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Workers Vanguard No. 971

7 January 2011

Germany: Capitalist Austerity and Anti-Muslim Witchhunt

The following is translated from Spartakist No. 185 (October 2010), published by our comrades of the Spartakist Workers Party of Germany. The “Hartz IV” laws referred to in the article are a series of measures enacted in 2003-05 by the former Social Democratic (SPD)/Green coalition government that greatly reduced unemployment and social welfare benefits.

More than 80 billion euros [$106 billion]: that is how much the “savings package” put forward by the Christian Democrat/Free Democrat (CDU/FDP) government intends to cut from the federal budget by 2014. There is already talk of further budget slashing of the same order for the following two years. The largest part of this, over a third, targets social welfare, i.e., those receiving unemployment benefits under “Hartz IV” laws. Their number climbed to 6.7 million in April 2010, including 1.7 million children. Society’s poorest and weakest are being forced to pay for the crisis of capitalism. In a situation where there is massive popular rage directed at banks fattened up by the state and at the government’s “savings package,” former Bundesbank [federal bank] exec board member Thilo Sarrazin’s inflammatory anti-Muslim tract Deutschland schafft sich ab [Germany Does Itself In], which claims that Muslims have too many children and threaten to “take over” Germany by 2100, was like a gift from heaven.

The debate over Sarrazin speaks to an ominous new, brazen display of German imperialism that started to become apparent early in 2010 with the Greek economic crisis. Germany had hitherto played the paymaster whenever the European Union (EU) got into economic difficulty. But now German capital allowed Greece to slide more and more toward the very brink of insolvency, blocking EU rescue plans while interest rates on Greek bonds skyrocketed.

It was only when interest on Portugal’s government bonds also began to rise, in a scenario where Greek bankruptcy was going to be followed very shortly by the insolvency of Portugal, Spain and even Italy, that [German chancellor Angela] Merkel yielded, agreeing to an extortionate “rescue package.” Chauvinism of the vilest sort was unleashed against the Greeks over “aid” payments for liabilities held in large part by German banks. In other words, first and foremost the German banks were being aided, while the German state rakes in repayments with compound interest clawed out of the hides of the Greek populace. Such German imperial arrogance has not been seen for a long time indeed.

Demagogic incitement is neither new nor surprising for Sarrazin, a member of the SPD since 1973. Last year he was raving against Muslim immigrants in Berlin “continually producing new little headscarf girls” (Lettre International, September 2009). Demands were raised to increase the Hartz IV payments for children at the beginning of 2010 after the Federal Constitutional Court declared the rates unconstitutional (of course, not because they were far too meager but solely for not being “transparent” enough). FDP foreign minister Guido Westerwelle rejected this as “late Roman decadence,” while promptly discerning “socialist features” in the discussion. Sarrazin criticized Westerwelle...and then went him one better. Hartz IV recipients, he opined, could save money on water: “Showering with cold water is really much healthier. No one who takes hot showers has ever gotten far in life” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1 March 2010).

Sarrazin’s vile tract openly advances classic race “theories” whereby intelligence is inherited and genetic differences between ethnic groups exist. Immigrants’ inferior education is supposedly based on their genes, shifting attention away from the social causes of the wretched state of education. The 2003 Program for International Student Assessment study confirms once again “that in scarcely any other comparable industrial country is educational success so closely tied to social origins as in Germany.” The cutbacks following capitalist reunification of Germany [in 1990] have only increased this social discrimination: “Only six out of 100 working-class children commence university study, while 49 out of 100 high school students from top-earning families go on to attend university.... Between 1982 and 2003 the percentage of university students from the topmost social layer has risen steadily, from 17 to 37 percent, whereas the share of students from the lowest layer has decreased from 23 to 12 percent.”

Immigrants brought here in the 1960s as “guest workers” for the most wretched jobs still predominantly belong, along with their German-born children and grandchildren, to the lowest social layers of this racist capitalist society. Situated primarily in the working class, they are disproportionately affected by Hartz IV. This is also the case for East Germans—who, at a rate of more than 17 percent, are twice as likely to be Hartz IV recipients as the nationwide average—and for single parents, i.e., mainly women.

