Category Archives: Habermas, Jürgen

Repressed fascist longings of today’s Germans

Only Habermas can save them

Dalrymple writes that one of the justifications for the European Union’s drive towards what it calls ‘ever closer union’ is

the denial or reduction of national feeling.

On this view,

expression of any national patriotism leads inevitably to xenophobia, conflict, and war. Love of one’s nation is inseparable from hatred of others.

A praise-singer of this attitude is Jürgen Habermas, who,

no doubt through fear of his, or his compatriots’, inner Nazism, wants to replace attachment to nation with attachment to supranational constitutional arrangements that will presumably have to cover the entire earth, if conflict between blocs is to be avoided.

To bring this about

would require the suppression for many years of the kind of emotional loyalty displayed during the World Cup. The suppression of such loyalty except in the context of sporting competitions might, however, be very dangerous: indeed, might bring about the very dangers that it was supposed to avoid.

Dalrymple notes that the rules of the competition governing the nationality of players provide that

no player having once played for a national team may change to another, for fear that he might change for the sake of mere economic advantage, rather than from any genuine attachment to his new nationality.

Thus, says Dalrymple,

football authorities take nationality more seriously than do national authorities.

Arachnophobia

It's not quite what the British people agreed to in the 1975 referendumFor years, writes Dalrymple,

doubt about the wisdom of a European project (whose end can only be seen as through a glass, darkly) was attributed by its enthusiasts to a quirk, one that combined some of the features of

  • mental debility
  • arachnophobia
  • borderline personality disorder

One would not be surprised to learn that the European Union had sent lobbyists to Washington to have Euroscepticism included as a category in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

By now, though,

even the most convinced European projectors must have noticed that their project is not going swimmingly.

But

the projectors suggest that the solution to the difficulties is the granting of even more powers to themselves or people like them, that is to say those who conjured up the difficulties.

Morbid conditions

are never equally distributed geographically, and Euroscepticism was originally a predominantly British disease, an amusing consequence of our insularity; but it is spreading throughout Europe. The débâcle of the common currency, which will no doubt have a dénouement but not necessarily a solution, has lowered the estimate of the union in the eyes of practically all member populations.

What if the results of referenda turn out unfavourably?

The history of the union suggests that they will either be ignored or that there will be more referenda until the population gets the answer right: the European variant of African post-colonial democracy, that is to say one man, one vote, once.

And people like Habermas, Van Rompuy, Barroso et al.

are capable of boring the people of Europe into submission. You can bamboozle people so long as politics does not really interest them because their lives are going along quietly and smoothly, and they do not pay it much attention.

But

once their attention is caught by such things as unemployment, evaporation of  their savings, constantly increasing taxes and collapsing living standards, more precision will be needed.

Words that

connote human solidarity but denote bureaucratically administered and enforced transfer payments — on a scale that make Marshall Aid look like pocket money — will no longer suffice.

Openness, says Dalrymple,

is not the same thing as the incontinent abandonment of character, any more than hospitality is the indiscriminate welcoming, without any exclusion, of all and sundry into one’s home.

Multiculturalism as an official doctrine,

complete with enforcing bureaucracies, undermines the rule of law because it seeks to divide people, formalise their cultural differences and enclose them in moral and intellectual ghettoes. The rule of law requires a common cultural understanding, not merely the means of repression to enforce a legal code. Once that cultural understanding is lost, all that remains is repression, effective or ineffective, and experienced as alien and unjust. Nothing remains but conflict or surrender.

Supranational courts cannot supply the want of a national understanding, for two reasons:

  1. They are designed to escape any national tradition, as Rousseau knew Man, but not men. Just as the European Central Bank could set interest rates adapted to none of the member countries’ economic needs, so a supranational court or organisation can produce rulings that correspond to no one’s traditions, principles, requirements or interests.
  2. Supranational organisations, unlike international ones, escape the kind of checks and balances that can operate on a national scale. In the French press the need for such checks and balances is not even mentioned, probably because it is not thought to exist. In Napoleonic tradition, every problem is conceived as an administrative one; and even as the scant legitimacy among the French population of Europe seeps away, so it is proposed that the powers of a European administrative class be increased.

Academic vacuity can go no further

Screen Shot 2015-12-22 at 07.54.50Even at his most opaque, writes Dalrymple, one sometimes glimpses in Jürgen Habermas

a meaning, or a connotation, as one might glimpse a giant panda in a bamboo forest. It is this dialectic between incomprehensibility and meaning that has given him a reputation for profundity. His thoughts lie too deep for words, and the fault lies with us, not with him.

Habermas

tries to squeeze significance out of truisms, as a constipated man tries to squeeze stools out of a reluctant colon.

Compared with reading a Habermas book, says Dalrymple,

going to the dentist is a pleasant experience.

Habermas is held in high esteem, which is itself

of sociological and psychological interest. Audiences have been known almost to swoon at his Teutonically polysyllabic vaticinations.

Habermas, Dalrymple points out, is

largely incomprehensible; where he is comprehensible, he is either banal or wrong, or both. He is often funny, but not intentionally.

Habermas has made a career

as a torturer of language,

yet underlying his platitudinous but mistaken verbiage

is something sinister: the communist, fascist and Nazi dream of the abolition of politics, in favour of mere administrative decision-making by a supposedly enlightened élite, armed with indubitable truth from which their decisions follow syllogistically.

Dalrymple adapts Burke slightly:

In the groves of Habermas’s academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing but the gallows.