The radical right wants to do away with democracy and human rights
April 9, 2020 10:40 PM   Subscribe

“Back to the Future? - Weimar Today” (42½min video, .mp4, magnet) A Deutsche Welle documentary analyzing and comparing contemporary German right-wing nationalism to the political right of the Weimar Republic era.
posted by XMLicious (13 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I've been warning repeatedly the last 3-4 years about the similarities of today to the politics in Germany at the beginning of the 1930's (last time last night here, as 'randonfish').

Between the elections of 1930 and 1932 that saw the NSDAP grow in power, the consolidation of power, the brutalization and bastardization of all laws and norms, everything - with some obvious exceptions - reminds me of then. I am profoundly worried that the pandemic will be used as our Reichstag Fire, and that in a few months, people will tiredly accept a complete suspension of democracy. I am also angry that these observations / speculations were considered irresponsible and ignored up to now, so that you couldn't talk about them in polite discussions. If more people had called them out by their name louder & earlier, maybe we wouldn't find ourselves in the dire situation we are in.
posted by growabrain at 2:28 AM on April 10, 2020 [18 favorites]

And again, sorry for the gloom & doom. My 90-year old mom keeps telling me that I am a political pessimist.
I wish I am wrong.
posted by growabrain at 2:35 AM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

If more people had called them out by their name louder & earlier...

I know you aren't saying that nobody did, but those who did were usually clouted with the common misinterpretation of Godwin's Law (may it rest in peace), as if that were proof of the parallels' irrelevance. This really is history repeating itself, and the chorus of denials has served us all very poorly.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:12 AM on April 10, 2020 [8 favorites]

This is relevant to my interests. Thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:25 AM on April 10, 2020

The scariest parts of this very scary film are the last 3-4 minutes, when they discuss what may happen in case of an economic disaster.
The Nazis built an infrastructure to capture the disaffected but times were good. When the depression hit, they found the last piece of their jigsaw puzzle.
The film must have been completed before the Corvid epidemic, so they could not have predicted that a month or two later, we are suddenly looking at a repeat of October 1929.
If the economy contract 5-10-20% worldwide, and masses of people start to go hungry, it doesn't matter what we think or what we believe. The unleashed forces of violence will have to find outlets. This is the truly frightening thing.
posted by growabrain at 5:49 AM on April 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

"Deutschland ist wieder im Reichstag zurück"

Video half-way down the page
posted by Seeba at 7:01 AM on April 10, 2020

FWIW, at least right now, things don't seem headed in the direction of 1930-1932. AFD is currently significantly more unpopular than they previously were, with the ruling coalition of SDP - CDU - CSU being incredibly stable in this referenced poll.

The extreme financial and social circumstance that the SDP found themselves at the start of the great depression is almost impossible to repeat. Germany right now isn't utterly reliant on foreign loans to keep things afloat like they were in 1928. The current ruling coalition isn't seen by the military as a bunch of weak-kneed traitors like in 1928. There currently isn't a massive part of left wing that utterly rejects democracy (the KDP) like in 1928. The institution of Democracy isn't a nine year old experiment marked by failed putsches, financial shocks, and communist revolts like in 1928, but (at least for half the country) a robust 70+ institution.

Things can get bad. Likely, they will get bad. But the rock-bottom to this chaos is much higher for Germany than it was before the start of the Great Depression. There should ABSOLUTELY be vigilance and, IMO, outright resistance to AFD throughout all of this, but if you're going to draw parallels between current day Germany and Wiemar Germany then it's important to notice the differences which, IMO, are significant enough to render the parallels worrisome rather than utterly terrifying.
posted by Philipschall at 7:20 AM on April 10, 2020 [13 favorites]

if you're going to draw parallels between current day Germany and Wiemar Germany then it's important to notice the differences

While I think it's right to be at least a little concerned about Germany and every other democracy in the world, I don't think it's Germany that is the country Mefites would be most worried about.
posted by Slothrup at 8:00 AM on April 10, 2020 [10 favorites]

It has been discussed in public; just not enough and possibly more in UK and Europe than USA.
Daily Beast Is America About to Suffer Its Weimar Moment?
Brooklyn Rail Weimar then or Now
Guardian Warnings about Weimar Germany could turn into self-fulfilling prophecies; and of course in relationship to Brexit
posted by adamvasco at 8:00 AM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

German mefites would certainly be concerned. There are other places in the world you know. Please try not to be so Americacentric.
posted by adamvasco at 8:40 AM on April 10, 2020 [5 favorites]

I'm also reminded of how much channers & other right-wing accelerationist groups have rallied behind the term "Weimerica" (or variants therein). "Dispatches from Weimerica", "Weimerica Weekly", etc. (apologies for the US-specific nature of this comparison, it's intended to buttress the point of the main link as an international pattern)

In short, they're also making this comparison, but from the other direction. They're seeing the "rise of degeneracy" (read: any sort of social advance, but *especially* what they see as people flouting gender norms) as hailing an inevitable backlash where they can rise to power. It also seems to be tied into a lot of 'blackpill' thought, where they're consoling themselves as they see society drift away from them by going "just you wait", so to speak.

Here's hoping they're wrong on all accounts.
posted by CrystalDave at 10:43 AM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Far-right terrorist ringleader found to be teenager in Estonia
A group known as Feuerkrieg Division (fire war division) was led by a 13-year-old from Estonia. The teenager shared bomb-making instructions and wanted to set up a terrorist training camp. [...] The group was reportedly active worldwide and had, until recently, some 70 members in 15 countries, including Germany. [...] According to [Der Spiegel, the original German source], "Heydrich" had no criminal background and no connection to the regional neo-Nazi scene before his activities with the FKD. Instead, he reportedly underwent self-radicalization on the internet, through right-wing chat groups.
posted by XMLicious at 1:39 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Of course there are Germans who are worried and the German government is on to the case, but Germany is not the most vulnerable country right now. Still, it is a very interesting documentary. I'm not sure I can list all the vulnerable countries, Hungary is at the top, with Turkey, Italy, India, Israel, Brazil, Thailand, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan...
No, I give up, there are too many countries, but what is really worrying is that the US and the UK are on it, not at the top at all, but definitely on there. (This is only about democracies that are turning authoritarian, not about countries that were already authoritarian).
posted by mumimor at 12:40 PM on April 11, 2020

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