Speech by Helen Zille to the Liberal Club. 22 July 2019
I would like to begin by paying a tribute to SA Institute for Race Relations (IRR), for its consistency and steadfastness under fire over 90 years, in a space well-defined by former CEO John Kane Berman in his book Between Two Fires.
Liberals in South Africa all occupy this space, to some degree. It is not always a comfortable place to be, but it is the right one, in order to take on the twin demons of racial nationalism and socialism.
If SA succeeds, as I am still convinced we can, it will be in large measure because of the courage of people like those around this table tonight.
Not that I have always agreed with you. Speaking from my former position inside the arena, having you guys in the critics’ gallery was as uncomfortable as it was necessary.
However, I do think it is important for analysts and critics to hear, that in the world of realpolitik, the complex internal and external environment, requires one to balance more factors than can easily be appreciated from outside. And when you are in government, the pressures are even greater.
Helen Suzman’s great injunction -- “when in doubt go back to the principle” -- is one I have always tried to live by. That is why it is important that a liberal think tank, specifically, should be one of the multiple voices that harangue you, especially when they measure you by the yardstick you claim to espouse.
It is easy to lose sight of where the liberal line is when you are about to cross it. Public debate helps you to interrogate your reasons, rather than merely take the path of pragmatism, which is always the most tempting in a difficult situation.
To give one example, my autobiography in a chapter called the Plane Crash, recounts the impact of an article written by James Myburgh titled “The DA has just put a bullet through its brain”. This article triggered a series of very difficult but important processes within the party, which I won’t go into now. Suffice to say, we are still dealing with those issues, and will be for a long time.
The point though, is this: When you are inside the arena, when your face is marred with blood and sweat, (as President Teddy Roosevelt said), you learn that politics is the art of the possible, that you try to reconcile with as many core values as possible, for as much of the time as possible.
Often a 100% principled position is not on the menu of options. And sometimes, the consequence of remaining rigidly principled can be worse that taking a strategically pragmatic course. The difficulty is trying to work out when.
I often think back to the Liberal party that chose to disband rather than abide by the Prohibition of Political Interference Act, the bizarrely named law that prohibited non-racial party membership. That response was certainly a principled one.
The Progressive Party was far more pragmatic. The party decided it had to stay in the electoral game to keep liberalism relevant over the longer haul, even though they had to compromise liberal principles to do so.
Looking back, it is often difficult for liberals to determine exactly at which point pragmatism goes too far. Much of the debate between myself and the IRR in the past has been about this. Nevertheless, it is important to have virgins in politics, although, by definition, they can only retain their status outside the party-political brothel.
Our challenge, as liberals, is further complicated by the fact that many people would disagree on what the concept of liberalism means.
This confusion was vividly Illustrated when Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in an interview with the Financial Times, recently described Liberalism was “obsolete”, a philosophy that had “outlived its usefulness”. Read contextually, he was clearly referring to the idea of globalism, of multi-culturalism, of the notion that individuals from vastly different cultures, languages, and religions can live in peace and prosperity in the same country within a liberal constitutional order.
Reading the interview, it occurred to me that he was working from much the same departure point as the architects of grand apartheid, who argued that multi-culturalism would prove impossible in a united South Africa, and therefore each ethnic group would have to inhabit its own country. Balkanisation was the alternative to a common society.
Liberals, of all degrees, rejected this point of departure, but that puts the onus on us to prove that a common society, based on liberal precepts and a market economy, can indeed succeed. We have a long way to go.
We find ourselves, however, in good international company. Angela Merkel, the politician I most admire, has staked everything on her belief that it can be done.
Putin, in the same interview, described this as her “cardinal mistake” and a worrying number of Germans now agree with him.
And, let’s remember, Chancellor Merkel has an easier job than many other proponents of liberal democracy. All she has to do, to succeed, is to ensure the successful assimilation of a relatively small proportion of people from a different culture, religion and language into the well-established secular German Rechtstaat, with its pumping economy and only 3% unemployment.
What’s more, it is the country the migrants actually chose to be in, because of the lifestyle and opportunities a well-functioning constitutional democracy and market economy offer.
