December 1, 2005: It doesn’t matter how the wind is blowing, but how you set the sails!

Red Flag Interview with the Chairman of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD), Stefan Engel

stefan-engel.jpgRed Flag: With the election of Angela Merkel on November 22, a grand coalition took office to manage the affairs of the monopolies. Has this led to a stabilization of the situation?

 

Stefan Engel: I think that with the swearing in of Angela Merkel as the new chancellor the open political crisis that existed since May 22 has, for the time being, come to an end. The open political crisis mainly includes the inability to rule. That is definitely no more the case in such an acute form. The mass media are insistently appealing to people to give the new government a chance before finding fault with it so soon. The employers’ associations and the trade union centers have already signaled their support of this appeal. Present opinion polls confirm that the approval of the top politicians of the coalition, Merkel and Muentefering, has actually risen. All of this is suitable for giving the impression of a stabilization of the government - which may have some effect on the masses temporarily.

 

However, a lasting stabilization is out of the question. It is not by chance that top politicians of CDU/CSU and SPD are conjuring up the threat of a failure of the grand coalition government with unforeseeable consequences. The new minister of the interior, Schaeuble for example, foresees great „turmoil for the entire community" in case this happens. The new SPD chairman Matthias Platzek also expressed his deep anxiety about a failure of this government. In an interview with the daily newspaper „Frankfurter Rundschau", he said that he would prefer not to imagine all the implications this could have. If we assume that the purpose of the early elections was to lastingly stabilize the situation again for those in power, we must say that they have not achieved this purpose.

 

We must not forget that the starting point of the grand coalition was the situation in which the process of the broad masses detaching themselves from the bourgeois parties, from parliamentarians and its institutions, had reached its peak. The national elections in September 2005 clearly showed that this process has turned into a downright erosion of the mass basis of the dictatorship of the monopolies and the parties supporting it. This means that presently the interplay of government and opposition, roles which were taken over by the two large bourgeois parties SPD and CDU/CSU alternately, does not work any more. This, of course, is an immense weakening of the system of parliamentary deception as the present main method of the rule of the dictatorship of the monopolies. Despite all kinds of propaganda and the policy of class collaboration among the government, the trade unions and the employers’ associations, they will not succeed in disguising the anti-people character of this new coalition in the long run.

 

Of course, the broad masses will first have to familiarize themselves with the new situation and gain experience with the new government. However, the class-conscious core and the people who had consciously struggled against the old government will not accept superficial answers. This became evident in the independently organized mass demonstration in Berlin on 5 November in which 15,000 people participated. Not only the number of people, but also the great attractiveness, the self-confidence regarding the content, the stabile and trustworthy structures of direct democracy, the growing solidarity, the resolution, the temper and the culture of this movement were an unmistakable signal to the new government that active resistance against the anti-people policy will continue.

 

Red Flag: Which programmatic line is to be expected of the grand coalition in detail?

 

Stefan Engel: The program of the grand coalition are an extension of the attacks of the Schroeder/Fischer administration on the broad masses of people. In a demagogic way it gives the impression that all strata of the population will be „equally" affected by the cuts. However, if Merkel’s Christmas bonus and that of a small official are cut - Merkel will still have 5,400 Euro left and the small official 600 Euro. It is the justice which Anatole France described with the following words: „The law makes all people equal in a sublime way: it forbids all people to sleep under bridges, to beg or to steal bread - the poor people as well as the rich ones." („The Red Lily", 1894). In reality it steps up the program of redistribution in favor of the monopolies and at the expense of the broad masses of people. Correspondingly, the president of the Federal Association of German Industry said he was „pleasantly surprised" about the coalition agreement. Actually, he cannot be so surprised regarding the fact that the government is essentially doing what the employers’ associations were already calling for on 29 September and was published by the Institute of German Industry as a „schedule for growth and employment".

 

Hypocritically the government is passing off this program as a „ program for saving money", and, in line with the coalition negotiations, it pretends to have discovered a budget deficit amounting to 60 billion. However, this empty phrase about saving is already so worn-out that it is hardly ever accepted by the broad masses of people.

