9/10/2004: Terror as a Field for Projections - 9/11-12/2004: Leviathan - 9/13/2004: "Eyes Shut, Eyes Open" - 9/14/2004: The German Angst - 9/15/2004: God and Gods - 9/16/2004: Da da Didacticism - 9/17/2004: Isolated Community - 9/18-19/2004: Be the Change you Want
- 9/10/2004: Terror as a Field for Projections -
The advantage of a newspaper compared with a woman is that the newspaper cannot run away. It appears over and over again. It is faithful. Of course there also are faithful women. The disadvantage, however, is... ok, let's leave that. The SZ article of the day 9/10/2004 is on page 13 and it is called: "The impossible exchange. Why hostage-taking is the most effective of all terrorist weapons". It was written by Burkhard Müller. The central sentence is: "In view of terrorist violence the state is as helpless as an aristrocrate in former times was in view of insults against his honor." This is another feuilleton article of the kind which starts with terror and philosophizes about its structure. The focus here is on the relation between terror(ists) and the state.
As we saw above several times the terror analysis of the SZ is defective, it is lacking things. All the more interesting are the images which are used in the context of terror. There is a very good and extensive German inaugural dissertation that deals with the metaphors about the state through the ages. I read it about 15 years ago, for example the metaphor of the state as a person, as a machine, as a bee-hive, as a ship and other things. The metaphor "The state is an aristocrate" with the extension "terror is like an insult" is revealing, because it shows why societies become repressive when they are afraid. The factual terror situation is being sublimated, transported into a different domain, a domain which has nothing to do with hostage-takings and victims on the spot, but which is about insults. The state feels insulted by terror. The newspaper, too, seems to feel insulted, as it is ennobled for its merits in society, so to speak. There are only few examples which show so clearly that there is a distinct class thinking in our society which is activated through phenomena like terror.
This is one side, says Herr Müller. But there would also be the idea of the society contract ("Gesellschaftsvertrag"). "It says that the state is the voluntary agreement of its citizens for the greatest possible benefit." In this scenario the aspects of class and punishment is not highlighted, it is more objective in the sense of: closer to the situation. Müller mentions the aspects "valuation of goods" and "negotiations" which subsequently occur. In the aristrocrate scenario, on the other hand, the "Staatsraeson" is mentioned as a reaction, this is the supremacy of the state. This would be the conflict of the state, Müller alludes, "it must be a hypocrite" in order to consider both scenarios, for both would be relevant.
Let's come back to the aristrocrate scenario one more time, the one which Burkhard Müller is closer to, because he writes much more about it. In detail the passage reads: "In view of terrorist violence the state is as helpless as an aristrocrate in former times was in view of insults against his honor; every idiot was allowed to force him into the limits, he was dependant on the accidental impulse of hostile evil. This was the weakness of his power. On the threat of violence the state can only react with overwhelming counter-power which is to veritably bruise this threat. A state cannot give in to hostage-takers. If it did it would become a private person, as it were; it ceases being a state." When you read this quote thoroughly it becomes clear that terror is equalled with "the accidental impulse of hostile evil". And this is exactly what I am suspecting, namely that - instead of making peace - the frontal public is searching for "evil" which it sees hidden in some "non-aristocrats".
Reason for the attractiveness of the metaphor "the state is an aristocrate" is that is gives the citizen the opportunity to participate in this nobility via his identification with the state, and be it supposedly, only in his head. The argumentation is paradoxical, however, because in this scenario the state indeed acts like an emotionalized - I don't mind if aristocratic - private person, meaning not souvereign and not noble like a good state. The competing scenario, on the other hand, the one of the society contract, is not as attractive, because it is more abstract. But I don't believe that the conclusion is correct, i.e. that state gives in to terrorism if the state does not "bruise". In my set of metaphors the good state is conceptualized as an educated big family that organizes a society of responsible citizens and lives with it. It also considers the edges of society with attention and does not know any differences of class. It does not prevent terror by focussing on the terrorists and by seeing evil in them, but by realizing social tensions in the outset and by solving them through dialogues (as well as through punishments, when the law is violated), and thus by cutting the ground of terror.
After having read this article my first reaction was disappointment. Was this really all the Sueddeutsche had? I mean, I was sacrificing my precious time and attention... On the caricature by Ironimus on the opinion page one can see Putin fighting with a shapeless octopus which is embracing him with its tantacles and which is meant to denote terror. This matches the subject at hand. Terror as a shapeless and uncalculable being. When you see it this way you lose your scruples about applying violence against "the terror".
What else? For the collection of images concerning the Middle East on page 8: "When the wolf becomes the chased lamb. For the third summer in sequence young Israelis and Palestinians have spent 'vacation from the war' in Germany together" by Nina Berendonk. On the photo there is a young Pal who paints a tattoo onto the upper arm of a smiling Israeli girl. It is true that one, in a deeper analysis, can find indications that the text is written from an Israeli viewpoint, but this is not a secret, anyway. The article is good, at any rate, it does not reflect the viewpoint of the Israeli government, like most of the articles of Thorsten Schmitz. Today, on September 10, Arafat again is threatened with expulsion. This is the way the Israeli government tests how far it can go. For within valid international law there is no possibility of such an expulsion. For the SZ this hardly poses a problem.
This was basically it, September 10. On the readers' mails page there are three contributions on the Middle East in which the wall is justified, Arafat is called a terrorist and Zionism is stood up for. Two other readers' mails deal with oppressed peoples who want their liberty and the question of guilt of terrorism which would also concern Schröder and Putin. There were other things, e.g. the question of quotas in German pop music and a review about Brandauer as Nathan the Wise. Interesting also the report about Schwarzenegger.
- 9/11-12/2004: Leviathan -
Today is the third anniversary of the massaker of September 11. In the weekend edition of the SZ there is another terror article in the feuilleton, again it is about the state. "The death of Leviathan. The lore of the 'Malmesbury monster': when the state can no longer guarantee the lives of its citizens it is gone" by Volker Breidecker. The argumentation is like this: since the beginnings of Islamist terror Thomas Hobbes' (1588-1679) conception (=scenario) of the absolute state is topical again. I did mention before that the SZ sometimes toddles off into the evil past when it all gets too much, but that it goes back so far into the past indeed is a bit of a surprise. Leviathan originally is a Biblical monster, the philosopher Hobbes means the state with it. He was of the opinion that an absolutist state is the only way to escape the "war of everybody against everybody", yet not without the normalty of wars between states. This pre-industrial philosophy now is taken by the SZ for the fight against terror. "Global terrorism of the new century" is blamed for having abandoned the principle of human self-preservation. Therefore it could not effectively be fought with the "balance of horror", the philosophy of the previous century. Today we would find "suicide armies". This criticism of terrorism then expands to a general critique of religion, as in religion "even violent death" would not be the biggest evil.
Let us now leave this moth box and return to the current time. Apparantly, war between states is regarded as a normalty in the SZ. This is a problem. It is a justification for the state to become a monster which sees itself having an enemy who also is a monster. A lot of monster images. Like on TV. Hm.
On page 13 there is a long article by Holger Liebs about photos and collages of places of terror. Yet there hardly is a message to be discovered in it, unless that "pictures lie". The best contribution of the day is the reader's mail by Sabine Matthes on that the path towards peace in the Middle East is that Israel, similar to South Africa before, acknowledges the rule of law. About the anthropologist Uri Davis Sabine writes: "Contrary to American democracy, this is how he argues, Israel distinguishes between four kinds of citizenship which are rooted in racist discrimination. Thus the meanwhile four million Palestinian refugees (according to data of the UN support organisation for refugees from Palestine UNRWA) have a right to get the Israeli citizenship (according to international law, UN partition resolution 181 and UN resolution 194) which is denied by Israel, because otherwise it would not be a predominantly Jewish state anymore." Six further readers' mails deal with this subject which is related to an article about the judgement of the international court on the Israeli wall. I vaguely remember it, it was quite some time ago. While reading these exceptionlessly good contributions I had the feeling of peeping through a window into a free world outside.
Apart from that, the weekend edition from 9/11-12/2004 was about "the humans'" permanent complaints which leads to their incapability of realizing how sick the whole system is (page 3). It is not easy to assess the value of such texts. The success of right-wing extremist parties is the subject of page 5. On page 2 the Pisa test is mentioned, this comparison of educational systems in different countries in which Germany got very bad marks. My comment on this is: we survived Versailles, so we will survive Pisa, too.
