good text on the history of the "Anti-Germans"

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Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
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Mar 15 2012 12:58
good text on the history of the "Anti-Germans"

http://contested-terrain.net/nuanced-history-of-the-anti-germans/

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Mar 15 2012 13:37

Good resource. I totally agree on the distinction between the early 90s positions taken against the backdrop of German Unification, and the later Anti-Deutsche ideology.

Quote:
They denounce any collective social movement, any collective defense against neo-liberal imperialism and any claim for social justice as a "shortcut" false anti-capitalism. Any spontaneous popular anti-capitalism, based on intuitions of moral, solidarity and justice, is associated with the nazi-German "Volksgemeinschaft", any criticism against exploiters and persons in power (instead of analyzing the objective relations of commodity production) is denounced as "structural anti-semitism." For them, true anti-capitalism can only be the critical analysis of commodity fetishism made by enlightened intellectuals.

This also rings a bell. But not necessarily just in a German context...

schalomlibertad
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Mar 18 2012 19:48

I would be cautious about this paragraph. Although I originally titled the post a "nuanced" history, this paragraph isn't nuanced at all.

Although it applies to some anti-German groups, I am not sure it applies to all. For example, the anti-German group TOP participated in anti-globalization protests, in the We won't pay for their Crisis! protests and are organizing the European Day of Action Against Capitalism.

For them the issue has more to do with how a social movement is constituted and how a critique (of capitalism) is formulated, than it does with outright "denounc[ing] any collective social movement" and "claim for social justice" as "structurally antisemitic" or as constituting the "Volksgemeinschaft".

Two english language texts from said group, as examples of (at least an attempt to make) this distinction:

"Make a foreshortened critique of capitalism history!: Without a radical critique every action becomes mere activism- reflections on the anti-G8 mobilisation 2007"

Interview “Blaming the Banks is not our Business”

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Mar 18 2012 21:34

Is TOP/umsGanze "anti-German" at all?

schalomlibertad
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Mar 18 2012 22:40

Depends on how one defines anti-German, of course.

From the outside, they would most likely be defined as anti-German. They are the ones who have in the last years organized many of the large mobilizations against state celebrations for the anniversary of "German reunification" and etc. with the standard "Never again Germany!" slogans. Yet, TOP describes itself however as anti-national. (See: Phase Zwei: 2.38 ..::: »Kein Schöner Land«.

Why? They say the issue over anti-German or anti-national has to do with whether or not one views the "German state's program" as a "specific" immanence, a "structurally" based tendency/predisposition towards authoritarian collectivism. They say that the anti-German spectrum is based on this view, while TOP is not.
In their view, "The current significant political and ideological processes in Germany can essentially be understood in the framework of a general critical theory of the nation." However they don't reject the anti-German critique, but rather want to generalize it. They see nationalism as the normal form of consciousness in capitalist societies, yet, the experience with National Socialism "informs us about an ideological vanishing point of the general conflictedness of bourgeios-capitalist socialization." And this potential does not stem from something exclusively German, but rather presents itself in all capitalist societies.

*Sorry about the bad translations. Hope this is helpful.

meinberg
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Mar 18 2012 23:06

took too long .. wink

jura wrote:
Is TOP/umsGanze "anti-German" at all?

kind of.. most of the ums ganze groups come from the antigerman antifa scene in the early 2000s some were pretty hard antigerman groups (for example the predecessor of top) others come out of the hedonistic lifestyle (electro music, drugs, expensive sports clothes,..) which these antigerman groups pushed (one slogan was koksen - kotzen - kommunismus / doing coke - puking - communism)

with the founding of ums ganze 07 they broke kind of with the hard antigerman position and gained a softer position. but there are a lot typical antigerman positions left: most important the fear of the mob/the working class masses which in the and have to be tamed (by enlightenment or the state), ..

beside that they are basically a campaining organisation, most of the groups are activ in loccal antifa campaining and they use this skills to do there kommunist work (which has always a very good design but is a bit to abstract/lifeless) (in this they see themselves (an kind of are) in direct competition with the postautonome campaining organisation interventionistische linke(il). also both of them get financial support from the left social democratic party PdL.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 19 2012 03:00

TOP's critique of the state and nation borrows heavily from the theory of the Marxist Group and the successor journal Gegenstandpunkt, for example this book on the state.

To that extent I think it's unfair to conflate that with Anti-Germanism, since the theory of the MG predates the Anti-Germans by a couple of decades.

Insofar as "Anti-Germanism" has a distinct theory, it's usually along the lines of the "Germany as a Mode of Production Sublating Capitalism" theory advanced by people like Stephan Grigat. So to that extent TOP isn't really Anti-German at all.

