Jumping in feet first ahead of AFOE’s more knowledgeable German-based members (of course fools always rush in where…..), I can’t help but be concerned by reading this about the annual “Pressefest” of the National Democratic Party of Germany:
what struck the German intelligence officers who observed last month’s gathering in M?ckay, Saxony, was less the diversity than the scale of the attendance: 4,000 sympathisers had come from all over Germany and Austria, more than twice the expected number.
It had been assumed the neo-Nazi party was going through a rough patch. The 40-year-old party’s finances are depleted, it barely survived the government’s attempts to outlaw it last year, and its membership has been falling continuously since the mid-1990s.
Having altered its tactics and polished its image, however, the NPD, which has been active in east Germany since reunification, is attempting a rebirth on the back of mounting discontent and political cynicism in the economically deprived and unemployment-ridden region.
Source: Financial Times
I’ve been blogging and posting for some time now about Germany’s deep-seated economic problems and the growing political tensions inside Germany that these are producing. Clearly the NPD is very much a minority phenomenon, but it does seem incredibly important that these kinds of political entity are not allowed to quietly take root in Germany the way LePenism has in France. In an ageing society if the political and economic dynamics do get out of hand the ‘authoritarian temptation’ could be real enough, however remote such a possibility might seem right now.
Recent success in the European and some state elections seems to have animated them, and the process of growth here is certainly ‘non-linear’. As the FT puts it: “Instead of “fighting in the streets”, the party now wants to “fight in parliament”, as the German intelligence services put it. One reason for the new approach is financial – electoral success brings with it state funding.” That is once you pass a certain threshold your possibilities of growth increase disproportionately.
This having been said, I can’t resist one other after-thought (which probably shouldn’t just be included as an add-on, but still): isn’t the danger of extreme authoritarian nationalism in fact one of the big issues now on the agenda in Russia? Despite all the talk of Putin as a ‘strong man’ (and his gymnastic efforts to convince is that he is), it seems evident that this is exactly what – and especially in the eyes of the Russian people themselves – he isn’t. Any really strong ‘strong man’ would have sufficient control over the military arm of the state to impose his ‘order’, which is what the feeble Putin manifestly can’t do. I don’t know enough about present day conditions in Russia but I am extremely nervous about the possible arrival of someone like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, using the undoubtedly extensive funding that can come from Russia’s rich endowment of natural resources to build a military elite. If so, watch out Latvia!