For immigrants, the language barrier compounds the effects of poverty, not only making it difficult to deal with government officials, doctors and the like, but also causing children to fail in school. Since in the west of Germany in particular there are too few daycare facilities, where attendance also costs the parents money, these children fail to learn the language as toddlers and are unable to follow instruction conducted in German once they go to school. By the time they have halfway mastered the language, they are hopelessly behind in the subject matter and many do not succeed in getting any secondary school diploma. Without such a diploma these youth are then condemned to poorly paid, insecure jobs and are much more likely to be funneled into Hartz IV. This, and not some sort of racist garbage about genes, explains the cause of immigrants’ inferior education.

Certain aspects of Sarrazin’s hate campaign that are harmful particularly from the standpoint of foreign policy have been condemned by the CDU/FDP government—e.g., all his drivel about a “definite gene” that “all Jews share.” However, Sarrazin’s overall thrust of turning all Muslims into scapegoats, in classic divide-and-rule manner, is finding support. In this way, rage over injustice and poverty can be channeled away from the bourgeoisie and its state. According to Sarrazin’s vile social-Darwinist logic, any attempt to improve the desperate social situation of sections of the Muslims in Germany is condemned in advance to failure. And while he spews venom over the “Untergang” [decline] of Germany due to Muslims’ supposedly having too many children, the government is eliminating parental support money for Hartz IV recipients, thereby centrally targeting impoverished Muslim families, along with unmarried mothers.

Far from Sarrazin being ostracized, his garbage is being widely discussed, as if this race “theory” were utterly harmless. In a 4 September 2010 commentary, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung even springs to his defense: “His mention of a ‘Jewish gene’ in an interview was reflexively turned into a scandal—in reality, he had asserted that ‘Jews share more genetic material with each other than with surrounding non-Jewish areas,’ as researcher Gil Atzmon says. This is indeed a political event...not in Germany, however, but rather in the Near East. The wave of public support for not for his biased or incorrect theses. It is for his depiction of abuse of the welfare state and of a refusal to integrate, for which almost everyone can cite examples.”

The German bourgeoisie, which brought Hitler to power and bears the responsibility for the Nazis’ race mania that led to the industrial murder of six million Jews, is again publicly and sympathetically discussing race “theories” in its Frankfurt house organ. Racism and anti-Semitism are inseparably linked to the ruling capitalist class.

Widespread receptiveness to Sarrazin’s filth is the bitter fruit of the racist “war on terror” proclaimed by the SPD/Green government in the footsteps of U.S. president George W. Bush after September 11, 2001. Abroad, the political construct of a “war on terror” is utilized to deploy the Bundeswehr [army] in the colonial war in Afghanistan. Domestically, people with a Muslim background sit in the state’s cross hairs: a racist dragnet was followed by raids on mosques, and thousands and thousands of immigrants were subjected to “checks without reason for suspicion” by the police. Open season was declared on German Muslims, who were kidnapped, tortured and incarcerated in prison hellholes like Guantánamo by the CIA, with the approval and support of the German government, as shown by the cases of Murat Kurnaz and Khaled el-Masri. Bourgeois reaction had thus once again created an internal and an external enemy in order to legitimize the demolition of democratic rights, after Communism had falsely been declared dead with the capitalist counterrevolution in the DDR [East Germany] and the Soviet Union.

The murder of the young Egyptian woman Marwa El Sherbini—before her three-year-old son’s eyes—by an enraged anti-Muslim racist in a German courtroom in the summer of 2009 was a direct result of the state-led “war on terror.” Sarrazin’s baiting fuels a pogrom atmosphere against the Muslim minority and incites murderous racism. Recently, the police confiscated posters of the [fascist] NPD that claimed: “Sarrazin Is Right!” Sarrazin pressed charges against the fascists, but they are just the spirits he has called forth himself.

