November 12, 1997: The New Opposition must launch a Political Attack

Interview with Stefan Engel, Chairman of the MLPD

stefan-engel.jpgRed Flag: As early as last summer the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) began its election campaign for the national elections on September 27, 1998. They vehemently maintain that an economic upswing is taking place at the end of which mass unemployment will be reduced by 50 per cent. Will CDU/CSU succeed in getting rid of its negative image?

Stefan Engel: According to bourgeois polls people in Germany would prefer a coalition government formed by SPD (Social Democratic Party) and Alliance 90/Green Party. But I doubt that the ruling monopolies want to do without the CDU in government despite the fact that the government in Bonn is hardly capable of pushing through any item of its program the way they wanted to do in accordance with the instructions of the monopolies. The destruction of the social insurance system as well as the plans for a "tax reform" or the tightening of the criminal law and the restriction of democratic freedoms and rights are at a standstill. The main reason is the rejection of these plans by the masses or even their resistance to them.

The monopolies want a "solid management"

According to a dimap poll, 81 per cent of the population are now "dissatisfied" with the Kohl government. Its standing has reached a new low. But that alone is not reason enough for a change in government. The monopolies mainly want a solid management in Bonn or Berlin in order to be able to hold their ground in the present international competition.

An SPD-government could not do its job much better than the Kohl government. If the SPD wears out as the main reformist support of the monopolies among the masses, this could have disastrous effects on the further course of class struggle from the point of view of the monopolies.

PDS and Alliance 90/Green Party might be able to make up for this on the election ballot, but not in organized mass work. Their few active forces are almost completely absorbed in parliamentary committee work.

The struggle against the Kohl government remains the key task in struggle of the new opposition now forming. This will mainly be an extra-parliamentary force.

Red Flag: Two weeks ago, the famous stock market crash took place in Hongkong, affecting all stock markets in the world. Since then the international stock markets have experienced heavy fluctuations. Isn't this a sign for a new international crisis threatening the world economy?

Stefan Engel: There is no direct connection between financial and stock market crises and crises of over-production. Financial crises often accompany economic crises and can deepen and intensify them. But the stock market crash in Southeast Asia is not yet an indication of a new worldwide economic crisis. There are other causes for it.

Background of the stock market crash

Because of the international structural crisis which was brought about by the restructuring of the international mode of production, a tremendous amount of money is drifting around on the financial markets of the world, looking for possibilities to be invested. The 150-200 leading institutionalized big investors alone control more than 20 trillion dollars which are constantly looking for new speculation profits. (1) In the trade with derivatives (highly speculative securities) the growth rate exceeds that of worldwide national incomes in the past year and a half by 1600 per cent. (2)

The gigantic surplus of capital has a tendency towards a general speculation and led, this year, to a gigantic increase of stock capital by 50 per cent. This is something totally new in the FRG. Even the bankers themselves counted on corresponding corrections of the exchange rates on the stock markets. So seen, what happened in Hongkong was not totally unexpected.

The rising US dollar and the intensified international competitive struggle

On the other hand, the mass media and bourgeois economic experts cover up the material background of this concrete development. The currency in Southeast Asia was directly linked to the US dollar. But in 1997, the US dollar rate rose to 1.89 DM, the highest level since 1989. In 1992 and 1995 it was less than 1.40 DM for a while and at the beginning of 1997 less than 1.55 DM. (3) All of the cheap exports in the Asian region, especially in electronics, videos, television sets etc., have become more than 20 per cent more expensive on the world market because of the rise in the value of the dollar. This severely affected the export-oriented economy of Southeast Asia. Whereas Thailand experienced a growth in exports of 23,2 per cent in 1995, this dropped to 2 percent in 1996. (4) The exports produced in Hongkong dropped this year by 0.1 per cent. (5) It were especially the international rivals of the US-economy in Europe, especially Germany, who profited from the rising value of the dollar by filling exactly this gap. Because of that, German exports rose by 23.3 per cent in June in comparison to the year before. (6)

The fact that goods could not be sold in Southeast Asia had the effect of lowering the excessive expectations of profits. This affected stock market prices negatively and demanded the devaluation of currencies. On July 2, the baht in Thailand had to be dissociated from the US dollar. The currency crisis then reached Malaysia, after that Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan, and then Hongkong as Asia's second largest financial center. As a result of the currency devaluation or inflation, the stocks at these stock markets dropped in value tremendously which increased the tendency of capital being withdrawn from these countries. When international finance capital then got rid of massive amounts of Southeast Asian stocks, the stock market crisis could no longer be prevented. In Southeast Asia alone, 400 billion dollars in capital were destroyed and stock market prices fell worldwide to the lowest level since 1987.

