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We, the Anti-Democrats

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The following is my – unauthorised – translation of a short article by Adam Soboczynski, a journalist who has attracted a lot of attention and frequently readers’ anger with his articles for Germany’s weekly Die Zeit. In his latest article, he criticises the appreciation for a French manifesto, “L’Insurrection Qui Vient” (German: “Der Kommende Aufstand”). Whenever published online, Soboczynski’s utterances draw great numbers of – mostly angry – comments. His references to Stuttgart in the following are about Stuttgart 21.

– TAIDE

We, the Anti-Democrats

Adam Soboczynski, Die Zeit (online and printed ed. 49), 2 December, 2010

 The angry citizen isn’t conservative. He’s reactionary.

The Coming Uprising (Der kommende Aufstand), the much-discussed, partly printed by Der Spiegel, prized in the feature pages, manifesto of a French “invisible committee” has, despite all revolutionary rhetoric, a conservative nucleus: the loss of traditional conviviality, donnybrooks, good manners. Thought that could be associated with the left – a call for building communes, a celebration of subversive protest, anti-capitalism – are being notched with mourning past everyday habits.

The coming uprising is also anticipated so briskly because it seems to picture the uprisings of angry citizens who didn’t only agitate this country in Stuttgart. That’s what Der Spiegel claims this week. The paper misses the point that the protests are – despite what they may seem to be – of no conservative kind. Certainly, as a pensioner, you don’t want to be confronted with a construction site that is going to stay for ten years. For the last few years of your life, everything should remain the way it has been.

What appears to be, at first glance, a conservative impulse, is in fact reactionary. Reactionary in that secretly, it is moulded by a fervent distrust of parliamentarism and democratic institutions that structure [political or social, probably – Taide] participation.
Apparently, every sense of formal aspects of democracy have been lost: people don’t want to get involved in the political parties’ mean business, but shortcut opinion formation by referenda. No governments relying on discreet communication, people celebrate WikiLeaks. People wish to restrict minorities (such as migrants or smokers) by referenda, while the state is unnecessarily still protecting them.

Just as the sixtyeighters once came from America to Germany, it’s the reactionary Tea-Party movement today which inspires us. Even if only for operating the principle of majority against democratic institutions, quite in accordance with market-economy principles, you can’t consider citizen anger as conservative. If the sixtyeighters believed that the state was mixing with capitalism in a calamitous way, today’s angry citizens structurally align with capitalism.

Henning Ritter, a publicist, has recently noted in his jotter the fine observation that self-fulfilment may be highly appreciated, but without having anything in common with emancipation. The sixtyeighters were filled with the legitimate desire to emancipate from many things – the generation of their parents, or the patriarchy. Despite all revolutionary pathos, the protest soon turned to subcultural recesses or all kinds of careers that were felt meaningful. But from the moment where it dawns on you that self-fulfilment beyond the existing achievements doesn’t translate into individual gains in liberty any more, there will be no march through the institutions any longer, but their dismantlement instead.

Narziss und Schmollmund: “so was von gewalttätig”

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Thilo Sarrazin ist SPD-Mitglied, Ex-Finanzsenator Berlins und derzeit Bundesbanker. Die Bundesbank hat bei Vertragsabschluss einen diskreten Lebenswandel von ihm erwartet – jedenfalls lässt ihre Reaktion auf ein  Interview Sarrazins mit “Lettre International” im vorigen Jahr das vermuten – ein Interview, in dem der Mann erklärte, er müsse niemanden anerkennen, “der vom Staat lebt, diesen Staat ablehnt, für die Ausbildung seiner Kinder nicht vernünftig sorgt und ständig neue kleine Kopftuchmädchen produziert” .

burqas needn't be boring

burqas needn't be boring

Dass Sarrazins Ausführungen seinem jetzigen Posten nicht angemessen sind, mag durchaus sein. Dass er sich persönlich mit der oben zitierten Wortwahl diskreditiert, glaube ich selbst. Provokation kann zielführend sein – aber in diesem Fall drängt sich der Eindruck auf, dass vor einem Jahr ein – soeben erschienenes – Buch schon einmal vorab interessant gemacht werden sollte. Jedenfalls steht es auch Türken, deren Töchter kein Kopftuch tragen, allemal frei, sich gekränkt zu fühlen. Zumal dann, wenn sie Gemüsehändler sind (was ist eigentlich an dem Beruf so ehrenrührig?).

