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Germany’s authoritarian turn A desperate establishment won't tolerate dissent

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images


May 25, 2024   6 mins

Just five years ago, the 70th anniversary of the birth of the post-war German democratic state was accompanied by euphoric celebrations across the country. This week, by contrast, few Germans were in the mood to party. Aside from the Federal Republic of Germany’s economic woes, the prevailing opinion is that German democracy isn’t in very good health.

Who is to blame? The liberal-centrist consensus is that the country is facing an unprecedented threat from nefarious populist and far-Right forces — most notably the AfD, which aims, according to the country’s vice-chancellor, to “turn Germany into an authoritarian state”. But one may very well argue that Germany is already displaying worrying signs of authoritarianism, at the hands of those very same liberal-centrist forces that claim to be defending democracy from the barbarians at the gate.

Earlier this month, a court rejected a complaint by the AfD against its classification from the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) as a suspected Right-wing extremist case. This means that the BfV, the domestic intelligence service, can continue to monitor the AfD’s activities and communications. The German government hailed it as a victory. “Today’s ruling shows that we are a democracy that can be defended,” said Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.

Meanwhile, in another ruling, a Thuringian AfD leader was fined for allegedly using a slogan from the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party. Following the rulings, various politicians, most notably from the centre-Right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Green Party, stepped up calls for the party to be banned. One Christian Democrat even announced that he would initiate a motion in the German Bundestag to that end, arguing that that the party could no longer be kept at bay by political means, especially in Eastern Germany.

It goes without saying that attempting to outlaw the country’s second most popular party wouldn’t just be appalling from a democratic perspective, but would also have unexpected and far-reaching consequences — potentially pushing the country from a fraught political situation towards a state of civic unrest. But the establishment’s war on the AfD is just one part of a much wider crackdown on dissent — not only on the Right, but on the Left as well. In many parts of the country, pro-Palestinian protests have been restricted, and schools have been granted the power to place bans on Palestinian flags, pro-Palestinian speech and keffiyeh scarves. Across Germany, using the pro-Palestinian slogan “from the river to the sea” is now a criminal offence.

These moves are part of a broader process of institutional engineering aimed at dramatically narrowing the scope of democratic action in the name of protecting democracy. This includes the passing or proposal of an array of illiberal new laws. One such example is the recently approved “Law to speed up the removal of extremists from civil service”, aimed at making it easier to target so-called “extremist” civil servants — or “enemies of the constitution” — who may be removed from their posts and even denied their pension payments. If found guilty of sedition, the civil servant faces a prison sentence of six months or more. The law’s logic was spelled out by the Interior Minister: “Anyone who rejects the state cannot serve it.” But what does it mean to “reject the state”? Or to be an “extremist” for that matter? These concepts are so vague — and deliberately so — that they can easily be weaponised against anyone who happens to disagree with government policy on any given issue.

In a similar vein, the Democracy Promotion Act, currently still under discussion, is aimed at distributing hundreds of millions of euros of state funds to NGOs to promote “diversity, tolerance and democracy” and “prevent extremism” — which, it’s safe to assume, means promoting the repression of those who don’t conform to the establishment’s world view. The law would expand on an already existing programme launched by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, which supports campaigns “against conspiracy theories” and “Right-wing extremism”. Elsewhere last week, 30 of the country’s major corporations joined forces to encourage support, at least among their 1.7 million employees, for pro-European parties and warn of the dangers of populist groups such as the AfD.

Many of these initiatives were born amid the hysteria that gripped Germany following the revelation, in 2022, of an alleged coup d’état that was being planned by a “far-Right terrorist group”. When it emerged that most of the members of the Reichsbürger group were pensioners, and that one of their leaders was an eccentric 70-year-old self-styled “prince” with a penchant for astrology, people started taking to social media to denounce its farcical nature. But this didn’t stop the government and media from inflating the group’s actual threat, claiming that a fascist military government was around the corner — and emphasising the fact that the conspirators were AfD supporters.

The trial began this week, a year and a half after the alleged conspirators’ arrest, and no doubt we’ll see a slew of hyperbolic headlines in its wake. But even so, it’s hard not to view the government’s measures as having very little to do with protecting democracy, but rather being about protecting a failing and increasingly delegitimised establishment from democracy — and from the surging “populist” challenge, both on the Right and the Left. This has, after all, been taking shape for years, and well before the Reichsbürger plot.

