by Melanie Amann
Munich: Droemer, 317 pp., €16.99 (paper)
Finis Germania [The End of Germany]
by Rolf Peter Sieferle
Steigra: Antaios, 104 pp., €8.50
And later on Sieferle:
“The reason we are inundated by culturally alien [kulturfremden] peoples such as Arabs, Sinti and Roma etc. is the systematic destruction of civil society as a possible counterweight to the enemies-of-the-constitution by whom we are ruled. These pigs are nothing other than puppets of the victor powers of the Second World War….” Thus begins a 2013 personal e-mail from Alice Weidel, who in this autumn’s pivotal German election was one of two designated “leading candidates” of the Alternative für Deutschland (hereafter AfD or the Alternative). The chief “pig” and “puppet” was, of course, Angela Merkel. Despite the publication of this leaked e-mail two weeks before election day, adding to other widely publicized evidence of AfD leaders’ xenophobic, right-wing nationalist views, one in eight German voters gave the Alternative their support. It is now the second-largest opposition party in the Bundestag, with ninety-two MPs.
Maybe a helpful view from the outside, helpful for Germans who sink to be trapped once again. Maybe, because the resistence to thinking of such people is like erverywhere in ethnic-cultural conflict zones, one has only to look on the (old) New Right in the United States of America."Finis Germania raises in helpfully sharp form the question of how one should respond to such ideas, in a country where one in eight voters just chose a right-wing populist party, motivated mainly by concerns about culture and identity.Der Spiegel’s extraordinary vaporizing of Sieferle’s book from its best-seller list is an extreme example of an approach characteristic of contemporary Germany. If you go beyond a certain point in expressing what may be seen as right-wing extremist or anti-Semitic views, you are banished from all respectable society, branded with a scarlet, or rather a brown, letter. Nazi insignia, Holocaust denial, and hate speech are banned by law (as Facebook is finding to its cost), but there is also this broader social, cultural, and political enforcement of the taboo."
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