Fight or Flight?


Coincidentally Rebecca Hargreaves and German Blogger luisman raised a similar question today. Do we retreat? Should we retreat? Should we hold the ground and fight? How should we fight? And what would you sacrifice? All of these questions deserve a book on their own.

Luisman begins his article by giving a number of historical examples of when a new group moved in areas mostly peacefully, demanded better treatment and at the height of their power turned against the previously prevailing group. The description does not fit all examples but it represents the gist of it. At least this is what I see as the gist of it. Luisman gathered from the examples that the old group was too “liberal” and allowed its subversion. I see that again and again and I have my doubts whether we get any further when we just vaguely speak about “too much freedom”. When it comes to the West, I think of the groups that gave great freedoms to their opponents and were punished for it, and I see the religious groups, the patriots and the libertarians. But their fault was not too much liberalism (here: pro-freedom), it was a lack of focus.

I take the churches as an example: All energy went into anti-gay fights and abortion control. Meanwhile no outrage, no protest, nothing could be rallied against all these people who claim Christians had burnt more witches than women available. There are folks who speak of millions of midwives. So the moral- and back-breaking smear machine had all the freedoms to go wild and lie unopposed. The churches as well as the other non-left groups failed to demand some level of honesty and organize rallies to do something about it.

I see the core of our Western civilisation in the repeated readjustments of priorities. From the ten commandments over the Magna Carta to the US constitution, the hallmarks of history were a reduction of the underwood of rules and ideas to the minimal consensus that we were willing to defend as a civilisation. It has become increasingly difficult to formulate such a consensus and particularly the left – but also some on the right – are too dumb to even understand the importance of agreeing on a minimal framework that everybody reads/knows, everybody understands, and everybody defends. Currently five German states demand that the constitution should be bloated to include LGBT love cuddle whatever. A constitution that is too crammed and therefore remains unread by the wider population is utterly worthless. It controls nobody.

Luisman writes that the new group causes the old groups to flee. Especially European cities have less and less indigenous population. The UK has the first Capital with a non-native majority. Other cities follow that model (e.g. Frankfurt/Main in Germany, famous for the big airport and the stock exchange). People either move to the countryside or to a place with less immigration, or at least less Muslim immigration. Rebecca Hargreaves is also moving out of Seattle to the countryside. I don’t disclose personal information about myself, but a part of a cowardly retreat is inevitable. I would say that it is not only reasonable for one’s own well-being, but it makes sense strategically. My obvious retreat is that I write under a pseudonym. My views expressed here, plus the ones I espouse in my daily affairs offline, amass to a level of “offense” that would result in a punishment strong enough to effectively silence me. So what good would be in more boldness?

Today it was announced that Siegmar Faust is no longer allowed to work as a guide in the stasi-prison-turned-memorial Hohenschönhausen. During the socialist dictatorship in East Germany he was locked up multiple times, at one instance for more than 400 days in an isolated cell, for exercising his freedom of speech which was guaranteed in the constitution of the regime. The mysterious article on ZEIT online says he has AfD-like views, but does not get specific. They also bemoan that he gave an interview to newspaper Berliner Zeitung in which he asked for clemency for red army faction terrorists Horst Mahler. The socialist is in prison for Holocaust denial. Faust has explicitely stated that he has no sympathies for Mr Mahler (and neither do I), but merely defending free speech is taken as evidence that one sympathises with the thought criminal at hand. By the way, Mahler is so indefensible that he shares the fate of all indefensible left-wing things: If it’s broken, then it’s yours (right-wing extremist).

German blogger Heimdallwarda recently asked if I consider leaving for Israel. The question haunts us all. More than half of French Jews plan to go. It will be very crowded and every home is “threatening the peace”. On the other hand many Jews stayed too long in Nazi Germany when there were options to flee. The situation is not nearly as bleak today. We should not only remember our history as victims that could have escaped, but should also take pride in our role as resistance warriors.

