Countering the shift towards the right
We are facing ruins, an authoritarian tipping point. It’s time to decide: Either for the defence of an equal society or a descent into authoritarianism. The results of decade-long anti-racist and anti-fascist struggles have seen unprecedented attacks in recent months, and there is no end in sight. The political left and other previously committed groups are speechless and are not able to counter the rapid developments. The migrants‘ civil society is left alone, more side-lined and isolated than we could have imagined a few months ago. This is scandalous and needs to change. Solidarity is much needed now, and it requires more clarity and willingness to take risks than before. Calling for an equal society is more than a soapbox speech now.
An ever-growing threat from the far right is brewing. The regional elections in Bavaria and Hessen have shown that the AfD [a german right-wing party] is not a marginalized phenomenon anymore. As well as their inhumane positions are no social deviations. In Germany, the homeland of those who initiated the NS policies of racial segregation and extermination, a third of the people entitled to vote choose a party that stigmatizes being different; wants to ban deviations; and nourishes illusions of turning back to a white, patriarchal family as the haven of security and comfort.
However, this is just half of the problem. It goes hand in hand with the radicalization and a shift to the far-right within the centre of society. Throughout the full spectrum of political parties, we are witnessing a massive shift in discourse to the right. This entails a loss of inhibitions of language and disenfranchisement, a development that precedes the AfD’s latest winning streak. The underlying problem is politics that fail to address decisive global crises – war, climate change and global exploitation. Instead, the aim is time and time again, whenever it is convenient, to try to turn back the history of migration in this country. This discourse fuels phantasies of management and control all the while using refugees as scapegoats to divert attention from political failures.
30 years ago, the right to asylum was sacrificed, claiming that this would appease far-right propaganda and violence. It didn’t help, but rather it created a fertile environment for the NSU’s murders that stretched over years – and for a smear campaign in the media against the migrant families affected. Until today, the “parties of the centre” seem to believe they could weaken the AfD’s election successes by using the same language of segregation, expulsion and class envy as well as an excluding narrative of security. This is the only possible interpretation of former president Gauck‘s demand to “discover spaces that might seem unpleasant because they sound inhumane”. The mind-set also resonates in the call for a „Deutschlandpakt”, a pact of Germany against migration, for the increase of deportations, deportation custody, forced labour, and only non-cash benefits for refugees. All of this is supported by demands, as voiced by former minister of health Spahn, for the employment of “direct, physical violence” at the border.
Even the Green Party seems to painlessly support dehumanization and militarization – and not just in migration policy. They ride the right wing’s wave, hoping to survive. Again, migration is declared a problem in a European country that is shaped by immigration, even though migration is a core element of economic prosperity, cultural modernization, and democratization. These racist politics are supposed to “solve” this problem. However, the history of immigration cannot be turned back, which is good.
The fairy-tale of isolation
These debates are not only sickening but also out of touch with reality, which makes them even more dangerous. Migration is the mother of all societies. It is not migration that is responsible for the often-cited „excessive demands“ on municipalities, but social and education policies that have been neglected for years. Yet another myth is the claim that migration could be halted without giving up on basic democratic principles. The simplistic models of push- and pull-factors have been proven wrong years ago. The very reasons to flee, like poverty, exploitation, and war will not cease to exist just because Germany treats human beings as unworthy as possible. Those calling for an ever stronger type of law and order hope desperately that further militarization and isolation would keep the consequences of the overlapping poly-crisis such as climate change, imperialism, and politics of war at bay.
Instead, this militarization, brutalization, and armament of the border produces immense suffering and is, measured against their own goal, futile. The calls for ever dirtier deals with neighbouring states and the externalization of asylum procedures show in the end just the crisis of politics that fails to answer global challenges. The attacks on the rights and lives of people on the move are at the same time attacks on a Europe that claims to have learned from the last racist and anti-Semitic mania. It might not be the European Commission’s intention but the “new Europe”, embodied in the CEAS reform, is paving the way for a right-wing project. In the words of the AfD: A “union of European nations”.
Leave the voicelessness behind – our solidarity is indivisible
The missing response of the political left reflects the lack of their own answers and growing uncertainties since the COVID-19 health crisis and in the face of wars approaching Europe. The shock of the war in Israel and Palestine also reaches far into left-wing movements in Germany.
Divisions and the decline in solidarity with those affected by racism and antisemitism are currently deepening. As a consequence, there is a lack of sympathy for all victims whose suffering must not be played off against each other. Jewish life in Germany must be protected – anti-Semitism is foremost a German problem, and not one related to migration. Anti-Semitism and racism must not be played off against each other or used to justify racist policies of exclusion and deportation.
Now we need to mobilize together. With a lot of perseverance and staying power. The upcoming elections on the European and municipal level in June could further aggravate the situation. We counter the descent into authoritarianism wherever we can. We will not be divided. We equally fight racism and anti-Semitism and fight together for all our rights. We will not give up on our equal society and the rights that have been hard-won within it. Our solidarity is and will be indivisible.
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