What are solid arguments against conservatism
Arguments against Stammtisch slogans
1. What it is about and what can be done
There are situations that you haven't chosen, but to which you want to react decisively. But that doesn't always work. Because unexpectedly a counterpart shares sayings or makes statements that touch the core of their own values and are thus in contradiction. This is by no means presented in a cautious manner aimed at understanding. On the contrary: loudly, categorically, ultimately and without ifs and buts, something is thrown into the room. A surprise sets in, you feel taken by surprise, you are speechless in the truest sense of the word. After that, when the situation is over and the person who made the statement has disappeared, the appropriate reactions and answers will come up. Too late? No, you can prepare for it and be prepared for the next rhetorical attack.
What is it actually about?
But now more specifically: What is meant? The term that captures the situation just described and names the content of what is communicated is "Stammtisch slogan". First a clarification: It is not about regulars' tables in the generally known sense, i.e. the rounds of regulars in pubs and inns. Certainly there is also a lot of ranting about and unfiltered steam being let off, not necessarily always in a civilized form. But regular slogans are by no means only uttered in taverns, they are present in all areas of society, in almost all places, corners and opportunities for encounters: at work, at the shop counter, in conversation with the neighbor at the garden fence, you can hear on the train ride or - what is particularly stressful for many - at family celebrations or with friends. Stammtisch slogans are always and everywhere present, they are not a fringe phenomenon, but they come from the middle of society.
The Stammtisch slogan is representative of pointed and drastic racist, populist, discriminatory and sexist remarks that are circulated and are equipped with half-truths. Stammtisch slogans are polarizing and convey negative prejudices. Groups of people are generalized and sorted into categories, the world is divided into a bad one
“The one” faced by a good “we”. Simple answers are given to the complex questions and challenges that our individualized and globalized world brings with it. Problems that require differentiated considerations and solutions are reduced to relevant and general reports. It is not considered carefully, but something is simply asserted. With these often hateful statements the world is divided into “right” and “wrong”.
The Stammtisch slogan is a representative term for clear ideological, preferably political messages, for flat slogans and for aggressive righteousness. What is meant by this is known all over the country, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; There are corresponding terms in other countries as well.
When I ask the participants of my seminars how they generally characterize the regular slogans, the following comes out: Regular slogans are ... aggressive, dogmatic, shortened, sweeping, disparaging, discriminatory, full of prejudices, self-righteous, half-truths, black and white painting, marginalizing, uncompromising, generalizing, simplifying, rigorous, defaming, generalizing, negating, emotional, inhuman, creating a "we-feeling", simply structured, charged with pseudo-knowledge ...
Despite their simplicity and banality, it is by no means easy to spontaneously refute the slogans of the regulars. For the soul household of those who proclaim these slogans, they fulfill a double function: They are both encouraging and angry at the same time. This description sums up the dichotomy in which one finds oneself when assessing the regulars' table slogans. They are uttered to show courage, but at the same time contain a lot of anger. In those who are confronted with them against their will, they also trigger anger - and hopefully also mobilize the courage to counter them.
What are the regulars' slogans?
The repertoire of the regulars' table slogans seems to be inexhaustible. There are always recurring sayings and also those that arise from current social and political events. They are like a seismograph of the respective political culture - or rather non-culture - and the current mood in society.
Here are some examples of the slogans that are currently in circulation - some of them are real "classics" that have almost always existed. All of them were named by the participants in my argumentation training:
- "There wouldn't have been anything like this before."
- "They do what they want up there."
- "Politics is a dirty business."
- "We need a strong man in the government again."
- "We have too many parties, one would be enough."
- "If you want work, you will find it."
- "Most of the unemployed are too lazy to look for work."
- "Our story has to end at some point."
- "We are the paymasters of Europe."
- “The EU is becoming even more foreign to us. You can see that in the many Bulgarians and Romanians who are here. "
- "We need a real German guiding culture again."
- "Steal Poland."
- "We have way too many foreigners here."
- "Our German identity is in danger - we are no longer masters in our own country."
- "Foreigners take our jobs away from us."
- "The refugees can't be so bad, they all have smartphones."
- "Refugees rape our women and girls."
- "Soon we will be ruled by Islam here."
