Affective politics
in The wolves are coming back
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Chapter 5 returns to the politics of fear that is central in understanding the rise of the far right and its focus on wolf politics in Eastern Germany. Against reasonable fearful predictions of how widespread and humiliating underemployment, systemic poverty, terrible pensions, demographic change and empty villages, Western hegemony and Eastern subjugation, identity and history loss, even Western colonialism affect voting behaviours, we find that empirically ascertained fears focus on what are in fact negligible changes: a few new migrants here, a wolf there. This is why an analysis of the politics of fear is interesting: affective politics uses fear to mobilise, and people bask in the resonance this seems to bring. Fear, then, of either wolves or migrants, has a function, and it is this functionality of fear that we address in this chapter in order to explain, in an accessible way, the question of the rise of the right. We show what part the discussion of the wolves plays in this development, and how a politics of fear serves the aims of the AfD, not by manipulating or taking up sentiments already existing in the population but by a theatre of resistance in which ‘feeling rules’ (a term coined by Arlie R. Hochschild) are coming to be contested. Thus, on the one hand, conditioned by imagined realities, the core of the wolf problem is a composition of fear and outrage.

The wolves are coming back

The politics of fear in Eastern Germany

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