How does Antifa ruin the East Germans
When this conversation appears in the Tagesspiegel, you and your family will already be on vacation. I turn the old essay question about the most beautiful vacation experience: What was your worst experience before the vacation? There was a lot for a migration researcher.
The discussion about whether it is allowed to save people who drown in the Mediterranean Sea, or whether pull factors for migration to Europe arise from this and therefore let some die first until "the rest of the Africans" understand it and no longer stand up making the way, that shook me a lot. On the one hand, because the discussion shows a moral erosion that leads directly to European human camps in North Africa and to the devaluation of the lives of others who are not Europeans. Whether it's a child, a woman or a boy with hope in mind - it doesn't matter. The access category for life is determined by geography. On the other hand, because there are numerous studies that show that a restrictive migration policy does not prevent people fleeing from hunger, war and hopelessness from setting off. That these studies and findings do not penetrate against a dull feeling of defense is a bad experience.
But in case you mean something that I have to deal with on vacation: For me, the whole year until last week was dominated by an imminent emigration to Canada. It had come a long way, and my family and I had already chosen Toronto apartments and schools for the children. In the end, the choice fell on a competitor - it was very close. Now I have to get used to staying again. That will work, but only if I actively oppose what is happening here. With alliance partners and not alone. I noticed how infinitely relieving it was to see everything with eyes that said goodbye for a while. But it's also escapism.
But have you spent your entire professional life researching a diverse German society - and, as far as you can see, always with a lot of optimism?
Exactly, I worked on the opposite for so long and was convinced that there would be a new German we that no longer defines being German on the basis of religious, cultural or migration biographical lines, but rather emerges as an attitude towards a pluralistic community. But the last few years have been a strong alienation. The debate about Özil is only one link in this chain: Using a picture with an autocrat while the World Cup is taking place at an autocrat to deprive Özil of being German - many see this as a warning: that your membership will be revoked at any time can, no matter what merits you have and what achievements you have provided. And I don't currently have the impression that this alienation can be stopped. Being German is again much more closely linked with origin, with national beliefs, with being white - Boateng was on before Özil - and without a belief in religious plurality. Germany is becoming more brutal.
How did that happen?
For me it started in 2010 ...
... the year of publication of Sarrazin 's book "Germany abolishes".
Yes, the beginning can certainly be read there. In addition, Joachim Gauck's two appearances were irresponsible for me, when he said “multiculturalism frightens me” in front of “wrong consideration for migrants”. Just him! When such allies leave, one begins to fear that what lies ahead will become even worse than what was.
Sarrazin, Gauck - and?
I would never describe Gauck in line with Sarrazin - rather as someone who falls for the staging logic of the right for people who are not heard and tries to pick them up by absorbing their poisoning disguised as fear. And that does not mean the citizens, but the arguments that are put forward. The fact that people are not heard has no causal connection with multiculturalism. But the indiscriminate combination of any social grievances with migration, combined with the accusation that this is denied by naive do-gooders, creates a climate of detachment. In order not to be accused of being naive, many people suddenly start to be critical of the values they have achieved. Bit by bit, a basic moral consensus is eroding. The social developments point to a pre-fascist phase and I claim that this has nothing to do with my personal state of mind, not even with my migrant history. Europe is currently sliding in a direction that is no longer heading for a progressive “meaningful end point”, as Habermas once called the driver for social developments: in other words, looking at social achievements that generate meaning and, as drivers of development, bring societies forward. We are, and rather, in a phase of destruction. The destruction of those achievements that brought about the 68s and that have significantly changed and influenced our understanding of equality, sexual self-determination, tolerance and freedom of expression. When these basic values were dismantled in Hungary, people thought it was a Hungarian phenomenon because there was no '68 there. We somehow accepted the PiS government in Poland, Slovakia was too small to cause concern. Now Italy, one of the founding countries of the EU, is being dominated by the right, Roma are being counted and refugees are being dehumanized as invaders who should be allowed to die in the Mediterranean; In Vienna, the FPÖ holds key ministries such as the interior department and fantasizes about the registration of Jews. The strategic demoralization of societies by right-wing extremists - I deliberately do not call them right-wing conservatives - succeeds, and there is again talk of an "axis" between Berlin, Vienna and Rome.
Isn't "pre-fascist" something strong?
I am currently trying again to read Fritz Stern's book, “Cultural Pessimism as a Political Danger”. Stern describes the rise of National Socialism and those intellectual forces that spread a pessimism that left the only way out of a despised present to be the complete destruction of all that existed.
Are you “trying” to read?
I had to put the book down again and again because many things seem so present that panic grips you. Maybe I should read the end first, maybe Stern will show a way out.
