Interview by Alisa Müller
As a marginalised group, people experiencing homelessness are disproportionately susceptible to violence at the hands of right-wing groups. But societal attitudes towards homelessness also plays a role in this, says political scientist Martin Stammler in his interview with Strassenkreuzer, a street paper based in Nuremburg, Germany.
Strassenkreuzer: The sight of people experiencing homelessness can result in compassion, shame or wilful ignorance, but some people also react with anger or hatred. Why?
Martin Stammler: The fact that we live in a capitalist society plays a role. To be able to achieve something oneself, to be able to earn one’s own living, is the yardstick.
Looking at others who cannot, or do not want to, do this can easily go hand in hand with devaluation: “That person is too lazy, lives at the expense of the state and thus also at my expense, because I pay taxes,” people may say.
One could also say: “I am perhaps not quite as poor as you, but we should actually work together to ensure that wealth is better distributed.” Instead, people often set themselves apart from those who are even poorer. Social Darwinism occurs most often in groups that live on the poverty line themselves.
What is Social Darwinism?
It comes from the idea that the strongest prevail in evolutionary terms. Social Darwinism is – to put it simply – the application of the theory of evolution to the social structure of human beings. This means that anyone who cannot make it on their own, who is not strong enough on their own, does not deserve to live or survive in our world in dignity.
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