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East and west still divided?

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Franz Strasser | 09:07 UK time, Friday, 30 October 2009

The town of Sebnitz found itself in a media scandal following false reports about the town's right-wing extremists. I paid a visit as Sebnitz was celebrating 20 years of peaceful revolution.

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What do you think about the stereotypes of the east and west, and how can towns like Sebnitz overcome the apparent lure of political extremes?


  • Comment number 1.

    Its time people stopped smearing right of centre politics by call these people far-right. Many of themm have authoritarian, corporatist and nationalist sentiment that sits far more comfortably on the left.

    The Nazi's weren't the National Socialist party for nothing you know.

  • Comment number 2.

    Same old 'Right Wing' commentary that get's regurgitated over and over these start with the old 'left-right' dichotomy no longer exists and should be done away with for being can be an economic 'leftist' and a social libertarian or and economic 'leftist' who favors more social controls....the same can be said of anyone with a more 'rightwing'/liberal attitude towards economics...

    Both 'leftwingers' and 'rightwingers' can have very strong nationalist sentiment - (anti-free trade leftists and anti-immigration 'rightwingers'...or be both for that matter)....Using the US example...the main stream so called centre-right (Republicans) promote a much more Authoritarian social view than anyone on the 'left' would(abortion, drugs, marriage)...but turn that around and the same can be said of 'leftists' such as Stalin or Castro, who obviously favored strong authoritarian societies.

    As for being corporatist - I fail to think of anyone on the left who could be classified as corporatist...(and please don't try to pass off Obama or anyone like that as being 'leftist' in actual policy...seriously, its insulting)

    Any remnants of socialism were purged from the Nazi party with Rohm and the rest of the Berlin leaders of the SA (from what i remember from school)...

    so again, both left and right in the old-school political spectrum can be authoritarian and nationalist....but I fail to see how the left can be corporatist...when it seems 'leftist' ideology would rather eliminate corporations altogether....

  • Comment number 3.

    @ ManInAShed

    These people are labelled as far right because of their overriding fascist viewpoint and fascism absolutely is far right.

    The Nazi's may have been called National Socialists but again their overriding philosophy was fascism.

    You're also wrong to label some of the ideologies you do as left wing, it's simply not that clear cut, see here regarding authoritarianism to understand why it's often labelled as right wing for example:

    No one is smearing right of centre politics by use of far-right, on the contrary the real worry is people who are far right trying to label themselves as centre-right and by supporting that you are supporting the far right. People who do have far right views should have the courage of their convictions and admit that, rather than try and pretend their views are more moderate when they're not.

    If people have far right views I disagree with them, but accept they are entitled to their opinion. What I don't accept is people with far right views trying to suggest their views are centre right with the aim of piggy backing those views onto the centre right to give the false impression those views are more commonly held than they are. The far right viewpoint is still a minority by far, and is in reality no more compatible with centre right viewpoint than the centre left is- yes the far right may be on the same side of the scale as centre right, but it's also no closer to centre right than centre left is.

  • Comment number 4.

    Stalin exterminated far more people than Hitler but you can still deny the purges legally in Europe. When moslems protest offensive cartoons the politicians refuse to censor them and say its a freedom of speech issue, but try and exercise your freedom of speech on the right and you go to jail. The reason the right is gaining stength is that our mainstream politicians refuse to act on issues such as illegal immigration, outsourcing of jobs and globalization. The world is being run for the benefits of the elite who want cheap labour and a European superstate even if they have to ask the voters again and again until they get the decision they want. No wonder the right seems like an idea who's time has come...

  • Comment number 5.

    The reason the right are gaining strength is that they never really went away and have been able to reinvent themselves in a post-911 world where they are empowered to say things they would not have been able to before.

    That coupled with the ubiquitous breeding-conditions for right-wing xenophobia - recession and economic downturn in a climate where 'foreign' workers are in the system - is really all you need.

    It's not like any thought needs to go into it. It's more like a fungus that needs a certain degree of darkness to spring back up.

  • Comment number 6.

    Europe is so far to the left far right is just the centre now.

  • Comment number 7.

    Far right or far lift is not really the point, extremism is the real problem.

