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States take first steps to ban neo-Nazi NPD party
Photo: DPA

States take first steps to ban neo-Nazi NPD party

Published: 06 Dec 2012 09:52 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Dec 2012 13:59 GMT+01:00

"The NPD prepares the ground for far-right violence and stokes xenophobia. Their ideology disregards basic human rights and is antidemocratic," said Ralf Jäger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia.

"Therefore it is our clear goal to achieve a ban on the NPD," he added.

The issue will be discussed in cabinet early on Thursday and Chancellor Angela Merkel will also hold talks with state leaders to chart a path forward.

The federal government, the Bundestag lower house of parliament and the Bundesrat upper house, where the 16 states are represented, are the only bodies in Germany that can apply for such a ban.

But Merkel is cautious about launching the procedure, as is federal Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich.

Her deputy spokesman Georg Streiter told a regular news conference on Wednesday: "It is well known that the chancellor sees significant risks that need to be assessed."

"What matters for the chancellor is whether such an application for a ban would have a chance of success," added Streiter.

In 2003, a similar attempt spearheaded by the federal government fizzled because the tribunal found the presence of intelligence agents who had infiltrated the party's ranks muddied the case against it.

That failed bid stalks the current proceedings, which were prompted by the discovery in November 2011 that a neo-Nazi terror cell was likely behind a rash of killings over a seven-year period in which most of the 10 victims were immigrant shopkeepers.

Friedrich warned that a failure at the country's top court could play into the hands of the NPD which would exploit it for propaganda purposes.

"The chances that we will win are better than the chances that we will lose, but the risks have to be assessed," Friedrich told reporters.

"It is important that the mistakes of 2003 are not made again," added the minister.

Some 20 NPD sympathisers, including party head Holger Apfel, protested outside the meeting of state interior ministers, which took place in the northern city of Rostock.

Founded in 1964 with the help of former Nazis, the party has never won seats in the federal parliament and in 2009 scored just 1.5 percent of the vote - far from the five percent needed for representation.

It currently has deputies in two regional parliaments in the former communist east.

Welcoming the interior ministers' recommendation, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said it was "high time" for a ban on the NPD.

"For any convinced democrat, it is simply unbearable that far-right extremists get taxpayers' money to disseminate their brown poison," he said, referring to the Nazi colour.

"A ban on the NPD can finally end this state of affairs," added Graumann.

AFP/DAPD/hc

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Your comments about this article

13:38 December 6, 2012 by studioapt30
And who are really the new nazis?

winston churchill said that the facsists of the future

will call themselves "anti-facists"

the left wing marxists are for sure, "churchills facists of the future"

open your eyes people.....and begin to see the truth for yourself!
14:25 December 6, 2012 by freechoice
i would flush them out from the top..
15:15 December 6, 2012 by Tonne
If banning the NPD or any other party which foments hatred is so difficult, why not make illegal the verbal or written or electronic expression of views which seek to promote the hatred of other races or religions? Then parties such as the NPD may be charged with conspiracy in the fomenting of such views.
20:18 December 6, 2012 by Englishted
@Tonne

Why should I not insult religion? it insults me by asking me to believe in something that has no basis in fact at all.

Good education will someday make blind faith a thing of the past and roll on that day.
21:45 December 6, 2012 by Leo Strauss
From visible Nazis to banned Not-Sees.

Never a good idea.
10:33 December 7, 2012 by Tonne
@Englishted

By all means insult religion when the laws of that religion run counter to the mores of the country (e.g. the mutilation of children, the second class status of women) but too often the insulting of religion is another means of insulting race. And it is very unlikely that you will change attitudes with insults.

Belief by its very definition is not based on facts. Can you demonstrate that there is no God?

@Leo Strauss

I agree but by its laws a society defines what is and what is not acceptable and the dissemination of hatred against a race should never be acceptable.
10:55 December 7, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@Tonne

I agree with you that dissemination of hatred against a race or a minority in a society is unacceptable. Where we differ is that I believe that such actions should not be banned by laws but rather openly confronted, engaged and defeated through public debate. Banning them doesn`t refute the idea, it only makes it more attractive. Furthermore, you are conceding intellectual defeat when you do this.

