On March 23, 1933, the German parliament passed “The Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich” (later known as the Enabling Act). This became the cornerstone of Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship and allowed him to enact laws, including ones that violated the Weimar Constitution, without the approval of either parliament or the president of the Reich. German judges (namely the Supreme Court) did not challenge the law. They viewed Hitler’s government as legitimate and continued to regard themselves as state servants who owned him their allegiance. The Law “formally granted the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wanted under the guise of remedying the distress of the people.” This gave Hitler full decisional power on all political decisions in Germany. Ten years later this Law gave way to the Ghettos, the deportations of Jews and dissidents, the appropriation of private wealth, the night incursions in private residences from the SS, the war machine and ultimately the Holocaust.
On November 18, 2020, the German parliament passed a law called “The Infection Protection Act” (“Das Infektionsschutzgesetz” in German). The Law “formally grants the government the authority to issue whatever edicts it wants under the guise of protecting the public health.” Up to now, the German government has mainly relied on decrees to tackle the coronavirus crisis — a practice that has been criticised by parliamentarians from all parties and deemed unconstitutional by some. Officially this new Law transfers some legislative power from the parliament to the executive, the government. The infection protection law will now create a legal basis for the government to restrict some fundamental rights enshrined in the German constitution in its attempt to fight the pandemic (?). The government has been doing this anyway — ordering lockdowns, curfews, travel bans, banning demonstrations, raiding private homes and businesses, harassing and arresting dissidents, etc. — but now it has been legitimised by the Bundestag and enshrined into law.
To be fair: as of today it would be mildly unjust to compare the two Laws. Mainly because, for now, all government decrees, passed under this new law, can only be temporary measures and expire after four weeks. But I do strongly advise us all to think how dangerously we are playing with our Constitutional rights (I’m using the example of Germany but most Western countries are using similar political tactics).
Of course I can hear the most basic (I wanted to write primitive-oops I just did) retort to this: “this is an emergency and under an emergency extreme measures must be taken”. Let’s assume, for the sake of conversation, that such thinking is correct. When will the emergency end? With the total disappearance of the virus (highly unlikely)? With mass mandatory vaccinations (no I’m not entering this conversation here and now)? When the great economic reset will be completed? When the media will decide it has ended? With the second coming of the Christ? When? I have no answer. But what I do know for certain is that once a law has made it’s way into the books it is very rare it gets deleted (delete limitless executive power just for the sake of democracy? You crazy?) A very recent example of this comes from our American friends. Do you remember the rhetoric after 9/11? It went something like this: “this is an emergency and under an emergency extreme measures must be taken” (sounds familiar). This gave birth to the patriot act and to the largest state surveillance program the world has ever seen. It was meant to be a temporary measure. Although slightly amended (mainly thanks to the American patriot Edward Snowden and one of the last true journalist on earth Julian Assange) it remained active until March 27, 2020, 19 years after the declaration of emergency.
It is worth remembering that totalitarianism never appears from one day to the next. You don’t go to sleep in a democracy and wake up the next morning in a totalitarian state. Totalitarianism is like a plant that needs watering and time to grow (I apologise to all plants for the unflattering metaphor). It grows little by little, step by step, accommodation by accommodation, rationalisation by rationalisation. It grows out of apathy and ignorance and fear and compliance with power. It grows out of conformism (on this topic I suggest you all to go watch, if you haven’t already, Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterpiece “The conformist”). The turn from a democracy to totalitarianism takes months… years. And many concessions from the people to the power. But the result is always the same. Although the narratives and symbols change, totalitarianism always leads to less freedom, more control and violence as a form of governance.
Last Wednesday as the Protection Act was being passed by the parliament, thousands of protesters gathered in the streets. Most were men, women and children protesting peacefully. They were met by thousands of riot Police who beat up and arrested hundreds of them and then hosed down the rest with cold water. (By the way isn’t it ironic that a government so worried about the health of it’s people would spray protesters with ice cold water in November in Germany? Pneumonia anyone? Do I need to remind you that the common flu is part of the Coronavirus family?). Of course these protesters were described by the media as “Corona deniers”, “far-right extremists”, “anti-vaxxers”, “neo-Nazis” and so on. To be clear, like in all protests that gather thousands of people undoubtedly some of these elements were present. But for the most part the protest was a peaceful one (until police brutality took over) lead by honest citizens carrying copies of the Grundgesetz (the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany), worried about the dangerous game their government was playing. They were staging these protests to challenge the government’s right to suspend the German constitution indefinitely and rule society by decree and force. And they were met with violence.
Now to those of you who are saying to themselves that I’m exaggerating, that I’m overly pessimistic, a Cassandra, a crazy conspiracist or a down right fool and that these kind of totalitarian states cannot and will not exist in our modern democracies I want to remind you that any alternative media outlet, who doesn’t marry the official narrative, is being censored (what happened to the good old democratic mantra “I don’t agree with what you are saying but am willing to die for you to say it”?) that a well known dissident lawyer who was filing lawsuit after lawsuit against the German government calling their management of the crisis unconstitutional was forcibly committed to a psychiatric ward (just for couple of days rest assured. Just enough time for her to think about the consequences of her misbehaviour) that heavily armed police are arresting bloggers (although it isn’t clear exactly what for, as the authorities have released no details and the mainstream media is not reporting it) to name just a few fun examples.
One of these bloggers is Dr. Andreas Noack, who was accused of providing medical assistance (yes you read correctly: medical assistance) to hundreds of protestors during lockdown protests against the German government. Reports also indicate that Dr. Noack was under investigation by the authorities for being non-compliant with the COVID-19 lockdown laws. If you don’t believe me click the link below. No need for you to speak German. But I warn you: this is the scariest video you’ll watch all week. (Please note the clear Dr. No style lair this dangerous individual is in.)
Finally, as the proverbial cherry on the cake, we have this democratic gentleman: Aziz Bozkurt the Chairman of the migration and diversity group of the SPD (the Social Democratic Party of Germany – I feel like crying) calling on a tweet for people who refuse to conform to the “New normal” to be deported “No matter how. Does not matter where. Just get out of my country.” Presumably his no matter how and where has something to do with trains?
I want to be clear here. This is not me bashing against our German friends. The same is happening in Italy, in France, in England and so on and so on. It is not a German problem it is generalised. All over Europe the police is hunting down the mask-less on the streets, raiding restaurants, bars, and people’s homes. All over Europe our constitutional rights are being suspended in the name of an emergency that might have no end. All over Europe the crisis is being used fas a form of governance through fear and violence. All over Europe democratic debate is being silenced in favour of state propaganda (without debate there can only be propaganda). All over Europe the conformists, those who let their lives be run by fear, apathy and cowardice are giving the state more and more power because “they know best” and “they are doing it for our own good” (these, of course, are the same people than in a not too distant future will claim: “I was only following orders!”). All over Europe disagreement with and protest against the “New normal” is being met by violence.
I only ask, to you and to myself, “until when”? When will this dangerous, dangerous, dangerous game we are playing will stop? I’ll admit I’m a pessimist on this topic. Once this kind of thing gets started, in the best case scenario, it does not stop until democracy is nothing but a fairy tale to tell the children as they go to bed (the worst case scenario ends with millions of dead). It might take us some time to get there, but, make no mistake, the very clear and present danger is that’s where we’re headed.