Man wird den Eindruck nicht los, dass Sarrazin sein Publikum nicht überzeugen, sondern im Buchhandel abmelken will – und dass er es gründlich verachtet. Manche von denen, die den Narzissten heute für seine “klaren Worte” lieben, haben ihn vor gar nicht langer Zeit  gehasst, als er ihnen vorrechnete, wie ein Hartz-IV-Empfänger für weniger als vier Euro am Tag in der Küche prima zaubern könne.

Jetzt “verdummen” wir also “auf natürlichem Wege”: durch Einwanderung aus der Türkei und dem Nahen Osten, in irgendeinem Zusammenhang. Vielleicht ist das rassistisch – wenn es bedeuten soll, dass die Einwanderer natürlicherweise dumm seien.
So scheint Sigmar Gabriel, Vorsitzender seiner und Sarrazins SPD und ihr oberster Schmollmund, das auch aufzufassen. Grundsätzlich wolle er sich mit Sarrazins Thesen zur Einwanderung ja “intellektuell” auseinandersetzen, sagt Gabriel. Aber sie seien teilweise “sprachlich so was von gewalttätig”, dass eine Auseinandersetzung schwer in Frage komme.

Das ist Quatsch. Wenn das rechtlich geht und sich in den entsprechenden Gremien oder Verbänden hinreichende Mehrheiten dafür finden, kann die SPD den Genossen Thilo natürlich rauswerfen. Aber sie soll nicht glauben, dass sie damit um eine Auseinandersetzung mit ihm herumkäme. Ein Großteil der Wählerinnen und Wähler erwartet eine solche Auseinandersetzung – nach Abzug jeder Menge sarrazinscher Effekthascherei, Pauschalbeleidigung und persönlicher Eitelkeit bleibt nämlich immer noch genug kritische Substanz übrig, über die gesprochen werden muss, um zu einer brauchbaren Beurteilung der deutschen Einwanderungs- und Integrationspolitik zu kommen – und insofern sind Sarrazins Provokationen, über deren Appetitlichkeit sich streiten lässt – ein Angebot. Das Buch muss sich deswegen keiner kaufen.

Und dann beginnt überhaupt erst die Arbeit. Aus der Beurteilung muss man ja auch praktische Schlüsse ziehen. Welcher Mitarbeiter eines Sozialamts oder einer BAGIS soll bestimmten Zeitgenossen – mit oder auch ohne Migrationshintergrund – die Leistungskürzungen präsentieren, die Sarrazin als Antwort auf Arbeits- oder Bildungsverweigerung vorschweben? Sarrazin hat – vermutlich und hoffentlich – Personenschutz. Der Sozialamtsmitarbeiter oder -leiter leider nicht. Und im Gegensatz zu Sarrazin wohnt er möglicherweise auch noch in der selben Nachbarschaft wie sein gemaßregelter Klient.

Man mag argumentieren, dass es zum Job eines Amtsmitarbeiters gehört, das auszuhalten. Aber in manchen Stadtteilen wird der Job dann allenfalls noch Bewerber finden, die nicht wissen, was sie tun.

Auch solche Probleme sind grundsätzlich – höchst wahrscheinlich – lösbar. Das Dumme ist nur, dass die meisten Debatten, auch Sarrazins, genau da enden, wo es konkret wird.

Zur Not mit einem Parteiausschluss.

