In order not to have to attack the property structure, the left-green milieu is resorting to identity politics and insulting politically incorrect “system losers”.
Photo: photoschmidt / Shutterstock.com
The bourgeois-urban milieu, mostly settled and tending towards socio-ecological ideas, is not having it easy at the moment. His exponents do not really dare to openly oppose the power elites. Nor do they question capitalism as the frame of reference for all political action. On the other hand, you want to continue to be critical and maintain your self-image as a moral avant-garde. The left-wing intellectual “center” escapes this dilemma primarily through an anti-fascist furor, which on the one hand allows it to remain adapted and, on the other hand, to stage itself as a cell of resistance against an impending new right-wing radicalism. The latter, however, never refers to the perpetrators of the ruling machine of war and exploitation, but always rather victims of the system and the marginalized, who, in a state of disorientation, join certain ideas that are considered incorrect. Ideas that are not, for example, migration-friendly and pro-feminist in the desired way. In this article, the author deals primarily with the extremism researcher Wilhelm Heitmeyer, whose work shows a lack of understanding for the mentality of “milieus” that are foreign to him.
The “end of history” prophesied in 1990 did, in some ways, happen, which not everyone expected. It is true that the USA did not cease to cover the globe with death and devastation with the consent and aid of its vassals. But this continuity was not reflected in the most corrupt members of society: the educated classes – let us pass the formal acquisition of intellectual equipment as “education”. Their coordinate system remained as if carved in stone within the framework of capitalist structures, which had to be defended against “radical” forces in crisis situations. The resulting character of their analyzes predestines figures like Wilhelm Heitmeyer, vaunted and self-boasting extremism researcher.
The way of looking at it, as it is indoctrinated in bourgeois society, knows no fate of ruling class structures. The primary yardstick for her is the readiness for “modernity”, a catchphrase of positivistic US sociology with the essential reference to lifestyle aspects. The potential of this achievement was immediately picked up by the CIA. With the help of artists such as Jackson Pollock or Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Frank Sinatra, she intended to polish up the image of the USA and capitalism as an optimal way of life worldwide. The works by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns for the 1964 Venice Biennale were flown in with US Air Force aircraft. At the same time she unloaded her cargo over Vietnam as part of an aggression,
The real crimes faded behind the dazzling home stories of the charming Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy or photos of the little daughter crawling under her father’s desk. Even decades later, an editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung was enthusiastic about social gossip, Caroline, as her name was, I think, would have “mixed up” the White House. The diversion from concerns that should affect us as social, political, and moral beings towards the satisfaction of limited entertainment needs was also the model on which the 1968 movement slipped into calmer waters.
Since there was no mass basis for real change, agile careerists “naturally” found a consensus for those answers that satisfied the need for comfort, behavior conforming to power and appropriate rationalization. Extensive possibilities of domination, adaptation and propaganda emerged here.
This included the relief of being able to talk about the Nazi era without having to deal with social, socio-structural problems.
Until now, this field was reserved for left-wing esotericists. Now the discussion of individual and personal aspects became dominant to an extent that opened the door to a rigid “morality”, the catalog of indignation of the petty bourgeoisie and fiddling with catchphrases.
The main ideology was an anti-fascism of inner attitude. The student movement was gratefully awarded the credit for breaking the speechlessness regarding a “parent’s guilt”. The eloquent silence regarding the interests of domestic and foreign centers of power was drowned out by a noisy carpet of dismay. It was an invitation to the victims, which could not be ignored, to scramble for their status in the hierarchy that society would have accorded them. The associated regression is of great importance and even jeopardizes progress in the judiciary towards a comprehensive assessment of the acts (1).
With the subject of society as a whole, all aspirations for emancipation also disintegrate. They are bundled in a politics of “identities” that abstracts from class-specific references, but is ideally suited to give conformist, reactionary or proto-fascist positions a “left”, “radical”, “enlightenment” chic. Excitement about women’s rights, from “LGBT” to “LGBTQIA +”, “multicultural” et cetera or a “fight against the law” mutate into chubby mascots of manifestations in the most absurd coalitions.