- "The Muslims do not want to integrate."
- "Asylum seekers are economic refugees."
- "The developing countries are to blame for their own poverty."
- "Blacks are dealers."
- “It is designed by nature so that races should not mix. Horses and pigs don't cross each other either. "
- "Emancipated women have been neglected in sexual terms."
- "Women only become lesbian because they haven't got a husband."
- "There is a potential rapist in every man."
- "Homosexuality is unnatural."
- "The Jews rule capital again."
- "The students are getting more and more stupid."
- "International capital has divided the world among itself."
- "There is a secret plan behind the immigration of millions of Muslims to Germany."
The slogans gathered here show what it is about: an authoritarian understanding of politics and society, anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, relativization, sometimes also a glorification of National Socialism and the refusal to deal with the burdened German history. Underrepresented social groups are given blanket denigrations. The tirades are directed against refugee policy, asylum policy, development policy, social policy and many other policy areas, among other things.
One thing should be clear: it is not easy to undo such slogans. An argumentative exchange, the interest in the thoughts and feelings of the counterpart, the formation of one's own opinion with the aim of gaining better knowledge, a broader perspective, is obviously not important for those who utter the Stammtisch slogans. On the contrary: You are initially concerned with self-affirmation, self-assertion and self-righteousness. “The gentle violence of reason”, of whose effectiveness Bertolt Brecht was convinced (Brecht 1968, 34), does not do much against prejudice-laden, authority-based resentment. Because there is "a lack of willingness to be convinced by arguments" (Kopperschmidt 2000, 101 f.). Reality shows that logical, coherent reasoning does not come close to an argumentation basis that is based on “fundamental value judgments, beliefs, principles” (Schleichert 2017, 14). Equal, reciprocal argumentation means and requires openness: “If we simply deny or deny the theses or dogmas [...], that is not an argument. We are just replacing one dogmatic system with another ”(ibid., 63).
Why should one act?
It would be fatal if the impression now arises that there is no point, that it is hopeless to deal with the slogans of the regulars' table and those who utter them. That would be wrong for the following reasons:
- Basically, if you keep silent, you agree.
- Those who have good arguments also have confidence in their demeanor. He * she knows that your own position is shared by many others, even if they are not present at the moment.
- One can safely assume that the good counter-arguments are supported and confirmed by verifiable facts and reputable sources.
- A conversation is not over when it is formally over. What has been said has an effect, may be reconsidered in an appropriate time and linked to experiences that have been made in the meantime. It may then take effect.
- After all, there are still those who sit in it, the undecided, the listeners. They are the actual addressees, they are most likely to be persuaded, perhaps prevented from agreeing to the "wrong" statements. You will carefully observe how plausible the contradiction to the sayings and slogans appears.
- With good arguments it becomes clear that the "air sovereignty" at the supermarket checkouts, in the trams, the train compartments, on the garden fences, in the canteens, at family celebrations and among friends, etc. must not be left to those who uninhibitedly proclaim their slogans.
- It is important to take sides for a liberal and social democracy, for a civilized civil society, especially at a time when this is threatened by nationalist thinking and parties, by right-wing extremist groups and the spread of a corresponding attitude. A characteristic of such a civil society is that the people behave "politely, tolerant and non-violent" (Timothy Garton Ash, quoted in Dahrendorf 1992, 70).
- People with authoritarian thought patterns and attitudes - and such may be assumed among those who sweep out tough positions - are by all means to be impressed by people who appear clearly and decisively, steadfastly express their contradictions. This is easy when you can be sure of good arguments. You can learn and consolidate these.
- After all, prejudice is not just expressed in words. There are smooth transitions from word to deed. Those who are verbally vilified can become victims of violent attacks. Those who intervene in the statements protect those who are threatened and persecuted.
What can you do?
Despite this fundamental insight, many who are confronted with slogans at the regulars' table react disillusioned or even resigned. Shouldn't it be better to avoid such conversations? You don't have a chance anyway, you just get upset, even risk an escalation. But there are proven counter-strategies:
Do not participate in the slogan jumping
The protagonists of the slogans often switch from one topic to the next when dealing with their sayings, bringing one slogan after the other into play. That should be stopped if possible. Those who want to counter this should insist on sticking to the topic.
