Why is xenophobia a social problem
Racism and right-wing extremism - a threat to democracy
1. Xenophobia or Racism?
An important, if not the most important gateway for right-wing extremist thinking is racist thinking. It offers points of contact for almost all other right-wing extremist ideologems. Therefore, the appearance of racist manifestations of any shape and occurrence deserves special attention.
Of course, racism cannot be equated with right-wing extremism, and it would also be a mistake to paint the specter of a new fascism on the wall at the same time as the increase in racist attitudes in the population.
For some years it has become apparent that today it is racism that moves the minds, that has become a kind of emotional movement, even if racist thinking is now rarely expressed openly and directly, at least in comparison to its actual spread and anchoring. The recent racially motivated crimes are only the tip of the iceberg. In general, racist thinking and actions based on it occur in most people today, so to speak, in a veil, hiding and disguised themselves, eschewing nudity - similar to how the bigoted philistine, filled with intense desire, wants to appear as a chaste, honest man.
Racism is often seen as indecent; but if something is indecent, that does not mean that this something does not exist. However, this is precisely what is still widely denied in the Federal Republic of Germany, even more than in other European countries, despite the escalation of racially motivated crimes that have now taken place. "We are not a xenophobic society!" - You can hear that everywhere - in spite of, or perhaps because of, the crimes committed.
Even the word racism was frowned upon and almost banned from public discourse. It appeared and appears, if at all, mostly only in the counter-discourse, and then mostly only under the veiled cover of the word "xenophobia or xenophobia". It was only after the attacks in Hoyerswerda, Hünxe, Saarlouis, Rostock, Mölln and elsewhere that the word racism was used more frequently again, but only in connection with expressing disgust towards - as has been said - right-wing extremist perpetrators.
As far as the bulk of the population is concerned, one speaks at most of a certain xenophobia, which may have increased; nevertheless - it is repeated almost like a prayer wheel - "we" are not a xenophobic people. But neither the assumption that xenophobia is not a very widespread phenomenon, nor the concept of xenophobia itself hit the core of the matter: according to the consensus of serious racism research, xenophobia is already racist, [See. Auernheimer 1990.] because it discriminates against people because of certain genetically and / or culturally determined characteristics and peculiarities from the position of power.
In addition, it can be shown that "xenophobia" has almost become a popular movement in Germany. In accordance with an abundance of surveys and also on the basis of our own empirical studies on "everyday racism", it can be said that the overwhelming majority of all Germans are more or less involved in racist discourses.
It can be observed that this involvement in racism is seldom openly admitted; in general, only voters and sympathizers of right-wing extremist parties are openly committed to advocating racist views. [See. on this in detail also van Dijk 1990.] In many European countries, however, racism is considered a serious offense, even if discriminatory statements and actions against minorities are only rarely actually punished there.
In Germany, on the other hand, there are still no special anti-racism laws. The Federal Government considers Articles 1 (1) and 3 (3) of the Basic Law to be sufficient (see European Parliament, p. 59). The Basic Law itself is based on the assumption that there are human "races", which can no longer be scientifically maintained today when it says in Art. 3 (3): "Nobody may be disadvantaged because of ... their race or be preferred. " Even right-wing extremist authors have now come to the conclusion that it makes no sense to apply the term "race" to people.
In everyday consciousness and in everyday language - as in the Basic Law - the idea that there are human "races" persists, often combined with the idea that there are high-ranking and less high-ranking human "races". No wonder that racially motivated actions and statements in Germany are generally not be prosecuted with the necessary severity, although the number of such crimes against humanity has increased considerably in recent years (European Parliament, p. 59).
From 1991 to the present day, more than 4,000 assaults and attacks on foreigners have been recorded. Such criminal offenses were mostly played down, even in the courts, where only the most severe discrimination against foreigners, or, as one should better say: immigrants, was punished. Only after the recent arson attacks has there been a certain rethinking, which, however, does not take sufficient account of the seriousness of these crimes. The judgments are usually extremely mild. In addition, the perpetrators are rarely even caught.
Even the talk of xenophobia is basically trivializing, a euphemism that obscures the racist thinking addressed and individualizes the causes of racism. Such trivializations and disguises are particularly dangerous because such attitudes and attitudes provide right-wing extremist ideologues and propagandists of all kinds with points of contact for the dissemination of right-wing extremist and fascist ideologies and ideas.
