The Rehabilitated German

In the previous post, we’ve learned how Nazi ideology persists all the way through today and becomes visible as a form of exclusionist collectivism that can be summed up by the German term völkisch, which means Volk-related. In order to grok the thinking patterns behind this, we need to scrutinize the part of the modern German populace that appears to be opposed those on the völkisch side – and ultimately find out what these opposing groups actually have in common: The German Left and the German Establishment, the Mitte.

Rehab for Krauts

Picture of PEGIDA protesters
Original photo by – Pegida Demonstration in Dresden am 05.01.2015, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The most notorious motto which was picked up by PEGIDA and other groups of concerned citizens dates back to the final days of the Socialist GDR, German Democratic Republic: »Wir sind das Volk!«, we are the people. This motto, back then as well as today, evokes the spirit of what bonds together all true Germans, which means everyone who is genuinely considered so under the völkisch idea. Chanting it means to voice out against what is considered to be a corrupt elite under secret foreign rule.

How does the left counter this? Clearly by rejecting the völkisch idea? Unfortunately, nothing is further from the truth. Instead they say »Ihr seid nicht das Volk!«, you are not the people, which leaves only one possible conclusion: We are the people, not you. We are the true Volk. You are the Bad Germans, the Nazis, yet we are the Good Germans. The Rehabilitated Germans.

The idea of rehabilitation is what unites the establishment, Mitte, with the left. The modern German consensus is nazifrei, free of Nazis: Cleansing society from those who appear like echoes from the past. Clearly, nazifrei must be a noble and reasonable thing? Let us remember what makes up the idea of Volksverrat from the teaser: High treason is any act which is directed against the ideology of the proper Germans, and this also to do with those who are explicitly not German.

And yet, these political currents of proper and rehabilitated Germans differ in every other regard. Their interrelationship is antagonistic and the objects of their projections, the refugees, are the same, only the nature of the projection differs fundamentally. In either case, refugees are much less perceived as sentient human beings, but much rather like a homogeneous mass. In case of the proper Germans, refugees are like a calamity, which becomes apparent through the choice of words for the what is perceived not as a crisis to those who have fled, but to the Germans themselves: Flüchtlingswelle, refugee wave. To the rehabilitated Germans, on the other hand, the misery of the refugees is the production material for complacency and a better global reputation. Even more importantly, it is a weapon used to create a bad conscience in those who live elsewhere in Europe and dare to harbor fewer of the refugees.

So it becomes clear there is a common German ideology that remains untouched by both time and political positions as long as they are German. Being German seems to be inextricably tied to collectives and to an ideology, but not to the actual well-being or needs of people. Friedrich Engels wrote in a letter to Franz Mehring in 1893:

Ideology is a process accomplished by the so-called thinker. Consciously, it is true, but with a false consciousness. The real motive forces impelling him remain unknown to him; otherwise it simply would not be an ideological process. Hence he imagines false or apparent motives.

In other words, the self-reproducing powers of ideologies stem from the fact that they are driven by motives unrecognized by their advocates.

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