“It’s hard not to view the Government’s measures as having very little to do with protecting democracy.”

As elsewhere, the pandemic represented a turning point in this increasingly authoritarian drift in German politics, as the government used the “public health emergency” to sweep aside democratic procedures and constitutional constraints, militarise societies, and crack down on civil liberties. Germany implemented one of the world’s most draconian lockdown and mass vaccination regimes, including the use of vaccine passports and segregated lockdowns for the unvaccinated. Meanwhile, the definition of the term “unconstitutional” became increasingly vague: teachers were accused of being “unconstitutional” if they opposed school closures, and an entire new category was even invented for public dissent: that of “anti-constitutional delegitimisation of the state”. Not even esteemed public intellectuals were spared from this brutalisation of the public debate.

It would be comforting to see all this as a betrayal of German post-war democracy and of its institutional bedrock, the constitution of 1949, or Basic Law — not least because it would imply that this is an awkward deviation from the norm, which may be potentially corrected by appealing to the strong democratic safeguards offered by that very constitution. Indeed, this quasi-religious faith in the constitution is deeply engrained in the German post-war collective consciousness, not just among intellectual elites — Habermas and others developed the concept of “constitutional patriotism” — but among dissidents as well: during the pandemic, it was common for protesters to hold up a booklet of the constitution as a symbolic shield against state repression.

But what if the current authoritarian turn in Germany is not a failure of the constitution but rather a case of it doing exactly what it was designed to do? The German constitution has long been seen as the country’s main democratic bulwark against the kind of anti-democratic aberrations of the Nazi era. However, for its creators, this meant, paradoxically, that it also had to act as a bulwark against democracy itself — or better, its potential “excesses”. After all, as liberal commentators never tire of reminding us, Hitler rose to power through democratic means. As the weekly newspaper Die Zeit recently observed, the Basic Law is “deeply laden with scepticism” and mindful of “the abuse of power and the obstruction of the democratic system”. Its creators didn’t trust the people, and were actually quite fearful of the concept of mass democracy.

They thus took it upon themselves to create a constitution that, while guaranteeing equal individual rights for all citizens, would also contain various safeguards and provisions to ensure that the “will of the people” would not get out of hand. The document’s authors envisaged the creation of only three “people’s parties” — the CDU, SPD and FDP, reflecting a narrowly defined spectrum of acceptable opinion. This allowed for the ban of anti-constitutional parties — and even for the temporary stripping of the basic rights of individuals who oppose the “democratic order” too vehemently. Importantly, the text’s “safeguards” were excluded from any future change, even via a parliamentary majority.

Of course, many of these limits were also a consequence of the geopolitical context of the time — namely, Germany’s semi-sovereign status and its subordinate role within the US-centric imperial system. In many ways, under the American umbrella, the Federal Republic of Germany was established as a bulwark against socialism, which meant tightly bounding the new state into the US-led order through Nato and then the EEC. Seen in this light, the various safeguards embedded within the constitution were just as much aimed at avoiding the rise of a new Hitler as they were at keeping Germany firmly within the boundaries of the role assigned to it in the post-war geopolitical divide. This goes a long way to explaining the German establishment’s evolution into US “vassal-in-chief”, especially since the start of the Ukraine war, and its aggressive stance against those who dare to question its destructive consequences.

Once one understands the ideological premises of the German constitution — that the state must do whatever it takes to protect the status quo from any threats arising from the masses — the nation’s authoritarian turn starts to make sense. Far from being an aberration, this is exactly what the German post-war system was designed to do all along.


Thomas Fazi is an UnHerd columnist and translator. His latest book is The Covid Consensus, co-authored with Toby Green.

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P Branagan
P Branagan
1 month ago

Yes indeed! National Socialism is on the march again in Germany via the SPD.

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
29 days ago
Reply to  P Branagan

That’s a crude oversimplification

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
30 days ago

“But one may very well argue that Germany is already displaying worrying signs of authoritarianism, at the hands of those very same liberal-centrist forces that claim to be defending democracy from the barbarians at the gate.”
*Not just Germany. Far from it.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
30 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

Barbarians are no longer at the gate but have already gatecrashed most of liberal Western Europe. And it’s not too late to put up a fight.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
29 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

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Shelagh Graham
Shelagh Graham
29 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

I suggest watching Aayan Hirsi Ali in conversation on Triggernometry. She talked about the need to counter political Islamism but her argument applies equally well to the cult of wokism pervading the West.

