Danmark

9. april 2013

TILO SARRAZIN TALER (PÅ ENGELSK) I TRYKKEFRIHEDSSELSKABET OM HVAD HAN SOM TYSKER FORSTÅR VED POLITISK KORREKTHED – TALEN I SIN HELHED


TILO SARRAZIN VED PRISUDDELINGEN I TRYKKEFRIHEDSSELSKABET DEN 6. APRIL

First  of  all,  I  would  like  to  thank  you  for  giving  me  this  award,  which  I  have  gladly  accepted.  Until  2008,  I  did  not  concern  myself  very  much  with  freedom  of  speech.
In  my  career  as  a civil  servant,  board  member  and,  later  on,  politician  I  had  a  reputation of  being  outspoken.  But  that  concerned  mostly  my  professional  field  and  was  therefore accepted.

Everything  changed  with  an  interview  I  gave  in  September  2009  about  the  socioeconomic problems  of  Berlin  and  their  roots,  and  with  a  book  I  published  in  August  2010  under  the title  Deutschland  schafft  sich  ab  (Germany  abolishes  itself).
Its  main  conclusions  are:

– Germany  as  a  nation  is  doomed  by  its  demography.  The  low  and  stable  birth  rate  means  that  every  generation  is  35  percent  smaller  than  the  one  before.
– The  brightest  people  have  the  fewest  children.  And  for  this  reason,  intellectual  capacities  and  educational  achievements  in  Germany  will  shrink  even  faster  than  the  population.  This  is  no  danger  for  a  far  future;  the  process  is  in  full  swing  already.
– The  kind  of  immigration  that  we  have  in  Germany,  mostly  from  Islamic  countries  in  Africa  and  the  Middle  East,  does  not  solve  the  problems.  It  aggravates  them.  Reasons  for  this  are  the  Islamic  cultural  background  and  the  poor  average  educational  performance  of  these  groups,  which  is  far  below  the  European  average,  even  in  the  second  and  third  generation.

Those  conclusions  are  of  course  controversial  –  and  they  were  intended  to  be.
In  matters  of society  there  is  no  such  thing  as  an  absolute  truth.  And  I  am  the  first  to admit  this.
I had  expected  a  controversial  discussion.  But  nothing  had  prepared  me  for  the  public storm  that  broke  loose  upon  publication.
I  was  accused  of  advocating  biological  determinism  and  labelled  a  social  Darwinist,  a  racist, and  an  enemy  of  the  people  and  of  social  justice.
I  survived  morally  and  politically  because  of  the  enthusiastic  support  from  large  parts  of the  general  public.  The  new  media  were  very  helpful  in  that  regard.
In  this  case,  the  print  media  and  television  had  obviously  lost  their  monopoly  of interpretation,  and  it  was  plain  for  everybody  to  see.
Realising  this,  many  politicians  started  a  tactical withdrawal  from the debate.
In  the  course  of  events,  I  stepped  down  as  a  board  member  of  the  Deutsche  Bundesbank  –  but  not  before  I  had  been  formally  cleared  of  all  allegations  of  misconduct.
In  the  following  months,  I  thought  a  lot  about  the  controversial  reactions  to  my  book.  My  theory  is  as  follows:
The  code  of  conduct  in  a  society,  which  is  not  laid  down  by  law,  varies  over  time.  It  is  to  a  large  degree  implicit  and  not  subject  to  formal  –  or  even  openly  discussed  –  rules.  But  those  members  who  do  not  observe  it  run  the  risk  of  being  excluded  from  ‘the  good  society’.

The  mechanics  of  political  correctness
Having  and  expressing  the  ‘right’  set  of  opinions  about  certain  scientific,  social  and  political questions  is  an  important  part  of  this  code  of  conduct.
Most  people  want  to  observe  the  prevailing  code  of  conduct  but,  being  busy  with  jobs and  families,  they  have  no  informed  opinion  of  their  own  on  most  matters.

