In the Age of Conflict Reply

By Norbet Bolz

TELOS

The rage about corona and its consequences has evidently elicited a mental disturbance with global reach. Every insanity has now become acceptable—on the condition that the insanity claims to be of the “left,” i.e., anti-fascist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, etc. Whoever wants to keep it at a distance will be silenced. This has come to be called “cancel culture.” While the loudspeakers still boom about the political correctness of variety, diversity, and multiculturalism, we are living in fact in a radically illiberal period that no longer permits discussions. Germany has become incapable of debates—this is the result of the fanatic moralization of all life questions.

Feelings and convictions replace arguments. This is particularly troublesome for university humanities departments, which have become greenhouses of unworldliness. But it is also a disaster for journalism. In the past, media professionals defended themselves against the accusation that they failed to distinguish between information and opinion. Today it is the proud self-understanding, especially among the younger defenders of “conviction journalism.” Sometimes also called “value-oriented journalism,” it is the end of journalism as a vehicle of enlightenment. Objectivity and neutrality are considered outdated. Propaganda for the good has become the order of the day.

As in the Weimar Republic, young, fanatic intellectuals are responsible for this destruction of reason. Nassim Nicholas Taleb has used the description “intellectual yet idiot”—you can have a university education and still lack political judgment or even simply common sense. The title of Alexander Kissler’s book The Infantile Society names the core problem. Nothing is more difficult today than becoming an adult: this once took place along with founding a family and the associated responsibilities.

Instead, children are in power—and not just as playful schoolchildren but also in the form of infantile perpetrators of violence. The Taliban are in our midst. Militant leftists may have a hard time invoking Marx, but they inherit Bakunin’s legacy: the idealized lumpenproletariat of uncivilized and resentful bohemians. Jealousy of the successful and intolerance toward other opinions are their key characteristics. And their vision is civil war.

Puritanism and Jacobinism are being resurrected. There is a Manichean opposition of Good against Evil, People of Color against White, Humans against the Inhuman. But this is not a politicization of our living conditions; it is their neurosis. The American keyword is “woke”: cultivated hypersensitivity, hysteria as a substitute for politics. It is not enough to stylize oneself as a victim—one has to act as a “conscience milker,” to use Ernst Jünger’s term. The most important task of a new Enlightenment is finding a vaccine against this hypermoralism.

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