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7. 9. 2012 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

EnthanasiePropaganda 300

The supply of the DP camps with food was the source of never-ending complaints from the German population. From their point of view, the aid given to the DP camps was excessive.
Source: Haus der Bayerischen Geschichte, Augsburg

“60,000 Reichsmarks is what this hereditary defective costs to the community during his lifetime. Comrade, that is your money too. Read ‘New People’, the monthly magazine of the Bureau for Race Politics of the NSDAP.”

In 1938 the mentally ill were in the eye of the German State budget storm. Posters, films and other propaganda elements looked for support for the Aktion T4, the euthanasia Program which killed, between 1939 and 1945,around 200,000 people with mental or phisical disabilities. According to their financial logic, that could have meant savings for 12,000,000,000 RM after the war, which may explain at least a fractionof the german miracle.

Today, an equivalent advertising would show an unemployed or a turkish immigrant or a greek public servant (and a member of the Troika instead a doctor). Those people are spending all OUR money day by day: every milisecond OUR money is being used by lazy bastards. Because it’s my money too, as german corporations have made very good business in Argentina.

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Just after the war, the Allies concentrated in Germany close to 250.000 jews from Eastern Europe in camps for “Displaced Persons” or DPs . Most of them emigrated to Israel and other countries, but 10% remained and became the basis of the new german jewish community. The food supply of the DP camps was a source of never-ending complaints. From the point of view of the average german citizen, the aid given to Holocaust survivors with OUR moneywas excessive. In 1950 the former SS officers Horst Mahnke and George Wolff, recycled as journalists in Der Spiegel, published together the sagaAm Caffehandel betheiligt, where they accussed the DPs of smuggling coffee. They calculated that the jewishKaffeschmuggel costed to the State one billion Deutsche Marks.

The banker and writer Thilo Sarrazin, who considers that Germans still support the Euro because they havent solved their Holocaust guilt, actualises this mental operator against poor and foreign: marginals steal our common treasure and then our common future is in danger. We have to act: the State must do something in our name.The vector of this blind identification with the money owners goes upwards. And the arrow that points downstairs is the void of exclusion: the energy that build the cultural system of human diversity devalorisation and the police engineering of borders and deportation. This verticality seems to occupy the potencial social and mental space of the interclass struggle but it also neutralises horizontal confrontations up & down: it provides a defensive cohesion in those who are integrated and increases the dispersion of the marginal ones.

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“First, Hartz IV receivers are more at home, second, they like it warm, and thirdly, many regulate the temperature with the window.” (Thilo Sarrazin talking about people who receive unemployment money, 2009)

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This poster was part of an action made by neighbours of Hamburg in April 2012 against the speculative urbanistic adventure of Neue Mitte Altona. Sarrazin, the confortable Don Quijote of gentrification says in turkish: “Your poverty makes me vomit”. The sentence, that in german is “Eure Armut kotzt mich an”, was used in stickers during the 90s refering to the yuppie scene.

In the next post we will remember the visit of Thilo Sarrazin in 2011 to the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg, Berlin, and see some options artists and image producers have against the process of gentrification.

The sarrazin Beverage II

24. 8. 2012 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

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Nobody talks nowadays about Sarrazin. He just wrote a new book against the euro, quite a hot topic in these days, but this time most media have almost ignored him. So these notes about the mediatic construction aroundthe Sarrazin beverage come a little late. Anyway, the subject is still here:the whole “scandal” shred some light over the state of the thing, on the potentialities and limitations of bothracist and anti-racist culture in nowadays Germany, the role of different media in forgering pseudoconsensus and the sketch of a nationalist alliance between the elite and the integrated citizens in order to protect the common treasure.

thilos thesen 200 On 2011 Berlin local elections, pro Deutschland had based its street campaign on the image of a forbidden mosque and the sentence “vote for Thilo’s Theses”. In order to keep a cautious distance between his nazi fans and his pretended image of critic of muslims but still democratic citizen, Thilo Sarrazin sued them on court. The judge quickly ordered the authorities of the party to remove all the posters naming Sarrazin from the street. But the images, or at least most of them, remained in the city poles in their original position, which is indeedquite high (when they are installed lower they don’t last too much).

