Who is looking for rice traders

Economy and Hormones

Brecht turns 100

A large banner hangs above the canteen of the Berliner Ensemble: “Whoever it is you're looking for: It's not me. Brecht. “Honor Brecht - but how? The “big smoker” is an explicit critic of the capitalist economic order. What holds the world together at its core has been clear to him since the 1920s: political economy. Above all else, man is a commodity. “I don't know what a person is / I only know their price,” sings the wicked rice trader at Brecht's. Or the poetry album verses of the beggar king Peachum from the “Threepenny Opera”: “Who doesn't want to live in peace and harmony? / But the circumstances, they are not like that! "The private misery of people as a result of the exploitation and dependency relationships - that is the central conflict of the 'great' Brecht plays, these are the motifs of the" Sezuan ", the" Chalk Circle " , of "Galileo". The Augsburg rebel also read his Marx. "Food comes first, then morality". We know our Brecht from school books.

The clever mind - cigar and Mao jacket - thought he knew why the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Despite Brecht, little has changed to this day. Especially since the West has grown a few decades older since his death in 1956. The social mix-ups between globalization, information society and environmental degradation are much more complicated than can be described in parabolic pieces. Theodor W. Adorno, a colleague of the Enlightenment, called Brecht's themes and dramaturgy briefly and succinctly in the 1940s: “pre-industrial”. And so it has always been a cross with Brecht: The simple truths may be enough for a kitchen or battle song and help to divide the world into friends and enemies. But they only see people as a political being. The irrational occurs only as a marginal phenomenon in a good BB. The simple truths of the big pieces lack the tragic complexity and - the hormones. But the human being is a well-rounded affair, often enough one link dances out of line and “sticks to its own advantage”, as Heiner Müller, a student at Brecht, says so beautifully.

But there is more than one Brecht. For example the young one. To him, too, the world was a cheese that has holes. At the age of 20 the boy wrote the following, for example: “If a woman has fat hips, I will put them on the green grass. / I ventilate my skirt and trousers, sunny - because I love it. ”Just as the young one goes wrong, the old one relativizes the fracture of the political through the experience of the years he has lived. This can be looked up in the “Buckower Elegies”. In everything, of course, Brecht remains one thing: a master. The stringency and clarity of his pieces are exemplary, the gentle, suggestive composition of his lyrics extremely target-oriented ’. And what dialectics is can be studied with him excellently.

What is best to read from Brecht to the hundredth? That is wrongly asked. The right question is: how? And that is quickly answered: Thoroughly but across the board. And a recommendation to everyone who plans ’something for him this year. In any case, Heiner Müller's word applies: “To use Brecht without criticizing him is treason.” In this sense - congratulations, Bertolt.

Stefan Kanis

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