In this post I’d like to draw a comparison, perhaps a rather uncomfortable and – depending on your political views or sympathies – a rather outlandish one.
I watched a video on YouTube the other day. My news feed is cluttered with fights between exotic animals, salacious interviews with bikini clad young women, and the pronouncements of European populist groups. I try to ignore these videos in the morning because I’d hate to have any of them set the tone for day. I guess I don’t need that kind of entertainment so early either. I suppose one thing they all have in common is the visceral effect they produce.
I had clicked on an amateur video shot on a mobile device, showing a small AfD pamphleteering mission being protested by Antifa. I’ll link the video once I find it, so I don’t have to describe it and you can watch it on your own. I would say however, the target was a little weak for Antifa. A few grey-haired men handing out pamphlets on a cobbled pedestrian side street.
quietly protest around the kitchen table with like-minded compatriots.
But, at least it seems, Antifa has grown tremendously recently – for better or for worse. Guardians of democracy? Protectors of the faith? Avant-gardists and iconoclasts, pushing history forward. Idealists whose ideas aren’t quite ripe yet but that would someday have their day. Maybe that’s all too charitable – but it’s important to be charitable, because after all, what this post itself will protest, is a lack of dialogue.
I know, I know! What a tepid and boring, and bourgeois theme – a lack of dialogue! But this indeed is the charge against Antifa, who have become I feel in a very real sense reactionary, oppressive, and if not in spirit than at least in deed, agents of the kind of reactionary and oppressive forces they once railed against. And so I’ll return to the title of this post: Es gibt kein Recht auf Nazi Propaganda.
nuances of the matter might raise the question: “Well, who holds the scales? Who will decide what we call hate speech?”. It’s not an uninteresting dilemma, or one without real life repercussions.
But when Antifa, like in this situation, take to the streets and silence another party through force, I think we can ask, with what justification? Es gibt kein Recht auf Nazi Propaganda. I haven’t thoroughly read the party platform of the AfD by any means, and I don’t know what was contained within those pamphlets. But let us analyze this battlecry or watchword, not only for its logical consistency, but also for its merits in a democratic society.
There is no right to espouse or propagate Nazi propaganda or views. You can probably already see where this is going. Who determines what is, and is not, “Nazi propaganda”. If a small group arrogates to themselves the right to judge what is or is not “Nazi propaganda,” and this has real effects on what can and cannot be uttered in the public domain, then this is a problem. Maybe the main thrust of this post is itself rather limp and uninteresting. It does make the rather unromantic appeal for more dialogue. Can we speak of the legitimacy of both parties’ concerns? Can we recognize and pay heed to their fears? If not, can we at least create the ground where the two sides might be able to hear one another? And lastly, is asking for this already too much?
The original point I had wanted to make is that to a certain degree both Antifa and the AfD may lack subtlety, nuance and theoretical sophistication. They both may proceed through primarily emotivist arguments. One side calls for a world without borders, without property, without coercive relationships of any kind, and the other draws on a nostalgic longing for heimat, for home, the security and assurance of the collective, and the certainty and truth of blood and soil.
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