Thursday, 21 January 2021

Wokeness: echoes of East Germany


We're having some technical problems on Turbulent Times tonight so I'm posting here 


What have the woke left and the East German secret police got in common? Quite a lot as it happens - you won't be surprise to learn. A cornerstone of the contemporary leftist thinking is critical race theory. I must confess I'm no expert on it, but it appears to be a ranking system according to your victimhood credentials; a social grading system that determines whether your opinion has any right to exist. 

A new California curriculum in the news this week uses racial distinctions to divide people into those who are considered white (and therefore privileged) and those who are non-white (and therefore oppressed); and in the case of Jews, it combines the two, pitting "Jews of color" against Jews who are tarred with "conditional whiteness" and its attendant "racial privilege".

This is essentially rhetorical weapons system designed to bake in discrimination. It comes as no surprise that the woke left puts Jews in their crosshairs first. The system is based on a ranking of what they term "privilege" which is based on all the old left wing bigotries and stereotypes, so it was only a matter of time before Jews became the target. And these people pretend to be "anti-fascists".

But it does fit with history. Communists have always defined themselves primarily as anti-fascist. GDR authorities officially referred to the Berlin Wall as the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart. The Eastern Bloc portrayed the Wall as protecting its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the "will of the people" from building a socialist state in East Germany.

Drawing from the work of Maoz Azaryahu, it's worth looking at East Germany. Following a period of direct military occupation by the victorious allies, in 1949 both West Germany (FRG) and East Germany (GDR) were founded as successor states to the German Reich. For both German states, the evaluation of the Nazi past was central to the construction of their respective national identities as German states that represent and embody a ‘new’ Germany. West German society was bent on forgetfulness and suppression of the inconvenient past, whereas antifascism became the founding ethos of GDR.
In communist East Germany, the commemoration of the Nazi past was designed in the framework of anti-fascism (‘anti-Fa’) as a state doctrine. The legacy of anti-fascism juxtaposed the fascists with their victims, but at its core was the celebration of communist resistance and martyrdom as well as the solidarity between communist and non-communist resisters, such as social democrats and clergymen.
Significantly, communist resistance in Germany was construed as an aspect of the struggle led by the Soviet Union against fascism, and the Soviet victory was also the victory of East Germany over Nazi Germany. Especially in the 1950s and the 1960s, the designation ‘fascism’ also applied for West Germany, which according to the East German propaganda represented the continuation of fascism.

As both a historical legacy and political argument, anti-fascism was an instrument to legitimize both the Communist state and the hegemonic role of the SED (Socialist Unity Party) in East Germany. Grounded in Marxist-Leninist interpretation, the East German doctrine of anti-fascism regarded Nazi Germany as the local context of a broader phenomenon, fascism, that expressed the crisis of ‘monopoly capitalism’. The Nazi extermination policy against the Jews was seen not in a German context, but as a result of the ostensibly criminal nature of ‘late capitalism’. The doctrine of anti-fascism absolved all East Germans – provided they supported the communist regime, and irrespective of their actual biographies – of sharing the burden of the Nazi past.
Having developed its founding ethos, it then needed its national heroes and founding mythology. According to the East German narrative, the liberation of Buchenwald on 11 April 1945 was a self-liberation by the communist-led underground organization that took control of the camp shortly before American troops of general Patton’s Third Army arrived. Celebrated as the victory of anti-fascist resistance, the ‘self-liberation’ of the camp belonged to the foundation narrative of the GDR as an anti-fascist state. 

Another important symbol of anti-fascism was the ‘Buchenwald Oath’, in which members of the underground organization, shortly after liberation, pledged their resolve to continue their struggle. In East Germany, the ‘Buchenwald Oath’ became a credo of the anti-Fa doctrine.
Buchenwald itself became part of the mythology, becoming the "museum of anti-fascist resistance", juxtaposing Nazi barbarism and anti-fascist resistance and martyrdom, while emphasizing that Nazi 

Germany was but an aspect of the general crisis of capitalism. In the wake of the collapse of the GDR, the narrative of heroic resistance and anti-fascist martyrdom lost both its credibility and authority on the revelation that between 1945 and 1950 the former concentration camp had served as a Soviet detention camp for Germans. This goes some way toward explaining holocaust denial on the left in that the reintegration of Buchenwald into a more accurate record of history discredited the heroic character of "anti-fascist resistance" mythology.

More broadly, GDR was famed for its suppression of speech, a ruthless secret police, mass state surveillance and military borders in order to keep people from leaving. Nobody was risking their lives to go and live in this socialist utopia.

Though my linkage to the modern woke left is not entirely serious, they both define themselves by what they're not and both rely on a rewriting of history. Their whole identity is fashioned on their opposition to fascism which in their minds makes them righteous by default. The authoritarian behaviour is similar because the foundation construct is so flimsy it depends on the policing of language and thought. The transgender lobby has attempted to appropriate Alan Turing as one of its martyrs in the same way that GDR incorporated the memory of Ernst Thälmann. In no way does this stand up to scrutiny but activists become immediately aggressive when challenged. As offensive as that is to me, so to is the attempt to write transgender people into the holocaust.

Though the left doesn't have a Stasi of its own to enforce these doctrines, it does employ doxing and by way of their capture of institutions, it's quite easy to have a sceptical academic removed from their post or a public official sacked - or a book withdrawn from publication.

Though America is not yet turning down that road, one can almost imagine the Antifa mobs of Portland settling the issue once and for all by replicating the Berlin wall around the city - assuming they can find any males who can work construction. Gender studies degrees are going to need a structural engineering module. The woke women will all be too busy in the HR jobs in Silicon Valley.

What particularly piqued my interest in Azaryahu's work, was the concept of "late capitalism" - a pillar of the communist dogma at the time. This have been revived of late, particularly through the medium of memes, and I never realised the significance. Nothing of the current leftist rhetorical construct is remotely original. 

Whoever dreamed up the modern left's playbook and lexicon seems to have been almost exclusively inspired by the GDR. Everything about it is centred on indoctrinating its adherents into thinking that anything in the outside world is fascist - and to disagree is a moral failing.

The only thing original about this is the way in which this iteration of communism has infected the USA by donning the clothes of racial justice and gender equality. The murder of George Floyd last year gave it a window of opportunity and with the election of Biden, it now feels it has a foothold. If enough Americans see it for what it really is then reconciliation is impossible. Civil war may well be on the cards. Either way, unless it is defeated, the liberal democratic America we have known in our lifetimes is dead.

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