Thursday, May 3, 2018

When Old Left and Far Right Share a Bedroom

Pretty interesting.

At NYT, "A Very German Love Story: When Old Left and Far Right Share a Bedroom":

VIENNA — When she says identity, he hears exclusion.

When he says diversity, she hears Islamization.

He accuses her of forgetting history. She accuses him of obsessing with history. He calls her a racist. She calls him a national masochist.

Helmut Lethen, 79, and Caroline Sommerfeld, 42, are both writers. They represent two generations and two intellectual camps in an ever more divided Germany. They are political enemies.

And they are married.

Their marriage is exceptional, incomprehensible even, but it is also a laboratory for tolerance and a rare window into how the other side thinks. Intimately and daily, they are having the conversation their country is not.

It is a very German love story (though the couple reside in Austria, where the husband teaches), one neatly pegged to the 50th anniversary of the counterculture movement that remains a touchstone of global postwar history — and to the ascent of the counter-counterculture movement of today.

May 1968 was as important in Europe as it was in the United States, fueled similarly by a youth bulge, sexual liberation, disgust with the Vietnam War and general discontent with the era’s political establishment.

And it spawned much the same trajectory for its baby boomers, from budding student revolutionaries to button-down liberal elites.

Germany was no exception. And neither was Mr. Lethen.

A student activist at the time, Mr. Lethen toyed with Communism, rebelling against Germany’s postwar elites which, as he put it, “still stank of the Nazis” — only to become part of the country’s cultural mainstream.

Ms. Sommerfeld, a philosopher in her own right, was swept up in another countercultural movement: In the summer of 2015, as hundreds of thousands of refugees arrived in Germany, she discovered the “New Right,” the intellectual spearhead of a nationalist movement that considers Islam and globalization existential threats.

Her husband had celebrated the arrival of the refugees: “I think it is the first time in our cultural history that we have welcomed the foreign in this way,” he said.

Ms. Sommerfeld, though, felt “anxious” and “repelled.”

Today, she hopes her own fringe movement is tapping into a shifting zeitgeist that will reverberate in Germany and beyond, just as her husband’s did in its day.

“We are the megaphone of a silent majority,” she claims...
Well, I'm with her, to borrow a phrase, lol.

Still more.