The close relationship between currency and stock market crisis intensifies their effects and it cannot yet be clearly said, whether this development has, for the present, come to a climax or not.

The development towards a crisis of overproduction is being accelerated

This, however, ist not yet a crisis of overproduction, but undoubtedly reflects the intensified competitive struggle of the international monopolies. It is difficult to foresee at what point of time this international competitive struggle of the giant enterprises, that are combining and fighting against each other on a worldwide level, as well as of the banks, that are fusing to become gigantic financial metropolises, develops into a genuine new worldwide economic crisis. But there can be no doubt that it accelerates the development towards this worldwide crisis of overproduction. The stock market crash in Hongkong indicated this.

Rote Fahne: In any case, this crash has deepened the scepticism among the population about the propaganda of an upswing.

Stefan Engel: It undoubtedly showed that the official government propaganda slogans from Bonn about an upswing are hollow phrases. This year industrial production has slightly exceeded the level reached in 1991 for the first time. Domestic trade has still not recovered from the worldwide economic crisis of 1991-93.

Economic stagnation in the FRG

Domestic orders for the FRG industry are at 90.5 per cent of the level they reached before the crisis. (7) Real wages in Germany have decreased since 1990 and this year, mass unemployment has officially reached a new record of 4.67 Million registered unemployed. The purchasing power of the masses is further limited. Besides the unstable export basis, there is no indication at all of a stronger recovery or even an upswing. We are in a state of wavering stagnation.

In the last four years, the international structural crisis has destroyed more jobs at a faster pace than in both worldwide economic crises at the beginning of the 1980's and 90's. That demonstrates the general instability of the capitalist economic system. This combines with a latent political crisis, growing discontent of the masses, increasing numbers of workers' struggles and a tendency towards independent action.

Red Flag: In October, SPD held its congress in Dortmund and reacted to the CDU's opening of the election campaign.

Stefan Engel: A closer look at Lafontaine's election program shows that there are few essential differences to that one presented by the government in Bonn. The only difference is that the future government will be made up of SPD and Alliance 90/Green Party. In Lafontaine's election program, mass unemployment is demagogically pronounced the main problem of this society. In a report on fundamental positions on economic and financial policies, he wrote:

"The creation of jobs is the key to solving the economic and social problems of our country." (8)

The causes for mass unemployment lie in capitalism

What Lafontaine cannot answer is the question why such a chronic mass unemployment of millions of people has developed. The cause lies in the capitalist social system, which for the past 25 years can only exist under conditions of intensified symptoms of crisis. Since the middle of the 1970's, it was the structural crisis on the basis of the introduction of microelectronics and automation that produced millions of unemployed and the first worldwide economic crisis after World War II from 1981-83. This structural crisis was continued in 1984 and led to a new worldwide economic crisis at the beginning of the 1990's.

Since the worldwide economic crisis from 1991-93 a new structural crisis on the basis of the new organization of the international division of labour of capitalist production in connection with lean production and the flexibilization of working time has developed. This leads to far reaching changes in the entire industrial production of the world and has resulted in the elimination of hundreds of millions of jobs. The result of this international structural crisis will not only be a new worldwide economic crisis, but also that the international monopolies will be less and less able to evade their problems with the self-expansion of capital by going somewhere else. Tremendous contradictions in this society are looming on the horizon for which the masses must prepare themselves.

The masses are looking for a clear perspective

Capitalism demonstrates that it is less and less capable of solving the problems. MLPD already explained this theoretically years ago. Today the masses experience this more and more clearly. But they need a clear perspective that can only lie in the transition to a new society, and that means to genuine socialism. Doing away with mass unemployment does not solve the problems of capitalism. It's the other way round. Mass unemployment will then disappear when capitalism is done away with.