Reformism Whips Up Nationalism and Racism

A few years ago the filth that is now being purveyed by Sarrazin was heard only from Nazi ideologues, and on 30 August 2010 the SPD Executive initiated an expulsion process against Sarrazin for “having transgressed a boundary line in his statements on the genetic identity of peoples, ethnic groupings or religious communities.” The social democrats are polarized over this. Two Berlin SPD motions to expel Sarrazin for his racist interview in Lettre International were rejected last year because, according to the party’s arbitration commission, it could see “neither a party-damaging nor a dishonorable act.” The SPD Executive was then deluged with hundreds of e-mails, letters and phone calls. The majority came from non-SPD members who defended Sarrazin; the letters from SPD members were split half and half.

At the beginning of September, according to a survey by the Berlin Info Institute of 1,024 registered voters, 36 percent of the SPD voters and 43 percent of the [reformist] Left Party voters thought Sarrazin was more or less right (47 percent of SPD voters and 34 percent of Left Party voters disagreed with him). Support for Sarrazin springs from the logic of social-democratic reformism, which functions as a doctor at the sickbed of capitalism. This means arbitrating the struggle of various groups of the needy for the ever scantier crumbs from the table of the capitalist rulers, who play off one against the others: “Ossis” [East Germans] against “Wessis,” Turkish immigrants against East Germans and immigrants from the former Soviet Union, men against women, etc. All this necessarily promotes nationalism and racism.

Sarrazin is a prime example: In late January 1990 in the Ministry of Finance, he drafted the plan for the currency union between West and East Germany for [then-chancellor] Helmut Kohl, an important contribution to driving capitalist counterrevolution forward. For his “services” he was made head of the Finance Ministry’s technical oversight of the Treuhand [agency established to privatize DDR industry]. Almost 7,000 state-owned companies were sold for a song to private investors, 3,700 firms were “liquidated,” 2.5 million DDR citizens were thrown onto the streets, and industrial capital estimated at 600 billion euros was transformed into a mountain of debt exceeding 200 billion euros. This was accompanied by a racist campaign against asylum seekers, leading to a state-organized pogrom in Rostock-Lichtenhagen in August 1992. At the same time, with its infamous Petersberg Resolutions, the SPD agreed to the de facto elimination of the right to asylum. There followed arson attacks in Mölln and Solingen, where Turkish women and girls were burned alive.

Following reunification, the bourgeoisie also saw no necessity for maintaining West Berlin as a display window to contrast with the DDR, and in 1991 Sarrazin came out for dismantling federal subsidies to West Berlin. Ten years later, Berlin was bankrupt. Today, its share of Hartz IV recipients, at 18 percent of its population, is higher than in any other federal state. Add to this the ruin of the Berliner Bankgesellschaft [one of Germany’s ten largest banks] due to the corrupt cronyism of the SPD/CDU Senate. As Finance Senator, Sarrazin then became the whip for the SPD/Left Party Senate that took office in 2002 to “restructure” the city and its bank at the expense of the workers and poor. Here he also excelled in demagogic attacks on the Turkish-origin Muslim populace in Berlin, which was suffering massive unemployment due to industry having decamped from West Berlin. Sarrazin did well for himself, however. Having “voluntarily” quit the Executive Board of the Bundesbank, he now can claim a monthly pension of 10,000 euros.

That Left Party voters agree with Sarrazin is hideous but, alas, not surprising. The Left Party’s Keynesian program of using German capital to create more jobs in Germany is fundamentally nationalistic. The same is true of the “Ossi” [East German] nationalism that they court. And let us recall [Left Party leader Oskar] Lafontaine’s infamous speech at Chemnitz in the summer of 2005, where he launched chauvinist attacks on workers from Poland and other East European countries, claiming that “fathers of families and women are losing their jobs because low-wage foreign workers are taking their jobs.” If one accepts and strives for responsibility for administering capitalism on a national basis, what other solution is there to unemployment than aiming to defend “German jobs” in competition against workers in other countries?

