Posted by Thersites on  UTC 2020-08-02 15:23

It is a tradition at the celebrations that are held in every city, town and village in Switzerland to mark the Swiss National Day on 1 August that a politician of appropriate rank turns up to say a few words.

The words spoken are usually meaningless waffle, but that is what the occasion demands – it would be unreasonable to expect sense or coherence of any sort from these drudges other than the strictly grammatical. No politician wants to start a punch up at a bonfire party.

On the mountain of National Day platitudinous waffling, the waffling of the current incumbent of the office of Federal President, Simonetta Sommaruga, stands – as it should – on the summit.

FoS image, size 708x531

Federal President, Simonetta Sommaruga 2020. Image: ©Beat Mumenthaler.

This year the waffle came as expected; the biting satire was a surprise:

Dear fellow citizenesses and fellow citizens

Many of you have written to the Federal Council in recent weeks.

Many have encouraged the Federal Council, some others have been critical. You have thanked us and you have asked for aid. The letter from an alpine farmer moved me deeply. The corona crisis had affected us all, he wrote. Solidarity is needed. In the envelope he had placed a part of his state pension. This money is in the meantime with the people who need it.

In the difficult weeks that are behind us, this letter has shown me in an exemplary fashion that Switzerland will survive; which means that it will stand and hold together. Many people throughout the country have been like the alpine farmer. They have supported each other.

Liebe Mitbürgerinnen und Mitbürger
Sehr viele von Ihnen haben dem Bundesrat in den letzten Wochen geschrieben.
Viele haben dem Bundesrat Mut gemacht, andere haben Vorwürfe geäussert. Sie haben sich bedankt, und sie haben um Hilfe gebeten. Der Brief eines Bergbauern hat mich besonders berührt. Die Corona-Krise habe uns alle getroffen, schrieb er. Solidarität sei gefragt. Ins Couvert hatte er einen Teil seiner AHV-Rente gelegt. Das Geld ist mittlerweile bei jenen, die es nötig haben.
In den schwierigen Wochen, die wir hinter uns haben, hat mir dieser Brief beispielhaft gezeigt: Die Schweiz „verhäbt“; das heisst: sie hält stand und sie hält zusammen. Genau wie der Bergbauer haben es viele Menschen im ganzen Land gemacht. Sie haben einander unterstützt.
Bern, 01.08.2020 – Ansprache von Bundespräsidentin Simonetta Sommaruga anlässlich des Nationalfeiertags am 1. August.

It is true: your author has rendered Mitbürger in a rather literal way, but its widespread use by politicians deserves mockery wherever it occurs. Bürger, 'citizen', would be quite adequate, but the odious usage Mitbürger is so widespread that no one except your grumpy author seems to gag at it any more.

Still, this is satire of the highest order. She can't be so lacking in introspective understanding, can she? Can she? For this is a joke worthy of the great Voltaire himself.

She is a person paid close to half-a-million Swiss Francs a year, who after a few years can expect an annual pension for life of about 50 percent of that, a pension that few citizens could dream of. All coming out of the public purse, of course. According to her own narrative, she accepts this solidarity cash off some old farmer apparently living off a state pension. She doesn't tell us exactly how much the farmer has sent to her, but it would be difficult to imagine that it exceeded the paperclip budget of her ministry, the largest and busybodiest ministry in the government. She grubs the notes out of the envelope and passes the money on to 'some people who need it'.

Of course we don't know who this pensioner is, but if he is anything like most of the other alpine farmers in Switzerland he is living in a house he owns and on property worth millions and is the recipient of generous subsidies which make even loss-making agriculture profitable. He is certainly not living off 'his state pension'. The image of the selfless farmer she is serving up for us is a work of rhetorical artifice worthy of that great master of rhetorical artifice, Dr. … Dr. … Sorry, can't remember his name for the moment – it will come to me in a minute.

Sommaruga, the socialist pianist, has conjured up the emotionally charged fantasy of some pensioner sacrificing 'a part' of their state pension for the poor and needy to support her solidarity theme.

The farmer is clearly crazed and in urgent need of therapy. Anyone who thinks that sending money to the government, to the hand of a person earning half-a-million Swiss Francs a year, is a good deed that will benefit others is clearly off his trolley. The Swiss government is awash with money, and will need an even sturdier ocean tanker when the climate billions finally arrive in its pockets.

'Solidarity is needed'. This year a common theme of the speeches seems to have been solidarity. As usual this website was at the leading edge of the Zeitgeist when we brought up Gottried Keller's confected fantasy of social solidarity. We have also discussed pointless wartime solidarity in pursuit solely of obedience. Sommaruga sticks it to us good:

Now once again each and every one of us is faces a challenge. And it requires the federal government and the cantons. Only working together can we stop the repeat of the spread of the virus. Recent months have shown us that – and that gives us courage.

Es ist jetzt wieder jede und jeder Einzelne von uns gefordert. Und es braucht den Bund und die Kantone. Nur gemeinsam können wir die erneute Verbreitung des Virus stoppen. Das haben uns die letzten Monate gezeigt, und das macht Mut.

In the Marxist-Leninist world in which we live the word solidarity has a particular echo. Superficially it means 'sticking together', but its sub-meaning is 'doing what you are told to do by the powers that be and not rocking the boat in which we are all sitting'. It is fundamentally a fascistic concept, the sticks bound tightly around the shaft of the axe. It is anti-individualistic, in that it subsumes individual advantage to unity in pursuit of a common goal. Questioners, sceptics and the introspective have no place here.

Social solidarity is either there or it isn't. If it isn't there, no amount of speechmaking lecturing us proles about it will do any good. If it isn't there, we are all in trouble. But taking the kindness, compassion and empathy of the individual, which is indeed there in Switzerland, and institutionalising it as a property required of the governed – kindness to order and doing what we are told for the greater good – is really quite a troubling thing to do.

Got it! Dr Seuss, of course!

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