What is an extreme political point of view

extremism : Why we rate left violence as milder than right violence

As an expert in the ban process against the NPD before the Federal Constitutional Court, I spoke out flatly against a ban on this outlawed and politically isolated Gernegroß party in 2016. I had a queasy feeling: could my vote be interpreted in terms of a disguised understanding of the harsh right-wing extremism of this party?

The fear of being politically stamped would never have arisen in the case of a tiny left-wing extremist, socially ignored force. As an extremism researcher, I was only concerned with an appropriate, non-militant form of militant democracy. This small example already illuminates the very different view of the right and left wingers.

In Chemnitz, after the killing of a German by refugees during a demonstration, parts of the AfD and Pegida came together with the seedy Lutz Bachmann. This new finding must be mentioned as well as the old one, that in counter-demonstrations it is not uncommon for the less squeamish Antifa to set the tone. But often it remains unpublished.

At the moment, left-wing environmental activists are blocking the Hambach Forest, located between Cologne and Aachen, in order to prevent it from being completely cleared, even though the red-green state government at the time had long since agreed to the clearing. Decisions by the Cologne Administrative Court and the Münster Higher Administrative Court did not call this into question. In the past six years, around 60 tree houses have been illegally built in lofty heights, in which around 200 activists, some of whom are chained, holed up (“Welcome to Danger Zone”). During the protracted evacuation operations, the police encountered bitter resistance, directed against the law enforcement officers who were pelted with feces, for example in serious breaches of the law, some of them masked. Some demonstrators, who wanted to show solidarity with the occupiers, broke police chains to get into the cordoned off forest. There is often talk of the Robin Hood idealism of the lignite-fired power plant opponents, for example at Greenpeace and the Greens (who moved their state party conference to the Hambach Forest in October as a sign of protest), without the local violent left-wing extremism, the support of a militant scene learns from Europe, comes up with a big talk.

T-shirts with the RAF logo work, with the NSU logo they are - rightly - unthinkable

In a mixture of idealization, trivialization and mythologization, the “Red Army faction” plays a role in popular culture. In the case of the punk band Wizo, for example, the refrain of the "R.A.F." Lyrics reads as follows: "Red Army Faction, you were a great bunch! Red Army Faction, something went wrong with you! Red Army Faction, I always thought you were great - unfortunately I was still too young to be with you already.

But my heart was already beating for the Red Army Faction back then. ”This song hardly sparked any major public protests. Let's do a thought experiment: Such a glorification of the right-wing terrorist "National Socialist Underground" by a band would certainly have met with outrage - and rightly so. In popular culture, the violence of the RAF was sometimes completely forgotten. T-shirts with the RAF logo, a five-pointed star with a Heckler & Koch weapon, can be bought without causing a stir. T-shirts with the NSU logo - rightly - not.

Many citizens fail to understand the different perceptions of violence from the right and left in parts of public opinion. In one case, so the allegation, is dramatized, in the other case it is trivialized. Apart from the central statement that leftists represent humane goals, rights do not, critics of this point of view argue differently.

Left-wing violent criminals are seen as chaos, which suppresses their political claims

One strategy amounts to labeling left violent criminals as “criminal idiots” (Ralf Stegner, SPD), for example with a view to the riots at the G-20 summit in Hamburg in 2017. The reference to "chaos" suppresses or even denies the political commitment. Stegner equates “left” with freedom and justice, “right” with resentment against minorities. This is not true, but it explains the often encountered disproportion in perception. It does not apply because right-wing democrats as well as left-wing democrats determine the formation of political will. Noble goals never justify inhumane methods, against whatever minorities.

From the community

Which attacks are worse or more corrosive in the end is an idle question. Both must be fought, especially in a free system.

... writes user Gophi

The other variant is: violence, morally legitimized, is only understandable counter-violence against the structural violence of the state or against the specific violence of the police. It makes a huge difference whether a defenseless "stranger" is attacked, a weak, or an armed police officer, a strong. In the first case this is cowardly, in the second it is courageous.

But: Every person's life is worth the same. And: is a “stranger” always weak, a policeman always strong? If there is a difference that is relevant to criminal law, it is that between an “intentional” and a “negligent” act, regardless of the victim's ethnicity.

Differences between left (extreme) and right (extreme) are not to be interpreted in the sense that left excesses are less bad than right. There is soft and hard extremism on both sides. The violence of the NSU is to be assessed more negatively than anti-fascist rioting at a demonstration, the violence of the RAF more negatively than right-wing extremist hatred of the people. Comparative extremism research therefore does not set the same level, but differentiates.

Double standards are inappropriate, unfair and implausible

Certainly, the monstrous National Socialism, supported from the inside and overthrown from the outside, was in contrast to GDR communism, long supported from the outside and finally overthrown from the inside, a break in civilization and supported from the inside, but this does not justify applying different standards to political movements . However, one extremist variant can be more dangerous at time A and the other at time B, be it for the state or for the citizen. This finding does not encourage an ambiguous view. The ubiquitous manslaughter term "neo-Nazi" is used in a fluff, as it plays down historical National Socialism. Former NPD members, whose party does indeed show neo-Nazi traits, are barred from joining the AfD.

Double standards are inappropriate, unfair and untrustworthy, and often counterproductive, because in this way, even true findings fall into the orbit of exaggeration. However, the “cui bono” perspective is of secondary importance, because it means shying away from “applause from the wrong side”. Arguments have to be brought up regardless of whether they are useful to one side or the other.

The state monopoly on the use of force is an achievement of the rule of law. This minimal consensus must not be jeopardized. Everyone should turn their backs on a demonstration in the event of masking or violence by others. A selective perspective is out of the question. We need an anti-extremist consensus, not an anti-fascist one - and reporting that takes this into account.

- The author is professor emeritus for political science in Chemnitz and since 1989 (co-) editor of the “Yearbook Extremism & Democracy”.

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