ANTI-EUROPÄER: Anders Breivik, Abu Musab Al-Suri, and Aleksandr Dugin Walk Into a Bar…

Claus Leggewie is a German political scientist and author. His latest publication Anti-Europäer [“Anti-Europeans”] studies the increasingly fragile state of the European Union as indicated by Greece’s financial crisis and the Union’s approach to refugee issues. At a time when radicalized voices from all backgrounds question European values, Leggewie examines what unites extremists of different convictions in their rejection of the EU. His book focuses on the examples of Norwegian terrorist and mass murderer Anders Breivik, jihadist Abu Musab al-Suri, and Putin advisor Aleksandr Dugin, among others.

Claus Leggewie

Claus Leggewie

Mr. Leggewie, Europe seems to be in shambles. The Brits quit the EU. Its remaining states are split on the issues regarding refugees. How about we start this conversation with a manifesto on the beauty of the European idea?

CLAUS LEGGEWIE: That would be exactly what we need right now. As important as it is to concern ourselves with the manifestos of anti-Europeans, it is also important to disregard them and present an alternative narrative of Europe that excites the people out there and gives them perspective.

Why do we need this?

So that we rid ourselves of the currently ubiquitous notion that Europe is in danger and going under – or, as the Right is saying, that Europe is decadent. We need a narrative that mobilizes and is grounded in the reality of Europeans’ lives.

What would this successful European narrative look like?

It would be the story of how we use the next two decades to build a sustainable Europe, one that is more socially just, that preserves and creates public spaces. One that demonstrates the advantages of

European urbanity practically, and what cultural pluralism looks like. A lot of that has existed for a long time. But we have to describe more precisely what we like about Europe, color its image so that it’s more durable and attractive to future generations. This especially relies on the help of the middle generation, who live and build Europe on a daily basis through their work, everyday lives, and their social engagement, so to speak, but who hardly communicate this to the outside.

This seems very hard at the moment. Those who are for the absorption of refugees are asked to justify their position. Those who want to help people in need have to defend their stance. The discourse is dictated by the Right.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. The topic of refugees dominates media discourse and the fantasies of many Europeans, but there are other more important topics that include their integration and a wish to spell out our cultural pluralism. An attractive European agenda also answers open questions of integration, which are no less relevant to long-established inhabitants.

Putin advisor Aleksandr Dugin

Putin advisor Aleksandr Dugin

But how do you get a grip on xenophobic tendencies? Those that exist in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, as well as Germany and France.

If I knew the formula to that, I’d be the head of the EU commission. There is a grain of truth to this statement: People have realized that globalization wasn’t a one-way street. But trying to refute fear by making refugee issues our number one topic is not going to get us anywhere.

What do you propose?

We have to make clear that refugees are used by the European Right only as a smoke screen to articulate feelings of obsolescence, the loss of white dominance.

So one should talk more about social questions, and less about skin color and the resulting identities?

Exactly. Because long-established residents can’t find an apartment and a proper job either.

If you live in Germany and have dark skin, it’s hard not to talk about it. Racism just is present. Are you suggesting we ignore it?

No way. Refugees face special problems on the housing market, where non-white people are discriminated. At the same time, we have to study these problems in the context of social injustice, which in this case is the scarcity of the housing market. I just want to prevent people’s skin color or religious belief – the muslim faith, for example – from becoming an absolute and therefore sociologically inapplicable to other things.

Mass murderer Anders Breivik

Mass murderer Anders Breivik

Your book Anti-Europäer uses the manifesto of Anders Breivik, the right-wing extremist, anti-Islamic terrorist, and mass murderer from Norway, to show parallels to the new Right. Is that polemic? Are you trying to say, “Even this insane brain thinks like you?”

Comparing does not mean equating. If you read Breivik’s manifesto closely, only its second part is concerned with the logistics of a terrorist attack. The first part is a typical anti-Islamist text. You can hear the things he wrote in it reproduced in identitarian circles everywhere in Europe today. I am not implying that all identitarians are terrorists. But this fantasy of Umvolkung – and, deriving from that, of violent ethnic cleansing and exclusion – can be observed not only in Breivik’s writing, but across the whole right-wing intellectual spectrum. Of course, you see this also in the protests of Pegida, the marches on refugee homes.

Do you sometimes look at Europe and think, “Is the Right stupid to fantasize about purity here?” No other continent is so heterogenous.

The switch from questions of class and social politics to questions of identity – questions the social movements of the 1960s were motivated by – meaning, the switch from class analysis and class war to questions of “race-class-gender,” has become a problem now. The American philosopher Richard Rorty already warned of the identity circus of American academia, and the resulting political correctness, in the 90s.

What do you mean by that exactly?

Take immigrants, for example. At first, they were “foreign workers,” a term highlighting social aspects. Then, they were “Turks and Kurds,” which defined them by their nationality. Today, they are “Muslims,” defined by their faith. This way, versatile identities and an occasionally occurring sense of community are stylized into stiff “we”-doms. “Us” against “them.” For example: “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident,” Pegida. As if Christians were Christians only, and Muslims steadfastly bound to all who share their origin and faith.

Jihadist Abu Musab al-Suri

Jihadist Abu Musab al-Suri

Besides Breivik, you inspect Putin’s advisor Aleksandr Dugin, a self-described “Eurasian,” as well as jihadists like the Syrian Abu Musab al-Suri. What do they have in common?

