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AfD Part 1: From anti-EU neolibs to Nazi front party September 7, 2018

Posted by Citizen of Nowhere in Uncategorized.
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Readers of this blog may be wondering just what is going on with the right in Germany. So here’s the first of a series of entries focusing on the AfD. This is not because I want to give that party yet more publicity, but what is happening is important at least for the rest of Europe and is fascinating in it’s on right. And a warning should anything similar develop in Ireland.

The anti-EU neolib / monetarist phase

The AfD started initially as a ‘professor’s Party’ with a number of rightist academics – mainly jurists and economists – who were dissatisfied with the political establishments Europhilia and a Germany supposedly propping up lazy foreigners, while the sacred tenents of monetarism were being watered down, and political correctness had gone mad – Germany should return to a more nationalist but rigidly neoliberal capitalism and the Deutschmark. And cultural uniformity, where real Germans could feel at home. Total idiocy given the nature of contemporary capitalism – but so far so mainstream.

At the same time, the party portrayed themselves as being excluded from the mainstream discourse, and discriminated against by the media. This self-defined (and also illusory or propagandist – they got plenty of exposure in the media even before 2015) victimhood persisted into the second phase of the party’s development – the movement further rightwards towards an militantly anti-migrant party, housing a large Nazi wing.

The revolt against Merkel’s moment of humanity

Then came the latest proxy war in Syria, and large number of refugees fled from there over land routes into Europe. Large sections of German and indeed Austrian society spontaneously came out to welcome the refugees. And Angela Merkel, for the second time in her long chancellorship, did the unexpected and refused to close German borders.

This enraged the large pool of latent and not so latent racists and authoritarians in German society. Some sociologists estimate this to be about 20% of the population. The AfD saw its opportunity, and turned its focus to portraying migrants as competing for scarce resources with the indigenous working class and bringing with them a wave of criminality. The media acted as their reliable amplifier – more on this later.

And more is due on the social context in another part of this series – suffice it to say that there is no evidence that migrants lower wages and conditions etc. and the scarcity of resources is an artificial one imposed by political neo-liberalism. There is also no evidence that migrants are more criminal than the indigenous population, despite the massive pressure they are under.

Stoking the fear and recruiting the fearful

Some invaluable insights into the rapid growth of the AfD can be gained from ex-members of the party. For example in a podcast by by Jenny Günther (in German), two youngish women describe their reasons for joining the AfD and what they experienced within the party. One of them, Franziska Schreiber, went on to write and important book “Inside the AfD”, after she left.

Both women describe heavy Facebook usage during bad times in their lives, and how they were sucked into a bubble of self-reinforcing paranoia about refugees, and the imminent danger of German society falling apart led by the left-green ‘do-gooders’ who sought to welcome the refugees. The support and recognition of having like minded people around them legitimate them sucked the pair further in and they became active members of the party.

The AfD operates like a mixture of cult and strict Leninist party. It love-bombs its new members, particularly women and the young – the AfD knows that it needs to cease to be mainly a party of older men to grow. But once inside, any open dissent against the party line is disciplined and seen as an attack on the party.

Die Flügel – the Nazi engine of the AfD train

Over the last couple of years the ‘moderate’ wing on the Party has either been driven out or made to dance to the tune of ‘der Flügel’n organised wing of the party, based in East Germany, the core members of which are entryists from the German extreme right scene.

This Flügel has its own Führer, a sports and history teacher called Björn Höcke, from a family of East Prussian refugees. Höcke is a revolutionary national socialist who saw the AfD as ripe for entryism by the extreme right. He believes that the current political decay means that Germany requires and is ready for a putsch by a core cadre with sufficiently large support among the ‘concerned citizens’.

Under his leadership (from the second rank in the Thürigen state parliament) all significant personnel and political decisions have to approved by the Flügel. Where AfD members of parliament are not aligned to the Flügel at federal or state level they will be forced to take on advisers associated with the Flügel.

