Richard Schuberth, trans. Johannes Weinkirn

A selection from The New Devil’s Dictionary: An Aphoristic Lexicon

Author: Richard Schuberth
translated by Johannes Weinkirn & edited by Steve Seaward


Selected by the translator.




accomplishment, n

Effort demanded by rich fuckers (in particular by silver-spoon swells, speculators, and real estate moguls) from poor suckers as justification for their right to exist.

anti-consumerism, n

Rich people denying themselves the purchase of their third car with the pedagogical intention of embarrassing the less affluent for their greed in wanting a second.

aphorism, n

Physical therapy for the mind’s bad posture. Like a butterfly, the aphorism flits about man’s cognition, drawing out its rigid attitudes and stances, and even though it can’t capture the butterfly, attempts to do so confer a mental flexibility.



Balkans, n pl

Open-air museum of competition in its unrestrained and heroic original state, as well as spare-parts depot for originality, authenticity, and cheap labor set up by the West in Southeast Europe. The West, as trustee, administers the Balkan economy; the Balkans, in return, provide old discourses like nationalism (which at the moment is of no use to the West), and keep it in good working order, polished like an antique car in the garage. The Westerner, grown slightly bored and boring, loves best the Balkanian’s vital antagonism between Eros and Thanatos; between joi de vivre and the dire, age-old proclivity to sacrifice his life in the nationalist abattoir and his life savings at the teller window of the Austrian Credit Bank.

bandit, n

Robber who takes from the rich to give to a pauper—himself! The left always mislabeled the bandit a social rebel. Capitalists drew a more realistic picture of this hero, who couldn’t easily be excised from their family portraits.

blues, n pl

Music of Black slaves of the 1850s and Black industrial workers of the 1950s in which present day white middle class intellectuals have found their trials and tribulations most perfectly expressed.



capitalism, n

Scientifically proven after countless laboratory trials on mice to be the most successful mode of economic and societal organization. When rats were placed in the mouse cage, they always came out on top.

compassion, n

The magnificent selflessness that enables us, while being cooked in the cannibal’s cauldron, to dive below the surface to enable the fellow sufferers underneath our feet to catch a momentary breath of air. Man, caring fellow that he is, however, tends to forget in his compassionate frenzy that one could also crawl out of the cauldron, tip it over, and kick the cannibal in the nuts. But that doesn’t rank very high on the scale of compassion. He prefers to be cooked well and well-behaved rather than hard-boiled and just.

crucifix, n

Christian symbol meant to remind believers of what happens to people who want to change the world.



the dead, n pl

The only minority in our society still without a lobby. Which is as likely as not the reason why the powers that be are so keen on integrating as many people as possible into it.

democracy, n

The high art of sucking up to the masses in order to gain their favor and govern against their will. Whichever direction the pendulum of government swings—toward conservative or progressive politics

—and whatever interests the government pushes through—those of the powerful or of the people—it always happens with the mandate of the people against the will of the people.

direct democracy, n

The determined will of the people to sacrifice the civil rights they’re entitled to for more jingoism, free brewskies, and the discrimination of minorities.



Eastward Enlargement, n

Biblical plague of the more recent past. At the last moment, just when Western vulture capitalism was about to choke on its own values—that is, the overproduction of goods and opinions—the Iron Curtain fell and vast new horizons opened up for the once again unfettered vultures. There they devoured the public pension system and crapped freedom of expression, and since they weren’t just a pest, but a pest

with values and responsibility, they groomed among the local population vulture elites, so that in the East, too, every man could be a vulture to his fellow man. Finally, freedom was thriving Easterly as well: the freedom to window shop for the newest, unaffordable vulture fashion; the freedom as a free economic agent to exchange one’s labor in the vulture spare-parts factories for vulture wages, which are immediately and dutifully carried to the neat vulture banks; the freedom, the day’s work done, to dance the newest vulture boogie-woogies, and on weekends, if any strength is left, to cultivate one’s free and chic vulture opinion, which is obtained from one of the numerous vulture newsletters.

But this vulturist dynamic doesn’t just flow one way. The defiant intensity, if not panic, of the Eastern vulture in its battle for survival is an important stimulus for the the languishing Western vulture. He regards this touch of barbarism and jolly desperation, which Eastward Enlargement has beaten into the East, as unadulterated Eastern culture and as irresistibly sexy.

economic liberalism, n

School of economics that bridges an astounding gulf between theory and praxis and whose essence may be grasped by putting its most popular credo on its head:

What is good for General Motors is bad for most of America. What is bad for General Motors is even worse for most Americans.


Eurozone, n

Ploy devised by export-miracle Germany to prevent the surrounding debtor countries from devaluing their national currencies through adoption of a common one.



false emancipation, n

Solidarity with the hungry through dieting, with female sex workers through abstinence, and with the impecunious through thrift. Occurs when social struggles are infiltrated by Catholic penitents and Protestant asthenics whose most conspicuous revolutionary productive forces are self-denial, puritanism, and envy. They can already be recognized in the plenary discussion by how they prefer taking privileges away from the privileged to granting them to the underprivileged. And their willingness to use every possible opportunity to go on hunger strike, even and especially when it is least warranted, is highly suspicious at best. In revolutions, these gloomy fellows make excellent suicide attackers and martyrs. And gotten rid of they must be at all costs, for if they get into positions of power after the successful overthrow of the old order, everything will have been in vain.

fascism, n

Until now the only political system that succeeded in satisfying two human needs seemingly opposed to each other: to humiliate and to be humiliated.

In a world where the market, as the highest and final institution, blows human beings here and there like dust, those overwhelmed and dehumanized by such an abstract levelling force crave a more visceral form of dehumanization: a strong hoe that separates this human dust into fertile native soil and foreign dirt—which is scooped out first.

According to political scientists, Fascism celebrated its apex in the 20s and 30s of the Twentieth century

—a popular excuse for putting it into the cabinet of bygone horrors and making light of its more recent metamorphosis as right-wing populism.

foreign aid, n

In the past—delivery to underdeveloped countries of their own fish.

Nowadays—help for self help—enticing underdeveloped countries to manufacture fishing line and then forcing them to buy the corresponding fishing rods from us.



Greece, n

Cradle of European civilization, which titters at the brink of bankruptcy and is constantly exhorted by the former cradle of European barbarism, Germany, to pay back those advances which contributed to the German economy’s advanced state of prosperity.

growth, n

Term which in business and oncology carries meaning and which in both disciplines shows a remarkable congruence. Regrettably, the current scientific state of oncological therapeutics has no influence on the economy at all, which may be due to the fact that oncology consists in fighting tumors and preventing them from spreading, whereas malignant growth is the business of the economy.

guaranteed minimum income, n

Federal entitlement guaranteeing a minimum income for welfare freeloaders who are trying to shirk their societal duty to earn the maximum income for upper-class freeloaders.