It’s not hard to earn this label in Germany:
- if you’re worried that thousands of refugees are dying in the Mediterranean;
- if you have a problem with the fact that large corporations pay virtually no taxes;
- if you’re bothered by pervasive (and legal!) racial profiling by police;
- if you would rather not have state agencies reading your e-mail;
then it turns out you’re an enemy of the democratic system. You’re a Linksextremist!
But wait a minute. Left-wing extremists are those guys in black masks throwing rocks in Kreuzberg on May 1. Surely I’m not in the same category as them?
The term “extremist” is especially unpleasant when you realize it compares you with Nazis, jihadis and other more, uh, extreme forms of “extremism”.
But Germany is the country of the Berufsverbote, when in the 1970s 1.4 million state employees were investigated to ensure their support of the “free democratic basic order”. People considered “radicals” weren’t even allowed to work as a mail carrier. This is the country that just two years ago created a state program to help people escape from the autonomist scene, as if it were the mafia (after a year a grand total of one person had used the program).
Now a study has come out showing that radicalism is more prevalent than ever. Zeit Onine reports that more than 60 percent of German citizens don’t think this country is a real democracy because corporate interests have more power than voters. The Tagesspiegel writes that a fifth of Germans want a revolution since reforms won’t lead to an improvement in living conditions.
You can try out the study on yourself (in German). It’s 21 true-false questions, and some don’t seem that extreme:
- “The German police are blind in their right eyes” (i.e. don’t pay attention to crimes by Nazis)
Right now parliamentary committees in the Bund and the Länder are investigating how German police let a group of Neo-nazi terrorists, the NSU, murder immigrants 10 years – and it seems likely the secret services were covering for the right-wingers. So this is more like a statement of fact than a question of opinion, right?
- “Germany should accept all people who seek refuge in our country.”
The right to asylum is in the German constitution, so…
- “German policies towards foreigners are racist.”
Many people who have been to the Ausländerbehörde would share that sentiment…
Try it out – you might be more extreme than you think. If you do turn out to be a secret communist, the internet at least has some advice for your friends.
But before all the lefties in the house break their thumbs with continuous high-fives, it should probably be mentioned that this study was commissioned by the Foschungsbund SED-Staat. This institute at the Free University of Berlin is made up of that particular kind of foaming-at-the-mouth anticommunist who are attempting some kind of self-purification after a youth spent in a Maoist sect (apostates are always virulent).
This institute does not have a great academic reputation: The social historian Jürgen Kocka called the researchers “masters of political demagogy”, “authors of half-truths and distortions” and “scientists without credibility or seriousness – to put it mildly”. But they are notoriously successful at headline-grabbing in order to fund right-wing “research” equating the GDR with the Third Reich.
So honestly, the figures should be taken with a grain of salt.
I, for my part, scored 88 percent extremist. I can live with that.
P.S. If you’re a real extremist, then I’ll see you at the demonstration for women’s rights this Sunday!