I’m So Bored with the R.A.F.*

Thanks to friend SK, I was altered to this essay by Paul Hockenos (an American?) on the 30th anniversary of the German Autumn.  It’s pretty rare to find well-informed English-language discussions of the RAF, but here it is. Shorter Paul Hockenos: the RAF story discredits large portions of the German body politic, and is probably best forgotten.  First up, the state and the 1970s left:

The state’s overreaction and heavy-handed response brought out its worst. Rather than reach out to its radical critics, it criminalized them and treated the entire left as terrorist collaborators, which fueled suspicion, even among non-leftists, that the state had indeed murdered the RAF prisoners.

As for West German leftists, in retrospect their failure to distance themselves from the ultra-left RAF is embarrassing, as is their paranoia about a proto-fascist Federal Republic. The greater left waited far too long to criticize the underground, whose activities produced no progressive social change, but justified the state’s creation of an extensive high-tech security apparatus to spy upon, infiltrate, and harass left-of-center activists.

Next up, conservatives:

Although the 1967–1970 student revolt and its successors in the new social movements failed to alter the political and economic foundations of the Federal Republic, they permanently transformed attitudes toward gender relations, morality, sexual orientation, citizenship, work, and religion. Germany today is indebted to these movements for helping facilitate its liberal metamorphosis and making it a more open, worldly, and democratic place. Yet this debt is often overlooked. Conservatives, hoping to take back lost ground, gladly see the debt diminished in the country’s collective consciousness.

And finally, a stray lash for the young lefties of today:

Some German leftists (very often of a younger generation) are still attracted to the idea of effecting radical social change in a cataclysmic burst rather than through the tedium of grassroots organizing or gradual social movements—the processes that are essential to progressive social change in liberal democracies. As much as the German left has changed since the late ’70s and as critically as it has distanced itself from the RAF and its like, there persists a mythical aura around Baader-Meinhof as the true believers who fought the good fight in its purest form. Baader, Meinhof, and Ensslin are still considered heroes in some left-wing circles, even though their unsuccessful assault on the state cost the lives of 57 people and ended in disaster for the German left.

But it’s not all carping.  Hockenos is another voice in the chorus of those who think German media’s obsession with the RAF obscures much more significant stories of social transformation:

[T]he contemporary shadow cast by the RAF obscures the much more important work of the nonviolent extraparliamentary movements of the 1970s and ’80s—such as the women’s movement and the environmental, anti-nuclear-energy and peace campaigns. Known as the “new social movements,” these activists mobilized literally millions of German citizens and brought about genuine democratic and social change in the republic. Despite their enormous impact on the political culture of the Federal Republic, today these grassroots mobilizations, which took parliamentary form with the creation of the Green Party in 1980, are conspicuously underrepresented in public discourse.

I agree with Hockenos on pretty much all counts.  The RAF itself is, as a subject of study, unedifying.  Having spent some time researching the group for a project, I came away feeling nothing but vague contempt, and complete mystification at the attention it still receives.  Active RAF members fell, as near as I can tell, into two general groups: ruthless monomaniacs or deluded dupes.  What united both camps was their second-rateness and insufferable pomposity.  Their "manifestos" are dull and turgid; their personalities one-dimensional and unappealing. Once they began their RAF careers — at the very latest — most RAF cadres morphed into Godzillas of screechy self-righteous bitterness.  Some former members, such as Horst Mahler, have gone downhill from there.

I can understand why the right would focus on the RAF, since it plays into the narrative (dissent leads inevitably to anarchy!) justly denounced by Hockenos.  But Germany’s left-wing press is also obsessed with these has-beens.  This makes no sense tactically: from a left perspective, stirring up memories of the RAF is utterly counterproductive.

I can only surmise that this RAF obsession must be a product of the incestuous German media landscape: former student radicals who now run media outlets turn reflexively to their old buddies and the battles of their youth whenever they need to fill more column inches or program spots.

Consider this a humble appeal for them to finally turn the page.

* This post should be read to the tune of I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.

