Contribution of the German Communist Party to the 16th annual International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties – Guayaquil, Ecuador
The capitalist crisis of 2007/08 had its repercussions in Europe, and in particular in the European Union member countries. But, foreseeably, those nations are suffering much worse, which since 2002 have been without the option to devaluate their currencies because they had adopted the common European currency, the Euro. Meanwhile, Germany has expanded its role as the principal exporting nation.
It left the crisis stronger than ever, both in terms of economic and political power. Of course, Germany has not yet reached the growth rate from before the crisis, but it put itself in the pole position compared to its rival, France.
On the one hand this has been gained by traditional sales of high quality machinery and cars, but on the other hand through a “class compromise”: for more than ten years – long before the crisis – the unions have accepted very low wage rises in order “not to jeopardize the German ability to export”, while in many European Union member countries wages were rising.
Another highly important determinant for understanding why the capitalist crisis affected Germany only partly, is the role of the so-called “European Commission” (which would better be named a council of Secretaries of the European Union, which has never been elected) Here, the German Minister of Finance – Schäuble – imposes aggressive means of shock and reduced spending on the countries in crisis whereas they are in need of state investment rather than austerity.
At the same time, Germany lends money to countries such as Greece, Italy, and Portugal, so they can repay their debts to German companies, or the state guarantees payments to exporting companies. This serves the media to rant about a “debt crisis” in order to cover up that the crisis actually stems from overproduction.
The German rulers secure the role of their capitalist class economically through the German economy’s traditional strength in export, and politically through their command in the EU. Inside the country, they secure it ideologically. The aforementioned compromise between unions and capital translates into a considerable lack of solidarity of our class with workers in other countries. This becomes very visible when transnational companies – such as Volkswagen – shut down factories, e.g. in Spain, and the unions, facing the loss of jobs, instead of solidarising practice NIMBYism.
In a considerable share of the class, Hitlerism has rooted a sentiment of superiority to other peoples, and many workers believe what is good for “their company” is good for themselves. In addition, there are effective subjective reasons, because they are exploited by a capitalism, which on global level allows them to be among the beneficiaries of the exploitation. Creating class consciousness is one of the tasks for a Communist Party in an imperialist and highly developed country.
We are convinced that this class consciousness could contribute to overcome the rise of racism. Today, fascist parties are no longer excluded from the public dialogue. The media increasingly present them as a political option – it is about cleansing Germany’s image by looking for the liability for WW1 among “all contemporary powers”. At the same time, there are discussions about the reasons for WW2. Actually, the reactionaries are advancing.
For the first time after the liberation from fascism in 1945, through the party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD), there exists a direct link between neo-fascism and bourgeoisie. They have already gained mandates in the European Union parliament.
This party represents that part of capital which does not agree with the common currency. Their populist ideology grants them votes with their tales about “us paying for the Greeks, Italians, etc.” Objectively, the opposite is true – it is the Euro which secures Germany’s predominance in Europe and the EU. Even more, the AfD advocates a EU of two velocities; one Union for the rich countries, another one for the peripheral ones.
Our party, small and in the process of regrouping our forces, is facing a relatively new problem. In Germany, the migrants’ share in the industrial working class continues to rise. The same is true for the service sector and generally in low-pay sectors. Although often having a class instinct, these immigrants tend not to organise. Under these circumstances, we ask the Communist Parties with militants living in Germany to consider an orientation to organise in the German Communist Party: One country, one class, one party!
Most immigrants stay for the rest of their lives, although initially this might not have been their intention. The change in the composition of the population in Germany – almost 30 percent of which having foreign roots – requires a more organised response from our parties. We imagine that there are similar circumstances in the US, Great Britain, France and other countries with labour immigration.
Despite macro-economic data favourable for German capital, a considerable share of the working class remains unemployed and large parts are working poor. This is to say that the poorest are burdened with the crisis insofar as it affects Germany.
It is already difficult to find housing at moderate prices, and poverty among youth increases considerably. The gap between those most in need and the richest becomes more evident.
The government, of course, abuses the all-over media coverage – these days there is a debate on the alleged threat of deflation – to abolish certain social rights achieved by the unions over decades. Large parts of progress for the working class were owed to the existence of the German Democratic Republic. Its disappearance 25 years ago was the initial point for an immense backward movement regarding social issues in both parts of Germany.