Stand der Debatte: 27.08.2010

Swiss Ban on Minarets: Philistine Cowardice

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So they’ve dunnit. The Swiss have voted in favour of a ban on building further minarets in their country. Four minarets atop mosques had been built until yesterday, reports the Los Angeles Times, and if yesterday’s referendum is turned into law, it will have been the first a and the last four minarets. Unless the Swiss will start to fear the consequences: boycotts from Muslim countries, or being locked out from the European Council, for example. The latter could happen because a ban on minarets may count as a refusal of an elementary human right: the freedom of worship.

I’m not trying to discuss if minarets to a mosque are an essential ingredient to freedom of worship. And I have no doubt that many Muslims do view minarets in European country as demonstrations of power indeed. I have no illusions about Islam – if I’m unrealistic at all, it is in that I view Islam more negatively than facts would demand. What interests me most, as a non-Muslim, are the reasons for the Swiss decision, and for the secret or not-so-secret approval among Germans here.

The Los Angeles Times

Aleppo, Minaret: Not very Long, but Still Longer than Yours

Aleppo, Minaret: Not very Long, but Still Longer than Yours

interprets the Swiss referendum as a sign of latent fears of Islamic influence in Switzerland. That’s probably a safe bet. The referendum’s result may also, to some degree, stem from the fact that many non-Muslims in Islamic countries are denied the degree of freedom of worship that Muslims enjoy in Europe. If the Swiss tick the same way many of my compatriots do, they will also have rebelled against a politically-correct elite, a political left or against Muslims who try to brand all opposition against foreign religions as “reactionary” or somehow “Nazi”. As a basis for public discussion, yesterday’s referendum may be a lucky event (for us in Germany, anyway).

But a ban on minarets must not stand in a free country. Islam is a an ideology, rather than a religion. Still, we must not deny Islam formal recognition as a religion. There is no way for a free society to deny any follower of any religion the freedom of worship. This is no question about if Islam is good or bad for Europe. It isn’t good for us to betray our own convictions. Human rights are an elementary conviction. Islamism and reactionary religious or political views in general (many of those who oppose minarets are as reactionary as many of those who are advocating them) can’t be defeated by restrictive legislation.

As Amelia Earhart, an American pilot, once said, courage is the price, that life exacts for granting peace. Banning minarets won’t make cartoonists who depict Prophet Mohamed any safer. Talking about Amelia Earhart, banning minarets won’t keep certain European airlines to refuse European citizens a seat in their planes once they have been targeted by a “fatwa”.

Only conviction and courage can stand up to Islamism, and to all kinds of totalitarianism. “Learning from Switzerland” and acting likewise elsewhere in Europe would be a mere act of compensation for real decisions we need to take if we want to defend our liberties successfully. And there may be some Muslims who will actually support our concept of freedom – if we respect and support their freedom.

The Will of the People is no Policy

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“Anatolian Eagle”, a military exercise scheduled for last week between Israel, the US, NATO as an organisation, Turkey and Italy, was cancelled a week ago. The schedule faltered when Turkey’s government disinvited Israel’s military, and was then cancelled altogether because of American disappointment with Ankara’s rejection of Israel’s participation.

At the beginning, Ankara’s motivation was unclear. Technical problems were given as reasons, then delays and malfunctions in Israeli military supplies of ten Heron drones, until prime minister Erdogan released the cat from the bag: “in accordance with the will of the people”, no Israeli fighter pilots would be allowed on Turkish soil. And Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu added that in times where there were no efforts for peace, Turkey couldn’t afford to be regarded as Israel’s military partner.

Martyrs, Everywhere - Aleppo's Armenian Quarter

Martyrs, Everywhere - Aleppo's Armenian Quarter

To base ones policy on “the will of the people” is populism, and there is reason to believe that Ankara’s main motivation is that it wants to become more influential in the Middle East, and arguably in Central Asia, too. You got to make them love you, and some Israel-bashing should work fine to this end.

But opportunism in politics usually only leads to short-term benefits. Syria might profit from Turkey’s new policy – if it really is one -, but Syria’s Armenians will watch Ankara’s moral plateau boots with astonishment, if not with disgust. If the 2009 Gaza War is a reason to lock Israel out of the traditional alliance, the Armenian genocide – and Ankara’s denial of it – would be reason enough to cancel any cooperation with Ankara, military or otherwise.