Red Flag: What connection is there to the discussion within the Green Party, but also within the PDS?

Stefan Engel: Both the leaderships of the Green Party and the PDS have declared that they would definitely support a social democratic government and even participate in it. That completes the process of the development of a petty-bourgeois protest party to that of a bourgeois monopoly party. It makes a difference if the participation in government rule occurs on the state or on the national level. Of course, this at first forms the background for the development of new contradictions within both parties.

The attempts of the PDS-leadership to carry favour with Social Democracy encounters criticism

The PDS-leadership had passed a resolution that the PDS should not participate in the three regional elections before the national ones in order not to endanger their success in the national elections through bad results. Despite this, the regional organizations in Hamburg and Niedersachsen did not comply with this resolution and put up candidates. This demonstrates considerable criticism of the attempts of the PDS-leadership to curry favour with social democracy. In the semi-official program commentary, capitalism is described as an "open society, capable of reforms" and having "innovative power". Any claim to socialism is disposed of in the basic program. Socialism exists only in the party's name or as a hollow phrase. That the PDS still wants to campaign for the national elections explicitly as the "Socialist Alternative" serves to mislead the masses and its own members and is directly aimed against the influence of the MLPD. The working class movement does not need a new reformist force. It is necessary that the masses find out their own interests which are in contradiction to this capitalist society.

Severe conflicts within the Green Party

Severe conflicts are being fought within the Green Party about the recently published draft of its election program. A contradiction is developing between the petty-bourgeois green illusions and a bourgeois pragmatism sacrificing any nuance of political independence for the chance to participate in government. We are curious to know the outcome of this struggle. If bourgeois pragmatism is pushed through, then Alliance 90/Green Party are really qualified for a participation in the government as new caretaker of the monopolies.

The Marxist-Leninists must systematically unmask and attack that the Green Party and PDS are turning their backs on their petty-bourgeois clientele and are openly supporting the crisis-management policy of monopoly capitalism. The development of the New Opposition stands or falls on the break of the masses with SPD, Alliance 90/Green Party and PDS.

Red Flag: In your last interview published in "Red Flag" number 22/97 you pointed out that the party has to prepare a political offensive. What is the essence of this political offensive?

Stefan Engel: The political offensive must combine the orientation towards a social perspective with the current development of the class consciousness of the workers and the broad masses. Since October 1996 we are in a situation of the awakening of class consciousness on a grand scale. That means, the masses are seeking to raise their consciousness, to reach a higher level of organization. The willingness to fight has also increased.

The workers are increasingly taking the line of consciously rejecting the policy of class collaboration with its negative orientation.

Class consciousness will develop to the same extent as this search will be satisfied by practical experience in struggle and a Marxist-Leninist persuasion work. The struggles in March, mainly those of the miners and steelworkers, the strike at Opel company (Generel Motors) in July and the strike at Flachglas-company at the end of September marked important further developments. The real significance of these struggles lies in the fact that the workers are more or less consciously beginning to reject the policy of class collaboration with its negative orientiation of the monopolies and the rightist union leadership. This policy only aims at persuading people that they must make sacrifices in order to avoid losing even more. But this is a very short-lived demagogy. The broad masses have less and less leeway for making sacrifices. The cost of living, the entire mode of living in our society are very expensive, and without a minimum of money it is impossible in this society to scrape a living. Economic and political changes are putting the lives of the masses of the people at stake.

The transition to the workers' offensive on a broad front would immediatelly change the social situation and would speed up and deepen the process of class conflicts.

Red Flag: The Flachglas-strike did not exactly take place in one of the centers of industrial production. Nevertheless, it had nationwide effects. How can we explain this fact?

Stefan Engel: The importance of the strike in Rotthausen lies in the fact that it was consciously organized on the basis of the rejection of the class collaboration with its negative orientation. For years the employees had to put up with deteriorating pay and working conditions, which was justified by the argument of securing jobs. When the cutting of 300 jobs was announced, they were no longer ready to make further sacrifices.

Only by means of open intimidation and suppression on the part of the management could the strike be ended. But with this suppression the ruling class has made it clear how the clichés "social partnership" and "social justice" are to be interpreted.

