To counter anarchy, let’s shine some light on it, to get it out of the dark, where it likes to pretend it is an anchor and guide in stormy seas …
To do so, here are some images from two very different Germanies: the wealthy, capitalist Bavarian city of Münich,
and the former communist Saxon city of Dresden.
There’s a context to what you can see here, namely what you can’t see, which is exactly what there is to see, so let’s start with that. A little history is going to help. Below, for example, is the absence in the above images, represented in her pure 19th century form, the German flag: black, red, gold, the symbol of underground rebel fighters through the early to mid 19th century: the servants of an independent, right wing state, dressed in black, who spill red blood to achieve the golden light of freedom. The order is significant. Note the sword. In the middle ages, when heraldry was less romantic, the order would have been, from top to bottom, red, black, gold: the colours of a standard were always separated by a bar of metal, i.e.. iron, i.e. a sword. There’s your right wing connection: the force that binds opposites by subjugating them to a firm order — in this case violence.
But certainly not just violence. Notice that the iron shackle of imprisonment is broken in the lower left of the image: in other words, this flag represents a movement of independence taken by force, rather than a movement towards pan-European integration under a foreign master, i.e. France. (Note the French tricoleur flag in the red, white, and blue in which Germania is dressed, and which she has quickly transformed into a certain German-ness). Compare that to Delacroix’s famous image of the French Revolution against a restored monarchy on July 28, 1830, showing the French flag, and liberty drawing patriots to herself out of the carnage of the streets. Note that the First World War, Germany against France, began on this day 84 years later. Hardly an accident. The fates of these two countries are not separate. Note as well that the French don’t have a black bar in this flag.
Liberty Guides the People, by Eugène Delacroix. Source.
What’s with these colours? Ah, look: there’s a third flag in this series. This is the flag of the Italian fascists, under Mussolini. Note that it is all-black, all force and will, and contains the ancient roman symbol of fasces, a bundle of sticks lashed together by the same axe that split them. It is a symbol of a strong central government that unites all the branches of a society into unified order, by force of will. The word “branches” is not metaphorical. The image precedes Rome, and harks back to forest cultures, such as those of the Celts, with their deep understanding of life springing out of the green blood of the earth, everywhere, at all times.
Now, we’re almost at today’s Dresden, but before we get there, do have a look again at Veitt’s Germania. This time, take a look at the plant material here:
There are three plants: the ash of the flag pole, one of the fasces of the Roman symbol, but freed from bondage to a distant, centralized order, and taking up a standard as a new order on the old model; the oak leaves of Germania’s crown, replacing the laurel leaves of Mediterranean-based culture; and hemp, or cannabis, replacing the olive branch of peace, also of Mediterranean culture. Veitt’s Germania, in other words, is a new roman state, unfolding in new independence from an older model, in which it has, seemingly been bound with iron shackles. Germania’s oak leaf crown appears again in the flag of Hitler’s personal guard…
as well as in the red, black and gold flag of the East German state, which chose non-Germanic, soviet imagery on a very Germanic background (note that the tools of war as the tools of order have been replaced by the tools of work, bound by the flag as the organizing principle. This should have been an early warning of the troubles of state control to come.)
So, what does it mean? Well, look at the Art Square in Dresden, where traditional Saxon crafts (those mugs and jugs) are sold next to oriental crafts (those scarves) as a gesure of world solidarity, framed by a black and gold raven missing the blood of the German revolution. Powerful stuff.
We can pick up the theme in the streets outside, in which the Autonomous Left, a socialist street violence organization modelling itself after its enemies the Automous Nationalists, or the extreme right, has reserved a parking spot for itself, and represents one of its members, Slank perhaps, as a negative outline inside a shell of darkness. He is the wall, and the street itself, but as a person he is not there. He’s having a sit-in, though, and is talking to his eagle hand. He’s a bit like Buddha. That ought to show those Art Square folks, eh. Note the heart at the left that has been crafted into an anarchist symbol. Aw.
That’s the battle flag of the German Navy from 1933-1935, under the Nazis.
Again, there is no gold, because there is no point at which the violence ends and a promised land begins. This is total war, forever. Here are some members of the Autonomous Left. You can be sure that to the police they aren’t anonymous.
So, with that ghostly absent but oh-so-public radical Slank (?) guarding his parking spot in Dresden, lets look down the street, shall we. Note the communist colours in the image below. In fact, note the red, black and white …
… of the Nazi flag, without Hitler’s guards’ gold. The image is called “Brush Island” or “Art Island”, a seeming provocation of the Art Square and its attempts to avoid nationalism. Note the RAC tag: Rock Against Communism, or, should you have a sense of humour, and the far left and far right certainly do, then Room Air Conditioning, a common German term. So, here the radical right is turfing the communists and their red couch onto the street, where they can have all the bourgeois values they like. I guess everyone wants in from the cold, eh.
