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Text: Stephan Ott

Translation: Nicholas Grindell


In a speech in a beer tent in Bavaria in August 2018, Horst Seehofer, Germany’s Federal Minister of the Interior, said he was glad about every foreigner who committed a criminal offense, because it would make it easier to deport that person. Coming from a senior government official, who is also a member of a party that calls itself Christian and social, such a statement is scandalous. Not just because it reveals his contempt for humanity, but because it makes a mockery of those who work hard every day to further the development of an urgently needed global society. Under these circumstances, how are teachers, for example, to believably explain to their pupils the principles of a democratic state governed by the rule of law?

Seehofer’s statement is just one of (too) many examples that call on us to contradict and resist, to point out that no one is entitled to privilege (acquired by birth, money, or in any other way) over lonely people, over people with disabilities or over people who fail to match some supposed norm on account of their origins or sexual orientation. Respect and humane treatment are not alms to be handed out by a self-declared elite as it sees fit.



On the contrary, we must ask ourselves whether all living things, as well as artefacts of all kinds, should be entitled to rights similar to those laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in order to resolve the problem of global social imbalance. This may go beyond what some people are capable of imagining, but it is urgently needed, especially in times when corporations and states are in the process of using virtual borders to reshape the world order solely to their own advantage. As our Focus section in this issue shows, borders can be a help as well as a hindrance, even if only to grasp the key difference between setting things apart and keeping things out. Ultimately, borders are still an important source of orientation, without which we would be unable to navigate our increasingly algorithmic world.




In another indefensible statement, Germany’s Federal Minister of the Interior called migration the mother of all problems – thus passing over all the colonial grandfathers whose political, economic, and ecological legacy we are still dealing with today. It is important to impose limits on such views spoken from positions of power, while also opening up new perspectives. Otherwise, we will have trouble moving forward. We will find it hard to see things in new ways, to develop them further or to reassess them.

In this spirit, I wish us all clear thinking and stamina in the face of the ideological smoke screens that are being put up every day.


Stephan Ott, Editor-in-Chief


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