    The perveyors of hate politics point there fingers at one minority or another as the main cause of everyday problems using this to persuade the disenfrachized to vote for them.

    History has shown us that this is just a grab for power, these people are not interested in the working man or the downtrodden and the minute extremist gain power they suppress opposition, abolish Democracy and put laws in place to divide and control.

    Don't be seduced by the soft kind words of the far right, far left, extreme religions or any other organisation that demands your soul, this is just a velvet covered brick what you need to do is ask yourself whats in it for them.

  • Comment number 8.

    Extremist what like Gordon brown who has sold the worker down the drain or the facist Tony Blair who starts wars like hitler is now catholic the same as hitler. Its the facism and racism of the left thats doing all the killing.

  • Comment number 9.

    I believe Germany needs to extend freedom of speech to even the extreme-right. I feel it's a bit hypocritical for a democracy to censor political beliefs.

    That aside, German society should shun neo-Nazism. Government cannot change attitudes through law, but society can through mores. A media campaign can be very helpful in this situation.

    Education is also a key factor. Based upon my experience, those who seem to lean towards "the old times" seem to lack the knowledge of the society they live in. The East faces a severe economic crisis, and automatically, people start feeling nostalgic for the days when they didn't have "modern problems". Unfortunately, they seem to forget all the hardships they had to live through. A public campaign to bring these people back to reality may help decrease the appeal of neo-Nazism.

  • Comment number 10.

    This kind of false accusation is not limited to Germany; what about the recent case of the UK Muslim who falsely accused members of the BNP of kidnap? The leftist press are only too happy to rush this kind of propaganda into print and thus add to the moral panic. You can fool some of the people all of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

  • Comment number 11.

    We're all forgetting (or ignorant of) a couple of very important facts. Firstly, Germany has an excellent constitution, a legal system that works, and a police force that seldom pulls its punches. The Germans are quite capable of looking after themselves without Auntie BBC twitching the curtains and banging on about extremism. Secondly, of all the countries in Europe, Germany has best come to terms with World War Two. It took time, for half of which the East was in the intellectual freezer of totalitarian socialism, a sickeningly racist regime; if a few of the lads take their time defrosting, so be it. None of our business. But we do very much need to get our terminology sorted out; an excellent blog on 'fascism' elsewhere last week should be left to stand for all of us, if only to prevent repetition. I'm a right-winger. Like the original Tories, I believe in land. Unlike them, I also believe in free commerce. I don't like state control. I distrust education directed by the state and am helpless with frustration at what has become of a health service run by politicians and (other) jobsworths. I hate what the 'left' has done to my language, the quality of debate, and my country of origin (I can't live there now - I want my daughter to grow up healthy, literate and tolerant, so I moved out). Does this make me a racist? Is someone going to use the 'fascist' epithet because I detest Marx, Engels and all the harm they have done the world? I'd like to think not, but I'm pretty sure I'm wrong.

  • Comment number 12.

    My fridge says: EAT MORE NAZIS!

  • Comment number 13.

    What I saw of the town it looks a nice place where I'd like to be, as I speak there are 5 police cars rounding up who knows what at the bottom of my street here in the UK. Which is interesting actually, as whenever I need them they are always too busy. Can't understand why we have this blog when the accusation was false, and this film shows an apparently well ordered and peacful celebration! The BBC sure has some odd ideas of what is important, not NIMRODs for a start. I wonder if this will be pulled too. If it isn't this will be the first mention of Nimrod that hasn't been pulled in 3 blogs. Can we have a blog on the Nimrod scandal?

  • Comment number 14.

    The far right needs to be silenced. It's one of the biggest threats in the world.

    If everyone in the world was left-wing, we would all have the same goal: to try and ensure everyone is equal and happy.

    If everyone was right-wing, we would all have different goals: to do what is is best for ourselves. This is unsustainable and will inevitably end in war.

  • Comment number 15.

    I found a picture Franz that I think to be fitting. The featured article today is the Inner German Border on wikipedia.

  • Comment number 16.

    Franz~In most situations the West & East Sections of Germany, will remain in divided mode for many years and, that's sad to report.....

    =Dennis Junior=


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