André F. Lichtschlag

André F. Lichtschlag, born 1968 in West Germany, is founder and editor-in-chief of the journal ‘eigentümlich frei’ and publisher (ef and Lichtschlag Buchverlag). Winner of the Roland-Baader-Prize (Roland-Baader-Auszeichnung) of 2015.

Source: shutterstock Giving the mainstream the shivers: vlogger

Libertarian Youtubers:The Vloggers Are Fired Up

A bubbling spring in an ambitious alternative media environment

Imagine there’s public radio and television and nobody’s tuning in anymore! The big streaming services for movies and series have long since outstripped the old TV stations. In Germany, the younger people are, the fewer of them watch the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF, even though they are forced to finance these TV zombies. It was only in the information sector that many people still seemed to be watching for a significant time. But that, too, has been consigned to history since the recent triumphant surge of informative Youtube channels. No 15-year-old switches on the ARD evening news program ‘Tagesschau’ or Anne Will’s talk show. And almost no 30-year-old does so either, only a few 50-year-olds. Public broadcasters are old-age pensioner TV, tending to die off.

There have been video bloggers, or ‘Vloggers’ for short, or also ‘Youtubers’, since the Californian company Youtube was created in 2005. But only after the Rezo hype a few months ago in Germany (see Wikipedia link below) did the small minority of political Vloggers here get properly started – with ever more inspired spectators –, and particularly those which push back against the fabricated, blue-haired green wave pretending to be part of the alternative media.

This in turn worries the political-medial ruling caste, which is why typical left-wing denunciations and the resulting deletions of individual episodes or entire channels have recently increased. From an etymological point of view, ‘left’ has always meant envy, destruction and the desire to destroy, while ‘right’ means pride, the building and creation of values. And so left-wing organizations like the Amadeu Antonio Foundation don’t set their own offers against the new media challenges, but strive to destroy the others. But even in the area of the new social media, where left-wing destruction reigns, resistance has recently been successfully formed.

When at the end of July the Youtube channel of ‘Nuoviso’ with more than 170,000 subscribers was suddenly deleted, the very heterogeneous alternative Vlogger scene of conservatives, libertarians, new right, conspiracy freaks and even some alternative leftists united in protest – and succeeded! Just as suddenly as ‘Nuoviso’ disappeared on Youtube, it was there again two days later – and thanks to all the attention, it was strengthened and more powerful than ever.

The spectacle was repeated at the beginning of August when the ‘Neverforgetniki’ channel of the young right-wing conservative Vlogger Niklas Lotz with more than 70,000 subscribers was deleted. The well-known lawyer Joachim Steinhöfel, who together with the journalists Vera Lengsfeld, Henryk M. Broder and Alexander Wendt had founded the initiative ‘Meinungsfreiheit im Netz’ (‘Freedom of Opinion on the Net’) and thus also a donation fund for just such emergencies, intervened immediately. Steinhöfel set the Google subsidiary Youtube a deadline of 24 hours to restore the channel that had suddenly been deleted by Youtube and presumably according to respective algorithms, apparently after malicious denunciation, otherwise he would go to court. And lo and behold: the company gave in. Now Steinhöfel may go further and examine claims for damages. Here a precedent could be set and thus an even sharper defensive weapon in the fight against the left-wing restriction of freedom of expression in the social media.

‘Neverforgetniki’ has already emerged stronger from the altercation thanks to the great attention, so this ‘shot from the left’ clearly backfired. Finally, the spectacle was repeated at the end of August, when the channel of the head of the German-speaking new-right Identitarian Movement, Martin Sellner, with more than 105,000 subscribers, was deleted from Youtube. This time, the left-wingers celebrated their victory on Twitter, and even the mainstream – such as the ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’ – reported this with gloating joy. After all, Sellner is, according to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a proven, “well-known right-wing extremist” who has thus been deprived of his right to speak. Sellner called in an Austrian media lawyer who copied Steinhöfel's instructions and put Youtube under pressure. Something happened that hardly anyone had thought possible: once again the company buckled and balked at a legal dispute. Like the other Youtubers, Martin Sellner profited in the end. “He is back” – the left-wing ‘taz’ had to announce shortly after the first victory reports and opined that Youtube should please not delete in the future if it “can't and won't really uphold the account suspensions.”

It currently seems that Joachim Steinhöfel has actually found a legal remedy against the widespread left-wing denunciation alliances and attempts at destruction, by pressuring Youtube from the other side to proceed particularly cautiously. Because as a private corporation, Youtube or Google – today: Alphabet Inc. – of course has to adhere to its own contracts with its content suppliers – and arbitrary, unfounded channel deletions are certainly not included as a clause or would be, as such, immoral, since the Youtubers have often invested hundreds or thousands of hours of work and built up their own brand.

On the other hand, a private provider such as Youtube must always have the right to terminate contracts according to free market principles. No one should be allowed to force Google to broadcast whoever it doesn't want or no longer wants. The principle of competition and other market mechanisms would, if need be, punish mistakes in company policy. In this respect, the way in which the contracting parties are abruptly and unjustifiably shut down is to be criticised, but not the principle of freedom of contract and termination itself. Martin Sellner, on the other hand, in an interview with ‘Tagesstimme’ after the re-activation of his channel, showed once again what left-wing thoughts in actual fact reside in this new-right-winger when he demanded the extension of the supposed right to live at the expense of others with this demand: “The use of digital platforms must become a fundamental right!” Thus a victory of freedom of opinion against left-wing oppression would turn into defeat thanks to political interventionism from the new-right. Through identitarian dirigisme, the right to freedom of expression would become the partial expropriation of media companies and a restriction of their freedom of choice. Therefore enough at this point of the old-left new-right Martin Sellner, who anyway defines himself more as a ‘political activist’ than as a media producer.

In times of denunciation and repression, all the Vloggers mentioned have the courage to turn themselves, through their video work, into public figures – making themselves into a target for their non-squeamish political opponents. The fact that, with each show, the alternative Youtubers are just getting better and better, not least because the technology is available at ever lower prices, is likely to give the political media establishment a considerable headache.

Edited and translated from eigentümlich frei, where the original article was published on September 15th 2019.

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