On 16 May 2017 the “Initiative kulturelle Integration”* [Initiative cultural integration] within the “Deutscher Kulturrat” (German Cultural Council) has presented “Fifteen guiding principles on cultural integration and cohesion”. The principles venture to formulate the basis for the coexistence of different nationalities and cultures in Germany, going beyond what is required by law. At the same time the principles are an extending and correcting response to the German Minister of the Interior’s insistence on a “deutsche Leitkultur” [German core culture] which he had presented a few weeks before. The authors of the 15 theses include all Germans claiming socio-political leadership. The following article ranges the guiding principles and their publication in German politics and pursues the question to which purpose the guiding principles have been formulated.
No political decision of the past decades has contributed to polarisation in Germany as much as Angela Merkel’s migration politics in summer 2015. Almost two years ago within a few months about one million people from other cultural spheres have come to Germany, nearly all of them uncontrolled, very many not officially registered and all of them disregarding German and international law.
The majority of these people came from refugee camps in Turkey or through Turkey and then through the so-called Balkans route, that is from Turkey to Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary or Slovenia or Croatia, finally to Austria and the destination country Germany. In the previous months many governments including Germany had ignored appeals for help from the UN and other international organisations to urgently provide more money – some tens of millions Euro – for the refugee camps in Turkey and the Middle East. After the large number of migrants had come to Germany, however, the German government was able to allocate tens of billion euros.
Meanwhile it is known, also through a book by Friederike Beck (“Die geheime Migrationsagenda” [The secret migration agenda. How elitist networks are trying to destroy Europe with the help of EU, UN, rich endowments and NGOs], 2016), that the German migration politics was governed not only by humanitarian motifs. Many hints and evidences suggest that there was a political agenda involved.
And of course there are the very concrete daily problems suppressed in well-formulated proclamations (see below). But of course they are connected with the migration politics. All who are confronted with the local situation know what that means: from only slowly improving language issues, nearly endless toils with tens of thousands of minor immigrants unattended by adults to the prognosis – conceded also by the German government – that even in five years from now half the migrants will be without regular work. To say nothing of the fact that all those coming to Germany used to have another home.
This politics and the polarisation that came with it have changed the political landscape in Germany for a short time. The Chancellor’s party suffered a number of resounding defeats and a new party won seats in a number of state parliaments with remarkable successes. Consequently, Mrs Merkel has touched up her politics of summer 2015. But she has never questioned it. Meanwhile it seems like she has prevailed. Results of federal state elections in Saarland, in Schleswig-Holstein and in North Rhine-Westphalia seem to prove this.
The reasons for this development include that, yes, there was substantial dissatisfaction among the citizens, but not among the upper level of elites in politics, economy and society. They have supported Mrs Merkel’s line from the beginning which also suggests that the Chancellor, while acting without consulting the responsible state bodies, has enjoyed full backing. Why she had and has this backing cannot be answered here in full. It is very likely that Merkel’s future role in global politics (even more so after the US presidential elections) has to be considered. It seems like Germany is destined to play a leading role in the dissolution of the European array of states as we know it and in the conflicts that are deemed necessary for this – against the states resisting the development towards “global governance” and “global citizenship” which still consider international law and the UN Charter as relevant.
