“Without solving the environmental question humanity will have no future”

Interview with Stefan Engel, Party Chairman of the MLPD, 19 March 2014

Rote Fahne: Last week at the Leipzig Book Fair the German edition of the new book Catastrophe Alert! What is to Be Done Against the Willful Destruction of the Unity of Humanity and Nature? was presented. What were the first reactions?

Stefan Engel: There was a lot of interest in the topic and in our book. You can observe that the environmental question is of great concern to broad masses of people. Our arguments against the general underestimation of the environmental problem make people stop and think. All three of the book presentations were well visited.

The title of the book also raises interest and is provocative: Catastrophe alert is the order of the day! Even if it may take many decades, perhaps hundreds of years, before a global environmental catastrophe completely matures: whether the foundations of human life will be destroyed in the near future or preserved – the course is being set today. Exactly in this situation, those in power play fast and loose with this question, which involves the future of humanity:

* While in Fukushima the meltdown, as well as the radioactive pollution of the air, land and sea, including all consequences for the people, is continuing on a full scale, the Japanese government and the operator Tepco want to turn on their nuclear power plants again.

* Under the pressure of solely ruling international finance capital, the grand coalition in Germany wants to roll back the plans to expand renewable energy by 2030 from 65 to 27 percent.

* In secret talks on the “TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” between the EU and the USA, the USA and EU are even planning to abolish most of the standards for the preservation of the natural foundations of life, completely inadequate though they are.

* At the same time, some of the leaders of the big environmental organizations and especially of the Greens, who have arrived in the system, are self-satisfyingly conducting high-level talks with corporations and are even presenting the corporations' self-congratulatory green-washing as hard-won environmental progress. This book takes on all of these charlatans, who hypocritically purport to be saving the environment but are actually submitting nature more and more completely to the capitalist economy in its striving for maximum profits. The book does not hypocritically express shallow agreement with everyone who merely takes the attributes bio or green into their mouth. However, it allies itself with all those who are seriously worried about the growing environmental problems and the coldness and indifference of the environmentally destructive policies of government and corporations. But it also makes clear that the protests, vigils and demonstrations so far in no way do justice to the dimensions of today's problems.

The environmental movement in its present form usually only reacts to blatant interventions into nature or to environmental destruction which has already taken place. However, what we are dealing with now is a problem which will only completely unfold in the future. But then the extensive dissolution of the unity of humanity and nature for the most part no longer would be reversible. Therefore, we have to take up the struggle against the threatening global environmental catastrophe already today. This requires a new quality of environmental consciousness and of the struggle to protect the natural environment.

Bourgeois politicians and most of the bourgeois media deny that there is a real danger of a global environmental catastrophe. This is obvious propaganda to distract from the actual dimensions and the great responsibility of solely ruling international finance capital and the governments in the individual countries. You really only have to think through to the end the qualitative process of change which is already underway today.

Global environmental catastrophes have taken place many times in Earth's history. However, these were natural catastrophes. You have to deal with these experiences, for example with the extinction of the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, in order to get an idea of what we can expect. The exact cause for the extinction of the dinosaurs is still contested today. Regardless whether it was caused by a celestial body several kilometers in circumference hitting Mexico, or by several simultaneous volcanic eruptions in the Indian Deccan Region – in any case a global chain reaction destroying life was triggered: The resulting shock waves caused earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Parts of the continental slope in the oceans broke off and triggered tsunamis. Heat waves of 3000 degrees Celsius led to unimaginable fires destroying the lush vegetation necessary for the lives of the dinosaurs. Dense clouds from the dust and aerosols hurled up into the atmosphere then darkened the skies for months and years, considerably impairing photosynthesis and so destroying the global foundations for the basic food resources of the herbivores. The era of the dinosaurs, which had successfully lived for 160 million years, came to an end. Most of the higher life forms were destroyed. The course of earlier natural catastrophes provides insights into the way the catastrophic disruption of the global material cycles can destroy the entire foundations of life on Earth.

However, the environmental catastrophe threatening today is brought about by humankind. It is possible still for humankind to stop it.

The threatening destruction of the unity of humanity and nature has become a central issue of the class struggle. Without a revolutionary transformation of human society to socialism/communism, this environmental catastrophe cannot be stopped. Without the natural foundations of human life, there will also be no future in socialism and communism.

 

Rote Fahne: Is that a totally new insight for Marxist-Leninists?

