How do I become more anti-social

Bumping, bumping, ruthlessness : The neglected society

Who does not know it, especially in a big city like Berlin: It is honked, cut, pushed aside. Doors slam in front of the nose, people jostle at the cash register and shout into cell phones in the subway. Recklessness and aggression in all places and in all areas.

Jörg Schindler calls his outcry against the brutalization of morals “The Rüpel-Republik”. Schindler describes the "everyday civil war" in road traffic in light, pointed language and in short, manageable chapters: "Everyone is upgrading, everything grows - the displacement, the speed, the level of aggression." The rule breaking, writes Schindler, has become the norm and there is no stopping in sight; on the contrary, morals seem to be getting harsher and harsher. Schindler states that there is “widespread social neglect”, with politics and business as the forerunners.

For the “Spiegel” journalist, the break came at the beginning of the 80s, when Thatcher and Reagan subsequently declared deregulation to be a guideline: “Everything has now been liberalized, that is, freed: trade from its barriers, the market from its restrictions , the work of their protection, the banks of their supervision, the world of its borders, man of his privacy. ”Everyone against everyone has been declared an ideology.

Is it the increasing workload, the hectic pace, the distraction from advertising and media? Is it the basic rules of capitalism, of competitive society, to take the other by surprise, to take advantage of them, to bluff in order to get ahead? Are we confused by the advertising that screams at us with all sorts of status symbols? Does television instill deluding and unsocial behavior in us? We have become a people of passive consumers, overwhelmed and plagued by fear for our existence and anger against “those up there”. The result: de-solidarization.

As a result of his ten-year study on “German Conditions”, the education professor Wilhelm Heitmeyer concluded that 90 percent of Germans feared social decline and poverty. 90 percent! “That means,” writes Schindler, “that society is at least united in its unease about the situation.” And “our way of living against one another has made the hatred of the weak capable of majority”. But the pace is picking up, the "discontent of all against all" is growing. "If competition, a lust for competition and ruthlessness in dealing with people are declared virtues," Schindler quotes the social philosopher Oskar Negt, "then the prevailing image of man in a society suddenly changes."

The journalist Walter Wüllenweber also speaks of the “explosive device” of changed “values ​​and morals” in his book “Die Asozialen”. The “Stern” author means both the one percent richer and those who exist on state support. Wüllenweber claims that above and below are equally distancing themselves from the social community. The one percent richer alone increases his property; Money is only earned there with money; new rich and heirs, for example, no longer want to hear about the efforts and obligations of a CEO. Much too nerve-wracking and badly paid - compared to gaming returns that can be achieved with private banks or with a click of the mouse on your own computer.

And what about the beneficiaries at the bottom of society? The problem there is not poverty, writes Wüllenweber, but a lack of education. The effort to get paid work, however, is far too strenuous, disciplining, nerve-wracking and poorly paid - compared to the standard rates of the office.

Above and below, "Tricks as a way of life" are practiced. The rich cheat at the tax office, the poor at the social welfare office. The middle class has to pay the price. Above and below lived largely undisturbed in their “respective parallel societies”, above the elite and private schools, below the secondary and special schools.

Wüllenweber is committed to performance as the “leading culture of the Germans” and therefore sees “the great threat to this society” from those above and below who are no longer able to perform. "The payment for the service is taxed almost twice as high as the non-performing profit from gambling," says Wüllenweber outraged. The top tax rate is 45 percent, and investment income is charged at a flat rate of 25 percent. The so-called secondary virtues, “performance, discipline, diligence and fairness, the so-called bourgeois values, are now mainly found in the German middle class,” he writes.

The books by the two journalists touch on social grievances in Germany. But Wüllenweber openly admits that he has no solutions. The financial industry makes the upper class rich and is supported by politics. The aid industry surrounds those in need and has blossomed into a gigantic branch of the economy that is constantly creating new tasks. Wüllenweber claims that the state has long since capitulated to these two powers - the financial industry and the auxiliary industry.

Jörg Schindler appeals to the human mind in order to let the "rowdy republic" become smoother again. But why should reason suddenly become decisive, since the author had previously worked out beautifully vividly and precisely the paradox between knowledge and continuing as before? Wars bring people closer together, notes Schindler, and catastrophes make them helpful again without asking about the price. Prosperity, on the other hand, brings discontent, and even more prosperity brings even more dissatisfaction. So should we wait for wars or disasters to turn around?

At least Jörg Schindler gives a couple of suggestions in the appendix, on two and a half pages of his description of the state, under the title “Just start”: It contains addresses of district groups, rural communities, cooperatives, multi-generational houses, networks - “social experiments with an open outcome”, in which a different life is practiced than the current one. Such hints are possibly more helpful than some coherent analyzes that just leave you perplexed in the end.

Jörg Schindler: The rowdy republic. Why are we so anti-social? Scherz Verlag, Frankfurt / Main 2012. 253 pages, € 14.99.

Walter Wüllenweber: The anti-social. How the upper and lower classes are ruining our country - and who is benefiting from it. DVA, Munich 2012. 256 pages, € 19.99.

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