2. Everyday racism and its causes
But how exactly does this racism manifest itself in people's consciousness? How does it express itself in their language? To this end, we carried out a discourse-analytical qualitative study for the first time in the Federal Republic of Germany, parallel to research in other countries such as Great Britain, the USA, the Netherlands, where Teun A. van Dijk and his working group have carried out such empirical studies for over ten years; We were not satisfied with analyzing opinion polls or other quantitative surveys, but carried out around 40 in-depth interviews that were evaluated very meticulously and exposed attitudes and attitudes that cannot be made discernible through such quantitative studies. [J ger 1992. On studies for other European countries and the USA see van Dijk 1987 and the extensive literature cited by him on various aspects and manifestations of racism; on the racist discourse of the elites see van Dijk 1990 and 1991; The report of the European Parliament of July 1990 also contains a broad overview.]
Our results are confirmed by a recently published large-scale study by Rudolf Leiprecht on racist thinking among young people (Leiprecht 1990). Overall, it must be said in advance that the content of racist thinking among Germans corresponds very closely to those of people from other European countries, with certain national peculiarities.
All of these investigations were not so much about determining personal opinions and views of individual people, but about how racism is found in social groups and through which processes it is consolidated and reproduced again and again. It is particularly important that here not only the surface of the prejudices is taken up, but also the cognitive strategies are determined, with the help of which racist thoughts are launched and expressed in general.
Such strategies are e.g. the efforts to paint the most positive picture possible of oneself while at the same time trying to exclude and defame others. This leads to various
attempts to veil and forms of (apparently) covert racism, such as the well-known formulations such as: "I have nothing against foreigners, but there are too many in the country" and the like. Other such strategies are downplaying the problems of immigrants, inadmissible generalizations of individual cases, etc.
Equally important, if not more important, is the observation of knowledge about how the human consciousness receives information, according to which principles it actively processes it, stores it and remembers it. After that, people use certain relatively stereotypical thought schemes into which they incorporate new and old information, with several consequences. For example, information fragments are systematically completed according to such schemes, and information that does not fit into the schemes is repelled, etc. Such schemes are bundles of knowledge elements that represent the general characteristics of a situation, i.e. certain situation models , or models of a group of people, a typical event, etc., and they are always filled with concrete additional information in concrete situations. For example, you have a diagram of a moving car in your head, but of course not its special shape or color. For example, some people have the scheme of a certain group of people in their head, which can lead to the fact that, for example, all dark-skinned people have thick lips and a low IQ.
Such schemes also include beliefs, opinions, attitudes, norms and values through to extensive networks or bundles of attitudes, which can also be described as concrete ideologies. It is important that all of these schemes do not represent individual opinions, etc., but that they social represent group schemes, or can be available and valid for the largest population groups up to entire populations.
People depend on such routine schemes for acquiring knowledge and learning; But there are also great dangers here: the relatively fixed schemes, once established, are seldom changed again for various reasons. On the contrary: They are caused by the prevailing discourses in school, at home and in the media
etc. solidified again and again. It is also about the results of everyday consciousness and everyday, mostly less rational concept formation. In other words: they are often the source of prejudice formation and consolidation. [For details on this, see van Dijk / Kintsch 1983.]
I will go into briefly later which counter-strategies are possible here. But first I want to ask about the reasons for these concrete ideologies to come about.
The Dutch investigations by Teun A. van Dijks come to the conclusion that it is first and foremost the elites are in the country who produce such schemes of a more or less concealed or open racism and socially disseminate or continuously reproduce them.
Elites are - to put it somewhat simply - governments and parliaments, authorities, leading politicians, employers' associations, directors and managers, leading academics, journalists, etc., all of whom - which is particularly important for their mass influence - preferential access to the media and have a strong influence on the educational discourse, on publishers, etc.
In addition to the elite discourse, one can of course also see other influences that assert themselves in the development of everyday and mass racism and its special forms, such as the socio-economic situation, international events, strong influx of refugees for which one has not adequately prepared ( although it was foreseeable) etc.
But such events also flow into the discourse of the elites, provide feedback for decision-making processes, which in turn are disseminated through discourse. And of course right-wing extremist propaganda also plays a certain role, especially since the right-wing extremist press directly reaches at least around 5 million readers. [See. on this S. J ger (Ed.) 1988.]
In addition, authors who argue socially Darwinian like Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt have constant access to the so-called serious press. Only recently was this author able to spray his poison again in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Even some school radio broadcasts are not free from racist sprinkles. Peter Scholl-Latour's agitation against Islam must also be classified in this context. [See. now also Auernheimer 1993.]
