A difficult chapter
For a long time, I’ve been avoiding a post like this. I thought we as a society had almost overcome thinking in left and right. Probably I felt too comfortable in my own bubble. This polar thinking still determines our political debates. Therefore I have no other choice but to dedicate a contribution from my pen to this chapter.
The battle with terms
Anti-Semitism, Nazi, „Gutmensch“, „concerned“ citizen, „Links-Grün-Versiffte, conspiracy theorist, „Wutbürger“, populist and „Reichsbürger“ – these are all highly politicized terms. In my opinion, these are brutal terms of struggle, which are very often thrown into the discussion space without reflection in order to achieve the greatest possible effect. What is actually meant by this, however, can often not be said exactly by the individual – but that doesn’t matter either. Battle terms serve to evoke emotions and to deny the opponent his or her credibility by denying him or her the ability to discuss objectively.
It is forgotten that one always looks at things from a certain perspective and that „true“ objectivity may exist, but can never be achieved. At the centre of this article are two basic terms that seem to be mutually exclusive: right and left.
A historical view
The terms „right“ and „left“ were derived from „the French National Assembly [during] the Constituent National Assembly of 1789″(1). „The left side ‚e côté gauche‘ marked a revolutionary, republican thrust, while ‚le côté droit‘ represented more restrained, monarchy-friendly ideas“ (ibid.)
In short, one can say that ‚left‘ stands for progressivity and right for ‚conservativity‘. Furthermore, it can be said that „left“ stands for an internationalist, i.e. world-oriented attitude, while „right“ refers to a nationalist way of thinking that is initially devoted to the interests of one’s own state and places its interests in the foreground.
However, in the course of the escalating discourses and fatal, even devastating events in the course of human history, the terms have acquired a strongly emotional component. I am thinking, of course, of Hitler’s Germany, but also of the Gulags of the Communists. In my opinion, these have been extreme, but also misunderstood and abused forms of the political left-right system.
Nevertheless, these atrocities have taken place. Much more important than us, however, like the so-called „original sin“ holding this fact as an eternal guilt ourselves, we should devote more energy to striving with this teaching for a positive, harmonious, and community-oriented society. We will be confronted in school almost every year with the Second World War and the Nazis, and at the same time I see a broken, divided and shattered society.
The fatality of righteousness
In Germany it is often the academic youth, i.e. the students, who are politically engaged and who deal with the topics. There is a lot of discussion, but unfortunately it is not often a question of constructive debates, much more of fixed attitudes are reproduced in sworn groups and a real confrontation with diverging opinions is avoided.
One is convinced that one’s own way of thinking is the “ correct “ one. People increasingly deal with this way of thinking and consequently attest it to be a deeper, more differentiated and more complex one, while the other end of the political spectrum „makes it easy“, „comes up with quick solutions“, „acts clumsy and short-sighted“. This attitude is fatal, but quite understandable, and especially plays into the cards of a few.
Prejudices and opinions
Firm prejudices, which are cultivated and provided with slogans in the space and opinions, which are unreflectedly confused with knowledge, are thereby the fundamental problems, the break edges, at which humans can be rubbed up. Almost every substantial debate leads to eternal positioning, distancing and explanation of how something is meant, only to prevent the other person from putting you in „a drawer“ with something or someone that society has labelled with a certain label. In the heat of the resulting „ego debate“, the actual subject of conversation is often lost.
In these ego debates, big words pregnant with meaning are often fired through the room as emotional ammunition in order to achieve the greatest possible diffusing effect. At the same time, certain terms are increasingly used in different contexts, thus becoming spongy expressions that are more of an emotional weapon than a clearly defined term. Thus „radicalism“ and „extremism“ are used just as quasi-synonymously as „nationalism“ and „racism“, „right-wing“ and „Nazi-onalsocialist“, „left-wing“ and „dreamer/gooder“, often without even clarifying how each individual defines these terms for himself or herself or is able to define them at all.
This development is highly dangerous. It is extremely exclusionary, polarizing and escalating. One shows basically the same behavior patterns which are attested to the opponent without noticing it.
The inglorious role of the media
People always get the media they deserve. People want emotional headlines and messages that they can beat to the ears of their opponents. They want content, statements by individuals and case studies to confront an entire group and equate them with the content found in them.
Reports about burning refugee homes, about migrants who have crossed the border without a passport and illegally, who receive money and shelter, Trump says this, Putin says that, Merkel announces, Weidel criticises, B-Promi has said this and that which one can understand so and so, etc.
The media pours oil into the smouldering embers and, under the guise of „information mediation“, contribute to the fact that people have emotional discussion material with which they split themselves up by their own hands instead of acting as mediators and analysts.Individual events are presented as seemingly incoherent and at times prayed up and down on all channels as if there were only one topic worth mentioning for days and weeks.
The Ukrainian war, the Syrian war, the wave of refugees, Greece, the list of contents prayed up and down over a certain period could be continued at will. And now? Since these topics have lost their media focus, they have also disappeared from the public discussion space, yet there is still war in both countries, the stream of refugees is still on its way, Greece continues to sink into social chaos, etc. The media has not been able to provide any more information on these topics. Topics are talked to death because they fit the political agenda until the next big excitement comes, which puts the masses either in shock rigidity or in emotional excitement.
