Geschichten eines Tabus
Is the West retreating? A defeat is tragic, but a retreat is shameful: Wolfgang Schivelbusch examines a taboo.
The idea that things always move forward is one of the convictions of modernity: a retreat is out of the question. And yet, following the end of the colonial empires and the rise of China, the West has been retreating. It does not, however, use this word. When referring to military defeats or the loss of hegemony on various world markets, preferred terms are ‘exit strategy’ or ‘globalization.’ By looking at five examples from the French Revolution to the Vietnam War, Wolfgang Schivelbusch shows the ways in which the retreat, a breach of taboo, was justified in various situations—and he discovers disturbing parallels to our present.
Wolfgang Schivelbusch is Senior fellow at the ZfL.