What remains: thinking independently, acting humanely, laying the foundations for more direct democracy

A commentary after the state elections in Brandenburg and Saxony

by Karl Müller

On 1 September of this year the two Eastern German Federal States Saxony and Brandenburg elected a new Landtag. As it had been expected and was predicted in the surveys, the party “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) was able to chalk up very high gains. They won more than 20 per cent of the electoral votes. In both federal states the party is now the second strongest with respect to their seats in the Landtag. The two ruling parties SPD (Social Democratic Party) and CDU (Christian Democratic Union) had to put up with marked losses of votes and they stayed the strongest parties merely in those states, where they had supplied the governor – i.e. the SPD in Brandenburg and the CDU in Saxony – with merely a very small lead. The party “Die Linke” (The Left) also suffered heavy losses of votes. “Bündnis 90/ die Grünen” (Alliance 90/The Greens) had increased in votes less than they had expected.

No indication of stability and interior peace

During the days after the elections there were many analyses and commentaries. In this article only one aspect is to be commented on, i.e. the fact that these German elections did again not send any signal of stability and interior peace. Quite the contrary: Germany entangles itself more and more in a political dilemma. There are very solid reasons for the fact that less and less citizens have confidence in those parties who to date have guided the government affairs. These reasons are quite comprehensible. The loss of confidence is by no means due to varying moods and cheap propaganda. In contrast to those reproaches the author of this article has had the experience that many Germans in the Eastern states are wide-awake politically. They act and think independently and react in an allergic manner to totalitarian aspirations. Therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise that they cold-shoulder the governing parties more than the people in the West. It is rather the question why people in the West are ready to acquiesce in the policies of the governing parties. And it is as well comprehensible that there are citizens in Eastern Germany who have hoped for a change in policies by electing the AfD and expressing their protest this way. It is a debatable point, however, whether the AfD can be a genuine alternative for Germany or can at least open the door to such an alternative.

What parties might become more significant for Germany?

There are indications1  that in the Federal Republic of Germany no party has been or will be allowed to achieve any significance contrary to the wishes of the USA.2  Or putting it another way: What spectacle is being enacted at present in which the citizens are not merely the audience but part of the ensemble?
In Current Concerns No 19 from 19 September the author of these lines drew attention to a book by two Scottish authors dealing with the pre-history of the First World War; in particular they pointed out the machinations of a “Secret Elite” and its influence on the foreign policy of Great Britain and other allied states.
In no minor degree has been and still is such an influence from the exterior being exerted on the states’ home politics in former times as well as today – not only with the aid of intelligence agencies. It is well-known that certain media steered from outside as well as certain NGOs play a major part in this game. This is no less true with respect to political parties – in particular for a country like Germany, which has not been allowed to be politically sovereign for more than a hundred years.

Powerful interests against Germany?

It is therefore necessary that while contemplating the election results in contemporary Germany we should as well consider world politics and the role that certain powers have meant for Germany therein. When doing so we might indeed come to the conclusion that there are powerful foreign interests who do not wish for a Germany that is stable, prosperous and pacified in the interior. Let’s consider the following aspects:

  • An economically prosperous Germany that is not willing to redistribute its wealth among EU-Europe may not be favoured by all EU states, even less a sovereign Germany. Instead images from history have been re-evoked … and there is even a new “German enemy stereotype”. By putting on airs and pursuing affectations of a great power German politicians have contributed to such an enemy stereotype as for instance the  former parliamentary CDU party leader Volker Kauder’s statement that from now on German would be the prevailing language in Europe, as well as the former finance minister Peer Steinbrück’s cavalry threat against Switzerland and last not least the immense pressure put on EU-countries by Angela Merkel’s migration policies.
  • Not everyone in the USA favours a prosperous and politically stable Germany. Even today, there are influential US circles that still adhere to the theory of the Englishman Halford Mackinder after the First World War and believe that in order to secure the Anglo-Saxon sea power’s hegemony  they have to prevent a great Eurasian land power – actually meaning an alliance between an economically strong Germany (and/or China) with a resource-rich Russia. It was not merely a passing fad what George Friedman said in his speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in February 2015: It had been the USA’s endeavour since 1871 to prevent an alliance bewtween Germany and Russia, he said, and that Germany had been an instability factor for US world policy. For these circles it would be best if Germany continued to stay the USA’s vassal and could be brought into position against Russia. That way Germany’s affiliating with Russia could be prevented and both countries could be weakened. In case Germany opposed to playing such a part, it could be put under pressure.
  • Russia’s relationship with Germany might be ambivalent. Russia surely wishes for a politically stable and economically prosperous Germany as a partner. However, Russia can have no interest in a strong enemy Germany.

