September 4, 2004: Where is the Movement of Monday Demonstrations Heading?
1. A specter is haunting…
A specter is haunting – the specter of the movement of Monday demonstrations. Arising from nowhere, it is haunting the ranks of the demonstrators. All the obedient and narrow-minded philisters fear its touch and the spreading of the dangerous virus of uprising and rebellion. Newspapers and television are giving out warnings and publishing ”wanted” posters: Be careful! The MLPD is hiding behind the magic hat of the active Monday demonstrator! Dissociate yourself from the MLPD! Only then will the movement of Monday demonstrations gain the favor of the authorities. Only then will the government be willing to engage in dialogue and send its speakers to calm down the ”ignorant” and ”frightened” people and inform ”objectively” about the ”benefits” of Hartz IV.
2. The movement of Monday demonstrations is in a trial of strength
Since August 2nd, when 10,000 people demonstrated self-confidently in Magdeburg under the slogan ”Down with Hartz IV – we are the people!”, the movement of Monday demonstrations has experienced a rapid upswing. On August 23rd, more than 220,000 people demonstrated in at least 194 cities. This has evidently spread uncertainty among the government and has given rise to covert and overt measures to erode the political mass demonstrations. In spite of this, the number of participating cities rose to about 210 on August 30, with the demonstrators reported from 200 cities numbering about 178,000 despite rain and hail. The movement has not yet exhausted its potential. But it is now in the midst of a trial of strength between two directions the result of which will determine the entire development of the militant movement of the Monday demonstrations: Shall the movement return to the political bosom of established politics and become the left appendage of bourgeois politicians? Or shall it retain its political independence which is so powerfully manifested in its main slogan ”Down with Hartz IV – we are the people!” That is the real question behind the dispute over the role of the MLPD.
3. Only the masses can determine the outcome of the trial of strength
The decision between these two directions cannot be made by this or that party, but only by the masses who are joining in militant action in the Monday demonstrations. The MLPD respects their will and fully puts its power in the service of their movement. It regards it as its duty to explain clearly and in public to the movement what the essence of the differences is and its opinion on which direction this movement of Monday demonstrations should go. We abide to Lenin's assessment, who wrote about such times of political ferment among the masses: ”Open action relentlessly reveals the basic differences of the interests involved. The parties are seen in their true colours. Events, with an iron hand, sort out the adherents of the various classes and make them decide who is on one side and who is on the other." (Lenin, "The Present Political Situation," Collected Works, Vol. 10, p. 485)
4. To date, the power of the movement has been invincible
The power of the Monday demonstration movement that has been invincible to date lies in the following:
- Its impetus, its initiatives and its most important carriers come
from the masses of the working people, the unemployed and their
- It was not initiated by big organizations like the trade unions,
churches and other big social organizations, nor must it render account
- It has given rise to new forms of democratic opinion and decision
making, such as the open microphone and voting by the direct
participants. It has included more and more people in independent
- The mass protests are not only directed against a single law, but against the entire direction of Agenda 2010 and the government responsible.
It is a manifest political signal for an emergent new movement for social change that even the most expensive disinformation campaigns by the government, all bourgeois parties and their experts in the mass media cannot contest. On the contrary – this has only increased the anger over the lies of the bourgeois politicians and given rise to criticism of the role of the media. The long-standing process of dissociation of the masses from the bourgeois parties and institutions has entered into a phase in which more and more people are going over to independent political mass action.
5. The government desperately attempts to bring the movement under its control
The government’s dilemma is that their social basis for establishing their anti-people monopoly politics has broken away. They are now attempting to bring the movement of the Monday demonstrations under their control by way of the leading trade union officials, who are members of the Social Democratic Party, the Greens or, in part, of the PDS. The are defaming the independent initiative of the masses as being ”ignorant” and ”unconscious” and are warning people of ”rat catchers who are giving rise to false hopes." They are complaining about the undifferentiated ”rage of the people” and maintain that a ”genuine social movement” should have allies among the ”leftist forces” of the SPD, etc. The movement of Monday demonstrations is to be deprived of the radical direction ”Down with Hartz IV” to make the way clear for later improvements. They are even sending worn out monopoly politicians like Oskar Lafontaine into the ring, whose appearance in Leipzig could only be pushed through against massive contradictions and protests among the Monday demonstrators.