A nationwide movement on the basis of the "Rotthausen-Declaration"

The nationwide movement on the basis of the "Rotthausen-Declaration" could not be simply be launched by anybody. It can be explained by the fact that, in the meantime, the working class movement has gradually gained experience and knowledge which are consistent with the basic concerns of the Flachglas-workers, not only in terms of their self-organized strike for every job and trainee post, but also in terms of their political demand for a full legal right to strike in all matters. There has never been such a broad movement for such a right to strike in the FRG. Of course, this was preceded by a broad movement of criticism within the trade unions against the line of class conciliation of the right-wing trade union leadership. To sum up: the time is ripe to go over to the offensive.

What does "transition to the working class offensive" mean?

Red Flag: Transition the working class offensive is a slogan which MLPD has used for a long time. What does it mean?

Stefan Engel: The slogan means that the workers not only defend their pay and working conditions and their rights, but attack on their part the system of the dictatorship of the monopolies. The workers must learn to show no consideration at all for the ruling class and its system and to express their class demands in an offensive way. Correspondingly, their forms of struggle will be not only economic strikes called by unions, but more and more political militant actions and strikes.

We thereby have to take into account that, of course, the working class has to cope with the corrosive role of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking within its own ranks. The petty-bourgeois-reformist and the petty-bourgeois-revisionist mode of thinking have still a profound influence and they often make the workers feel uncertain what to do or prevent the development of their struggles.

The masses can only cope with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, if the links between the self-run and self-built organizations of the masses and the Marxist-Leninist party reach a higher level. Presently the main task for the workers is to persistently follow their own line and avoid being drawn into the maelstrom of bourgeois parliamentarism.

The struggles must take on an international character

Red Flag: The strike of the truck-drivers in France and the class struggles of the dockers in Rotterdam and Amsterdam show that the awakening of class consciousness on a broad front is not restricted to the national level; it applies, at least, to the European level.

Stefan Engel: That is right. But much organizational work has still to be done on this field in order to improve the coordination and mutual support of these class disputes.

Until now they mostly develop like this: somewhere in one country a struggle is taken up and then at some time in another country people hear about it and launch a solidarity campaign in support of this struggle. But this is not what is meant by an international character of struggles. This requires a common platform, an interrelation among them regarding their issues, their forms of struggle and their direction. The development and coordination of the class struggles on the international level is one of the most important tasks of the Marxist-Leninists in our time.

Red Flag: This year we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the October Revolution in Russia. What is the importance of this event for us today?

Stefan Engel: Fundamentally, the October Revolution was of course directed towards the same goal as the future development towards the international revolution: the liberation of mankind from exploitation of men by men by means of the overthrow of the imperialist world system and the building of socialism in all countries of the world.

The October Revolution was a socialist revolution under the leadership of the Bolshiviki, who could take advantage of the inter-imperialist contradictions during World War I. At that time, Lenin assumed that this revolution would trigger a chain reaction of revolutions, first in Germany, then in other European countries and finally in the whole world. But the October Revolution could not overcome its national character, in spite of its international significance. The revolutionary struggle in Germany suffered a defeat after the November-Revolution. The revolutionary chain reaction, which Lenin had expected, was stifled. Socialism had to be built up in one single and also relatively backward country. This was done under very difficult conditions and in conflict with the entire imperialist world system, which could relatively stabilize itself for a while after World War I.

The internationalition of production ...

Of course, the internationalization of the capitalist mode of production as it is occurring today changes also the transition from capitalism to socialism. Today, 44,000 multinational companies with nearly 280,000 subsidiaries are controlling the international production. The biggest 100 of them control one fifth of the worldwide invested capital shares. The international monopolies and big banks dictate the entire international production, and due to this fact they more or less determine the social life in most of the countries in the world. The national governments have long since lost their grip on the regulation of their national economies. The regulation of the crisis requires ever growing expenditures and are increasingly less effective. Thus, the national debt is rising beyond measure while the symptons of crisis in Germany can hardly be held in check.