Experience has shown that anyone who utters slogans is immediately on the offensive. Therefore, those who disagree should take the initiative and lead the conversation.
Establish rules of conversation
If it gets too loud and everything gets mixed up - which is actually always the case in such situations - then it is important to establish and demand rules, e.g. B. insist on letting each other finish speaking.
Whoever proclaims slogans unrestrainedly indulges in common places. Then he * she should be asked to say what is meant specifically, i.e. to call “horse and rider”: “What does that mean exactly and in detail?”, “Which people you are talking about do you know?”, “ What examples can you give? ”.
Force to listen
Stammtisch slogans are not announced with the intention of having real conversations. However, in order to at least partially enable an exchange, one should insist on listening to one another.
Those who teach evoke resistance. Who would like to be educated voluntarily? Instructions appear arrogant, know-it-all and lead to isolation.
Those who moralize, that is, raise their index finger indignantly, want to demonstrate their deeper, i.e. better, knowledge. That doesn't go down well.
To position oneself
Your own point of view should be justified with reference to human rights, the Basic Law, humanitarian commandments of Christianity or other religions, philosophical ethics, political convictions or the like. It shows which values are represented and defended. This also provides a solid foundation for your own argumentation.
Dissolve the "they"
“The foreigners”, “the Jews”, “the gays”, “the politicians” ... - characteristic of Stammtisch slogans is how generalized they classify people. Therefore, one should ask who exactly is meant: does "the foreigners" include, for example, the Italian innkeeper, the Turkish greengrocer, the daughter's Spanish classmate, the Austrian, Danish or Dutch border neighbors, the Iranian engineer, the Moroccan parcel carrier, the Indian one IT specialist, the Japanese manager, the Syrian specialist? By the way: Are you already German?
General denigrations are easy to come by; difficult to answer, however, are z. For example, the following questions: "How should your pension be secured later, if not through pension contributions from foreigners?" Or "Do you want to see how people elsewhere are tortured and murdered because of their beliefs or their political views?"
Nobody lives in complete harmony with themselves, certainly not even those who loudly utter their slogans. If there is too much xenophobia and nationalism, it is therefore z. For example, it is appropriate to refer to the sweater of the other person who may be from Bangladesh or to ask where the cheap goods are produced that are bought on specials at Aldi, Lidl or Tchibo every week.
From Socrates (469 BC - 399 BC) comes the method of "midwifery" (Mäeutik) - an "obstetric aid", which consists of targeted questions, questions and further questions. Socrates helped his interlocutors to see that their attitudes were contradicting and misleading. In the end, they saw through that. With this method one can also entangle slogans in contradictions or bring them into untenable positions. The trick is to step out of the role of the answerer and the defensive stance and the pressure of the declaration and instead ask questions yourself and push for answers.
Take out the air
If the pitch rises and the handling becomes harsh - which can happen very quickly because there are intense emotions involved - then it makes sense to contribute to the relaxation with a distracting remark. Simply pointing out something else helps.
Aggressions are expressions of feeling; they reveal a lot about the life situation and the needs of the person who utters striking slogans and unreflected slogans. Perhaps the vehemence of the statement reveals a fear, a feeling of threat, an offense.
Nevertheless, the regulars' table is an extremely unsuitable place for therapy attempts. Who z. B. becomes personal and asks in a deliberately soft voice: "What are you afraid of?" Or "What problem do you have with ...?", He has already lost. Because who wants to look into someone's soul without being asked and even have a psychological problem certified? In addition, that would be the wrong track: Racism z. B. is simply inhuman and by no means an excusable psychological deficit. But one should take such feelings seriously.Perhaps the somewhat differently oriented question “Why are you so upset?” Opens up a completely new perspective.
to build bridges
There is a subjectively experienced truth behind many slogans. Instead of building walls, it can make sense in these cases to build bridges. The solution formula would then be: "You are right too, but look ..." This creates a relationship with the other person and the rigid confrontation is broken up.
Even when it comes to building bridges, limits should be drawn. Because with sheer contempt for human beings, open right-wing extremism or pure racism, there must be no compromise. For example, anyone who claims that Auschwitz is a lie is not possible to talk to, and any denial of the Holocaust is out of the question. It should be clearly stated what this statement is: nothing other than neo-Nazism. Then the conversation must be ended as quickly as possible, that is: get up and go away.