26 thoughts on “I’m So Bored with the R.A.F.*

  1. Hockenos’ stance strikes me as diametrically opposite to a piece I recently read, which lauded the 1970s’ FRG for not playing the war game against (i.e. with) the RAF, but handling the matter as a strict issue of law enforcement. They might have overreacted, but compared to launching into a “war against terrorism”, it looks like the lesser evil. Perhaps there’s a lesson in there for the proponents of a “Feindstrafrecht” renaissance; surely, for those who are struggling to organise today’s societal conflicts along ethnic lines.

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  2. Active RAF members fell, as near as I can tell, into two general groups: ruthless monomaniacs or deluded dupes. What united both camps was their second-rateness and insufferable pomposity. Their “manifestos” are dull and turgid; their personalities one-dimensional and unappealing. Once they began their RAF careers — at the very latest — most RAF cadres morphed into Godzillas of screechy self-righteous bitterness.

    I couldn’t agree more.
    Or… to use a (second-hand iirc) Sartre-quote: “Was ist er doch für ein Arschloch, dieser Baader!”

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  3. > Hockenos: today these grassroots mobilizations, which took parliamentary form with
    > the creation of the Green Party in 1980, are conspicuously underrepresented in
    > public discourse.

    Green Party? Conspicuously underrepresented? Really?

    Der Schein trügt, Siegfried Weischenberg, Die Zeit, 10/6/05 Nr.41: Eine neue Untersuchung über »Journalismus in Deutschland« zeigt: Der Berufsstand ist so professionell wie nie zuvor […] Bei der Befragung der Stichprobe von 1536 Journalisten im Frühjahr 2005 kam Bündnis 90/Die Grünen auf satte 35,5 Prozent (1993: 17,4 Prozent) vor der SPD mit 26 Prozent (22,5 Prozent); die CDU/CSU landete mit 8,7 Prozent (10,6 Prozent) abgeschlagen auf dem dritten Platz.

    Summing up:

                Bundestag/05  poll among journalists/05
    CDU:        35.2          8,7%
    SPD:        34.2          26%
    Die Grünen: 8.1%          35,5%

    Hooray for well-informed English-language discussions of the RAF. Then again, the author of Die Zeit’s article linked above might have been a moron getting the facts wrong. With these guys, you never know for sure. Even the taz’s Herz-Jesu Islamist Daniel Bax thought this to be nonsense – and fought for Mr Jessens right to party: “Jeder hat das Recht, Nonsens zu reden – auch Zeit-Redakteure”. He must know.

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  4. > most RAF cadres morphed into Godzillas of screechy self-righteous bitterness.
    > Some former members, such as Horst Mahler, have gone downhill from there

    Hold your horses. Others soared.

    [es müsse doch einen] wahrhaftigen Grund [geben], dass alle Welt die Amis hasst [… Wie können die Deutschen] Vasallen eines neuen Roms sein, das Dresden und jetzt auch Afghanistan platt gemacht hat und uns derzeit an den Rande eines Vierten Weltkriegs bringt, nachdem es den Dritten als Kalten mit den Kommunisten ausgetragen hat […] Mit Bush und Sharon ist die Finsternis gekommen

    Dresden???? Afghanistan??? Bush?? Sharon?

    Horst Mahler? Reinhold Oberlercher?[1] Günter Maschke?[2] Bernd Rabehl?[3] …or, horribile dictu, SDS[4] hero Rudi Dutschke[5]? Nah. Claus Peymann, Philosophischen Quartett, ZDF, 2002. He’s Intendant (General Director) of semi-governmental Berliner Ensemble, privatised in 93, yet having its existence ensured by regular 6 figure subsidies. Yep, the guy that gave unrepentant RAF creepster Christian Klar an apprenticeship in his house. He couldn’t get himself to care for a padophile’s or your regular hit man’s rehab, but he’ll go out of his way when a hapless political prisoner of the Schweinesystem needs a helping hand. Incidentally, the pigs’ system pays – both for Mr Peymann and Mr Klar. It’s a pretty understated affair.

    > former student radicals who now run media outlets
    …amuse the elite while champagne is served in Berlin Schiffbauerdamm, receive protection by CDU Grandees like Manfred Rommel when serving the Stuttgart bohême. All this while being conspicuously underrepresented in public discourse.

    de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Oberlercher
    de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Günter_Maschke
    de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernd_Rabehl
    de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sozialistischer_Deutscher_Studentenbund
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudi Dutschke
    de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claus_Peymann
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berliner_Ensemble

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  5. Drats, I got carried away. Claus Peymann wasn’t a RAF member, he’s just an aficionado and gives them work when possible. So somehow my last post is a bit skewed (oh?), but not entirely unrelated.

