Martin Auer: The Strange War, Stories for Peace Education
Now I would like to speak very openly about something. Especially now when so many beat around the bush, when no one says what he really thinks because it's not "polite", because it is not "politically correct", because it stirs up memories that are better left buried. Precisely because of this it is necessary for someone to openly tell it like it is.
Of course foreigners, even those in the South and in the East, are people too. No one disputes that. Of course they have eyes, a mouth, and a nose just like us. They experience love and fear like us; they are gifted or dumb like us and so forth and so on. Of course there are among them, just as there are among us, decent and less decent people. And when they grow up in orderly circumstances, they are no more prone to crime than we are. But that is not what it is all about. What it is about is this: we have to defend our culture, and we have to defend our affluence without which this culture would not exist. The fact is that here we live in one of the richest countries in the world. (And that goes for all of those who can read these words, for Germans just as much as for the Swiss and Austrians.) Here we have prosperity and a secure social structure that the Greeks or the Poles can only dream of. Ethiopians or Colombians cannot even imagine this. Let's face the facts squarely: of the six billion people in this world, only one billion live in the "industrial nations." And we just so happen to belong to them.
We, the rich sixth of humanity, we own four fifths of the wealth of the earth! We consume 70% of the energy, 60% of the food, and 85% of the wood on this earth. What would happen if the others just came along and demanded their share? So far they are just one or one and a half million poor devils that flee to us, from political persecution, from a war or from hunger. Oh well. But out there, there are not millions, but a few billion poor devils full of envy of our prosperity! We, the richest sixth, have sixty times as much as the poorest sixth. You have to let that sink in completely without a false sense of shame. A German consumes as much fuel oil as ten black Africans. A German emits as much CO2 into the air as 65 blacks. In our part of the world there is one car for every two inhabitants, counting children. In India, there is one car for every 455 people. Let's face it, if they all wanted to live the way we do too, we could close down the planet! There just isn't enough oil in the world for the blacks and Chinese to drive cars too. Those are facts!
Everybody who likes to talk about justice while having a cup of coffee should just think about how much he is paying for that coffee. Ten years ago the blacks down there or the Indians from South America got from us the equivalent of a locomotive for 13,000 sacks of coffee. Today, if they want to buy a locomotive, they have to deliver 45,000 sacks to us. You couldn't say that that is bad for us. None of us wants to do without our cheap coffee. How many of those who love to talk about justice voluntarily buy the expensive coffee from the Third World Shop? Who asks, when he buys a cheap Indian cotton shirt or a pretty silk scarf, whether they're just so cheap because they're produced by child labor? No, charity begins at home. We all think of our own future first of all, of our own family. That's just natural. The Indians or the Chinese wouldn't act any differently if they were the leading nations in the world.
Let's not kid ourselves: our whole world order rests on the supremacy of the whites. Where are the industrial nations located? In North America, in Europe, in Australia, South Africa, Japan. You can't even count Russia anymore. That's practically all white people, not counting the Japanese.
And the industrial nations take it absolutely for granted that they have to do everything to protect their supremacy in the world, mainly with political and economic means these days. We're not only protecting our borders against the refugees from the poor countries. We're also protecting our markets from their products. For example, we don't exact nearly as much duty on raw cotton as we do on manufactured textiles. We have them deliver cocoa to us, but never the prepared chocolate. After all we have to protect our textiles or chocolate factories from the competition. In truth we can't have the slightest interest in having those countries down there establish their own industries, get "developed." After all we want to keep selling our industrial products to them at a high price and buy cheap raw materials from them.
But will economic and political means - like say, European unity - always be enough to secure our supremacy in the world? Won't it one day have to come to military measures? When the Red Empire collapsed some people acted for a while as though eternal peace would soon be breaking out. But to the more foresighted, it was clear that the truth was that the problems were not coming so much from the East as from the South. Since the Gulf War, one thing is very clear: when Saddam Hussein tried to snatch Kuwait, he got rapped on the knuckles by us, the rich fifth, with a vengeance. Luckily we were dealing with a true dictator then and a true violation of international law, so that no one could say we weren't within our rights. But it wasn't only Saddam who got a taste of what technological-military superiority is. The televised war showed the entire South who's the boss in the world. And Mr. Milosovic, who is luckily also indisputably a dictator and war criminal, did us a similar favor, so that no one dares point a finger at us and charge that we are jointly responsible for the war because of unacceptable ultimatums and other diplomatic acts and omissions. For in the last analysis, these wars were necessary for us.
