An Important Interim Appraisal

Interview with the Chairman of the MLPD, Stefan Engel. July 2014

Rote Fahne: A short time ago the 4th plenary session of the Central Committee of the MLPD took place. From what we heard it made a half-time appraisal since the Ninth Party Congress. What was the result?


Stefan Engel: The overall appraisal is clearly positive! The major success was surely the methodical and successful publication of the Revolutionary Way, No. 35, Class Struggle and the Struggle for the Unity of Humanity and Nature. With a view to its popular dissemination it was published at the same time under the title, Catastrophe Alert! What Is to Be Done Against the Willful Destruction of the Unity of Humanity and Nature?

On the one hand, we were able to increase our mass influence considerably as well as to achieve some important tactical successes in breaking the relative isolation of the MLPD. However, a tendency to neglect party building as the leading factor appeared as well. The day-to-day political tasks were overestimated at the expense of the fundamental, long-range and strategic tasks in party building. Even though this is only a secondary aspect affecting only individual units and areas of the organization, one must take this encroachment of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking seriously.

The upshot of the discussion at the plenary session of the CC was that the source of this spontaneously arising problem was the fact that under the impression of many tasks the dimension of the necessary self-change of party work was underestimated. After all, we are talking about an extension and further development of our strategy in preparing and carrying out the international socialist revolution and a change in our Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics in the environmental struggle.

The unfolding of the struggle between the petty-bourgeois and proletarian modes of thinking has its material basis in a very complex and rapidly changing world economic and political situation.


Rote Fahne: In the last interview it was prognosticated that the world economic and financial crisis is approaching its end. Did this prognosis come true?


Stefan Engel: The so far deepest, most comprehensive and longest world economic and financial crisis in the history of capitalism is in fact just coming to its end. The economic development in the world is chiefly determined by the main imperialist powers EU, USA, Japan and China. In the year 2012 they accounted for 65.7 percent of overall world economic output. The USA, China, Japan and Germany had a higher gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2014 than before the beginning of the economic crisis. The EU has almost reached its previous highest level and missed it only by 1.5 percent.

In the euro zone and the EU, where industrial production was still falling until the third quarter of 2013, the trend was reversed from the fourth quarter of 2013. In the euro zone it increased by 1.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, in the whole EU by 1.9 percent. This change is especially influenced by Germany with a growth in industrial production of 4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Higher growth rates than the EU were reached by the USA – which still is the biggest economic power in the world – with growth of 3.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, and by Japan, the third biggest national economy in the world, with an increase of 7.8 percent. (1) In China the growth rate of the industrial gross value added reached 8.7 percent in the first four months of this year. (2)

This gives enough reason for us to speak of clear indications for the overcoming of the world economic crisis.

However, the world economic recovery will probably not lead to an upswing, but turn into a world economic stagnation, for it is accompanied by a series of opposite tendencies and constant burdens which could again reverse this development. Thus the BRICS and MIST states – except for China and Indonesia – have lost their role as growth motors of the world economy: due to capital outflow, devaluation of their currencies as well as presently a drop in the stock market prices. This slows down the world economy, because these countries have managed to increase their economic weight enormously in the meantime.

South Africa even is experiencing a recession. And Russia suffers from a deep slump in connection with the Ukraine crisis, which is consciously intensified by the Western sanctions too. In India industrial production fell by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and again in the first quarter of 2014, in each case compared to the previous year.

In many countries the economic situation is additionally adversely affected by the crisis-prone development of the whole society, by mass protests and political crises.

For this reason as well one can hardly estimate how sustainable the present recovery of the world economy is, especially because it is promoted by a policy of cheap and ample money from the biggest central banks. With credits almost free of charge as well as the buying up of government bonds and toxic securities, the central banks of the imperialist countries have doubled their balance sheet total since 2008, inflating it to more than US$20 trillion. (3) This heats up the stock market prices, but also the worldwide speculation – with the danger of the bursting of the speculative bubbles.

