Has anything changed at all? Some people write whole books to analyse this (even the books have to go with the times), but I’ll be brief: If half the population no longer believes – keyword indifference – that they have anything to expect from democracy and its po­li­ti­ci­ans, because the state – keyword neoliberalism – has completely failed in the last two de­cades, and when the youth of this half population in the institutional human parks of our society become competitive egoists and narcissists, one should not be surprised that a decidedly left political position appears less and less assertive or its implementation less and less realistic.

In contrast to „rightists“ who, despite democracy or for fear of democracy, think from top to bottom, „leftists“ are absolutely dependent on a functioning democracy, from bottom to top; they cannot do anything without it, however precariously it is constructed, for in­stan­ce at present, because a democratic movement that deserves its name needs a mass and product basis on which it can, without any violence, initiate and continuously shape fun­da­men­tal change. Without any violence, because at least physical violence is incompatible with the democratic principle based on language. And continuously, because democracy is also a question of knowledge and education – and both do not fall from heaven.

Twenty / thirty years ago, at the height of the postmodern discussion, one could still assume such a constellation. One could assume that the democratic institutions, above all schools and universities, were apt to prepare people for the fundamental democratic change and a possible coming world democracy – globalisation in the best sense -, to take them along in the non-violent and continuous process and to give them the opportunity to get involved in it and actively shape it. Of course there was also a struggle then, a struggle of the „left“ with the „right“, for the sovereignty of discourse in society. But it seemed as if it could be won by a differentiation, even by abolishing this difference – in favour of a pro­gres­sive, radical liberalism.

Therefore, if right-wing antidemocratic forces currently believe they have to distance themselves from the „left mainstream“, from the so-called „fucking liberals“ – of whom, by the way, people already spoke in the 1970s (cf. Jean Améry, Widersprüche, Frankfurt/M. 1980, p. 205) – there is here a weak echo of the certainty condensing in the 80s and 90s that „leftists“ on their „long march through institutions“ could possibly suc­ceed for the first time in history in getting the democratic majority of the population behind them. But it only seemed that way. In fact, „leftists“ have lost the battle of discourse with „rightists“, because in the process of the differentiation mentioned above, first at the end of the 1990s, „leftists“, in search of the „middle“, attached them­sel­ves to „rightists“ and then „rightists“ willingly joined this compromise course of „leftists“ – be­cause it was a course to the right.

So if there are people today who are confident of victory and who believe that they can still walk in the boots of the current postmodern discussion, these people are those who ar­gue „structure-conservatively“, who have not understood, that the historic opportunity that lay in the student movement of the 60s, the environmental movement of the 70s, the peace movement of the 80s and what followed them (right up to the smaller movements of the recent past, for example, the Occupy movement), that this opportunity – or op­por­tu­ni­ties: for fundamental democracy, consequent environmental protection, world peace and containment, if not abolition of capitalism – has been missed and that today we are dealing with forces, „culture fighters“, who once and for all want to prevent such opportunities from ever returning.

In other words, we are dealing with a threat in the face of which the discussions that we had at that time: whether the rule of reason would not lead to coercion, whether hu­ma­nism would not be an anti-humanism in truth, and whether history, especially that of rea­son and the humane, is slowly coming to an end (cf. my blog-posts of July 2012), would not seem downright ridiculous. What we need today and must make strong again for the rea­sons mentioned above are the values of individual autonomy and sovereignty, so­li­da­ri­ty, tolerance and dignity handed down to us from the Enlightenment, even if we know that the dialectic of Enlightenment was never really dissolved. Because the new movements and reactionary forces lead us – completely without any dialectic – directly back to bar­ba­rism.

Über Christian Kupke

Philosoph, Autor + Dozent
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