 

For the masses this „schedule" means, for example: tax increases for the masses, no wage increases, the raising of the retirement age, a further deterioration of the conditions of unemployed people, especially of young people receiving unemployment benefits, an enormous weakening of the protection against unfair dismissals, severe cuts in the health care system, in public transportation and education. The government intends to drastically push up the privatization of public services.

 

The VAT increase will take 24 billion Euro from the masses of people and will burden especially small households. On the other hand, the „taxes for rich people", adopted as a social fig-leaf, will bring in 1.2 billion Euro at the most. This calculation does not even include the numerous loopholes and only the regular income of the rich will be taxed, not their assets, for example their shares!

 

In addition, there are plans for the further dismantling of civil democratic rights and liberties like the intended deployment of the Federal Armed Forces at home, the surveillance of the highway traffic and the alleged „persecution of criminals" by means of the toll installations or the prolongation of the running time of nuclear power stations.

 

Red Flag: How does the method of the Merkel/Muentefering administration differ from that of the Schroeder/Fischer administration?

 

Stefan Engel: A striking feature in the inaugural speech of chancellor Merkel is the fact that she hardly mentions the massive attacks on the living conditions of the broad masses at all. Neither does she says a single word about the intention of the government to fight mass unemployment effectively. During the election campaign, Merkel still claimed that employment has to take priority. Now she doesn’t say a word about it. This can only mean: the government does not even intend to effectively reduce mass unemployment.

 

It is obvious that the government is operating very cautiously in order to restore the necessary political stability in the country. In her inaugural speech Merkel paraphrased all this as the „policy of small steps". She also uses the common set phrases of the Schroeder/Fischer government when she tries to pass off the massive attacks on social benefits and the achievements of the broad masses as an „alliance for jobs" and „measures for the defense of the social state". This policy of class collaboration has failed miserably, especially in the factories and has been increasingly disclosed as a lie by the big movements like the one against Hartz IV.

 

The proposal that the entire population should unite to solve the national tasks„commonly", just like the grand coalition of CDU and SPD has done, is obviously the main method of the Merkel administration. However, this Fata Morgana of a common ground will be destroyed by the class reality of state monopoly capitalism in Germany.

 

The international monopolies are engaged in a downright battle of mutual annihilation, which they are ruthlessly fighting on the backs of the broad masses of people in connection with an intensified exploitation in the factories. In this battle of annihilation, millions of jobs will be sacrificed in the future with open mass layoffs, the conventional social systems will be rigorously smashed and everything will be geared to increasing maximum profits of the international monopolies and their efforts to get a dominating position on the world market.

 

The government can hold its smooth speeches with impunity only as long as its policy has no immediate and concrete effects on the lives of the masses. We will observe how these soap bubbles will burst and how even broader strata of the population will join in active resistance against this government policy on the instructions of the monopolies. The grand coalition, as well as the grand unity among the government, the rightist trade union leaders and the monopoly’s associations will be called into question at that moment when the masses realize what comprehensive attacks on their living and working conditions they are expected to accept. Insofar you can bet your bottom dollar that the policy of the unity of all social forces for the support the monopoly course is doomed to failure.

 

Red Flag: What are the most important political conclusions that have to be drawn from the formation of the government?

 

Stefan Engel: After the bourgeois monopoly parties have combined the most important reactionary forces in society for their crisis management program, it has to be opposed by a superior force. In order to establish this superiority in struggle, the MLPD has to do everything possible to stabilize the militant opposition against the new government policy, to develop its quality with respect to the new requirements and to broaden it. To achieve this, we will need much patience and persuasiveness. We must also not allow ourselves to be held up by prejudice or the behavior of some sectarian or opportunist authorities. We must always keep in mind that such situations bring about a lot of changes and that people with whom we could not cooperate up till now will suddenly become ready for joint action. Because, if they are honest, they also realize that an extra-parliamentary opposition that is split is fighting a lost cause from the very beginning. Not to forget that the MLPD has to learn new things as well and must examine the diverse forms of cooperation on the basis of the common struggle.

