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Current non-fiction books
Disambiguation and Disintegration

At the start of 2019, we look back on a small selection of important non-fiction books published in 2018. They deal with dwindling diversity in all conceivable areas of life, the "memory theatre" of the Germans, a guide for enlightened patriots and the phenomenon of history-focused tourism.

By Holger Moos

Bauer: Die Vereindeutigung der Welt © Reclam Scholar of Islamic Studies and Arabist Thomas Bauer is concerned with ambiguity and diversity. Diversity is in retreat everywhere. Animal species are being exterminated, fruit varieties are disappearing, languages are dying. This “disambiguation of the world” - the title of his book (Die Vereindeutigung der Welt) - results from the inability to tolerate contradictions. Bauer calls this ability “ambiguity tolerance”. And historically Europe in particular has never been a haven of cultural diversity. Today this tendency is endangering democracy as a longing for un-ambiguity, disguised as authenticity, is on the advance - to the detriment of ambiguity. "The masses are promised 'authentic', contradiction-free politics, decisive government - this could also serve as a definition of 'populism'," according to Franz Schuh in DIE ZEIT.

No more desire for the “Jewish role”

With Desintegriert euch! (i.e. get un-integrated!), author Max Czollek has published a widely-acclaimed polemic in which one of the Germans' long-standing and favourite themes is highlighted: integration. Czollek, who wrote the book "Als Lyriker, Berliner und Jude" ("As a poet, Berliner and Jew"), regards the Jews living in Germany today as "figures on the stage of German memory theatre". The Jewish minority has always had to dutifully play its "Jewish role" in order to confirm, post-Shoah, the "redemption of the Germans" (according to Eike Geisel). The behaviour of other minorities is dominated by "German" expectations. Muslims, for example, must "permanently express themselves on gender roles, terror and integration [...] and thus serve as a counter-image to the self-image of the tolerant and enlightened Germans" and the self-adulation of the Germans as world champions of remembrance culture.
  Czollek: Desintegriert euch © Czollek
Czollek has been observing the rebirth of nationalism at least since the 2006 World Cup. For him, the right-wing populist to right-wing extremist AfD is "only a sideshow. Its influence resembles that of an indicator liquid that has been introduced into the German party spectrum. Suddenly it turns brown." Völkisch-nationalist thinking is back, in all parties. The book was controversially discussed (see Perlentaucher), Czollek was accused of black-and-white thinking and left-wing populism, yet it was an important book, published at the right moment: following the success of the AfD in the Bundestag elections and various state elections, the end of the NSU process, the Özil debate, etc.

“The only true foreign country is the past”

Thea Dorn's "Guide to Enlightened Patriots" in Deutsch, nicht dumpf (i.e. German, not dull), fits in well with this. The author poses the question of whether Germans can have a cultural home or identity without immediately drifting into the neoconservative corner of German Leitkultur. Although Jens Bisky expresses objections to the book in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, he is nevertheless convinced by Dorn's plea "not only to accept the disunity of German culture, but to make use of it as its best quality". Matthias Warkus, on the other hand, wrote a scathing review of Dorn's book in the blog 54 Books.

In Retroland, historian Valentin Groebner explores the wide field of history-focused tourism. On holiday, travellers are not only interested in places, but also in past times. The holiday is a promise of a journey into the past, "which has been magically preserved and is accessible once again". Groebner refers in the introduction to a quotation by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, according to which history is the only place that still has exotic qualities: "The only true foreign country is the past." Ronald Düker praises Groebner's essay in DIE ZEIT as intelligent, vivid and witty.

Cherry Picker
Bauer, Thomas: Die Vereindeutigung der Welt. Über den Verlust an Mehrdeutigkeit und Vielfalt.
Ditzingen: Reclam, 2018. 104 S.
ISBN: 978-3-15-019492-8
Diesen Titel finden Sie auch in unserer Onleihe

Czollek, Max: Desintegriert euch!
München: Hanser, 2018. 206 S.
ISBN: 978-3-446-26027-6
Diesen Titel finden Sie auch in unserer Onleihe

Dorn, Thea: Deutsch, nicht dumpf. Ein Leitfaden für aufgeklärte Patrioten.
München: Knaus, 2018. 336 S.
ISBN: 978-3-8135-0810-9

Groebner, Valentin: Retroland. Geschichtstourismus und die Sehnsucht nach dem Authentischen .
Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 2018. 224 S.
ISBN: 978-3-10-397366-2