|Fromm, Horkheimer Marion Beimer,
and later on a bit of Heisenberg
The story of my personal genealogy,
Germany, the Goodpeople and me
What the hell do I know?
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I was socialized by the 70's. It makes quite a difference to grow up in the 70's with a social- liberal government instead of the 80's with a conservative government (that is reigning since then). A lot of our teachers were former "Jusos" (young socialists, the youth group of the SDP, the Social Democratic Party). These were the progressive ones, the other were old, boring conservatives. The 70's were a quite complicated era. On the one hand social democratic changes like beginning to negotiate with East Germany and trying to open the universities for more underprivileged students. On the other hand the social democrats were under pressure from the conservative to handle leftist opposition ("We took care of old nazis, so you have to take care of left radicals"). They over-reacted in order to prove how established and statesmanlike the party can be. The result were the "Berufsverbote" (no member or suspected member of a (legal) communist party could become a civil servant (not even as a plain post official) and the massive retaliation against terrorist groups (and so called sympathizer of) like the Red Army Faction, going to the limits (and sometimes above) what a democratic government is allowed to do and therefore strengthens them in the end.
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|my - me - mine|
|least obnoxious links|
|crossroads radio show|
|a short history of subcultural quotation strategies|
|In the middle of the 70's I was influenced by some older students, who were part of communist factions and/or just still influenced by the late 60's. I was very impressed by small incidents like graduating in dirty jeans and refusing to shake the hands of the conservative school director (and they got all the girls I couldn't date :-) I focused on the late 60's, read Herman Hesse, Jack Kerouac, Carlos Castaneda and so on, listened to Zappa, Hendrix and progressive Jazz, drank green tea, smoked pot now and then, were into Asian religions and socialist politics and took part in demonstrations. And I read things like Marcuse and Fromm. The capitalist society is a pig society, I don't want to be part of it, there has to be some other way to live, out of this society like in a commune, a collective or something like that. At the end of the 70's, the beginning of the 80's things began to change. The revolution was still far away, political circles became more devastating then ever (arguing about obscure forms deviationism and the difference between the good Maoist nuclear plants versus bad capitalist ones). And suddenly there was a feeling that there is something happening which relates to me more then some second hand 60's things. Suddenly there was a fresh air of creative energy. Songs with German lyrics you don't have to be ashamed for, thousand of small fanzines, new ways of dressing and the sense, that anyone can do something creative. You don't have to sit at home and learn how to play the guitar for years. Just go out and do it. It was called `Punk' what in reality was a quite diverse movement. Perhaps I was too young to be directly involved in the First Punk wave around 77/78. I was more influenced by the New Wave Phenomenon or the "Subversive Popculture" thing around 82 [in my case combined with some existentialist threads, falling in love with the books of Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir]. Not as dogmatic as the first Punks, more hedonistic, more semiotic self-conscious, using pop surfaces to implant little, strange irritations. And this rebellion was more fun, too. To call something as "white" when it was black. To play with signs, to turn around the system of serious affairs on the one hand and just entertainment on the other. Soccer can be politics or a pop song. The best thing of all: The "Juso" teacher couldn't handle it. Their strategy was: Oh, that's interesting, I'd like to talk about this, I'd like to understand. They tried to "understand" (a way of oppressive recuperation by labelling, re-defining, framing it, handling it, and closing it) Punk, and partly they were successful. But they couldn't understand our thing, because of the built-in ambiguities.
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When you are young, you have to develop a sense of yourself by building borders. This is my side, that is part of the others. And you have to exaggerate the borders. Though I listened to the Rolling Stones before, they were now part of the old hippie culture, boring old farts. They were part of our enemies. Worse then that were the "Concerned Ones". Mostly women and very sensitive young men, they turned emotional states into a substitute for political action. Pollution? That makes me feel so sad, these poor, dying trees (Our hymn was: Ekel, Ekel, Natur, Natur, Ich will Beton pur (Yuk, nature. I love concrete). You haven't done the dishes? Oh, I know for sure that is part of your subconsciously torture of me by not having mastered your relation with your mother, I guess we have to do some breathing exercises to get our energy back in balance. And so on. When talking is like walking on soft cotton pads. Games had to be games without winners, because otherwise it's so ugly competitive.
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Marion Beimer was a tamed version of this kind of people. She was a character in the soap "Lindenstrasse" in the middle of the 80s. She was about 16, playing the recorder and discussing the problems of the society in her Protestant tea group. In one episode she was reading Erich Fromm: The Art of Loving. I saw it and it was so complete and suitable. The ultimate "consumption symbol" to illustrate this character. The Art of Loving was a classic amongst these peoples. I think I read it in the 70's. But I can't separate the book, and the author from this context. Therefore I hated it. Like I hated the Rolling Stones. Someone called these whole group of people the "Goodpeople". They radiated the flavor of "being good". And only them. And that is all that matters, just being good. And you can bet on it, that they and only they had the monopoly of defining what on earth that could mean. They have opened themselves, realized the meaning of the world, and more important, of their inner being, and were determined to show this to everyone else. They were obnoxious. A different kind of haze, this time the soft-cushioned security of just being good. As long as I feel concerned about the state of the world, it's OK (I don't have to act, the concern is a value in itself). But the most important thing is to work on yourself to become a more open, sensitive, sympathetic being. Because the main root of all evil lies in not listening to your inner being, not to be in tune with yourself is making you aggressive, that's bad and you have to work on yourself.
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Mostly it was them that made me aggressive. Not that some details were wrong, it was the whole package and this context. And I hear this background as an echo when I hear Having or Being. The state of "Being" belongs to them, while the state of Having belongs to the other. They didn't realize their dependence on a whole assortment of goods and services (the keffiyeh [a Palestinian Scarf]; the right Tea equipment, encounter groups, wooden bookshelves, Birkenstock shoes and so on). "Having" meant to them: wanting to have a video recorder, a second car, suits and whirl pool. It was such a self- deception. By the way, most of them I knew are now well established and having all the goods they formerly despised, perhaps with the difference that their new house has a luxury solar equipment
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