‘Cultural Marxism’ is for the New Right both a symbol of the enemy and an example of successful politics…
Antonio Gramsci in 1933
Among historians, 1968 is increasingly viewed as a publishing phenomenon – some have even talked about a ‘paperback revolution’ (Ben Mercer). Numerous recent studies have been dedicated to the magazines of the New Left, which are ascribed an important role in the events of 1968. For rightwing journalism, one might argue that the continuities with the early years of the West German state and the National Socialist period constituted a central factor of their success. Not least in magazine editorship, the importance of these continuities for the formation of new rightwing political initiatives in West Germany during the first 30 years of its existence become apparent. Yet, in his book Die Angstmacher, Thomas Wagner declares that 1968 also marked the birth of the New Right. He emphasises that 1968 functioned not only as a moment of resistance, but also the inspiration for new forms of politics and campaigning. ‘Cultural Marxism’, the spectre regularly invoked by AfD today (and strongly reminiscent of the National Socialist campaign term ‘cultural Bolshevism’), is for the New Right both a symbol of the enemy and an example of successful politics.
That this is also a narrative deployed strategically by rightwing publicists themselves, is telling. Like Höcke’s development and appropriation of the term ‘conservative counterculture’, the group Konservative Subversive Aktion, founded by the director of the Antaios publishing house Götz Kubitschek in 2007, echoes the name of the leftwing action group of the 1960s Subversive Aktion, so as to gain some of its radical aura. At the same time, the group’s forms of action seem to be derived more from the identitarian movement. The complicated relationship between the New Right and New Left is also seen in the rightward turn of Tumult magazine. In print since the end of the 1970s, its editor-in-chief Frank Böckelmann was one of the co-founders of Subversive Aktion in Munich in 1963. Charting its development allows us to comprehend the shifts in the intellectual landscape of West Germany.