“We All Thought [….] That We Could Trust in Crossed Fingers and Horseshoes”

Lyrics “1933” – Frank Turner, 2016

For way too long we – as many in the German society and politics and government – have thought that the neo-fascist party AfD could be contained and that they wouldn’t be able to actually destroy the pillars of democracy and an open society.

Right after reports on the secret meeting between neo-fascists activists, neo-fascist and conservative politicians and businessmen were published about a week ago, I thought about joining a anti-fascist protest happening the next day in a town about 90 minutes away. I couldn’t bring myself to be that active that weekend.

Since then many many people all over Germany took to the streets in protest and on Friday evening I joined a protest in the metropolitan region I work in. I’m glad that I did, because there is comfort and safety in numbers and there were so many people. So many different people, which also was a joy to see: the lefty punks. The old to middle aged liberals. Middle aged women who mentioned that this was their first protest ever. Family in all shapes, sizes and age: parents with teenager and parents with baby strollers. I saw an elderly woman with walker. It was amazing.

Photo of a protest sign "Menschenrecht statt rechte Menschen"
Anti-Fascist protest sign

On the march itself I caught myself being a bit judge-y towards all those people who were still going on about their business on the shopping streets, sitting in fast-food restaurants and all. Why didn’t they just join in? Didn’t they care? But I know that was a very simplistic and privileged way of thinking.

I didn’t stay till the end of the protest. There were supposed to be many more speeches held at a 2nd stop before the march completed the circle back to the main station. I admit I was freezing and I wanted to get away before the crowds would hit the metro. But I also wasn’t in the mood for yet more middle class left-wing rhetoric. Don’t get me wrong, I am middle class and left-wing, but I was a bit fed up with it that day.

I’m worried about the situation, but I don’t have any answers or solutions – neither quick ones nor lasting ones – and that of course adds to my worry. Because yes, now a lot of people are out there protesting and that’s awesome, but that’s not a lasting solution. It won’t change many or any neo-fascists / right-wing voters mind. It won’t change the mind of any the frustrated and disenfranchised voters, who vote for the neo-fascist out of that frustration and because the neo-fascists present simple solutions and false promises.

Some rambling thoughts on all that:

The other parties and all levels of government need to prepare for the neo-fascist AfD winning the majority of seats in three federal states later this year. Which could lead to some standstill in federal governance and implementation of right-wing policies on state level. I hope they have a plan to implement stop gates like protecting the constitutional courts, but right now I’m worried they might not have.

In my opinion we also need a drastic change in policies and political communication to reach those disenfranchised voters. Everywhere! I recently saw an Insta Story on how well the neofasicsts use TikTok to spread their message and reach the young(er) voters and how the mainstream parties have no idea how to counter that. That’s scary as shit, isn’t it? We can moan all we like about TikTok and how it destroys any sensible discourse and how it spreads hate: The fact is: it is what is happening and main stream parties need to get on it! What’s happening instead? Liberal ministers fire up the divide in society by pitting various groups against each others in a speech. Government cuts funding for social causes like youth centres and political education.

Talking about Social Media: On Instagram I muted stories for a few of the most active antifascist journalists today, because I was watching it all and it’s so much and it’s so important, but I lack impulse control so I spent too much time on this app. And that’s no good for anyone.

I’d rather spend the time reading newspaper articles offline and online about these issues and others, because it’s not as if the world stopped being a messed up place, just because Germany starts waking up the neofascist threat here at home.

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