Who would win books

Worth and dignity


"Philosphically trained, with a clear view, Martin Schenk looks where others look the other way, at the 'edge of society', but without loyalty and showcased compassion, rather with a look ahead and decades of practical experience." Peter Bauer, Romana Beer and others, ORF.at, December 15, 2016

"The interpretation of human rights as an object of speculation? How can this be reconciled with human dignity? Bachinger and Schenk investigate discrepancies like these in a manner that is as consistently questioned as it is illuminating. The public debate about refugees loses a bit of its own with every new page of the book grandiose self-assurance and in the end it seems pretty ideological. " Magazine for Human Rights, No. 45/2016


Four years ago we published the book “The Integration Lie. Answers in a hysterical argument ”. In a debate that is so confused and unobjective, both privately and publicly, we wanted to point out half-truths and errors that further solidify and deepen the problems: the confusion of relativism with tolerance, the politicization of identity and religious affiliation, the culturalization of socio-economic questions and the ignorance of the (status) insults and feelings of powerlessness of the population. Thematically, we had consciously taken on the previously little discussed aspects: aging in migration, health, childbirth, care, educational utilization, the concrete working world with its precarious jobs. We were in the maternity ward, doing dishes in restaurants, in schools and on the road with “tough guys”, in the subway with street newspaper sellers, looking for clues from Berlin via Switzerland to Austria.

About the value of fundamental and human rights in times of their relativization

The dispute is now more hysterical than ever due to the refugee movements from the Middle East. The “state of emergency” is proclaimed, the internet forums are almost overflowing with agitation and hatred, authoritarian nationalism is pushing a social and democratic Europe into the distance, the political debate can be found on the identity front.
One contradiction is particularly noticeable: While human rights in the context of asylum are increasingly being undermined and basic social rights are coming under pressure among the poorest ten percent of the population, in almost every discussion, in almost every speech and in every second newspaper article, reference is made to "our values" thumped. At the same time, ethical and moral attitudes are discredited, but “values” are demanded and upheld. An irritating development: the more people talk about values, the less human rights play a role. Our constitutionally anchored fundamental values ​​also include the human rights convention, such as the right to apply for asylum, the right to family life, the right to basic social security or the right to equal treatment. These human rights, which should apply to everyone, are also increasingly being trampled on in Europe.

Do you talk about values ​​in order to keep silent about human rights? An interjection comes up here. The concept of values ​​does not come from ethics, but from economics. The value indicates the weight that we assign to an object, how we value it, with how much money we weigh it. The usual measure of value is price. “In the realm of ends, everything has either a price or a dignity,” said Immanuel Kant. And Konrad Paul Liessmann adds: “The search for values, the question of where values ​​are formed, the assertion that there has to be one Providing value education, the interpretation of human rights as values, the ideological talk of value communities: all of this indicates that one is no longer interested in human dignity, but is about to change one's preferences and the underlying purpose-oriented value standards. be enforced ". The concept of values ​​makes human dignity an object of speculation.

The movement of refugees from outside to Europe is used and abused internally for social disintegration

The province of Lower Austria passed a law to abolish the minimum income for refugees, but it hid the reduction in housing for people with disabilities. “Refugees” is said, but then it is deleted when living for everyone, including all Austrians. This is how it works. Or the so-called cap for families. Asylum is called, but then the minimum income for all children is canceled.

Work is underway to make the republic less attractive, not just for refugees, but also for those receiving minimum income, people with disabilities or the chronically ill. Social problems are increasing even though society as a whole is getting richer, especially at the top. But it's always those down there to blame. “The unemployed”, “the minimum income recipients” and “the asylum seekers”. This is a method to lead the distribution and justice debate only "at the bottom". The ten percent of the population with the lowest incomes and least opportunities are allowed to scratch each other's eyes. For a hundred years, these discourses have threatened to take place in a repetitive process in which the loser group of a fundamental social change is made responsible, insulted and degraded for its worsened social situation.

What is to be made of a value debate that disregards basic social rights and increases poverty? The European Parliament analyzed the effects of the austerity policy on fundamental rights in the European Union: In all seven countries there was a reduction in teachers at schools, although the number of pupils has increased. In Greece, schools were no longer heated and school sites were closed, making access to education difficult for certain population groups. In Spain, savings were made on school equipment, even on school books. In Greece there were also serious cuts in the health system. The health care of the population was jeopardized in such a way that even child mortality rose. In its report, the European Parliament puts its finger in one of the greatest wounds: the programs are not bound by European fundamental rights. Several reform recommendations by the Troika are in clear conflict with European law, in particular the European Social Charter. These include the deterioration in medical care due to the unbalanced austerity policy and the severe dismantling of the collective bargaining system caused by labor market reforms. But who is actually still talking about it now? The movement of refugees from the outside to Europe is used and abused internally to forget and suppress a questionable policy.

Anyone who wants to defend “our values” is critical of identitarian thinking

Everything is "culture". You are culture, everything you say is culture, everything that defines you is culture, everything you do explains culture. Otherwise you have no reasons. What is the concept of society behind the inflation of the term “culture” in the current debate? Nobel laureate in economics, Amartya Sen, described the compulsion to have an all or nothing identity as “plural monoculturalism”. He thus points to the new form of the old racism, whose supporters also like to call themselves the "Identitarians". This means that entire population groups are assigned to a single culture and a single identity into which everyone has to fit. It can be determined by blood, origin or religion. The identitary either / or, even in its most harmless form, carries the germ of war within itself. “You could know when the war starts,” says Christa Wolf, the Trojan king's daughter and seer Kassandra, in her story of the same name. “But when does the pre-war begin?” “Plural monoculturalism” connects ethnic Western fighters with Islamic fundamentalists. Because both are friendly enemies.

The search for self-efficacy and respectability

To not be noticed means to be excluded. That is why today the longing for a just society is so strongly linked to the desire for recognition. The answer sits in the gap between “What do I have?” And “Who am I?”. At the end we dedicate ourselves to the feelings, the needs, the affects that are at work behind the current debate. It's not just about fear, it's also about powerlessness, shame, envy. Being able to experience and shape recognition is one of our central needs. Network researcher Harald Katzmair: “Those who offer participation will generate resonance when they are lonely. Those who say: The way you are, you are a valuable person will resonate with those who are never in the light of recognition. Those penned into hierarchies will see those who enable new leeway as liberators. ”Those who no longer have these basic needs on their radar will also do nothing against ideologies of social exclusion. Above all, the need for appreciation, dignity and integrity of all those who cannot bask in the light of success on a daily basis has been forgotten. Wherever we can shape things, experience recognition and experience social equilibrium, trust grows there - and hatred falls.