I’m a fairly average activist. I go to the demos that I can, but I miss quite a bit because, you know, life’s too short. So in the last few weeks I’ve been having the usual internal dialogue about the coming demo against the AfD conference. “I should go. But, it’s in Hannover. And we’ve a party the night before. Maybe someone else can go and demonstrate instead of me…”
That was until a couple of days ago when I had a Road to Damascus moment. And all I really had to do was to think about what’s going to happen in just over a week.
Nazis are going to take over the third largest party in the German parliament.
Now in recent times, the epithet “Nazi” has been used at an inflationary level. Apparently Donald Trump is a Nazi. So is Mariano Rajoy. Or any right-wing politician with a slightly authoritarian bent.
This is not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about people like Björn Höcke, widely believed to have regularly written articles for the Nazi NPD paper. Höcke says “I want change. I want a fundamental change. I want the AfD as the last evolutionary chance for our Fatherland.” This is people who believe in progress through gas chambers.
At the last conference of the AfD there was a faction fight between Höcke’s wing and the neoliberal racists around Frauke Petry. Petry – the woman who advocated shooting refugee children – has since resigned the party whip because it is too right wing. It looks like Höcke’s wing now has the necessary majority to win the votes at the coming conference.
This is what’s happening. What are we going to do about it? As coalition talks falter it is looking increasingly possible that there will be new elections in Germany. Whether the AfD gain or lose support is partly in our hands.
I grew up in Great Britain when the National Front then the British National Party were gaining support. At the time, they were the largest Nazi organisations in Europe. Thanks to the Anti Nazi League and Rock Against Racism we confronted their every move. Now, disillusioned people in Britain are much more likely to look to Jeremy Corbyn than what’s left of the far right.
Compare this with France, where liberals and the left largely hoped that if they ignored the Front National they’d go away. When Jean Marie Le Pen called the Holocaust “a mere detail of history” there were no large protests. Now his party, led by his daughter Marine, is on the verge of winning the next election.
Until now, even the CDU has refused to contemplate working with the AfD on a national level. Now the German president Steinmeier is calling for talks with them about possibly forming a new government. Under the current developments this is nothing short of normalising fascism. Other voices must be heard.
We have the opportunity to make a difference. On Friday 1, die LINKE Internationals will be having its party. There’ll be music, food and we’ll have a great time. Please come along. But we won’t, as planned, be winding down after a busy year. Instead we’ll be sending a delegation from the party to the buses which will be joining anti-fascists from throughout Germany in blockades and a demonstration about the rising Nazi threat.
I’d appeal on everyone to join us. Bus tickets are available from me at email@example.com. If you really can’t come, do consider making a financial contribution so that less well off people can join the demonstration.
Together we are strong
Phil Butland, Speaker Die LINKE Berlin Internationals