Frido Mann: Democracy Will Win


>>David Morris: Hello
ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Library
of Congress. My name is David Morris. I’m the German Area Specialist
in the European Division here. And I want to welcome you to
an evening with Frido Mann, who will be lecturing on a — will be giving a presentation
entitled, “Democracy Will Win.” Rather optimistic title, I
think, but we’ll see about that. We’re looking forward to
his reasons for his title. I would like first of all,
to thank our cosponsors, the Goethe-Institute
who have been invaluable in helping us put this on, and the Wunderbar
Together Initiative of the German Foreign Office. A few technical things. As you can probably tell, we
are recording this for broadcast on our website, so please
silence your cellphones. And also, Frido has kindly
agreed after his presentation to entertain some questions. And there are mics as you
can see, for that here. Now, in a moment, I’m going
to hand over the podium to Andreas Strohl, the Director
of the Goethe-Institute, but before that, I would like to
say a few words about the legacy of the German language
in this institution. The German collections, the
German language accounts for more items in the library than any other language,
except English. That means 4 million books,
another 4 million nonbook items in other formats such as
maps, music, etcetera. And we get another
30,000 items every year. So, that makes it really
the largest German language collection in the
world, outside of Europe. But it was not always like that. If you go across this
building and take a look at Thomas Jefferson’s
private collection, one of the cornerstones
of this institution, you would be hard-pressed to
find more than a scant handful of German titles amid the 6,000,
7,000 titles that are there. It wasn’t actually until
after the Civil War, and into the 20th Century, that the German language
came into its own here. And became a real focus
of our collecting. And this was due in no small
part to the appointment in December 1941, right after the United States
entered World War II of our first specialist in
German language materials, and that man was none
other than the grandfather of our speaker today,
Thomas Mann. Thomas’ formal title
was Consultant in Germanic Literature. And he remained here in that
capacity until about 1945. But because of his time here,
LC has fortunately a collection of Thomas Mann papers, including
a handwritten draft on Library of Congress stationary, of his
short story, [foreign name], which he dedicated
to this institution, and drafts of three speeches
that he’d delivered here between 1942 and 1947. In fact, Frido and I, before
we came here, were able to look at a number of these materials,
thanks to the staff who made that possible in our
Manuscript Division. Now, sadly, Thomas Mann’s
time in the U.S. was marred in his later years here,
by the rabid anti-communism of the McCarthy Era, in which
he found himself often a target. One of the early lectures he
gave on his own tour of the U.S. and North America in 1938,
echoes in fact the topic of Frido’s speech today, “The
Coming Victory of Democracy.” The FBI criticized this
speech as “strongly radical, and strongly pro-USSR.” By the late 1940s, Thomas,
I think it’s fair to say, no longer really recognized the
freedom-loving country he had grown to admire, but
he did remain a fellow of the library until his death. Now, I don’t want to leave you with that perhaps
somewhat aftertaste. Just let me say, I prefer to
see Thomas Mann’s time here at this institution, and
Frido Mann’s presence today, as representing the best of
Germany, the best of America, and a form of cultural
interaction with deeper roots
than daily politics. Frido Mann, among the many steps in your tour throughout
North America, I see your presence here today
as somewhat of a family affair. And a return to the cultural
relationship your grandfather did so much to nurture. Welcome. And now, here to introduce our speaker is
Andreas Strohl, the Director of the Goethe-Institute
of North America. [ Applause ]>>Andreas Strohl:
Thank you, David. By name is Andreas
Strohl, as David just said. I’m the Director of
the Goethe-Institutes in North America, including
Washington, of course. And it gives me great pleasure to introduce Professor Frido
Mann to you this evening. We’re doing this in
cooperation with the European or the German Division of
the Library of Congress, and the Villa Aurora/Thomas
Mann House in Pacific Palisades. While many of you may
be familiar with — I guess all of you are familiar
with Frido Mann’s family, especially of course with
Thomas Mann, Heinrich Mann. Frido has made quite
a name for himself, as a public intellectual,
and he was born in Monterey, California in 1940. His family had fled from
Germany and lived in exile, in a very robust community of German intellectuals
along the California coast, which included of course,
Thomas Mann, but [foreign name], [foreign name], many other
intellectual immigrants from Germany. Filmmakers, too. Screenwriters. And actually met [foreign name] and in other diaries you
find all these notes. How for instance [foreign name]
makes fun of [foreign name] and the other way around. And so, anyway, so
there was this cohesion between those people, but
with the rise of McCarthyism, in post-war America, the
Mann family left for Europe, in a way, fleeing persecution
again, left for good. Travelling between Europe and
the United States in his youth, Frido Mann studied and earned
degrees in all kinds of fields, in music, and theology,
and psychology. And he worked for many years
as a clinical psychologist in Munster, Leipzig and Prague. And Prague is actually
where we first met. We just realized it’s
a quarter century ago. More that that even, in
the early 90s, when he came to the Goethe-Institute
in Prague, and I was there at the beginning of my career
with the Goethe-Institute. I can still recall the
conversation we had on Terezin, Theresienstadt, the
concentration camp, and especially on the
children’s drawings and paintings that
came from there. And Frido Mann actually
wrote a book about that, too. So, I’m very happy
to see him again. He’s totally unchanged. It’s amazing after
this long time. He now lives in Munich as a
writer, of among other things, novels about his
family, psychology, religion, essays on politics. Politics, one must say in
an age of global crisis and another age or
global crisis. He’s also an active blogger. I found that very
interesting and amazing. In his writings about his
family’s time in exile, Professor Mann has recalled
the political commitment of his grandfather and
his memories have him — have made him ever more
committed to the question of what influence open
dialogue can produce today. And he’s actually — he’s trying
to live that kind of dialogue, so — he’s also a fellow
at the Thomas Mann House. That’s the Mann’s family home
that Thomas Mann had built in Pacific Palisades,
and it is now owned by the German government and