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  6. @mawa:
    > Perhaps there’s a lesson in there […] for those who are struggling to
    > organise today’s societal conflicts along ethnic lines

    I’d so love to have you discuss this, instead of dispensing smear. Any chance, when you’re done navel gazing? Knowhaddamean.

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  7. @Marek:

    Claus Peymann wasn’t a RAF member, he’s just an aficionado and gives them work when possible.

    How many RAF members have been employed by Peymann? One, I think, and that’s a while back. But as we know, quite a few members of the RAF have been released from prison by now, and presumably most of them work somewhere. Who is giving these people work? You should definitely investigate that!

    Also, what to make of this idea that former RAF members have “soared”? The truth is that almost all RAF members that have been released from prison lead quiet, unassuming lives. (As they damn well deserve just like everyone else who is not, by law, required to be in a prison.) Horst Mahler is by far the most prolific of the lot, and other than that, only Christof Wackernagel (Peymann’s employee) has achieved some small-time prominence in his completely honest career as an actor.

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  8. Well how insolent of those artists to have an opinion of their own. Are they really allowed to that? Reminds me somehow of the hilarity of asking a composer what he thinks of 9/11 and then crying out in an outrage when he says what he does.

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  9. @Herr Möhling: I somehow fail to see what the recent mass of articles about the RAF, combined with the lack of articles about grassroots organisations has to do with how journalists vote (it’s impressive, though). I don’t how often you read German mainstream news magazines, but even before I open any of them, I know that at least one page is dedicated to each of these:
    RAFAuschwitz & Nazis
    I’m bored. With both topics. Because there’s never gonna be anything new. (At least nothing substantially new.) It’s history and after having heard so many people lament about Auschwitz, at least I don’t feel anything about that anymore. It does no good to these topics.

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  10. @Sebastian
    > Also, what to make of this idea that former RAF members have “soared”?
    That was a facetious hyperbole–as is so much of my commenting, don’t we know this by now?– enabling my feverish rant on Peymann and my main point: Hockenos’ misconception of the Green’s representation in public discourse. Which was not the main point of both Hockenos and Andrew. Well. So bin ich.

    @Herr Strontsman
    > I somehow fail to see what the recent mass of articles about the RAF,
    > combined with the lack of articles about grassroots organisations
    > has to do with how journalists vote (it’s impressive, though)
    There is none, sorry, but I didn’t claim as much. I have an agenda, and I’m glad you’re impressed.

    @Alex
    > Well how insolent of those artists to have an opinion of their own.
    > Are they really allowed to that?
    I don’t mind them to have their opinion – the goes for Mr Mahler, too. I don’t share their opinions. Am I really allowed to that? With sarcasm and ridicule?? In public???

    > Reminds me somehow of the hilarity of asking a composer what he thinks
    > of 9/11 and then crying out in an outrage when he says what he does.
    Yes. It’s hilarious not to appreciate whatever opinion in silent reverie, once it has been voiced. Give us this day our daily demented sound bite. Amen. We should amend press law and chide both public and media. Mr Friedman interviewed Mr Mahler recently–a half baked idea–, and he didn’t like what he heard. The prick.

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  11. @Marek
    Of course you are allowed to criticize artists’ opinions, it just sounded more like that anybody who gets any bit of public money should better shut the hell up about anything that doesn’t conform to your opinion. Anyway, and that goes nicely with my Stockhausen example, there is a tendency in this country that anybody expressing an opinion that doesn’t match with the current issue of public hysteria, or just isn’t hysterical or outright condemning enough, will soon see himself cited distortedly and generally abused by said public hysteria. You can find an example directly in the Link Martin Sommerfeld quoted (Heinrich Böll).

    That increasingly annoys me, since almost all you can hear or read about anything comes down to always the same “demented sound-bites”, as you so nicely phrased it. Why ask the head of a theatre ensemble what he thinks about the RAF when “a bunch of murderers” is all you are willing to accept? Why ask a composer at all what he thinks about a current event, when all he is allowed to say is “awful” anyway? What kind of information do you hope to get by asking a composer about terrorism?

