The leprous republic

A point of view from Dagmar Henn.

Leprosy is a disease that affects the nerves and leads to the loss of the sensation of pain. Leprosy patients lose limbs because they no longer notice injuries; they push, cut, burn themselves without noticing it. The lack of self-perception leads to constant self-mutilation.

In the distant years of my childhood it was films about leprosy that frightened us children, not those about environmental toxins or climate change. We had to endure the shots of handless, footless, noseless sick people in class in order to be motivated to raise money for leprosy hospitals in Africa. In our environment, too, there were hand and foot losers who were either the result of the war or the recent thalidomide scandal; but neither the crime of war nor that of the pharmaceutical companies was the subject of the classes…

Today’s Germany seems to be suffering from a form of political leprosy. It is becoming increasingly mutilated, but nowhere is there a painful reaction. How can it be that, in one of the richest countries, economic output and wealth are constantly rising, while the living conditions of the majority are constantly deteriorating? How can it be that no one seems to feel ashamed when hundreds of thousands have no housing, when education is less and less assured, when the health care system no longer provides care in more and more places?

Actually, the punctuality statistics of the Deutsche Bahn should be sufficient to chase the responsibles out of the city by tarring and feathering them and that is another minor crime on the list, because the damage done to people in other areas is even greater. Half of the pensions under 800 euros? No national disgrace?

Every social issue is once briefly chased through the newspapers and then replaced by three weeks of nitrogen oxides. It is these issues that decide everyday well-being and woe, they get under your skin, but they are only presented and treated as individual problems, and with the help of malignant terms such as ‘socially weak’ this view has deeply anchored our thought.

This was assisted by the bizarre ideology called ‘anti-German’, which succeeded in declaring every reference to community or even nation to be a building block of fascism, even among those who consider themselves left-wing.

Now it is clear to everyone who looks at politics that rhetoric is one thing, and action often very clearly the other. It is precisely at this point that the anti-German doctrine goes completely wrong – it looks at the advertising of the Nazis and not at the inside of the box. It had a clear direction for very clear interests. After all, the first actions of the Nazis, after setting the Reichstag on fire (1), consisted not only in banning the KPD, but soon afterwards also the SPD, in murdering or arresting the party leaders, and then in smashing the trade unions. It does not take long to think about this to realize that this was a rule in the interest of capital that eventually led millions to the slaughterhouse of the world war but yielded billions for the millionaires.

No one in their right mind could claim that Hitler fascism was in the interests of the German nation. „O Germany, pale mother, how stained you sit among the nations,“ wrote Brecht as early as 1933, when the worst horrors still laid in the future. „Why do the oppressors all around praise you, but the oppressed blame you?“ In this sentence, in view of the current protests in Chile, the praise with which the putschist Pinochet (2) was considered from 1973 onwards comes to mind when he was the first in the world to implement the neoliberal concepts (3) that are also ruining our country today.

When Maggie Thatcher then, at the beginning of the 1980s, pushed through the same economic measures in Great Britain – and first of all smashed the trade unions (4) – she coined a sentence that could also come from the mouth of an anti-German: „There is no such thing as society“. There are only individuals.

Parallel to the measures that not only chased the welfare state, but also the proper functioning of administration and infrastructure through the shredder, the associated thinking was also preached here. The German trade unions capitulated voluntarily; but the ideas that the workers’ movement had once created, the idea of solidarity, the cohesion of the class, even the desire for greater economic equality had to be erased from our minds.

The most important levers were ideological: identity politics and anti-Germans. Since then, one can somehow transform almost any criteria that determines man into a trans-form, carve faces, change sexes, nationalities, there is only one thing that doesn’t exist: transfinancial.

The right to be treated like a rich man, even though the account is empty, is neither enforceable nor operable, and while the person turns into an undefined, changeable bundle of seemingly individual qualities, only one remains cast in steel, the economic status, the purse, which, even if it is not being talked about, takes the place of all the other things that are declared antiquated unambiguities.

Choose one of 65 sexes, but your wallet is in the place where the soul used to be sought, weighed and measured, and decides your fate.

Hitler fascism still needed a social mimicry; the values of the workers’ movement had penetrated society too deeply. Anyone who believes that these values were the basis of Nazism is falling into the trap of the West German language, which still calls the Nazis „National Socialists“, of confusing the commercial with the product. A fly with black-and-yellow stripes does not, however, become a wasp. The violence that was released would not have been enough on its own, it needed social deception. Today a new version could do without any social wrapping and establish the dictatorship of big money without any cover, because what Hitler still had to fear was successfully expelled.