we work very closely with them, the Goethe-Institute and actually it’s a Goethe
colleague who runs the house. The whole concept is
also based on dialogue. And I’ve been told that — and we just talked about that
Frido Mann spent a lot of time at a school yesterday, and
trying to learn from — to listen and to learn from
those kids, and make them think about democracy and what
it takes to preserve it. So, dialogue is very much
at the core of his thinking. And with his speech today,
titled, “Democracy Will Win,” Professor Mann is
following in the footsteps of his grandfather,
who over 80 years ago, addressed American audience
with his famous speech, “The Coming Victory
of Democracy.” David just mentioned it. That was broadcast throughout
the U.S. as an attempt to rally support in America,
for fighting the Nazi regime. Something by the way, that a lot
of Germans never forgave him. It’s you know, that’s another
thing that should be discussed. We welcome Professor
Mann and his hope for enthusiastic support
for democracy today. Thank you very much
for coming here. [ Applause ]>>Frido Mann: Thank you
very much, David and Andreas. And good afternoon
ladies and gentlemen. I’m glad that you and
thank you that you came. And I’m very moved, even
honored at the great honor that I can have a
speech today — speak today to you in this house
where decades before, 70 years, 80 years ago, Thomas Mann was
himself speaking here too. So, that’s just a
great moment for me. And today, I will talk to you
about the power, the dignity, the importance of
dialog, of open dialog as [inaudible] already
been mentioned. As a pathway of fortification
of democracy, which is very important. And but I will underline
my thoughts with a few — with many biographic —
autobiographical facts, from myself too, but especially
also from the Mann family. The political life
of the Mann family. And yes, this is — this will
be the topic, and I just kind of begin with my speech,
“Democracy Will Win.” It is not supposed to
be really optimistic. I think it’s more an
expression of struggle. Yes. Already at an early age,
as a child, born in the U.S., I could feel at first
atmospherically, but later more and more consciously as a boy,
the deep democratic conviction of my parents and grandparents. In their American exile, they had soon adopted
the basic nature of the American constitution
from 1787. The oldest one in the world. The first words of its Preamble,
had quickly become ingrained, “We the People of
the United States.” It was not about our
nation or our country, not about some super individual
ideologically abstract, hierarchically ordered, stately
entity demanding obedience and submission. And even less about
an ethnic community. At its center, instead
was the free union of free individual people. We the People. In 1933, my family had left
the worst people’s community that had ever existed, Germany
under national socialism, and had immigrated
from Europe to the USA, time before the eruption
of the Second World War. A few years later, they
became American citizens. Towards the end of
the Second World War, their political conviction was
slowly transferred also to me, more and more consciously. My grandparents house was a host
to many [inaudible], writers, and musicians, especially. Early on, I could sense the
consternation at the perversions of human rights at the
great culture and tradition of their abandoned homeland. I myself, had always been filled
with a proud sense of community at the Primary School in
Mill Valley, San Francisco, where my parents
lived, when my class had to sing the National
Anthem every morning before school started. We were standing on
block before the more than head high American flag
next to the teacher’s desk, boys saluting, girls with
their hands on their hearts. Democracy for us Americans
constitutionally established was for me from the beginning,
and from the beginning of the emblem of civil autonomy. It stood for freedom of opinion
and codetermination on the basis of a fundamentally equal
status of all people. As an adult, I understand
this social, political, and legal [inaudible]
signification, increasingly as an expression of
an even conviction. It is based on the
philosophy of enlightenment, and our Jewish-Christian
concept of humanity. It was the basic understanding of an indiscriminate
equivalence of all humans. For that reason, the concept
of democracy remains first and foremost sustained, by the
awareness of human dignity. This is also how it was put in
1938, in the passionate address to the American people by author and Nobel Literature
Laureate, Thomas Mann. And the title already
— had been mentioned, the Coming Victory of Democracy. There he writes, “We must
define democracy as that form of government, and
society, which is inspired above every other with a
feeling and consciousness of the dignity of man. It is reminiscent to the —
of the great American thinker and poet, Walt Whitman, whom
Thomas Mann studied intensively. One of his most important
of his, Whitman’s most important
statements was, “For I say at the core
of democracy, finally, it’s the religious
element, all the religions, old and new are there,
or elsewhere, and topping democracy, this
most alluring record that is — that it alone combined and
ever seeks to bind all nations, all men, of however
various and distant lands into a brotherhood, a family.” Thomas Mann penned his
speech, “The Coming Victor of Democracy,” in the spirit
of his contemporary political and humanist role model,
American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt. And he never tired of presenting
his speech on a lecture tour, from coast to coast,
lasting several months. For Thomas Mann, this democratic
conviction was not too innate, especially during World War
One, he still drew a clear line between himself, a
committed monarchist with nationalistic notes,
and the western democracies. But this changed after
the end of monarchy. Already in 1922, in a speech
from Deutsche Republik, the German Republic,
he pledged himself to the new governmental
structure and found in it, the formula for democracy. So, it’s saying, “The state has
become the concern of all of us. We are the state, 1922.” Soon, Thomas Mann has to watch
powerlessly how the first attempt of democracy in
Germany, the Weimar Republic, slowly fell apart and
eventually [inaudible] into national socialism. In America, he began
a rhetorical campaign for democracy in the 1930s,
while still at Princeton, in which he considered which political system
was most suitable for contemporary humanity. It is likely that his
personal encounters with President Roosevelt
at the White House, which made a great impression
on him, contributed to this. The Californian Pacific
Palisades, Los Angeles. Thomas Mann addressed his fellow
Germans between 1940 and 1945, over the air, through the
emphatic 55 radio speeches [inaudible] in Germany,
[foreign name]. In them, he implored
them again and again, to renounce Nazi barbarism. Soon, after Roosevelt’s