So  they  think  and  believe  what  the  media  say  they  should  think  and  believe.  Politicians,  on the  other  hand,  form  their  understanding  of  public  opinion  by  consuming  the  media.  Most of  them  sincerely  believe  that  voters  think  what  the  media  write  or  say.
Media  are  made  by  people,  and  media  people  recruit  themselves  in  a  process  of  self-­ selection,  much  as  lawyers,  doctors  or  engineers  do.  Polls  show  that  media  people  mainly  listen  to  other  media  people.

Endorsed  by  this  self-‐selection,  media  people  on  the  whole  have  a  set  of  opinions  that tends  to  be  on  the  left  side  of  mainstream  society.  I  don’t  say  this  is  a  bad  thing.
But  I  think  that  this  partly  explains  the  mindset  of  political  correctness.   
Most people  shy  away  from  saying  or  even  thinking  anything  that  is  perceived  to  be politically  incorrect.

So  the  mechanics  of  political  correctness  prevent  the  expression  of  dissenting  opinions, notwithstanding  the  formal  freedom  of  speech.
It  even  stops  the  generation  of  incorrect thoughts.

The prevailing  themes  of  political  correctness  are  deeply  ingrained  in  the  (to  some  degree unconscious)  mindset  of  the  political  class  and  the  media.  Reflecting  on  the  reaction  to  my book,  I  identified  13  themes  which  constitute  the  main  body  of  political  correctness  in Germany.  My  book  violated  every  single  one  of  them.

A list  of  political  correctness  in  Germany
Here  is  the  list  of  political  correctness  in  Germany.  I  think  the  list  describes  the  truth  but it  takes  some  irony  or  humour  to  understand  it  fully.  The  problem  lies  not  in  any  single item  on  this  list  but  in  their  combination  and  rigid  application  to  political  thinking:

1.   Inequality  is  bad,  equality  is  good.
2.   Secondary  virtues  like  industriousness,  precision  and  punctuality  are  of  no  particular  value.  Competition  is  morally  questionable  (except  in  sports)  because  it  promotes  inequality.
3.   The  rich  should  feel  guilty.  Exception:  Rich  people  who  have  earned  their  money  as athletes  or  pop  stars.
4.   Different  conditions  of  life  have  nothing  to  do  with  people’s  choices  but  with  the  circumstances  they  are  in.
5.   All  cultures  are  of  equal  rank  and  value.  Especially  the  values  und  ways  of  life  of  the  Christian  occident  and  Western  industrialised  nations  should  not  enjoy  any  preference.  Those  who  think  differently  are  provincial  and  xenophobic.
6.   Islam  is  a  religion  of  peace.  Those  who  see  any  problems  with  immigration  from  Islamic  countries  are  guilty  of  Islamophobia.  This  is  nearly  as  bad  as  antisemitism.
7.   Western  industrialised  nations  carry  the  main  responsibility  for  poverty  and  backwardness  in  other  parts  of  the  world.
8.   Men  and  women  have  no  natural  differences,  except  for  the  physical  signs  of  their  sex.
9.   Human  abilities  depend  mainly  on  training  and  educations;  inherited  differences  play  hardly  any  role.
10.   There  are  no  differences  between  peoples  and  races,  except  for  their  physical  appearance.
11.   The  nation  state  is  an  outdated  model.  National  identities  and  peculiarities  have  no  particular  value.  The  national  element  as  such  is  rather  bad;  it  is  at  any  rate  not  worth  preserving.  The  future  belongs  to  the  world  society.
12.   All  people  in  the  world  do  not  only  have  equal  rights.  They  are  in  fact  equal.  They  should  at  least  all  be  eligible  for  the  benefits  of  the  German  welfare  state.
13.   Children  are  an  entirely  private  affair.  Immigration  takes  care  of  the  labour  market  and  of  any  other  demographic  problems.

