One Fifth of Germans Call for Revolution, a Third Reject Capitalism

German protest
Left-wing protesters demonstrate in Berlin November 22, 2014. Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters

One in five Germans believe that revolution, not reform, is the only way for living standards in Germany to be improved, a new study by the Free University of Berlin suggests.

The report, entitled 'Against state and capital – for the revolution' found among other trends that a staggering 62% of Germans quizzed by researchers believe they live in an imperfect democracy where the economy has more power than the electorate, and a third believe that capitalism leads to poverty and hunger.

The 650-page report revealed that 48% are concerned that a deep-rooted xenophobia exists in modern day Germany, a feeling possibly based on the rise of the anti-immigration organisation Pegida, which has gained worldwide coverage in the past few months. Marches by the movement, whose name stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, have taken place in several major German cities, although many were dwarfed by counter-protests. Despite this, around 20% of respondents fear that a new form of fascism will rise in Germany.

Overall, the researchers noted a growing suspicion of central government and of the mainstream media, as well as an openness to conspiracy theories.

“Political danger is looming at the fringes,” the authors of the report warn, “not least through old resentments and new irrationalism that has declared war on reason.”

Almost 50% of respondents said they had noticed an increased surveillance of left-wing dissidents by police and the state, and the report authors noted overall that a sizeable proportion of the German population are moving increasingly towards the left of the political spectrum, and are more likely to hold both anti-fascist and anti-capitalist views.

The study also revealed that attitudes are divided among the populations of east and and west Germany. In the east, 60% consider socialism to be a good idea that has been poorly implemented compared to only 37% of people in the west.

One of the report’s authors, professor of political science Klaus Schroeder, told German media this week that he had been shocked by the increasing numbers of those on the left who are motivated by violence, a phenomenon he believes is being underestimated by the general public.

At the end of January, a mob of around 600 people surged through central Leipzig attacking local government buildings, smashing windows and writing anti-fascist slogans, such as ‘Stop Pegida’ and ‘Stop deportations’.