Ritalin and Upper Limits. On the European Populism and the voluntary new obedience in parts of the society

Essay, 2018

19 Pages, Grade: 2


Ritalin and Upper Limits. On the European Populism and the voluntary new obedience in parts of the society.

Burning refugee homes and little lovingly yelled slogans (preferably with a charming dialect to it) today are images to us that have become every-day realities. Peter Brückner writes that, at least in the light of his time, an authoritarian father figure with his strong hand and severity would become obsolete (cf. Brückner 1966, 20). He justified this with the emergence and establishment of the industrial society, in which policy is mainly concerned with the creation and maintenance of circumstances (cf. ibid.). Rather, the education of adolescents now is practiced by the cultural tradition that is controlled by society and incorporated by parents. The child, which quickly learns that it leads to reprisals, if one behaves against valid social conventions (for example by parental sanctions), thus adopts the social rules of the game in blind trust in the parental judgment (cf. ibid., 23), applies this to future generations just as unquestioned and thus prevents the true development of the individual in the case of nonconformity by condemning statements such as "You do not do something like that [in our noble society]!".

But what happens when individual people turn it to the opposite? If they question the current society and thus politics, regard them as transfigured and naïve, accuse them of a rosy, unreflected view of the world and see themselves as the center of the absolute truth of the world? If they gather in groups, form parties, wanting to spread and implement their views immensely and, if need be, they want to do so violently? And why are these views often so diligently accepted and incorporated by others?

The theme of this essay is the question of how enemy images emerge, how they are spread in a populist manner, who accepts them. It also exemplifies Hungary's current and everything but uncritical political situation under Viktor Orbán's Fidesz administration compared to Western European populism and attempts to find out whether and how the two systems of exclusions differ. My thesis is that right-wing populism, especially in times of insecurity[1] and at best by unenlightened, distorted institutionalized conceptions of its own history and defeats, finds social acceptance precisely because, and this stands in contrast to Brückner's impression, these collectives long for an authoritarian father figure who knows how to defend the alleged national interests of the enemies who want to obliterate them and seek to rob the nation of its identity.

One fact in advance: the world has far more resources than is needed to meet the basic human needs of the currently living human population on several occasions, yet we count about six billion people living in miserable conditions (cf. Berghold 2007, 55).

Greed, selfishness, and megalomania are what I call the main actors in the constitution and manifestation of this unsustainable audacity. Since ancient Greece, man is actually seen as a social being, as an individual dependent on his fellow human beings, their solidarity and care, but under these conditions, it becomes clear that these dependencies can by no means relate to the totality of fellow human beings. There must be groups or personal systems which one would expect to be solitary, who one is also solitary and caring for, and others who are considered less worthy of solidarity. This appraisal of other parts of the world community is also reflected in the fact that at any given time wars, saber-rattling or the creation or revival of resentment against what is defined as the dangerous stranger (mostly by authorities), vast amounts of these goods are squandered, apparently without reflecting and understanding that, with the research and testing of new nuclear super-killers, entire communities of emerging economies or the so-called Third World could have been freed from poverty, not to mention the opportunities for developing their own country - improved education, tax reforms to be useful to one's own people - should the Third World be geographically and morally too remote from the ruler.

