Call for an independent revolutionary Left in Germany
We received the following statement from our German comrades, who have split with marx21 and are founding a new revolutionary socialist organization, Revolutionary Left (Revolutionäre Linke), in Berlin on the 15th of October:
Call for an independent revolutionary Left
Climate change, inflation and real wage losses, war in Ukraine, the rise of the fascist German party AfD: We live in a time characterized by crises in which more and more people are afraid of an uncertain future.
All these crises and worries have one common cause: capitalism.
It is the capitalist system, geared towards profit maximization and characterized by competition, which makes global, joint and decisive action against the emission of greenhouse gasses impossible. It is capitalism that has repeatedly caused economic recessions and unemployment since its inception, and which is the breeding ground for racist prejudices. It is the competition between capitalist nation states that continually sparks new wars for resources and influence.
The party DIE LINKE (THE LEFT) was founded in 2007 to build an alternative to this capitalist system.
DIE LINKE attracted the hopes of millions for social improvements. The party was essentially an amalgamation of the PDS, which had its roots in East Germany, trade union-oriented circles in West Germany, especially the SPD splinter WASG, and revolutionary groups. The left’s newfound unity thrilled many. The minimum consensus was the fight against the anti-social policies of the then Social-Democrat/Green government, in particular the so-called Agenda 2010 under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, as well as the rejection of all German military interventions abroad.
Programmatically, DIE LINKE stood and stands to the left of the SPD and the Greens. It calls for “overcoming” capitalism. But in practice it always was and remains a reformist parliamentary party that, in principle, has never acted differently than the SPD and the Greens. The ideal for many was the SPD government under Willy Brandt in the early 1970s. The election slogan “leftwards works” expressed the promise that the mere strengthening of DIE LINKE would be enough to make the country more social.
This was an illusion.
The mere fact that DIE LINKE was able to attract millions of votes in the first few years did not make the country any more social. The majority of the party drew the wrong conclusion that one only had to participate in government in order to make things better. Joining coalition governments in the federal states of Bremen, Berlin, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Brandenburg, Saarland and Thuringia came with the promise to “help shape” politics while ruling “from within”. The result was not a more social society or even a step towards “overcoming” capitalism, but rather the taming of DIE LINKE itself. Step by step it has developed into a colorless system party.
One example is DIE LINKE’s government participation in Berlin. There, DIE LINKE was ready to enter a government with the SPD and the Greens for a second time in 2021, although the Social Democratic mayor Franziska Giffey openly disregarded the implementation of the successful referendum on the expropriation of the large real estate companies. Previously, the party’s parliamentary group in the Berlin House of Representatives had remained silent for years about the Greens coalition partner’s attempt to dismantle the Berlin S-Bahn network.
DIE LINKE has proven itself incapable of developing a common anti-imperialist position against Putin and against NATO in the Ukraine war. Leading LINKE politicians openly or secretly support arms deliveries to Ukraine. To this end, the LINKE and especially its parliamentary wing has repeatedly and systematically opposed solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people and their liberation struggle.
These policies have disillusioned and disoriented DIE LINKE Party’s supporters.
Today there can no longer be any question of DIE LINKE raising hopes for social improvements. Its charisma and its influence on the organized working class has faded. This has led to a deep crisis in the LINKE Party. Why vote for DIE LINKE when it essentially does the same thing as the SPD and the Greens? No one needs a third reformist parliamentary party in Germany.
The party’s failure is reflected in the fact that it is unable to benefit from the crisis of the Greens and the SPD, even in opposition. Only the AfD benefits from the anti-social, market-oriented climate policy of the Social-Demorat (SPD)/ Greens (Grünen) / Liberals (FDP) coalition and won the first district administrator in elections in Thuringia in the summer of 2023 – the state in which the Nazi Björn Höcke leads the AfD and the left-wing Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow has ruled for years.
