Civilizing the Enemy
German Reconstruction and the Invention of the West
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: University of Michigan Press
An op-ed piece by Henry Kissinger on tensions within NATO appeared in several American newspapers on 10 February 2003. In it, Kissinger criticized France and Germany for opposing United States-led efforts to disarm Iraq by force, arguing that the likely result of such opposition will be to “confirm the fundamentalist view of the West’s psychological collapse” and wreak lasting damage on “the Western alliance.” ...
Rhetorical commonplaces are always produced out of other, earlier commonplaces; they may not have completely specifiable beginnings, but there are key moments at which elements come together to produce a new configuration. Something similar happens when an individual human being is born and raised; each of us is always in some way a product of our parents and our upbringing. ...
1. The West Pole Fallacy
On 7 may 1945, Admiral Karl Dönitz, recently appointed Führer of the Third Reich by Hitler’s last will and testament, approved the signing of documents accepting an unconditional German surrender (Botting 1985: 89). The following day, three representatives of the German High Command signed an “Act of Military Surrender” in Berlin, bringing the Second World War in Europe formally to a close (Ruhm von Oppen 1955: 28–29).1 ...
2. The Language of Legitimation
A successful social-scientific account of postwar German reconstruction has to accomplish two tasks. First, it must causally account for the victory of the policies actually enacted over other socially plausible alternatives proposed at the time. Second, it must do so while preserving a central role for human agency. ...
3. The Topography of Postwar Debates
In order to get a handle on the debates surrounding the enacting of policy during the early postwar period, it is first necessary to delineate what I will call the topography of those debates.1 The term is intended to invoke a map of the underlying terrain of a region, which specifies the location of its major physical features; on top of this terrain are constructed the various buildings and other features of the full landscape.2 ...
4. The Power of ‘Western Civilization’
Before public officials can meaningfully deploy any given rhetorical commonplace as part of an effort to legitimate some particular policy, that commonplace must have been produced and then distributed widely enough so that the use of the commonplace “makes sense” to the target audience (McAdam, Tarrow, and Tilly 2001: 47–50). ...
5. Conflicts of Interpretation, 1944–46
The shape of the postwar world was by no means clear to anyone during the closing days of the Second World War (Eisenberg 1996: 6 - 7; McAllister 2002: 1 - 4). Faced with an unclear and ambiguous political situation, people naturally tried to “make sense” of their situations through the deployment of rhetorical commonplaces that had become, so to speak, part of their mental furniture, including ‘anticommunism,’ ‘American exceptionalism,’ ‘German national unity’—and ‘Western Civilization.’ ...
6. The Turning Point, 1947–48
The end of 1946 did not provide a clear trajectory for the future course of postwar German reconstruction. Although “Bizonia,” the organizational merger of the American and British occupation zones, came into being on 1 January 1947, the door had not yet been definitively closed on four-power cooperation. The 1949 creation of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland, ...
7. Securing the New Trajectory, 1949–55
Although the events of 1947–48 had defined a new occidentalist trajectory for postwar German reconstruction, they had not guaranteed its future survival. A “turning point” only appears as such in retrospect; viewed prospectively, all that appears are instantaneous moments of contingency (Abbott 2001b: 248).1 Even after the turning point, there were still moments...
8. The Fate of ‘Western Civilization’
For Oswald Spengler, the study of the rise and fall of civilizations was far more than a matter of antiquarian interest. Indeed, Spengler’s purpose was an entirely “presentist” one, in that he sought guidance for the future in the dynamics of the past. Although this in itself is not particularly unusual, Spengler’s particular twist on the notion of learning from the past is quite striking. ...
Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 4 Drawings
Publication Year: 2006
OCLC Number: 593239813
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