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THERE are disturbing scenes in Germany today.
A week following the stabbing of a Cuban-German, the right-wing AfD, Pegida and sundry neonazis mobilised for anti-refugee demos in Chemnitz.
Last week Sunday, a 1,000-strong mob took to the streets. The following Monday, about 7,000 self-proclaimed “Reich citizens” — many giving the Hitler salute — attacked anti-fascists, journalists, migrants and even the police.
As Junge Welt, our sister paper in Germany put it, the Saxony state police, which routinely mobilises huge forces for smaller anti-fascist rallies, managed to find only a small contingent of officers.
With the conclusion this summer of the trial of Beate Zschape — a member of the National Socialist Underground — there is compelling evidence that police incompetence and worse allowed this murderous gang to kill at least nine migrant workers, carry out two bombings, 15 robberies and two assassinations of female police officers.
For years the police officially blamed the murders on inter-gang rivalry while, at the same time, undercover cops were colluding with the killers.
There are recurring allegations of cover-up, missing documents and shady operations by Germany’s secret police, the so-called Office for the Protection of the Constitution.
The words of German playwright Bertolt Brecht gain a contemporary significance: “For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”
Nearly 30 years ago Brecht’s chosen home, the first anti-fascist state founded on German soil, ceased to exist.
Once all conflicting accounts of the reasons for the demise of the GDR are set aside, it cannot be denied that the restoration of capitalism has led to a revival of fascism and racism.
Chemnitz, formerly Karl Marx Stadt, has suffered the dismantling of its productive economic base, massive social dislocation, mounting unemployment and, like most of the former socialist Germany, lower wages.
If the problem was simply one of policing, the present German authorities could take a leaf out of the history books of this German Democratic Republic.
Of course, and not unimportantly, the Peoples’ Police, state security and workers’ factory militia made for an extremely “hostile environment” for fascism.
But, in this state, led for most of its existence by people who actively fought fascism in the underground resistance, in the International Brigades, in concentration camps and in nazi prisons, the entire education system, trade unions and social organisations, media and justice system were mobilised to root out fascism.
The root of its success lay in the socialist basis of its economy and the possibilities this offered for a more tranquil society than is possible under a market regime.
Disturbing though these scenes in present-day Germany are, we should be careful not to lose a sense of proportion.
While fascist provocations are the inescapable consequence of today’s economic and political crisis, what transformed everyday German fascism from a strategic reserve for the banks and big business into their chosen method of ruling was the election result in which the left vote exceeded that of the nazis.
We should be alert to the potential for Britain’s growing fascist threat to get out of control. As always, fascism is best fought by mobilising the widest alliance of political and social forces.
John McDonnell’s proposal to relaunch a broad nationwide anti-fascist movement deserves wide support. A genuinely broad-based anti-racist and anti-fascist movement cannot be built by demonising a great proportion of our people.
This is why it is vitally important to revive an anti-fascist and anti-racist movement that refuses to allow differences, even profound, on other issues to obstruct that unity.
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