The FT has an astute and worrying article in it today from Nikolaus Blome who is a member of the editorial board of Der Spiegel. In it he argues that the Pegida movement is reshaping German politics as the line between the conservative middle class and the far right is fading is fading fast. As he notes
Some of the organisers of the [Pegida] marches have dubious backgrounds. Many of those rallying behind them belong to openly neo-Nazi groups. But the majority of the 25,000 who took to the streets of Dresden on Monday do not. According to a recent study, they are middle class, well off and fairly well educated. Those middle-class people no longer feel ashamed to mix in the streets with extremist protesters . The clear red line between the conservative middle class and the far right seems to be fading. That is not good news.
I think that can go down as a classic understatement, but that is the style of the article, which is well worth reading (and limited access to the FT can be free). For me what Blome is arguing more lucidly than I have seen before is that a taboo has been broken: it is now apparently acceptable to be openly racist in some parts of society where this was previously unacceptable and from that some very clear, obvious and significant political risks follow.
More than a decade ago I well remember John Christensen and I sharing the view that the rise of fascism was one of the biggest risks Europe faced, although it seemed a long way off at the time even if it was the inevitable consequence of the rise of corporatism, which we were challenging. The risk assessment remains the same now, but it seems a great deal closer.
And yes, I am worried. There is a horrible familiarity in all this.