He commands a fanatical following among younger male party members in the East who stand to attention when he enters a room, chant his name and delight in the way he edges close to what is illegal in Germany in terms of Nazi propaganda. Hitler salutes are confined to private gatherings.

The Flügel is based in Eastern Germany, but their power dominates the party in the west of Germany as well.

Nazi generations and heritage

The ideology of the AfD is now tightly focused around hatred of migrants, of social liberalism and of the left. It sees itself as defending the purity of German or European ‘culture’, a stand-in term for ‘race’, since organising around the latter is not allowed by the German constitution.

These themes it inherits from generations of Nazi activists and sympathisers who have remained stubbornly present in postwar Germany, partly underground, partly represented by a series of parties. They are joined by ‘modernising’ identitarians, nostalgics for Germany of the Kaiser (Reichsbürgers), and self-organising groups of ‘angry citizens’ like Pegida in Dresden and its imitators. All these groups cross-pollinate each other and share members.

There is also an unspoken antisemitism deep in there with talk of media and politics being steered by dark forces in the background. They’ve learned however not to refer to ‘the Jews’ – under the German constitution it would be illegal to be as explicitly antisemitic as Victor Orbán. So their world-puppeteers dare not speak their name, for now. At the same time the European fascist-spectrum admires the Israeli state for its wall-building, readiness to kill and the clear mastery of one ‘culture’ over others.

The Flügel also has an (at the moment hidden) dream of the regaining of the Eastern Prussian territories lost after WWII, another theme common to generations of German Nazis.

The social and economic conditions in the East of Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall proved particularly fertile ground for the growth of extreme right parties, for reasons that I’ll deal with in another of this series.

Chemnitz – the Afd rehearses a putsch

The growing alliances between the AfD, Nazi groups, elements of the state and police came together in the recent demonstration following the stabbing a Cuban-German man in Chemnitz. The AfD ensured that their people came together in a common demonstration with Nazi groups, football hooligans and Pegida-style ‘enraged citizens’ which went on to chase foreign looking people off the streets and attack and intimidate journalists. The minimal police presence looked on.

This time no-one was killed during this proto-pogrom. But it represents a new explicitness about the role and political armoury of the AfD. How the rest of German reacts remains to be seen, but there are signs of hope.

Comments»

1. 1729torus - September 7, 2018

As far as I can tell, the AfD in Saxony are basically like the DUP from around 1990, except more right wing economically.

The CDU branch in that state is pretty rightwing as well from what I hear, a bit like the UUP vs the Tories.

Incidentally, The Irexit Freedom Party hailed the rise of the AfD in eastern Germany on Twitter just a few hours ago.

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Citizen of Nowhere - September 8, 2018

I’m hoping to get the relationship between the CDU/CSU and the AfD.

Irexit Freedom Party – love the name because it’s so shit. The Alternative for Ireland would have been cleverer.

The British Sun and Express seem to be all over them. I wonder why?

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1729torus - September 8, 2018

AfD presumably want to overthrow and absorb the CDU the same way the DUP succeeded in overthrowing and absorbing the UUP.

An important step in AfD’s growth is that AfD need to serve “competently” in a regional government or they will be permanently dismissed as nutters by many potential voters.

The easiest region for AfD to target is Saxony, so I’ll just concentrate on there.

A recent INSA regional poll in Saxony had CDU 28%; AfD 25%; Die Linke 18%; SPD 11%; Greens 7%; FDP 7%. This is consistent with other regional polls conducted in Saxony.

We can see that the only plausible governments after the 2019 regional elections are: a CDU-AfD coalition; a CDU minority government supported by AfD; or some kind of arrangement between the CDU, Greens and SPD.

It would be great for AfD if the CDU choose to align with them, but this is unlikely. The local CDU would be too afraid of being getting expelled from the national party; getting sidelined like Franz von Papen; or losing support to the Greens.

AfD likely know that they’ll be frozen out and are proceeding on the assumption that a Black-red-green coalition between the CDU, SPD and Greens will be formed after the 2019 elections in Saxony.

