Germany in Autumn 1978

Fassbinder: So there’d be no discussion?
Mother: No discussion.
Fassbinder: You think that’s okay?
Mother: l wouldn’t encourage anyone to talk in the current situation. l would be terribly alarmed if someone, in a public discussion, expressed themselves in the way that Jung did yesterday, in the … in that discussion. He pointed out that criticism is justified, and that if criticism is quelled, and … such demands are made, like what’s happening with the terrorists … l’d just be scared to hear someone say that.
Fassbinder: Why?
Mother: Because l don’t know what someone else would do with it. You see? An acquaintance of mine really badmouthed Boll once. lt was before Schleyer was kidnapped. When l defended Boll, he said,
”You’re one of those sympathizers!” Understand? You just don’t know, in the current situation of hysteria, how something you say can be used against you. And that’s why l think l wouldn’t encourage anyone to talk.
Fassbinder: For my part, l can’t understand that, because …
Mother: Well, it really reminds me of the Nazi period, when people just kept quiet in order to stay out of trouble.

2

Fassbinder: What has to happen these days before you’ll talk again?
Mother: Well, the people that have authority, and those … who have the relevant influence, they …
have to use that influence.
Fassbinder: And who, may l ask, has influence and authority?
Mother: People like Mitscherlich, for example, or Jung, or Boll, for God’s sake, with his international reputation …
Fassbinder: You just said you had a problem with someone because of him!
Mother: People here have to grasp the fact that …
Here and now … ln essence, it’s … The masses don’t make a democracy. They haven’t grasped what it is. They think that if you criticize the state, you’re already, what do l know …
Fassbinder: But you support that by saying you wouldn’t encourage open discussion right now.
Mother: Well, l want it to happen through the media, for example.

3

Fassbinder: Why do you want to delegate
your concerns to the system of freedom that you believe in?
Mother: Well, l delegated them when l voted. Besides, there are political parties,
and l assume that in those parties, one of which l voted for, that reason will prevail. That’s what l assume.
Fassbinder: So reason must come from above?
Mother: The reas…
Fassbinder: Your understanding of democracy
ought to be, especially if you experienced the Third Reich, as you in fact did … Then you ought to say, ”The rank and file individuals …”
Mother: l want to tell you that l … have considerable difficulties, because l do understand that there is good reason to be upset about many things that are happening, and that criticism is necessary.
Fassbinder: You said you wouldn’t even advise people to talk!
Mother: Not at the moment, no.
Fassbinder: That’s a rejection of democracy!

4

Fassbinder: When the pilot was shot in Mogadishu, or in Aden, you said that for every person shot,
you’d like to see one terrorist shot in Stammheim Prison.
Mother: Yes. Publicly.
Fassbinder: Publicly?
Mother: Yes.
Fassbinder: And that’s democratic?
Mother: No, it’s not. But hijacking the airplane
wasn’t democratic either. Or saying, ”Now we’ll shoot one person after another.” lf it had been you or me in there, what would you have thought?That changes everything. You have to consider that.
Fassbinder: So it’s ‘an eye for an eye’?
Mother: No, not ‘an eye for an eye’. But in a situation like that, you can’t just respond with democracy.

5

Fassbinder: You just said you don’t care about laws, yet you’re a democrat!
Mother: l do care about laws …
Fassbinder: You just said you didn’t.
Mother:But if people who …
Fassbinder: No ‘buts’! You say you don’t care. Regardless of the situation. And you’re a democrat!
Mother: But if people like that …
Fassbinder: No! Answer me, please!
Mother: They break the law, not me.
Fassbinder: Yes, so does a normal murderer!
Mother: Then the terrorists are murderers?
Fassbinder: Sure they are, for all l care! But there aren’t any special laws for murderers!
Mother: Yes, but you can catch them, and then you have them under arrest. And they can’t cause such trouble.
Fassbinder: No?
Mother: No.
Fassbinder: No? lt’s not just that a normal murderer has bad reasons, or none at all, for committing a murder. lsn’t the bad thing about terrorists that they have reasons that you can understand?
Mother: But the means are wrong, Rainer.
Fassbinder: But you don’t care about laws either.
You said laws are irrelevant, when it comes down to it.
Mother: l was so outraged …
Fassbinder: ls it permissible to have a situation
where you don’t care who makes the laws, or what they are?

6

Fassbinder: And democracy is the most humane form of government, is it not?
Mother:lt’s the lesser of all evils, right?
Fassbinder: The lesser of all evils?
Mother: Yes, right now it is an evil.
Fassbinder: Democracy?
Mother: Yes.
Fassbinder: Would authoritarianism be better?
Mother: No. Here and now …
Fassbinder: What would be better? lf it’s the lesser evil, there must be … some kind of good. What would that be?
Mother: The best thing would be a kind of authoritarian ruler who is benevolent, and kind and orderly.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder and his mother Liselotte in “Deutschland im Herbst” (1977/78 )

 

fassbinder 5