Berlin has a wonderful science park just at its eastern outskirts, in Adlershof, right next to the infamous BER airport that is running a few years behind the schedule.
Adlershof is also home to one of Berlin’s biggest Science Slams - the one I won yesterday evening, with a ten-minute comedy sketch on cancer, death, the current German election results and a reflection about capitalism and communism. A merry combo, indeed.
Humans wrongly assume that they are the inventors of the political debate and the eternal opposition between the right wing and the left wing, democrats and socialists, capitalists and communists - but we’re simply not smart enough for such a sublime creation. The nature is the real author behind the conflict, a conflict that occurs in each and every single cell of our bodies.
The human body is a true communistic utopia, the one that Karl Marx daydreamed on the pages of his book and that rarely found its real-life implementation: a perfect symphony of all cells working in unison exclusively for the benefit of the whole, that then later reflects into their own well-being, too. It is a virtuous circle. The cancer, well, is a tiny little capitalist within the communistic utopia, dreaming of irrational stuff like unlimited growth and colonisation within a finite body. Ultimately, its expansion leads to the collapse of the entire system.
This is the gist, but it is not the main topic of this article (but of this one). During my slam, I referred to the fact that the AfD being the third biggest political force in Germany now, is a perfect example of our overall intelligence as a human kind. I stand behind this, yet I believe my words need a bit of a better explanation.
Yes, I think that the far-right nationalistic party entering the German parliament is sort of a failure of the human kind as a whole. By this, however, I do not want to label the AfD voters as a bunch of dumb, xenophobic racist, because this would be entirely off the point. The AfD victory is our common mistake - a mistake belonging to the liberal, moderate, open-minded people, too, a mistake belonging to every person judging an average AfD voter as a simple dumbfuck racist - even though the temptation is great.
Any harsh judgement against someone’s personal beliefs draws a line between you - and them. It automatically excludes any attempt towards mutual empathy and understanding, and ultimately, any possibility of debate and agreement.
If you take a better look at the distribution of the AfD voters, you will notice a clear fact: the AfD popularity has little to do with immigration, it has much more to do with poverty and economical hardship. The regions where AfD managed to charm most voters are not the regions with the highest fraction of migrants, on the contrary. It is the Far East of Germany that went for the AfD, where there are hardly any immigrants to be found - and for a reason - it is also the POOREST part.
We have a good saying back in good ‘ole Yugoslavia - “A well-fed dog does not bite” - and it is oh so valid not only for today’s Germany, it goes for the UK and USA, too.
Last year, I played a show in Goerlitz and I was shocked to see the utter degradation of the place: ENTIRE buildings, beautiful Altbau buildings down the main city promenade standing completely empty. Not even squatted - just EMPTY. Lausitz looks even grimmer, surrounding villages just top it off.
The lack of perspectives for the local folks is blatant. I think of all the wonderful Goerlitz youth that now lives in Berlin and that I personally know - virtually all of them moved after finding no jobs. I think of one side of my own German family who also fled from there in the early ‘90s; I think of my Yugoslavian family living in Erfurt now - they are all medical doctors, and they were “imported” as the entire Thuringen lacks enough local medical personnel - for, yeah, you guessed right - highly educated Germans prefer working in the West German hospitals. Their salaries are even up to 40% higher, their life-style easier - how can you blame anyone for leaving?
It is sad - dangerous and sad - that a party like AfD is the only one that took the concrete worries and fears of these people seriously - and manipulated them in their own, incapable, damaging way. This is the second part of our failure - closing both eyes on the fact that yeah, in 2017, there are still TWO Germanies, the wall is politically down, but economically still there; labelling the AfD voter as a dumb racist is superficial, simplistic and damaging. The first part of the failure, is of course, buying into the AfD bullshit.
Albeit grimm, I believe - and WANT to believe - that the AfD does not have a long lasting parliamentary future: it is easy to bullshit against the system in a populistic manner lacking any solid argumentation when you are not a part of it - once you are in there, a failure to bring about a change is also your own failure. Also, a humanitarian crisis due to war devastations like the one in Syria from 2015-2016 luckily does not happen every year - and I have to give a chapeau to the Kanzlerin Merkel for risking so much - including her own ass and career - in order to help over a million people have at least a chance for a normal, dignified life.
You got yourself some good karma points there, Angie - being a German Kanzlerin in times of President Trump, Brexit, Syrian war and economic regression ain’t a breezy walk indeed. With no new immigration crisis in sight, far right nationalist find it harder to place their populistic propaganda, as there is less to spit on and criticise.
However, the gravity of the situation is not to be underestimated and I also believe that the #fuckAfD attitude alone is not enough, moreover it is counterproductive. As weird as it sounds, now more than ever do we need empathy, understanding and interaction among people from all different social fractions. This doesn’t mean justifying and tolerating racism or the neonazis - it means asking an angry lion if he has a thorn in its paw and going addressing the true source of its pain.
I heard people wonder over and over and over again, how it was possible to decline so rapidly as a human kind and society back in the 1930’s - well, you got the beginning of an answer to that question now. It does not happen overnight, it is a process, a subtle process that is easily overlooked in its initial phases when the momentum is low. A process that can be reverted and stopped in time - if enough of us become aware of it, and stay away from the panic mode.
If you’ve been asking yourself, what would have you done in your grandparent’s place back in those days, think again and then do it, as the history tends to repeat itself - as whatever came to teach us is not gonna leave until we got our lesson right.
As challenging as it is, it is also our chance to grow. And each of those chances is to be cherished, and TAKEN.