- 9/13/2004: "Eyes Shut, Eyes Open" -
Hard to say what to make of today's issue, the one from 9/13/2004. Topic of the day on page 2 is that the democratic parties are discovering how dangerous the escape of the voters towards the right-wing could become. Heribert Prantl notes that the "struggle against right-wing extremism" is not a seasonal work. In this article ("Eyes shut, eyes open") there is an interesting metaphor. Herr Prantl compares right-wing extremism with natural phenomena and writes with reference to mysterious "observers of the political scene in Germany": "They note that right-wing extremist parties would traverse the Federal Republic like thunderstorms: they draw on, roar, and leave again." As we know one cannot lead a discussion with natural phenomena like thunderstorms, they are beyond the discourse. The "struggle against right-wing extremism", which Herr Prantl is demanding, in its structure is comparable with the struggle against "terrorism": in the end the opponent is conceptualized as a dehumanized phenomenon. The right-wing party NPD in another article on the same page is called a "time bomb".
On it goes with the anger of the masses on page 3, and on the opinion page 4 mad comments on the "Jesus Day" in Berlin: "When it comes down to the influence of Christian values the organizers leave open which ones are concerned - otherwise the Jesus Day would quickly have had a vehement fundamentalism debate. (...) As little as it is true that all of those who had gathered in Berlin are fundis: behind the Jesus Day stands a clear church and society concept in sharp contrast to liberalism and pluralism." The commentator closes with the remark that the established churches "must clearly say where the borderlines are between them and the fundamentalist parts of the Charismatics." Thus a vehement fundamentalism debate is out of the question. It is hardly mentioned why there is such a sharp contrast to "liberalism and pluralism". Mentioned is the denial of the evolutionary laws, and besides the gathering would have been "enormously political". Here it becomes apparent why Jesus has no chance in the frontal media: he is too political! So political even that certain subject matters are not even part of the discussion. What are they afraid of at the SZ that they devalue their own liberalism and pluralism? Is it necessary to be afraid of people who deny the laws of evolution? Why is not not enough to smile about this view? To deny the laws of evolution is a bit like denying the theory of relativity or the law of gravity. It is possible to do it, but it is not a very successful enterprise. The central genuine question in this context is the one of the contextuality of revelational scriptures, that is the question inhowfar these texts are and have to be seen in their historical contexts. This obvious and rather harmless issue was not even alluded to in the SZ.
On the same page 2 there is a view into the press. From Le Monde there is a quote: "Struggle against terrorism in the first place means to take away its legitimization and thus to care for the removal of the problems which are exploited by the terrorists." From the Neue Zuercher Zeitung there is a quote of the Islamic Studies academic Navid Kermani: "Who questions the dialectics of escalation and points to the roots of violence is declared an accomplice of terror, who talks about political negotiations, even about peaceful solutions, is declared a naive simpleton (...) One does not have to negotiate with terrorists, but one should also not wait with negotiations as long as there are terrorists." Herr Kermani here foremostly criticizes the weekly newspaper "Die Zeit", there was no reference to the SZ. I think the SZ does not realize that it exists...
Concerning the Middle East image collection there is an AP/dpa article on page 6: "Sharon warns about civil war in Israel". On the photo one can see "settlers protesting against the government in July with a human chain". In the foreground a sympathetic looking bearded settler with a kipa, laughing, with a small child on his arm, in a shining white shirt. In the center of the picture the Israeli flag. People taking each other by the hand. A picture of peace, one could assume. Who sees the photo will get a positive first impression.
Then in the feuilleton the article "The future of former times. Between Hartz and Hitler: how democracy changes" by Harald Welzer. The author complains about lacking utopias without offering utopias himself. Maybe he is from the 68 movement. He talks about our being talked into a new Hitler cult and at the same time participates in this fashion. It is this kind of self-fulfilling prophecy for which the media often does not seem to have an eye. They think they only inform, but of course they also are role-models with their behavior. Two pages ahead we see an esthetical, big colored photo of Adolf Hitler, collar, mustache, Fuehrer's cap, on the very top of the page, impersonated by the actor Bruno Ganz. Underneath an interview with routine questions. So far I had known such illustrations only from the "Spiegel". Unfortunately, the film-makers also put this stupid face onto the book of the film, as I noticed a couple of days ago on the desk of the newspaper shop in the station. This indeed is advertising Hitler, how else should one call it?
Finally on page 16 another contribution from the series: "What the state may prescribe to us. Wolfgang Kersting and Horst Dreier explain Kant's wise separation of morals and law" by Michael Stolleis. It is a book review. Of course Kant did not separate between morals and law as is suggested in the subtitle. Rather, the article is about the theses of Kant that the executive part of the law is to function without additional reference to morals while the foundation of the law is rooted in morals.
