Which invention ruined morality the most?
The theme is classic: power and morality. The "and" always denoted both: an opposition and a reciprocal condition. While the first variant, the opposition between the ruthlessly egotistical will to power on the one hand and moral ties to supra-individual norms on the other, is readily apparent, the second variant, the reciprocal condition of power and morality, provides a lot of discussion material for theory and practice . If power is to last, it needs a moral system of convictions that legitimizes the voluntary compliance of the powerless, and vice versa. If morality is to be effective, it needs power-based socialization institutions.
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Now societies differ in terms of different arrangements of the relationship between power and morality. This applies to theoretical justifications from Aristotle to Machiavelli, Rousseau and Kant to Marx, Lenin and Nietzsche. This also applies to the practice of the most varied of experimental arrangements, for example the distinction between internal and external morals. There are also, so to speak, role-sharing arrangements, for example monastic-brooding
such communities in the midst of a more power-oriented society. In Germany, the subject, as far as its political form is concerned, is still tainted with a certain irreconcilability.
This is true at least for the modern age and is due to the comparatively unusually long rule of the nobility with their power-oriented understanding of politics. This corresponded to the political weakness of a bourgeoisie, which - as in other European states - had not been able to allow its economic, moral and social importance to be followed by the political. The German bourgeoisie reacted to its political impotence in two ways: by withdrawing in morality and inwardness on the one hand, and by worshiping political power on the other. Both are related. To the extent that the citizen stayed away from politics, it appeared to him as a world of its own regularities that had nothing to do with private life and its morals.
In his eyes, the realm of the state and politics were subject to different standards, those of great historical personality, the law of history, patriotic duties, and national honor. The politically impotent citizen liked to get intoxicated with such great ideas, which were all the more necessary to him the smaller his Biedermeier happiness seemed. Apart from the inwardness of morality, the family, art, and a feeling for nature, the bourgeoisie only had philosophy, which transcended the narrow domain of privacy. There bourgeois idealism created what it was denied in the field of politics: powerful empires and the most sophisticated systems.
As for the relationship between morality and power in the narrower sense, it was probably no accident that the two most extreme forms of modern political theory were developed in Germany. The most radical moral justification of politics through Marx's socialism, with its demand for absolute brotherhood and a classless society on the one hand, the most cynical power philosophy through Hitler's fascism on the other. German political history after the Second World War shows that the relationship between power and morality is still extremely tense. The student protest movement of the so-called '68, for example, wore the traits of a moral flawlessness whose brutality was unknown in Anglo-Saxon countries.
The Frankfurt School also tended to regard social conditions as fundamentally corrupt and to despair of the possibility of achieving something through criticism and restructuring of political institutions. The critical pedagogy that followed moved far away from the political reality of party democracy and mentally emigrated from the system that it actually wanted to change. Politics was either considered an all too dirty business - if one applied the standards of an idealistic moral philosophy - or it was totalized and expected from it the fulfillment of individual existence. In this way politics again had to conform to the highest values. In both cases the way to a realistic concept of politics was blocked.
A few years ago the protest movement of the 1968 was condemned with the same determination. Now their moral standards and their emancipatory goals were no longer valid. Together with a determined turn towards a new bourgeoisie, elitist, individualistic and anti-democratic tendencies gained the upper hand, and in part with the same people within a biography.
There is empirical evidence of the still unbalanced relationship between politics and morals in Germany. In 1975, surveys of members of political leadership groups showed that on the one hand power is personalized, but at the same time the exercise of power appears to be in need of justification.
The connection is interesting and indicates German uncertainty. Just under a third of those surveyed associated power with political groups such as parties, parliamentary groups or the government. Even with organized scientific expertise and technical expert institutions, only a few suspected power. Instead, the idea of political power was more associated with acting people. This understanding of power is strikingly traditional and does not correspond to a democratic concept of power that is more oriented towards groups and institutions, offices and functions. No wonder that our top politicians show a guilty conscience when they nevertheless admit the need to strive for and exercise power. The study shows a broken relationship to power, as the authors put it, but to the wrong, undemocratic, personal. What is important is a correction in both directions: to a good conscience when exercising power, but not to the person, but to a democratically legitimized office.
Much has improved in the 20 years that have now passed. This is particularly true of the ministerial bureaucracy, whose understanding of office is no longer determined by a dichotomous division of morality and power. In East Germany, however, the separation of power and morality lives on, despite the reconciliation claimed by the SED state ideology. The GDR's political model continued an authoritarian understanding of politics that has a long tradition in Germany regardless of the changing regimes. In the new federal states, people are more willing to accept authoritarian leadership and grant the state its own power logic if, according to the old mode of distribution of protection and obedience, it ensures peace and order, protects citizens from illness, hardship, unemployment and respects niches, in which the citizen says to himself and his friends, as in the past, "Here I am a person, here I can be" and starts the song: "Thoughts are free."
