The potential for the anti-Nazi music detector in contemporary German culture

by on December 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm in History, Law, Music, Web/Tech | Permalink

Saxony State Police in Germany have developed a smartphone application that can identify neo-Nazi lyrics and racist words in rock songs. Der Spiegel reported Tuesday that German interior ministers will meet this week to discuss whether to implement this new method of policing.

The government said that neo-Nazi music helps radical organizations recruit youth, and it is used as a type of gateway drug to bring in new conscripts. The application, nicknamed “Nazi Shazam,” can identify names of songs just by playing a small sample of a song. The application would allow the police to react instantly if far-right songs are played on radio stations, at concerts, in club nights or at demonstrations.

There is much more here, hat tip goes to MT.  This is of course another method of surveillance and measurement of our tastes, and some version of this idea will be picked up by marketers, whether or not this particular example is adopted.

Vernunft December 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm

Irony lost on them, I’m sure.

JWatts December 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Indeed.

dirk December 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Just Germans being Germans.

david December 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

not really

As the German narrative goes, the Nazi original sin was not in restricting freedom of speech; it was in hijacking the liberal-democratic process and the civil-social order. Germans don’t fool themselves into thinking that they didn’t (mostly) freely vote for the Nazis.

dirk December 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Their sin was in scapegoating. I see parallels.

Rahul December 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm

+1

It’s easy to make fun of the irony. The reality is trickier. It’s a fine line.

Brian December 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm

The Germans never freely voted for the Nazis. They never won more than about a third of the vote in a multi-party national election.

It was the establishment business-oriented parties of left and right that conspired to put the Nazis in power in order to keep reformers out. The local equivalents of the Tea Party, OWS, Greens, Linke, or Communists could have built a governing coalition with any of the major establishment parties, but they uniformly preferred Nazis over any threat to privileged oligopoly big industries and big finance.

They probably thought they could control the Nazis. Or maybe they just didn’t care as long as their privileges were preserved. The Nazis were quite explicit in their intentions toward war and genocide, so there can be no talk of innocent mistakes in judgement in the leadership.

And that is why, as inequality and corruption rise in the West, it all has every potential of happening again.

Setting up the secret police infrastructure to suppress reformist opposition in the name of erasing the old tool of the establishment proves the leaders of Germany regret nothing about the Nazi atrocities except getting caught.

david December 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm

It is exactly this populist revisionist narrative that is being rejected here, FYI

So Much for Subtlety December 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Calling the slavishly Stalinist German Communist Party “reformers” is utterly bizarre. The violence and extremism of the Communists pushed a lot of people into the Nazi camp and made the Nazis look like the lesser of two evils. Which, to be honest, they probably were. Certainly they were if you were a Communist – more of the German Communist Party’s leadership survived in Hitler’s prisons than as Stalin’s guests in Moscow.

Nor were the Communists merely a threat to big business. They were a threat to everyone and they did not hide it. They would have destroyed *all* businesses. Down to the smallest store. Forced peasants into a renewed serfdom by tying them to the land in collective farms. Imposed slavery on urban workers. Destroyed family life. No voter in their right mind would have picked the Communists over the Nazis – at least if they were not Jewish at any rate. The Nazis were good at hiding what they wanted to do. Hitler did not call for genocide or even war before coming to power. But the Communists were open about their desire to murder.

But we can agree the Germans did not vote for the Nazis. On the other hand, think how bad the Communists were that the Social Democrats, who could have formed a government with the Communists, could not do so. Partly because the Communists were so extreme, but also because Stalin wanted the Nazis in power and forbade the Communists from forming any sort of alliance with the so-called “Social Fascists”.

Keith December 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Just curious, when you and others say that the Germans did not vote for the Nazis what do you mean? I thought they did vote for the Nazis in the 1920′s and 1930′s to the point that the Nazi’s were the largest party and Hitler asked to be Chancellor.

So Much for Subtlety December 8, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I mean the majority of Germans never voted for the Nazis. The best they did was about a third of the electorate. Which is a lot but it is not a majority.

