Blockchain CyberWarfare / ExoWarfare

Why Leading Crypto Devs Don’t Work In Silicon Valley

A fundamental division – and an opportunity for others to fill the void ‘big corporate’ leaves, and do not have the creds for:


“If you or your engineer friend is bored at BigTechCo, get in touch.”


The tweet, sent out by Coinbase vice president and general manager Dan Romero, represented a rare request from the San Francisco-based exchange. Despite building on various cryptocurrency protocols for years, it was perhaps the first time the company had signaled it would offer financial support to someone working directly on open-source code.

As such, the tweet drew its fair share of confusion among bitcoin and ethereum’s largely volunteer developers.

That’s not to say that they aren’t interested in taking sponsorships from companies in an effort to make money from their passions – they are. But the trouble is many developers see larger industry startups like Coinbase, which made more than $1 billion in revenue last year, as a prime example of the “big tech companies” that Romero positioned as antagonists.

In fact, some would go so far as to say there’s a quiet struggle being waged in the blockchain industry between the coders who develop these open-source protocols and those who mainly sell related products or services for commercial interest from their corner offices in Silicon Valley.

This was on full display when Bitcoin Core developer Luke Dashjr tweeted a disgruntled reply to Romero after private conversations clarified that the role wouldn’t focus exclusively bitcoin or ethereum, nor would it give developers autonomy to focus on projects they see as beneficial.

Instead, Coinbase executives would be directing the work, potentially requiring the developers work on cryptocurrencies that might run afoul of their own personal tastes. (As an example, in the case of Dashjr, the long-time bitcoin coder, was loathe to devote time to rival bitcoin cash).

Coinbase acknowledges a kind of disconnect, yet thinks the lines between industry and open-source will continue to blur.

“At a high level, we want to invest in supporting open-source communities, because we believe that the future of this industry will be defined more by open source than by enterprises,” Jori Lallo, a software engineer at Coinbase told CoinDesk. “That said, as a fast-growing company we’ve had a lot of things to split our time between, and admittedly we didn’t spend a lot of time on supporting open source in the early days.”

That initial neglect left a lasting impression that has been hard for Coinbase to shrug off.

According to Jeremy Rubin, a Bitcoin Core contributor, Silicon Valley’s culture in general remains at odds with open-source philosophy, in that the former doesn’t give enough credit and support to the broader ecosystem.

Rubin told CoinDesk:


“You see this at a couple different companies but I think they [Coinbase] are one of the most egregious. They’re trying to do better, but they got a ways to go.”

Not enough?

Still, Lallo detailed some of the exchange’s work in reaching out to the open-source developer community that has attempted to shift that perception.

For instance, in mid-March, Coinbase introduced the Coinbase Protocol Team, whose mission it is to contribute to community-led projects, naming payment channels, proof-of-stake blockchains and light clients as some areas of interest, and widely respected bitcoin programmer Jim Posen is a part of the team.

Around the same time, Coinbase announced its Open Source Fund, which donates roughly $25,000 a month to public blockchain projects.

Even Dashjr recognizes that Coinbase’s efforts aren’t “bad” and could even bring to the table some insights that open-source developers may miss, since they don’t interface with the business community quite as much. “It just isn’t the norm or ideal,” Dashjr said.

Others argue, though, that such programs, after years of inaction, aren’t enough, though Rubin said he sees the problem as bigger than any one company.

In Rubin’s view, lucrative blockchain companies could easily donate a few million dollars each in grants and sponsorships for open-source developers. It’s the same argument open-source developers have made regarding a whole slew of integral internet protocols that have allowed companies like Google, Facebook and Uber to grow into multi-billion-dollar companies.

“Not only do they not do that [provide generous patronage], but they don’t support a lot of conferences that are really critical to the space. They didn’t support the MIT Bitcoin Expo this year, even though they sent a bunch of recruiters,” Rubin said, adding:


“I don’t think Coinbase really gets open source.”


In addressing the criticisms, Lallo said, “As we grow, expect to see more investments – both in terms of time and money.”

Coinbase also announced in a blog post on Thursday that a new venture capital arm of the company will provide “financing to promising early-stage companies” that “move the space forward in a positive, meaningful way.”