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago
Reply to  Shelagh Graham

It’s not Islamists who are running all of our increasingly authoritarian institutions though, is it?

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
28 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

I was just about to quote the same sentence!
For our own good our leaders must protect us from wrong think… double plus ungood

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
30 days ago

I would like to point out that the prince you referred to above as being self-styled, Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss, is not a “prince”, but a member of the ancient princely house of Reuss, which reigned over the principalities of Reuss-Greiz and Reuß-Schleiz, situated in the modern German state of Thuringia, until the German monarchies were overthrown in 1918. According to the German name law, royal, princely and noble titles are a part of the name, they do not confer any rank on the holder, and Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss is perfectly legally allowed to use his title in Germany.
Davi Eades

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
30 days ago

Funny how incumbent govts that complain about ‘nefarious’ or “far-right” opposition have no problem with their own authoritarianism. Same is happening in the US, with an FBI that is out of control and citizens are routinely surveilled.
Once one understands the ideological premises of the German constitution — that the state must do whatever it takes to protect the status quo from any threats arising from the masses — the nation’s authoritarian turn starts to make sense. —-> Who gets to define “threats” in this case? And what does “do whatever it takes” mean? The latter hardly sounds like an endorsement for a democratic-style govt and the former provides license for acting in direct opposition to that.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
30 days ago

Why are pro-Palestinian protesters on the left? Arguably, they are on the right. They are called pro-Palestinian but they are actually pro-Hamas. And what is the difference between Hamas and the National Socialists? True, there are some who argue that NSDAP was actually on the left. Sorry, this is confusing!

Ian_S
Ian_S
30 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

This is at least partially true. In one online forum recently, someone ended up saying I should be made to wear a yellow star. His agenda was to bully anyone against the Hamas-aligned student encampments. That same person makes quite extreme rightist comments, well beyond what even the forum’s conservatives are comfortable with. So yes, there’s pro-Hamas support from the far right in addition to most of the left.

Neiltoo .
Neiltoo .
28 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

In the sense of the discussion the far left is the far right

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
30 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I very much doubt that all the “pro Palestinian” protesters are “pro Hamas”. Indeed what exactly does “pro Palestinian” mean? Probably a majority of protesters are against the bombing of Gaza and the enforced population movement produced; that is not pro Hamas, let alone support for the October 7th atrocity.
Undoubtedly there will be some who support Hamas and its atrocity but all protest demonstrations have some extremists among them. It’s best that they are open to public gaze rather than hidden.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
30 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

‘….what exactly does “pro Palestinian” mean?…’ It simply means anti-Israel, or, in keeping with German history, ‘anti Jew’.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
29 days ago
Reply to  Kerry Davie

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Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago
Reply to  Kerry Davie

Speaking as a Jew myself, I utterly reject the conflation of anti-Zionism with “anti-Jew”.
The fact is, anyone familiar with the history of the (re)creation of Israel knows that it was (and must be) a racial supremacist project that required the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Christian and Muslim Arabs so that the Zionists – the vast majority of whom were Ashkenazi (ie, Eastern European) – could create their apartheid state.
If you believe that “Jews” have some kind of racial superiority to Arabs, then the notion that a bunch of Eastern European Zionists are entitled to take someone else’s land is no big deal.
To the rest of us, it’s monstrous racism.

Ian_S
Ian_S
28 days ago
Reply to  Jim C

But it’s happened now. So what next? Get H*mas to ext*rminate everyone there with the help of Western progressives (ant*fa, maybe, dressed in black with crossed-out sw*stikas so we know they aren’t actual f*scists?). Or find a political solution that somehow accommodates the more centrist voices on both sides while avoiding the extremists? It would be difficult to be sure, but far better than the n*zi-adjacent slippy-slidey “anti-zionism” that’s a tad too nuanced for screaming pro-H*mas radicals to grasp without spilling over into demands for ethnic cleansing.

Ruari McCallion
Ruari McCallion
30 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

On the current context, seeking to distance “Pro Hamas” from “Pro Palestine” is very much adjacent to those who claim to differentiate between “antizionist” and “antisemitic”.