For me it is all a mix. My escape is into the pseudonym, the whispers. I choose to fight, and I choose the means of that fight both on a moral and a strategic basis, which I believe are tightly linked. Recently brilliant German blogger zweifelsfrau changed her fighting strategy from online activities to low-key offline strategies. And I assume that there is not just one way. Some use the internet to get information out, some march on the streets (usually ignored, sometimes derided by the media), some discuss their views with family, friends and even colleagues. Everybody has a different risk to take and everybody can absorb a different level of risk (children, financial/social standing etc.). This is not risk-free. Keep this in mind as you evaluate how far you can go.

A Democracy Without Democrats?

One of the most often cited reasons for the collapse of the Weimar Republic, the democracy thriving between both world wars, is that culturally Germans did not cherish the order that was given to their state by foreign forces. In other words, Germans never embraced the values that make a democracy a democracy.

For a democracy to last a people must be willing to rise up in anger over government overreach and may do so even violently. Formally the German constitution gives that very right in Article 20, section 4.

In earlier posts I have described how the opposition in Germany is often accused of trying to abolish the constitution and democracy as a whole. The smallest criticism on the lack of term limits, the voting system, or lack of citizen participation is considered hostile.

Formally, of course, this behaviour cannot be defended because the constitution, like any constitution, opens paths to change aspects of it. Legally the core that may not be changed is defined as

  1. the protection of human dignity
  2. the principle of democracy as such
  3. due process and rule of law (in German coined ‘legal state principle’/Rechtsstaatsprinzip)

The second point, the principle of democracy, again is defined as

  1. the absence of a wanton and violent government
  2. the Bill of Rights/Human Rights as defined in the constitution
  3. sovereignty of the people
  4. separation of powers (executive, legislative and judicial power – I bite my tongue here)
  5. the transition of power, particularly in the executive branch
  6. the legality of the administration
  7. the multi-party system

Apart from the fact that many of these things aren’t really in place the collectivist idea that we must be ruled by parties speaks lengths about the tribal culture that Germany still is.

But is the culture even such to defend any such principles?

A recent poll of more than 21,000 participants by polling company Civey came to the conclusion that a surprising number wants conservatives to be excluded from the public discourse completely. As things still are in Germany 2017 public discourse by and large is conducted through television shows.

These talk shows are already problematic in the way they are run. Imagine you watch a discussion and the host says nonchalantly, ‘We come to this later.’ In German talk shows this sentence is frequently heard and makes perfectly clear that the whole conversation is orchestrated. It goes as far as to play prepared videos in between just coincidentally matching what the guests try to talk about. All of these shows are broadcast on state television, which may not be called that way. It must be called public broadcasting for whatever difference it makes.

With that background info you will understand the impact of the poll. The public discourse is a charade anyway, but even a participation of people whose views may differ is too much for Germans.

In the current year only four members of conservative party (AfD) have been invited to such talk shows. The other 158 guests generally had very different political affiliations. This information was given to the participants of the poll before they cast their choice.

The poll specifically asked: Shouldn’t members of the AfD be invited …

  1. …much more often?
  2. …a bit more often?
  3. …as often as is the current level (four out of 162 just about right)?
  4. …less often?
  5. …not at all?
  6. …huh (don’t know if more or less often)

35% of respondent want AfD members to disappear from public space (the talk shows) altogether. Another five percent doesn’t care (option 6 ‘huh’). About 9% think four invitations are too many. About 17% think four people so far this year is just about right.

I bore you. The sum is about 66% who think it is proper behavior of the state television to exclude the voices of the only conservative party, which is currently polling at about 9-10%.

Only 23% percent say that there should be many more invitations, given that – sorry for the repetition – we are talking only four occasions in this year (which sees the general elections in autumn).

And it is not even clear if these 23% would defend the right of any other group to publicly voice their opinion.

Based on Jürgen Fritz Blog

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