... necessitates the further development of strategy and tactics and the preparation of the international revolution

The process of revolutionary fermentation will take on a worldwide character and will accordingly emerge and develop as an interrelated process. The point is, to prepare the international revolution by correspondingly coordinating and revolutionizing the international struggles. Shortly before his death Willi Dickhut drew attention to the special nature of the international revolution in contrast to the October Revolution:

"This is not a single act as a world revolution, as Marx and Engels had assumed, but an erratic revolutionary development from one country to another taking on a different character respectively. In one country the revolution will be victorious, in an other country the revolutionary movement will be defeated and suffer a temporary setback. This is the international character of the revolution as a necessary response to the internationalization of state monopoly capitalism." (9)

It is necessary that the revolutionary forces in the world unite on the international level under the leadership of the Marxist-Leninists in order to further this process. This is the purpose of our participation in the international conference of Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations, which seeks to reach ideological-political unity. This is a process of principled criticism and self-criticism, based on equal rights among the organizations involved. In practice it is necessary to build an international league of struggle for liberation in due course which coordinates, links and develops step by step the entire existing militant potential against the imperalist world system. The development of the productive forces and their fierce struggle against the capitalist relations of production is the starting-point of the strategy and tactics of the international revolution. It cannot be based on wishes or subjective assumptions, but must reflect the objective law-governed process of social development and accordingly influence the course of class struggle.

It is the task of the next number of our theoretical organ REVOLUTIONARY WAY 27 to analyze this process comprehensively and draw conclusions for the further development of Marxist-Leninist strategy and tactics.

Red Flag: What are the experiences of the current solidarity campaign with the revolutionary road of liberation in democratic Congo you can already report to us?

Stefan Engel: The success of the solidarity campaign shows

strong spirit for setting off for new goals in the party. After the successful reorganization of the party into counties this is the first bigger political militant action of the entire party in which everybody ist taking part according to his or her possibilities and which expresses the party's growing capability to perform its work.

It is important to consciously conduct this Congo-solidarity campaign on the basis of proletarian internationalism. This means linking the class struggle in the home country to the solidarity with the revolutionary struggle for liberation in Congo. In fact, there is a very close relation between the Mobutu-regime and its undescribable support it received from all governments of the FRG in the past 30 years. Solidarity with the democratic-revolutionary movement in Congo can therefore only come from the people, not from the ruling class. Of course, people are not going to make a donation, if they do not know its purpose. For this reason, this Congo-solidarity campaign will give rise to a lot of discussions about the concrete conditions in democratic Congo. This, in turn, will encourage our comrades to spread the idea of the socialist road in the new-democratic revolution among the masses.

A much greater importance of the Congo-solidarity campaign must be attached to the need for the party to learn how to organize such short and effective campaigns within a very short period of time. Especially the preparation of the international revolution will make this an often recurring task. The development of an internationalist consciousness is also a necessary condition that the workers go over to the offensive and that a new opposition will emerge in the struggle against the government in Bonn.

Red Flag: In your last interview (10) you criticized "various errors in the Marxist-Leninist rank and file work regarding the issue of women's rights". How has this discussion developed since then?

Stefan Engel: In the first place this has enormously stimulated the discussion within the party. But my statements were also thoroughly misinterpreted when some comrades drew the conclusion that we no longer stand up for equal rights for women. But in the interview, I only pointed out the fact that the demand for equal rights for women does not eliminate the problem of social inequality between men and women. Surely, the legal equality between the sexes in a number of countries in the world would be a great step forward. But it does not solve the problem fundemantally. The problem of the double exploitation and oppression of the masses of women in capitalist society is part of the system and can anly be solved when the contradiction between social production and private appropriation is overcome in a socialist society.

The "issue of equal rights for women" is bound up with the whole organization of social life

It is in some way becoming more evident that the so-called "issue of equal rights for women" does not involve only women, but also the overall organization of social life in capitalist society. The whole burden of reproduction of labor power, of raising children and providing for its members is imposed on the families. And they are less and less able to carry this burden.

This is the material background for a general change of the way of life in capitalist society. The nuclear family for example, with husband, wife and one child is a phenomenon that is declining faster and faster. Today 35 per cent of all households are so-called "single person households". Only about half of the households with several persons are still typical husband-wife-child-relationships. The number of births has decreased from 1,117,600 in 1950 to 789,000 in 1996. (11) The problem is that the reproduction of the human labor power in capitalist society is assigned to the familiy, but that these families are making up a smaller and smaller portion of society. The result of this in capitalist society is isolation, impoverishment, but also the helplessness of many people.