Rethinking the culture

But it might take more than time and money.

According to Christopher Allen, the former principal architect at Blockstream, it’s more about adapting to the culture of open source.

For instance, Blockstream, which funds the work of several developers who solely work on the bitcoin protocol, goes a step further by offering employees individual patent rights for technologies they contribute to, in addition to roughly 20 percent paid leave to work on side projects.


“These types of very progressive attitudes towards open source were a large part of my consideration [in joining Blockstream] because I’ve been working on my own projects for a number of years,” Allen said. “I wanted to be able to continue to work on them without being constrained.”


Joe Lubin, founder of ethereum startup incubator ConsenSys, echoed the importance of this cultural shift toward independence. As such, ConsenSys strives to retain top talent by letting employees choose their own projects and work whenever and from wherever they want.


Tough to retain

Still, many leading blockchain companies struggle to retain talent.

For example, bitcoin security startup BitGo lost Alex Bosworth, a renowned developer who now works on lightning network implementations, in December.

According to Bosworth, the missions of large tech companies, and now large crypto companies, run counter to the ideals of the developers who started developing the protocols to begin with.


“The tech companies are building empires based on locking users into walled gardens and generally not thinking about what is best to progress the needs of the user,” he said. “That’s something that open source software addresses which is pretty inspiring and fulfilling to work on.”


As such, the community has rallied around several initiatives that fund developer work without strings attached.

For instance, several developers CoinDesk spoke to mentioned Chain Code Labs, which sponsors a handful of Bitcoin Core developers at a financial loss through the money the founders, Alex Morcos and Suhas Daftuar made from a previous Wall Street venture. And Allen recently launched the GitHub Blockchain Guild, which aims to create new opportunities to fund contributions to various blockchain projects.

The collaborative, autonomous nature of these initiatives is what makes open-source cryptocurrency developers so drawn to them.

Speaking to the need for the industry to adapt to the open-source culture, Lubin said:


“Nobody works on projects that they don’t care deeply about. An entrepreneur’s freedom to develop their own projects and operational style doesn’t need to change.”





Along the same lines:


Tim Draper: “Everybody Wants to Leave California”


Cointelegraph had a chance to talk to Tim Draper, American venture capital investor and businessman, founder of Draper University for entrepreneurs as well as Draper Associates, a VC firm that invested in Tesla, Skype, Baidu, and many other companies.

Tim Draper has been involved in different crypto projects, from the purchase of seized Bitcoins from the Silk Road marketplace website in 2014 to advocating Tezos in 2017.

He shared his thoughts with Cointelegraph on Blockchain adoption, regulations in the US and China, and why he wants to leave California.

Who needs Blockchain integration the most?

Government needs it the most. No question. Worst service, biggest industry, highest cost. Government is clearly people. The size of an industry tends to be the number of people involved. Government is affecting the most people and it is providing the worst service at the highest cost. And the Blockchain can remedy that by creating a whole virtual layer of governance.

That could be the beginning of where governments have to compete for us so that their services increase, improve and the costs go down. Your taxes will go down, and your education, and your health care and whatever – it will go up, it will be better.

But other industries that are going to benefit, anything that’s tied to data or the individual, so identity will be very important because anybody who’s affected by data is going to have a much improved situation because that data will be on the Blockchain, permanently there, tied to each individual. And once that’s the case that can help with all sorts of other industries: whether it’s healthcare, or commerce, or improve retail experience – it could be any number of different things that could be helped just because they will have better data on you.

How to push adoption further?

We, who are in the industry, are pushing as hard and fast as we possibly can. And it’s just that there are all these uncertainties, created by the governments that are run by the grandparents of the people who are creating this new industry. And they don’t get it. It is very frustrating for the people who are creating the industry.

So you have these regulators who are 70-80 years old and they are the ones telling these twenty-year olds what they should be doing. But they’re the same people who have given them huge education debt, poor education, not appropriate for their work life. And now they’re trying to tell them not to do something. That is actually creating a whole new economy.

I mean if I’m a millennial, I’m deeply in debt, I have an education that’s not appropriate to the jobs that I have to go find – I’m kind of lost. But there’s this big opportunity all of a sudden. There’s Bitcoin, there’s crypto, there’s a whole new world out there. That hasn’t been destroyed by the regulators. Now the regulators are coming in, they’re making it very difficult on people.