The rapid growth of the public debt of almost all capitalist countries during the world economic and financial crisis will slow down economic growth in the future. The higher the percentage of interest and repayments in the state budgets, the more capital is being withdrawn from the budgets in order to exert a favorable effect on the process of accumulation of international finance capital. However, this government promotion and guidance of the accumulation has become an indispensable part of capitalist accumulation in state monopoly capitalism, especially in the era of the internationalization of production and commerce.

In the end the crisis was overcome by the accelerated preparation of future crises.


Rote Fahne: Will the end of the cyclic world economic crisis lead to the easing of the class contradictions?


Stefan Engel: The end of the world economic and financial crisis is accompanied by a stronger emergence of the international structural crisis. Whereas the destruction of capital is effected in a relatively uncontrolled way during the cyclic crisis of overproduction, it develops in a largely controlled way in the chronic structural crisis. However, this does not say anything about its dynamics and dimensions.

Presently we are experiencing a worldwide and cross-border wave of mergers and takeovers. In the first four months of 2014 acquisitions and sell-offs amounting to US$834 billion were effected. This is the highest volume since the year 2000. (4) With that the international supermonopolies seek to hold their position as world market leaders in the new investment period or rise to become new world market leaders. For this they drive competitors off the field, swallow them up – or completely annihilate them.

Siemens wants to reorganize the whole corporation. However, in the battle to take over the energy division of Alstom, Siemens lost out to the US corporation General Electric.

This is connected with intensified exploitation and job cuts. Last week Daimler and VW announced rigorous programs to increase profit at the expense of the workers. In the future Daimler will not be content with getting an eight-percent return on sales, but wants to squeeze at least ten percent out of the workers by making production 3.5 billion euros cheaper each year. In the mining industry, at Opel and its suppliers, at Outokumpu, ThyssenKrupp and the energy corporations E.on, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall, tens of thousands of jobs are at stake. At hospitals, banks, in the insurance and retail sectors, this is on the agenda too.

However, the monopolies still shy away from direct mass dismissals, because they are afraid of open class disputes. With the support of the reformist union leadership they try to win over workers to voluntarily give up their jobs in return for e.g. compensation payments and other incentives, and to avoid struggles.

The economic recovery in Germany, the reduction of unemployment and the higher tax revenues at the same time allow the federal government to make crisis-dampening concessions to calm down the masses. As a tendency, however, the redistribution by the state in favor of the monopolies and at the expense of the broad masses will continue. This is demanded by the dictate of the intensified competition in the world economy.

Under these circumstances, the global environmental crisis, too, has sharpened drastically in the last few years. The carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of fossil raw materials reached 36 billion tons in 2013. This is 61 percent more than in 1990. (5) This is a bankruptcy of the imperialist climate politics, which pretends to massively reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

All this has nothing to do with 'sailing into calmer waters'.


Rote Fahne: The military conflicts are increasing greatly worldwide. What is your view of this?


Stefan Engel: It is no coincidence that wars and the danger of war are enormously increasing at the moment. They are the reactionary expression of the imperialist rivalry over the redivision of the spheres of power and influence during and after the end of the world economic and financial crisis. They take place at important interfaces between the new main global imperialist rivals, China and Russia on the one hand and the USA, EU and NATO on the other.

Up to now, for the Ukraine Russia has been the most important foreign trade partner with a share of 21.1 percent. China has tried to extend its influence there as well. Against this the EU, which has fallen behind at the global level, and the USA want to expand their markets and sources of cheap raw materials in this fertile and highly industrialized second biggest country of Europe. At the moment the EU is in the lead in the unscrupulous power struggle: With the economic part of the association agreement – signed on 27th June 2014 by the EU and the Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova – these independent countries were widely subjected to the imperialist terms of the EU – at the expense of the sphere of influence of Russia. All justified protests against this currently are being violently crushed by the Ukrainian government with the backing of the USA and the EU. The plane crash (for reasons unknown so far) in the war zone causing the death of almost 300 persons now is misused by the Western propaganda as justification for shifting the NATO eastern border to the Russian frontier. Russia for its part is stirring up the internal contradictions in the Ukraine to secure its influence there and does not even shrink from annexing the Crimea in breach of international law. The alleged “struggle against fascism” by Russia is a pretext when one looks at the massive fascistization of Russia's own state apparatus and the oppression of the various mass movements by the Russian government. Thus the Ukraine is the most dangerous hot spot of imperialist rivalry at the moment.

