Hungarian Conservative

Following the Trend at All Cost — German Journalist Ralf Schuler’s Book on Western Herd Mentality Launched at Center for Fundamental Rights

German journalist Ralf Schuler (C), visiting fellow at the MCC German⁠–⁠Hungarian Institute Henning Sassenrath (L), and senior analyst at the Center for Fundamental Rights Levente Szikra at the book launch event on 13 June 2024
Center for Fundamental Rights
‘If everyone agrees on everything, it presents a strange vision of a democratic society,’ remarked German journalist Ralf Schuler during the launch event of his latest book, published in Hungarian by the Center for Fundamental Rights. The book delves into the themes and perils of the herd mentality that is increasingly prevalent in Western societies, drawing comparisons with the era of socialism.

Acclaimed German journalist Ralf Schuler presented his latest book, Generation Gleichschritt: Wie das Mitlaufen zum Volkssport wurde on Thursday, 13 June at the Center for Fundamental Rights.

Schuler left the editorial staff of Bild, one of Germany’s most widely read newspapers in 2022 after the publisher endorsed the LGBTQ movement one-sidedly, leading Schuler to accuse his former employer of ‘forcing ideological conformity’. His book, now published in Hungarian by the Center for Fundamental Rights, explores the same theme: how members of Western societies become conformists, follow ideologies without speaking out, and what the harmful consequences of this process are.

The event was opened by Strategic Director of the Center for Fundamental Rights István Kovács, who stated that the human rights regime has replaced the Judeo⁠–⁠Christian values that founded Europe. He argued that the primary issue with this shift is that the values now embraced by Western civilization are human-derived, as opposed to those derived from the transcendent. As István Kovács stressed, human rights are unique compared to other areas of law because causality does not apply: there is no legal case from which a legal consequence follows, no cause and effect; they exist simply because one is a human being and the majority of society accepts this.

‘This is where the role of the media comes into play, creating the perception that there is, in fact,

a broad social consensus behind controversial issues that have been framed as human rights,’

István Kovács pointed out, citing the right to abortion and the right to gender reassignment as examples. He noted that the media’s influence contributes to the phenomenon of herd mentality, a topic analysed in detail in Ralf Schuler’s book.

According to István Kovács, the media plays a decisive role in the phenomenon of herd mentality. PHOTO: Center for Fundamental Rights

The panel discussion that followed the opening speech also addressed the issue of increasingly radical pro-Palestinian protests that have been taking place at US universities in recent months. According to a recent survey, the vast majority of students have no idea which river or sea they are referencing in the pro-Palestinian chant ‘From the river to the sea…’ Schuler argued that this is a perfect example of herd mentality, where students support Palestine because they want to be on the perceived ‘right side’ of history, despite having little background knowledge. The German journalist explained that under socialism, it was somewhat understandable for people to follow the crowd on certain issues, as they were living under oppression. However,

in free societies, it is incomprehensible why people make this choice.

According to Schuler, a significant factor is the radicalization of the intelligentsia. This occurs because the broader masses are either unwilling or unable to follow their ideology, prompting the intelligentsia to resort to authoritarian methods. This phenomenon was evident under communism, as it is now with the LGBTQ movement, and even with the current pro-Palestinian protests.

The German journalist noted that American ideologies are increasingly gaining ground in Western Europe, including Germany. He pointed out that antisemitism is also beginning to reappear in German universities following the outbreak of the Israel–Hamas conflict. Schuler argued that ordinary people are generally not interested enough in these issues—such as the LGBTQ movement—to speak out against them. Additionally, those who do have concerns often fear repercussions if they express their disapproval publicly, as several recent examples have demonstrated.

Ralf Schuler signs his book. PHOTO: Center for Fundamental Rights

However, he emphasized that the core issue is people’s reluctance to question and their tendency to conform. ‘If everyone agrees on everything, it presents a strange vision of a democratic society,’ he remarked. He highlighted that during the COVID-19 lockdowns, which involved serious human rights violations, there was a notable absence of defenders of these rights, and the media failed to question the necessity and legitimacy of the closures. Similarly, regarding arms transfers to Ukraine, there is no other option: ‘You either say yes or you say yes.’ Schuler expressed concern that there is

diminishing public debate on important issues.

Commenting on the rise of the right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the ‘firewall’ employed against them by traditional parties, he stated that such tactics have no place in a democracy. A democracy where voters are told that they can choose between certain parties but are simultaneously urged to avoid specific parties ceases to be a true democracy.


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‘If everyone agrees on everything, it presents a strange vision of a democratic society,’ remarked German journalist Ralf Schuler during the launch event of his latest book, published in Hungarian by the Center for Fundamental Rights. The book delves into the themes and perils of the herd mentality that is increasingly prevalent in Western societies, drawing comparisons with the era of socialism.

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