Germany: Extreme Right Marches Under Anti-Lockdown Banner
Above photo: An anti-Coronavirus protest in Berlin on 29 August 2020. MV/SULUPRESS.DE/DPA/PA Images.
The large Berlin demonstration and rally against the federal government’s corona policy on August 29 was a moral victory for the right and neo-Nazis. Pictures of fascists occupying the stairs to the Reichstag building with the Reichsflag (symbol of the empire overthrown by the revolution in 1918 and the Nazi dictatorship 1933-45) are circulating around the world and trigger alarms, especially among anti-fascists.
Such symbolic images also serve to weld the right scene together. After all, more members of the extreme right are likely to have marched through the federal capital unified and unmolested on this day than in recent years. The list of prominent fascists and racists who were right in the thick of it in Berlin, mentioned in many other critical articles about the demo, reads like a current “Who’s who” of the extreme right in Germany.
The large event, registered and organized by the organization “lateral thinking 711”, offered the fascists and racists from AfD, NPD, identities, anti-Semites, Reich citizens and Co. a welcome backdrop to “swim like a fish in water” and to become an integral part of one to stage a supposed “popular movement” against a “Corona dictatorship” supposedly originating from the federal government. For years these circles have tried – more or less without resounding success – to ingratiate themselves with movements and moods and to take advantage of them. For example, when they unsuccessfully tried to copy the shape of the French yellow vests movement last year. But now they could find a stronger echo than before. You benefit from the fact that the Stuttgart software entrepreneur Michael Ballweg, Founder and leader of “Quer Think 711” claims that his movement is “neither left nor right”, but broad and colorful. At the same time he expressly allows cadres of the extreme right to march along.
The AfD, which is in a deep crisis, smells morning air again. Many members and elected officials from their ranks also marched in Berlin. Several attentive observers reported that active members of the AfD youth association Junge Alternative were also involved in the storming of the Reichstag stairs, which took place in the afternoon away from the big rally. Speculations that several informants from the Office for the Protection of the Constitution played a leading role in this action are making the rounds.
Conspiracy theories and the “fight against totalitarianism”?
But what does this movement actually want and what are its prospects? Anyone looking for a self-image and political program on the website of the lateral thinking initiative will not find it there. The common denominator of the movement is evidently the vague claim to defend freedom, democracy and the Basic Law against an impending “Corona dictatorship”. This is based on the view that the corona virus would actually be a completely harmless cold and that a conspiracy by governments and billionaires like Microsoft founder Bill Gates stirs up fear to establish a dictatorship. The key witness was the “star speaker” Robert Kennedy, a nephew of the former US President John F. Kennedy and a supporter of the “anti-vaccination movement” in the USA. He claimed in his speech “That people like Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci have been planning this pandemic for decades that they have now brought upon us”. His uncle had “strengthened the front against totalitarianism” in West Berlin in 1963 and in this sense, Berlin is again “the front against totalitarianism” with this demonstration, according to the anti-communist Kennedy.
One who proudly produced a selfie with Kennedy on the sidelines of the rally and who also had a say in Berlin was the journalist and publicist Ralph T. Niemeyer. A few years ago he joined the SPD from DIE LINKE and describes himself as a “Marxist” and “anti-fascist”. Niemeyer tried to represent the left wing of the “lateral thinking” demo. In a YouTube video before the demo, he resigned himself to the fact that the AfD and the fascist Björn Höcke had also called for participation. “I find it difficult to imagine that a Höcke would also call for a demonstration. I will not walk side by side with him. I will not greet him. But we cannot determine who will come to a demo. What we can do is express our opinion clearly and make it clear that the majority thinks liberally and democratically, ”said Niemeyer, who plays the role of an alibi in order to bind people who classify themselves as“ left ”.
That such a wide mixture of people of different attitudes and class affiliations, neo-Nazis, religious sectarians, esoterics, anti-vaccination opponents, corona-belittlers, aging hippies, selfish party animals, shooter tourists, small business owners, people in precarious jobs, single parents and parents with large families overwhelmed by the lockdown, desperate petty bourgeoisie and “ordinary bourgeois” from the neighborhood could be welded together to form a unified and stable mass movement, is extremely unlikely. There is simply no cement of a clear program and a clear class orientation.
