Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tucholsky's Complaint

It is with good reason, then, that Walter Laqueur has named the terminal alienaton of these Jewish intellectuals the "Tucholsky complaint," identifying as its chief symptom the inability to distinguish the sad imperfections of liberal democracy from fascism.


The left-wing Jewish intellectuals' biting attacks upon the Republic no doubt helped to disillusion elements of the intellectual left with political democracy, although they offered no practical alternatives. But it would be wrong to exaggerate their positive influence, which was never great.
Their negative influence, however, although difficult to quantify, was almost certainly far greater, for anti-Semites gleefully quoted from their destructive criticism of everything German as typical of Jewish opinions.
.. 37-38

Liberals believe that the indiscriminate and immoderate attack upon all social and political conventions and upon traditional values is profoundly unpolitical. The liberals see protesters frequently attacking not only political abuses and empty pretensions, but the very institutions that protect their right to protest.
To liberal critics it is clear that protesters are blind to the ways in which their activities consolidate opinion on the far right. But this characterization is answered by the protesters by saying that nothing else can be done, since ordinary politics have brought us to this impasse. Theirs is a sectarian mode of protest outside of time, of political calculation, and of technical efficiency.

...In their indiscriminate attack upon social and political conventions the protesters begin to resemble intellectuals of the Weimar Republic, who were equally sweeping in thier condemnations. Walter Laqueur has dubbed this the "Tucholsky Complaint" after the German satirist of the 1920s:
Tucholsky and his friends thought that the German Judge of their day was the most evil person imaginable and that the German prisons were the most inhumane; later they got Freisler and Auschwitz.
They imagined that Stresemann and the Social Democrats were the most reactionary politicians in the world; soon after they had to face Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering. They sincerely believed that fascism was already ruling Germany, until the horrors of the Third Reich overtook them.

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