Protection, acclamation and remuneration beckon if the criticism focuses on refugees and the flight itself, i.e. its causes and those responsible, is not addressed (2).
A folklore of isolated identities turned into the marching music of desolate conditions. It turned out that welfare cuts, global state terrorism, bike lanes in one-way streets against the direction of travel for cars and gay marriage, including the horror at the victory of a reactionary over such a “progressive” candidate in the US presidential election in 2016, all came together in a handy package let lace. In the end, “Antifa” was equal to “Air Raid” (3). The coalition negotiations between the People’s Party and the Greens in Austria resulted in the battle cry: “Defense climate and borders”. Obviously, these productions move on thin ice.
With its striking slogans, the hip, urban, green milieu brings justified demands in connection with a policy of impoverishment, de-solidarization and financial capitalist devastation. This strategic impasse can be observed worldwide, whether in this country, in Poland, Hungary, France, Great Britain or the USA, where Ms. Clinton, a notorious war criminal and Wall Street agent, has discredited feminism in a way that not even has her ex-competitor Donald Trump succeeded.
“Progress” only had to do with social power structures insofar as their development could be optimized in its shadow. Anyone who is conspicuous here through passive restraint or active criticism is caught in the crossfire of ideological snipers. In the party-political controversy, the official doctrines and the state-supporting corporate media, he becomes the object of disdain, contempt and degradation up to and including hatred.
In the search for the guilty party for the effects of economic upheaval, all attention is concentrated in a ludicrous exaggeration of individual responsibility on the opinions, convictions and attitudes of individual or specific groups. We are not dealing with mental, practical or political reactions to political and economic processes, but with blockages of “modernity” and “progress”. Vigilant observers like Wilhelm Heitmeyer are at the forefront in an effort to arrest the perpetrators. He is famous for being an expert on extremism. Not every world waits for such experts, but this one does. This was also shown in an interview with which he made it to the esteemed NachDenkSeiten (4).
Heitmeyer does not skimp on criticism of politics in Germany. But what is he accusing her of? Basically, that she doesn’t take his advice and continues to turn a deaf ear to his analysis. And what are his recommendations? Above all, he raises the pedagogical forefinger: “’We’, the population, cannot simply get rid of the fields.” He warned that it was “easy to distance yourself from extreme forms, but the destructive in our normality it is extremely difficult to discover. “
That sounds good. But what is “the destructive in our normality” for Heitmeyer? It is what has established itself in the way of attitudes and what he does not like. He is not alone in this. The problem is that, starting here, this approach resembles the indignant attitude of politicians and media criticized by him – if one disregards the fact that the educational scientist called for measures of “preventive social work” “as early as the end of the 80s” and now Obviously offended, turns off the television when the reporting does not say a word about his hobbyhorse, which riding could have avoided all the misery.
The “destructive part of our normality” would have been a good starting point to tackle the problems. In fact, they form an explosive device that one cannot sit on, of course. One succumbs to this temptation, however, if one regards the destructive as something external to our normality.
Heitmeyer does not speak of the destructiveness that belongs to our normality. In doing so, he escapes the devastating effects of politics on large parts of the population.
If he thinks that they have the “feeling” that they are not being noticed, that is only part of the contempt that they have long since felt. The cynicism continues with a kind of educational offensive with which they are to be made happy. The aim of education is the attitude of a bourgeoisie that knows how to behave – which it forgets, however, when the surprise bag of its benefits is poured out on the common people.
Helpful glimpse into history
Only in the perspective of an ideal world does a hard core right-wing extremist unexpectedly emerge, who “can hardly be pushed back”. This is why Heitmeyer’s mission is “right-wing extremist attitudes in parts of the population, which we have examined primarily about the extent and causes of ‘group-related enmity’ in our long-term studies through representative population surveys and published in ten volumes ‘German conditions’ (5).”
