NEW PARTY IN GERMANY
The AfD Party: Old Wine in New Bottles?
by Helga Zepp-LaRouche
Helga Zepp-LaRouche is founder of the Schiller Institute and chairwoman of the German political party BüSo. She authored this three part series for the EIR Magazine Online, which you can read in PDF in the May 20, June 3, and June 10, 2016 issues. It is re-published here with permission.
The tidal wave of refugees entering Europe from the Middle East and Africa—as a result of Obama’s destructive wars on behalf of British policy—in the context of Europe’s economic collapse as a result of the demands of the banks, has enabled the rise of a new party of dissent in Germany, the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD). Zepp-LaRouche asks, What is it, and why?
May 13—The crucial question for many people in Germany today is not where do you stand on religion, but where do you stand on the Alternative for Germany (AfD)? Is it only a “party of people in a bad mood,” which we should not describe as Nazis as long as the AfD is “only right-wing populist,” as the deputy chairman of the SPD Olaf Scholz put it? Where could Chancellor Angela Merkel have seen people “frothing at the mouth” when they confront the AfD? Does the AfD really provide the “light at the end of the tunnel,” because it denies the influence of CO2 emissions on the climate, as AfD member Michael Limburg, who is Vice President of the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), puts it? The presence of varying currents within it, and its sudden electoral successes, make it appear that the most diverse expectations and forms of wishful thinking can be projected onto the AfD.
So what should we think about this party? Can its program fulfill the hopes of those who have voted for it? Is it dangerous, or can it develop into something dangerous? Does it have solutions for today’s existential challenges, such as the escalating danger of a new, this-time-thermonuclear world war, or for the acute danger of a new financial collapse of the trans-Atlantic sector, much more dramatic this time than in 2008, or—to mention one issue that the AfD has already addressed—does it have a solution for the refugee crisis?
Since the party’s self-conception rules out any attempt at strategic thinking, it is foreign to the AfD to attempt to define a solution to overcome the war danger. Since the party is completely trapped in a diffuse mix of social liberalism and the Austrian School, it does not have the analytical prerequisites needed to recognize the magnitude of the crisis, let alone a conception of how to overcome the systemic crisis of the trans-Atlantic financial system.
And even on the refugee crisis, a subject on which the AfD expects to be attractive, its incompetence is appalling. This is the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since the immediate post-war period; there will be many hundreds of millions of people fleeing war, starvation, and epidemics in the years to come, if the causes of refugee flight are not resolved. Whoever believes that this crisis can be solved by stopping refugees at the borders with barbed wire and firearms, and purports to implement such a plan, is not only deceiving himself and others, but accepts the hateful spirit of the authors of such proposals.
Rage at the Establishment
Any classification of this party must begin by defining what lies behind its sudden leap in popularity. The source is the complete policy failure of the European Union (EU), the German government, and the established parties, which for a considerable time have given a growing share of the population the impression that there is ultimately no authority that takes their interests to heart or to which they can turn. And as long as this is not admitted and corrected, the major parties will continue to shrink. Mrs. Merkel has occasionally said that the fundamental causes of the refugee crisis must be addressed, but she has not done so: She has addressed neither the wars of the Bush and Obama regimes, based on lies, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen—one cause of the refugee crisis—nor the IMF policy of denying credit to Africa, thus prohibiting any economic development—another cause. As a result, these causes, as well as a real approach for solving the problem, are not understood. That is why more and more citizens fall for the simplistic, incompetent, and profoundly inhuman proposals of the AfD.
The more the German government and the legislature, the Bundestag, have ceded competences and responsibility to a untransparent, soulless bureaucracy in Brussels through European Union treaties from Maastricht to Lisbon, the more the feeling of helplessness grows, as expressed in the Germans’ favorite saying: “You can’t do anything about it!” The impression is thereby created that the party system doesn’t allow the individual to influence political events in any way, because the criteria for nominating candidates and party discipline permit total control from the top. This control is exercised entirely for the benefit of financial interests and against the general welfare—as citizens have learned from experience—and as a result, the rich get richer and the shrinking middle class and the poor get ever poorer, especially since 2008 and the repeated “rescue packages.” Handelsblatt, for example, recently published documentation of what was already clear: 95% of the rescue packages for Greece flowed into the European banks.
