Theater of Cruelty

Just a loser

Enzensberger is a headless rooster that showers with feathers.


[Islam] The social debater and author Hans Magnus Enzensberger (b. 1929) was his generation's leading intellectual in Germany, contributing, among other things, in the 1980s to sharp analyzes of the Norwegian way of life. It is hard to come across anyone who emerged as a clearer intellectual role model than the politically and stylistically unpredictable Enzensberger. At least for us with pretensions in the span between academia and journalism. Noam Chomsky has always had something crazy about him, Edward W. Said lacked the irony and wit of the German, Pierre Bourdieu lacked the linguistic elegance, Jürgen Habermas is still too gravely serious.

But in Enzensberger's latest release, The Men of Terror. If the radical loses, there are indications that the man has been permanently impaired analysis skills. There were hints already in the Civil War (1993), in which he concluded his analysis of the modern-day wars with the following fatalistic stance: “We cannot be responsible for the Kashmir problem; the struggle between Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, between Tamils ​​and Sinhalese we understand very little; What is going to happen in Angola, first and foremost, must decide the country's citizens. "Instead of encouraging us to understand Islam and the conflict in Sri Lanka, he specifically asks the German reader to concentrate on the country's own" civil wars ".

In the essay "Hitler's Returns" from 1991, printed in the collection Zigzag (Danish edition 1998), he compares Saddam Hussein with Hitler. It always goes wrong. One could fill a whole news magazine with dictators who have been compared to Hitler, and common to all of them is that they make the little bartender appear a far more harmless villain than he was. Dimensions and nuances disappear: “It took countless people's lives to have Hitler removed. The cost of removing Saddam Hussein from the face of the earth will be astronomical, though his desire to trigger a nuclear war may not be fulfilled. ”Enzensberger was wrong. The Bush wars against the Iraqi despot did not start a new world war. And six million Jews are still here.

In The Men of Horror, Enzensberger talks about "the backwardness of Arab societies," "the deficient culture of knowledge," and "a collective of radical losers," but the references are just as often to the Qur'an and Muslims in general. If it is unclear whether Jostein Gaarder criticized the state of Israel or the Jews in their famed chronicle, there can be no doubt that Enzensberger hit his legs, not the ball. Replace Arabs / Muslims with Africans in the characteristics above, and you will see more clearly how uninhibited, condemning and derogatory the statements are.

After the end of the Cold War, Enzensberger has shown that he does not understand the world outside Europe. This may be because he, and others in his generation, have a tired tendency to transfer the fight against Hitler and Stalin to everything that moves. They see neither the forest nor the trees, for they stare down into a overgrown trench.

New totalitarian threats emerge in new times and require new answers. Nazism was fought with tanks and dead soldiers. The most important weapon against the Soviet Union was the distribution of radios and copiers. What will eventually take its toll on the slightly fashionable forces of, for example, Saudi Arabia, is not easy to predict, but at least we cannot do as Enzensberger, who, on the one hand, says he does not understand Muslims, and on the other hand shows that he does not.

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