You write, "by its laws a society defines what is and what is not acceptable". Perhaps in an ideal world this would be so, but unfortunately it is usually the establishment and powerful interest groups that control the gov`ts that write the laws in order to suit their own agenda. The Nazis today but who tomorrow?

No thank you. I believe in absolute free speech.
11:28 December 7, 2012 by laurencelewis
@Tonne

There is a difference between banning the organisation of far-right parties and banning vocal expression. Freedom to express oneself should never be inhibited and therein lies the ideological battleground; discussion, debate. However, some ideals should never be allowed to attain social coherence, as in the case of the NPD.

@ Leo Strauss

I would argue that the far-right in Germany exists as it does because it has always had a platform, a focus around which to organise. These people are not clever, they are not motivated by justice or by good will, they are reactionary hate-mongers whose daddy-issues are soothed by the prejudiced rhetoric of organisations like the NPD. These parties foment racism, they don't just give a cathartic voice to festering anger. The German government's reluctance to stamp out this problem comes from a broader inability to impose anything on anyone post WW2. In this case tolerance is not the solution. Of course, we shouldn't pretend these people and their opinions don't exist. At the same time as destroying their institutions we should hold them up as examples of what not to be.
12:24 December 7, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@laurencelewis

Very interesting comments. We agree that the individual should have freedom of speech, which is something very encouraging these days. :)

I am disappointed that you would not extend that freedom of expression to groups and organizations such as political parties. What makes a collective expression any less worthy than that of the individual? Would you deny certain groups the right of assembly as well?

"the far-right in Germany exists as it does because it has always had a platform, a focus around which to organise"

I am not sure that this is completely true. In the former GDR, as you know, far-right parties and organizations were illegal and thus had no platform, but this did little to dampen Nazi sentiment- it was mere driven underground until the Wende. You can also look at all of the former Nazis who were not members of an explicitly right wing party such as the DRP or NPD, but rather the CDU, a mainstream peoples` party. I would suggest that it is not the platform, but rather the ideas that are the issue here.

"These people are not clever, they are not motivated by justice or by good will"

This could be any group of politicians. ;)

"The German government's reluctance to stamp out this problem comes from a broader inability to impose anything on anyone post WW2"

Hmmm. Perhaps it is not so black and white in this case. Why was the last attempt to ban the NPD unsuccessful? Because the case was thrown out of court after it was discovered that the NPD inner circle was full of federal agents and informants. Why were the NSU left to continue their deeds for so many years despite the police having many opportunities to catch them? The whole question of the role of neo-Nazis groups in Germany and their relationship with the German Gov`t is another post completely.

"At the same time as destroying their institutions we should hold them up as examples of what not to be."

May 8th, 1945. Nuremberg. Destroyed institutions and bad examples. So why are they still here?

Banning the Nazi Party didn`t work then and it won`t work now, in my opinion. Once again, I think that we have to engage the ideas in a public forum, political or whatever, in order to expose the truth behind the old canards, the eugenics and the fake history.

Peace
14:31 December 7, 2012 by laurencelewis
@ Leo Strauss

I have to say I am not German and I am not so clued up on the history surrounding the various extreme groups in Germany. I only present my impressions.

"What makes a collective expression any less worthy than that of the individual?"

I don't think that collective expression is worth less. But it is different, and more dangerous, and as such needs to be treated differently. Group psychology plays a role in the shaping of opinion in groups whose emergent mentality may not represent the actual thoughts of individuals within that group. Often because groups (especially the kind we are talking about) are driven by base emotion and are often irrational. Most people are followers and this certainly applies to the type of people in question here. They lend their strength of numbers to a minority of more powerful and perhaps educated orators who essentially dictate to the group what they think. That is, the broken ideologies of the minority metastasise to the uncritical majority.

The examples you give above mostly occurred several decades ago. Is it not possible that what is seen now in Germany are the modern remnants of these Nazi-era ideologues, whose actions are propped up by these institutions? The NPD is not a powerful organisation, millions do not rally to their call.