DIE LINKE party executive’s request to a (former) leading figure of the party, Sahra Wagenknecht, to resign from her parliamentary mandate will inevitably lead to a split in the LINKE Party. Wagenknecht’s own opposing party project does not represent an alternative. Her attempt to gain support through concessions to the right on immigration issues can, at best, lead to temporary electoral losses for the AfD. In practice, this policy promotes the current right-wing trend in society and drives a wedge into the working class, which is now as diverse as society as a whole. Wagenknecht’s politics are just as limited on winning votes in elections as the remaining DIE LINKE.
There can be no business as usual in this situation.
Given this decline of DIE LINKE, it is time to build a left that breaks with the core problem. We need a left that is not oriented towards parliamentary proxy politics that leaves the capitalist state apparatus and economic exploitation untouched. We need a revolutionary left that relies on class struggle as the engine of change from below.
We therefore invite to the founding of the Organization of the Revolutionary Left in Berlin on October 15th.
Our aim is to address all those who do not want to come to terms with capitalism or the decline of DIE LINKE. And who don’t want to go neither with the Klaus Lederers (head of DIE LINKE IN Berlin) and Bodo Ramelows (head of the regional government of the state of Thüringen) of DIE LINKE nor with Sahra Wagenknecht.
Who are we?
We are a group of socialists who have helped build up the Marx21 network within DIE LINKE in recent years. Marx21 began in 2007 as a network that advocated the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, the self-liberation of the working class through class struggle and active organization building from below.
After initial successes, a process of adaptation to DIE LINKE gradually took place. Many Marx21 comrades have accepted positions in the federal parliament, state parliaments or district associations. Many have taken up paid positions in the trade union apparatus, in the DIE LINKE party or the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
In practice, Marx21 as a network increasingly fell apart into different groups that worked alongside each other in a kind of honeycomb structure. Activities and even analyses were increasingly and ultimately carried out almost exclusively through the prism of DIE LINKE. This has resulted in the organization drying up. Since 2017/18 at the latest, Marx21 has hardly been noticeable as an independent actor in the outside world beyond its own website and the annual “Marx is Muss” congress.
Being tied to the DIE LINKE party and its crisis also led to Marx21’s existential crisis. The network split into three factions in 2022/23.
One group wants to continue working in the party DIE LINKE (‘PRO’). Another group (“Ringo”) focuses on pure campaign politics, which is financed by orders from the trade union apparatus and bureaucracy as well as the LINKE-affiliated Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. At its core, it is an association of full-time employees from trade unions, party branches and party-affiliated foundations. Members of this group secretly founded their own company (Organizing Beratung GmbH), through which they involve young activists in paid campaigns through short-term employment contracts. In January 2023, ‘Ringo’ won the absolute majority in the coordination circle, the nationwide leadership body of Marx21. They have merged the campaign work of Marx21 with the for-profit work of the company which leading members of Marx21 are a part of.
We founded our faction within Marx21 in the summer of 2022 under the name FIST (‘For an International Socialist Tendency’) in order to offer an alternative pole against the bureaucratism, the paralysis that has arisen and the dependency on the reformism of DIE LINKE. The leading coordination group of Marx21 expelled us collectively from Marx21 on September 10, 2023, without the possibility of a hearing or an appeal, because we started an internal initiative to re-establish ourselves as an independent revolutionary organization, something we have now been arguing for in internal papers for at least over a year.
In this way, the Marx21 leadership has used administrative procedures to remove from further discussion the faction that alone stands for a revolutionary new beginning and a break with the reformist-parliamentary politics of DIE LINKE.
What we stand for
Capitalism cannot be “overcome” by programs or by choice, it must be actively overthrown. We are guided by Marx’s motto “The liberation of the working class must be the work of the working class itself”. Class struggles arise from the class contradiction between capital and labor itself and carry the seed of self-liberation. However, it is not enough to rely on purely economic struggles. It’s about intervening in these struggles with political arguments in order to counter the daily flood of bourgeois ideas and divide-and-rule politics.
The revolutionary minority must organize itself and unite the class-conscious parts in its own party, independent of the full-time apparatus of the trade unions, in order to be able to lead these political interventions. This party must openly advocate solidarity with all struggles against oppression and discrimination.
If you want to work on building the Revolutionary Left, you are welcome to join us at the founding of our organization on October 15th!
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