We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Scenes from a Berlin menu


I would recommend clicking on the picture for the large version, in order to read the house policy of the establishment for the use of firearms on the premises.

My apologies for the poor quality of the picture. The light was dim, and I merely had a phone camera. I could have stolen the menu in order to get a better picture, I suppose, but I would not dream of violating the property rights of people of such obvious soundness.

43 comments to Scenes from a Berlin menu

  • RRS

    We should especially appreciate the solace they offer with scnaps.

  • RRS


    and no, it was simple Pinot Noir that caused that.

  • Andrew Zalotocky

    I’m genuinely curious – what is the procedure for paying in BitCoin at a restaurant? How is the transaction actually carried out?

  • What Andrew Zalatocky asks is just what I was wondering.

  • No mention of gold bullion or gold coins.

    What kind of shit hole is this?

  • No mention of gold bullion or gold coins.

    What kind of shit hole is this?

    I LOL’ed 😀

  • Perry Metzger

    I presume you get on your smartphone and send the bitcoins to their address in real time. The internet is now everywhere after all.

    I’m more curious what rate they give you for silver.

    Gold coin is inappropriate for day to day transactions, of course — the smallest practical coins are around a quarter troy ounce of gold, which means that they’re useless for transactions below a few hundred euros. After the collapse of the current monetary system, perhaps gold book entry transactions would render it practical. In the old days, of course, people used notes and silver coin for daily transactions for good reason. (And yes, I realize John Galt was joking, but I thought I’d take the opportunity anyway — after decades of fiat currency, most of us no longer have any sense of what transactions with non-fiat money might be like. Kind of amazing how even the memory of reasonable money has vanished from the culture.)

  • Relax Perry, it was a joke.

  • bobby b

    One of my good friends is a banker.

    I and another friend had dinner with him Wednesday night, at his house.

    It was one of the last warm days as fall seems to be dwindling away, so we voted for casual grilling out on his deck overlooking the valley.

    Banker buddy did the cooking. We had burgers.

    I’m thinking that your Berlin friends need to find another pithy and humorous analogy to demonstrate their determination not to lend money.

  • Alsadius

    Anyone care to translate “deckel”? All my Googling leads to is some machine tools.

  • Myno

    Deckel? Ask Detlev? I bought his book, but I don’t imagine I know him well enough to ask.

  • Daniel

    A Deckel is a beer mat where the number of drinks you consumed is written on. In some places you can pay for your Deckel later (in case you don’t have enogh money at the end).

  • George Orwell

    It took me a long time to find a reference to ‘deckel’ that made sense in context.

    As noted before, one of the many meanings of deckel was ‘tab,’ as in ‘bierdeckel.’ I concluded that meant a ‘bar tab’ as we would use the term in the US.

    Most uses of deckel seem to be related to some sort of lid.

    I believe the reference to ‘not making loans’ is that they want you to pay when served, not at the end of the evening.

  • Indeed Hitler’s Munich Beer Hall Putsch was believed to have been started as a distraction because Adolf didn’t have enough money to pay his Deckle.

  • I wasn’t required to pay when served, though, but merely when I got up to leave, as is normally the custom in Germany. So I can only assume they are referring to the business of not having enough money when you leave and asking to pay later.

    The Germans do have a custom in which in many cafes, each customer will interact with a single waiter. That waiter will keep track of your tab, and if you want something more, you have to ask that particular waiter and not a different one. When the waiter finishes his shift, he will make a circuit of his customers and ask them all to pay their tabs. Another waiter will come along soon after, but customers then open new tabs with the new waiter. This is only tangentially relevant to the conversation, and there was no change of shift in this particular cafe when I was there, but the Germans do have their own way of doing things.

  • Midwesterner

    Long ago I realized that what people say in jest is often/usually a trial balloon to find like minds. Joking about something puts it within the frame of reference and makes it thinkable. Thinkable makes it a considerable option when situations change. I pay very close attention to what people say in jest because it reflects their potential range of action in the absence of social restraints.

    Joking can also be a way to examine and potentially embrace things that are too painful to contemplate without some kind of distance or deniability. Treating it as humor provides the needed distance and deniability while still allowing the subject to be broached and discussed.

    Their firearms policy looks like a very thin parody for a reasonable personal policy in a situation where civil order has broken down. Sospenso also sounds like a tradition of individual philanthropy that could grow into a civil vacuum (and food supply disruption) and help networks of people absorb and share shocks to the economic system. What is missing from both their humor and their philanthropy is a role for government, for forcible redistribution. Even the offered financial arrangement are tailored to find ways through a collapse of market order.

    It looks like at least some Germans, probably better than any other western Europeans, are shedding delusions of ordered and enforced stability and are seeing the future for what it will be. For now, it is treated with humor. But this humor is ripples over shoals of serious thought.