 

In short: It doesn’t matter how the wind is blowing, but how you set the sails!

 

The initiation and development of the working class struggles in the enterprises is the focal point in this process. The continuation of the transition to the working class offensive is ultimately decisive for the quality of the struggle against the government. This transition of the working class offensive on a broad front could not be held up with the elections either. Corporate-wide struggles, strikes and demonstrations beyond national borders are becoming more and more normal features. This expresses a significant development of class consciousness that points to the future of an internationally waged class struggle.

 

With the movement of the Monday demonstrations, the working class and the broad masses of people also already have an appropriate platform from which the militant opposition against the grand coalition in Berlin can operate. We should not drive ourselves crazy by a temporary stagnation of the growth of the movement or a decline in the number of participants here and there. There is a great potential for the emergence of a broad extra-parliamentary opposition. With its attacks on a broad scale, the government is also creating the material basis for a broad people’s movement with a greater unity.

 

Of course, this has to be combined with the necessary independent discussion about the basis of government policy, the course of the struggle, the correct forms of organizations, as well as the social alternatives. The last point is especially important, since the grand coalition wants to let its policy appear to have no alternative. The lasting tendency to the left among the masses also comprises a comprehensive discussion about two roads: Do we have to take course towards genuine socialism with all our forces or will illusions about the possibility of reforming capitalism be revived? This question has to be settled objectively and convincingly and this discussion is part of a policy of alliance. It has to be dealt with in an increasing number of issues and more new forces have to be included in this process.

 

Red Flag: What do you understand by a broad alliance of the militant opposition against the government and how can it be brought about?

 

Stefan Engel: It is necessary that the various movements and struggles unite in a common, militant, extra-parliamentary opposition against the government. This militant opposition may not be directly or indirectly dependent on one of the ruling parties nor be under their control. And, in the end, it must attack the entire Merkel/Muentefering administration. Of course, this means that the willingness of the various forces to form alliances has to be strengthened. The Monday demonstrations are faced with the growing need to take up more and more social issues apart from the struggle against the Hartz IV laws. This need and this willingness have become apparent during the last months. The struggle of the pensioners has to be combined with the struggle against mass unemployment and the reform of the health care system. The struggles of the workers in the factories also have to take up the social issues of the dismantling of social achievements, the destruction of the social insurance systems and the dismantling of democratic rights and liberties. This is an organic process which cannot be directed from a central place, but which has to grow from below and which, at some time, will lead to certain common forms of struggle, structures and actions. However, as said before, this is a process of convincing people, of building confidence, of gaining experience with the new government. It is also a question of making the experience in struggle that only a superior power is able to stand up to the government or to prevent that it can push through its anti-people policy. With all these changes in society we have to carry out this work with unlimited patience. Anything else will lead nowhere at all.

Red Flag: You just returned from a trip to Latin America. Where did this journey take you?

Stefan Engel: My trip took me to Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Columbia. In these countries there are important experiences in class struggle which we have to evaluate and assimilate for our theoretical organ, Revolutionärer Weg (Revolutionary Way) 32-34 which deals with the strategy and tactics for preparing the international revolution. At the same time, Marxist-Leninist organizations exist in these countries which, like us, are working on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and Mao-Tsetung Thought and are closely collaborating with us in the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations. The practical and theoretical exchange of experience is an important method for developing class solidarity beyond national borders and for struggling together against imperialism and for socialism.

Red Flag: What are the important insights you gained from this trip?