Every society has the academic staff that it deserves – and that does not bother it with the results of its structural failings. We prefer to have “the extent and causes of ‘group-related enmity’” investigated. A look at history would be helpful to free yourself from the grossest illusions.
The phrase that the “hard core” is “difficult to push back” says nothing other than that it cannot be explained socially. Did he fall from the sky? Are we dealing with a mysterious mental illness? Where did the first fascists who murdered thousands come from shortly after World War I? Already with – as in Munich – swastikas on the steel helmet. Why is this “hard core” not pushed back or explained even in history books? Because he saved the bourgeois community from the “chaos of the revolution”? He embodied the destructive part of our normality, but we should have a completely different idea of it?
What drove Hitler on? His feelings of fear, hatred and destructiveness, his inability to shape life constructively? Should none of this have anything to do with the criminal force of an alienated, murderous and dehumanized social machine? Sure, then we’d rather declare Hitler crazy and listen to busy educators who say that it is not social deficits but rather “recognition deficits (…) that people look for ‘alternative’ sources of recognition.”
For the former GDR, according to Heitmeyer, there was “another socio-geographical factor” that “is still politically underestimated. It’s the settlement geography. East Germany – with the exception of Dresden and Leipzig – is characterized by small villages and small towns. In these contexts there is a special problem of not being noticed, of social homogeneity and the pressure to conform. ”At least we are given a few good keywords: Why is it so persistent in the West that“ large parts of the population ”are overlooked – in the East for sure even more so – don’t just have the “feeling” of not being noticed? This mixture of ignorance and arrogance usually goes hand in hand with the idea that the East is so susceptible to “populist” slogans because it has no experience with “democracy”.
They are conspicuous attempts to divert attention from one’s own misconduct. The ex-GDR people have had experiences with democracy, in extenso since 1990. In contrast to the West, however, the East Germans have not forgotten these experiences. The crimes of the “Treuhand” when connecting their homeland to the area and the standards of the FRG are too present for that. It was shock therapy in the style of terror in Chile following September 11, 1973. Even without torture chambers and other acts of murder, they have left a lasting impression on the memory (6).
If these brutalities are barely noticed in the West, then a failure is indicated, especially by those who are now in the front row of the indignant, defamatory and alarmed. Where was the army of today’s moralizers when an uninhibited frenzy tore out all the economic, cultural and social roots of the ex-GDR residents? The shameful silence that accompanied the force of the destruction is eloquently compensated when the East Germans are accused of accepting “40 years of dictatorship”.
The fact that since the end of the 1970s, increasingly during the reign of Helmut Kohl (“Germany is an amusement park!”) And brought to an end under the “red-green reformers” with Gerhard Schröder and Josef Fischer at the head – their water carriers is being pushed aside still defile us – even in the West, “large parts of the population” are subject to a regime in which they are not simply not recognized, but made into losers and labeled.
They are also losers thanks to attitudes in which the destructive character is not laid out in normality. The clear-cutting of entire landscapes, the impoverishment of the state, the destruction of the social network, gigantic damage to both the climate and the environment in general, the divergence of social classes as a result of a redistribution that has not been seen for over 100 years, inadequate wages, precarious working conditions, unaffordable housing, are ignored. Ruin of the pension system and hair-raising prospects for old age. That should be enough for now.
At an event organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2010, Heitmeyer said that the trend towards uncertainty and dissatisfaction among the population had been intensified by the global economic crisis. At the same time, he assumed that their concrete consequences would so far only directly affect a minority. In 2011, in a résumé of his studies, he again spoke of the prevailing “feeling” of living in a crisis situation. The introduction of Hartz IV was a “signal result”. More important, however, are “creeping processes” such as an economization of thinking and a de-solidarization that encourages social division (7).
