Tiansmission in Rheloiics,
Ails and Culluial Evolulion
A Seiies by lhe Zuiich Univeisily of Ails (ZHdK)
Ediled by
Geihaid Blechingei
Scienlifc Advisoiy Boaid
Thomas Giunwald
Mailin Kuilhen
Heinei Mühlmann
Peter Sloterdijk
eory of the Post-War Periods
Observations on Franco-German relations since 1945
With a Foreword by
Klaus-Dieter Müller
Translated from the German by
Robert Payne
Prof. Dr. Peter Sloterdijk
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Cont ent s
Klaus-Dieter Müller: Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1 Europe, post-historical . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2 Heiner Mühlmann’s Maximal-Stress-
Cooperation-Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
3 Europe after Napoleon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
4 Italy 1918: Falsification of the results of war,
politics in a big way. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
5 France 1945: The double falsification. . . . . . . . . . . 21
6 Germany1945: Metanoia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
7 France 2007: Imperial temptation and the
implosion of the left-wing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
8 Germany 2007: The idiot of the European family
in the phase of normalization – the Walser Affair . . . 36
9 Happy disassociation: Polemological prospects
with René Girard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Klaus-Dieter Müller
Following defeat in battle every culture receives the opportu-
nity to re-evaluate its normative basic attitudes or as Sloterdijk
puts it ‘its moral grammar’. Procedures of this kind either end
in a process assuming energies of revenge or the decision is
made to transform the cultural rules ascertained as detrimental
to behavioural patterns of a less harmful form. Is there such a
thing as a civilizing influence of cultures by reorientation which
brings about post-heroic values? Peter Sloterdijk uses the term
‘metanoia’ to describe this process. He does not mean by this
Christian repentance but pragmatic relearning in order to in-
crease civilisational viability (see p. 14). Sloterdijk calls the
victor’s post-stressory work of evaluation ‘affirmation’.
In his, in reference to ‘metanoia’ and ‘affirmation’, exemplary
“excursion into the jubilee culture” of Franco-German rela-
tions Sloterdijk awards the Germans a “process which at no
time complicated but also at no time threatened the metanoeth-
ical tranformation process of the vanquished German people”,
which in its extreme forms consisted of triumphant self-hate
and aggression towards each and every national tradition.This
is reflected in the biographies of many Germans. In my case it
was the same as in many other families, quarrels arose as to
guilt and responsibility.
While German criticism spoke to a population which despite
all antagonistic tendencies could not deny being guilty of the
accusations made, French criticism was directed at a society
acquitted and in need of elucidation as to their drôle de libéra-
tion. “This may well be the reason why the intellectual Ger-
many is the only place in the world where an old-fashioned
correspondence theory of truth still dominates. Here defeat is
called defeat (and a crime a crime) – and the remaining words
are also gauged to this semantic primal scale. It is only here
that the religion of the objective referee holds sway. The intel-
lectual France prefers the politically more elegant and rhetori-
cally more attractive position where words and things belong to
separate systems.” (see p. 26).
Despite disparate post-war processes, in Germany ‘metanoia’
and in France ‘affirmation’ of the imaginary victor, both na-
tions have come a long way together. It is a common belief that
nothing will work in Europe unless France and Germany are in
agreement. Franco-German relations, Franco-German affairs,
Franco-German friendship: What next? The Franco-German
methods of dealing with each other are often described as be-
ing exemplary; it has almost become a legend. Peter Sloterdijk
calls this legend into question by turning the political credo
upside down.
He talks about Franco-German relations, regardless of the fact
that “there is nothing new that can be said on this theme which
could not come from audiotape” (see p. 10), Sloterdijk offers
a preliminary rehearsal for philosophical commentary on the
Franco-German day of commemoration taking place on 8th July
2012 marking the fiftieth anniversary of Charles de Gaulle and
Konrad Adenauer attending the historical service of reconcilia-
tion in the coronation cathedral in Reims. He calls the arrange-
ment made by the French President and the German Chancel-
lor “the healing disentanglement of the two nations” (see p. 45)
According to Sloterdijk this represented the termination of a
fatally closeknit relationship which reached back to the era of
the Napoleonic wars at least. For a long time the Germans and
the French had become caught up in an endless cycle of mim-
icry, imitation, one-upmanship and projective empathy with
each other. What de Gaulle and Adenauer pledged each other
was an everlasting non-attachment and in some ways even a
permanent state of indifference. The good relationship, or at
least functional relationship, which has existed since then rest
on the solid foundations of the non-attachment which has been
finally achieved – diplomatically described as friendship be-
tween the two nations.
The post-war period began with a French policy of occupation,
which was strongly characterized by ‘improvisation’
. Neverthe-
less in the spirit of ‘affirmation’ the objective was unanimously
clear: to restore France to its former national greatness. Only
as a late occupying power was France able to participate in the
post-war policies concerning Germany by means of the conces-
sions made by the other allies – or as Sloterdijk puts it “the
re-interpretation of the results of the war”. France was certainly
not in a position to prepare for this role in advance. However,
there had been considerations on the side of the French in the
resistance groups in Algier and London before the end of the
war in reference to a re-educational programme for Germany
emanating from France
Right from the very beginning the French policy of occupa-
tion was typified by a comprehensive cultural policy, partly as
an aspect of the security policy and partly as a demonstration
of France’s cultural superiority in comparison with the other
Cheval, René: „Die Bildungspolitik in der Französischen Besatzungszone“ in: Hein-
emann, Manfred (Hg.): Umerziehung und Wiederaufbau. Die Bildungspolitik der Be-
satzungsmächte in Deutschland und Österreich, Stuttgart 1981, p. 190–200, here p.
Gerard, Francis: Que faire de l’Allemagne? Algier 1943, see Ruge-Schatz: „Grund-
probleme der Kulturpolitik in der französischen Besatzungszone“ in: Scharf, Claus
und Schröder, H.-J. (Hgs.): Die Deutschlandpolitik Frankreichs und die Französische
Zone 1945–1949, Wiesbaden 1983, p. 91–110
Allies. This so-called ‘Machtersatzpolitik’
which arose from
intellectual-cultural Messianism had well-established roots in
France. Among these were the Roman legacy, the influence of
the Catholic church with its universal pretensions and the very
early formation of a powerful central state drawing on the Cath-
olic religion for support
. In addition the French Revolution
supplied the values of democracy, liberty and progress. They
made the civilisatory consciousness the business of an entire
people. The Federal Republic of Germany seemed to France
to be a “land in need of cultural missionary work”
. Eighteen
French cultural institutes were created in the first ten years
after the end of the war in Germany, considerably more than
in any other western European country. The Germans on their
part were, in the spirit of ‘metanoethical’ re-orientation, ini-
tially very interested in the French cultural imports.
The scale on which this re-orientation and ‘self-discovery’ in
the framework of rebuilding the nation progressed meant that
the Germans began to develop a new self-assurance. They also
became more confident and independent in their Franco-Ger-
man initiatives in communication – and a kind of de-fascina-
tion emerged. Those actively shaping the Franco-German cul-
tural exchange observed an increasing disinterest in France in
general and especially in contemporary French art and culture.
Many Germans cling to a specific image of French culture “as if
Clemens, Gabriele: „Die britische Kulturpolitik in Deutschland: Musik, Theater,
Film und Literatur“ in: Clemens, Gabriele (Hg.): Die Kulturpolitik im besetzten Deut-
schland, Stuttgart 1994, p. 200–218, here p. 203
Salon, Albert: L’Action culturelle de la France dans le monde, Paris 1983, p. 31 ff
see Hammer (1957): „Gemeinsamer Markt des Geistes“ in: Echo der Zeit 1954,
quoted from: Möller, Horst und Hildebrand, Klaus (Hg.), Die Bundesrepublik Deut-
schland und Frankreich: Dokumente 1949-1963, Bd. 3: Parteien, Öffentlichkeit,
Kultur, München 1997, Dok.-Nr. 339, S. 895–898, here p. 896
the German idea of French culture has simply just stood still.”

