February 21, 2012

Bookburning in Berlin

From the files of "Who? Whom?"

The official blog of the Berlin Biennale art exhibit explains, in effect, that the festival's planned bookburning of Thilo Sarrazin's bestseller Germany Does Away With Itself is Good because the would-be bookburners are Good (they're artists!) and Sarrazin and anybody objecting to bookburning is Bad, and that's really all you need to know, so why don't all you Bad People just shut up like you are supposed to?

39 comments:

OPINIATED said...

Germany industrial mighty is something to behold since the late 19th century.

How the Turks and other ethnics will carry the torch will be interesting to watch for.

Anonymous said...

So, why is book burning bad? It's a form of protest and expression right? Are they burning books that they acquired illegally?

morleysafer said...

Totalitarianism wasn't an innovation of the Napoleonic era, and it's going to outlast this Czech guy, the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art, Sarrazin's book, printed books generally, the New York Times, the anti-smoking/transfat/sugar/salt groups, the NAACP, GLAAD, Jennifer Rubin, u.s.w. However the logo he mocked up does convey the thesis of this book.

swimming swan said...

Assuming the book hasn't been banned or burned elsewhere, I believe this can only increase sales of the tome. It's an interesting negation of a negation so, while gimmicky, does seem appropriate fodder for the setting.

Whiskey said...

Pretty standard stuff for Nordic types. Social pressure that is Japanese in the effect of producing group conformity. Good for keeping the streets safe (as long as they don't let in the Third World), bad for challenging a group-think-elite-led death spiral.

In more Latin Countries when they have a problem they just shoot people, the Red Brigades/Red Army Faction is still active in Italy and hunting thought-criminals. Who must go armed with bodyguards.

So Sarrazin is lucky to be German, and of this time, Italians who got out of line were shot, as was Wolfgang Schauble, who can be characterized as a Pym Fortuyn who survived, paralyzed.

Black Sea said...

Old habits die hard.

Hail said...

Thilo Sarazzin has been on several longform news-talk programs in the past two years, ostensibly for debate on the issues he raises. The guests, opposing him, have ranged from the obxnosiously-aggressive Michel Friedman (the head of German Jewry), to self-righteous members of the media of foreign origin appalled at S's racism, to a "former Turkish gang member", and back full-circle to "the former German ambassador to Israel" (no joke). A distinct minority were big-party white-German center-leftists. Here we are in the 2010s, and they are now the tokens(!).

Each of the three such shows I have seen have been total farces. Sarazzin, and his SPD crony Bahring (who agrees with the Sarazzin thesis), make calm and rational arguments, while the others do nothing but try to shame and humiliate them. Nothing but ad-hominems. Accusations of demonic possession (in effect). Slowly, one realizes that what one is witnessing is a public inquisition hearing. Everyone was accusing Sarazzin of copulation with the Devil, to extend the metaphor. How does one defend oneself against that?

One further realizes that there can be no debate on this subject. The Sarazzin TV "debates" were, implicitly, "Centrists rebuking the extremists". So we had the 'extreme right wing' represented by calm, well-spoken longtime SPD men (Sarazzin and Bahring), while the political center was composed mainly of radical-aggrieved ethnic activists(!). And the latter were seen as the establishment. Jesus!

One of the "debates" starts here. Part two features a female journalist of Turkish parents launch into an endless ad-hominem ("racist", "offensive", "falsified", "insulting"...) Sarazzin spends the tirade, as he does for most of the debate, quietly and politely listening.

If Steve Sailer could understand German, he would have a field-day with a lot of what is said in that program. All the "centrists" repeatedly deny any correlation is possible between genetics and intelligence, or any other traits. (Except racial-North-Europeans, of course, who are inherently evil, an agreed-to implied premise that need not even be said in as many words).

Hail said...

"Wolfgang Schauble, who can be characterized as a Pym Fortuyn who survived, paralyzed."

The commenter who wrote this knows nothing at all about German politics, it seems.

The German politician referenced is notoriously PC, and goes out of his way to be so. Schaeuble made headlines not long ago by proclaiming that "Islam is now an integral part of German society", and attacking anyone who would say otherwise.

Chicago said...

They're way too chicken to burn a Koran. I double-dare them.

Hunsdon said...

But it's ironic, it's meta. In antifa Germany, book burns you!

Anonymous said...

Hail: "The commenter who wrote this knows nothing at all about German politics, it seems."

What? Whiskey? He would never, never, NEVER talk out of his hat.

Gilbert Pinfold.

bluto said...

anon@5:26
Because books are the icons of the humanist religion of the west.