Consider these conditions: The implementation of Hartz 4 (the latest phase of the Hartz commission’s reforms of labor policy), amounting to the cold-hearted expropriation of people unemployed through no fault of their own; the flop of the supplementary pension plan (the Riester pension); poverty among the elderly; rising costs and worsening care in health care; the lack of affordable housing; a growing sense of insecurity due in part to layoffs of police; the feeling of being left alone in encountering cultures of immigrant communities that you don’t understand; the feeling of being manipulated by the mass media, of not being protected by the government from total surveillance by domestic and foreign intelligence services; and the awareness that your government is being led by the nose by the United States and Great Britain into a confrontational policy against Russia and China, which is provoking a new war danger. The list could be significantly longer. The result is that more and more people do not feel represented by the established parties. That is not only the case in Germany, but in most European countries and the United States—take the case of Donald Trump, for example.
Learn from History
In Germany, this development presents very obvious parallels to the situation in the 1920s and 1930s: The debt demands of the Versailles Treaty were in essence the same as the EU debt-corset today, which puts the interests of the profit-seeking casino bankers above those of the general welfare, whether in Greece or Germany. The difference between Brüning and Schacht, on the one side [German Chancellor and Reichsbank President in the period before Hitler], and today’s Schäuble and Draghi on the other [German Finance Minister and European Central Bank President], lies only in the predicates, not in the fundamentals. It is almost lawful that various political and social movements, out of a very similar frustration and lack of trust in the political system, are expressing themselves in similar forms.
And precisely as in that time, one can very clearly differentiate between the many who—feeling uprooted and betrayed—follow anyone who promises pragmatic solutions in ideological wrapping, and those who, as masterminds of geopolitical interests, understand how to use the social ferment for their own objectives.
The key to understanding the process which characterized the run-up to the First World War—as well as the developments between the world wars—and which has today brought about these processes in the United States, Europe, and even in Germany in respect to the AfD, is the continuing tradition of the Conservative Revolution. This is a reaction against the “ideas of 1789,” that is, against the ideas of the French Revolution, and even more so, against the Leibniz-oriented American Revolution, of universal human rights, and an image of man which understands the individual as capable of limitless perfectability.
Then, as today, this Conservative Revolution—to which “right-wing intellectuals” such as today’s Götz Kubitschek refer—was not a homogenous world outlook, but a broad spectrum of ethnic nationalist (“völkisch”) and “national revolutionary” ideologies, but always exclusionary, backward, and based on defining mankind by his biology.
To come straight to the point: If we have learned anything from history, then we should see the difference between how America got out of the Depression and the world economic and financial crisis of the 1930s, and what happened in Europe. In America, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ended the casino economy which was responsible for the crisis. He did it with the Glass-Steagall banking separation law, the reintroduction of the credit system based on Alexander Hamilton, the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the Tennessee Valley program, and later his own plan for the Bretton Woods System, altogether a package of measures that brought America out of the crisis and allowed it to become the world’s strongest economic power. In Europe, by contrast, varied forms of fascism prevailed, from Mussolini to Franco, Petain, and Hitler.
It is an irony of history that today China, with its policy of the New Silk Road, is implementing the Franklin Roosevelt tradition, while America, in the grip of Wall Street, advocates recipes taken out of mothballs from the Europe of the 1930s. Germany is still teetering on the brink: It has not yet decided which pathway to take.
May 27—Horst Seehofer’s claim that Angela Merkel’s wrong immigration policy explains the rapid growth of the Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany party) is utterly oversimplified, and therefore wrong. Of course, the increase in the numbers of refugees was just what some politicians were waiting for, such as AfD “leader” Björn Höcke who roused the social anxiety of the population with demagogic arguments. Obviously refugees have never paid into health insurance funds or social security before, as one of the AfD’s favorite mantras goes, but how could they have? Should they have gone to the American or British embassy in their countries some years ago, to take out a credit as restitution for the future destruction of their homes in geopolitically motivated wars?