The only place the Nazis were really popular was on campus. They controlled the national student union. No other national level body.

asdf December 9, 2013 at 12:36 am

The Nazi’s won 43.91% of seats in 1933, pretty close to half. Other nationalist parties, which did differ from the Nazi’s is serious ways, got another 7.97%, so you could say that a majority support nationalists. The SPD, the second biggest party, got 18.25% of the vote.

We also have to recognize that there were a number of regional and religious parties that weren’t really voting much on the left/right axis of parties at all. For instance German Catholics had their own party and the Bavarians as well. So that 43.91% has to be adjusted a bit compared to which voters were really “in play”.

At the end of the day Nazi’s probably won a majority amongst protestants. The ideal demographics in 1933 for the Nazi’s would be a protestant from the NE of Germany who didn’t live in a major city. They would be lower middle class. And they would be slightly more likely to be a woman then a man. Though it should be noted that there were many groups that supported the Nazi’s, some in an even greater statistical degree, but of large groups that could really deliver votes that would be the one.

asdf December 9, 2013 at 1:49 am

Also, considering how high turnout was for the 1933 election, Hitler won a greater proportion of the German populations (including non-voters) then Obama won in the 2008 election.

While we all get the general point that Hitler didn’t get >50%, and he lost to Hindenburg, and that 1933 was clearly a high water mark; it’s really not inaccurate to say that Hitler was elected by the German people.

chuck martel December 9, 2013 at 9:29 am

So this conversation is about some isolated and unusual failing of the democratic process?

Andreas Moser December 9, 2013 at 8:34 am

Brian, who was this Green Party in 1933? Never heard of them.

Therapsid December 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm

The reality isn’t tricky. National Socialism isn’t taking over Germany. There’s not the slightest justification for this kind of abrogation of freedom of speech.

Germany should repeal laws prohibiting hate speech, holocaust denial, the Nazi party, and the use of Nazi symbols.

Brian Donohue December 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Agreed. I was taught, for example, that the Stuart monarchs actively suppressed the Puritans. Nothing like being a persecuted minority to rally around. How’d that work out, Charles I?

That’s also why I approve of letting nut jobs have their say on boards like this.

It’s like Germans look in their hearts and don’t trust themselves, which is unsettling any way you slice it. This does not feel like a stable equilibrium.

dearieme December 8, 2013 at 5:23 pm

“the Stuart monarchs actively suppressed the Puritans”: naturally; the Puritans were out to suppress everyone else. When they eventually got power, they did so with vim. People were so pissed off they welcomed Charles II’s restoration. You must have been taught that too, surely?

Still, in the New World they could bully Indians, and fellow Christians, and eventually Mormons, to their utter satisfaction. And witches.

Mind you, this is a bit remote from Germany.

Brian Donohue December 8, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Wow, sounds like you get picked on by Puritans at school or something.

My point, which I thought was pretty clear, is that hard core repression is a policy that can backfire. You don’t suppose if they could rewind the tape that the Stuarts may have preferred to play their hand a bit differently, do you?

Anyway, that’s the tie-in with the current post.

chuck martel December 9, 2013 at 9:27 am

The English not only welcomed Charles II, his return was the most celebrated event in the history of the country. The body of Cromwell was dug up and his head exhibited on a pike for 18 years.

Rahul December 9, 2013 at 2:29 am

>>>Germany should repeal laws prohibiting hate speech, holocaust denial, the Nazi party, and the use of Nazi symbols.<<<

Any particular reason why? Who are we hurting right now by banning those? Is it having a gross deleterious effect on society by taking away from Germans their right to wield a Swastika?

Dave Barnes December 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Godwin’s Law in the OP.
Awesome

Therapsid December 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Godwin’s Law is a joke. It’s simply a way of elevating Nazism to the ultimate evil, to which nothing is commensurable. It shares the same spirit and intention of religious edicts and fatwas.

The Other Jim December 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

>a way of elevating Nazism to the ultimate evil

Sane people everywhere have no problem with this “elevation.”

