Does Europe wait for a Führer?
Photo: imago stock&people/TASS

Photo: imago stock&people/TASS

As the refugee problem aggravates and social support declines, it can lead to unpredictable consequences for Europe

It’s difficult to imagine Europe under fascist banners. The continent’s nations suffered such a severe trauma that even a hint at revival of a nationalist totalitarian state is violently opposed to. This is the case both for countries where fascism reigned and those which became its victims. Unanimity is everywhere in Europe. Even one year ago, that would have been an answer to the question asked in the title of this article, but times change.

In 2005, politician Jörg Heider founded the Alliance for the Future of Austria, which was supposed to lead the country’s nationalists. Sociologists were unanimous in their forecasts: the man claimed by all the country’s newspapers as a “fascist” would become the next Chancellor of Austria. A reaction from Brussels followed – in the event that Jörg Heider is elected Chancellor, Austria may be withdrawn from membership in the EU. In 2008, Heider died in a car accident, and the problem was resolved.

When Thilo Sarrazin, a former member of the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank published his book Germany abolished itself in 2010, both rightist and leftist press was outraged. Sarrazin merely stated: due to decline in the birth rate and exponential increase in the number of migrants, Germany will change its culture code considerably. He underlined that the majority of immigrants coming from Muslim countries will not be able to adapt themselves to German society in the second and third generations.

Thilo Sarrazin was ostracised mainly because he dared write this book, being, above all, a famous politician. But Sarrazin insisted that the German government’s policy, ignoring current issues, creates ideal conditions for ultranationalist movement, which can eventually confront Germany and its neighbours with new political problems.

However, a couple of months later the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, delivering a speech to members of the youth group of the Christian Democratic Union party in Potsdam, said words that would become historic: “Of course the tendency had been to say, 'let's adopt the multicultural concept and live happily side by side, and be happy to be living with each other'. But this concept has failed, and failed utterly".

Five years passed, and the enormous wave of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Northern Africa swept through Europe and Germany in particular. Children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren of immigrants who invaded Europe with very first waves have grown up. The quantity of immigrants – of different generations, with various ethnic, culture and education codes, yet united by one faith – has changed to quality which fueled New Year disgrace in Cologne.

The initial media plan of the government’s reaction to the orgy in one of the biggest German cities was to refrain from actions and statements. Cologne’s mayor Henriette Reker said a lot of nonsense, which we all are aware of now, and enriched theory and practice of criminal investigation with two statements: “there’s no reason to blame refugees” and “we have no information about culprits”. We’ll notice that all those arrested ended up in police, albeit 18 days after. All it took is not 500 victims’ statements (it seems to mean little now in Germany), but active protest, posts in social networks, and, the most importantly, demonstrations of the city people. They were dispersed with water cannons, though. This fact made Germans cross, and this re-emerged feeling can’t be expressed with any euphemism like “protest sentiment”.

Акция протеста в Кельне

Demonstration in Cologne © Tobias Schwarz/ AFP

Here is when were raised red flags of what is understood as fascism. It has plenty of definitions. Today’s academic literature considers as the most appropriate the definition by Roger Griffin, an English theorist. He thinks that “fascism is a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultranationalism” which is aimed to stage the nation’s rebirth (while other national populist ideologies set a goal of its revival).

That’s why the claim that, with Marine Le Pen in office, France will become “fascist” is just a propagandistic cliché used by opponents to the strategy of national independence which The National Front implements. But when the German Die Welt publishes its readers’ comments on Cologne news, which could be headlined as “It’s been a long time they let us be Germans”, it stirs up sympathy and begs the question “What do you need to feel like a German?” And the answer is obvious, according to the comments: they need to get rid of immigrants, especially newcomers, who, as it’s openly stated, occupied German cities and with whom Germans have to share rapidly decreasing social benefits. Here you have the aforesaid “rebirth” of the German nation implemented very easily – get all immigrant far away and the problem’s solved.

But the problem now is that there’s nowhere to get immigrants to. Angela Merkel is being blamed for infringing the EU Dublin regulation with her individual decision. According to the regulation, refugees are handled by the European country which they entered first. This way, illegal immigrants had to be deported to Hungary, then to Macedonia, and then to Greece or Turkey. If you have seen footage of immigrants breaking through the Macedonia-Serbia and then the Serbia-Hungary border, you’ll understand one German politician who said a machine-gun is the only alternative to the Dublin regulation. But as the situation aggravates and more Germans strive for the nation’s rebirth, a leader less delicate than Angela Merkel may appear. So much so, that there’s a fat lot of those who want to use the “Dublin alternative”, and the number is growing today in Germany.