But any country that gets highly regulated gets poorer, more poverty. And any country that’s free – gets richer. And I think the US is trying to figure this out.

How do different countries handle crypto regulations?

I know Japan has figured out. Make it free – make us rich. Japan thinks I have to control and regulate. I mean, China says I’ve got to control and regulate and they’re going to create a bunch of poverty. And it usually takes twenty years by that time they have moved on. But they are ruining the lives of many people by putting in too many controls, or too many restrictions, or too many regulations.

So when you see the FDA or the SEC or FASB – any of these big institutional regulators come in heavy-handed. They are destroying the potential for growth and wealth in their country.

You ask the question about what is keeping this from happening. It’s the uncertainty created by all of these regulators. That is slowing down progress; it is not allowing enough of creativity to flourish. And they’re in competition with all the other countries and regulators of the world. And so the lighter touch – the more likely you and I are to move to those countries, or to work with those countries, or to be a part of those countries.

On ICO regulation in the US

My advice to the SEC is go ahead – regulate them all. But make it a one-page document that anyone can fill out. Don’t make it so that these two girls and a dog have to go hire a million dollars worth of legal work to just get approved. It makes no sense. Just have them go ahead and register, so you have the data that you need. But then let them go and then if they start affecting too many people they become a problem then go ahead and come in and say: “Okay, now you have to go our next level of regulation” or something else.

But ease in. Let’s let these things flourish. Who knows, what creativity is going to come out of these ICOs.

When the Internet came along the governments were trying to shut it down. And all of a sudden think of what’s happened with the Internet: all our lives are so much fuller and more interesting, and more dynamic. And I remember I’d spend hours waiting for somebody to come pick me up when my car broke down. Now if your car breaks down – you leave it on the side of the road. You go boom, I got an Uber – it all happens so quickly, that never would have happened if the Internet hadn’t happened. So this is and if we hadn’t let the Internet go, let it be free, the freer – the richer. Freedom equals prosperity, regulation equals poverty.

On businesses moving away from the US


Everybody wants to leave California. Anybody in business wants to leave California. Because even though the weather’s awesome and their friends are probably here – all of the incentives are to leave.

That’s why I want to flee California. I want a fresh start. And also to leave the US but that’s different set of incentives.

The taxes are higher here, the services are worse, educations worse, the roads are poor. You go to Texas – they have no personal income tax, they have great roads, they have a free government encouraging innovation. You need that.

New York, they have the problem that California does. They are over regulated, they’re on top of each other, they don’t let anybody do anything without filling out forms to do it.

But it’s a good thing about the States because they have to now compete for us, used to be pretty much all the states were competing and felt that way and they worked hard to provide good service to you. When was the last time, a bureaucrat said to you “What can I do to make your life better? How can I improve your business environment? How can I improve?”

They used to do that 25 years ago, I walked into a government office with my father and they said, “How do I improve your business environment? How do I make your home life better? How can I improve your child’s education?” That was the attitude that government had and that’s why my father has such great feelings about the government. And why and the reason I don’t  – is because I saw that switch. Like all of a sudden it went from ‘what can I do’ for you to ‘what are you going to do for me’.

It was about 20 years ago. 20 years ago all of a sudden it was like – “Have you filled out form 12 CB? I’m sorry, oh, and I think you have to talk to this regulator too. Because I don’t think we’re going to allow you to have a party there!”

On Chinese policy of  “yes” Blockchain, “no” crypto

China’s old government under Wen Jiabao was free. They said: a few of you will get rich first – let’s create a harmonious environment, let’s grow, let’s have free markets. That was awesome and it created 40 years of prosperity. And China is like one of the most advanced countries in the world now.

Well now they have the opposite. They have a control freak government, or at least the guy at the top and that permeates the government. They’re not letting money out, they’re not letting people use crypto, they’re not letting people use Bitcoin to pay.

And what that does is – it pushes out all the best entrepreneurs, pushes them to wherever. And it creates more poverty there because all of those people then are constrained. If you’re constrained – you’re poorer. If they say you can’t move – you’re going to starve. And that’s pretty much what too much regulation will do for you. And so that’s China.

