Clarification: Anti-Germanism, Bahamas, the English Defence League, and the Gates of Vienna
Some time ago, I linked to some allegations made against leftist antifa activists by a group of ultra-conservative sites, Diana West, Tundra Tabloids and Brussels Journal. These sites were alleging that in various places, including Koln and Malmo, antifa activists had violently targeted Jewish people, calling them Nazi because of real or imagined affiliations with the state of Israel. I had not at the time appreciated how right-wing the sites I was linking to were, although I knew they were pretty conservative. I regretted afterwards having linked to them, but I had not seen convincing refutations of the allegations they made. My regret increased as I learnt more about Stop the Islamisation of Europe, to which some of them are connected (more on that below). Recently Will, formerly of the sadly defunct General Theory of Rubbish and Drink-Soaked Trots blogs, visited here and used his favourite word, which begins with C, about me for having made these links.
Bernd Sommer “Anti-capitalism in the name of ethno-nationalism: ideological shifts on the German extreme right” Patterns of Prejudice, Volume 42, Number 3, July 2008 , pp. 305-316(12). Abstract: “Sommer examines the (re-)emergence of anti-capitalist and anti-globalization themes within the ideology and discourses of the German extreme right. He argues that it would be short-sighted to interpret this development simply as another opportunistic attempt by the extreme right to incorporate Zeitgeist issues into its political agenda in order to appeal to a broader spectrum of supporters. An analysis of the latest campaigns of the Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD)—the most successful extreme-right party in recent years—as well as the activities of groups that exist within the larger German extreme-right milieu, the so-called freie Kameradschaften, reveals that the taking up of social questions as well as anti-capitalist and anti-globalization themes marks a deeper shift within the political agenda of the extreme right in Germany. However, the analysis shows that racist and antisemitic issues do not disappear with this shift, but are linked with and incorporated into anti-capitalist and anti-globalization discourses.”
In the comments, Negative Potential (I believe another Contested Terrain contributor, whose own now out of action blog I think I have a link to on my blogroll) wrote this:
The first study cited is about the far-right, which as far as I know, was never part of the “anti-globalization movement” even in the broadest sense. It’s one thing to say that the far-right makes use of anti-globalist sentiment. Quite another thing to imply it was a component of the summit-hopping movement (which really doesn’t exist as a dynamic force anymore, and arguably hasn’t since after Genoa, though it might’ve taken the movement a few years to realize it was dead).
Seriously, Bob, that’s a Bahamas-level slander. There are plenty of problems with the anti-globalization movement, and yes, undoubtedly anti-semitism is one of them (though not to the extent that anti-Germans and fellow travelers would have one believe), but your argument shouldn’t have to rest on such sleazy amalgamations.
If we’re going to play six degrees of political slander, I think with a bit of effort I could probably link Bob From Brockley’s blog to the neo-fascist Junge Freiheit, especially given that Bob openly links to the “Anti-German Translation” blog, which links to Bahamas and other racists. Stones, glass houses, etc. [Hyperlinks are added by me. – AGT]
Subsequent comments address the substantive points about the right and the anti-globalisers. It’s my connection to the far right I want to address here. Indeed, Bahamas features on my blogroll, between Bad Weather, a now defunct website associated with Antifa in Hamburg, and Cafe Morgenland, a Greek/German anti-Germanish/communist site, from whom I’ve taken the first image which illustrates this post. Other links include some that are far more Zionist/right-wing than I am, as well as anarchist and left communist and pro-Palestinian sites, ranging from Platypus to WW4 Report to Abdel Kader to Anarchists Against The Wall.
From Entdinglichung I learn that Bahamas has celebrated the English Defence League! Here is a very, very rough translation of part of Entdinglichung’s post:
In the current issue of a German men’s magazine for the preservation of the dominant western culture, Bahamas, next to an item in which Uli Krug defends Pope Ratzinger from nasty criticism, be found some scribblings by Sören Pünjer under the title “The spirit of Winston Churchill: in Great Britain provides the English League for the Defense of excitement and confusion (which is not linked here, please find it yourself). During this tirade, the author honestly tries to honesty present the EDL as an anti-fascist and patriotic opposition to a dark, Muslim-directed conspiracy (the abolition of English Christmas and the St. George’s Day and the introduction of Sharia law in Britain).
The post provides some images and videos of the real (i.e. fascist) face of the EDL and recommends articles on the EDL from AWL, Antifa England und hope Not Hate. As these three all rightly and differently observe, the EDL is fundamentally a fascist organisation, even if it does not exactly fit traditional classical images of fascism, and even if it has flirted with pro-Zionist imagery. The (anti-anti-Zionist) Community Safety Trust is also clear on this, warning Jews off the EDL and its allies:
A small Islamophobic group, called Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE), has called for 1,000 Jews to attend its forthcoming demonstration at Harrow mosque; and for each Jew to bring an Israeli flag.