This example makes clear that one can take a statement which, viewed narrowly, are not false per se—namely, “the refugees have never paid anything into the social security system”—and convey a falsehood with it, because it reduces a complex situation, such as why the refugees became refugees in the first place, down to a very narrow aspect of the issue. The first impulse behind Mrs. Merkel’s refugee policy—when she said “We can do it!”—was correct, and in accordance with the Geneva Convention on refugees. Where she ultimately went wrong was that, while she said time and again that you must eliminate the causes of the refugee crisis, she never stated what these causes were.
To do that, one would have to address the role of Saudi Arabia in the September 11, 2001 attacks, as well as the wars based on lies that the U.S. waged in Southwest Asia in ostensible retaliation for those attacks, and the role of the “allies,” Saudi Arabia and Turkey, in the financing of various Wahhabi-Islamist organizations from al-Qaeda to al-Nusra and ISIS, rather than relying on those two countries to stem the flow refugees.
In light of the uproar now raging in the United States over the well documented role of Saudi Arabia in support of terrorist organizations—the unanimous approval of the U.S. Senate for the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism (JASTA) law and the fight for the declassification of the famous, still secret 28 pages from the Congressional Inquiry on 9/11 come to mind—it is telling that Mrs. Merkel remains silent about the scandal of the Saudi role. Because the actual “causes of the refugee crisis” lie in this entire complex of events.
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The second mistake that Mrs. Merkel is making is refusing to put on the table, together with Russia and China, a workable perspective for reconstruction of the liberated regions—initially Syria, and then the whole of Southwest Asia—which is only realizable in the greater framework of the New Silk Road.
According to the , there are already 60 million refugees or displaced persons worldwide. The head of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab, recently said in Davos that, in the event of a further decline in the price of raw materials, one billion people from the Southern countries might make the trek toward the North. Should an uncontrolled collapse of the trans-Atlantic financial system occur—which is a real possibility given the negative interest rates of the central banks and the debate over helicopter money—this number could rise even higher due to the global impact.
Therefore the European Union’s measures, which Mrs. Merkel went along with—to protect the outer borders of the European Union with the help of the Frontex organization and negotiate a horse-trade with Turkish President Erdogan—are not only totally unworkable, but they deny the refugees the protection they are due by international law. These measures expose that the “European values” which the EU constantly touts, have long since been transformed into barbarism. That is how the rest of the world sees it. The reality is that the whole world notices and discusses the wretchedness of the European Union on this question.
To emphatically repeat the point: The only way that we can remedy the greatest humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War, is through comprehensive economic development—a New Silk Road Marshall Plan, if you will—for the entire Middle East and Africa, which builds up these destroyed, as well as entirely undeveloped countries, and provides a perspective for a better future to the people who live there. To do that, we must end the confrontation with Russia and China, and work together with Russia, China, India, Iran, Egypt, and many other countries for such a development perspective. The framework for this is already in place with China’s New Silk Road and the offer for win-win cooperation.
It is precisely this unique perspective for a solution which the AfD rules out, because of its—to put it mildly—chauvinistic ideology. Above all, its attachment to neoliberal monetarist dogma makes it totally incapable of seeking solutions, much less of finding them.
The Conservative Revolution
The very idea that the AfD emerged as a reaction to the Euro crisis, the refugee crisis, or “political Islam” is completely erroneous. The Conservative Revolution, the tradition that the New Right explicitly espouses, and whose texts Götz Kubitschek’s publication Antaia publishes, has existed in unbroken continuity since its emergence as a reaction to the “Ideas of 1789,”—thus for around 225 years, in manifestations which have in the best case only changed in appearance.