The first two reference a movement of the conservative revolution of the 1920s and 30s – a time when liberalism and democratic community were also under fire and intellectual factions developed into fascism and National Socialism. All three place great political importance on geographic spaces. To them, community is not organized by constitution, constitutionality, or democratic participation, but by regionality. This is based on the idea that geographic location determines the political system. Therefore: Christian occident, Islamic caliphate, Eurasian autocracy. All three movements also share a re-sacralization of politics.

What do you mean by that?

All three reject the separation of religion and politics. Eurasians aim to strengthen orthodoxy, jihadists want a theocracy governed by Sharia law, and westerners want a Christian-dominated culture.

You write, “If these three protagonists were locked into a cell together, they’d be at each other’s throats.”

The problem is that if they didn’t kill each other, they would discover their fatal similarities in nightly conversations. Then we see the fourth battalion of anti-Europeans. Donald Trump does not utilize religious discourse, but rather authoritarian nationalism, which positions him very close to European autocrats like Le Pen, Orbán, or Putin. We Europeans need to wake up and put Europe’s enemies in their place.

Anti-Europäer is published by Suhrkamp (Berlin, 2016).Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 09.55.06

Claus Leggewie
Anti Europeans

Published in

Issue #32 — Summer 2017"US vs. THEM"

How do you find truth in an age without facts? The answer: wake up and stick together. In this issue’s dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY explores how the Global Right Wing’s blatant disregard for reality has given us all a license to become Nonsense Warriors. Turning away from “them” and towards “us,” CATHERINE OPIE, NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE, and STEFANO PILATI take us into their inner circles of friends, while COLLIER SCHORR turns BELLA HADID into Lisa Lyon. We revisit the work of MICHAEL SCHMIDT, and how his community workshops turned Berlin into a cauldron of contemporary photography. JACKIE NICKERSON shows us what Robert Longo looks like with a faster Internet connection, while CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us into his kitchen to explore the post-digital nature of food. We speak with VIRGIL ABLOH as he plots a fashion industry coup d’état and follow JASON DILL on a skate odyssey to hell and back to Fucking Awesome. And, last but not least, we make a pilgrimage to Santo Sospir, the villa on the Riviera where JEAN COCTEAU created his greatest Gesamtkunstwerk.

Also included with the issue, our “HEAT UP HADID” TRANSFER KIT which allows you to create your own t-shirt emblazoned with this issue’s BELLA HADID cover.

Learn more about the issue below:

Nothing makes sense. Nothing ever will again. The year 2016 marked a total rupture in the theater of politics. Even if the damaging effects of Donald Trump’s election somehow prove to be short-lived, his rise indicates a crisis wherein digital acceleration has led to political regression. In our dossier “US vs. THEM,” creative director RICHARD TURLEY creates a handbook for our new political paradigm. Its central hypothesis: Only within the chaos of this media overload will we discover what is real again.

“I am not sure if the sculptures were even subjects for her photographs …” For her first ever magazine editorial, “Heroines: Paris/Los Angeles,” artist CATHERINE OPIEteamed up with artistic director NICOLAS GHESQUIÈRE to create a study on the power of classicism and ambiguity. The exploration begins on the beige stone of the Louvre’s sculpture garden and continues to Opie’s studio in Los Angeles, documenting a sprawling circle of friends and acquaintances.

On a surrealist journey into the past, Martin Mosebach visits the summer retreat of JEAN COCTEAU. At the Villa Santo Sospir, the artist spent a decade’s worth of summers smoking opium and creating his largest total artwork.

Back with a vengeance for her third 032c cover story, COLLIER SCHORR teams up with fashion director Mel Ottenberg for “Smith & Wesson Blues,” a shoot with BELLA HADID, inspired by the body builder and Robert Mapplethorpe muse Lisa Lyon.

“Duchamp is my lawyer.” From his fortress of irony, designer VIRGIL ABLOH is set on turning fashion into the industrial arm of the art world. In conversation with 032c’s managing editor Thom Bettridge, he explains how streetwear is not just a fad, but a logic inspired by Dada and destined to dominate the digital age.

Accompanied by a re-print of MICHAEL SCHMIDT’s 2002 story for 032c, Kolja Reichert explores how the photographer’s community workshops from 1976 to 1986 create a style born out of the “Gray Island” of Berlin.

For the story “Energy Crisis,” photographer LUKAS WASSMANN and designer STEFANO PILATI shoot an editorial inside Michael Sailstorfer’s exhibition “Hitzefrei” at St. Agnes. As his first for a magazine editorial, Pilati’s styling includes garments from his own personal wardrobe.

“It’s an exhausting reality,” laughs JASON DILL. In an odyssey documented with drawings and pictures from his personal archive, the skate legend takes us to hell and back to Fucking Awesome.

In “Push Me Shove You Oh Yeah Says Who,” photographer JACKIE NICKERSON, along with fashion editor Marc Goehring and 032c apparel creative director Maria Koch, presents a yogic meditation on a white collar dystopia.

“I’m very bad at killing, in general.” As an antidote to postmodern culinary mediocrity, artist CARSTEN HÖLLER takes us to his concrete perch on the seaside of Ghana and guides us through the 11 points of his “Brutalist Kitchen Manifesto.”

In the “SSENSE Files,” we bring you scenes of cross-platform madness, including interviews with RICARDO BOFILL, PLAYBOI CARTI, CHITOSE ABE, CHRIS KRAUS, HENRY STAMBLER, AMINA BLUE, and 69.

In our second-ever “BERLIN REVIEW” section, we speak with JEFF KOONS about Plato, retrace MARTIN MARGIELA’s reign at Hermès, dive to the underwater tombs of PHARAOHS, and explore our favorite books of the season.

All this and more on 296 pages!