The liberation of women is part of the overcoming of the capitalist living conditions in general. Even if the problem can only be solved in a socialist society, we must address this issue already today, because resistance against exploitation and oppression of women is a significant part of resistance against the entire living conditions in capitalism. The struggle for the liberation of women is also a struggle for a society without exploitation and oppression.

Red Flag: 500 people from all parts of Germany participated at the summer camps of REBELL and its RED FOXES this year. The leadership of the youth league has drawn positive conclusions. Which conclusions will MLPD draw regarding the work with the youth?

Stefan Engel: The summer camps were mainly a great step forward with regard to learning the REBELL-work as a school of life of the proletarian mode of thinking. I want to demonstrate this with the following points:

  1. For the first time the entire youth-camp took on the responsibility for the preparation and organization of the children's camps.
  2. The summer camps consciously took on the task to attach special importance to physical work. This year not only duties like doing the dishes and other tasks were carried out in a more disciplined manner; a beach-volleyball-field was also erected.
  3. The criticism of bourgeois mass culture stimulated a number of activities for a proletarian cultural and spare-time work.
  4. Last but not least, the offer of the party to give introductory courses on the ideological-political line of MLPD. A total of more than 100 people took this courses during the three camps.

The most important point, however, is that this new initiative has given fresh impetus to the work at the rank and file level. This must be consolidated and developed on the local level. REBELL must become much more attractive to the masses of the youth. To achieve this it must also overcome a certain tendency towards opportunism. This ranges from language, clothing to the various styles of music and patterns of behavior. REBELL must preserve and develop its profile as a revolutionary youth league instead of conforming to petty-bourgeois moods, trends and patterns of behavior of the masses of the youth. Who else can give the youth, which in general has a very critical attitude towards the social conditions, an orientation?

Work among youth is a fundamental part of party building

What became perfectly clear at the summer camps was the fact that REBELL cannot become a school of life of the proletarian mode of thinking, if the party does not systematically accompany it in its work. Everything that happens within REBELL is party work, and the party has the ultimate reponsibility for the development of REBELL. It must help the young comrades to orientate themselves in this complicated world and to go its own way. The neglect of the work among youth merely reflects the petty-bourgeois lack of any perspective within our party. For the party the work among youth is a fundamental part of party building. The realization of the Marxist-Leninist work among youth on the basis of the proletarian mode of thinking is identical with the mass tactics of revolutionary party building.

Red Flag: What will MLPD do in the national elections?

Stefan Engel: Of course, we will take part in the election campaign in one form or another. We can' t afford not to use the legal possibilities of mass agitation and propaganda which an election campaign offers.

On the other hand, we are faced with the problem that on the political platform of bourgeois parliamentarism today we have nearly no prospect of achieving election results of political significance. Until now election campaigns have been a method for us to consolidate party building and to exert influence on political debates. This will also be the focus of attention in future. But the masses are judging us from the election results, which in the past were really not very exciting.

It is a matter of priority first to conclude the current process of reorganization of the party with the delegates' conferences of the federal states in February and then decide on how we shall participate in the election and make the best use of its possibilities.

Red Flag: There was not much coverage of the process of self-transformation of the party in "Red Flag" until now. Could you outline what it involves?

Stefan Engel: Some time ago we explained that after the 5th Party Congress a real systematization of petty-bourgeois methods in guidance and control of the party work took place. This system of petty-bourgeois methods had mainly a bureaucratic-centralistic character in the leadership of the organization. It was in contradiction to the decisions of the party congress, and also to the decisions of the Central Committee. Within the Central Committee a dangerous situation had arisen, the latent tendency of two antagonistic centers. For instance, the central decisions were simply passed on within the party organization without systematically studying them, putting them in concrete terms and implementing them in connection with the concrete local experiences. Conversely, it was no longer properly evalutated and controlled how the ideological-political line was put into practice. Thus, the wealth of theoretical and practical experience could not be integrated into the leadership work, although this must be the living basis. Basically, this system of petty-bourgeois methods in guidance and control was directed against the self-transformation of the party.

Conclusions from the destruction of the system of petty-bourgeois methods

After one year of intensive discussions we have succeeded in smashing this system of petty-bourgeois methods in guidance and control. This was mainly achieved by a patient work of persuasion in connection with the practice of class struggle. In this process the party has demonstrated greatest maturity, and never did splits or other antagonistic rifts occur. The doctrine of the mode of thinking was subject to its first severe test and proved its worth. At the same time we could draw general conclusions for the entire leadership work.

We have dissolved the whole organizational and cadre department, which was common practice in the history of the communist workers' movement, as an independent unit. At the time of the Bolshevizing of the KPD in the 1920's the introduction of such a department was a great success. At that time the social-democratic election parties had to be transformed into genuine organizations of class struggle. Today we are in a situation in which such an independent department of organization and cadre work has become a real hindrance. Organizational work and work with cadres must be done in every department, in every function and in every task. The doctrine of the mode of thinking requires to closely link the adoption and further development of the ideological-political line with the guidance and control for its assimilation and implementation. It cannot be allowed, for instance, that a comrade responsible for political work in factories and trade unions would regard it as his task to give instructions for the work with shop stewards, but does not think about how this will become a living reality.

The organizational work and work with cadres is therefore in future a method in party building to link Marxist-Leninist theory with the practice of class struggle.

A successful change of cadres

We have further scaled down the central apparatus, changed the methode of working and carried out quite a number of transfers of cadres. The renewal of our political work is in the end concentrated on the changes of cadres. This, of course, has nothing to do with the fairy tale of a "wave of purges within MLPD" spread by the domestic intelligence service. It is a matter of course that at the time of a qualitative change in political work new cadres are also coming to the fore, and old cadres give up their positions. This is a sound process which provides the whole party with new forces, rejuvenates the functionaries and changes the composition of the party bodies. Of course, this also causes some problems. New cadres must first gain experience on their own, must learn the new methods of working etc. Errors and shortcomings, to which the party's system of self-checking has to be geared, are then unavoidable. In general, every work is done at a slower rate.

Red Flag: There was an intensive ideological-political struggle for the understanding of the doctrine of the mode of thinking and its practical application. What was it about?

Stefan Engel: The essence of the system of petty-bourgeois methods in guidance and control was objectively a questioning of the doctrine of the mode of thinking. This was not expressed openly and directly, but can be derived from its conclusions.

A number of comrades in the party hold the view that the struggle over the mode of thinking is mainly a struggle about views. But the mode of thinking is also expressed in a particular practical behavior, in a particular way of thinking, feeling and acting. And behind every mode of thinking there is always a concrete, verifiable motive. What matters is not, for instance, the extensive knowledge and eloquence of a person who perhaps always says the right thing. Far more important is his/her behavior in practice, if he/she is committed to the interests of the working class and the struggle for socialism.

A second distortion of the doctrine of the mode of thinking leads to the degeneration of the doctrine of the mode of thinking into a moral category. But this negates the social and class character of every mode of thinking and shifts the struggle over the mode of thinking to a personal level. This can become dangerous, because it intensifies enormously the contradictions and at the same time prevents their solution.

The principled criticism and self-criticism must stress the political aspect. The point is, always to advance the cause of the proletarian struggle for liberation. The struggle over the mode of thinking is a particular form of class struggle under the present social conditions. It is at the same time a scientific method which helps us to correctly assimilate the reality and develop the necessary proletarian class consciousness.

Overcoming the system of petty-bourgeois methods in guidance and control was a creative process of deepening and further developing the understanding of the doctrine of the mode of thinking.

Further development of the strategy and tactics in party building

In our Political Report from January 1997 we have aleady added the strategy and tactics in the struggle over the mode of thinking among the masses to the proletarian strategy and tactics of class struggle. With the unconditional offensive for the destruction of the system of petty-bourgeois methods we have also further developed the strategy and tactics of party building. It is the strategy and tactics in the struggle over the the mode of thinking to resolve the contradictions within the party. This is a decisive precondition for enabling the party to fulfill its tasks in class struggle. It must cope with the particular tasks of class struggle under the conditions of the effects of the system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking in state monopoly capitalism.

Guidance and control have to be applied to these strategy and tactics, and not only to the mere transmission of central instructions and decisions. These decisions must be applied with its living variety by the rank-and-file. This is only possible by the conscious use of the dialectical method. The central task of guidance and control is therefore the education of the party members to enable them to consciously apply the dialectical method in party building and class struggle.