Stefan Engel: In Argentina the PCR made a critical and self-critical analysis of the Argentinazo in the year 2001. The people’s uprising against the government was able to force several anti-people governments to resign within a short period of time, but at that time efforts to involve the organized workers’ movement comprehensively and in a leading role did not succeed. Meanwhile there is a wave of independent and partly union strikes which are actively supported by the movement of the unemployed and have put new life into the spirit of class struggle – not least as a result of the debate within the PCR. These strikes are especially successful and have a rate of success of nearly 100 percent. They are mostly independently initiated and tolerated by the union leaders afterwards. Their first priority is a wage increase to 1.800 pesos per month, this is about 500 Euro, and the introduction of a 6-hour-day as a main method to fight mass unemployment. It is remarkable that the subway workers of Buenos Aires were the first to enforce the 6-hour-day with full wage compensation in their struggle.

We also visited the Class Struggle Movement (CCC) which had supported the Argentinazo decisively. Many, many thousands of people are organized in this organization – in La Matanza (a district of Buenos Aires) 4,000 people alone. They were able to force the government to provide 2,000 working places there, which are distributed and controlled by the CCC. We also visited two of more than 250 occupied factories which are now independently led by the workers without an entrepreneur. These workers are making the important experience that the production is also running without a capitalist (and even much better!) even if this is, of course, not a fundamental solution, especially as their economic relations remain within the framework of capitalism. These are all manifestations of a revolutionary process of ferment which are running down a little bit under the impression of 9 percent economic growth during the last two years, but the embers of the Argentinazo are still glowing.

In Bolivia we informed ourselves directly about the big struggles, e.g. the war over water in Cochabamba in the year 2000 or the struggle over natural gas in La Paz. We could get a very vivid impression of the unstable situation in Bolivia. Bolivia is facing new presidential elections after the last president had to resign under the pressure of the mass struggles last summer. For years, hardly any government has been able to hold out for longer than one year, then it had to resign under the pressure of economic and political mass struggles. Like in other Latin American countries, those in power try to take the wind out of the sails of the revolutionary process of ferment with left reformist governments. For example, Evo Morales is standing as a candidate in Bolivia, a union leader of the coca peasants appearing as a militant populist, who partly participated in the mass struggles. So he won certain respect among the people. At the same time, however, he pursues a reformist program to alleviate social problems. The masses have relatively clear positions against the policy of privatization, the sell-out of their national resources to the international monopolies, but also of a government which is really making policies in the interest of the people. A clear leadership is still missing which unites these mass struggles and leads them to revolutionary social change. That is because the formerly strongest Marxist-Leninist party of Latin America was subverted by revisionism and today is a bourgeois-reactionary force. But it cannot be overseen that the new party building of the Marxist-Leninist party is making its way!

In Peru, too, the left is beginning to reconstitute itself after the great setbacks under the Fujimori government. The party building of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Peru is of particular significance. After the revisionist degeneration of the PC del Peru (Patria Roja) and the failure of the sectarian guerrilla struggle of Sendero Luminoso, the conclusion to reconstruct the Marxist-Leninist Party is of decisive significance. We met with leaders of the miners, of peasant, women and student organizations, with professors who are all ready to be involved in this new party building. They all demand training, education and clarity. In this connection the book "Twilight of the gods over the ‘new world order’" is meeting great interest in Bolivia, Peru and Columbia, too. In Argentina it was already published last year and in Bolivia and Columbia an edition is being prepared. In Peru I held two seminars with 65 participants about this book.

The situation in Columbia is very complicated. On the one hand, there is a strong guerrilla, on the other hand, 30,000 fascist paramilitary forces are terrorizing the country. They include criminal, fascist, armed persons who terrorize the people, the left, the union movement, the women’s movement and do not shrink back from committing murder. They are working at the order of the cocaine Mafia and the ruling landlords, who control the country in close connection with the US-imperialists. With Uribe, a leading person behind the paramilitary forces is sitting on the president’s chair and is pretending to be democratic. Since the year 2000 alone there were 250 massacres by the paramilitary forces in Columbia.

Under these circumstances, party building and developing class struggle are very difficult. Despite that there was a general strike in October against government plans to integrate Columbia in the free-trade zone with the US.

In Latin America it is currently not possible to implement the expansionist plans of US imperialism by means of a free-trade zone in South America. A conference in Mar del Plata on 5 November provoked mass demonstrations with more than 300,000 people in Argentina in which even Chaves, the president of Venezuela, took part. The government conference being held at the same time had to be broken off without any result. Bush’s project of a free-trade zone in South America has failed for the time being after hardly any government is following his project.

