Multikulti or Schweinerei in the Year 2000

in German Politics and Society
Author: John Borneman
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In 1995, as a Fulbright professor, I taught a seminar on “culture and

international order” at Humboldt University in Berlin. There I

reached the conclusion that, in order to analyze Kultur in Germany,

one also had to take into consideration the work of Schweinerei. In the

five years between the opening of the wall and my seminar, there had

been an explosion of interest in the concept “Kultur”—defined quite

concretely in public discourse as an element that united (or divided)

East and West Berliners, or as a substance that had been damaged

during the cold war and now needed restoration.1 Irrespective of the

speaker, Kultur was always something good, a positive ordering. One

never needed less Kultur. Either one argued, as a proponent of Multikulti,

for more of them, more cultures, or, as a monoculturalist, for

merely better (more refined, more pure) Kultur and the value of a

distinct German culture. The decision reached in 1991 to move the

capital from Bonn to Berlin as a means of unifying Germans also cast

a kind of Klieg light on Kultur, as the relocation itself drew many

new visitors, who, having only construction sites of the future capital

to view, spent the rest of their time enjoying Berlin’s numerous (often

duplicate) cultural institutions and industries for the first time.2 At this

very moment of general good will, inclusiveness, and prominence,

these Berlin cultural institutions had the most to lose (or gain), as

ministers of the newly unified state promised more selective support

following a round of rationalizations if not eliminations.