On the coattails of the Pegida anniversary, here is another far-right jubilee: A year on, self-declared hooligans have gathered once more for a “Hooligans against Salafists” (HoGeSa – those guys clearly love their acronyms) rally in Cologne. The two events could not have been more different. While Pegida is a largely regional weekly fixture that seems to feed on local networks, HoGeSa was supposed to be a national gathering in a very hostile environment. While Pegida claims (or claimed) to be a citizens’ movement that ruled out any connections with neo nazis, the HoGeSa organisers boast their uncivic credentials (click the link below to see what I mean).
And while Pegida seems to be on the rebound, counter-marchers ountnumbered a thousand hooligans by a factor of at least ten. Just as Dresden has become a focus for right-wing mobilisation since 1990, Cologne is very good at left-wing counter-mobilisation. The use of water canons against left-wingers made some international headlines, but that is good sport in Germany. Incidentally, there were no Salafists to be seen.
The larger issue, however, is that right-wingers of all shades are back on the street, trying to build networks. In that sense (and I think only in that sense), it’s like the 1990s all over again.