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  12. Bored?Ah well, I guess I must be one of those proletarian dimwits that Andrew likes to look down on since I’m not only not bored but eternally fascinated by a group of well-educated middle class university students that risked their lives for a mission of no less than opposing ‘the state’ and ‘the system’ as a whole, all the while targeting the relevant top-dogs (bankers, politicians, judges, younameit) with a surgical precision that much more than any of their writings made it clear who they were targeting and why. Over where Paul and Andrew are from this apparently happens every day, so bored they are, but I for one haven’t seen a terrorist (or ‘terrorist’) organization anywhere near like this before.I guess also only depraved people like me would then be fascinated, nay, grossed out by the corresponding ‘system’ that put Schleyer, a Nazi from day one and top SS officer, into the position of head of the National Manufacturers’ Organization and the National Employers’ Organization at the same time, Kiesinger, another Nazi, into position of chancellor ferchrissakes (you know that same position that Merkel is in today) and by judges that took about 5 seconds to roll over and put their animalistic hate before honesty to manufacture the impression that the RAF was hurting civilians.I wasn’t aware there was a media out there that catered to this fascination by devoting a lot of attention to these details but I was certainly aware of media propaganda that was and still is trying to sweep it all under the rug, sometimes by urging people – using dubious arguments as “they were 1-dimensional” and sheepishly calling SS-Schleyer “an industrialist” – to forget about it, or more often, such as when using the slogan “6 against 60 million”, by raising the impression that the RAF had no moral support from within the populace, an impression not easily disproved considering the state-run censorship campaign of the day. “You have no friends therefore you are wrong” seems more like 5th grade schoolyard bullying to me but hey, it’s Germany so maturity is optional.The most fascinating part in the end, even though lacking engrossing details, is the larger society that brought all this forward. Books by one Gunter Walraff of the time paint a picture of a society that grappled with the pluralism and the democracy that had only recently been imposed on it, imposed on much older and deeper ‘cultural’ structures and values that would resurface as soon as life was diverging from a narrow path of proscribed steps, not unlike American Southerners that had respect for blacks imposed on them and don’t manage to entirely cope with it to the day.

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  13. @martin
    Since you cite the statement “6 gegen 60 Millionen” — this illustrates nicely what I meant. This statement was made by Heinrich Böll in an article in “Der Spiegel” (see http://www.erft.de/schulen/abtei-gym/unterricht-online/htm/gnade.htm) where he said he said the RAF are not just a bunch of mindless murderers, but that they are totally misled and fighting a pointless war. And that article was in the end used against him, to stamp him as terrorist supporter!

    Much the same goes for the “Mescalero”-affair, where an anonymous from Göttingen stated he couldn’t really mourn for Buback, but as much as he understands the desire to change society he cannot approve of murder. This letter was re-printed by a couple of University professors to advocate free speech, and all of these people were prosecuted through all courts of the BRD, and years later only the Bundesgerichtshof hat the sense to rule that there was nothing unlawful in that letter.

    And all the while the state went hysterical and, as you rightly put it, fabricated the impression that the state and the normal citizen were in a real danger from the the RAF. OK, that’s understandable, because they went against the mighty and wealthy. But what really makes me mad is that the public fell for this. They really believed it. They still do.

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  14. Ah well, I guess I must be one of those proletarian dimwits

    Noooooo martin! You’re not a “dimwit” 😦

    Don’t listen to the mean kids!

    Kiesinger, another Nazi, into position of chancellor ferchrissakes (you know that same position that Merkel is in today)

    Well, at least we can find consolation in the fact that, while the majority of Germans were groaning under the yoke of Nazi tyrant Kurt Georg Kiesinger’s rule, at least a few million were able to enjoy peace and prosperity under worker-hero, Nazi victim, emigré intellectual [and short-time Querfront advocate] Walter Ulbricht.