Stefan Engel: No! In their early writings 170 years ago Karl Marx and Frederick Engels already qualified the unity of humanity and nature as fundamental for human existence. They also fundamentally criticized the thesis of the leading bourgeois economist of their day, Adam Smith, about labor as the source of all wealth. Ignoring nature as being just as much a source had the motive, as Marx said, that the "man who possesses no other property than his labor power must, in all conditions of society and culture, be the slave of other men who have made themselves the owners of the material conditions of labor.” They quoted William Petty instead, who stated that “labor is the father of all wealth and the earth its mother.

It was a great defeat for the revolutionary working-class movement that at the unification congress of the Social-Democratic party in Gotha in 1875 this bourgeois thesis suddenly turned up in the Program. Marx's and Engels' fundamental criticism of that was suppressed at the time. This was the starting point for a harmful tendency in the working-class movement to oppose labor to nature and to treat the environmental issue as a secondary problem. This philosophical tendency still has an effect today and must be fundamentally investigated and overcome.

This is only possible in a critical and self-critical process. The social question and the environmental question must – and can – be solved together in the international socialist revolution; otherwise humanity will have no future. This fundamental insight will have far-reaching consequences for the international Marxist-Leninist, revolutionary and working-class movement.

Rote Fahne: The book begins with a scientific and philosophical discourse before dealing with the current environmental issue. Why this order?

Stefan Engel: Comprehensive research work had to be done in order adequately to deal with the complex questions of today's process of the development of the global environmental crisis. However, such complicated questions can only be analyzed and correctly qualified with an adequate method. We especially had to develop the ability to wrest all progressive insights from bourgeois science. This is only possible with the dialectical method. In a creative criticism of the idealistic and metaphysical interpretations, it crystallizes the materialist core of the results of bourgeois science and makes them usable.

With the dialectical method we could also view the many single scientific insights about the development of the human environment in a universal connection and formulate a scientific prognosis for the future. Our thesis of the threatening global environmental catastrophe is no panic-mongering, but rather a scientifically founded preview of the development of the environment if humanity does not resolutely oppose this.

The philosophical discourse at the beginning of the book mainly criticizes theories and methods that oppose humanity to nature or regard the environment as being something unalterable and unconnected with human beings. But human beings are a part of nature, its highest product, and are capable of acting upon nature in a creative way. Today's environment is largely influenced and shaped by cultivation through human labor. However, because of the capitalist mode of production at the level of internationalized production, a destructive development is culminating into a new quality which affects the environmental conditions so deeply and adversely that it would make human life impossible in a foreseeable future. This must urgently be put to a stop.

 

Rote Fahne: How was it possible to accomplish such a complex task in the relatively short time of only two years?

Stefan Engel: It is no longer possible at all for single individuals to cope with the complexity of today's environmental problems. The book is therefore the common work of many comrades from the working-class and environmental movements. Progressive intellectuals and scientists also made essential contributions. As head of the editorial staff, to me the special task fell to systematically organize the advances in knowledge in this creative process as well as to take charge of the editorial effort to present the results of research and qualify them.

Here I would like to give my thanks to the more than 100 collaborators, as well as for the international contributions. With their ideas, critiques and proposals they all contributed to this valuable book.

As we already had publicly discussed many problems from this work in advance, great expectations have been aroused in this book, not only in Germany, in the MLPD, in the working-class and environmental movements, but also among revolutionary organizations in the entire world.

 

Just as the work on this book was a hard and complicated process of learning for me, the readers will have to strain themselves to completely understand the book's content. Only those who develop a fundamental understanding of the dialectics of nature on the foundation of Marxism-Leninism can draw appropriate conclusions. We are therefore also immediately offering an entire system of educational evenings, training courses, study and reading groups and seminars. These all serve to help every party member, every member of the youth league Rebell and all interested friends to be included in this important discussion process. I assume that in this process the MLPD will win many new members who embrace this historic task to prevent a global environmental catastrophe as their cause.

 

Rote Fahne: Couldn't the book have appeared earlier?

Stefan Engel: The knowledge about the dramatic state of the environment has to be seen on the background of the changes in the imperialist world system. Especially because of the gigantic accumulation of capital by international finance capital, a general proneness to crisis has developed with far-reaching consequences for society. One of these consequences is that the systematic destruction of the environment through capitalist production has become a general necessity for achieving maximum profits.

In the past 20 years the MLPD has concerned itself very intensively with the changes in the imperialist world system. This was also the foundation for the current insights. At first, various processes of the environmental crisis were not so apparent, also because they were whitewashed through bourgeois manipulation of public opinion. Fact is that the transformation of the global environmental crisis into a global environmental catastrophe has clearly broadened and accelerated in the past years. Today there are already signs of the dissolution of the unity of humanity and nature which can hardly be reversed.