This stagnation is confirmed in the statistics on the atrophy in
Franco-German communication skills. While 1950 in a survey
in Allensbach 15% of Germans claimed to be able to ‘read’
a text written in French, in 1997 it was 16% according to a
survey in the Spiegel. Current studies assume similar results.
In France the situation is no different. Since the end of the war
German’s status as the first foreign language has dropped from
30% to 10% and as a second foreign language French was over-
taken by Spanish long ago. In his speech to the French National
Assembly on 30th November 1999 Gerhard Schröder reassured
the French people that “French culture and civilisation enjoy
an elevated and lasting status in Germany”. Ingo Kolbohm
posed this speech as a stereotype and says: “If the Chancellor
wishes to be courteous in his statements this is all very well
and good, but if this is supposed to reflect the actual facts of the
case then he must be contradicted.”
With normalisation as ‘euphemism of estrangement’ Sloterdijk
applies an apparent paradox: The pragmatic way in a benevo-
lent and non-violent co-existence by means of mutual disinterest
and defascination. “Do it the same way that we did, don’t be too
interested in each other!” This could be the message that people
of Germany and France have the rest of the world to offer.
Fixed rituals are no longer adequate to justify the specialness of
the Franco-German relationship. They no longer suffice to en-
vigorate this relationship and to capture the interest of present
Mehdorn, Margarete, 1995–2007 president of the “Deutsch-Französischen Gesells-
chaft Schleswig-Holstein e. V.”, since 2005 member of the board of directors of the
“Vereinigung Deutsch-Französischer Gesellschaften in Deutschland und Frankre-
Kolbohm, Ingo: „Plädoyer für eine neue deutsch-französische Nähe: Wider die
„Normalisierung“ als Diskurs der Entfremdung“. In: Dokumente. Zeitschrift für den
deutsch-französischen Dialog, Heft 3, Juni 2000, p. 207–214
generations. This is because the functioning of the Franco-
German mechanisms seems have been put into question by the
fickelness and impusiveness of the new French President. The
new normality will certainly require a bit more than just stag-
ing some event on 8th July 2012 where we can expect to hear
further speeches “from audiotape”. Peter Sloterdijk’s assump-
tions could prove to be a valuable contribution to this process
of re-orientation.
Despite all the attention to detail and interest in the intellectual
highlights the brilliant philosopher does not lose sight of the
triangular relationships which transcend the bipolar Franco-
German system. And he does not lose sight of global influences
either, for somewhere in the world there is always a post-war
period – there should be a theory of post-war periods. And
hardly a conflict in the world remains unnoticed. Sloterdijk
quite rightly points out that great affective military mobilisa-
tions of recent decades could only be implemented by the mass
media in the form of coverage and sensationalism – and that
these media, as a “vehicle of the dangerous mimesis” are today
even more effective than before (see p. 48).
Sloterdijk refers to Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)

and postulates: Anybody wishing to get to the bottom of ex-
tremism gone global cannot avoid combining the mimetological
analysis with the mediological. The medium is the news – the
terror is news and medium at the same time. Terrorism in a
media driven society turns media into a plaything and into a
tool and thus into potential abettor of terror. The terrorists are
dependent on the media because they want to trigger off a psy-
chological effect on the greatest number of people possible and
see Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: „McLuhan wird wiederentdeckt“, 21.02.2007,
Nr. 44, S. N 3 and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: „Mosaiksteinchen”, 19.04.2006,
Nr. 91, S. N 3
add authority to their demands. Seen analytically we are deal-
ing with a functional symbiosis between media and terrorism
The media driven battle of the cultures which is taking place
beyond the borders of the European peace became the new
boundary long ago running through all Europe’s territorial or-
der. A new type of stress has arisen which is however fed to the
majority of people from virtual space. Its tripping device a im-
ages taken from executions and torture or pictures of destruc-
tion of towers of power considered to symbolize hubris
The flow of stress-images will not run dry. The spread of ‘max-
imal-stress-cooperation’ (MSC) against terror has been real-
ity for a long time now. Its unfolding is undifferentiated and
paranoid. It seeks and finds its enemies and turns Huntington’s
„clash of civilisations“ into self fulfilling prophecy.
Sloterdijk’s Freiburg lecture, available here in the form of a
book, is a milestone. He presents to the world a philosophy
which is simultaneously German and French. At the same time
he presents a new type of ‘consulting philosophy’. A political
rhetoric has been developed by means of a new kind of cultural
theoretical approach which is capable of having lasting effects.
Prof Dr Klaus-Dieter Müller, born 1951 in Neumünster, Ger-
many, is honorary professor at the Film & Television Academy
(HFF) “Konrad Wolf” and head of the IBF “Institut Berufsfor-
schung und Unternehmensplanung Medien e.V.” in Potsdam-
Weichert, Stephan A.: „Der inszenierte Terrorist”. In: cover-Medienmagazin, 3,
2002, p. 74–75
see Neverla, Irene in: Michael Beuthner u. a.: Bilder des Terrors – Terror der Bilder?,
Köln 2003, p. 158
Theory of t he Post - War Peri ods
Obser vat i ons on Fr anco- Ger man
r el at i ons si nce 1945
1 Europe, post - hi st ori cal
Ladies and Gentlemen,
If one were to attempt to summarize in one sentence the shift
in consciousness of Europeans in the period after 1945 from a
German point of view, then this would have to summarize the
following facts. The inhabitants of this continent, exhausted by
the excesses and the pressures of the era from 1914 to 1945,
turned their backs on historical passion and developed a post-
historical modus vivendi in its stead. By historical I understand
ad hoc the unity resulting from the tragedy enacted and written,
as well as the unity resulting from the epic both enacted and
written. Conceived in this sense ‘history’ for Europeans is a
discarded option. By entering the shadow of catastrophe they
have decided against an existence in tragic and epic style. They
have chosen a form of coexistence in which a civilising force re-
places tragedy and negotiation replaces the epic. From another
perspective one would say that Europeans have ceased to pre-
pare for war and have become much more concerned with the
economic situation and having renounced the gods of warfare
converted from heroism to consumerism.
It becomes apparent with this very abstract assumption, as in
the appearance of the words ‘post-war periods’ of the title, that
there is a shift in the meaning as compared to its everyday usage.
Indeed, I would like to emphasize and demonstrate the function
of the post-war period for the self-regulation of cultures and, on
what scale the interpretation of the outcome of wars, by those
waging them, becomes a decisive factor for the way in which they
conceive themselves. What must above all be emphasized, is the
extent to which the victors and those defeated by them tend to
attach importance to the fact of their being victorious or being
defeated and, how this influences their languages and ways of
life subsequently. In the case of this observation the somewhat
generalized initial assumptions will disintegrate in more specific
information on local post-war cultures. Then, it will be possible
to focus clearly on German and French phenomena and then to
discuss the so-called relationship existing between them, if such
a thing exists – I am already giving a hint as to what my final the-
sis is, and it is: that, due to strongly disparate post-war processes
characterising these two countries, there can be no relations be-
tween them and that their relationship which is officially set out
in a treaty of friendship is, at best, what could be described as
benevolent mutual disregard or benign estrangement as can be
observed sometimes between two former partners in love – and
why not also then between two former partners in hate.
Among the traits of the post-tragic and post-epic ways of life
which the Europeans have adopted nolens volens, is the wide-
spread sentiment of living in a disassociated reality in which
there are no incidents of any consequence. The only exception is
the sequence of political events between 1989 and 1991, which
in retrospect, could be titled ‘The collapse of Communism’ – yet
even this eventful period which is deeply engraved into the biog-
raphies of those born between 1930 and 1975 was, to a certain
degree, merely a late sequel to the tragic-epic period which we
discarded. This final great event is like a letter, mailed at some
time in history, which then got lost in the mail and finally reached
the addressee at a much later date. One cannot help thinking of
Sergei Krikalev who was at that time, 1990/1991, on the space
station Mir and thus took off into outer space from the Soviet Un-
ion and found himself in the new Russia when he landed again.