At the same time as such political-historical burdens, we in Germany are increasingly confronted with problems that make the relationship between morality and politics difficult in new ways. I will outline some of these problems, limiting myself to European and North American cultures; In other words, countries in which the change in values leads to radical changes in the relationship between the individual and society, citizens and the state. The processes involved are complicated, and I must apologize for the fact that what I have said is only sketchy, hints, and hints. The change in values means a series of shifts and new accents with regard to our topic of the relationship between morality and power. These are by no means in the same direction in their direction. The urge for a self-determined identity leads to a desire to participate, which brings the citizen more into play. This forces not only the state but also other systems such as economy, law and culture to think in terms of
To leave their own laws. At the same time, with this claim of self-determined interference, there is a growing tendency to only be interested in what is useful. All large social groups complain about the lack of bonding ability of their members and their tendency to pursue only personal interests.
This puts longer-term perspectives and strategies in great difficulty. This can be seen most clearly in the field of ecological conservation. On the one hand, we give it a high ranking among the important issues, on the other hand, the willingness to make sacrifices in favor of solidarity with generations still unborn shows narrow limits. In this contradictory situation, the state and politics come under particular pressure. In any case, their control power is on the wane, while the legitimacy pressure on the part of the population is steadily increasing. And the politicians promote the dichotomy between expectation and fulfillment by declaring that they are responsible for everything.
This dilemma is likely to become even greater in the future. "Everything becomes political", under this motto a tendency towards mutual delimitation or entanglement of the areas of economy and technology, culture, science, privacy and public can be grasped, all of which are at the expense of politics. The reasons for these entanglements are at the same time the reasons why errors in the fields of action that used to be solely responsible are now all recorded as failures in the political system.
I will give you a few examples. The mutual dependency of the systems affects more and more remote areas, for example the economic system and the cultural system. An all-round globalization forces the systems to be more integrated, for example the
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Communication systems and markets. Things have a cross-system effect, such as the research results for the economy. The ubiquity of the media, for example through personalization or shock journalism, weakens an earlier possible assignment of the individual systems to different areas of responsibility.
The growing entanglement of the systems that previously operated and perceived separately can easily be recognized by a phenomenon that has by no means entered the general consciousness. More and more often, a system foregoing its own means to assert its interests and instead relying on strategies from other systems. Business enterprises work with "culture" and argue with "ethics". Legal departments forego litigation and pass the problem on to the PR department because they know that even winning a lawsuit doesn't always really help. Administrations waive their legislative
makes and shifts to bargaining. Scientific interest in knowledge is presented as a humane or ecological imperative.
The systems mentioned become political the moment they exceed their previous limits and make politics responsible for this change to the citizen. Today the state is literally held responsible for all areas of life, even for the personal happiness of its citizens. The population assigns state responsibility not only political areas in the narrower sense of the word, but also very personal areas of life satisfaction such as love and marriage, family and friendship. The hopes and fears of West Germans have been examined. The result: a strong link between future pessimism in very personal questions and a tendency to political protest. People who have little hope of their happiness in the future tend to blame the state for their misery. In contrast, people with more optimistic expectations feel responsible for their own fate.
The less someone expects from the future for himself personally, the stronger his attitude towards the state is. This should ensure that the entire living conditions appear in a more favorable light. There is no doubt that the state is overloaded with such demands. Not only that, as a liberal state, it should not interfere in the private affairs of the citizen, it is also impossible to claim that it is responsible for the entire happiness of life.
If you hold him responsible for it, the result must be a tremendous loss of legitimacy. It looks as if the bearers of state power and public responsibility will generally come under great pressure because the moral systems of belief either no longer exist or are so pluralized that they can no longer achieve what they have done up to now. Presumably it is especially the family whose failure or weakening is the reason why young people are no longer prepared for the solidarities on which the state and society live.
Another aspect of morality and power that is becoming more and more important is the question of whether politics should become more feminine? This question takes up the difficult relationship between privacy and politics in Germany. Half of the population are women. As mothers, kindergarten teachers and teachers, they are responsible for the political socialization of the next generation. How can one expect them to raise good Democrats when they are deficient in this themselves? It is therefore worth asking whether there is such a thing as a specifically female political culture with its own values, thinking and behavioral structures.
