Pride and Prejudice

Congress on concepts of identity and their dubious nature
Friday evening / Saturday, 6./7. December 2019, at the Gewerkschaftshaus Munich.

Social solidarity is increasingly being thought about in categories of identity such as ethnic affiliation, culture or religion. People are therefore less and less willing to confront the political discourses in which they negotiate the kind of society they want to live in. Instead, one question is gaining more and more weight: „Who are we?“

At the moment, everyone seems to be looking for their identity. Apart from the fact that literally speaking, one can be identical only with oneself and therefore every identity is a construction, humans have a need to belong. To groups, communities, ethnic groups, religions, national structures, etc. Without such affiliation, our society barely allows participation. At the same time, this works the other way round, too: people are being defined as belonging to this or that group without ever being asked. Identity is not only a matter of self-attribution but also—often with devastating consequences—an external ascription or a compulsory social classification. While some need the promise of group- related homogenization for their protection (or at least believe they do) others pursue their goal of exclusion. The desire for affiliation seems to be as omnipresent as the tendency of imposing affiliation upon others.

Various political approaches and orientations have a different view on the permeability of these identity constructs. The (far) right claim that we cannot escape our identity, that it is part of our natural biology and that it determines all individual actions. The left, on the other hand, concern themselves with identifiable (victim) groups whose social participation they fight for. Where will these approaches lead? Is it even possible to refer to constructs of identity in an emancipatory manner? To which extent might collectives be indispensable as a basis for effective and successful social negotiation?

These questions will be discussed at the congress.

The following main topics are currently planned and will be examined in various panels (including preferred speakers to be requested):

Where will these aproaches lead? Is it even possible to refer to constructs of identity in an emancipatory manner? To wchich extent might collectives be indispensable as a basis for effective and successful social negotiation? These questions will be discussed at the congress.

As moderators have Dr. S. Voigt (Institute for Contemporary History, Munich), F. Burschel (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin) and R. Homann (freelance artist, sculptor and author, Munich) signaled interest.

A selection of speakers

Rainer Trampertpublicist, Hamburg

“In today`s world (almost always) the wrong thing is fighting against the wrong thing. To realise this is not equidistant or condemning gradualism – it only demonstrates that all the people who cherish the idea of a classless society, defame “identity” and promote their rootless cosmopolitanism have little chance to influence the opinion of the mass society. Walter Benjamin once wrote: “Only for the sake of the hopeless, hope is given to us”. Those who are not able to provide explicit social power to support their theories will not be able to present a way out of the bad prevailing situation to a brighter Future.”

(Quote: Rainer Trampert)

Doğan Akhanlı, author, Cologne

“The Hydra is awake now. Not only in Germany, but also in all other European countries nationalism and racism have again become violent (dangerous) and violence-glorifying monsters. […] Europe went through bitter times and made the world suffer. We need to bear this history in mind, if we would like to start out for a better and fair-minded future. […] Colonialism and conflicts between national states / national states insisting on their interests are the real reasons for the ongoing racism over here”

(Quote: Doğan Akhanlı)

Dr. Sina Arnold, researcher at the Centre for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University, Berlin

„The double trivialisation of the old and neo-German antisemitism illustrates especially one problem: Germany is struggling to accept the prevailing situation, which clearly demonstrates that Germany has already become a migration society… More than one parent of every fifth German is not born here, more than one third of all Germans will find in their extended family circle a person with migration history. …

If Germany seriously intended to be and promote itself as a migrant, even a post- migrant society […] it would become obvious that what we have seen on the streets of Berlin-Neukölln is not any longer the antisemitism of others but the own (antisemitism)… The fact that hatred against Jews is shown and felt publicly does not prove the existence of a parallel society but explicitly demonstrates the failure of the mainstream society.“

(Quote: Sina Arnold)

Dr. phil. Max Czollek, author, Berlin

„Instead of considering AFD voters and PEGIDA supporters as frustrated, excluded and -so to say – lost Germans, who need to be won back, we should rather raise the question what idea of belongingness triggered and fuelled the national and right- wing thinking and why it has gained momentum. […] Already today nearly one fourth of the German population has a so called “migration background” and half of them are German citizens.” “Taking these facts into account it requires bizarre thinking patterns and a good deal of ignorance to claim that only those who are followers of “Deutsche Leitkultur” (German core Culture) are allowed to consider themselves “German”. The various migration stories as well as the different desires and ideologies have already become Normality in German cities.“

(Quote: Max Czollek)

Dr. Olaf Kistenmacher, publicist, Hamburg

“Already during the time of the Weimar Republic period in Germany the KPD interpreted Zionism as “(being)fascist” and compared it to the National Socialism. However, the “Antizionism” of the KPD during the Weimar Republic did not go the detour via “denying the guilt”, but resulted out of the KPD internal, stereotype antisemitic thinking and anti-imperealism as well as left wing Liberation Nationalism. … The KPD during the Weimar Republic period did not question the idea of quasi- natural nationalities and national territory and it was rather this idea which served as a basis for their Anti-imperialism.“ (Qote: Olaf Kistenmacher)

Lothar Galow-Bergemann, publicist, Stuttgart

“Instead of talking about right-wing populism it would be more accurate to talk about proto-fascism. The tense situation which might tear society apart became tangible (at the example of) a current debate in Essen. It was about the organisation “die Tafel” *, who denied to provide non- German people food. Three very worrying developments can be observed: on the one hand capital is to be blame for the growing number of poor and undignified (people) in our society; on the other hand State and Government do barely anything to intervene and in order to change this situation. Thirdly, the ones afflicted do not rise against these conditions, instead they despise those who “do not belong here / do not belong to us”. The not yet recognized but publicly expressed hatred against “the others” exceeds the desire to extinguish poverty and the lack of dignity. Two thirds of the German population said they would “understand” the decision made by Essener Tafel and also among political and intellectual elites inhumane and cruel statements are becoming increasingly popular”
* non-profit, charitable organization that distributes food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough to avoid hunger – Source: wikipediea

(Quote: Lothar Galow Bergemann)

Dr. Imke Leicht, political scientist, Erlangen

Mina Ahadi, puclicist, chairman Council of Ex-Muslims, Cologne

„Unfortunately, some of the feminists and multiculturalists have sided with this Islamic movement, calling the veil a normal garment among many. They are silent on the pain and suffering of millions of women who were and are victims of this terrible Islamic misogyny in history and in the present. And they sell this to the public even as freedom of choice of clothing, or the right of women to exercise their religion!“

(Quote: Central Council of ex-Muslims (ZdE))

Thomas Ebermann, Thorsten Mense (and others), Hamburg,

A discussion about the term “Homeland” is desperately needed since it is full of ideological and national meaning. Many years ago, Wolfgang Pohrt and Eike Geisel aptly described it as follows: “The love of one ́s native country (compares to) profound hatred against anyone who is not perceived as being a part of it”. The challenge now is also to discuss the senselessness of trying to use the term in a positive way and connote it differently, as it was done by anti-national groups during the last few election periods “Heimat”: A visit of horror