The unions, which were used to achieving large parts of wage rises and co-management in companies without much effort, have only now taken up struggling again. Here it is important to point out that the most successful unions are those of highly skilled specialists, such as pilots and engine drivers. They are powerful, because without their labour there is a standstill. On the other hand, in some cases there is a lack of solidary spirit, because they tend to defend their peculiar interests without considering the class’s general situation, which some of them believe they are not part of.
To reach our goals, we pursue a policy of alliances which is inseparable from the unions. In general, in Germany the unions lack a more militant and class-oriented approach. It is urgently necessary that the unions’ headquarters join in with the militant unions’ protests in Southern Europe and France. We claim the right to political strikes, which is non-existent in Germany, and we defend the unions’ unity.
In non-revolutionary times, it is important to struggle to improve the class’s situation. The defence against numerous capitalist attacks has a double character; it teaches that these attacks stem from the contradiction between capital and labour, and hence are inseparable from the existence of capitalism. And in addition it teaches how to struggle and to win. The major enemy in a highly developed and imperialist country is monopoly capital, which among others comprises the banks, the insurance companies and the industrial and energy corporates. Therefore, in this period class conscience will stem from an anti-monopolist conscience.
Beyond the necessary struggle for reforms – such as higher wages and the reduction of the weekly working hours to a maximum of 35 – the propaganda for socialism distinguishes us from other leftist forces. In the working class, the forces who defend our revolutionary ideology are not hegemonial. The hegemony will not be achieved when at the same time reformist illusions about the transformation of capitalism towards a better society dominate. We are sure – another world is possible, but not inside capitalism.
Capitalism does not exist without war; it almost cannot exist without war. War is no exception, but normality. Those who believed in a “peace dividend” after the fall of the Soviet Union find themselves betrayed. Today, the aggressiveness through monopolist competition for the global markets has increased, and indicators are conspicuous that in the medium run the imperialist blocks will confront each other. The EU and US are increasing their aggressions against Russia and China.
Nevertheless, the imperialist powers have congruent and adverse interests at the same time. The law of the different economic and political development of the imperialist countries applies. The different interests show a tendency towards evolving into contradictions that express the economic contradictions between the monopolies.
In Europe, the EU’s aggression in the case of Ukraine is of particular importance. Since their aggression against Yugoslavia – with Germany in the front lines – the EU have tried to impose their own interests against the US, but these have known how to defend their position. Sometimes they take action individually, sometimes with allies such as Great Britain, and sometimes with NATO’s tacit approval.
The EU’s eclectic character helps them. Contrary interests inside the EU, between Germany, France and Great Britain, often neutralise each other. France complains about Germany trying to transform its economic domination into a leadership in the EU’s external policy.
We do not regard as equal Russia, the EU and the US as imperialist countries who share an interest to dominate Ukraine. Being clear about Russia not being the Soviet Union, within the framework of international relations it today defends some progressive positions. In the aforementioned case it is defending peace in the world by attempting to keep Ukraine from joining the NATO. If, however, this happens, NATO troops would line up 1,500 km closer to Russia than before the crisis. Russia’s policy today is motivated by its objective national interests.
With their offer of an association agreement, the EU was and is trying to draw Ukraine into their zone of influence. The US, within their scope of their politics of aggression against Russia, are rather interested in a country which offers military bases. Germany sadly follows its historical tradition and allies with the Ukrainian fascists, denying their character and calling them “nationalists”.
At the same time, Chancellor Merkel is trying not to totally break with Russia since this country supplies energy to the EU, could be an ally in the so-called “struggle against terrorism” and might be a future ally when it comes to containing the US interests.
These diverse interests became visible when the US enforced economic sanctions against Russia. These sanctions, however, affect EU countries far more than the US. As much as in the EU, there are interests for and against an alliance with the US, there is the same contradiction inside the German imperialism.
They are “transatlantic” politicians – mostly in the conservative party – and there are those who emphasise the autonomy of the EU against the US. Currently, both parties agree in the idea that “Germany has to accept its responsibility in the world”. Germany increases both its political and military role in the world.
Now a military reform is being put into practice to transform the armed forces into an intervention army. For the first time since WW II, Germany delivers weapons into a region of tension to the Kobane (Ain Al-Arab) Kurds with the pretext of humanitarian need. Germany is in fact, through the export of weapons to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, also arming the “Islamic State”.
Generally, wars have an economic origin. And they objectively result from the development of monopoly capitalism – the manifestation of capitalism dominated by financial capital. This is why we need socialism.