In Germany, conservatives criticize a pastiche of multiculturalism to justify authoritarian policies and deflect attention from decades of neglect, argues Claus Leggewie. Failure to recognize Muslims as part of society is to risk repeating an historical mistake.
Claus Leggewie is a political scientist. Since 2015 has been Ludwig Börne Professor at the Justus Liebig University in Gießen. Until 2017 he was director of the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut (KWI), Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (Germany). Leggewie has served as professor of political science at the universities of Goettingen and Giessen (1996-2017) and as fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences (IWM) Vienna (1994 and 2006), Max Weber Chair at New York University (1995-97), Remarque Institute New York (1997-8), and at Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin (1999-2000).
His main research topics are participatory and digital democracy, right-wing extremism and neo-conservatism in comparative perspective, memory studies, climate and cultures. His book ‘Europe First: A Declaration of Independence’ came out in 2017. Claus Leggewie is a member of the Eurozine Advisory Board and co-publisher of Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik.
Europe’s collective memory is as diverse as its nations and cultures and cannot be regulated by official acts of state or commemorative rituals, writes Claus Leggewie. The most significant challenge for a European memory is to reconcile “competing” memories of the Holocaust and the Gulag. Yet other historical experiences must also be integrated: memories of wartime and expulsion, of colonialism and immigration, and not least of the “success” of the European Union.
A breakthrough in international climate policy is still possible
Neither the industrialised nor the emerging countries are able to solve the climate problem by “going it alone”, write Claus Leggewie and Dirk Messner. In Copenhagen, the European Union needs to table a set of exacting reduction targets, without conditioning them on the willingness of others to follow suit.
How observing the 2° target may lead to a new global order
If the G8’s goal of limiting global warming to 2°C is to be more than just lip service, radical decisions will need to be taken at the climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. An emissions-trading system based on a national per-capita emissions budget and tied to historical responsibility would offer enormous opportunities to developing countries and provide the key to a new low-carbon global order.
Transnational memory and European identity
Europeans, the world’s largest “people in spe”, must develop a pan-European historical awareness if only to be able to deal better with common political problems, argues Claus Leggewie. Yet a definition of European memory cannot be reduced to the Holocaust and the Gulag alone, no matter how central these are. It must also include the experience of expulsion, Europe’s colonial history and the Armenian question, for example, and be able to compare memories without offsetting each against the other.
Rising energy costs and the eco-social consequences of climate change are causing anxieties about the future to increase, while trust in the ability of political elites to solve these problems is evaporating. Reaching eco-political targets calls for more participation of citizens as active architects of their society, write Claus Leggewie and Harald Welzer.
Even the staunchest advocates of Turkey’s EU accession must consider alternatives to full membership. Yet what does “Plan B” – or “privileged partnership” – entail? If the enticement of full Union membership is removed, can the EU achieve its goals in Turkey, namely democratization and human rights reforms? This question is made all the more pressing by a renewed perception in Arab countries of “Ottoman” Turkey’s belonging in the global Muslim community together with a surge of anti-western feeling, writes Claus Leggewie.
Muslim organizations in Germany and the problem of representation
A recent conference in Germany intended to build bridges between the federal German state and the German Muslim population raised questions about conservative Muslim organizations’ claims to represent “the” Muslim community. Individuals defining themselves as “cultural Muslims” have challenged the influence of such groups. Existing German Muslim organizations in some cases advocate restrictive practices that contravene the German constitution; yet, paradoxically, they have emerged in conformity with Germany’s corporatist system of representation. Meanwhile, the globalization of religion indicates that the “supermarket” principle, such as exists in the US, will increasingly become the norm in Europe too.
Totalitarian experience and European memory
Instead of dwelling upon the catastrophes of the twentieth century, many Europeans ask if we should not thoughtfully “forget” them. However, the endurance of historical memory in the united Europe is demonstrated by contemporary political differences between European member states, which can be dealt with only if a European memory is developed. The difficulty here lies in paying due respect to the memory of the crimes both of National Socialism and of Soviet totalitarianism while avoiding a hierarchy of competing victim groups.
EU and Turkey
The debate on Turkey’s EU membership takes place between those who want to “deepen” and those who want to “widen” Europe; between those who want to strengthen cooperation between existing members and those who want to create a looser, broader union based on free-trade. For the former, Turkey’s shortcomings in democratic procedure and human rights, and the presumed otherness of Islam, are cause for alarm; for the latter, Turkey’s economic and geo-strategic potential count in its favour. The fundamental difference, says Claus Leggewie, is that a loose-knit Union would be attractive to a broad spectrum of aspirants, while a Europe with a clear political identity, high social-welfare entitlements, and growing cultural homogeneity, would discourage further expansion.
The rise of the NGOs in recent years has raised various new problems, most pressingly that of the “democratisation paradox”: Whilst the NGOs ultimate aim is to promote democratic structures in respective countries, their own structures remain relatively unaccountable and undemocratic. Other questions concern the sharing of power between NGOs and democratically elected chambers and the influence NGOs are able to exert over them. Claus Leggewie looks at the complex mechanisms involved and proposes ways out of the legitimation crisis.