Is communism dangerous

Who's Afraid of the Red Man?


"A ghost is haunted in Europe - the ghost of communism." However, all the powers of the new Europe have long distanced themselves from a holy hunt for this ghost, the Pope and Orban, Merkel and Macron, French yellow vests and German Monday demonstrators. All of them no longer have to chase the ghost because it no longer spreads fear.

Engels and Marx aptly provided communism with the metaphor of the ghost at the beginning of the communist manifesto in 1848. The ghost embodied fear and anxiety across the government, was a breeding ground for arguments of all kinds, became a rhetorical weapon for marginalizing entire peoples and part of party names. Hardly anyone can call themselves that today. Communist. Or a Marxist (At this point I would like to point out that for reasons of readability I use the generic masculine. However, this always means representatives of each gender). While it may still give one or the other Twitter user a certain edgyness in the profile description, the use of one of these terms in the name of a party is far from any possibility, if the party has serious interests, to move into the German parliament.

On the one hand there is still the exuvia of the KPD, on the other hand the Marxist-Leninist party, which tirelessly clings to the edge of the pool in the pool of insignificance next to Jürgen von der Lippe and LED kettles, in the hope of not drowning through massive advertising. So all three manage for inexplicable reasons, regardless of their actual ridiculousness, nevertheless somehow to inform people about their continued existence. But nobody fears the Marxist-Leninist party. Nobody. Except, perhaps, for the author of this text, who lives in constant fear of making a mistake in writing her name. Otherwise nobody really fears the Marxist-Leninist party (At this point I would like to thank my spelling correction tool).

Metaphors are widely known as explanations of the lifeworld and as a prosthesis of understanding. It is worthwhile to get to the bottom of the context of meaning on which the metaphor is based, in our case between ghost and communism, in order to understand the explanatory power of the metaphor in its entirety: Ghosts cause fear. The mere knowledge of their existence, the imagination of their effectiveness makes people fear. It is the anxiety about their non-existent physique, the painting of their size and strength, that turn ghosts into objects of fear. At the same time, they can still be perceived, even if not realistically visual: We base their existence on eerie noises or otherwise unexplainable phenomena that we can perceive with our senses.

According to an online encyclopedia based on the statements by Siegbert Warwitz, which is definitely not flawless, but always wrongly marginalized by grammar school teachers, “about an object that can be grasped from within the world, can mostly be rationally justified and directed towards a concrete matter that is perceived as a real threat . "Synonyms of fear are, on the one hand, positively connoted terms such as respect, recognition or esteem - especially in the sense of awe. On the other hand, there are negatively connoted synonyms of fear in the sense of fear.

The term fear
The invitation to tender for the essay competition "Friedrich Engels - the day before yesterday, yesterday, tomorrow?" Refers to the aforementioned online encyclopedia, which is despised by many high school teachers, to clarify the terms of the required literary genre (which allows the neutral conclusion that the organizers are probably not high school teachers), in which the form of the literary genre essay is written: "Every new term is introduced and presented." So this now happens with the term fear. Ladies and gentlemen, dear readers, I may introduce: The fear.

While fear is focused on something, fear is irrelevant. Fear describes a basic feeling that expresses itself in situations perceived as threatening as concern and a feeling of displeasure. These feelings are generated by expected threats, such as physical integrity, self-respect or self-image.

Now that hopefully enough high school teachers feel fearful, angry or attacked, it is time to turn to more reputable sources. (With the citation of well-known names, one can usually be sure of the recognition of older reviewers. Often, readers attach greater importance to the source than to its content. Richard E. Petty and John T. Cacioppo, for example, describe this in their significant Elaboration Likelihood Model. Incidentally, this source effect works particularly well with authors who place an abbreviation with a dot between their first and last names).

According to Kierkegaard, fear is supposed to have a deep effect on the life of the individual and thereby either paralyze him or, on the contrary, even enable him to perform particularly well. A person has to face a fear. Meet it, master it. Only then can he advance in his development. Dodging the argument inhibits and leads to stagnation in development.

