The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) is the most prominent institute for desease research and control in Germany. Its head, Lothar H. Wieler, has launched a campaign against migrants in Germany in cooperation with the boulevard paper Bild-Zeitung.
The Bild-Zeitung referred to quotes from a conversation between Wieler and doctors in high positions in January. They said that 4.8% of the population accounted for more than 50% of intensive care patients. One would need "hard-as-nails social work", preferably in the mosques. Another doctor even talked about 90% of all intubated patients and calls them "patients with communication barriers". Again, Muslim migrants are meant.
They claim not to want to start a debate on racism, "it was a taboo", but there would simply be a "communication deficit" among certain population groups. Later, Wieler said that his statements had been taken out of context. Indeed, papers like Bild-Zeitung have a disgraceful tradition of misquoting in order to create lurid headlines. Nevertheless, in this case it is obvious that the meaning of Wieler’s argumentation wasn’t altered that much as he focused on a typical racist scapegoat for the crisis in the health system: the unreasonable migrants who don’t want to obey to social-distance rules.
This is very reminiscent of the propaganda of the AfD and other right-wing groups: Obviously, the migrant patients are themselves to blame because they do not understand what they have to do to escape the virus. Or even harm the German population by not following "rules".
If the head of the Robert Koch Institute, the central authority for combating the pandemic, has such conversations and they "accidentally" fall into the hands of the Bild newspaper, then this cannot be a coincidence. This is a massive attempt to stir up sentiment and name scapegoats. Like in medieval times of the plague or other devastating diseases, when Jews were murdered or women were burned as witches.
This shows how much representatives of the government and its leading officials understand that the mass sentiment has changed. They can no longer give answers to the pandemic that are uncritically accepted by the public. The first wave of shock and obedience is over. Obviously, the goverment and its leading officials are absolutely guilty of dismantling of the health system and lack of effective health preparations for pandemics. They have screwed up and even more tried to misuse the pandemic as a cover for bonapartist attacks. Unfortunately, many medical experts which have been promoted by the government offered themselves as spokespersons for anti-democratic attacks under the name of pandemic control. There, the old damnation of the German medical profession and medical officials from the time before 1945 is coming to the surface again. It is the old patterns of racist profiling in medicine.
That they are now campaigning against people with a migrant background is cheap, shabby and pure racism that must be denounced and fought.
An editor-in-chief of the bourgeoius newspaper, Westdeutsche Zeitung (WZ) took the same line these days. "Mr. Lothar Leuschen , editor-in-chief of the Westdeutsche Zeitung, claims in the local political commentary for Wuppertal "Reden ist Gold" of Saturday, 20 March 2021 (Wuppertal edition, page 18) that "statistical comparisons among the municipalities in Germany (.) strongly suggest [that] the number of infected people is related to the structure of the population". For him, this means that "cities with a more diverse population are at a disadvantage". The reason is that there are more "educationally distant families" with higher "barriers to understanding". These groups do not abide by the pandemic rules, he claims: "the messages [from the administration] do not get through, or they are ignored". Thus he insinuates more frequent misbehaviour on the part of the groups he has flagged." (1).
Something similar happened in Hamm and other cities, and the press is happy to run "outrage campaigns". Who do they actually want to prove they are not the lying press conjured up by the right-wingers?
Right-wing agitation against migrants and Muslims grows stronger
The "narrative" of the right insinuates that Muslims are segregated, that they form parallel societies, that they have insufficient language skills and do not recognise (read: obey to) German authorities.
AfD and blogs like Tichys Einblick have gratefully pounced on the issue, once again a notch more disgusting than Wieler and alike.
The DIVI (German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive and Emergency Care) has strongly contradicted Wieler and branded such arguments as "discriminatory". Moreover, there is no recording of patients according to origin, language or religion.
In general, it is more likely that the working class and poor faces complications during a COVID-19 infection and any other kind of disease. Poorer housing conditions, residential areas with polluted air, stressfull jobs and unhealthy workconditions - all in all, bad living conditions have a severe impact on the immune system and on health in general.
Furthermore, even those who religiously believe in social distancing and lockdowns should at least admit that it is of utter stupidity to believe of this as a realistic concept for the poorer layers oft he working class and society as such. Many underpaid working class jobs don’t give any possibility to keep distance at the workplace. Further, it is a mindset similar to the times of colonialism to demand a solution for the pandemic that means staying in relatively comfortable homes for the wealthier part of the society while getting everything handed by underpaid workers (mostly from a migrant background). Lockdowns are a dream solution for the privileged only.
Last but not least demanding from migrants and refugees to keep the strict COVID-19 hygiene rules without offering explanations in their mother tongue (like Farsi, Pashto, Arabic, etc.) is typical social-chauvinist ignorance. Since February at least some kinds of bilingual documents were produced, albeit in limited amount.
Many hospital employees have a migrant background and due to their profession, they have an increased risk of infections. Similarly with workers in the elderly care sector. There are cases where infected workers were forced by their supervisors to come to work and they were forbidden to talk about it. Often masks, hygiene and disinfection items were missing for the health workers (even if provided to the patients).
