Wednesday, March 01, 2006

“Revolutions can’t happen in Germany. You’d have to step on the lawn.” – JV Stalin

Private Eye sees fit to publish a little snippet from the Australian about an IT company in Leipzig that solved its morale problems by simply ordering the entire staff to be cheerful on pain of dismissal.

Anticipating some cynicism out there in blogland, I searched for independent verification from a reputable news organization, but was instead forced to settle for Fox News. Oh well.

"We made the ban on moaning and grumpiness at work official after one female employee refused to subscribe to the company's philosophy of always smiling," Nuzwerk’s office manager Thomas Kuwatsch told The Australian’s desperately poker-faced correspondent. "She used to moan so much that other employees complained about her complaining. Once it was part of the contract, however, our employees really started to think positively," he added. “What are you laughing at? Is it my accent?”

Unsurprisingly, other employees, interviewed under the unblinking gaze of Herr Kuwatsch, unanimously confirmed their universal happiness with the new arrangements.

Some things are almost beyond satire. The Germans have been grumpy and miserable for many years as their economy tanks and they clock up a full sixty years without occupying Paris. A certain degree of frustration is therefore both natural and even healthy. But then some jumped-up pocket Himmler orders them to be happy, and they all snap to attention with a bellowed “zum befehl!”, and are cheerful forthwith.

This is effectively what happened with post-war denazification. A guy in a uniform (tho’ in this case a British or American uniform) stood on top of the smoking rubble that marked the site of every major German city and said “No more of this Nazi bollocks from now on, all right?” “Righto”, said the assembled Krauts, clicking their collective heels, and that was that.

I can’t help but feel a little conflicted about that sort of slavish deference to authority…


German discipline at work again, yesterday. Unnatural, I call it.

22 comments:

Foot Eater said...

I wonder if that story isn't satire after all. 'Kuwatsch' is suspiciously close to Kvatsch, German slang for 'nonsense'.

I'm half-German, by the way, but please don't let that stop you taking the piss out of Jerry; the half of me that has a sense of humour is enjoying it no end.

R. Sherman said...

I think P.J. O'Rourke said that if a pedestrian crossing signal was burned out, the Germans would never have the nerve to cross the street. They'd stand there until the state withered away and true socialism appeared.

Fortunately for the rest of Europe, they have the no-speed-limit autobahn. This allows them to get rid of their aggression without bothering anyone else.

Cheers.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi Footie - yes, I know, hence the search for independent confirmation. But se non è vero, è ben trovato.

I recognize the quote, Randall, and it's a good one. But German patience only ever stretches so far, whereupon they flip from cattle-like passivity to militant fervour with no intermediate stages. And the trouble with all those autobahns is that they don't stop at the borders...

Gorilla Bananas said...

I think most humans seem to happier when they're either worshipping or being worshipped. It's probably in the DNA. The Germans just happened to choose a madman with a moustache.

Anonymous said...

"Madman with a moustache I know,
I know, it's seriou-uh-uh-ous..."

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I don't know why I did that. I don't know what came over me.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi GB - true up to a point, but then again, Stalin had one too.

Anonymous - no worries, we're all friends here. Don't edit yourself - do what feels right!

Anonymous said...

I did actually witness a German patiently waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green, on a quite empty street at night, in a small town in France.

It was most unsettling.

Not only did both madmen sport ridiculous moustaches, but they were also short. And foreigners, too--Schickelgruber/Hitler was Austrian, while Djugashvili/Stalin was a Georgian. Beware of the short, moustachioed adopted foreigner--they're always up to no good.

--Desargues

HA HA HA said...

givign us fare warnign des?

PI said...

Hell is enforced gaiety - as in doing the hokey cokey.
As foot eater points out we should all be free to take the piss and have it taken. N'est ce pas?

PI said...

Des: I wait for green too. Can't help it.

Ivan the Terrible said...

I'm all for live and let live, Pi, but it seems the Germans still have a bit of a problem with that concept...

Anonymous said...

You got me there, 3H. I am in fact concocting a little plot to take over my department. One has to begin somewhere, you know.

However, I'm not so sure about the moustache thing. I'm thinking a goatee and a couple tattoos may be more in line with the times. No moustachioed fellow can aspire to hold any office of relevance these days. Look at what happened to Bernard Kerik. Or, more tellingly, G. Gordon Liddy. Al Sharpton isn't doing too well, either.

--Desargues

Ivan the Terrible said...

A moustache is the least of Al Sharpton's worries.

HA HA HA said...

galaways doign okay wihth a mostauche.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I guess I forgot Galloway. And Lukashenko of Belarus. But this still proves my point: only bastards can afford a moustache these days.

In fact, they rather look alike. Consider:
http://www.nndb.com/people/000/000096709/george-galloway-sized.jpg

And:

http://img.lenta.ru/news/2005/07/20/lukashenko/picture.jpg

I expect Hugo Chavez to grow one soon, too.

--Des.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I guess I forgot Galloway. And Lukashenko of Belarus. But this still proves my point: only bastards can afford a moustache these days.

In fact, they rather look alike. Consider:
http://www.nndb.com/people/000/000096709/george-galloway-sized.jpg

And:

http://img.lenta.ru/news/2005/07/20/lukashenko/picture.jpg

I expect Hugo Chavez to grow one soon, too. Seems to be all the rage in Latin America.

--Des.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, posted that thing twice. Feel free to delete one of them, Ivan--or both.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Twice the fun - and very appropriate the the twin-like subject matter :)

Desargues said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Desargues said...

Campaign platforms or politically-savvy slogans can be deceiving, especially in the age of spin doctors; but a politician's choice of facial hair is the royal avenue for insight into that man's true political agenda.

A bearded politician is, by all accounts, a leftist lunatic. One only needs to think of Fidel Castro or of Che Guevara. In a moment of misguided manliness, Al Gore also gave the beard a try, only to sorely regret it afterwards:

http://algore2008.net/AlGoreBeard911.jpg

In some exotic countries, sporting a beard and contempt for a tie are considered marks of anti-Western patriotism (woeful lunacy is a more accurate diagnosis). Exempli gratia:

http://www.document.no/weblogg/archives/bilder/ahmadinejad.jpg

In the West, a politician with a goatee is simply an idiot; in less civilized countries, he is either Leon Trotsky, or a mobster who bought himself a senatorship.

Among the manifold bitter lessons of the 20th century is that politicians with a moustache are obviously untrustworthy. Naturally, one feels the urge to ask, what else is he covering up, besides his upper lip? On occasion, Maggie Thatcher likewise was prone to forgetting that lesson. Such a regrettable lapse in upper-lip hygiene gave rise to a deplorable trend among her trans-Atlantic female admirers. Kathryn Jean Lopez is living testimony to the truth of that claim:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Lop.jpeg

It is the mark of a virtuous citizenry to scrutinize closely any facial hair decisions made by its political leaders, and assess their consequences for the common good. More than ever, the fate of the Republic is in our hands--and those of barbers.

Ivan the Terrible said...

And now there's Hillary. If she were a man she'd have one to twirl like an old-time silent movie villain. Let's hope her testosterone kicks in before polling day on 2008, so people realize what they're voting for...