Spiegel online has a pretty good three part series about the rise of the militant Left in Germany. Leftist political extremism manifests itself differently in Europe than in the U.S. and I suspect, even though someone much more knowledgeable then me disagreed when I interviewed him, there are regional variations within the U.S. It might be nice to study this sort of thing but I won’t be holding my breath.
Still, there are some really interesting nuggets in here and I highly recommend the whole article. You’ll be hard pressed to find a similar piece talking about political radicalism in the U.S. media that doesn’t sacrifice information for the quest of the dramatic narrative.
On the use of violence:
Violence, he says, must be used constructively and “responsibly,” not against people — especially now that things in Germany are also gaining momentum again. “There’s been a rise in the number of night-time actions,” he says, “and militancy on the street is increasing.”
On the problems of security forces to deal with these individuals:
Police have gotten to the bottom of only a fraction of last year’s 1,822 violent acts. It would be difficult to find another part of society where authorities know so little as the left-wing extremist scene. Shortly after taking office last October, Interior Minister de Maiziere requested an overview of the situation, but what the BKA and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution reported back to him amounted to little more than an admission of failure. Of 6,600 militant activists who had supposedly been identified, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution actually knows the names of only 1,055. They have no idea about the rest.
The BKA complained that “hardly any scientific research” had been carried out on militant autonomists’ backgrounds, motives and structures.
On what the increase in activity might mean:
Dieter Rucht, a sociologist at the Social Science Research Center Berlin, has been researching political protests and social movements for years. He says the increasing militancy of the left wing could also be a sign of weakness — not strength, as some autonomists themselves claim and the authorities fear. It’s something researchers observe often, Rucht says: “When movements lose followers, the inner core radicalizes.”