The second hot spot presently is the imperialist aggression of Israel against the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip. So far more than 1,200 Palestinians have been murdered and more than 6,500 injured. Hundreds of thousands fleeing and many thousands of destroyed homes, plus mosques, six hospitals, 40 schools, three universities, the only electric power station, the TV and radio station etc. are the expression of this attempted “genocide in the ghetto.” (6) The Zionist attack is the provocative answer of the Israeli government to the shortly before established joint Palestinian government of Hamas and Fatah. To obstruct this national unity government and prevent the recognition of a Palestinian state, the ultra right-wing Israeli government wants to occupy the Gaza Strip permanently and liquidate the resistance for the long term. We support the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself against this aggression, to decide about the forms of its resistance independently and to struggle for the freedom of Palestine.

Presently there are mass protests against the Zionist state terror worldwide. And the ICOR as well, the “International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations,” of which the MLPD is a member, supports them to the best of its abilities.

According to chancellor Merkel it is part of the “reason of state” in Germany to defend the Zionist state terror against the Palestinian people as “Israel's legitimate right of self-defense.”

And it is part of the “reason of state” as well to accuse the justified mass protests against the Israeli aggression of a “new wave of antisemitism,” an absurd charge. This is combined with a wave of anticommunist smears. It's alleged that Islamic, neofascist and left-extremist forces are forming an anti-Zionist front. The MLPD has always rejected any kind of racism, antisemitism, Zionism and so on and set proletarian internationalism against them. We stand for that also vis-à-vis other forces taking part in the protest movements.

As long as US imperialism uses Zionism as its bulwark for the oppression of the Arab peoples and the EU supports the Zionist governments, there can be no peace in the Middle East. There will be peace only with a sovereign Israeli state and a sovereign Palestinian state as the most important transitional step on the road to a democratic Palestine where Israelis and Palestinians peacefully live together. This can be achieved only by a struggle of national and social liberation and by toppling the imperialist domination.

Over these hot spots the wars in Syria and Iraq are being pushed to some extent into the background. There as well the imperialist policies of the USA and their allies, camouflaged as “anti-terror politics” for world peace, have completely failed. One result is the highly armed Islamic-fascist army “IS.” It was built up by the US allies Qatar and Saudi Arabia among other things in the struggle against the Assad regime in Syria. It has occupied large parts of Iraq by brutal terror and now severely threatens the democratically self-governed Kurdish regions in Rojava in northern Syria.

Our full solidarity belongs to the liberation struggle of the Arab peoples against the double yoke of regional dictators and imperialist governors.


Rote Fahne: What conclusions have to be drawn from this analysis?


Stefan Engel: The general proneness to crisis of imperialism will be aggravated further in the future. In the social development this will lead to chaos, disruptions, turmoil, imponderabilities, coincidences, new phenomena and essential changes, to tiringly gradual developments and in the same way to surprising, fast changes. That places great demands on the MLPD to always follow a correct course, and the situation exerts an immense pressure on the members and leading bodies of the party too.

However, the imponderabilities must never become the starting point of party work, because this would turn the party into the plaything of the economic and political development and would open the way to the worship of spontaneity.

Rather it is necessary to approach all questions strictly from our ideological-political line, combined with a higher sensitivity in the concrete analysis and a growing tactical flexibility in party building and class struggle.


Rote Fahne: In May the MLPD carried out a tactical offensive in connection with the local and European elections. How have the results to be evaluated?


Stefan Engel: Our members did very well and could extend our influence in more social sectors. Compared to the federal elections in 2013, in absolute figures we lost 5,700 votes, which fits in with the much smaller turnout in the election, but we gained slightly in relative terms. However, this was not decisive.

With our participation in the European election our goal was less than ever to get good election results, but to make use of these elections. Therefore, with 60,000 euros altogether we never had such a low election campaign budget. We conducted this election campaign within only three-and-a-half weeks, restricted ourselves to just one election spot, one national campaign newspaper with a circulation of 800,000 copies, hanging up of posters, the organizing of individual election rallies, information stalls, etc. The work-intensive voter action groups did not exist either.