Change your perspective
Why so much resistance to those who are different, live differently, look different, have a different origin, a different religion? Is there possibly also envy involved? You can address this assumption, but in the we-form (because it is important to build bridges): "Maybe we are just jealous of your way of life and your attitude towards life?" Or you can point to another scenario: " What if you had to ask for asylum yourself? "Or" What if the National Socialists were still in power and we had won the war? "(This question opens up a very wide field ...).
Watch out for the undecided
A conversation is seldom structured in such a way that there are only two sides, decided pros and clearly recognizable contra representatives. In between there are mostly others: indifferent, waiting, sitting by, undecided, hesitant and hesitant. You - and not the hard core of those who are just thrashing their slogans - they are the actual addressees of the conversation. First and foremost, it depends on them: They are still open and approachable, they can still be impressed by the determination with which contradictions to the slogans are voiced, and they are persuaded by arguments.
Strength of conviction, decisiveness, clarity, straightforwardness, genuineness, authenticity impress, especially those who have a problem with authority (and such a problem is often hidden behind the pithy sayings). You are to be impressed by people who have this power.
Bring wit and irony
Irony reveals absurdities, clarifies contradictions and relaxes them. An example: “Every social welfare recipient has a dog and a cell phone.” - Answer option 1: “Should he shoot his dog?”; Answer option 2: “That's great - when do you go to the social welfare office?”. Another case: “We need a national consciousness again.” - Answer: “Do you also do a flag parade in your garden every morning?”. The following exchange of words is reminiscent of Dadaism: “Germany for Germans.” - Answer: “And pizza for pizzas”. However, caution is required: cynicism is not meant here, it hurts and exacerbates the situation.
You have to know that the attitudes that lead to the slogans belong to the continuum of a life story. The prejudices and caricature images expressed have been appropriated by these people over the years. Confronting an opposing position often changes little at first. Because often applies: "What is believed without arguments, cannot be refuted with arguments." There is a plausible core in this sentence. This is based on the knowledge that slogans are not least based on certain psychosocial conditions and factors. Those who oppose it are not responsible for this.
Note the long-term effect
A conversation is not over when the encounter is formally over. What has been said has an effect, especially when - see above - the opponent has convinced the opponent with authenticity. For a variety of reasons (e.g. fear of losing face or loss of prestige), often no concessions are made during the conversation. But perhaps the words heard are linked weeks or months later with experiences that have been added in the meantime and finally develop an effect after all.
Is it all too much? Don't worry, these recommendations are not meant to be memorized. But if you get involved in the discussion with the regulars' table slogans, you will notice that contradiction can succeed. And after several such debates, good opportunities to react come naturally.
2. The society they come from
Stammtisch slogans are not individual outbursts of anger, by no means just personal hateful comments or just an outlet to get rid of one's own frustration. That would relativise and make dealing with them easier, but the solution would then be merely to soothe the excitement of the other person, perhaps also to undertake a personal attempt at therapy.
That may also make sense, but the problem would not be solved. Stammtisch slogans are not isolated cases, they are uttered far too often for that. There is more behind them: they reveal the seething underground of our society. Stammtisch slogans demonstrate how people react to the social, political, economic and cultural situation of the society in which they live. The slogans and sayings express what is felt and thought in large parts of society. They are a mirror of the existing and changing conditions. They are also a warning sign of how unstable the soil is in a civil society democracy.
Misanthropy in the midst of society
Authoritarian, marginalizing, anti-democratic, racist, anti-Semitic and sexist statements are not a fringe phenomenon, they come from the middle of society. With a suitable ideology and program, right-wing extremist parties and mood makers dock here, with great success. Scientists who are researching the prevalence of these attitudes agree on this. The titles of the more recent studies alone prove this. The attributes attributed to the social center are clear and unmistakable: According to empirical findings, it is in wide areas "fragile", "uninhibited", "divided", "lost", "hostile" and " authoritarian ”. * This has consequences for political culture: Researchers observe a“ deconsolidation of democracy ”(Zick / Küpper / Berghan 2019, 18). Their results show that the middle of society - that is, the large majority who, in social terms, neither took or had to take the “upper” nor the “lower” places - is no guarantee of democratic stability: “In the middle of society were and views and topics are articulated and put up for discussion that fundamentally contradict the self-image of the Federal Republic of Germany's democracy. […] The center of society is not a place of measure and moderation […] ”(Decker / Brähler 2018, 25).
