Anyone who reads a conservative newspaper about refugee policy and the situation in Lesvos nowadays is warned against too much morality in politics. The parable of the Good Samaritan should not be taken literally. There are limits to pity. Social peace is at risk. A German solo effort would be fatal. Watch out for a pulling effect. There can only be a European solution.
These are the objections. More realism is being warned and “benefactors” are being mocked for being guided by their humanitarian sentiments.
The sound in the debate about climate protection is similar. Here, the accusation of benefactors goes hand in hand with that of naivety. The symbol for this is Greta Thunberg. Many conservatives view you and the protesters of the “Fridays for Future” movement as pre-enlightened and hyper-moral. On the other hand, there is a realism that they propagate, and whose representatives are also concerned about jobs in the coal industry. The lesson: too much morality is bad in politics.
A few pages later, a commentator in the same conservative newspaper complained about lack of morality in politics. It’s about the case Alexej Navalny, the German-Russian relationship, Gerhard Schröder.
The left in the country is accused of friendship with Vladimir Putin and reconciliation. Instead, “Western values” should be forcefully enforced, the Moscow regime red carded and Nord Stream 2 discontinued. Real political objections – do not tear the threads of dialogue, secure energy supplies, sanctions barely effective, high compensation payments – are quickly swept aside.
More morality has rarely been seen in the public debate
There is also a parallel to this: the debate about the relationship with China. Here, too, there is an insistence on harshness and the duty to defend human rights. Russia and China have not changed significantly in recent years. In both countries, dissidents have been persecuted and murdered for a long time, both are ruled by autocracy and both are linked to rogue states such as Syria (Russia) or Iran (China).
However, what has apparently changed is the status of morality in the political debate. It used to be emphasized that China is the largest market for German exports and therefore guarantees German jobs, nowadays it is said that Germany should side with US President Donald Trump and send its army to the Pacific for demonstration purposes.
Bigotry is not uncommon in politics
Of course, the observation also applies the other way around: a left-wing newspaper publishes a morally saturated commentary on refugee policy and a commentary on German-Russian relations arguing real politics. What is striking is not so much the instrumental relationship with morality as the inflationary appeal to it. More morality has rarely been seen in the public debate.
Some call “Moria”, others “Navalny”. They are united by their horror – on the one hand about an acute emergency and on the other about a state crime. They are united by the will to take immediate action. And they are united by the unwillingness to weigh these consequences against costs and benefits in real political terms. Bigotry is not uncommon in politics. Neither is actionism. But hot hearts need an especially cool head.