Our studies at the Duisburg Institute for Linguistic and Social Research show: In everyday discourse, the following statements about minorities and immigrants dominate, many of which are highly ideological:
- Statements relating to national immigration policy
- The immigrants have been invited to come to our country.
- They should be sent home.
- Immigration policy should be tightened.
- Statements related to social problems
- I don't feel safe anymore and don't dare to go out anymore.
- You are involved in a crime.
- They cause the decline of the city or the neighborhood.
- You are involved in (other) negative actions.
- Statements related to work and employment or unemployment
- They (the immigrant workers) work hard.
- They have uncomfortable (dirty, heavy, monotonous) jobs.
- You don't feel like working.
- "We" don't like to work either.
- They take on all kinds of cleaning jobs.
- They do the work that "our" people don't want to do.
- They work in factories.
- You want to work, but you don't have a job.
- Statements relating to rights and obligations
- They have all kinds of rights (to live here, to participate in an upbringing, to own a house, etc.).
- They are taking over our houses.
- They abuse our social security system and live on welfare.
- They think our country is a social paradise.
- Statements related to norms and cultural differences
- You have to adapt to our norms and rules.
- They have different habits and customs.
- There are good and bad among them.
- Other people don't behave as badly as they do.
- They treat their wives differently or worse.
- You have (too) many children.
- Statements related to upbringing
- Education should only take place in our language.
- The presence of minority children creates difficulties in school.
- There are cultural differences between your children and ours.
- They should have lessons about their own culture.
They should have lessons in their own language.
The basic structures of the enemy image towards whole social groups consists of the following classes:
1. They are different in appearance, culture, religion, mentality and norms.
2. They don't conform.
3. You are involved in negative actions (disturbances, crimes).
4. They threaten our socio-economic interests.
These cornerstones of the ideological scheme towards minorities in everyday consciousness now correspond, as media analyzes have shown, exactly to those of the scheme of the elites, which seems to confirm the thesis,
that everyday racism is a direct consequence of the racist elite discourse. [Van Dijk also carried out a large empirical study on the elite discourse (van Dijk 1991), as shown in his research report (lecture in Hamburg at the Migration and Rassimsus Congress, van Dijk 1990)), these studies also confirm his core thesis.]
These observations correspond almost completely to those of the Dutch researchers, although some accents have to be set differently and other racist focuses can be observed. Our interviews showed, among other things, severe anti-Semitism, which is often directed against Turks, who are also threatened with a Holocaust, and discrimination against Sinti and Roma.
3. Why is it to be expected that racist attitudes will continue to solidify
At the beginning of this year the borders for the EC internal market were opened. Free movement in Europe is on the agenda; but at the same time isolation from the rest of the world. The image of the has long been making Fortress Europe the round, a battle concept of the right, which is supposed to create the consciousness that we have to defend ourselves against any further immigration by building and withdrawing behind solid walls. The amendment to Article 16 of the Basic Law and the possibility of out-of-area missions by the Bundeswehr should also be seen in this context. [See. link 1993.]
All of this happens in a situation in which hunger and poverty are increasing worldwide and wars and violent conflicts are forcing millions of people to flee their cities and villages. The film "The March" symbolizes this new mass migration from the poor countries of the third world towards the industrial centers in a striking way, triggering feelings of threat. This march has long been underway, even if it is less spectacular than the film people had imagined. And this mass migration is not a natural event, but a consequence of
"Unequal exchange", as economists say, which has been taking place between rich and poor for many years and which has led to a situation in the Third World that triggers this migration of peoples. [See. on this Nuscheler 1991.]
This development has been foreseeable for a long time. It is not an event that suddenly struck us. But although this development was largely foreseeable, it has been neglected to react to it in any appropriate way. Neither was development aid expanded, nor was anything done against the unrestrained exploitation of the Third World by the rich industrial nations: The Third World countries are so indebted that they have to raise further capital in the billions just to satisfy the debt service. In the federal states, cities and villages and in the factories of the Federal Republic of Germany, no measures have been taken that are even remotely adequate that would do justice to the problems we face and facilitate the integration of the refugees.
On the contrary: the general motto seems to be: bulkhead tight! Because the boat is full! Build dams against the floods of strange people falling over us. That was and is the core tenor of the so-called asylum debate on the political stage, which the SPD also allowed itself to be forced upon, and in most of the media! These are primarily responsible for the current escalation of racist discourses and - in their wake - racially motivated crimes.
