Friday, February 26, 2010

Political repression alive and well in Germany

Sixty-five years after the Second World War, political repression is alive and well in the new united Germany.

Of course, that conclusion is basically redundant to anyone with a Marxist analysis of the state, but it is still worth tracking the changing nature of that repression.

I don’t know, for example, if it as blatant in Germany today as it was in the 60s and 70s, when some of my friends had their mail regularly opened before it reached their mail box, or who lived with the constant companionship of secret service vans on their street, but recent event suggest that this is certainly the direction it is heading.

In some ways, you really have to admire the German method. Not for us the sly, secretive repressed reports (well, I’m sure they do exist – I just haven’t seen them yet). The main German secret police agency – the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (“Office for the Protection of the Constitution”) – releases its yearly report into “activity that endangers the Constitution” to the public eye.While the reports are largely concerned with “muslim terrorism” and the activities of the bonehead far-right, it also has an entire chapter dedicated to "linksextremismus" (leftist extremism).

The most recent reports are available for download (in German) here:2006,
2007, 2008

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Germany: Protesters stop neo-Nazi march

On February 13, a neo-Nazi march through the German city of Dresden was prevented when more than 15,000 locals braved freezing temperatures to oppose them.

The fascists intended to march through the centre of Dresden to mark the 65-year anniversary of the allied firebombing of the city in 1945.

In recent years, this has become a regular event. Last year, 6000 neo-Nazis accompanied by 5000 police paraded through the city — the largest fascist march in Europe in recent history.

This year, however, about 5000 neo-Nazis were vastly outnumbered by a broad alliance of trade unions, political parties and civil society groups who formed a 12,000-strong human chain around the city centre, making Dresden, in the words of Mayor Helma Orosz, "a bastion against intolerance and stupidity".

Thousands of left-wing protesters blockaded the fascists at Neustadt railway station, stopping the march. The victory was marred, however, when police attacked the anti-fascist protesters with tear gas.

The lead-up to this year's march was full of controversy. 

The Dresden Council failed in a legal bid to prevent the march. In January, secret police raided the offices of the protest organising group Dresden Nazifrei ("Nazi-free Dresden") and the left-wing party Die Linke — confiscating leaflets, posters and computers. The Dresden Nazifrei website was closed down.

The Lower Saxony state government is also preparing laws to ban protests that are deemed "inflammatory". While supposedly aimed at preventing future Nazi parades, the wording of the new laws is broad enough to include left-wing and even union protests in its scope.

Similar laws passed by the right-wing government in Bavaria are currently facing a legal challenge.

First published in Green Left Weekly, 20 February, 2010.