"Banning the Nazi Party didn`t work then and it won`t work now, in my opinion. "

But then and now are very different times. The world is different, or at least Germany is. Nazism, and all it represented, is the global benchmark for what to avoid in the treatment of others. It is an accepted wrong. Why can we not seek to punish and eliminate known wrongs? This is after all how we raise children, how we show them what is acceptable and what is not. It is an extreme minority of people who are causing problems (if one can reduce murder and race hate to 'problems'). I'm not sure the strategy of open discussion and tolerance are sufficient on their own to end the successive indoctrination of these people.

I completely advocate the protection of free speech, but what we are talking about here is not free speech, nor the expression of some personally considered perspective, it is the parroting of anti-social, age old prejudice which lingers only as a result of over-tolerant liberal attitudes.
16:11 December 7, 2012 by whatsup
Well I do hope they ban the party and it is quite shocking with the history of the Nazis that people cannot see what is right or wrong.

Maybe they should all be sent to classes to instruct them on the history and they might see the light! It can only be ignorance.
16:36 December 7, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@laurencelewis

Thank you for your well-considered response. You covered a lot of ground in your post, so will just comment on free speech here.

"I don't think that collective expression is worth less. But it is different, and more dangerous, and as such needs to be treated differently."

I`m not sure that I agree here, is it truly more dangerous? As you say, it is the individuals who generate the ideas which are then amplified through the group to whatever result, so actually these individuals are still the root of the matter, don`t you think? Furthermore, their ideas may be warped and distorted by groups, as you say, but also by other individuals, who may choose to misrepresent the original concept, so I don`t see the distinction- we are back to where we started.

Ultimately you will have to decide which priority is most important to you: censoring dangerous ideas or championing free speech. If you choose first to control dangerous ideas , then it is with the individual that the "danger" truly lies. This is as true for the movements of Gandhi and Solschenizyn, as for Hitler. They were all a case for the Watchers.

"I completely advocate the protection of free speech, but what we are talking about here is not free speech, nor the expression of some personally considered perspective, it is the parroting of anti-social, age old prejudice which lingers only as a result of over-tolerant liberal attitudes."

Hmmm. If you truly advocate the protection of free speech then you must extend this protection to speech you find repulsive or beneath contempt, in order to avoid contradictions. This is as true for the one as for the many: it is a contradiction to subscribe to individual free speech but not to collective free speech.

Also, think about what Franklin said, "Those who would trade their liberty for security deserve none and will lose both".

"Often because groups..."

I agree with your assessment in this paragraph, but again, my solution is different. Why not provide the common man with an education that will allow him to think? Why in the West do we no longer teach grammar-logic-rhetoric to our children? Why do we simply deliver them up as ignorant and servile victims to the powers that be? Let`s enable our citizens to think for themselves again. You are an intelligent and educated person- why not drag a few of them out of the cave and into the light? The last thing they need is darkness or another Noble Lie. Or are you a fan of Leo Strauss? ;)
19:11 December 7, 2012 by laurencelewis
@ Leo Strauss

You are actually preaching to the converted :). However, recently I have begun to think that the practicality of the kind of suggestions you make is far more ambiguous than the rhetoric accounts for.

"I`m not sure that I agree here, is it truly more dangerous?"

I should add that I am talking contextually here. I do not mean that the expressions of all groups or publics are inherently dangerous, human society would not have got off the ground were this the case; I'm no anarchist. Only that some groups have a more malicious bent than others, and we are now able to recognise their hallmarks. Groups necessarily carry more momentum and therefore require greater stopping power if we want to counter what they represent. And I'm talking strictly about minority, extremist groups.

"so actually these individuals are still the root of the matter"

I don't deny this, individuality is a factor in group mentality and opinion formation, and education of individuals is a necessary aspect to reducing extremism. But I would maintain that so is control of their channels of communication and dissemination. The problem is multi-faceted, but is simpler if we take a position and say they are unambiguously wrong. We can educate the young (trying to educate older people is likely useless) to buffer them against purveyors of prejudice, and we can show a united front against their crimes and 'protests'. However I don't think this is enough, there are certain principles we enshrine within our social structure (or have begun to at least), and if we continue to undermine them by saying one thing and doing another then people hanging on the fringes of opinion will always make inroads to power and influence.

"Hmmm. If you truly advocate the protection of free speech then you must extend this protection to speech you find repulsive or beneath contempt, in order to avoid contradictions."