death, the hysteria of the already mentioned
McCarthy area, emerged in America. The shock for my parents and grandparents
was the [inaudible]. The entire country was
increasingly ruled by a fear of an education against
communists by enemy stereotypes, but suspicions, interrogations,
and arrests. Fundamental civil rights
were being restricted. In retrospect this was my
first example of how vulnerable and unstable the still very
young lifeform of democracy was. Even in its western
birthplace, America. My family suffered so greatly
from these incisive changes, that they were more and more
distanced from the [inaudible]. It is from this period
that the sentence by my Uncle Klaus
Mann originates, written shortly before
his death, “Oh America, my dream land, my lost dream. I relocated back to Europe
with my parents in 1949. Three years later, my
grandparents followed. But my early impressions
could not end my glowing American patriotism. I was as an American by
birth, still too inspired by our heroic victory
over Nazi Germany, to understand the
scope of McCarthyism. The sudden geographical
separation from the U.S., felt all the worse for
me as a nine-year old. For many years, I suffered
from strong homesickness, longing for my lost
childhood paradise. Shortly before the end of the
Obama era in November 2016, the German federal government
was able under the initiative of then foreign minister
and now federal president, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, to buy
for quite a significant sum, the former home of
my grandparents, Thomas and Katia
Mann, in California. The White House of Exile, as the federal president
calls the house, has since been fundamentally
renovated and transformed into a transatlantic center
for encounter and dialog. As such, it is meant to be
a symbol for what it was at the time of Thomas
Mann, a space of resistance against the dictatorship
and totalitarianism and simultaneously, a center
for intercontinental exchange for the consolidation of
a humane democratic peace. On the other hand, it has — it is also meant to
be an effective sign against the current
drifting apart of the transatlantic alliance
between the U.S. and Europe. The acquisition and
the new [inaudible] of the house are intended
to be an expression of Germany’s respect
for the great tradition of American democracy. From within, it speaks the
wish to stand with the U.S. in their current crisis, the
new [inaudible] of the house, is in this sense to be
understood as a small, greeting of hope, and
a gift from Germany to the U.S. Afterall, Germany
primarily has the U.S.A. to thank for the slow
and steady constriction of its now relatively
solid democracy after its necessary
restart in 1945. This is why the house was
also planned to be a place of remembrance of the
great preceding [inaudible] of democracy in the
United States. In a way, it is also
dedicated to the proud leaders such as Benjamin Franklin,
Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and immigrant Thomas Mann’s
American contemporary, Franklin D. Roosevelt. For me personally, the purchase of the house makes apparent
the stark difference between Germany today
and that of 1945, whose condition I
witnessed succinctly from those very house. Who in this house would
have even dreamt back then when German was lay in
ashes, that in 2016, a German government would
rescue and bye this house, Thomas Mann’s home in exile,
and make it into a site for the protection
and fortification of democracy and peace? In this sense, the German
federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, has let us know
his intentions with a quotation which he wrote, especially
for you in here all — here today, in this conference. “Atlanticism,” he says. “Atlanticism was an
American creation that saved and protected Europe in
unprecedented circumstances. In the currently unfolding
global competition, much will depend on Europe
to keep Atlanticism alive, in the vital interest of both,
Europe and the United States. Atlanticism will require
political wisdom on both sides, irrespective of moments of
discord and even rivalry. It will also require a dialogue that enriches people
on both sides. We must not become strangers
in each other’s eyes.” So, the federal president
Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Against this background,
it was never the intention of the German federal government
to use this house only as a memorial to Thomas Mann’s
literary and political work. Rather, its purpose
is to serve as a space of transatlantic
dialogue in regards to the future of democracy. And this transatlantic
dialogue is not only designed to strengthen the vital
solidarity between American and European continent. It is also expected to help
break through the speechlessness of today’s deeply fractured
American society where fear and despair had robbed many
people of the courage and power to feel a sense of community, and to live together
in solidarity. I am thinking here also, about the two traditional
political parties of the U.S.A., which in my opinion, definitely
have to move towards a stronger, constructive dialogue
with one another, then is currently the case. Parties in a democratic country,
are by definition in competition with one another, but this
competition has to remain fair and should not derail
into polarizing or even hostile fronts
or icy silence. The practice that started the
Thomas Mann house in 2018, has begun to prove that this
alternative white house, can be a place of encounter
in the widest sense. This invite — they invited
fellows from Germany, who stayed for a few
month, are not there for their self-realization
as artists or researchers. The reason for their stay
is the dialogical exchange through daily togetherness,
both with one another, and with their American
colleagues. Those American counterparts
to the fellows from Germany, are not only residents of
Los Angeles in California. They can come from anywhere
on the American continent. They exchange concepts and
ideas, communicate, discuss, disagree, and stimulate. It is about friendships and
partnerships, joined [inaudible] to conferences, or cultural and political institutions,
from coast to coast. They stay, give talks, or hold
panel discussions or seminars. They support each other at
eye level, in the spirit of a transatlantic pluralism
of ideas and beliefs. But the core idea
of this attempt at dialogical togetherness,
is brought to the point with a quote, by Jewish
philosopher, Martin Buber, from his programmatic, religious
text, originating from Jewish and Christian mysticism,
“I am Thou.” That’s the title. And there he said, “All,
real living is encounter.” This means that the
identity of the human being, never stems solely from itself,
but always needs to be viewed in a relation to
its environment. Only the relation to a
human other, the thou, or to the material world of It, make possible a certain
demarcation of the eye from its life world. [Inaudible] can only be
experienced in relationality. Dialogues change us. This is why they should not be