Attacks against migrants by state institutions
In October 2020, several people became infected in a refugee camp for initial reception in Kassel. Police and private security guards cordoned off the grounds and building. No one told the residents the reasons for those measures. Translators were not present. Naturally, arguments exploded. Doctors who worked in the facility voluntarily and had criticised the hygienic conditions in the facility were banned from the building. The whole incident however was presented as yet another example of migrants respectively refugees who are unwilling to integrate themselves.
Another case were incidents in typical log construction areas in Göttingen. Bourgeois press claimed that illegal celebrations by residents had led to a COVID hotspot. When police attacked and tried to impose detentions, many of the tenants resisted. Again, the bourgeois press claimed it to be another incident of Muslims negecting important hygiene rules. Short time later, same claims were brought forward against Roma and Sinti. In reality the police attacks were targeted against migrants living in the area, irrespective if they were just on the way to work, caring for family members, or any other reason. Racial profiling is the daily bread of the racist police. Unsurprisingly, such attacks increased under the cover of health protection.
Revolt of the youth
Already last year there were youth riots in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Dietzenbach (near Hanau) and in other cities. Recently, youths in Stuttgart were given draconian sentences of several years. They were involved in scuffles with the police. In the first months of the year, there were again clashes in Stuttgart and Frankfurt.
There is a training ban for young people, the amateur clubs in almost all sports have finished their rounds of matches. The youth centres are closed. Parks are closed for gatherings of all kinds. There is absolutely no public place left for social life, which is especially important to the working class youth. No wonder they suffer particularly from the lockdowns. No wonder spontaneous social gatherings attacked by the police forces result in violent clashes and even (until yet smaller) riots.
The younger ones still live with their parents, schools are closed or there is home schooling, there is a lack of social contacts, youth centres are closed. There is little space at home if any and no way to balance this out with activities outside.
Students cannot get into universities and even their financial situation is becoming more precarious due to the loss of part-time jobs.
Time to fight the Bonapartist attacks
We call the present state politics Bonapartist, which in case of imperialist countries like Germany always contains repugnant racism. Bonapartist measures are not a guarantee for stability, as the last few weeks have shown us; the decline of the two "people's parties" clearly demonstrates this.
The protest of industry against the Maundy Thursday holiday has shown that the government (the state capitalist) is not assertive towards the economic capitalist anymore. The Grand Coalition has shown that it can assert itself vis-à-vis the small capitalists in the hotel and catering industry and other self-employed people and precarious livelihoods, but the multinational coorporations are another story. It is only a matter of time that small businesses will go bankrupt on a massive scale while most of the multinational coorparations profit from the crisis.
The increased power of the state capitalist since the beginning of the pandemic was not marked by nationalisation of the industry but rather by an acceleration of monopolization. While the socialdemocratic concept, the reformist hope is focused on a social state capitalist which has the economy under its control and which builds a strong health and social system – reality shows again how delusional this worldview is. It would not be surprising if impoverished petty-bourgeois mass elements will turn towards fascism in the coming up years of this great depression. Just like it happened in the late 1920s and early 1930s. At such a point the same dreamers of social state capitalism and „solidary lockdown“ will scratch their head in confusion how this could happen albeit bourgeois school system taught pupils so much about the danger of Nazi ideology. They will blame the masses instead recognizing that it was their own betrayel that enabled such developments.
Only if organized revolutionaries rally against the Bonapartist measures; only if organized revolutionaries join the spontaneous protests of the working class youth and transform them into a militant, anti-racist and anti-Bonapartist movement; only if organized revolutionaries enable future general strikes – only then the potential for a revolutionary solution is given. Not if the working class is disarmed by social-distance and stay-at-home prayers.
We see a great danger in the bonapartist state measures which are imposed on the people. The new great depression has already started and was only masked by financial aids since the beginning of the pandemic. The reformist leadership of the labour movement has completely obeyed and demobilized the working class. Nearly all centrist forces followed suit. Spontaneous protests by mass elements respectively the youth are ignored by the leadership of the labour movement or even denounced. While we see a number of important class struggles and uprisings in the world – be it Myanmar, Iraq or others – we must state that the German speaking countries still suffer from the massive demobilization of anti-capitalist protests.
More and more attempts are made by the bourgeoisie and their lackeys to find scapegoats and to incite against various layers of the population (migrants, ethnic minorities, the youth, etc.). This is why it becomes so important to form an united front against the lockdowns, based on an anti-capitalist and anti-racist platform. To fight together against the Bonapartist state apparatus, means to discuss the following topics:
* What are the political and economic interests behind governments' lockdown policies?
* Why has the majority of the left failed and supports the anti-democratic lockdown policy?
* What is our position on the mass protests against the Corona measures? What can we learn from such important protests against police violence as BlackLivesMatter or the youth protests in Stuttgart?
* How can we build a social and democratic opposition to authoritarian corona capitalism?
* How can we who are particularly affected by the lockdown policy and its consequences (women, migrants, young people, etc.) - best fight back?
We invite all activists and organizations who are opposed to the Bonapartist lockdown policy and who want to get organized on an anti-capitalist and anti-racist joint platform to get into contact with the RCIT.