Solidarity with blockers is out of place

The actions of a Berlin district mayor endanger democracy. How the radical activists of the “last generation” are courted should not set a precedent.

Activists block a main road in Berlin almost every day, here last Friday.

Christian Mang / Reuters

Fatina Keilani is an editor at NZZ Germany

Fatina Keilani is an editor at NZZ Germany


You are reading an excerpt from the weekday newsletter “The Other View”, today by Fatina Keilani, editor of the NZZ in Berlin. Subscribe to the newsletter for free. Not resident in Germany? Benefit here.

Activists cling to the street with their palms and block traffic for hours, but instead of condemning this criminal act or at least remaining silent about it, the green district mayor of Berlin-Kreuzberg, Clara Herrmann, joins in. She announces in a video that she wants to show “solidarity” here. There is no outcry. This action shows how much Herrmann whistle on this state. This politician’s “solidarity” is not just a gesture of solidarity. It endangers democracy.

No, that’s not an exaggeration. In a democracy, the people decide for themselves what rules they want to live by. Adultery, for example, is not punishable in Germany, but it is in other places. Smearing a swastika on the wall, on the other hand, is punishable, but not elsewhere. There are good reasons for this, but the most important is that society wanted it that way. Because the laws reflect how the majority wants to live. If that changes, the law will change too, true to the saying: “Laws are coagulated morality.” You can see that in women’s rights, gay marriage, abortion rights, the discussion about drug approval.

So far the consensus is that even those who opposed a law must comply with it once it is in place. Without this consensus, democracy has no basis for business.

Public officials must apply applicable law

The persons elected to hold public office are, from the moment of their election, no longer private individuals who are free to represent particular interests, but are bound by the applicable law. This applies to everyone, and that is why the pampering of one’s own base, which other green politicians also like to practice, is so harmful.

Public officials cannot choose which laws to enforce and which not. When a public official stands up and expresses solidarity with lawbreakers, she actually says: “I am declining to show solidarity with the rest of society, which rejects this and has passed appropriate laws.”

Imagine it the other way around: A mayor in Bavaria expresses her solidarity with a registrar who, out of conviction, refuses to marry two men together. What would happen then?

The citizen despises a helpless state

The district mayor of Berlin-Kreuzberg should only serve as a symbol here, because the problem goes far beyond the local area. Berlin, and especially Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, has long been known for tolerating unlawful conditions – just think of the dealers in Görlitzer Park or the sheer impossibility for a homeowner to take possession of his property occupied by autonomous people.

While leftists are secretly happy that the owner keeps failing, the judiciary also bites its teeth. The autonomists have now stirred up enough fear that some judges do not even dare to rule against them because they fear riots and personal attacks. The negotiations for evictions are linked to a massive police presence at the court. The judges do not receive personal protection.

Lawless areas are also encountered by the notorious criminal clans, who repeatedly succeed in massively intimidating witnesses and thus getting off scot-free. But the citizen who experiences a helpless state that fails to enforce the law despises this state. Enforcement of the law without regard to persons must be categorically demanded by public officials. If this is not done, the state loses its people.

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