„Who is left, lives in the beautiful awareness, to be in the right, yes, simply to be allways right. In Germany, leftists don’t have to justify their view.“ This general absolution of any (mis-)behavior is because of the missing of conservatives in all places where cultural and social decisions are made. “Go into any theater, a museum or an open-air: You will soon discover that ideas outside the leftist imagination, have no place in there. […] The left won a comprehensive victory, it has become the Juste Milieu of those people, who define our culture.“
As such, one could summarize the essence of the current bestseller “Among Lefitsts” (Unter Linken) by the journalist Jan Fleischhauer (see the interview), an editor of the German magazine “Der Spiegel”. Even growing up in a through and through leftwing family, he became „conservative by accident“, as the subtitle of the book proclaims. At 350 narrow printed pages the author describes in a polemical and entertaining way, why the left is such mighty and why thus so much went wrong, in German politics.
The left is thereby opposed not only by conservatives, but by capitalism at the same time. Whereas the current financial crisis seems to prove the left to be right, at a second glance “capitalism is right to boast to redeem its promises exemplary. With socialism, it is regularly the other way round. It can not hold any of its promises, in fact, it went wrong every time, when its supporters were trying to implement bold ideas into reality.” Whereas after the socialist experiments everything is in ruins, capitalism is followed by democracy, prosperity and freedom. Crises like the present, are just normal, as Jan Fleischhauer somewhat laconically holds.
„At the beginning of all left politics stands the victim.“
The victim is the spritual food of the leftists, they can ignite and invent themselfs with it again and again, pointing out to real and perceived discriminations. The victim discourse thereby has a massive problem which even the left can not escape: If the victim status or the revolutionary anti-stance reversed, because the equality of the victim is reached or the left comes to power, new justifications for their own thinking and action need to be found.
By saving the whole nation, another problem of the leftists appears: the people, unfortunately, never do what the left intelligentsia have planed for them – but never for themselves. Really shameful Jan Fleischhauer recalls how the left-wing intellectuals – led by the appeasement author Günter Grass – rejected the German reunification, because the GDR was such a nice socialist experiment in a nice and safe glass box behind the Iron Curtain.
That the citizens of East Germany wanted capitalistic and political freedoms the West German left didn’t like at all. That the citizens of the GDR just took these freedoms and were welcomed by the Kohl government with open arms, was even worse. „It is every time a bitter experience for a movement that understands itself as an advocate of those at the bottom against the high society.“
Anti-Semitism and Turks
Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and the guilt of the Germans are the other argumentative weapon of the leftists. It is especially likely used when it comes to issues of integration of foreigners, especially Muslims, Turks, respectively. Jan Fleischhauer, participants of the German Islam Conference (DIK), exemplifies at this event, as the supposed dialogue with the Muslims takes place: „You have to imagine the Islam Conference as a long therapy session, where every member of an ethnic minority in Germany describes the injustice that befalls or may befalls it. The dialogue is to assure each other how disadvantaged foreigners are in Germany.“ The representatives of the German majority society better shut up.
But nobody considers, that Germany does as much for its immigrants, as probably no other country worldwide. The German welfare system already helps when somebody just got a residence permit in full measure, in return, nothing is demaned.
In the following the authors lists up the full horror of failed integration: lousy school education, even less professional qualification and a correspondingly heavy burden of the welfare system due to high unemployment among Muslim migrants are only some of the facts. The integration failed therefore primarily because of the appeasement policy and the multiculturalism of the German leftists. They would never call immigrants for accepting or even embracing our values. The exploitation of the Holocaust used here again and again, the author aptly calls the a „particularly aggressive variant of the victim discourse.“
Left vs. Right?
Several critics accused Jan Fleischhauer to use an outdated right-left scheme and to leave the post-ideological generations – probably the post 1968 generations – out. But Jan Fleischhauer doesn’t want to talk about political cleavages, but rather about how a generation has dominated our political-social image –with leftist ideology.
The conceptual vagueness to write about THE left, one can accuse January Fleischhauer, of course. But he said in the beginning of the book, to be aware of this haziness and generalization, but to use it in order to maintain intelligibility. The Left for him is „a philosophy of life, also a way of explaining the world, […] and above all a feeling.“ The Left has an „impressive theory“ and is at the same time a „fiction“.
Thereby it is not that important, if the described people are clearly on the left, or rather communist or socialist. Instead, the author describes an attitude towards life in many different facets, which has enormous societal impacts. To be left, is for Jan Fleischhauer a dogma, which characterizes the appeasement politician, the multiculturalist, who is not ready, to hold his values above others. At the same time the described leftists are deeply fundamentalist. Left-wing is thereby less different from the right, as both sides often follow the same mechanisms. Left may be more the opposite of conservative, a distinction that meanwhile can be hardly drawn in the German political landscape.
A great Analysis
From an outside perspective on Germany the conservative view of the author is probably not that surprising. Regarding Islam and integration, for instance, Christopher Caldwell (“Reflections on the Revolution in Europe”) just shown an American picture of Europe, including Germany, that is beyond any left-wing political correctness. But German political books are often biased by the left cultural self-perception. Hence “Among Leftists” is a worth reading book on Germanys polical situation even for foreigners.
Jan Fleischhauer not only consideres the current situation, as many political books of the German super election year 2009 do (as you can see in this review). He also focuses not on a too simplistic „those on top are to blame” or the German party system. Rather, he gives a broader view, which stretches from the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau through Marx to the 1968-generation and its current positions of power.
The author doesn’t develop the satirical diction of Henryk M. Broder („Hurray, we surrender!“). But his strength, however, lies in his philosophical erudition, in his many years of journalistic experience, and last not least in his political foresight. Perhaps not every argument may be consistent and perhaps some things are a bit far-fetched. But in its entirety, „Among Leftists“ is a brilliant picture of our political situation. The leftists won’t like that, of course.
Please also note the interview with Jan Fleischhauer.
Until now, the book is published only in German, unfortunally:
Jan Fleischhauer: Unter Linken. Von einem, der aus Versehen konservativ wurde, Rowohlt Verlag, 2009, 16.90 €
This review is a shortened translation of the German one at BuchTest.