primarily oriented towards a definable goal, but to
remain naturally open. Charles Taylor, leading
American proponent of the political philosophy
of common [inaudible], expresses this similarly. He says, “Discovering my
own identity doesn’t mean that I work it out in
isolation, but that I negotiated through dialogue, partly overt,
partly internal, with others.” The German fellows at the
Thomas Mann house are selected by a committee in Germany, but their dialogue
partner’s [inaudible] and theory, and they’re
American. All of you, ladies
and gentlemen, can join because the more
dialogue partners spread evenly throughout the USA, a fellow
can exchange with the better, the more intensively, lively
and diverse will the form – will the forms of
transatlantic dialogue be? This fortunate project
has brought me home in a [inaudible] sense. In one way, back to the newly
dressed home of my grandparents, from my American childhood. On the other hand,
back to a long dormant, political involvement in the
concerns of American politics, especially now I see myself
as an American citizen, democratically shaped
by my family. Additionally, the
generous decision of the German government
to bring this project into existence, has
retroactively encouraged me in my decision to consciously
accept German citizenship, almost 60 years after the war. In this way, I am now also
doing my part as a German in this transatlantic project. In Germany, from time to time, I am asked whether
I see a real chance for transatlantic dialogue
between Germany and the U.S., in times where the
administration in Washington questions
transatlantic partnerships, not to mention that democracy
is not looking particularly good in Europe, either. And that Europe itself is
on verge of disintegration. And I also often
hear that as a result of its progressing
weakening and reallocation, the now ancient NATO alliance is
finally overdue to be replaced by other [inaudible] coalitions. In the context of this, Russia
and China are often mentioned. It may be that some slow changes in this regard have
to come discernibly. But I think it would be futile
to already attempt a prognosis, and it seems to me especially
futile to speak of an end of the transatlantic
alliance, not to mention that I do not take a German
involvement in a Russian or Chinese power sphere as particularly attractive
prospect. Germany and the U.S. have
a tightly joined history since 1945. It consisted for a long
time of conjoined economic and political block, against
the eastern hemisphere. However, the most
important thing, that slowly rebuilt post-war
West Germany has learned from the U.S., the birthplace
of western democracy, has been so finally construct
its own increasingly stable parliamentary democracy. That this most humane
and dignified of societal forms has now become
endangered on both continents, through the accelerating
technological and social/political changes,
it’s no reason to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And it is even less
reasonable to prematurely engage in new coalitions with states,
or communities of states, whose cultural and political
structures are still miles away from a liberal democracy, based
on the belief of a freedom of autonomy of its citizens. America’s democracy
tried and tested may be at a particular tense
moment, but this is no reason to declare [inaudible]
terminated within with it. I remember similar predictions from my Aunt Erika
[inaudible] in the late 40s. Back then, Erika Mann [phonetic]
was an even more exposed target for McCarthy’s witch hunt,
than her father Thomas Mann. Then and also later, she would
grate on my 12-year old ears with the prophesy of doom that America was heading
towards a swift demise. She compared to the
downfall of the Roman Empire, one and a half thousand
years earlier. If this prophesy
had any truth in it, perhaps an American democracy
would have never even taken off, after the murderous witch trials
of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, or it would have been
finished in 1865, without the rescuing
initiative of Abraham Lincoln who repealed the
division of the U.S., into southern and
northern states. And even the fascistic-like
McCarthy era, did not turn out to be the endpoint of American democracy,
for good reasons. In his speech, Struggle for
Democracy, an occasion of the — on occasion of the inauguration
of the Thomas Mann house at the Getty Center, in Los
Angeles on June 9th in 2018, federal president Steinmeier
underscored the necessity for the ending of struggle,
not only for the preservation of democracy, but also its
continual renewal, because part of human freedom is to be
susceptible to weaknesses, predispositions,
and temptations, which can hinder the development
of democracy, and which need to be again and again corrected. This is why democracy
is never self-evident. Its course is normally marked
by alternating highs and lows. Thus, we co-responsible
for the preservation of democracy, need
to remain alert. This alertness is aimed mainly at the principal enemies
of every democracy. Programmatic irrationalism,
and populism, fundamentalism, and extremism. And so, we have to keep
an eye on these dangers. Also, in Germany and Europe, so that democracy there does not
plummet into a disaster again as it did at the time
of the Weimar Republic. Democracy is continually
in need of a renewal. Everyone who commits
their creative ideas to its preservation and
renewable, can take part in ensuring that democracy also
remain able to renew itself. Democracy only has a
future in this way. But it remains consistent
with human nature, fragile and uncertain. The fragility of democracy
is not only due to the flaws of the constituents, the system of democracy also
demands constant judgement to the changing times. Special consideration
has to be given to historical contexts,
hostile to democracy. For example, our anachronistic
system of the Electoral College, stemming back to
the founding period, had to be now being replaced
by a more timely system, at least one of our presidents
would not have been elected. Despite having to take
out fate, taking our fate in our own hands, we the people,
we all share the responsibility of closing the gap between the
rich and the poor in America, between city and country,
between men and women, especially regarding their
access to political positions. We have to make sure that
the rights of all people, no matter the color of their
skin or ethnic, religious, and cultural background,
are not just codified on paper, in our constitution. They also have to be realized
and secured in practice. A pre-condition for the
reduction of the power and balance between
privileged and underprivileged, and for the removal
of cliquishness between beneficiaries, is to reduce communicative
barriers between the two. For this is — it is important to encourage potential
conversation partners tirelessly to develop confidence building
dialogical communication. This in turn, necessitates
