Peter Sloterdijk on the Rising Tensions between Germany and France

Peter Sloterdijk

In a recent and much-discussed article in Der Spiegel, Romain Leick discusses the growing tensions between France and Germany. Needless to say, the French-German relationship is one whose history is fraught with violence and war. However, in recent years France and Germany get along or don’t get along in ways similar to an old married couple. French philosopher, Pascal Bruckner describes France and Germany as “like an old couple, who both love and hate each other. They can’t stand to be apart or together, and divorce isn’t an option.”

While many French intellectuals and economists worry about German power and policies and the possibility of chaos in Europe, Peter Sloterdijk, most recently the author of The Art of Philosophy: Wisdom as Practice and a noted public intellectual in Germany, tends to be less panicked. Unlike French author Max Gallo, who worries that market traders and computerized commands could incite a kind of chaos that politicians could not control in a scenario similar to August 1914, Sloterdijk argues that Europeans “have forsworn the military gods and completed a conversion from heroism to consumerism.”

In his essay “Theory of the Post-War Periods,” Sloterdijk, who the article claims is one of the few contemporary German thinkers respected in France, suggests a more pragmatic approach of “benevolent and nonviolent coexistence by means of mutual disinterest and defascination.” Ultimately, Sloterdijk counsels Germany and France, “Don’t be too interested in each other!”

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