TMC December 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm

The Nazis were evil sure enough, but the communists killed 10x as many people.

dearieme December 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm

But zee Nazis were zo efficient, naturlich.

So Much for Subtlety December 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm

And thanks to Hugo Boss they had much nicer uniforms!

The real question is whether the Germans (and/or the Left) think that everyone would all vote Nazi if given half a chance. I tend to think so. They have little confidence in their own ideas.

However you have to say it is absurd that the Germans ban all reference to the Nazis – and even political parties that look sort of like they might not condemn the Nazis quite strongly enough – while the former Communists, who were killing and torturing people well within the life time of, say, my dog, get a free pass. Nazi memorabilia is all but totally banned. Ostalgie is a national pastime.

Rahul December 9, 2013 at 2:53 am

Perhaps because Nazism was more monolithic? Communism was diffuse and came in various flavors. No one’s saying one’s much better than the other. One is just easier to control at least the mainstream version with its clear symbols etc.

prior_approval December 9, 2013 at 3:21 am

‘They have little confidence in their own ideas.’

Or, at least in Germany, they actually know what happens when a group of genocidal murderers seize power.

And knowing what happened the last time, are determined to prevent such an ideology from even having the slightest chance to wreak destruction again.

Germany does not concern itself with any version of potential slippery slopes in this regard – what happened can still be seen in any stone building built before the ‘Stunde Null’ in any major German city. Those with even a bit of experience can tell the difference between the marks caused by street fighting, and those caused by bombing, and just how good the subsequent repair work was in terms of covering it up.

Dipper December 9, 2013 at 4:34 am

Catholics killed 100 times more people.

Marian Kechlibar December 9, 2013 at 10:43 am

Rahul, Communism through the world isn’t homogenous, but GDR-style communism was pretty much Moscow-dictated régime, with few ideological or practical differences from the contemporary brother regimes in Czechoslovakia or the USSR.

That said, Communism is tolerated (around the world) because it wasn’t destroyed as utterly as Nazism was. This is the classical case of victor’s justice.

There was no liberation of Gulag archipelago with shocked foreign troops making photos of barely living skeletons covered by frostbites. Therefore, it is easier to deny their existence.

Rahul December 9, 2013 at 11:15 am

@Marian Kechlibar:

That may be true. But another important aspect is that in today’s western world you don’t see a large coherent communist group with cult following that goes about organizing rallies with Lenin / Stalin lifesize posters etc. No doubt there’s some of it but mostly it’s a joke now.

In terms of a forward looking threat perception in terms of violent capabilities etc. the neo Nazi’s are just a clearer, larger, and more organized and identifiable group. On purely utilitarian grounds it makes more sense to go after them.

So Much For Subtlety December 10, 2013 at 1:41 am

Rahul Perhaps because Nazism was more monolithic? Communism was diffuse and came in various flavors.

Was it? I would think there was more difference within the Nazi Party than between any two non-trivial Communist Parties anywhere in the world. Communism was not diffuse – it really was a world-wide conspiracy run from Moscow. Which is why the French and Italian Communist Parties collapsed when the Soviet Union did. It only came in flavors to the extent that people like Mao had to justify splitting from the Comintern by splitting hairs when it comes to ideological differences.

prior_approval Or, at least in Germany, they actually know what happens when a group of genocidal murderers seize power.

And yet they are happy to let another set of mass murderers, who were committing torture and murder well within not only my lifetime but within the life time of at least one t-shirt I own, continue in German politics. Much less display their symbols and so on. The Germans are very picky and not a little masochistic about their genocidal murderers: people who mass rape German women are fine, people who kill Polish Jews are not.

And knowing what happened the last time, are determined to prevent such an ideology from even having the slightest chance to wreak destruction again.

And yet Die Linke is not banned.

Dipper Catholics killed 100 times more people.

No they did not. The death toll for the Spanish Inquisition is something like 4,000. I would have to check the exact figure. Or less than any two average days of the Khmer Rouge being in power in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge were lauded by Western academia – and yes I am looking at Chomsky. The Spanish Inquisition is not.

