From the Feuilletons


Die Zeit, 27.04.2006

Thomas Gross wonders who belongs to the new societal class of what he calls the precariat (a hybrid of precarious and proletariat). Immigrants, interns, or freelancers? "Where will the money come from tomorrow? How secure is my job? Will the money be enough to pay for kindergarten? Which jobs can I do without a passport? What happens if I get sick? How do I want to live? How will I pay for my degree, what will I do afterwards? Why am I constantly thinking about work? Why won't he do the housework? How do I want to live?"

For the literature section, Ulrich Greiner travels to India, the guest country at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, and visits the woman in charge, Nuzhat Hassan. "She must be in her mid-thirties and doesn't seem daunted by the challenge of presenting India at Frankfurt. She has solved plenty of problems before. She used to be in the Indian police... She says: 'Every year 77,000 new books are published. Forty percent are in English and the rest are in Indian languages. For us, however, English is an Indian language too."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 27.04.2006

"That is death. Not the death of entertainment, but death in entertainment. And we are all paying for its maintenance, whether we want to or not. We are being provided for in the sense of 'care'. And this is the ultimate incapacitation", writes Nobel Prize for literature laureate Elfriede Jelinek in an article expressing her support for the Bayerische Rundfunk youth radio programme "Zündfunk" which is slated to be taken off air. "Entertainment is often bodily harm. It's alright when people in the media sing and saw and sing with a saw or saw while singing or sleeping. As long as they remain alert. But the fun, which is being churned out incessantly as if public service media was a giant fun generator - this is wrong and should be banned from the public sphere. Because this generator does not power anything nor does it replace anything that itself would be capable of producing anything."

Willi Winkler writes on the much-debated cartoon comedy "Popetown", which MTV now plans to stop after airing just one episode at the start of May. "When a cartoon Pope joggles around the Vatican on a joystick it's not blasphemy. And those people who are so demonstratively against it are the real menace to public peace. It's true, in some Arab countries you can get beheaded for less, and even in some of the more God-fearing states in the US such frivolities will get the overly-devout in the mood for some lynching-justice. Although it's a little embarrassing to write such platitudes, the West and it's values will not be weakened by stuff like Popetown. On the contrary, things like that are much more a sign of its strength, because they show the West can put up with such infantilism without reacting in a fundamentalist way like Ayatollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Markus Söder, general secretary of the German Christian Social Union."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 27.04.2006

Philosopher Herbert Schnädelbach (info and pulications in German here) vents his spleen at the children's education offensive which the Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen launched together with a cardinal and a woman bishop at the national press conference. "With its condescending stance towards all other children's authorities, not to mention the educational and social sciences, this council of three makes it clear that it intends to keep a tight grip on things. This is an unmistakable ideological claim to power by Christian conservative values." But Schnädelbach says: "The Christian legacy in our culture is not compatible with the self-empowerment of Christian office-holders on issues of children's education. Here in Europe we are living in a pluralist world, in which religion has long been forced to the cultural margins. And since that has been the case, morals have also had to stand on their own feet. But it is precisely this dry truth that frightens so many of the anxious."

Die Tageszeitung, 27.04.2006

"Sure, I'm pretty scared about the upcoming FIFA World Cup," confesses the writer Burkhard Spinnen. "That's why I now spend my sleepless pre-World Cup nights developing plans for a better future. My current Utopia is a plan along the lines of 'constitutional patriotism', that construction recommending emphatic identification not with a country, a people, a homeland or a nation, but with an abstract concept of how people should live. In my analogy, in future hearts will beat faster for Germany's national soccer league, the Bundesliga! This is how it will work: after three years in the Bundesliga, players from all over the world will acquire the right to play for the German national team. At first disliked and then successful, the German sporting 'virtues' are now dying out. The advantage of my idea is that these 'virtues' will now be globalised away. The national team would simply represent the quality of the Bundesliga. The national element which has always has been questionable would fall away, leaving a team that is multicultural and pure German in equal measure. I would certainly give up the present baleful conglomeration for a national team like that!"

Die Welt, 27.04.2006

Gerhard Gnauck explains why an increasing number of Polish media (most recently the paper Rzeczpospolita in its weekend edition) intervene when people abroad mistakenly talk about Polish, and not German concentration camps. The debate is a symptom of the national-conservative turn in the country, he writes. "But it is also unmistakably connected to the new 'history policy' – the concept which has been gaining ground in Poland since the autumn electoral victory of the national conservatives (more here). The most recent element of the debate is Warsaw's request that the adjective 'former Nazi German' be added to 'Auschwitz Concentration Camp' in Unesco's World Cultural Heritage list. This ruffled feathers at the Jewish World Congress. By contrast, the German Foreign Office expressed understanding."
See our feature "Hoping for a game without fouls", an interview with Polish author Pawel Huelle, by Gerhard Gnauck. - let's talk european