How to get distracted from something

With the help of the left: How political correctness distracts from exploitation and impoverishment


The Austrian philosopher Robert Pfaller has no personal problem with political correctness and gender studies. Nevertheless, he criticizes them clearly in his new book "Adult Language - About Their Disappearance from Politics and Culture". From his point of view, such niche politics distracts from the consequences of neoliberal impoverishment.

A social problem arises with these topics: the “propaganda of vulnerability and sensitivity”, explains the professor of philosophy and cultural theory at the Linz University of Art in an interview with Sputnik. As an example, he reports in his book at the beginning of how he wanted to see Michael Haneke's film “Amour” on a flight to the USA and was warned that it contained “adult language”. This is a sign of a recent change that has "serious consequences for social coexistence and for people's political abilities," writes Pfaller.

He finds: “Political correctness and gender studies are two areas of practice in which this propaganda is reflected very massively.” This social tendency shows, he writes in the book, that “the beneficiaries of neoliberal redistribution” have succeeded, “the losers all out to separate irrelevant, rival or hostile subgroups ”.

In addition, this would destroy the public space in which such groups could show solidarity and defend common interests. The result: "Instead of keeping an eye on general issues and joining forces like adults, those who were sensitive only wanted to see their own concerns treated preferentially or valued."

“Identity politics” prevents solidarity

Pfaller's book deals primarily with language as an expression of social and political conditions, but at the same time criticizes it analytically and fundamentally. Whether people are treated as adults and responsible citizens is also a question of language. In this, "adulthood" shows itself in the "power of resistance to the necessary evils of life" and the ability to curb one's own sensitivities "in order not to brand others immediately for disturbing words". "Only adult speaking enables solidarity-based speaking and behavior - in a society for which equality is not an impossibility."

But that is exactly what the rulers in neoliberalism try to prevent by promoting phenomena such as “identity politics”, the philosopher states. In the book he describes it like this:

“We live in a world in which more and more people are being driven into poverty and hopelessness, and in which adults are also warned against adult language. One is obviously related to the other: for it is the same powers that drive one and the other. "

There is a method to this, he explains in an interview. A look at the interests behind it reveals “a deep complicity” between the massive neoliberal redistribution of wealth in Europe in the last 20 to 30 years in favor of the elites and the “propaganda of the tenderness and tenderness”.

Arms for the media powerful

The latter is an “active contribution to the destruction of social equality”, he emphasizes and describes it as “perfidious” that people are distracted from their interests in this way. “Suddenly they are asked to only look for their sensitivities, the quirk or weakness that makes them particularly vulnerable, and to capitalize on it and compete with others who have other weaknesses. Only the weakest will be rewarded. "

This “perfidious system” desolidarizes: “Everyone only looks at their identity, no matter what kind, and no longer pays attention to which perspectives one could actually connect with other groups, because the economic interests actually unite many groups and it would make it possible to achieve something for everyone. "

At the same time, such phenomena as the “#MeToo” movement against alleged or actual sexual harassment would direct anger and indignation in a society to individual points and also to people who could no longer defend themselves against justified or false accusations. This is a danger, Pfaller emphasizes, because with such means, even unpleasant political opponents could be "destroyed very quickly". "That provides a great weapon for media powers, while it doesn't really help women, I believe."

Left parties as accomplices of neoliberalism

When asked whether his criticism of political correctness and the like does not provide arguments in favor of right-wing forces, he reacts by pointing out that all parties in Western Europe that have ruled since the 1980s have always pursued neoliberal politics - “regardless of whether it is right-wing or center-right -Left governments were ”.

This included privatization, the withdrawal of the state and austerity, i.e. austerity policies at all costs. In the search for the difference to right-wing parties, the left-wing parties would have turned to the level of minority politics, "the level of very small, very cheap protective measures". This resulted in an “infamous system” that left only the alternative between two neoliberal options: “One that practices a bit of political correctness and another that appears as a crocodile in this puppet theater and scolds right-wing populism with vulgar formulas is racist, misogynistic and xenophobic. "

But that is “a wrong alternative in view of the economic development”, the philosopher makes clear in an interview: “It is precisely this pseudopolitics of the neoliberal left that has strengthened the right. I would reverse the charge. I would say: “Speaking gently” made the right strong and contributed to the left losing more and more. "

That was shown, among other things, in the USA with the defeat of Hillary Clinton. Anyone who became unemployed and no longer knew how to pay for school for their children, for example, was not interested in the high-profile, elitist concerns of sexual outsider groups, according to Pfaller. Something like this leads "to that anger that drives the voters into the camp of the right without them being allowed to expect any other economic policy from there at all."

Warning of dangerous hysteria among the left

In his book, the philosopher demands, "Such postmodern pseudo-politics must finally be criticized from the left so that this necessary task can no longer be the prey of the right." whose attacks they then use to "present themselves as the only alternative".

With the result: "Anyone who really criticizes their pseudopolitics from the left is immediately insulted by their followers as a right wing or as a 'conspiracy theorist', if not immediately as a sexist or a racist". Politicians like Oskar Lafontaine and Sarah Wagenknecht as well as scientists like Daniele Ganser have “often enough experienced this discourse pattern firsthand”: “Anything that seems suitable to safeguard the interests of the impoverished classes and finally to take the wind out of the sails of the right , is immediately covered by the staunch opportunists of the pseudo-progressive political center with the devastating 'cross-front' accusation. "

On the day of the interview with Pfaller in Berlin, some of the party with the presumptuous name “Die Linke” offered the appropriate spectacle. An award event for the publicist Ken Jebsen on Thursday was the reason for representatives of the Left Party to want to prevent the event and to warn of the "cross front". “The neoliberal pseudo-left is very quickly ready to exclude people and not let them speak,” commented the Austrian philosopher. It would be better to allow others to speak freely and exchange arguments.

If these were bad, the left would have enough good arguments to refute them. “If they have good arguments, we may be able to learn from them. The very quick stamping of people into non-persons, with whom one does not speak and who are not allowed to speak, is a very dangerous hysteria. "Pfaller warned against" quick judgments "with the help of so-called social media.

At the end of his book he emphasizes: “The decisive political problem of the near future of western societies will be the question of whether the indignation and despair of the population groups, which have been deprived of elementary living standards due to neoliberal policies and increasingly impoverished, can find an expression - and indeed something other than that right-wing populist parties want to give her. ”That is also a question of language.


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