Rahul But another important aspect is that in today’s western world you don’t see a large coherent communist group with cult following that goes about organizing rallies with Lenin / Stalin lifesize posters etc. No doubt there’s some of it but mostly it’s a joke now.

I would say it is the exact opposite. You do see large coherent groups of Communists – and more prominently former Communists – with cult followings all over the West. Especially in Western academia. Pretty much everyone in the Sixties was a Communist. Tony Blair’s entire Cabinet were former Communists with the exception of Blair and Brown. The head of the EU is an unrepentant Maoist. The President of Brazil is an utterly unrepentant Communist terrorist. As is one of Obama’s close friends. They are a powerful lobby and anyone trying to purge them would run into a lot of problems, not the least of which is practical – Western academia would be deserted.

What there are is no Nazis. Not anywhere in the world. Not really even in Germany. So they are safe to pick on.

In terms of a forward looking threat perception in terms of violent capabilities etc. the neo Nazi’s are just a clearer, larger, and more organized and identifiable group. On purely utilitarian grounds it makes more sense to go after them.

Within my lifetime Germany came under a sustained terrorist campaign by Marxist Leninist guerillas – the Red Army Fraction. Remember them? They killed prominent figures in the German government, in NATO and in German life. The Neo-Nazis have managed to kill some random Turkish kebab sellers. The only sane view of violent capabilities is that the Communists did and do pose a much larger threat.

Benny Lava December 9, 2013 at 7:22 pm

I don’t think you understand what Godwin’s Law is.

Handle December 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm

‘Everything-but-the-official-approved-ideology Shazam,’ coming soon. Customizable too! One for China, one for Iran, one for Germany, one for Saudi Arabia, one for Britain, one for Cuba, one for the United States …

The old internationalist enlightened progressive dream was never that these would not exist, but instead that they would all converge into just one universal product.

Merrill Guice December 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Some version of this will be picked up by marketers” other way around, soundhound was here first.

Jimbino December 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm

When I lived and worked in Germany of the early 70s, there were lots of Nazis in positions of power, like Burgermeister and Schulleiter all over the place. Our de-nazification did not work: I saw teachers leading schoolkids in Sieg Heil chants at alpine ski resorts. All this while Mein Kampf and trade in Nazi paraphernalia were outlawed.

The only de-nazification I saw was their changing Schulführer to Schulleiter and the like!

Peter December 9, 2013 at 8:12 am

Having grown up in Germany in the early 70s I doubt your story of public Sieg Heil chants (not necessarily your other claims). That was a time when such an incident would have provoked a media outcry. The 60s were the time when the Nazi legacy was widely and controversially discussed and German society had changed a lot afterwards.

prior_approval December 9, 2013 at 11:24 am

And I will add just a bit to how silly such claims are – I actually have a Führerschein (I can drive Krankenfahrstühle with a speed of up to 25kph), and the Lokführer successfully forced DB to cave in during their strike.

‘Führer’ remains a not exactly rare part of modern German. Perhaps non-German speakers would benefit from a Führung in the nuances?

Dan December 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm

At present a multicultural/multiracial supremacy reigns over nearly the entire world displacing traditional identities with corporate symbols and money. The primary tool of this supremacist regime is the worship of Hitler as an evil god and the Holocaust as the new crucifixion of the innocent lamb of G-d. It’s just a nastier form of Judeo-Christianity which had its own mandate to spread to all corners of the earth (both Jews and Christians had that supremacist mandate from their respective dieties — the “father” and the “son” respectively).

dirk December 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm

In the 80′s in the USA many police departments could determine who the young Satanists were by the music they listened to. Not sure what happened to that Ozzie Osborne guy, but I think he was the ringleader.

Steve Sailer December 8, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Gregg Easterbrook and Rick Sanchez lost jobs without all this high-falutin’ technology. It seems like the old human ways are pretty sensitive at sniffing out witches.

Jan December 8, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I can see with my own two eyes whether they float.