 

Rote Fahne: The most important conclusion from the book is that we need a new, socialist society in order to solve the problems of the environment.

Stefan Engel: That is correct. The environmental question can only be solved in an international socialist revolution. In the book we dealt intensively with the way in which the former socialist countries handled the environmental question. Even though the international revolutionary and working-class movement underestimated the environmental question, the outstanding achievements of a forward-looking environmental policy in the socialist Soviet Union and Mao Zedong's China cannot be refuted. In the book we gave a lot of room to the analyses of this. With that we oppose the widely uncontradicted thesis that the socialist countries treated the environmental question with more contempt than the capitalist countries. We prove that the environmental destruction in the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China first took on appalling dimensions with the beginning of the restoration of capitalism. In contrast, the environmental policies of the formerly socialist countries under Stalin and Mao Zedong are among the most important and lasting achievements of socialism, in which it already proved its superiority over the capitalist mode of production.

Rote Fahne: How do you think the world economic and financial crisis will continue to develop?

Stefan Engel: If you look at the development of the year 2013, you can find more and more indications that this in the history of capitalism unprecedentedly long and deep world economic and financial crisis is coming to an end.

Industrial production in the USA – still the mightiest economic power in the world – has experienced a slight recovery since 2010 and, at the end of 2013, surpassed the level before the crisis. The industrial production of the OECD, the traditionally dominating industrial states, also moved upward in 2013. However, in the fourth quarter of 2013, it was still 3.0 percent short of the formerly highest level. Most of the 500 biggest international supermonopolies have reached the pre-crisis level, while some have even clearly surpassed it.

The financial markets have also calmed down somewhat after many trillions of euros of surplus capital were destroyed in the past years and bad loans were either written off or passed on to the state budgets.

With an unprecedented internationally coordinated crisis management the attempt was undertaken to get the situation under control. Those in power were driven to this mainly by fear of the development of worldwide mass struggles, overthrow of governments or even a revolutionary world crisis.

To prevent the world financial system from breaking down directly and to get the economy going again, through 2010 the G-20 states mobilized financial means amounting to 27 trillion US dollars. The deep fall in the crisis could be cushioned this way. However, the price for this was high.

The joint international crisis management itself entered into a crisis and was replaced more and more by interimperialist competition, even going so far as an increased danger of war. During the world economic and financial crisis, between 2009 and 2012 trillions in surplus capital from the old imperialist states flowed into the BRICS and MIST states and into further emerging industrialized dependent countries. In this way an outlet for investing the masses of capital for maximum profits was temporarily found. The economies of these countries experienced a temporary boom. That is most apparent in social-imperialist China, which until 2013 raised its industrial production by 71.6 percent compared to 2007. (1) However, this rapid increase is connected to big speculation bubbles, especially in the spheres of real estate and infrastructure, with an untold overexploitation of the masses of workers and a tremendous destruction of the environment, which will yet take their toll.

At the same time, many of the old imperialist states struggled with a stagnating or even a renewed downward trend. A split world economy developed.

 

Rote Fahne: In the last interview you had predicted a probable new deep slump.

Stefan Engel: That is correct. This was a prediction made especially during the culminating euro crisis, when a number of countries – Greece as well as Italy and Spain – were facing state bankruptcy. This would have sucked the entire euro area and, subsequently, the entire world economic and financial system into a whirlpool. After signs of a certain stabilization, beginning in the middle of 2012 a new negative development of the world economy and a decline in production in numerous neighboring European countries also caused the German economy to stutter, partly with a new downward tendency on into the first half of 2013.

In this situation the ruling powers took especially two measures which were previously unknown in their simultaneous and drastic form: For the first, a brutal shifting of the burdens of the crisis of the big imperialist European states onto the backs of the masses of the population especially in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Latvia and Bulgaria etc. was rushed through.

Secondly, the central banks of the strongest imperialist countries USA and Japan, as well as the EU, lowered their interest rates to almost zero and swamped the big banks with trillions of euros, dollars and yen in cheap money. Also on a speculative basis, the European Central Bank provided guarantees for buying up government bonds which had gone into a tailspin. This prevented a renewed deep drop and furthered the tendencies toward recovery which can now be observed – but this on a risky speculative basis.



Rote Fahne: Does a possible end of the world economic and financial crisis mean that contradictions are easing?

Stefan Engel: Temporarily, yes. But certainly not in the long run! Because all mechanisms for coping with the crises are already also mortgages on the future. For example, state indebtedness has increased in leaps in the course of the world economic and financial crisis and has so considerably restricted the leeway for future crisis regulation. It rose worldwide from 2007 until June 2013 by 80 percent to 43 trillion US dollars. That is an increase of 19 trillion US dollars (2).

