For years, the “Identitarian Movement (IB)” (German for: “Generation Identity” (GI)) was a favorite project of the so-called “New Right” in Germany and especially of publisher and “Institut für Staatspolitik” leader Götz Kubitschek. That’s probably over now.
In the current issue of the far-right Austrian magazine “Die Neue Ordnung” (III / 2019, translates “The new order”), published by the right-wing publishing house “Ares Verlag” by Wolfgang Dvorak-Stocker, there is an interview with Götz Kubitschek (until now only available in a print version).
Who is Götz Kubitschek?
Götz Kubitschek is an important figure for the German far-right scene, especially for the branch which calls itself “Die Neue Rechte” (translates “The New Right”). These are far-right activists who share far-right ideology but try to get rid of the adoration of National Socialism which is still popular in Germanys far-right and Neonazi-scenes, but unpopular in over-all society. The “New Right” tries to spread racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, misogyny and anti-democratic ideas not only directly but also through “Metapolitik” (metapolitics) – which means, they place their hate in moderate words in seemingly pre-political spaces like culture, media, youth work or local acitivism to normalize the ideology and make it seem more appropriate for a broader audience to share it.
Götz Kubitschek is in Germany a motor of the “New Right” scene, as he is a networker with no inhibitions to bring together different right-wing groups from conservatives, right-wing populists, “worried citizens” of “Pegida”-movement, “New Right”-Authors and other voices of “alternative (i.e. far-right) media”, members of the “Identitarian Movement”, right-wing students (“Burschenschafter”), politicans of “Alternative für Deutschland AfD” and even Neonazis or politicans of the german far-right party “Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands (NPD)”. By his networking efforts Kubitschek tries to build a new far-right elite in Germany and he is not unsuccessful in doing so, as he for example has a strong influence on the AfDs far-right wing called “Der Flügel” (“The wing”) who itsself is getting the strongest part of the party at the moment. Practically, Kubitschek owns a publishing house (“Antaios-Verlag”), is publisher of a far-right magazine (“Sezession”, print and online) and is director of the “Institut für Staatspolitik (IfS)” (translates “Institute for State Policy)” in Schnellroda (Sachsen-Anhalt). He likes to call this a “think tank”, but it is more a meeting place for the “New Right” scene and their farer right friends.
Back to the current interview in the “Neue Ordnung”:
Larger parts of the interview seem to be a “fairytale lesson with Uncle Götz,” in which he knits above all on his own legend (“We have built our publishing house and would have just continued, even if it had stayed small and fine – but then sucess came (…) Now our calm has been lost, but it’s worth it becaus we do all for the fatherland!”) and presents a very own and self-confident view of his influence on the far-right world:” We don’t reach masses of voters, but we surley reach everyone, really every single head that somehow reads with us or against us, thinks, formulates, argues. ”
From a mentor to a harsh critic of the “Identitarian Movement”
Kubitschek doesn’t gains influence with his rather unpleasant-to-read publications – but the “Institute for State Policy” and Kubitschek’s initiative “Ein Prozent für unser Land” (translates “One Percent for our Land”, a fundraising club for far-right projects) are central networking sites for various parts of the right-wing populist to far-right scene in the German-speaking countries. For 19 years, actors from NPD to AfD, from Pegida to the “Identitarian Movement” have had meetings at the “Institute for State Policy”, planning strategies and methods to normalize right-wing extremist ideology in Germany. Especially in the “summer academies” and “winter academies”, which are aimed at people under the age of 35, the new-right cadres of tomorrow are trained ideologically and communicatively. Here they learn of ideas that Kubitschek already preached before AfD and IB implemented it in their political work: for example using provocations as a generator of attention and a means to shift the boundaries of what is accepted to be said ore done in societal discourse. They learn about idea of agitation in “metapolitics”, i.e. spreading the right-wing extremist ideology in the “pre-political space”. Alway prominent attendees of the meetings for years: activists of the “Identitarian Movement” (“Identitäre Bewegung”, short: IB).
So far, Kubitschek has been a huge fan of the “Identitarian Movement”. In 2012 Kubitschek got to know Martin Sellner, head of the German and Austrian IB, and became a kind of mentor for him. As the newspaper Tagesspiegel explains: “Kubitschek says that he was proud of the fact that his book ‘Provokation’ [provocation] was held in cameras during protests [of the IB].” Martin Sellner and other IB activists like Tim-Lucas Wessels or Jonas Schick have been publishing regularly in Kubitschek’s magazine “Sezession”. Kubitschek himself writes about Sellner on his blog: “I’m not friends with all of my authors – but with Martin from Vienna I am.”