Capitalism and corona
Anyone who soberly remembers the first weeks and months of 2020 cannot understand Kennedy’s statements of a pandemic planned for years by Gates and Co. as a pretext for the cold-blooded establishment of a dictatorship according to a master plan. The spread of the corona virus has a lot to do with the destruction of wild animal habitats and capitalist factory farming. The fact is that Western governments, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) and experts such as the head of the Robert Koch Institute played down the virus as a purely Chinese problem for weeks. At least ten valuable weeks passed during which it might have been possible to take drastic measures to largely stop the spread, especially from the hotspots, to business travelers and tourists.
But for profit reasons, the Italian capitalists were just as reluctant to cease operations as the mountain railway operators in Ischgl, Austria. It was the spontaneous strike movement of workers worried about their health in Italian factories, which forced a production stop under the motto “We are not slaughter cattle”. This movement was also echoed in France, Spain and elsewhere. For weeks, the rulers looked more like driven people and amateurs who could not find enough face and nose protective masks and disinfectants and who, after weeks of inactivity, did not want to expose themselves to the accusation of not taking effective measures against the pandemic and thus frivolously jeopardizing people’s lives to put. A democratic planned economy within the framework of a socialist Europe would have helped the affected hotspots, such as the Bergamo region, in solidarity in the crucial weeks and mobilized all resources for this. But the federal government and the EU refused to show solidarity with Italy.
Citizens and cadres in the state apparatus are certainly using the corona restrictions as an excuse to put the working class on the defensive, undermine democratic rights and protective provisions and to reinforce the redistribution of wealth from the bottom up. Strikes, rallies and demonstrations must go on. Trade unions and left-wing organizations themselves have to ensure that hygiene regulations are adhered to.
However, the pandemic was and is only the accelerator of a capitalist economic crisis that emerged last autumn. If not only millions of workers, but also small business owners and self-employed people fear for their livelihood, it is not the “Corona regime” that is to blame, but real capitalism. The displacement of small shops and dumps by large chains and corporations has been in full swing for many years. Every crisis also calls on speculators and crisis profiteers who want to bump into the crisis. In contrast, many losers fall by the wayside who lose their jobs and livelihoods, are pushed out of their daily grind and despair over it.
Deeper grievances: Even before Corona, the world was not okay
The pandemic has brought everything to the surface that was already there in this class society: injustice, inequality, contradictions, scandals and grievances in all areas of society, especially in health and education. Homeless people who have no home found it difficult to heed the official advice “Stay at home” in the spring. The inequality of educational opportunities is increasing dramatically. Children without a PC, WLAN and parents helping with their homework fall behind. A new no-future generation is growing up.
It is also a matter of class, who is at higher risk and how infected people are treated. So in spring everything was set in motion to fly in poorly-paid harvest workers. The pandemic has revealed the misery of contract workers in German slaughterhouses and the conditions in the accommodations. Textile workers in Bangla Desh were forced to work despite the risk of infection. In the US, millions of people have no health insurance, and in Africa, many millions are effectively cut off from all medical care. The fact that Germany has so far got off relatively lightly with “only” 9,300 corona deaths should not obscure the fact that other countries (Brazil, USA, Spain) are already far more catastrophic.
The corona pandemic has ushered in a turning point and in view of the global capitalism crisis that has now begun, massive shocks are imminent. Every comparison limps, but also the plague, which dragged down millions of people, accelerated the decline of feudalism in the late Middle Ages. The crisis is increasingly affecting all areas of life and undermining the standard of living, the quality of life, the natural basis of life and the cohesion of society. No regime, no government is really stable. The capitalist system based on private profit cannot offer the mass of the population a secure future. Discomfort grows and is not always expressed in a progressive way, especially when no progressive alternative is offered. Such times always call random figures on the scene,
Class against class – fill the vacuum, start the offensive!
The fact that the supposed “lateral thinkers” with their dream of a “people’s movement” can now put themselves in the limelight and curry favor with Nazis is primarily due to a vacuum. Millions of people are gripped by existential fears and great unease and are looking for answers, explanations and a strong movement that changes the situation in their favor. That would be the hour for the unions, the LEFT and their base. You have a responsibility to guide the working class and mass of the population. They must not act as the extended arm of the federal government, the state apparatus and the capitalist class and must be the most consistent defenders of social and democratic rights.
