by Alan Posener
Die Welt / Welt am Sonntag / HIRAM7 REVIEW
Something’s going on in Europe, and I don’t like it.
There’s the future German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle’s refusal to even listen to the question of a BBC correspondent, unless it’s put to him in German:
And there’s people not only defending German Central Banker Thilo Sarrazin’s right to make racist comments, but denying that they are racist and demanding a muzzle for people who dare to say they are racist.
You only have to look at the comments on Youtube and elsewhere to realize what it is that is going on here: the political and chattering classes have abandoned the rules governing their chatter; nationalism, racism and intolerance in general are being allowed back into polite society after spending the past 40 years out in the cold.
Political correctness – that great civilizer – is dead. Multiculturalism is under siege. And the ban on anti-Semitism – which the Catholic Church has already lifted by welcoming back the anti-Semitic Pius Brotherhood into its ranks – will soon be as worthless as the paper on which Sir Karl Popper’s great book on the Open Society was written.
I mention Karl Popper, because in the age of Totalitarianism he confronted a vexing question of democracy head-on: was the open society bound by its own philosophical, legal and political parameters to tolerate the propaganda of its enemies?
Popper said no: there was no reason to tolerate intolerance; no reason to grant freedom to the enemies of freedom; there should be no openness towards the enemies of openness. People who want one man, one vote one time should not – as they were in Gaza – be allowed to contest elections. Democracy is more important than freedom; more important than truth; more important than justice – or any one of the multitude of ideas, concepts, slogans and ideals in whose name one could (and people have tried to) suspend democracy.
It’s always the enemies of tolerance who chafe at this seeming intolerance of democracy. One shouldn’t let oneself be fooled. People say, “If you stop people from saying what Sarrazin said, you are denying 80 percent of the population a voice.”
Well, if 80 percent of the population are racist, which I don’t believe for a moment, but I’m saying if, then fuck them and there’s all the more reason to keep a tight lid on what is said by public figures, isn’t there?
Popper didn’t call his book “The Majority Rules”, he called it “The Open Society”. Even 99 percent of the population don’t have the right to dismantle the open society and replace it with a society in which privileges are awarded or denied according to race, religion, creed, gender, sexual orientation or social background.
That’s what Europe has been about this past half-century. Let’s keep it that way.