Those who today would have to speak for the people, with the people, are occupied with nobler things, more airy ones. They would be ashamed to use the word because they had slipped away that „people“ stands in contrast to „rule“, to the princes; that one must name the palaces against which one waged war in order to make peace to the shacks and war on the palaces. As long as this task is not fulfilled, the land continues to stumble senselessly into nowhere.

Real movement, real resistance is concrete and aware of its history. No nebulous „we are more“ or „indivisible“ with a surge of values like from the Sunday sermon.

The gigantic demonstrations in Chile last week began with the protest against a fare increase, a very small but very specific demand, and developed from there into a movement against the whole neo-liberal policy; this is the natural development of real mass movements. Of the 17 million Chileans, two were on the streets in a single day, despite the fact that the army was already deployed and had shot demonstrators. In German terms, nine and a half million would have to demonstrate. It was similar in Portugal in 2013 – not quite eleven million inhabitants, one and a half million on the streets.

Both, by the way, countries that have also experienced fascist dictatorships; the current ruler in Chile is even the brother of a former minister under Pinochet. This is very similar to German federal history, in which the vast majority of Nazis simply changed the label and happily continued to govern under Adenauer.

But the Chileans know exactly to whom they refer from their history and show their pride in their resistance. This can be seen in a song. „El Derecho de Vivir en Paz“ is by the singer Victor Jara (5), who was murdered after the coup. This is the link between the movement in the present and the movement in the past. The same thing happened in Portugal; all 35 rallies ended with „Grandola, Vila Morena“(6), the piece that in 1974 signalled the uprising against the Salazar dictatorship. This great movement six years ago achieved nothing more than an escape from the dictates of the Troika, which had Portugal under its thumb like Greece. The solution called after the song in the video comes from it: „O povo e quem mas ordena“, it is the people who now command.

In Chile these days the slogan of the demonstrators is the one under which Unidad Popular Allendes conducted its election campaign: „O povo unido jamas sera vencido“, some people cannot be defeated. The yellow vests in France often hurl the Marseillaise (7) at the police, which is not only national anthem but also revolutionary song written for the people’s army that more than two hundred years ago defended the revolution against the invasion troops of the feudal neighboring countries.

In this country, people consider themselves left-wing who take the last bread crumbs of the poor, commenting that the hungry in Africa have even less. Those who put aside the justified concern for the country with the flapsy remark that it was ultimately about the whole world, and how convenient it is that little can be done about the world in Germany – except to free it from the greedy grip of the German oligarchs. But that is impossible without the claim to the country, to the nation, and that is nationalism, after all we are Europeans and westerners with values…

The fans of „Germany die“, who have settled down in every organisation that thinks they’re only left, not only dispose of Hitler and his fans, but also Müntzer, Büchner, Heine, Herwegh, Marx, Luxemburg, the siblings Scholl, Thälmann and Brecht. All those who assume that the people have a right to the country in which they live are called right-wing.

A claim to their share of the wealth created, to a life in security and peace, to their language, culture and history, and to the development of their country. They are the infarct in the heart of the resistance and the leprosy in the nerves of this nation, missionaries of speechlessness, who twist the necessary and possible stream of anger against namable misery into a stream of semi-conscious resentment, which can then be effortlessly redirected, for example to the mill wheels of the AfD.

But this disease can be cured, even if only a few approaches to it are discernible at the moment. Germany, almost as deep in the heart of darkness as the United States, is still fermenting quietly, but the peoples of Latin America are on the move as they were last in the late 1960s.

And the great global upheaval has already taken place. In March of this year (8), the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry replied to the comments of the then US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, on Venezuela: “Latin America does not belong to any country and is nobody’s backyard“.

Even if this statement was hardly noticed in this country – it will set the date that marks the official end of the US empire. As hard as the Federal Government tries to pretend that nothing has happened, as hard as the intern at the Federal Foreign Office tries to stir the German fingers into the Latin American soup, the great power-political plans fail. Even in the EU, Berlin can no longer keep its lines as tight as it would like, and the export champion is stuttering. If the questions of bread and butter push themselves forward as ruthlessly as they do in crises, the anti-German spook will retreat into the study rooms with all the accompanying ghosts; the pain will again be perceivable and demand remedy.

As Brecht wrote in „Lied von der Moldau“(9):

The times change, the gigantic plans

of the mighty come to a halt at the end.

And they also go along like bloody roosters,

times change, violence doesn’t help.










Thanks to the author for the right to publish the article.


Picture source: MDOGAN / Shutterstock


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