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As described in Der Spiegel, “In an excerpt from his new book, SPIEGEL editor Jan Fleischhauer describes his childhood in a typical West German liberal family, with parents who wouldn’t let him eat oranges because they were grown in countries ruled by dictators, and his coming out as a late conservative.” The piece is fantastic, and can just as easily be applied to politics in Canada and the United States.

The whole piece can be read here, but since it’s quite long, here are a few excerpts for your reading pleasure.

Demonization of the Right:

The way we were supposed to feel [growing up in my family] about conservatives was obvious. They were either deeply reactionary, because they refused to accept progress, or dangerously narrow-minded. In other words, they were either despicable or pitiful characters. In our house, they were simply referred to as “the Blacks” (a reference to the CDU’s official color, black), and also a term associated with the Bogeyman character every child was taught to stay away from.

Hypocrisy and elitism:

This milieu is inhabited by a type of person easily recognized by his consumption and cultural habits (even if he prides himself on his nonconformity), and who is characterized by a pronounced elite awareness, even though the word elite is much as a taboo for leftists as words like nation, homeland or ethnic group.

Liberals in Germany rave about Obama, fear climate change and the surveillance state, do their best to eat organically acceptable food and read the opinion pages of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the arts section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine‘s Sunday edition and, with a certain amount of feigned contempt, the political section of SPIEGEL. Their children attend exclusive schools, even though they are fundamentally in favor of public schools. They like to spend their weekends visiting friends in the country who have been renovating a stone cottage for years — with attention to historical authenticity, of course — and in Italian restaurants they always order in Italian, no matter how well they actually speak the language. Of course, liberals and conservatives probably share some of these traits, but not to the point of excluding everything else, and certainly not as one of the prime attributes of a lifestyle.

Members of this social class are critical of the market economy, and yet are unable to specify an alternative. In their view, the current economic crisis is a gift from God, because it provides perfect fodder for all kinds of prejudices and practically eliminates the need for argument. All it takes is to mention words like “Deutsche Bank” or “Wall Street” in any discussion in which someone has dared to voice a cautious objection, and everyone standing around will quickly nod their heads in agreement, causing the troublemaker to withdraw, while mumbling apologies. In secret, however, they hope that this crisis of capitalism will not progress too far, because their own prosperity depends on capitalism and because, for the past 150 years, no one has been able to demonstrate that a comfortable retirement was not possible under good old Karl Marx.

Also be sure to watch the following related movie:

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