The Bielefeld socialization researcher Wilhelm Heitmeyer, together with other scientists, has spent ten years studying the fears and attitudes of Germans. Every year he has published a volume on “German conditions”, which is fed with a lot of data, analyzes, interviews and case studies (Heitmeyer 2002 - 2012). A syndrome of group-related misanthropy (GMF) was discovered, proven empirically and differentiated more and more on the basis of a long-term study. The GMF syndrome now comprises 13 elements that reflect an ideology of inequality: racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, hostility to Muslims, devaluation of Sinti and Roma, devaluation of asylum seekers, sexism, devaluation of homosexual people, devaluation of trans * people, devaluation of homeless people , Devaluation of long-term unemployed people, devaluation of people with disabilities, established privileges with pejorative judgments about “newcomers” (Zick / Küpper / Berghan 2019, 58 ff.). The surveys of the middle studies already mentioned (see *) relate to this GMF syndrome.
The individual categories of the GMF syndrome correspond to the expressions that
can be found in regulars' table slogans (see p. 4 f.). How widespread they are is shown by the following findings from the most recent mid-study; Here are some examples (percentage values for the answer options "I tend to agree" and "I totally agree"):
- "The whites are rightly leaders in the world.": 10.6%
- "There are too many foreigners living in Germany.": 35.0%
- "Jews have too much influence in Germany.": 8.1%
- "Because of the many Muslims here, I sometimes feel like a stranger in my own country.": 34.9%
- “Most asylum seekers do not even get in their home country
pursued. ": 44.2%
- "Women should focus more on the role of wife and mother.": 12.1%
- "It's disgusting when homosexuals kiss in public.": 14.8%
- "Most homeless people are work-shy.": 11.7%
- “Most of the long-term unemployed aren't really in it
interested in finding a job. ": 50.6%
- "Anyone who is new somewhere should first be satisfied with less.": 65.3%
Another survey, a study by a working group at the University of Leipzig, also adopted Heitmeyer's approach and found that Islamophobia “increased sharply” between 2014 and 2016: “Over 40% of Muslims want to ban immigration to Germany . “The devaluation or rejection of Sinti and Roma, asylum seekers and homosexuals has also grown (Decker / Kiess / Brähler 2016, 49 f.). Around one million refugees came to Germany at the time of the investigation.
For over 20 years I have been holding my seminars against the slogans of the regulars' table. In fact, since 2015 - the opening of the borders to those seeking protection - slogans with anti-Muslim or anti-Islamic content or those that devalue the motives of asylum seekers have been increasing. In some of our workshops, they almost completely dominate the discussion.
* Zick / Klein 2014, Decker / Kiess / Brähler 2016, Zick / Küpper / Krause 2016, Decker / Brähler 2018, Zick / Küpper / Berghan 2019.
Politics with the regulars' table slogans
What is hidden behind these attitudes or what is expressed through them can be described as “populist”. In terms of content and ideology, right-wing populist statements are somewhere between conservatism and right-wing extremism. You can be a link to right-wing extremism, whose protagonists want to abolish democracy in principle, through "national-revolutionary" actions. Organized right-wing extremism has a breeding ground for this in populist, anomic, marginalizing, defamatory, prejudiced, anti-democratic attitudes and evaluations.
Precisely because right-wing populism oscillates between these two poles, it is difficult to define it clearly. Still, there are specific features of right-wing populism that can be generalized:
- The own people are constructed as “a good community”, “which is threatened from two sides: by a corrupt elite and by strangers” (Jörke / Veith 2017, 69).
- The conflicts that right-wing populists believe to be "do not take place [...] between individual nations, but between cultures" (Priester 2016, 546).
- There is a “heartland”, a “home”, a “fatherland”, it “goes inward and excludes demonized 'others'” (Wodak 2016, 44).
