can you believe in big demonstrations full of david icke types?

Far-right protest against COVID-19 restrictions in Berlin is a put-up job
Peter Schwarz, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

According to police reports, an estimated 20k participants gathered in Berlin last Saturday to protest against Germany’s Corona protection measures. The protest was a predictable put-up job which closely resembled the scenario of the PEGIDA demonstrations held five years ago. Far-right figures and organisations that pull the strings behind the scenes and maintain close links to the BfV, the police and the AfD called the protest, and mobilised a broad coalition of confused, frustrated and eccentric individuals. Political circles and the German media then inflated the whole issue, took the moral high ground and criticised the crude slogans of the demonstrators while declaring at the same time that those taking part were “concerned citizens” whose concerns had to be “taken seriously.” In so doing they were able to divert attention from their own reactionary policies and push the political climate further to the right. The PEGIDA demonstrations were used in a similar way to sabotage the “welcoming culture,” whereby broad sections of the German population welcomed refugees from war-wracked countries in the MENA, and to intimidate all those supporting the refugees. Journalists worked their fingers to the bone with articles which concluded that, in the words of the right-wing extremist historian Jörg Baberowski, ”it naturally ends in aggression … wherever many people come from foreign contexts” and when the population is not involved. According to this logic, the refugees, the victims of the far right—were responsible for the growth of right-wing extremism.

The Coronavirus demonstration in Berlin followed the same pattern. Many of those agitating behind the scenes were among the same people behind the Pegida demonstrations, neo-Nazis, far-right Reichsbürger supporters of the AfD, the neo-Nazi NPD and the conspiracy-theorist QAnon movement, who travelled from all over Germany to Berlin. These forces were joined by opponents of vaccination, Corona deniers and so-called “angry citizens,” together with members of Berlin’s party crowd. The police watched patiently as the participants disregarded Corona distancing and mask regulations, waved illegal Reich flags and displayed unconstitutional symbols. In contrast to the G20 protests in Hamburg or the recent demonstrations against the murder of George Floyd, where police resorted to the use of pepper spray and water cannons at the slightest opportunity, not a single police officer could be seen along broad stretches of the march. Only after half an hour of the final rally had passed did police officially declare that the protest was ended due to non-compliance with hygiene rules. At the same time, police made no move to break up the demonstration.

Afterwards, leading politicians and the media frothed at the mouth regarding the non-compliance with official hygiene regulations. Demonstrations should be possible, also in a period of Corona, ”but not like this,” twittered the German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU). Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) declared she had no sympathy for demonstrators who high-handedly ignored Corona precautions. Economics Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) called for tougher penalties, writing:

Those who deliberately endanger others must expect serious consequences.

SPD leader Saskia Esken angrily referred to “covididiots.” These expressions of outrage were aimed at diverting attention from the policies of these very same politicians. The anti-social behaviour of the demonstrators last Saturday pales in comparison with their own criminal response. Germany’s federal and state governments, run by various coalitions involving the CDU, CSU, SPD, Greens, FDP and Left Party, are all pursuing a policy of opening up society and the economy that threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands.

As the world-wide number of infected persons approaches 20m, with the number of fatalities now exceeding 700k, the number of cases in Germany is again rising significantly. Currently tens of thousands of holiday-makers are returning home, having been encouraged to travel abroad by the lifting of travel warnings. At airports in the state of North Rhine – Westphalia, where almost half of the returnees voluntarily applied for a Corona test, 2.5% proved positive, an extremely high figure. Despite this, schools are opening up across the country, starting with Mecklenburg – Western Pomerania next week, although it has been proven that schools, with their cramped classrooms and dilapidated infrastructure, are an ideal environment for mass infections. The Viennese research group Complexity Science Hub, which has statistically evaluated Corona data from 76 regions, concluded that the closure of schools, kindergartens and universities was an “extremely effective means” to limit infection. According to an analysis published in the Journal of the Pindo Medical Association, school closures saved more than 40k lives and prevented 1.3m infections in Pindostan alone. Conversely, a study by the Technical University of Berlin shows that aerosol concentration in the air of a classroom critical for transmission, is reached just two minutes after a single infected person in the room coughs. Despite this fact, schools are once again commencing operations at full capacity.

