Politics

The story of history-less politics.

In search of expert opinions from different perspectives on the Bundestag elections in Germany, a journalist recently called me. She wanted to ask my view on the stories of the politicians running for office.

Well...

There's not really much to say about that now.

Or actually it is.

First and foremost, two questions need to be asked:

1. what story?

2. which politicians?

You can't see much of either. At least not to the naked eye. When it comes to the staff and their groups standing for election, it has about as much to do with politics as Florian Silbereisen with the Iffland Ring.


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This is not only the case in Germany. Especially in Austria, I sometimes think to myself when I watch the news: Is this still "Candid Camera" or already "The Truman Show"? And what Prof. Peter Sloterdijk observed about Germany applies structurally internationally, I believe: "We have a generation of politicians who are, without exception, self-inventors." Once again, Austria lies at the heart of the continent, as sung in its national anthem.

A few weeks ago I spoke to a high-ranking ÖVP politician who seems to be decent within his means. An original black man who had himself painted turquoise. We talked about the conditions prevailing in this country and the shelf life of Sebastian Kurz, to whom my interlocutor said with a trusting shrug: "He'll just win us the elections." So if a politician's job is to win elections, then I don't know any more. Until now, I thought politicians were responsible for shaping the future. As Robert Kennedy aptly put it, paraphrasing George B. Shaw: "Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not."

That would be something, wouldn't it? People who design images of a desirable future and invite citizens to fill it with colour and life together with them. So: politicians as projectors instead of projection screens for all kinds of things. And for the impossible in general, a little more every day.

If someone from this team were to compete, he (or she) would also have a story. It would probably not begin with "Once upon a time ..." but with "Once upon a time ...". Or perhaps with "What if ...?"? Or even with "Wouldn't it be great if we ...?"? Under no circumstances, however, does it begin with "I", the favourite word of the makeshift self-inventors disguised as politicians.

What if? Hm...

Questions or answers?

This story would not be about quick answers, but above all about the right, the necessary questions. And the basic question is not who should become chancellor, because firstly, parliament is elected and not the head of government, and secondly, it is not about that at all - but about the question of what kind of world we want to live in. This has only marginally to do with trading off the interests of groups with different strengths (= voter potential). And also very little to do with the search for the lowest common denominators, which are framed as the greatest common multiple, but which, at the end of the day, are nothing more than a zero-sum game, the red figures of which the respective participants then round off with the argument that in a coalition one would simply not be able to govern alone. Yes, we can't.

In this story, the former German President Walter Scheel himself would appear as an allegorical figure of wisdom. He would quote himself as saying: "It cannot be the task of a politician to gauge public opinion and then do what is popular. A politician's job is to do the right thing and make it popular." At the same moment, the karaoke choir of truant egoists would have disappeared from the political scene because rock 'n' roll would finally be played again. And funny, live & loud. That sounds something like what Marius Müller-Westernhagen describes in "Mit 18":

"I want to go back on the road

I want to sing again, not beautifully, but horny and loud.

Because gold, Gold is found in the dirt

And roads are built of dirt".

Politics with politics as the core business, that is.

Yes, that would be if. That would be great if we ...

Once upon a time, in an era that is not quite rightly remembered as the good old days, politics once drew up the framework into which social reality grew. It had stories of a better tomorrow, led with and in story. Today it is - at best - the other way round. More often, politics is panting after reality, in order to cobble together a patched-up law with plenty of delay to the what-is. If at all.

Oath of Revelation?

I don't know how many years the murky waters of the political blablarium have been treaded under the euphemistic cipher of "animal welfare" in Germany, so that the animals miserably maltreated for cheap meat are a little less maltreated than usual by legal restrictions. I think one could be in favour of this in a flash, regardless of personal eating habits and ideology, couldn't one? But you weren't. The discount supermarket chain Aldi, of all people, now brought movement into the matter. Clearly too little and clearly too late. But at least it was clear enough to be an oath of revelation for politics, at a discount price to boot. I have no illusions: Aldi's hearts did not suddenly awaken to an unbridled love of animals, but they expected to do more business with this move than without it. They wouldn't have done it the other way round, I bet. Be that as it may.

What if we were to take this model further, think it through and carry it forward? What if companies, entrepreneurial people everywhere, put their backs into it and do the right things? But then quite simply because these things are right and not because the protagonists expect more profit as a result. That would be something! That would not only be good, but good for something. Here are a few additional thoughts and suggestions.