As a form of compensation for the post-historic deprivation of
events which can be assessed as one of the all in all positive,
albeit difficult to understand, traits of the new modus vivendi,
contemporary civilisation has produced a number of surrogates
apparent on all levels which close the gulf between the differ-
ences in higher civilization and mass culture. I will mention only
two peculiarities of this tendency which are especially notice-
able, firstly the omnipotence of the principle of staging contem-
porary event culture, and secondly the replacement of events
by commemorative events which has given rise to a flourishing
jubilee industry – a haute cuisine where there are only warmed
up leftovers. In order to avoid any misunderstandings I would
like to add that these tendencies, including excrescences, are a
part of the price which has to be paid for the emancipation from
heroism and tragicism. But we pay it gladly if we consider what
the historical alternatives used to look like.
I will now take the liberty of taking an excursion into the jubi-
lee culture and will refer to a commemorative event which we
on both sides of the Rhine are awaiting. Despite the fact that it
still lies four and a half years away, but inasmuch as one feels a
certain attraction for hazardous themes, and moreover that one
enjoys browsing through the calendar for culture and the arts
it will have become evident how it already casts a shadow, or
at least the shadow of a shadow. If we speak of Franco-German
relations, regardless of the fact that there is nothing new that
can be said on this theme which could not come from audio-
tape, then only because we are already able to think about what
should be said at the approaching event instead of the previous
event – and these things normally remain unsaid and relatively
pressing. The 8th of July of the said year will commemorate the
fiftieth anniversary of the day when Frenchmen and Germans,
represented by their fully justifiably termed statesmen Charles
de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer attended a service of recon-
ciliation in the coronation cathedral in Reims which antici-
pated the signing of a treaty of friendship, the so-called Elysée
Treaty of January 1963, which followed shortly afterwards. The
solemn proceedings, which we will, when the appropriate time
comes, re-enact with a contemporary cast, occurred under the
highest symbolic auspices drawn from the traditions which we
share. The Te Deum of Reims, commemorated in the presence
of the Archbishop François Marty, was carried out under the
dais of longstanding Catholic universalism – which was used,
for albeit a sentimental instant, in order to declare the chapter
of historical excesses between our peoples, the era of infections
and mobilisations and jealous murder and armed mass hysteria
which crossed the Rhine in both directions, to be closed.
One can well imagine what the festivities in Reims, Paris, Ber-
lin and other metropolises will be like around the time of the
8th July 2012. The protocol that the politicians will be required
to carry out step by step will be prescribed to a T, leaving prac-
tically no room for new gestures. Hardly any fantasy is required
to envisage the speeches that we will have to hear given by both
presidents and by other incumbent speakers from the fields of
politics, culture, economics and religion. A little more fantasy
is required in order to answer the question as to whether phi-
losophers and cultural scientists from the two countries con-
cerned should make their own contribution to this anniversary
and should this be the case, what form it should assume. What
I am about to suggest would serve better as a dry run for a
philosophical commentary to the commemoration days which
are approaching. A response as such, should in its final form,
reconstruct the Franco-German rivalry which lasted a thou-
sand years – from the division of the empire by Charlemagne’s
descendants until the disintegration of the Third Reich in the
20th century.
2 Hei ner Mühl mann’s Maxi mal - St ress-
Cooperat i on- Theory
It therefore follows that I can but only touch on a few points of
this ambitious enterprise and then only fleetingly and tenta-
tively. I will firstly confine the space of time of my considera-
tions to the last 200 years, or to put it more precisely the era
following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars and
then narrow this down to the epoch after 1945. The term post-
war period applies eminently to both time spans and that they
should be understood not only chronologically but more in re-
gard to the mental and psychopolitical conditions of the times.
Now that my analysis is under way the time has come where
I must elucidate more clearly what I understand by ‘Post-war
period’. The usage of this term prior to now implies that I see
reasons to not only apply it in an everyday sense but to attach
additional more discriminating meanings to the term. They will
become apparent as soon as we transfer the term into the con-
text of a general theory on the ‘Nature of Cultures’. The phrase
‘Nature of Cultures’ stems from the cultural theorist Heiner
Mühlmann who with his book of the same name in the year
1996 caused a stir firstly in system-theoretical, polemological,
mediological and neurorhetorical circles. Mühlmann’s work is
devoted to the extremely ambitious resolution namely to pen-
etrate the interrelationships between war and culture in the
light of a generalized model of collective formations generated
by stress. This undertaking, which in its descriptive part could
also bear the title The Selfish Culture, is initially illustrated
by examples stemming from ancient European history, starting
with the Greek phalanx and to reveal step by step its ethical im-
plications – ending with the ambitious model of the ‘civilizing
impact’ by cultures through reorientation of post-heroic values
and to an aesthetics of renouncement.
At the centre of the new culture dynamic explanatory model
was a theory of stressory processes as discussed by circles as-
sociated with Bazon Brock’s Wuppertal school on the basis of
the differentiation between eustressory and dysstressory phe-
nomena introduced by Hans Seyle. Mühlmann’s ingenious idea
was to employ stress analysis to explain the possibility of social
cohesion under maximum pressure. He succeeded in arriving
at an extremely original vision in the spirit of eustressory co-
operation of the birth of cultural groups resistant to conflict,
transgenerational in nature and able to learn. This forms Mühl-
mann’s basic theory, which he succinctly calls the MSC-model,
the abbreviation MSC stands for Maximal-Stress-Cooperation
or eustressory fitness in successful groups. Accordingly, cul-
tures are entities whose continuity is safeguarded horizontally
by means of MSC-viability and vertically through memoactive
fitness procedures (vulgo the creation of tradition through ed-
ucation). In everyday terms this says nothing more than that
groups which attach importance to long term success must be
able to master existential crises through performance involving
a high degree of cooperation under maximum pressure (which
normally means proving oneself in war against competing cul-
tures) – at the same time they are also dependent on the ability
to remain vigilant in respect to the results of their conflicts with
other groups and especially to be able to take the consequences
of defeat and to anchor them in the cultural memory. Here one
perceives by means of system theoretical alienation a modern
echo of the Platonian allegory pertaining to weaving which
claims that the arts of state and the arts of kingship consist of
plaiting the heroic andreia and moral self-control sophrosyne
into the fabric of the polity so as to render it resilient.
Politikós, 306a–311c.
After what has been said, it should now be apparent why, within
the scope of such a theory, such significance is attached to the
post-war period of all things for moderating and controlling cul-
tural units. At the end of bellicose conflicts – Mühlmann speaks
of post-stressor phases of relaxation and introspection by the
combatants in the wake of stress – the victors and also the van-
quished inevitably must evaluate their own cultural assump-
tions in the light of recent combat. This means that the victors
generally construe their own positive result as a reinforcing sig-
nal and feel their decorum confirmed, whereas the vanquished,
as long as they do not seek refuge in renouncement, resentment
and the excuses associated with these, feel prompted to ascer-
tain the causes of their failure. This can lead to revolutionary
change in the decorum of one’s own culture i.e. the embodiment
of locally defined norms and ways of life, if and inasmuch that
the losers introspection arrives at the conclusion that the roots
of their defeat not only are to be found in the strength of their
opponent, but is also due to their own weakness and failure to
adapt to the situation and in the most serious cases their own
hubris and distorted picture of the world. Processes of this kind
either give way to reform, thanks to moral, cognitive and techni-
cal rearmament assume form (as is blatantly obvious in the case
of Prussian reforms after the defeat of 1806 in Jena). Or one
makes the decision in the phase of post-stressor contemplation
to team up with the victorious culture in a peaceful alliance of
a higher level – as practised by the Germans after 1945 as they
decided to proclaim “Westintegration” as their the maxim. For
the willingness to convert cultural rules diagnosed as detrimen-
tal into less noxious patterns, I use the term metanoia. In this
context it does not mean Christian repentance as such, but the
embracing of new thought for the betterment of the viability of
one’s civilisation.
