Monday, February 14, 2011
Germany´s Foibles? Egypts Artist Protesters
Germany offers some important possibilities to understand the potential of a more co-operative society, as do some other societies. Egypt´s recent events also offer other interesting points of discussion. I found some provocative passages in today´s paper.
As Germany Rolls, All Isn't What It Seems
By JOHN VINOCUR
Published: February 14, 2011
Rating social justice in Germany — its assumed high level is an insistent argument in support of the country’s taking of command in Europe — the Bertelsmann Foundation has issued a survey that ranks Germany — gasp — in 15th place of the 31 prosperous and democratic countries surveyed. (The United States came in 26th.)
The foundation found inequality in German income distribution over the last two decades growing ‘’almost like no other” of the countries studied. Germany ranked next to last in long-term unemployment, it said, and reported that the effects of poverty there, particularly among children, were deeper than in Hungary or the Czech Republic.
As for economic growth following last year’s spurt, the Economy Ministry projects the pace will decline this year to 2.3 percent, and to 1.8 percent in 2012. The frequent argument that Germany is importing more and will serve as Europe’s locomotive is confronted by retail sales that have fallen in the last four of five months.
The festive protests that broke out on Jan. 25 in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have become a window into what Egypt might look and sound like without the regime of Hosni Mubarak. Tahrir’s troubadour collective has specialized in the invention of slogans that are witty, abusive and aimed directly at the president, e.g., “Mubarak, you rhinoceros (kharteet), / get out, get out, you pest (ghateet).” Sometimes, perhaps to signal a certain gravitas, they dispense with rhyme and say it straight: “The people want the fall of the regime.” Along with the chanting, there has been much baladi music — a catchy, popular style, heavy on hooks and reverb — as well as poetry recitations and effigy hanging. This is Egypt’s folk culture: profane, bawdy, politically sophisticated. It stands as a direct challenge to the version of culture propagated by the Mubarak regime and its predecessors.