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Die Transformation des Konservatismus – in Amerika, Iran und Ägypten


So viele gute Sachen gelesen in den letzten Tagen! Und so wenig Zeit, sie hier ausführlich zu würdigen.

Darum in aller Kürze und vollkommen chaotisch durcheinander ein paar Lesefrüchte.

Mark Lilla schreibt in der New York Review einen großen Rezensionsessay, in dem er erklärt, wie der Konservatismus in Amerika apokalyptisch wurde (in einem Maß, wie es vorher eigentlich nur die Linke drauf hattte). Das scheint mir essentiell zum Verständnis des Verrückten, ja Durchgeknallten im Überbietungswettbewerb der republikanischen Bewerber um die Nominierung zu sein.

Lilla hat selber Wurzeln im frühen Neokonservatismus der Reagan-Jahre, hat sich aber im letzten Jahrzehnt zunehmend kritisch zu den Neocons verhalten, die Bush Jr. stützten. Auch hier war für Lilla zu beobachten, wie die Rechte (mit ihrem Interventionismus, gestützt auf das Gefühl, die Welt neu machen zu können, zur Not mit Waffengewalt) die Fehler der radikalen Linken wiederholt:

The real news on the American right is the mainstreaming of political apocalypticism. This has been brewing among intellectuals since the Nineties, but in the past four years, thanks to the right-wing media establishment and economic collapse, it has reached a wider public and transformed the Republican Party. How that happened would be a long story to tell, and central to it would be the remarkable transmutation of neoconservatism from intellectual movement to rabble-rousing Republican court ideology. The first neoconservatives were disappointed liberals like Irving Kristol and Nathan Glazer, who saw the failures of a large number of Great Society programs to deliver on the unrealistic expectations of its architects, and consequently began to appreciate the wisdom of certain conservative assumptions about human nature and politics. Kristol’s famous quip that neoconservatives were liberals who’d been mugged by reality captured the original temperament.

Sometime in the Eighties, though, neoconservative thinking took on a darker hue. The big question was no longer how to adapt liberal aspirations to the limits of politics, but how to undo the cultural revolution of the Sixties that, in their eyes, had destabilized the family, popularized drug use, made pornography widely available, and encouraged public incivility.


This is the voice of high-brow reaction, and it was present on the right a good decade before Glenn Beck and his fellow prophets of populist doom began ringing alarm bells about educated elites in media, government, and the universities leading a velvet socialist revolution that only “ordinary Americans” could forestall. Apocalypticism trickled down, not up, and is now what binds Republican Party elites to their hard-core base. They all agree that the country must be “taken back” from the usurpers by any means necessary, and are willing to support any candidate, no matter how unworldly or unqualified or fanatical, who shares their picture of the crisis of our time. (…)

All this is new—and it has little to do with the principles of conservatism, or with the aristocratic prejudice that “some are fit, and thus ought, to rule others,” which Corey Robin sees at the root of everything on the right. No, there is something darker and dystopic at work here. People who know what kind of new world they want to create through revolution are trouble enough; those who only know what they want to destroy are a curse. When I read the new reactionaries or hear them speak I’m reminded of Leo Naphta, the consumptive furloughed Jesuit in Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain, who prowls the corridors of a Swiss sanatorium, raging against the modern Enlightenment and looking for disciples. What infuriates Naphta is that history cannot be reversed, so he dreams of revenge against it. He speaks of a coming apocalypse, a period of cruelty and cleansing, after which man’s original ignorance will return and new forms of authority will be established. Mann did not model Naphta on Edmund Burke or Chateaubriand or Bismarck or any other figure on the traditional European right. He modeled him on George Lukács, the Hungarian Communist philosopher and onetime commissar who loathed liberals and conservatives alike. A man for our time.

Ein exzellenter Aufsatz des Iran-Experten der Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Walter Posch, analysiert den machtvollen Block der iranischen Rechten, die sich selbst „Prinzipalisten“ nennen, ein Zusammenschluss von „Konservativen“ und „Hezbollahis“, der ursprünlich auch Achmadinedschad unterstützt hatte.

Wie es zum Zerwürfnis zwischen Prinzipalisten und dem Regierungschef kam, und was das alles für die anstehenden Parlaments- und Präsidentschaftswahlen bedeutet, beschreibt Posch ausführlich.