Merkel has also put a massive budget behind her assimilation quest -- but if she (or her successors) fail, for whatever reason, including that refugees and migrants may later resist assimilation in significant numbers, -- then the idea that liberalism can work in a globalising world will be severely strained, with profound consequences not only in Germany, but for liberal constitutional democracy worldwide. If Germany can’t make it work in their highly conducive context, then who can?
I happened to agree with Chancellor Merkel when she said: “Das schaffen wir”. -- We can do this. A lot hangs on the outcome, and not only for Germany.
Even more hangs on the outcome in South Africa. I will attempt to show in this lecture, that an even greater burden rests on the small band of warriors in this room, and our slightly bigger circle of supporters beyond. Of course, unlike Merkel, we cannot assume the right, and we certainly do not have the power, to assimilate anyone into anything.
We only have our belief in constitutionalism, and a commitment to ensure that our constitution, which was devised by South Africans ourselves, with all its imperfections, will endure as the foundational compact on which to build a shared South Africanism, with an inclusive economy, in the way its authors intended us to.
But let’s be frank: We had far greater reason to be optimistic about the possibility of this happening 20 years ago, when there was almost universal support for constitutionalism. Nelson Mandela’s global iconic status became the pivot of our quest for a common nationhood, and the economy was backed by a surge of confidence.
Things don’t look so rosy now, especially through the ubiquitous lens of social media.
If anyone thought Twitter reflected the real world, they would have given up long ago. On this platform, the dominant narrative about our constitution is that it represents the struggle’s surrender to the forces of white monopoly capital, engineered by a group of sell-outs led by Nelson Mandela who conspired with the enemy to betray his own people.
Fortunately, Twitter is not the real world, as some people have taken a rather long time to realise, but is does indicate trends, and the trend to polarisation vis-a-vis the constitution is one that we ignore at our peril.
Countries have failed to defend a liberal order in more conducive circumstances than ours. In fact, it is sobering to realise that few, if any, have succeeded in comparable circumstances.
The task before us is to ensure that the majority of South Africans experience and appreciate the benefits of our constitution, in practice. Ideally, had we fulfilled the constitutional promise, South Africans should, in the past two decades, have experienced the benefits of increased social stability and predictability arising out of the rule of law; and better life-chances arising from improved services -- from electricity reticulation, to sanitation, to education, health care and public transport -- delivered by a capable state, creating conditions for the market to drive economic growth and jobs.
While it would be wrong to deny that there has been progress in key areas, it has not been nearly adequate to realise the much sloganized “better life for all”, which would have enabled us to build the overarching national identity we need if our democracy is to succeed.
Ironically, and tragically, at the worst possible moment, this quest is being fundamentally challenged by the emergence of a fracturing, rather than binding form of identity politics. Countries with a far longer history of constitutionalism are battling to overcome this challenge.
Look at France. There is something particularly poignant about the country that gave us liberte, egalite, fraternite, battling so hard to retain the idea of an inclusive French identity, as it fractures on the fault lines of ethnicity and religion, which have become rallying points for the excluded.
In Germany where I was recently, and where identity politics is being reflected in its own contextual way, I got the impression that the social compact underlying constitutionalism and the rule of law (what they call the Rechtstaat) is still pretty much unassailable. But for how long?
The question in South Africa is far more fundamental, existential even: can we establish a Rechtstaat -- a liberal constitutional order -- at all? For many, who think that question was settled with the adoption of our constitution in 1996, it will seem absurd to even ask it; Yes, on paper we do have an essentially liberal constitution, albeit with some distinctly illiberal elements, (but it was the best, in the real world, that our constitutional negotiators could produce).
We must be honest, though, our constitution is in ICU, as I explained in detail in a paper I presented at a constitutional mini-conference organised by the FW de Klerk Foundation recently.
So, in essence, the question facing South African Liberals, more than 20 years after the adoption of our constitution, is: can we build a constitutional order, characterised by the rule of law, a capable professional state, and a broad societal culture of public accountability and personal responsibility?
These are the elements of liberalism that give tangible expression to the two core liberal ideas -- firstly, the primacy of the individual as the core unit of value in society, imbued with personal agency; and secondly the concept of human fallibility.
It is these two ideas that lie at the heart of the liberal understanding of the role of the state, and its relationship with citizens, both as individuals and as groups. The state’s role is to protect rights and freedoms, extend opportunities, and sustain strong, independent institutions, capable of holding power to account, (because power holders are particularly vulnerable to the temptations inherent in human fallibility).