Besides, if Turkey ceases to mediate between Syria and Israel – and Israel has reasons now to reject further Turkish efforts in this field – it is hard to see how Turkey could play a positive role for Syria.

OK – Israel’s policies on Palestine aren’t smarter than Turkey’s on Israel and the Middle East. The settlements in the West Bank don’t serve Israel’s security at all. One can argue about, and possibly buy the need for the Gaza war, but the government’s refusal to rein in on the West Bank settlers is opportunistic. And its opportunism costs, not only in Israel’s relations with Turkey.

But Ankara’s big words against Israel’s army are unsavoury. No angry statement about Hamas and its rocket attacks on Israel, which actually triggered the ensuing Israeli “war crimes”. The Ummah is a cartel of perfect silence, when it comes to “holy wars” and their crimes.

Written by taide

October 18, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Hakan Kivanç suspended

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The Turkish Republic’s Consul General in Düsseldorf, Hakan Kivanc, was suspended on Monday. During question time in parliament on Wednesday, the federal government said that the Turkish foreign office has suspended the consul general from duty on May 11 with immediate effect.

Two attendees at the meeting where Kivanc alledgedly made his comments had testified against him with depositions; one filed a deposition in support of Mr Kivanc’s .

Written by taide

May 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

MPs: Consul General Hakan Kivanc “unsustainable”

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Originally, I didn’t blog about Hakan Kivanc, Turkey’s consul general in Düsseldorf. The evidence didn’t look pressing, and besides, I don’t want to leave the impression that I dislike the country.

But as far as evidence is concerned, two speakers for the CDU/CSU group in Germany’s federal parliament (Bundestag) now quote from two depositions which would support the evidence.

Consul general Kivanc met representatives of an initiative in support of the Mor Gabriel Monastery (aka Monastery of St. Gabriel), the spiritual center of Syriac-orthodox Christians in Turkey, in a dispute apparently about the land on which the monastery is located. According to the CDU/CSU press release, the depositions support allegations that Mr Kivanc said the following:

“The Germans, if they could, would tattoo a “T” onto everyone from Turkey and do to them what they previously did to the Jews, during the Nazi dicatatorship. We shouldn’t trust the Germans.”
[….]
“If you slit the Germans’ wrists, brown blood would emerge.”

The CDU/CSU believes that the accusations have become too manifest to sustain the consul general’s work in Germany and asks the foreign ministry in Berlin to issue a request for recall to Ankara.

The MPs also condemn pressure reportedly exerted by Turkish-nationalistic circles which intimidated members of the Mor Gabriel Monastery meeting, so that they didn’t dare to address the public themselves any more. The names of the two persons reportedly stating the depositions haven’t been made public.

Written by taide

May 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm

More about May Day, More Globally Speaking

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A moderate anti-globalisation activist

A moderate anti-globalisation activist

Josef Joffe, Stanford, California, co-editor of Germany’s weekly Die Zeit, apparently lives in California. They don’t celebrate May Day there, but he’s trying to be nice to the unions here anyway.

Of course, globalisation is great, he writes, and it has helped every country that was open for it, and left those behind who were not. But still… there was that uneasiness

Because it was so unpleasant when American customers who only wanted a domestic flight got their inquiries answered by Indian sing-sang (South Asian Indians, I suppose). Or when you have a bank account in Kent, you don’t want to have your phone calls answered by a call centre in Malysia, do you? The accents get on Mr Joffe’s nerves, because it dramatises the distance between the customer and the company.

Fortunately for most Germans, these excrescences don’t occur to them, because Indians don’t speak German. Germans can enjoy globalisation’s fruits without any pitfalls. But times are getting better again for America and Britain, too, Delta Airlines has now closed its call centres in India, reports Joffe, and so does Chrysler. Hooray!

Written by taide

May 3, 2009 at 8:16 am