Marx21 and the Anti-Muslim Witchhunt

The supporters of Tony Cliff in the Marx21 group have participated in various protests against anti-Muslim racism and opposed banning the headscarf in public service in Germany and the ban on wearing the burqa in France, which they rightly brand as racist. But in doing so they drop any opposition to the headscarf and/or veil as an instrument for the oppression of women. In contrast, we oppose the veil as part of our uncompromising struggle for the liberation of women. We understand that state bans promote racism, deepen women’s social isolation and make it even harder for them to find jobs, strengthening their dependence on husband and family and reinforcing their oppression. We are for the separation of church, mosque and synagogue from the state. Religion is a private matter, and it is not the job of the state to decide who wears what. Simultaneously, as atheist Marxists, we fight against any and all religious, nationalist and chauvinist prejudices, which regularly lead to bloodshed and suffering. What is required is a socialist revolution to eliminate capitalism as the material cause of poverty, wars and religion.

The Socialist Workers Party (SWP), Marx21’s British fraternal organization, capitulated even more openly to Islam. In 2003, the SWP boasted of having organized an antiwar meeting in Birmingham with a separate seating area for women! The SWP wanted to cash in on the huge antiwar protests that were led by the Stop the War Coalition (which the SWP had itself brought into existence) and were supported by Muslim organizations. With the “Respect” Coalition, which it founded jointly with Labour Member of Parliament George Galloway in 2004, the SWP sought to feed off the widespread hatred for Tony Blair’s Labour government and its “war on terror” among the especially hard-hit Muslim populace. The SWP leaders saw to it that Respect’s founding program did not even formally come out for “socialism,” and SWPers voted down a motion for the elimination of the monarchy. Within Respect, the SWP tailored its demands to the mosques and as good as buried the fight for women’s liberation and homosexual rights. Nor did the SWP contradict Galloway on his declared opposition to abortion (see the Spartacist League/Britain’s Workers Hammer No. 194, Spring 2006).

This capitulation has a prehistory. The Cliff tendency hailed the Islamic-fundamentalist mujahedin in Afghanistan, who had been armed to the teeth by the CIA and were fighting against the Soviet Red Army after it rushed to the aid of the secular, modernizing, left-nationalist PDPA regime. Even today, the Cliffites regurgitate the imperialists’ war propaganda against those who fought for the most fundamental rights of women and against the big landowners: “For the left, the [Soviet] invasion was a catastrophe whose effects are felt even today. The leftists had sought to carry out a land reform and forcibly introduce the liberation of women. Hence, in the 1990s the terms ‘feminism’ and ‘women’s liberation’ were equated by many Afghans with mass murder. Everyone knew somebody who had been slain in the name of socialism and feminism” (marx21, June 2008). For us Marxists, the Soviet military intervention opened up the possibility of the social liberation of the Afghan masses, in particular of women. This is why our call was “Hail Red Army in Afghanistan! Extend the gains of the October Revolution to the Afghan peoples!”

Following capitalist reunification, which the Cliffites had supported to the best of their ability, Linksruck, the predecessor organization to Marx21, ardently contributed to the 1998 electoral triumph of the SPD, calling for years to vote for the SPD—which in 2001 proclaimed the anti-Muslim “war on terror.” Marx21 (21 October 2009) established the connection between Sarrazin’s demagogy and his role in the Berlin Senate:

“As Berlin Finance Senator he continued the line of Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit (SPD), that it was necessary to carry out savings ‘till things squeak.’ The interplay at the time between the two recalls the grilling method ‘soft cop, hard cop.’ Sarrazin took on the role of the ‘hard cop,’ demanding in a consciously provocative way, sharp cuts in social benefits. This made it possible for Wowereit to slip into the role of the ‘soft cop,’ who puts a brake on the Finance Senator and institutes ‘less harsh’ cuts.

“The purpose of such politics is, however, not just to evade responsibility for such policies by pointing to scapegoats. It is also about splitting up resistance to social cuts and racism in line with the motto ‘Divide and rule’.”