The hygiene measures that have been put in place, which vary from state to state, are risible. For example, the obligation to wear masks, which Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) is now advocating after initially rejecting the proposal, only applies from the school gate to the classroom, but not in the classroom itself, where the risk of infection is highest. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) also estimates the risk of infection to be high in a full classroom where minimum distance rules are not observed. This information is contained in a letter to the Rheinische Post. The prerequisites for maintaining this distance in classrooms are almost non-existent. The RKI also warns against studies that attribute a significantly higher resistance on the part of children to coronavirus infection. It may well be that the alleged resistance of children is merely due to the fact that they had less social contact during the closure of kindergartens and schools, the RKI notes on its website. Meanwhile, the media are trying to portray the Berlin demonstration staged by far-right manipulators as an expression of a broad mood within the population. In its lead commentary on Monday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung claimed:

When a five-figure number of people take to the streets in Berlin, one must fear that what was being expressed were issues concerning hundreds of thousands, at least.

Opinion polls prove the opposite. A recent survey conducted by the opinion research institute Civey for the Tagesspiegel newspaper concluded that 77% of those questioned would accept a tightening of contact restrictions if the number of infections rose again significantly. Only around 20% were opposed. According to the current Politbarometer, 77% also expect a second wave of coronavirus infections to occur soon. The pressure to lift contact restrictions and open schools does not come from the population, but rather from business and finance interests together with their cronies in the media and political circles. Having transferred hundreds of billions of euros to the corporations and banks to guarantee the profits and fortunes of the rich, the government is seeking once again to squeeze these sums out of the working class. The opening up of schools is a basic condition for parents to be fully available to the labour market and able to work. The drive for profits is being placed above the lives of millions of children and their families. The neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists who set the tone at the Berlin demonstration have been deliberately targeted to create the necessary political climate for this policy. They are closely linked to the state apparatus, as was revealed most recently by the NSU murders, the murder of the politician Walter Lübcke and the uncovering of various far-right terror networks in the Bundeswehr and police.

Protecting the health and livelihoods of the population against the effects of the Corona pandemic is first and foremost a political task. It is only possible on the basis of a socialist programme that puts human and social need above the profit interests of big business. One can only resolve the urgent problem of education and training within such a framework. It is perfectly possible to provide education in compliance with appropriate safety measures, but this requires that the huge funds currently being diverted into the accounts of the wealthy must be redirected to renovate dilapidated schools, rent additional rooms, purchase computers and IT technology, employ more teachers to instruct small groups, etc. There is no shortage of ideas and initiatives from committed teachers and parents, but they are being rejected on the grounds of cost or blocked by bureaucratic means. The Socialist Equality Party (SGP) advocates the establishment of action committees in educational institutions and residential areas that function independently of the trade unions and establishment parties. Such committees are necessary to coordinate resistance to the life-threatening policy of opening up the economy. Resistance to a system that subordinates every sphere of life to the profit interests of big business and finance is developing in factories, hospitals, transport and public services around the world. The SGP and its sister parties in the IC4I are fighting to build a broad socialist mass movement.

Right-wing terror in Erfurt
Marianne Arens, WSWS, Aug 6 2020

In the night of Aug 1, three men from Guinea were brutally attacked by neo-Nazis in Erfurt and had to be taken to hospital. One of them, a 21-year-old youth, suffered such severe head injuries that his condition was still considered “critical” days later. He is still in hospital. It was in the early hours of the morning when the three happened to pass a neo-Nazi meeting place. They did not know that the “Neue Stärke Erfurt e.V.,” a martial arts club in a former shopping centre in the south of the city, had been occupied for five years by fascists from “Der Dritte Weg” and used as a clubhouse. Several men standing around outside on that night attacked the three passers-by without any cause, beating and kicking them most brutally. The police arrested 12 of them, but after a few hours, the violent perpetrators, all neo-Nazis known to the city authorities and the police, were free again. Senior Public Prosecutor Hannes Grünseisen, spox for Thuringia’s Public Prosecutor General’s Office, reported they were under investigation for GBH and breach of the peace. However, since there was “no danger of a cover-up or of them fleeing,” there was “no reason for their detention.” Witnesses are still being sought to clarify the exact course of events. The injured victims are apparently out of the question as witnesses.