Few states would be able to accomplish such a major effort for rescuing the world economic and financial system again if a new crisis broke out. These debts have to be redeemed somehow, and they put enormous pressure on future state budgets. If interest rates rise, more and more countries are again threatened with state bankruptcy. This can already be observed in the BRICS and MIST countries, such as in India, Turkey, South Africa and Brazil, where you partly have two-digit inflation rates. This is nothing less than an indirect expropriation of the people. Of course, international finance capital is interested in using this to lower real wages and social spending.

Today speculation has become the dominating characteristic of the capitalist profit economy. At the end of the 1990s/beginning of the 2000s, with their “derivatives,” or “derived financial instruments,” bankers developed a quickly growing branch of financial wagers for international speculation. The trading volume on the stock market with derivatives leaped within just a few years from 383 trillion US dollars in the year 2000 by almost sixfold to 2,289 trillion US dollars in the year 2007, the highest point up to now. In 2013 the volume rose again to enormous heights with 1,886 trillion US dollars (3). When such speculative bubbles burst, this breaking out of a world financial crisis – as we already experienced – can become the trigger for a new, deep world economic crisis.

 

It can be especially observed that many industrial and construction products, especially in the real estate sector, have been launched on a speculative basis. This applies especially to the BRICS and MIST states. Initiated step by step through the introduction of a more restrictive monetary policy, mainly by the US Federal Reserve (central bank), capital today is flowing back again to the old imperialist centers of the USA and EU. This results in loans becoming more expensive in the BRICS and MIST countries, accompanied by a tremendous devaluation of their currencies and galloping inflation.

With the end of the world economic and financial crisis taking form, the effects of the chronic international structural crisis are coming more to the fore again. It is characterized by a gigantic permanent destruction of capital. It manifests itself in plant closures and massive job cuts, in restructuring for so-called “synergy effects.” We are experiencing a new increase in international mergers and takeovers. They decreased in volume from their highest level in 2007 with 3.784 trillion US dollars to 1.699 trillion US dollars in 2009. In 2013 the volume rose again to 2.035 trillion US dollars.

The permanent destruction of capital by way of increasingly higher depreciation in relationship to the investments is becoming customary. Because this is financed by the state from the national budget with subsidy grants and tax exemptions for the international supermonopolies, the costs of the destruction of capital are being shifted to the entire society. In Germany the depreciation volume amounted to 409 billion euros last year, which is 86.6 percent of gross investments (4).

During the world economic and financial crisis the relations of power among the imperialist forces shifted markedly.

At the end of the crisis a very strong competitive struggle is arising over who will be coming out of the crisis as a winner. It can be assumed that even after the world economic and financial crisis has ended, a new crisis can break out very quickly, because the preceding crisis could not really fulfill its task of gigantic capital destruction because of the massive crisis management.

 

Rote Fahne: This competitive struggle is surely also the general background of the conflict in the Ukraine. Why is the conflict there suddenly so sharp?

Stefan Engel: A Russian naval maneuver is just taking place in the Black Sea. At the same time, warships from Romania and Bulgaria are cruising there and, since shortly, the US warship USS Truxtun. In Poland AWACS airplanes are ready for action and US jet fighters have been transferred to Lithuania.

The harshness of the conflict can only be explained on the background of the imperialist competition in the wake of the world economic and financial crisis. It is driving the imperialists to redistribute the spheres of power and influence. In face of the acute danger of war in the Ukraine, active resistance for preserving world peace is necessary.

In Europe the contradicting interests of the two main imperialist blocks – of USA/NATO/EU on the one hand and Russia and China on the other – are directly colliding. Russia needs Crimea and its naval base with its access to the Mediterranean, especially for reasons of power politics. What unites the USA with the imperialist block of the EU is the goal to advance the eastern border of NATO directly to the Russian frontier. The former US security consultant Zbigniew Brzezinski declared hopefully,Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire.

Russian imperialism is countering this with all its strength and trying to expand its strategically important spheres of influence into the former Soviet republics.

However, the differences within the imperialist camp are also very apparent. German imperialism is, of course, politically tied to NATO and the EU, and it is in sharp competition to Russian imperialism. On the other hand, the German monopoly organizations are against any further sharpening of measures against Russia, because they fear for their prospects for exports and the close economic ties. 6,000 German companies do business with Russia or Russian companies, with 300,000 jobs depending on them.