Do you also see alienation in your children?
I see an emotional distance that contradicts all the logic of integration research. We know that the first generation is that of strangers, the second tries to adapt, the third is often so integrated that it becomes invisible. It no longer knows the codes of the old homeland and at best connects artificially, via the famous "invented traditions". This is all turning around right now. The topic of migration is so salient - i.e. salient - that the children notice in the debates that there are eternal strangers in Germany and that they are seen as such if their ancestors were not always German or their names sound different. Suddenly you're performing as a foreigner again.
Conversely, my older son let out a desperate cry of love when things got so concrete with Canada and we wanted to prepare him for his departure. “You are taking my land from me!” He shouted. That hit me a lot and I wanted to say that this is my country too. But he, too, is so involved in these debates that he interprets criticism as latent betrayal. “You don't love Germany as much as I do!” He accuses me, “that's why you want to go!” You would have to see him, he looks like an Afghan boy who others would never think could feel German. But that's how it is. He can also feel completely Iranian in the next moment. That is also the case. We live in times when that is possible. And these times are actually not so modern to read. The affiliations also changed earlier: the people were sometimes Germans, sometimes French, sometimes Ottomans, then Syrians. They were German and spoke Russian, French, Sorbian or Polish. This whole attempt to reduce complexity, which the right now offer by demanding one-sided confessions - it does not make people clearer, but simpler.
In the youngest generation, however, there is already a slim majority of “people with a migration background”.
No, there are a little more than a third among the schoolchildren. And a total of around a quarter of the population has a migration background. For many years we thought that integration was achieved through normality. Because many people in society are associated with stories of migration, even if they have not migrated themselves. You are married, related by marriage or have a child with a migration biography: German grandparents of origin, for example, with immigrant sons-in-law, grandchildren, through the Tunisian sister-in-law, etc. In integration research, we thought that this would open up a huge connection that would allow a natural identification with a diverse one Makes Germany almost inevitable. Instead, the current migration discourse in connection with old racism is even symbolically citizens whose families have lived here for five generations, black Germans for example. These people are not migrants. They just aren't white. But they probably live here as long as the Huguenot families. De Maizière is also not considered a migrant.
How do you explain that?
There is an obsessive preoccupation with the issue of migration.
Probably not in the population. A high-circulation German newspaper that is not suspicious of being a migration propagandist has now published a ranking of the most important topics. Migration and integration are in the lower third, work, social security ...
This is where the strategic component in the rise of the right comes in, which is only now slowly being understood. The objective fears are one thing: And that's exactly what the graphic in the "Bild" newspaper lists. The most important thing for people in Germany is that poverty in old age is prevented and that equal educational opportunities are created for children, that housing is affordable and that wealth is distributed more fairly. These are all structural questions. The topic of immigration is only in 13th place in the graphic. But at the same time the topic of migration - coupled with the topics of Islam, flight, crime, etc. - dominates the public debates. An emotional narrative thus superimposes the difficult questions about structural change. It's a manipulative right-wing strategy that we've all fallen for. And I'm afraid we social scientists were too long on a sideline. We tried to explain the rise of the right-wing populists and, above all, investigated the “concerned citizens”, their fear of relegation and their job losses. And then you look at the surveys in which they say: I'm actually not afraid of unemployment at all. Instead, we should have done research at the very top, with those who have been brainwashing for some time - after all, we knew their strategies well from researching Islamists.
Do you compare the strategies of Islamists with those of the right?
Both start with social insecurity, specifically recruit people with no prospects or after a stroke of fate, they approach insecure families. Few of them manage to appear as the many on the Internet, there are word-taking strategies whose terms such as “asylum tourism” will appear in the mainstream at some point. And whoever follows the social media could get the impression that the whole of Germany is a hate society. There are still eight million people in Germany who are active in helping refugees. The AfD have just voted six million. But you can feel more and more clearly: People are fed up with hatred. Many new groups are forming in civil society who want to stand up for an open society, for a fairer distribution of wages, for better work, for fairer living conditions, for the right to live in the city and not to be driven out to the outskirts by real estate funds for climate change and for a coexistence based on diversity. In contrast to the emotional irrationality of the right, who are always only "against" and attack the values of this society in a destructive manner, these civil society movements are quite rational and structure-oriented "for" a change and improvement of social conditions.
So what did social scientists like you do wrong?
