Covid-19 and Right-Wing Business in Germany

By Thomas Klikauer and Meg Young

germany flag

German coronavirus conspiracy theories are available for just €24.99. Germany’s right-wing media are cashing in on the fear of the pandemic. It is good business when selling snake oil and right-wing ideology. At the top is Germany’s right-wing extremist and loosely AfD-affiliated Compact magazine. It is among the clear winners of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Compact marches on undeterred by the fact that Germany’s secret police – Verfassungsschutz – has classified Compact as a case of right-wing extremism. Compact remains a leading publication heavily advocating Germany’s Neo-Nazi party, the AFD, its voters, supporters, and adjacent racist, nationalistic, and chauvinistic, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic causes.

Compact also delivers ideological support and conspiracy fantasies to Germany’s so-called anti-vaxxers, general right-wing natters, tin-foil hat wearing so-called hygiene people, believers in a Jewish world plot, mythical conspiracy advocates, etc. Yet, Compact has turned its ideologically motivated resentment of the government’s current Corona protection regulations into a lucrative business.

In March 2021, Compact published a so-called “special edition” on what Germany’s authoritarian populism calls Merkel’s Corona Dictatorship. Compact’s so-called “report” (sic) starts with a picture of three police officers in protective gear in front of a dystopian disaster scene showing a bombed-out skyscraper.  And, with menacing drones hovering around, the right-wing setup looked like a cheap advertisement for a bad 1970s disaster movie.

Riding the vaccine rejection wave, Compact agitates against vaccinations claiming –falsely– that Angela Merkel was preparing the compulsory vaccination of children. No such plan has ever been discussed or put in place. Yet, it creates fear which is, after all, the key operative ideology of authoritarian populism.

Yet, Compact’s 45,000 monthly subscribers not only subscribe to the magazine, they foremost subscribe to its right-wing ideology. Beyond simple subscriber numbers, German web traffic monitoring website Similarweb, lists Compact’s online version as having about 600,000 visitors per month. To those people, Compact is happy to hype-up distrust in the state’s Covid-19 guidelines. Beyond that, Compact is also offering semi-medical health advice.

Overall, Compact offers the usual conspiratorial ideology claiming, for example, that the coronavirus is actually harmless. Simultaneously, it feeds the hallucination that the pandemic was invented by power-hungry elites to enrich themselves. At the same time, Compact warns against the impending Corona Dictatorship.

Apparently disjointed, the magazine published the following warning on its website, Don’t panic about Corona! Yet, contradictory messages have never deterred any ideology or conspiracy fantasy. It runs under the time-honored maxim, never let the facts and contradictions get in the way of a good ideology.

Compact also tells its readers and believers to improve their immune system offering various food supplements. It recommends, for example, vitamin supplements, antioxidants and the Co-enzyme Q10. Again and again, this is linked to an online shop that offers Nine Lives in an article that is not marked as advertising. There are several hundred such “articles” on the Compact webpage. They suggest to readers that these are written by independent journalists and they are not advertisements.

These so-called articles are published under various authors. Yet, they all promote the same online-shop. Surprisingly, this is not just any online company. The boss of 9-Leben-GmbH or Nine Lives is Kai Homilius. Homilius is also co-founder and shareholder of Compact-Magazin-GmbH – Compact’s owner. In other words, the right-wing magazine advertises an online company of its own shareholder. Owning a magazine and a supposedly independent online shop makes good business and it sells right-wing ideology as a little sideshow.

To con naïve people and fill the pockets of its right-wing owner, Compact advertises Astaxanthin – a vegetable substance for €29.99 ($35). This is where, you get your best protection against Corona and other viruses, the magazine promises. Already in the Spring of 2020, Germany’s Ministry of Food warned against such advertising. The ministry clarified, advertising that sell dubious supplements that suggest to be protective against viruses is prohibited.

Undeterred, Compact plays with people’s fear and cashes in. In addition to Ataxanthin, Compact- magazine is not only a right-wing publisher, it is also in the business of selling dietary supplements. Yet, the link between right-wing ideology, dubious supplements and authoritarian populist publishers reach way further than Compact.

For years, Germany’s right-wing Kopp publishing house has been one of the top dogs. Right-wing publisher and UFO-believer Jochen Kopp publishes books about, well, UFOs, aliens, world conspiracies, alternative medicine, and the myth of an allegedly widespread cover-up hiding the supposed violence of migrants in Germany. Beyond that, Kopp considers scientific medicine a great fraud and a fake.

Kopp’s publishing house features as a double business by not only selling right-wing ideology, but also selling a comprehensive range of supplements on the company’s very own wellness site. You can get 120 capsules of barley grass juice for just €24.99. Of course, there are also crystals and stones and vitalizing waters.

Since decades, Kopp also offers emergency food rations, filters to sanitize drinking water, gas masks, and military style protective gear for €140.00. There are also pepper spray pistols, telescopic batons, and stun guns.

Right-wing Kopp’s press also relies on other authoritarian populist online outlets such as, for example, the extremely conservative Journalistenwatch, which constantly uncovers Germany’s communist-run media. Kopp is also in ideological cahoots with the Deutschland Korier – another the AfD stooge. Like Murdoch, Kopp also loves self-invented mini-celebrities of Germany’s right-wing conspiracy establishment.

Kopp’s advertising machine always welcomes new business like Chlorella algae powder telling its readers, TO PREVENT CANCER (spelled in capitals). In the mix is also former Tagesschau (Germany’s most watch public TV news) presenter and conspiracy fantasist Eva Herman. Herman remains Germany’s most high-ranking conspiracy operative.

She advertises Kopp’s products like a manual on self-treatment with chlorine dioxide. The disinfectant and bleach is used as an alleged miracle cure fighting against HIV, autism, cancer, and of course, Covid-19.

Compact magazine and Kopp are just two of the many companies cashing in on the fear of the Coronavirus pandemic selling supplements, miracle cures, and survival equipment for the expected day X – the end of the world, Dante’s Inferno. Many self-appointed alternative media activists are also on an ideological mission which they finance by selling snake oil. Seemingly unsuspecting companies service conspiracy believers, Christian fundamentals, and people expecting the imminent collapse of society. This is a lucrative business.

Yet, all of this also has real consequences as innocent people turn away from real medicine, refuse vaccinations and increasingly leave society and the democratic discourse. Behind their backs, right-wing profiteers fight on the maxim, fear is a great motivator. Right-wing ideologists and very resourceful and cashed-up businessmen with an ideologically determined entrepreneur spirit have proven the “fear is motivator” maxim.

In the end, Germany’s right-wing not only rides the wave of the Coronavirus pandemic – it also cashes in while simultaneously not just selling snake oil to the innocent. Beyond that, it also converts innocent people to the right-wing cause and away from a democratic society. Through a matching of business, right-wing ideology and the skillful exploitation of Covid-19 fears, Germany’s right-wing continues to undermine democracy.

Thomas Klikauer has 700 publications and writes regularly for BraveNewEurope (Western Europe), the Barricades (Eastern Europe), Buzzflash (USA), Counterpunch (USA), Countercurrents (India), Tikkun (USA), and ZNet (USA). His next book is on Media Capitalism (Palgrave).

Meg Young (GCA and GCPA, the University of New England at Armidale) is a Sydney Financial Accountant & HR Manager who likes good literature and proofreading.

Originally published in Buzz Flash

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