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Right-wing Spaces

The rise of right-wing populist, anti-liberal, and authoritarian political alternatives has brought a renewed attention to architecture. In opposition to broad sections of the German architecture community and construction industry, for whom an “open-arms” culture represents a kind of ethically precious incentive, apocalyptics and integrationists are manufacturing rightist spaces based on increasingly solidified ideological patterns. The German right-wing publisher Götz Kubitschek uses the term “metapolitics” to speak about the extended field “of words, of thought, of style, of books, magazines, and events, of the habitual and the auratic,” which, in the interests of a cultural revolution coming from the right, need to be fundamentally changed.

In terms of “architectural metapolitics,” it should scarcely come as any surprise that the Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), as well as the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the Front National in France and the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) form a special kind of “coalition of the unwilling.” In willful ignorance of any more complex religious and intellectual history of Europe, the populist right promotes the ideal of a “Judaeo-Christian Europe,” while the far right projects a purely “Christian Europe.” “Islam is unreformable,” the allegation these parties conjure into existence, is an intellectual hallucination that can only be described as racist.

Yet the architectural metapolitics of right-wing populists in Europe does not merely manifest in the iconoclastic rejection of mosques and minarets, but must also be identified as “positive,” in the sense that it not only specifies what it is against but also explicitly expresses what it stands for. This other side of the right’s coin consists of specific single-detached residences immersed in the countryside, settlements, castles and manors, downtown reconstruction projects, and last but not least, new monuments.

There are houses that have scant ambition to be anything more than comfortable daily appurtenances, and others that amount to a political program. The house of Botho Strauß, writer of “The Last German” (“Der letzte Deutsche”) in Der Spiegel in October 2015, in the Uckermark can certainly be put in the latter group. In the midst of the media crisis that followed the publication of “The Rising Tide of Tragedy” (Anschwellender Bocksgesang) in 1993, Strauß acquired a country hideaway in the Uckermark situated some fifty miles northeast of Berlin. The property consists of two houses, a guest house and a large main residence, both painted in brilliant white and topped with red-tile gable roofs. It is both a real structure and place of the imagination, but also more than that, it is a rural Grand Guignol of the cultured classes. Strauß himself had provided the basis for the confluence of dwelling place and philosophical exegesis in 1997 with his book The Errors of the Copyist (Die Fehler des Kopisten), in which he takes a stroll with his son around his house in the countryside and writes, in the tone of the National Democratic Party (NPD): “For five or six years the Germans were intoxicated with their collective existence. As punishment they were obliged to spend a thousand years examining how it could have happened.”

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