The “feeling”, the “thinking” and the “de-solidarization” – there are interesting fields of work for parties, the media and a corresponding audience where “the social division” can be encountered – and less of “Hartz IV” . Does this lead to ideas of a normality that is “not perceived”, at least in neoliberal NATO circles? Its destructiveness would only be “extremely difficult to discover” because it is pathological in the sense of Erich Fromm and is propagated by too many as “normality” and is no longer specifically mentioned. It forms the ceaselessly indoctrinated framework for a perception in which after 1989/90 the disposal of the GDR appeared to be a natural process.
This perspective was the end of a development in the reception of events in Eastern Europe, which since 1945 have been interpreted as the peoples’ longing striving for the values of a capitalistically organized society idealized as the epitome of freedom. The workers’ demands for self-determination, the autonomous organizations in East Germany in 1953, in Poland and Hungary in 1956, in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and again in Poland from 1980, before Solidarnosc was taken over by “liberal” bourgeois Apparachik leaders after martial law was imposed, went among those dissidents in the GDR, like 1989/90, who did not conform to the West German power centers and their media violence (7).
The “demos” of autumn 1989 fit better into the picture: “We are the people”, from which, staged like a general staff, became “one people” as a good basis for nationalist feelings. The “civil rights activists” had thus fulfilled their function. There was no need for democratic participation, even less for proletarian elements, which, as Claude Lefort and Cornelius Castoriadis have shown for Hungary, set the first signs against the arrogance of even “opposition” oligarchs who acted with the West (8). Between 1990 and 94 labor disputes with up to five million participants took place in East Germany, which in the West was either not registered at all, or only negligently if not sympathetically.
The real story falls out of view when ruling circles incessantly praise a “peaceful revolution”. With this they express that they could transform it until it was not. The demand in their Sunday speeches to pay tribute to the lifetime achievement of the GDR citizens is a piece of madness. Its cornerstones are the compulsive designation of the GDR as an “unjust state” and the classification of its citizens as a passive pack – unless they were employees of the Stasi.
The West is completely different: Social pressures are necessary to guarantee our export hits, political harassment is unknown, professional bans against leftists serve the constitutional order and secret service files can be viewed after 120 years – the files on fraud in the “liquidation” of the Bischofferode potash mine as early as 2031.
The ideological constructs of “modernity” and “progress” fit perfectly with the highlights. They mock strivings for the satisfaction of comprehensive needs for community, solidarity and dignity. However, they are ideally suited for consumer characters. In accordance with the requirements of aggressive capital utilization, they flush their brains by the liter with the notorious latte macchiato, which, it must be said, is hardly drunk in Italy, surrounded by the aura of a colorful world – preferably rushed through with a plastic cup in hand .
Anyone who delivers academic studies of states of horror to such heroes of a devastated everyday life can count on being celebrated as a luminary in his field. Heitmeyer is praised and boasts that he warned ten years ago about elements that could disturb the idyll. You can go back even further. Fifteen years ago, in 2005, he came to the conclusion in a survey that potential voters of the Left Party “think (…) conservatively” (…). They act defensively against weaker groups and perceive themselves as strikingly alien in this society “- they have the feeling that a game is being played whose rules they do not know (9).
For sure? What if you have long since realized that it is a game whose rules overwhelm people? It doesn’t take much to state that. Of course, one is hardly welcomed with open arms by the ruling order with its preference for propagandists with exclusive identities, cheerful participation folklore and colorful simulation campaigns. On stage we see feel-good aesthetes like Greens, parts of the left or indivisible, without any sense of political-economic structures, which are inherent in the lamented phenomena such as fear, insecurity and hardening or even hatred.
Using flowery slogans such as “modernity”, “progressiveness” and “cosmopolitanism” leaves the rules of power untouched.
