By IWL militants in Germany
During the weekend of January 20-21, mass rallies against the right wing took place in many cities in Germany. In Bremen, an estimated 45,000 people participated, in Hanover about 35,000, and there were similar numbers in several other cities such as Berlin and Hamburg. Some rallies even had to be called off quickly due to overcrowding. These demonstrations were called by “civic platforms,” which were later joined by official parties, trade unions, and various associations and social groups. We believe that it is necessary to begin to take stock of these events in order to draw some conclusions and consider some perspectives and their continuities. In this article we will try to answer some of these questions.
The Potsdam Conference
In November 2023, as reported by Correctiv, the far right held a meeting in the city of Potsdam, which was attended by prominent businessmen, lawyers, politicians, doctors, members of the German far right upper and middle bourgeoisie, and several members of the AFD “Alternative for Germany.” Photos and audio leaked from this theoretically secret meeting, revealed that there was discussion of drawing up a plan to deport more than 2 million immigrants in order to “defend German identity.” There was also talk of a plan to expel asylum seekers, people with the right to stay, and “non-assimilated” people and send them to North Africa. There was also talk of expelling the Jews to Madagascar, as was the Nazi plan at the time. This project is called “remigration.”
Another topic of discussion was the organization of a network to seize power. One of the central points to carry out this project was to invest money to win the “cultural battle” and convince people of the above ideas. That’s attendees were asked to pay 5,000 euros to attend the meeting. The Austrian influencer and neo-Nazi Martin Schellner was the one who presented the project to those gathered there.
This is a strategy very similar to that of Trump, Bolsonaro or Milei, in which social networks play a central role in propaganda and youth and those disappointed with the status-quo are the main target who they seek to convince.
Several prominent leaders of the AFD party also attended the meeting. This party has received high percentages of votes in some recent regional elections. In areas such as Thuringia and Saxony, it is the party with the highest number of vote intention, reaching 30%, which are the best results for the far right since World War II. Although at the moment it has weight in some states in eastern Germany, it appears as a “new” party to some and is also projected as an alternative for a sector in the west.
Why is the Right Growing?
In view of these facts, we must ask ourselves why the right wing is growing.
There are old historical reasons, such as the conscious decision not to put an end to the structure of Nazi politicians, military, judges, and businessmen and to let them go unpunished after the defeat in the Second World War.
There are other more recent historical reasons, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall. The economic and social victories (full employment, education, healthcare, and free housing, etc.) achieved through expropriation in the GDR were quickly dismantled by Kohl’s troops and his capitalist gangsters. Thus, the promised paradise turned into a daily hell for East Germans. In exchange for being able to choose who would exploit them every 4 years, they received unemployment, the destruction of their industry (only about 30% of it is still working), lower salaries and pensions, insecurity, and a long etcetera. This situation has created a feeling of frustration and betrayal, among other things, and has caused a part of the population to support these parties as a way of rejecting the parties of the “West.” It is therefore no coincidence that the most significant growth is taking place in the territory of the former GDR.
It is obvious that the nucleus of the cadres and financiers of these far-right projects come from the bourgeoisie, which supports and votes for these variants because they benefit from them and because they ideologically defend their programs. But on the other hand, there is a sector, and not a small one, of workers, people who own small businesses, and young people who are voting for them because they honestly believe that they will make changes that will improve their lives. To these comrades, we say that their anger at the current situation is more than justified, but that the solution to these problems is not to support this “new alternative” of right-wing parties, but quite the opposite. These parties, as well as the rest of the parties that are in parliament and in German institutions today, do and will always do the same thing. They have a discourse and a program during elections, but then when they take office they apply others. Like the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) or the Greens, who talk about workers’ rights, ecology, or the fight against climate change, but when they govern they do the opposite of what they promised and apply cuts to workers, support the genocide in Palestine, or sell weapons to half the world. The same will be done by the AFD or its variant. None of these parties will tell us the truth about why we have problems. None of them will tell us that the problem is the capitalist system and its millionaires, let alone that they govern for the rich.
The AFD says that the problem is immigrants and that they are the ones who are causing unemployment, or the deficits in the state budget because they collect subsidies. But those who really create unemployment are the employers, when they fire workers in order to produce more with less labor, so they can make more money. The same thing happens with the alleged “budget shortfall.” There is no lack of money for healthcare, education, or housing simply because Ukrainian asylum seekers receive a subsidy. The lack of funds for these projects is due to the fact that the government spent 100 billion euros on the arms industry and modernizing the army, gave 9 billion to the airline Lufthansa to lay off workers and renew its fleet, and gives subsidies to the automobile industry that makes millions of euros in profits every year, etc. The problem is that the public money generated by our work goes to the richest. And if the AFD gets into government tomorrow, they will do the same thing, they will govern for the richest and oppress the workers, whether they are immigrants or not.