The masses in Ukraine and also in Russia are in a difficult situation. It is complicated for them to see clearly and not become an appendage of one or the other imperialist block. It was a justified concern of broad parts of the population to overthrow the reactionary Yanukovych regime. At the same time, the USA and EU calculatedly fueled the protests at the end of 2013 within the framework of a long-range policy of destabilization. In the course of the dispute, fascist organizations also took stronger influence, engaging in terror against progressive forces – the working-class and women's movements, and against the Marxist-Leninists in particular.

After the installation of a new reactionary Ukrainian government with the participation of fascist forces of the “Right Sector” a wave of antifascist and social protests with anticapitalist elements developed in the south and the east of Ukraine. Putin, on his part, was able to instrumentalize this movement for his own purposes.

At the beginning of March all important buildings and facilities of Crimea were occupied by Russian soldiers and pro-Russian militia. Their troops are 11,000 strong. The climax up till now was the plebiscite organized by the regional parliament and government on 16 March 2014 on the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation. In the meantime, Russia has annexed Crimea. Because this unilateral secession of a part of a country took place without the approval of a central government in Kiev, it is formally declared to be against international law. This in turn is used by the Western imperialists to condemn the imperialist rival Russia.

The entire dramatic outrage of the western governments about Putin's actions is, of course, extremely hypocritical. This way they “generously” ignore that the entire crisis actually began with the plans for the aggressive and possessive EU-Ukraine Association Agreement. The new provisional government of the Ukraine has no bourgeois-parliamentary legitimization, while according to bourgeois rules Yanukovych to this day remains the legally elected president.

An important background for the interimperialist dispute over the Ukraine is the increasingly stronger drive of the imperialists to expand their markets and spheres of influence. It is apparent that the chronic overaccumulation of capital can only be counteracted by higher production and sales. The struggle over the markets is inflaming on a new level. That also explains the talks over a joint economic area of the USA and EU. Neither the EU nor the USA can compete with the growing markets in China and, in future, in India by themselves. They are compelled to struggle for new sales markets at the risk of their own decline. In this connection the struggle over the Ukraine is an important element.

The most important thing in this volatile situation is the strengthening of the revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist forces in the Ukraine and Russia. They alone are capable of giving the struggle of the workers and the people's masses a clear democratic and socialist perspective. With their statements and political activities the ICOR organizations from the region have made an important contribution to giving an orientation and for strengthening proletarian internationalism.

The imponderabilities of the economic, political and ecological development require a high level of assuredness of the revolutionaries in the quick and accurate evaluation of the situation.



Rote Fahne: How do you evaluate the government coalition of CDU/CSU/SPD in Germany after 100 days in office?

Stefan Engel: The grand coalition is trying to do a balancing act between doing the business of the international supermonopolies and, as is also its task, simultaneously keeping people quiet by means of its election promises.

The grand coalition fulfills the instructions of international finance capital quickly. For example, in Brussels in February the government effected the approval of genetically modified maize of the US company DuPont Pioneer by abstaining from the vote. The exact opposite is stated in the coalition agreement. The parliamentary allowances in Berlin were raised quickly and by a two-digit percentage. The rollback in energy policy is a real crime against the environment and humanity and is taking place, of all things, under the direction of SPD figurehead Sigmar Gabriel.

The grand coalition deals differently with the election promises for the masses. During the election campaign CDU/CSU spun a yarn about raising child benefits by 35 euros. The coalition made fully two euros out of this. Now even these 425 million euros are too much for Finance Minister Schaeuble, and he postponed the bundle of increases to 2016, which is coincidentally shortly before the next national elections.

Even the pitiful minimum wage of 8.50 euros was postponed to 2017. Federal funds for the municipalities amounting to 5 billion euros for integrating disabled people won't be paid until 2018. For 2014 and 2015 Schaeuble is cutting subsidies for health insurance by 6 billion euros. The 14 billion that were decided upon so far won't be paid till 2016. Schaeuble wants to finance the annual 6.7 billion euros for the so-called mothers' pension through the retirement insurance until 2017.

 

With her vision of the “compatibility of the federal army and family” the new minister of defense Mrs. von der Leyen embodies the dubious charm of the new Federal Government. With kindergartens in the barracks she cynically wants to convert the federal intervention army into “one of the most attractive employers in Germany.” And meanwhile, German President Gauck openly demands that Germany should play a leading role in worldwide military interventions.

With the decision for the grand coalition, those in power attempted to continue to govern further with the system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking despite the general crisis-proneness. This way they seek to prevent the development of the class struggle in Germany in spite of the course toward increased exploitation, accelerated willful destruction of the environment and an aggressive foreign policy. But the masses' credit of trust for the new government is melting away. A study made last week showed that a majority of 51 percent of the population are already bitterly disappointed in the grand coalition.