Let us ask ourselves: Where did this escalation of hatred and violence come from - in Hoyerswerda, Saarlouis, Hünxe, Rostock, Mölln and elsewhere, e.g. in 1988 in Schwandorf, where an entire Turkish family perished? - come, then our attention must also turn to the public debate as it is being carried on in the media and through the media.
It would be too short-sighted here alone to blame a failed urban policy. Also, the crushing poverty of the Third World and the selfish economic and development policies of the industrialized countries only explain the fact that and why many
People from the impoverished countries are fleeing to save their lives. I also think that the declaration made by many politicians and the media that the large number of asylum seekers and immigrants is the cause of the growing racism is completely wrong. Refugees have always come into the country - well over ten million after the war. Obviously, the false assumption that there are too many who come does not lead to killing people, severely injuring them with knife wounds and setting children on fire in their beds.
The escalation of violence against foreigners is not only directed against refugee shelters, but now more generally against people with dark skin, other cultures, other religions and other characteristics that deviate from "our normality". It is also directed against people who have lived with us for a long time, including those who have long had German citizenship. The latest example of this is the common mock execution of a Turkish guest worker in Mülheim an der Ruhr, which led to the death of this person as a result of a heart attack. The attacks from the right are also increasingly directed against people who stand up for foreigners.
But how do you explain this wave of violence, which has been flooding our country particularly hard for about two years?
One important reason for this lies in the way in which politicians, especially since the reunification of Bonn and increasingly since the mid-1980s, have been debating the issue of asylum and immigration law in public and in the media, and in media reporting itself.
In this context, I would also like to remind you of the resolutions of the Bundestag in 1982 on the work ban and the compulsion to concentrate for political refugees, which were passed almost unanimously. It was only through the work ban that the population became aware that the refugees were living at our expense. Because of the concentration of the refugees - there was something! - It was only possible for the public to perceive concentrated crowds ("floods", "masses"). These decisions should be repealed immediately. There has been a relaxation of the work ban, but in fact it continues to have an unrestricted effect. The
Current plans on the part of the Social Democrats to accommodate refugees in assembly camps would have to be revised from this point of view as well.
The expected repeal of Art. 16 GG is, in my opinion, just another culmination of false politics and a further milestone for the fact that the Federal Republic is developing further to the right by including ideologues formerly only traded in the right-wing extremist camp into the center of society and thus gives them a power that right-wing extremist parties and organizations could never have given them.
4. The wrong processing of everyday practices and their contribution to the emergence of racist concepts
Some research reduces the cause of the emergence of racist attitudes almost exclusively to the influence of the elites and their privileged access to the media. The question of what interest lies behind the racist elite discourse is answered, for example, by the Dutch researchers working with Teun A. van Dijk by referring to the general interests of the elites in terms of power and economy and to their efforts to legitimize and secure their power ( van Dijk 1990).
But things are not quite that simple. With the analyzes and empirical studies of the Dutch, a very important source of racism has certainly been made visible. But it seems to me necessary and possible to take the analysis a little further. [See. also J ger / J ger 1990.]
Because I do not believe that the schemes of the elites are simply adopted below. [It is true that van Dijk also refers to the elites' sophisticated strategies, e.g. the veiled and ambivalent linguistic means that they use. He also proves that the individuals participate actively and creatively in filling certain schemes. But there are other forces "at work" here, which will have to be discussed.] It is to be assumed that a compli-
There is a more delicate reciprocal relationship and that one's own and individual shares in the emergence of racist contents of consciousness and willingness to act play an important role.
On the one hand, it can be assumed that there are certain intellectuals who rationalize widespread and diffuse everyday ideas about immigrants and people from other countries and develop them into reasonably plausible theories, thereby giving them greater stringency and credibility. They formulate a kind of doctrine, a plausible-looking racist theory from it, which is particularly plausible because it has incorporated the basic ideas of many people.
But how do people come to these vague racist feelings and attitudes? What is your own part in making it happen? What are the reasons for this? And further: What is the interest behind such attitudes being further strengthened through theoretical protection and dissemination?
This raises the difficult question of the way and the reasons for the specific psychological processing of certain socially assigned life practices of people and their function for the respective society.
