Germany: The 2017 Election Spectacle: Nationalism and False Alternatives

Superficial political observers think the election campaign is boring. The race was over long ago, only the fight for third place is open, is the common opinion. Whether this is so remains to be seen. The entertainment value of this year's electoral spectacle may be limited, but one thing is striking: the rapid shift to the right in political discourse. Rigorous deportation or isolation of refugees, and the arming of the police and security apparatus are the dominant themes of this election campaign. At the same time, the much-promoted "war on terror" serves as an excuse for militarism and rearmament in the sense of a "self-assured German foreign policy". Even if nuances are sometimes disputed, as the international crisis deepens and the inter-imperialist conflicts intensify, increasingly authoritarian and nationalist solutions determine the agenda of all parties - from right to left.

At the centre of this authoritarian formation is the AfD. With a bizarre mixture of market-radical demands and ethnic (völkisch) nationalism, it mobilises the racist dregs of this society, while at the same time profiting from the legal development of the "established parties" which have made these positions socially acceptable. The latter react to this by taking up demands from the AfD and actively implementing them (as in the case of asylum legislation). The result is a dangerous reinforcement and unleashing of racist resentment. This alone shows the limitations of all those politicians who now call upon us to choose the lesser evil in order to defend democracy. But neither the Afd nor anything else will be stopped by an isolated act in the ballot box. All the manifestos for the election claim to be committed to the organisation of capitalism’s inherent needs. With their commitment to "Germany’s economic position" and "our national economy", they are all rooted in nationalism.

Parliamentary democracy is characterised by the illusion that every "citizen", by taking part in the election spectacle, is equal in the process of political will formation. Social differences, class membership, and class antagonisms do not play a role in this logic. The parliamentary spectacle puts the mass of previously ensnared voters into the role of a passive spectator, and encourages the illusion, in many parts of the wage-dependent population, that others can act and/or make politics for them. Thus, parliamentary democracy is one of the most important ideological weapons of the bourgeoisie in concealing the class character of the bourgeois state and making the formation of class identity and consciousness more difficult.

For the ruling class it also has the advantage of being able to mystify the social attacks which are coming after the election as an expression of the voters’ will. It remains to be seen which faction of the rulers will take the race on September 24th. Only one thing is certain: 13 million people in Germany are regarded as threatened by poverty. 2.5 million children are growing up in poverty. Precarious employment continues to grow, the poverty of the aged is growing, rents are exploding. A social climate, in which unemployment and social impoverishment are largely understood and processed as an individual fate, provides additional and fertile grounds for racist agitation and nationalist delusion.

All this will continue in the future if we are not able to free ourselves from the ideological encirclement of the ruling class, overcome isolation and oppose the drift to authoritarianism in society. We face many challenges and problems. In the near future much will depend on whether communist minorities succeed in pushing forward the process of political clarification, and whether they can create an organisational framework that is able to swim against the current. One thing, however, should be clear: a radical rejection of this society’s imperative for exploitation is hardly likely to be put on the agenda in the Bundestag, but will only be activated in social struggles from below. Therefore, all those who still ask us about our recommendation for September 24, we reply:

Don’t Vote, Fight!

For a society without a state or classes!


20 September 2017

Leaflet translated by the CWO. The German original can be found at:

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Is it reasonable, in an attempt to untangle arguments, to start by imagining that the entire world population all only had green skin ?! Then we could consider matters related to the movement of large numbers of people from place to place, largely for economic reasons, without charges of racism confusing the issue. Would it be better for the entire world for mass movements of people to move away from their birthplaces, or to stay there and attempt to sort it out ? Empires caused all sorts of problems and imperialism still does, but does that actually justify rather than only explain why some millions of desperately poor people in fact, yes, invade other lands ? Whether or not workers don't have any countries of their own, mass crowding is unwelcome for all and sundry, tending to worsen rather than improve conditions for all workers concerned, and leads to scapegoating. These issues will intensify as the world population continues to grow rapidly. Invasions and overcrowding won't accelerate revolutions. In 1958 whilst working in SE Poland on an international volunteer workcamp, I was taken with many youngsters on a visit to the remains of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and later met and became good friends with a survivor. It is best to consider these issues calmly, if possible, however difficult that is.