 

Rote Fahne: How is the situation in the factories, and how is class consciousness developing?

Stefan Engel: In the last world economic crises it was already the case that at the end of the crisis the crisis programs were intensified and class conflicts enlivened. In 2003/2004, just as in 1993/1994, in the year after the crisis we experienced a climax of the transition to the working-class offensive on a broad front. In 2004 there were company-wide struggles with the climax of the Opel strike. Presently, speedup and oppression of the workers are increasing in the factories. At least 50 big companies have presented comprehensive programs to increase exploitation. Their list of wishes begins with giving up wage hikes and includes regular unpaid working hours, more flexible working time, increase of subcontracted labor, even higher work density and often job cuts, as well.

 

In spite of the protracted and complicated crisis development, class consciousness has not fallen back, but has stabilized instead.

The key question proves to be that the workers must come to grips with the petty-bourgeois anticommunist mode of thinking.

In the works council elections, which have been taking place since the beginning of March, we have been experiencing a previously unknown, vehement anticommunist smear campaign against the class-militant colleagues and those who are assumed to belong to the MLPD. Often, right-wing works council members and union officials even take over the dirty work for the company management! But a growing group of colleagues is coming better to grips with this in a self-confident way. Where systematic rank-and-file work and zero tolerance for bullying and anticommunist slander have taken root over years, and where determined struggles opposed that, class-militant and revolutionary colleagues have mostly achieved very good election results in a strong headwind. This also shows that the special character of our offensive for genuine socialism and against modern anticommunism which we conducted in 2013 in connection with our candidacy for the national elections was completely right. The concentration on this unspectacular, but tactically and strategically important mass debate in the factories, but also in the neighborhoods, self-run organizations of the masses etc., is now bearing fruit.

Rote Fahne: You talk about a consolidation of class consciousness – but up to now, no bigger struggles have been waged, not even by the traditionally very militant workforce at Opel in Bochum. How do you explain this?

Stefan Engel: The most important reason is that the demands on proletarian class consciousness have risen enormously. It takes time, requires practical experience and thorough persuasion work to develop the necessary class consciousness for struggles in today's situation. In the book Catastrophe Alert! What is to Be Done Against the Willful Destruction of the Unity of Humanity and Nature? we have redefined the demands on proletarian class consciousness under today's conditions.

Every class-conscious worker must develop an understanding for the fact that today the class struggle has a national, as well as an international side. He or she has to comprehend that the state has become the service provider of the international supermonopolies. He or she must comprehend and learn to realize the leading role of the international industrial proletariat in the struggle against imperialism. Every class-conscious worker must become convinced that the working class can only overcome exploitation and oppression when the liberation of women has also become a reality. Developed class-consciousness on today's level also requires recognizing the entire system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking as a weapon of the ruling powers, and coming to grips with all its varieties – in the center of which is the petty-bourgeois anticommunist mode of thinking. Today the maturity of proletarian class-consciousness also depends to a high degree on the environmental consciousness of the working-class movement.

As far as I can observe, the class-consciousness of the workforce at Opel has advanced considerably. After all, the workers first had to see through the class-conciliatory role of the left-reformist heads of the works council and come to grips with the massive anticommunism spread by the trade union leadership of the metal workers' union. This aimed in particular at isolating the class-militant workers and the MLPD, who stand for the fight against the plant closure with all necessary means. In the meantime, the left-reformist wing around Reiner Einenkel has suffered blows. With ballots, workplace assemblies lasting up to 17 hours, with short strikes climaxing in the six-hour strike of the night shift on 9-10 September 2013, the workers repeatedly made clear that they will not accept the closure of the Opel plant without putting up a fight. So we are eager to see how things will develop.



Rote Fahne: You are one of the initiators of the movement “Miners for AUF.” Why is the coal company RAG intensifying the conflict with “Miners for AUF” activist Christian Link in such a manner?

Stefan Engel: As reported by various newspapers, TV and radio in the Ruhr area, and also by “rf-news,” RAG banned Christian Link, a miner who has been working in the mines for more than 30 years, from entering all of their mines. He was reprimanded, threatened with dismissal and planned for future assignment only in Russia if he continues to utter supposed “untruths that destroy the reputation of RAG in public. However, what is actually supposed to be “untrue” was not said. And it cannot be said, because Christian always told the whole truth.