Individuals, in turn, have not only a right to claim their freedoms, they have a responsibility to use them in order to achieve the kind of lives to which they aspire. This human urge, against entropy, is the driving force seeking to create order out of chaos, and motivating individuals to improve their lives. It provides the impetus for economic development.
As Alan Paton frequently pointed out, Liberalism is also a frame of mind, an attitude, which underlies a very tenuous and fragile set of relationships which are easily destroyed by those who do not accept its paradigm. This strikes me anew every day as the right to protest spills into violence and lawlessness. Where relatively small numbers of people, at our universities or in our streets, can disrupt the lives and opportunities of thousands, by using violence and breaking the law.
It is the absence of this broadly accepted liberal compact -- or culture, if you will -- that makes the Putin interview uncomfortable reading. Are we doomed to discover that liberalism is indeed “obsolete” in contexts such as ours? Or if not obsolete, then unattainable?
Ironically, Putin’s warning was foreshadowed from an entirely different perspective almost ten years ago -- by none other than Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State. He came to see me while he was here for the soccer world cup and while I was still DA leader. He said he had reached the conclusion that establishing liberal democracy (where political choice transcends ethnicity and race, and where the rule of law replaces political coercion) would be impossible to achieve in Africa. The ethnic group default, and the misalignment of constitutional democracy with traditional governance systems were too strong.
Yet, he said, he was amazed in South Africa to find that the DA was proving him wrong. We seemed, he commented, to be finding ways to build the politics of contesting principles, ideas and policies within an agreed set of rules, and overcoming the default to ethnic identity in the process. How were we doing it, he wanted to know.
One part of my answer was that there was a strong tradition of non-racialism in South Africa, and that the more inclusive the institutions of liberal democracy became, such as parliament, the judiciary, the independent electoral commission, and a diverse media, the more their benefits would be experienced by growing numbers of people, and the greater the likelihood would be that the project would succeed.
I argued that the DA, as the most diverse political party South Africa has ever had, was contributing to that, not only in opposition but by actually winning elections and being able to translate its principles into applied policy. If we succeeded at local and regional level, there was, in theory at least, a chance of countering the default to ethnic nationalism, and ultimately establishing a liberal government at national level as well.
One thing I had clearly not reckoned with is the warning given by Ziblatt and Levitsky in their book How Democracies Die: that people can use the very instruments of democracy to destroy it. This again underscores how extremely vulnerable liberal democracies are to people who do not share their principles.
And sometimes I think that this may have been the ANC’s plan from the start. It was certainly inherent in the theory of the two-stage revolution -- in which the national liberation movement would first establish control of the institutions of a bourgeois democracy, and then use its “internal contradictions” to collapse it, in order to move to the second stage of the revolution, to achieve the socialist nirvana.
“The tragic paradox of the electoral route to authoritarianism,” say Ziblatt and Levitsky, is that democracy’s assassins use the very institutions of democracy, gradually, subtly, and even legally, to kill it”.
This aptly describes the State capture project, which has always been central to ANC strategy, and is not a Zuma aberration as many people seem to think. It is also inimical to liberal democracy.
It is trite to observe that liberal democracy is always easiest to sustain in culturally and ethnically homogenous societies. Multi-culturalism compounds the challenges many fold. But it is a challenge the world cannot escape. We can build all the walls we like, people will keep moving, and the world will keep shrinking.
Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Boris Johnson, are all, in different ways, products of a determination to contain and prevent the threat it entails.
The difference is that, unlike Putin, Trump and Johnson lead countries that have essentially liberal constitutions.
So the way they handle the challenges has particular relevance for democracies everywhere. They now face some of the contradictions that South Africa has always faced on a far greater scale. And they seem even less equipped to deal with them than we are.
In the United States, this is further complicated by the fact that the term “liberal” has a significantly different meaning from the way we understand the concept.
The US meaning, (the substance of which is now rapidly spreading through much of the English speaking world including South Africa), represents such a fundamental change that it has been described as reflecting a major shift in moral culture. This shift, in the United States, has given rise to what is known as the “culture wars”.
This phrase refers, not primarily, to the global contestation between authoritarian and liberal political systems, but to the battle being waged within liberal democracies themselves, and often about the very concept of liberalism.
