He breaks taboos that are not there at all

He breaks taboos that are not there at all

© Christophe Gateau / dpa
Christian Lindner follows a dangerous rhetorical strategy.

Christian Lindner has made provocation a principle. Now he already sees “muzzles” and “stage directions” from the government. In times of crisis, it becomes increasingly shrill.

What is the opposition actually doing in these so-called executive times? You could say: pretty much what she did before. The Greens are pretending to be part of the government, the leftists are declaring that special attention needs to be paid to the weak right now, the AfD is deepening itself in power struggles. And the FDP?

Well, in a way the FDP stayed on course. The only thing that drives the course at the FDP is special insights that can be guessed at beforehand, but can now only be observed undiluted. This can be seen particularly well in a sentence that the Free Democrats published on Twitter yesterday. “The instructions from the government,” not to speak publicly about an end to the corona protective measures, have not been convincing for a long time, “he explains, and further:” Mouthguards yes, muzzles no! ”

You read that and have to read it again because you can’t really believe it, but these two words actually stand there: muzzles, stage directions.

Briefly back to the pre-Corona period: In the past few months you could already see that the FDP was under Christian Lindner made a strategic decision. It pursued a more or less gentle anti-establishment course and kept an ever greater distance from those places where the “mainstream” was suspected. The more confusing the political center, the clearer it became where the liberals stood. In the performance party FDP, people now liked to scold cities and other elites and instead flattered the “ordinary people”. Diesel drivers, farmers, workers, whom he promised to be saved from the demands of ecology.

The oversubscription of the opposite side became Christian Lindner’s preferred stylistic device. The greenwho want to make Germany a “country of vegan cyclists”, the climate demonstrators who demand “re-education” of the Germans and so on. The indirect consequence of this strategy was (one still remembers it darkly) Thomas Kemmerich’s candidacy in Thuringia, which Christian Lindner called a “statement”, with which one wanted to annoy the left-green state government until the statement became a government crisis.

All of this was already more than the traditional work of an opposition. It was the gradual transformation of a party. Provocation became the preferred method, being there a liberal feeling. You do not have to call this “right”, because this reorientation was not ideologically driven. Rather, it was about the aesthetics of the protest, the staging as a force of counter-reform, in short, about a form of subdued populism.

So the development was mapped out, and yet it is surprising how consistently the FDP is continuing its strategy in the Corona crisis. Because what was just visible in the subtext now jumps into your face.

The “muzzle” and the “instructions from the director” are the most obvious attempt to charge the new crisis with old resentments: a supposedly restricted “freedom of expression”, a government that somehow “suppresses” debates (however that should work) and the public influenced. Language bans, discourse limits, the corridor of opinion, you know. It is a rhetoric of the Mandarfi no longer and Manwirdjawohln still, which deals more and more freehand with terms and prejudices that have been part of the inventory of anti-institutional and systematic skepticism for some years.

Marco Buschmann, the parliamentary director of the parliamentary group and close confidant of Lindner, had already made a contribution to the mirror in which he warned of a “radicalization” of the middle class, should the corona protective measures deprive them of their fortune. The text ended with the impending words: “Shouldn’t a responsible politician say he couldn’t have known what would happen. Then revolution would be in the air at some point.”

A parliamentary manager who, in the midst of a crisis that can hardly be predicted, poses the possibility of a coup. A party leader who apparently believes to recognize government-prohibitions on speaking: The whispering seems to have become the preferred voice for the FDP.

Of course, Christian Lindner knows that various groups and groups of government officials at federal and state level are talking about exactly the exit strategy that supposedly shouldn’t be talked about. He has probably also read the newspapers, in which the various scenarios for exiting the lockdown have been discussed for weeks, and it will not have escaped him that Health Minister Jens Spahn has already announced quite concrete plans for a gradual relaxation of the measures.

But if you want to be a taboo breaker, you need taboos. And where there are none, you have to build them yourself if necessary.

It is the same rhetorical shadow boxing that Lindner operated before the Corona crisis. Of course, the Greens did not want to ban schnitzel at the time, and of course there was no one who “canonized” truancy, as Lindner claimed. Likewise, the Chancellery is now “directing” the public debate. To claim this is adventurous and a bit dreary intellectually.

In the crisis, the danger behind Lindner’s strategy is now becoming more and more apparent: the inner compulsion to screw up, to constantly escalate. The next intensification must be even sharper, the choice of words even more drastic. Whoever makes provocation a principle must not stand still. And from the “muzzle” to the “dictatorship of opinion” it is only half a rhetorical turn.

Lindner should actually know better. At close range, he saw how Jurgen MOllemann and finally Guido Westerwelle first ascended with a similar strategy of rhetorical disinhibition and resentment and then immediately failed. These days, however, it seems that he has learned his own lessons from it.

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