    (Oh, and before someone whines that there’s always something worse, and that doesn’t make the bad things better: What I’m saying is that I much prefer a former Nazi working for the republic over a communist trying to destroy it. But then I’m one of the “inzwischen längst nicht mehr so jungen Herren Pragmatiker” :D)

    “You have no friends therefore you are wrong” seems more like 5th grade schoolyard bullying to me but hey, it’s Germany so maturity is optional.

    I would very much hope it is!

    Now, as for that slogan: As Alex has pointed out, that was not at all the idea behind pointing out that ratio. Böll was not an RAF sympathiser per se, but he sure hated the Springer press, and the Springer press sure hated the RAF, so he came to their defence. He was mocking “Bild” for exaggerating the danger that the small group posed.

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  15. @Alex
    It is true “they went against the mighty and wealthy”. Do you mean, as long as the bombs don’t gow off in your garden, everything is fine and we shouldn’t have felt bothered?

    Repeatedly people (among them mighty and wealthy ones, granted) have been abducted, others killed (call them casualties), in order to press the state to release comrades in arms from prison. So there was, in fact, an “attack on germany” in these years and countermeasures had to be taken.

    Allow some instinct to selfs preservation, even to us Germans.

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  16. @Thomas Frieling:
    It is true “they went against the mighty and wealthy”. Do you mean, as long as the bombs don’t gow off in your garden, everything is fine and we shouldn’t have felt bothered?

    No. Where do you think I have said everything was fine? All I said the ordinary citizen, not being a bank director or CEO of a multinational company, did suffer hardly a risk for his person from the RAF. And the state was never at risk because the support for the RAF was practically nonexistent outside obscure University circles. Just politics and media inflated the real risk very few people had to suffer to a huge crisis. And used the opportunity for funny legislation that constricts our civil rights until the present day.


    Allow some instinct to selfs preservation, even to us Germans.

    I’m a German myself, but my instinct to self preservation curiously extends to legislation that allows the state too much intereference with my privacy and constricts my civil rights.

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  17. @Alex
    > Of course you are allowed to criticize artists’ opinions, it just sounded more like that anybody who
    > gets any bit of public money should better shut the hell up about anything that doesn’t conform to
    > your opinion
    To put this into perspective: Peymann hardly ever had a post that wasn’t publicly subsidized hook, line, and sinker by the Schweinesystem, he despises so much. The German expression “leben wie eine Made im Speck” comes to mind – to my devious variety, at least. Boy, was there ever a maggot munching happily away at its favourite pig’s backon. Sorry – I can’t resist a zaftig metaphore.

    > Anyway, and that goes nicely with my Stockhausen example, there is a tendency in this country that
    > anybody expressing an opinion that doesn’t match with the current issue of public hysteria, or just
    > isn’t hysterical or outright condemning enough
    Let’s hear Stockhausen about this, as Wikipedia has it:

    Well, what happened there is, of course — now all of you must adjust your brains — the biggest work of art there has ever been. The fact that spirits achieve with one act something which we in music could never dream of, that people practise ten years madly, fanatically for a concert. And then die. [Hesitantly.] And that is the greatest work of art that exists for the whole Cosmos. Just imagine what happened there. There are people who are so concentrated on this single performance, and then five thousand people are driven to Resurrection. In one moment. I couldn’t do that. Compared to that, we are nothing, as composers.

    Adjusting our brains – all of us? Biggest work of art there has ever been? Mad, fanatical spirits? Achieving something? For a concert? Greatest work of art that exists for the whole Cosmos? Five thousand people down the drain in a single performance? If we talk about being hysterical, shouldn’t we attribute this to Mr Stockhausen in the first place?

    > will soon see himself cited distortedly and generally abused by said public hysteria
    I read the transcript (see below), and feel the general rejection and representation to be accurate and justified. I never have been Mr Stockhausen’s avid fan: he didn’t qualify himself as “Papa Techno” for nothing – he was. His remarks were not only bizarre, but actually demented, too. Nothing wrong with public abuse. If it was too hot for him, he shouldn’t have cooked in the kitchen. I’m fed up with the cult of authenticity and Betroffenheit (involvement), justifying and exalting about any bull, as long as it comes right from the heart of a honest–or simple–mind. Make that deranged. Let’s be honest: low watt bulb Stockhausen was no Nietzsche, to whom such imagery could have been inspiration to thoughts at least worth being remembered and talked about.

