Photo: M. Heidingsfelder

Der Spiegel writes in its current issue: “Economic integration alone can no longer steer world events in the right direction, neither politically nor morally.” Isn’t it amazing that people still talk like that – they know what is politically and morally right and what is wrong?

Such sentences are truly ‘opinionated’. I don’t like mere opinions like that.

Our ally Pörksen claims that constructivist and systemic thinking is a long established paradigm and ‘normal science’. These Spiegel authors have obviously never heard of it …

If that is so, you are in the vapour spheres of middle-range theories. I believe that hardly anyone shares non-controllability – this idea. Polycontextuality, heterarchy, hypercomplexity … only a fraction of our species can relate to such terms.

He warns that epistemological Biedermeier is looming.

Fortunately we have permission for theoretical curiosity. Besides: Biedermeier, that was quite cosy, wasn’t it? Something like restrained passions, bourgeoisie in fact. But Pörksen is right: Paradigms denote the need to resolve them.

Politically and morally right, says Der Spiegel, is ‘freedom’. So and so many states are free, Germany for example, but many are ‘not free’.

You know that I think ‘freedom’ is a clever pathos formula. I don’t know anyone who is free – in general, as it were. Billionaires are also subject to harsh constraints, I guess.

How is it, I wonder, that these people still so naturally and confidently carry a banner in front of them that says ‘right’? And point to others – mostly China –  who are supposedly wrong?

When someone behaves like that, it’s obvious that the opposite is the case. This reminds me, as if by chance, of: Power is like being a lady if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

What could they mean by ‘painful realisation’? Der Spiegel says: What hurts so much is the realisation that one was wrong – no change through trade. The rest of the world is not becoming ‘free’, ‘democratic’.

Incidentally, the word ‘democracy’ is, as is well known, a harsh paradox: ‘the POWER of the PEOPLE’. And if one appeals to the power of reasonable argument – also a power -, this is, in my view, already empirically untenable.

Change of subject: Kassel. Did you follow the debate about the ‘anti-Semitic artwork’? What were your thoughts on it?

I only know it from photographs. But my first thoughts were simply that it’s about the revitalisation of old schemes of art, for example the form of the ‘grotesque’, the ‘topsy-turvy world’ … roughly as if someone had painted the ‘magic of war’ or ‘an ‘idyll’, or was oriented towards the fact that evil in any guise is simply evil – interchangeable.

According to Der Spiegel, Germany is ‘free’, after all. But not so free as to endure the freedom of art. What’s going on?

Let’s just let Der Spiegel be Der Spiegel. But one should know what ‘art’ is. It is sometimes said that its function is to make the invisible visible. I tend to think of it differently: its function is to ‘make the visible invisible’. That succeeds or fails. That’s that. Freedom is another dance floor.

As a systems theorist, how would you approach the subject of ‘anti-Semitism’?

The term is self-explanatory. This wound has not closed for ages.

Finally, the question of ‘deglobalisation’. What are we to make of this idea? Can globalisation be reversed, as Spiegel suggests: ‘The age of international interdependence is now coming to an end. It is being unbundled.’

We could be dealing with the de-differentiation of functional society. But talking about this presupposes a massive amount of theory.

Bazon Brock believes that such a case of de-differentiation is present in the case of Documenta – as a de-autonomisation of art: “The radicality of the confrontation increases considerably when we see the exceedingly plain cultural achievements presented as art by the curatorial collective Ruangrupa at this year’s Documenta. If we don’t take a stand against this now, there won’t be a next Documenta, because then the cultures of the world will have finally regained power over the arts and sciences. ” He seems to be right about the ‘simplicity’ … But would you also place Documenta within a general trend of de-differentiation?

I don’t even know if I should say anything about this. Because the assessment ‘exceedingly simple’ stunned me in its strangely simple ‘rhetoric’ and left me as good as ‘speechless’. To know what art is, what culture is, even to claim that they are engaged in some kind of ‘war’ … blimey! I find that the word – or the term? – ‘de-differentiate’ just comes in uninformed. ‘Increasing complexity’ would probably be decidedly better, thus more exciting for cognitive interests. Brock himself ‘de-differentiates’ … definitively. That’s all. The Documenta provokes, that is its task and is as much a part of art as ‘shredding’.