The historian and columnist, Matheus Hagedorny, on the film GOLDEN DAWN GIRLS by Håvard Bustnes, the success of right-wing populism in Europe and the widespread sense of insecurity. 

When the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn entered the Greek parliament for the first time in May 2012, the news caused a stir in Germany. But in the midst of an economic and financial crisis that led to the erosion of the state through the austerity measures pushed by Berlin, this fascist revenant appeared to many as an outlier under extraordinary conditions. According to popular extremism theory, relegated people regularly lose confidence in established parties and, depending on their inclinations, join various political gamblers. Thus, the path from the middle-class middle man to the anti-democratic outlaw is usually described, but by no means explained.

 The path from the democratic, moderate center to anti-democratic intolerance remains a mystery. Especially in Germany, which may be indicative of the key figures as a winner of the economic and financial crisis, is the success of the right-wing populist AfD in no direct relation to social decline. The debates from electoral success to electoral success proceeded in the same manner with great enthusiasm and perplexity. In the speech of the "extremism of the middle" there is the insight that the germ of anti-Semitic ideologies, xenophobic failures and anger against constitutional bargaining processes is already anchored in the normal operation of liberal democracies. The desire for harmonious one-party rule and the desire for strong leaders are long registered in Germany, in Saxony and Thuringia even a majority. In many writings on the fragile democratic center, however, the same appears as a miraculously seduced victim of the dark machinations of right-wing populists and foreign trolls.


 Between existential fear and perpetrator identification


Democracy itself, as a noble ideal, always emerges unsullied from these conflicts. It is a holy grail for the preservation of fundamental rights a natural outlet to ensure social peace and remain the only fair political means of achieving universal prosperity. However, ever-increasing social inequality and the expansion of child poverty show the limited capacity of the political control of economic processes. The neoliberal "deregulation" sold as an economic equivalent of social libertinism until the general uncertainty had reached most. The red-green Agenda 2010 acted as a major program to cheapen the commodity of labor. And while the collective bargaining coverage of the dependent employees is further softened, the middle class is increasingly afraid of securing the standard of living achieved. Between an acceptable livelihood and basic subsistence level, dismissal is usually only one year and one day. The fear of descent is as justified as many reactions to it are inhumane.

 Do you want the right-wing populist or even Understand fascist reactions to a social and individual crisis, moral indignation and theories of manipulation are not enough. There are no mental disorders that are mentioned. The sobering everyday experience of postmodern people is powerlessness. Powerlessness against economic processes, which in turn are not based on the free planning and control of persons, but come to the fore personally and anonymously in the thinking and acting of every human being. These are processes that can dissolve habits, beliefs, and social hierarchies within a lifespan. The question is, what answer is given to the experience of being comprehensively deluded. If one poses the question of the "what?" And concentrates on the recognition of the causal structures for this unconscious experience in uncontrolled economic life. Or does one take this as a fate and always asks only for the "who?", Understands the the modern world as a vicious conspiracy against a capitalism that actually works in the humanistic interest, and propagates the abreaction of groups of people. This is a psychological relief that stabilizes or even deepens social immaturity.


 GOLDEN DAWN GIRLS and women as right-wing figureheads


 Since 2015, the refugee movement has served as a reason for corresponding outbursts of rage. Hatred of refugees is more than a simple desolidarization. It's the hatred of effortless income. In the projective images of the "lucky knights" from the Orient lies the betrayal of the social goal of being able to live without work. Not the fact that workers and employees choose a xenophobic party that limits their rights in the workplace is surprising, but the surprise. It is always easier to assert oneself at least ethnically as a superior and to know others among themselves, as for example social Enforce interests against pre-laws, business associations and the state collectively. Anyone who has persecuted the harsh tones and policies against the thoroughly legal strike of train drivers is likely to have an idea of ​​the price that a more comprehensive social liberation could cost. The desire to identify with the power submitting oneself seems to be even greater.

