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Germany

The German Communist Party and the crisis of 1923

Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnecht, murdered by the Social Democrat government.

By Graham Milner

The German Communist Party (KPD) was founded in the very heat of revolutionary struggle. One of the party's major problems from the beginning was that it was formed as a separate organisation too late to influence significantly the course of the German Revolution of 1918-19. If there had been in existence at this time a mass revolutionary party along the lines of Lenin's Bolshevik party, then there could well have been a radical reconstruction of German society into a republic of workers' councils. Instead of such an outcome, the stunted bourgeois-democratic regime of Weimar came into being, in which most of the existing state machine, including the army, judiciary and civil service, was preserved intact.[1]

Germany: Greens' support surges as two-party system unravels

Chairperson of the German Greens' parliamentary group in the Bundestag Renate Künast.

By Duroyan Fertl

October 17, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- Coasting on the back of environmental protests and a hemorrhaging two-party system, the German Greens have sent shock waves through German politics, surging into the position of main opposition party for the first time.

The Greens party, which was part of a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 1998-2005 at the expense of many of the party’s principles, is benefiting from the unraveling of Germany’s traditional two-party system.

Nevertheless, the two major parties — the centre-right Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union coalition (CDU/CSU) and the centre-left SPD — retain a monopoly over government in Europe’s biggest economy.

But the facade appears to be truly falling apart at last. Opinion polls in early October put the Greens on 24%, one point ahead of the SPD.

Namibia: A trust betrayed – again?

[The following article first appeared in AfricaFile's At Issue Ezine, vol. 12 (May-October 2010), edited by John S. Saul, which examines the development of the southern African liberation movement-led countries. It has been posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

"As Namibian youth, and as Africans, you must therefore be on the full alert and remain vigilant against deceptive attempts by opportunists and unpatriotic elements that attempt to divide you. As the future leaders of our country, you should act with dedication and commitment; to always promote the interests of the SWAPO Party and the national interests before your own. It is only through that manner that the SWAPO Party will grow from strength to strength and continue to rule Namibia for the next ONE THOUSAND YEARS". -- Sam Nujoma, Founding Father1 of the Republic of Namibia, in a speech to the SWAPO Youth League in 2010

By Henning Melber

Why Marxists oppose terrorism

[This is the slightly edited text of a talk presented to the Democratic Socialist Perspective and Resistance educational conference in Sydney in January 2002. Dave Holmes is now a leader of the Socialist Alliance in Melbourne. This and other writings are also available at Dave Holmes' blog, Arguing for Socialism.]

By Dave Holmes

I'd like to begin with a juxtaposition of two events — one which took place relatively recently and the other a long time before.

Krise i Hellas – reaksjonær understrøm i Europa

Av Paul Kellogg

Den voksende massebevegelsen og åpningen mot venstre i Hellas er oppmuntrende.
Det er i den bevegelsen det ligger håp om at det en gang kan vokse fram et virkelig progressivt Europa.

Greek crisis reveals ‘progressive’ Europe’s reactionary stew

By Paul Kellogg

May 3, 2010 -- The bailout of the debt-ridden Greek government seems finally to be complete. The European Union (EU) – most centrally the French and German treasuries – along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will provide €110 billion ($150 billion) in emergency loans. The price for these loans will be high. Along with steep tax increases and cuts in spending, the loans are conditional on a public sector wage freeze being extended through to 2014.[1] This is in reality a wage cut, as there will be drastic changes to the so-called “bonuses” – holiday pay that has become an essential part of the income package of low-paid public sector workers.

The anger at these cuts is everywhere in Greek society. Giorgos Papadapoulos is a 28-year-old policeman who normally confronts demonstrators. But in March he put aside his riot shield and joined the mass protests which have become a regular part of life in Greece. “It’s a different feeling for me”, he told journalists while he was on the demonstration. “But this is important. It hurts me and my family.”[2] However, the crisis in Greece has revealed not just a shift to the left in Europe. It has also brought to the surface a seamy reactionary underside to politics in the EU portion of the Eurasian landmass.

Clara Zetkin’s struggle for the united front

Clara Zetkin (left) with Rosa Luxemburg.