Now, nearly two years after the Chancellor’s decision and only a few months ahead of the federal elections which will decide her political fate, the “Initiative cultural integration” within the German Cultural Council has presented “Fifteen guiding principles on cultural integration and cohesion”. In presenting the guiding principles on 16 May 2017, all organisations claiming socio-political leadership are lined up:
ARD [public TV channel], Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Freien Wohlfahrts-pflege [federal association of welfare organisations], Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Immigrantenverbände [federal organisation of immigrants], Bundesministerium des Inneren [Federal Ministry of the Interior], Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales [Federal Ministry of Work], Bundesverband Deutscher Zeitungsverleger [federal association of newspaper publishers], Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände [federal association of employers], Deutsche Bischofskonferenz [conference of Catholic bishops], Deutscher Beamtenbund und Tarifunion [association of civil servants], Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund [central association of unions], Deutscher Journalisten-Verband [association of journalists], Deutscher Kulturrat [German cultural council], Deutscher Landkreistag [association of counties], Deutscher Naturschutzring [association for the protection of nature], Deutscher Olympischer Sportbund [Olympic sports association], Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund [association of cities and communities], Deutscher Städtetag [association of cities], Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien [federal government’s commissioner for culture and media], Die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Migration, Flüchtlinge und Integration [federal government’s commissioner for migration, refugees and integration], Evangeli-
sche Kirche in Deutschland [Evangelical Church], Forum der Migrantinnen und Migranten im Paritätischen Wohlfahrtsverband [forum of migrants in a welfare association], Koordinationsrat der Muslime [coordination council of muslims], Kultusministerkonferenz [conference of state ministers of education and cultural affairs], Neue Deutsche Organisationen [an association of progressive organisations], Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger [association of journal publishers], Verband Privater Rundfunk und Telemedien [association of private radio and TV media], ZDF [public TV channel], Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland [central Jewish council].
A press release from the Federal Government shows an obviously good-humoured Chancellor receiving the guiding principles’ paper from numerous representatives of the associations and institutions. No wonder: This is about confirming her politics.
There is no need to discuss the guiding principles here in detail. Most of it is obvious for all German citizens adhering to the constitution, even if the guiding principles give it a different weight and a certain spin. But polemic points against all those who have criticised the Chancellor’s migration politics and the guiding principles’ political aim cannot be missed.
It only takes to really read the phrasings. In the preamble we can read: “Germany is a diverse country. For centuries people from many different countries are living here. The majority of those who had come to Germany from abroad feel here at home; many of them have become Germans.” … But what about the 63% of the Germans living in Germany who have voted for the new Turkish constitution and, hence, indirectly against the German “Grundgesetz”? … “Immigration changes a society and requires openness, respect and tolerance from all sides. […] The stirring up of fears and hostilities is not the right way – we stand for a cosmopolitan society.” … Who now is stirring up fears and hostilities? Couldn’t some apprehensions be justified in face of the many problems connected with immigration on a large scale? And who defines the term “cosmopolitan”? … “The European integration process is not only a guarantee for peace in Europe […], it also stands for cultural convergence as well as for common European values – we want a united Europe.”… They are speaking about the messed-up EU and forget that it is not Europe.
The guiding principles include statements like the following: “Manners, cultural practices and traditional customs are […] not static but subject to change. They have to prove and to develop themselves in social discourse in order to uphold their justification.”… “Constructive negotiation processes require the readiness to compromise. They are the opposite of populism whose representatives only accept their own view.”… “Integration is a process challenging both sides – the receiving society and the migrants. This includes viewing immigrants as a natural part of the German society. Germany is an immigration country.”
During the mid-1960s, in face of a beginning crisis in economy and politics, the former German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard (CDU) wanted to turn the Federal Republic of Germany into a “formed society”. His concept meant to accept only those interests and opinions that can be derived from “shared” ideas. Opposing tendencies, a contemporary encyclopaedia states, should be curbed by strong state authorities.
A statement in a book review nearly 20 years ago published in the German weekly Die Zeit, is interesting: In the 60s the concept of a “formed society” had “stirred tempers rather on the liberal or left side.” They “saw the formed society as return of the German authoritarian temptation, as a wishful harnessing of the pluralistic society.” Well, exactly these circles are now setting the tone… and turn out to be implementing exactly the ideas they had criticized in the 60s and which could not be implemented then. Herbert Marcuse’s disciples call it “repressive tolerance”.
The “Fifteen guiding principles on cultural integration and cohesion” are part of the “formed society” of 2017. They are presented with the claim – hence so many signees – that nobody should contradict. The aura of “alternativelessness” that for years has been surrounding German politics under Chancellor Merkel is meant to drive things to a head. It is only a small step from today’s “formed society” to “soft-totalitarianism”. Who still likes to contradict? •
* The “inititative cultural integration“ was founded in December 2016 and was initiated by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Commissioner for Immigration, Refugees and Integration, the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry for the Interior and the German Cultural Council. The constituating session was on 15 December 2016 in the Chancellery.
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