Well, it makes no sense. I mean if you’re going to run something on the Blockchain, you’re going to need Bitcoin to do it. If you’re going to do something in Bitcoin – it’s using the Blockchain. These are intertwined.

Now, there are some other Blockchains being created, which is great. Competitive Blockchains. I’m a believer. And, you know, having competition because I as a consumer end up with the better service. But somehow trying to separate those and say oh we’re gonna allow all the technology in, we’re just not going to let you use it. What are they thinking? They’re basically saying: yeah, go keep creating stuff – we’re not going to let you use it and we’re not going to let you have money leave our country.

So where’s the benefit for an entrepreneur there? That’s why they’re all buying houses in Palo Alto. All the Chinese are saying: well, let’s get out of there. Or they’re moving to Japan where they’re welcome. All the young people are moving to Japan. They’re saying: “Well, wow, this government accepts Bitcoin as a national currency! I want to be a part of that!”



On projects in Kazakhstan

I talked to the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan. And I told him about Estonia and all of these interesting virtual governance thing that can happen. And I said that Kazakh means free. It should be free country. You want this to be free because you’ll end up with a wealthier, more prosperous country.

And, why not have a certain number of Kazakhs, but then a billion virtual Kazakhs. And have them all be a part of your world and compete with all those virtual countries for them.

And he was all for it. So I thought that was going to happen. Now, some lower down regulator has now tried to heavily regulate crypto and that it’s a proposal. It’s not law. And hopefully he’ll just be slapped down and, you know, sent on his merry way. He’s like the old world regulator, who doesn’t get that you’ve got to have a very light touch when you’re regulating an ICO.

It should not be the equivalent of an IPO. An IPO affects hundreds of thousands of people. The companies are worth tens of billions of dollars. An ICO is usually, you know, two girls and a dog.

It’s not like we have to protect everybody from themselves. It’s just people getting going.

On Edward Snowden criticizing Bitcoin’s Blockchain for being “devastating republic”


Who is listening to him? This guy just opened up! He opened up all that information, he made it dangerous. So, wait, this is totally counter what I thought would be his philosophy, which is: we’re open, transparent, this is the way the world should be, it’s open, and transparent, and decentralized, and whatever… Bitcoins perfect for that. So he’s, I don’t know, why you even listening to that guy?

Do we listen to the guy who runs the biggest bank in the world? When he says, we shouldn’t use Bitcoin – well why listen to that? Because the guy is realizing that people are taking pieces 1 percent, 2 percent, 5 percent of their money out of his bank and putting it into crypto. So he’s totally disinterested, and he is very nervous that he’s going to lose all those customers. And he will. Over time he will.

It just feels like crypto generally will replace all fiat. Because it’s just better currency and all the best engineers in the world are working on that. They’re not working on how to improve services for the dollar.

Crypto vs fiat

It is a hundred trillion dollar market. So that means, that we have a long way to go in a crypto market. We’re now in the hundreds of billions, it’s like it’s got a thousand times on what it is now to go.

Bitcoin vs other cryptocurrencies

I like competition. I think it’s great. I think Bitcoin is clearly the leader. And it will be the standard by which all the other currencies will have to compete. It’ll be the equivalent of Microsoft. But it could end up being Yahoo for search, you know, where Google came in and got a bigger share. So things can happen! But, when you have that front position and whenever there’s a new technology you add it to that currency.

It’s very likely that Bitcoin will be the largest and biggest currency because they have a network effect. It grows as the network grows.

On universal cryptocurrency and price volatility

I like the idea that they’ll all have to compete with each other. And I like the idea that they’ll all be tradable into each other. And, you know, and now they’re tradable into fiat too. But I think that’ll be less important over time, I think more important – more companies like you can get a Kentucky Fried Bitcoin bucket, which is only available to be paid for in Bitcoin in Canada. And then there are all these houses and yachts and whatever – that are all only available in Bitcoin, you can’t pay dollars for them. I think more and more that’ll happen. And we’ll be in a position where people laugh at you if you try to pay fiat currency for your coffee.

