Apathy can be a good thing
"Apathy is the worst"
Right now you don't know where things are going. This is precisely what makes our time so susceptible to what is commonly referred to as “populism”. “There is a feeling of existential insecurity,” states Prantl. The belief that democracy and the rule of law are constantly evolving is beginning to crumble, because people like Viktor Orbán, Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen or Recep Tayyip Erdogan "sucked" away basic certainties. "The world is becoming bottomless, the feeling is spreading, of being exposed to a pull of foreign control," says the editorialist of the Süddeutsche Zeitung: "I can feel this basic attitude in my editorial team."
Wanting to change something seems like a hopeless attempt. It is precisely this rampant apathy that is “more dangerous” for Prantl than populist extremism. You shouldn't allow yourself to be intimidated, you shouldn't give up. "That is the very worst attitude," emphasized Prantl to applause in the packed event room of the Kolping Academy. All Christians, but also the institution of the church as such, are called upon to be “populist”, in other words in such a way that even ordinary people understand how to stand up for democracy and human rights. Far too little is happening here, denounced the Kolping member: "The church terribly messes up the opportunities it has."
Prantl himself does not feel trodden on when someone calls him a "populist". The term is by no means offensive in its personal interpretation. To speak in a populist way means to advertise a good cause in a striking way. "I am also a populist, namely a populist European, a populist democrat and a populist rule of law," said the lawyer, who in 2017 published the book "Instructions for Use for Populists". As a populist, however, he tries not to stir up any fears or prejudices: "I do not believe, for example, that the world economy is being directed by secret powers."
In order to spread their own values, populist democrats need “passion”: “We must not leave emotions to the extremists.” Democratic populists with charisma appealed to hearts and minds: “And not to low instincts.” Trump & Co., on the other hand, deceived passion and Charisma merely: "They are not charismatic, but smack comedians with the ability to lie in such a way that the audience stays the spit." Prantl condemns the "media dance" about breaking taboos by Donald Trump: "Journalism must not be allowed by populist extremists give too much attention. "
According to Prantl, resentment against people who cannot keep up in society is playing into the cards of anti-democratic extremists. "Hartz IV recipients, for example, do not have the same level of sympathy as they were shown to refugees in 2015, their desire for solidarity has not been met by society for years," said the opinion journalist. Few of those affected are to blame for their social misery. People who today have the fate of "long-term unemployment" were often born disadvantaged: "The welfare state has the task of ensuring that these people receive not only formal, but real opportunities."
Heribert Prantl sees the fact that some have to scrape together their last money and others swim in wealth as fatal for social cohesion. "That is why I have always promoted a wealth tax," he said during the discussion moderated by Sabine Schiedermair (KAB). In this context, the journalist was critical of food shops: "On the one hand these are wonderful facilities, on the other hand it's just terrible that there have to be food banks in our country." Food shops are the hallmark of something completely in Germany and not true at all.
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