纽约时报 | 德国年轻人对自己国家感到悲观的原因

Why young Germans are feeling gloomy about their countr […]

Why young Germans are feeling gloomy about their country

The German economy is booming. Unemployment is at a near-record low. In Europe and around the world, the country is seen as a beacon of wealth and efficiency.

德国经济一片繁荣,失业率接近历史最低点,很多人对自己的财务状况感到满意, 欧洲乃至整个世界都视之为财富和效率的典范。

So why are these prosperous young Germans so doggedly pessimistic about their future? Good job prospects, a clean environment, low crime rates, lots of leisure time and cultural attractions, good transport links C what’s not to like? But there are problems below the surface that could impact the younger generation.


Peter Matuschek, chief political analyst at the German polling institute Forsa, says that while Germans tend to be content with their own lives, they feel less at ease with the direction the country is taking.

德国民调机构福沙舆论调查所(Forsa)的首席政治分析师马图舍克(Peter Matuschek)表示,虽然德国人普遍对生活比较满意,但对于国家未来的走向却不那么放心。

In polling Forsa did for the German broadcaster RTL, 81% were very happy or happy with their own personal financial situation; asked about the country more broadly, that figure dropped 10%. And while 71% said they were happy with the German political system as it’s supposed to operate, just 14% were happy with how it actually functions.


When it comes to the economy, for example, Matuschek told BBC Capital that perceptions had shifted starkly over the course of the last year. Asked whether the economy would improve or deteriorate, Germans in January were split fairly evenly. Since the summer, however, there has been a shift of nearly 20% towards greater pessimism.

比如,马图舍克告诉BBC Capital,在过去一年间,人们对经济的看法发生了明显的变化。在问及经济状况是会改善还是恶化时,1月份的时候,德国人的态度是一半一半。然而自从夏天以来,持悲观态度的人增长了20%。

And while the assumption may be that this is a phenomenon among older Germans, it’s also very much affecting the younger generation. Mirroring the post-Brexit vote UK, the data shows that young people feel they’ve been saddled with the problems of their parents and grandparents - and that their political future has been determined by an older generation.


To be fair, it has been a tumultuous summer for Germans. A high-profile showdown over migration nearly brought down the government. Mesut Özil, a member of Germany’s national football team who is of Turkish descent, quit this summer after alleging racism from team members and fans. The incident forced broader discussions about the prevalence of everyday racism in Germany.

公平地讲,对德国人来说,这的确是一个动荡的夏天。各党派在移民问题上高调摊牌,几乎导致德国现政府垮台。德国国家足球队球员厄齐尔(Mesut Ozil)是土耳其裔,今年夏天他离开了国家队,之前厄齐尔指控受到队员和球迷的种族歧视。这一事件促使德国人对日常生活中的种族歧视展开更大规模的谈论。

And in late August, video footage of far-right sympathisers rioting and chasing foreigners through the streets of Chemnitz, a town in the East German state of Saxony, shook the country and reopened questions about the extent to which Germany has learned from its past.


A feeling of crisis has played out in German media. In late June, shortly after the German national team failed to advance to the second round of the World Cup, German magazine Der Spiegel ran a cover entitled: “Once upon a time, there was a strong country” (Es war einmal ein starkes Land). “The crises in politics, economics and sports are the result of complacency,” Der Spiegel’s cover story said. “How could it come to this?”

德国媒体上出现了一种危机感。6月下旬,在德国国家队未能晋级世界杯第二轮之后没过多久,德国《明镜周刊》(Der Spiegel)封面文章质疑:《曾几何时,这是一个强大的国家》。文中写道,“自满导致政治、经济和体育危机,” “为什么会成这样?”

This was followed by similarly gloomy pronouncements over the summer heat wave and what climate change could mean for Germany.


So what exactly is going on? Though these feelings of pessimism may perhaps seem like a media storm in a teacup, data and conversations with young Germans bear the phenomenon out.


For young people, a great deal of this pessimism comes from watching the rise of the far-right political party Alternative for Germany (AfD). Many feel it represents a breakdown of the way Germany discusses politics and policy.

对年轻人来说,这种悲观情绪很大程度上是因为看到极右翼政党德国选择党(Alternative for Germany)的崛起。许多人认为,它代表了德国议政方式的崩溃。

Till Baaken, a 28-year-old NGO staffer in Berlin, said the increasing influence of far-right populism meant the national conversation on politics and media was dominated by new - and increasingly hate-filled - topics.