a fostering of the ability and willingness for
dialogue also in the school and educational system. It is almost proof of the
feeling of responsibility of many of our citizens that there is a growing
protest culture of people from all social strata
and ethnic groups. What impresses me most is the
strident and nonviolent way in which even children and
teenagers, make themselves hurt. For example, survivors of the
recent multiple school massacres in the U.S., which could
have easily been prevented with stricter gun
legislation, have paid visits to the White House, and
they expressed their despair and sorrow for the loss
of their classmates and their fear of
further attacks. And they demanded, albeit
thus far without success, a change of course
of the gun lobby, which shares evidently
responsibility for the serial killings. This courageous initiative
has activated the peers all over the world for the
so-called Fridays for a Future. It is a student protest movement
during school hours every Friday morning, against climate change, initiated by a Swedish
student [inaudible] very much. Meantime, it has spread like wildfire everywhere
including in the U.S. In conclusion, I want to
hone in on the deeper levels of interpersonal dialogue and
with it, the human conscience and human will, in general. Because in their depths,
lay our powers which strive for self-determination,
autonomy, and freedom. The preconditions
of every democracy. However, the mental
capacities gifted to us for this do not simply
fall into our lap. We have to slowly
acquire them by working on ourselves, step by step. This is why I bring
up the practice of experiential dialogue,
as I call it, which might, in my opinion, pay an important
part in transatlantic dialogue. This experiential dialogue
is special form of dialogue which has been practiced
between all religions and all kinds of word use. The pluralism of which is
this particularly strong in the U.S. What is significant about the experiential
dialogue is that it exceeds any theological
or philosophical discourse to also include the silence of
meditation and contemplation, and a communal spirit
or practice. Originally, it describes
dialogues between ordained clerics. Nuns and monks from
all global religions. Its specific practice
deriving from the walls of the oldest religious
culture and traditions, is a process led more by
the heart, than the head. It enables a deep insight
into the understanding of its own religious or
also nonreligious roots. And thus, strengthens the
perception and opening of one’s own inner identity. On the other hand, it
fosters mutual understanding and values the spiritual
and also nonspiritual world of the other, within the
accepted multiplicity of faiths through a [inaudible]
free, respectful and empathic understanding. Through this authentic
and relationist change, the participants can also check
the flexibility and malleability of their own inner identity. This constructive
synergy of self and us, leads to a particular
intensity and depth of shared dialogue experience. Let me tell you about
an impressive experience as an example. Recently, I participated
in a discussion in Berlin, moderated by the German federal
president, with a journalist, theological sociologist, and
an Islamic theology scholar about the relationship
between religion and democracy. This [inaudible]
particularly authentic and relational exchange between
[inaudible] positions sounded to me like an experiential
dialogue, transposed onto a scientific, theological, and
political level. Personal positions where
expressed authentically and transparently, and
progressively deepened, and the concerns of the
participants were emphatically and appreciatively received
and further interrogated. Because it was not a spiritual
exchange, of experience — of — an exchange of experience
between ordained clerics, but a factual discussion between
experts of different fields, the personal religious
identity of the participants, and the moderator, were
never explicitly at rest. But it was clearly implicit
within all contributions. During the course of the
conversation, it became more and more clear to
me, that I would wish for the transatlantic dialogues
between fellows and counterparts at the Thomas Mann
house, and elsewhere also, to take the same form. I even see the example in it,
for dialogue, all over the U.S. through which we could cultivate
a stronger community than this, overcome the climate of
alienation, competition, and a dog eats dog mentality. Afterall, as I said, all
real living is encountered. In this sense, following
last — in my last example, I would like to pose
this question. “How far, for the
central principles of inter-spiritual experiential
dialogue, be integrated into the more or less factual,
even controversial political, scientific, and cultural
debates in our countries?” Countless experts entrusted with
difficult tasks, politicians, unionists, negotiators,
seem to be keenly aware that this is beneficial
to proceed and anxiously anticipate a
discussion or a situation with a particular
inner attunement, a kind of meditative pose — pulse, or step back
into ourselves — of ourselves, in silence. So, I occasionally hear
from state officials endowed with charismatic leadership
skills, that in the event of a public announcement
of an important decision, they withdraw in silence
for half an hour or so, before stepping in
front of a microphone. They generally tend to prepare
themselves in this way also, for delicate and
decisive negotiations. It is also known that the
more people are consolidated in themselves, and
calm in this fashion, the more they will be ready
to engage with an opponent or conflicting party, and
to take them seriously as an adequate dialogue partner. This way, through an
empathetically understanding attitude, the can arrive at
a realization of common goals and attempt to solve
problems conjointly. This long-term process will
overcome — it will over time, more and more effectively
replace irreconcilable opinions in categories of victory and
defeat, with conciliation, convergence, complementation,
and balance. I think that the most
apparent political application of the basic principles are — of experiential dialogue,
is diplomacy. Long-time German ambassador
in London and Washington, Peter Ammon, said in
a recent interview, that good diplomacy requires
a readiness for self-critique, that diplomacy is
never a one-man-show, but can only this be
successful through togetherness. And third, also,
that it requires at least a minimal basis of
trust towards your [inaudible]. Dialogue in interpersonal,
international, and intercultural
areas is corresponding to our human complexity, a
multi-faceted diversely colorful and highly interested
— interesting subject. Ability for dialogue an
irreplaceable condition for our [inaudible]
living together. It is a mental breeding
ground for every democracy. And if we assume that democracy,
especially in the U.S.A., is most adequate for our
modern conception, of humanity, and most likely to guarantee