Heinrich Heine said...

For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the significance of German Book Burning:

...In a symbolic act of ominous significance, on 10 May 1933, the students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of "un-German" books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture

...Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people...

Anonymous said...

Next, I say gas Sarrazin and his family.

Anonymous said...

What does who? whom? mean?

Savonarola said...

Heinrich, please, we were burning like disco inferno while you were in short pants. Which, by the way, were highly immodest.

Eric Rasmusen said...

When will his book be translated into English?

Feathers said...

Anonymous 8:38. "Who? Whom?" is a leftist moral slogan sometimes attributed to Lenin. The idea is that to know if an act is moral, one has to know who is committing the act, and upon whom the act is being committed.

This is based on a rejection of ethical rules that make general claims like "stealing is bad" or "murder is wrong". For Lenin, no act exists separate from their class condition. So stealing from the bourgeoisie is OK if it is done by proletarians.

For the modern left you can switch bourgeoisie with "white christians" and proletarians with "leftists and NAMs".

Nanonymous said...

As they should. The logic of history is inexorable. Totalitarian tendencies beget totalitarian acts.

LemmusLemmus said...

Unless I've overlooked something, the link does not say the books will be burned. It does say this: "In the course of 7th Berlin Biennale, the artist will use the collected copies to develop an installation in the KW Institute for Contemporary Art exhibition spaces. The form of the work will depend on the number of books collected; Zet will decide their future fate along with the public."

Bourbon said...

Hail: "The commenter who wrote this knows nothing at all about German politics, it seems."

Well, my friend, you are going to find that is not the only thing that he knows nothing at all about. He knows nothing at all about many, many things.

In point of fact, in virtually all cases, Whiskey is wrong. I propose calling this observation "Cochran's Law of Whiskey" based on Gregory Cochran's observation that Whiskey should think about "taking a job as an inverse weathervane" or something to that effect.

theo the kraut said...

The last I read was that the books should be "recycled" in ways not further specified. Anyway, I think just one book was actually returned and the performance got heavily criticised even be many liberal commentators--if only for being just too plain stupid, so they had no choice--book burning is a sensitive issue here (nowadays). Many supporters distanced themselves or sought room to wiggle, even the director of the Berlin Biennale. Presumably just being cowards as the act backfired, but still.

@Whiskey
> Wolfgang Schauble, who can be characterized
> as a Pym Fortuyn
Please get your facts straight, he's as demented a pc bigot as any. Else, you're right on target with the ladies.

Anonymous said...

When will his book be translated into English?

Right after "200 Years Together", apparently.

eh said...

How the Turks and other ethnics will carry the torch will be interesting to watch for.

You must be joking. They're predominantly taxi drivers, fruit sellers, and Imbiss operators. That was the whole point of the book.

Peter A said...

A Czech complaining about "xenophobia" is mighty rich. This is a country that brutally treats gypsies, where civilians killed Jews trying to return to their homes after WWII, and, last but not least, carried out the brutal and vicious expulsion of the indigenous German populations in Bohemia and Moravia - mostly women, children and old men forced to walk to their deaths. It is a sad fact that most of Czech's great cultural legacy - the architecture of Prague or Krumlau, Pilsner and Budweiser beer, the books of Kafka, etc. - were created by Germans or German speaking Jews. Maybe that is why this Czech artist is so pro-immigrant, it is hard to imagine a homogenous country of Czechs accomplishing much of anything.

eh said...

BTW, Christian Wulff recently resigned as German President.

His proposed successor, Joachim Gauck, may run into some trouble due to earlier, err, not unfavorable things he said about Sarrazin and his book:

Joachim Gauck entzweit die Grünen

Joachim Gauck is causing division within the Green Party...

Wegen umstrittener Äußerungen zu Thilo Sarrazin

...due to controversial (i.e. not critical, or not critical enough) statements he made about Sarrazin and his book.

He also said the 'Occupy Movement' was ridiculous -- I guess that's a no-no as well.

So in some quarters, views on Sarrazin and his 'thesis' are seen as a kind of political litmus test.

Anonymous said...

They'd rather be careful not to inadvertently throw this book, or this one in the bonfire.

Anonymous said...

Burning this book is hardly controversial, either.

Eine kleine Englander said...

Germany Does Away With Itself - Ha!

Meanwhile in England,two in three London babies have at least one parent born abroad!

Yay!!!! We beat the Germans again!

Sings loudly:
Two world wars and one world cup...etc

Sobs...cries...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2104660/Two-London-babies-parent-abroad.html#ixzz1n6psTkIK

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Pretty standard stuff for Nordic types.