Probably one or the other reader is already aware of the following line of argument of the author. But let the author apply what he learned from the eleventh grade philosophy course (to get the high school teachers positive again), and illustrate the argument with the help of a simple syllogism:

First premise: ghosts cause fear or fear.

Second premise: Communism is a ghost (at least in the metaphor).

Conclusion: Communism causes fear or fear.

Now that all the high school teachers are hopefully on board again, this intermediate knowledge can be used to continue working.

Fear or fear or both
Since an essay develops its effectiveness based on the precise and exact use of the right terms, a term has to be agreed upon. So what are ghosts causing now? Fear or fear? Or both? A distinction between the two terms is not only important in order to meet the stylistic requirements of the essay, but above all because the terms are ascribed significant differences and manners in the underlying concepts.

As explained at the beginning, fear requires a concrete, defined threat that can partly be perceived through the senses. Marx and Engels' ghost of 1848 was a ghost to be feared. The ghost was not directly present and yet there. In the years that followed the manifesto, communism, which was far from being institutionalized by the community, became a political view that spread among the proletarians of all countries and represented real political power. Ergo, the specter spread fear among political opponents. For those who feared that the weight of their institutionalized ideology would be restricted in parliaments and for others who saw the steadfastness of their internalized ideology threatened outside of realpolitical arenas. Fear of the specter of communism therefore means fear that a communist party will come to power, fear that communist politics will forfeit one's privileges, fear that the exercise of liberal politics will be restricted, fear of a concrete threat.

In order for the specter of communism to spread fear, it must be identifiable and definable. Over the years and decades, however, the identifiability of communism and related ideas has dissolved. The ghost has become fluid, has lost its shape, can no longer be defined. For a long time, communism in Germany was an economic idea to be considered, the solidarity and organization of workers, a realpolitically conceivable scenario. - What is communism today? A word in a Twitter bio? The execution of a party abbreviation of a party that gets well below one percent of all votes? A buzzword? - Communism lacks the body, the encounter; it is fluid, gaseous. Communism, socialism, Marxism or any related form are as far removed from everyday life as articles in the BILD newspaper are from serious journalism (funny comparisons always go down well!).

There where no more floorboards creak
Let me explain the difference between the two terms a little further so that the consequences of dealing with the specter of communism today can be clearly understood. In order to be able to exercise fear as a ghost, it has to haunt people, arouse them, confront them. It must somehow represent a definable quantity. And if that size is just the hiss of the wind, the creak of the floorboards. This is how a ghost can be defined. Today there are no cracks in the floorboards, no more wind hisses. The ghost of communism in the form envisaged by Engels and Marx is currently barely perceptible to the general public and therefore cannot be defined. The influence of the trade unions is falling, no party in the Bundestag has really internalized the basic communist idea and the power of large corporations, especially in the technology sector, is increasing immeasurably. And instead of the fear triggered by perceptibility and definability, there is a state of fear, the state of tension towards something that one cannot really perceive and whose supposed threat is of no value in the current situation. The ghost is no longer associated with fear, but only with fear.

Now one or the other may comment: “Well, it doesn't matter whether communism triggers fear or fear. Almost means the same thing anyway. "At this point, contrary to the highest privilege of freedom of expression, some people simply decided to tape their mouths shut with duct tape, because the difference between these two terms is enormous in psychology and in the metaphor presented here The way in which fear and fear are dealt with shows that the two terms are so much "almost the same" as Napoleon Bonaparte and a Chihuahua whose tail is stepped on. Despite their small body size, both are quite contentious, but we wouldn't expect the Chihuahua to want to conquer the whole world out of his contentiousness.

Anxiety and fear are part of a similar category, share similarities, but have different characteristics. Or, to put it another way: If the terms were two animals, they could produce maximally sterile offspring together.