Actions speak louder than words & the actions, from the Phoenix Theatre to Hay on Wye, from intimidation to physical attacks, shout very loudly: sophistry.

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago

What “actions”? The vast majority of pro-Palestine protestors are peaceful.
And the violent few may well be agents provocateurs, a la Mark Kennedy.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
29 days ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Undoubtedly many, even most, protesters are moved by the suffering of the people there.

It’s just rather striking that they did not protest Assad’s murderous attacks, the killing of Houthis, the uiygar repression in China.

It is striking that they associate with those who want to destroy a Jewish state and, moreover, while protesting the eviction of Palestinian people they have not protested the eviction of the Jewish people from vast areas of Muslim lands.

It’s very difficult in this light to see were pro-palestinian ends and anti-jew begins.

David L
David L
29 days ago

Strange how these protestors never seem to give a toss about anyone suffering elsewhere in the world.

They only comeout from under their rocks when Israel is involved.

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago

Assad wasn’t being supported in his “murderous” attacks by “our” governments though, was he? And neither is China’s repression of Uighurs.
The “eviction of Jewish people from vast areas of Muslim lands” isn’t happening now, is it? Or accomplished by dropping Western-supplied 2000lb bombs on women and children, is it?
If it’s difficult “in this light to see were pro-palestinian ends and anti-jew begins” perhaps you could try opening your eyes a little wider.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
28 days ago
Reply to  Jim C

Great comment, thanks

Harrydog
Harrydog
30 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

If you look at the other causes they espouse – environmentalism, trans-rights, equality of outcome, anti-racism (which is itself racist), anti-capitalism – you see the oppressor/oppressed ideology at the heart of Neo-Marxism.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
29 days ago
Reply to  Harrydog

It all comes down to whether the milk of human kindness comes from individuals or group action. Want to be slave owners think it comes from group action.

Shelagh Graham
Shelagh Graham
29 days ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Whaaat?

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago
Reply to  Harrydog

Modern Zionism is the very essence of oppressor/oppressed ideology

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
28 days ago
Reply to  Harrydog

Youre Harry Storm aren’t you? Different name same fool…

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
28 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

The terms left & right are not necessarily helpful, a while back Israel was the darling of the left, then it all changed.
Ultimately the extremes of both sides can become indistinguishable, Hitlers politics started in National Socialism and ended in fascism. Neither political side has a monopoly of good or evil.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
30 days ago

As a German national I find myself in total agreement with the author.

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
29 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Me too, I am a German national living in the UK, I agree with the author in his description of the what’s going on in Germany now. His take on the German constitution, our cherished Grundgesetz, is however new to me but worth pondering.
I also agree with many other commentators, who point out to similar developments across the board of liberal democracies. As much as the authoritarian drift is a German phenomenon, it still indicates a deep crisis in liberalism as a whole.
Yet speaking from a deeply caring feelings about my home country, I can only quote our 19th c exile poet Heinrich Heine:
“Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht, so bin ich um den Schlaf gebracht.”

Ian_S
Ian_S
30 days ago

The role of the constitution shouldn’t be dismissed in the German elite’s banning of political expression that doesn’t suit their agenda. But the same thing is occuring now in almost every Western democracy in one way or another. So there must be other factors at play. The elites everywhere have convinced themselves that their values are transcendent and non-political. The universities seem to be where that view is legitimized. The universities have immense cultural capital as signifying truth, and yet have become doctrinaire and reflective of elite values. Liberalism has gone. Our societies have gone back to a structure of elite hegemonic control that can only be challenged by peasant uprisings. The real force behind the current western political structure is probably this reflexivity between elite power and legitimation; although in Germany the constitution reinforces the basic dynamic.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
29 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Your comment is deplorable in the Hillary sense.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
29 days ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

I agree with Ian’s point but would be interested in understanding what he’s said that’s deplorable.

Ian_S
Ian_S
28 days ago

I think he means Hillary is the poster-girl for the hegemonic elite, and in her “deplorables” remark basically acknowledged politics is now the imperium vs the peasantry.

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

Yes, I think Jerry’s intention was to be humorous

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
29 days ago
Reply to  Ian_S

“…the same thing is occuring now in almost every Western democracy in one way or another. So there must be other factors at play.”