Meinberg, your potted history isn't entirely accurate. TOP is a third-generation split product of the old Antifaschistische Aktion Berlin (AAB). The original split products were the Antifaschistische Linke Berlin (ALB) and Kritik und Praxis (KP). The latter split again into TOP and Gruppe Soziale Kämpfe.

At the time (this was around 2003-2004), a lot of outsiders perceived the split between ALB and KP to be one of non-Anti-Germans and Anti-Germans, but the participants themselves didn't see it in those terms. It might be more accurate to say it was a split between movementists and "theory" heads.

Of course, KP maintained a presence in the broader milieu around newspapers like Jungle World and magazines like Phase 2, so they certainly did nothing to discourage the association, but the people who went on to form GSK for example have fairly conventional class-struggle politics and like much of the radical left, depend upon the material infrastructure of Die Linke (which you also noted for TOP and the IL).

I'd argue that "Anti-Germans" don't exist anymore as a meaningful organized presence in the radical left in Germany in the year 2012. There are still individuals and groups with a weird tick about "solidarity with Israel", but that's just a peculiar pathology of the German left rooted in the historical national context. I think it's comparable to the American obsession with identity politics: it's explainable in terms of a specific historical context, but attempts to generalize it in "theoretical" terms and export it to other contexts is ludicrous (which groups like Platypus and Principia Dialectica seem to want to do).

Angelus Novus
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Mar 19 2012 02:48

P.S. I attended a panel discussion hosted by TOP a few weeks ago at the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, featuring Michael Heinrich and John Milios.

It was interesting that all three, while rejecting a lot of the standard objectionable discourse around the crisis (greedy bankers, corrupt Greeks, etc.), nonetheless placed a strong emphasis upon the political level and class struggle, John Milios in particular.

Heinrich made the perfectly reasonable point that the decision as to when a country has become "bankrupt" is to some extent a subjective assessment by bond traders, who decide at what point it is "realistic" that a country can repay its debt. Whereas countries like Japan and the U.S. can run up massive debt while still not having to worry about anyone calling in the loan.

A member of the "Friends of the Classless Society" in the audience was apoplectic about this, ranting and raving during the question and answer session, and arguing that this was in direct contradiction to an account of the crisis as resulting from objective economic tendencies.

It's almost like a weird moral code with some radical leftists in Germany that any attempt to allow for a political factor in society is suspected of "personalization".

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Mar 19 2012 15:19

Whose John Milios?

Angelus Novus
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Mar 19 2012 15:28

This fellow.

Android
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Mar 19 2012 16:16
georgestapleton wrote:
Whose John Milios?

He has published a few books in English. If anyone is interested I can send them PDFs.

Edit - see AN's post below, I don't know his books were available on his website when I posted.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 19 2012 16:03

The two most recent books are available free from his own website.

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Mar 19 2012 16:12

for those who can read German:

- http://www.gruppe-bricolage.org/demontage/archiv/html/jungleAntideutscheRealpolitik.html
- http://www.gruppe-bricolage.org/demontage/archiv/html/AntideutschNATOkrieg.html

Angelus Novus
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Mar 19 2012 16:25

Yeah, in retrospect, the Kosovo war seems like the moment when the "Anti-nationalists" and "Anti-Germans" parted ways.

The "Solidarity with Israel" craziness after the Second Intifada just cemented the position of dividing the world into good and bad nations.

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Mar 19 2012 16:48
Angelus Novus wrote:
Yeah, in retrospect, the Kosovo war seems like the moment when the "Anti-nationalists" and "Anti-Germans" parted ways.

The "Solidarity with Israel" craziness after the Second Intifada just cemented the position of dividing the world into good and bad nations.

it started already in 1993 at the Konkret congress, when the Adornite philosopher Christoph Türcke gave his essentialist talk about "race", which draw a first line between those who were engaged in anti-racist struggle and those, who focused their efforts on "critical theory" like the future editorial board of BaHamas

Angelus Novus
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Mar 19 2012 17:11

Entdinglichung has probably already seen this, but here's a good video of Karl Held of Gegenstandpunkt chastising Konkret editor Hermann Gremliza and then-Konkret author Wolfgang Pohrt, for their lack of interest in the political-economic roots of nationalism. The first two minutes is Pohrt reading one of his columns aloud.

(German language only, sorry)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwItwS2bG2s

To be fair, Pohrt has long since distanced himself from "Anti-Germans".

meinberg
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Mar 19 2012 20:24
Angelus Novus wrote:
Yeah, in retrospect, the Kosovo war seems like the moment when the "Anti-nationalists" and "Anti-Germans" parted ways.

