Many Germans think they know what has to be top priority on the political agenda: the “Fight against the Right”. They think they know perfectly that it is now necessary to “stand up” against right-wing – in order to prevent a new seizure of power through the “Nazis”, in order to make Germany stay a “liberal”, an “open-minded” country. Today’s “Right”, they think - and it is also what they read in the media and what they heard from politicians – are the direct descendants of the National Socialists of the past century.
Hence almost all is permitted in the “Fight against the Right”: defamation, social isolation, damage to property and also personal injury.
But obviously they are not aware that the term “right-wing” has become a political combat term, especially in Germany. Hardly anyone wants to be “right-wing”; there is an immediate association to the German National Socialism. But the origin of the term has nothing to do with this. It goes back to the seating arrangements in the French national assembly in 1814. On the right side of parliament, seen from the front, there sat the political forces “who stood up for the preservation of the current political and social conditions”. This is what the German Federal Agency for Civic Education wrote in 2011.
One does not have to like these political forces, the conservatives, but they are different from the National Socialists in Germany or the Fascists in Italy. This includes those who advocate the conservation of the European nation states and the return to national sovereignty. They are very different from Fascists and National Socialists.
The Italian Fascists were dreaming of a re-establishment of the Imperium Romanum. They were imperialists. The National Socialists were no friends of independent nation states, too. Many of them adhered to all-German ideas which also were served by Hitler in the first years. But Hitler’s National Socialists were racists and imperialists.
Hitler was dreaming of a Europe unified under his rule. Aryan members of the master race did not only exist in Germany and he was striving for “Lebensraum” in the East and the enslavement of the hitherto sovereign European peoples and nations, particularly those in the East. In 1943 a handbill from the resistance group “Weisse Rose” stated: “What can we learn from the outcome of the war, which never was a national war? The imperialist idea of power, from which side it may come, needs to be disposed of for all times.”
The German constitution does not know about the political terms left-wing and right-wing. But it does know the terms “loyalty to the constitution” (article 5 III), “constitutional order” (article 9 II), “free democratic order” (article 18 and article 21 II). The Grundgesetz (GG) itself does not explicitly define the term free democratic order. But the Federal Constitutional Court has done so, in the early 50s when it was negotiating the question of declaring two parties as unconstitutional and hence illegal. Its definition was:
“A free democratic constitutional order within the meaning of Article 21 II of the Basic Law is an order which, to the exclusion of any rule of violence or arbitrariness, constitutes a rule of law on the basis of the self-determination of the people according to the will of the respective majority and of freedom and equality. The fundamental principles of this order shall include, as a minimum, respect for the human rights as specified in the Basic Law, in particular the right of the personality to life and free development, the sovereignty of the people, the separation of powers, the accountability of the government, the lawfulness of the administration, the independence of the courts, the principle of multi-party rule and equal opportunities for all political parties with the right to constitutional formation and exercise of opposition”. (BVerfGE 2, 1 (Ls. 2, pp. 12)) [Tranlation Current Concerns]
These are, in essence, the basic principles which can be derived from articles 1 and 20 of the Grundgesetz, that is, basic principles which are provided with an “eternity clause”. Only the requirement of equality of chances for all political parties and the right to form an opposition is exceeding these two articles.
Also the court’s statement above is not speaking of right-wing and left-wing, nor of right-wing or left-wing extremism. It has formulated a benchmark for all political forces, within or without the parliament. The German constitution is the constitution of a well-fortified democracy. Unconstitutional political goals and even more unconstitutional politics may not be without consequences, no matter if they originate from right-wing or left-wing extremists or from other political forces. They need to be kept at bay. But what has this to do with today’s “Fight against the Right”?
It is known that the German “Antifa” has taken up the cause of the “Fight against the Right”. It has been doing it for many years. Today it has little to do with a true prevention of Fascist attempts. It includes many left-wing extremists; also some tragically neglected young people. But the “Antifa” is enjoying an updraft, also financially, since the “Fight against the Right” has become German governmental politics and is even supported by people like Madeleine Albright in the US, who is also warning from a return of Fascism.