It was exactly Lafontaine who gave false hopes to the 35,000 people in Leipzig, maintaining that a change in politics would suffice to implement ”the principle of social justice”, a ”social state for humane life” and a society in which the ”interests of the people and not the interests of a minority dominate”. And would you believe it: this is all supposed to happen in an economic order under the dictate of a few single supermonopolies like DaimlerChrysler, Siemens, VW, Thyssen-Krupp, E.on, etc. which have subordinated the entire society in their strife for maximum profit and domination? This social demagogy cannot be topped. It is a new version of the politics of class collaboration which have already failed irrevocably. As Lenin stated so aptly: "Whoever consoles the slave instead of arousing him to rise up against slavery is aiding the slave-owner." And he continues: "All oppressing classes stand in need of two social functions to safeguard their rule: the function of the hangman and the function of the priest. The hangman is required to quell the protests and the indignation of the oppressed, the priest is required to console the oppressed, to depict to them the prospects of their sufferings and sacrifices being mitigated (this is particularly easy to do without guaranteeing that these prospects will be 'achieved'), while preserving class rule, and thereby to reconcile them to class rule,... (Lenin, "The Collapse of the Second International," Collected Works, Vol. 21, p. 231) Can Lafontaine’s role be characterized any better than that?
6. The attacks against the MLPD aim at destroying the unity of the move- ment of the Monday demonstrations
The MLPD has the firm conviction that the masses of the Monday demonstrators stand self-confidently behind the political independence of their movement and are proud of it. They reject all forms of having anyone’s will imposed upon them, being bossed around or even dominated by the established parties. Never ever would Schroeder with all of his hated ministers, Clement, Schmidt and Fischer succeed in splitting the Monday movement with the promise of further cosmetic corrections of Hartz IV and bringing greater parts on their side.
But this division has taken place, not only in Berlin, Rostock, Halle, Gelsenkirchen, Herne, etc., and it is being continued. That became most evident so far in the fact that a meeting of the divisionists took place in Berlin in opposition to the first meeting to coordinate the Monday movement in Leipzig on August 28. How was this possible? Because the split was promoted under the battle-cry for the ”broadest possible unity” of the movement and under the aura of the fear of ”unallowed political interference”. The national manager of ATTAC, Sabine Leidig, former DGB regional secretary in Karlsruhe, mobilized the ATTAC basis and member groups to the Berlin meeting with the following argument: ”Ways should be searched to reach a consolidation of forces step by step and to continuously expand the protests in an open, transparent process which promotes participation.” That is pure hypocrisy in the face of their unconcealed slander against the supposed ”Stalinist splitter party” MLPD, from the ranks of which, without doubt, some of the most important co-initiators of the movement of Monday demonstrations come. Instead of uniting all relevant forces – with the exception of fascists – on the basis of struggle, Sabine Leidig spreads staged prejudice, claiming that it is to be expected ”that the MLPD will mobilize massively to Leipzig and attempt there to put its stamp upon the meeting.” (Letter from August 25).
The truth is that the MLPD advocated everywhere that the local Monday demonstrations elect delegations and send them with a clear mandate to Leipzig. It was the key to the great success of the Leipzig Conference that it was composed mainly of such delegations. The MLPD was not represented as a party at this meeting and did not make a claim upon a mandate as such. Its presence was in the form of individual MLPD members only who had a mandate from their local alliances, but not to speak for the MLPD as a party. These members were trusted by their respective Monday demonstrators and this speaks for them and not against them. And that is why there were no decisions made at the Leipzig conference under the alleged ”thumb” of the MLPD. What was actually experienced was the democratic will of the overwhelming majority of the delegations that were eligible to vote for coordinating the common struggle.
The Berlin meeting of the divisionists, however, spoke about a dialogue with the government. The ”TAZ” (German daily ”die tageszeitung”), of which no one can maintain that it is close to the MLPD, reported on the Berlin Conference in its issue of August 30, that the various offers of politicians for talks were discussed and that the question was raised: ”Who should speak with those in government on behalf of the protest?” Responding to this, Sascha Kimpel, the main Berlin divisionist next to Werner Halbauer, declared: ”We must decide on a legitimate delegation.” Who do these self-proclaimed petty-bourgeois leaders think they are? The Monday demonstrators speak for themselves. They speak on the streets. That is the only language that makes an impression on the government. Down with Hartz IV – there is nothing to be negotiated, it can only to be gained by struggle.
7. Splitting the movement under the cover of party political independence
While in Berlin plans have been devised on negotiation delegations, the representatives of the splittist forces like Lena Bröckl (co-initiator of the Berlin split meeting) vehemently opposed every undertaking at the Leipzig conference of making any concrete decision. The hosts of the Leipzig conference as well, Isa Kreft and Winfried Helbig who conducted the meeting, categorically rejected any attempt of accepting and voting motions from the participants. Without the resolution of the participants not to bow down to this dictate, but to reach common results, and without the readiness of Monika Gärtner-Engel (elected member of the delegation from Gelsenkirchen) to take on the responsibility for leading the discussion in this difficult situation, the meeting would have come to nothing. When the plan of the splittist forces failed and the meeting began to adopt a resolution and elect a coordinating group, a staged hysterical shrieking arose: "MLPD party congress! Putsch! Putsch!"