Sarrazin can insist here and there that he doesnt belong to any racist or fascist gang but the fact is that he provided a legitimation tool to all of them.

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In several art and cultural institutions during the Berlin Biennale 2012 you could find one of these boxes set by czech artist Martin Zet. The yellow poster attached calls visitants for bringing Sarrazin’s book “Deutschland schafftsich ab” (“Germany supress itself”) as a collaboration for a recycling action called “Deutschland schafftes ab” (“Germany supress it”). The way the book was going to be recycled was not explained.

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We could find three definitions forrecycling in the oxford Dictionary:

1.convert (waste) into reusable material/

2.return (material) to a previous stage in a cyclic process/

3.use again.

No dictionary says that recycling is burning, but that was the image that M. Zet elicited in a good deal of german media: the nazi books burnings of Mai 10th 1933. The winds became a storm and some of the same cultural institutions began to ask the artist and the curator of the biennale to explain the idea. They answered that finally the public was going to decide democratically the concrete way ofrecycling. Very democratic decision, but they were expecting too much: 1) that some thousands of the 1.300.000 subjects who bought the book decided that it was better to recycle it than leaving it in their bookshelves as an act of self-affirmation. 2) that they went home to to look for the book and bring it back to the collecting boxes. 3)a spontaneous and consistent engagement of a public, eager to participate in the action and endure the national media attacks. 4) that the opinionof East Europeans artists about the most sold non-fiction book in Post-War Germany was going to be welcomed by the cultural sections of german media and by the local hyper-critic cultural class. Ha ha ha ha.

Finally the boxes collected other printed material and glasses.

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With my average IQ and after some trips to Germany, I can understand that some stimulus are too strong for some democratic german with historical sensitivity. We can’t deny that the idea of recycling those books we abominate can create at least some misunderstanding. But a good deal of the media reacted to Zet’s invitation with an hypersensitivity which is almost absent in many other opportunities. For example, when the same Sarrazin said, in a visit to Waltrop one year ago, that “anyone denying the hereditary nature of intelligence is idiot or criminally lazy-minded”. There was no histeria this time.

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The heredity of intelligence is not a scientific proven fact. Measuring innate intelligence is quite a demential goal as genetical, epigenetical and environmental interactions elude precise borders. The IQ values, so important to Sarrazin, are not a measure of natural intelligence but of specific skills that are built through experience. The figure who insisted more on the genetic nature of intelligence during XX century was the fraudulent Cyrill Burt, a celebrity between white proud scientist and non scientists, who made up in his studies thousands of twins and two secretaries that never existed. But the former Finance Senator of Berlin can say whatever eugenesic image comes to his mind: he will look like a wise guy to those who feel fear or contempt for the poor and the dark skinned. As big media are constantly repeating genetical determinist discourses- in the format of brand new scientific news- there is a wide background for normalising the idiot and criminally lazy-minded expressions of this or the next Sarrazin.

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In Argentina we can witness the same mediatic appropiation of elements of antifascist ethos for attacking antifascist identities: in these days the right wing media, the same that supported every killing of indians, workers, students and poor in the XIX and XXth centuries, are comparing ad nauseam the kirchnerist youth organisations -who are the main supporters of the trials against the criminals who participated in Argentines last dictatorship- with the Hitlerjugend. And they find them always worse.

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the Sarrazin Beverage

16. 8. 2012 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

In 2010 Thilo Sarrazin,a prominent member of the board of the Deutsche Bundesbank and of the SPD (Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands), had his book published. With the support of big media panzers, like those belonging to the Axel Springer group, “Deutschland schaff sich ab” (“Germany abolishes itself”)has today more than 1.5 million copies sold. A german best-seller you can find in supermarkets but has no translation: it was kept as a national question… one of those local folk things that may have global projections. To have an idea of the so-called “Sarrazin Thesis” here is a short selection:

“I don’t have to respect anybody who lives off welfare but rejects the state, doesn’t do enough for his children’s education and constantly produces little girls in headscarves.”