What if we simply turn the tables and for once at least don't take Steve Jobs' word for it, but contradict him? Namely, where he himself applauds those who want to "make a dent in the universe". What if we were to take a moment, give ourselves and the now rather dented universe a short breather, then get to work and begin the noblest task that we humans - and only we humans - can undertake as the only species on earth, namely to make the dents in the universe good again? We would have a lot of work to do, starting now, not just in 2030, when there will be no more cheap meat at Aldi (at least in some assortments).

That would give us the basis for something like a new history, a new story that would be suitable for our entire society, indeed for all of humanity. Why do we need it? Because the old story has had its day and was effective, but wrong, or at least thoroughly misunderstood. The eternal story that we have been telling ourselves and each other ever since we were able to think as human beings, "good versus evil - and good must win", has a systemic flaw that has really washed over us: In this story, the good guys are always us, the bad guys are the others. However, in the story of the others, we are not us, but the others, i.e. the bad guys. The Other is everything that stands in our way on the path to winning, and consequently must be dominated, conquered and defeated. Overcome and dominated, by us, the good. What we need for this may be used, exploited and plastered. Everything serves as a resource for our profit, because we - the good guys - win. Everyone against everyone.

Unlived life?

I hate to say it, but the climate crisis seems to me to be a hell of a lot of damage to then just make sense of something we've known for a long time anyway: We can't control nature. "Subduing the earth" has nothing at all to do with mastering, but with protecting. What if man no longer saw himself as a master, but as a healer? Not as a separator, but as a connector - also of wounds?

More and more people and companies seem to be slowly, hopefully not too slowly, grasping something here and soon also understanding it. A dissatisfaction is rising in them, an often still undefined malaise, although everything actually fits. Actually. I am often amazed at who this happens to; I would never have believed it of some people.

That which doesn't fit, that which is missing, that which is coming back to them - that is the unlived life, or as it gurgles in many buzzword throats: the purpose. In other words, what was recently called "Why" (vulgo "The Why"). We old people say "meaning" and swear by the work of Viktor E. Frankl.

Buzzword or not: that's what it's all about. The big issue that everyone needs. In the life cycle of a person, a company, a team or an organisation, it is possible to live quite long and quite splendidly in the material. The striving for growth, for profit, for measurable success and for more of everything replaces or covers over long periods of time what is missing inside. But at some point the time comes when unlived life knocks on the door. From the inside. Funny guy that it is, it disguises itself: as a mid-life crisis, as burnout, as frustration, as an alcohol problem, as inner resignation, as tinnitus, as a shopping frenzy, as staff churn, as a bad mood, as doing things by the book, as aggressiveness, as collectively not giving a shit ... This is what catches people, teams, companies, societies.

I don't like to say this either, no: I like to say it very much: The time has come, dear people! Now that our overall social story is collapsing and the shreds are flying, the question is how do we want to live? How do we want to be? Who do we want to be? What is our story as humanity really?

We need a new story, and I have an offer, an invitation, a keyword for it, and I freely admit that this story is actually very old. The keyword is: connectedness. How did I come up with it? Well, among other things, with the oldest trick in the manual of creativity techniques, which is: If one thing doesn't work, try its opposite! I think we all agree that the opposite method didn't really work in the end, despite many nice partial successes, did it? Then: let's do the opposite! From now on: connectedness.

Here, too, we can already look forward to beautiful partial successes. And we can look forward to desirable side effects. For example, that for everything that concerns politicians, there is almost automatically a new, a big, a better, a real story ready to be shared in their narratives and stories, as it is called in their jargon, and thus to bring movement into the people and people into movement. And towards a better future, where we support each other instead of fighting each other; towards a future we want to live in and want our children and grandchildren to live in. Living well. We also need someone to lead us there, to illuminate possible paths.

A future of enabling instead of today's present of hindering; a future of cooperation, of mutual support, of understanding, of heart-building. In this future, we no longer have to try in vain to fill the vacuum of meaning in ourselves, in our companies and in our society through consumption and through material growth, i.e. through the exploitation of resources. There, meaning will emerge, as it were, of its own accord.

That will definitely not happen quickly. For this, we absolutely have to think in generations, and like-minded people are needed in all places. In education, in business, in politics, especially in so-called civil society, we need leaders who ask the right questions. For example: What would happen if, from now on, collaboration rather than dominance determined our life together?

Are you in? One definitely is, namely my grandmother, old Story Dudette, who already has a new favourite T-shirt. It says, "New Story. New Glory."