* * *

Listen to John Riddell present a workshop on Clara Zetkin at the US International Socialist Organization's Socialism 2009 conference in Chicago:

Alexandra Kollontai: International Women's Day -- a militant celebration

To mark International Women's Day 2010, Links International Journal of Socilalist Renewal reproduces Alexandra Kollontai's classic history and explanation of this important anniversary. Thanks to the Marxist Internet Archive (MIA) for making this and other writings by Kollontai available. Notes by MIA.

* * *

By Alexandra Kollontai

Mezhdunarodnyi den' rabotnitz, Moscow 1920 -- Women's Day or Working Women's Day is a day of international solidarity, and a day for reviewing the strength and organisation of proletarian women.

The relevance of Gramsci’s theory for today

By Peter Latham

January 3, 2010 -- I first read Gramsci in English over 40 years ago. Moreover, my thesis on Theories of the Labour Movement—a Marxist critique of non-Marxist theories of industrial relations—used Gramsci’s concept of the “organic” working class intellectual to explain twentieth century rank and file movements in the British building industry.[1] This paper is based on the Gramsci section in my forthcoming book on The State and Local Government.[2]

The soldiers' Christmas truce -- A bas la guerre! Nie wieder Kreig! Das walte Gott! Peace on Earth!

Review by Phil Shannon

Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce
By Stanley Weintraub
The Free Press, 2001
206 pages

It was the war that was supposed “to be over by Christmas”. It very nearly was. A spontaneous soldiers' truce broke out along the Western Front on Christmas Eve 1914, four months after the start of hostilities.

“Peace on Earth”, “goodwill to all men” — British, French and German soldiers took these usually hypocritical Christmas sentiments for real and refused to fire on the “enemy”, exchanging instead song, food, drink and gifts with each other in the battle-churned wastes of “no-man's land” between the trenches.

Lasting until Boxing Day in some cases, the truce alarmed the military authorities who worked overtime to end the fraternisation and restart the killing.

`Freedoms won, freedoms lost' -- left views on the fall of the Berlin Wall

November 15, 2009 -- For the past few weeks the international capitalist mass media has been awash with triumphalist hoopla about the so-called ``collapse of Communism'' as it celebrates the 20th anniversary of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. Below Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal posts a number of commenatries from the left that deal with facts and fictions of those dramatic events, and how the people most effected are faring today.

* * *

By Chris Slee

November 16, 2009 – Green Left Weekly -- The 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin wall -- November 9 -- was the occasion for self-congratulation by supporters of the capitalist system. They talked of the fall of the wall as heralding a new era of freedom.

They failed to note that other walls and fences have been built or strengthened during the past 20 years.

Positive developments in the European left

By Ian Angus

October 7, 2009 -- Socialist Voice -- LeftViews recently published an article by Alex Callinicos, a central leader of Britain’s Socialist Workers Party (SWP), on the state of the left in Europe. While conceding that there have been some gains, overall the picture he painted was dire.

Callinicos is an insightful writer on leftwing politics in Europe, and much of his analysis rings true. I’m certainly not going to try to offer a different analysis from my vantage point well west of the Atlantic [in Canada].

But by itself, his article might leave Socialist Voice readers with a picture of unrelieved gloom, when in fact there are some bright spots of note. In Germany and Portugal, leftwing parties made modest but important gains in last month’s elections, while in France and England we’re seeing constructive steps towards greater unity on the left.

Germany

Germany: Big gains for Die Linke as Social Democrats’ support collapses

By Duroyan Fertl

October 5, 2009 – Germany’s ``centre-right’’ Chancellor Angela Merkel was returned to power in federal elections held on September 27, but with a record low voter turnout and an increased vote for the far-left party, Die Linke (The Left).

The election was a clear success for Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Her preferred coalition partner – the free-market fundamentalist Free Democratic Party (FDP) – increased its support by 4.8 per cent to an all-time high of 14.6 per cent, enough to form a CDU-FDP government. The FDP will now replace the CDU’s main rival – the ``centre-left’’ Social Democratic Party (SPD) – as coalition partner in the government of Europe’s largest economy.

At the same time, the SPD’s support collapsed by more than 6 million votes, dropping a massive11.2 per cent to only 23 per cent – its worst result since World War II. As one leading SPD member pointed out on election night, “We have been bombed back into the Weimar Republic”. SPD leader Walter Steinmeier described the result as “a bitter day” for German social democracy.

The Holocaust: `May history attest to us' -- resistance, collaboration and survival

Monument to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, Warsaw, Poland.