Quite!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
28 days ago

I’m not sure this is true. Smiler things are happening across the west, but even no one would even dare hint at banning the second most popular political party.

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I could easily see it happening in NZ (pre-ACT), Australia or Canada, if the second-most popular party questioned supporting Ukraine or Israel or limiting the number of illegal migrants.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
28 days ago
Reply to  Jim C

Absolutely not in Canada at least.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
27 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s not necessary to ban parties in Canada to combat populism. The NDP has abandoned its traditional role as the party of conscience, and the people are too orderly to contemplate life without elite leadership.

Ian_S
Ian_S
28 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Not when you can virtually assassinate its leader with vexatious litigation. Or simply control the institutions and do whatever you like, regardless of the popular vote.

Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy
27 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You’re right. I’m Irish living in Germany, and while Ireland has also become more authoritarian in recent years (e.g. in its response to Covid and its attempts to pass a “hate speech” law), banning a political party would be seen there as unacceptable (at least I hope it would). Yet a large percentage of Germans see nothing wrong with banning a political party that they have been brainwashed into thinking truly represents a threat to democracy.

AC Harper
AC Harper
30 days ago

For decades now ‘the Establishment’ in the Western World has guided the populace into acceptable ways of thought and speech. Unfortunately (for them) the Establishment’s achievements are seen to be increasingly threadbare and criticisms are now becoming common.
I offer an insight delivered by Lance Corporal Jack Jones of the (fictional Home Guard). “They don’t like it up ’em!”
The ‘authoritarian turn’ may be dressed up as a principled response but really it is just the Establishment trying to keep hold of it’s perks and privileges.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
30 days ago

This is not ‘…..an awkward deviation from the norm,….’ ; rather it’s a return to the norm, it’s Germany after all.

Bruni Schling
Bruni Schling
29 days ago
Reply to  Kerry Davie

The Third Reich was hardly the norm in Germany’s long history, but it takes short sighted and bigoted people like you to remain fixated on it in their myopic vision.
I have lived in the UK now for over 50 years and thank God this kind stupidity has subsided – apart from those who are unable to learn.

Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy
27 days ago
Reply to  Bruni Schling

To be fair, the Germany themselves are fixated on the Third Reich. You can hardly blame people of other nationalities if they use this against you sometimes.

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago
Reply to  Kerry Davie

It’s not just Germany.
Governments have always kept a tight rein on what their population were allowed to hear (and thus think) and we’re seeing a reversion to the mean.
And yes, it will be pretty mean.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
30 days ago

That the Basic Law sought to learn the lessons of the (failed) Weimar Constitution is surely not a surprise.
Given the experience of the inter-war years the (West) German political class and intelligentsia, with the support of the Western Allied authorities, sought to create a constitutional settelment that placed dull, liberal, centrism at its heart.
One can argue that the Basic Law’s efforts to protect constitutional, Parliamentary centrism placed greater constraints on what constitutes acceptable political activity than might have been acceptable in, say, the United States. But it was an historically contingent settlement and needs to be seen as such.

Barry Murphy
Barry Murphy
27 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

“One can argue that the Basic Law’s efforts to protect constitutional, Parliamentary centrism placed greater constraints on what constitutes acceptable political activity than might have been acceptable in, say, the United States.” Maybe, but in that case Germans should perhaps stop being so smug in their belief that the live in one of the most liberal democracies in the world, because they don’t.

Susie Bell
Susie Bell
30 days ago

As state elections loom politicians all over Europe are getting twitchy about receiving their demob papers. It would seem that the ‘right to rule’ is coming to an end as huge numbers of people begin to question the unrepresentative hegemony. Since the war the ‘political class’ has increasingly developed separately from voters and now exhibits an outright revulsion for the preoccupations of the public. There will soon be a reset in spite of their wriggling on the hook.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
28 days ago
Reply to  Susie Bell

Great comment Susie, let’s hope they go peacefully, I don’t look forward to anarchy, and I don’t think all the gung ho commentators on unherd would like it in their back yard either… (despite their relish for Palestinian blood)

Francisco Menezes
Francisco Menezes
30 days ago

Adol Hitler was not elected to the Chancellor’s Office. He was invited thereto by Franz von Papen (the guy from the Zimmermann telegram). The NSDAP’s Ermaechtigungsgesetz basically overruled the constitution of the Weimar Republic. That constitution remained in force until the creation of the BRD in 1948. That puts this reverence for constitutions in perspective. Law is a fiction, ladies and gentlemen. And certainly no science. Some authors claim that the recent Infektionsschutzgesetz confers more powers on the government than Hitler’s infamous Ermaechtigungsgesetz. The problem for the establishment are their crumbling temple economies and the fear of torches and pitch forks. Covid and Ukraine did nothing to inspire any confidence in the ones placed above us. On the contrary, hence the kneejerk approach in Germany.

