Beware of names wherever you go. There is nothing more misleading than names and analogous to what Germans say “Fragen kostet nichts” meaning you can always pose your questions; asking does not cost you a penny, let me say: giving names does not cost you an arm and a leg. Human beings have always been naïve indeed regarding names and it is quite easy to manipulate.

Just take the notorious cigarette known by the name of Marlboro. Did you know it initially targeted female smokers because it was mild and came with a filter? The slogan ran: “mild as May”. Later in the 1950s the company decided to dump the targeting of women because of low sales figures and began promoting Marlboro as a man's cigarette with a picture of a cowboy symbolizing masculine freedom and strength and the sales soared. Nothing changed apart from labeling. If you knew for example how margarine is made and the number of chemicals added when making it, in addition to bleaching it with bleach earth and adding flavors because it stinks like soap, you would not be tempted into buying it any more thinking it would keep you fit and reduce your weight and cholesterol level.

Names are thus nothing but a marketing strategy. It adds to the image of an institution or a product. Sometimes names have to be changed if they raise bad associations in other languages. “Silver Mist” was a name given to Rolls Royce until they found out that “Mist” in German means dung. A company wanted to sell a combing stick for women, mistakenly giving it the name “Mist Stick”. However, these two innocent words make the German buyer think of “ Mist-Stück” a kind of female telling-off men, meaning “rotten bastard, a piece of shit”.

The names given to the German parties can be compared to the labeling of tinned food and cigarettes. The parties do not really differ in their political program. The only difference is the name: CDU Christian Democrats, CSU Christian Socialists, SPD Social Democrats, the Greens AL alternative List, FDP Liberal Democrats. But names lost their meaning and content long ago. You can choose any name you desire without making it part of your political program or even practicing its philosophy.

Christian Democrats are not more Christian than Social Democrats and Social Democrats are not more social than Christian Democrats and the so called liberal FDP is only liberal to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). But as Mr Blaire, the former British prime minister said in his new book “Journey”, time has come to abandon party programs, campaigns and misleading names. It is much better to concentrate on personalities and single issues. People do not believe them any way. However, in our global fast world people’s memories have become short-term.

Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim
Bremen – Germany