AfD in Germany: Setting the agenda

Tens of thousands of people mobilized against the far-right AfD. The government is nonetheless implementing parts of the Far Right's agenda

Participants in a demonstration against the AfD party conference
Participants in a demonstration against the AfD party conference

Last Saturday, tens of thousands of people tried to block the party conference of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) – »nd« reported that over 30.000 people demonstrated through the city of Essen.

Unfortunately, though, we cannot say that Germany's Far Right is on the back foot. Not at all. The AfD is setting the agenda for both Olaf Scholz's »progress coalition« and for the conservative opposition: Just a few days earlier, the government announced a new law to deport people who »glorify terrorism«. A faceless bureaucrat, without any kind of trial, could decide what constitutes »terrorism« and what constitutes »glorification« – a single like on social media could be enough. Let’s not forget that right-wing newspapers have been accusing not just Palestine solidarity demonstrations, but even peaceful climate protests of »Terrorismus«.

Red Flag

Red Flag is a column on Berlin politics by Nathaniel Flakin. It appeared in Exberliner magazine from 2020 to 2023 and found a new home at the Berlin newspaper nd – as their first content in English. If you like a regular dose of very local communist content, please share. Nathaniel is also the author of the anticapitalist guide book Revolutionary Berlin.

This is just the latest measure in what »nd« columnist Leo Fischer calls a »racist frenzy«. The EU parliament, with the support of the Green party, voted that asylum seekers, including children, should be put in prison camps at Europe's borders. The German parliament passed a law to make it easier to deport people – and now Olaf Scholz wants to deport people to Afghanistan and Syria (which would mean having to work with the Taliban and the Assad regime). More and more asylum seekers are being forced to use restrictive debit cards (Bezahlkarten) instead of cash.

The AfD has been demanding such measures for years. What does it mean when the parties of the center call on us to »vote against the enemies of democracy«, as we recently heard before the European elections? Are we supposed to be content that other parties are attacking democratic rights?

Watching German TV news can feel surreal: the top item is about Germany needing millions of additional workers just to keep the lights on; the second headline is about politicians from all parties hunkering down to increase deportations. Some say that Germany is »full«. Do they even realize that in 1950, the Federal Republic had something like eight million refugees? It must have felt different because they were white and Christian.

Earlier this year, millions of people took to the streets against the AfD’s secret plans for mass deportations. Scholz chose to ignore some of the biggest protests in the country’s history, and instead follow the AfD’s lead, proclaiming »we have to deport people more often and faster«. All of Europe's self-described centrists seem to have the same theory: That voters want more racism, so in order to stop the Far Right, the center needs to implement racist measures itself.

Clearly, this is not working: even as the French and German governments swerved to the right, they got trounced in the European elections by forces far to the right of them.

If every single party agrees that migration is Europe's biggest problem, then people are going to turn to the people who have been warning about immigration for years. The AfD's sincere racism will win out over Scholz's cynical, opportunist version. If the goal is to deport lots of people, then the AfD seem like experts.

Racism is an almost perfect topic for capitalist politicians. Many problems – from exploding rents to understaffed hospitals to crumbling schools – can be blamed on immigrants. Talk about this supposed »crisis« enough, and no one will notice that billionaires don't pay taxes.

Refugees are workers, and laws against immigration never actually stop people from coming – they only stop people from enjoying basic rights once they get here. Racism forces immigrants to work for lower wages, and thus lowers the wage level for everyone. It’s in our interest as workers to fight for full citizenship rights for everyone.

In France, Emmanuel Macron has reminded everyone how the center is paving the way for the Far Right. We need to fight against all racist laws, whether they come from the AfD or the Greens.

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