Today innocent citizens are harassed in the name of the “Fight against the Right”: because they do not agree with the mainstream in media and politics and not endorse internationalism but support a free, democratic and sovereign state of law. The parastatal Deutschlandfunk gave an example for this: in a commentary on the afternoon of 27 September, Paul Craig Roberts, the former US Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and committed critic of the imperialist US politics was labelled “the Republicans’ most stalwart right-wing radical”.
Who still remembers who were the decisive forces behind the fascists and National Socialists in the 20th century? Then it was clandestine political circles, financial powers and racists, many of them from Great Britain and the US, the precursors of the market-radical globalisation capitalists of today and their ideologues. At that time they found that Bolshevism was to be fought with all means, in the Soviet Union and also elsewhere in the world. Thus the fascists and National Socialists were brought to power and into position. And where do we stand today? Which side is really threatening freedom, rule of law and democracy?
Many of those active in the “Fight against the Right” are young people. It is a severe offence if young people are abused for political ends. Who is benefitting from their “Fight against the Right” today? What is the goal if other people are pilloried, if a paralysing atmosphere of caution is spreading and smothering any open controversy with arguments? Is this fostering human dignity and human rights, peace and justice? Or are young people once again used – as so often in history – for very different, undeclared purposes? •
km. At the beginning of September 2018, several tens of thousands, mostly young people, gathered under the signet of #Wirsindmehr (We are more than that) in Chemnitz to listen to speeches and music performances that pretended to set a sign against right-wing extremism in Germany, but in many respects were rather tasteless to violent. The Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank Walter Steinmeier himself had recommended this event, and some may have thought that this must have been an error. This is obviously not the case.
Under the signet #Wirsindmehr, events take place in various German cities whose political quality is questionable, but which are broadly supported by many organisations and even state institutions – is that lawful? So for example on 5 October 2018 in the German city of Konstanz. Patron of this event was the Lord Mayor of the city, the CDU member Uli Burchardt. The “alliance“ includes, among others, the local CDU, FDP, SPD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Die Linke, Free Voters, the DGB, IG Metall and Verdi, Amnesty International and the Protestant Church District, the University of Konstanz and last not least “Pulse of Europe“, an organisation that promotes the EU throughout EU-Europe.
Commitment to “democracy and rule of law, humanity and solidarity“, as it is called in the Konstanz event appeal, may be certainly good. At the same time, however, painting the acute danger of a right-wing extremist takeover on the wall (“it‘s five after twelve“) and at the same time admixing the AfD with it is rather political propaganda – and one wonders who the whole thing should serve.
Bertolt Brecht, initially a friend of the GDR, wrote a famous poem after 17 June 1953:
After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writer’s Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts.
Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?
65 years later, the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin (Social Science Research Center) published an almost 100-page study entitled “Populism Barometer 2018: Populist attitudes among voters and non-voters in Germany 2018”.
The media were alarmed that more than 30 percent of the Germans surveyed were said to be inclined toward populism – and the positive trend is continuing.
Page 18 of the study provides the compact answer to the question of when a person is said to have populist attitudes. And that is if he or she unanimously agrees with the following statements:
Everyone can now check for himself or herself whether he or she is a populist.
But perhaps, now some people may also think that the official “fight against populism” might have something to do with Bertolt Brecht‘s poem.
Kristina Schröder (CDU), German Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth from 2009-2013, has critically examined the “Fight against the Right” in a lengthy article for the newspaper “Die Welt” from 24 August 2018. The article is entitled: “The ‚Fight against the Right‘ is aimed at the middle class”. Here she writes among other things:
“The left-wing has expanded the fight against right-wing extremism. Supported by the state, everything that is not left is combated - left-wing extremism trivialises. The anti-totalitarian consensus has been destroyed, and the CDU must decide. […]
The fight against right-wing extremism became the ‚Fight against the Right‘. Anyone who believes that only linguistic laziness is at work here is naive. Many of those who romp about in this field with state support are actually concerned with fighting everything that is not on the Left. The old thesis of 1968 that capitalist society is at least a pre-fascist society still reverberates here. […]
The ‚Fight against the Right‘ must therefore be taken literally: The point is to denounce political convictions as illegitimate in democratic discourse, some of which would probably even be approved by supporters of the Center Union. The spectrum of what can still be said, is now to be shifted far to the left.”
(Translation Current Concerns)
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