The following essay about Germany’s pseudo-democracy was written by Ester Seitz with an introduction by Michael Mannheimer, and was originally published at the latter’s website. It serves as a fitting counterpoint to Michael Stürzenberger’s recent essay.
Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
Why Horst Seehofer Is Allowed to Bluster, Why Die Welt Now and Then Writes About An Over-Extended Merkel — And Why All That Nonetheless Has Nothing to Do With Freedom of Expression
“The quality of a democracy is shown above all in a crisis.”
If that is true, then our democracy has failed miserably.
As in the well-known film, 1984, I sense the situation we are hastening toward in Germany. The film describes a regime which acts totalitarian and executes resisters. Thank heaven, we are not yet that far. But the beginnings of parallels to 1984 are already visible, if you know where to look. And the dire fact is: The German citizen is not looking.
Ask the people on the street if we are living in a democracy, and the overwhelming reply will be an astonished: “Of course.” Ask among the Islam-critics, and your survey looks different. But then ask those who are also critical of the system, and you will hear a unanimous: “No, of course not.”
This is because critics of Islam and the system display radical opinions or an inability to make judgments. As the brilliant Enlightenment philosopher, Voltaire, knew in his day:
“If you want to know who is ruling you, you must only discover whom you may not criticize.”
A completely independent democracy — whether direct or parliamentary — reveals itself not in peaceful times, but in a crisis. And the victims of a loss of democracy in the state are first and foremost its critics in this crisis. So long as the people does not defend itself and is content, what government would be so tactically inept as to swing the totalitarian club anyway?
Even a dictatorship survives on the voluntary or involuntary support of the masses. Much simpler than controlling these masses by force and compelling their involuntary allegiance is to convince them that their silence and cooperation or active support is a good thing.
That is what is presently happening in Germany. And that is what makes this system so dangerous.
— Michael Mannheimer
“Happy slaves are the fiercest enemies of freedom”
by Ester Seitz
January 2, 2016
Another quote — this time from Marie Baroness Ebner von Eschenbach, an Austrian writer known for her psychological stories — which has a definitively timeless validity and comes horrifyingly close to a politically pragmatic description in the politically absurd year of AD 2015.
The hope of many political activists acquainted with the facts, that people would wake up and rise up in 2015, that there would be a widespread popular resistance, has been disappointed. Neither the change in law of August 1, 2015 — according to which judgment would no longer be based upon the deed but on the mindset (keyword “hate criminality”) — nor the massive immigration wave of September, nor the attack in Paris, brought the “German Michel” onto the streets in resistance.
Why this was so cannot be explained with numbers, data and facts, but with simple psychology. The great majority of people prefer to believe the comfortable lie rather than the uncomfortable truth, and preferably the simple explanation — even if false — rather than the complicated reality. Add to that there is a certain framework, a boundary, a distinction between truth and lie, which must not be overstepped. In brief: if the sun is yellow and the newspaper says it is green, no one will believe that — but if it says that it is orange, possibly even red, that is within the realm of the possible for the man-in-the-street newspaper reader.
Of course, that interpretation could be in error.
As close to the truth as possible, without actually saying it
Now, if the system is interested in keeping the people as calm as possible by preserving the appearance of democracy, then it uses the old technique: As close to the truth as possible, without actually saying it.
If the media reported nothing — absolutely nothing — about the problems with asylum-seekers, then everyone who could find out about it on the Internet — which is not all that hard — would be out on the barricades. If no politician contradicted Merkel, then it would be much simpler to “deliver the consumer” the news that the black-red-green unity party of Germany actually exists.
Of course, this net is not 100% leakproof, as slipped out of the mouth of former Munich mayor Christian Ude recently in an interview:
Merkur.de: “So there is no difference anymore between the CSU and the SPD.”
Ude: “That is a big problem in the city council, which both parties will feel in the next election.”
But by and large, the most important tendency of the system seems to be to give the people the perception of a perfect democracy. Nothing tamps down resistance so well as “happy slaves.”
Why Horst Seehofer is allowed to bluster — and Die Welt now and then writes about an overextended Merkel
The citizen loves nothing more than feeling represented. Even more, having the feeling that others care about his concerns. A people that knows in its heart that something is drastically wrong in this country is happy to hear Horst Seehofer at the CSU convention humiliate the chancellor, and Peer Steinbrück saying that Merkel has lost control of the refugee wave. A person feels represented — no way is this a one-party system.
And if the media, like Die Welt, softly or somewhat more loudly make some criticism of the course of the CDU, then the accusation of a “gleichgeschaltete” propaganda press is off the table. For they too are “reporting critically.”
The fatal result is: This strategy commits the people to sit in front of the TV every evening at 8:15 for Scene of the Crime, because no resistance is necessary — that’s coming from the politicians and journalists.
Signal right, turn left
The concept of “signal right, turn left” has been institutionalized for that purpose. The relevant internal revolts against Merkel in the CDU have flashed through the news reports — but at the party convention in Karlsruhe, the chancellor is re-elected party chair with a vote of 98% — suspiciously SED-like. Summing up — much hot air about nothing.
The system’s greatest weapon proves to be the argument that we are allegedly still living under a democratic form of government. Popular resistance is represented by a pretended closeness to the people. Depending on the mood of the people, more or fewer critical voices are loosed, thrown to the Germans like sweets — to distract from the fact that decisions and actions are, as ever, carried out unchecked.
Why a pretend democracy is more dangerous than a dictatorship
The slaves are happy about the pretended representation of the people. The rulers laugh about their simple but effective strategy. It works because manipulation is so simple and easy to accomplish, with so many available means at hand.
Ultimately, this is all just a delaying tactic to keep the people in the dark as long as possible about what is happening in this country. Because so long as there is no broad resistance, the Germanophobic and destructive decisions can be carried out undisturbed, right in the eyes of the public.
Accordingly, the current pretend dictatorship is probably a still more dangerous system than an open, absolute dictatorship. Resistance cannot be concentrated on one opponent, because the opponent creates blurry lines of distinction and remains surreal, intangible.
The remaining hope is that the German people will wake up and not allow itself to be kept forever in a matrix of pretend realities. It might not even notice its own destruction.
|1.||The German Michel — parallel to the British John Bull or American Uncle Sam as a representative figure of the people of the country — also markedly different in being a peasant figure usually wearing a nightcap. He has been interpreted in a variety of ways, from a simple, solid, calm soul to a simpleton.|
|2.||Soziaistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands = Socialist Unity Party of Germany, German Democratic Republic