The "Solidarity with Israel" craziness after the Second Intifada just cemented the position of dividing the world into good and bad nations.

i don't think that this is true lot of the people in ums ganze groups were in the early 2000s in an hard sense antigerman and if you take "solidarity with isreal" an decisive critera a lot of them still are (for me this is not a criteria for a hard antigerman position)

i think one of the problems is that there were always two antigerman currents (at least from the early 2000s up to today): one academic current which for me was always like a latin mass (f.e. rote ruhr uni are masters in that) and a street level antifa current which was primary about identity politcs here solidarity with israel, beeing pro war.. the hard possitions in both are clearly in decline but soft forms are still there..

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Mar 19 2012 20:33

AN, can you expand upon this thought:

Quote:
I think it's comparable to the American obsession with identity politics: it's explainable in terms of a specific historical context, but attempts to generalize it in "theoretical" terms and export it to other contexts is ludicrous (which groups like Platypus and Principia Dialectica seem to want to do).
Angelus Novus
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Mar 19 2012 21:52
meinberg wrote:

i don't think that this is true lot of the people in ums ganze groups were in the early 2000s in an hard sense antigerman

I'll defer to you here, since I'm not familiar with the Ums Ganze groups in other cities. I was talking about the organizational lineage of TOP in Berlin.

smg wrote:
AN, can you expand upon this thought:
Quote:
I think it's comparable to the American obsession with identity politics: it's explainable in terms of a specific historical context, but attempts to generalize it in "theoretical" terms and export it to other contexts is ludicrous (which groups like Platypus and Principia Dialectica seem to want to do).

Basically, a position like "solidarity with Israel" -- a regional nuclear power engaged in a vicious military occupation of a largely civilian population -- as formulated by self-described communists can only be understood as an act of pyschological overcompensation that only "makes sense" in the German context. In other words, it's entirely understandable why people whose parents and grandparents actively participated in or passively acceded to the Holocaust would be driven to adopt a position like this. Add to this the very real manifestations of anti-semitism in the German New Left, then the stick-bending in the opposite direction since the 1990s is at least understandable, if not "correct".

But it springs from an essentially moral impulse, it can't be theoretically derived, and the moral impulse doesn't transfer to other national contexts with histories involving completely different atrocities or crimes.

If you look at the Anti-German attempts to theoretically justify solidarity with Israel, than they tend to be either completely banal -- basically the same sort of justifications that can be used to justify statehood for any victimized collective or "people", i.e. the same kind of justifications that anti-imperialists use to support various third world nationalisms -- or the theoretical justifications rest upon some completely bonkers notion, like that of capitalism being superseded in Nazi Germany by a specifically German "mode of production".

Now, most leftists from an Anglo-American context, confronted with communists proclaiming the necessity of "solidarity with Israel", correctly regard it as bizarre, and appropriately chalk it up to a guilt complex on the part of some German leftists. However, I think a handful of Anglo-Americans find the phenomenon so interesting, because of how counter-intuitive it is, that they start to try to take it seriously on its own terms. Part of it I think is just good old-fashioned Anglophone inferiority complex that assumes some underlying "sophistication" motivating European politics. So you have groups like Platypus or Principia Dialectica trying to insert the daft concept of "structural anti-Semitism" into English-language discussions. But that just doesn't fly. The American professor Andrei Markovits was interviewed a while back by the newspaper Jungle World about the Occupy movement, and they were trying to nudge him into making this kind of criticism, and he basically just flat-out said, "look, in America, we just don't have the same tradition of amalgamating finance capital with Jews", which is (mostly) right.

Also, and this is completely anecdotal, in my experience the German leftists who are heavily into Israel solidarity and Holocaust studies, doing various kinds of "commemoration" events and "solidarity" trips etc., tend to have a very similar habitus to U.S.-Americans who adhere to the Time Wise brand of identity politics: basically young people from upper-middle class or wealthy backgrounds, who are uncomfortable with traditional class-based politics, for whom politics is basically a set of moral positions that allows one to assume a position of comfortable superiority against the unwashed masses. Even when they adopt ostensibly "Marxist" rhetoric, like the superficial condemnation of "truncated anti-capitalism", it's again used to bolster this moralist impulse, rather than contribute to the development of any real oppositional politics.

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Mar 20 2012 02:40

There were "pro-Zionist" socialists even before the Jewish extermination, from Eduard Bernstein (who was opposed by Kautsky) to the overt social-(German)-chauvinist Max Cohen [see his Die politische Bedeutung des Zionismus (1918), arguing for German support to Zionism against the British], and also among socialists outside Germany, in case Jungian pop-psychology needed to be debunked. I didn't see an actual position being argued against here. Noam Chomsky would consider himself a Zionist by the way.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2012 04:36

Sure, and the labor union bureaucracy in the United States is also very pro-Israel. But we aren't talking about pro-Zionism among the labor bureaucracy or the right-wing of social democracy, we're talking about a position of "unconditional solidarity with the state of Israel" among people who proclaim themselves to be radical anti-statist communists.