“The Turks are taking over Germany exactly as the Kosovars took over Kosovo: via a higher birth rate. I wouldn’t mind if it were Jews from Eastern Europe with a 15 percent higher IQ than the German population.”

“All Jews share a certain gene, all Basques have certain genes that make them different from other people.”

“The lower the class, the higher the birth rates.”

“We are, on average, becoming dumber in a natural way.”

“If you take a look a closer look, it becomes apparent that weight loss is the smallest problem facing welfare recipients.”

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Most anti-racists in Germany are fed up with the “Sarrazin scandal” and also keep the feeling that the provocation remained unanswered. But what does that mean? There were in fact a lot of manifestations, publications, debates and creative interventions against the mediatic construction labelled “Thilo Sarrazin”. The status of a “scandal” was only possible after intense reactions. Maybe the big shock was to realise, once again but more clearly than before, the unevenness of communication power between the big media groups, in one corner, and the disperse constellation of democratic forces, in the rest of the ring.

The success of the Sarrazin campaign evaporated the last dream someone could still have of living by some sort of german miracle in a society where racism is a marginal phenomenon.

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The mediatic power -with all its technical devices including people who operate them- is no more than hot air when it hasn’t human reactions that sustain it: when it finds no echo. This simple distinction between media and social approval is harder to see in societies where governability is sustained by a stable alliance between the government agencies and big media, able to renew every day their desirable pseudo-consensus. In these boring and homogenous techno-spectacular societies, social consensus has been replaced by what corporative loudspeakers say people think and want. And we don’t have a clue about it, unless: 1) we have investigation strategy to grasp what people may think and want or 2) the alliance is broken up in the skyand we then can witness the storm of a media confrontation. The last is happening in those southamerican countries which european media consider to be ruled out by populist governments. But thats another story.

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There is no much internal consistence in the eclectic “sarrazin theses”nor adjustment between them and real facts. But they seem not to need any. They are an echo that answers to itself: a feed-back that express, in terms of a pretended national commonality, a wide interclass alliance. This arch includes Bild readers & Bild editors, tv clowns, members of political parties -from SPD to the fascist NPD and proDeutschland- and many other anxiousintegrated citizens. They may have many differences but share some sort of a cocktail made up of fear and hatred for immigrants and for the poor, including germans who get unemployment money.

Fear: of being attacked or robbed or that the economy -the common national treasure- goes to hell because of all those parasites! But fear is more polymorphic than this. So we should include at least other nightmares like loosing purity bycollective mixing with the inferior ones (genetical or cultural) or just loosing the position of integrated and become marginal: the horrorific possibility to be like them. Which means us!

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It would be, however, a mistake to reduce Sarrazin’s success to a common irrational. Even when his affirmations can be refuted with proper genetical, cultural and demographic information, they are an answer to the “thirst for knowledge” that Etienne Balibar has identified as a driving force of racist and neoracist explanations. Most people want to know and to understand what they see and feel. Racists provide simple arguments, ready to consume and very economical in terms of mental and social energy. They confirm hierarchies and justify them with a biological or cultural basis -or both like Sarrazin- so that preexisting prejudices reach the status of scientific knowledge and then any attempt to reduce unequality seems to be useless or undesirable.

Our interventions can not be reduced to angry accusations of racism or to demand a game of more political correctness. Neither to insist blindly that “we are all the same” when human diversity is so obvious and also fascinating. Diversity doesn’t mean hierarchy. The knowledge of the real, in its integration from the molecular to the social and viceversa, is on the side of antirracism. From the beginning of physical anthropology in XIX century to today all racialist theories have been proved to be wrong. On the same pace, it has been demonstrated that the term race has no biological meaning for the human species.We must be able to answer to the “thirst for knowledge” with knowledge, which means we need a strategy of the truth, able to recognise and overcome its main political and cultural obstacles. It’s an appealing challenge for people who work with images and texts.It can be argued that knowledge is not enough. But that depends on what we understand by knowledge and the ways we can link it to ethics and political action.

(to be continued)

some questions about art production V

30. 7. 2012 // // Kategorie Randnotizen 2012

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