The best analysis of this phenomenon I have come across is by two American sociologists, Bradley Manning and Jason Campbell who were the first to describe what is happening in the United States as the world’s “second great transition of moral culture”. The first occurred in the 18th and 19th Century, when Western societies moved from what the two academics call the “honour culture” to a “dignity culture”.
Honour culture is best illustrated by a story we know well -- Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet -- or rather its background theme of two warring families, divided by an honour feud. Each side must defend their family’s honour and avenge any death. It is each male family member’s personal responsibility. The clan’s status depends on it. That was how the world worked for centuries before the late 18th Century.
The shift to the dignity culture occurred when the idea began to emerge that rights and responsibilities are inherent in every individual, and that their capacity to live together in functional societies required the development of independent or relatively autonomous institutions to protect and uphold these rights, impartially, within the framework of agreed laws.
The role of individuals and families in upholding their rights and status, thus moved to the institutions of state, and it became a crime to “take the law into your own hands”. (As an aside, reading Campbell and Manning, I wondered how much attention we have given to the complexity of this transition, in South Africa and how the misalignment between different moral cultures contributes to the difficulties of establishing credible and independents state institutions to prevent the problem of people taking the law into their own hands).
However, the US is facing a different challenge, and the ripple effects are being felt world-wide. The dominance of the dignity culture in liberal democracies is now undergoing its next major shift, comparable in its impact to the shift from the honour culture that began three Centuries ago.
Manning and Campbell describe the current change as a shift to a victimhood culture. The key distinguishing feature from the dignity culture is the rejection of the notion that institutional mechanisms are sufficient to defend and uphold a person’s rights and dignity, or that individual agency is sufficient to enable people to improve their circumstances, even in a context of opportunity.
This is because, the argument goes, the assumptions underlying a dignity culture cannot adequately deal with the fact that entire categories of people, based on biological characteristics such as race, sex or sexual orientation, are victimised through the structures of society, which use the yardstick of the white alpha heterosexual male as the norm. Everyone else is, in one way or another, a victim, whether they recognise this or not.
The new idea of social-justice or “progressive liberalism”, therefore valorises victimhood, rather than individual agency, and blames not only social structures and institutions, but entire categories of people, biologically defined, for the oppression and victimhood of other categories of people, also biologically defined. Individual identity and autonomy are an illusion. Demography is destiny.
People who use this prism to interpret society, are known as woke, a term of approval in the new liberal lexicon. Wokeness, in essence, has become modern slang for describing progressive, social-justice oriented liberalism.
I do not think that liberalism as we understand it, and the quest for social justice need necessarily be antithetical. Indeed, liberalism itself emerged as part of the quest for social justice. But, in its current articulation “woke liberalism” does challenge the foundational impulse of liberalism, the idea of the individual as the primary unit of value in society, imbued with personal agency and responsibility; as well as the concept of human fallibility.
Woke liberalism has all the hallmarks of an ideology, that claims to have discovered “truth” and seeks to force the world into its framework. Good vs evil. Four legs good, two legs bad. In short, the very antithesis of liberalism.
However, we as classical liberals, also need to concede that our emphasis on the individual has often given us a blind spot about the extent to which individuals give expression to who they are through the comfort of belonging to groups, from a gang on the Cape Flats, through to the local bridge club, or the LGBTQI+ community, not to mention an ethnic group forged through centuries, sometimes millennia, with the same religion, culture and language. Especially where they are under threat.
Francis Fukuyama, in his recent book on identity, has, in my view, the most cogent explanation of why this shift in moral cultures is happening. His book offers a fascinating history of how, paradoxically, the rise of individualism during the Enlightenment created the conditions for the emergence of identity politics. In fact, the first notion of identity was the recognition of individual agency in relationship to God. This idea, initially championed by Martin Luther, rejected the notion that the Church was a required intermediary between a person and God. The idea was revolutionary at the time.
Later came Jean Jacques Rousseau, the pioneering standard bearer for individual freedom in relation to the state.
The next major milestone was the French Revolution, the historical significance of which (for our purpose) lies in the demands by “commoners” to have their right to liberty and equality recognised by their government as part of a common French society under the Tricolor; individuals wanting to be recognised as equals in the same nation, is a collective drive of individuals seeking to belong to something bigger, for their own comfort and protection, and provides the glue that holds nations together within a framework of ground rules that we call a Constitution.
