28.08.2009:The Offensive for ­Genuine Socialism can no longer be held up!

Interview with the chairman of the MLPD, Stefan Engel, dated August 26, 2009 (Published in Red Flag, August 28, 2009)

The national parliamentary election campaign of the MLPD began with the brilliant opening event in Hamburg. How did this success come about?

This opening event was really an all-round success! The voter<A[voter|selector]> initiative groups from the northern federal states took this opening event as an opportunity for an excursion, making the central event to their<A[their|her]> own cause, and this also strengthened solidarity. In addition, numerous participants and visitors from Hamburg and from the entire coastal region attended. The rally was visited by 800 participants, the cultural event by 1,500 and 1,000 people participated in the demonstration from the site of the rally to that of the cultural event. That in turn was seen by thousands of passers-by and Hamburg residents and so - often for the first time -the MLPD became known as a militant and attractive - just revolutionary! - party. The basic idea of this inspiring opening event was to combine the orientation to the parliamentary election campaign with the first larger election event and in this way to put our focus of party building on Hamburg into practice. We succeeded in this lock, stock and barrel! So the "spirit of Hamburg" will spread to our election campaign all over the country.

What is the most important thing in the national parliamentary elections?

It is important that we dissociate ourselves from bourgeois parliamentarism in principle. This bourgeois parliamentarism says that people’s fates are determined by parliamentary elections<A[choices|elections]>. However, in reality it is a fact that the number of votes will have only little influence on the politics<A[politics|policy]> of the ruling monopolies.

Nevertheless, we are fighting for each and every vote in these elections<A[choices|elections]>. This might first seem to some people to be a contradiction<A[contradiction|discrepancy]>. The struggle for each and every vote is, however, decisive. This struggle aims at changing people; it creates consciousness and self-confidence.

In this way we lead and we learn to conduct a struggle over the mode of thinking that ultimately aims at winning the decisive majority of the working class for socialism and involving the broad masses in the struggle against the government. Anyone who does not understand these dialectics is quickly influenced by bourgeois parliamentarism. He only evaluates the activities of the MLPD with regard to the election results and this is one-sided. However, due to the given conditions<A[relations|circumstances|relationships]> within the whole system of electoral manipulation, we can exert only small influence on these results.

However, we do have full influence on the way we face the masses, how we discuss with people, how we convince them, how we represent our party, which forms of organizations we create and how we succeed in building up our party systematically and in making it more attractive to the core<A[core|kernel]> of the industrial proletariat, the broad masses of people and especially the masses of the women and the youth.

What is the most important content of the parliamentary election campaign of the MLPD?

Of course, we have to deal with the most important basic questions of the political and economic situation. The ruling class really insistently attempts to push aside exactly these basic questions in this election campaign<A[page|side]>. By no means do they want to polarize! Under the conditions of the existing world economic crisis they, of course, always run the risk that the discontent of the people turns against them as ruling parties and against those who caused the crisis in the corporate top<A[tops|peaks]> management of the international supermonopolies. Therefore, it is especially important that we place these decisive crucial questions into the center of attention, attack the bourgeois parties and polemicize. We, of course, do not join in their<A[their|her]> soft-soap course.

The discussion about the world economic and financial crisis will probably be in the center of attention.

Of course! Since the last week the attempt is being made to convince people that the economic and financial crisis is over. It is as if this had been ordered right for the start of the federal election campaign. This is obviously a manoeuvre.

It is correct that the decline of the economy could be curbed and that some factors have even developed positively. However, it is still an open question at the moment whether these are small fluctuations within the framework of the downward trend of the crisis or whether it marks a transition to a stagnation at the lowest level.

At the same time, we have to realize that we are still at the level of the year 2000 regarding industrial production. German exports in June also were 22 per cent below the level of June 2008.

In no case can we speak of an end of the world economic and financial crisis. On the contrary, the main effects of this world economic and financial crisis are still to come. In the USA, the breakdown of banks is continuing; last Friday the 81st bank collapsed since the beginning of the world economic and financial crisis. Further gigantic speculative bubbles, as in the sector of credit cards or with further foul bonds, can burst any time and trigger a new push in the crisis development. In Germany the preparations for comprehensive job cuts in big industry and in the service and trade sector etc. are just beginning. The insolvencies up to now were only a foretaste of what is to come.

In July alone, 64 international monopolies have announced their intention to cut 600,000 jobs worldwide. Even bourgeois experts reckon with a rise in the official unemployment figures by 1 to 1.5 million by the end of next year.

