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About the increasing radicalization of the “bourgeois middle” and a plea for a defensive democracy. Neo-Nazism, according to Wolfgang Kraushaar, is far from being overcome and is presenting democracy with new challenges. These will only be possible if the state and civil society reposition themselves.



“This is an important book. It concerns freedom. Freedom in our country. We have not freed ourselves. We have been freed - freed from a right-wing extremist dictatorship, from a criminal gang that has brought misfortune to millions of people worldwide and practiced racism that has led to the murder of millions of people. There was always the “other Germany”. Germany after 1945 brought this “other Germany” back to life. We have built a democracy with a constitution, the Basic Law, like the Germans have never had before. It is a rejection of the authoritarian state and its fundamental moral principle is the protection of human dignity. But this order is exposed to threats. We have to defend them. There are forces in our society that have become alienated from democracy and its rules. They despise the “system”. They want to replace it with authoritarian structures. Its breeding ground is Nazi ideology. The greatest threat to our free social order today comes from right-wing extremism. He was often underestimated in the history of the Federal Republic. The “enemy was on the left.” One should be careful not to relativize this right-wing threat by pointing to other threats to freedom or by pointing out that there are “right-wing developments” in other democracies, that this is part of “normalcy,” so to speak. In Germany we cannot allow this to apply. Haven't people understood that, given its past, Germany has a duty to resist this normality with all its might. According to the Federal Constitutional Court, anyone who “represents a racist concept of an ethnically exclusive national community” is acting unconstitutionally. This is aimed at Höcke when he says “the German nation is being destroyed by mass immigration”. Such statements bring this party close to the Nazis - and that is intentional. Yes, they are enemies of the constitution and they are not part of a sect. They gain ground through elections. They have changed the political climate in our country. I always have in mind: Throughout their history, the Germans have sometimes had a disturbed relationship with freedom. They succumbed to temptations to lack freedom and never brought about a successful revolution. How the freedom movement of 1848 was crushed! Nationalism was often stronger than the defense of freedom.


Today we are looking at the right-wing extremist party that not only exploits fears, but stirs them up. What is being expressed is not just fueled by protest. This certainly plays a role, although viable alternatives are not offered. However, the dominant goal of this party is to combat the freedom of the Basic Law more and more openly, and this is expressed more and more blatantly. They are fighting our statehood. They discredit the rules of our democracy, including freedom of expression, for example. B. is expressed in public broadcasting. It is not their siding with the war criminal Putin that is unconstitutional - it only shows what freedom means to them - but their contempt for our system. Whoever elects these people who also claim to speak on behalf of Germany knows exactly what they are doing. He is partly responsible. And anyone from the democratic parties who joins these demands - and there have been such attempts to ingratiate themselves - usually betrays their convictions and remains unsuccessful. But that doesn't mean Democrats don't have to respond. They must govern more convincingly and take people with them when making serious decisions.

Something else is still very worrying: a trend that is increasing. Kraushaar discusses this in detail in the chapter Radicalization of the Center. Today, as the Federal Prosecutor General states, the danger comes “from the middle of society.” The constitutional protection authorities see “the ability of right-wing extremist content to connect with the middle class”. The boundaries are blurring. Studies have long shown that right-wing populist opinions have penetrated bourgeois milieus; Wilhelm Heitmeyer states a “group-oriented misanthropy” and “authoritarian national radicalism”. And on this soil anti-Semitism, xenophobia and religious intolerance thrive. That is the really acute danger today. I have the impression that this danger has not yet been sufficiently recognized, even though the security authorities constantly warn. They find it difficult to attribute this development to party politics. They cover them in separate chapters. So she's elusive and therefore even more dangerous.


There are worrying parallels to developments at the end of the Weimar Republic. Kraushaar also addresses this. It was essentially destroyed not by the extremes of left and right, but by the failure of the bourgeoisie. One could speak of a “breath of Weimar” blowing through our republic, if it weren’t a dramatization. But even a hint would be dangerous given the great uncertainty, the growing fears, and the challenges that people face. For the extremists, the price of oil is more important than the fight for freedom against a dictatorship that has invaded a free country that has already been the victim of aggression, a German one.


One can imagine what these forces do to the “freedom of art”. This is not far removed from the defamation of art as “degenerate”. This is art censorship!


There are already examples in local parliaments. People allow themselves to be seduced. In this respect, the Internet is also a “hate machine”. The way the Internet conveys anti-Semitism is already a scandal. Kraushaar draws our attention to the situations of right-wing extremism in the history of the Federal Republic that must not be forgotten. And he does this with great expertise and scientific care. Only if we really perceive and name the dangers can we combat them - and that wasn't always the case. Kraushaar describes the failures of democracy but also its successes. We have a robust democracy and the majority supports it. It just has to free itself from the idea that democracy does not need permanent defense.


Anyone who wants to find out more about the role of right-wing extremism in our country will find well-founded descriptions and analyzes in the book. But this isn't just a review. It helps us deal with the current threats to our freedom - and they come first and foremost from overt and covert right-wing extremism - Kraushaar prefers the term radicalism. That’s also an interesting discourse in the book.”


Gerhart Baum

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