Monday, September 18, 2006

Germany and the Rise of the Far Right....

It may appear incongruous at first glance that a country that has lived through the horrors of Nazism sees an upsurge in support for the far right (see report). But weighing up the economic conditions and the failure of the mainstream parties to address the problems facing this region, is it really all that surprising?

The political centre has long been failing people on the margins of society. This is not specific to Germany but seems to be a worldwide trend. The 'centre right' and 'centre left' now look almost indistinguishable. The far left has long been in crisis and has not fully recovered from the ideological defeat it suffered over a decade ago. This partly explains why the extreme right are able to pose as the radical alternative to a failing status quo.

In fact, the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), what was formerly the SED in East Germany, now seems to have become part of the establishment again (see link).
This goes without accounting for it's association with the failed DDR State and 'actually existing socialism'.

Probably many of those who voted for the far right are not Nazis, many of them no doubt naively see the NPD as a protest vote.

However, I shall say something in favour of the Left Party/PDS. At least they are able to muster 25% of the vote in the former DDR in the first place, despite their tainted past. Which is more than can be said for any similiar organisation in any region of this country, where even as little as 6% in the polls is seen as something positive by their supporters (no offence, Jim).

As for what they do with power - I will believe when I see it that any British left wing party will govern any differently than the PDS. But as long as they repeat the same tired formulas I will very much doubt it. Part of the reason for the left's terminal decline in Europe (I'm not talking of Latin America and it's vibrant resurgance of radicalism) is it's failure to move with the times, it's incurable dogmatism and anti intellectual tinge.

Is it therefore any wonder that some people see the far right as the only radical alternative?


AN said...

I'm not at all sure of your charaterisation of the PDS.

The membership of the SED was around 2 million, and in a one party state a lot of people who want to get things doene join the party. Also the DDR was a contradictory place, and it did have excellent health care, cheap housing, comprehensive education, full employment.

Anyway, with the collapse of the DDR, only a fraction of the SED have joined the PDS (some 68000), and this seems to be a horizontal split - with many of the lower level activists joining the PDS. While some former nomenklatura have even joined the CDU.

PDS leader Gysi was a former dissident in the DDR, and the PDS member sof parliamnt have been consistently excellent.

I think you need to recognise that the PDS has become a left social democratic party, and its links to the old SED are very limited.

AN said...

BTW - I think that WSWS article is bollox !

Liz said...

I can't link to it as you have to subscribe - but there was an article in Morning Star the other day very critical of the PDS and it's compromise with power.