Hitler’s Priests, by Kevin Spicer, Northern Illinois University Press, 2008, 369 pp. US$34.95

Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive, by Samuel D. Kassow, Indiana University Press, 2007, 523 pP., US$34.95

Kasztner’s Train: the True Story of an Unknown Hero of the Holocaust, by Anna Porter, Scribe, 2008, 548 pp., A$32.95

The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman, Pantheon, 1996, 296 pp., US$35.

Review by Barry Healy

July 28, 2009 -- In October 2008 the Catholic Synod of Bishops convened in Rome for a four-day theological discussion. Without warning, on the first day, Pope Benedict XVI suspended discussion and ordered the 200 participants to attend a special commemoration mass for Pius XII, who was the pope between 1939 and 1958.

Germany: Die Linke, Hesse and the `super election’ year

Oskar Lafontaine

By Duroyan Fertl

January 29, 2009 -- Germany kicked off a “super election year” on January 18 when voters in the western German state of Hesse returned to the polls for the second time in twelve months. The new election had become necessary after months of negotiations to form a coalition government collapsed late last year, when four parliamentary members of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) rebelled against a plan to form government with the assistance of the far-left party, Die Linke.

The SPD had benefited in last year’s poll from voter rejection of the racist scapegoating and law-and-order politics of the ruling right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Prime Minister Roland Koch. Despite its vote, however, the SPD still lacked the numbers to form government, even with its preferred allies, the Green Party, and the SPD’s leader in Hesse, Andrea Ypsilanti, turned to Die Linke for support.

Germany: Die Linke, one year on (+ video)

By Thies Gleiss

One year after the foundation of the Die Linke (Left) party, commentators on both right and left agree that the political situation in Germany has been changed. Following three regional elections in spring 2008, Die Linke is solidly installed on the landscape.[1] On paper it is now the third biggest party in the country, whether in terms of members, elected representatives or other holders of paid political functions at all levels of the state, or again in terms of financial strength.

* * *

Germany's Die Linke: ‘We have the wind of history in our sails’

By Duroyan Fertl

May 30, 2008 -- After a year of stellar successes, almost 600 delegates from Germany’s new left-wing party, Die Linke, came together for the party’s first ever congress, held in the east German city of Cottbus on May 25 and 26. Former East German communist Lothar Bisky and former Social Democratic Party (SPD) national president Oscar Lafontaine, once dubbed by the media as “Europe’s most dangerous man”, were re-elected as co-chairs of the party, and a social justice-oriented platform was adopted for the coming period, which includes state elections in Bavaria this September and federal elections next year.

Die Linke was officially formed in 2007 as a fusion between the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS — the successor to the former East German ruling party) and a collection of militants, unionists and socialists from the west organised as the Electoral Alternative for Jobs and Social Justice (WASG). Die Linke now has almost 80,000 members.

Germany: Climate camp in Hamburg - August 15-24, 2008

Let's change the climate!

Climate Camp in Hamburg, 15th-24th August 2008


It's too hot! - The climate is changing!

The atmosphere is getting hotter. Even the most sinister prognoses of the World
Climate Council of the United Nations of the year 2007 in the meantime appear
to have been too optimistic. Climate change is more than melting polar caps,
drowning polar bears and hurricans of up to now unknown magnitudes. Climate
change is a social catastrophe. The global changes of the ecosystems are
exacerbating social contrasts world-wide. Because the effects of warming are
unequally distributed - between North and South, but also within societies,
between rich and poor.

The warming of the atmosphere is not an accident, but the result of an economic
system relying on profit and growth. Due to this higher-faster-forward logic,
capitalism burns enormous amounts of mineral ressources, for instance for the
production and selling of products with the help of a world-encompassing
logistics network. And even though almost everybody in the meantime wants to

Video: A new European socialist movement? The rise of the the Left party in Germany

The emergence of the Left party (Linkspartei) in Germany is the most significant development of a new political party to the left of social democracy in decades in Europe. The formation of the Left party coincided with the anti-G8 mobilisation in Germany a year ago. It was followed by a startling rise in the opinion polls, and political break-throughs in West Germany, building on its political base in East Germany and the old Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS).

A forum sponsored by Socialist Project (www.socialistproject.ca) and Socialist Voice (www.socialistvoice.ca).


Part 1: Introduction by Greg Albo.

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