“It will not become anything big anymore”
In the interview with the “Neue Ordnung”, however, Kubitschek sounds quite different – and his critique is harsh. Interviewer Bernd Kallina wants an estimation from Kubitschek what it means for the IB to be classified as a far-right extremist group by the state authorities (constitution protection) in Germany. Kubitschek says: “Some people or groups are turned into ‘white pool billiard balls’, which are used to shoot other balls into the pockets – you know the game, I suppose. With regard to the IB, it was soon obvious that this was their role within the [far right] movement. They are young, activistic, one or the other with biographies moving form far-right activism to identitarian activism (…): These are the ingredients for a lousy cocktail, and even though they argued, protested and showed that they are a utterly peaceful movement that couldn’t save them.”
So, the “IB” could be only a kind of experiment for upcoming activities because it is equipped with a too far-right staff? Interviewer Kallina keeps asking for explanation. Kubitschek: “On the one hand, there is this really good approach of a patriotic, non-extreme and very creative youth movement. But now it is contaminated to the point of untouchability. This means, it will not become anything big anymore. On the other hand, the opponents have disfigured themselves to the point of recognition, when you look at how they deal with the IB – an instructive process. ‘
With this sentence Kubitschek probably means that society recognizes even a “peaceful” far-right youth movement as the far-right thread to democracy and human rights it is. And the democratic society does not only recognize is, it is able to fight against it. Kubitschek mourns in several parts of the interview about the German society, which just does not want the same things he wants: “In the fall of 2017 there was this slogan and idea of “Maybe talk to the right?” and we were almost able to break the dam…but then civil society showed up and “walled in””. Later on he states: “I do not participate in speculation as to whether or not the ‘wing’ of the AfD can be able to gain votes and convince in Western Germany. It would be no question it could if our media landscape were not so denunciatory.”
The Descent of the “Identitarian Movement” in Germany
But what if we take a look on the reality of the “Identitarian Movement” in Germany which Kubitschek seems to be giving up? In fact, the self-appointed “movement” with a total number of around 500 activists in Germany has in 2019 become remarkably quiet. Spectacular, big events with public impact, which previously belonged to the brand core of the IB, were missing. Smaller, local actions that are still taking place but find no (press) public anymore. And also the communication possibilities on the Internet, IB’s tool for self-promotion so far, are becoming more and more limited since the “Identitarian Movement” and its activists are blocked on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Other large platforms they still use – like Twitter or YouTube – also sanction Postings of the “IB” more often. Provocation without resonant cavity is just half the fun. Now the IB members can only show their “activism” to like-minded people in the limited space of IB-owned closed telegram channels. The impact on general society is shrinking dramatically.
More pressure through persecution following the Christchurch attack
However, the increased pressure of persecution on the “IB” also weighs heavily. In Germany, the group is classified as a far-right extremist organization since 2018, which means they are monitored closely by Verfassungsschutz (Office for the Protection of the Constitution). This assessment as a far-right extremist group is shared by Austria and other countries after the Christchurch attack in March 2019, where a assassin murdered 51 people. The offender did not only cite the IB-ideology of the “Great Exchange” as a motif, but he had also donated beforehand to IB Austria and exchanged e-mails with Martin Sellner. After the Christchurch attack there were police raids at Sellners home (see Standard) and he received a travel ban for the US (see NZZ). The Austrian party ÖVP is currently preparing a prohibition of “Identitarian Movement” as a group (Wiener Zeitung). To prepare for this, the Austrian IB announced recently that their mail-order shop “Phalanx Europe” (owned by Martin Sellner and Patrick Lenart) in Austria closes down. It is annonced to move to Germany and to be continued by two activists in Rostock, Germany. There are also investigations for tax evasion against the austrian operators going on at the moment.
A new movement?
In this context it is interesting that a longtime prominent german activist of the IB, Dorian Schubert from Halle, posted a survey in his Instagram story some weeks ago. There he asks his followers: “Do you long for a new authentic and professional radical right movement?” 73% of the 200 voting people agree. Schubert then asks how this new movment could be improved. People say: “Distance to the Nazis” – this is what the “New Right” always promotes. But they say also: “The leading persons should not be self-actors, like most of the new right now”. This will probably work against both Sellner and Kubitschek.