- PEGIDA—Rechtspopulismus zwischen Fremdenangst und “Wende”-Enttäuschung? Analysen im Überblick ed. by Karl-Siegbert Rehberg
The rise and spread of right-wing populism across Europe and the United States has focused considerable attention on the seemingly irreconcilable opposition between the ostensible winners and losers of economic, cultural, and political processes of globalization. In some ways, however, the human dynamics that inspire allegiance to right-wing ideologies elude the methodologies of scholarly inquiry. The interplay between right-wing social protest movements, widespread use of social media, and local demonstrations across the Federal Republic of Germany constructs and consolidates a sense of community in the service of recuperating a fractured or forgotten national identity. The edited volume PEGIDA—Rechtspopulismus zwischen Fremden-angst und “Wende”-Enttäuschung? Analysen im Überblick is comprised of twenty-three contributions by twenty-seven authors, an expansion of the original sixteen presentations delivered at the Public Sociology Forum of the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie that took place in Dresden on November 30, 2015. At the time, Dresden was the epicenter of the PEGIDA movement. With its Monday Spaziergänge growing in numbers and momentum since its first appearance in October 2014, the “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West” became a media magnet. The racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and identitarian nationalism explicit in PEGIDA’s platform, however abnegated by many of its proponents and sensationalized by its detractors, continue to undergo a process of normalization, forming tributaries that flow into the political mainstream. The essays in this volume contribute to a deeper understanding of PEGIDA as a movement that emerged at a particular place at a specific historical juncture, and of the factors that influence its intermittent surges in popularity.
On both sides of the Atlantic, populations beyond the academy struggle to understand and explain the roots and ramifications of right-wing populisms that to many seem founded on politics of hatred, exclusion, and demagoguery. Building on previous research, the essays in PEGIDA delve into the centrality of Dresden, the GDR past and remaindered present, and the interplay between local, regional, and transnational politics that influence the exigencies of PEGIDA’s peaks and troughs. With its [End Page 227] overwhelmingly sociological approach to the phenomenon, the contributors illuminate many aspects of the emergence and popularity of PEGIDA. Empirical data, combined with analyses that focus on Dresden, the media coverage, and current political cultures, shine a light on the more inchoate causes of anti-immigration, Islamophobic politics, and accompanying anxieties in a particular regional and national context.
The book is divided into three sections. Part 1 consists of one foundational essay by the first editor, Karl-Siegbert Rehberg, about the specific context of Dresden. This substantial contribution to the understanding of PEGIDA’s formation reprises the Public Sociology Forum (2015), which forms the core of the volume. Rehberg recounts the presence of PEGIDA leadership and supporters who were at the open conference. PEGIDA’s “Frontfrau” Tatjana Festerling attended, a predictable detractor of such an event, and described the proceedings on her Facebook page, equating sociology with a “Geschwätzwissenschaft” (41); the author quickly notes positive (if not unproblematic) reception of some of the scholarly interventions into the discussion. It remains noteworthy that many PEGIDA activists, when interviewed, self-identify as citizens who do not harbor racist, xenophobic, misogynist, or antidemocratic views.
The substantive second section of the book focuses on Dresden, media discourses, populism and social crisis phenomena, and the anti-immigration platform. Werner J. Patzelt puts forth nine unorthodox theses about PEGIDA, making the important connection between the PEGIDA protest movement, which was a topic of his 2014–2015 methodology seminar, and the political overlap with the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) and European populist movements. His conclusions struck many as controversial—that the demonization of PEGIDA and AfD run counter to the principles of a plural democracy and the marginalization of extremist views only strengthens extreme resolve and weakens democratic political structures. He writes: “Im auf PEGIDA gem...