Why? Contradictions do not arise if one recognises that there are arenas in which free speech can be absolute (the opinions of an individual) and others in which it must be more guarded (broader social arenas), as a matter of practicality. Individuals and groups are different, humans are not purely rational beings who can contrast their wants and needs against those of the group. And the group certainly cannot account well for the needs of the individual. Both need guidance and control. Rhetorical logic is only useful to a point.

I actually wrote more but there is a character limit. :/
19:35 December 7, 2012 by michael valerio
Start banning right wing political parties and you will only have left wing parties. Well, I guess that is the whole idea behind this ban?
19:41 December 7, 2012 by erinn661
all tht u are doing is removing there voice from politics witch will make them more aggressive i do no foresee any good coming out of this
10:42 December 8, 2012 by Englishted
@Tonne

" insulting of religion is another means of insulting race."

True but isn't the imposition of religion on no believers a form of racism? .

The idea of having to prove there is no god is amusing ,why not carry it forward? I can't prove there are no fairies at the bottom of the garden or that unicorns exist so therefore should I believe in them blindly too?
14:27 December 8, 2012 by Heidegger555
First, learn the history.

The German Reich was destroyed by the Soviet Union/Red Army and its' allies the UK and the USA... there was never a peace treaty so in legal terms a state of war still exists between the German people and these occupying powers.

The ridiculous 'constitution' put in place to provide some sort of basis for the 'BRD' prohibits any open discussion of this history (paragraph 130).

In this fake 'democracy' truly important decisions are never put to a popular vote.

Financial, judicial, media, and educational institutions are controlled by these foreign powers and their useful idiots (mainly SPD). See 'Atlantic Brücke,' or take a close look at what the Deutsche Presse Agentur is.

Anyone want to hazard a guess how many nuclear Uboots the Germans would be building for the Israelis if there was a popular vote on the matter??

Anything resembling 'German nationalism' ie. the interests of the German people is immediately stamped out with the 'neo-nazi' label.

Deutschland r.i.p. ...
15:49 December 8, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@laurencelewis

"Individuals and groups are different, humans are not purely rational beings who can contrast their wants and needs against those of the group. And the group certainly cannot account well for the needs of the individual. Both need guidance and control. Rhetorical logic is only useful to a point."

Our rationality is the one quality that sets us apart from animals. Man is the rational animal. Perhaps man will never be purely rational, as you write, but the degree to which he is is something that is within our control. As I have written above, give him the Trivium and Quadrivium, the real seven liberal arts. Teach him to recognize sophistry for what it is and to think for himself. In this way he may stay clear of Group Think and Appeals to Emotion, for example, and will be able to find his own way without "guidance and control". The limits to the power of rational thinking are self-imposed by mankind himself. I am curious to know why you think that the benefits of such suggestions are "ambiguous".

You say that you are not an anarchist, well, that`s quite clear. :) Let me say that it is all well and good to talk about controlling the individual`s "channels of communication and dissemination" and to limit free speech within broader social arenas, as you say, but my question is, who will oversee this process? Who will be watching the watchers? Forgive me, as one living in a part of the former GDR for being very skeptical of these propositions, but this is something that people here do not wish to experience again. I would prefer to live under the American system, as laid down by their Founding Fathers. Of course, the responsibility and obligation that comes with this system is an effective education system, so we are come full circle.

As for minority extremist groups, specifically the Nazis and neo-Nazis, I think that one must view them as a symptom of the disease and not the disease itself. Simply condemning them as bad, indeed, turning them into an archetype of evil does nothing to address the real matter, which is to identify what caused Nazism and what has sustained it as a small movement today in Germany. Unfortunately, once you move past the eugenics and racism you begin to find that this movement is sustained by many real and legitimate grievances. Would it not be more helpful to investigate the Deep Politics of Nazism from the roots up instead of viewing it in a simple yet superficial manner?

@Heidegger555

Yes, to all of your points (except regarding the SPD- unless you regard Angie as their agent instead of a useful idiot) :), but what do we do about it?
22:31 December 8, 2012 by laurencelewis
@ Leo Strauss,

I think we essentially agree on the desirable outcomes and assessment of the current situation, but not on exactly how to bridge the two.

"Our rationality is the one quality that sets us ..