As is well known, Theodor W. Adorno had already asserted that today's life practices forced upon people lead to psychological dispositions that tend to internalize authoritarian, racist and anti-Semitic attitudes (Adorno 1973). [At this point I will not go into a more detailed analysis of the current social and economic situation in the Federal Republic of Germany and the associated distribution and nature of socially different life practices. See very briefly but further below and J ger / J ger 1990. In addition to Adorno's writings on the topic, important basic literature for us was: Hirsch / Roth 1986 and Hirsch 1990 as well as Mahnkopf / H bner 1988.]
This already points to the fact that the previously presented schemes for receiving information certainly also have an individual and social psychological dimension that must be taken into account. It can then be better understood if the concept of
To define racism more clearly than is generally customary in everyday dealings with it.
The provisions of the English sociologist Stuart Hall are particularly important with regard to a convincing theoretical formulation of the concept of racism. [The following considerations on the term racism partly correspond literally to a thesis paper that appeared in Butterwegge / Isola 1990. If I mainly rely on Stuart Hall here, then it is in the awareness of the fact that Hall himself is intensively involved in further theoretical approaches, such as those of Robert Miles (see e.g. Miles 1989) and Etienne Balibar (cf. e.g. Balibar / Wallerstein 1990).]
Hall observes a "racism without races" in the everyday consciousness of many people: racism as a social practice, as Stuart Hall says, whereby physical characteristics are used flatly to classify certain population groups (cf. Hall 1989, p. 913ff.). According to Hall, these physical characteristics function in racist discourses as carriers of meaning to mark differences that one needs to distinguish oneself from others.
People do this in general, but - he says - "If this classification system serves to establish social, political and economic practices that exclude certain groups from access to material or symbolic resources, then it is a question of racist practices" (Hall 1989, p. 913), about so-called "Exclusion practices".
In addition to stating otherness, negative or positive assessment of this deviation from "our" normality, a third factor is important when we speak of racism: the factor of power that the marginalized actually have. They are already doing that, as van Dijk and Nora Räthzel in particular pointed out, when the marginalizing people belong to the majority group or to the group of those who have power in the state. Racism can only be spoken of when these three factors: otherness, evaluation and power come together.
According to Hall, exclusionary practices are now also the basis of cultural racism: Even if there are certain habits and customs
and customs of a certain group of people are absolutized and naturalized, seen as the only normal way of life, so to speak, and other, deviating forms of life - and this is very important - negative (or positive) rated without this being necessarily justified genetically or biologically, one speaks of racism. This also serves the mentioned exclusion of other people, the demarcation and the legitimation to fight the others. [Racism does not exist if, for example, members of minorities perceive "us natives" as "different" and evaluate "our being different" negatively (or positively). An essential part of racism is that it is or can be connected with domination over others. Nora R thzel writes: "In our opinion, the process of constructing a group as an inferior" race "only becomes racism when the" constructing group "has the power to enforce its definition, its construction, the living conditions of the so defined Group to be determined. " (R thzel 1990, p. 4).]
This differentiated version of the concept of racism seems to me to be useful and correct, as it complements and expands other modern anti-racist theories, which I can only refer to here. [See. Lewontin / Kamin / Rose 1988.] The concept of racism so conceived applies to the Function of exclusion and the i.R. negative assessment of the marginalized, which is valid for both genetic and cultural racism: marginalize others in order to gain social and material advantages and to assert oneself. In order to legitimize this, one needs a reason, a justification, in short: an ideology.
Racist thinking now has the typical characteristics of an ideology, and this has the function and character of a religion. It is - initially - quasi-religious. [See. especially Kellershohn 1989.] Quasi because it is not aimed at something transcendental, but rather attaches certain crazy assumptions to something very concrete. - You can already read from Marx why many people need religion. He writes: Religion is for people "Protestation against real misery. "" Religion, "it says there," is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the mind of one
heartless world as it is the spirit of mindless states. she is that opium of the people. "(MEW 1, p. 378). Without religion, many would simply go crazy because they would not be able to endure their lives. Racism is probably also a kind of" opium of the people ". This is all the more so as religions, At least in our part of the world, they have almost completely lost their powers of persuasion for many people. The false consumer promises directed towards the hereafter no longer hold up against the insights of modern science and the specific local consumer offers of modern societies. But there are the experienced shortcomings and privations of this world No longer allow themselves to be turned into a world beyond, appropriate earthly lightning rods have to be found.