The image of fear
Fear, as opposed to fear, often arises without a specific source. Rather, it is the idea of ​​them that triggers and drives fear. Fear is long-lasting and the underlying danger is not acute, but anticipated. So we assume that the specter of communism, that is communism itself, does not arouse fear today, but rather fear. This is incredibly serious for the relationship between people and communism or communist ideas. To understand this, one has to take a closer look at fear and how people deal with fear.

Fear draws its power, its work and its existence from the fluid notion of an unspecified threat. A self-created image that, in contrast to the real object of fear, appears overwhelming. The image can never correspond to reality. It is always larger, more dangerous and threatening in the imagination than in its actual form. Significantly larger, too, than in a state of fear. Or to break down the metaphor: A person who is really affected by fear of communism or related ideas will never perceive the actual object, but always an imagined image of it. Or more specifically: an inheritance tax is never just an inheritance tax, but always an envy-based, crude idea of ​​communist ideologues that wants to make all people equal.

If the fear of a certain object develops into a life-limiting condition, psychologists speak of an anxiety disorder. According to DSM-5 (psychological categorization system), the fear of an anxiety disorder is stronger and more pronounced than would be appropriate under the circumstances in question. Part of the anxiety disorders are the specific phobias. There the fear addresses specific situations, circumstances or objects.

It is far from any common psychotherapeutic practice and no sensible psychotherapist would get involved in something like that, but since I am not one, I can confidently do the following: I make a remote diagnosis and certify that German society has a communism phobia (currently not yet existing, if any of you readers have the possibility of establishing medical clinical pictures, I would like to be involved)!

The communism phobia
The communism phobia (unfortunately no fancy Latin name possible due to the late development of communism) is characterized by inappropriate and exaggerated reactions to any direct or equivalent use of the terms “communism, socialism, Marxism, Engels, Marx, redistribution, taxes, proletariat, fairness, or just wages.” As a result of the use of these terms, communism breaks out -Phobia affected people directly into states of fear: in his mind's eye, miles of parades including countless flags and uniforms move across a huge square, a state-employed money collector steals all his assets from his bank account and his freedom to choose between 187 different soap dispensers is released As a result of these ideas, the subject affected by the communism phobia typically makes statements such as: "Do you want conditions like in the GDR?" I can freely choose between 187 soap dispensers !!! ", out (please add to the list so that we can define the clinical picture more precisely).

Specific phobias usually result in an impairment of the quality of life. For example, zoophobia, the fear of certain animals, affects how freely a person can move around in normal life. Such consequences can also be seen with those affected by the communism phobia: Those affected vote for parties that do not represent their interests and then complain about a difficult life. They encourage the expansion of the big corporations that drive their own wages down.
In the case of specific phobias, avoidance behavior often occurs. For example, people with zoophobia avoid places where they are very likely to encounter the fearful animal. Those affected by the communism phobia avoid every place, every idea, every approach that could even remotely have something to do with the basic idea of ​​communist theory. In this way, there will never be a sensible confrontation with the object of fear. Confrontation is the only thing that could cure the communism phobia.

Let's break down the fear
As Kierkegaard claimed (familiar name, so what's next is very important) Coming to terms with what we fear and fear is essential to moving forward in life. So people have to deal with their fears in order to fathom them, to get over them or perhaps to be able to gain something positive from them. Avoiding a confrontation with fear is its breeding ground. This confrontation succeeds in psychotherapy via exposure therapy, the most effective therapy for specific phobias, with a success rate of over 90 percent.

As a result of exposure therapy, the fear has continuously disappeared or has been significantly reduced. Exposure therapy uses confrontation to convey a feeling that the imaginary image of the feared object does not match the real image of the object. At the end of a successful exposure therapy, the patient learns that the object is not as bad, as scary, as assumed. (By the way, this essay is my exposure therapy for allodoxaphobia). The exposure could create a feeling for communism-phobics with communism-theoretical ideas, on the basis of which those affected recognize that the introduction of an inheritance tax does not immediately destroy the performance principle and wants to bring all people into line. Unfortunately, this form of exposure is currently not taking place or only to a limited extent.