So we see the historical thread through which individualism gives rise to identity, which inspires collective action, which in turn gives rise to nationalism, and which, no doubt, then once more requires the assertion of individual liberty against the suffocating cloak that nationalism tends to become, in endless iteration.
The driving force behind this, is what Fukuyama calls Thymos: an inherent human craving for the recognition of each individual’s dignity and worth. During the past fifty years, this has moved to the next level, with people demanding that institutions of society, including governments, take responsibility for the way that individuals feel about themselves. This takes public responsibility for personal identity to a new level.
It is terrain where liberals and liberalism have never ventured before. And it is a central tenet of the new identity politics of woke social-justice liberalism.
Suddenly, a new core human right has been added to the liberal charter -- the right to feel good about yourself. This quickly translates into the right not to be offended, a right that “wokeness” demands must be upheld by the state, and policed by all institutions of society.
And increasingly even private companies must ensure that their products do not, unwittingly, make people feel bad about themselves. I was interested to read that Instagram is running a pilot in several countries to remove the capacity of individual users to see how many “likes” other people have for their posts, so that users do not feel bad about themselves by comparison.
The problem is that the first casualty of this new-found right not to be offended, is free speech, which liberals have always regarded as primus inter pares amongst all human rights (apart from the right to life itself). Because humans are fallible, liberals believe individuals must have the right to challenge conventional wisdom. Almost all human progress has arisen from such challenges, which are contextually usually highly offensive.
So the new identity politics, which ironically, evolved from the first coherent assertion of individualism over 400 years ago, through a revolt against the institutionalised church, has come full circle to the point where one person’s right to be protected from offence, means denying other people’s right to free speech.
This new definition of social justice liberalism falls outside the definition of what, in my view, the liberal political philosophy can accommodate, without destroying its own foundations.
Yet the huge challenge is this: even as we are seeking to build a common identity, dare I say a national identity, across great divides as South Africans, on the basis of our broadly liberal constitution, the new movement that lionises offence-taking and seeks reasons to find it everywhere, is making that quest extremely difficult.
It is, as Fukuyama notes, dividing society into smaller and smaller groups of individuals, each with their own claims to specific or manifold grievances, in a hierarchy of victimhood, with the most multiply aggrieved at the apex. The lowest rung of the victimhood hierarchy is occupied by the most privileged, presumed to be white heterosexual males. They are fair game to be targeted by everyone, who have not only a right, but a duty to challenge their inherent privilege.
But things get more nuanced and complex as one moves up this clearly demarcated hierarchy to a higher level of victimhood. Woe betide anyone who offends someone who is more intersectionally or multiply victimised than they are.
And as certain biologically or ethnically defined groups, such as Indians for example, are seen to improve their economic and social status relative to the rest, they become fair game too, based on their genetic characteristics. Not to mention those white women, like me, who do not regard their gender as an impenetrable barrier in their lives. We are as bad as the worst category, white heterosexual men.
It is hardly surprising that this paradigm makes the quest for nation building, that we so badly need, so difficult. In fact, it could even become a non-starter.
The result, also inevitably, is that the universally targeted white heterosexual male, tends to mobilise with others of similar genetic make-up around individuals like Donald Trump, telling everyone else to get the hell off their patch if they don’t like it.
In South Africa, where the “demon group” is actually a tiny, shrinking minority, this philosophy has inevitably lead to the scape-goating, and will gradually target a much wider range of minorities, who offer a useful red herring to deflect public attention away from the failures of a racially self-defined majority government, to curb corruption, uphold the rule of law, or make significant progress in delivering the opportunities promised by constitutionalism through a capable state.
And thus we see increasing emigration and a draining of the skills that we fundamentally need to fulfil our constitutional promise, because the holders of many of these skills are cast as “the enemy” when indeed, properly engaged, they are the very opposite.
Many have the skills South Africa needs. Most want to play a constructive role.
How do we respond in this situation? Not by apologising for our existence, disappearing from social media platforms and avoiding, under all circumstances, giving any offence to anyone higher up the victimhood hierarchy.
We need to stand our ground, even if it means giving offence, not gratuitously, but on matters that we believe need to be articulated.
