Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

The Destructive Fiction of "Race"

Germany and the Fiction of "Nationalism" and "Race"

The Alternative for Germany is a far-right German political party known for its xenophobia, anti-Islam beliefs, and obsession with German identity and nationalism. It is also now the country's third-largest party - and the first far-right party to enter the German Bundestag (parliament) since the end of the Second World war.

The rising xenophobia and Islamophobia in the AfD grew worse over the course of 2015, in direct response to Merkel’s so-called open-door refugee policy necessitated by the demographic need for new workers coming in where the population was in decline. By December of that year, almost 900,000 migrants, asylum seekers, and newcomers had come into Germany. The AfD capitalized on growing anxiety that the immigrants - especially Muslim immigrants - would fundamentally change German society.

Though the numbers of refugees dropped dramatically in 2016, simmering resentment on the far right in Germany at times turned violent. According to the Funke Media Group, some 3,500 far-right attacks on refugees and refugee homes were carried out in 2016, leaving hundreds injured. The AfD did particularly well in the former East Germany where there is high unemployment, low paid jobs and poor housing; an ideal ground for racist politics.

The Alternative for Germany (afD) claim German national identity is under threat, both from European integration and from the presence and accommodation of immigrants and refugees within Germany. They want the definition of being German to return to heimet (meaning blood-related) - a mystical and fictional racial belonging. The AfD claimed that children from immigrant parents might have German passports but they would never be "real" Germans because they lacked that certain German essence - blood (GUARDIAN 19 September 2019).

Of course nationalism is a fiction along with race. Workers do not have a country. They do not own and control the means of production and distribution. Workers are a subject and exploited class. Those in Germany have identical interests with immigrants coming into the country as they do with workers elsewhere in the world.

It is in this climate that in September 2017 Scientists at the University of Jena in eastern Germany called for the term "race" to no longer be used, saying there is no biological basis for the classification of humanity into races.

The scientists said:

"The primarily biological justification for defining groups of humans as races - for example based on the colour of their skin or eyes, or the shape of their skulls — has led to the persecution, enslavement and slaughter of millions of people,...However, there is no biological basis for races, and there has never been one. The concept of race is the result of racism, not its prerequisite,"

They went on to say:

"The linking of features such as skin colour with characteristics or even supposedly Genetically fixed personality traits and behaviours, as was done in the heyday of anthropological racism, has now been soundly refuted. To use such arguments today as seemingly scientific is both wrong and malicious. There is also no scientifically proven connection between intelligence and geographical origin, but there is a clear connection with social background. Here too, racism in the form of exclusion and discrimination creates supposed races.

However, racism continues to exist among people. In the 20th century, racial research, racial science and racial hygiene or eugenics, as seemingly scientific disciplines, were only some of the excesses of racist thinking and action

The scientists continued:

"Scientific research on genetic variations of human beings shows that instead of definable boundaries, genetic gradients run between human groups.To be explicit, not only is there no single gene that underpins 'racial' differences, but there is not even a single base pair."

Walter Rosenthal, the President of Jena University, argues that while simply removing the word "race" from shared vocabulary will not prevent racism, "as academics we can help to ensure that racism is no longer able to invoke us as a justification."

However, to rid society of racism requires a revolutionary change. Scientific evidence can be ignored and so-called "race scientists" can just continue producing their poisoness ideas and beliefs in their well-funded journals, on the internet or at secretive conferences. Scientific work is not autonomous and neutral but takes place within a class divided society. Darwinism, for example, still has a battle with creationism and “intelligent design" in many countries like the US and Turkey, and in schools and universities political legislation can override scientific facts about the origins of human beings.

Ruling class ideas are materially grounded within the social system they are produced and disseminated in, As Marx and Engels pointed out in the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO. Capitalism, with its many social problems like poverty and unemployment, causes racism, as it does nationalism, so to remove the effects you have to remove the cause. And to remove the cause requires the working class to unite together as a "class for itself" in order to take democratic and political action as socialists to replace capitalism with socialism.

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