Your points aren't really relevant to the conversation.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2012 05:15

P.S.:

Noa Rodman wrote:
I didn't see an actual position being argued against here.

That's because nobody is actually arguing any position in this thread. smg simply asked me to elaborate on my observation that the Anti-German position on Israel is a specific idiosyncracy of the German radical left that isn't exportable to other national contexts.

To the extent that I've taken issue with anything in this thread, it was Schalomlibertad's assertion that TOP have "generalized" Anti-German "critique". They haven't. TOP represents an abandonment of the Anti-German "critique" in favor of a theory of the state and nationalism heavily indebted to the theory of the "Marxistische Gruppe" of the 1970s and 1980s. TOP's position in a lot of their public statements on the matter is precisely that Germany has become a "normal" bourgeois-democratic capitalist nation-state, and does not represent a specifically "German" form of processing social antagonisms.

schalomlibertad
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Mar 20 2012 10:30

AN,
You only responded to one side of TOP's position - that they see nationalism in Germany today as mostly being a normal expression of nationalism in a world divided up into capitalist nation-states. (Your interest in the Marxist Group of the 70s is beside the point.)
The other part of their critique however, which you ignored, is TOP's attempt to generalize the anti-German critique (which I referred to above). You left this out of your "reply" for whatever reason.
While psychological factors certainly play a role in politics, the complete reduction of the latter to the former is just too simplistic and ungrounded.

Noa,
The examples you give of other Leftists supporting the pre-state Zionist movement, for example, are completely relevant for thinking about the mixture of realpolitik and revolutionary politics on the Left, rather than reducing it to "psychological over-compensation". Thanks!

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Entdinglichung
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Mar 20 2012 09:10

you have of course similar tendencies in Austria and marginally also in Switzerland

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2012 11:53
schalomlibertad wrote:
The other part of their critique however, which you ignored, is TOP's attempt to generalize the anti-German critique (which I referred to above). You left this out of your "reply" for whatever reason.

The stuff about an authoritarian "Volksgemeinschaft" sublating the contradictions of class society isn't even "generalizable" to the Germany of the NS-period. It rests upon a faulty premise, namely that a genocidal project on the part of a specific state somehow stands in opposition to the capitalist mode of production.

What tremendous faith Anti-Germans exhibit in the civilized nature of capitalist society!

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Mar 20 2012 12:39
Quote:
unconditional solidarity with the state of Israel" among people who proclaim themselves to be radical anti-statist communists.

I don't need to go back to Moses Hess. Max Nordau founding father of Zionism, only second to Herzl, was an anarchist/anti-statist communist...

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2012 12:51

Right, all your examples are from the pre-state period.

Find me some examples of modern radical leftists outside of Germany calling for solidarity with the modern state of Israel, not pre-Israel support for the Zionist project.

Stop trolling, bra.

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Mar 20 2012 14:50

Yes they are, because guilt-complex couldn't play a role in them.

I'm not sure what you understand by solidarity (or non-solidarity) with the Israeli state. Maybe you can give some quotes from anti-German writers to illustrate.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2012 15:31
Noa Rodman wrote:
Yes they are, because guilt-complex couldn't play a role in them.

"Yes they are" what? I'm not even sure what you're responding to.

I'm talking about self-proclaimed radical communists espousing solidarity with the Israeli state and its military and occupation policies, and you're talking about socialist support for a Jewish homeland in the pre-state period.

Du schreibst am Thema vorbei, Alter.

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Mar 20 2012 19:38

Here is the anti-Deutsch text: http://platypus1917.org/2010/10/08/communism-and-israel/ which schalomlibertad and Angelus already talked about, for example Angelus saying:

Quote:
In other words, if you strip away everything having to do with national context, the essence of it isn’t really so exotic or interesting. Even the fact that they argue with Marx quotations isn’t unique: guys like Hitchens do that too.

and went on to denounce Platypus on the Proyect blog because the article came from the ISF who had also published a book with a racist cover of a Muslim on...

It was a short time before the collapse of the remains of Arab secular nationalism.

Angelus Novus
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Mar 20 2012 20:17

Yup, I stand by that quote. Strip away the obligatory throat-clearing about "communism" and the dilettantish "value-critique" jargon, and the Anti-German worldview (post-2001) is basically neo-conservatism.

The national particularity is that some German neo-conservatives continued to call themselves "communists" for a little while longer and dressing up their views in pseudo-Marxist jargon, whereas neo-conservatives in other countries were much more honest about their views.

P.S. Hitchens never did a 180 on Israel-Palestine; gotta give him points for being a consistent human rights imperialist. If NATO had decided to treat Sharon the way it did Milosevic, Hitchens would've been cheering from the front row.