The greatest confrontation with communist, socialist or Marxist ideas currently arises through an animal. A kangaroo to be precise. The communist kangaroo, to be more precise. And it is somehow significant that ideas in the tradition of communism are made suitable for the masses not through the mouth of a theorist but through that of a speaking kangaroo. At the same time, a relaxed nod to the jokes of the radio play bought on Amazon already lives up to most of the revolutionary claims.

Often the reason for laughter is because we understand something.We laugh when the kangaroo brings up obvious grievances because we understand that these grievances exist. Nevertheless, we do not waste any thought that communist ideas might resolve these grievances. Because there is no real exposure to fear. A talking kangaroo is a talking kangaroo is a talking kangaroo. And so it always remains something surreal. Something that simply cannot exist. And this surreal something expresses communist ideas, which also means that they always remain surreal. You might meet Marx and Engels at school, maybe during your studies, but how often in normal adult life? Too often people tend directly to avoidance behaviors, even if the word communist or something related is mentioned. Often the word social is enough. Such an avoidance strategy will never lead to a constructive examination of Engels' legacy.

Greater exposure is therefore required to show that communist ideas do not correspond to the image of many people suffering from communism phobia. At the same time, however, it must be emphasized that the fear in a specific phobia in its form as a phobia is inappropriate and exaggerated, but is not far removed from possible rationalities. A tarantula CAN be extremely dangerous, even life threatening; but that doesn't mean it always is, and even less does it mean that any other spider is such a threat. On communist ideas, if not to say immediately on communism, authoritarian regimes can be founded, which harm people, can definitely be life-threatening. But it also means that not every communist or socialist or even social idea poses a threat that people should be afraid of. Communist, socialist, or Marxist ideas are more diverse than spider species.

Exposure therapy should not necessarily result in a wonderfully positive relationship to the object previously provided with fear. Exposure therapy for arachnophobia does not want people to keep a spider at home afterwards, but rather that they can endure the thought of a spider and this one can also encounter. An exposure to the communism phobia should not mean that everyone in Germany greets each other again with "comrade", but rather that one can speak openly and without avoidance behavior of the counterpart about communist ideas Local pub. That ideas based on communist ideals are not nipped in the bud. The exposure to communist works does not want to achieve that the communist manifesto is directly implemented politically and economically. Engels 'and Marx' theories are certainly today no longer completely up-to-date. Systems have changed, theses have been refuted. Complete implementation in the sense of the communist manifesto is probably not optimal for our current society.

The communism phobia can therefore be based on partially rational fears. Its manifestation as a phobia and the associated irrational fear of everything that somehow reminds of communism, Marxism or socialism is, however, inappropriately, irrational and restricts those affected in their quality of life.

Let's confront people with angels
So what is the meaning of Engels in our present? Not a real one, just an image of what he really stood for. He and his ideas are largely connoted with ideas, attitudes and projections that are inappropriate. Therefore a current exposure with Engels or a related work is required. So that fear disappears and our discussion of his ideas does not only culminate in short laughs. So that we not only understand that grievances, such as the impoverishment of the many and the ever increasing wealth of the rich, exist, but that society also has means with which these grievances can be improved. And in this sense, all the best Engels, thank you to those who confronted me with you and thank you to the initiators of the competition for contributing to the exposure.



Lennart Rettler was born in 1996 in Witten and has not seen much of the city since. He is currently completing his master's degree in strategic communication at the University of Münster and is generally fascinated by everything that has to do with communication.

Sometimes he does poetry slams or stand-up comedy, but because you can usually only earn beer brands with it, he still works as a lecturer for social media management and as a city guide in Münster.