Hall now also asks "to what extent racism can be an authentic form in which subordinate social groups live and experience their subordination". And he says: "We have to understand how groups that are excluded from the riches of our affluent society, but who nevertheless belong to the nation and want to identify with it, can find an authentic form of identity and self-confidence in racism." (Hall 1989, p. 916). And he further asks "how" the subaltern can find identity and self-confidence in racism.
In a first step, Hall comes to the conclusion that racism subjectively legitimizes it, so apparently gives you that Law, to exclude other dissenting groups with whom to fight for a place in the sun. According to this, racism would subjectively only become superfluous if the subaltern no longer had to contend for their place in the sun. As long as capitalist and otherwise caused material, social and psychological deficiency symptoms are systematically generated and there is not enough for everyone, we will definitely have to reckon with racism.
The particular tenacity and schematic consolidation of racist ideas in the consciousness of many people, of which I have already spoken before, has another reason, according to Hall, which he tries to establish psychoanalytically: the exclusion of others is often legitimized by the fact that one is the other as opposed to oneself and usually negatively defi-
kidney. Through this construction of the other, identities are produced and identifications are secured. So you need the others to define yourself. The others are threatening for many people because they may recognize in them a part of themselves that one has to suppress or suppress, such as the (even if only imagined) wildness and exuberance, the supposedly casual indolence or even the sexual permissiveness and strength of others, especially of other "races" or of the opposite sex, the latter legitimizing sexism, etc.
Hall, whom I am only briefly referring to here, says with regard to anti-racist resistance: "Anti-racist strategies and policies that do not attempt to descend into these deeper and fundamentally contradicting layers of racism will fail because they stand up limit the surface structure of a politics aimed exclusively at the rational. " (P. 921).
First of all, it can be said that the media discourse and the short-circuited politicians' speeches also have an easy time of it because they correspond to certain everyday concepts of how many people cope with the world in thought. They not only produce everyday consciousness, they also reproduce it.
5.The social function of racism
But what social and political function does the spread of racism have in today's societies?
Developed racist theories are the result of the rationalization of everyday ideas about exclusion and the avoidance of the dangers allegedly threatened by minorities and immigrants. The everyday idea is widespread that one has to cleanse the body of society, one has to protect one's own identity and that of the community from flooding, promiscuity, mixing and permeating ("blood shame"), etc.
These ideas are primarily associated with a different skin color, a different name, a different religion and a different culture. Are at the same time
these ideas are still quite incomprehensible and relatively incoherent.
Through the rationalization of everyday ideas by intellectual racists, these now become one Instrument of rule converted, which can be directed against those who harbor these ideas and fears, that is, basically self victim are. This brings us much closer to the question of the function of such racial theories:
The French sociologist Etienne Balibar writes in connection with his analyzes of racism in France: "From ... (the) combination of different forms of practice, forms of discourse and ideas in a whole network of emotional stereotypes, the emergence of a racist community (or even one Community of racists ...) as well as the way in which the individuals and collectives who are exposed to racism (i.e. its "objects") are forced to perceive themselves as a community. " (Balibar 1989, p. 369f.).
How is that possible?
Balibar rightly assumes the people Desire for knowledge the social context in which they live. He assumes that the intellectual racists try to take advantage of exactly this by responding to it with an ideology for which there are already points of contact in the mass of the population in the form of spontaneous feelings and ideas. The thrust of this racist theory is theirs "Logic of the subjection of the social to the thought forms of natureand race " (Balibar 1989, p. 372, emphasis mine, S.J.) and, as he says, a "decomposition of class consciousness". (Balibar 1989, p. 372).
Balibar does not attribute racist thinking to the class structure, as has occasionally been attempted, but sees it as "a typical form of political alienation". (Balibar 1990, p. 18). The world explained in terms of race theory, however, appears to be unchangeable, because nature reigns and in it the right of the stronger; the social is naturalized. This means that any discussion about change
rulings of the social excluded. This "insight" must lead to feelings of fatalism and powerlessness in the masses: we cannot change anything; against the forces of nature only the force of a rule, a ruling elite of the strong or that of a superhuman leader.
Also cultural or, as Balibar calls it, differentialistic racism operates with the myth of nature by defining cultures and cultural peculiarities as natural.
This is done in such a way that societies are assumed to have a natural determination that is rooted in their history, so that their identity is apparently unchangeable. This cultural racism or its theory operates Next the genetic, which continues to exist and is propagated, and it fulfills a similar function to this: to legitimize exclusion and to explain fears by presenting them as the cause of actual threats to one's own existence. The representatives of this neo-racism are, as Balibar thinks, no longer mystics of the genetic make-up, but rather "realistic technicians of social psychology" (ibid. P. 375).
