Interview with Ulrich Schacht
[This interview originally published in a Saxony newspaper May 26, 2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.sz-online.de/nachrichten/artikel.asp?id=608047.]
Mr. Schacht, do you come to East Germany “reconciled”?
Ulrich Schacht: I was never “unreconciled” with the East. I have always felt very close to the people and region and was only disgusted by the political system. The “basic material” of writing in poetry and essays continues for me: nature and people. I was never fixated on East Germany. Political things are found in journalism and prose. Fundamental questions are involved, not only historical situations and historical accidents. There was also a third set of themes, the theological. I now come back to this.
Do you reject politics?
Germany has exhausted me politically. I was always an SPDer for democratic socialism inspired by the 1968 Prague spring. That seemed to be the alternative, the system that I desired. But I was disappointed by the persons because they were intent on destroying the system. Parties don’t exist any more. There is only an amorphous mass, a total German unity party. I oppose this since this unity party is a sign of social intolerance.
Are we in Brecht times? Is a conversation about trees a crime because it includes silence about atrocities?
Certainly not. We are not in Auschwitz or in the Gulag. The constitutional state still functions.. However society has crossed its Rubicon and shows it is not afraid of governing dictatorially… German journalism is dependent on history and is very regional. We only have three or four genuine supra-regional Germany-wide daily papers. The broadcasting area and circulations should not mislead us… The uncontrollable electronic mass media is a problem. I regard the merger of functional elites from politics and functional elites from this electronic mass media as dangerous.
How is this dangerous?
These media spread mis-, pseudo- and non-information. While not false, it is not impartial but biased. This begins with the weather report complaining that no summer weather occurs in February. A consumptive relation is developed to the most natural things amid world domination mania, belief in progress, hostility to God and hubris. One could say: capitalism is the highest form of communism: “Consumers of the world, unite!” The standardized person is the result, foolish, eating like a pig and eager for applause. The base of all culture is lost: differentiation and tolerance.
Will you resign?
In no way! At the moment I don’t know how one can resist. Perhaps we must first take a strategic retreat, not abandoning but withdrawing in preparatory places, taking ourselves out of the existential threat, regaining sovereignty and freedom of action, making ourselves fit, “encouraging” one another until time creates changed situations where a new world can be anticipated.
But you have not gone underground in a retreat or rearguard place.
No, as long as I write and publish, I don’t indulge in discussion. That I don’t drive everywhere for addresses is part of the strategy. I go only where people can speak rationally with each other even in dissent without feeling intimidatied. Saxony is a region that I like. Hoyerswerda seems like an excellent place. As a dialogue culture, Hoyerswerde is a preparatory “stage” for active persons.