We most of all aimed at spreading our environmental policy positions and our revolutionary criticism of the EU amongst the masses. This was politically necessary, seeing as in the media any kind of criticism of Europe increasingly was ascribed to right-wing parties. Our line relating to environmental policy was to be spread by concentrated promotion and selling of our book Catastrophe Alert.

Up to now we have sold about 6,000 copies. This is more than with earlier new publications. However, we did not yet succeed in realizing the method of a literature offensive which promotes a societal strategy discussion on the environmental question. Some county organizations even went as far as to postpone the literature offensive to the time after the election campaign. This shows the influence of the petty-bourgeois parliamentarian mode of thinking and a lack of understanding why we participated at all in this election.

In close connection with the participation in the European elections was a participation of some of our comrades in the local elections in several federal states within the framework of non-party-affiliated electoral alliances of individuals. We regarded these elections with our activities as more important than the participation in the European elections. In spite of a larger number of competing lists in most localities and worse conditions, the electoral alliances of individuals in which we participated could for the most part keep their seats or even increase them, and most of all gain more political influence. This was not self-evident.


Rote Fahne: In spring 2014 works council elections were held nationwide. How do you evaluate the results?


Stefan Engel: In the last year the MLPD was able to extend its influence on the main line of struggle in an anticommunist headwind. This found expression in the works council elections too, where in direct elections or in the participation in lists in important industrial enterprises the MLPD or militant colleagues assumed to be members of the MLPD could increase their share of votes by 40 percent compared to the last works council elections.

A very special highlight was the result of the list “Offensiv” at Opel Bochum, which succeeded in tripling its results. One of the newly elected Opel works council members reported on “rf-news” about the mood of more and more colleagues: “We don't go along with everything the 'Reds' say, but they have a backbone and stand for not surrendering to General Motors.” The results of the works council elections have significantly improved the conditions for setting off a longer lasting strike at Opel Bochum. This most of all is the result of tenacious, systematic work among the rank and file and patient persuasion work to help the colleagues cope successfully with the petty-bourgeois anticommunist mode of thinking.


Rote Fahne: What tasks will be set in the factory and union work of the MLPD in the near future?


Stefan Engel: The intensified competition at the end of the crisis and the increased emergence of the structural crisis are accompanied by intensified exploitation in the enterprises and a planned massive destruction of jobs. The workforce of Opel Bochum has clearly expressed its determination that it is not willing to submit to the closure plans of General Motors. At the supplier Johnson Controls, whose Bochum factory is equally threatened with closure, several union and independent militant actions took place in the last few weeks. Within the workforces and unions of the Ruhr area the demand is growing for a struggle involving the whole area.

The monopolies most of all are afraid that the struggle for jobs will be combined with the struggle against the environmental policies of the government and corporations. Thus, Ruhrkohle AG took reprisals against miners of the militant miners' movement who courageously denounced the toxic waste scandal in the mines. Considerably stressed by our systematic information work, RAG has even started an image campaign costing millions of euros to present its “sustainable” and “socially balanced” closure in the “proper light.” RAG is supported in this by some right-wing union leaders who act as extended arm of the corporate management.

In the book Catastrophe Alert we underlined that today the degree of maturity of proletarian class consciousness depends also to a substantial extent on the environmental consciousness of the working-class movement. When selling the book among industrial workers we often experience an especially high receptiveness. Industrial workers in particular often well understand that the struggle to save the natural environment and the struggle for social liberation are directed against the same international corporations. This is the most important starting point of the process of self-change in the Marxist-Leninist work in factories and trade unions.


Rote Fahne: However, the CC still is not content with the implementation of the political line of the party relating to environmental policy. Where are there successes and where are there problems in this new task?


Stefan Engel: While the bourgeois parties and even the party “The Left” more or less disregard the environmental question, the MLPD is the only party that puts forward real solutions here and makes this a main focus of its work.


Rote Fahne: Some people therefore have described the MLPD as “new green party”?


