenwende) that Chancellor Scholz spoke of in March 2022 at the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war has not only redefined the relationship of the German public to the war and its support with arms deliveries. The “change of times” slogan has far greater ramifications for German society. The formerly pacifist party the Greenies became the strongest proponent of sending munitions, weapons, etc. to the war zone. After the founding of the green party about 40 years ago they now exploit their positions of power, which they have taken in the German government and in various federal states. The German Economics Minister Robert Habeck is pushing through many green projects (for example changing heating systems in households by law, and replacing them with very expensive ones starting already 2024 – “renewable energy driven” systems; the German Foreign minister Baerbock (“feminist foreign policy”) or other Greenies push through their ideological goals, which are perceived as irrational by many. In the context of the all-embracing “climate protection maxim,” the contradictions of political decisions are perceived more and more dramatically by ordinary citizens. After all, how should one understand, for example, the shutdown of nuclear power, the most climate-friendly energy producer, while at the same time there is the demand for prolonging the operating of coal and gas-fired power plants, in order to close the energy gap?
The reputation of German foreign policy, industrial policy and education policy is steadily declining. The overburdened, moralizing attitude of the foreign minister, the repeatedly evident bullying and almost demonization of large-scale industrial projects or important infrastructure projects against national interests are meeting growing opposition. Contrary to the leading media commentaries, voices are growing who no longer want to go along with this ruthless decision making. But rarely have critical objections and the people who voice them been dealt with as brutally as is the case today in Germany. Critics are “mobbed” at the workplace; very often discord is carried right into families.
But also other projects increasingly raise doubts: Should a minor (14 years old) have already the right to be able to change simply his or her sex and first names at the registry office, as is demanded by a draft bill from the FDP and Greenies? Should the use of cannabis drugs be decriminalized, possession of small amounts be exempt from punishment, or “consumption clubs” based on the Dutch or Spanish model be created? Not to mention “language cleansing” along the lines of the American “woke” movement.
Where does Europe drift to?
On April 7th an interesting debate took place in the city of Frankfurt that featured under the moderation of the “Westend Publishing House” two book authors and speakers: Dr. Ulrike Guérot and Dr. Oskar Lafontaine. The Westend Verlag at the beginning of this year has published the books from these respective authors: Ulrike Guérot „Endspiel Europa (Europe endgame)“ and from Oskar Lafontaine „Ami it’s time to go. Plea for the Self Affirmation of Europe.“ Guérot, an experienced writer in political science,- among other activities she spent some time working as assistant to Jaques Delors in the past-, is Professor at the University in Bonn, where she recently got suspended because of her writings; the other author is Oskar Lafontaine (nearly 80 years old),who was chairman of the SPD in the 90ies, minister of finances in the cabinet of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as well as in 1990 Chancellor Candidate for the SPD.
Both authors in a refreshing way argued in favor of a „multipolar world“, in which Europe should find its own role. In reviewing the past 70 years of European history that was based on the slogan „Never War again in Europe“, both speakers deplored the fact that with the war in Ukraine- “being very much pushed by the US” (Lafontaine) instead going for diplomatic solutions- Europe has been fundamentally transformed, which includes its own security architecture. Right now everybody is following like a „vassal“ (Lafontaine) the US dictum, which means defending US interests and not European interests. Europe is suffering economically as result of the war; not a single word has so far been said about the explosion of the North Stream pipelines that according to Lafontaine was done by the USA, even if this betrays Germany’s own economic interests. The war managed to separate Russia from Europe and “to turn off the brains” of millions of people who have begun to argue along the line of a strange poster “Every weapon for the Ukraine is an act of love for thy next“ .
Looking at the “semantic aberrations” everything is turned upside down. Ukraine is called a “beacon of hope” and “freedom” where Europe defends its own values, while in reality “Selensky is surrounded by a corrupt entourage” (Lafontaine). An Ukrainian book author Serhij Zhadan (poet and punk singer) who received the German Book Fair “award for peace” was hailed, despite the fact that he called in some of his writings the Russians „animals“ and „insects“ (Guérot). Both Guérot and Lafontaine were deeply deploring the fact that the German- French cooperation has essentially “broken down” and that Europe is now “pitted” against Russia. They both passionately pleaded for bringing Germany and France closer to each other, so that on the basis of a strong “de Gaulle like reflex” that still is present in French foreign policy, France and Germany could take the chance to bring Ukraine and Russians to the negotiating table.