Debate on Banning the AFD
The possibility of banning this party has been discussed since it entered the political arena. In view of the knowledge of this “secret meeting,” the government proposed to ban the AFD, which has been classified as a “terrorist organization” by the German “Verfassungsschutz,” which considers that this party is against human dignity, democracy and the principles of the state.
What is the Verfassungsschutz?
What is officially called the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz) has, as reported on its official website, the job of functioning as an “early warning system, and has the task of recognizing and evaluating threats from political extremism, terrorism, and espionage activities well in advance of police measures. It also intervenes in the field of protection of secrets and sabotage.”
In other words, it is a body like the secret services that also exist in Germany, whose function is preventive and which publishes its reports and decisions in order to protect the bourgeois capitalist order and to prohibit and persecute anyone who tries to change anything in Germany outside the bourgeois rules. This body annually publishes the list of organizations that are considered to be controlled by the state. Of course, this list is littered with leftist organizations, parties, and associations. It is an “office” of very dubious legality, even from the perspective of bourgeois law.
Why do these Rallies Take Place and What do they Reflect?
The good election results of the AFD, the publication of the Potsdam meeting, and the debate in the media about its possible ban are the driving force behind these rallies. We also think that the whole population’s general dissatisfaction with the current economic and social situation is an important reason. These calls have been preceded by strikes and demonstrations, such as those of railroad workers, farmers who took their tractors to the streets, and truck drivers. In addition, the measures announced by the current federal government for this year include mostly social cuts, and employers have already announced layoffs in several industrial sectors.
According to polls, more than 90% of the population is dissatisfied or worried about the current situation. This explains the rapidity of the call and the massive participation.
In these rallies, there were expressions of solidarity with a number of struggles. There were signs in support of Palestine, the LGTBQ movement, South Africa for its denunciation of genocide in the international tribunals, against imperialism, etc… But the two most heartfelt demands were clearly against the far-right Nazi AFD and in solidarity with immigrants.
It is clear that this is one of the first signs of movement in a society that is beginning to reflect discomfort and polarization, joining the trend that we have been seeing in many countries for some time.
Good Intentions, Bad Directions…
As we say in this article, it is clear that those who participated in the rallies did so with all their good will and desire to prevent the growth of the right wing, xenophobia, and racism, and to express their dissatisfaction, which we welcome and will continue to support and encourage. But at the same time, it is important to think about how to give it continuity, with what perspectives, etc.
Therefore, we think that the participants and those of us who really want to fight against the right wing, fight for democratic rights, fight against cuts, etc., should ask ourselves some important questions. For instance, is it possible to fight with these parties against the right wing and against xenophobia when they are the same ones who, both at the level of the European Union and at the level of the states, vote for laws that increasingly restrict the right of asylum or immigration?
Should we support the illegality of the AFD when we know that the extreme right and fascism are a structure that the state itself has never wanted to dismantle? This has been clear since the farce of the Nuremberg trials, in which a few responsible were tried and all those who were materially and intellectually responsible for the Holocaust remain free to this day. Many think that outlawing the AFD would be a good measure, but we must also keep in mind that just as they classify the AFD as a “terrorist organization” today, they can do it tomorrow with any leftist organization. The difference would be that nothing will ever happen to the AFD and the right wing, and those who feel the full force of institutional repression are the parties and organizations on the left. To ask for the illegalization of the AFD or to leave the fight against the right wing in the hands of the German state is to ask the wolf to take care of the sheep.
That is why we IWL militants in Germany think that we must participate in the rallies and promote this movement, but without falling prey to the traditional parties and their “civic platforms” with ambiguous programs and slogans. Without a clear alternative policy, we will remain mere spectators and, whether we want to or not, we will end up as the caboose of the interests of the bosses’ parties.
It is the task of the activists and the political, neighborhood, student, and social organizations to discuss a program and a plan that corresponds to our interests and that really fights against the right wing, xenophobia, and the democratic and economic cuts.
Against the Right, Organize and fight!
Full Rights for Asylum Seekers and Immigrants!
No to EU and Government Decrees Against Immigration and Asylum Seekers!
No More Cuts to Social Services!