Nicolaus Fest is an independent German journalist. Formerly with the tabloid Bild am Sonntag, he drew massive public disapproval for expressing Islam-critical opinions, and eventually resigned to work as a freelance writer.
The following essay by Mr. Fest is taken from the author’s website. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
The Refuge of Freedom: The New Right
by Nicolaus Fest
June 19, 2016
Recently, the author Frank A. Meyer — by no means a confederate of conservatives — wrote in the Zurich Sonntagsblick: “First and foremost, middle class social democracy has retreated in the face of the ideology of religiously cloaked male domination — and left the fight for women’s rights, religious freedom and the strictly secular state to the far right. Leftist politics and journalism have surrendered the banner of freedom to the rightist populists.” Meyer wrote that with Switzerland in mind, but what he says is also true for all of Europe, and it is the shortest and smartest analysis of the present political dislocations.
The concern expressed about the flood of hundreds of thousands of immigrants is far more than frustration at the monstrous sums that are suddenly available for illegal immigrants or the fear of break-ins, sexual assaults and pickpocketing. Unlike many politicians, people all over Europe understand. It is no longer primarily about social questions — day-care slots or rent ceilings. It is about the defense of freedom — indeed, the attacks in Paris and Brussels as well as the hostile societies make that clear. It is about the freedom of the Western way of life.
That is something completely new, and it may revise some determinations about the German character which had been considered immutable. Namely, that the Germans have no feeling for freedom, that they always opt for social safety and that — to paraphrase Brecht — first feed the face and then everything else follows. The success of the rightist parties demonstrates that the “voter bribery democracy” (FAZ) as last conducted by the Great Coalition [CDU/CSU and SPD, Christian Democrats and Socialists] — with child-rearing allowances and minimum wage — is snaring fewer and fewer voters. That the AfD — despite all its mistakes and obstacles against it, without emphasizing its social programs, and from a standing start — could establish itself as a third force in several federal states, is a signal. The widespread antipathy to Brussels, to an oppressive bureaucracy which is hostile to freedom, expresses a desire that would never have been attributed to the Germans. A desire for self-determination and political freedom.
The old political parties in Germany no longer stand for these goals. That is shown in the ever-newly minted discussion about a simplification of tax law, as well as the broken promise of the Soli or the bullying tactics in private health insurance. Whenever the question is whether the individual should not preferably govern his own life — what to do with his money — this is decided by the policies of the nanny state. Even in regard to the liberty-hostile activities of Islam, the Union and the FDP — corrupted not least by their innumerable representatives who are members of Muslim organizations — have given up any resistance. No leading politician asks about the compatibility of Islam with the constitution — in spite of all the attacks, all the daily violence in Islamic countries, all the warnings from experts on Islam, the forced marriages, the honor killings, homophobia and open anti-Semitism. While France bans veiling and Austria sharply curtails the influence of fundamentalist Turkish religious authorities, German politics avoids the very debate. In the EU, the question of freedom also no longer plays a role, if we disregard Peter Gauweiler (CSU) and Frank Schäffner (FDP). And nothing can be expected from German social democracy, as is unfortunately so often the case. It was never, in contrast to its Swiss counterpart, a refuge of liberal-democratic thinking. What was important to the social democrats was not the rights of the individual, but security and wealth-sharing. Even Willy Brandt’s “Dare More Democracy” was not a plea for emancipation and self-sufficiency, but really a light on the way to the welfare state. “More democracy” meant more redistribution, more participation rights, more officials — not more freedom from the state. This open flank explains to me how the Greens could come to own liberal individualism in the 1980s.
But the Greens, too, rolled up the freedom banner and raised the flag of multiculturalism. For its sake they are sacrificing many of the rights they fought for for years. And therefore, not a word about Muslim homophobia, about veiling and oppression of women, about the newest instances of forced marriage of underage girls, about the abuse of Christians and Yazidis in reception camps. If sexual discrimination is not a result of Catholicism or Christianity, it does to exist for the Greens. Not even the mass murder in Orlando causes the Greens to question whether their love for an atavistically brutal doctrine of salvation is contrary to their other positions. So really, the freedom of the individual does not mean anything to this party either.
But it does for others, and everywhere in Europe. The rise of rightist alternatives, therefore, is — claims to the contrary notwithstanding — not a sign of a renaissance of a nationalist mindset or of re-Christianization. Instead, it is the sign of a new debate about freedom. That is what is behind all the questions about nation and identity. Anyone who wants to defend the freedom of the Western lifestyle will find answers only with the new Right. The old parties are as mute as they are unreliable. Their political substance is used up. They still believe that people are politically motivated by property tax, wind power and the premium for electric cars. In fact, for a long time now, “It’s not the economy, stupid!” It is about freedom.
|2.||CDU/CSU and their erstwhile partners the Free Democrats.