Stefan Engel: This is nonsense, of course, because our environmental policy positions have developed precisely in the fundamental criticism of the politics of the Greens. The Greens managed to use neither the word “capitalism” nor the terms “environmental crisis” or “environmental catastrophe” in their 130-page election program for Europe! The guideline of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois environmental politics today is the so-called compatibility of capitalist economy and ecology. This means nothing else than environmental protection only on the condition that enough profit is realized. This is completely unacceptable and ignores the general development of the global environmental crisis towards a global environmental catastrophe threatening humanity. Even though the consequences may become an existential threat to humanity perhaps only in 50, 100, 200 or 300 years, we have to struggle to set the course today. However, this task first has to be understood – even within the MLPD.

The Central Committee took sober stock of the fact that we are still at the beginning of the implementation of our new environmental policy line, which we have explained comprehensively in the book Catastrophe Alert!

We need a strategy debate among the masses over how we can avert the global environmental catastrophe. We need a process of self-change of the environmental movement and within the working-class movement, the international revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist working-class movement – and also of our party. Without such a self-change we will not be able to build up an international front of resistance against the threatening global environmental catastrophe.


Rote Fahne: According to the latest decisions, the main tactical task of the party now will be a literature offensive for the book Catastrophe Alert! What Is to Be Done Against the Willful Destruction of the Unity of Humanity and Nature?


Stefan Engel: Yes! The implementation of a comprehensive, powerful literature offensive proves to be the present link to grasp to promote a broad societal strategy debate in the face of the danger of the global environmental catastrophe. But this fundamentally necessary debate only begins to acquire a societal dimension with at least a five-digit sales figure.

The transition to the global environmental catastrophe is further aggravating and accelerating. At the moment the federal government is bowing down to the international supermonopolies with its anti-renewable-energy reform and the pro-fracking laws, further aggravating the environmental crisis.

In the face of a flood of metaphysical and idealist reports, the full magnitude of the future danger does not automatically impress itself upon the masses. In addition, the low regard for the environmental question in the working-class movement has left its marks. However, the development of a mass movement with the international industrial proletariat as leading force and the necessary new quality of the environmental and working-class movement are linked to a strong, goal-directed, revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist leadership.

The necessary internationally conducted strategy debate in society as a whole remains within narrow bounds up to now. The qualitative leap in party work necessary for that, and its dimensions as well, the comprehensive process of self-transformation in the mode of thinking and style of work, were undoubtedly underestimated by the Central Committee.

As an important organizational form of the strategy debate within the party, but also among the masses, the study movement must be developed further into a system of differentiated study groups for factory workers, women, migrants, young people, etc. With 96 study groups we have more such groups than ever before. However, this study movement has to be guided and accompanied better than before. Its purpose is especially to educate and train people to master the dialectical method against a tendency to underestimate the aspect of world outlook in the debate and to overrate the political discussion of current events.

The promotion of the founding of an environmental union will also play an important role in our systematic work among the rank and file. It can become the most important non-party organizational form of the environmental consciousness of the masses.

The self-transformation of the party and the youth league Rebell necessary for that will take on the character of a criticism and self-criticism campaign. It is part of our criticism and self-criticism campaign on the way to the party of the masses. Here we are in an important transition to the effective breaking of our relative isolation, towards the unity of the social and environmental question as well as towards the unity of national and international work.


Rote Fahne: In April the Second World Conference of the ICOR took place, and also the 11th International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations. How are these meetings to be evaluated?


Stefan Engel: The Second World Conference of the ICOR was an important step forward. The number of participants was greater than at the founding conference in 2010, with 28 delegations from 24 countries and five continents and two guest delegations from Sri Lanka. Here revolutionary optimism was combined with sober realism. Most of the discussion was taken up by the deliberations on the progress report of the International Coordinating Committee and by the debate about the prospects for the further development of ICOR. It was impressive to see in this discussion the importance which ICOR already has today for the building of most of the parties. It is very clear that the understanding of the ICOR has grown enormously and that the latent skepticism which still existed at the founding conference was pushed back to a great extent. Instead, a spirit of optimism prevailed. It also indicates that the international revolutionary and working-class movement was able to put a stop to the great fragmentation and problems caused by the revisionist betrayal and pass its lowest point. Clearly, the international revolutionary and working-class movement is moving forward again!

