On howling with the wolves and crying with the crocodiles

9 November 2020

“Our enemy has an institutionalized memory. He knows what in the past worked to combat rebellions, and what has not.“

Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad

On November 9, 2020, at dawn, they came with their dogs and kicked in the doors with combat boots – doors to apartments, children’s rooms, and bedrooms, as well as doors to houses of worship that the governing authorities only tolerated in cellars, because their construction above ground has long been forbidden to “preserve” the look of the cityscape. They destroyed furnishings, scattered the contents on the floors and stole everything that seemed of value. Today, this is called a search, the search of a home, a house search, or a “protective seizure.” This raid occurred on November 9th, the most Great-German[1] day of German anniversaries, also the day of German “reunification” (1989), and the day of the Reichspogrom in 1938.[2]

It took more than two decades of war against the global South and its reflections on the home front:  two decades of social and discursive “othering,” exclusion, demonization, and defamation to arrive at this point.  This flooded from the yellow press in the manner of “Der Stürmer,”[3] as well as more cautiously and step-by-step in the “quality” media.  All this even before Nazis in pin-striped suits, hung posters with slogans such as “Our home not Islam!”[4] throughout Austria, and more recently waxed enthusiastic about the Christian-Jewish Occident, for whom “the hyphen between Christian and Jewish” is “in truth a minus” (Gabriel Yoran).  It was the left wing of Europe’s hegemonial elites that made the clumsy racism of the right acceptable.  They freed it of the barnyard odors of classical racism by adorning it with sweet-smelling, culturally progressive phrases borrowed from left-liberal terminology.

The 9th of November attacks took place at dawn. Heavily armed units broke down doors, destroyed furnishings and confiscated anything of value: old cell phones, jewelry, bank records, savings books, watches…  Small children were torn from their beds, blinded with flashlights, left outside in the cold – traumatized. Although supposedly taken into custody as “witnesses,” the victims of the assault were treated as serious criminals, interrogated for up to 18 hours and then suddenly declared to be the “accused.”  One would expect that in a state where the law is supposedly supreme there would be an outcry, but it never materialized, not even from the left-liberal wing of civil society. The “questions” the police posed to the supposed “witnesses,” which the Vienna-based Arab Palestine Club and others collected, drip with cultural-racist insinuations, and leading questions.  Obviously, there is unlikely be an outcry, when the victims are stigmatized as Muslim Brothers, Hamas and “terror financiers.” Moreover, such matters lie outside the microcosm of a self-absorbed left. And, even more seriously, some in this rump left are part of the so-called anti-German/antinationalist grouping that has already participated in the ideological and concrete repressive work of the state for a number of years.  In the process, some of these individuals have attained ranks and offices, e.g. as public prosecutors and judges.

Of course, the Reichspogrom cannot be compared to “police actions” such as the Operation Spring, which was intended to nip in the bud a nascent political organization of the Austrian black community in 1999. And yet, the old, as well as the new Nazis already rhyme, “What the Jew to our fathers was, the Muslim breed now is to us,” and the patterns of segregation, stigmatization and dehumanization are similar – also and especially in left-liberal discourse. And, although preparations for state-supported and institutionalized commemoration are already under way for ceremonial consternation about the pogroms and the murdered victim, the very same institutions participate in the stigmatization, defamation and denunciation of Muslims.  Under the ambiguous label of “political Islam,” which was invented by the political powers and their civil society institutions, “documentation centers” have been set up to prepare the ground to criminalize people in this country even as they also legitimize the wars and mass murders of Europe, the USA, and the European settler state, Israel, in the global south.

The same “experts” who came up with the ambiguous concept of “political Islam” also invented a new definition of anti-Semitism to protect the European settler state against criticism and to coerce Jews into defending (under threat of excommunication) the project of the most reactionary wing of “political Jewry,” aka Zionism.  Academics or journalists who step out of line are quickly disciplined.

  1. Desensitization

In order for this project to proceed with the acquiescence of the majority, it required almost 20 years of warfare in the global south, the destruction of the last remnants of left-wing, internationalist orientation and solidarity, and its subsequent demonization in the media and social-discourse on in Austria/Europe, i.e. the “home front.”

However, this campaign did not begin in the backcountry of the far right. Presenting Muslims, and especially Muslim women, as “particular” began during the reign of (the once all-powerful) Social Democrats.  On the left and right wings, mostly white men began, quite “harmlessly,” to pay special attention to the way in which women of the Muslim faith dressed. The “headscarf debate” of the 2000s had several thrusts:  one was in a Muslim Eurocentric feminist direction, and another, on the more general left, to mobilize and take a position against Islam and Muslims. The aim of the latter was to incorporate leftist arguments in the center-right’s battle for hegemony, and to make it clear to Muslims that they were “only guests” here and depend on the goodwill of the majority.