The question of which class should pay for the crisis and the attempted crisis management will arise with all its might in the months and years to come. Actually, everything is seething. Every day we receive reports of defensive battles against layoffs and plant closures. The crisis gets straight to the point in the privatized and broken down health care system as well as in the education system. Not only Bill Gates is expropriated, but all large corporations for which hospitals, pharmaceuticals, research and diseases are profitable businesses. More and more people, especially in big cities, are afraid of an affordable roof over their head because social housing has been cut to the ground and greedy speculators and real estate sharks are dominating the housing sector.
The ongoing collective bargaining rounds for the public service and local public transport companies must be the starting point for broad resistance. Instead of isolating defensive battles, we have to bundle and concentrate all our strengths. The DGB, as the umbrella organization of eight major trade unions, has to mobilize employees from all sectors, members of all trade unions, young people from schools and universities and precariously employed migrant workers from slaughterhouses, construction and agriculture to joint rallies nationwide in all districts and large cities. Workers fighting for their jobs must be actively supported with regular visits and solidarity committees and torn from their isolation. The upcoming worldwide action day of the Fridays for Future movement,
We are currently benefiting from the fact that, according to the RTL / ntv trend barometer from the beginning of August, 91 percent of the German citizens surveyed and even 94 percent of the 18 to 29-year-olds have no understanding for the anti-corona protests and only nine percent of the general population are “understanding “Would have shown. “While the supporters of almost all parties oppose the protests with a large majority, 59 percent of AfD supporters welcome the demonstrations,” the report said. Even if this should correspond to the current mood, we must not feel safe forever, that the support for the corona measures will always be as broad as it is at present – especially if the Chancellor suggested tightening of the corona measures in the winter months and the existential fears and psychological problems of many people increase. The discontent will grow and express itself. Unions and LINKE have the task of picking up on these moods – with a clear program that tackles and solves the real, tangible problems.
We need a socialist program all the more urgently and must explain with catchy, understandable slogans that the command centers of the economy, banks, and large corporations must be transferred to the public sector and placed under the control of the employees and managed transparently. This creates the basis for ensuring that everyone can have a largely carefree life without fear of old age, illness, unemployment, displacement, environmental disasters, paternalism and discrimination. If you want to create a world worth living in, you have to defeat capitalism. If we fight in this sense, build up a strong social antithesis and explain the positive vision and advantages of a socialist democracy in concrete terms, then we need not be afraid of random figures around the “lateral thinkers”.
Corona Deniers and Right-Wingers Team Up for Protest.
By Imanuel Marcus, Berlin Spectator.
In Berlin, thousands of people joined a protest against the government’s Corona rules on Saturday. They denied the existence of the Coronavirus. Many protesters came to the German capital from other parts of the country, including the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, which is hundreds of miles away.
‘Day of Freedom’
According to police, 3,000 people were part of the protest that started at 10:30 a.m. CEDT. More people joined later, including many followers of the movement ‘Querdenken 711’. They were celebrating “the end of Corona” on what they called a “day of freedom”. Up to 17,000 participants were on the street in the early afternoon.
Those Corona deniers were joined by far-right extremists, including famous figures like Nikolai Nerling. He is a former primary school teacher from Berlin who was fired for spreading extremist and antisemitic propaganda. For instance, he kept on claiming there was a “global Zionist-Jewish conspiracy” against the rest of the world.
Udo Voigt Takes Part
Udo Voigt was at the protest as well. He used to be the chairman of the NPD, a small party the manifesto of which is close to what Hitler’s NSDAP stood for, according to political scientists, historians and Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. Because he glorified National Socialism, Voigt has a criminal record. The charge was incitement.
It is not the first time Nazis and other antisemitic haters join protests of Corona deniers. During the first phase of the ongoing pandemic, this happened at several rallies at Berlin’s Rosa Luxemburg Square and elsewhere.
Some of the participants of today’s protest were aggressive. Two men with a sign saying “Against forced vaccinations, against Bill Gates, the WHO and George Soros” accused The Berlin Spectator’s reporter of being “left-wing” and of wearing a mask “for no reason”. Another protester told him the mask was “unnecessary and ridiculous” because there was no virus.
Police asked the participants at the rally to keep their distance to each other and wear masks, but nobody did. The Police Department’s request was spread via loudspeakers and Twitter. After 2:00 p.m., the police threatened to end the protest and to disperse the crowds because the Corona rules were not followed. Then, the organizers officially ended it. For the same reason, a criminal complaint was filed against them.