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Germany

German trade union leaders: 'Greece is not a threat but an opportunity for Europe'

Frankfurt, February 2, 2015 -- Transform!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The list of first signatories includes seven out of nine presidents of Germany's trade unions, all members of the executive boards of DGB and IG Metall, plus (primarily Social-Democratic Party) politicians in Germany's Bundestag (parliament) and the European Parliament, including two vice-chairs of SPD, as well as numerous academics.

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The political landslide in Greece is an opportunity, not only for that crisis-ridden country but also for a fundamental reassessment and revision of European Union economic and social policy.

Socialists and World War I: Turn the imperialist war into a civil war

Industrial Workers of the World poster against WWI.

By Doug Enaa Greene

February 2, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It has been a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War. The centennial of the “war to end all wars” has seen countless commemorations of the millions of heroic soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for king and country.

Yet missing from all of the observances of the war are the deeper questions of its causes – to divide colonies among predatory ruling classes – and the heroism of those who opposed the mass slaughter. And for the left, that is how we should remember this 100th anniversary – but honoring those socialists and communists who fought against all the odds to end the slaughter.

Alemania: un gobierno rojo-rojo-verde en Turingia

[English at "Germany: Red-red-green government in Thuringia", http://links.org.au/node/4187.]

Por Victor Grossman , traducción para Sinpermiso: Enrique García

Germany: Red-red-green government in Thuringia

By Victor Grossman

December 7, 2014 -- MRZine, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Political parties in Germany are represented by colours: the Christian-Democrats (CDU), due to clerical ties, are black, the Greens of course are green, the Social Democrats (SPD) are traditionally red. When the redder Die Linke (Left) party came along critics said the SPD should switch to "pink". But it didn't, so the new government in the eastern state of Thuringia is a "red-red-green coalition" -- the very first in Germany with the Die Linke on top!  A true sensation! The coalition squeezed  to victory -- by one single wavering vote.

Were the SPD and Greens really willing to be junior partners with Die Linke, scorned as pariahs? They were, but in an almost exactly split legislature every vote was needed to beat possible maneuvers by the CDU, now very bitter at getting pushed out after ruling Thuringia since 1990.  

When Karl Liebknecht said ‘no’ to World War I

Karl Liebknecht.

By John Riddell

December 2, 2014 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- During the first four months of the First World War, no statement from German socialists appeared denouncing the war. Government repression and the bonds of Social Democratic Party discipline prevented anti-war voices, such as those of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, from gaining a hearing.

This changed 100 years ago on December 2, 1914. Liebknecht took a bold stand against the slaughter as the first deputy to vote in the German parliament (Reichstag) against allocating funds for war spending. His protest resounded across Europe and gave new hope and energy to socialist antiwar currents.

Heaven or hell? Books look back on the German Democratic Republic

Stasi Hell or Workers’ Paradise? Socialism in the German Democratic Republic ― What Can We Learn From It?
By John Green & Bruni de la Motte
Artery Publications, 2009
50 pp.

Red Love: The Story of an East German Family
By Maxim Leo
Pushkin Press, 2013
272 pp.

Reviews by Barry Healy

November 16, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The German Democratic Republic (GDR, or "East Germany") disappeared a quarter of a century ago after 41 years’ existence. The East German state is mostly remembered as “Stasiland”, as Anna Funder’s history of its secret police is called.

Yet, for all of its Stalinist failings, East Germany’s values still stubbornly retain many Germans’ endorsement, especially those of the eastern regions. In 2008, Der Spiegel surveyed young Germans nationwide and discovered that most defended what the GDR stood for.

This is usually dismissed as merely a form of nostalgia, but these two texts grapple with the fuller picture. What they recall are memories of when the fear of fascism could motivate whole nations ― and the promise of socialism inspired.

Husband and wife team Bruni de la Motte and John Green have personal links to the GDR. Born in Britain, Green studied in the GDR between 1964 and '68 and then worked on GDR television for 20 years.

Eastern Europe: For whom the Wall fell? Balance sheet of the transition to capitalism

The Berlin Wall comes down, 1989.