Naive observers may have believed that these "activists" who accuse the MLPD of a "self-righteous claim to leadership", are themselves independent as regards party affiliation, so to speak like a political tabula rasa that has waken up politically together with the Monday demonstration movement and stand up for its political independence. Far from that! Lena Bröckl is a party official of the Berlin SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany), vice-chairperson of the "committee of experts 1- international politics" and until recently scientific cooperator of a SPD member of Parliament. Isa Kreft and Winfried Helbig are belonging to the PDS (Party of Democratic Socialism) and distinguished themselves in the past as members of the commission of principles of the PDS in Saxony. Sascha Kimpel, a practising Trotskyist, is a leading member of the "International Socialist Left (ISL)" and co-founder of the Berlin group "Wahlalternative Arbeit und soziale Gerechtigkeit" (Electoral Alternative for Jobs and Social Justice). Werner Halbauer belongs to the Trotzkyist group "Linksruck" (Shift to the Left) and has a seat in the ATTAC council. Among the 20 hosts of the Berlin splittist conference there are, regarding only the PDS, three members of the party leadership or former members of the federal parliament: Katja Kipping, Ilja Seifert and Heinrich Fink, the vice-leader of the parliamentary PDS faction in the state parliament of Saxony, Klaus Tischendorf, a member of the PDS party state leadership of Saxony, Hans-Jürgen Muskulus, and a leading cooperator of the PDS party faction in the federal Parliament, Anne Allex.
8. The MLPD fights with all its force for overcoming the splitting
Again and again and in all places the Monday demonstrators are reaffirming: "We are fighting until Hartz laws have fallen." This aim can be achieved politically, but only if the movement overcomes the splitting and if the splittist forces are left high and dry. The MLPD is fighting with all its force for overcoming the splitting. It is convinced that the masses of the Monday demonstrators want the unity and are ready to reach it as well. It is the more outrageous that Werner Halbauer prevented in Berlin an August 30 with the help of the police that a demonstration march starting from Alexander Place could unite with the other demonstration that started from the Red City Hall. In his blind rage against the MLPD Halbauer has proved in public that he is not concerned for the unity of all Monday demonstrators, but for his petty-bourgeois claim to leadership.
By these activities he even isolated himself within his own ranks. The MLPD welcomes it the more when now in Berlin talks have started on the initiative of the alliance "Monday demonstration against the agenda 2010 and further social cuts" in order to achieve a common organization of the Monday demonstration on September 6. This is a great encouragement that also on a nationwide level the splitting can be overcome. Concerning the demonstration at the beginning of October in Berlin what matters in the view of the MLPD is not the date 2 or 3 October, but the reaching of a unity. However, not at all costs, but on the basis of the struggle against the government and "Down with Hartz IV - we are the people!"
9. The smear campaign against the MLPD is doomed to failure
It is the will for unity in the interest of the common cause which worries the federal government most. What kind of means are left apart from the use of brute force, if the "normal" deception has no effect any more? Thus extraordinary measures have been taken, "centers dealing with the situation" have been set up not only on the central level in Berlin, but also in the federal states. These are supposed to observe all news on the topic "Hartz IV" round the clock and respond within 2 hours with denials, counter-information etc. The secret service, called "Office for Protection of the Constitution," plays a central role in this campaign of disinformation. This hornets' nest of snoopers and informers in the service of the security of capital is currently launching a smear and slander campaign against the MLPD that flies right in the eyes of all bourgeois-democratic principles:
There they speak of a "Stalinist cadre party". of Maoists", "indoctrination", "sect-like structures", "cover-organizations" etc. Most newspapers are eagerly taking up this centrally guided rabble-rousing propaganda, without making even the slightest attempt to conduct an objective debate on the theory and practice of the MLPD. Why should they? With "Stalinist-Maoist" everything is said according to the opinion makers. Some more or less dirt does not matter in this case.