Whenever I hear this volatility question, I think, one Bitcoin is still just worth one Bitcoin. It is very stable. All these other currencies, these fiat currencies, there are volatile against it. Falling away. Over time.

And so, when they say volatility, I think they are panicking: they go up, they go down. One Bitcoin is still one Bitcoin and it will continue to be. And so I think, I am not really thinking that it is volatilizing, I am thinking that it is Bitcoin and it should be spent, as you need to spend it.






Sonntag, 15. April 2018

Blick von außen

“Deutschland ist cooler als du denkst”

Der britische “Economist” hat seine Titelgeschichte in dieser Woche Deutschland gewidmet: “Cool Germany”. Berlin-Korrespondent Jeremy Cliffe erklärt, was an Deutschland cool ist und warum er dem Land eine gute Zukunft zutraut. Ihre Zeitschrift, der “Economist”, nennt Deutschland auf seinem Titel in dieser Woche “Cool Germany”. Was ist “cool” an Deutschland? Normalerweise finden wir uns eher nicht cool.

Jeremy Cliffe: Das habe ich in meiner Zeit in Deutschland gemerkt – die Deutschen halten sich nicht für cool. Aber wenn man sich die langfristige Entwicklung dieses Landes anschaut, findet man viele Tendenzen, die zu einer coolen Gesellschaft gehören. Deutschland ist als kulturelle Marke durchaus stark – deutsche Fernsehexporte wie “Deutschland 83” oder “Babylon Berlin”, deutscher Sport, Tourismus nach Deutschland, das ist alles sehr beliebt. Aber politisch gilt Deutschland überhaupt nicht als cool.

Wie meinen Sie das?

Für den linken Flügel der Politik in Ländern wie Großbritannien und den USA ist Deutschland das Land, das Südeuropa während der Eurokrise unterdrückt hat. Und es ist das Land, in dem eine Partei wie die AfD die dritte Kraft werden konnte. Aus rechter Perspektive gilt Deutschland als chaotisches Land, das aus reiner Sentimentalität gefährliche Einwanderer ins Land gelassen und dabei seine Stabilität und seinen Zusammenhalt verspielt hat.

Und diesen Menschen wollen Sie erklären, dass Deutschland ganz anders ist?

Wir sprechen auch ein deutsches Publikum an – wir haben hier Zehntausende Leser. Aber vor allem richten wir uns an unsere Hunderttausenden Leser anderswo in der Welt. Ihnen wollen wir sagen: Deutschland ist anders, als ihr glaubt. Das alte, autoritäre und konservative Deutschland, das viele Menschen weltweit noch im Kopf haben, hat sich gewandelt und ist noch immer im Wandel begriffen.

Und das ist ein positiver Wandel?

Die deutsche Gesellschaft wird aufgeschlossener, sie wird internationaler, moderner, selbstbewusster und pluraler. Der “Economist” steht sehr stark für offene Gesellschaften. Diese Tendenzen finden wir daher gut. Es gibt bestimmt Herausforderungen – pluralere Gesellschaften sind häufig gespaltene Gesellschaften. Aber die Tatsache, dass Deutschland diese Herausforderungen jetzt angehen muss, finden wir nicht schlecht.

Die deutsche Gesellschaft ist auch aggressiver geworden. Die Auseinandersetzung über die Flüchtlingspolitik wird hierzulande teilweise sehr heftig geführt.

Das stimmt, und das unterschätzen wir nicht. Aber die größere Gefahr ist, vor allem in den internationalen Medien, dass dieser Aspekt überschätzt wird. Das gilt nicht nur für Medien wie den US-Sender Fox News oder britische Boulevardzeitungen, sondern auch für die Qualitätspresse in Großbritannien: Deutschland wird häufig so dargestellt, als herrsche infolge der Flüchtlingskrise im Alltag reines Chaos. Bestimmt gibt es ein “Unbehagen”, wie die Kanzlerin es genannt hat. Aber Chaos, Verbrechen, Terror und Gewalt? Ich habe ziemlich viel Zeit in der deutschen Provinz verbracht. Das ist einfach nicht der Fall. Es gibt ein großes Spektrum von Meinungen über die Flüchtlingspolitik und generell über die Öffnung der deutschen Gesellschaft. Viele Bürger sind sogar in sich gespalten. Aber das ändert nichts an der allgemeinen Analyse, dass Deutschland insgesamt in eine eher positive Richtung geht und, wichtiger noch: in eine viel positivere Richtung, als viele im Ausland denken.


