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

Alarmed by the neo-conservative call for “re-nationalization,” the leftist intellectual Peter Glotz polemicizes against those who revive nationalist currents under the guise of restoring a “normal” German identity. In making his argument, Glotz attacks the eccentric and controversial filmmaker Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.

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The Arming with Identity

An ethnological analysis of German normalization-nationalism: the example of Hans-Jürgen Syberberg


The danger already lies in the seemingly innocuous sentences that can be uttered by certifiably democratic ladies from the executive committee of the Protestant Church Congress, or by the guileless East German educated classes, senior physicians from Rostock or lawyers from Dresden who are experienced home musicians: “We can’t run away from our identity,” they say sensibly, or: “After the reunification of Germany we need an all-German identity once again.” Or they make such aggressive statements that level-headed nationalists with FRG experience are prompted to play down the matter: “Forty-five years of reeducation have cured East and West Germans of their identity.” Out of this “small” identity-philosophy (which has little to do with Hegel’s large one) a German normalization-nationalism, a reconstruction, is currently emerging through the concentrated efforts of a still half-concealed, reputable, non-Nazi Right. Those involved reach back before Hitler and differentiate themselves from the vulgar anti-Semitic and anti-democratic terror of the Nazis with clear, sincere words. But can such a leap land you anywhere else but in Wilhelmism, in the tradition before 1871, in the highly industrialized, technologically advanced, ambitious, competent power-state with the mandate of a state located in the middle [of Europe]? And didn’t that state end – even without Fascist morons, for that matter – in the European snake pit of 1918, in the poisonous, armed-to-the-teeth competition between beastly rival states?

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