This slandering can have, if at all, the intended effect only there where the MLPD is not yet known in a place by its local work. The MLPD describes itself neither as "Stalinist" nor as "Maoist". It is a party of a new type that has drawn the lessons from the betrayal of socialism by Khrushchev, Ulbricht, Deng Xiaoping and others that has led to its decline. The MLPD has relentlessly discussed the mistakes of the former communist movement and drawn principle-based conclusions with the "doctrine of the mode of thinking". After 35 years of patient party building and rank-and-file work among the masses, the MLPD is now represented in more than 450 places in the entire FRG with local groups and small units in construction. Its members are firmly and friendly associated with the people. This is the great strength of the MLPD that is still on the way of further party construction. If it is not yet known in the entire FRG in view of the 80 million inhabitants, this is only due to the policy of totally ignoring the party in the media.
By means of the systematic stigmatization of the MLPD by the prejudices and false verdicts of modern anticommunism, a policy of the relative isolation of the MLPD has been conducted during the last decades which is now doomed to failure. This has become evident now most significantly in the movement of the Monday demonstrations. Due to the active role of its members and the support which they get there, the MLPD is currently on the way to lastingly break through the relative isolation forced upon it. This is a thorn in the flesh of all enemies of the working-class and people's movement. This is the reason why they are shifting from the policy of totally ignoring the party to a policy of real incitement of the people against the MLPD. The Monday demonstrators with whom the members of the MLPD are working together closely and on the basis of equal rights are feeling that this smear campaign is also directed against them. They reject this dirt, because the purpose of this campaign is to smash the Monday demonstration movement.
10. A society-changing force is developing
Which direction does the movement of the Monday demonstrations take? It has powerful enemies. But if it succeeds in overcoming the splitting and if the organized working-class movement encourages the rising people's movement for the sharpening struggle against the government, then everything can be expected from this movement. It must be clear about the fact that the government has tied its fate to the Agenda 2010. For this reason, the Hartz IV law will only fall when the government is falling with it. This will show the limits for every new government, no matter how it will be composed. The outcome of the struggle is unforeseeable, but even now it is sure that in the movement of the Monday demonstrations something new is evolving. "Something fresh and new is moving, rumbling, fermenting and heaving everywhere. New shoots are forcing their way up out of the heaps of ruins." (Lenin, "The Present Political Situation", Collected Works, Vol. 10, p. 485) These words of Lenin on the political situation in Russia in the year 1906 are of topical significance again today. What are the new features?
- They are the up to now unbroken will of the Monday demonstrators
to fight the government and to stand up to its anti-people policy;
- They are the organized democratic methods of the Monday
demonstration movement, the democratic expression of views and the
formation of opinion at the open microphone, the democratic decisions
with the participation of all demonstrators and, last but not least,
the democratic delegation system for the central coordination of the
common struggle. A new understanding of democracy is emerging among the
masses. This is no more the delegation of responsibility to political
representatives, who misuse this mandate for their own advantage. It is
the assumption of one's own responsibility for the future of society.
It is the formation of experience and structures of a democracy for the
people and not for the rich.
- In the common action the close solidarity of the core of the Monday demonstrators with the comrades from the MLPD is developing as well as an unprecedented openness to the perspective of genuine socialism.
According to the view of the MLPD socialism is not a "preconceived scheme and most definitely not egalitarianism, but emerges from the multifaceted life and struggle of the masses. It is the next social step forward, in which the revolutionary progress of the productive forces is used for the benefit of society as a whole." (Program of the MLPD, p. 49) The people will not take up the struggle for genuine socialism and the overthrow of the dictatorship of the monopolies over the society unless they are convinced by own experience that they are capable to take matters into their own hands. They will neither take it up without at least the most class conscious part has acquired clarity on the essential theoretical issues of the struggle for a society without exploitation and oppression. For this a party like the MLPD is indispensable, which is armed with the lessons of the working class movement, which possesses manifold practical experience in struggle, which possesses a scientific program, practices a democratic style and is closely linked up with the masses.
The movement of the Monday demonstrations will become the core of a new militant, even society-changing opposition, if it adopts the following characteristics and capabilities as its own:
- It must forge a real broad alliance against the government under the slogan "Down with Hartz IV - we are the people!"
- The struggle against the exploitation offensive in the enterprises
must be combined with the struggle against Hartz IV and developed to a
higher level towards the working-class offensive.
- It must retain its political independence as regards the bourgeois parties.
- Its basis must be the struggle and non-party affiliation, and it must guarantee equal rights for all co-fighters.
- The formation of opinion and the settling of differences must be
effected in the spirit of a democratic culture of debate in solidarity.
- The building of democratic structures must be effected out of the
unity of the local alliances with the central coordination and
- What matters is to unfold international solidarity and to encourage the progressive forces in Europe and worldwide for developing similar struggles against the government and monopolies in their countries and for coordinating and raising these struggles to a higher level.