- 9/14/2004: The German Angst -
There is hope. Evelyn Roll writes on 9/14/2004 on page 3 about the patient Germany. It is the second part of a trilogy which is to be completed on Friday. Here is the full title: "'Patient Germany (II) - the diagnosis of the psychologists: "Everything that has happened since the war was nothing but psychological shifts.' A journey to the almond core of fear. Couragelessness, self-hatred, panic attacks - the country seems to be the victim of its forgotten, but never really mourned history." This is the best article I have read in the SZ since the French Revolution. Let's just adjust the title first so we don't get on a wrong track for all that joy. Germany has forgotten its history and is incapable of mourning AND THUS of fundamentally improving! Let's immediately forget this thing about the victim!! Now for a progressive quote: "When an individual has committed a terrible crime and wants to live on the question is: where to put the evil? In crass cases he subsequently splits off the evil. And this is how it went with Germany. The splitting off into East and West. The evil ones were the respective others. Everything that has happened since the war (...) was nothing but psychological shifts." According to this the 68ers only fought the symptomes. "German Angst", by the way, is a word out of the previous part. A good word. And yet it is nothing specifically German. You can find it everywhere. Only that Germany because of its past has a special relation to fear.
At last one can take the Sueddeutsche Zeitung seriously. Al-hamdu lil-lah! (Thank God). I am looking forward to reading the third part which is called "In the rehabilitation". On page 4 we find three interesting articles: a commentary by rabe criticizing the constitution intelligence service (Verfassungsschutz) in Saxony about the NPD ("What use is it if the verfassungsschutz nicely observes the brown comrades without passing its knowledge on?") dbr writes about Putin that he would speak with a split tongue. How true! Thorsten Schmitz reports about "The silence of the left-wing. Israel's settlers dangerously trump, but the silent majority in the country wishes the withdrawal from Gaza". This article is not written from the viewpoint of the Israeli government. On page 8 there is another article by Schmitz, about Netanjahu. On page 9 again the nuclear program of Iran. Europe is warning. In view of Europe's silence about the real Israel this cannot really be taken seriously. Even less can be said about the minister of the interior, Herr Schily's statements about the Israeli wall being ok. He discredits himself. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) writes about it, the SZ doesn't.
In the "View from the outside" an article by Daniel Benjamin who had been working in the National Security Council during the Clinton time. He speaks against the war on Iraq and criticizes the war against terror without being principally against it. He sees surroundings of "increasing hatred against the USA" in the Arab countries and says one would instead have had to "transform" those countries, which are called "incubators of terror", with reforms (from the outside!?). The title of this not especially material article is "The terror gets even more effective". In the feuilleton then we find something about a historians' day in Kiel. I didn't even know that we have historians here in Kiel. Cool. For sometimes one is almost inclined to think that we live in a history-less society. A society in which history has become a code, frozen. But there are also counter-examples. Regards to the SZ editors!
- 9/15/2004: God and Gods -
A good edition. The article of the day is in the feuilleton on page 14 and it is called: "All Gods are one! The discomfort in religion" It was written by Professor Jan Assmann, an Egyptologist from Heidelberg. A stimulating article, even a dialogue. Herr Assmann poses the thesis that the idea of monotheism, which changed the world - is based on an excluding concept of truth, meaning that it defines itself via demarcation by nature. No god but God! in the three monotheistic religions therefore means the exclusion of alternative belief systems: "For all three religions accord in a strong concept of the other against whom they define themselves, in different ways, by persecution, by courting, missionary action, subjection or simply by excluding them as goyim, gentiles, pagani, unbelievers, heretics, respectively." Monotheism would be about demarcation, not about the one, says Professor Assmann, and therefore it would be exclusive. As a reflecting historian and author of the book "Moses the Egyptian" he speaks about the principle of the translatability of values in an "inclusive monotheism" in which all gods are one and he calls this an "intercultural transparency" in which the other can be understood inherently in his own terms. Great, progressive article!
The religions are a fundamental origin of our social and individual behavior. An overall and updated critique of religions indeed is of central significance today. This sounds straightforward. But it isn't. When one wants to critically assess the monotheistic religions then one will have to regard all three as a matter of justice. It is absolutely no problem to criticize Islam, this is happening on a daily basis in the German press, on whatever level. (In Muslim societies, on the other hand, it is not so easy yet to talk freely about religions, in the press, neither.) It is also possible here to pose critical questions concerning Christianity. Well... But when all three are discussed together, then it could work. Presupposition is an overall agreed upon system of values, like for instance the human rights about which a simultaneous critical reflection is necessary as they were not formulated by all involved parties.