3 Europe af t er Napol eon
These intimations will suffice, I hope, to make clear why from
a cultural theoretical point of view an analysis of ‘Franco-Ger-
man relations’, with the interactions of the two cultures whether
this be in their changeful history of wars or also their just as
changeful consolidatory phase in psychopolitical processes
should be of such importance in recent times.
If we now look at the potent time span from 1806 to 1945,
which is for our theme of the greatest priority, we are confronted
by an entire sequence of entangled but yet culturally produc-
tive post-war periods, (although this productivity had primarily
pathological roots). In his recent book René Girard has pro-
vided important stimuli in understanding the mimetic proc-
esses of exchange in the Franco-German duel and its extremist
dynamic – I will return to this later. Suffice it to say I can only
but broadly outline the agenda in such an enterprise as this.
We will content ourselves with the fact that it was Napoleon’s
appearance that marked a fateful turning point in the relations
between the two countries. The abundant consequences of his
interventions were literally incalculable for the course of Ger-
man affairs – and would possibly still be if it had not been
for Germany’s and France’s rapprochement and reconciliation
under the two previously mentioned statesmen which finally
unshackled the two countries from this fatal state of affairs. For
it is Napoleon, from a German standpoint, who was not only the
liquidator of the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation,
not only the man whose military genius defeated Austria and
Russia in the Battle of Austerlitz of 1805, not only the victor of
Jena and Auerstedt in 1806 – in short not only the ‘war god’, as
according to Clausewitz, through whose intensity France, torn
apart by the revolution, succeeded in transforming the transi-
tion from monarchy to republic from an internal to an external
affair and moreover to a global messianic campaign for the dis-
semination of French principles in the form of launching a glo-
bal war of conquest. Through this, his impact became so great,
that he created the epoch making archetype of political genius
which due to his brilliant successes fatally sowed the seeds of
resentment and imitatory rivalry fed by love and hate, and this
in all the European countries he had attacked from the Atlantic
to the Urals.
If one wishes to attach full meaning to the term ‘post-war period’
in regard to the entire European development after 1815 then
there is no avoiding the fact that the chain of reactions triggered
off by French attacks, despite the influence regional diversity,
spanned more than 150 years, was most effective in the anti-
liberal and anti-modern currents in Germany which lasted until
Hitler’s suicide in the spring of 1945, and in Spain where the
blockade against political and cultural modernity continued
until Franco’s death in 1975. It should also be pointed out in
reference to the ‘post-war period’ that Napoleon’s image as role
model or bogeyman in the art, in the philosophy and the politics
of Europe remained virulent for over a century. From a clinical
point of view too, it was not until the second half of the 20th
century that the number of patients who considered themselves
to be Napoleon began to steadily drop at least in asylums. The
way in which the Corsican continued to make his presence felt
on the scene is called to account by André Glucksmann in a
chapter of his political autobiography which he titled not with-
out a touch of bitter humour “A nous deux, Napoléon!”. Here
we learn what price had to be paid but until recently before a
French adolescent was healed of the disease of ‘Napoleonitis’
– including homeopathic treatment employing Maoism.
rians of political ideas have quite rightly pointed out the fact
André Glucksmann: Une rage d’enfant, Plon 2006, p.104–127
that reviewing the Napoleon shock in the European countries
most effected, led to the separation of nationalistic tendencies
from the liberal modernistic currents. This modernising pathol-
ogy typical of large parts of the 19th and early 20th centuries is
due to an immediately transparent but nonetheless irresistible
psychopolitical mechanism which was to play an especially im-
portant role for the Germans in their catastrophe dictated by
the resentments of having been vanquished. Incidentally the
outcome of this first European experiment in nation building
under French leadership leads one to fear that the results for
enterprises along the same lines in our own times will be simi-
larly poor.
4 It al y 1918: Fal si f i cat i ons of t he
resul t s of war, pol i t i cs i n a bi g way
At this point I do not wish to restrict my focus to the post-war
periods of the 20th century. And it is here that attention will be
paid to German and French developments which took place af-
ter 1945 and their possible correlation. In order to illustrate the
conceptual framework of this examination which is becoming
more concrete, it will be essential to introduce an analytical in-
termezzo dealing with certain anomalies of consequence in the
post-war period starting in 1918 so that the processes are co-
herent. We will focus our attention on Italy because it is the key
to understanding further considerations, and it is here that the
concept of ‘war result falsification’ first materializes clearly. In
connection with Mühlmann’s model of post-stressory decorum-
revision we have already mentioned that the rule is that after
battles fought a culture gets the opportunity to re-evaluate and
possibly revise its basic normative attitudes, one could also say
its moral grammar, in the light of the results of the combat. The
benchmarks for this examination are called affirmation in the
case of victory and metanoia in the case of defeat.
Now we should remember that in 1918 the Italians found them-
selves in a position where neither of these two alternatives was
applicable. As is generally known the Italians withdrew from
the alliance of 1882 with Germany and Austria-Hungary (the
so-called Triple Alliance) in August 1914 thus signalling their
having become ambivalently neutral. Sometime later as a result
of the secret treaty of London (which promised Italy in the event
of victory considerable territorial gains) it defected to the Al-
lied camp by declaring war on Austria-Hungary at the end of
May 1915. But despite many heroic sacrifices victory was not
to be for the Italians. Only thanks to massive allied assistance
was it possible that Italy, although it was completely finished
militarily and on the verge of political collapse (especially after
the disastrous defeat in the 12th Battle of the Isonzo near Tol-
mein in October 1917), found itself on the winning side at the
end of the war.
The ambiguity of this position accounts for the troubles of post-
war history in Italy. One spoke of vittoria mutilata when one
should have termed it a defeat which had turned into a coun-
terfeit victory. This explains why Italy was only in a position
to achieve a semi-metanoia. The first signs of this manifested
themselves in the initial successes of the Socialists in 1919 and
1920 in which a newly emerged ultra-nationalist party called
for an immediate heroic affirmation and shortly afterwards es-
tablished itself along these lines – Mussolini winning nothing
less than 66% of the votes in the elections in January 1924.
Out of this situation, which fed the most vehement forms of dis-
clamatory affirmation, emerged the movement of pure activism,
mobilization for its own sake, which went down in history under
the name of Fascism. Among the countless enquiries devoted to
this subject there is hardly one which befittingly sheds light on
the basic fact that primary Fascism was the result of a falsification
of the actual outcome of the war in which the real or virtual loser
presented himself as victor nevertheless, or better still as hyper-
victor. It wished to indulge in the illusion that it could avoid the
work involved in reviewing its cultural decorum and substitute
it by reinforcing the pattern which had led to failure. In general
terms this merely proves that of all people, it was those who had
most reason for a metanoic turnaround contrary to the rules that
had applied up till that time, who often most furiously plunged
into the affirmation of values which had all but propelled them
into total disaster. There is no need to demonstrate in detail that
this also applied to the extreme German rightwing of the Weimar
Republic. In Germany the falsification of the results of the war
had begun shortly after November 1918 with the infamous ‘stab
in the back’ of the supposedly undefeated army and as of 1933
displayed the well-known consequences.
In the light of these considerations, Fascism in its original form
appears not only as the much discussed transfer of modern war-
fare to the modus operandi of the entire culture and eo ipso as
the neutralization of the difference between war and peace un-
der the prefix of permanent mobilization, but moreover its psy-
chopolitical form betrays its wilful falsification of the outcome
of war and rejection of metanoia. Its distinguishing marks are
the triumphalism of the loser and the forced affirmation of the
heroistic code by those, who in view of their recently acquired
experience, would have been better advised to radically review
their relationship to the set of rules of the heroic life.