The attack is only the tip of an iceberg. In Erfurt, right-wing gangs of thugs can act completely freely and uninhibitedly under the eyes of the state authorities. This is what happened just a few days earlier, on Jul 18, when masked right-wing extremists attacked a group of young people celebrating in front of the state chancellery, where surveillance cameras record everything, day and night. At least five of the 12 or so attacked, including young women, were left lying on the ground, some of them seriously injured. As in the case of the Guineans, the Thuringian State Criminal Office (LKA) quickly took over the investigation and apparently let it fizzle out. Last Saturday, about 400 people protested in an Erfurt demonstration against racism, right-wing violence and its cover-up by the state. A spox for the Thuringian Ezra victim advisory service, Christin Fiedler, described the attack in front of the state chancellery, as follows. She said:

This was not a ‘mass brawl’ or ‘confrontation,’ but a targeted, coordinated and insidious attack on people celebrating peacefully by right-wing violent criminals, presumably experienced in martial arts. The perpetrators were partially masked and knew exactly what they were doing. They acted without restraint and with enormous brutality and knowingly accepted causing possible fatal injuries, for example by continuing to kick people who were lying unconscious on the ground. The fact that the attack took place in public, with video monitoring directly in front of the building of the Thuringia state government, shows how secure the perpetrators felt, who did not even stop when the police were already on the scene.

The fascist attacks in Erfurt are part of a wave of right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic violence. These have increased considerably in Germany. Even the federal Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, had to admit this when he spoke in May, when presenting the police crime statistics, of a “long trail of blood” which leads from the actions of the neo-fascist NSU, responsible for a series of xenophobic murders, to the attacks in Munich, Halle and Hanau, to the murder of Kassel’s district president Walter Lübcke. Seehofer said:

The greatest threat in our country comes from the right.

But the neo-Nazis and anti-Semites have no mass support among the population, unlike the 1930s. The majority hates and despises right-wing extremism and expresses this again and again, sometimes in mass demonstrations. The fascists only feel so strong because they know that the “state within the state,” the dark channels and neo-Nazi networks in the police, the Bundeswehr and the security service, are at their side. That is why Erfurt’s well-known neo-Nazis, who are prepared to use violence, are again at large in the city, even though they have just beaten three Guineans half to death. The decision to let them roam free evinces such open support for the right-wingers that Thuringia state interior minister Georg Maier (SPD) felt compelled to publicly criticise it. Maier tweeted:

The Nazi thugs of Erfurt are all walking free again. I know it’s not my place to criticise the justice system, but it’s a disaster for the victims and the people of Herrenberg.

Herrenberg is the housing estate where the attack took place. Like Seehofer, Maier is trying to cover his tracks. The federal interior minister showed his solidarity with radical right-wing protests in Chemnitz in Sep 2018. Maier is part of the state government in Thuringia, which is led by a state premier from the Left Party, Bodo Ramelow, and which courts the AfD and seeks to cooperate with it. This was demonstrated only a few hours after Ramelow’s re-election in the spring. On Mar 6, Ramelow used his casting vote to help the AfD take over the vice-presidency of the Thuringia state legislature. Ramelow explicitly stated on Twitter:

I have very fundamentally decided to use my vote to clear the way for parliamentary participation, which must be granted to every parliamentary group.

The Left Party, for which many voters had cast their ballot only because they wanted to set an example against the right wing, thus very consciously ensured the AfD’s “parliamentary participation,” a party that plays down Nazism, fans racism and especially in Thuringia, has open neo-Nazis in its ranks. It is precisely this policy of the Left Party and the SPD that strengthens and encourages the extreme right-wing gangs of thugs. The SPD interior minister is only concerned because the effects of the right-wing policies of the Ramelow government are visible. He is not taking any action in the matter, despite the public prosecutor’s office being part of his department. Nazi parties such as “Die Rechte” and “Der Dritte Weg” have been explicitly allowed to use the building in Erfurt-South, where the Guineans were attacked, as a clubhouse for five years. Undisturbed by the authorities, they organize right-wing rock concerts, martial arts training, and party meetings there. Enrico Biczysko, is a right-wing figurehead in Erfurt’s city council for the neo-Nazi NPD, and the neo-Nazis have friends and supporters in the judiciary and police. The first police press release after the attack was already characteristic for this right-wing swamp. In officialese, it blandly states:

On 01.08.2020 at about 03:05, a verbal dispute between a group of three foreign fellow citizens and about 10 Germans occurred, which culminated in a physical confrontation. In the course of this quarrel, two persons with a migration background were injured, some of them seriously.

The cynicism of this police communication can hardly be surpassed. Through their presence in Germany, the Guineans had put themselves in danger and ultimately brought about their own injuries.

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