In the new library in Alexandria I had seen a modern black statue in Egyptian style. It fascinated me, as did the barque near the pyramids which I visited in February. The old Egyptian style is marvellously beautiful. I would really like to meet Professor Assmann. He is a socially engaged Egyptologist. Of such people I normally only dream at night. My experiences with our universities and with our educational system in general have normally been rather bad, with few exceptions. This is the reason why I wrote dozens of pages on this subject before. The SZ of today is full of Pisa and the new marks for education in Germany, again a miserable account in the ranking. The fundamental problem to my mind lies in the unefficient conceptualization of learning processes as the acquisition of something alien. It is basically the same missionary thought Herr Assmann was talking about. The society knows beforehand what is to become of the pupils and students, it has expectations, the parents, the educational officials, the economy. In this way we are educated to become unfree people and not to become responsible citizens. Also, I have come to the conclusion that our natural creativity gets methodically destroyed in the educational institutions. In the end this is due to the image of the human in the society.
What else? On page 8 Herr Schmitz tells us the news of Mister Sharon from Israel. The headline is: "Sharon calls Arafat 'killer'". It actually is quite a harrassment for the readers that they have to overhear this children's theater every time again. Interesting the sentence: "At a suicide assault of a Palestinian terrorist in the West Jordan Land on Tuesday three Israeli soldiers were injured, one of them with danger for his life." What I wonder is not what this news has to do with the title, but whether the SZ sees "terrorists" in a differentiated way. This example is about a clash with the occupation army. Is this the same kind of terror? I wonder where the SZ sees the limits of the right of resistance in societies under occupation. - Frau Steinberger wrote again and on the page with the readers' mails today there also are the publishing dates of those articles that are referred to.
- 9/16/2004: Da da Didacticism -
One of the most important principles in the literary critique of the Imagistes, an Anglo-American group around Ezra Pound, about one hundred years ago, is: "No didacticism!" The teaching and the beautiful do not really fit together. Unfortunately, Ezra later went a bad way politically. Yet as a literary critic he is worth admiration. The problematic thing about this humanistic demand of "No didacticism!" is that it is didactic. The didactic always also takes away freedom. The newspaper is didactic, too. It gives the readers freedom through knowledge, analysis and commentary and it takes away freedom for example by the choice of subjects and opinions. When I concern myself with the newspaper in this way I may also partly take away its freedom. Sometimes it is paradoxical, but there is nothing one can do about paradoxes. They are not so bad, anyway. Violence is bad.
When you are doing a simultaneous newspaper online review then there is a lot which comes into and goes out of your mind. There is little time for digestion, the dreams can become heavy. And yet it is a fascinating thing, a good practise, very vivid, and what are a couple of months? I was pleased about the SZ of today, Thursday. Despite the fact that there were slight aggressions in it. But who is free of aggressions? You cannot expect this in these times that everybody always is so cool. They are hard times and we all are doing our best to get out of them. Sometimes I wonder how I can find an edition of the SZ pleasant when there is this Israel "coverage" in it. I probably mean it in a relative way. There is no other explanation I can think of.
On page 1 there is a quote by EU foreign deputy Chris Patten: "The struggle against terrorism does not justify nor excuse human rights violations." That the Nato is sneaking into Iraq writes Christian Wernicke on the 4. Arne Perras comments the world population situation. Herr Prantl writes about Putin: "We have no better one". Hm. What does that mean: we have no better one? Who is "we"? I think Herr Prantl did indeed understand this article about Kant from the 13th in the way that law and morals are separated. He separates, anyway. Thorsten Schmitz comments on Sharon's "Farewell from the Road Map". Sharon is not criticized there (We have no better one?), but it becomes obvious that Sharon even wants to intensify the control over the Palestinians. Normally in the comments of page 4 one can derive opinions, not in this case. The photo of the respective article on page 8 shows "anger and sadness", a crowd of people with a man who is screaming of pain. The text lapidarily says: "During raids of the Israeli army in the West Jordan Land eleven Palestinians were shot on Wednesday." But this is not the headline. "Sharon calls off peace plan", that is the headline. - Amusing the article "Good guys come from hell. The downfall is near! But Guillermo del Toros' 'Hellboy' stands up against the Nazi horror villains" by Doris Kuhn on page 14.