- A “rhetoric of exclusion” is practiced according to the motto “'We' '(the West or Christian Europe) must defend' Us' against 'The' (the Orient: Roma, Jews, Muslims)” (ibid., 40).
These features contain essential characteristics of the Stammtisch slogans: the construction of a homogeneous, “decent people [es]” (Mudde / Kaltwasser 2019, 33), the inclusive “we” in contrast to the exclusive “die” as well as the opposition of the people and the elite .
One should, however, beware of the opinion that one would only be presented with dull sayings. Since the emergence of the civil and intellectual "New Right" (Hufer 2018), the use of language has also changed. What is brought up rhetorically from this side appears more differentiated, less aggressive - at least superficially. On closer inspection, however, the core message is the same as with the undisguised regulars' table sayings: Here, as there, it is about exclusion and demarcation, about superiority and inferiority, about homogenization of the nation or ethnic group.
The masterminds of the New Right employ the strategy of term occupation by bringing central keywords into play. These are ideologically appropriately reinterpreted, which is understood as part of a “metapolitics” in the new right language. A quote from the “State Political Handbook” of the far right-wing Antaios publishing house shows what it is about: “It remains indisputable that only the 'occupation' of terms and access to the opinion makers in a modern society allow that total of ideas to be accepted influence that is taken for granted by the majority and thus has an eminent influence on politics ”(Lehnert / Weißmann 2009, 101 f.).
An example: "Home". According to the metapolitical interpretation, home “presupposes the duration and homogeneity of the community and its living space” (ibid., 76). In contrast to this exclusionary attribution, in an open civil society, home is not an exclusionary principle. In order to open up to the future, home must always be renegotiated.
Another example is the term “room”. From the right perspective, this should be protected against "intruders" (ibid., 124). Two leading representatives of the Identitarian Movement make it categorically clear: "The people's attachment to a certain space seems [...] inevitable" (Sellner / Spatz 2015, 32). People and space belong together here, the linguistic approximation of the Nazi slogan “people without space” will not be a coincidence. The liberal and democratic position, on the other hand, does not equate space with the people, but with the public. It is a discursive, openly accessible space that everyone enters with equal rights and mutual recognition and in which they can relate to one another communicatively.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution classifies the Identitarian Movement of Germany (IBD) as a right-wing extremist organization whose ideology contradicts the Basic Law (GG):
“For the IBD, ethnic origin alone is decisive for belonging to the German people and ultimately for acquiring German citizenship. In doing so, it expresses an exclusive biologism that runs counter to the evaluations of Article 1, Paragraph 1 in conjunction with Article 3, Paragraph 1 and Paragraph 3, sentence 1 of the Basic Law. At the same time, this is a violation of the core of the principle of democracy. Because due to the tying back of all state authority to the people (Art. 20 Abs. 2 S. 1 GG) the ethnic definition of the people would necessarily result in the exclusion of those who do not belong to this people for ethnic reasons from the democratic process. "
(Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Home Affairs 2020, 91)
Megatrends that determine life
There are many explanations for the success of right-wing populism and the spread of the slogans proclaimed by its protagonists. The reasons given are: processes of modernization, alienation from the established parties, the spread of internet-based media and communication, disintegration of the public, neoliberal political concepts, social division in society, the fears of the middle classes threatened with decline, etc.
There are also megatrends that are changing society, such as individualization and globalization, combined with feelings of alienation and loss of identity. These two megatrends are one reason for the presence of regular slogans in everyday life. This is clear from their description:
Customization means breaking away from traditional affiliations to classes, strata and role models. The societies, at least those of the industrialized nations, show and demand mobility and flexibility. For those who have the resources, this can be understood as liberation from often tight and rigid ties and milieus. The process also has a downside, e.g. B.As Ulrich Beck notes, the "loss of traditional certainties with regard to practical knowledge, belief and guiding norms [...]" (Beck 1986, 206). The consequences for people in an individualized society are considerable: “For the individual, self-experience becomes more real than his experience of the objective social world. It therefore seeks its 'hold' in reality more in itself than outside of itself ”(Berger / Berger / Kellner 1987, 71). According to Berger, Berger and Kellner in their classic book “The Unease in Modernity”, this leads to a “permanent identity crisis” (ibid.). The reason: “The pluralistic structures of modern society have made the lives of more and more people nomadic, monadic, constantly changing, mobile” (ibid., 159). “Homelessness” has become an expression of modern social life (ibid., 159, 184). That is the finding from the mid-1980s, but it also aptly describes the general mood 35 years later.