Also their status as a measure of fundamental principles of social cohesion. Anyone who has the “feeling” of “not being noticed” is quite logically “backward-looking” in the sense of a disdain for civilization, as Terry Eagleton identified with respect to the noble values of “culture” praised by the educated bourgeoisie (10) “. This contemptible being has in fact made itself impossible: as the maneuvering mass of capital, it feels with a sure instinct that it has passed a critical point and that it is no longer able to cope with its exploitation interests, which deregulate all ties (11).
This crisis situation is due to a general attack on the social achievements of a large majority of society. It can be found worldwide. It is also a crisis of the established parties and major media, which decisively supported the attack on the population and thus provoked destructive references to blood and soil, the epitome of fascist sentiments. It may be a mistake for whole groups to orient themselves in this direction. But is it her fault alone? Can you pretend they pressed the wrong button?
This notion is more pleasant than the assumption that the economic, political development, carefully accompanied by intellectual bankrupts, sledged with them in such a way that anger and despair produced a longing even for destructive solutions. The prognosis should not be too daring that this development will be difficult to correct even with “preventive social work”. Even the shifts of the 1920s and 30s that were thrown off track should have been given more than posture grades awarded from roofed stands.
Like an engineer, Heitmeyer relies on social management techniques. Uncivilized people should be admonished that the “spiral of silence” is not working: They should not “get the impression that they are part of a majority opinion”, especially since then “it is not uncommon for politicians to adapt.” And “politicians”? Are you allowed to have “the impression” that “you are part of a majority opinion”? As with the measures that were introduced under the banner of combating the “Corona virus”? For Heitmeyer there is “certainly no alternative”.
Ah, wonderful! There is no alternative like the economic terror to which people are exposed and which they have to face like the restrictions due to the risk of epidemics “afterwards” comme il faut? “This is where,” says the expert on good social behavior, “judicial reviews must come about at a later date, or civil society must also come together for demonstrations. But all that after the crisis, if it can be overcome ”(13). Yes if! Then we deal with the children who fell into the water.
It is too late by then, but as an alternative, the Heitmeyers call after them that they “feel that they are noticeably alien in this society. This cynicism involuntarily takes on comical traits when we speak of the different “strategies of the will to destroy open societies and liberal democracies”. These are almost mistakes in Freud’s sense.
Heitmeyer did not want to say that the so-called “open societies and liberal democracies” emanate a “will to destroy”. But he says so. He was only concerned with offering his services to differentiate the attitudes of those for whom the dream of “open societies and liberal democracies” has come to an end. If that is educational, then the indignity of indignant petty bourgeoisie is also educational (14).
Humanity and real solidarity
That might be enough in Bielefeld, but real remedies have to go deeper. First of all, it can be assumed that, conversely, “this society” has become “strikingly alien” to people, and that under all of our eyes. We are also affected, in that it must be a concern of society as a whole to create conditions under which every person’s need for security, relatedness, rootedness and transcendence as well as for experiencing identity can be satisfied. If that doesn’t work, he’ll go crazy. And so do we. Everyone will want to protect themselves from that. To achieve this, there are basically two options available.
One would be to create bonds of humanity, brotherhood and solidarity. But as history teaches, there are alternative solutions that have developed since the shackles were broken in the form of medieval community life: nation, ethnicity, religion, class, profession or status.
In the face of situations of individual and social impotence, “modern” people have also learned to seek their inner security in what they consider “culture”, an equally fetishized attitude. He can practice it in the most wondrous coalitions, because it is detached from a constructive, power structure tending to dissolve awareness of action. On the agenda are wellness cures, self-improvement courses or philosophy models with messages of happiness. But just as sticking plasters do not help cancer patients, people should look around.
You could easily see that your problems are not unique. They are widespread all over the world and are founded in conditions that have slipped out of his hands like 99 percent of humanity – if not 99.9 percent: the power of capital, which has been enormously increased by the financialization of the economy, the dwindling trade union organization, the increase in inequality into the grotesque with the associated uncertainties and fears of those oppressed by a parasitic greed for blood, the destruction of their environment including the climate, the total failure of the political “representatives”, the compensation of a life impoverished in every respect, such as the consumption of junk – also when it comes to food – and so on.
