Sarrazin Controversy

2010

Germany

Activism & Resistance Media & Culture Race & Ethnicity

In his 2010 book Deutschland schafftsich ab (Germany is Digging its Own Grave), ThiloSarrazin unveils yet another provocative and racist analysis of Germany’s financial, social and demographic situation. The “Manifesto of the Many” provides a response.

With the publication of his book Deutschland schafftsich ab: Wiewirunser Land aufs Spiel setzen(Germany is Digging its Own Grave: How We Are Gambling Our Country Away), ThiloSarrazin, Berlin’s former senator for finance and member of the board of directors of the German Federal Bank, unleashed a major national controversy in 2010. The book consists of reflections on migration, the labor market, education, poverty and demographics and contains a mixture of pseudo-scientific theory and statistics on genetic-biological, cultural and demographic topics culled from other published works.

At the core both of his book and the criticisms of it is Sarrazin’s conflation of (national) origin, class and intelligence. The eugenic and racist logic that critics have uncovered in his argumentation is supplemented by elements of Darwinian genetic theory (LINK Social Darwinism and eugenics: the emergence of scientific racism, 1890) and veiled by euphemistic terms such as “cultural difference” or “ethnic group”. The public response to his book is mixed: despite considerable public criticism, it meets with approval among a considerable segment of the middle-class majority.

Opponents of Sarrazin’s thesis were able to force his resignation from the German Federal Bank’s board of directors, but could not effect his ejection from the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD).

In February, 2011, a positive rebuttal to Sarrazin’s book was brought to publication by a collaborative project titled “Manifesto of the Many: Germany is Reinventing Itself” comprising of thirty authors, including the journalist and novelist HilalSezgin. In this project, the authors describe alternative realities of migrant life in Germany from the perspective of migrants themselves, dealing with themes such as origin, homeland, and identity. They conclude that in order that Germany not “dig its own grave”, it must invent itself anew.