Column german angst: the very big little people coalition

We have left the little people to become even smaller people. And we have longing – but we have nothing to offer.

Very yellow, very angry, very "we"? Photo: dpa

"We have left the little people to become even smaller people" – this is how a friend comments on the freshly inflamed love of many leftists and liberals for the yellow vests, these little people

After all, haven’t the very people whose hearts are now lifted fled the provinces, the small world of these people? I did that, too. Because I could. I landed in an even smaller province – not in a Charlotte-Roche-digital-detox-totally-unfriendly-no-doctor-no-bus-yikes kind of way, but in order to finance my life. Sounds big, but it’s awfully small.

We left the little people to become even smaller people. These little people remain a place of longing and a measure of this social cohesion. It used to be called Volksgemeinschaft, unity and now just democracy. Horst Seehofer said at the start that the new government would be "a grand coalition for the little people. Social democracy has betrayed them, the AfD has discovered them, Page 3 wants to understand them: Who are they, what do they want, why so angry? They are a class formed by the speech from above.

We have left the little people to become even smaller people. The malaise, the class conceit, always resonates when we talk about them. edouard Louis wrote of "the social contempt that this movement is met with" in his viral text "Whoever insults them insults my father." Thus, the little people are saints as well as whores, the homophobes, racists and angry citizens, the wet dream of the globalized right, those who move from the social to the national question out of justified indignation over lack of opportunities. Is it small to radically disassociate oneself or – is solidarity just that: to make oneself common with a struggle that is not one’s own?

This failure of ours

We have left the small people to become even smaller people. There is something else in this than the hatred for the socially disadvantaged that is inherent in our competitive existence. Are we, the qua birth privileged and yet failed, allowed to make ourselves common at all with such a fundamental thing as rebelling out of existential need?

And what does this failure of ours to break with the province, the bourgeoisie, which we nevertheless carry deep in our hearts, mean? The failure to do better. The little people help us not to admit this precarious life. And precisely the failure to redeem privilege. Like Robin Hood, we can show solidarity with them without being able to offer anything.

It is easy to sympathize with the rage of others far away (France) or to dismiss it (Dresden, Chemnitz). It is easier to go along with the lowest common denominator, which in the end is only the storm against those up there, than to admit one’s own small-mindedness, the inability to offer anything – be it resistance, be it utopia. We are not the small ones, we are the smaller people.

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