The war against Afghanistan suddenly became a war for the liberation of women and was celebrated as such. Muslims and non-Muslim opponents of the war were labeled “Austro-Taliban.” At the same time, the Muslim community was forced onto the defensive so severely that other “controversial” issues, such as the “Middle East conflict,” were increasingly neglected. A controversy about women’s bodies became the subject of a media and social discourse, and once again, the white man’s burden, and its civilizing mission, had to be taken up.  In the end, it was all about saving brown women from brown men. In this process, it was easy to fall back on the traditions of colonial, Eurocentric discourses, even if the paradigms had to be partly reversed.  Although the “Orient,” with its harems and homosexuality, was considered a cesspool of sin in 19th century Europe, the now enlightened, sexually revolutionized “Occident” developed a permanently progressive attitude that castigates the religious prudery, sexually coercive morality and homophobia “of the Orient.”  Even the promoters of a left-wing discourse in Europe took up the white man’s burden – from “honor killings” and genital mutilation to pedophilia – and shifted it to the “Orient.”

Here too, the patterns of modern anti-Semitism and anti-Islamic racism are similar. The “others” are “Orientalized,” at first they represent something “special,” later something “foreign,” and finally they become threatening.  An inversion took place in the 1970s and 1980s that posthumously turned the millions of murdered “foreigners” and “orientals” once more into “whites” to include them and therefore mourn them like Anne Frank or the Weiss family.[5] This, of course, simply demonstrates represents the faithless deceit and inhumanity of the prevailing hegemonic discourse.  Anti-semitism is a genuinely European form of racism, which makes the perfidy of bringing this card into play by attributing it to a group defined as “foreign” hard to surpass.  The new definition of anti-Semitism, which has been tinkered with in European institutions for almost 10 years, is not only used against Muslims, Arabs and Turks, and to defend a European settler state in the Middle East, it also elegantly rids Europe’s of its own history of genocide.

After Nazi-fascism, these same institutions caught up with the small and big Eichmanns, Freislers jurists,[6] Nazi doctors, and hid them in their own ratlines[7] among Social Democrats, Social-Christians, “Independents”[8] and their satellite institutions (academies, foundations, trade unions, NGOs).  Today, they brutally tighten asylum legislation year after year and then mouth platitudes about 300 children taken away from their parents in outsourced refugee camps to present a “humane” reaction to this most brutal manifestation of their societies.

2. Deradicalization

“Did you know that in these prisons there is a very fierce competition between the pig who wears uniform and the pig who works in civilian dress? The uniformed pigs call themselves the Custody Department, while the others go under the heading of Care and Treatment. It is the function of the uniform to hold a man here. This means they do the key work, the searching, beating, killing. The individual with the tie and white shirt (really just another uniform) determines what we’ll eat, what bullshit academic and make-work programs we’ll have. He presides over the silly group therapy games that always end in fights or snitch contests. Oh, and he also makes out board reports.”   

George Jackson, Soledad Brother, The Prison Letters

Neoliberalism and permanent crises have made the traditional social democratic methods of repressing rebellions (such as inclusion, participation, “social partnership,” and integration) obsolete, because they can no longer be financed.   The currently much discussed “parallel societies” are the result of the inability of the hegemonic system to provide the vast amounts of money and social programs that would be required. A lost generation of young people, some of them well educated (with or without a migration background), is growing up without prospects.   The state has nothing to offer them, neither rewarding jobs, nor dignity.

Inevitably, the growing edges of the marginalized begin to fray. Faced with a lack of positive prospects, some of the marginalized fall into depression and give in to the self-destructive character of the system. The response is violence; a few – instead of turning it against themselves – turn it against everyone; they run amok, and shoot arbitrarily at everything that moves. The tricky problem here is to decide whether such an act is a “regrettable case of running amok,” or a “family tragedy,” or whether it should be labeled “Muslim” and elevated to the category of “political Islam.” The killing spree of November 02, 2020 in Vienna might be ascribed to the latter.

Dealing with such situations requires “agents of color” to provide therapies to the outcasts and others that have “gone mad”; these “pigs without uniforms” work hand-in-hand with experts and “documentation centers”[9] as the vanguard of state power.

3. Historical Memory

The perspective, knowledge and consciousness of liberation as a collective process was destroyed in the ovens of Auschwitz and trampled under Nazi boots.  And whatever of that nature was able to arise after WWII that stood and walked upright, Helmut Schmidt,[10] Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan finished off.  The memory of resistance, and the perspective of liberation appeared to be extinguished; the left as an internationalist, organizing force was inexistent.

