The ironic generation

«European nations can certainly have an attractive pluralism of values, but presenting them as if they were part of a catalog isn’t sufficient. Instead, it’s important to address the challenges together. Europe is lingering in a state of hesitation, which can sometimes turn into hypocrisy. There are two ways to avoid challenges: One is to look away and pretend they don’t exist. The other is fatalism, that is, helplessly shrugging one’s shoulders and pretending that nothing can be done about them, anyway.

It’s also a question of the failure of intellectuals, indifference in public opinion and isolationism. Look at the elections in Europe. (…) We took a careful look at each other, and we knew each other pretty well. The intellectual distance has grown considerably in recent decades. There have always been differences in ways of thinking. Hegel described the Paris of the Enlightenment as an example of the “intellectual animal kingdom” of self-expression. The French argued and cursed; they were fond of differences and polemics. Their discussions shared something in common with journalism and spectacle, but not as much with academic rigor. The Germans worked on major explanatory systems, seeking the realm of knowledge as a replacement for a lack of unity in politics and religion. Today, an intellectual depression is weighing down upon both countries. The intelligentsia as a social class no longer exists in France, and it lacks coherence on both sides (of the German-French border). It has become lost in postmodernism.

(…) But the supposedly non-ideological postmodernism is itself an ideology. I see it as the embodiment of the movement of the outraged — outrage as a moral protest that’s an end in itself. The form is the content. It reminds me of Oskar Matzerath in “The Tin Drum” by Günter Grass: I see, I drum and the unbearable world breaks apart. (…) Europe is still a playground of ideas. But thinking is so fragmented, so weighed down by scruples, that it flees from the true test. In this sense, it’s a mirror image of politics.»





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