    > That increasingly annoys me, since almost all you can hear or read about anything comes down to always
    > the same “demented sound-bites”, as you so nicely phrased it. Why ask the head of a theatre ensemble
    > what he thinks about the RAF when “a bunch of murderers” is all you are willing to accept?
    There’s a plethora of reasoned and detailed discourse on the subject, that doesn’t limit itself to moral or wholesale condemnation. Peymann would have none of that, but limited himself–in a few curt sentences–to subscribe to Klar’s and the RAF’s analysis of capitalism. A discourse that was more loquacious than detailed, and hardly reasoned – how about crude and neurotic? Anyway, he’s entitled to drop his pants, but he shouldn’t lament hostile reaction.

    > Why ask a composer at all what he thinks about a current event, when all he is allowed to say is
    > “awful” anyway? What kind of information do you hope to get by asking a composer about terrorism?
    This is a transcript about how the question came into being:

    Stockhausen: Nein, nein! Ich bete jeden Tag zu Michael, aber nicht zu Luzifer. Also das habe ich mir versagt. Aber der ist sehr präsent, also in New York zur Zeit. Doch.
    – Haben Sie Visionen von Engeln?
    Stockhausen: Ja, gewiß.
    – Wie sehen die aus?
    Stockhausen: Nicht unähnlich dem, was Sie alle kennen, seit mehr als tausend Jahren in der Malerei und in der bildnerischen Kunst, ja und [zögert] manchmal auch in einem Menschen.
    – Frage: Jetzt ist der Name der Stadt doch gefallen, New York. In den Notizen zu „Hymnen“ schreiben Sie ja von einer musikalischen Hörbarmachung harmonischer Menschlichkeit, und Sie haben auch gerade von den Weltsprachen gesprochen, in denen Sie komponieren, für die Sie komponieren. Sie sprachen gerade von Luzifer in New York, ich habe Sie nicht falsch verstanden, glaube ich.
    Stockhausen: Nein.
    – Die Ereignisse der letzten Tage, wie berührt Sie das persönlich und vor allem, wie sehen Sie dann solche Notizen zur harmonischen Menschlichkeit in „Hymnen“, die ja auch aufgeführt werden,
    nochmal an?

    Hardly a devious agent of mischievous mediocrity, luring a hated maverick to the road of perdition. The conference was on September 16th, and any sentient being, from Guadalajara to Mandalay, was pretty much hysterical about 9/11, be it in praise or horror, or both. It was a natural and innocent question–to devious minds bordering on the fawning and demure–, particularly, as the composer brought up the subject himself.

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  18. All right. After some half way reasoned discourse, now for the other veshch, Bog help us all, again.

    @valiant young urban fighter Martin
    > And the state was never at risk…
    …even though the RAFsters targeted the very people that kept it going.

    > I’m a German myself, but my instinct to self preservation curiously extends to legislation that allows
    > the state too much intereference with my privacy and constricts my civil rights.
    Quite reasonable, but don’t you put on the suicide belt yet. Is that ok with you, young, urban, incurably middle class angry bonhomme, eager to atone for your sins of affluence and ennui, screeching in self-pitying bitterness? Let’s quote stainy-toothed Marge, Queen of Denmark – she quite succinctly said this on closely related issues: “There is something endearing about people who give themselves up completely to their faith.” Isn’t it? But don’t you forfeit the Bausparvertrag, daddy set up for you, ok? Quaff, oh quaff the kind nepenthe, eternal pubescence allows for.

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  19. > me to Alex:

    It was a natural and innocent question–to devious minds bordering on the fawning and demure–, particularly, as the composer brought up the subject himself.

    Um, that’s somewhat ambiguous. While my noodleboxes executive organ might be devious, it is obviously not fawning or demure. So, let me rephrase that:

    It was a natural and innocent question–bordering on the fawning and demure, to devious minds at least–, particularly, as the composer brought up the subject himself.

    All things considered, some parties pooped, having been anal about issues: Nighty Night.

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  20. @Marek:
    Stockhausen is an artist and has every right to be slightly demented, have extreme views, or the like. I think it is innate to many artists’ personalities to be slightly crazy.

