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Helga Druxes

Pegida plays upon the intersectionality of popular discontent in its outrage against cosmopolitan political elites, by using the internet and social media as platforms for a repudiation of traditional parliamentary mechanisms. We may regard this conceit of a virtual polis as a form of antipolitics, expressing impatience with, and contempt for institutional democracy. Far right bloggers exhort followers to violent action across a transnational field of operations as a form of “legitimate” warfare against states they believe to be corrupt. They stage their own identity as a fluid performance of rebellious discontent with government and globalization. Although they invoke an autonomous subjectivity and direct political mandate, they in fact opt for a theatrical simulation of such engagement. The internet and social media allow for the creation of multiple niche markets for reactionary discontent across the lines of age and class. Pegida supporters present a paradox in that they are anti-modern identitarians pining for a mythic Central Europe, regressively protectionist towards the German economy in their demands to close the borders to international trade, exit the Eurozone, and expel refugees, even as they orchestrate a sophisticated event-based, highly modern post-democratic “New Politics 2.0.”

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Helga Druxes and Patricia Anne Simpson

Historian Geoff Eley argues that the idea of Europe has contracted from the ideal of a pluralistic community with the potential to integrate cultural “Others” to a “narrowly understood market-defined geopolitical drive for the purposes of competitive globalization.” Global deregulation, he states, has produced streams of labor migrants and the tightening of Europe’s external borders, while the economic expansion of Europe to more member countries since 1992 has opened up new divisions and inequalities among them. Aftereffects from the break-up of the East bloc can be felt in the escalation of antiminority violence in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as “the smouldering slow burn of the legacies of colonialism” in Western Europe. These diverse pressures and anxieties coalesce on the spectral figure of the Islamic fundamentalist at Europe’s gates.