Not Just Against the AfD!

Nine Theses on the "Struggle Against the Right"

In Germany, no form of bondage can be broken without breaking all forms of bondage.

Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest against the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and the shift to the right. The revelations published by the research network Correktiv seem to have struck a nerve. Many are now asking themselves: what next?

  1. The so-called “Masterplan zur Remigration” that was discussed at the ominous meeting of Nazis, the Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (CDU) and WerteUnion members, and wealthy capitalists at Potsdam is undeniably appalling and inhumane. But surprising it is not! These and other such sick fantasies of mass deportation have been integral to the publications of both the “old” and the “new” right for some time now, and have also been tightly woven into the programme of the AfD. In fact, the meeting in Potsdam laid bare the degree to which right wing networkers are gaining influence in the “centre” of society and binding themselves to the self-appointed “elites”.
  2. This is by no means due solely to their tactical and strategic skill. The increasing social upheavals, the war in Ukraine whose implications have subjected German capitalism to further strategic and economic pressure, and not least the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has given rise to a veritable deluge of irrational conspiracy theories – all of this provides fertile ground for the far right. In a social climate characterised by a tendency towards individualism, feelings of powerlessness and fears of social decline, the AfD have successfully found favour with a mixture of populist nationalism and market radicalism in their propaganda. This however in no way sets them outside bourgeois society, whose canon of democratic values is now being effectively weaponised against them in the media.
  3. Rarely has a protest movement been met with such a positive official reception. The news magazine Der Spiegel has rhapsodised of a “people’s uprising for democracy”, and key economic leaders from Bundesbank, Porsche, SAP, and VW have declared to Capital magazine “no prosperity without diversity”. Messages of encouragement came from the Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie (BDI, Federation of German Industry), the trade unions, the churches, the President, and last but not least the Chancellor himself, Olaf Scholz, the same character who only a short time before had declared “Wir müssen endlich im großen Stil abschieben” (we must finally deport on a large scale). Politicians across party divides have called for a “defence of democracy” against the AfD. These were the same actors who in practically the same breath brought the so-called “Repatriation Improvement Act” before parliament, which aimed to “simplify” deportations and further disenfranchise refugees. It would expand police powers and mean that deportations no longer had to be announced except in the cases of families with children under 12 years old. Appeals and legal actions would no longer have any effect in suspending deportations! The CDU, elsewhere ostensibly up in arms about the “deportation plans of the AfD”, felt that this law didn’t go nearly far enough. In their new policy programme, they therefore announce their wish to ship asylum seekers off to third countries outside Europe, which comes suspiciously close to the original demands of the AfD.
  4. The oft-invoked “firewall against the right” reveals itself in this way to be a self-litigating contradiction. While they position themselves rhetorically against the AfD, asylum laws are being tightened further, the police and security apparatus expanded, and thus the central points of the AfD’s programme implemented. The most cynical politicians justify this by claiming to hope that this will “demystify” the AfD and steal their wind from their sails. But in fact, the AfD have only grown in favour and strength. Now as ever they find themselves in the exceptionally comfortable position of being able to increase and escalate their demands, and to present themselves as a particularly consistent representative of an authoritative solution to the crisis.
  5. Talk shows and parliamentary debates alike are all broaching the hotly contested question, “How much migration can Germany bear?” The nationally narrow-minded question alone reveals ice cold calculation. The war which the crisis has caused and social devastation have led to the flight and displacement of millions of people, which underlines once more the destructive dynamic of global capitalist development. Against this backdrop, the ruling class is attempting to regain taxes and controls on migration through new selection mechanisms. This process does not occur without tension. The large bourgeoisie and the export-oriented wing of German capital aim to supplement old-fashioned populist nationalism with a modern “meritocratic” racism, staying true to the motto “no prosperity without diversity” by orienting itself towards the criteria of efficiency, profitability and utility. By contrast, the existentially threatened middle class fractions of capital see an opportunity in aggressive nationalism to protect their privileges. They are counting on sealing off their local and regional markets through authoritarian protectionism. However, despite all these differences, both see themselves as carrying out their noble duty of maximising profit “in the national interest”. And it is in this context that even the trivial demand for an individual right to asylum, which fits perfectly with the standards of the otherwise so widely touted “value-based order”, can fall so easily by the wayside.
  6. Criticism of the policies of the government and political parties was anything but welcome among the initiators of the recent demonstrations. It was instead an uncomfortable disruption in a ritual of moral self-affirmation, whose purpose was first and foremost to position the much-vaunted “bourgeois centre” as the moral authority against “all extremism”. But all this is far from set in stone! For many of those present, this was their first time at a demo. The hypocrisy and cynicism of the leaders is plain for all to see. In the face of such rampant racism, migrants in particular are fearing for their very existence! And herein lies the potential for movements that go further. The demand to ban the AfD is obscuring this view. Besides the fact that it would amount to a propaganda gift to the AfD, it spreads the illusion that solving the problem of racism can be delegated to a higher authority.
  7. The quintessence of all antifascism is the wish to oppose fascism by defending democracy. With secret voting, equal suffrage and the existence of competing parties, democracy has proven in general to be the most apt form of government in commodity society. Bourgeois democratic ideology is founded on the principal belief that political freedom and equality are realised by suffrage. But this assumption can only hold true in economic conditions that are fundamentally equal for everyone, which can never be the case in a class society organised on the principles of capitalism. So even under normal conditions, bourgeois democracy reveals itself to be merely the appearance of freedom, and so the worst sort of bondage. And ultimately when crisis hits, the noble values and standards of democracy soon dissipate into smoke and mirrors, as authoritarian solutions and resentments gain traction, and previously permitted “democratic rights” are sacrificed for the sake of the capitalist imperative of exploitation, a process which can now be seen all over the world. To hope to defend “democracy” in the abstract in such a situation means to accept the myth of the state as a class neutral authority, to promote it, and ultimately to submit to it. It would mean allowing ourselves to be robbed of every possibility of self-activity, and deliver ourselves to authoritarian forces of all stripes on a platter.
  8. Racism, in every variety, is an ideology that reflects and justifies the structural discrimination of people on the basis of characteristics attributed to them. Racism emerged over the course of colonial history and the development of the global capitalist system, and has become a fundamental organising principle of commodity society. The structure and maintenance of the capitalist economy require wage labourers to see themselves in competition for jobs, housing and benefits. The appeal of racism originates in the idea that the problems of capitalist society can only be remedied if someone else (it goes without saying that this never means the capitalists) tightens their belt. It is on this basis that the idea, proliferated in bourgeois propaganda, that we must protect ourselves against “foreigners” finds its appeal. As long as this remains unaddressed, and these ideas are not combated, the racist right will continue to dominate the social climate. It is therefore important to make it abundantly clear wherever possible in everyday social and political debates that the cause of these symptoms of crisis is the system itself!
  9. Truly democratic relations can only be possible when the chains of wage labour have been smashed all across the world and humans are finally able to determine their living and working conditions for themselves on the basis of socialised means of production. Such an “association of free and equal people” is by no means a state! Communism is not a system or programme that can be implemented by decree of any party or state. Rather, it is the social movement to consciously overthrow relations of domination. Only in a society in which “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all” will the development of true individuality be possible, and humans be able to differ from one another without fear. Until then, any serious support for humanity must be based on the imperative “to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved, abandoned, despicable essence” (Marx).

For a stateless and classless society!

Gruppe Internationalistischer KommunistInnen
11 February 2024
Sunday, February 18, 2024