The core of the problem

So  far  the  list.  In  this  condensed  form  it  sounds  like  a  joke.
But  it’s  not  a  joke.  These  are  the  hidden  axioms  of  the  prevailing  political  mindset  in Germany  (and  probably  elsewhere)  as  I  see  them.   Every  item  on  the  list  has  a  high emotional  value  for  those  who  believe  in  it.

The  core  of  the  problem  is:  Partly  moral  und  partly  ideological  attitudes  are  taken  at  face value  and  mixed  up  with  reality.
It  is  a  permanent  task,  I  am  afraid,  to  sort  that  out.

It  makes  me  faintly  optimistic  though  that,  after  all  the  turmoil,  I  am  still  morally  alive  and not,  as  a  person  and  an  author,  ignominiously  buried  and  forgotten.  That  had  certainly been  the  intention  of  the  vast  majority  of  the  political  and  the  media  class.  But,  for  once, the  general  public  publicly  disagreed.
This,  in  itself,  is  a  matter  of  satisfaction  not  only  for  me  but  for  many  people  in  Germany.

The second book

Quite  interesting  was  the  experience  with  my  second  book  “Europa  braucht  den  Euro nicht”,  which  was  published  in  May  2012.
In  this  case,  nobody  could  deny  that  I  am  an  expert  on  the  matters  I  wrote  about.

So they  doubted  –  again  –  my  motives  and  tried  to  discover  right-­‐wing  or  populist elements in  the  book.
This  proved  impossible.  The  historical  reasoning  was  sound. The  economic  reasoning  that  I  applied  was  mainstream  and  adhered  to  strict  logic.
My  warnings  and  misgivings  were  proven  true  time  and  again  by  the  actual  events.  So they  tried  to  “todsch”  the  book  (that  word  is  derived  from  the  German  “totschweigen”).  I often  found  my  arguments  in  print  while  the  source  was  not  mentioned.  But  even  this  was only  partly  successful.
The  book  sold  200.000  copies  und  took  in  2012  the  ninth  place  on  the  bestseller  list  for  nonfiction.

When  I  speak  of  “they”,  I  don´t  mean  the  media  as  a  whole,  but  about  seventy  percent of  them.  The  problem  is  not,  that  “they”  disagree.
I  love  disagreement,  It  is  the  salt  of  every  enlightening  discussion.  And  I  would  be  totally bored,  if  I  had  not  to  struggle  with  disagreement  and  opposing  views.
But  “they”  avoid  the  exchange  of  arguments.

They  don´t  even  read  or  listen  carefully,  if  at  all.  They  try  to  get  to  you  on  a  personal level  –  by  doubting  your  motives,  by  mocking  your  habits,  your  looks,  your  attitude  to  life. The  ultimate  aim  is  defamation.

They  try  to  instill  the  fear  of  isolation  in  all  those  who  might  support  you  and  speak  out for  you  and  your  cause.
And  one  has  to  admit,  it  works  –  at  least  partly:  Most  people  hate  to  expose  themselves in  controversial  matters,  even  the  honest  und  good  hearted  ones.
So,  those  “who  go  with  the  flow”,  get  easily  the  upper  hand  and  dominate  the  climate  of public  opinion.
This  is  nothing  new.  It  has  always  been  this  way.
It  is  part  of  human  nature  to  try  not  to  fall  out  with  the  moods,  the  habits  and  the opinions  of  those  social  groups  –  formal  or  informal  –  of  which  they  feel  they  are  part.
But  it  is  important  that  those  who  disagree,  are  given  space  –  in  a  literal  and  a  moral  sense  –  to  develop  and  present  their  views  free  of  sanctions  of  any  kind.

Each  and  every  progress  in  social  affairs,  in  science,  in  culture,  even  in  fashion  –  starts  with  the  disagreement  of  a  minority.
So,  let  us  encourage  the  expression  of  all  kinds  of  disagreements  –  with  two  exceptions: The  right  (1)  to  express  your  views  and  (2)  to  be  the  master  of  your  course  in  life should never  be  challenged.
Not,  at  least ,  in  a  free  society.