But the Marx21 group says not a word about the Left Party’s responsibility for carrying out these assaults in coalition with the SPD. (Like Wowereit, the Left Party plays the “soft cop” role and now rejects much of Sarrazin’s filth.) No wonder: In 2006 it still called for re-electing the Left Party in Berlin, despite all the prior instances of the Senate’s despicable attacks. Marx21 is deeply buried in the Left Party and has representatives on the party executive. It spreads the illusion that there can be parliamentary governing coalitions—via the Left Party—that serve the interests of the oppressed. In fact, the German state serves the capitalist class and, as Lenin explained in The State and Revolution, it is the strategic task of the working class to smash this capitalist state through socialist revolution and replace it with a workers state.

Hartz IV: An Assault on the Entire Working Class

Sarrazin’s hate campaign accompanies the government’s attack on Hartz IV recipients, which constitutes an assault on the entire working class. Right now the Hartz IV “basic payment schedule” amounts to a pitiful 359 euros per month, from which all expenses except rent and heating must be met. For couples, each receives only 90 percent of this amount, and children, depending on their age, get 80, 70 or as little as 60 percent. (Money for child support is also subject to the Hartz IV payment schedule—i.e., it disappears.) As Anne Ames observed in her 2007 study, “It’s Not Something I Chose....”:

“The payment schedule was supposedly based on the statistically calculated expenses of the poorest fifth of one-person households in the Federal Republic. In 2003, their expenses came to 828 euros, or to 526 euros after deducting the cost of rent and heating. Politicians managed to scale these expenditures down to a basic payment of 345 euros essentially by categorizing some types of expenses of the poorest fifth of one-person households as only partially ‘relevant to the payment schedule’.”

For foodstuffs, 4.36 euros per day are provided. In the case of children who, after all, are growing and need a balanced diet for healthy development, it is—believe it or not—3.49 or as little as 2.62 euros per day! Even worse, since the estimates for many other necessary expenditures are much too low, Hartz IV recipients must make up for this out of their food money. A result of this is the rapid growth of charitable food pantries in Germany, which either sell food cheaply or give away food they get from supermarkets that cannot sell it (often because the sell-by date has expired). An article in the trend online newspaper (July/August 2010) reports: “In 1963 the first of such charitable food distributions was set up in the USA; in Berlin the first one was founded in 1993. By now there exist 800 pantries with more than 2,000 distribution points used by a million people, approximately 30,000 mostly volunteer pantry activists and a few thousand temp workers with one-euro jobs [paying about one euro per hour in addition to unemployment benefits].”

Hunger and malnourishment have again become a mass phenomenon in Germany, the fourth-largest economy in the world. Seen as politically desirable, this situation was deliberately brought about by the “left” capitalist SPD/Green government under [Gerhard] Schröder and [Joschka] Fischer with their Agenda 2010 “reform” package. Ever more untrammeled lust for profits—this is how the bourgeoisie celebrates the destruction of the DDR and Soviet Union through capitalist counterrevolution. The CDU/FDP “savings package,” which is denounced hypocritically and in lukewarm fashion by the SPD and Greens as “unsocial,” is the linear continuation of their own Agenda 2010. The Left Party’s declamations against the “savings package” and Hartz IV are no less hypocritical, although this is not obvious to many. All the Left Party’s efforts are aimed at administering the capitalist state, and where it participates in governing individual states, as in Berlin and Brandenburg, it carries out and administers Hartz IV poverty for the capitalist class.

Hartz IV expresses the murderous contempt of the bourgeoisie and its political minions for those who generate no profits for the capitalists and whom they hence regard as “superfluous,” profit-reducing “sources of expenses.” Moreover, the situation of those impoverished under Hartz IV is to be made even more intolerable: first to intimidate those who still have a job, so that they are thankful to the bosses and accept wage cuts and the worsening of working conditions, and also as motivation for Hartz IV recipients to accept even the most wretched jobs. In a form of de facto forced labor, Hartz IV recipients are threatened with having even these starvation payments slashed should they reject a job that the unemployment office considers “reasonable.”