The process of transnational revolutionary ferment is conspicuous and shows that Latin America has again become a center of the struggle against imperialism and for socialism in the world.

 

Red Flag: Those results are very exciting and have a great significance for the future! However, let’s turn back to Germany. In the meantime, the 4th plenary session of the Central Committee has evaluated the focus of the work of the past months, the offensive of genuine socialism in connection with the nationwide candidacy for the elections. What conclusions did you draw?

 

Stefan Engel: The offensive of genuine socialism in connection with the nationwide candidacy for the elections was the correct and successful response to the open political crisis of May 2005. Of course, it was also a test of the fighting power and ability of the MLPD. Within only six weeks time, our entire party work was tuned to this election campaign in an very intensive, critical and self-critical discussion. The MLPD was the only party not represented in the national parliament Bundestag, that succeeded in collecting the necessary 45,000 support signatures in all 16 federal states. During the election campaign, our members and friends held about one million personal discussions. Our TV and video spots reached an audience of about 10.5 million people. We put up 50,000 posters in 350 German cities, distributed 1.8 million election newspapers, conducted 185 open-air discussions, rallies, etc., etc.

 

No other party in German conducted such an intensive election campaign on the streets. With our 45,166 votes in the entire country, we were able to obtain the respectable result that we aimed at. If you take the entire number of voters into account who split their votes and gave one of them to the MLPD, the class-militant potential that such election results reflect is much higher. Probably about 55,000 to 60,000 people in the entire country gave at least one of their votes to the MLPD. These are many times more than in previous elections.

 

Taking into account the broad manipulation of public opinion and the various election obstructions like the 5%-clause, the media boycott, etc., it was foreseeable that our role in society would become noticeable mostly in the indirect effects of our work. Our work, for example, contributed a great deal to the good results of the Left Party. In a large number of the best constituencies of the Left Party, the MLPD does an intensive work among the rank-and-file. In West Germany that includes 25 to 30 of the best constituencies of the Left Party.

 

The MLPD’s election campaign also set important trends in the discussion taking place in society. For example, we were the only party to propagate the 30-hour workweek with full wage compensation broadly, which has come into the center of discussion in the trade unions in the meantime.

 

You should also not overlook the fact that, at no time whatsoever, did the MLPD limit its work to purely election activities. It continued and extended its intensive rank-and-file work in factories and neighborhoods. The MLPD also assumed its responsibility in the movement of the Monday demonstrations, promoted new initiatives in environmental issues and municipal politics and participated intensively in various antifascist activities.

 

The most important result with significance for the future is definitely the fact that the MLPD succeeded in beginning its work of accelerating and extending party building. We founded 150 voter initiative groups in which 3,600 members participated. They were an organizational form in which the party conducted its election campaign together with a large number of people who were not organized in the MLPD. This promoted a process of mutual learning. New activists developed, assumed responsibility and, in many cases, surpassed themselves.

 

We succeeded in accelerating MLPD membership growth considerably. Since the MLPD’s 7th Party Congress, we have already won 20 percent new members. That is the highest membership growth that the MLPD has ever experienced within such a period of time. According to figures which are still incomplete, 6 to 8 percent new members were won between June 1st and the beginning of October 2005 alone. It is noticeable that 91 percent of the new members since the 7th Party Congress come from the working class. The stability of the party could be further increased. The number of people leaving the party in relation to the new members could be reduced considerably since the 7th Party Congress.

 

By means of sponsoring activities and winning over organizers who concentrate fully on building up new party units, we could extend our party work to 200 new cities during the election campaign.

