Germany’s failure to simply accept obligation for its colonial genocide in South-West Africa is an instance of what Tunisian-Jewish sociologist Albert Memmi known as the ‘exiling of the colonized from their very own historical past’, writes the jurist Benno Zabel in Merkur.
‘For many years, German coverage consisted both in contesting the genocide of the Herero, or in treating it as an act of colonial rule coated by nationwide and worldwide regulation. The Federal Republic has since acknowledged it in ethical and political phrases. Nonetheless, Germany nonetheless emphatically refuses all authorized legal responsibility’. Reparations are due to this fact out of the query.
The precept of ‘intertemporality’ prevents genocides dedicated in colonial contexts being prosecuted. As a result of the Herero weren’t topics of worldwide regulation on the time, the German state can’t be held liable. Not solely does this create continuity between the logic of colonial rule and the democratic state, writes Zabel, it ignores collective reminiscence.
Legislation, he argues, ‘stays confined to its operate in securing order and is repeatedly caught in traditionally detached narratives. Collective reminiscence because the Different of the regulation. Is that not a capitulation within the face of 1’s personal historical past and duty?’
The ‘proper to have rights’, as Arendt famously put it, entails ‘a concept and praxis of human rights that offers the regulation again to folks. The strain between nationwide, worldwide, social and political pursuits turns into clear solely via this idea of human rights.’
Collective human rights create the ‘circumstances for recognition amongst equals and thus for solidarity between societies’, whereas a human proper of collective reminiscence would create a authorized house together with each victims and perpetrators. Solely then can there be ‘one thing like a respectful engagement with the reminiscence politics of the opposite facet’.
‘A proper of collective reminiscence wouldn’t resolve all the issues that come up from the injuries and the historical past of the genocide. Maybe as a part of a authorized regime it will additionally trigger new issues. However the entitlement and protecting operate would make it potential for the traditionally conditioned vulnerability of the descendants of the Herero – their tales, their powerlessness and their grief – to enter the cultural reminiscence of the previous colonial energy and society. Not simply that, it might allow liberation from a purely passive standing as sufferer and create belief in a future with full autonomy. For the descendants of the Herero and for Namibian society and politics, that will certainly be an act of historic justice.’
Historian Mischa Suter explores the connection between colonial currencies and relationships of debt. The reply to the query who was indebted to whom – the coloniser or the colonized – depends upon how one defines worth, he writes: ‘The important thing factor will not be the extent of earnings or state subsidies, because the colonial accounting known as it, however the change of type, the interpretation of worth that was needed for the extraction of revenue.’
‘The alternate from the products currencies widespread in East Africa into German rupees, and from the latter into Deutschmark, was a posh course of. Merely put: valorisation seems totally different once we problematize the measure of worth itself. As a result of behind it was not only a totally different methodology of calculating, but in addition laborious and sometimes violent practices of translation.’
The neutrality doctrine
Constitutional lawyer Florian Meinel examines the current jurisprudence of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court docket regarding the obligation of members of presidency to stay politically impartial of their public statements.
The Court docket’s new doctrine of communicative neutrality – controversial even amongst its personal judges – not solely makes an attempt a problematic ‘decoupling of the legitimation of state energy from the political language of the general public sphere’, but in addition conceals an anti-political critique, in line with Meinel:
‘The declare that the neutralization of political language, in different phrases the separation of workplace and emotion, preserves the political competitors is – it will appear – near the conviction that such competitors doesn’t really exist.’