In his article “Enemy images outside … and also inside the country. Germany before the federal elections” (Current Concerns No. 14 of 22 June 2021), Karl-Jürgen Müller once again analysed changes in the matter and in the style of debate, with a focus on Germany. However, the increasing aggressiveness and lack of objectivity in public debates, shown in many examples in his articles, is not only at work there. His above-mentioned article is another example of how modern democracy today is also threatened from inside. In this context, it is not only the represented content that has to be in accordance with the constitution in a functioning democracy if it is to be entitled to approval, it is also the language with which it is represented.
The article mentioned above is about the spectre of the AfD, painted on the wall by many, and to which the label “radical right-wing” is quickly attached in leftist, even neoliberal perspectives, as was also the case in the run-up to the federal state elections in Saxony-Anhalt. They met with a wide response because many took them as a “barometer” for the parliamentary elections in September.
The central quote, which was the reason for these lines, is introduced there as follows: “The spectre of the threat from the extreme right-wing has a long history in Germany and, after 1990, has […] replaced the spectre of the threat from the extreme left-wing as the main threat from the official side. Particularly in Western Germany, many believe they can recognise this spectre in the flesh. The most recent example of this are the statements made by Marco Wanderwitz, a CDU politician and the German government’s representative to the East, in the “FAZ Podcast for Germany” on 28 May, according to which there was a stronger tendency to vote for right-wing extremist parties in East Germany than in the West.” Then follows as a quote the completely unacceptable statement by the German government’s representative to the East. Wanderwitz says: “We’re dealing with people who have partly been socialised by a dictatorship in such a way that they haven’t yet arrived in democracy even 30 years later.” Some people in Eastern Germany, he continues, “just haven’t properly grasped democracy yet” [emphasis PK]. With this, he apparently wants to “justify” why in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt (former territory of the GDR) citizens voted for AfD to a greater extent than CDU.
That’s pretty steep, first in terms of matter and then also in terms of style, clearly beyond the red line of what is still acceptable even in heated debates. When making public statements about an election result, a high-ranking civil servant should not have such obvious difficulties in distinguishing his personal opinion from what is imposed on him by his position: moderation in form and waiving of evaluative, partisan statements.
Apart from its verbal arrogance, the statement has also to be vigorously rejected in the matter. To allege part of the population of a federal state that formerly belonged to the GDR of being “dictatorship socialised” to a large part and therefore to certify “stable non-democratic views” is not acceptable at all. Does the Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States only want to have proper and factual relationships, if the majority of the people there vote his own party?
According to his “logic”, all those who believed at the time that the entire German people had to be “denazified” (with appropriate measures!) would have been right, because in this inadmissibly generalising argumentation they were all, in this logic, more or less “dictatorship socialised”. Even then, the allies had the highly doubtful conviction that they were particularly legitimised to do so. It is this arrogance, which is more often noticeable in the West today and which is poisoning the climate, both nationally and internationally. The founding generation of the Federal Republic of Germany agreed from left to right that no war of aggression may start out from Germany, including any assistance to such wars. Even if the highest courts have turned things in a different, highly questionable direction, one thing is clear to every contemporary of the post-war generation who is committed to the matter. The German Basic Law is flawless in its fundamental orientation towards the ban of any form of war of aggression. It confirms this ban with its literal commitment to applicable international law (e.g., the UN Charter). The active participation and co-responsibility of the Federal Republic of Germany in NATO’s illegal war of aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which openly contradicts this basic principle, did not start from the German people (they were not asked) and certainly not from those of the former GDR, but rather quite strikingly from the member of the ’68 generation and turned Green, Joschka Fischer, Foreign Minister of the Schröder government at the time.
The currently demanded strong linkage of the German armed force to the “new” NATO, which has betrayed its original purely defensive purpose, is not only the wish of warmongering circles in the USA, but apparently also that of the candidate for chancellor of the German Greens. No heedless word can sort out such worrying facts. In case of Ms Baerbock, her openly advocated position of aligning the German armed force with a globally aggressive NATO certainly is not a result of a “dictatorship-socialised” value (the candidate for chancellor, born in 1980, grew up and was “socialised” in West Germany); it probably originates from a completely different think tank.
If we are talking about “democratic deficits”, then primarily they are here. Not with voters who behave differently from what a certain political interpretation of the world expects. The first principle of any democracy is respect for the will of the sovereign. In real democracies, it is the people, not self-appointed experts, who self-righteously comment on their will or reinterpret it as incompetent with unscientific slogans. •
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