Saturday, November 19, 2016

Are we heading for "WAR"?

A German talking about a war, that's new. The kind of war I am talking about has, however, actually not been discussed in my country for a long time. I'm talking about war on ideology, disputes of thinking. I am not talking about bombs, explosions and enemies (yet!), but about closing in on a time period of history. When Francis Fukoyama said the "end of history" had been reached after the collapse of the Cold War, I believe, many people thought he was being ridiculous then. I remember reading "The End of History" for the first time in 2010 or 2011, believing then that a notion of liberal democracy having "won" when such a big part of the world hadn't conceded the "fight"yet, was pretty freaking ignorant. As of 2016, he was proven wrong: liberal democracy has definitely not won, but we are about to enter into the next phase of history. Does liberal democracy prevail? I believe we will only know after that fight has settled.

As a student of history, I had module classes divided into years: "Early Modern Europe: 1490 - 1870", Europe in Transition: 1870 - 1918", you get the picture. In the future, I believe modules will start with the year 2016, only the name is to be confirmed. It could be "The End of Liberal Democracy: 2016 - tbc" or "The Rise of Neo-Nationalism: 2016 - tbc". What's clear to me is that we will be talking about ideology for a long time to come. You may think that's not new, but it is. We might have been discussing ideology over a glass of wine and a bite of cheese before, we might have disagreed and then gone home and resumed our lives as if nothing had happened. I think these times are over. I think that soon it is but the only thing we can't ignore. We have already been proven to be unsuccessful in ameliorating our opponents, and the entire globe is en route to be divided by ideological reasoning once more.

Unlike the last times, each country now faces the same struggle to a stronger or lesser extent: the return of nationalism. All countries have had episodes of nationalism, and in most cases, it did not go too well. Because we assume human beings to be smart and logic, learning from history (what else would be the point of historical research otherwise?), we somehow expected that certain things would never again show up on the map. The slogan of ever holocaust memory is "never again", while Remembrance Day carries the words "lest we forget". Those words are under threat of being completely and utterly forgotten, and mistakes have a high potential of being repeated. That is not to say that only nationalism will carry us to doom once more, but many of the threats to the future could be prevented if proper lessons would be learned from the past, and for example Fukoyama's ignorance about having reached the ultimate world view that will never ever change again had been debunked just a bit more in time.

The war we are facing, therefore, is not one fought in battles; it will be in homes, at workplaces and, most importantly, on the internet. Here I am in 2016, thinking it will be impossible that an ethnic cleansing could happen on Western soil because I thought there was dedication to not let that happen again by EVERYONE, and yet there is a Muslim registry about to become part of the law in the country that leads the, now so called, free world. Those who stand up for the conviction that this development is wrong, which in my eyes it clearly is, will face the front even among their friends. The camps we now have are those who believe in the progress of history, the resilience of liberal democracy and a common understanding that we need and want to cooperate, and those who oppose all this, seeking new approaches, albeit not necessarily feasible ones, to solve problems they perceive as being brought on by politicians, journalists or, worst, people simply different from themselves. For the latter camp, the bridge between such a political view and racism and xenophobia is unfortunately not very hard to cross.

There is a war coming between these camps. Just like Capitalists vs Communists in the Cold War, Muslims vs Christians in the Ottoman Empire and the South vs the North during the American Civil War, each side is made a villain that is simply wrong, although there is nothing but a conflict of interests and two different approaches to solving a single problem. Neither capitalists nor communists have won the Cold War since both of these groups still exist in this world, yet they saw each other as an ideological nemesis and just one rose above the other by power. The divide between liberals and conservatives is the same. Each camp accuses the other of the same mistakes, eg. lying, ignorance and abuse of power. The fact that there is such a thing as "the truth" that can support or refute these claims does not seem to matter anymore. And this reality wasn't there last year. We are now fighting our friends and family, and I consider it the right thing considering the racism, bigotry and misogyny coming out of the "opposite" team occasionally.

And that's why I believe the fight the internet has been calling out since last week is in fact coming. A wise, wise man once said "soon we will have to choose between what is right, and what is easy", and in my life time that has never applied. I always wondered who I would have been in 1939 Germany: a passive onlooker, a Jew-hiding ideologist or a Nazi? I always knew I wouldn't have been a Nazi but I questioned if I would have rose up, hell, even be a Sophie Scholl maybe. Today, I know the answer because I will most likely have to make that decision soon. Will I look out for myself, hide in my own life, care about me and my family, or will I stand up and say no to those who are, in my world view, destroying what my forefathers built for me although most likely I will not have any disadvantages personally by any scenario. Germans have not had to ask themselves these questions in a long time. We agreed on liberal democracy. We agreed we got lucky, and we rebuilt what we destroyed. And now, we are going to have to fight those who want to do it again. And because I believe in defending our amazing progress, equality and idealism with as much heart as I have for it, I now know why people, then and today, voluntarily go to war, because I'd do it, too. For all that. 

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