Compared with its size at its founding, the ICOR grew by 12.5 percent. In Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe the continental coordinating committees were built up and the work was started. However, the successes must not induce us to lose sight of the fact, as the adopted report formulated, “that the building of the ICOR is still in its infancy and we have still to learn more to handle our principles correctly in practice.”

In the democratic elections with secret ballot a high degree of unification of the delegates was expressed. All the candidates of the ICC (International Coordinating Committee) received more than 80 percent of the votes. Sanjay Singhvi of the CPI/ML India, the previous deputy main coordinator, and myself as the main coordinator were impressively confirmed.

For the future work the resolution on the environment is of outstanding importance. As one of the most important decisions it was passed unanimously and without abstentions! This is a great success in the process of ideological-political unification and will have a positive effect on the initiated strategy debate about the environmental question and the building of an international front of resistance.

A second important resolution was the one evaluating the movement for freedom and democracy among the masses. This movement in its essence has no revolutionary character yet and lacks the revolutionary perspective of socialism, too. Nevertheless, it expresses the fact that the masses in more and more countries do not want to live in the old way any longer and those in power cannot rule in the old way any longer. This objective process of decay and disintegration of the imperialist world system is an important materialist starting point for the revolutionary development of the world movement. Up to now, reactionary Islamic movements have been the main beneficiaries of the struggle for freedom and democracy. This also has to do with the weakness of the international revolutionary working-class movement. And very quickly it became evident that these victories of the Islamists did not result in any way out for the masses. Based on these experiences the Marxist-Leninists must step up their persuasion work and use the awakening consciousness in the struggle for freedom and democracy to win over the masses for the revolutionary socialist perspective.

It is of great importance as well that with the PPSR WATAD Tunisia (Patriotic Socialist Revolutionary Party) a party has joined the ICOR which has direct experience with the development of the struggle for freedom and democracy in the movements of uprisings of the Arab countries.

Noteworthy is the decision of the ICOR to unconditionally support the 2nd World Women's Conference of rank-and-file women in 2016 in accordance with that conference's own principles and the decisions of the conferences in Caracas and in Johannesburg.

The 2nd ICOR World Conference and now a current ICOR resolution against the imperialist aggression of Israel against the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip and for a just and democratic solution of the Palestine conflict confirm a decisive fundamental line of the ICOR: courageous liberation struggles, revolutionary forces and uprisings mustn't be allowed to be drowned in blood by the counterrevolution because of a lack of international solidarity. I assume that the 2nd World Conference of the ICOR will widen the appeal of the ICOR as a revolutionary world organization.

Against the backdrop of the increasing proneness to crisis of the imperialist world system, the decisions for a second ICOR campaign in conjunction with major joint activities on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution in the year 2017 are of great importance. The activities include a joint theoretical seminar. The International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO) will participate in these activities too, which is a further step towards the unification of the ICOR and the ICMLPO.


Rote Fahne: The next Women's Political Counsel will take place in Chemnitz. What awaits the militant women's movement there?


Stefan Engel: It is quite remarkable how the 11th Women's Political Counsel is developing as the most important 'ueberparteilich' (non-party-affiliated) meeting of the women's movement in Germany. The organizers of the Militant Women's Council report that no counsel before was welcomed and supported so heartily and in so many ways by a broad spectrum of the women's movement of the host city – including even the mayor and the gender equality officer of Chemnitz. And it surely will be very interesting when the chairwoman of the ver.di women's council Duisburg/Lower Rhine district and the union leader of the female textile workers from Bangladesh discuss women's consciousness in the working class movement, or Dr. Cornelia Ernst (MEP, “The Left”) and sister Dr. Lea Ackermann of Solwodi discuss the struggle against sexism with young female members of Rebell.

The 'ueberparteilich' women's league Courage is co-organizer of this counsel and surely will use the results of this counsel to promote the lasting strengthening of the militant women's movement in Germany.