Among the extensive writings on the subject is Armin Mohler’s slightly edited dissertation of 1949, published for the first time as a book in 1950 under the title, The Conservative Revolution. It aroused a storm of outrage at the time, because it was an attempt, only four years after the end of the Second World War, to treat fascist ideas quasi-academically, as if they had not directly caused catastrophic results for Germany and the world. Mohler explained in his book that the “Conservative Revolution” is a synonym for what is commonly identified as fascist.
The masterminds, according to Mohler, are small, intellectually lively circles, highly explosive sects, loose combinations of the elite that remain in the background. They work out the programs “from above,” which then are presented in simple words to the masses, who see themselves as getting a raw deal. Mohler described the relationship between the intellectuals and the common people in the following manner:
The great party holds its masses together through organizational attachment to a doctrine adapted to the average person and narrowed down to catchwords, and only offers a place to superior minds to the extent that they take part in taming the masses and restrict their mental capabilities to the esoteric realm. But the majority of the above-average intellects gather in small circles, which resonate in constant mental tension, believe themselves to be the only ones with the true knowledge, and accuse the mass party of Realpolitik, betrayal of the “idea.” [Emphasis added.]
Many leading members of the AfD see the Institute for State Policy (Institut für Staatspolitik), the think tank of the New Right which Götz Kubitschek and Karlheinz Weissmann founded in 2000, as the kind of place where such circles “resonate in constant mental tension.” Training courses are regularly held there, which have been taken by 5,000 people. Björn Höcke refers to this institute as his “spiritual manna.”
An Updated National Socialism
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited an e-mail that Bernd Lucke, who was recently thrown out of the AfD, wrote to the party’s executive committee at the time Kubitschek and his wife Ellen Kositza sought to enroll as members. Kubitschek had turned up at Pegida and Legida events in a black shirt and brown jacket, he wrote. “Whoever does not see in this a deliberate allusion to the fascist movements of Europe in the 1920s and 30s is a fool.” At that time both were denied membership. Today, Lucke is out, and Kubitschek is regarded by many AfD members as the intellectual leadership.
At the end of last year, Höcke delivered a striking lecture at the institute in which he presented, with astounding candor, the radical biological determinism typical of the New Right. He said that Mrs. Merkel’s crazed asylum policy had set off a “self-feeding maelstrom” and that we must defend ourselves against asylum seekers, because Africa produces an “excess population” of 30 million people per year. Limits must be set by denying asylum, so that Africa can arrive at an ecologically sustainable rate of population growth.
According to Höcke, the problem is that Africa and Europe have two different reproduction strategies. Africa has the life-affirming mode of reproduction, referred to with a “small r,” while Europe has a negative strategy for simple population replacement, referred to with a “large K.” They therefore have two entirely different strategies for reproduction, which are now colliding over the optimal use of Lebensraum. (living space).
Seventy-one years after the end of the rule of National Socialism, it is inconceivable that anyone would dare to evoke the “excess population” of a certain population group, and Lebensraum. And subjecting people’s demographic development to “ecologically sustainable” levels is exactly the same inhumane attitude that characterizes the eco-fascism of the green movement.
Höcke apparently borrowed the terms “small r” and “large K” from the American ecologists Robert MacArthur and Edward O. Wilson and their theories of the colonization of habitats. The mode of thinking emerging here is worse than racism; it denies a large part of the human race its actual humanity, the quality which separates human beings as a creative species from all other forms of life, given their ability to exercise creative reason.
German citizens who are worried about the erosion of our society, about the security of our country, their own personal futures, and much else, should by no means make the mistake of falling for the “doctrine reduced to catch-phrases.” For hidden behind the phrases is an image of man that is incompatible with European or German values (if one understands these to include the humanism of Nicholas of Cusa, Wilhelm Leibniz, Felix Mendelssohn, Friedrich Schiller, and Albert Einstein), but instead is consistent with the racism which once threw our country into catastrophe.
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. See “The Historical Roots of Green Fascism,” by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, an article in two parts in EIR, April 13 and 20, 2007.
. Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against Islamization of the West) and Legida (Leipzig Europeans Against Islamization of the West) are anti-Muslim movements which have held mass demonstrations against immigration from Southwest Asia, especially in eastern Germany.
. Ecologists Robert H. MacArthur and Edmund O. Wilson developed a theory of ecosystem stability in the 1950s, in which they posited two kinds of approaches populations could take for their survival. The “K” strategy was adopted by nations considered at or near their “carrying capacity,” considered to be the maximum population that can be sustained by an environment; the “r” strategy characterizes nations which seek to expand their populations according to their biotic potential. MacArthur died in 1972, but Wilson continues to be a highly influential academic advocate of “sociobiology,” a field that emphasizes the genetic determinism of human behavior (as also that of ant behavior, ants being the species on which he has done his academic study), and proposes policies based on those allegedly genetic differences.
June 3—There is no doubt about it: The majority of the population in Germany feels abandoned, and has the overwhelming impression that the political ruling class is motivated by anything but the pursuit of the general welfare. The decisions of the heartless bureaucrats in Brussels are certainly not transparent. But what people do see is that that the living standards of many have been sinking for about a quarter of a century; that medical care is getting worse; and that if you are among the unfortunate victims of Hartz 4, or are a member of some other such socially powerless group, often you cannot even afford the bare necessities, much less participate in the cultural life of society.
For years on end, there was allegedly no money for the poor or for affordable housing. But then, suddenly, billions of Euros, in the three digits, were made available to “rescue” the banks and speculators, and sums in the double-digit billions were suddenly found “in a coat pocket” for the refugees. “A pretty large coat pocket,” people grumble, among themselves. And then there is increasing anxiety over the growing threats—the growing danger of war, the danger of terrorism, lack of understanding of the cultures of immigrants, fear of poverty in old age—the list of problems seen as existential keeps getting longer.
That general feeling of “getting a raw deal,” all sorts of resentments, and the outrage of angry citizens are precisely what the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party, the various Pegida offshoots, and the New Right feed upon. This is not just a spontaneous reflex; behind it lies a specific method. Peter Sloterdijk, with whom the AfD’s “party philosopher” Marc Jongen collaborated for years as an assistant at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, has even written a world history of rage.
Rage as Driver of History?
In a 2006 book, published in English translation in 2010, titled Rage and Time, Sloterdijk presents the thesis that rage is one of the driving forces of history. He constructs a theory of history according to which—starting with Greek mythology and the first lines of Homer’s Iliad—rage is a god-like capability, something like a divinely ordained eruption of power, which is manifested in the form of thymos, and is later presented by Plato as one of the three pillars of the human psyche, between reason and passion. Sloterdijk then traces his perspective on history from ancient Greece to the vengeful God of the Judaic world, to the teachings of the Church fathers of the Middle Ages, up to the communist “world bank of rage.” The ultimate demand of his book is for the release of “thymotic energy,” as if the world hadn’t had to endure an overdose of it with the radicalized extremist movements of the Twentieth Century and experienced the historical consequences such negative energy can cause
If Sloterdijk’s bestial image of man were correct, then a human being would be nothing more than an aggressive watchdog that becomes the more effective, the more it is incited and provoked. If rage and resentment were a principal driving force in the history of mankind, then in all likelihood, we would have bashed each other to death in a very early era, possibly in the era of hunting and gathering, when we ate rabbits and berries, and rage over a missed meal would have been vented on our neighbors. Mankind would never have risen mentally above the infantile state in which a spoiled brat kicks his younger brother in the shins to get the toy blocks.
If Friedrich Schiller assumed that Kant must have had a very unhappy childhood to come up with such unfree thoughts as the Categorical Imperative, how absolutely miserable and terrible must the childhood of this misanthrope Sloterdijk have been! Of course, for Sloterdijk, who believes man is only the “king of the domesticated animals,” everything that differentiates mankind from the other forms of life is closed off and unreachable—his creativity, his humanity, his receptivity to beauty, his ability to produce great creations of Classical art, his unlimited talent for discovering ever deeper the laws of the physical universe.
