Michael Lewis’s big new article in Vanity Fair will probably anger a lot of Germans.
The article begins with a description of the national anal fetish, dating back to Mozart and the popular folk character Dukatenscheisser or “Money Shitter.”
Lewis concludes that this “secret fascination with dirt and chaos” led German civil servant bankers to be enticed by Wall Street and become addicted to crap CDOs.
Today Germans are ambivalent about bailing out Greece because they feel betrayed by the rest of the world, yet they also feel guilty about their own misdeeds, according to Lewis:
If the deputy finance minister has a sign on his wall reminding him to see the point of view of others, here is perhaps why. Others do not behave as Germans do: others lie. In this financial world of deceit, Germans are natives on a protected island who have not been inoculated against the virus carried by visitors. The same instincts that allowed them to trust the Wall Street bond salesmen also allowed them to trust the French when they promised there would be no bailouts, and the Greeks when they swore that their budget was balanced. That is one theory. Another is that they trusted so easily because they didn’t care enough about the cost of being wrong, as it came with certain benefits. For the Germans the euro isn’t just a currency. It’s a device for flushing the past—another Holocaust Memorial. The German public-opinion polls are now running against the Greeks, but deeper forces run in their favour.
In any case, if you are obsessed with cleanliness and order yet harbor a secret fascination with filth and chaos, you are bound to get into some kind of trouble. There is no such thing as clean without dirt. There is no such thing as purity without impurity. The interest in one implies an interest in the other.