This is my first English blog article for a long time. So, my friends, where shall we start?
Taking a deep breath as too much has happened
The world at large seems to have turned into a dystopian nightmare. From George Floyd to Covid, from Covid to the Russian-Ukrainian war, from the war to the ill decisions of the American Supreme Court that tear America apart, with the grim prospect of worldwide hunger lurking due to Putin’s favorite game of spreading lies, fear, and slaughtering civilians in Ukraine. The militarization of China, the genocide of the Uighurs, the silencing of Hong Kong, and a potential war with Taiwan are not particularly encouraging backdrops for anybody who seeks to make this world a better place.
Worst of all, we are losing precious years for reversing, or at least diminishing the devastating effects of climate change. Future generations will ask: How could you allow mentally deranged men like Trump or Putin to assume power? How was it possible that (anti)social media could succeed in morphing pluralistic and highly developed Western countries into primitive digital tribes that keep fabricating alternate versions of twisted realities? I do understand the appeal of Star Wars sequels: technology has neither brought us enlightenment nor social progress. Instead, Darth Vaders, patriarchic ‚dark fathers‘, rule Earth.
Most of these phenomena can be understood as a global, conservative, and patriarchic attempt to turn time backward. Women‘s rights, human rights, LGBTIQ+ rights, civil rights, and even our democratic institutions are under attack, be it in the US, France, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, Hungary, and many other Western countries.
The German philosopher Eva von Redecker calls it ‚phantom property‘. Like the phantom pain of an amputee, a highly toxic version of masculinity spreads regressive dreams of a world where men can sip on martinis all day playing golf, enjoy slaves serving them, and have women at their disposal for instant sexual gratification, supported by a strong conservative church to ensure undisputed moral obedience. The well-produced series ‚The Man in the High Castle ‘, loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, exploits the dark vision of an American fascist state. These days, American Republicans seem busy following this path, even if it should involve high treason as demonstrated on January 6th, 2021.
Phantom property implies the right to complete access and control, including the misuse of property. Unfortunately, the concept rests on a slippery slope. The idea of property is extended to human beings. It does not matter if it is minorities such as the Uighurs in China or an entire people such as in Ukraine. The more significant difference between those in power and those being abused, the higher the need for severe sanctions. In the most extreme case, such as LGBTIQ+ communities, their right to even exist is questioned. This is how Putin’s Z-fascism needs the Russian orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, to fight any type of democratic or pluralist diversity threatening his Hitler-type vision of russifying Europe (not much of a difference to the idea of ‘Arian supremacy’) in the long run. This is also how American Republicans seek extremist churches to support their programs. Sharing the same type of identity politics, they adore Putin.
Little sad men with way too much power
Worse, this is not anything made up by critics. Putin clearly outlined his vision in his publications based on his mentors Alexander Dugin and Lem Gumiljow (the concept of the Eurasian Empire), Alexander Prochanow and Iwan Iljin (the concept of the ‘Russian Way‘), and Wladimir Solojew, who was a friend of Dostojewsky, supplying the fiction of a Christian Empire under Russian control.
Redecker uses the modifier ‚phantom‘ for two reasons. The first is, that the perceived pain is derived from an imagined powerful past, that is believed to have been taken away, motivating conservatives and the far right to counterfactual history revisions. This is how many men portray themselves as victims of conspiracies. As ridiculous as their self-degrading performances appear, they are utterly dangerous since their narrative of victimized white men serves as a convenient template for justifying violence. The second connotation of ‚phantom‘ implies that the felt pain isn‘t real. Dreams of national glory and greatness, of dominating others are a lie, not real, made-up out of convenience. Since visions of imaginary glory and dominance cannot be justified by rational argument, conservatives appear to replace citizen rights and human rights by ideology.
So much for a cheerful outlook on the future of our planet. There is one tiny sparkle of hope though, that should not be underestimated: the conservative mobsters are in the minority. Although they seem loud and obnoxious, they have no democratic power in numbers. This is how we can still stop them from bullying us and from hijacking democracies. In Europe, Putin’s outdated and inexperienced army is no match for NATO’s superiority. In Germany, we hope and pray that Americans will be smart enough to vote for Democrats in 2024.
Although we may not fully succeed in avoiding a climate catastrophe, we can succeed in not letting the world slip into a complete dystopia.
This is our hope.