Jeremy Cliffe ist Deutschland-Korrespondent des “Economist”. Er hat den aktuellen “Special Report” der Zeitschrift geschrieben.


Warum schauen Sie mit so viel Optimismus auf Deutschland?

Nun, auch wenn man die allgemeinen Tendenzen für positiv hält, kann man über die Politik dieses Landes deprimiert sein. Ich war sehr deprimiert während des Wahlkampfes. Das TV-Duell war das langweiligste Fernsehereignis, das ich je erlebt habe. Viele wichtige Debatten, die Deutschland in dieser Übergangsperiode führen müsste, fanden dort nicht statt. Das Ausland wurde nicht erwähnt, Europa wurde nicht erwähnt, über Deutschlands Verteidigungsverantwortung wurde kaum gesprochen. Es ging viel um Einwanderung, aber Debatten über die Identität Deutschlands gab es nicht. Man kann viel Gutes über die Kanzlerin sagen. Aber dass sie so konfliktscheu ist, dass sie so sehr auf Konsens setzt und sich nur ungern in echte Debatten begibt, das passt nicht zu dem historischen Moment, in dem Deutschland sich befindet.

Woher nehmen Sie dann Ihre Zuversicht?

Der Optimismus hat mit den Veränderungen der letzten Monate zu tun. Auf einmal gibt es große Debatten über die Identität und die Zukunft des Landes. Auch wenn wir als “Economist” nicht immer einer Meinung mit den Protagonisten sind, finden wir diese Debatten gut. Deutschland braucht eine Wiederbelebung der Politik. John Kornblum, der frühere US-Botschafter in Berlin, hat mich auf einen interessanten Rahmen der deutschen Nachkriegsgeschichte hingewiesen: Alle 25 oder 30 Jahre macht dieses Land einen Wandel durch. Die Adenauer-Zeit war geprägt von einer Restauration. Es folgte die Zäsur von 1968, dann die Deutsche Einheit und die Herausforderungen der 1990er Jahre. Jetzt, dreißig Jahre nach der Wiedervereinigung und zwanzig Jahre nach dem Ende der Kohl-Periode, befindet Deutschland sich in einem neuen Übergang. Dass sich so viel in Deutschland verändert, birgt Risiken und Herausforderungen, aber auch Möglichkeiten – und über die wird in Deutschland zu wenig gesprochen.

Ist Angela Merkel die richtige Kanzlerin, um eine solche Debatte zu führen und anzuführen?

Als Engländer sollte ich anderen Ländern schlechte politische Führung grundsätzlich nicht vorwerfen. Und ich würde die positiven Eigenschaften der Kanzlerin nie unterschätzen. Aber ich glaube, sie passt eher zu der Periode, die gerade zu Ende geht – eine Zeit, in der die großen Veränderungen der 90er Jahre und der rot-grünen Regierungszeit gefestigt werden mussten. Für eine Periode der Konsolidierung war Frau Merkel die perfekte Kanzlerin: unpolitisch und konfliktscheu, sie hat die Wähler beruhigt. Aber sie erklärt nicht und gibt keine Richtung vor. Aber jetzt ändert sich die Lage. Kaum jemand glaubt, dass die Kanzlerin noch einmal antreten wird. Ob sie schon in einem oder in zwei Jahren oder erst 2021 ihr Amt abgibt, das wissen wir nicht, aber wir können davon ausgehen, dass die Merkel-Ära endet.



Wie geht es nach Merkel weiter?

