The Alternative for Germany, a marginal far right-wing political party founded four years ago, is on the cusp of a historic breakthrough.
The AFD, which currently holds 13 seats in German state assemblies and in the European Parliament, is widely expected to win eight to 11 percent of the votes in the September 24 general election and thereby become the first party in 60 years to the right of the ruling Christian Democratic Union to enter the Bundestag.
A populist anti-immigrant party which upholds traditional German values and culture and which opposed the entry of more than one million Muslims into Germany in the past two years, the AFD is an integral part of Germany’s New Right, which believes that the country should not be hounded or burdened by its Nazi legacy.
Recently, Alexander Gauland, an AFD leader who’s seeking a seat in parliament, called for an end to German guilt over the Nazi period. “No other nation (in Europe) has so clearly dealt with its wrongful past as Germany,” he said on September 2. “We have the right to reclaim not just our country, but also our past.”
Gauland added that Germans should regard Germany’s armed forces with pride. As he put it, “If the French are rightly proud of their emperor (Napoleon), and the British of (Admiral Horatio Lord) Nelson and (Prime Minister Winston) Churchill, then we have the right to be proud of the achievements of German soldiers in two world wars.”
Marcus Funck, a German historian who has studied the AFD and the New Right, defines the latter as a counter-revolutionary movement whose objective is to eradicate left-wing/liberal trends that emerged in the former West Germany in the 1960s. Highly nationalistic, the Neue Rechte is devoted to fostering a conservative revolution that will reshape Germany.
In a lecture on September 13 at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, Funck — the graduate program director at the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University in Berlin — offered an analysis of the New Right’s agenda.
The New Right, he said, has replaced the Nazi ideology of racial supremacy and antisemitism with notions of what he described as “ethnopluralism.”
Although it has distanced itself from the National Socialism of Adolf Hitler and rejects Holocaust denial, the New Right is critical of Holocaust remembrance events and the “Shoah business” of restitution payments to Holocaust survivors. It is also attached to Nazi-era ethnic nationalist, or volkisch, ideas in the struggle for cultural hegemony.
The New Right is identified with a right-wing German organization known as PEGIDA — Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West — and the New Right supports the Identitarian Movement, composed of white nationalists who subscribe to its political platform.
Two of the New Right’s ideological godfathers are Armin Mohler and Oswald Spengler, both of whom lambasted the liberal Weimar Republic, which was deposed by the Nazi Party. Mohler, a Swiss national, was an admirer of Nazi Germany who tried to enlist in the SS. Spengler, of partial Jewish ancestry, took issue with the philosophy of linear progress in history and claimed that the Western world was in a state of decline.
“These men are reference points of the New Right,” said Funck. “They participated in the assault against the Weimar Republic and offered a blueprint for today’s New Right.”
Members of the New Right admire such contemporary figures as Alain de Benoit and Renaud Camus, who fear that non-whites will supplant caucasians in Europe. They also look to Julius Evola, an Italian, and Alexander Dugin, a Russian, for inspiration.
Funck singled out Gotz Kubitschek, a publisher, disciple of Mohler and ex-army officer, as one of the most important figures in the New Right. Kubitschek, who lives on a farm with his wife and seven children, has tried to align the New Right with PEGIDA and the AFD.
A darling of the media, he focuses on identity and culture rather than on race in conveying his message. Having attacked left-wing liberalism, political correctness and secularism, he has branded Chancellor Angela Merkel’s generous refugee policy as a betrayal of German values.
The New Right, said Funck, functions in an age of rising resentment against minorities and in a climate of anti-Muslim hatred and antisemitic stereotyping, which has replaced racial antisemitism.
The New Right’s populism does not necessarily translate into fascism, he noted, but the two concepts are related.