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Protests, often involving right-wing extremists, take place regularly, especially in eastern Germany. The general discontent is great, because everyone is affected by the energy crisis and inflation. The right to demonstrate is a valuable asset in a democracy, and protest is a legitimate means of political expression and democratic participation. However, right-wing extremists, conspiracy ideologues and "alternative media" are increasingly using this protest mood for their anti-democratic agenda. The energy crisis is just a hook in this context. With this instrumentalization of fears and insecurities, these actors were already successful in the corona pandemic.

Veranstaltungen in Berlin: Mobi­li­sie­rung gegen die Demo­kra­tie? Wie „Alter­na­tiv­me­dien“ die Krise nutzen
Illustration: Fine Heininger | Denken & Handeln

This year, too, a similarly dynamic protest scene is to be expected, in which different actors but also different topics from Corona to the Ukraine war to the energy crisis and inflation are mixed. The occasions for system oppositional mobilizations are interchangeable, the enemy images are similar: democratic institutions, academia, quality media and their representatives, increasingly also refugees and the committed. Current debates about security of supply or inflation are seen by the anti-democratic fomenters of the protests as confirmation of their claim of a sick political system or crises created on purpose.

What role does the so-called "alternative media" play in the context of the current protests? The corona pandemic has increased their reach, with millions of people using them as a source of information. Many of the mostly digital channels spread conspiracy myths, misinformation or disinformation, contributing to an increasingly parallel public sphere.
The lateral thinking movement, vaccination opponents, conspiracy believers, but also right-wing extremists, especially in eastern Germany, take the narratives of the "alternative media" to the streets - from conspiracy narratives about pandemics or the Ukraine war to calls for resistance. Pro-Kremlin disinformation and propaganda on the war against Ukraine and on an alleged economic war against Russia or Germany follow on seamlessly.

The current mobilizations show how "alternative media" and other actors with disinformation, radicalized content and group-based misanthropy from the digital echo chambers have an impact far into society.
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