The Marxist-Leninist work among women plays a big role in the development of the new militant women's movement. The basis of this Marxist-Leninist work among women is Revolutionary Way, Nos. 27/28, on the new perspectives for the liberation of women. However, it demands hard work, a proletarian culture of debate, Marxist-Leninist persuasion work, sensitivity, inventiveness and most of all a lot of organizational work! We are convinced of the 'ueberparteilich' democratic union of the militant women's movement and, therefore, as always actively support the publicity campaign for and the preparation and realization of the Women's Political Counsel.

In October the world coordinators for the 2nd World Conference 2016 in Nepal also will meet in Chemnitz. There will be continental conferences in Asia and the Middle East to prepare this meeting.


Rote Fahne: On Whitsun the first Rebellious Music Festival took place. How did this new kind of rebellious mass event come off?


Stefan Engel: The Rebellious Music Festival was an important initiative of the youth league Rebell to promote a rebellious mass culture and to join together with young people in the most different aspects of the rebellion. Many young persons, organizations, initiatives and bands share this idea; they became active organizers of the festival. More than 1,200 participants were enthralled. The festival developed its own rebellious profile, which was fully embraced by the young people. Clear principles were realized, which turned into trademarks: independent financing, self-organization, antifascist above all, no drugs, no sexism. Many young people actively partook in the communal chores and in this way contributed to the good organization, cleanliness, etc. Instead of egotism and competition, a great solidarity was tangible here, which will communicate itself to the youth movement.

It was a unique festival which presented outstanding music from the whole spectrum of the rebellious youth culture. The bands were very impressed by the atmosphere and made a conscious contribution to the rebellious character. Many declared their willingness to perform at a sequel event on Whitsun 2016.

For a successful rebellion you need clarity and organization. The info points about fields of the rebellion of the youth – be it “environmental struggle,” “antifascist and peace struggle” or “future: a liberated society” – served to exchange experience and get to know each other better. I am very glad that in the process the Rebell increasingly is making a name for itself, gaining respect and proving and developing its ability to forge alliances. It rightly put a confident face forward and has strengthened and consolidated itself further in this complex task.

A guarantee for success was the close cooperation of MLPD and REBELL. Many party members and friends actively took part and put their know-how at the festival's disposal. I think something new was launched there which has a good future.


Rote Fahne: One year ago the CC demanded that more use be made of the financial policy options to strengthen the party. How well has this succeeded?


Stefan Engel: This initiative has had a marked effect. On four of our buildings photovoltaic systems could be installed. The roofs were or are being modernized to improve energy efficiency. These investments are a contribution to the protection of the environment and at the same time tap new sources of income, which will increase the independence of our asset management association “VermögensVerwaltungs­Verein Horster Mitte e.V.” All of this only succeeded because we put our trust consistently in our members and the masses. The financing was completely realized by our own efforts, and in different kinds of construction work thousands of hours of voluntary 'subbotnik' work was done. Against this the bank boycott initiated by the savings bank Sparkasse Gelsenkirchen was maintained nationwide and even extended to the simple passing on of applications for public subsidies. In the meantime, far more than 30 banks are involved in the boycott. The struggle against the bank boycott will continue, and we will strengthen our financial independence in this struggle.


Rote Fahne: At its plenary session the CC dealt with the effect of positivism and negativism on party work. What is to be understood by that?


Stefan Engel: It has become complicated to always clearly understand what is happening in the present political situation. These are fast moving times. Profound changes are afoot and a gross manipulation of public opinion is taking place. Our successful work of the last years essentially can be traced to the fact that our members more and more consciously are applying the dialectical method at the level of the doctrine of the mode of thinking and systemic thinking – and in this way are able to find their own bearings.

This is a positive effect of our system of seminars on dialectics, which we began introducing 15 years ago, and of the dialectics training courses for advanced participants. At the same time we realize that the Revolutionary Way No. 35 places even higher demands, in respect of world outlook, on the systematic work among the rank and file.

The subtle effect of the petty-bourgeois negativist and petty-bourgeois skeptical modes of thinking, which play an important role in the struggle over the mode of thinking among the masses and within the party, is based on different varieties of the bourgeois ideology: negativism, but positivism as well. Negativism stems from the crisis proneness of capitalist society and fails to go beyond its rejection of the prevailing conditions and put forward a positive societal perspective. In party work the influence of negativism appears in the form of always evaluating the work only from the standpoint of what we are not yet doing or not able to do. In this way it is naturally impossible to correctly qualify and creatively develop party work further. The dialectical method, on the other hand, looks at things in their development and pays full attention to the new phenomena and essential changes.

