Monday, January 11, 2021
Democracy enemies in Germany
We’re not that far from America
A comment by Thomas Schmoll
The parallels between the USA and Germany are unmistakable. The division is deep, the level of hostility between the political camps is huge, the propensity for violence is growing, the middle class is under pressure. It can only be: Take care, Germany!
On the day after the Capitol in Washington was visited by radical Trump supporters, Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble announced “conclusions” for the parliament in Berlin. For him, it will not only be about the protection of the MPs and the employees in the government district, but also about the symbolism: We are armed. The shame of August when, after a demonstration by the “lateral thinker” scene against the Corona protective measures, several hundred normal people and crazy people (“Trump is in town”), many from the right, besieged the stairs of the Reichstag building, should not be repeated .
But that is also the admission: Germany is not that far removed from American conditions. In fact, one cannot come to any other conclusion in view of the situation: The mood in this country is similarly heated, the division is deep and increases with every Corona month. But in elections this is not expressed as clearly as in the USA, because we don’t just have two parties that cover all currents from ultra-left and ultra-right to the middle. And luckily we have strict gun laws.
Germany comparable to the USA
But otherwise: The extent of the hostility between the camps, the lack of understanding on both sides about the respective antagonist, the radicalization and irrationality are in tendency comparable to that in the USA. Political opponents are seen as enemies and are fought, defamed and mocked. The Internet has become an uncontrollable hotbed of insults, slander and agitation, Twitter and Facebook the echo chambers of the camps. The QAnon movement, whose followers believe the nonsense that an “elite” has children locked up and drawn off their blood in order to then allegedly use it to prolong their lives, has nowhere outside the English-speaking world as popular as in Germany.
A quarter of the people who believe this and other conspiracy narratives are willing to use violence to achieve their – often absurd or vaguely named – goals, as the social and legal psychologist Pia Lamberty from the University of Mainz points out. Reading something like this: “If you socialists do not voluntarily surrender and if only one of the people who have been subjected to your responsibility and self-declared competence suffers consequential health damage from these vaccines or comes to death, then you will be killed. ” So it was in an email to the head of the Thuringian State Chancellery, Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff from the Left, which he recently made public.
But the greatest danger comes from understandable and irrational fears of doom, which are shamelessly triggered by actors from all political camps and are now objectively strengthened by the coronavirus – here the alleged extermination of Christians by Muslims, there the supposed end of the world as a result of climate change. As in the USA and countless other industrialized countries, there has been great pressure on parts of the middle class, especially the lower ones, as a result of digitalization and globalization. Anyone who worries about not being able to feed their family runs after politicians who promise to stop the clock or even turn it back and to renew the (allegedly) good old days when (allegedly) everything was better.
History and the present, not least the USA and the Donald Trump phenomenon, show that it is not the left behind who bring extremist and radical politicians to power, but the middle class. The SPD should take this to heart and focus on a consistent policy of the center, without, of course, forgetting the socially disadvantaged. The priorities are decisive. It seems helpless when Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas suggests: “We are ready to work with the USA on a joint Marshall Plan for democracy.” We can look forward to what it should look like.
A rift between politics and the population
The Social Democrats have long since lost their compass. They believe that they make politics for the little man and the little woman, but are particularly far removed from them. In the SPD in particular, the deep rift between politics and the population is evident, which also results from a certain aloofness, for example when the middle-class and satiated party leader Saskia Esken scolds the police, while citizens in precarious living situations are happy when the authorities are sufficiently present is. In Germany, too, the rift runs not only between rich and poor, but between town and country, academics and the rest.
The CDU under Angela Merkel is about to follow the same path as the SPD and is losing its status as a people’s party. The Christian Democrats also lack inner insight. For years, politics has been accused of figuring out everything and generously ignoring its own mistakes, for which every employee of a company would be thrown out. The fact that Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, a CSU man, is still in office is just as bitter as the fact that Ursula von der Leyen did not have to vacate her post after the consultant affair, but was able to become EU Commission President, that is to say rose.
Germans are more interested in politics again – that’s a good thing. The disaffection has not disappeared, however, but is directed against the established protagonists of the Berlin republic for the reasons just described, who are thus all the more the target of scorn, ridicule, contempt and hatred. Identity politics is becoming more and more popular Room.
AfD acts according to Trump’s model
The old white man is no longer the undisputed master of the house. The visible surplus of men in the AfD itself, but also among its supporters, testifies to resistance to this development. The Greens oppose this with their hyper-morality and arrogance. They look down on everyone who does not cycle or take the train every step of the way.
There is no Donald Trump in Germany, he would not have a chance with us (yet). In this country, it is the AfD, which acts according to Trump’s example, which relies on people’s gut instincts, bends realities up to and including lies and thus forces conspiracy nonsense, which, with its goings-on, constitutional institutions Reveals ridiculousness and thus tries to delegitimize which the media defamed as the lying press if they represent a different opinion than the right-wing party.
So we shouldn’t pretend what happened in the US was a national event, far from Europe. The motto must be: Defend the beginnings!