peaceful coexistence, then this dialogue is an
expression of our ability to listen, to understand,
and to verbalize a symbol of human culture and
dignity, and in particular, a basis for a mental
climate of democracy. Instead, in totalitarianism,
the prefabricated dogma of an ideology equipped with sanctions is the brutal
instrument of those in power to dominate their people. This ideology excludes dialogue. Silence is prohibited, so that
the totalitarian powers remain in control of the masses. But the basis for a peaceful
democracy, is dialogue. And this, and the basis
for a fruitful dialogue in turn is a consciousness
bound to ethical values. And this includes striving for
interpersonal communication and encounter in the sense. It is of central importance to further develop a
conversational culture that unites people
and to attempt to realize constructive forms
of communication, and patterns of attitudes conspired by
the experiential dialogue. After all this, I have said
about the limits and risks, but also the value of democracy,
I would like to quote one of the greatest politicians
and staunchest defenders, and savers of democracy,
from his famous speech, on November 11th,
1947 at the House of Commons, Winston Churchill. “No one pretends that democracy
is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that
democracy’s the worst form of government, except
all those other forms that have been tried
from time to time.” And to conclude, once more, from
his masters voice, Thomas Mann, in the Coming Victor of
Democracy, one sentence. If we say truth, we also
say freedom and justice, and if we speak of freedom
and justice, we mean truth. It is a complex of
an indivisible timed, [inaudible] with spirituality
and an elementary dynamic force. We call it the absolutely.” Thank you, very much. [ Applause ]>>David Morris: Thank
you, very much, Frido Mann. I think you have done
such a beautiful job of weaving your family
history and your influences from childhood on,
into the whole story of what democracy is, and how
democracy can be maintained and nurtured. Trust, self-critique,
working together. One might also add, just
simply reason, all these values that you have been
so imbued with. Frido has kindly offered
to take questions. Frido, would you like me
to moderate, or would you like to just come up
here and [inaudible]? Okay. [Inaudible] And
anyone who has questions, can just stand here at the mic.>>Frido Mann: Sure.>>David Morris: And there’s
one over there as well.>>Thank you very much
for your comments. I would hope that Thomas
Mann and his centers for democratic thought
might become as well-known and widespread going forward, 100 years as the
Goethe-Institute has been in the post-war period. It would be my deep,
deep hope as a democrat and a cultured person, that there could be Thomas
Mann centers and also that the problems between — I
know there are Confucius centers that are being developed
by the Chinese government with their newfound wealth. But I would hope Russia
— the Russian Federation, would have the wisdom to
develop Pushkin centers around the world, and
that there could be — but my question is you’ve talked about the Pacific Palisades
Center for transatlantic dialog, and you’ve talked
about international or intercultural dialogue and
events taking place in Berlin. Do you and the German government
and the other people involved in this new movement for
the Thomas Mann house and associated dialogues,
do you have any strategy for using the Pacific
Palisades campus for transatlantic dialogue,
and using the Berlin Center for international and
intercultural dialogue, and interreligious, too? Thank you.>>Frido Mann: This is of
course a long-term [inaudible]. The birth of the house
now is a little more than one-year old [inaudible]
and we are beginning. And we had to have [inaudible]
very good fellows there. Oh, sorry. [Inaudible] So, the
house there is very new, and which now it has
been opened in June 2018. And the goals we have
instilled are very long term, and it takes a long time. But my long-term wish really
would be, and a strategy, maybe strategy — I’m
very — many times there, also in the house, and
we’ll also in a week about will visit
the house again. But even if it’s very — it would be very nice to have
communication with other center, I think it’s even more important
that also the structures of a transatlantic [inaudible]
should fasten in that way that other centers, not Thomas
Mann centers, other centers. Berlin is one, that’s
very, very — not — in Berlin, I also am thinking of the American Academy,
there is also one. This would be very important. There is not very strong
relationship now, but there is that — this [inaudible]
company. But now, I [inaudible] when I
was beginning my lecture tour in America, I began
with a German Academy. Germany Academy in New
York, is in Fifth Avenue. It was — this is a
former Goethe-Institute, and Goethe moved
out a few years ago. And now, there is an academy, a German academy,
beginning its work. It’s called 1014, because
it’s the house number. And it has to — because
the house has to be now in the next two years, it has
to be renewed and [inaudible] with very high German
[inaudible]. That’s the very high — the foreign [inaudible]
gave much money for that. And but, so in two years maybe,
they will begin their work, and I think it would
be very important to have a real network,
a real systematic network of different houses, different
institutions, Thomas Mann or not Thomas Mann, but they
all have the same spirit. And that’s the important thing. And that this could help out to
strengthen and to [inaudible] — the fortification of the
transatlantic dialect and with a dialogue, then also
with democratic structures, which are very important. I mean, I’m very happy that I
was talking about the weaknesses of the European [inaudible]. That’s what I said
when I wrote the — when I wrote this lecture,
but now in the last weeks and days even, and I’m very
happy now in Europe top, and in Italy and in
Austria, and England and so. So, I’m getting a
little more optimistic. But still, what we have
to really do is dialogue between different institutions with their own structures they
have, communicate, exchange. And that’s what I would say. So, what I would really say,
as you were asking before, this is the line
we have to follow.>>I’m just going
to share with you that I feel perhaps a
little bit like your aunt, during McCarthyism these days. So, it’s — we all look
back on our history from the United States and
realize that it has survived as a very successful democracy. But some of the principles
that you spoke of, that ensure we maintain a
democracy, in terms of dialogue and in terms of people
dealing with facts, openness, and respect for each
other’s opinion, some of those are more
challenged these days, at least in my opinion,
especially the issue of facts. And so I guess, I just was
wondering if you could address that situation here
in the United States with that perspective? You know? That some of