5 France 1945: The doubl e f al si f i cat i on
At this point of my discussion I can leave the stage of preview-
ing and explication of theoretical premises and turn to the sub-
ject matter proper, the comparative examination of the Franco-
German post-war periods as of 1945. What immediately strikes
us is the similarity of the French position after 1945 with the
Italian position of 1918. Just as the Allies erected a last front
for the Italians as of November 1917 who were then able to stay
the course until the German surrender, so did the Allies bear
the brunt of the war for the French until the unforgettable day
of libération in August 1944 on which de Gaulle, at the head
of his own improvised forces, returned to Paris. The decisive
difference lies in the fact that the defeat of the French in 1940
turned out to be much more unequivocal than that of Italy in
1917 in that the French ranks (who were absent only in Yalta)
were much more conspicuous under the allied powers than the
Italians at the end of the 1st World War. It is well known that
the latter were only conceded a subordinate role in the peace
treaties of 1919. Above all one is astonished at the analogy
between the Italian and the French dilemmas as soon as they
find their basis in the above-mentioned model of post-stress
self-evaluation. In both cases we can see that after being given
victory there is an oscillating between metanoethical and af-
firmative tendencies, an oscillation which finally is neutralized
in order to initiate a more or less comprehensive falsification of
the results of the war.
All the same one can say that the French, while reviewing the
shadows of stress after 1945 despite all tendencies to reverse
the facts, against all the odds, were lucky, because in the end
their form of national reconstruction ‘only’ led to Gaullism. The
trivial phrase “de Gaulle was not Mussolini” assumes formi-
dable meaning in this context. It marks, despite all the simi-
larities, the considerable gap between the post-war reactions of
these peoples. While the Italians with their near defeat made
things much worse by taking flight by marching forwards, the
French, after the indecisive and ambivalent interlude of the
Fourth Republic, chose the lesser of two evils, the Gaullistic
therapy. Furthermore the French interpretation of the defeat of
1940 which miraculously led to victory in 1945 was deeply di-
vided right from the beginning. Running parallel to the Gaullist
evasion in the national affirmation the French left-wing devel-
oped a second front of falsification according to which the ‘bet-
ter’ France or the France of the résistance, we may now, evoke
German analogies, was supposed to have won the war on the
side of Stalin and the Red Army.
Only within the framework of such a theory of the post war pe-
riod is it possible to grasp that the much cited division of the
overpolarized political camps, that hermeneutic gallic war be-
tween the French post-war right-wing and the French post-war
left-wing, was in reality the conflict between two incompatible
strategies the purpose of which in both cases was to falsify the
results of the war.
At this point it is not necessary to expound in detail how the
Gaullist departure into neo-grandeur took place. Nor does a
mention have to be made of the beginnings of an authentic
French metanoia which miscarried during the Fourth Republic
mainly due the humiliations the nation suffered in the conflicts
in Indochina and North Africa at time of decolonialization. It
will have to suffice to point out the main symptom of the French
reaction: As de Gaulle returned a second time as a knight in
shining armour to the pinnacle of power he dictated the con-
stitution of the Fifth Republic which is still valid today and
whose strong presidential fixation was to prove a problem for
the country itself and for the rest of Europe. The elevation of
the presidency only makes sense if one suspects the Elysée of
wanting to be a sort of European White House, or to use exam-
ples closer to home, something somewhere between Versailles
and Bayreuth. The fantasy had been prevalent in the Elysée
Palace for some decades as Parisian students suddenly got it
into their heads that their fantasy should replace the prevalent
one in a turbulent month of May. The President’s command of
France’s newly acquired nuclear weaponry (the Force de dis-
suasion nucléaire fully operational since 1964) utterly embod-
ies the form of expression which has come to a head of a post-
stressor strategy of affirmation, or to use clinical terminology a
contraphobic compensation.
De Gaulle never wanted to be a Gaullist and it would be unjust
to simply deny that the General’s work had certain metanoethi-
cal qualities – the scene in Reims mentioned at the beginning
alone speaks against a one-sided affirmationistic interpreta-
tion. Moreover the fact that terms such as détente, entente and
coopération increasingly appeared in his vocabulary empha-
sized like leitmotivs, reveal how he was trying to show the con-
servative elements in France the way to reviewing their colo-
nial, imperial and heroistic legacy. One of his greatest achieve-
ments will always be his reconciling of the old right-wing with
modern republicanism.
The more interesting as far as the history of ideas are con-
cerned, and in terms of ideology much more alluring form of
falsification of results of war took place however on a different
side of the inner French front. While the Gaullist departure into
semi-imperial affirmation succeeded in getting by with stand-
ard emotions and basic processes of accentuation of a national
identity, i.e. patriotic enlargement of the self and modernising
their weaponry, an ideological and psychopolitical transforma-
tion occurred in the left wing which was to have unforeseeable
consequences. It was here that as of 1944 a singular form of
pseudo-metanoethical literature developed the critical reflec-
tion of which has still hardly begun.
It simultaneously trig-
gered off a large importation of German philosophers such as
Hegel and Heidegger or Marx, Nietzsche and Carl Schmitt.
This occurred as if to illustrate the observation put forth by cul-
tural theoreticians that romanticism flourishes if, in the realm
of ideas, a compensation for political defeat is on the agenda.
The main approach of the Left in falsifying war results was not,
as was the case of the Right in escaping into the national tradi-
tion of greatness, but an escape into socialist super-greatness.
This naturally had the grave error that its representative on
the world stage in that critical time bore the name of Stalin.
Strangely enough this detail hardly seemed to trouble anybody
as long as the French left-wing, thanks to this manoeuvre, not
only could save its injured conscience but also could construe
a victory of its own – simply as if it were possible to reattribute
the successes of the Red Army to the left-wing resistance. And
by means of this, one was free to pseudo-metanoethically deal
with the failure of the Third Republic, with the infamy of col-
laboration and French colonialism not to mention the internal
contradictions of Gaullist reconstruction without ever having
to come down from the victor’s high horse. As a result a rhe-
torical apparatus for the articulation of triumphal self-hate and
hypermoralistic aggression against national and bourgeois tra-
ditions came into being which lent itself well for use at home
and abroad.
In the second nucleus of victory falsification a culturally he-
genomous scene speedily consolidated and raised the banner
Cf. Tony Judt: Past Imperfect. French Intellectuals 1944–1956, Berkeley Los Ange-
les Oxford 1992
of militantism thus managing to make the word ‘commitment’
a synonym for French intellectualism throughout the world.
By these means every form of collaboration was to be severely
criticized in future including collaboration with the elemen-
tary facts. This battling church of belated resistance grasped
how to promote itself for the general criticism of the bourgeois
society and neo-capitalistic age by blending Marxism, semiol-
ogy and psychoanalysis into a suggestive amalgam. The export
successes of French theoretical literature which continued on
into the 90’s relied above all on their polemical utility value
for analogous critical subcultures of the countries importing it,
notably Italy and Germany. In the USA it was made especially
welcome as the young intelligentsia of the country were, after
the debacle in Vietnam, suddenly willing to learn a foreign lan-
guage in order to radically and critically talk about their own
culture. Even today the remains of this product under the cat-
egories of French Theory or Critical Theory can be acquired in
bookshops on American campuses.
In these shelves, and only in these shelves by the way, has
the only phenomenon occurred which perhaps deserves to be
termed a Franco-German relationship – that is the convergence
of all those discursive machines purporting to explain every-
thing, which were to be found on both sides of the Rhine in sug-
gestive elaboration and with which young people were taught
until recently to see through and to condemn the existing con-
ditions as if they themselves did not have a part in them. Since
however, the analogous discourse in German criticism of itself
and the world after 1945 arose in an entirely different context
and operated in entirely different climate than the French one,
then even this seemingly close affinity must be considered to
be a misunderstanding.
What distinguishes French from German criticism is their en-
tirely different types of cultural integration and consequently
their diametrically opposed tendency as to policies of the truth.