All this will have repercussions on the economic development. Above all, however, the burden of the crisis will be shifted onto the people in various ways. In the center is the gigantic intensification of the exploitation of the workers in the enterprises by means of an increase in the intensity of labor. The fear of the loss of jobs and the method of short-time work etc. are being mercilessly used for intensifying the exploitation in the enterprises and wearing people down. At the same time, the crisis is being used for restructuring the enterprises, gearing them to a new round in the international competitive struggle and forcing the workers into identifying themselves with their respective monopolies. The focus of this is the automobile industry. This will be connected to a series of attacks upon wage and working conditions, but also upon workers’ rights, which of course will be discussed openly only after the elections.

On Monday of this week, the Financial Times Germany reported for its exclusive readership about a moratorium between the leading monopolies and the government on postponing mass dismissals and other massive attacks upon the workforce until election day and only until then! Comprehensive attacks on the part of the state are also being prepared, because the gigantic crisis management programs with hundreds of billions of euros have to be refinanced somehow. Surely the focus will be on the planned increase in indirect taxes, cutbacks in social services, further dismantling the equal financing of social security, the cuts in pensions, further cuts in Hartz IV income support - in short: deep cuts in all social security systems. That is why we are using the election campaign for preparing the masses for what is coming. After the elections we will have to pay the bill! The working class, the broad masses of people have to be brought into position against this: they have to fight against the shifting of the burdens of the crisis onto their backs.

What is the essence of the MLPD’s election campaign?

The most important thing is to conduct the federal election campaign as an offensive for genuine socialism. This means that we fight within the framework of the present trend to the left among the masses for winning the people for a revolutionary socialist alternative. The left-reformist tendency within the trend to the left still has the upper hand. The Left Party could use the parliamentary illusions among the masses for its own ends. For this reason we also have to deal with the policy of the Left Party critically, but without cutting the ties. Many members and supporters of the Left Party remain to be the most important potential allies in the struggle against the dismantling of social gains, against neo-fascism, against military missions in Afghanistan. Nevertheless we have to tell people the truth. Lafontaine’s slogan of an "economy of free people" without abolishing capitalism is illusory and a misleading fantasy which harms the class struggle.

If the working class wants to liberate itself from exploitation and oppression it has to overcome the capitalist system. For this reason, on the one hand, the offensive for genuine socialism means a dispute with the illusory view of the petty-bourgeois-reformist, petty-bourgeois-revisionist and petty-bourgeois-parliamentary mode of thinking, especially of the Left Party. On the other hand, it also means spreading our concept of genuine socialism among the masses in a lively, convincing, popular and self-confident way. They are open to this more than I have never experienced before.

How is this openness expressed?

In the run-up to these federal elections, we experienced that anti-communism no longer played the primary role as an obstacle in the debate over the collection of signatures. We collected 40,000 signatures and for this we had to conduct about 200,000 partly very demanding individual talks. There it became evident that the main problem was a certain disenchantment with politics and discontent about "politicians" on the whole. We first have to convincingly draw a line of demarcation as "rebels of politics" and declare our position in order not to take a beating for the bourgeois parties.

People have to realize that muffled expressions of discontent are not enough. Instead of declining into negativism and defeatism you have to fight for your interests and get organized. Sheer discontent off the top of one’s head is even a breeding-ground for right populists.

The collection of signatures was an important preliminary battle which we could deal with very successfully as a whole. We are the only party in Germany that had to collect signatures and was successful in this in all federal states. That was a great success that we can build upon. The election campaign will further intensify the debate that has started and the method of the intensive work of convincing people.

Every offensive means making special efforts and must have an excellent quality! There is the time of holiday and relaxation and there is the time of the mobilization of forces and exertion of all one’s energies. Now is a time that requires great efforts! During the next weeks we will be on the streets daily, with and among the people, and concentrate completely on this offensive of the work among the rank and file of the masses. Our voter action groups have to be built up, our contacts have to be consolidated and we have to win many people for the MLPD and the struggle for socialism. This will be the test whether our offensive in connection with the federal elections will be successful or not.

The spirit that has been spread from our start in Hamburg is very important for these goals: The strong power to convince people, the aggressiveness and the self-confidence, but also attractiveness of the great solidarity and the intensified alliance-building work. We have to emphasize especially the alliance-building work with various migrant organizations with which we are conducting a joint election campaign. The decisive method of our offensive is a really systematic and intensive work among the rank and file of the broad masses – the success of Hamburg was also based on this.

Would you give us a glance behind the curtains and tell us what problems are currently being discussed within the MLPD ?