By Branco Milanovic

November 3, 2014 -- Globalinequality, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --  As I was leaving Berlin less than a week before the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and as celebrations there were going strong, I decided to look at the balance sheet of transition countries (even if the term is no longer fully adequate) over the past quarter century.

I am originally from one of them, I worked on most of them in the 1990s, and I discussed and documented the Great Depression there in my 1998 book Income, inequality and poverty during the transition to market economies. So, I was going back to a familiar terrain.

Germany: Lift the ban on the PKK!

Kurds protest in Dusseldorf.

By Florian Wilde, Die Linke member

November 3, 2014 -- International Viewpoint, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The West has suddenly begun supporting various Kurdish organisations in its fight against the Islamic State.

So why is the largest Kurdish organisation of all, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), still outlawed? This article discusses current developments in Kurdistan and gives a brief overview of the history of the Kurdish liberation movement and the PKK’s illegal status in Germany. It argues for a radical left strategy focused on defeating the ban on the PKK.

Communist resistance in Nazi Germany

Historian Doug Enaa Greene, as part of the Center for Marxist Education's Red History Lecture Series, speaks on "Communist Resistance in Nazi Germany".

For more by Doug Enaa Greene, click HERE.

By Doug Enaa Greene

October 29, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 1943, a member of the Communist Party, sentenced to die for resistance activities as a member of the Red Orchestra, wrote these final words to his father:

European Left discussion: What scorecard for the radical left in government?

Helmut Markov (Die Linke, Germany).

By Denis Rogatyuk

September 8, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Among the many discussions that took place during the annual Party of the European Left’s Summer University (outside Berlin, in late July) was a seminar by representatives of various left-wing parties that have been, or are currently, part of regional, state or national governments.

The question of the non-social-democratic left’s ability to function as a genuine anti-capitalist alternative to the existing political elite, while at the same time being in government in coalition with the elements of the same elite, has been a key point of discussion on the left in Europe.

Capitalism's world war and the battle against it

Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War
Trench warfare between French and German troops during the First World War.

July 28, 2014 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- John Riddell is the author and editor of numerous books, including, most recently, Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922. Here, he explains how the First World War broke out 100 years ago, how the socialist movement reacted, and how a revolutionary anti-war opposition emerged.

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Germany: Union militant on how wind-power development is held to ransom for profit

Wind turbine towers at Bremerhaven port. Photo by Lucy Alcorn.

March 11, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance member Zane Alcorn spoke with Ali Can, a metalworker who has worked in the wind-turbine industry in the north German portside town Bremerhaven. Ali is a rank and file organiser with the trade union IGMetal and is an active member of Verein für Gleiche Rechte (Equal Rights Association), a secular Turkish community centre. Translated by Anne K. Schulz.

Can you tell us a little about Bremerhaven – how many people live here, what are the main industries, how has the city changed in the last 20 years?

Die Linke and the fight against European austerity

March 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Speech by Florian Wilde, of Germany's radical left party Die Linke, at the March 1 "Fight the Troika" meeting in Bilbao. It was held the day before a meeting of the European Commission summit on the Spanish economy.

Alexis Tsipras: End austerity to regain democracy! For a democratic, social and ecological Europe!

Left.gr -- Alexis Tsipras, president of SYRIZA and candidate of the European Left party for the precidency of the European Commission, spoke on January 18, 2014, in a debate organised by the Dutch Socialist Party in Amersfoort. Here's the full text of his speech.

* * *

Your invitation, which I appreciate a lot, came at the right moment. Not because, as you might know, I am candidate of the European Left for the presidency of the European Commission. But because, yes indeed, democracy in Europe is in retreat. And this is the reason, the purpose and the real meaning of my candidacy: to end austerity to regain democracy.

Democracy is in retreat. And the reason is neoliberalism.

1. It is neoliberal austerity that causes recession, zero or low and jobless growth. With the Netherlands expected to reach in 2017 the real economic output level of 2008. Austerity brought youth unemployment in the Eurozone to the unprecedented 25%.

