Günter Grass

Günter Grass

Our Democracies are Collapsing

The protest against surveillance is turning global. A list of leading authors from around the world have signed the petition "A Stand for Democracy in the Digital age." One of them, German Nobel Prize winner Günter Grass, explains why.

When security is put before liberty, basic democratic rights decay. It is the duty of artists to defend our hard won democratic rights. A word of warning from Günter Grass, one of Germany's most important intellectuals.

Three minutes of powerful words from author Günter Grass on the importance of democracy and solidarity. Artists are essentially egocentric, he says, but it's important to not see yourself as a solitary being and not always side with the winners. The majority of people rely on help, on a compensatory model of social behaviour, Grass explains: “I'm not a born Social Democrat. I learned to be one.”

Günter Grass sees neo-liberalism as the curse of our times, because it has “unleashed the individual with its predatory mentality,” which has again led to a predatory capitalism, and a “relapse into the 19th century.”

Günter Wilhelm Grass (1927-2015) is a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist and sculptor, best known for his first novel 'The Tin Drum' (1959). He is widely regarded as Germany's most famous living writer. In 1999 he received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

One day after the heads of the world's leading technology companies demanded changes to surveillance laws in an open letter to Obama, more than 500 of the world's leading authors, including Nobel prize winner Günter Grass, urged the UN to create an international bill of digital rights, protecting civil rights in the age of the internet.

Günter Grass was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner in August 2013.

Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Martin Kogi
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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