Ian Campbell
Ian Campbell
30 days ago

Disturbing trends to be sure across the Western world. You certainly see it in the US.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
29 days ago

‘In many parts of the country, pro-Palestinian protests have been restricted, and schools have been granted the power to place bans on Palestinian flags, pro-Palestinian speech and keffiyeh scarves. Across Germany, using the pro-Palestinian slogan “from the river to the sea” is now a criminal offence.’
Would that our UK government had had the guts to do the same. I could welcome a bit of authoritarianism if it kept the true anti democracy mob from spreading their poisonous propaganda.

Jim C
Jim C
28 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

I have no doubt you would, “Eleanor Barlow”

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
28 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Give my regards to adolph eleanor!

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
29 days ago

It’s an interesting paradox, the role of the German constitution, in the context of the mainstream elite being Marxist. So we are back to the Weimar days, in which the socialists and not the fascists have attained power, and have become anti-democratic to hold onto that power.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
29 days ago

The commonly voiced belief that “Hitler rose to power through democratic means” is so over-simplified as to be highly misleading, even wrong in essence. Basing policy on that error is a fraught undertaking.
The Weimar Constitution had some quite undemocratic features and compared to, say, teh US Constitution, had a strong bias toward centralized, consolidated power and a weak commitment to what Americans would call civil liberties.
It would be more fair to say that Hitler rose to PROMINENCE through democratic means, he BECAME CHANCELLOR via a corrupt deal engineered by von Papen that was constitutional (i.e., legal) but not at all democratic in form or intent, and he CONSOLIDATED power by then suspending all democratic processes and norms after the Reichstag Fire, a few weeks later.
The problem was not too much democracy, it was that the governing class was still Prussian aristocratic and Wilhelmine in outlook (even if not all were literally Prussian). The Weimar Constitution and the political elite were not, at heart, democratic enough to resist the authoritarian impulse when under stress.
Much like today.
But, hey, authoritarians in Germany? What could go wrong? (And I am facetiously referring to the WEF-aligned ruling class, not the fringe far right that bears watching but is not really a threat to anything more than the comfort and convenience of the rulers.)

Richard Calhoun
Richard Calhoun
29 days ago

In truth, it has always been thus in Germany.
It’s about maintaining the primacy of the mercantilist State reinforced by decades of coalitions.
All facilitated by proportional representation

Howard Royse
Howard Royse
29 days ago

I quite like the idea of chucking civil servants in prison and denying their pensions, especially if they obfuscate democracy and waste public money.

Jake Raven
Jake Raven
28 days ago

It seems that anything that doesn’t accord with the views of left wing authoritarians is considered ‘far right’ or ‘extremist’. This is how the left operates, through exaggeration and fearmongering. It won’t work, the more governments try to scam the public, the more the masses resist.

Jonathan Philp
Jonathan Philp
28 days ago

Eugyppius on Substack provides very interesting coverage of developments in Germany.

Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy
27 days ago

In short, the German constitution is incoherent, relying, ultimately, on authoritarian ‘safeguards’ to protect against authoritarianism. That’s some Catch-22.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
26 days ago

Perhaps the problem is when free speech is outlawed, an imbalance is created, stability is lost. A stable system is durable, it can take knocks and neither collpase or break.
Britain fought WW2 for freedom: the freedom to mock, ridicule, scorn, humiliate and insult all. Men and women died under torture for this freedom. Therefore a free people, in order to keep freedom must accept the the pain and humiliation of being mocked, ridiculed, humiliate, scorned and insulted.
It was the inability to publicly humiliate Hitler and The Nazis plus Mussolini and The Fascists which allowed their ascent to power. How such inadequates came to power shows what happens when free speech does not occur.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7oN6xSnG4Y
If Germans are scared of losing debates to the AfD, they are not fit to be politicians; they want rank, reward but do not accept responsibility.