I've been thinking more about the election result I mentioned in #246, in Thuringia (a German state formerly of East Germany), a place I passed through a time or two or three. The results of their recent state election:
* 28 seats were won by Die Linke (successor of the East German Communist Party) [31% of seats]
[...] [T]he Linke "neo-Communists" are a majority of [the new] ruling coalition, so it's only fair that their guy, Bodo, becomes the formal leader.
Those in the east voting for Linke are generally older people who actually lived as adults under the Communist East German government. Is this, then, a partial vindication of that system and its government?
Maybe. But hear this:
Maybe this is a window into the nature of political thought itself. These east(ern) German voters in their 50s, 60s, 70s who are voting Linke into the 2010s are not "left-wing extremists". Suggesting so is a bit silly. They are basically conservative people.
This leads me to ask: What is a conservative? If we hold all else equal, maybe a conservative is one who wants [thinks he wants] whatever system existed, say, forty years ago (or some such number of years ago; the recent past), regardless of what that system was, whether it was considered left or right or whatever at the time.
Thus I realized that we can speak of a secondary base of this party -- smaller but noisier -- in the form of belligerently left-wing youth prone to masked-mayhem and violence, the type that Europeans will know as "Antifas", and their less-belligerent sympaticos. Their material was highly visible in most parts of Berlin (they don't call it "Red Berlin" for nothing). But not in all parts. "Ganz im Osten" (as I called it -- "in the deep east") of that city they faced hostile territory and they knew it, or so I gathered. This territory belonged to the infamous Rechtsradikaler (radical right). I noticed this difference in political "turf" starkly over one particular night (and a long night it was). I, along with G.S., an American friend also studying in Germany at the time, walked clear across most of Berlin. It was ambitious, but we did it. (We started near Ostkreuz or Lichtenberg [which is definitely "deeply east"] at 10 PM or so, and ended west of the Westkreuz train station -- on foot the whole way. It took us over eight hours. I don't know whose idea this was, but it sounds like something I'd propose. We arrived past dawn at his apartment in the west [where I was staying for the time being while I sorted out a new place to live].)
Anyway, about the Linke Party. I think we can say Linke is "two parties" that have joined together for convenience's sake -- one is a party for nostalgic 'conservative' east-Germans in or near retirement age (see above), and the other a party of and for the angrily radical left. Without the former, the party gets no voters and is stuck in the electoral ghetto (Linke has almost no representation anywhere in West Germany due to the 5%-threshold rule). Without the latter, the party lacks for energy, sags under the weight of political lethargy, and may not have survived to the present day. This was my opinion as an outside observer.