 Greece, a state loser of the European currency crisis, is gathering these more general tendencies like in a burning mirror. While the majority of Greeks attack the austerity dictated in Berlin, and sometimes garnish their protest with Nazi comparisons against Merkel and Schaeuble, a minority relies on Nazi violence. A neo-Nazi party in a country ravaged and robbed by German occupation is an extreme form of "identification with the aggressor". And within the party "Golden Dawn" it is the portrayed ones Transition leaders of a Nazi movement who give the viewer the biggest mystery to this effect. Why are women at the forefront of a policy that has its political and economic repression as its goal? Here, too, one tends to assume that there is an "objective interest" in equality and emancipation which these women should actually carry within themselves. In the extremely patriarchal regime of the neo-Nazis, an offer against female emancipation, which is attractive to not a few women, is the participation in patriarchal rule through complicity, which consists in the suppression of emancipated "lesbians", the hunt for migrants and the propaganda against Jews. It is the promise to reward the downfall of individuality with a scanty but stable social prestige. GOLDEN DAWN GIRLS passes the nonsense that is the talk of "right-wing feminism". At no time do the three women exceed the mandate given to them have transferred their imprisoned men and fathers for the duration of their absence. The documentary manages to shed light on the brand core of the neo-Nazis: anti-globalization as a cipher for anti-Semitic ideology, the denial of fascist tradition, where the references are obvious, and the constant attempt, the "so-called democracy" by a supposedly authentic, the national community replace. The authoritarian revolt is thus the attempt to separate democracy from liberalism and thereby destroy both.


 Populist patchwork as a recipe for success


 The re-launch of a fascist era is currently not on the agenda in Europe. As the overwhelming majority of crisis-ridden Greeks stand for a ban on the "Golden Dawn", the German shift to the right does not lead to a breakthrough for neo-Nazi aspirations. It seems that the improper right-wing radicalism of the AfD is the ideal patchwork German rights in the age of decaying ideologies. The success of right-wing populism widens and consolidates the opportunity structures for xenophobic militancy, the infiltration of the state and right-wing terrorist alliances. The party is ideologically more flexible, professional and movement-oriented than any of its populist pioneers. The electorate of an obsolete social democracy reaches them as well as the followers, which has lost the post-conservative union under Angela Merkel. It serves the neo-liberal winners of the red-green Agenda 2010 as well as keeping many people affected by "deregulation" with an anti-Semitic "social patriotism".

 In fact, unlike neo-Nazism, right-wing populism barely functions without female figureheads. The indispensability of female leaders in the AfD shows that some motives of liberalization and equality are also the optics have changed conservative milieus. Regarding gender relations, the role of party leaders Frauke Petry and Alice Weidel indicates how exceptions confirm the rule. Petry and Weidel hurry to overcome the performative contradiction of an antifeminist front woman. They stand for the new possibilities of the woman. This includes the free choice of women against any emancipation. Gifted that women may work and conduct politics, as long as the birth rate of Autochtonen is not damaged. Also, give that homosexuality is acceptable as long as it is not visible.

 The progressive opposition to the right-wing authoritarian revolt is also weakening because it still left migrants, homosexuals and proletarians behind, when many turned their attention to the authoritarian offerings of Islamist or right-wing provenance. She must realize that you can slip away even the most natural concepts. The mean one Understanding of democracy is moving ever further in the direction of a "tyranny of the majority", which raises against changing enemies of the people. The Hungarian ruler Viktor Orban, courtesy of the CSU, has given this prospect an unsurpassed name: illiberal democracy.


Matheus Hagedorny, was born in 1986 and studied Philosophy, Modern History and Political, Social and Economic History at The University of Bonn. He has taught at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science at the Free University Berlin and writes for the left-wing weekly publication, Jungle World, about the so-called right-wing intellectual scene.   


Translated into English by Laura Gardner