Women are apolitical. This judgment is the result of many studies. These work with factors from comparative empirical political science. Women score lower than men in almost all aspects. I'll give you a few pointers: Only 34 percent of women, on the other hand 59 percent of men, are interested in politics at all. Women don't talk about politics. Only 16 percent of women but 30 percent of men often discuss political issues. The level of political information among women is correspondingly low. Only a small minority continuously educates themselves about political or economic issues
Subjects. Women read the newspaper to a roughly the same extent as men, but rarely the political or economic part. Politically, women participate significantly less than men. Their voter turnout is lower, they attend events with political content less than men and are rarely involved in political parties or other established organizations.
Your commitment is limited to a few topics with everyday relevance, to a narrow spatial or social environment. Great world politics is less appealing to women. In politics it almost always leads to personal concern, not an abstract political goal. It is surprising that women with a high formal education also achieve relatively lower values than men. While a higher level of education is significantly linked to a higher level of political interest among men, such a connection is only evident to a limited extent among women. Obviously, education alone is not enough to bring women closer to politics. Other factors still have to be at play for objective and subjective barriers.
The following will be discussed in particular:
- Women have less time - housewives have an average of just under two hours of free time per day, men six.
- Women with children cannot leave home at certain times of the day.
- Women cannot count on the support of their spouses and other family members when they want to go into politics.
- Women do not have networks that they can use when entering politics or for a political career.
- Women hardly have any role models in politics; they are underrepresented in parliaments and political leadership positions.
In addition, there are obstacles that are more likely to be in the psycho-social area. The typical upbringing of girls in the family, kindergarten and school still means that women are ill-equipped for politics. Women apparently need a friendly environment for political activity; if the headwind is sharp, they give up and withdraw. According to the prevailing standards, this is apolitical. So a democratic deficit among women? In one case, definitely not. Because women are not interested in politics, they reject violence. But is it really only deficits that make women more resistant than men to extremism and violence?
According to a research group led by youth researcher Ursula Hoffmann-Lange, the causes are obviously rooted in value orientations, while political attitudes in the narrower sense hardly play a role here. With such assumptions one approaches the opposite position of those researchers who reject any talk of female deficits and, conversely, believe that women are actually the democratic sex. There are several arguments in favor of this view.Behaviors that I previously described as deficiencies, for example the lack of assertiveness or a political commitment by women limited to the closest social environment, appear as a plus point from the new perspective.
In the business world, too, changes are being made to bookings. The HR departments discover a female leadership style and assume that the future belongs to her. The arguments are the same as in politics. Some examples:
- Women's groups do not have a rigid hierarchy, they are openly structured with changing centers depending on the topic or situation.
- Women can therefore delegate better than men.
- Women can listen better, they don't want to make a name for themselves. Women pick up on topics and questions from others and are more willing to question their own opinions.
- Women are tolerant, especially their - as it is called in our political Chinese - ambiguity tolerance or ambivalence tolerance is highly developed. This is understood to mean the psychological ability to endure opposing opinions without requiring a quick decision between one or the other for the sake of one's own psychological relief.
- When it comes to political issues, women usually take a middle position and seek consensus;
- Women get involved without thinking about power and career. You remain loyal to a task you have found and do not migrate to prestigious offices and tasks for the sake of personal advancement.
- In addition to the factual, women also have an emotional access to politics and bring moral standards to bear.
In the opinion of many women researchers, all characteristics of this specifically female political style come much closer to the democratic ideal than male forms of politics. Then how is it possible that women do so much worse on democracy scales? This question leads to a fundamental criticism of a male-oriented concept of politics. Issues such as a women- and child-friendly environment did not fit into the traditional
len departmental boundaries and for this reason alone found no place in conventional politics. The fact that women are actually able to enforce a different style in everyday political life is now evident from numerous examples. However, this only applies provided that several women are represented in a group and that they can assert their style without fighting against the men. So will politics get better if women take care of them? It's not that simple. There are ambivalences in the feminine style. A growing moralization or emotionalization of politics also has dubious sides. The greater fear of conflict and competition among women also contains problematic features. After all, the culture of concern of women and their preferred on-site involvement in a globally ramified politics harbors dangers of naivety and one-eyedness. Political power is not something fundamentally evil, as many women think, but an important factor in shaping politics.
I know that with these reflections on the female understanding of politics, I have steered the subject of power and morality into new uncertainties. That was on purpose. We are probably in a new phase of the relationship between the individual and society, citizen and state, ethics and politics. In any case, old familiarities are dissolving. Whoever demands a new sense of duty, a new sense of community, a new spirit of sacrifice today has to defend himself against misunderstandings. Those who castigate the new egoism must not forget that it is often associated with attitudes without which a humane democracy has no future. What matters is patience and tolerance for ambivalence for a political discourse of mutual openness.
© Friedrich Ebert Foundation | technical support | net edition fes-library | February 2001
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