Here would be starting points for a left-wing strategy that would be radical enough to ridicule official indoctrinations as grotesque, to penetrate the vertigo that troubles us every day, to highlight its obscene traits, certainly not to go along with it, but to live a really human existence to make socially acceptable. As almost always, East and West are closer together than some gray school wisdom can dream.
Everywhere theoretically and practically alternatives to alienation, egoism and exploitation should be shown and everything should be done to initiate a withdrawal of the alienation of all those characteristics that are essentially ours. Instead of chasing the latest craze in the cosmetics and facade cleaning industry, it would be important to address the problems in their actual dimensions.
Sources and references:
(1) Anne-Cécile Robert, La justice transfigurée par les victimes, LE MONDE diplomatique Mars 2019 (excerpt from: dies., La Stratégie de l’émotion, Montréal 2018).
(2) Hannes Hofbauer, “Critique of Migration. Who profits and who loses “, Vienna 2018.
(3) Susann Witt-Stahl / Michael Sommer [eds.],” Antifa means air attack! “- Regression of a revolutionary movement, Hamburg 2014.
(4) NachDenkSeiten Sept. 7, 2018 nachdenkseiten .de (Tobias Riegel also stayed below his level here).
(5) Heitmeyer (ed.), “German States”, Frankfurt aM 2002ff, published by Suhrkamp-Verlag, whose culture fit these volumes and fits like a glove.
(6) very illuminating: Daniela Dahn, “Yesterday’s snow is today’s flood. The unit – one billing ”, Hamburg 2019; on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall: Rachel Knaebel / Pierre Rimbert, Allemagne de l’Est, histoire d’une annexion, and: Boris Grésillon, Un mur peut en cacher un autre, both LE MONDE diplomatique Novembre 2019 (no comment is required, that the taz thought it had to spare its readers these excellent articles in the German edition of LE MONDE diplomatique that it had provided for …), as well as, on the same anniversary, on the so-called “Day of German Unity”: Jakob Reimann, Not my unit. The great bank robbery, JusticeNow Oct. 3, 2020 or Mandy Ströger, The long shadow of the monetary union, Jacobin Oct. 3, 2020.
(7) Thorsten Arndt, Desolidarization – the new Heitmeyer study on German conditions, Heinrich Böll Foundation March 24, 2010; Daniel Bax, danger from the right remains. 10-year study on “German conditions”, taz December 12, 2011.
(8) Catherine Samary, Quand les peuples de l’Est luttaient au nom de l’idéal communiste. Des mouvements oblitérés par les discours de L’Après-1968, LE MONDE diplomatique Mars 2020.
(9) Thomas Feixa, “Socialisme ou barbarie” et la révolution hongroise, LE MONDE diplomatique Octobre 2006 or Michael Frank, A President arouses great emotions . In Budapest, George Bush is reminded of the inglorious role of America in the Hungarian uprising, SZ June 23, 2006.
(10) quoted from Annette Ramelsberger hanging on her lips in an interview with Heitmeyer: Choose left, think conservatively, SZ August 11, 2005, in keeping with the classic media theme, according to which only the “reform-ready center” is really progressive.
(11) Eagleton, Kultur, Berlin 2017, 13ff.
(12) recently published and much more productive, Christoph Butterwegge, “Die zerrissene Republik. Economic, social and political inequality in Germany ”, Weinheim / Basel 2020.
(13) Interview with Ann-Kathrin Büüsker, DLF April 7, 2020.
(14) Heitmeyer, Why the term“ right-wing populism ”is belittling , SPIEGEL April 24 . 2020 (when the esteemed Albrecht Müller in the notes of the week of April 20, 2020 hisNachDenkSeiten commented on the link to this article with the words: “Finally someone says that”, there is still room for hope that caustic sarcasm could have evolved here in an elegant way …).