Gelebte Demokratie
November 10, 2020 12:28 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter taught me that it is important for everyone to do their part in protecting democracy, instead of relying on others or "the system". I want to help protect the democracy in Germany. Please help me do that.

It occurred to me that next year will be election year in Germany. While I think our political, social, media landscape are not quite comparable to the US, following US politics has made me both scared and determined to do something *prevent* the rise of - heaven forbid - a German Donald Trump.
I would really like input from any Mefites, ideally those who have real, lived experience of German culture and politics on the following questions:
- what can I best do to prevent the further rise of e.g. the AFD and crazies like Pegida, Querdenker, etc?
- what can I do to support our media / journalists / prevent a fox news situation?
- do you know how I can support political parties, except donating? I went to a local SPD chapter a while ago... It turned out to be a bunch of students philosophising, so no concrete actions. Have you done more? Tell me how, please.
- is there anything else I can do to make sure democracy is protected in this country?
- do you have any organisations you donate to which would suit my goals?

What I already do:
- Vote
- argue vehemently against racism, and covid craziness where I can, but I don't feel like I do that well, because it just makes me angry, not persuasive

Tldr: I want to help protect the democracy in my country.
posted by any_name_in_a_storm to Law & Government (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a cool question!

I'm from the US but I went to university in Germany for 3 years (three different cities: small, medium, and Berlin) so I have advice but it's outdated. I found the Hochschulgruppen that were directly affiliated with the specific political parties to be cool but less focused on direct action. I visited various other Hochschulgruppen focused on a specific theme and found those that were locally-based (versus a branch of a bigger NGO) to be the best. If you've graduated (it sounds like you have?), I'm sure you could find a community group. I was involved in an animals rights group in my small city that was such a cool mix of people.

Also, I see you're from a small town and that your spouse is, too? If it weren't for COVID and its understandable limitations, I'd suggest inviting people to meet up for Kaffee und Kuchen and just talk about your views, listen to their views, etc. I am not religious at all but found evangelische Kirchen to have nice people with open minds wanting to do good. Or how about facilitating a group for teens, from your small town or anywhere, whose goal is encouraging independent activism and meets mostly online? How about teaching a class / leading a group at the local Volkshochschule that's about brainstorming community action, no specific political affiliation but a shared goal of democracy and transparency?

What do you wish you had had when you were younger? What do you wish you had now? The more specific you are, the easier it'll be to figure which direction to go in!
posted by smorgasbord at 1:27 PM on November 10, 2020


What I LOVED about the German democracy is how much civic engagement there is beyond political parties (and sometimes in collaboration with parties/with their support). In general, I really admired (while living there, 9+ years) how effectively the grassroots were channelled into the system. It gave me a first insight into how democracy is so much more than just voting (or arguing!).

For example, I think Vereine are a better place to start than political parties, because the parties themselves seldom participate directly in actions, but rather through ideal/financial support or help with outreach (making statements to the media, etc. rather than engage in direct action as a party). So your local representatives who are associated with a political party, such as those in city council, will tend to be known in the community for their specific environmental, social, youth, etc. initiatives. So they tend to stay in touch with their base and convey those interests "upwards".

Vereine such as one I participated in back in 2011-2013 and others engaged in refugee support across the country might be a good way to start for you too. I know that the first group helped kickstart a massive pro-immigrant and pro-refugee (and asylum seeker) movement back then. The Green Party was often present in those meetings.

Bamberg Bleibt Bunt emerged at some point after (or concurrently), supported by the Bündnis für Demokratie und Toleranz and some regional partners as well (including religious groups and labour unions). Bamberg is pretty unique there, perhaps, but these groups permeate the entire social fabric. Right-wing extremists aren't gone, but there's constant push against them and you can really see it in city life.

Generally, in my German experience, I found that local media is quite receptive to local initiatives. A lot of people will buy and read their local press! So that's a very good, low-barrier place to get attention if you are looking to promote initiatives, etc. If you want to e.g. have an anti-racist reading group, you'll likely find umbrella partners. If you're near a university, even better. Volxküchen are also a big hub of direct-action groups.

Apart from that, you may find more ideas, initiatives and groups on a federal level in Germany-wide media such as the Jungle World and similar.Just be aware, there can be some Antifa overlap in these spaces (e.g. with members with multiple affiliations). As you may know, the Antifa phenomenon is viewed as a source of extremism by the German state, so it's good to be aware of that (either because that's something you seek, or you'd rather avoid).
posted by ipsative at 2:57 PM on November 10, 2020 [2 favorites]


It's different in each state/region/city. You should try to find out what is available in your city and state. It might be a special politician or party (have you tried the Greens and the Left? You might also want to check out SPD again, parties and their local groups change over time and vary hugely from city to city). It might also be a protestant church that is very active or a Verein. A couple of organisations are represented all over Germany and it depends on what your personal politics are. You might feel comfortable with your local antifa group or the more sedate Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste. What is available everywhere is Mobile Beratung gegen Rechtsextremismus. In Saxony, there is the Kulturbüro Sachsen. You can definitely donate to the latter three. Donate to parties or become a member (even if you don't participate much). Parties get funding from the state for each member.
And then pay your GEZ, pay for a newspaper you read even if they provide free articles on their website. Consider working with kids, they are the future!
posted by starfishprime at 7:15 AM on November 11, 2020


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