January 15th, looking back over the many years, one may even say: over an entire era that seems to be behind us, overcome – looking back to the 15th of January 1919 shows so clear that an era ended but this end is far from being the end of history.
Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, most consequent members of the German left, fundamentally opposing against militarism not only by words but also by their political action had been killed on that day – after a trial: briefly pretending that everything would be dealt with according to the rules of the proverbial German law and order they had been stabbed and thrown in the river, showing to which extent the German law and order had been ready to bend the law in favour of ‘order’. It had been the order or normality – the mad normality. The 3rd commandment (see comments for correction) – here from the Exodus-version
Though shalt have no other gods before me
– had been translated by German law and order politics into the sovereignty of the state, disjoined from the people, disjoined from truth, opening the way to any arbitrary ruling within an illusionary world of rational-legal authority. It had not been by accident that one of the most pronounced analysis of the development of different systems of authority, ruling and governance had been presented by the German sociologist MaxWeber, not least pointing out the complex contradictions, highlighting the dangers of a development towards an iron cage in which we may be easily trapped; law and order – the seedbed and fruit of an authoritarian personality as analysed by Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson and Nevitt Sanford (1950), the dangers “eclipsed by the light of reason“.
It is true:
And it is equally true that shooting people, throwing them into a river as it happened to Rosa and Karl, is not the only way of killing. The Silent Revolution which Ronald Inglehart had in mind after wrapping everything into figures surely shows something as all statistics say something. But it easily lets us forget its companion: the silent killing – performed on the catwalk, in the statistical offices, and the careless orientations on an alleged elitism…, and the hesitant agreement with critical voices: remaining on the surface level or limited to agreement behind the closed doors …. all this should makes us think of the two and what happened to the world after they had been silenced.
It may sound distant – but it may sound obvious and challenging at the same time, not least for working in academia: we have to be brave, looking for powerful points even if they are not obvious, not matching the powerpoint-format.
Yes, it is time to look back – not in order to say good-bye, but in order to move forward.