The transformation of society is currently having far-reaching consequences. In his highly acclaimed book "The Society of Singularities", Andreas Reckwitz states that it is now about more than "independence and self-optimization", namely a "complicated striving for uniqueness and extraordinary" (Reckwitz 2018, 9). With this, "a social structural change takes place, which consists in the fact that the social logic of the general loses its predominance in the social logic of the particular" (ibid., 11). The result is a cultivation of the self, with which the view of the world and politics is also subjectified.
This finding raises the question of how and by whom in such a society the “generally binding”, the consensus that unites all members, the “common good” can be striven for or even realized. Reckwitz interprets the development he describes as a “crisis of the general [...] into which a society that radically aligns itself with the particular gets caught” (ibid., 435).
For the existence of a democracy, however, it is essential that its members show empathy, mutual recognition, mutual solidarity and an interest in public affairs. However, these are terms that contradict a completely individualized or singularized society and the pursuit of self-realization or the staging of uniqueness.
globalization means “networking across borders. Globalization is a process in which 'events in one part of the world increasingly affect societies and problem areas in other parts of the world' (Wichard Woyke) ”(Meinert / Stollt 2020). Borders, natural and state, become insignificant. The distances dwindle, the distant becomes closer, events that affect one's own life often have a distant cause. Conversely, what is near also determines what is far. The decisive driving forces of globalization are economic entanglements and interests. Jürgen Habermas described what became of it:
"The market forces all entrepreneurs, investors and consumers to the profit-oriented calculation of benefit maximization, sport forces all athletes to compete for measurable physical top performance and the scientific system forces all researchers to gain reputation through the publication of new results evaluated according to the same standards - whether in Europe, Africa, Asia or America. The globalization of the markets, the bureaucratization of the state administrations, the organization of mass education, the urbanization of living, the technical equipment of medical care as a whole, as the progressive inclusion of the population in the infrastructure of a highly mobile, accelerated individualized society, take place according to these 'system logics' "(Habermas 2019, 117).
This description shows what consequences the process of globalization has for life as a whole: The economic usability, the standardizability and measurability of all actions count primarily. The world is becoming more and more alike; two examples that everyone knows: McDonald’s is everywhere, but the traditional inn is disappearing, Amazon is displacing the local bookseller. Numerous interpretations and explanations of the world and life are circulated via the Internet and the “social” platforms, behind which there are no longer identifiable interests. Everyone's life is determined by it. Your own political options for action no longer appear to be relevant, the consequence is fatalism. This is expressed in the assertion, often heard at the regulars' tables, that “you can't change anything anyway”.
This appears to be contradictory to the simultaneous process of individualization, but results from it consistently. It always has to be rethought and decided, and the circumstances and consequences can often no longer be assessed. For this, the entire system is highly networked and interdependent. At the same time, the dynamic of change is getting faster and faster. People meet who would never have met 50 or 60 years ago. This raises eminent questions and challenges for politics, society and culture: How civilizing and mutually appreciative is the encounter between “ancestral” and newcomers and newcomers? What role do fears and prejudices play, how do they affect politics and everyday life? How can the international and global agreements and interdependencies be made transparent? Which values and rules are indispensable in an individualized society and globalized world and cannot be negotiated? Which generally recognized institutions or organizations can they effectively claim? How do you deal with the feeling of individual powerlessness in this global process? What responsibility, yes, guilt, have those who live well in the rich countries of the north on the whole towards the people in the southern regions of the world, from whom their livelihoods are deprived of their livelihood? Is this responsibility even recognized and accepted?
We experience the "breathtaking [...] acceleration of a socio-cultural evolution that is experienced today as an inexorable upheaval in everyday living conditions and triggers regressive responses" (ibid., 145).
The Stammtisch slogans are examples of these regressive responses. Individualized and globalized life is complex and complicated. Simple explanations relieve the ambiguity and uncertainty.
