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German territory: The #CDU, Youth and the Internet

On the German territory “YouTube star” Rezo produced a video “Destroy the CDU” about a week before the EU elections. The video has 13 million clicks by now and Merkel’s governing party lost many votes in the election.

Originally published by Lower Class magazine. Translated by Enough 14.

Capitalism in its present form has the disadvantage for the powerful that it creates dynamics that cannot always be foreseen and controlled. Because the system flourishes best when it gives those who are dominated a certain degree of political freedom, there are undesirable side effects. This is the category in which the video “The Destruction of the CDU” by Youtuber Rezo must be seen.

With all the skepticism regarding the long-term effects: That was a coup! In the rippling election campaign, the 55-minute film, in which Rezo primarily dissected the CDU’s policies, hit the fan with more than eleven million hits in one week. The Union, but also mainstream media were completely taken by surprise. Nobody had expected such an intervention from that side.

And this is also a remarkable development for the left. Actually, the world of Youtube people and influencers is part of the marketing machinery, which is about propagating and consolidating certain lifestyles and compatible consumer behaviour. Food supplements or cosmetics are pushed, music titles or silly challenges are hyped. This world has had little to do with big politics so far – and certainly shouldn’t have.

In the Konrad-Adenauer-Haus in Berlin, CDU headquarters, reacted headless to the unexpected attack. First it took the party days to respond, then the party leadership withdrew an already produced answer video of Bundestag member Philipp Amthor – because of his nerdy-bourgeois habitus a mocking figure on the net – at short notice. Probably the CDU feared to embarrass itself even more.

When Rezo and more than 70 Youtube colleagues made up their minds shortly before the election and called not to vote the CDU, CSU or SPD not to be elected on Sunday, all the CDU/CSU’s fuses blew. The new CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer seriously proposed to “regulate” political statements on the net before elections. This caused horror and disbelief in “social media”, and was generally described as an attack on the freedom of expression and censorship. And even tabloid Bild counted down Kramp-Karrenbauer.

For the left, what Rezo did in his video was nothing new in terms of content. Whether it was about the growing gap between rich and poor or the failure of the CDU, CSU and SPD in climate policy or drug policy. But that is not the point either. It’s something different whether left-wing party leader Bernd Riexinger or Ulrich Schneider of the Paritätischer Gesamtverband (a German NGO, Enough14)point to the social gap 100 times – or whether a Youtuber, most of whose young audience so far has been little involved in politics, does so.

Some female wage writers have criticized Rezo’s remarks in the bourgeois media as “subcomplex”. The conservative leading media such as the FAZ have wiped the entire video off the table with foam at their mouth. It is the usual reflexes when the biggest social taboo is touched – when the scandal of social apartheid is mentioned by name. Rezo’s video corresponds to the child’s exclamation in Hans-Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”: “But he’s wearing nothing!”

That’s exactly what reactionary journalists like Jasper von Altenbockum of the FAZ or the CDU are so upset about: that a young man with blue hair stands here and naively asks a question. That he points to a graphic on which one curve, the wealthy of the country, goes up and the other, the have-nots, constantly goes down, and that he asks: The CDU has ruled the country in 29 of the 36 past years – if it was really a people’s party that makes politics for everyone, then why do these curves move further and further apart?

This is not a “subcomplex”, Rezo speaks a simple truth. The bourgeois parties make policies for stock owners and other people who got on the gravy train. For the accomplices of the middle class a modest prosperity is guaranteed, for the rest there’s ALG II (social benefit) and RTL 2 (German commercial TV broadcaster). After Friday’s for Future Rezo’s video is a second surprisingly successful push of young people into the political arena. You don’t have to proclaim a new youth movement right away, but it is of course enjoyable when young people are politicized because they become at least potentially receptive to radical system criticism. But nobody should make the mistake of underestimating the system’s ability to contain and incorporate protest and resistance.

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