As Dhoruba bin Wahad put it succinctly, “The enemy has institutionalized his memory.” Its archives and documentation centers contain the blueprints for preparing the pogroms of the future, and, above all, for avoiding the mistake of making them look like pogroms.

The precarious labor market, in which university graduates are expected to work their way up, creates new, small, banal Eichmanns and Eichwomen on a daily basis.  For poor pay, they publish expert opinions and reports that are dressed up scientifically to provide ideological legitimization to the ruling governments of Europe.  These including expertise on Muslim kindergartens, Muslim youths, Muslim families, Muslim toilets… and (of course) on the “otherness” of Muslims and the dangers they pose to European societies. The profession of ethnography (today euphemized as “social anthropology”) is always in vogue and is essential to the colonial project.

Experts like Heiko Heinisch[11] are only the most inane manifestations of this phenomenon, although he is interesting example from a psychological point of view, i.e. how white men externalize their problems in dealing with women – indeed their contempt for women – and turn them against Muslims. Indeed, at times, one should be grateful to this hegemonic system for the clarity that its institutional racism provides.  

These little academic Eichmanns are permitted to participate in the writing of the postmodern counterinsurgency programs. They are allowed to invent new “scientific” definitions of invented kinds of anti-Semitism that are designed to defame and stigmatize anti-colonial resistance and anti-Zionism, and ultimately to criminalize it. Historically, in this part of the world, counterinsurgency always involved pogroms, just as in the global South it meant genocide.

In contrast to the institutionalized memory of the state, civilized society in the global North suffers from the Korsakoff syndrome, i.e. it cannot remember yesterday. It is only on the basis of everlasting and internalized conclusions (that are accepted as eternal without debate) that scholars in the service of the ruling order, like Austria’s Thomas Schmidinger, could possibly be considered moderate, or critical, and for some even leftist. The academic Schmidinger put his ANTIFA youth professionally into the service of the state. With his work “Between Theocracy and Democracy: Handbook of Political Islam” (2008), he instantly stigmatized associations and individuals who now – 12 years later – are being criminalized.  This academic trash is eagerly absorbed, because it employs an approach of slicing and dicing reality that is so common amongst white academics.  After the destruction of Iraq, the Kurds became the object of obsessive attention (the fetish), which made it easy to overlook the Palestinians – the object of obsessive fear (the phobia).  Using the (post)-colonial discourse about the work of Frantz Fanon as an example, the social scientist Greg Thomas describes this kind of splintered intellectualism as follows: “In short, for mainstream academics ‘humanities’ in general and ‘post-colonial studies’ in particular, ‘Black Skin, White Masks’ is a fetishized object – while ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ is a phobic object – when it is known or rarely read since it cannot be seriously read by them as a matter of fact.”

For Heinisch and Schmidinger, Frantz Fanon, Thomas Sankara, or Abu Jihad exist only as objects of “expert opinions” that serve to drag individuals and their organizations before the institutions of justice, but never as people who represented a conception of justice.

4. Antifascism

” Wolfgang said, ‘Yes,’ and struck. The brass knuckles hit the Hitler Youth’s face; its sharp edges tore the flesh and crunched the cheekbones. The force of the blow knocked him down.”

Kurt Piehl, Edelweisspirat  

Anti-fascism became white after 1945.  Today, it manifests nothing like the dedication and sincerity of people like Kurt Piehl or the Scholl siblings.[12] It negates, indeed, to be an anti-fascism that sustains the hegemonic system (with ever-changing definitions and reinterpretations), it must negate the only significant basis of historical fascism, which is colonialism. That is why, for example, monuments honoring anti-fascist heroes in Italy can be found right next to the monuments of those who committed colonial crimes in North Africa. That is why French Resistance fighters could become the perfect torture and counterinsurgency heroes in the Algerian War. That is why there is not only a closing of ranks by governments of all stripes with a meaningless left-tinted “Antifa,” but also why the right wing of the global North wages sham battles against it.  There is much more; concretely, these ANTIFAS in Austria and Germany will be the executors of pogroms in the times to come. They collect data, photograph and finger people, deliver this data to the authorities, and are co-authors of the blueprints for the hegemony of the future.  Their “anti-fascism” is delivered by Anglo-American bombers, and, more recently, by Israeli battle tanks.  Their “anti-fascism” never takes the form of battles like those the WWII partisans fought against historic fascism.  Instead, it is hegemonic and state supporting.

That is also why this “white anti-fascism,” this hypocritical, “Never again!” could not, and would not EVER apply to the people in the global South, and why it was possible to separate it so quickly from the phrase “Never again war!” Now, this truncated “Never again!” can serve as a slogan and legitimization for new wars of aggression.

