Against the [AfD] Alternative für Deutschland — but not just against them!

Nearly all commentators agree that the outcome of the German election is a “political earthquake”. Chancellor Merkel has come off badly, the Grand Coalition project has been punished. This underlines the declining credibility of the political establishment and the numerous crises that the previous government has kept under wraps, at least after a fashion. The entry of the racist AfD into the Bundestag is a sign of a drastic move to the right in society. In many places, the AfD was able to consolidate their gains in the last Land elections, and even build on them. According to opinion polls, many AfD voters made their decision on the basis of dissatisfaction with the established parties. Especially worrying is their penetration of parts of the working class, and the fact that it has succeeded to an increased extent in winning the votes of the socially disadvantaged. They have profited from social misery in this, and above all from a social climate marked by isolation and lack of perspectives, which allows political discontent and social anxieties to be all too easily transformed into aggression against weaker elements in society. Nevertheless, the frequent talk about “protest votes” cannot hide the fact that this “protest” was substantially a racist one. Rarely has an electoral campaign been so characterised by “law and order themes” and open racism. Politicians of all parties outbid each other with demands for more rigorous deportation procedures and more isolation of refugees, which offered the AfD an ideal point of attack for their inhuman propaganda. Repeatedly, AfD representatives argued that the so-called “old parties” had taken over their programme, thus adding further provocations in the same breath. They were therefore able to set the tone of the election campaign, and simultaneously put themselves on the scene as the supposed opposition to the establishment. Today, we can see the outcome.

The Right is the German Centre

The AfD likes to present itself as the “little man’s advocate” and as the embodiment of the “will of the people”. The social attitude of conformist rebels, who demand from rulers that they return to an authoritarian order assumed to be “natural”, reducing women’s rights, regulating sexuality and reinforcing nationalism and racism, is the essential core of its character. This does not put it outside bourgeois society; on the contrary, it reflects the tendencies it shows in its crisis and breakdown. The AfD is the political expression of a middle class rendered unsure and increasingly brutal by the crisis. As early as 2010, the agitation against Muslims and migrants stirred up by the Social Democratic racist Thilo Sarrazin showed how deeply authoritarian resentment had penetrated the so-called “middle” of society. Even at that time, there was speculation over the potential for a “conservative party to the right of the [Christian Social] Union”. In 2012, with the support of a network of neo-liberal “think tanks” and lobby groups like the “Friedrich August von Hayek Society” and the “Initiative Neue Sociale Marktwirtschaft [Initiative for a New Social Market Economy]”, this project took its first organisational outlines. On the basis of a radical market programme and aggressive chauvinism, the AfD made a name for itself as a so-called “anti-Euro Party” and marked its first significant success by scoring 4.8% in the Federal elections of 2013. With the rise of PEGIDA, the main point of its politics moved more and more towards racism. The implications of the “refugee crisis” offered reactionaries additional points of contact to exploit the misery of the refugees and transport their racist message into society. “One could call this crisis a gift for us”, declared the AfD leader Gauland with a cynicism which is hard to match. “It was very helpful.”

Contradictions, Dynamics and Dangers

With its propaganda mix of market radicalism and völkisch nationalism, the AfD is, without question, characterised by contradiction. In the right-wing/extreme right-wing pantomime of the new fraction of the Bundestag, where all sorts of dubious wheeler-dealers, careerists and open Nazis jostle, conflict is in-built. This is shown not least by the departure of the AfD’s chairwoman Frauke Petry from the party. But one should not yield to the hope that the AfD will destroy itself of its own volition, or that its “spell” will be “broken in parliament”. Rather, it is on the cards that the politics of the AfD will continue to offer the established parties a source of inspiration, points of attack and all sorts of weapons. The AfD hasn’t got a copyright on reactionary positions. Nationalism and racism form the social basis of all bourgeois parties — from left to right. Straight after the election, representatives of the CSU made it unmistakeably clear that “the open right flank” must now be closed off. For the so-called “Links [Left]” Party, Sarah Wagenknecht repeatedly advocated putting racist persecution more strongly into the foreground and making politics on the backs of the refugees: “It is very possible that we too have been too soft in parts of our refugee policy. This could lead to the impression that only the AfD are equal to the problems emerging from the arrival of refugees in a country broken by austerity”. This twisted logic that racism shouldn’t be left to the most open racists is the quintessence of all bourgeois politics! The democratic race to see who is the most “consistent” in screaming for rigorous deportations or has the racist immigrant law closest to their heart, will further encourage the rise of the extreme right, and with it, the authoritarian character of this society. Even now, Nazis and racists, in view of their electoral success, are cock-a-hoop: “The end of the Left and this anti-German system has arrived”, according to the Facebook page of the Salzgitter AfD [1]. The screeching of the PEGIDA racists has become even clearer: “The Night of the Long Faces is over! Now comes the Night of the Long Knives!” [2]

Democracy, Anti-Fascism and the Perspectives for Class Struggle

Thousands in various cities have demonstrated against the AfD: Spontaneously, in solidarity and with anger in their bellies. That was good, that was right! But resistance to rising racism is faced with great challenges and traps. Many are asking themselves the question: what’s the way forward? From the part of the bourgeois left there is now much lamentation over the necessity for broad social alliances against the AfD. What at first appears plausible, ends up advocating putting other things aside in the face of the danger from the extreme right and aim at defending the basic values of an abstract democracy in the broadest alliance of all honest citizens. Our problem with such moth-eaten concepts from the antifascist wardrobe is not so much that they do not go far enough, but rather they are simply and utterly capitalist in their entire logic. For what is the defence of “democracy”, but the defence of the glittering façade of a commodity society, which daily institutionalises racism and tightens the screws of exploitation, and, in this way, prepares the ground for reactionary forces like the AfD? Obviously, in the light of current developments, it is necessary to do something against the AfD and to proceed relentlessly against the nationalist and racist way of arguing. But to do this one shouldn’t place oneself as “anti-fascist” in “civil society” the or any relate in other way in to bourgeois democracy, rather it is a question of keeping class relations as a whole in view. Our resistance should therefore be directed not just against reactionary forces like the AfD, but, on the contrary, against relations of dominance which permanently reproduce exploitation, racism and violence. Under the present conditions it is difficult to oppose anything to capitalist delusions. But much has already been gained, if, in the day-to-day social struggles and confrontations, resistance and solidarity can be delivered, revolutionary positions can be introduced and the beginning of a political organisational kernel can be developed, which will serve as the point of departure for an attack on the dictatorship of capital. The success of the AfD racists should be enough of a spur to take up this task.

For the state-less and classless society!


28th September 2017

Leaflet translated by CWO



Sunday, October 1, 2017