Such racist ideologues generally give Immediately to the fact that "races" do not represent biological formations and the abilities of people and their behavior do not come from the genes, but that all of this is due to their belonging to certain cultures. [See. E.g. the article by the biologist K hn in the right-wing extremist magazine MUT No. 267 from September 1989, pp. 38-51.]
In doing so, they also undermine the humanistic and cosmopolitan anti-racism of the post-war period, which was directed against genetic racism and advocated recognition of the diversity and equality of cultures; Neo-racists of all stripes twist this position by naturalizing the cultural in the direction of ethnopluralism and apartheid, which has the effect that today the concept of the multicultural society can also be turned in the direction of ethnopluralism. In addition to the function of naturalizing the social and cultural
turellen, the function of weakening anti-racism and anti-fascism is obvious.
People whose consciousness is structured by being included in the discourse of racism are easy to control because they renounce their own power and feel powerless. In our rich industrial nations, however, they are also rewarded for this renunciation: through a certain standard of living. This increases the tendency to forego criticism and resistance. You think you've achieved something and don't want to risk that little bit. [See. also Foucault's reflections on biopolitics and power.]
The links between racism and Right-wing extremism are now obvious. The racial theorists addressed are often members of right-wing extremist parties and circles or are close to them. They mostly pursue the purpose of spreading racial theories in order to be able to push in other right-wing extremist ideological communities, ultimately with the aim of winning over and organizing people for their ideology. [In our brochure "The democracy machine chucks and cracks", Margret J ger and I tried to show these connections, which I cannot describe here in detail (J ger / J ger 1991).]
The function of the general spread and consolidation of racist thought goes far beyond that. Here we are dealing with a means of rule with which people are oriented towards the acceptance of non-democratic forms of rule, to the acceptance of rule over them, i.e. to allow or even to favor ultra-conservative and authoritarian forms of government and social concepts of a völkisch nationalism to consider any form of resistance to be obsolete, ineffective and stupid.
At this point, the interest of conservative forces in spreading racist ideas becomes clear and visible, which is why racist attitudes are increasingly appearing in the middle of society and in the political center.
But the arson attacks and assaults on immigrants and refugee homes - and not just since autumn 1991 - underline the dangers of such intellectual arson. The danger that something like this can happen again if real democracy is not achieved must be emphasized.
And democracy, that also means: the right to vote for foreigners, real equality for women, protection of children, the disabled and the elderly, sensible future and action perspectives for young people, social security in general, sufficient living space, etc. This also includes comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation , Prohibition of the dissemination of racist and other discriminatory theories, banishment of racism from school books and media, from schools and universities, etc. Education against racism and awareness of racist ideologies and practices is essential. The most important thing seems to be that the feelings of powerlessness to shape one's own life are reduced.
In other words: People have to experience that they are not mere objects whose scope for action is strictly prescribed and limited, but that they are capable of acting subjects who can change something in their situation and that defamation and discrimination against others is completely unsuitable for this is. Racist thinking does not change anything in one's own, often very suppressed and controlled existence; on the contrary: it leads to self-isolation and thus to the aggravation of the own Situation. [See. also the detailed and differentiated justification in Leiprecht 1990.]
The way in which people participate in consumption should also be questioned. I just want to hint at that here: The modest standard of living for many today between alcohol and musicians is hardly more than a surrogate for real life.
6. Assessment of the current situation and outlook
So that racist discourses can really take hold and consequently racially motivated acts of violence up to murder and manslaughter can occur, certain social framework conditions are required. Therefore, first and foremost, a few remarks on the current situation in the Federal Republic of Germany.
The considerable electoral successes of right-wing extremist parties from 1987 to 1989 were also a result of the overall political and economic development. The Union could not keep its promises of a spiritual and moral turn and could not meet the expectations of a larger part of its clientele in the direction of foreigners and social policy, East and Germany policy, etc. At the same time, it became increasingly clear what political scientists and economists call two-thirds society. This means that a third of the members of society are increasingly impoverished or threatened by social decline or feel threatened, i.e. become so-called victims of modernization, as a result of the huge advances in modernization and technology.
The causes of these streams of rationalization are seen in a crisis of Fordism. [See. on these far too brief explanations e.g. Hirsch / Roth 1986 and Hirsch 1990 as well as J ger / J ger 1990.]