We have dealt with the last link in the chain, with people who have already tilted to the right or are about to. We should have dealt more closely with the beginning. A simple graphic like the one you mentioned already shows that migration panic is not part of the basic equipment of the German majority. We should expose the drivers, the masterminds of the right, their strategies, their sources of money. And there you will find, for example, irritated that the thought leaders are all West Germans who agitate the East. Höcke comes from Neuwied, Götz Kubitschek is Swabian, Gauland Frankfurter, Frauke Petry was socialized in Westphalia. And we should talk about funding. The Swiss foundation that finances the AfD posters is said to be worth millions. And when Trump's former chief strategist Stephen Bannon meets here with Alice Weidel, then goes to Switzerland and finally to Matteo Salvini in Italy and to Le Pen in France, this is only a brief note. Nobody asks: What is he doing on his European tour? What is he up to when he says he will train Europe's right-wing populists? So where is investigative journalism?
Are we journalists to blame for the rise of the right?
I prefer to criticize my own job, because I know my way around better. But I notice that many are working on something like Beatrix von Storch's sentence that she slipped on the mouse when she demanded shots at migrants at the border. Such a sentence is planned in all its absurdity! Trump makes fun of disabled people and describes the children of the refugees as devious, Salvini describes the refugee helpers as the criminal henchmen of the smugglers - this shifts borders and prepares for dehumanization. Plausibility and consistency no longer play a role. The right wanted to drag the boundaries of what can be said and it made it. And the most important thing that they succeed in: they grind down our outrage. Outrage can be a great mobilization effect in societies. But when so much happens to be outraged about, at some point it becomes a blunt weapon. And that's a strategy. If someone in front of you pushes someone down a flight of stairs, they are outraged and want the perpetrator to be held accountable. If the perpetrator then says, I didn't mean it, I really just wanted to test how fast a person can run stairs, and he gets away with it, then you can work so hard that the perpetrator is now artificially realizing his intention veiled. You don't get over it. That's how it is with the mouse, with Boateng as a neighbor, whom nobody wants, the monument to shame and bird shit. At some point you have no more indignation if nothing happens to contain the perpetrators. This also happens with the obvious lies that, as a strategy, lead to total disinformation. Obama described this well in his 100th birthday speech in Johannesburg when he said much of today's politics seem to reject the concept of objective truth.
As a scientist who gives political advice: Do you have an explanation for the CSU? The last polls show that their shift to the right in the hunt for right-wing voices is self-harming?
Politics has worked in the last few years, and I see that as a big failure, according to population analysis and surveys. Political craft is lost in the process. Sigmar Gabriel renounced the candidacy for chancellor because analysts confirmed that he was not popular enough for it. The Union has been persuaded that it is no longer right, that is why it is losing to the right. But the analysts seem to be wrong. The CDU achieved one of its best election results in 2013, when Merkel drove the course strongly in the middle, called for the nuclear phase-out and the abolition of the Bundeswehr, sent signals for gay marriage and recognized Islam as part of Germany. All the spotlights are on the AfD with its six million voters, but not on the eight million volunteers in refugee aid. But we open the narrative that the ones that are brightly lit are the ones that have been forgotten. What if those eight million were visible once! It is time that we forgotten, whose land has been stolen from us in recent years, become more visible.We are much more people who do not want this ugly caricature that the AfD is offering us as the future Germany. And it is by no means the case that we are only patriotic cosmopolitans who call for a global no man's land. From east to west and from the village to the city, people have taken in people, given them refuge and felt themselves to be human in the process. There were many old people, conservatives, religious, anti-fascists and atheists. It was a big and active commitment and not just that: it was a concrete act. To disparage all of this as naive romanticism when you say that 1.3 million people per 82 million inhabitants, that can be done, that is infamous. In truth, one can even say that it is pure contempt of the people. We cannot trust ourselves to be able to do this, even though civil society has jumped into politics almost out of nowhere in combating the crisis situation.
Again: why don't parties change paths that are obviously harmful to them? The shift to the right harms the CSU like the SPD does the GroKo with an eternity guarantee.
Politics is very much going on at the moment. It is of course also easier to do emotional-symbolic politics than to change something structurally. And don't underestimate the dynamics of speaking in front of the crowds. Bavaria's Prime Minister Söder has been campaigning for some time. This forms a linguistic-thinking complex that you can't just get out of when you leave the stands in the beer tent. With practically everyone. And at some point the normative emotional state shifts, not just his. The reflex against Sarrazin was still quite strong. In the meantime, sea rescuers have to justify themselves in court and before public opinion. That is a strong discursive and moral shift. Normalization happens insidiously, for better or for worse. And at some point, evil becomes very common.
So much for the CSU.