  • Alisa

    I thought it (the tenor and the implications of the text) was obvious, Mid – but then, maybe the thinkable did need saying…:-)

  • I am slightly amused by the statement that bicycle thieves should be shot on the spot. Berlin is a flat city with a huge number of cyclists. It is also a city with a reasonably high crime rate, at least by German standards. The (entirely justified) vehemence of the loathing felt towards bicycle thieves by members of communities that cycle a lot, regardless of political leanings, can really be quite impressive.

  • Laird

    Is it common for German restaurants of have a menu entirely in English? (And are there a lot of cowboys in Berlin?)

  • Midwesterner


    After the conversation I had with an old (Obama True Believer) friend of mine a couple days ago, I think everything no matter how blindingly obvious, needs to be articulately stated. Many of my comments (not that there are very many) are aimed straight at the people that come to Samizdata and lurk and wonder about those scary libertarians. Their world, The World, is falling apart and they are looking for a new team with a new world view to make sense of it.

    I expect the Samizdata gallery and lurkers to expand with a large influx of seekers (for want of a better description) over the next few months. These lurkers and the occasional brave new commenter do not have any of that new meta-context that we are building here. Things we think are obvious are not only not obvious to them, they are counter intuitive. Things they think are self evident truths, we recognize as suicidal naïveté. In the coming months I’m going to try to comment and hopefully contribute some articles specifically intended to help these people build and embrace a new world view, a new meta-context. Whether my schedule will permit it is still uncertain, but I will try.

  • Alisa

    That is excellent news, Mid – I’m looking forward to it.

  • as one of the lurkers though not a new one ( have been lurking for a few years now) im not sure how much it is considered polite to enter in to discussion here. I am interested in what seems a genuinely consistent and intellectually honest position but currently, I hold a different one.
    Usually people do not like it when the views that give them a large chunk of their self identity is challenged, which has been noted here a few times 🙂
    so what im asking is do the regular users and posters see this as a place where they discuss their views amongst themselves or would you like to discuss with people who though interested don’t agree?

  • Midwesterner


    While I haven’t posted any articles recently, I hope to resume and whenever you see one of my articles, every single assertion or assumption I make is there to be challenged and tested. I can’t speak for the other contributors, but in my threads, by all means challenge anything.

    As you may guess from my assortment of friends I refer to above, I like to open discussions with people who hold entirely different opinions. The only rule I personally try to have for arguments is that any time a question is asked, either of me or the person I am arguing with, that addresses a link in a chain of argument, it must be answered. If it isn’t or cannot be, then that argument must fall.

    I should also add that I don’t expect people to concede arguments. I seldom do ‘in real time’. What I do when I find myself in an indefensible position is go off and have a good think. So whenever others drop out of debates that seemed to be going somewhere, I assume they are doing something similar.

    I should also add that OT, “off topic”, which is what we are doing to Michael here 🙂 is generally frowned upon although when articles get far down the front page and the initial round of comments has faded, I have seen threads go far afield. It is generally the call of the article’s author how conversation drift in the thread is treated.

  • Alisa

    I should also add that I don’t expect people to concede arguments. I seldom do ‘in real time’. What I do when I find myself in an indefensible position is go off and have a good think. So whenever others drop out of debates that seemed to be going somewhere, I assume they are doing something similar.

    That’s an important point. I’ll readily concede an argument when i clearly understand the counterargument and don’t have one good enough of my own – but that is not always the case. Sometimes I do need to sit quietly and rethink things. Although I do appreciate when people are being courteous and honest enough to say ‘well, I’m still not sure I agree with you, but I’ll think about that some more and may or may not get back to you on that later’.

  • PeterT

    The issue I have is that when engaged in discussions about politics with those with mainstream political beliefs I do not find this very dissimilar from the turkey having a discussion with the butcher about the virtues of vegetarianism. Even though I know that they do not intend to be bad, and believe they are good, it remains the case that they are ultimately arguing for themselves to have power over me.

  • RAB

    Excellent news Mid. I shall look forward to your Posts.

    So er what was the food like Michael? Was that in English too, or was it just the Wurst? 😉

  • Hanging out in cafes, bars, museums, and other public places in Berlin, what is remarkable is the amount of English you hear. Berlin is a very international city, an arty and cultural city, and by western European standards quite cheap. There are lots of people there who come from lots of places, to do arty things, and hipster things, and tech things, and of course government things. Foreigners don’t learn German much – even the ones who come to live there. Any interaction that takes place involving any foreigners takes place in English rather than German. A very significant portion of the clientele of cafes and bars and restaurants is foreign. A German menu is only going to be understood by the Germans, but an English menu is going to be understood by everyone, including the Germans.

    An English only menu is not the norm: most menus are bilingual in German and English. It may be that the proprietors of this particular cafe were more inclined to go that way because of the tech / libertarian / Bitcoin thing, which is at least of international culture. Or it might be that they had a separate German menu (ie a different document) that I did not see. I don’t think so though.

    I am speaking about Berlin here, not Germany as a whole. In most places in Germany the menu would not even be bilingual: German only being the norm.

  • Alisa

    Indeed – Berlin seems to be the new Paris/NYC.