AfD would reasonably expect to gain votes off disaffected CDU voters unhappy with “red” or “green” policies, so that AfD are the biggest party in the 2024 elections.

It would be reasonable for the AfD to get at least 25%, and for Linke to get around 20% on the back of dissatisfaction with the SPD’s support of the CDU.

This means that all the other parties together would only have 55% support at most. They might fail to get a majority entirely in fact.

AfD would have a decent, but not overwhelming, chance of convincing the regional CDU to associate with them after the 2024 election provided the Overton Window has been shifted enough.

The alternative for Saxony would be an unstable CDU-SPD-Greens-FDP arrangement that would be further eroded by AfD and Linke.

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1729torus - September 8, 2018

I don’t rate AfD’s chances that highly.

As soon as they gain power in Saxony at some point (which seems likely), the contradictions in their programme would reveal themselves fairly quickly.

Eventually, working class voters in Saxony would get tired of voting for a party that supports flat taxes.

Look at how Loyalists are starting to get tired of being taken for granted by the DUP judging by the recent stories about Dee Stitt.

There aren’t many brown people in Saxony so that AfD and/or their supporters could pose as some kind of community defence force.

The only solution would be for actual brownshirts to go around the place beating up political opponents of AfD so people couldn’t vote them out. I can’t see that being tolerated.

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1729torus - September 8, 2018

A further question to be considered is how AfD could actually coax the CDU into an alliance with them. No Fascist movement has seized power on their own without support from conservatives.

The CDU could easily regard an arrangement with Die Linke as the lesser evil to one with AfD, should they be forced to choose between the two parties.

I don’t think German conservatives will fall for the “you need us to fight Bolshevism” scam again.

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2. CL - September 8, 2018

‘populist, anti-immigrant sentiment is not actually being driven by claims that mainstream politicians cannot defend Europe’s frontiers….
Europe has become a de facto fortress against migration…
anti-migration (more accurately, anti-foreigner) sentiment is beginning to be expressed violently, not just in Italy, where there have been several instances of shootings aimed at migrants, but even in generally well-ordered Germany….
Chemnitz is home to fewer foreigners than many similar-size German towns, and crime is generally under control there. Moreover, unemployment – which is declining throughout Germany – is not particularly high in Chemnitz, standing at 7%….
Whereas the total number of refugees as a share of Germany’s total population is small (2.5%), refugees form a far larger share of Germany’s young male population….
It is probably not a coincidence that Chemnitz, which has shown a readiness to vote for extremist parties , has the highest male-to-female ratio among 20-40-year-olds in all of Germany.’-Daniel Gros.
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/migration-fuels-sexual-competition-and-populism-by-daniel-gros-2018-09

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3. Lamentreat - September 8, 2018

How serious do you think the “lost provinces” stuff is? It seems like a kind of low-profit nostalgia they would be willing to ditch for the sake of alliances with the present day Eastern European far-right.

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Citizen of Nowhere - September 8, 2018

You’re right for the time being. It’s a Saxon Bierkeller pipe-dream. But don’t forget the classic imagined Slav-German competition for living space.

If both Poland and Germany weren’t in the EU you might well see PiS’s militia and Höcke’s eager youth having a go at each other.

That’s not the immediate political danger in my opinion, which I hope to get to soon.

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4. WorldbyStorm - September 8, 2018

Great overview CoN. In terms of public perception how widely known is the Die Flugel aspect, the hard core neo/continuity Nazi stuff?

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Citizen of Nowhere - September 8, 2018

Not really – it’s becoming more known, however. Whether it will make a difference remains to be seen. Certainly the turn towards extreme right dominance at the party conference in 2015 was widely documented in the non-Bild Zeitung media.

However, since then, and up till now, the media have been very kind to the AfD. I’m coming to that I hope.

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5. Apple cases - June 2, 2020

Apple cases

AfD Part 1: From anti-EU neolibs to Nazi front party | The Cedar Lounge Revolution

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