Closely related to negativism is positivism, which in the Revolutionary Way No. 35 is described as “'scientific' variant” of the “claimed powerlessness”. Science is supposed “to limit itself to the “'positively' given, i.e. to observable objects and processes. Questions going beyond that, concerning deeper causes, the inner essence and universal connections, are rejected by positivism as pure speculation.” (7)

With the combination of negativism and positivism, problems are in fact perceived and criticized. However, they do not show a way to really get to the bottom of the problems, to understand their interrelation and to solve them. This creates a negative feeling of their supposed insolubility. Therefore, the philosophical orientation of the book Catastrophe Alert! and its critical discussion of negativism, positivism and a general tendency to underestimate questions of world outlook are of fundamental importance for the struggle over the mode of thinking in the whole society and for the self-transformation of the party. To negate the criticism of the present social conditions dialectically will set free new forces for the struggle for genuine socialism.

With our seminars for the study of the book Catastrophe Alert! we have begun to develop a real ideological offensive in our party work. The 270 participants of the first two pilot seminars have taken this up enthusiastically. We are a sound party with a great potential, which will be brought to bear better and better through this self-change. Therefore, the Central Committee has decided to offer more seminars in the coming year, thus opening up the possibility for as many comrades and colleagues as possible to participate.


Rote Fahne: What conclusions has the Central Committee drawn from its evaluation?


Stefan Engel: The work of the MLPD develops a great attraction and productivity on the basis of its principles as party of a new type and a clearly increased capacity to master the dialectical method. This was the basis of our successes – from the publication of the RW 35 to the considerable extension of our systematic work among the rank and file with roughly the same forces in the last years.

The partly occurring opportunist tendency expresses itself in different phenomena: the leading role of the party and the significance of centralism within the party are undervalued; the ideological-political aspect of work gets pushed aside; the struggle of world outlooks is neglected – especially the struggle over the mode of thinking in the systematic work among the rank and file; cadre work with a view to the long term – especially the necessary change of generations – is undervalued in the party, and so forth. Occasionally there were attempts in the party's work among the rank and file to achieve 'successes' by conforming to reformism and evading the “bothersome” struggle with modern anticommunism.

Things like that will happen again and again. The important thing is to recognize this in time and draw the correct conclusions. The MLPD will organize a profound process of self-change in the coming years.

Therefore, the CC has decided to place emphasis on the stabilization and consolidation of the leadership work of the CC until the next party congress, and also to allow more time and provide more help for the necessary process of self-change in the environmental work. To this end, some tasks and structures in party work were streamlined and more scope was given to ideological-political training. Above all we have to comprehend that the only way to achieve the self-transformation of the party is by conducting the struggle between the proletarian and petty-bourgeois modes of thinking thoroughly and creatively, and by involving more and more people outside the party in this struggle as well.

In this situation scientific working acquires special importance. It has three aspects: Firstly, the Marxist style of work with its principled orientation to the dialectical unity of theory and practice in every sphere of party work. Secondly, the proletarian methods of work, which have to organize work according to appropriate standards and guidelines that guarantee a high productivity, collectivity, and the interpenetration of theory and practice in whatever we do. And thirdly, a system of scientific organization of work in which the dialectical unity of division of labor and centralization of labor is systematically implemented. Only by working scientifically is it possible for the comrades and cadres to develop well and to come successfully to grips with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking.

With the advances in its knowledge and with its decisions, the 4th plenary session of the CC has already initiated the preparation of the Tenth Party Congress.


Rote Fahne: Many thanks for this interview!




(1) OECD, Monthly Economic Indicators; own calculation

(2), 13 May 2014

(3) Bank for International Settlements, 84th Annual Report 2014

(4), 29 April 2014

(5), 18 Nov. 2013

(6) According to Israeli historian and author Ilan Pappe

(7) p. 37