The winner takes it all, the loser has to fall – that seems to be the credo in today’s elbow-society. When everyone thinks just about themselves, everyone is cared about. Something in this manner they seem to whisper to each other on the populist clientele-orientated parkette of European and world politics while dancing with raised glasses of champagne. And to legitimately guarantee this extravagant standard, they make sure that everything happens within the democratic frame, but that for them and their avid advocates the frame gets a wee bit more democratic – and therefore they love to use the principles of exclusion. These actions are not always aimed against the quite placative example of the Third World (which does not mean it is not true). Enemy concepts and the creation of resentments, within societal collectives or initiated by the political actors, provide a very welcome potential, especially in the current time. The first question opens up: What is an enemy picture? Conceptually, there are different approaches depending on the school, but the processes they handle are the same. If Robert Miles's racism discourse, to be discussed later, refers to a process of finding and constructing differences, which he calls 'signification' (Miles 2000, 18), this is quite similar to that of Omer et al. described process of demonization, i.e. the negation of another person or a group, resulting in a pathologization of the same, a dislike and an indispensable fight against the thus produced "monster" (Omer et al., 2007, 13). In the demonization process, the person/group in question is first eyed suspiciously; every action is assumed to have a negative intention. Later one then proceeds to see through the shameful and destructive motives of the opponent allegedly and to feel an inner compulsion to put an end to this evil, if necessary violently the "monster" to stop his threatening actions, his dangerous behavior (cf. ibid., 15). The main aim of the demonizing enemy construction is to make a certain group responsible for an imagined, lost perfection and to combat it by all means, in order to finally be able to restore the previous beloved status quo ante (cf. ibid., 53). For example, in the past, the witches were persecuted, because they were seen possessed by the devil (this was especially in the Middle Ages, the destruction argument par excellence). Here is an example of the signification mentioned above: the affected women were defined as witches, as they deviated from the social norm (by special healing or herbal knowledge or similar 'supernatural' abilities) and thus an alleged danger was inferred, Brückner also outlines this method of detestation (cf. Brückner 1966, 25). The division of the world into a black or white scheme, the We and the threatening stranger, that is automatically harmful to us, precisely because it is not identical with us. This division of the world undoubtedly requires a certain position of power. If an individual wants to impose his demonized worldview on a broader audience, then far more than the nightly discussion with the village elders is needed. He needs ways and means to spread his crude, displaced views: a shrewd, all-encompassing propaganda machine.

The road to power, of any internal and external party intrigue, charismatic promise to the takeover of the scepter and the like should not be treated too insistently for this essay, but one thing is for both the rise and in its final reign of immense importance: fomenting and maintaining hope; the hope of the constructed dangers, i.e. the first imagined, then medial and/or interpersonal intensified resentment towards and ultimately identified as a threatening murderer individuals of society find redemption and regain the former happiness (Omer et al., 2007, 52f).

For the most part, individuals who use exclusion practices are convinced that Darwin's law of the strongest also applies to humanity. He who is thus excluded, therefore, lets it happen as a sign of weakness, and is thus naturally subject to its oppressor in its value (cf. Beck 1986, 136). Such a grotesqueness could be solved by a discourse of politics and society, but, according to the subjective well-being of large sections of society, politics does not give answers to specific questions, but gives false answers to unasked questions (cf. ibid.). Thus, it is understandable that these 'left-alone' parts of society seek a ringleader, one who understands them and knows how to give an answer to their problems. It is not simply accepted everything that can be formulated in two hundred and eighty signs. It must coincide with what moves the citizens: if you are afraid of loaded millet in the bread, the prince may try to introduce more natural millet, but in the long run, the goal is to banish them completely from the baked goods. Or, to put it less industry-specific: when a concern is sparked that is rooted in its roots for the most part economically; a fear of a certain novelty in society (which does not necessarily have to be objectively one), then it needs a Messiah, who has the courage, the remaining, in their view, true 'people by isolation and eradication of these recognized as danger collectives to preserve. Niklas Luhmann's system theory reveals the extremely helpful concept of double contingency; I cannot know what someone thinks about me, vice versa (Omer et al 2007, 26).

Thus, it may prove to be quite plausible for the individual(s) that another person is negative to him/her, then the associations to which this other belongs, and a fear that ends in evil demonization develops, in the allocation of guilt for their own misery and, if necessary, the end of the world. In this sense, Luhmann's concept of expectation-expectation should also be mentioned. The expectation-expectation describes the feeling of pressure that weighs on one, because one does not know what the other thinks about one, what is expected of the one (cf. ibid., 27f.). This is often the picture of a self-fulfilling prophecy: if B thinks that A is expecting something very specific, B becomes nervous/tense. A notices this tension and indicates that B wants him/her evil and sees the expectation of B as confirmed.


[1] Introduced by crises – in my understanding, a crisis here is an unexpected novum in a society that could by no means be adequately prepared for in advance.

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Ritalin and Upper Limits. On the European Populism and the voluntary new obedience in parts of the society
University of Vienna  (Politikwissenschaft)
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Populism, right-wing, Hungary, Viktor, Orbán, AfD, Fidesz, Le Pen, Front National, Wilders, Autocracy, European, Union, EU, Migration
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René Nieland (Author), 2018, Ritalin and Upper Limits. On the European Populism and the voluntary new obedience in parts of the society, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/412732


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