Sorry, I haven't even mentioned the SPD. Their grandees accuse the party of forgetting the workers and being too interested in the cosmopolitan elite. The SPD has long ceased to be a workers' party; it is elected by the service class, by people like us. Only: She doesn't address them at all. And combines that with disdain for elites. But elites do not mean FIFA officials and corporate bosses - it is anti-intellectual and hatred of academics. A society does not develop further if it hates intellectuals. In the meantime, it is good form not to want to be smart and not to use academic language, down-to-earth is confused with a regulars' table so that one arrives better. And the SPD falls for it. For 50 years, the majority of migrants have voted for the SPD, but the SPD did not deserve our votes. And here I am speaking now as a migrant. I am a Social Democrat by heart and have always been at home in this milieu. But as far as my topic of migration and integration policy is concerned, this is where the SPD is making itself invisible. In the meantime, I would call on those on the subject to vote for the Greens. The Greens are the only ones who have not distanced themselves on the fundamental question of what the new Germany should look like. Robert Habeck is a seeker who, with a lot of warmth, makes a policy for the population. And here it would have the potential to address the migrant German population more specifically and to involve them in this warmth. There are other quotes from all the other parties.
Tübingen's pretty popular green mayor Boris Palmer?
For me it is not one of the grandees.
What you describe as anti-intellectual hatred hurts you because you are part of it, right?
Yes and no. I come from Boppard, a small town on the Rhine. I know the villages of the Hunsrück from my childhood. My mother was the first in the family to graduate from high school, my grandmother was a cook, and my grandfather was a vintner. And at the same time I come from Iran, my family there were almost all teachers, I also know the vibrant city. City and country are currently stronger pairs of opposites than stratum and class. You have poor people in the city who are very open to pluralism and rich people in the countryside or in small towns who are very hostile to plurality. So racism is not just an attitude of the “little man” but also of the “fine man”, depending on where he lives. I know the city and the country. But I would like to depersonalize that. You don't necessarily have to create authenticity by experiencing it yourself. Marx wrote and fought for workers' rights and was himself a citizen of Trier. When the SPD is now looking at class again, arguing that it has pursued a postmodern identity politics for too long and let gay marriage, climate policy and feminism issues buy it off, all I can say is that migrants are mostly working class and those who live on Those most affected by poverty in this society are single women - the question of women is therefore a central question to be resolved, just like that of racism in society. If you want to make politics for a modern society, you cannot use these three lines of conflict race, class and gender Play off against each other and insult the first climbers from migrant milieus and women as cosmopolitan snobs. The word "cosmopolitan" was once a dirty word in Germany. Intellectuals are central. They think for society - with society or by observing, describing, artistically representing or irritating societies. Politicians take up this knowledge and implement it by turning a feedback loop in the country once again and thus testing the ideas for concreteness and the willingness of the population to implement it - in the best sense of the word. This is what the right-wing is doing at the moment: They have intellectual masterminds who develop political strategies and ideas for a new social order. They know that a small percentage is enough to achieve cultural hegemony. Remember: the Greens have always been a small, single-digit party and have nevertheless managed to establish a cultural sovereignty within the Federal Republic of Germany. Most people have at some point started sorting garbage, recognized the dangers of phasing out nuclear power or climate change. So a small number is enough to shift societies dramatically or progressively. So while the right-wing calls for intellectuals, the SPD is celebrating a process of renewal that is hostile to academics. We can only lose there. Fortunately, Antonio Gramsci is being read again, who coined the term organic intellectual and points out that every class has to produce its own intellectuals in order to fight for it, and that these struggles have to be interlinked at some point. He knew that only very few had access to economic resources - but that access to cultural and social resources could also be obtained by those who did not have economic capital. We have to network the organic intellectuals of feminism, anti-racism and the social question, climate change and art, sport and the internet, instead of placing them in a position of contempt for one another.
Are you an organic intellectual?
If you ask me so specifically, I would say that I am a migrant German thinker. Like many colleagues, I tend to come from the left. If we, who want to be understood by many, are accused of aloofness and disconnection from the people, then that hits us hard because the idea of the left is driven by the proximity to those layers that cannot position themselves. At some point I noticed that you react reflexively to this accusation like a Pavlov dog. You stop talking because you think that the language and the thoughts you use are only reserved for a detached, alien elite anyway. But I noticed one thing: in public dialogues, in schools, in conversations with teachers or with football officials or senior citizens, many people gave me feedback time and again: namely that they felt that they were being taken seriously, as I addressed them. As a clever scientist, I did not travel to them to speak from above, nor did I speak to them as if they did not understand anything and therefore I had to speak to them in an extra simple way. I did not challenge them too much. I talk about migration and the change in our society, about affiliations, exclusion and stereotypes, about radicalization, destructive Islamism and the beauty and hybridity of Islam, about narrative reinterpretations and models of a modern plural democracy. All of this is not easy - but believe me, I have learned one thing in recent years: above all, people want to be taken seriously. And that includes trusting them to understand and endure complex relationships - even if they don't want to actively embrace them in the end. But democracy is the pursuit of a utopia and coming to terms with what is feasible.
