Skip to Content

Jörg Baberowski; Humboldt

Breaking the suffocating hegemony of the left: Humboldt professor speaks out

Last month, German Humboldt University Professor Jörg Baberowski explained in an interview in the feuilleton section of the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, that the “cultural hegemony of the left,” should be broken down in order to create intellectual head space.

Published: June 1, 2017, 8:45 am

    Read more

    Some years ago in Der Spiegel and recently in the journal Forschung und Lehre, Baberowski pleaded that history should no longer be “morally discredited” and considered a “taboo”.

    He is a professor of Eastern European History and an authority on the history of Stalinism, particularly Stalinist violence, genocide and terror against the peoples of Eastern and Central Europe.

    Baberowski reveals how the “hegemony of the left” has long since silenced important voices of conservatives such as Franz Josef Strauss from Bavaria, who “proudly said he was a conservative and a right-winger”.

    According to Baberowski: “The left has struggled and imposed cultural hegemony as defined by Antonio Gramsci.” He says it has become virtually impossible to challenge leftists because those who thinks differently are cast as morally inferior.

    “Who dares to say today he is a right-winger? A right-winger, well, that’s someone like a pedophile or a child molester.” The narrow concept of what is acceptable, he argues, “serves primarily as a verbal means of defamation, in order to exclude those who think differently from the democratic consensus”.

    This “shift of coordinates” could succeed only “because the left has gained the upper hand in public discourse and is the only force to determine who is left and who is right.” Both liberals and conservatives “were subject to these rules” Baberowski noted.

    In “civil institutions, in the media, education, the universities,” the “cultural hegemony of the left is structurally secured in such a way that resistance is futile,” the academic continued.

    “Particularly in the bourgeois milieu, most people speak the same standardized language and strive not to violate the requirements of the diktat of the virtuous… And when finally everyone speaks the same language, then thinking is subjected to Gleichschaltung [enforced conformity].”

    Baberowski says economic liberals and leftist romantics who believe in a better world, applaud a leftist hegemony of “the opening up of borders to everyone. Some seek boundless profit, others dream of a world society.” The “world of business” has thus “adapted itself to the hegemonic discourse in a way inconceivable some decades ago”.

    The academic decried the loss of free speech, because those who differ have to “reckon with being excluded from public discourse” when one expresses an opinion on questions of immigration, Muslims or nationalism that conflicts with the “hegemony of the politically correct” and the “diktat of the virtuous”.

    “Anyone who judges racism, colonialism, war and peace or the relationship of the sexes differently than hegemonic discourse allows, is morally discredited,” Baberowski points out.

    He accuses the “sixty-eight generation” — who in 1968 introduced Trotskyism’s violence to public debate — of laying “the foundations for moralizing politics” by “deciding what could be said about the past and how it could be said”.

    “Since then, resistance to a dead dictator is sufficient ground to assume the moral high ground over other people,” he added, alluding to the stifling political consensus in post-World War II Germany.

    In February 2014, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), a Trotskyist youth organisation, published an open letter attacking Humboldt University because “Baberowski is utilizing his position at the university to advance the notorious right-wing conceptions of Ernst Nolte, who for three decades has been associated with writings that seek to relativize and diminish the significance of Nazi crimes.”

    In the open letter to Humboldt, the IYSSE also wrote: “The revival of German militarism requires a new interpretation of history that downplays the crimes of the Nazi era.” The letter referred to an article in Der Spiegel in which Baberwoski claimed that Nolte had been “historically right”.

    In 1986, Ernst Nolte exposed how Germans had been provoked by Bolshevism, opening up what became known as the Historians’ Debate. Jürgen Habermas, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Hans Mommsen and many other leftist academics however, had quickly intervened to oppose his position.

    Ever since, Baberowski has been the victim of a campaign of character assassination. He has denounced the IYSSE as a “Stalinist sect” that uses the “instruments of hegemonic discourse to draw attention to itself”.

    Student associations Astas in Bremen, Hamburg, Lüneburg and Heidelberg, as well as the student parliament of the Free University in Berlin, have protested against Baberowski’s positions, after an interview with Forschung und Lehre, was sent out to more than 30 000 members of the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers.

    Even the leftist Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, presented Baberowski and his colleague Herfried Münkler, who had also been criticized, as victims of slander and bullying in 2015.

    Baberowski denounced the Socialist Equality Party (SGP) as a “sect” and “psycho-terror group” that promotes “criminal energy” against him. He noted that the SGP published a leaflet “on which my head and a swastika were to be seen,” directly linking the SGP to “threats of murder” and attacks on his house, and accused it of using false names in order to avoid public discussion.

    The university administration has defended Baberowski and his positions were recently confirmed by a court ruling.

    At the Leipzig Book Fair in 2012, he won the Leipzig Book Prize in the category of nonfiction/essay writing for his book Verbrannte Erde. Stalins Herrschaft der Gewalt.

    In response to the refugee crisis in Europe in 2015, Baberowski called for a more restrictive policy toward the influx into Germany and criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approach of open borders.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.


    Nigerians terrorize Italian city

    PaduaThe Nigerian mafia has been busy in the Italian city of Padua. In less than 24 hours there were two violent episodes in the city center, and as always on via Diego Valeri.

    France: 41 percent ‘ignore’ news

    A survey carried out for a newspaper shows a growing distrust of the French towards the media.

    Gang rapes: Number of foreign suspects in Germany increasing

    BerlinThe proportion of foreign suspects in gang rapes in Germany has increased significantly in the past five years. This is despite the fact that the total number of suspects decreased between 2015 and 2017.

    Candidate recruits people of  ‘Turkish origin’ for French municipal elections

    Given the extent of the controversy, Mohamed Dine has now deleted his ad, previously posted on his Facebook page.

    Charlie Hebdo also defended pedophilia

    ParisLike part of the libertarian left at the time, the satirical newspaper supported three pedophile criminals, accused of having abused minors, before they were sentenced in 1977.

    Conservative German author’s reading cancelled in Dresden

    DresdenGerman author Uwe Tellkamp had his reading cancelled. It was not because of a lack of public interest, illness of the organiser or an important participant, or official orders for violations of the fire protection regulations. No, it had to be canceled because the author has a certain opinion.

    Pedophile personalities shake up French literary scene

    ParisThe French writer Gabriel Matzneff who has been accused by the novelist Vanessa Springora of pedophilia, benefits from low-cost housing in the heart of Paris which was allocated to him in 1994. Some other sordid facts about him and his friends have resurfaced.

    AfD sues German domestic spy agency over tracking

    BerlinThe AfD intends to take legal action against the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the domestic spy agency.

    Dispute over German broadcaster’s “environmental pig” song continues

    CologneSeveral editors from German public broadcaster WDR have accused director Tom Buhrow of harming the broadcaster with the so-called "environmental pig" affair. On Tuesday there will therefore be an editorial meeting in which Buhrow will also take part.

    Cars in flames all over France at the start of the New Year

    The car-burnings in France continue. There were burnt cars in Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Limoges, Nantes and other cities.

    Go to archive