Mon Aug 26th, 2013 at 08:20:56 AM EST
Watching Arte news last night, I was stunned by a German person offering a reading of Goethe's Faust. The reading was that Goethe, before Marx, showed capitalism stuck at a dead end produced by its own contradictions. Mephistopheles came along with a solution, paper money, and of course everything collapsed.
Nothing stunning there, you will say. We have already discussed Goethe's paper-money phobia on ET. But there was more. The person claimed that the "German government and the ECB" were currently practising the Devil's policy by "overheating the banknote printing press". "Creating money without creating value leads to a crash".
The notion that the German government was not sufficiently hawkish on monetary policy and was printing banknotes as if Hell did not exist came to me all the same as a surprise.
But here's why I was really knocked back: the German person was vice-chair of Die Linke and "close friend" of Oskar Lafontaine, Sahra Wagenknecht, a highly intelligent and highly-educated woman. Was she flying a kite to see if Merkel could be tarred with the lax monetary policy brush? It didn't seem like that to me: Wagenknecht appeared enthusiastic about Faust and the lessons we should draw from it, and she also looked appallingly sincere. And that kind of kite would call for Bild support rather than Arte news.
Now, I was listening to a French voice-over, and I'm roughly translating that. The French voice-over is here (11'50" in). My understanding of spoken German is far from good enough to be sure, but it seemed to me that she was saying approximately what the French version said. The German newscast is here (also at 11'50" in). UPDATE: if the newscast is no longer available, the sequence in German is here (h/t Katrin).
French-speakers try the French version, and, above all, German-speakers try the German one, and see if what I understood is in fact what Wagenknecht said.