About borgarliga berättelser

Since a while I have been busy making my second room (recently vacated by a lodger who was not too careful about his living habits’ effect on the room) inhabitable again (what I still need is a new lodger …).

And while spreading old newspapers in order to protect the floor from paint, I came across an interesting piece by Torbjörn Kevin, which had been published in Hbl of Sö 1.02.2015 and was titled “Borgerliga berättelser, finns de?” What TK is pointing out there is that “Borgerligheten” has very obviously difficulties to formulate an own, clear ideological/political profile.

I was not very surprised of this. Having grown up in a very borgerlig family and being familiar with the usual ideas and reactions in it, the first thing which came to my mind while reading TK’s article was Max Frisch’s theatre piece “Biedermann und die Brandstifter” (which I recommend MOST WARMLY to anybody’s attention). This piece very clearly refers to society’s blindness to the possible consequences of Hitler’s political doings, but can meanwhile very well be seen as referring to, e.g., the widespread borgerliga blindness to the possible consequences of the political development in the USA. It contains, in special, the VERY behjärtansvärda line “Nimmer verdienet Schicksal zu heissen, nur weil er geschehen, der … Blödsinn!” (translation availalable on request). It also contains the scene which shows Mr. and Mrs. Biedermann, just having escaped a very unpleasant fate (which would have been the logical result of their blindness) by the mere coincidence that the hell was temporarily closed, now demanding “justice” (meaning something like compensation for their losses).

With this in mind, how to describe what the borgerliga ideology might be? There is (a) the idea that anybody should earn the money which s/he intends to spend on her/himself and a possibly attached family (which is a not dishonourable idea, but unluckily often accompanied by complete blindness to the fact that sometimes people’s living conditions make this impossible), (b) the idea that the thus honestly earned property is VERY IMPORTANT and has to be looked after and to be defended (with the possible exception that a government which is accepted as “theirs” = borgerlig is demanding contributions for the purpose of defending the nation’s “interest” – which is understood to be identical with that of the borgerliga class). And (c) there is the idea that somebody who indeed has property (the more the better – although in the past there was sometimes still put some attention to the critical question whether it was earned in an “honest” way) and is also cultivating borgerliga styles of dressing (white shirt, suit, tie) and behaving somehow CANNOT be bad – which is just a psychological reflection of the belief that it simply CANNOT be bad to be borgerlig. All of which together means that the borgerliga ideology consists of the belief that it is good and also moral to be a propertied borgare and that things should simply continue that way (the guarantee for the continuation of this desirable state often seen in the political rule of politicians who are themselves propertied). And any thoughts or analytical considerations which are more complicated than this are to be considered the work of the political enemy and to be defended against.

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