Is anti-nationalism bad

Left-wing extremism

Rudolf van Hüllen

To person

Political scientist, studied political science, modern history and law in Bonn, Magister Artium 1983, doctorate 1989, 1987 - 2006 speaker / head of division at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Cologne, research focus: left and right-wing extremism.

"Never again Germany!": With German unification in 1990, a new trend appeared in the left-wing extremist spectrum. The "anti-Germans" and "anti-nationalists" have long since established themselves as fixed figures in left-wing extremist ideas. Their emergence from the classic "anti-imperialist" extreme left is quite remarkable.

"Anti-German" protesters. Photo: Ralf Fischer / Ahron Agency (CC, Ralf Fischer / Ahron Agency)

"Anti-imperialism" and "Anti-Zionism"

"Imperialism", defined by Lenin as the "highest stage of capitalism", has always been an object of fierce rejection for left-wing extremists. According to the classic Marxist-Leninist theory of imperialism, "capitalist" economies and states tend to open up markets for raw materials, labor and the sale of products by force in order to maximize profit. "Imperialism" in this reading leads on the one hand to colonialism, on the other hand to wars between "capitalist" states for market shares and raw materials.

This analysis suggested an "anti-imperialist" and "internationalist" orientation at the same time for left-wing extremists: They always saw themselves as showing solidarity with the "peoples fighting for their national liberation from colonialist exploitation". However, "anti-imperialist solidarity" was not granted unconditionally: liberation movements aimed at introducing a western democracy were considered "counter-revolutionary" and were not supported. "Solidarity" only received those "liberation movements" that wanted to establish a "socialist" regime. The war crimes and human rights violations they committed were ignored. In general, the woodcut-like and deliberately partisan "anti-imperialist" perspectives masked out specific backgrounds and problem areas of conflicts in the Third World.

This has also been true of the Middle East conflict since the 1960s. From an "anti-imperialist" perspective, Israel, supported by France and the USA, advanced to become a "colonial power". Conversely, the Arab states armed by the Soviet Union were considered "anti-colonial" forces. The Palestinians received this status after the Six Day War in 1967: The appreciation for the - at the time pro-Soviet - PLO and the terrorist "People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine" (PFLP) extended across the entire spectrum of German left-wing extremism. It ranged from the DKP to the Maoist and Stalinist so-called K groups to the terrorist organizations "Revolutionary Cells" and "Movement June 2nd", which in 1976, together with Palestinian terrorists, hijacked an Israeli line machine to Entebbe.

Such an "anti-imperialist" attitude towards the Middle East conflict collides with another central ideologue of left-wing extremists: anti-fascism. The Palestine Solidarity was not about differentiated criticism of the politics of Israel. It declared Israel an "imperialist-Zionist project" and implicitly denied it its right to exist. The transition from this policy, draped as "anti-Zionism", to manifest anti-Semitism - which is rampant in the "anti-imperialist" Palestinian groups anyway - was fluid, sometimes obvious. At the same time, the "anti-imperialist" orientation in its traditional form has remained the dominant factor in the mainstream of the revolutionary-Marxist and autonomous groups to this day.

The "anti-German" trend in left-wing extremism

Criticism and counter-movements to "anti-imperialism" only developed more and more clearly after the collapse of real socialism. The number of left-wing extremists for whom the orthodox-communist declaration of the Nazi regime as a dictatorship in the service of the most aggressive sections of capitalism (so-called "agency" theory) was not sufficient because it ignored the specifically anti-Semitic-racist component of National Socialism. When German unity appeared on the political agenda in 1989/90, "anti-German" or "anti-national" groups were formed that feared a "fourth Reich". They assumed that the Germans' striving for reunification would inevitably be followed by an imperialist attack and a war of extermination against foreign ethnic groups. It was not always clear whether this mechanism was thought of as a historical-cultural burden or even as a biological-genetic defect in the Germans. In any case, in 1990 an alliance called "Radical Left" with the slogan "Never again Germany" demanded a renunciation of unity and the dissolution of the German people into a multicultural society. Years later, the "anti-German" accented agitation had taken on paranoid and sometimes grotesque features. "Anti-German" Autonomous groups, for example, agitated on commemorative days of the bombing of Dresden in the spring of 1945 with slogans such as "No tear for Dresden" and "German perpetrators are not victims". With a view to the Allied protagonists of the area bombing in World War II, they cynically demanded: "Bomber-Harris - do it again!"