Naturally, every social dispute is reflected within the party in one way or another. Those who are influenced by the pseudo-soft-soap course of the government are avoiding polarization. Those who are at odds with the growing number of votes for the "Left Party" cannot carry out the patient work of accompanying the masses in coping with the petty-bourgeois parliamentary mode of thinking. Those who are frustrated that the workers don't start fighting immediately with the outbreak of the crisis are still worshiping spontaneity themselves. Dilettantism and disorganization spread, if you don't work tirelessly on raising your level in mastering the dialectical method. However, we have progressed quite well in solving all these problems, because all in all, as a party, we are positioned excellently and have outstanding and enthusiastic members, whose commitment other parties are panting for. The offensive for genuine socialism is advancing and cannot be stopped.

How are the MLPD and the youth organisation Rebell progressing with the self-transformation of their youth work ?

The summer camps as a joint project of the youth league Rebell and the MLPD have just ended successfully. With the political topics of the camp groups, a whole variety of cultural and sportive spare-time activities, new impulses for a sense of community and team spirit among the young people and successful new aspects of the work of the Red Foxes, they were again an important step ahead.

But we have to discuss critically the view that the summer camps are the most important contribution of Rebell for the offensive for genuine socialism. Our guiding line in youth work is not to lower our sights ! We want to build up a mass youth organisation! The whole core is the self-transformation of the systematic rank and file work of Rebell in the offensive and the realization of the three basic interrelations between the party and the youth league: ideological-political leadership, practical cooperation and the promotion of the organizational independence. We had decided that the entire offensive for genuine socialism has to be oriented primarily to the youth. Here much more ideological-political fighting spirit and willingness to experiment have to be developed !

What do you want to give the comrades on their way?

We have to fight for each and every single vote - not just because of the vote, but because of the people, who often have to change their mode of thinking and their consciousness for casting this vote and for whom voting for the MLPD is often a first step to take part in future in the struggle for a new society in genuine socialism.

Thank you for the interview.

Of course! Since the last week the attempt is being made to convince people that the economic and financial crisis is over. It is as if this had been ordered right for the start of the federal election campaign. This is obviously a manoeuvre.

It is correct that the decline of the economy could be curbed and that some factors have even developed positively. However, it is still an open question at the moment whether these are small fluctuations within the framework of the downward trend of the crisis or whether it marks a transition to a stagnation at the lowest level.

At the same time, we have to realize that we are still at the level of the year 2000 regarding industrial production. German exports in June also were 22 per cent below the level of June 2008.

In no case can we speak of an end of the world economic and financial crisis. On the contrary, the main effects of this world economic and financial crisis are still to come. In the USA, the breakdown of banks is continuing; last Friday the 81st bank collapsed since the beginning of the world economic and financial crisis. Further gigantic speculative bubbles, as in the sector of credit cards or with further foul bonds, can burst any time and trigger a new push in the crisis development. In Germany the preparations for comprehensive job cuts in big industry and in the service and trade sector etc. are just beginning. The insolvencies up to now were only a foretaste of what is to come.

In July alone, 64 international monopolies have announced their intention to cut 600,000 jobs worldwide. Even bourgeois experts reckon with a rise in the official unemployment figures by 1 to 1.5 million by the end of next year.

All this will have repercussions on the economic development. Above all, however, the burden of the crisis will be shifted onto the people in various ways. In the center is the gigantic intensification of the exploitation of the workers in the enterprises by means of an increase in the intensity of labor. The fear of the loss of jobs and the method of short-time work etc. are being mercilessly used for intensifying the exploitation in the enterprises and wearing people down. At the same time, the crisis is being used for restructuring the enterprises, gearing them to a new round in the international competitive struggle and forcing the workers into identifying themselves with their respective monopolies. The focus of this is the automobile industry. This will be connected to a series of attacks upon wage and working conditions, but also upon workers’ rights, which of course will be discussed openly only after the elections.

On Monday of this week, the Financial Times Germany reported for its exclusive readership about a moratorium between the leading monopolies and the government on postponing mass dismissals and other massive attacks upon the workforce until election day and only until then! Comprehensive attacks on the part of the state are also being prepared, because the gigantic crisis management programs with hundreds of billions of euros have to be refinanced somehow. Surely the focus will be on the planned increase in indirect taxes, cutbacks in social services, further dismantling the equal financing of social security, the cuts in pensions, further cuts in Hartz IV income support - in short: deep cuts in all social security systems. That is why we are using the election campaign for preparing the masses for what is coming. After the elections we will have to pay the bill! The working class, the broad masses of people have to be brought into position against this: they have to fight against the shifting of the burdens of the crisis onto their backs.

What is the essence of the MLPD’s election campaign?

The most important thing is to conduct the federal election campaign as an offensive for genuine socialism. This means that we fight within the framework of the present trend to the left among the masses for winning the people for a revolutionary socialist alternative. The left-reformist tendency within the trend to the left still has the upper hand. The Left Party could use the parliamentary illusions among the masses for its own ends. For this reason we also have to deal with the policy of the Left Party critically, but without cutting the ties. Many members and supporters of the Left Party remain to be the most important potential allies in the struggle against the dismantling of social gains, against neo-fascism, against military missions in Afghanistan. Nevertheless we have to tell people the truth. Lafontaine’s slogan of an "economy of free people" without abolishing capitalism is illusory and a misleading fantasy which harms the class struggle.