On 19 January, news agencies spread the news that in the town of Altenberg near Dresden a man wearing Hitler moustache and a swastika helmet attacked and beat two refugees from Afghanistan. Young Afghans didn’t do anything offensive. When a passer-by intervened and made a remark to the new-sprung Nazi, he performed a Nazi salute and left calmly. It’s unlikely that cases like that will continue to end up so harmlessly.

Kersten Knipp, the Deutsche Welle’s commentator, poses a question: “Can a person get rid of their descent and start a new life?” And then answers it herself, “it’s dubious that young people from Cologne’s central train station can”. Even the most-educated people are capable of everything in a society where sensitive issues haven’t been discussed for too long, where traditional and religious values are atavistic for the majority and where this massive resettlement of peoples took place. But let’s admit it’s happening because authorities play ostrich. Frau Chancellor, if you haven’t heard, made a respective statement only 5 days after Cologne events, having said nothing substantial.

Knipp’s opinion was supported by Lale Akgün, a former MP in the German Bundestag and psychologist of Turkish origin, by the way. She said that, after Cologne’s events, the integration is unlikely to take place. The Koran says that a woman is worth one-half of a man, and German women don’t such have a mode of life.

As Frontex informs, more than 1.2 million refugees entered the EU in 2015 solely. Two forces, without any knowledge of each other, faced each other in Germany. Whatever you call fascism, isn’t it one of its origins? PEGIDA, Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident, is growing in strength. This organization only protests against controversial policy of Merkel’s office who wants to have a foot in both camps – tolerating refugees and defending Germans. But PEGIDA’s rise of popularity is frightening.

PEGIDA didn’t exist until the end of 2014: their first demonstration in Dresden gathered only 320 people. But in January 2015, there were about 20 million posts about this movement all around the world. In the end of January, a PEGIDA demonstration drew 100,000 people. Each Monday, thousands and dozens of thousands of people join PEGIDA demonstrations in different cities.

Why have this rise taken place? Because of authorities’ double-talk and hiding the truth, many did believe PEGIDA after the influx of refugees intensified and the rumour about another wave of Muslim immigrants spread. Many think what’s happening is threatening the nation’s culture, that’s why they’re determined to clamp down on any immigrants. That’s why they join PEGIDA. It’s now lead by rather accountable people. But what if another Cologne takes place? Are we going to see new Führers in the lead?

Митинг движения PEGIDA


It’s no wonder that, if an election took place these days, a new party closely related to PEGIDA and calling itself “Alternative for Germany” would have seats in Bundestag, becoming at least the third party. And it being even the third party is worrisome. It’s minorities and not majorities that stage revolutions – that’s a law of history. It’s enough to mention that Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist Party won a majority in Reichstag not on the first try before changing Weimar republic to the totalitarian Nazi state.

One more remarkable and worrisome trend is Burgerwehrs - vigilante committees. 2,500 people joined them in Düsseldorf only. They say they’re ready to go on streets in their free time to maintain order. Authorities can’t and don’t want to support this movement: right of violence is the prerogative of the state, represented by police. But if police ignore statements of Cologne’s victims, what are German men supposed to do? On the other hand, one can’t help thinking of protection squadrons known as SS. Who can guarantee these organizations won’t turn into something more serious and dangerous if the refugee problem aggravates?

And such fears and not ill-founded. As newspapers remarked, ultra-right organizations received a great New Year present. For the first time after the WWII, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was published. The annotated edition of the book was sold out on the Internet before official sales started, BuchReport informs. Initially, Institute of Contemporary History in Münich prepared 4,000 copies of the two-volume book, but it has already promised to increase the number to 15,000.

In the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 several members of Schengen zone announced they would re-introduce border controls. As of 16 January, Austria re-introduced border controls, joining a number of European countries which suspended Schengen. The Chancellor of Austria Werner Faymann commented on the initiative, “everyone who is coming to us would be carefully checked at the border. If the EU cannot provide security at its external borders, Schengen as a whole is put into question. Countries should start controlling their own national borders”.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has fears the Schengen zone won’t survive the influx of refugees from North Africa and the Middle East. He thinks, having re-introduced border controls, Schengen members will doubt if they ever need common currency. Along with common currency, freedom of speech, religion and voting right can disappear. Because one needs emergency measures when in emergency. And a fascist system fits best for it.

German sociologists from BAT-Stiftung für Zukunftsfragen state pessimism reigns in Germany for the first time in a long period: 55% of pollees said they experience fright. Fear is an ideal emotion for fascism. You just have to wait for a new Führer to point at refugees and say, “They rape your wives, they take your social allowance!” And the process can become irreversible. This case scenario has the right to exist at least because 87% of Germans find their government dysfunctional.

Оригинальный текст (original)

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