What the right-wing populists do - I'll say it again - that is people's contempt! It is not taking the problems of people in this country seriously. It is the feeling of a vulnerability and the manipulation of this vulnerability into aggression and obedience to their ideology. At the beginning I said that it is to be read analogously to radical Islamism or also to fundamentalist sects.
Is speech now more important than action, is the symbolic politics of which you spoke more powerful than politics? It is said of Bavaria that the integration policy, for example, is excellent across the board. For God's sake, the CSU doesn't want to just talk about it.
The gut feeling is more powerful than empiricism. That was already demonstrable with Sarrazin. The figures showed that more and more immigrants have high school diplomas, language skills and their jobs are getting better. But the feeling that “Germany is doing away with itself” remained. Today Mesut Özil, who played 92 internationals and now demonstrably prepared a number of goal chances in the preliminary round, is allegedly to blame for Germany's elimination from the World Cup. In the meantime, politics is responding to the negative gut feeling more than it used to be. And no longer makes an offer for the other side - the one with the positive gut feeling, if you will, who is huge. In Dresden, for example, an anti-racist movement mobilizes very, very many people who are afraid of hatred, division, right-wing extremism. Why does nobody take them seriously? Why is there not an offensive questioning about the fears of that part of the population who no longer recognize the country in front of their own eyes? Fearing that we will lose our values, that we will dehumanize ourselves if we think out loud about whether volunteer sea rescuers should save people in the Mediterranean - that would be like asking if the volunteer fire brigade could rescue people from a burning house? I see that as the great erosion of our time. Ethical pillars have been torn down. Incidentally, this also fits in with the fact that we are all embarrassed about making moral arguments. We are prepared for the moral neglect of fascism that may come.
What can be done about it?
First of all: to make the civil society, which this Germany also has on offer, visible. That goes far. The captain of the "Lifeline", who should now go to court in Malta, was formerly a CSU voter, he is not with the Antifa. And we need the courage for utopias back. To do this, we don't have to go far back, the 1970s and 80s will suffice. Basically we need a new peace movement. We also have to trust ourselves emotionally to get the words back or to set new ones. Yes, I am a do-gooder, I want my children to be good people, I don't accept that as a dirty word.
So you are still a little optimistic after all?
If there is something good about this time, in which everything is being destroyed that seemed indestructible, the SPD as a people's party, the unity of the Union parties, the Atlantic alliance under Trump, it is this: That we are realizing again how important politics is. For so long we thought that parliamentary democracy was only an accessory, that the economy had real power. If autocrats and madmen implement so much that is destructive so quickly, why not the others, in a positive way? Trump talks about four percent more armaments until everyone thinks that we got off lightly with two percent of the gross domestic product. Where is our power to say: We don't want an armament spiral! Instead, we need four percent to combat the causes of displacement, with 0.5 percent development aid, which we cannot even achieve, it is impossible to change anything in global migration flows. The world will become more unstable if global inequality persists. And our lifestyle is inevitably interwoven with the poverty of the other parts of the world. That is why we should talk of four percent world participation money or four percent responsibility money. The people in Europe now know this, and many can no longer cope with this mismatch: The European self-image as enlightened, human rights-oriented and responsible on the one hand, corrupt, exploitative and inhuman on the other. This cognitive dissonance leads to aggression. Many people have a guilty conscience and cannot help themselves; but they would like to support a movement or party that frees them from this stale feeling by actively making an offer to redistribute them. And between us: when we land at two percent, we have already tripled the current amount. We could also call that four percent conscience help.
Where will your new movement - peace movement - come from?
People are tired of this cultural pessimism, they are fed up with being agitated. Many now see through the wave of hatred that has rolled over us for a few years. I will come back to Dresden, which is considered the Pegida capital. At the same time, the exhibition on racism in the Hygiene Museum is currently the most visited in the region. A lot is happening in the city. There is this enlightened Eastern identity that has once defeated a destructive system. We need post-migrant alliances for a new peace movement. Post-migrant because we want to show that migration is not everything. It covers up too many structural issues. We need to think beyond that and join forces. We have to show resistance and a clear commitment: Yes, we want to live together in a plural democracy that is driven by the idea of unity, law and equality. I think there is a big momentum right now, you can already hear the first call: up, down! Get moving! It is our country. Let's defend it together!
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