So now it will be the Jews whispering, "First they came for Thilo Sarrazin...?"

I doubt it.

David said...

In these conflagrations, books are a proxy for the ideas they contain. Ultimately they're a proxy for the authors. It's a cowardly form of witch-burning. The witch is non est, but the mob dancing around the flames is using physical destruction at least to stop his ideas! Which means these events are also passe: everyone's ideas are all over the worldwide web, so book burnings no longer stop ideas. The modern definition of book burnings as merely another form of protest (like peace marches) is the final humiliation of these twisted events. Impotent hatred is all they mean these days.

Steiner said...

The German left can shout and point all it wants, Sarazzin's essential argument remains unassailable. When we look at the people who uphold Germany's status as a source of technical innovation and enterprise, Third World and Muslim immigrants are not much in evidence.

This observation needs to be applied mutatis mutandis to the debate over immigration in the U.S. and Canada.

Trotsky's Forehead said...

The idea is that to know if an act is moral, one has to know who is committing the act, and upon whom the act is being committed.

The explanation about "who/who" is basically correct, but it should be noted that the concept isn't really one of "morality" (at least not in the normal sense of the word). Marxist analysis claims that human relations are fundamentally based on power, with the powerful abusing their control of society to oppress the powerless. Theoretically, this is an "objective", supposedly "scientific" mode of analysis, though it's perfectly clear that leftist thought does have a strong sanctimonious streak in it. As has been frequently observed, radical leftist thought is to some extent religion for the godless.

idealart said...

They [the Berlin Biennale and by extension the modern art establishment] have decided to loosen the mask with the smirk and let the petit bourgeois glimpse the snarl of contempt underneath. Why? Have they given up trying to convert them - after 100 years of mystification and coolness? Andy Warhol (son of Slovakian immigrants) will now turn, ever so slightly, in his premature grave.

Georgia Resident said...

My German is a bit rusty. I think the poster means "Germany will consign it (presumably Thilo Sarrazin's book)to oblivion"?

Maya said...

"So, why is book burning bad? It's a form of protest and expression right? Are they burning books that they acquired illegally?"

I agree that I should have the legal right to destroy anything one legally owns. However, burning books is incredibly distasteful. I guess, it's a matter of cultural values. I was raised to treat books with respect, even those I didn't like. In high school, it was common to buy a paperback for English class and take notes in the margins. I just couldn't do it. Unwanted books are to be donated or, worst comes to worst, recycled, not defaced or destroyed. To me, bookburnings aren't a tragedy, but a sign that i have little common ground with those engaging in such activities.

Marlowe said...

While reading Piers Brendon's The Decline and Fall of the British Empire the other night I came across a passage that seems relevant:

As Charles Darwin noticed when he visited New Zealand in 1835 'the lesson of the missionary is the enchanter's wand'. He was particularly impressed by a children's Christmas party at the house of the Rev. Mr. Williams, never having seen 'a nicer or more merry group' - and this in 'the land of cannibalism, murder, and all atrocious crimes.' With uncanny speed such evangelists imparted scientific knowledge, technical skills and humane values. Darwin thought that they were good men working for a good cause and he suspected that those who 'abused and sneered at missionaries, have generally been such as were not very anxious to find the natives moral and intelligent beings.' Actually, the Maoris, who were shocked by white customs such as flogging and waltzing, quickly acquired literacy from the Scriptures. Perhaps they regarded the Bible as a talisman, though in subsequent wars they used its pages for gun-wadding, asking the missionaries for fresh supplies. But the New Testament, translated during the 1830s, was also their first recorded literature. And there is no reason to doubt Maoris' hunger for Holy Writ, which they paid for with food even when they were still unable to read. At Cloudy Bay, for example, the Rev. Samuel Ironside accepted six hundred 'baskets of potatoes and Indian corn', each worth sixpence or more, in exchange for 'the bread of life'.

"I think I shall never forget the moment - that, indeed, would have been a great scene for a painter! - so many hundreds of once-cannibal New Zealanders straining their eyes towards me, and the heap of books, as the distribution was going on; looking as though they would devour the heap."

idealart said...

Marlowe,

Darwin is relevant here but as a paradox. He was in fact one of the founders of Modernism, the other two being Marx and Freud. Nihilism and solipsism were an indirect result of Darwin. See Dadaism.

The "noble savage" was initiated by Rousseau who preached that (western) society corrupts innocent humankind, in particular darker peoples.

Anonymous said...

Thank you feathers for the who? whom? explanation. I've seen Steve use this line for months (years?) without ever knowing what it meant. Now it makes sense.