Every year more than 700,000 people are shuttled through one-euro jobs, destroying regular jobs and driving wages down. According to the June 2010 report of the Institute for Work, Skills and Training, currently 17.9 percent of all employed persons in the West and 39.3 percent in the East are working in low-wage jobs. As with Hartz IV, those hardest hit are above all immigrants and their descendants, along with East Germans and women. Almost one in three working women is in a low-wage job and women constitute 70 percent of the low-wage sector. From the start of the SPD/Green government in 1998 up to 2008, the low-wage sector grew by 50 percent, to 6.55 million, while these low wages themselves sank. Thus the German bourgeoisie has succeeded in constructing one of Europe’s largest low-wage sectors.

For Class Struggle Against the “Savings Package” and Hartz IV!

The DGB trade-union federation’s leadership is now lamenting the fact that since the introduction of Hartz IV, the number of full-time workers whose wages have to be “supplemented” by the state has risen sevenfold to 355,000. Since 2005 the state, they say, has had to ante up 50 billion euros because of “wage-dumping by unscrupulous employers.” This again sheds light on the goal of the Hartz “reforms,” whose main purpose was not to save money. Essentially, they play workers and the unemployed against each other and act as a battering ram to destroy the unions and drive down the wages and working conditions of the working class, with a corresponding rise in capitalist profits. In 1867, Karl Marx had already analyzed this question in Volume One of Capital and roughly delineated the necessary response by the working class:

“If its [capital’s] accumulation, on the one hand, increases the demand for labour, it increases on the other the supply of labourers by the ‘setting free’ of them whilst at the same time the pressure of the unemployed compels those that are employed to furnish more labour, and therefore makes the supply of labour, to a certain extent, independent of the supply of labourers. The action of the law of supply and demand of labour on this basis completes the despotism of capital. As soon, therefore, as the labourers learn the secret, how it comes to pass that in the same measure as they work more, as they produce more wealth for others, and as the productive power of their labour increases, so in the same measure even their function as a means of the self-expansion of capital becomes more and more precarious for them, as soon as they discover that the degree of intensity of the competition among themselves depends wholly on the pressure of the relative surplus population; as soon as, by Trades’ Unions, etc., they try to organise a regular co-operation between employed and unemployed in order to destroy or to weaken the ruinous effects of this natural law of capitalistic production on their class, so soon capital and its sycophant, political economy, cry out at the infringement of the ‘eternal’ and so to say ‘sacred’ law of supply and demand.”

Instead of uniting workers and the unemployed in the struggle for a decent life, the union bureaucracy supported the SPD/Green government’s Hartz “reforms” and throttled protests against them. Committed to capitalism, it attempts to reconcile the interests of the working class with those of the capitalists. In the name of its nationalist bourgeois program for “Standort Deutschland” [Germany: the place for industry and investment], the union bureaucracy pressures the workers to make concessions so as not to endanger German capital’s competitiveness.

Not only has the labor bureaucracy allowed the low-wage sector to expand massively through the Hartz laws, but countless sellouts have caused the wage level of the working class as a whole to sink: While in the last decade gross wages in Germany increased 21.8 percent, in the EU as a whole they rose 35.5 percent; for fringe benefits, the increase in Germany was a scant 9.3 percent versus 38.5 percent in the EU. This treacherous class collaboration has not only brought about an explosion in profits for the German bourgeoisie, but has also put massive pressure on workers’ wages and conditions in other European countries, causing a downward spiral of wages.

The DGB bureaucracy is organically linked to the SPD and Left Party, which are, as Lenin aptly put it, bourgeois workers parties— i.e., while they have a base in the working class, they have a bourgeois program. For revolutionaries, the strategic task is to break the working-class ranks from the bourgeois workers parties through intervention to drive forward the class struggle, aiming to build a revolutionary multiethnic workers party. It was precisely the SPD’s ties to the trade unions that made it so useful to the bourgeoisie as a governing party, serving to minimize proletarian resistance to the assaults. But the increasing anger in the working class over the attacks by the SPD-led government plunged the SPD into a crisis and made support to the government by the trade-union tops increasingly difficult. Part of the union bureaucracy broke with the SPD in 2003 to found the social-democratic WASG, which later fused with the ex-Stalinist PDS to form the Left Party, whose program does not differ qualitatively from that of the SPD. Basically, the Left Party is dreaming of a return to the SPD of the “good old welfare state” before Schröder.