The best article is by Torsten Körner and it is called: "Have fun with Hitler! Big Bunker: once the television offered the NS state like a pedagogue, now the brown rulers are becoming human there". On the media page 17. The author wrote the Heinz Rühmann biography (NB: famous German actor) "The good friend" and "The history of the Third Reich". This long article is about the relationship between the German media after the war and Hitler, also about didactics and the educational mission of the media. Three passages I have marked, they do not summarize the excellent article, they just caught my attention. "Isn't the presentation of Hitlers as a miserable individual also an uncomfortable hint to his intimate relationship with his people?" Interesting a media Hitler conclusion from 1955: "Be alert, don't say Jawoll anymore!" And the criticism of the media towards Hitler biographer Joachim Fest: "Wasn't there a dangerous empathy going on?" It is about the German Angst of the "Hitler in us". For Hitler's success was due to the population's ability to identify with him. How could people identify with Hitler? Hardly imaginable today. No? Be alert, don't say Jawoll anymore! This conclusion from 1955 is not exactly popular these days. What might be the reason? In this context a post 9/11 quote by Hannsheinz Bauer (SPD), the sole still living member of the Parliamentary Council which in 1948/49 brought the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany on the way: "(...) Especially after the German crimes of the Nazi time the generally valid criteria of the human rights and of international law, which are in the UN Charta, were formulated. By these criteria the actions of current governments are to be measured." ("Who might be compared with whom?" June 2003, www.sopos.org/aufsaetze/3ee9f8c72d31a/1.phtml).
- 9/17/2004: Isolated Community -
Maybe I am wrong, but I have the impression that there is a kind of movement going on. The human rights seem to be valued up in the SZ, a nice thing if it is so. Surely Kofi Annan has contributed to this with his assertion that the war on Iraq was illegal. We have to see how the SZ will be in the next situation of crisis, concerning the recent past the level seemed to me to be much higher than on average. This does not mean that I principally accord, for example regarding this conference in Berlin:
Today they wrote about a so-called Islamist conference. Officially it is called: "First Arab Islamic Congress". It is set to take place in the beginning of October, in Berlin, and our minister of the interior wants to prohibit it, after a suggestion of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Paris. "We are against terrorism and extremism" claims organizer Gabriel Daher (p. 8). The newspaper writes in the commentary that here a mosquito is made an elephant (German saying), because the conference would be badly organized, anyway. Which means that, was the conference better organized, the commentator would have written differently, too. What is it that the organizers are blamed for so that Herr Schily wants to prohibit the congress? On the homepage it reads: "Yes to the liberation of the countries occupied by American Zionist terror, no to the hegemonial attempts of the USA." The SZ writes that the invitation appears "like the paper of a lobby group for the resistance in Palestine and in Iraq." On page 4 the case is commented, rabe writes about "what is really dangerous", namely when hate is preached in mosques, when Muslims want to draft fighters for the Holy War and: "the withdrawal of whole migration groups into an isolated community and the rejection of values which are a basis of our democracy."
This assessment of the SZ is cautious and well-considered. What is lacking is an accompanying self-criticism. Fact is, one cannot prove that these people are ready for violence, still there is the threat of prohibition. Here the public is asked to make a situation analysis. "Liberation from American Zionist terror", this is something which you cannot say so well in Germany. Also "lobby group for the resistance in Palestine and in Iraq" apparently sounds dangerous for German ears. Something fundamental is being questioned here. What is it exactly? Why? By right? May somebody call for resistance in Palestine? How long shall we continue to sit on the conflict, how many people will still have to die? Today I am asking this the Germans. Consider in this context that the insinuation of a "Zionist lobby" can in Germany lead to the exclusion from the discourse. The SZ assessment of this Arab Islamic congress does not really look like a dialogue, rather like an affirmation of the current borders in the frontal public discourse. Clear camp thinking. This is not progressive. It is understandable insofar as in former times such affirmations of borders had been necessary for the definition of the self. "Isolated communities" still is a boomerang reproach.
On the same page 4, the opinion page, Heribert Prantl writes: "The venture of a party donation softening law is reminding one of Max and Moritz, sixth prank: the two had come through the chimney and reached the delicious products of the bakery, fell into the dough and were shifted into the oven and baked by the master." According to this, the parties eat their own law like M&M ate the cover in which they had been baken, to escape. Herr Prantl digs cartoons from this time (about 100 years ago). For example, once he had compared a German politician with the figure Paulinchen from the famous children's book "Struwwelpeter", Paulinchen with the matches. Then, I found it remarkable that the argumentation was based on the pitch conservative Struwwelpeter. I guess the Crocodeel from Kiel might please Herr Prantl, too. The CD with the booklet is only 5 euros 80.