Christian Link has been one of the public speakers of the miners' movement “Miners for AUF” for 15 years. He was a delegate of the German miners movement at the 1st International Miners Conference in Peru in the spring of last year. Not only he, but also three further delegates are being viciously bullied and attacked in their companies. Repressive measures are also being taken against the so-called “workers who are not eligible for adjustment programs” and other miners who are fighting against RAG and taking legal action at court. That RAG is partly moving away from the system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking that it has been practicing for decades must have a reason which is not on the table yet. We can only speculate.

Mining is in the focus of class conflicts worldwide, as in the numerous strikes of late in South Africa, in Slovenia, in Georgia or in Peru. In many countries miners are in the lead in combining the social question and environmental question, in courageously leading the struggle for jobs and for the protection of the environment.

The numerous solidarity declarations and the broad participation at the court hearings signalize the emergence of a broad movement joining workers as well as academics. This is a very significant signal for the necessary new quality of the future environmental and working-class movement.

 

Rote Fahne: In 2014 the 2nd World Conference of ICOR will be taking place. What will it deal with?

Stefan Engel: The revolutionary world organization ICOR founded in 2010 is conducting its 2nd World Conference this year. It will evaluate the first successful period of ICOR building. The main task was the organizational building of the international, continental and local organs. In the meantime, the organization is a lively and growing organism. The ICOR has won new members and could build up continental coordinating committees in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.

ICOR conducted its annual days of struggle on May Day, for the liberation of women on 8 March, against fascism and war, as well as the days of struggle for the environment. It promoted international amalgamations of the working class and the people's masses like the 1st World Women's Conference in Venezuela in 2011, the Internationale Automotive Workers Counsel in Munich in 2012, the 1st International Miners Conference in Peru in 2013, the Youth Conference in Africa in 2013, the Asian Peasants Conference in India in 2012 or the Seminar for Freedom and Democracy in Nepal. It conducted its first international campaigns, for example for shutting down all nuclear power plants worldwide, together with the ILPS, or for solidarity with the liberation struggle in Kurdish Rojava. Along with this, 28 resolutions and statements were passed and more than 600 various articles from all over the world for the mutual exchange of information and opinions were documented on the website.

Of course, ICOR is still in a process of initiation and building. We have to work patiently, especially on building up trust and confidence among the participating organizations. A big problem is that many of the organizations are still relatively small and have little means and forces to handle such international work. The bigger ICOR organizations and parties are therefore called upon to take up more of the burdens in order to allow the equal cooperation of all participants. Here I would like to thank the more than 200 regular donators to ICOR.

In the further process of building ICOR in the coming years we have to achieve a step-by-step ideological-political unification and try out and develop joint cross-border coordination in practice. Special importance must be attached to the mutual exchange of experience on questions of party building or on theoretical work.

 

Rote Fahne: The youth league Rebell plans a rebellious music festival for Whitsun. What do you think about this new project?

Stefan Engel: That can really become something great. I am watching and promoting it with great pleasure. In a very short time, the idea of a Rebellious Music Festival in Waldgrund has met with a great response and support. Five times more than the number of bands that can appear have shown their interest.

The festival is being conducted together by many people, including clubs, organizations, migrants, etc.

Today, given the dominance of the modern mass media, mass culture and the Internet, culture plays a decisive role for the emotional orientation of the youth. They are open for new things, have dreams for the future, want friendship, love, solidarity and want to accomplish something great.

Those in power take shameful advantage of this. They concentrate their cultural subversion on children and the youth, spread egocentrism, bullying, arrogance toward working people, sexism – in short, the lack of perspective.

The development of a rebellious culture has greatest significance for breaking the negative influence of bourgeois culture upon the youth. Its message is solidarity, self-confidence, the will to “serve the people,” independent thinking and acting. This can be summarized in the motto: “Life is struggle.” The mass spread of such a mode of thinking among the youth is fundamental so that the rebellion of the youth for their future can develop effectively.

Of course, the dimensions of the festival mean a lot of organizational, logistical, financial and publicity work. Rebell therefore, understandably, decided to concentrate its practical work on this for the coming time. It is a matter of course that many party members and friends of the youth will give their greatest support for the success of the rebellious music festival.

 

Rote Fahne: The domestic intelligence agency “Office for the Protection of the Constitution” accuses the MLPD of instrumentalizing the women's league Courage, and is substantiating the revocation of Courage's community service status with this accusation. Isn't this also an affront against the MLPD?

Stefan Engel: Actually, little has been said up till now about the fact that the revocation of the community service status of Courage is in particular also an attack upon the MLPD and a defamation of it.

It is being insinuated that we infiltrate, dominate, undermine and instrumentalize independent organizations. On International Women's Day 2014 in Germany, where the MLPD or also Courage participated actively, it was very apparent that the militant women's movement is actually improving its broad and unreserved cooperation and so developing a new attraction.

