Monday, May 19, 2014

German 4 Dummies: Entsolidarisierung

"Entsolidarisierung" is an "erosion of solidarity" or "desolidarization", where the latter is either science, Euro-Speak or "Dinglish" (a German speaking English just a bit off).

The German prefix "ent" corresponds to the English prefix "de" in nearly all everyday usages. The German language also allows use of the latin prefix "de" instead of "ent" in formal language but not in older, non-scientific or non-formal usage.
"Desolidarisierung" is perfectly okay, and any web search will show it is being used, though much less frequently than "Entsolidarisierung".

Social sciences researchers have given us great insight into some aspects of the phenomenon, and the concept, or at least the term "Entsolidarisierung" is now a frequent marker term in the German media.

With its popularity, we believe we can see a broadening of meaning, or - trying to be witty - an erosion of meaning. "Entsolidarisierung" is still used to describe real or perceived deterioration of social support mechanisms and structures. Given that outside of narrow bounds, no one can really measure the extent of existing solidarity, claiming erosion is easy and often gratuitous.

We have seen numerous examples where the term is used to describe behavior that is supposedly good civic behavior. For instance, the photovoltaic panels on the roof of your house stood for environmental conscience, for contributing to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and so forth.

Power rate surcharges to pay for sky-high subsidies payable for another 20 or so years, coupled with waivers for the biggest power consuming industries and services as well as grid extension projects have hit individual consumers hard: electricity rates have almost doubled in the last 10 years, with wages pretty much flat for most.

New photovoltaics do not get the subsidies any more, but you can easily find examples where people who put up one or two panels are being accused of "Entsolidarisierung", of removing themselves from doing their "fair share" because they get a few hundred kilowatthours out of their own installation. Despite the fact that the real long term ROI is likely to be close to zero if an expensive part of the setup fails after expiration of the warranty.

In broader language usage, "Entsolidarisierung" is now a multi-purpose term of disapproval for anything from leaving a trade union because you think they fail the workers to complaining about the TV license fee that serves as the Germany's longest running unemployment prevention project.

"Entsolidarisierung" has become a stand-in for "selfishness", less openly accusing but as harsh if not more so, with its implied active undermining of the common good.

You do not want to vote for political party Mainstream X?

Bad boy, or girl: you are eroding support for democracy in the face of fringe party threats.

Just to be clear: of course, if you do not agree with this post for whatever reason, you are eroding solidarity with the blogging community, with the internet community, and with our cats.

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