On the page with the readers' mails it becomes obvious that the "Patient Germany" trilogy by Evelyn Roll met a great deal of feedback, and controversy, too. Actually, the third part was set for today, instead there was something about locusts, without any comment. Two contributions on the literature page attracted me: "Proved rivalry: the science of literature and literary criticism" by Ijoma Mangold. Interesting is: "Criticism has to react quickly, science may, even must, take its time. (...) While literary criticism very much likes to connect between esthetics and morals (also the ones of personal lives), it is, on the contrary, part of the dogmatism of the science of literature to reject every form of biographical analysis." This relates to a couple of subject matters which have occurred here before. Maybe we come back to this later on.
There also is a book review by Thomas Thiel about Petra Werner's book: "Sky and earth. Alexander von Humboldt and a cosmos" on this page 18. It reflects about the cumulative concept of science of the era of the encyclopedias. We find this phenomenon in Arabic scripts, too. The metaphors and conceptualizations of the Arab Islamic concept of science had been my major academic subject back then. Which images and conceptions did people in former times have about knowledge, science, and learning procedures? It was a positivist philosophy of the world, in the West and in the East alike. People imagined the world to be like a chart or list and they thought in terms of taxonomies, as if the things in the world, about which one could "acquire" knowledge, were like the chemical elements or the divisions in biology. The same happened in the linguistic sciences. In early Islam people thought that there was an exact relation between all individual "things" of the world and the words which denote them.
By the way: in today's edition (9/17) of the Neue Zuercher Zeitung from Switzerland the Arab frontal publics are criticized ("Stone throws instead of thoughts. September 11 and the Arab intellectuals. On the occasion of the third anniversary of September 11 the London-based Arabic newspaper 'Al-Hayat' publishes statements of Arab intellectuals about the terror assaults on America. The sobering one-sidedness, assesses the Iraqi writer and publisher Najem Wali, is representative for the Arabic discourse.") Mister Wali blames the Arab media for continuously talking about the "liberation of Palestine" and for finding "the always same guilty ones", instead of looking for the responsibility for the decay in themselves, in the magisterial state, in Saudi Wahhabism, and other things. I know Najem a little from uni times in Hamburg. Last year he was in the telly sometimes, because he was in favor of the war on Iraq. I am glad that the Arab publics are also questioned anew, this all belongs together. It would be nice if there could be a constructive and sincere spirit as a basis so that positive changes can really come about.
- 9/18-19/2004: Be the Change you Want -
A reader in Vietnam yesterday asked me if I really believe that things in Palestine/Israel can turn to the good without a bang. Yes, indeed I believe that this is possible. It is a matter of bringing things to awareness. Most societies after 45 have been educated in a way that they do no longer really strive after happiness. After the Holocaust it almost seems perverted to want to be happy. To want to be unburdened, innoscent. But despite all this it is human nature, we all subconsciously strive after innoscence, also the victims among/in us, and also the perpetrators. And it is the right way to strive after it, for it is the way of fulfilment and unfolding, away from violence in a natural way. The reason for wars I see already on this level. There is a quickly activated aggressivity in the people, a control drama with severe fears of loss and safety. This also leads to wars. Another point is that in the process of peace-making you are changing yourself, too. Many people are afraid of this, because they fear a loss of identity. So they rather remain in the conflict.
With me this is somewhat different. Right now I am sensing a change in myself, because the paper has a different effect on me than two weeks ago, or two years ago, for that matter. There is no more reason for using war paint (sentences like "I love collective psyches"). Remarkable. I looked up from the screen and saw Lawrence of Arabia hanging on the wall. I had to grin. While I was still pondering about the fear of changing oneself I turned on the TV. On the channel Vox there was a BBC Special about children's psychology. When I turned it on somebody in the film was just saying that the reflection of the own behavior, and in case of necessity also the altering of the own behavior would be of central significance in education, too. The documentary about the work of the admirable British psychologist Dr. Tanya Byron inspired me. At that time I had not yet dared to read the SZ, it was a strange fear of disappointment which probably belongs to every hope in a way.