the critical components to maintain democracy
which are facts, openness, and honest exchange,
are a bit challenged. Thank you.>>Frido Mann: Yes. I have also have to admit then,
I mean, [inaudible] and now since ten days, I’m
travelling through America, it’s still the beginning. Altogether, it will be
six weeks travelling. But I already have I
think one [inaudible]. I don’t want to say the — mention the name of the city
I was, but there it happened, I was trying to have a talk
with pupils from a high school. And the gentleman
who was inviting me, he phoned with many
school directors and to ask if I could come. And so, very different from
what I experienced yesterday, a wonderful experience
now here in Washington, with the high school there. All the directors, they
said it’s not possible. “The polarization
in our country, is so big between the
parents of the kids, and the kids themselves, it
would bring so many trouble into the structure
of our school. Please don’t come and talk
about democracy with our kids.” This is reality, and this
is reality in the U.S. But I say always, U.S. as a
whole doesn’t exist anymore. There are few parts
of the earth. We’re very, very different. And my hope is that the strong
parts of the [inaudible] — the strong east coast, west
coast, everybody knows this, and other parts too,
will have a — some influence on the
other parts too, sometime. Not now in the coming
presidential election, but maybe afterwards. I’m sure after this long time
of survival of democracy, this also will somehow
it must — I don’t think that the democracy
in America is finished. Not at all. But it’s a great struggle. And I said also before, I’m not so much an optimist,
but I’m struggling. And struggling’s the only way
how it can go over this — come over all these
troubles who are there, also between the parties,
and it’s a long, long process and I just can make a
small, little contribution, but I want to do this, and I hope that also many other
people’s, I can communicate with them and we can both
build up a little network, but that’s the reality. Reality, it is very — it’s [inaudible] and it’s
quite — much work to do. [Inaudible] better I cannot say.>>[Inaudible] at
[inaudible] University. I’m grateful to you for you
keep — in spite of everything, keeping up an optimistic view of a transatlantic dialogue
[inaudible] support democracy. And in spite of the
[inaudible], and what I want to ask you is you know, if
you look around and I would like to appeal to your
psychological knowledge, and wisdom, so to speak. Talk about leadership,
because for dialogue, you need leaders, right? And look around. Here in the United States,
you have clearly a tendency to a populous [inaudible]. Is that a word we
could use, maybe? Look at Germany, and I would
say there is a strange vacuum of leadership, right? Angela Merkel is on the way out. We don’t know what’s
going to happen. There’s a vacuum. Look at Europe. Sure, there’s Merkel, but
look at the European Union, and the struggle for
leadership in capacity to live up to Europe’s ambitions. I used a German word
for that [inaudible], which is [foreign name]. And to be a liberal is so
hard that I doubt a little bit that we can remain as
optimistic as you are. So, I would like you to
address the issue of leadership to maintain you know, the
[inaudible] and the success of democracy, giving all the
dangers that come [inaudible]. I mean, look around, what populism can do
in Europe and here. So, can you talk about the
leadership qualities and issues that we need in order
to [inaudible]?>>Frido Mann: I would
say a half a year before, I would just say the same
thing what you are now saying, and but now just as I already,
I think mentioned, shortly, since a few months, things
have changed in Europe for me. It’s not — Germany
for instance. It’s not only Merkel,
has a leadership quality. Also, that the federal president
Steinmeier, he doesn’t — did not only buy the
house an open it. He makes many, many
important speeches. He goes to the countries where
the Nazis had committed crimes and talks to the people and he
sees — he’s doing all the time, really — almost every day,
something for his nation as an authority really is. That’s one [inaudible]. There are also other
politicians in Germany. For instance, I’m very
happy that [foreign name], who was a minister in
Germany, now is a leader in the [inaudible] Europe, and I think she has a real
strong authority to also sort of — to help that
Europe doesn’t fall apart. Then we have since
the day before — yes, the day before yesterday,
Sunday in the elections Austria, we have a new president, a
young man, a very dynamic man, who some — for some months, were just shut away,
but now he’s back. And now he has a better
possibility to have a — make coalitions with other
parties, than he had before with the Right-Wing people,
the Green People, are strong. So, Italy, happened
what happened there, that [inaudible] Right Wing
[inaudible] they fell out there, because the chief of the
whole government, stepped out, and the president,
he said, okay then, they would change the
cards [inaudible] totally, and then the socialists
and the other party, the — I think the Five Star party,
something, they came together and [inaudible] government. We don’t know how long
will rest, but it did. So, that populism
and nationalism, where we have to
really be afraid. Also, in Germany you didn’t
mention the Right Wing’s party, which at the countryside in
the east, is quite dangerous, but still, [inaudible]
democracy in Germany’s so strong that they don’t —
we can control them. They — until now,
they remain in control. So, as just as the last happens
— happenings I would say, [inaudible] now in the last — they are really much
better than — and I really didn’t expect
them, but they happened. [Inaudible] and this
gives me some courage not to be optimistic. I tell again, it’s not optimism. It’s — I have the really
the will of struggling, and it gives me more
courage to struggle more. That’s all.>>If I may, I was very
excited to hear what kind of role you ascribe to
dialogue, because that’s of course the Goethe-Institute
is based on dialogue. I’ve always dealt with it. I wrote my dissertation
on dialogue theory, and especially the
decoded Martin Buber, and [inaudible] “I and Thou.” So, as a psychologist,
how far would you go when it comes to dialogue? Is dialogue something
we need to get along, or is dialogue something that
goes much farther and is sort of at the center of what once
used to be called Identity, and something that we
don’t exist without. Something that makes us. So, if that is true, and I
assume it is, doesn’t that mean that we are not really —
we cannot really exist. We are not really human beings if we are not engaged
in a dialogue. So, doesn’t follow from that a
very, very fundamental function of dialog, and it’s
— isn’t it something that we don’t always
have to stress? It shouldn’t be such
a necessity. So, why is it then?>>Frido Mann: Yes, I think