 

We could keep the costs of the election campaign very low. We had a budget estimated at 350,000 Euro, but we actually spent only 275,000 Euro, despite the fact that we extended our work. Until 16 August 2005, we already collected 136,849 Euro for our donation campaign. In the meantime, 220,000 Euro were donated for the work of the MLPD by more than 10,000 people. However, there is criticism that the financial work is apolitical sometimes. It is necessary to give more emphasis to the educational aspect of financial work and to achieve a real success with our goal of 500,000 Euro in our donation campaign. That is important for the financial independence and fighting capacity of the party. We have to be able to lead a campaign at any time!

 

All that shows that the MLPD could make important progress in breaking through the relative isolation lastingly, but it also clearly showed the growing potential of the socialist alternative MLPD.

 

Red Flag: What was the secret behind this successful work?

 

Stefan Engel: We were able to conduct the most successful campaign in our party’s history. This was only on grounds of an intensive process of self-change within our party. That included reaching unity on the procedure and making decisions democratically and quickly, redeployment our forces without hesitation, fighting spirit, enthusiasm, courage, readiness to take risks, the willingness to make sacrifices, a spirit of self-confidence in face of the political opponent, as well as confidence in the masses and in the party, even the willingness to polarize and accept blows; a rapid pace, accuracy, thorough work and much more. In particular, it expresses a high degree of ideological-political unity within the party. Such an offensive is not compatible with ultra-left wishful thinking nor with timidity or the fear of defeat. That all has to do with the inner attitude, the will and the ability that is necessary to lead the proletariat to the decisive class battles.

 

Red Flag: Were there also shortcomings?

 

Stefan Engel: Of course. Such concentrated rank-and-file work has the advantage that it also shows us very clearly the shortcomings we still have.

 

It is very natural that when you readjust work to the offensive and develop a new role in society this collides, at least at the beginning, with various habits and accustomed ways of doing things after 30 years of party work. The plenary session of the CC made us far more conscious of what such a change of pace in party building actually means in the struggle against political conservatism, long-established habits or even self-isolation.

 

We are now experiencing a debate in society about what conclusions must be drawn from the increasingly crisis-ridden character of capitalism. The revolutionary answer sees that the possibilities for overcoming the capitalist system and building up socialism are maturing. The petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, on the other hand, shrinks from the intensification of social contradictions, fears the future development and longs for opportunities to "tame" "unbounded capitalism". Or it becomes very skeptical toward the masses and falls into a deep depression. Of course, all of this has its effects on the party. The education and self-education for proletarian checking and self-checking of the cadres gains utmost importance for leading this necessary struggle between the proletarian and the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking successfully.

 

This struggle over the mode of thinking is most developed among the youth. Our poster "A future for the youth!" was completely justified and demonstrated self-confidence. Our youth work was an important trump card in our election campaign. Our Rebels were active in many places, we encountered new young people and they were very enthusiastic about the offensive. The masses of young people want to rebel against the existing conditions. However, this is easier said than done. The entire youth culture maintains that rebellion is "uncool", that you have to conform and not to stick out or cause offense, just relax. That exerts a lot of pressure on the Rebels who have decided to join the struggle. A lot more education for a world outlook is demanded of the party.

 

It is no coincidence that the core of our youth work is the organization of the living school of the proletarian mode of thinking. Young people and the Rebels have to learn to struggle through things, to overcome problems and to consider opposition to be normal and enlivening! The Rebels have to overcome false fear in public, especially with regard to their friends, and be proud to be Rebels. The youth league has to learn to develop independent political activity and to organize systematic rank-and-file work among the masses of young people.

 

The party’s youth work has to be completely directed to this goal. That has only just begun.

 

The 4th plenary session of the CC pointed out that the greatest weak point of our work is the general tendency to neglect the work in the interrelation of the ueberparteilich self-run organizations of the masses.

 

The 7th Party Congress already pointed out the danger of separating accelerated party building from the increased promotion of the self-run organizations of the masses. The living conditions of the masses, the accelerated course of those in power against the workers and the people urgently require that the trade unions, the women’s, youth and environmental movement be strengthened considerably. The working class with its allies can only go into the strategic offensive, if there is an interrelation between a considerably strengthened MLPD and ueberparteilich self-run organizations that have developed into genuine real mass organizations. The quality of our work depends on the degree to which the interrelation of the party building of the MLPD and the promotion of the self-run organizations of the masses is developing at any time. The masses can only cope with the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking if they are organized!