Just because we appear rational relative to other animals does not make us rational. Your argument here is true of all animals; we may not be completely rational but what rationality we possess is completely rational. We are animals which possess a certain degree of awareness of our surroundings such that we can make our lives easier in one way or another, but we are nevertheless animals and society is an animal imperative.

"The limits to the power of rational thinking are self-imposed by mankind himself."

Unfortunately not, we are limited, at least in our current configuration (which, I might add, I am confident we can improve upon). Society has developed to counteract the limitations of the human brain, to provide structure and discipline to a system which is otherwise continually compromised by its evolutionary past; fear of the unknown, powerful lust, undue aggression and use of force towards others, the list goes on. Society exists with the mandate to put us in our place when we step out of line, to state irrefutably what can and cannot be done if we are to live and work together. In this respect I would disagree with Franklin's definition of Liberty: the entirety of human development has been a slow war against forces which confine us, it has been about securing for ourselves an identity apart from the environment in which we live, about creating our own environment. In doing so we should, but often fail to, acknowledge that at any given time there are rules we have to follow. In short Liberty and Security are not mutually exclusive. Security has afforded liberty since we were a twinkle in evolutions eye.

"who will oversee this process?"

I don't think it's fair of you to generalise about the proper education of people such that they emerge perfect human beings (hyperbole, sorry), and then ask for specifics on how disparate groups of people can be managed to similar effect. Of course education is the best way to eliminate anti-social behaviour (which is what we are talking about) but just pointing to Liberal arts and Sophistry and saying abracadabra is not a solution. Suffice to say there isn't really space here for a conversation like this :)

"I think that one must view them..."

Surely they are both symptom and disease?

"Simply condemning.."

I agree with the whole paragraph, and I generalise that social progress is the prevention and cure. Nazism and all the atrocities perpetrated by humankind are symptoms of insufficiencies of society (in the broadest sense) to keep our animal prejudices in check, to train them out of us.

We were debating the methods by which humans should be kept in check. And I believe education and legislation go hand in hand towards this goal.
00:48 December 9, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@laurencelewis

Yes, perhaps we do agree on desired outcomes and assessment of the current situation but how to bridge the two of them is the most important part, I would say. :) I find your point of view to be quite interesting and at times provocative. I am surprised that no one else has commented on your posts.

"Just because we appear rational relative to other animals...

I must disagree with this paragraph. We are the only rational animal. This rationality is not relative to other animals or only an appearance, as you write. Only we have the power of intellectual abstraction, which enables us to think and form concepts. With these concepts we have not simply made things more comfortable for ourselves but have created civilization, something that other animals are incapable of doing. Irrational animals have a limited thought process and memory, even though they do possess an instinct which is often scharper than ours, especially now that we have been domesticated. Some are capable of building wonderful dams and beehives, but this is certainly an instinctual genetic impulse rather than reason. I wonder why you are short-selling us as a species. Do you regard yourself as such a limited being? I highly doubt it- why would you?

"Unfortunately not, we are limited, at least in our current configuration...

Our current configuration certainly has limited us, I agree, but I do not think that it is the fault of mankind in general, rather the powers that be. As you are well aware, societies and civilizations are dynamic and often proceed through a rise and fall process. The law and rules, which once facilitated progress, later become the tool of entrenched elites who use them to suppress progress within the society. This is the beginning of the end- when "law" is reversed to become a "wal". So is law a good, in and of itself?

I agree with you that liberty and security and not mutually exclusive, the question is, which one takes precedence?

Perhaps you could define who or what you mean by society? Who empowered this society with the mandate "to put us in our place when we step out of line"? This is important as I believe that one of our fundamental differences is the influence of society on the individual. For example, I don`t think that the individual has the slightest interest in war and yet states continually go to war, as they did in the Second War. Societies don`t "keep our animal prejudices in check", rather, the sociopaths who run them inflame and exploit these feelings so that the designs of those who hold the real power are served.

I joked about Leo Strauss earlier. Do you consider yourself to be a Straussian? Would you be for a benevolent scientific dictatorship or something like Huxley`s Brave New World?

What system of social order do you believe in and what do you think the future holds. :)
12:58 December 9, 2012 by laurencelewis
@Leo Strauss

I have emailed you my response, it was too long again :)
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