Roland Dürre
Thursday February 2nd, 2012

About the Integration and Other Summits

Yesterday, I heard about the integration summit. And my no longer existing hair stands on end.

Another one of those summits. A short time ago, I attended the IT summit, I constantly hear about the E12 and EU summits, I just suffered a summit at Davos and was invited to a design summit and an entrepreneur’s summit. There seems to be no end to summits!

🙂 The only thing I am waiting for now is the PM summit (PM = Project Management) If it happens, I will start crying.

And yesterday, they had the summit of (or for) integration!

I dislike both parts of the compound word. Choosing the word summit for a conference means you meet right at the top. Only the top representatives of a sector are invited. The “elite” does some small-talk and further promotes their mutual “biases” (perception failure, detachment from reality). The air is thin and the reality value is at a minimum. Far away and hidden behind a layer of clouds.

The reports about the summits of this world only provide us with statements that are self-evident or else stupid. You never find inter-disciplinary knowledge, openness, experience, awareness of problems or a sense of reality.

This “summitting” reminds me of groupthink  (Gruppendenken – introduced in 1972 by the psychologist Irving Janis). That is how psychologists call a situation where a poor or unrealistic decision is made by a group of basically competent persons, because every individual person adopts the opinion he or she imagines to be the general opinion of the group.  And that is far from a healthy process for generating useful knowledge. Especially not if we are talking the phase prior to an important decision.

I often got the impression that with every barcamp I attended the results got more sensible and constructive.
And then they even go so far as to couple the word summit with the word integration. In Germany, we had the “anti-word“ guest worker. And now there is a new one: integration. Integration is not defined in german wikipedia as a linguistic unit! I feel there is a good reason for this. The only times the term integration is mentioned are is in the field of technology and as the title of a newspaper!

So, please, be careful if you use the word integration along with cultures, nationalities, religions and social developments. The very word integration suggests that something different has to be fit into something you already have. And more often then not, what you mean is: into the dominant culture (Leitkultur). That, too, is an “anti-word“. You will, however, find it in wikipedia. Among other things, you can read there

“… but from 2000, the term figured prominently in the national political debate in Germany about national identity and immigration (Zuwanderung). The term then became associated with a monocultural vision of German society (Multikulturalismus), with ideas of European cultural superiority, and with policies of compulsory cultural assimilation“

Well, it reminds me of the Erlkönig:
“I love you; I’m charmed by your beautiful form And if you’re not willing, then I’ll use force“.

Maybe the ladies and gentlemen in politics should be advised to organize a language summit in order to start thinking about catchwords they use on a daily basis in order to stun us. I can easily come up with a few more.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

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