Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Word of the Month: Staatsverdrossenheit

With the present WoM, I'm returning to a theme I have touched upon in previous posts (Wutbürger, German funk). This time, I'm introducing a term that succinctly captures the phenomenon in question.

Staat means "state" and Verdrossenheit is a condition that could be described as a persistent ill humor, moroseness, or funk. Put the two together and you have a state of mind that I find increasingly expressed on German blogs, a general unhappiness not only with the government currently in charge, but with the way the country has been administered for a while. Politicians are accused of not paying attention to the real needs of their constituents. Rather, they appear beholden to lobbies and special interests (on the right) or to rigid ideological principles that do not work in practice (on the left), and Staatsverdrossenheit is the result.

A word of caution is in order: Useful as the term is to capture a particular state of mind, I cannot tell, from my distant perch, how widespread the sentiment it refers to is in present-day Germany.


Heika said...

I guess I'm wondering why the Germans, in small or large numbers, would be feeling morose at all. They seem to be sitting on top of the world in comparison to the rest of the European union and my sense is, based solely on what I've read, which isn't much, is that the rest of the European Union would love the chance to express some Schadenfreud at the Germans' expense.

Is there an antonym for staatsverdrossenheit, I mean besides an obvious one like "optimist"?

Ulrich said...

@Heika: Remember, this is a nuanced term. It does not refer to a general funk, but one caused by unhappiness with the way the country is run. The Germans actually seem to be very confident when it comes to the future--domestic demand and spending that comes with it are up--they just do not like their politicians too much these days.

But I also have to emphasize that my evidence is very spotty--mainly based on what I read on German blogs, where the Germans display their unique gift for schlechtreden (bad+talk), which does not mean "badmouth", but "bash something just for the sake of bashing it"--some countrymen of mine at least apparently believe that they can demonstrate their superior insight by never finding anything positive in whatever they come across.

Ulrich said...

...oh, and in line with this, I can't think of any antonym that is as specific.

There is an adjective, staatstragend ("supporting the state"), which is used mainly to distinguish political parties and other bodies that actively support the (currently democratic) constitution from those who don't (overtly or covertly). But that term cannot be used to characterize individuals and does not have an element of emotional involvement anyway, which Staatsverdrossenheit has.