The same goes for the international women's movement, which is directly taking course for the preparation of the 2nd World Women's Conference of rank-and-file women in Nepal in 2016. This movement has become a pioneer for a new quality of coordinated international cooperation. Of great significance are the principles of Überparteilichkeit (non-party affiliation), democracy, financial independence and internationalism, which the women's league Courage has developed and is practicing in Germany in a groundbreaking way.

Friends from many countries of the world – for example the steel workers and their wives from Aspropyrgos, Greece – report that the activities of militant women are increasing, but that they subside again quickly because they lack a permanently organized überparteilich women's organization as a guarantee for a sustainable development of the struggle for the liberation of women. With this strategic view the initiatives to strengthen the women's league Courage must be given substantially more support by the entire militant opposition.

 

Rote Fahne: In your last interview you reported that the 9th Party Congress of the MLPD, like no previous one, set far-reaching tasks. What has become of this?

Stefan Engel: The 9th Party Congress in 2012 indeed adopted far-reaching resolutions. Among them, the task of understanding the entire party work as a contribution to the preparation of the international revolution, and to realize environmental work as the second most important line of struggle.

The offensive against modern anticommunism and for genuine socialism, which was also resolved by the party congress, was exactly right and advanced our work considerably. The MLPD was able to gain ground in a headwind and is well-prepared for the coming tasks. The coming delegates' conferences of the interim levels of the party mainly have to evaluate how such successes could be attained.

This positive development was essentially made possible because for five years we have been training our leading organs and members intensively in mastering the dialectical method at the level of the doctrine of the mode of thinking and systemic thinking. Today, this is the most important prerequisite for a rapid, independent orientation, which is incompatible with metaphysics and idealism.

 

Rote Fahne: The MLPD is running for the European elections. What significance does it have that the 3% threshold has been canceled?

Stefan Engel: Of course, we welcome the canceling of the undemocratic 3% threshold! Many people can now decide more easily to vote for a small party like the MLPD and feel themselves less compelled to vote “tactically” so that their vote is not lost. However, the cancellation of the 3% rule does not mean that all election obstacles are gone, nor is the anticommunist media censorship, which continues to try to isolate us. In any case, we are fighting for every vote and are prepared for everything with our attractive top candidates Peter Weispfenning and Lisa Gaertner.

Whereas we concentrated mainly on systematic rank-and-file work in our spheres of influence during the national elections, we are extending the area of our work again in the European elections.

With our main slogan “Rebellion against the EU is justified” we stand for a radically left, revolutionary EU criticism. We are the only party attacking the EU in its essence as an imperialist alliance. It is a life-lie of reformist European policy that the EU is a left, peace-keeping project, for friendship among people, and that it only has to be better managed.

The party “The Left” knuckled under in the face of the fallacious claim that any fundamental criticism of the EU is right-wing, and took back their justified fundamental criticism of the EU. Of course, that gives more leeway toward the left, which we will take full advantage of.

When we attack the EU we, of course, promote the Europe-wide, cross-border unity of the workers, the youth, the masses of farmers, the women ... in Europe and organize and coordinate, especially with the ICOR-Europe, the uniting of the cross-border rebellion against the EU. With our slogan from the national elections, “Radically left, revolutionary – for genuine socialism!” we draw a sharp line between us and the ultrareactionary and fascist parties.

There can be no return to a nationally organized capitalism, but only a way forward to the international socialist revolution.

A new element in this election campaign is that we will make our new book, Catastrophe Alert! What is to Be Done Against the Willful Destruction of the Unity of Humanity and Nature? broadly known and distribute it offensively. In those cities in which members of the MLPD cooperate in non-party local electoral alliances of individuals, we will actively support their offensive municipal election campaign at the same time.

 

Rote Fahne: Thank you very much for the interview and we wish you great success!

Sources:

(1) Statistical Communique of the People's Republic of China, various volumes – www.stats.gov.cn; own calculations

(2) Bank for International Settlements, Quarterly Review March 2014, p. 10

(3) Bank for International Settlements, Quarterly Reviews, statistical annexes – www.bis.org

(4) German Federal Statistical Office, own calculations

Literature

Literaturtipp An ever increasing number of local and regional ecological catastrophes plague humanity. They are symptoms of an environmental crisis which is in the process of transforming at an accelerated pace into a global environmental catastrophe. New Publication: CATASTROPHE ALERT! What Is To Be Done Against the Willful Destruction of the Unity of Humanity and Nature?

Read More…