This Blog isn’t about me. And it shouldn’t be. But if you want to know, who the person behind all this is, here are some hints:
My Name is Michael Holmes. I am a German-American living in Hamburg, which to me is the most beautiful of the large german cities. It is green, it is blue and it is rich. From the place I live, it’s a ten minute walk to the beach, where I can sit and watch majestic symbols of globalisation leave the harbour for Beijing or Sydney.
I grew up in Heidelberg, a much smaller, but even more beautiful city in the south-west, where there are more tourists than residents in the summer. At age 18 I moved to wild and noisy Berlin, where I stayed for about seven years.
My dad is from Oregon and so I have often been to the American West Coast. I definitely feel both, American and German, and I definitely love both, Germany and the U.S., even so this love in both cases, but for different reasons, is not without… well, let’s talk about the downsides some other time.
I have studied sociology and politics at the “Freie Universität” in Berlin. Currently I am writing my doctoral thesis in philosophy at Hamburg University, in which I try to develop a new theoretical approach to totalitarian ideas and sytems. For this, I had to read a lot about some of the worst crimes in history: National Socialism, the Soviet Union, Mao, the Khmer Rouge, the Rwanda Genocide, the Aztec Empire and so on. The frustration this sometimes brings with it is one of the reasons for setting up this website.
As a free journalist, I have written for some major german papers like “Die Welt”, “Die Taz” or “Jüdische Allgemeine”, as well as some smaller ones. To get some extra money, I do a lot of tutoring and whatever job comes around.
I would tell you about my likes and dislikes, but there are just too many. So let me just say, that I really love Bob Dylan, the Beastie Boys and Gustav Mahler, Philip Roth, Milan Kundera and Marcel Proust. And I hate, well, conformity, prejudice of any kind and the mistreatment of children.
I am a white, protestant, middle-class man and I never had to fight poverty or oppression. So who am I to call for a human rights revolution?
See, I am not a preachy megalomaniac, trying to make you feel guilty, if you care more about your family or your work or your motorcycle than about Burma, Zimbabwe or any other far-away place.
I don’t claim to be a hero. And I don’t claim to know what it’s like living in a favela or going to jail just for speaking up. I just feel, it’s about time we not only speak up, but stand up for those less fortunate than we are. That’s all.
There is only one more thing about me that might be of interest. And that’s my political development: For about ten years, I was an active and outspoken left-wing extremist. And – believe me! – I don’t feel good about it. I preached hatred, violence and intolerance against pretty much anyone opposed to my narrow mind set. I admired mass-murderers like Lenin, Trotsky, Mugabe or Milosevic. I felt superior to the people around me, because I had found the key to paradise – or thought I did. It was the key to hell.
It took me lot of time and inner strength to open my eyes. And it was painful to realize how wrong I have been, how not only intellectually, but morally wrong I have been all this time. I was so much like the people I hated the most, the fascists, the reactionaries, the enemies of freedom and peace – but my hatred, my arrogance and my fear of losing my community of comrades kept me from seeing it!
I don’t have the right to complain about the past. The ones I raised my voice and my fist against have! And I am grateful they welcomed me in the struggle for liberal Democracy after my transformation.
After that, I moved a little too far to the right for some time. I became a conservative in many ways. And again I played down the crimes committed by my camp. After having opposed what I believed to be the rise of fascism in Western countries, I now became a militant defender of just those countries. As a commie I started talking about American war crimes in Vietnam every time someone confronted me with the crimes commited by Ho Chi Minh and his comrades. Later, as a conservative, I started talking about Ho Chi Minh or Mao every time someone confronted me with American war crimes in Vietnam or Cambodia. Again, I couldn’t see clearly, because I refused to.
No, it wasn’t just the same, only the other way around. I would like to point this out. The communist systems were totalitarian systems. They were built on mass graves. And they could never have been reformed, or only to a certain extent. Western democracies have commited almost all of their serious human rights abuses in war times or other very extreme situations. And they have their own checks and balances to stop them. But, yes, the diabolic logic that makes us blind to the crimes and mistakes of the people we identify with is the same. There is no goal, no value, no idea, no god, which cannot be misused to justify the mistreatment of our fellow human beings.
So what exactly do I believe in now? Well, I don’t know. And I don’t give a fuck about words and labels. But if you can figure it out, please tell me! Although I doubt it will be of any help.
At least, there is one thing I am very sure about: I am sick and tired of inhumane ideologies.
Contact: Michael.Holmes@gmx.net. (I read it all. But I can’t answer it all. Sorry about that!)