Today's edition was beautiful. With one day delay Evelyn Roll writes about "The therapy in the reha: 'Don't complain! Stand up! Do it! Action!' The sorcerer's apprentices at the bed of the ill. Maybe we can even make it to distribute the pain in a just way - why the renunciation of populism could be the beginning of the healing process." With populism the media is meant especially, and especially the Bildzeitung, Germany's biggest tabloid. Frau Roll first spoke with Feridun Zaimoglu, a writer who talked about the lack of overcoming the hard aspects of migration in Germany and who comprehensively assesses the Bildzeitung ("Shit paper" /"Drecksblatt"). Also, the hair-oil of the boss of Bild, Herr Kai Diekmann, was made a subject in Herr Zaimoglu's assertions. Afterwards Frau Roll talked with Herr Diekmann who knew how to defend himself as a professional, but who also let her "run into cotton-wool". There is, as I read, an internet diary
www.bildblog.de in which "since July four journalists day by day decompose the false news and the mistakes of the Bildzeitung in a well-founded and very readable way." Gotta have a look at this, sounds interesting what the collegues do there. Frau Roll says, only 5 percent of the Germans read the SZ (or FAZ, FR, Welt, Spiegel, Focus), the other 95 read nothing or Bild. On the front page of the SZ it reads: "Today's print edition: 669.400".
Then she continues to write: "Let us assume that all German media would (...) for one month get itself together. It would not write about Weimar conditions in an alarmistic way." No more "catastrophe bulletins", and instead keep the focus on the positive for one month... Really amazing, this was very close to what the children's psychologist in the BBC Special had said, too. For identity finding/peace-making one should focus on positive impulses and set a positive behavior and thinking as an example. Although the end of the Roll article is less strong (a Germanized American calling us to positive thinking) this is the kind of researching, experiencing, progressive spirit which I have in mind when I dream of the present future.
Matthias Drobinski on the following page 4 basically continues where Evelyn Roll had stopped. He wishes for a "new German confidence". It is about the right-wing extremists in the impending elections. The voter would take revenge, is his thesis: "In an act of revenge, say the psychologists, the satisfaction does not lie in the own benefit, but in the damage for the other." There would be a need for a salutary expectation to overcome the German angst. Maybe this could only be a patchwork carpet, but now would be the time to work for this aim, visions, too, would be important. Herr Drobinski mostly writes about Christianity in the SZ. He is quite deep in this analysis and thought, yet once I was really angry on him. I don't remember what it was, at first I had wanted to write a complete article about it, but then I skipped that. It had something to do with Islam. Below on page 4 a good sentence by gras: "It is the task of politics to contrast the confession of the voter for the brown world of ideas. The democratic culture is stable enough to bear this discussion. In the end it will be strengthened by it." Concerning Iran Herr Chimelli starts his commentary with: "When the Europeans speak with one voice (...) they can really achieve something." This is old camp thinking. Not when the Europeans, but when the world speaks with one voice, we can really achieve something.
Franziska Meier writes in the feuilleton (p. 16) "Old Europe. The historians, too, have discovered the 'linguistic turn'". From it a quote which touches several aspects of the discussion at hand, for example the one of the contextuality of revelation scriptures (see 9/13). According to this article the German historians find back to the international community, "by emulating the so-called Cambridge School which does not want to view the past only as a history which is to be reconstructed, but as a 'unit in communication'. After that the linguistic turn now seems to also have reached the German sciences of history from now on not only social or material constellations determine reality, but rather are the historians aware now that historical reality is 'constituted through language' and thus that language, that concepts have to be analyzed in their respective contexts."
Very good on the media page the review "The drug of power. Politicians and journalists are not better than the people they represent - a book by Jürgen Linnemann" by Michael Jürgs. Then the weekend supplement. I admit that I had some prejudices when I first saw this title: "Every year again. On Sunday there will be an old ritual: right-wing extremist parties will alarm Germany. Kurt Kister on souvereignty. Heribert Prantl on the souvereign. For a strong society". Now this did sound a bit odd. Especially the last bit, for a strong society, sounds like a slogan of the conservative party, or one of Herr Struck. But it is all different. Both articles are not only tolerable, but good. Herr Prantl writes: "You don't fight Neo-Nazis with exorcism, but on the street." And Herr Kister said one should let the church remain in the village (German saying meaning one should not exaggerate): "There is no need to be afraid of the DVU and the NPD. Both are too stupid for the parliament again and again." There would be a justification for fearing really radical individuals, but not the parties. This is good.
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