The Red Army Faction (RAF), the German terrorist group active in the 1970s to 1990s, wanted to use assassinations and kidnappings to induce the state to intensify repression and thus force it to reveal its fascist character. This revelation was to be the signal of collective upheaval for the overthrow of the system. As is well known, the revolt did not take place.
On the one hand, there was no revolutionary potential in society, which rather expected the state to put an end to the horrific episode. Furthermore, the measures of the government under Chancellor Helmut Schmidt were decisive, but overall moderate, prudent and constitutional. Only in a left-wing intellectual milieu did the crimes trigger ‘furtive glee.’
Brenton Tarrant, the assassin of Christchurch, made a calculation similar to that of the RAF. With his murders of Muslims he wanted to trigger waves of state repression against opponents of immigration, critics of Islam, conservatives and right-wingers. In order to simulate structural connections, he left traces by incorporating into his manifesto terms from the right-wing intellectual milieu. Money transfers such as those to Martin Sellner, the head of the Austrian Identitarians, served the same purpose.
Social manslaughter of a person
The conservatives and the Right, who have been marginalized, were to awaken from their law-abiding tolerant rigidity, radicalize themselves and unleash violence that would lead to the great bust-up, in which the Western and European world could renew itself.
However, there is no ‘rightist’ potential for violence that could be brought to life, and Sellner is too intelligent and too humane to engage in apocalyptic calculations, as can be seen from his written and oral statements. Of course, the police had to follow the tracks laid by the assassin. But what is taking place is the social manslaughter of a person and the politically motivated extermination campaign against a non-violent movement. Politicians and the media, against their better judgment, react to the assassin's strategy because it provides them with fresh ammunition for the transformation they have set in motion from a state under the rule of law into a state under the rule of convictions.
An example from the online edition of the newspaper ‘Bild’: “The leader of the group, Martin Sellner, confirmed that he has exchanged e-mails with Tarrant, but denies involvement in the Christchurch terror.” ‘Bild’ implies a flow of information instead of the formal thank-you mails. This results from the linguistic logic of the suggested “involvement” in the mass murder.
They neither want to get to the bottom of things nor practice justice
The subordination is conveyed by the verb “deny” (in German: “leugnen”). They should have written that Sellner disputes, disclaims, rejects, repudiates an involvement in terror; that he contradicts contrary statements or protests against them. The verb “deny,” on the other hand, makes him look shifty, because it contains a pejorative, derogatory meaning in addition to the factual one: the deliberate denial or disputing of facts.
Peter denied Jesus three times; the Holocaust denier denies the annihilation of the Jews. It is precisely this pejorative reading that the ‘Bild’-author conjures up by syntactically linking it to the little word ‘but.’ It insinuates that Sellner's denial is only the interest-controlled situational description of the delinquent, against which all probability stands. Such linguistic procedures are sophisticated, perfidious, legally unassailable and – effective. They have put a ‘pestilential curse’ on Sellner and the entire Identitarian Movement, according to Andreas Unterberger. The curse, however, doesn’t emanate from the Identitarian Movement, but from the media stink bombs.
Reporting in Austria is even more vicious. This kind of journalism is not affected by any legal, moral, factual concerns or objections. Those who run it do not want to get to the bottom of things nor do they want to do justice. They want to destroy their opponents socially and morally, nothing more. Even Sellner's long-settled and regretted political aberrations as a juvenile were illegally dragged into the public eye.
When there’s conflict, the liberal state turns out to be a fiction
Austrian political party competition, coalition rivalries and a desire for revenge by a red-green-colored press and the judiciary play their part here. But in essence it is about mass immigration, about the question of existence and the fracture of Western European societies. Because the Identitarians bring these to the public eye internationally, they have become an enemy object everywhere. The matter is making waves in the German, European and overseas media.
When there’s conflict, ‘liberal state’ and ‘free press’ prove to be fictions. They do everything they can to use repression, defamation and brainwashing to deprive the people of the power to decide on its continued existence. The media have accepted the function of bloodless executor, of verbal thugs. The only remaining refuge is the rule of law, which is also heavily under attack.
The Austrian philosopher Wilfried Grießer describes this unhealthy condition in his book ‘Flucht und Schuld’ (‘Flight and Guilt’) as follows: “Fundamental rights, which also protect the ‘intolerant,’ are no longer defended offensively, but must be – unfortunately! – conceded. ‘Civil society,’ however, is increasingly penetrating the sphere of law, and so there is hope that legal victories for intolerance and discrimination will become increasingly rarer.”
Sellner didn’t realise what powers he was challenging
In Sellner's controversial and programmatic book, ‘Identitärer Aufbruch’ (‘Identitarians On The Move’), there is much lucidity and intelligence to be found, but it was not quite clear to him what powers he was challenging. His idea is to occupy the proto-political space by means of ‘aesthetic interventions,’ to point out metapolitical perspectives and in this way to change practical politics sustainably in the medium term.
This is the imitation and reversal of the student revolt and 60’s movement. But that movement rode on the waves of powerful global trends and was already institutionally rooted in the media, universities and culture. The Identitarians have nothing of the sort, which is why it’s at the very least doubtful whether they have what it takes to become a nucleus for a new youth movement, or extra-parliamentary opposition.
Their leaders present themselves publicly, show their faces on the streets and on the Internet, are the courageous opposite of the authorities, civil society and so-called activists who, under the protection of darkness, terrorize those who think differently. But under the circumstances, the gesture is more poignant than political. This offensive self-revelation appeals to fairness, to the sense of shame and justice or, to be quite old-fashioned, to the chivalry of the other side.
Such virtues, however, hardly play a role in the age of the masses. Ortega y Gasset stated that a characteristic of our time is that a majority imperiously demands their right to ordinariness, vulgarity, the qualities of the rogue. In hippie states such characters are even publicly subsidized, rewarded, promoted, and hoisted into leadership positions. In such an environment, there are no addressees for self-sacrifice.
An exchange of arguments is impossible on this basis
Again and again articles about Sellner exhibit repressed admiration for a young man from a good home and with above-average gifts, who has given up a comfortable life and thrown his adventurous heart into the fray. It’s characteristic of the media that the insight into the superiority of the other does not lead to any pause for thought and certainly not to catharsis, but to an even more forceful declaration of hatred and rage for destruction.
The rogue does not tolerate someone standing higher; everything should be as small, mean and conformist as him. The campaign operators are risking the consequence of making Sellner a target for Islamist revenge actions. In the case of some of them, one may indeed assume a furtive, conditional intention to kill.
On this basis, conversations, dialogs, or any kind of argumentative exchange are impossible. Escalation is a fact, and the media business is, for the most part, irreparably rotten.
Originally written in German for 'Junge Freiheit', where the article appeared under the title 'Journalistenkanaille gegen die Identitären', on April 10th 2019.