If the working class wants to liberate itself from exploitation and oppression it has to overcome the capitalist system. For this reason, on the one hand, the offensive for genuine socialism means a dispute with the illusory view of the petty-bourgeois-reformist, petty-bourgeois-revisionist and petty-bourgeois-parliamentary mode of thinking, especially of the Left Party. On the other hand, it also means spreading our concept of genuine socialism among the masses in a lively, convincing, popular and self-confident way. They are open to this more than I have never experienced before.

How is this openness expressed?

In the run-up to these federal elections, we experienced that anti-communism no longer played the primary role as an obstacle in the debate over the collection of signatures. We collected 40,000 signatures and for this we had to conduct about 200,000 partly very demanding individual talks. There it became evident that the main problem was a certain disenchantment with politics and discontent about "politicians" on the whole. We first have to convincingly draw a line of demarcation as "rebels of politics" and declare our position in order not to take a beating for the bourgeois parties.

People have to realize that muffled expressions of discontent are not enough. Instead of declining into negativism and defeatism you have to fight for your interests and get organized. Sheer discontent off the top of one’s head is even a breeding-ground for right populists.

The collection of signatures was an important preliminary battle which we could deal with very successfully as a whole. We are the only party in Germany that had to collect signatures and was successful in this in all federal states. That was a great success that we can build upon. The election campaign will further intensify the debate that has started and the method of the intensive work of convincing people.

Every offensive means making special efforts and must have an excellent quality! There is the time of holiday and relaxation and there is the time of the mobilization of forces and exertion of all one’s energies. Now is a time that requires great efforts! During the next weeks we will be on the streets daily, with and among the people, and concentrate completely on this offensive of the work among the rank and file of the masses. Our voter action groups have to be built up, our contacts have to be consolidated and we have to win many people for the MLPD and the struggle for socialism. This will be the test whether our offensive in connection with the federal elections will be successful or not.

The spirit that has been spread from our start in Hamburg is very important for these goals: The strong power to convince people, the aggressiveness and the self-confidence, but also attractiveness of the great solidarity and the intensified alliance-building work. We have to emphasize especially the alliance-building work with various migrant organizations with which we are conducting a joint election campaign. The decisive method of our offensive is a really systematic and intensive work among the rank and file of the broad masses – the success of Hamburg was also based on this.

Would you give us a glance behind the curtains and tell us what problems are currently being discussed within the MLPD ?

Naturally, every social dispute is reflected within the party in one way or another. Those who are influenced by the pseudo-soft-soap course of the government are avoiding polarization. Those who are at odds with the growing number of votes for the "Left Party" cannot carry out the patient work of accompanying the masses in coping with the petty-bourgeois parliamentary mode of thinking. Those who are frustrated that the workers don't start fighting immediately with the outbreak of the crisis are still worshiping spontaneity themselves. Dilettantism and disorganization spread, if you don't work tirelessly on raising your level in mastering the dialectical method. However, we have progressed quite well in solving all these problems, because all in all, as a party, we are positioned excellently and have outstanding and enthusiastic members, whose commitment other parties are panting for. The offensive for genuine socialism is advancing and cannot be stopped.

How are the MLPD and the youth organisation Rebell progressing with the self-transformation of their youth work ?

The summer camps as a joint project of the youth league Rebell and the MLPD have just ended successfully. With the political topics of the camp groups, a whole variety of cultural and sportive spare-time activities, new impulses for a sense of community and team spirit among the young people and successful new aspects of the work of the Red Foxes, they were again an important step ahead.

But we have to discuss critically the view that the summer camps are the most important contribution of Rebell for the offensive for genuine socialism. Our guiding line in youth work is not to lower our sights ! We want to build up a mass youth organisation! The whole core is the self-transformation of the systematic rank and file work of Rebell in the offensive and the realization of the three basic interrelations between the party and the youth league: ideological-political leadership, practical cooperation and the promotion of the organizational independence. We had decided that the entire offensive for genuine socialism has to be oriented primarily to the youth. Here much more ideological-political fighting spirit and willingness to experiment have to be developed !

What do you want to give the comrades on their way?

We have to fight for each and every single vote - not just because of the vote, but because of the people, who often have to change their mode of thinking and their consciousness for casting this vote and for whom voting for the MLPD is often a first step to take part in future in the struggle for a new society in genuine socialism.

Thank you for the interview.

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