the dialogue is or the capacity for the dialogue is a process. It never stops. We never can be happy
with that work when — really happy with
that [inaudible] got, and now to [inaudible]. But it will — also have to overthink what we
can appoint a chief. But I think what you mentioned
is that what’s been important, that the deepness of the
[inaudible] dialogues. So, it’s not from the
psychological view that I’m saying this. I am [inaudible] psychologist, but I began after my first
music studies [inaudible], I was [inaudible] and I think
this is even more the point. And already in my second
semester, I wrote a paper about Martin Buber, and that
I was so really proud of it, that it was [inaudible]. Well, and now, somehow coming
back to my theological roots, I am also working together
with — it’s not a monastery, but it’s a union of people, who
invite theologians and monks and nuns from all religions
at making inter-monastic and inter-spiritual
dialogues for a few days. They lived together. They had — to read texts. They go in silence, of course. They cook together. Everything. And then they go home again. And then the next
[inaudible] come. And also, in different places. And there, as I already
said, you can learn that from the old traditions,
it’s not the Christian religions or — it’s even more
the Asian religions. The old traditions, the Hindus,
and other Asian religions, they can really [inaudible]
what is deepness of identity, of looking on its own
convictions, to find them, to stay with them,
and this also — wisdom from these old religions
that the more if you are with yourself, the
more you seem to be, you close yourself
from the [inaudible]. The more you have, the
possibility to open in your environment
before you [inaudible]. And this is the central
topic for dialogue. What we should be. Not only — dialogue
is not a technique. It can be a technique. There are several psychological
ways to teach techniques. That’s true and it’s okay,
but that’s not the main thing. The main is really the
opinion, the attitude and the working [inaudible]
if you do it in groups and if you learn from
others, from these old people, from these old people,
from these old monks, and you can really
learn much from them for political discussions
for dialogue in a very nonreligious way. So, this is — that’s
fine [inaudible]. And repeat [inaudible]
again what [inaudible] to say [inaudible].>>Thank you, Mr. Mann. You talked about the necessity
of dialogue, but if you look at this country, and you
talked about different parts of this country already, that
it’s not one country anymore, people are not in
dialogue anymore. People don’t talk to each other. They don’t — in families,
you’ll see people not able to talk about their
political issues or their values that differ. So, what is there to do
if people are not willing to engage in dialogue? It sounds so good and
it sounds optimistic, but what is there to do?>>Frido Mann: I think that
the fact that there are cities or communities where dialogue
do function in America, nobody can say that dialogue
is dead in the whole America. That’s not the fact. The fact is, that there are
regions, that there are places. I just told you the
story about the teachers who didn’t let me talk
with the children. That’s for there,
there’s no dialogue. [Inaudible] That’s — speechlessness and
that’s silence, and silence is always
the beginning of something very evil. And we know that
from the mystery. But still, I think these places,
these oases or these places where they — where it does
function, and there are places in America, I think for instance
Washington, where I am in now, and where — yesterday in that
school, that was a great — but it was a great
experience with these kids who with whom I could with them. I told them what I
think about democracy, then there was the points
was written on the board, and then the children were
divided into small groups, and they talked about this. Also, about the dialogues. And then they gave
their comments. And so, and then at the
end, we had some results. That’s just a tiny,
little example. But I think where these examples
are in a broad way possible to develop, there
is a possibility that these strong
parts of America can — they have to try to
go into this places and try to make a dialogue. If I would have stayed longer in
that city, I would have tried — I would have gone to
these teachers themselves. I couldn’t. Two days later, I was
gone and continuing travel to here or another place. But then, I think people who
have time should do this, and I’m just — I’m sure that there must be a
possibility to begin somewhere. I wouldn’t just withdraw and
say, “Now, everything is now — what shall we do
with [inaudible]?” I don’t think this. I’m just convinced
that it is possible. There is some potential things
here — some possibility here. More, I cannot say. That’s all. I don’t know if it’s an answer
to your question, but it’s– .>>[Inaudible] concentrate
on the parts [inaudible]?>>Frido Mann: Yes.>>Or [inaudible] you
concentrate on the [inaudible]?>>Frido Mann: Both. Both. First, at the
place where [inaudible] of them go out, and then go out.>>First of all, [inaudible]. And the last few years of
my life as it so happened, I went to school in Lubeck
at the Thomas Mann School, and I have got very strong
[inaudible] from my time there. But my question would be, of how to address I guess the
silent people, and diagnostics, not in a religious sense, but whenever there has been open
debate, I’ve seen many people who are either afraid
of their own opinions, or just rather sit there,
you know, or even just walk out if something they —
is said that they don’t like or they have no clue. And sometimes these are
even forced onto the stage and people ask them, “Well,
what is your opinion?” And if they don’t have
one, it’s like, “Well, you must say something.” And my question is, “How best to either [inaudible] these
people should they be more or less educated,
or be talked to them until they finally make
their opinion on their own? Or should you let them
develop their own way or let them find the courage to
speak and do time on their own?”>>Frido Mann: I
think there is no — there’s no way [inaudible]
this way or this way. I think it’s there are many
possibilities [inaudible]. Partly wait, partly
talk with them, partly try to influence
them, find friends of them to talk with them. So, that — and bring
them together. I think some — a creative way of making dialogue possible
must be — of course must be — there is no technique
where you have to say this [inaudible]
or do this. I’m sure about this. I mean, I don’t know
the situation. I must [inaudible] to hear
what really was happened, then I could see. But anyway, there
is no way of — it has to go like this
way and not this way. That’s all.>>Thank you, sir.>>Frido Mann: Okay, yes. Yes?>>David Morris: Any other
questions for our speaker? Alright. Well, then I will
say thank you Frido Mann for [inaudible]. [ Applause ]

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