    But public hystery extends not only to really demented statements but also to reasonable ones like, e.g. that aforementioned one of Heinrich Böll. Whose only crime it was not to condemn the RAF, well, hysterically enough. It isn’t enough to condemn something, you must do it in a really shrill voice, otherwise you count immediately as supporter.

    I for example once made the innocent statement that I don’t deem Ahmadinedjad crazy, but think that there is probably some reasoning behind his behaviour (of which I don’t approve, what I also said in selfsame statement). Not 20 seconds later I was accused of siding with Iran against Israel, being antisemitic, etc.pp. Annoying.

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  21. @Alex:
    > Stockhausen is an artist and has every right to be slightly demented, have extreme views,
    > or the like. I think it is innate to many artists’ personalities to be slightly crazy.

    Isn’t that the rather stuffy and elitist projection of German Romanticism? Quod licet jovi non licet bovi? For one, Joseph Beuys, goody-two-shoes’ apotheosis, would strongly object: Jeder ist ein Künstler. Stockhausen is entitled to funny utterings as is Joe Sixpack, no more nor less, ensuing mudslinging–or deserved berating!–included.

    > But public hystery extends not only to really demented statements but also to reasonable ones like,
    > e.g. that aforementioned one of Heinrich Böll. Whose only crime it was not to condemn the RAF, well,
    > hysterically enough. It isn’t enough to condemn something, you must do it in a really shrill voice,
    > otherwise you count immediately as supporter.

    Böll got any conceivable price and honour a writer could expect: Nobel prize, Carl-von-Ossietzky medal, his native Cologne’s honorary citizenship, you name it. He’s the archetypical good German, considered by some to be one of our most eminent writers, and he got all that in his lifetime. Not bad for a hounded outcast, victim of oppression, and quite some reason not to be a whiner when reasoned or unreasoned critique hits his fan – as it happens to about anyone eventually, once he’s prominent enough to attract public interest. If getting bashed by the tabloids gets me the Nobel prize, I’m in, anytime.

    > I for example once made the innocent statement that I don’t deem Ahmadinedjad crazy, but think that
    > there is probably some reasoning behind his behaviour (of which I don’t approve, what I also said in
    > selfsame statement). Not 20 seconds later I was accused of siding with Iran against Israel, being
    > antisemitic, etc.pp. Annoying.

    From RAF to Iran – maybe there’s a connection, so we’re not digressing overly; Frau Meinhof and their ilk had some funny views on things Jewish, too – quite likely that’s why Mr. Ahmadinedjad wanted Mr Mahler to drop over. Anyway: most authoritarian rulers use rational means to forward their cause, if only for being effective. Alas, they mostly don’t put the fruits of their expediency to good use: Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, Idi Amin, Khomeini, that moustachioed guy, you name them – once having overcome obstacles by being reasoned as far as appeasers require, things go south. I wouldn’t like Mr Ahmadinedjad to have the bomb, even though it is perfectly reasonable to assume that without, he couldn’t protect his rule from marauding superpowers. Thus, stating that he’s being reasonable once in a while–or to some extend–, is as right as it is inherently wrong.

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  22. Marek, now you’re doing basically the same every good German does when confronted with the statement that Ahmadidejad might not be outright crazy: Trying to convince me that he is an evil man and shouldn’t have the bomb. As if non-batshit crazyness would imply that I’d personally find some good in his doings, or wouldn’t outright object to him having nuclear weapons. So, essentially: q.e.d.

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  23. Alex, I don’t think that you can confront others with things that are understood. Except from the eventual blogged outrage, European press, particularly the broadsheets, do their best to advance a discerning view on Iranian society and government. Which leads many to oppose Ahmadinedjad’s shenanigans – fair enough (others appease – oh well). Essentially, it doesn’t take a Polonius to acknowledge method in Mullah madness. To do this is not anti-Semite, it’s obvious. It’s like stating that Mack the Knife, while certainly being a murderer, at least has the sense to use a suitable toolset. While true, those who put forward this matter of course will arouse suspicion of somehow aiming at Mac’s exculpation.

    That logic might explain your interlocutors’ hostility. Unless, of course, they are daft enough to assume Ahmadinedjad to plot blood and thunder even when blowing his nose.

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