  • Very much so, and a lot of that is about money. Paris is wince-inducingly expensive these days, while the prices in Berlin are extremely reasonable. And Berlin is rather more relaxed and happy-go-lucky, with more strange and eccentric things going on.

    A downside of this is that, as I mentioned earlier, there is some crime. A group of pickpockets tried to distract me and steal my wallet yesterday using what was clearly a well practiced technique. I figured out what was going on just in time, and didn’t lose anything, but I still feel somewhat violated and dirty because of this, and annoyed with myself for not figuring it out sooner, as I am aware that getting away with my wallet was at least partly luck. It doesn’t matter how experienced a traveller you are and how familiar you are with the ways criminals targets tourists: it is still possible to fall for these things for a moment.

  • RAB

    Berlin seems to have retained it’s Bohemian spirit. Before the Wall came down it was known, well the western half at least, as a very Avant garde party place, that looked out over the Wall to other freeer places. All the more remarkable in that it was totally surrounded by East Germany. Completely different in spirit to the rest of Germany, West or East.

  • Berlin is indeed nothing like anywhere else in Germany. Yet another thing that contributed to this was the peculiar fact that right up to 1990 Berlin was technically not part of West Germany but a city occupied by the victorious western powers of WWII. This meant that people who lived there were not subject to compulsory military service in the West German military. This meant that pacifists, anarchists, and other objectors to compulsory military service – possibly even a few libertarians – turned out to be quite useful to the Cold War effort, as West Berlin needed to be populated and they chose to go there voluntarily. So you had a quite interesting mix of people – many with objections to the military – living right next to guard towers, and barbed wire and soldiers and tanks, with the thought that they would be amongst the first to die if war did break out. This led a strange culture and atmosphere.

  • Midwesterner writes,

    I should also add that I don’t expect people to concede arguments. I seldom do ‘in real time’. What I do when I find myself in an indefensible position is go off and have a good think.

    Very true! I can count on the fingers of one finger the times I have out-and-out conceded an argument on the spot, although I routinely admit that my interlocutor “has a point” or something like that. I think I am fairly typical in this. On the other hand, I do try not to be completely impervious to argument and have on many issues eventually changed my opinion, after a good think lasting a decade or two.

  • GlenDorran

    I’m also amused by the idea of Germans shooting bicycle thieves.

    Maybe ask the Dutch what their opinion of this is……..

  • My assumption would be that Dutch cyclists feel much the same way about bicycle thieves as German cyclists.

  • Michael, I think GlenDorran’s comment is a reference to a Dutch football chant that rebukes the Germans for confiscating all their bicycles during WWII.

    (Sorry if your comment was playing along with a joke obvious to everyone but me.)

  • No, no, no. Just negligible knowledge of football chants on my part.

  • Rich Rostrom

    They don’t take credit or debit cards, but they do take euros?

    This isn’t about libertarianism or hard money, it’s about not paying taxes, I think. All of the accepted forms are not reported.

    (One assumes Bitcoin is not reported, though I don’t know.)

  • Paul Marks

    The Berlin government gets its money by looting taxpayers in Bavaria (under the weird Federalism in Germany) – so they can do without tax money from this place.

    As for coins…..

    Both silver and gold can be placed in transparent material (with a security stamp upon it to indicate the honestly of the contents).

    So one need not worry about wear and tear on very small gold or silver coins.

    Just a grain of gold or silver will do.

  • mcg

    During my recent trip to Berlin I was surprised by how many places refused to take credit cards. A Dutch fellow that I was dining with claimed that it was a symptom of the Germans lingering mistrust of the state. Obviously he doesn’t know firsthand, but his wife is German, so who knows. Consider it one click more trustworthy than something you find on the Internet.

  • Laird

    mcg, I would also point out that credit card companies charge fairly large “merchant fees” (up to 4%) to busineses which accept credit cards. That’s not insignificant, and could account for at least some of the reluctance to accept plastic. Where I live, there are a number of gas stations which have a lower cash price than credit price, which makes perfect economic sense to me.

  • Eric Jablow

    You should have offered to buy a menu.

  • mcg

    Laird: oh yes, there’s no doubt that merchant fees are a significant chunk. But it doesn’t account for all of the German reluctance. Indeed, credit card acceptance is definitely more common here in the U.S. than in Berlin; and my Danish colleague (I was wrong above; he’s from Denmark, not the Netherlands) made the same comparison to his homeland.

  • Paul Marks

    If someone can not afford something – they should not buy it.

    This German attitude just seems like an example of sanity.

    Bank (and other) credit expansion reminds me of three men shipwreaked on a desert island.

    After a time they are rescued.

    “How did you get on?” the men are asked.

    “We did very well – in fact we have become rich” they reply.

    “Oh – what did you produce on the island?”

    “Produce? Why should we produce anything? You see we were shipwreaked with a hat – and we became rich by selling the hat to each other, and by building an inverted pyramid of credit on the basis of the hat, and……”.