Talk given on the Bologna conference on: America: still a European power? Jointly organized by the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Center, Italy, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali, Università di Bologna, Italy, Europaeum Consortium, Oxford, U.K., dec. 7th-8th, 2012; given on dec. 7th, 2012.
I can still clearly remember the time when for us in Germany the USA represented something like the Promised Land. America was the guarantor of a better life, the centre of our ‘really existing’ yet also our intellectual world. Back then, the USA were the concrete protector power and the epitome of utopia. We were interested heart and soul in everything that happened in America. We were happy that we were allowed to join in somewhere again.
At least that was back in the 1960s, the Seventies and to a lesser extent the Eighties, too. After 1945 anything German was generally under suspicion, and most of all, we younger Germans were the suspicious ones. America delivered the new worldview, the new world language and the new world mass culture into the vacuum that had been produced by our total identity loss. We needed no special persuading to embrace this. Basically, everything was as relaxed as when Clint Eastwood was interviewed in 1973 about the secret to the success of his films and responded, “I ride into town. The rest just happens.” (…)