While German criticism speaks to a population which, de-
spite their reluctance, was not able to deny being guilty of the
charges, French criticism was directed at a society acquitted,
and in need of elucidation as to their drôle de libération. This
may well be the reason why the intellectual Germany is the
only place in the world where an old-fashioned correspondence
theory of truth still dominates. Here defeat is called defeat (and
a crime a crime) – and the remaining words are also gauged to
this semantic primal scale. It is only here that the religion of the
objective referee holds sway. The intellectual France prefers
the politically more elegant and rhetorically more attractive po-
sition where words and things belong to separate systems.
6 Germany 1945: Met anoi a
It goes without saying that the German population had plenty
work to do after 1945 which was generally termed the ‘Wied-
eraufbau’ (rebuilding the nation). The priorities for rebuilding
the nation were something they had in common with their de-
feated and yet liberated French neighbours even though this
assumed an entirely different manner. In its German connota-
tion the word of course particularly signifies the material aspect
of dealing with the damage done by the war which was evident
enough after the bombardment by allied forces. Furthermore,
it signified the sum of the efforts which the Germans subjected
themselves to in order to recover morally and culturally. Cer-
tainly Adenauer was not de Gaulle – yet another trivial sentence
with formidable implifications. The name of the first German
chancellor stands for national reconstruction with very little in
common with the affirmative arts of Gaullism. He symbolizes
the pragmatic and everyday side of the metanoethical work in
Germany. In the course of its unwavering progress the Wied-
eraufbau combined the reconstruction of the towns and cities
with a political and moral reorientation. The German economic
boom as it was subsequently named, acted as an economic con-
firmation of the course that had been taken to bring about the
In order to plot the graph showing the progress of this self-
reconstruction it will suffice to recall the admission of guilt by
all German Protestant Christians in Stuttgart on 19th October
1945 which can be legitimately termed the beginning of spir-
itual history in what was to become the Federal Republic of
Germany. Further points along the curve mark, apart from the
treaty of reparation with Israel in 1952, were the scene of 12th
July in 1962 in Reims and Willy Brandt kneeling at the memo-
rial in the Warsaw ghetto on 7th December 1970. The inaugu-
ration of Berlin’s memorial to the Jews killed in Europe, the
subject of many years of discussion, on 10th May 2005 forms a
contemporary cornerstone of this evolution.
From the point of view of the theory of post-stressor decorum
reviews in post-war periods it can be easily seen that the above-
mentioned events all lie on the same line. They may all be at-
tributed to the same process which at no time was uncompli-
cated, but at no time threatened by a reversal of the metanoeth-
ical tranformation process of the vanquished German people.
Seen from today’s standpoint one may justifiably claim that it
formed the most reliable of constants in the history of ideas
and mentality of Europeans after 1945. Only if we look at the
process as a whole can we comprehend how it was possible for
Germany to rearm itself without this involving a general remili-
tarisation of politics, and how social and cultural rebuilding
could occur without any connection worth mentioning to nos-
talgia for antidemocratic traditions, and how there was a boost-
ing of efficiency nationwide without re-germanification, and a
West German economic boom without submitting to imperialist
temptations, and a national recovery without opinionatedness.
Nobody will deny that political and cultural life in Germany
did not have to face some hard tests during this period. In the
notorious ‘bleak period’ (die bleierne Zeit), the suffocating at-
mosphere of which those who experienced it recall with the
greatest uneasiness, the silence reigned long concerning what
had happened. As the silence was finally broken the pendu-
lum suddenly veered in the other direction. Therefore hybrid
forms of hate also flourished against their own kind. Here also,
outraged later generations exploited their interest in achieving
The fifteen-year debate is well-documented in the book Der Denkmalstreit – das
Denkmal? Die Debatte um das ‚Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden in Europa’ (Ute
Heimrod, Günter Schlusche, Horst Seferens (eds.), Philo Verlagsgesellschaft, Dres-
den 1999.
rapid superiority over the older generations with their complex
life stories, and here also as on the other side of the Rhine ap-
peared pseudopolitical ‘Maitre Penseur’ to boot, who treated
the distinction between a totalitarian state of the past and a
democratic state of the present like something of negligible
significance – so that one had the impression of seeing reve-
nants from the NS period everywhere when it would have been
enough to observe unpractised democrats learning their roles.
Here too there were as was the case in France, a heinous repu-
diatory hardening on the right-wing and self-righteous pseudo-
metanoethical excesses on the left-wing. One almost antici-
pated a restaging of left-wing fascism which for the purposes
of sidetracking called itself anti-fascism and just like its role
model advocated the use of weapons – which is why in the style
of Lenin it claimed the right to kill self-proclaimed enemies of
the people for the better good. Nevertheless, these eruptions
were not able to bring the German post-war process decisively
off its basic course. It remained unperturbedly orientated to its
task and that was to re-evaluate and review the German deco-
rum handed down complete with its gloomily romantic, hero-
istic and resentful hereditary burden in the light of the results
of the war and, moreover in the light of the catastrophe in which
they had been complicit.
7 France 2007: Imperi al t empt at i on and
t he i mpl osi on of t he l ef t - wi ng
In front of the backdrop of these observations on French and
German post-war periods and the differences which have thus
come to light during the cultural evaluation and integration of
results of war, I would like to now pursue the question as if one
had to give a speech based on the cultural political aspects
of both countries. To begin with the case of France, one thing
would be appear to be clear especially in the light of 2007,
and that is that the Gallic war for the political and ideological
appropriation of the Libération has been decided in the mean-
time. The result lies on the borderline of average psychopoliti-
cal plausibilities. With increasing remoteness from the critical
events a post-Gaullist moderate left wing has established itself
on the broadest of fronts, which no one wishes to call middle-
class simply because nobody is really certain what the word
‘middle-class’ means under today’s conditions. The unusually
compact centre-right currents in France at present cater for the
everyday political Narcissm as a matter of routine and at a safe
distance from the dramatic tension of the first post-war period.
It is this Narcissm which supplies the material from which pa-
triotism is created in non-neurotic peoples.
The rest of Europe including Germany could live with that if it
were not for the fact that France’s Gaullist structural heritage
has developed a life of its own which is by no means harm-
less. This ranges from the scantily veiled unilateralism of the
French nuclear doctrine, to the anti-European tendencies of
France’s sovereignism and on to the sub-imperialistic antics
of the French army in Africa and overseas.
However the most
Which will be compensated for by President Sarkozy’s announcement of France’s
return to NATO
dubious is the hysterogenous potential growing out of the liai-
son between presidentialism and media populism, a potential
with which de Gaulle as a political Nietzschean and illusionist
reverted to with great virtuosity in serving the whole. Even with
its worn down profile the genetic material of Gaullism poses a
volatile risk for Europe. And members of the European Union
will be well advised to observe closely the Sarkozy experiment
which the French chose in May 2007. After the new president
was forced to realize that a Cecilia Ciganer cannot be a sec-
ond Jacky Kennedy the next lesson for him would be, despite
suggestions to the contrary, that there is definitely no room in
Europe for a White House. If he really wants to show generosity
of spirit and make a big impact by remodelling France in a con-
temporary manner he could, by introducing the much overdue
post-Gaullist constitution and thus becoming the first man of
the sixth republic to make the headlines.
The clear outcome of the neo-gallic war over the interpretation
of Libération contains a historically ideological and remarkable
characteristic. Numerous observers have recently unanimously
come to the conclusion that the previously high-profile French
left-wing has after a prolonged weak phase, beginning in Mit-
térand’s last years if not earlier, sunk into oblivion within a
very short time. This process which was to recently become
apparent by the number of ballot boxes, is accompanied by an
intellectual erosion which beggars all description. Even the in-
terpretation of the above by those concerned leaves a lot to be
desired, (there has been for some time talk of the demise of la
Grande Nation as if France had happened to collide with an
iceberg one cold night) but this heavy-handedness comes as no
surprise in view of its record. All the same the new theoretical
nonentity of the left camp in France and its far-reaching practi-
cal disintegration represents a serious brainteaser for histori-
ans of mentality and ideas.