Er ist der Ansicht, dass die „Grüne Bewegung“ erfolgreich neutralisiert wurde und weiterhin allenfalls im Exil Chancen hat, als Herausforderung weiterzubestehen. Es scheint zu gelingen, so Posch, dass die innersystemischen Reformkräfte von der Grünen Bewegung geschieden bleiben und in geschwächter Form ins System reintegriert werden. Eine Übertragung der Impulse des arabischen Frühlings auf den Iran hält er für unwahrscheinlich. Was die nun anstehenden harschen Sanktionen gegen den Iran für die von Posch beschriebene Balance des Machtsystems bedeuten, ist eine interessante Frage, über die wir bald mehr wissen werden.


Sebnem Gumuscu erklärt im libanesischen Daily Star, warum es kein „türkisches Modell“ für Ägypten gibt. Von wohlwollenden Beobachtern aus dem Ausland wie aus den eher reformbereiten Reihen der ägyptischen Islamisten ist diese Vorstellung immer wieder verbreitet worden.


In some policy quarters, Turkey has even been presented as an overall model for the Arab world – a characterization which derives largely from its seemingly unique ability to couple secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim society. But those who talk of “the Turkish model” misunderstand that country’s transformation. The coexistence between Islam and democracy has come to pass in Turkey not from the AKP’s development of institutional and political structures that accommodated both Islamic and democratic principles, but rather because Islamists themselves came to accept the secular-democratic framework of the Turkish state. (…) Economic liberalization created an organized class of powerful and devout businessmen from the provincial bourgeoisie who advocated greater political pragmatism and stability in addition to closer relations with the European Union as a major trading partner. These moderate Islamists broke away and established the AKP in 2001. As a conservative party representing neoliberal interests, the AKP has worked to downsize the state, establish greater political and economic stability, and construct friendly relations with the outside world. The party has not only increased its support in secular businesses and the middle classes, but also rendered the idea of a powerful state – which commands the economy as well as the lives of Muslims through Islamic principles – an obsolete one.

In Ägypten nun gebe es keine solche führende neue Schicht von islamis(tis)chen Geschäftsleuten. Die Verbindung von Neoliberalismus und Islam, für die die AKP steht, ist in Ägypten nicht möglich, weil ihr schlicht das Publikum fehlt:


Conversely, Egypt’s neoliberalism mainly benefitted President Hosni Mubarak’s cronies and failed to trickle down to smaller enterprises. There is no strong business constituency within the Egyptian Islamist movement to insist on neoliberal reforms, a smaller state, or political pragmatism. The movement is dominated instead by professionals (doctors, engineers, teachers and lawyers) who prefer a strong and expansive state as a source of employment, social security and public goods.

While the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) established by the Muslim Brotherhood supports private enterprise, such support should not be mistaken for support for neoliberalism. A closer look at FJP’s platform reveals that it reserves a substantial role for the state in production, planning, price regulation, social security and job generation. (…)

Unlike its Turkish counterpart, the Muslim Brotherhood is first and foremost a religious society; economic, political and cultural objectives are secondary to religious proselytism. The FJP relies on the existing rank and file of the Brotherhood for support in elections, and though the members of the Brotherhood fulfill the function of party organizers, they are recruited primarily in the name of Daawa, or the invitation to Islam. From there, they are organized according to a strict hierarchy and mobilized in the name of Islam rather than in terms of political or economic interests.

This structure of the party reinforces religious priorities, undermines internal accountability, and casts a shadow of Muslim Brotherhood control over the FJP. (…)

In short, there is no “Turkish model” for an Islamist democracy; rather, there are Muslims in a secular-democratic state working within a neoliberal framework. Structural and institutional factors in Turkey are historically unique and it is highly unlikely that we will see a similar process unfold in Egypt. Under Islamist leadership, Egypt will seek another framework – one that will require the Islamist movement to separate its political and religious functions and allow for the political party to represent the aggregated interests of a voting demographic.

Because of this, the task of Islamists in Egypt will be more difficult than that of their Turkish counterparts. They must shed deeply ingrained habits of hierarchy and proselytism to build a democratic system with unique institutions.

Merkwürdig, erst dachte ich, diese Lesefrüchte hätten nichts miteinander zu tun. Nun, da ich sie aufgeschrieben habe, stelle ich fest, dass es in allen drei Fällen um die politische Transformation des Konservatismus geht – in Amerika, im Iran und in Ägypten (sowie in der Türkei).

Vielleicht sollte man daraus ein kontinuierliches Thema machen?