Dismalist December 8, 2013 at 5:44 pm

The special experience of Germany is precisely that democracy got hijacked, and wow, big time. It’s totally understandable that the hijackees wish to put up a barrier against potential hijackers. Methinks, however, that this is hasn’t been necessary or useful since almost 50 years ago.

Marian Kechlibar December 9, 2013 at 10:47 am

Not only the militaries tend to prepare for the last war.

Should German democracy be threatened, the threat will likely come from a completely different direction. Political Nazism in Germany is, for all practical senses, as dead as the Divine Right of Kings.

prior_approval December 9, 2013 at 11:17 am

Which, a cynic would say, is the absolute minimum that the Germans could do. It isn’t as if the surprisingly self-pitying Germans were the only ones in Europe that experienced what Nazism meant.

(A neighbor has publicly complained about how the Americans mercilessly bombed a Mercedes factory nearby, killing several dozens of hardworking Germans. She was seemingly unaware of just how merciless that American raid really was – it also killed 300 hundred slave laborers working in that factory.)

Marian Kechlibar December 11, 2013 at 5:51 am

Well, I tend to be a cynic myself, but this strikes me as inefficient.

Regardless of what you think of the thoughtcrime very idea, there is only so much money and effort that can be spent on policing thoughts / songs / books etc.

If the authorities spend them chasing specters of the past, they will not have the capacity to deal with the present threats.

Rahul December 9, 2013 at 11:18 am

Even if so the completely different direction won’t be Communism. So the straw-man of communism some commentators are bringing up is a bit irrelevant.

Michael December 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm

You know how when you were a kid and you had DARE classes that taught you how horrible drugs were and how evil drug users became? And how it actually made you more curious about drugs? Yeah, this is like that.

prior_approval December 9, 2013 at 12:20 am

And then remember how people were marched into death camps? No?

Right – it isn’t quite like that.

prior_approval December 9, 2013 at 12:19 am

‘This is of course another method of surveillance and measurement of our tastes, and some version of this idea will be picked up by marketers, whether or not this particular example is adopted.’

This technology is quite old, and was created by marketers –

‘Shazam is a commercial mobile phone based music identification service, with its headquarters in London, England. The company was founded in 1999 by Chris Barton, Philip Inghelbrecht, Avery Wang and Dhiraj Mukherjee.[1]

Shazam uses a mobile phone’s built-in microphone to gather a brief sample of music being played. An acoustic fingerprint is created based on the sample, and is compared against a central database for a match. If a match is found, information such as the artist, song title, and album are relayed back to the user. Relevant links to services such as iTunes, YouTube, Spotify or Zune are incorporated into some implementations of Shazam.

As of September 2012, Shazam has raised $32 million in funding.[2] In July 2013, Carlos Slim invested $40 million in Shazam for an undisclosed share.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shazam_%28service%29

Truly, another awe inspiring post concerning something that is so old that no one apparently even remembers the PR of years past.

Steve December 9, 2013 at 5:53 am

Yeah, gets ones hackles up, but it will be found to be impractical.

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Andreas Moser December 9, 2013 at 8:31 am

Is this the same state police who couldn’t spot the NSU’s racially motivated murder streak with 10 victims?

prior_approval December 9, 2013 at 8:36 am

Seems like someone needs to update their own surveillance.

mofo. December 9, 2013 at 8:57 am

“The application would allow the police to react instantly if far-right songs are played on radio stations, at concerts, in club nights or at demonstrations.”

It really is a testament to the left’s propaganda ability that they have turned the National Socialist party into a ‘right wing’ phenomenon.

DCBillS December 9, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Whatever happened to that old canard freedom of speech?

Marian Kechlibar December 11, 2013 at 5:55 am

I would say that it is extremely unpopular with the general public per se. Interview an average voter, and you’ll hear pretty much just variations of “I support freedom of speech unless something really awful is said, which should be illegal.”

To a large extent, even the present (for me, very incomplete) status of free speech in the Western world was pushed on the people from the top. In most countries, should anything similar to the American 1st Amendment be put to popular vote, it would lose big. Probably in contemporary America as well.

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