No, Sloterdijk’s world is no less ugly than the radical biological determinism of a Björn Höcke: In 2010, Sloterdijk spoke of the “fertility in misery” of the Arabs, who used their reproduction rate as a “demographic weapon” against Europe.
Sloterdijk’s longstanding assistant Marc Jongen—the current speaker of the AfD in Baden Württemberg and a member of the AfD’s national program committee—has adopted several of his ideas, among them his ideology of the history-making function of rage. He says the German population is suffering from a “thymotic deficit,” and touts the AfD as the only party which not only addresses the rage and anger in the population, but knows how to spur it on. He calls that “raising the thymos tension”—in other words, riling up the rage in the population. Only in this way, Jongen explains, can we bring people to oppose the “threat” of “mass migration.” No wonder that the star of the Pegida demonstration praises Jongen as the “great hope of the movement.”
Inciting enraged citizens in this way—inflaming them—is playing with fire. It is the method of demagogues who take up real grievances, only to respond with plausible but catchword-like—and therefore false—arguments. Take an example from Jongen: “Of the hundreds of millions of needy people in the world, we can only bring a very small, nearly infinitesimal percent to Europe. The idea that we in Europe could be responsible for justice in the world as a whole, is an expression of gigantic hubris.” The implication of this statement is that because it is a nearly infinitesimal percentage, it makes no significant difference whether we refuse these people (otherwise described as a “mass immigration”) entrance into Europe, never mind what happens to them.
Or Else, the Paradigm of Love
The crux of the matter is this: That this kind of thinking implies that the neoliberal financial dogma which the AfD fully supports—as they recently demonstrated with their trading in gold—is a permanent feature of the world. But in reality, this trans-Atlantic financial system is on the verge of disintegration, and can only be superseded by a complete reorganization of the system, the introduction of a global Glass-Steagall system of banking separation, and the reconstruction of the world economy through the expansion of the New Silk Road. The AfD has no competence in any of these matters. Jongen criticizes the clear lack of “thymotic virtues,” once called the “manly virtues,” especially in the approach to all things military. These, he says, are at best tolerated as a necessary evil. Jongen concludes: “I have the feeling that our political elite has since 1968 forgotten the very elementary lessons of foreign policy and geopolitics.”
The “elementary lessons of geopolitics” are currently being carried out in NATO exercises in Poland, the Baltics states, and Romania, and by U.S. forces in the South China Sea. It is that geostrategy, a remnant from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, which brought us two World Wars, and has now brought us to the edge of obliterating humanity in a third—this time a global and thermonuclear world war—which represents the greatest obstacle to the continued existence of the human race.
The only way to overcome all of these existential threats—threats that the AfD wants to exploit for its own ends—lies in overcoming geopolitics and geopolitical strategy once and for all, and establishing a totally new paradigm organized around the common aims of mankind. If we are not able to reach the higher level of reason, the level on which the common interests of a universal humanity are achieved, we will not fare any better than the dinosaurs, whose bodies were impressive, but whose brains were relatively tiny. In any case, the solution to these problems does not lie on the level of poor watchdogs and poor Sloterdijks.
painting by Jean Duplessis-Bertaux in 1793
Friedrich Schiller’s answer to the Jacobin terror of the French Revolution, an example of a rebellion of enraged citizens par excellence—about which he said that a great historical moment had found a little people—was his Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man. In them he stressed that from then on, improvements in the political realm could only be achieved through the ennoblement of the individual—and that meant, above all, educating the emotions up to the level of reason. Gotthold Lessing argued, in a wonderful analysis of the artistic method, with reference to the famous sculpture of Laocoön and His Sons, that the artist can not present pure emotion—in this case, agony—without aesthetic ennoblement, if he is to meet the requirements of Classical art. Rage and anger, as well as hate and envy, belong to the lowest level of human emotions.
If we are to overcome the enormous challenges with which we are confronted today, we can only do so with love,—love for mankind, and love for our own humanity.
This article has been translated from German.