Yet no reason for giving up

Does all that give rise to resignation? No! It might be unlikely that political conditions in Germany will be improved by elections in the foreseeable future. The power and influence structures created in the past and the networks accompanying them will not vanish into thin air overnight, however, when  contemplating the situation with some realism, we may find ways for genuine progress.
Above all it is important to building up a genuine control of power step by step by the responsible citizens; that means steps directed towards more direct democracy.3 However, direct democracy can only control the power if the citizens are capable of living their lives in dignity, which requires a sense of equality, a certain degree of identification with and sense of responsibility for their community. To convey such qualities is the essence of the state’s educational mandate. The significance of education and schooling for life in a democracy can never be overestimated. It follows, however, that the school reforms of the past decades as well as the recent economisation of schools and universities have to be put under high scrutiny and that the prevailing cultural hegemony of false theories and erroneous concepts of human nature (Menschenbilder) have to be overcome.

Direct Democracy and education to nobleness of the heart

Part of education is to cultivate the nobleness of the heart. Knowledge without humaneness leads to an oblique track of striving for power all too often. What does the antidote consist of? All the great world religions speak of charity and the resulting imperatives of togetherness and cooperation. Nothing of these commandments has been diminished in significance. The humanities have only supplied a scientific basis for these messages of faith.
Last not least: It is as well important not to get caught in the manipulation trap. Supplying truthful information that is founded on and aims at humaneness is another antidote. That is why citizens require media which are independent. Media which are the mouthpiece of the power circles with the greatest say are no remedy.
It is unlikely that the German citizens will be able to attain anything constructive with their vote for a party or a party candidate in the foreseeable future, and this fact is a memorial for the desolate state of German democracy. Wouldn’t it lead to success  more likely, if more citizens, who do not depend on a party,  would offer themselves as candidates of their constituencies? This might work well, but only if they obtained a greater support by their fellow citizens. Such an approach could also be an important contribution to more direct democracy.     •

1     Immediately after the Second World War this was obvious. Each and every party had to be admitted by the respective occupying power. But also for later foundations of parties there are hints at a dependency from the USA. Jutta Ditfurth described this with respect to the German Greens in her book “Krieg, Atom, Armut. Was sie reden, was sie tun: Die Grünen”. Willy Wimmer did so with respect to the new “right-winged” parties in his books “Deutschland im Umbruch. Vom Diskurs zum Konkurs – eine Republik wird abgewickelt.” und “Immer wieder Versailles. Ein Jahrhundert im Brennglas.”
2    Speaking of the “USA” the author does not denounce the citizens of the country, neither the ruling administration at the time. Instead he speaks about those forces and circles in the country, which are often named “The Deep State”.  In the long term they have a greater influence on the policies of their country in many realms than the administrations which are ever and again newly compounded. Among them we may count for instance the intelligence agencies, the transatlantic networks and the military-industrial complex.
3    One example of a functioning power control by direct democracy is the possibility to initiate a referendum against an act that was passed by the parliament in order to achieve a plebiscite on the respective law. Just the possibility of a successful referendum with resulting plebiscite constitutes a preventive against a legislative which diverges more and more from the will of the People.

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