Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Fourth Reich Rising" . . . Again

In the early 1990s, a slew of technothrillers depicted Germany on the march again, like Larry Bond's Cauldron (1993), in which a Franco-German assault on Eastern Europe starts a third world war, and Harold Coyle's The Ten Thousand (1994), in which renewed German military ambitions set American troops in the country on a repeat of Xenophon's Anabasis. This was in part an attempt to find a substitute for the Soviet Union in the aftermath of the Cold War, but also a response (however exaggerated) to the geopolitical circumstances of the time: the combination of Soviet collapse, American declinism and German reunification; the judgment widely passed on Germany (along with Japan) as a model economy for the 1990s; and the expectations that free trade would be replaced by neo-mercantilist competition among economic blocs, with Germany at the heart of what seemed potentially the most formidable of those blocs, the emergent European Union.

Of course, the idea became less popular with time as the pendulum swung back from American pessimism to American exceptionalism, while the pundits shifted from viewing Germany as one country doing just about everything right to seeing it as a poster child for "Eurosclerosis" – and globalization seemed to have put paid to neomercantilism as a source of war among the industrialized powers. However, the dialogue has taken yet another hundred and eighty degree turn in recent years, with some observers not only more appreciative of Germany's manufacturing strength, but even uttering dark warnings about a new German empire – as Frederick Forsyth recently did.

Over at my other blog, I discuss the rhetoric, and the actual – quite different - facts of the situation. (Naturally, they are not what the overheated speculations claim.)

Alan Moore on Before Watchmen
New and Noteworthy (The Electronic Frontier, Jonathan McCalmont, Strange Horizons)
A History of the Spy Story, Part II: The Life of a Genre
A History of the Spy Story, Part I: The Birth of a Genre

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