This is strikingly similar to appeals that have also been made in recent months by the English Defence League (EDL). It is also essentially the same as opportunistic attempts by British National Party leader Nick Griffin to ditch both his and his party’s antisemitic heritage, by stressing his supposed new-found support for Israel and Jews.[…]
Because the EDL does not necessarily fit into the common, pre-existing understanding of far right politics – for instance, that its membership is not exclusively white, and that some of its supporters have brandished Israeli flags – there is disagreement about the extent to which they can be classified as a far right, racist group. There is room for an academic discussion about whether they should be described as racist or Islamophobic; or whether their politics are fully far right, or more akin to an adaptation of the aggressive, xenophobic nationalism displayed by English football hooligans at countless football tournaments in years gone by. However, this discussion, as interesting as it may be to observers of extremist politics, should not distract anybody from the bigotry, division and demonisation that are central to the EDL, as they are to all forms of extremism; nor from the obvious provocation at the heart of their demonstrations.[…]
The Guardian also had a lengthy profile of the EDL, and there are a series of articles on the Hope not Hate website which go into the EDL’s origins and structures in great detail. In particular, they highlight the ambiguous position that the BNP holds in regards to this new combination of football hooligan gangs and street racists. The BNP, and the NF before it, used to openly embrace football hooligans as useful muscle with a fierce nationalist pride. However, demonstrations and punch ups no longer fit with the image that the BNP tries to project, and so the EDL has filled a gap in far right politics that the BNP voluntarily vacated in its pursuit of votes.
Although the message of the EDL is focused on Muslims – all of them, not just extremist groups as they claim – nobody should doubt that the politics of both the EDL and the BNP is still driven by the familiar bigotry and hatred of the far right, with a new language and target to fit with the times. There has been debate elsewhere about whether this change from attacking all minorities, to attacking Muslims, represents a genuine shift from racism to Islamophobia, or is simply a political ploy (I am aware that I have oversimplified this debate). My personal view is that it is a bit of both, and that such distinctions miss the point. Inasmuch as ‘Paki’ was a generic term for anyone with a brown skin in the 1970s, so now ‘Muslim’ serves much the same purpose for racists today. Far right politics has followed the blurring of boundaries between race and culture along with the rest of society. And it is also very easy to over-intellectualise what is essentially an emotional politics based on ignorance; particularly where the street racism of the EDL is concerned. They hate Muslims because they are brown, and because they are different, and because they follow a strange religion and build new mosques to practice it in; and for those who need to feel that there is more to their bigotry than just the fear and hatred of difference, it is because of the conspiracy theory that Muslims are trying to take over society. Conspiracy theories are the bedrock of racist politics. Modern antisemitism is based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a hoax which tried to ‘prove’ that Jews were plotting to take over the world. No similar text exists to ‘convict’ Muslims of actively plotting world domination, so instead, some people – and here the term ‘Islamophobia’ is apposite – try to argue that the Quran is just such a document.
If you look beyond the specific language then the similarities should be obvious: this is the politics of hatred and division, which has nothing positive to offer any part of society. The fact that Muslims are the current target simply means that it is Muslims who should be the recipients of anti-racist solidarity. Nor should anybody be distracted by the bizarre sight of EDL demonstrators waving Israeli flags. They are no friends of the Jewish community, or of Israel.[…]
In my view now, EDL and SIOE are two sides of the same coin of far right extremist populism. SIOE plays to a more upper class and petit bourgeois conservative audience, EDL to street fighters and football casuals, but they are essentially the same. They lack the ideological coherence and complexity of classical fascism, but they are heavily influenced by fascism. They are closely related, too, to the Euronationalism of Nick Griffin and Jorg Haider, which appears to be simple conservative populism on the outside but is Nazi to the core. Any “anti-German”, anti-anti-Zionist or anti-anti-imperialist who has any time for this shit is, well, completely beyond the pale.
All of this prompts me to provide a little more clarity about what this site is about, given another regret I now have: the title of the blog and my blogging identity. I am not German. I am not German-speaking. I have visited Germany, but that’s it. I am not an anti-German. I don’t really know any anti-Germans. I’ve not read more than a few articles in Bahamas.
I just find the anti-German critique of certain trends and tendancies in the anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist/anti-globalisation movement(s) interesting and useful. And I felt that there was a need for some of that analysis to be more widely disseminated in the anglophone radical scene, which was the mission of this blog originally. That’s all.
Filed under: Anti-Deutsche, Antifa, Fascism and antisemitism, Fascists in the anti-globalization movement, germany | 17 Comments
Tags: anti-fascism, Anti-German, Bahamas, EDL, English Defence League, fascism