5. Holocaust

“You have to realize that you elevated your little men to be your oppressors, and turned your truly great men into martyrs; that you crucified them, slew them, starved them; that you did not care for them nor about their concerns about you; that you had no idea to whom you owed the few pleasures of your life.”

“I want your profession of faith to trust you.”

“When you hear my profession of faith, you will run to your prosecutor, or to the ‘Committee Against Un-American Activities,’ or to the FBI, or to the GPU, or to the Ku Klux Klan, or to the only leaders of all proletarians, or you will just run away.”

Wilhelm Reich, Listen Little Man!

So there they stand with their crocodile tears in the center of Vienna, on the Schwedenplatz, acting as the “aggrieved” and of course again and again as victims. Back then they were the victims of “Jewish capital,” and it was the “Viennese Model”[13] that saved them. Then suddenly they were the victims of the Nazis, and the Soviet army had to save their asses.  But it did not take long for them to become the victims of the Soviet “occupiers,” and today they are victims of “worldwide political Islam.” These are the Sobotkas, the Kerns and the Kurzes[14] – the little “big men” who make dirty deals that make them dangerous and ridiculous at the same time.

It is nauseating how these “little” men and women use, exploit and cannibalize Jews, their fates – lives that are marked by persecution.  These “little” men and women reuse the victims of that era to justify and ideologically support their settler colonialism.      

Even after their post WWII conversion to democracy, those who expelled the likes of Erich Fried or Peter Melvyn [15]never really appreciated and honored these anti-fascists.  On the contrary, they went on to defame and disinvite others like Hedy Epstein.[16] In 1938, Melvyn had survived the Reichspogrom by hiding under his parents’ bed in Vienna’s 9th district when a couple of “pogrom heroes” knocked on the door. He survived by luck and chance, fled to England, only to be defamed again, after his return to Austria, by these heroes, who had redefined his anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism.

Nevertheless, we applaud the words of Berthold Brecht: “Even if the rulers install themselves for ten thousand years, violence will ensure that it will come as it will,” even if on November 9, 2020 (of all days), they exercise their total supremacy over social discourse and break down doors to let the persecution begin.

“Today’s vanquished will be tomorrow’s victors
And Never shall become Today!”

“It is our duty to fight for freedom. It is our duty to win.“ Assata Shakur               

[1]  Greater Germany, Großdeutschland, was a 19th and early 20th century concept used to promote the idea of uniting Austria with Germany.

[2]  In the night of November 9-10, 1938, in Germany and Austria, a Nazi-organized riot against Jews took place during which hundreds of Jews were murdered and hundreds more committed suicide.

[3]  The chief Nazi propaganda newspaper.

[4] Slogan first used by the Freedom Party (FPÖ) in the Vienna elections of October 2005. The Austrian “Daham statt Islam“ is colloquial and rhymes better than the English.

[5]  The 1978 US television miniseries, Holocaust, focuses on the fictional Weiss family.

[6]  Adolf Eichmann was one of the chief organizers oft he Holocaust.  He ultimately was captured in Argentina by Israeli secret services and tried and executed in Israel in 1962.  Roland Freisler was the top “Jurist” of Nazi Germany, and was killed in an Allied air raid in Berlin (1945).

[7]  The networks used by important Nazis to flee to safety, frequently with the help of the intelligence services of the Allies.

[8]  After WWII, in Austria, the Federation of Indenpendents (VdU) was formed by former Nazis or others who would not or could not join any of the other political parties.  The VdU became the Freedom Party (FPÖ) in 1956.

[9]     A “Documentation Center for Political Islam“ was recently established in Austria.

[10]   The social-democrat Schmidt was German Chancellor from 1974 to 1982.

[11]   Heinisch has a “left” background and now works as a consultant for right-wing governments in Austria. 

[12]  Piehl and the Scholl siblings were part of the grass-roots resistance to the Nazi regime.

[13]  The “Vienna Model” was a program developed by German economic experts in 1938 to improve the poor economic situation in annexed Austria. Its goal was to dismantle Jewish entrepreneurship and take complete possession of “Jewish-owned” enterprises. Later the dispossessed citizens were deported. “

[14]  Kern was a former Chancellor of Austria, Sobotka and Kurz currently serve as President of the National Assembly and Chancellor respectively.

[15]  Fried and Melvyn both grew up in Jewish families in Vienna.  Fried became an important poet, translator and essayist.  Melvyn became a social scientist, who served international NGOs and agencies.  Both were political activists that supported justice for Palestinians.

[16]  Hedy Epstein was a German-born Jewish-American political activist and Holocaust survivor known for her support of the Palestinian cause who was disinvited from an event in Austria’s parliament.

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