NYT: “The Prophet of Germany’s New Right”

In the NYT, James Angelos writes a long piece on “The Prophet of Germany’s New Right”. The piece begins:

Götz Kubitschek, a self-proclaimed “rightist intellectual,” lives in a medieval manor house in Schnellroda, a rural village in eastern Germany. From this isolated, antique outpost, Kubitschek, who is 47, wields considerable influence over far-right thinkers, activists and politicians across Germany, who make regular pilgrimages to Schnellroda for an audience with him. The manor serves as the headquarters for the magazine and publishing house that Kubitschek runs with his wife, the writer Ellen Kositza, and also for a rightist think tank, the plainly named Institute for State Policy, and a small organic farm where he raises rabbits and goats. Kubitschek calls himself a conservative, battling to preserve Germany’s “ethno-cultural identity,” which he says is threatened by immigration and the alienating effects of modernity. He identifies as part of the German “New Right,” which seeks to dissociate itself from the “old right,” which in Germany means Nazis. German political scientists, by contrast, classify the brand of thinking Kubitschek ascribes to as either an ideological “hinge” between conservatism and right-wing extremism, or as simply extremist — not vastly different, in other words, from the old right. Kubitschek, however, presents his views with a disarming, Teutonic idealism that recalls a Germany that long preceded the rise of Hitler. The German magazine Der Spiegel once referred to him as a “dark knight.”

There is this gem:

Kubitschek was immediately recognizable, a towering black-clad figure with a well-trimmed goatee and the upright posture of a military officer.

Wow, project much?

For the most part, however, the piece is an informative albeit liberal take on Alt-Right political developments in Germany.  For example, of der Flügel, the ethnonationalist wing of AfD:

Flügel politicians are now ascendant within the party — and they are increasingly mixing their nationalism with the antiliberalism agenda of the New Right. Before the election, I attended an Alternative for Germany rally in Artern, a depressed-looking town not very far from Schnellroda. There, I was struck by how Flügel politicians devoted much of their speeches to a number of economic issues traditionally though of as leftist — low wages, poverty in old age, insufficient social benefits, rhetoric designed to shift the party away from its roots in economic liberalism. One of the politicians, a man named Jürgen Pohl, who was subsequently elected into Parliament, denounced the claim that Germany is doing “better than ever” economically. Should Angela Merkel and “our new African citizens” come to the former East Germany, he said, they’d see the “poor house of Germany.” Another speaker, André Poggenburg, the head of the party in Saxony-Anhalt, declared Alternative for Germany to be “the new party of social justice.” The message was simple enough: more benefits for the Volk, and fewer foreigners to take those benefits away. In the former East, where unemployment remains higher and salaries remain lower than in the former West, that message seems to resonate, helping the party peel away hundreds of thousands of voters from die Linke, the descendant of the East German Communist Party.

The shift is not entirely surprising. New Right thinkers often entertain the idea of establishing a querfront, or a “cross front” that would unite opponents of liberalism on both extremes of the political spectrum. During my talks with Kubitschek, I often found myself detecting what at first seemed to me a perplexing leftist bent, an aversion to American-style materialism. You had only to go the shopping center on a Saturday morning, he once told me, and observe people in their “consumption temple” to see how there is “nothing at all there, spiritually.” For Kubitschek and other New Right thinkers, American liberalism — with its emphasis on individual rights and the individual pursuit of happiness — is perhaps the most corrosive force eating away at the identity of the Volk,replacing a sense of “we” with individualism and profit-seeking self-interest.

Sound familiar?

This same dynamic is happening all over the West.

Kubitschek casually mentioned that he would not mind at all if a strongman came to replace Merkel, if that was the only way to correct her decision to allow the migrants to enter Germany. In a time of great peril, he noted soberly, a leader must act beyond the law. He cited Carl Schmitt, the conservative political theorist who criticized parliamentary democracy and aligned with the Nazis after they took power: “Sovereign is he who decides on the exception.” Merkel herself had acted outside the law by opening the border, Kubitschek said, and that proved she was sovereign. And yet, he continued, “I’d have absolutely nothing against it if someone came along and with the same sovereignty did the opposite. Someone who would say: ‘The experiment is over. The Parliament won’t be consulted. I will prop up with my power the administration, the organs of the state, the police’ — who would in any case be supportive — ‘the border patrol, the military, and we will end this experiment.’ That means: borders shut. Test to see who can be assimilated; they can stay. Those who can’t be assimilated, they’ve got to go.”

It was clear the Kubitschek considers “refugee” a misnomer. These were not, for the most part, refugees fleeing persecution or war, but opportunists — mostly “hungry young men,” as he put it — acting “very rationally” to improve their lot. These migrants arrived in an “insecure” country, he said, where the people “don’t know who they are or what belongs to them.” The migrants, he said, therefore begin to think, Doesn’t everything here belong to everyone? “And then the waves are set into motion, and they say: ‘All right, here we have a country, a fallow country, and it’s a country that must be conquered, and it can be conquered. And it won’t be conquered with ladders for storming fortresses or with machetes, but with sheer presence.’ ” Everyone at the table seemed to agree that the consequences of this conquering were dire. Crime, they argued, was on the rise; women could no longer feel safe walking alone outside at night. “We all know the dystopian stories,” Kubitschek said. Matters might get “supercharged in a hyper-identitarian way,” he added. “If it once again becomes really brutal or cruel, we don’t know. It can also transition over into a country that is no longer Germany.”

Things are moving fast.

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