28岁的巴肯(Till Baaken)在柏林为一家非政府组织工作,他说,极右民粹主义的影响越来越大,意味着全国范围内关于政治和媒体的讨论充斥着新生的、越来越充满仇恨的话题。

Since the rise of the the far right, "it seems to me that the whole political discourse is about migration and hate and crime,” he said. “It's not focused on the real problems that we are going to have, or that we’re having at the moment."


Instead of a focus on migration, Baaken said, the government should spend more of its time improving the healthcare system, investing more in education and considering how to prepare the younger generation for a secure retirement.


Jule Löw, a 24-year-old student in Berlin, said Chemnitz was a sad reminder that Germany had not learned well enough from its own history. “Almost all of my life, I thought that with the things we’ve studied - German nationalism and the history of the last century - that we would have left that behind, that nationalism and racism,” she said. “And reality’s shown us differently.”

24岁的柏林学生洛(Jule Löw)说,开姆尼茨事件令人遗憾,表明德国并没有很好地从历史当中吸取教训。“我原来一直以为,我们通过学习德国民族主义和上个世纪的历史,就应该已经把民族主义和种族主义抛在身后,”她说。“但现实并非如此。”

What happened in Chemnitz may seem like an isolated event, Löw continued, but it’s proof that similar events could unfold anywhere in the country if the discourse doesn’t change. “In my neighborhood, until now it hasn’t happened yet,” she said. “But still, Chemnitz isn’t too far away from where we are right now.”

在开姆尼茨发生的似乎是一起孤立事件,洛继续说,但它证明了如果讨论不改变的话,类似的事情可能还会在这个国家的任何地方发生。”在我周围,目前还没有发生过这样的事情,“ 她说。“但是,我们离开姆尼茨并不远。"

There is also a feeling, even if things are going well right now, that Germany is on the brink of bigger financial and societal problems. In other words, many young Germans might feel they are in a good position now but fear that further down the line that might not be the case.


"We are doing okay, or I am doing okay at the moment. But obviously if you look five to 10 years in the future, we’re at a certain crossway... on how the country develops,” Baaken said. “I think everyone's a bit worried about which course it's going to take with the rise of right-wing populism, and with the state not investing enough into education and infrastructure, our future."


Compared with their peers in many other European countries, on the surface things look good for young Germans. Youth unemployment here was 6.4% in 2017, far lower than EU countries like Italy or Greece. But there is still a persistent feeling that the older generation isn’t focusing enough on areas that will impact young people.


House prices have risen 80% in major cities since 2009, according to a recent Deutsche Bank report. Rents are also rising, it said, and there’s a national shortfall of about one million residential units. A recent OECD report, meanwhile, said that rapid population ageing “would challenge the financial sustainability of the public pension scheme”.

德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)最近的一份报告显示,自2009年以来,德国主要城市的房价上涨了80%。报告称,房租也在涨,全国住房短缺大约100万套。与此同时,经济合作组织最近也有报告称,德国人口迅速老龄化“对公共养老金计划是否可以维持构成了挑战”。

“The politics we have now here in Germany are more for middle-aged people, Baby Boomers - not for the younger generation,” said Aaron Hinze, a 24-year-old working in health care in Berlin. “When you look in the future and you ask who is paying my retirement when I’m old? Nobody.”

“现在在德国,政治更倾向于中年人、婴儿潮一代,而不是年轻一代,”24岁的欣策(Aaron Hinze)说。他在柏林从事医疗保健工作。“想想未来,你就会问,等我老了,谁来付我退休金?没人。”

Just because Germans are pessimistic about their future doesn’t mean others outside the country are so gloomy. Elsewhere in Europe and the world, Germany remains a land of plenty for young people interested in moving to greener pastures.


Dino Cviko, a 24-year-old journalism student in Sarajevo, told BBC Capital that he hoped to move to Germany when he finishes his studies - even if it means giving up the possibility of working in journalism. “Most of us actually want to move out of here, out of Bosnia,” he said. “Especially to Germany, our promised land.”

24岁的茨维科(Dino Cviko)是萨拉热窝的一名新闻专业学生,他对BBC Capital说,完成学业后希望搬到德国,即使这意味着可能放弃新闻工作。“我们大多数人其实都想离开这里,离开波斯尼亚,”他说。“尤其想去德国,我们心目中的乐土。”

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