Funnily enough I saw a glimpse of what we need to do when I was on a visit to Grand West casino complex the other day, taking my foster grand-daughter, Ngowenceba, to the ice-rink for a skating party with her class mates. Grand West is not just a casino, it is an entertainment complex with offering a whole range of options for people who want to spend their weekends, like moles, in the corridors of a giant indoor entertainment mall, as thousands clearly do, despite the glory of the Cape’s winter sunshine on a perfect day outside.
In the cavernous, dark bowels of Grand West, South Africans of all colours, shapes and sizes, crowded in like sardines, to over-eat and djol, and be their very loud South African selves, together. I sat all afternoon at a packed-to-capacity Spur, with many others joining me at the same table because of the demand for space, watching the passing show. And I felt very encouraged by the end of it.
No wonder, I thought to myself, that the IRR’s polls keep showing that race is not the number one concern of most South Africans. It is much more important to get a job, so that you have money to feed the family and spend Saturday afternoon at Grand West. Here was social cohesion being built up before my eyes. It is something we need to take very seriously and we are all part of it, in our different ways, every day. Interaction and respect, in functional situations , in every day life is central to building a shared culture. And we need to contribute to it, even as we mobilise ourselves as a Liberal club. That must be to strengthen our engagement, of course, not to separate ourselves into some elite intellectual group.
Another thing that gives me comfort is, that with noteworthy exceptions, some institutions are still functional and people can increasingly see the benefit of this. That strengthens our hand in building the case for a capable state, and the preconditions for achieving it -- appointments on merit rather than race. The context is become easier, rather than harder to make this argument, which is why it is emerging particularly strongly now, as the DA takes some very hard knocks in the polls. Let us hope its crucial review process produces some honest introspection.
Yet another thing that encourages me is the power of communication, enhanced by technology. In previous generations it took decades to popularise and spread ideas. Now it only takes a core group of people who believe in themselves and are prepared to make use of communication networks effectively, inclusively and strategically to spread their ideas and strike a broader chord. Even and especially, when they create offence by telling the truth as the see it.
Satirists like Titania McGrath and Jonathan Pie, analysts like Jordan Peterson and our own Big Daddy Liberty, are good examples of this. We need to put a lot more muscle behind this.
Technology will also make people less reliant on the state, from public safety to education. As we all become digital citizens, people will increasingly become connected. They will find each other, based on their core beliefs, interests, and cultures to forge new communities, who see the value of encouraging this freedom, for themselves and others.
We hope that this can increasingly happen across racial barriers around interests and ideas, within a broader understanding of constitutionalism, which in a nation state requires a sense of nationhood.
We need to make maximal use of the space available. That is what, for example, I have tried to do on Twitter. It started off as an almost totally woke platform, and has now developed its own strong liberal ecosystem. That is a good thing. It is one of the core reasons that I stay, and that I troll, despite the overwhelming, well-intentioned advice from hundreds of people, not to.
But we still have a long way to go. I was reminded of this when I heard Serena Williams saying recently:
“The day I stop fighting for the equality of people who look like me will be the day I am in my grave”.
Instead of reminding her that you do not have to look like someone to fight for their dignity and equality, Business Day gave her a green light for her expressed sentiment. That shows you we still have a long row to hoe.
Banding together with people who look like you is the most basic, biological form of social cohesion, and while it is powerful and understandable, we need to consciously seek to transcend this. When we can get beyond what people look like, to what they stand for and believe, we will really be making progress.
But this could all be a liberal pipe dream if biological populism manages to create a groundswell for a racial majority to rally behind an authoritarian interventionist state that erodes the freedoms necessary to facilitate development and economic growth.
And yet, even if this does happen in South Africa, it won’t be the first time liberals have had to face unintended consequences. Those inspired by Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, didn’t anticipate Robespierre. Those who fought for liberty against the Nazi’s, did not anticipate the authoritarian oppression of subsequent communist regimes. I daresay those who fought for democracy in Zimbabwe did not anticipate what Mugabe turned out to be.
That illustrates why liberals have to keep on fighting. There will always be big battles, and sitting somewhere else, safe and comfortable in the world, is no way to fight them. It will certainly not make them go away.
We, as South African liberals, need to fill the space in which we happen to be. Here and Now. In my positive moments, and certainly in a place like this, surrounded by many of our brightest and best, I feel confident to say with Angela Merkel: Das Schaffen Wir.