Absence screams from this picture, in the name of presence, as it does in the other Germany, in Munich, where such radical politicization of the streets is simply not a thing. Here, the nihilist images in a major downtown department store are bodiless; it is only clothes that make the woman here… and those clothes are in a very narrow spectrum, dominated by the black and red of the right and the Bavarian blue.
This is the Bavarian blue in front of the state opera in Munich:
And here we have Munich, under its continual process of construction and reconstruction, devaluation, decoration and reconstruction, according to principles of capitalist economics and individualist ideologies bound to the forms of the state. Note the predominance of English. Note how beauty is advertised as a symbol of belonging to a great, wide world, although the beauty of the city is closer to the beauty of the old DDR flag, with its uniting symbol of work.
Is that not what’s going on here in Dresden, with these cups and scarves?
Is that not the world democracy that the radical nationalist street, both right and left …
… laughs at?
“This is what democracy looks like.”
Isn’t that the way that democracy used to unite against world communism and has now united against world terrorism, rather than the simple terrorism of the nationalist streets? Isn’t democracy the absent player in this game, no different than the others? Here’s a playful and cynical image of this democracy, set against what populists of any flavour, left, right or centrist would call a dictatorship: a strong centralized state.
A populist critic of the German democratic state, Hans Herbert von Armin, puts it like this:
Here, I’ll translate:
Every German has the freedom to obey laws he never voted for; he’s permitted to stand in awe before formative principles of law, whose efficacy he never legitimized; he is free to submit to politicians, who no citizen has elected and to fatten them up generously with tax money, the use of which he was never asked. All in all, the state and politics are in a condition in which only professional optimists or hypocrites could believe that it might follow the will of the people.
And this cry for populism is from an aristocrat teaching at German university, in a country in which democracy usually means “world socialist solidarity”, as quoted on a far left website, that stands by the principles of the 1968 German Revolution against American Imperialism, which it puts like this:
That’s the old German Totenkopf there, an ancient Christian symbol …
Freiburg im Breisgau
… which we know best today from it’s use in the death camps of the Second World War.
Death’s Head SS Junior Officer at the Matthausen (?) Concentration Camp. Source.
And it does so in the populist terms that currently dominate American politics and which are one of its greatest exports to the world. That’s the inner meaning of this:
It is an expression of profound absence, which knows no bounds and offers no escape — and wants none. It has accepted total war. In other words, this is still the second world war. Those horrors have not gone away and have not yet been squarely faced. What’s more, the “anti-fascist” (ie. anti-democratic, ie. anti-US) walls of the East German State still exist in people’s heads here. After all, who is the ‘you’ in the image above? It is the German, who speaks English, who is recruited for American military power, by an Uncle Sam who despises them at the same time, in the view point of an anarchist (note the black star). In fact, this democratic Uncle Sam, for three generations the guarantor of democracy in Germany, and of this form of beauty …
… is represented as saying one thing and thinking another, anarchy, just like an anarchist. All in all, these streets, the public space of Germany, express a conjoined idea of democracy and populism, expressed through a form of popular will that accepts no system of government, as a form of non-government. That’s a cycle that has no escape, until it accepts itself as art in a present without end. That’s pure communism, without the need to build a state.
Against that, the only weapon is time, because anarchists wish for the world to be aestheticized within this eternal present. They want to reserve any image of the depths of time for themselves, to lead to this end, which is the end of history, which is pure communism. They want to divert us, because they are not immune from this treatment. It might be their strength, but it is also their Achilles heel. As populism overwhelms world politics, it would be a darned good defence against it to set the present aside for the moment and show the life of anarchism across millennia, to surgically divorce it from democracy. We don’t have to go that far, though. That Minnie Mouse in the poster above, with the Indian head dress? That’s pure East German politics. It recalls the 500,000 East Germans from Dresden and Leipzig who took to the forests just outside of Dresden, and this image, every summer, to play Indian. It was one of the only possible, permitted escapes from the totalitarianism of the universal democracy called communism at that time, as here in 1966 …
That game is still in play, despite the regime change of 1990, that saw East Germany colonized by the West. Resistance continues, no different than it had been under the Soviets, or the Nazis, with no goal other than a dream of anarchy, of no government at all, as guaranteed by the people. What strange forms American populist ideology takes when it is an export article. What strange dreams of a lost Jewish imagination people bring to it. Here a member of the Autonomous Left throws a bottle on May Day, the day of communist solidarity.
And he is throwing it against the people. The key word here is “autonomous”, ie. answerable to no-one. That’s anarchy. In some countries, that’s called democracy. It is answerable to time. When light is cast upon it, it freezes and turns to stone.
Then its inhuman intelligence is clear for all to see. Don’t let the thing escape your sight.