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The Social Democratic Intellectual Peter Glotz Warns against a False Normalization (1994)

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The issue is to hold firm to Herder’s idea: every language, every culture, every code is a thought of God. At the same time, the issue is also to rebuff Fichte’s idea: German against Welsh, purity against intermixing. The Enlightenment utopia that the world would be best if all people spoke the same “world language” is impoverished. The nationalistic utopia that the world will be healed by a given nation’s essence is dubious, terroristic. Europe, this zone of mixing peoples par excellence, must live without such decals.

What remains is the anxious question about the reunited Germany. Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, I fear, is no crackpot, no outcast, but a vain-incautious avantgardist. He picked up political raw material that was lying in the streets, unnoticed, for forty years – and he has a knack for making connections. Don’t environmentalists share his contempt for the plastic world? Can’t antagonistic feelings toward jazz and American pop culture be skillfully attached to the leftist critique of the cultural industry? Isn’t it possible to sell the dissolution of the bond to the West as pan-European idealism under the motto “We love Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa”? Germany is moving, Germany must move. But where to?

Source: Peter Glotz, “Die Bewaffnung mit Identität” [“The Arming with Identity”], in Die falsche Normalisierung, die unmerkliche Verwandlung der Deutschen 1989 bis 1994, Essays [The False Normalization, the Imperceptible Change in the Germans 1989 to 1994, Essays]. © Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main, 1994, pp. 42-50.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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