To stop Hartz IV’s worst excesses, the union tops are demanding a legal minimum wage. But instead of mobilizing their rank and file, they want the SPD and Left Party to push this through parliament. The IG Metall union, whose wage negotiations with the steel industry will set a pattern for other unions, has raised the important demand that contract workers receive the same wage as permanent employees. This de facto call for “equal pay for equal work” is not just long overdue. Holding to this basic union principle would have required the most determined class struggle against the introduction of the Hartz laws.

Whether it is the minimum wage or equality for contract workers, what is necessary is a fight to organize the unorganized. Talk about equal wages must not mean silently accepting the firing of contract workers. Rather, contract workers must be mobilized side by side with permanent workers in a battle for equal pay for equal work and for the complete integration of contract workers into the workforce. This struggle must be linked to one for full citizenship rights for all who live here. Only in this way can the struggle for equal working conditions be extended to those driven into illegality by racist immigration laws. A class-struggle union leadership must be built.

To counter the discrimination against women and immigrants in the labor market, it is necessary to wage a struggle for union control of hiring according to the principle of first come, first served, so that no one can be turned down on the basis of sex or a “wrong” name. At the same time, special programs are necessary to compensate for the frequently inferior or non-existent professional training women and immigrants receive. It is necessary to fight for the special needs of women and immigrants.

We are resolute opponents of chauvinist forced assimilation, fighting instead for revolutionary integration. Therefore, we oppose making German the exclusive official language in government offices and in schools, etc. However, it is clear that mastering German is a prerequisite for obtaining a job, and that without it, integration is impossible. For this, free language courses must be made available to all.

An adequate number of free, round-the-clock kindergartens is needed so that women can go to work. In 2008, a program was announced to make childcare facilities available for 35 percent of all children under the age of three by 2013. In and of itself, this was way too limited. In any case, hardly any deeds have followed the announcement. Also, sending your kids to day care costs money that poor parents often lack. The crying need for additional kindergartens, particularly in the West, drives many single mothers into Hartz IV or keeps the married ones economically dependent on their husbands. Day care centers as well as schools must, where needed, have instruction in more than one language, so that immigrants’ children can fully comprehend what they are being taught from the beginning.

It is necessary to break with the union leadership’s “Standort Deutschland” ideology and, in internationalist solidarity with the working classes of other countries, wage an unyielding struggle for the interests of the workers, unemployed and Hartz IV recipients. In the 1938 Transitional Program of the Fourth International, Leon Trotsky elaborated a system of transitional demands linking the struggle for the workers’ daily demands, which conflict with the ever more constricted bounds of decaying capitalism, to the urgently necessary battle for socialist revolution. He wrote:

“Trade unions and other mass organizations should bind the workers and the unemployed together in the solidarity of mutual responsibility. On this basis all the work on hand would then be divided among all existing workers in accordance with how the extent of the working week is defined. The average wage of every worker remains the same as it was under the old working week. Wages, with a strictly guaranteed minimum, would follow the movement of prices. It is impossible to accept any other program for the present catastrophic period....

“If capitalism is incapable of satisfying the demands inevitably arising from the calamities generated by itself, then let it perish. ‘Realizability’ or ‘unrealizability’ is in the given instance a question of the relationship of forces, which can be decided only by the struggle. By means of this struggle, no matter what its immediate practical successes may be, the workers will best come to understand the necessity of liquidating capitalist slavery.”

We are fighting to break the most politically advanced workers and youth from illusions in the SPD and, more particularly, the Left Party and to win them to the task of building a revolutionary, multiethnic workers party committed to the struggle for new October Revolutions.


Workers Vanguard No. 971

WV 971

7 January 2011


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