 

I am also dissatisfied with the popularization of genuine socialism in the Red Flag. A number of readers have justifiably criticized a tendency toward petty-bourgeois socialism propaganda in some Red Flag articles. Popularizing Marxism-Leninism does not mean making concessions to modern anti-communism. It aims instead at helping the masses to come to grips with modern anti-communism. I would like to see more critical-self-critical engagement of our members and among the readers of the Red Flag on this issue.

 

Red Flag: In an interview a year ago, you elaborated the development of the transition from the first to the second stage of class struggle. How has this development continued?

 

Stefan Engel: On December 15, 2004, I answered the following: "In the relative calm of the class struggle, which is how we defined the current stage of a non-revolutionary situation at the beginning of the 1970s, a mix of a process of ferment, of agitation, destabilization and rebellion has visibly come to light, which seems in its overall development to be irreversible with view to the current economic and political background."

We are still in the first, non-revolutionary stage of class struggle. But the transition to the second stage, the acutely revolutionary situation is in an advanced stage and has been promoted by the open political crisis.

 

The petty-bourgeois-reformist and petty-bourgeois parliamentary mode of thinking have lost their effect considerably. The instability of the existing conditions has taken on strategic character. All of that is summed up in the realization that new possibilities for the development of proletarian class-consciousness, for the development of the working-class offensive and for accelerated party building have developed.

 

A process of the transition from the first to the second stage of class struggle already began with the awakening of class consciousness on a broad scale since the struggles to defend the continuation of wage payment in case of illness in 1996. However, this is still taking place on a non-revolutionary basis and will develop to a revolutionary process of ferment at some time or another. The transition from the first to the second stage of class struggle is organic and not abrupt and will take place in phases. There will be regression and progression, the movement will develop in breadth and depth and it is important that the process coincides with the development of the MLPD to a party of the masses. The transition to the working-class offensive is the leading factor in this process. In any case, the long ongoing political crisis since May of this year has accelerated and deepened this process of the transition to the second stage.

 

Red Flag: What are the next tasks in party work?

 

Stefan Engel: At the moment, it is urgently necessary that we consolidate the many thousands of new contacts and connections that the party developed in the last months and organize the most advanced ones in the MLPD. That cannot be done from one day to the next. Convincing people in depth is the basis and this must be put into the center of party work at the present time. The development of the MLPD to the party of the masses is closely connected to the development of class consciousness and the development of class consciousness, in turn, is closely connected to the development of militant self-run organizations of the masses.

 

Politically we want to run a campaign against the new government in connection with the participation in the state parliament elections in Saxony-Anhalt. We will thereby evaluate the first experiences with the Merkel/Muentefering government and draw conclusions for strengthening the militant opposition and Marxist-Leninist party building.

We want to further accelerate the positive process of building up the MLPD in Saxony-Anhalt and aim at reaching respectable results in the state parliaments elections. For this purpose the entire organization will support our comrades in Saxony-Anhalt in one way or another.

 

After that, we are going to dedicate ourselves mainly to the work in factories and trade unions and to building up new factory groups in order to promote the process of the transition to the workers’ offensive. We can expect militant collective bargaining rounds in which not only wages are the issue, but also the defense of the 35-hour workweek with full wage compensation. It is still an important goal to achieve workers’ unity in East and West and push through equal wages for equal work in all of Germany. In the fall we will concentrate our work for a few months on Marxist-Leninist work among women.

 

In all of these tasks we will put special emphasis on developing our youth work as a common task of the entire party which points the way forward.

 

Most important, however, is to continue our offensive for genuine socialism in order to bring as many people as possible nearer to our socialist goal. Ultimately the progress of the movement for social change in Germany will be decided by the degree of our success in winning many new people for socialism.

 

Red Flag: Thank you very much for the interview!

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