Let's not kid ourselves! Let's not kid ourselves about how the others see us: each one of us can buy a carnation from Colombia in the middle of winter for 75 cents. Yes, and does anybody ask questions about that? Every day airplanes fly around half the world just to bring us fresh flowers from the other side of the globe! Even the emperors of ancient Rome couldn't afford a luxury like that. Aren't we the aristocrats of the world? We would be naive to talk ourselves into thinking that the other five sixths love us.
Of course we don't all profit equally from our pre-eminence in the world. A few always get a raw deal; there's nothing to be done about that. We simply happen to be a meritocracy. And that's like a ski race: if someone is two hundredths of a second slower than the other one, he's not really a poorer skier because of that. But only three people can get a medal; those are the rules, and the others get nothing.
Of course we're not just a meritocracy but also a welfare state. And the poorest welfare recipients in our part of the world still live better than most people from Mozambique do. But that's not what it's all about. There are just some who know they will never get a medal, who know they will never belong to the successful and famous. And they're just frustrated. You can't do anything about that. Sure, it would be nice if we could place different values at the top: friendliness, congeniality, humor, or the ability to be happy and enjoy life. But then we would never have become as rich as we are today. You have to understand that. We owe our prosperity not least to our system of values, in which success is at the top of the list.
And those who get the short end of it, who consider themselves useless and not needed, these people feel humiliated and are full of anger. Aren't they also white, European, German, members of an industrial nation? Don't they belong to the group that claims to be the salt of the earth? Why wouldn't they belong? Naturally these mostly young people can't understand why on the one hand we allow ourselves to be guided only to a extremely limited degree by humanitarian considerations in our economic activities in the world, but on the other hand still grant humanitarian aid to one small basically insignificant group of people. Their reasoning (surely oversimplified) goes this way: if we present ourselves as the lords over other peoples on a national and economic level, why can't we also do the same thing with regard to individual members of foreign groups, and especially in our own country?
They overlook the fact that a certain minimum of humanity is necessary for our reputation in the world, which therefore of course also contributes to our economic successes. They also overlook the fact that the cost of this humanity (even though of course we like to remind people of it) actually isn't all that high. The German banks alone earn four or five times the amount spent by their federal government on refugees and asylum seekers just from the interest paid by the developing countries for loans. Anyway, here there are only three refugees for every 1,000 residents, whereas a country like say Malawi, has to cope with 105 refugees for every 1,000 residents. Luckily, 85 % of the world's refugees stay in the Third World anyway.
Still one ought to show some understanding for these perhaps overzealous, radicalized young people and not demonize them as right wing extremists and Neo-nazis lock, stock and barrel. Of course it's not nice to set fire to homes for asylum seekers or go "colored bashing." That's primitive and crude. More than anything, these extreme actions harm our international relations and thus our export interests in a direct way. But behind these stupid excesses that are, and - I repeat - to be absolutely rejected, there is also a feeling, a completely realistic thought: that it is necessary to erect a protective wall against the onslaught from the South.
Sure, excesses must not be permitted. Order must be maintained. On the other hand, we have to recognize that the basic premise that is expressed by these excesses is definitely healthy and is a completely logical outcome of our position in the world as a political and economic power. And possibly, yes probably, we will one day need this basic attitude to a much greater extent than today: who can say that one day we won't have to defend our achievements, our position in the world with military means as well? When one day push comes to shove, when it's necessary one day to defend our culture, our values, and not least also our affluence and our pre-eminence in the world to the bitter end, it will then only be possible if a healthy, strong "Germany first," "Austria first," or "Europe first" attitude is firmly anchored as one of the basic values of our culture in the minds and hearts of the people. We have to understand that clearly; we can't allow ourselves to be deceived about that!
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