3. The ingrained reasons
During the corona pandemic, someone had attached a handwritten cardboard sign to a fountain in Bamberg's old town. It read "Coronavirus means Jewish capitalism". On the Internet, the coronavirus was described as "a test run for the real virus - 'the abnormal Jewish Orthodox Freemason sect alias Zionists'" (Röhmel / Wolf 2020). In addition, the rumor was circulated that “the Jews” had spread the virus (Leber 2020).
The Corona crisis intensified anti-Semitism, and hatred and agitation were increasingly spread online (Leskovar 2020).
With this an age-old image of the enemy is topical again and breaks new ground in the flaring up of anti-Semitism: "The hatred of Jews runs in bloody traces through the Christian West, handed down from generation to generation - even without Jews" (von Braun / Heid 1990). In early Christianity the Jews were regarded as "murderers of God", in the Middle Ages as "usurers", they were accused of "sacrifice of the host". When the plague broke out in Europe in the mid-14th century, they were also blamed for it; they were assumed to have poisoned the wells (Benz 2015, 17 ff.). Thousands of people of the Jewish faith have been murdered over the centuries. Apparent "justifications" for this and for later excesses such as the Holocaust were among others. prominent scientists such as the historian Heinrich von Treitschke (1834 - 1896). This proclaimed, "The Jews are our misfortune" (quoted from ibid., 44).
In literature that is still widespread and harmless today, you sometimes come across places where you rub your eyes. Who would have thought that Wilhelm Busch's story of “Plisch and Plum” would contain this description of a Jew?
(Busch 1967, 84)
"Short the pants, long the skirt,
Crooked the nose and the stick,
Eyes black and soul gray,
Hat to the back, expression smart -
That's how Schmulchen Schievelbeiner is.
(One of us is more beautiful!) "
A well-known prejudice is expressed in rhyme form: the bow-legged, ugly, devious Jew. A well-known pattern becomes clear: the transfer of negative characteristics to “the others” who are opposed to the positive self-image.
The current regulars' table slogans are also teeming with anti-Semitic legends: “The Jews are once again ruling capital”, “Jews are blackmailing us with the Holocaust, they want to capitalize on it” - the participants in the argumentation training report on these and similar claims.
The historian Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903) was one of the great scholars of the century before last. From 1879 to 1881 there was a heated argument about anti-Semitism; also known as the "Berlin anti-Semitism dispute" (Hoffmann 1997). Mommsen was a staunch critic of anti-Semitism. But at the end of the dispute (1893) he took the view that nothing could be done against anti-Semitism:
“No anti-Semite listens to arguments. […] You are mistaken if you assume that anything can be achieved through reason. For the past few years I have believed that myself and have continued to protest against the egregious baseness of anti-Semitism. But it's useless, completely useless. What I or someone else could tell you are ultimately arguments, logical and ethical arguments that no anti-Semite will listen to. They only hear their own hatred and envy, their own lowest instincts. Everything else doesn't count for them. You are deaf to sanity, justice, and morality. You can't influence them. [...] It is a terrible epidemic like cholera - it can neither be explained nor cured. You have to wait patiently until the poison has consumed itself and lost its virulence ”(Mommsen, quoted in Horkheimer 1972, 107).
As history shows, waiting for the "epidemic" to end was not the appropriate means of preventing the dire consequences of anti-Semitism. Resignation, fatalism and intellectual renunciation do nothing. This also applies today, when anti-Semitism is boiling again in the wake of the corona pandemic.
Stammtisch slogans are prejudices put into words
This brings us to a central reason for the persistence of the regulars' table slogans: the existence, yes, “the violence of prejudice” (Ahlheim 2007). As the history of Jewish people shows, the connection between prejudice and violence is frighteningly plausible.
The enlightener Immanuel Kant already mentioned an essential reason why prejudices arise: “Since it is both a stupid prejudice, of much that is told with some semblance of the truth, without reason to believe nothing, but of what the common rumor says to believe everything without examination ”(Kant 1763, 23552). The prejudice needs no reason, no test - the rumor, i. H. for example, it confirms and strengthens the view that has been put into circulation by mass opinion. Obviously, it is difficult to break away from it - a statement to the contrary, even if it is true, will be ignored "for no reason".
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