European elections

Only a movement against war and capitalism can stop right-wing extremism

A broad alliance, ranging from the campaign organisation Campact to the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), the charity umbrella Paritätischer Gesamtverband and the Protestant Church to Fridays for Future and Greenpeace, has called for protests against right-wing extremism in Berlin and several other cities on the day before the European elections.

These protests will not stop right-wing extremism. They are a shabby attempt to convert the resistance to the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which drove millions onto the streets across Germany in the spring, into votes for the discredited parties of government. These parties are expecting massive losses in the current European elections. According to polls, the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Liberal Democrats (FDP) who form the federal government together account for less than a third of all votes.

The organisers are open about what they want to achieve with the demonstrations. “The aim is to stop the percentage increase in votes for right-wing extremist parties and to motivate first-time voters aged 16 and over in particular to vote for democratic parties,” reads a press release from the “Stop Right-Wing Extremism” alliance.

The idea that right-wing extremists can be stopped by convincing first-time voters to vote for the parties in the present government, the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), the Left Party or Wagenknecht’s BSW breakaway on Sunday, is absurd.

In reality, Chancellor Scholz (SPD), Foreign Minister Baerbock and Vice Chancellor Habeck (Green), Finance Minister Lindner (FDP), CDU leader Merz, Wagenknecht & Co. are the AfD’s best election helpers. Ever since an Afghan refugee killed a police officer in Mannheim last Friday following a right-wing extremist provocation, they have been competing with each other in their slogans about the need for harsher deportation measures. The AfD can sit back and reap the rewards.

Chancellor Scholz declared in the Bundestag (parliament) on Thursday: “Without security, there is nothing. This sentence is very important to me.” Security über alles is the motto of a police and military state. The Chilean coup general Pinochet would agree with it, as would Donald Trump. Even Hitler would be delighted.

The rise of the fascists and the adoption of their policies by the supposedly “democratic” parties is not limited to Germany. In Italy, Mussolini admirer Giorgia Meloni heads the government, while in the Netherlands the party of Islam-hater Geert Wilders will soon hold office. In Argentina, the fascist Javier Milei is in power and in the USA, Donald Trump has a real chance of winning the presidential election.

Under EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (CDU), the European Union has implemented the inhumane refugee policy of the fascists—with the full support of Berlin. Since 2014, almost 30,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean alone while trying to reach Europe. Von der Leyen is working closely with Meloni, who she hopes will help her win a second term in office.

The right and fascists are not growing because individual voters are disorientated and confused, but because the entire bourgeois political system is swinging to the right. As in the 1920s and 1930s, they are supported and encouraged by the ruling elites because the capitalist system is stuck in an economic and social impasse from which they know no other way out than more exploitation, dictatorship and war.

Nothing shows this more clearly than their unconditional support for the slaughter of the Palestinians in Gaza and the ruthlessness with which they are intensifying the war against Russia, even if this means risking a nuclear catastrophe.

There is not a word about either in the call for the demonstrations because the organisers support the policy of genocide and war or refuse to take a stand against it. However, right-wing extremism cannot be stopped without draining the reactionary swamp in which it thrives—without fighting against war, militarism, anti-immigrant agitation, social cuts, social inequality, increasing state powers and political oppression.

Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei posters against the genocide in Gaza, demonstration in Berlin, November 2023

The cruelty with which the Netanyahu regime is persecuting the Palestinians in Gaza defies description. According to the Palestinian health authority, over 36,000 people have been killed and 83,000 injured since October 7—mostly children and women. Entire neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools and universities have been razed to the ground, hundreds of journalists, doctors and paramedics have been deliberately killed and almost the entire population of over 2 million has been forced to flee several times and face being starved to death. Children are now dying of malnutrition every day.

The silence of the “Stop Right-Wing Extremism” alliance about this genocide exposes it as an accomplice. The German government, for which it wants to collect votes, not only supports the genocide politically and with weapons, but also takes action against anyone who protests this. The extent of the censorship, harassment and police violence used to suppress expressions of sympathy for the Palestinians is unprecedented in recent history.

The right-wing extremists are rejoicing. Even if they continue to regard the Holocaust, in the words of one AfD leader, as just so much “bird shit” in a glorious German history, they see Netanyahu and his fascist ministers as brothers in spirit. They welcome the genocide of the Palestinians as confirmation of their own fascist plans of violence.

Whilst the German government calls everyone—including many Jews—who protest against the slaughter of the Palestinians “anti-Semites,” it supports a regime in Ukraine that honours Nazi collaborators such as Stepan Bandera as heroes, even though they were responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of Jews, Poles and communists.

The claim that NATO is defending democracy and freedom in Ukraine is an outrageous lie. In reality, the military alliance is waging a proxy war in Ukraine against Russia. Ukraine, the Middle East and the deployments against China in the Indo-Pacific region are three different fronts in an escalating third world war, which is about the redivision of the globe among the imperialist powers.

Berlin is building on its war aims in the two world wars. It wants to bring Ukraine under its control and subjugate Russia in order to appropriate the enormous natural resources in the east. It therefore wants to make Germany “fit for war,” in the words of the SPD defence minister, reintroduce compulsory military service and establish a “war economy.”

The regime of Zelensky, which it finances with tens of billions of euros, provides the cannon fodder for this. It suppresses every publication and every political tendency that promotes a peaceful solution. Most recently, the Trotskyist Bogdan Syrotiuk was imprisoned, and the World Socialist Web Site banned for advocating the unity of Ukrainian and Russian workers against Putin and Zelensky and calling for an end to the war.

The German government and NATO have crossed one self-imposed “red line” after another in Ukraine. With the recent decision to permit attacks on targets in the Russian heartland with NATO weapons, a spiral of military escalation is accelerating that will lead to the nuclear annihilation of Europe if it is not stopped in time.

There is only one way to do this: to build a powerful, independent anti-war movement among young people and the working class. War and fascism are two sides of the same coin. One cannot be stopped without fighting the other. If you really want to stop right-wing extremism, you have to fight against the SPD-FDP-Green coalition and all the other establishment parties that are paving the way for war and fascism.

The Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party) is the only party that consistently fights against militarism, fascism and war. As the German section of the International Committee of the Fourth International, it stands for the perspective of international socialism, for the unity of the international working class against war, oppression, social inequality, the destruction of the planet and its root cause, capitalism.

We call on all those who really want to stop right-wing extremism: study our election statement, read the World Socialist Web Site, sign the petition for the release of Bogdan Syrotiuk, vote for the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei on Sunday and join our party!