Es sieht so aus, als komme jetzt eine neue Generation von Politikern nach vorne, die stärker zu politischen Auseinandersetzungen bereit ist. Das gilt sowohl für den rechten Flügel der Politik – für Jens Spahn, Julia Klöckner, sogar für Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Unter den potenziellen Merkel-Nachfolgerinnen ist sie der Kanzlerin am ähnlichsten, aber auch sie hat mehr Kampfbereitschaft als Frau Merkel. Und auch auf dem linken Flügel der Politik nimmt die Bereitschaft zur Debatte zu. Ich war in Bonn, als Andrea Nahles versprochen hat, mit der Union zu verhandeln, “bis es quietscht”. Dann gibt es interessante Figuren wie Robert Habeck bei den Grünen. Nach meinem Eindruck braucht der linke Flügel der deutschen Politik einen neuen Joschka Fischer. Er selbst sagte mir übrigens, er glaube, Habeck habe die besten Aussichten, ein neuer Joschka Fischer zu werden. Kurzum: Es gibt Politiker, die das Zeug haben, die wichtigen Debatten zu führen und die Bürger mitzureißen. Solche Führungsfiguren braucht Deutschland jetzt – Politiker wie Joschka Fischer oder Gerhard Schröder.

Wollen die Deutschen wirklich solche Politiker? Sind wir konfliktbereit genug, um einen zweiten Schröder zu vertragen?

Natürlich ist Deutschland noch immer stärker am Konsens orientiert als alle anderen Länder des Westens. Aber die Bürger haben einen neuen Bundestag gewählt, der viel Konfliktpotential hat. Der gemeinsame Wille der deutschen Bevölkerung ist es, dass jetzt sieben Parteien im Parlament sind. Aber auch, wenn die Bürger keinen Streit wollen: Manchmal müssen die Impulse von der Politik kommen. Die Hartz-IV-Reformen waren nicht beliebt, sie haben das Land polarisiert. Aber es war die richtige Entscheidung für das Land. Das erkennen viele Menschen – wenn auch nicht alle – erst jetzt.

Die SPD hat sich bis heute nicht von Schröders Hartz-Reformen erholt.

Das stimmt. Schwierige Entscheidungen können politische Kosten haben. Aber in der Politik geht es nicht nur darum, politisches Kapital anzuhäufen – das ist ein sehr typisch deutsches Verhalten: sparen ohne zu investieren. Es ist wie beim Geld: Politisches Kapital, das nicht eingesetzt wird, ist nutzlos. Schröder hat sein politisches Kapital für Hartz IV ausgegeben, aber auch für gesellschaftliche Reformen. Oder Joschka Fischer und seine Kosovo-Rede auf dem Bielefelder Parteitag 1999. Beliebt hat er sich damit nicht gemacht, aber es war eine moralisch richtige Entscheidung.

Merkel ist nach der Präsidentschaftswahl in den USA als neue “Führerin der freien Welt” bezeichnet worden, aber sie schafft es nicht einmal, sich mit Emmanuel Macron auf eine Reform der EU zu einigen. Ist nicht wenigstens das Grund zu Pessimismus?

Da sind wir wahrscheinlich am pessimistischsten. Was wir zutiefst bedauern ist, dass “der neue Aufbruch für Europa”, wie Union und SPD ihren Koalitionsvertrag genannt haben, verloren geht. Besser als Macron wird es in Europa nicht werden. Macron hat eine Art Vertrag mit der französischen Bevölkerung: Wenn Frankreich sich auf schwierige wirtschaftliche Reformen einlässt, dann kauft das Land damit Glaubwürdigkeit in Berlin, um zusammen mit Deutschland ein nachhaltigeres Europa zu schaffen. Das wird von zu wenigen deutschen Politikern erkannt. Wenn jetzt keine Taten folgen, dann wird ein großer Moment in der europäischen Geschichte vergeudet.

Was sagen Sie einem Freund in Großbritannien, der Sie beim Bier oder beim Tee fragt, wie die Deutschen eigentlich so sind?

Das ist genau die Frage, die wir mit unserer Titelseite beantworten wollen.

Sie sagen dann: “Cool”?

Ja. Okay, vielleicht sage ich auch: “Cooler als du denkst.” Deutschland ist viel bunter und entspannter, als man im Ausland annimmt. Die vorherrschenden Klischees über Deutschland sind immer noch die aus der Zeit von Helmut Kohl: Bratwurst, Lederhose, formelle Umgangsformen, sozial konservativ, ethnisch homogen, wenig Integration, viele Regeln. Und das stimmt einfach nicht mehr.

Mit Jeremy Cliffe sprach Hubertus Volmer