A second root of the "anti-German" position was the horror at the indifference of left-wing extremist "peace demonstrators" to Iraqi rocket attacks on Israel during the Gulf War in the winter of 1991. Part of the crumbling "Communist League" (KB) and the left-wing extremist monthly "Konkret" panned out a "bellicose" course: They now advocated the military action of the USA and its allies against Iraq from a pro-Israeli and thus credibly anti-fascist position. They rejected conventional "anti-imperialism" with its "anti-Zionist" and latently anti-Semitic facade. In the following years "anti-German" and "anti-national" groups developed especially in the soft field of the autonomous. Despite their pro-Israel stance, they persistently affirmed left-wing extremist goals, albeit with new and unfamiliar undertones. Western capitalist democracy is decidedly preferable to the conditions in Islamic states. They represent a necessary prerequisite for the later establishment of communism. Israel as a refuge for the survivors of the Holocaust is the attempt of the Jews to achieve communism alive. At the end of 2000, the so-called Al-Aksa Intifada launched by the PLO, with its terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, intensified anti-German agitation. of "Islam fascism". He was "just as anti-American as anti-Semitic; in this movement Pol Pot and Adolf Hitler shake hands." ("Bahamas" 39-2002). In particular after the US-British military intervention against Iraq in spring 2003, the conflict between the "anti-Germans" and the "anti-imperialists" intensified: there were brawls in and on the edge of "peace demonstrations". Often the trigger was the carrying of US and Israeli flags by "anti-Germans".

Since then, the "anti-German" segment has differentiated itself in left-wing extremism. It consists of an uncompromising "Israel solidarity" wing around the magazine "Bahamas" and the monthly newspaper "jungle world" (a split from the traditional Stalinist "young world") and some smaller associations. Taking sides with Israel has congealed into a certain obsession and, as a counterpart, produces solidified enemy images of "Muslim gangs". The actors in solidarity with Israel mostly lack the ability to differentiate between Islam and Islamism. Nevertheless, it is difficult to recognize left-wing extremists in the authors of, for example, "Bahamas" who have become staunch advocates of western democratic values. The situation is different with the "anti-national" wing. He assumes that nations are generally artificial constructs with the help of which states ensure the functioning of a capitalist exploitation context. A collective defined as a "nation" necessarily leads to the exclusion of "others" and thus also to the continuation of anti-Semitism. The abolition of all nations and states cannot stop at Israel. Such ideas, which are linked to anarchist and communist utopias, therefore also reject the rule of law and democracy; their revolutionary rhetoric is mostly based on anarchist models. Left-wing extremism consists of very small groups who have been trying in vain for years to set in motion broader alliances against symbols and the effects of "capitalist exploitation contexts".


The emergence of the "anti-German" current and its various facets represents one of the most interesting developments in German left-wing extremism for a long time. Its protagonists are moving - probably unknowingly - a bit towards the dividing line between democratic engagement for the Third World and against right-wing extremism / anti-Semitism has so far separated "anti-imperialism" and "anti-fascism" from its left-wing extremist distortions. Processes of detachment from the totalitarian ideologies of Marxism-Leninism, but also from an anarchist glorification of supposedly always legitimate "indigenous liberation struggles" have started. The obvious awareness of the racist-anti-Semitic character of National Socialism among the "anti-Germans" deserves recognition, because the disregard of anti-Semitism represents one of the most serious ideological failures of left-wing extremist "anti-fascism". However, the undifferentiated association of Islam with Islamist violence is counter-enlightenment and appropriate to promote group-based enmity. This also applies to the suggestion that "the Germans" are particularly predestined for extremist violence against others due to historical, cultural, collective mental imprints.

The "anti-Germans" are not a phenomenon whose number of followers can be determined - many small groups consist of a few elitist-looking pioneers. However, its effect goes beyond the left-wing extremist scene, because the impetus of this current confronts traditional left-wing extremism with its real crime history and also exposes the double standards firmly anchored there for human rights violations in the fields of "anti-imperialism" and "anti-fascism". After all, there is a major difference between showing solidarity with the only established democracy in the Middle East like the "anti-Germans" in solidarity with Israel or with terrorists from the PFLP to Hamas like the "anti-imperialists". The attempt by the party-affiliated newspaper "Neues Deutschland" on August 19, 2014 to bring this impulse to "warlike agitation" and pathological "left hatred" close to right-wing extremism can therefore be read as an attempt to distract from the fact that not only in isolated and politically insignificant left-wing extremist contexts, traditional anti-imperialism and anti-Semitic 'anti-Zionism' can still have a decisive influence on foreign policy positions.