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Virality and Morphogenesis of Right Wing Internet Populism

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Eva Kimminich and Julius Erdmann

Information and its individual interpretations are highly discussed in social media. Their use and misuse is an important subject for cultural and media studies. The theoretical framework of this volume is based on a synopsis of socio-constructivist and semiotic paradigms, which permit insight into ongoing adjustments of the social perception of reality and the thereby changing benchmarks. The assembled micro-studies concentrate primarily on right-wing Internet populism in Germany, France and Italy and allow a more precise idea of the effects the disseminated myths, metaphors and memes can have: Becoming viral, they can have an influence on a society’s semiosphere, i.e.on common sense and social life.

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The State as a Company

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Reconstruction of the Origin and Dissemination of the Code BRD GmbH in the German-Speaking Conspiracy-Ideological Milieu1

Abstract: The code BRD GmbH (‘FRG Ltd.’) represents a narrative in Germany in which the state, the Federal Republic of Germany (= BRD), is described as a company (= GmbH). As a consequence, the state holds no sovereign powers; conspiracy-ideological followers of the code refuse the payment of taxes. This explorative study will point out the dissemination of the narrative of the state as a company by means of the code in the German-language Internet. The prevalence of the code BRD GmbH coincides with the identification of the Federal Republic of Germany as a Finance Agency Ltd, a company in state ownership in Frankfurt/Main, as well as with the emergence of the so-called Selbstverwalter (‘self-governors’) in Germany. In concert with the specifically German phenomenon of the Reichsbürger (‘citizen of the Reich’), they constitute a common conspiracy-ideological sub-milieu. It shows that the term was initially used outside of the milieu, then, from the 2000s onward spread inside the milieu and, finally, from the 2010s onward, integrated into public discourse as a conspiracy-ideological component. Within this process, the code BRD GmbH witnessed many shifts in meaning.

Keywords: BRD GmbH, Citizens of the Reich, Conspiracy Theory, Reichsbürger, state as a company, sovereignism

1Introduction

On 27 October 2016, the German comedy show heute-show published a short promotional clip on their official Facebook site in which the host Oliver...

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