My builder once reckoned that the leader of ISIS is Jewish. “Why are you saying he’s not?” he asked me, when I told him that this is definitely not true. He listened patiently when I started saying about three of the several things that were cluttering my head, but then kept his own counsel. We’ve let the matter drop since then, but I worry whether I can trust him with the tiling.
It used to be that conspiracy theorists just questioned the news. Now they are everything that’s in the entire news, from Trump in America to the Brexit people (who still believe everything is against them even though they won) and of course ISIS, the most successful conspiracy theorists of all, maybe because they believe in the biggest conspiracy. Conspiracy theorists basically run the world at the moment, which is ironic.
So it makes a lot of sense that Germany’s Reichsbürger wanted to get noticed and shot a policeman last week. It’s not really clear who the Reichsbürger are. They are sometimes misleadingly referred to as a “movement”, but they don’t have the collective agency that this implies, and they definitely don’t have any leaders (which must get them depressed, given their world view). In fact, Reichsbürger are just people who think that the Federal Republic of Germany is still legally an occupied country (because Nazi Germany didn’t sign a peace treaty), that its constitution – the Grundgesetz – is invalid because the people never voted on it, and that it is in fact a “company” – “BRD GmbH” – because Germany invests on the stock market (as every country in the world does). Not all Reichsbürger are Nazis but all Nazis are Reichsbürgers – it’s one of those situations.
The fact that all of these ideas can be debunked in about 10 seconds and that you have to be deeply stupid to think them is maybe what led the Verfassungsschutz (whose name literally means to protect Germany from people with these opinions) to underestimate the danger they posed. But one of them killed a policeman for no reason last week, and so now we have to add them to the list of insane idiots that we have to worry about. I’m afraid you’re gonna have to take a number and get to the back of the queue, you fuckers.
Listen to Konrad’s podcast News des Nachrichtens with Drew Portnoy here! Last week’s German news in a handy digestible pellet: