Merkel's final Power Grab

English translation by Howard Steen of original German language article from Milosz Matuschek here

The chancellor is reaching for total power in the late autumn of her reign. It has never been easier to deflate democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany than now.

Milosz Matuschek
Apr 17, 2021

Are we on our way to the final resting place of democracy?
Painting: Arnold Böcklin, The Island of the Dead

The German is like the slave who obeys his master without fetters, without a whip, by the mere word, even by a look. The bondage is in himself, in his soul; worse than material slavery is spiritualised slavery. One must liberate the Germans from within, nothing helps from without.

These sentences come from Heinrich Heine and they are very topical again right now. Recently, Facebook deleted this quote from a user. Heinrich Heine apparently violated Facebook's terms of use, but he's used to causing offence, so perhaps he'll just turn slightly to the other side in his grave at Montmartre Cemetery in Paris and gleefully say to himself in eternal twilight sleep: "Apparently I'm still right." You have to manage that first: Heine fled to Paris during his lifetime, was banned under the Nazis and is now censored by Facebook - for so-called "hate speech", the rubber term now hollowed out to the point of total ridiculousness by today's hyper-correct rulers and digital gatekeepers.

Who is afraid of the free word?

Authoritarian rulers have never feared anything more than the free word. That's why writers, thinkers, poets and singers were always the first victims of dictatorships. They were the first to smell its foul musty odour. At the same time, they were the creatively active ones who knew more about freedom than teachers of constitutional law will ever be able to tell us. Liberation from within is only possible by helping people to help themselves, as Heine already knew. The German, on the other hand, waits for someone from the outside to come and liberate him - until that is the case, he insults those who do not want to watch silently as swindlers and conspiracy theorists. "Ah Germany," one wants to reply to this half-cynically with Georg Herwegh,

"Let every freedom be stolen from you,
Do not defend yourself,
You keep the Christian faith;
Sleep, what more do you want?"

"Dictatorships initially live from the fact that their hieroglyphics are not recognised," Ernst Jünger once said. Well, applied to today, we can say: you really don't have to be an Egyptologist. It doesn't take much in the way of insight and decoding skills to realise that democracy in the Federal Republic is about to be shipped off to an island of death.

Angela Merkel has acted like a black hole since the beginning of her reign, sucking all life out of her surroundings, from competitors to coalition partners to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and federalism. The temporary becomes permanent, the exceptional becomes the rule. And every escalation of measures has ultimately resulted in a gain of power for them. Now, the next version of the "Population Protection Act" (the name alone is a mockery) amending the Infection Protection Act is to automatically trigger draconian measures such as contact restrictions and night-time curfews. It will then be enforced by central federal decree, but please don't call it an emergency decree regime!

How practical: According to the Basic Law (Art. 19 para. 4), there is no legal recourse directly against laws, so in future one will also be spared annoying individual case decisions by courts against administrative acts hitherto taken on the basis of legal ordinances of the Länder. And for some time now, one has been asking oneself in view of the piling up constitutional complaints: What do the judges in Karlsruhe actually do for a living? In their hour of probation, the country's highest judges and members of their own constitutional body have apparently decided to mutate into a club of sleepyheads in Florentine robes.

When the solution is the problem

The rule of law has been reduced to nothing, democracy and federalism have been undermined, and a permanent state of emergency has been introduced. And that, too, to the cheers of escalationists in the mass media who always want to go one better. Low and weak characters have always felt particularly comfortable in the slipstream of the authoritarians. Instead of (residual) discussion in a body not provided for by the constitution, the Conference of Minister Presidents (read: a kind of zoom switch for nodding off the Chancellor's plans), the cool number of incidences is now to rule with simultaneous expansion of the tests. This is how technocracy works.

In a village with 3,000 inhabitants, three positive tests (mind you: not sick or demonstrably infectious people, who could actually be isolated) are enough to bring life to a standstill for everyone and destroy any planning security. Yet everyone knows by now that more tests on healthy people (in new parlance: symptomless people) lead to more false-positive results. Not to mention the PCR test and the associated inconsistencies.

At the same time, it has been shown that vaccinations can also increase the number of new infections. So what is being touted to the Germans as salvation ("Test more! Vaccinate everyone quickly!") is itself a problem. Thus, the lockdown can be extended at will and the government surfs on its self-created permanent wave towards absolute power. Rigid incidence values and a dynamic pandemic in the hands of politics. What more does the dictator of tomorrow want?

Dictatorship, for those who don't know, according to George Orwell, feels like someone permanently standing with a boot on their face. The hieroglyphics with which the next dictatorship announces itself have been outlined clearly enough by the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben in recent decades: Permanent state of emergency as the rule; the world as a large camp from which there is no escape; the power of disposal over health and naked life with the rulers of a permanent biopolitical excess. Politics now has the final opportunity to "close the bag". Everything the federal government has been doing for the past year in terms of pandemic policy can be read and understood from this end.

Image: Oliver Sperl

Moreover, once the national level of decision-making has slackened, it is easy to govern from above, be it through the EU or through democratically even less legitimised or appreciably accountable institutions such as the WHO. The latter not only praised the CCP's lockdown policy and set a precedent for the world, it also determines how the pandemic can be talked about on social media, YouTube & Co. Let's not fool ourselves: The elimination of democratic processes at the level of nation states will inevitably mean a further gain of power for higher levels of decision-making, for backrooms and informal bodies.

The backbone of the republic

Mutations and metamorphoses, then, everywhere you look. The federal government has mutated into a geriatric department of apparatchiks, hiding in self-isolation from the citizen and genuine democratic control. Everyone at a distance, please don't talk! The nomenklatura has become the real risk group and declares anyone who gets too close to it a danger. My God, what kind of ridiculous fuck-up is this?!

We are increasingly in a situation that Ernst Jünger described in his book "Der Waldgang": At a time when institutions themselves have become disreputable, responsibility is passing to the unbroken individual. It will be this last hard core of people who are not prepared to give up freedom under any circumstances, who carry the fate of the many silenced, apathetically ducking away, cowardly subjects on their shoulders. They are the real backbone of the republic and no parliament, court or medium of this world. The inner constitution of a nation decides its fate and the fate of its values, such as freedom, democracy, the rule of law and federalism.

History teaches us: it was the heads who were officially ostracised in their time, such as Heine, Herwegh and some more, who held the torch high in dark times and were fiercely censored, fought against and banished for it. The present order is built on their shoulders. They were in open resistance to their times and dared to say "no". According to Tucholsky, the highest expression of character. Today we owe the text of the national anthem to one of them.

August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben's book of poems cost him his professorship at the university and his citizenship, he was spied on by the police and expelled 39 times, including three times from his home town of Fallersleben. Among other things, he left us the poem entitled "German Despair", written two years after the March Revolution of 1848.

It can be read as a reminder of whether this country really needs a very hard impact before it comes to its senses. Or whether it can do without it.

German Despair

In fear and bourgeois life
never broke a chain.
Here one has to give more,
Freedom is not given.

It is the happy slaves
freedom's greatest enemy,
Therefore you shall have misfortune
and feel every suffering.

Not murder, not fire, not dungeon,
not martial law on top of it;
It must come stronger still..,
if it is to have any effect!

You must become beggars,
You must all starve,
To toil and trouble.
Cursed and damned.

You must hate the little bit of life
must be so thoroughly detested
that you want to give it away
like a torment and a burden.

Only then perhaps a better spirit
a better spirit in you,
the spirit that overnight
will sweep you away to freedom!

I sincerely thank reader Edith Salmen for the inspiring poetic recitation of the twelve socially critical poems from five centuries, which you can listen to here.