With reference to what was mentioned above we now have a
plausible explanation why the implosion of the left-wing in
France should not be entirely attributed to local appropriation
of the neo-capitalist and postpolitical Zeitgeist which has been
impressing every Western nation for well over twenty years. The
question with this phenomenon has much more to do with the
final collapse of the pseudo-metanoethical system with which
the French left-wing understood how to create falsified victo-
ries and phantomatic sovereignty in the troubled area of post-
war affects and post-war discourse. They continued to defend
these achievements for decades without taking contexts into
account – well over the best-before-date for illusions. In the
meantime however, they too have been overtaken by the change
in affairs. The disruption of French discoursal culture becomes
apparent simply by the fact that the country’s left-wing has for
many years failed to produce a book of any merit not to men-
tion new perspectives. What was left was only the romantic po-
lemical stance which allows it adepts to swear by militancy and
deviation as in the good old days. The intellectual decomposi-
tion has been most evident during recent years in the media
driven witchhunts sweeping the nation against alleged converts
or traitors of the progressive cause who one tried to sacrifice to
public opinion after pseudo-moralistic propaganda trials on the
Place de Grève. For the external observer these attacks were
against the new reactionaries as they are derisively called or
more recently the conservateurs, unmistakable evidence that
the French left-wing having stooped to resorting to helpless and
hysterical progressivism has been standing in the rain for a long
time and whose day is only brightened by the occasional flash
in the pan. The analogy to the German phenomena of scandal
of the last fifteen years is obvious – for here in Germany too, the
dominant leftist liberal feuilleton was only able to compensate
for its ever increasing disassociation from the workings of the
world by getting overexcited and moralising. In this connection
the number of votes by the Left in the referendum against the
European Constitution was symptomatic. Those who appreci-
ated and loved la belle France with its savoir vivre and generos-
ity were well advised, in the view of the predominantly pite-
ous niveau of the ‘nonistic’ propaganda at the time, to spread a
cloak of silence over these events.
All the same it would be unjust to assess the French left-wing’s
attempts to re-evaluate national decorum as being totally nega-
tive. It can above all, thanks to its more moderate spokesmen,
produce a number of authentic metanoethical achievements,
which will have enduring significance, even if they have never
managed to secure hegemonic status trapped as they are be-
tween rivalling systems of successful, much too successful,
falsification of the results of war. In this context Jean Paul Sar-
tre’s bitter defeat of Albert Camus in the 50’s is of special sig-
nificance. It betrays the precarious status of the energies which
were aimed at a genuine intellectual prevention of failed ideo-
logical traditions. Voices like those of Camus sought to enforce
a theory of human moderation and the symbolic relativity of
existence, while all around them neo-revolutionary symbol-
ism and extremist surrealism were running wild. With all their
might the authors of this radical tendency attempted to main-
tain faith in life, above all the defeat of 1940 had proved that
the world was in urgent need of French ideas particularly after
they had taken an invigorating Stalinist or Maoist bath.
In the long run it has become more than clear that it was Camus
who had the right answers to the fundamental questions back in
the late 40’s. He was the one who, after the excesses of violence
of the first half of the century, incorruptibly reminded us to keep
our feet on the ground and it was he who raised the banner of
the nonnegotiable obligation to civilizing reflection. “Each tells
the other he is not God; this is the end of romanticism.” – with
this sentence his L’homme révolté of 1951, much maligned and
ridiculed by commentators of the left-wing, ends, thereby artic-
ulating an axiom which outshone all other metanoethical work.
It was Camus who found the words of reconciliation for all of
Europe after the war as he wrote, “Today the calamity is we
all share the same mother country”. As of 1945, although at a
safe distance certainly, Sartre was playing with the fire of armed
revolt – from his fatal foreword to Franz Fanon’s The Wretched
of this Earth (1961) an anti-colonial manifesto of violence to his
foolhardy visit to Stammheim, where to his disappointment he
encountered a moron by the name of Baader who was not worthy
of a visit of such a great mind. Whether this showed a dubious
appetite for understatement or not, Sartre made himself avail-
able as a figurehead for French pseudometanoia until the last.
I need hardly emphasize that the names of Camus and Sartre
in the context of these observations have a purely typological
function and imply no judgement as to their literary and philo-
sophical ranking – in the case of both, we raise our eyes to
heights which hardly any contemporary author can climb. With
the former I associate tendencies which stand for the return
of a self-critically level-headed, post-imperial, post-ideological
France at the centre of Europe. With the latter however we find
a still virulent tendency to neurotic exceptionalism and mes-
sianic export of aggression.
If I am not entirely mistaken I will conclude by commenting
that the Camusian position has gained importance in recent
years. The few living authors who, unnoticed by the general
intellectual mediocritisation of France, have succeeded in join-
ing the ranks of the country’s glorious era, can be characterized
as being Camusians from the typological standpoint. The politi-
cal moralists, also called the Nouveaux Philosophes, by nature
stood typologically closer to the Camus-pole than to the Sartre-
pole. This also applies to Bernard-Henri Lévy who, with his
hastily written pamphlet Idéologie française of 1981, produced
a sensitive if not, due to its polemic exaggeration, justifiably
controversial contribution to French metanoethical literature.
In the light of this analysis he now appears as a Camusian who
has mistaken himself for a Sartrian.
9 Happy di sassoci at i on: Pol emol ogi cal
prospect s wi t h René Gi rard
In conclusion I would like to go into the question as to what
sense the expression “Franco-German relations” has from the
standpoint of what has been considered here. It will presuma-
bly come as no surprise if the word “relations” acquires a some-
what ironic aspect here. Of course I have no intention of belit-
tling the multifaceted network of Franco-German interactions
which came into being as a result of the Elysée treaty – from the
transformation of state visits into routine consultations, to the
regular meetings of foreign and defence ministers, from joint
economic boards to the production of the Airbus. The exchange
of students is also an excellent idea as well as bilingual edu-
cation wherever it is practised. However, I would at this point
like to refrain from dealing with these, in themselves valuable
forms of organized contact, leaving them to those in charge and
relying on these professionals of such encounters to keep these
relations functioning irrespective of any philosophical and cul-
tural theoretical commentary.
I would like to conclude by dealing with the question as to the
inner distance between both countries after the last war. I be-
lieve I have offered arguments for that and why this is much
greater than can be expressed by the customary speeches of
friendship and cooperation. The reasons for this can be found
in both countries’ poststressor evaluations of the results of the
war which have been briefly mentioned here. After 1945, the
French and the Germans in cultural and psychopolitical terms
went each their separate ways while at the same time on the
level of official political relations they formed a new mutually
beneficial friendship. I contend that these two aspects, the
drifting apart and the friendship, signify one and the same.
This hypothesis requires further explanation. Let us return
again to, from the Franco-German perspective, the most mov-
ing scene of the second half of the 20th century, de Gaulle and
Adenauer’s meeting under the arches of Reims Cathedral. What
these two old men in fact negotiated was nothing other than the
healing disentanglement of the two nations. It was the disinte-
gration of something fatal, something that had been more than
just a relationship going back at least as far as the era of the
Napoleonic Wars whereby the Germans and the French had,
culturally and politically, become caught up in an endless cycle
of mimicry, imitation, one-upmanship and projective empathy
with each other. This began acutely with the French importing
German romanticism with Germaine de Staël’s influential book
De l’Allemagne of 1813 and the Prussians importing the Napo-
leonic art of war through Clausewitz’ book Vom Kriege (post-
humus 1832-1834). In this sense one could say that it was in
Reims that the two nations officially parted company and what
de Gaulle and Adenauer pledged each other was an everlast-
ing non-attachment and in some ways even a permanent state
of not understanding each other, including refraining from any
new attempts in this direction. The good relations which since
then have been enjoyed between Germany and France rest on
the solid foundations of the non-attachment which was finally
achieved – diplomatically described as friendship between the
two nations.
On the 8th July 2012 we will be commemorating the fiftieth
anniversary of Franco-German reconciliation – in doing so we
should remain aware of the fact that this is the date when our sa-
lubrious estrangement from each other, our growing disinterest
for each other, our serene coexistence, which has remained for
the large part unperturbed by any detailed knowledge, assumed
definite shape.