2. It is, also, the lack of transparency, lack of legitimacy and lack of accountability and credibility of the European institutions. The European Union is distant from the peoples of Europe in all respects. It has alienated its citizens. That’s why the people react with apathy, distrust and euroscepticism.

Jonathan Sperber's new bio seeks to bury Karl Marx, not praise him

Karl Marx, A Nineteenth Century Life
By Jonathan Sperber,
Liveright Publishing, 2013

Click for more on Karl Marx and Marxist theory.

By Barry Healy

September 26, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In life Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life and in death he has likewise been less than tranquil. Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of communist revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by his admirers and slandered by his bourgeois enemies. Both misrepresented him.

His enormous collection of notes and half-formulated writings were bequeathed first to his long-time political collaborator Frederick Engels and later to the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). Engels laboured long and hard and managed to produce the second and third volumes of Capital.

Germany: Far-left Die Linke becomes third biggest party in parliament

Members of the left-wing Die Linke celebrating their victory over the Greens, and the demise of their rivals the FDP.

September 23, 2013 -- The Local -- Despite dropping a few percentage points since 2009, the socialist Left party (Die Linke) celebrated becoming the third biggest party in Germany's parliament after the September 22 general election.

For a party well-used to being excluded from post-election celebrations, the atmosphere at Die Linke's election party was first of tense excitement, and then of triumph.

As the first exit polls were announced, the edgy, warehouse-like brewery venue in Berlin's trendy Prenzlauer Berg district erupted in whooping that the socialist Die Linke would likely beat the Greens to become the third-biggest political party in the German parliament.

The first estimates of the election's result placed Die Linke at 8.5 per cent - down half a percent from their last poll score - but half a point ahead of the Greens.

A specially impassioned roar of approval came with the news that the business-friendly FDP had dropped to 4.5 per cent, meaning the liberal party, natural rivals to the socialist Linke, will not be able to enter the Bundestag at all.

This will be the first time the FDP are not represented in the Bundestag since 1949.

John Riddell: Five precedents for understanding Egypt’s July coup

General L.G. Kornilov, Moscow, August 1917.

By John Riddell

September 15, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two months after Egypt’s generals ousted its elected Muslim Brotherhood government, there is still a wide spectrum of views among socialists regarding the meaning of this event (see “Socialists need to rethink the military takeover”).

This discussion can be deepened by considering a few precedents from socialist history – some well known, others obscure.

1. 1917: The Kornilov coup

The role of the united-front tactic

Australian protest against the US war on Vietnam. Socialists argued for the movement to have as its central demand the call for the immediate withdrawal of US and Australian troops from Vietnam.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This talk was presented by Peter Boyle representing the then Democratic Socialist Party (since merged with the Socialist Alliance) to a workshop with comrades from the Peoples Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia in 2000. It was based on a talk by Doug Lorimer to a Resistance leadership training school in Sydney on April 24-25, 1995. It was published in The Activist, volume 5, number 6, 1995. Doug Lorimer passed away on July 21, 2013. Read more of Doug Lorimer's writings HERE.]

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John Riddell: Party democracy in Lenin’s Comintern – and small Marxist groups today

[For more articles by John Riddell, click HERE. For more on the Communist International, click HERE. For more on the British SWP, click HERE. For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By John Riddell

February 20, 2013 -- Johnriddell.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- How did Communist parties handle issues of internal discipline and democracy in Lenin’s time? An intense discussion now under way within the British Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) raises issues related to the nature of internal democracy in the Communist International (Comintern) during 1919–23, the period of its first four congresses.[1]

Germany: Red Pepper interviews new Die Linke co-leader Katja Kipping

Emma Dowling speaks to Katja Kipping, new co-chair of Germany's Left Party (Die Linke)

November 2012 -- Red Pepper -- With 76 seats out of 622 in parliament, Die Linke is Germany’s fourth-largest party. It was founded in 2007 in a merger between the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) and the Electoral Alternative for Labour and Social Justice (WASG). Members of the PDS were predominantly East German and many had also been members of the Socialist Unity Party, the former ruling party of East Germany. WASG, meanwhile, was predominantly West German and made up of trade unionists and social movement activists, as well as social democrats who had left the German Social Democratic Party.

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