This refers to the Tayloristic division of labor developed in the Ford works, which determined the entire production over a very long period of time. In the course of intensifying global competition and the associated pressure to increase labor productivity, a technological revolution took place, in particular through the development of computer technology. Fordist Taylorism is no longer competitive. It is replaced by a "post-Fordist" phase, which not only affects production, but also leads to larger general social upheavals that shook the political landscape and the private living conditions of many people. The key words are: the crumbling of social security, increasing unemployment, losses and shifts in norms and values, New Age, sectarian
nature, shattering of old institutions such as family, trade unions, loss of credibility with the established parties, etc.
The conservative parties and most of the media reacted to this development by propagating an ideology that tends to move away from previous democratic achievements and towards a model of society that takes on traits of ethnic nationalism. In concrete terms, this also meant that ideas that had previously been a matter for the right-wing extremists were able to gain a foothold in society.
The right-wing extremist parties profited from this situation, and they do not turn out to be the ones who brought about this development, but are only the beneficiaries. They were able to score points with slogans and programs that seemed plausible to the electorate of the SPD and to present themselves as the original, which other parties had only copied. The focus of their agitation was always the issue of foreigners who were held responsible for the loss of social and private security for many people in the Federal Republic. The discussion about the new Aliens Act and the asylum paragraph among Union Ministers Zimmermann and Schäuble led to further fueling of xenophobia, which further benefited the right-wing extremist parties, whereupon the Union parties and the SPD also joined in on a broader basis with ideas that had not yet been introduced to be agreed with their programs.
This development seemed to have stopped due to developments in Eastern Europe and with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of the two German states, which was thrown through like a raid. The right-wing extremists had not only been knocked out of their hands on an important issue; the German-German unification led to the fact that attention turned entirely to this development. Right-wing extremist parties immediately lost around four fifths of their electorate. The Republicans engaged in serious internal party quarrels; the result was a split in the party.
This phase is over. Sobriety has set in and the consequences of unification are felt in the West, but especially in the East
and trigger fear and anger. The interrupted political discourse was resumed. The result was that the right-wing extremist parties were able to consolidate again. They also benefited from the fact that the main enemy, communism, had been defeated, on which they could now direct all their strength against liberalism, that is, against capitalism and its state and social concomitants; Now the fight is for the "regaining of national identity", which in the opinion of right-wing extremist ideologues has largely been destroyed by re-education and foreign rule, and for the restoration of Germany within the borders of 1937.
At the same time it can be observed that the former GDR is sinking into poverty and unemployment. Your renovation will not be possible without asking the West Germans to pay a lot. More and more emigrants and emigrants are fleeing to the old Federal Republic and the old GDR. There are also thousands more asylum seekers and other immigrants. The West German economy is only hesitantly investing in expansive areas that have opened up in the former GDR and must be closed if the citizens' standard of living is to be restored or improved. The political pressure in this regard is enormous and it will not be possible to contain it.
Expansive investments mean, however, a deduction from rationalization investments in the high-tech area. This could lead to a reduction in the competitiveness of the German economy on the world market and, in the medium term, to an economic recession with the corresponding social consequences and weaken Germany's claimed leadership role in the EC.
In short: A socio-political situation arises in which authoritarian and right-wing political models are booming again and are being echoed, especially since they are at least partially propagated by the major parties. The Senate elections in Bremen and the local elections in Schleswig-Holstein in 1991, where even representatives of the bony DVU and the battered Republicans won seats, right up to the strength of the factions, provided clear signs of who would benefit from such a development. The elections in Baden-Württemberg at the beginning of April 1992 and in Hesse a few weeks ago clearly show
Gains in right-wing extremist parties that point beyond their successes of 1987-1989. Anyone who until recently believed that the all-clear with regard to right-wing extremism was announced has been shown drastically worse.
It should have become clear, however, that right-wing extremism has only benefited from the general socio-political and socio-economic development and the accompanying ideological music and has not brought it about itself. He lacked the social power to do this. It is to be feared, however, that in the middle of society, out of the center of power, that which right-wing extremist ideologues have long dreamed of, will at least partially prevail.
Here it also turns out that, apart from the electoral successes of the right-wing extremists, our democracy is threatened even if we fail to reduce the racism that is widespread in the population and to revise the revision of democratic achievements that has been observed. I have indicated starting points for counter-strategies. However, they need to be developed further in the following discussions.
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© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | November 2002
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