What are the most dangerous social norms

Left-wing extremism

Dr. Gero Neugebauer

To person

Dr. Gero Neugebauer teaches at the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science at the Free University of Berlin. Research focus: German party system, especially in East Germany, elections. Current research project: The SPD in East Germany.

Definitions of terms and problems

Even if the Office for the Protection of the Constitution uses the term extremism, it is quite controversial in the scientific debate.

Left and Right Extremism License: cc by-nc-sa / 2.0 / de (Jeremy Brooks)

When the term extremism is mentioned, it is usually used by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, because there it is used much more frequently than in the social sciences, which have little use for it. This creates the public impression that the quasi-official term is the only one - and the correct one. Because extremism as a legal term can not be found in a law, even in the Basic Law or in a judgment, and in political science "political attitudes and behavioral patterns are found at the outer poles on the right-left scale that is customary for the operationalization of political orientations." ... settled "[1].

The term extremism comes from the Latin words 'extremus' and 'extremitas': the first means: extremely, most distant, but also: the worst, most dangerous, worst, most contemptuous; the second the outermost point, margin [2]. With the term of political extremism quoted above, places in a - the complexity of society does not do justice - one-dimensional political spectrum, the right-left axis, are, as it were, determined: it denotes positions on the fringes "right and left of the political spectrum" [3]. The fact that the middle, which as the opposite of "extremus" is understood as close, harmless, good or respected, can be doubted if one remembers that fascism grew out of the middle of German society at that time.

The official term of extremism defines the movement away from the fringes towards the "normal" political center [4] as endeavors that threaten them in their substance. Therefore, the tasks of the protection of the constitution consist in preventing such efforts, "which are directed against the free democratic basic order, the existence and security of the federal government or a country or an unlawful impairment of the administration of the constitutional organs of the federal government or a country or their members Have goals ". [5]

These efforts - and that is also aimed at their originators - are considered extremist. The concept is based on the idea that in the middle of the political spectrum are the central components of the democratic order and the state, and that the extreme threats that endanger them emanate from the outermost edges. One pole is defined as left-wing extremism and the other as right-wing extremism. Thus, the term extremism in the official understanding serves on the one hand to characterize a certain action by the executive, in particular the constitutional protection authorities, and on the other hand in this context as a generic term for right-wing extremism and left-wing extremism.

Officially, right-wing extremism is understood to mean "... efforts that are directed against the fundamental equality of people as specified in the Basic Law and reject the universal validity of human rights. Right-wing extremists are opponents of the democratic constitutional state. They have an authoritarian understanding of the state. The right-wing extremist worldview is shaped by an overestimation of ethnic affiliation (xenophobia). The prevailing view is that affiliation to an ethnic group, nation or race determines the value of a person. Individual rights and the representation of societal interests are receding in favor of collectivist 'people's community' constructs (anti-pluralism). "[6] This definition tries to unite individual attitudes [7], political ideas and ideological set pieces in one term. In order to make it clear that, for example, the right-wing extremists' understanding of the state means a threat to the free democratic basic order, reference is made to some of the principles of this basic order named by the Federal Constitutional Court in the KPD prohibition ruling. These eight principles are:
  • Human rights
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Separation of powers
  • Government Responsibility
  • Legality of administration
  • Independence of the courts
  • Multi-party principle
  • Equal opportunities for the party including freedom of opposition. [8]
The left-wing extremists, according to the 2006 report on the protection of the constitution,
"... want to establish a socialist or communist society or a 'domination-free' anarchist society instead of the existing state and social order and orient their political action to revolutionary-Marxist or anarchist ideologies.

Revolutionary-Marxist organizations rely on traditional concepts of a long-term class struggle. Autonomous self-image is shaped by the idea of ​​a free, self-determined life in 'domination-free' spaces. Accordingly, every form of state or social norms is rejected. "[9]
There are certainly violent anarchists, but also those who practice nonviolence. They do not form any party-like organizations, are Marxist-Leninists extremely suspicious and can in fact develop their "autonomous spaces" only in pluralistic democratic systems that offer both the legal and social framework conditions, for example tolerance. And obviously in the ranks of the German Communist Party (DKP), despite the collapse of the Soviet socialist system, there is still a Marxist-Leninist way of thinking aimed at revolutionary reshaping of the democratic (capitalist) system.This only becomes relevant if this worldview is invoked "an actively combative, aggressive attitude towards the existing order" [10] against the core of the constitution can be planned or implemented.

In the definition of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution cited above, one speaks of a "socialist or communist society". This equation is problematic. At the end of the 19th century two directions emerged within the socialist movement: the democratic socialist wanted to achieve the socialist end goal, the elimination of capitalism, through gradual reforms in politics and the economy. The communist, later represented in the Communist Party, on the other hand, propagated the transformation of bourgeois society through a violent revolution. One direction therefore defended the democratic republic, while the other strived for the authoritarian Soviet socialist or totalitarian communist order that has since failed worldwide. [11] Political parties like the LINKE or the SPD, in whose programs the term can be found, should theoretically be expected to be monitored by the protection of the constitution. Therefore, a specification of the term would be advisable.