Red Flag: Learning the dialectical method is surely a rather difficult task. How will the party make sure that, in future, this method will become common knowledge of the membership as well as the leadership?

Stefan Engel: This of course is a long process. On the one hand, the entire point of view of the theoretical organ REVOLUTIONARY WAY is an expression of the dialectical method. The dialectical method must also be applied in principle in the way we direct our systematic work among rank and file.

Mastering the dialectical method on one's one

The dialectical method is applied spontaneously by studying the ideological-political line and putting it into practice. What matters, however, is to master the dialectical method independently and to apply it systematically for fulfilling the tasks in a creative way. In our study work we therefore place special emphasis on learning this method. In the seminar of the Workers' Education Center on "Introduction to the dialectical method", for instance, I currently conduct three courses in Gelsenkirchen with almost 120 participants, which are also attended by non-party-members. This demonstrates a genuine readiness of the membership to systematically learn this dialectical-materialistic method. But here one must also have the patience to do this, for the dialectical method not only requires the mere knowledge of formal dialectics, but also an all-round knowledge of the ideological-political line and broad practical experience in struggle. All this develops step by step and one has really to fight for it during a certain period of time. The idea that after taking a course one has got the dialectial method into his/her head is surely out of place. Nevertheless, these courses are very helpful and I am convinced that this will have positive effects on our party work.

Red Flag: One important task of the party after the last Whitsun Youth Meeting was the recruitment of members and the strengthening of the party regarding financial policy. How has this task been performed until now?

Stefan Engel: Concerning the strengthening of MLPD in terms of an increase in membership there were a number of admissions, but there is still no upswing, for this work is not yet the focus of attention of our activities. Obviously the restructuring of the party organization into counties has bound more forces as initially expected and the all-round connection of this change with the increase in membership has not sufficiently taken root within the party.

Closely connected with this is also the strengthening of MLPD with respect to financial policy. From the beginning we have planned a preparatory phase of several months for its organization so that - after the Congo-solidarity-campaign - we can start a long-term work for the strengthening of MLPD in financial terms. This will not be limited to conventional fund-raising activities, but also include winning regular sponsors for the party. Many workers, housewives, as well as older people support the party and sympathize with our cause. But they think that for reasons of health or personal reasons they are not able to take part in the party work. Those friends of our cause should be given the opportunity to participate in an organized form in the party work as regular sponsors with a corresponding monthly contribution. We suppose that there is certainly a potential between one to two thousand people who are prepared to commit themselves to such a fund-raising activity. There will be no forward development of party building without creating the prerequisites regarding financial policy.

Red Flag: Can you already give us a preview of next year?

Stefan Engel: First, in 1998 the strengthening of our forces in party building, especially in the youth league, must take priority.

Secondly, MLPD must further strive to overcome the relative isolation in which it has been pushed by the manipulation of public opinion. Thirdly, we must enhance our appeal among the masses. In this we still focus our attention on the industrial proletariat, intensify the work among the masses of women and will make the youth work of a new type a trade mark of MLPD.

In 1998 we will also increase the initiative with regard to our internationalist responsibilities. We will take part in the initiative for an "international league of struggle" and will advance the process of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations.

In particular, we will devote ourselves to a greater extent to the theoretical tasks. Apart from REVOLUTIONARY WAY about the "Strategy and Tactics of the Preparation of the International Revolution" the Central Committee has planned to prepare an issue of the theoretical organ on the subject "Class Struggle and the Struggle for the Liberation of Women".

The year 1998 will be a practical test for our political work on the basis of which the whole process of gaining insights into party building based on the proletarian mode of thinking will advance.

In 1999 we will prepare and hold our 6th Party Congress in order to get us ready for the turn of the millenium.

1998 will be a year of the new opposition

State monopoly capitalism is experiencing a deep social crisis. However, this can only be used for a revolutionary upswing, if Marxist-Leninists are able to draw the right conclusions from the social changes.

1998 will be a year of the political offensive, a year of the development of the new opposition, a year of the consolidation of the social perspective of genuine socialism. That is what I expect!

Red Flag: Many thanks for this interview!

Literature

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