Monday, November 25, 2002

Some quick comments on the day's comments.

On the problems of being a christian evangelist from the US in an Islamic country: 
"N.S. ... baby." which in my father's version meant not 'no shit' but 'no sympathy.' 

Has there ever been an evangelical movement not linked to economic and political expansion? If one's not produced by the other, they're twins. Religion expanding by trade between equal partners it is one thing, but the 'free market' philosophy of religion is as specious as the original. 
[Rereading years later the article's becomes almost comic]

From Richard Bernstein's review of of Amos Elon's new book on the history of the Jews in Germany:
"But [German acceptance] was not to be, because the conformist tyranny that Germany was unable to put into the past (until the Allied conquest of World War II)[sic] is exactly what prevented the emancipation of the Jews."
How does war end "conformist tyranny"? Did the Civil War end it for the American South? The diplomatic courtesy is silly. The Germans never understood democracy and don't understand it now.
[see Jason Stanley]

Again and again over the past 50 years democracy is described as necessary for Germany as castration is seen by some as necessary for a sex offender. But the underlying assumption, the banality of democracy, is never opposed. Germany is an autistic country, emotionally numbed by the past and actively engaged in the production of production, of order, engineering and design, unable to create a new emotional order out of the physical world. Gerhard Richter, the country's most famous living artist put it well when he described why he believes in nothing: for Germans belief is dangerous.
But one can still wonder, why not 'believe' in democracy?

Examples of this struggle abound in German culture since the war. Since when did Fassbinder ever believe in democracy? Watch Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire and listen carefully to the conversation between the two angels sitting in the car in an automobile showroom. Even Heinrich Böll is more a celebrant of martyrdom than democracy.

Finally it's conformity, not democracy, that's allows Germans, and Europeans generally, to express their dislike for this war. Do readers here understand the irony?

I've always thought of democracy as politics, mixing high and low. I hadn't come to terms with the number of people who can only refer to belief as something ideal, so that even their belief in democracy or republicanism becomes anti-political. Theorists aren't practitioners.

Democracy is game with rules, like chess. Chess has no foundation in "truth" Chess is secular.