It was then, in the talks between the two great
elders that the deadly clinch was released which had caught
both nations in its spell in a political form of animal magnetism
ever since the confrontation at Valmy in September 1792. The
cannonade of Valmy not only signified as is well known the mo-
ment of neutrality as of which the French Revolution switched
from the defensive to the offensive but also the restrained fore-
play to the age of the masses which began with the French in-
vention of general mobilization. This led in a straight line to the
synchronized excitation of an entire people through national
panic, national enthusiasm and national outrage against the
common enemy. The French were the firstborn of the new mass
dynamic and taught Europe a lesson with after-effects lasting
150 years by overrunning her. Yet Prussia hit back at Leip-
zig and Waterloo and since that time the spark of reciprocal
hypnosis had been jumping to and fro in a dance which René
Girard in his recently published work Achever Clausewitz has
described as the unification of modèle and repoussoir.
For me there is no doubt that the above-mentioned book, which
by attempting to unveil the mystery of a pathogenic mutual fas-
cination, is the first to appear for a long time giving new im-
pulses about reconsidering France and Germany. It shows very
impressively how Clausewitz enviously emulated Napoleon
and, how the highly gifted Prussian officer wished to repeat the
unprecedented successes of revolutionary French bellicism for
the German side. It suggestively explains how the Napoleonisa-
tion of the cultures of conflict in Europe took place via a detour
through the book Vom Kriege, and especially the copious use of
contingents of young volunteers and later in conscripted armies
– a trail leading almost in a straight line from Jena to Verdun.
Crosscheck: It is where there is more knowledge that the irritation significantly in-
creases. Then the maligne fascination continues to act anti-cyclically by means of
evoking seemingly indispensable images of an enemy.
It was in Reims that de Gaulle and Adenauer de-Napoleonized
their nations and thus paved the way for a defascinated neigh-
One is tempted by Girard’s stimulating insights to go one step
further. It would indeed not be difficult to demonstrate how
the stress field of our two countries was not only structured by
Napoleonic magnetism and its Prussian-Austrian mirror im-
ages but also, if not more so, by the stress which the drama
called the French Revolution caused on this side of the Rhine.
Apart from the imitatio Napoleonis it was above all the imita-
tio revolutionis which took effect affectively dynamically and
ideologically not only in Germany but beyond it on a gigantic
and precarious scale. Seen through eyes of studies in mimicry
it is finally possible to see Karl Marx for what he really was,
namely the central consolidation point of German ambitions
provoked by the French. In him both imitations coincide, the
commander on horseback embodying the soul of the world and
the triumphantly aggressive people of the revolution whose role
it was to be filled by the mobilized Proleteriat of the world after
the intervention of German intellectualism. Marx’s entire work
confirms the thesis proposed by Heinrich Heine that wherever
Germans meddled in French affairs these became one degree
more universal, acrimonious and disastrous. When finally the
double fascination of the Russians through the dual partners of
Germany and France intervened and when Germany recipro-
cated this fascination for the unleashing of violence of October
1917 felt throughout the world, then the facts of the case are
fulfilled which Girard calls in the case of Clausewitz la montée
aux extrêmes ‘striving for extremes’.
If one imagines the Girardian stimuli beyond being a global
dramaturgy of mimetic frictions then we begin to understand
why it is not possible to simply understand Franco-German ‘re-
lations’ in merely bipolar terms. In truth our relaxed and defas-
cinated bipolar ‘rapport’ is for its part a segment of a domain
of some complexity which contains several three-way relation-
ships full of tension. Here the energies of fascination, still
strong, flow charged with attraction and repugnance. Among
these is especially a triad with a French, a German and a Jew-
ish pole as well as a triad with the US-Americans replacing
the third in the above-mentioned constellation. In these triads
‘relations’ actually occur in the real sense of the word, but to
describe them here and to fathom their potential for collision
is beyond the scope of this work. Let us at least note the bat-
tle rancorously fought between French and American spheres
which could be described as the jealous duel of two sinking
forms of political messianism.
If there is anything to be questioned about René Girard’s mas-
terstroke it is the lack of dimensions of theoretical media in his
work. This will come as somewhat of a surprise since the huge
affective and military mobilisation between the duelling nations,
of which the author quite rightly notes: la mobilisation générale
est la pure folie,
could be given more than adequate coverage
by the mass media – and these media, as a vehicle of the danger-
ous mimesis, are today with the addition of electronic technology
even more effective than before. More than ever, they present
themselves as channels to stimulate the madness, whether it be
virtual or real, and only in them can that phantasmal event take
place which is called ‘international terrorism’. Anybody wishing
get to the bottom of extremism gone global cannot avoid combin-
ing the mimetological analysis with the mediological. By this I
mean, in order to study Girard seriously, and that will prove to be
indispensable, one will also have to reread Karl Kraus (a critic
René Girard: Achever Clausewitz, Paris 2007, p. 242: „Die allgemeine Mobil-
machung ist der pure Wahnsinn.“
of a semi-totalitarian and degenerate press) and to lend our ears
to Hermann Broch (the author of Massenwahntheorie). And with-
out further ado we go to Marshall McLuhan and reconsider his
elegant theoretical media deductions on nationalism. Then we
begin to understand why the global village has not only not found
peace, but also why it could not help becoming the all encom-
passing arena for anger and envy that it has become.
Furthermore René Girard emphasizes that the people who
shaped the Franco-German reconciliation were sons of the
Catholic church, Adenauer no less than de Gaulle and Schu-
mann. We will note this hint. All the same I find I cannot adopt
Girard’s convictions as my own, that Europe and the world can
only be helped by means of a general conversion to Christian
truths which are at the same time the truths of mimetology. The
pragmatic way into a benevolent and non-violent coexistence as
I have already suggested leads if anything to mutual disinterest
and defascination without us misinterpreting the value of the
symbolic reconciliatory highlights. Only after detachment from
one another has occurred can the good and useful things, which
we describe with such contemporary cardinal words such as
cooperation and integration, start to gain momentum.
If Germans and Europeans have any advice for the rest of the
world, especially for those contemporary arenas of conflict where
the duellists are hot with fascination for each other, such as India
and Pakistan, Israel and its neighbours, the Islamists and the Oc-
cidentalists and possibly also the USA and China – then it might
well sound like this. Do it the same way that we did, don’t be too
interested in each other! And be careful how you choose your
foreign correspondents for the newspapers, make sure that those
reporting from neighbouring countries are sure to bore their read-
ers to death! Only in this way can those happily separated from
one another live in friendship and peace with each other.
About t he Aut hor
Pet er Sl ot er di j k:
1947: Born in Karlsruhe
1968-74: Studied philosophy, history and German language
and literature in Munich.
1975: Postdoctoral studies on the philosophy and history of
modern autobiographical literature in Hamburg
Since 1980 freelance writer. Publication of numerous works
concerning questions on temporal diagnostics, cultural and re-
ligious philosophy, artistic theory and psychology
Since 1992 Professor of Philosophy and Media Theory at the
Karlsruhe University for Arts and Design
Since 1993: Director of the Institute for Cultural Philosophy at
the Academy of Visual Arts in Vienna
Since 2001: Principal of the Karlsruhe University for Arts and
Since Januar 2002: Chief coordinator of the TV programme
(ZDF) “Im Glashaus – Das Philosophische Quartett”, with Rü-
diger Safranski
1993: Ernst-Robert-Curtius-Prize for essay writing
2000: Friedrich Märker- Prize for essay writing
2001: Christian-Kellerer-Prize for the future of philosophical
2005: Sigmund-Freud-Prize for scientific prose
2006: “Commandeur de l´Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” of the
Repulic of France
2008: CICERO-Prize for outstanding rhetoric
Guest lectureships at Bard College, New York, at Collège Inter-
national de Philosophie, Paris and at the ETH “Eidgenössische
Technische Hochschule”, Zurich

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