Back to topic: divide et impera
Recently I have been hearing the words „solidarity“ and „exclusion“ again and again. It is ignored that these terms are interdependent. If one solidarity with a certain grouping, then one automatically distinguishes oneself from another grouping. This should always be kept in mind.
This is the same case as with the terms „rebel“ and „terrorist“.The party that fights for a subjectively good cause is called „rebellious“, while the fighters that fight for a subjectively bad cause are called „terrorists“.
In Germany it is the same debate with refugees as the subject. Endless rounds of discussion are conducted on their backs, often forgetting the people themselves. Some people „show solidarity“ with the refugees, are therefore „open-minded“ or „left-wing“ and describe the other camp, which is rather critical of the topic, as „exclusionary“ and „nationalist-thinking“, whereby here often the connection to the term „Nazi“, which stands for absolute evil, is taken into account.
On the other hand, the more right-wing, i.e. „consveratively“ thinking people – although this does not always have to be the case – „show solidarity“ with their fellow human beings who are at home here. In this context, the term „homeland“ has already been thrown into the mud by unobjective debates. So these people first think of their families, their children, their mothers and fathers, their grandchildren and like to call the other camp crackpots and dreamers who act blindly without taking into account the social problems that exist in Germany as well.
Thus, this camp is very quickly silenced by being pinned with certain terms before one really listens to them. Beginning with „right“, which in itself has already become a negatively occupied term, up to the terms „citizen“, „homeland“ and „national“. In my opinion, all these terms lead far too quickly to the connections between „Hitler’s Germany“ and „Nazis.
Category thinking and what lies in between
By the way: the existence of people who don’t want to assign themselves to any camp, I call them „people of the middle“ here, to which I would also count myself, is by the way hardly perceived, even systematically overlooked, because the fact of their existence goes beyond the categorical thinking of man.
If now both camps enter into discussion, then both camps refer in their arguments gladly to the extreme form of the respective contrary thinking. The existence of grayscales is often ignored in these black-and-white debates. Individual statements by individuals are repeatedly torn out of context and thrown into the discussion space. Only this morning „spiegel-online“ posted the following message: „‚Where do you come from?‘ The ethnic order-mania„.
A case study
Now we have a personality like Bohlen who polarizes anyway. Many don’t like him, some find him funny, others may like him too, at least he’s well known. Let’s just take the headline: „The ethnic order-mania“. The word „mania“ has a clearly negative connotation, which is why the headline alone is enough in many cases to get one or the other into the discussion and add his „mustard“ to it.
Those who then also read the article get to feel it as thick as a fist. Creative slogans such as „forced migrants“, „verbal expatriation“ and „detectives of origin“ are emotional explosives that bring an already heated debate to the boil again and again.
In this article you will find exactly what I already mentioned above. The utterance is initially so widespread and mixed with various scenarios in which this utterance has a less neutral, perhaps even negative connotation. It is generalized. Then the classification takes place in which historical context? Exactly: „The ‚Where do you come from‘ question is a relic from folk nationalism“ (see article, middle).
Now with an article we have the absolute poisoning of a single question: „Where do you come from? Anyone who has read this article and thinks about it for some time will now, every time he or she hears this question, make the connection to „national socialism“, which disqualifies the questioner as a human being from the outset.
Where the cat bites its own tail
What’s going on here? To condemn the creation of a prejudice that is based on a prejudice that was initially constructed by one’s own hand. How paradoxical is this?
I then only looked at a few comments in the discussion and after a few moments I realized that a constructive debate simply cannot come about here because the subject of the discussion was so strongly emotionalized by the starting point, the article mentioned, that both sides are simply not in a position to argue in a really value-neutral way or value-neutral arguments are simply not accepted by emotionalized participants.
I could probably get my fingers tapped about this topic, but I will leave it at that.
The essence of my remarks is the following: All seeing is perspective. One likes to see one’s own arguments as „objective“ because one is convinced of their „correctness“ and „correctness“ is equated with „objectivity“. One is often so absorbed by one’s own emotions that one does not notice this and the other person is then accused of arguing out of „anger“, „anxiety“, „carelessness“ or „stupidity“, i.e. emotionally.
This results in something like the above article: an emotional monster that makes use of „salonable“ generalization and the formation of prejudice and additionally plays with the „natural“ legitimacy of the mainstream press and wraps the whole thing in a beautifully academic way in a sophisticated style of language.
Reflection on the communal
I also get emotional and sometimes polemic about this topic. But only for the reason that I find it devastating how easily the population can be entangled in endless debates, while in the background the whole development continues to run in the wrong direction and in any case contrary to the interests of both camps, whether „left“ or „right“.
Dear „Lefts“: How can one really fight for openness and tolerance, if one cannot concede one’s opinion to political dissent?
Dear „Rights“: How can one believe that one can really preserve one’s homeland for the next generation and shape it for the future by complete isolation from other cultures and nations?
Dear Everybody: When do we finally realize that everyone wants to live basically just good, safe and content?
This the english translation of the article:
by Marco Lo Voi