Germany

The German government is being forced to ration hot water; street lights are being dimmed; and special heated halls are being set up for those who can’t afford central heating – in a country where winter temperatures regularly drop well below freezing. Many Germans are stocking up on wood to burn for warmth, as many predict that gas supplies will completely or nearly run out by early 2023. These are the grim prospects faced by the working class in the economic powerhouse of Europe.

This year, the national congress of Der Funke (the German section of the International Marxist Tendency) was once again able to take place in person from 26-28 May. As last year’s congress took place online due to the coronavirus pandemic, comrades were all the more motivated and excited to meet in Berlin for a lively discussion after such a long wait. The congress was a great success and marks an important step in the building of the forces of revolutionary Marxism in Germany.

The German capitalist class and its government are using Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine as an opportunity to advance their own militarist and imperialist agenda. The German Marxists of Der Funke expose the repulsive hypocrisy and warmongering of their ruling class, and make an appeal to combat the scourge of war with international solidarity. As the dominant power in the EU and a willing henchman in the service of the interests of US imperialism through NATO, the German ruling class has played a central role in the formation and escalation of this long-running conflict in Ukraine.

In a referendum on 26 September, a million people in Berlin voted for the expropriation of the major landlords. In the so-called “Deutsche Wohnen & co enteigen” (DWE) referendum (which in English translates as “Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen and co.”), 56 percent of voters voted to expropriate 240,000 apartments owned by the biggest profiteering landlords, including Deutsche Wohnen, with 39 percent voting against. This is the biggest breakthrough in the class struggle in Germany for decades. It gives a flavour of the militant mood building among workers and youth.

The results of the 20th German federal election on 26 September show a continuing process of polarisation in Germany. Public opinion has never been so volatile, voters have never been so undecided, and parliament has never been so fragmented. The bourgeois-democratic political system of Germany is in crisis, but no class-struggle alternative was to be found in this election.

Heavy rain has caused severe flooding in several regions of Central Europe. Scores of people have died, many have been injured, and even more have lost their belongings. It will take years to repair the damage. Climate change has made extreme weather events like this more likely, which in turn expose the mismanagement of society. The bosses and bourgeois politicians – who failed to prepare for this disaster, despite the warnings; and who undermined emergency services through austerity – are squarely to blame.

For a long time, the CDU/CSU was considered the most stable conservative party in Europe. But the battle now raging in public for candidacy for the chancellorship between Armin Laschet (CDU) and Markus Söder (CSU) has shown that this central pillar of German capitalism is riven with deep cracks. Laschet has prevailed, but stability is gone.

The German federal constitutional court has ruled the rent cap in Berlin as unconstitutional, bringing to an end the Berlin rent cap experiment. This means that Berlin tenants will have to dig deeper into their pockets to be able to afford a roof over their heads. The German left-wing party DIE LINKE and the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) with its eight member unions now have to go on the offensive!

Over the weekend of 9-11 April 2021, Der Funke, the German section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), held its national congress. We intently discussed the perspectives for the class struggle, and the tasks facing our revolutionary organisation. Although circumstances meant the congress had to take place online, the mood was militant and enthusiastic.

With the next federal election to the Bundestag on 26 September 2021 only seven months away, the German Greens are preparing for a possible return to the federal government and a coalition with the CDU/CSU, Chancellor Angela Merkel's party alliance. Founded 41 years ago out of the environmental, women and anti-war movements, the party has long since become a modern bourgeois liberal party of the 21st century, eclipsing the traditional bourgeois liberals of the FDP.

For decades, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s German Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has been considered the largest, most-stable and most-influential bourgeois party in Europe. But the CDU is now in crisis and subject to a process of polarisation and emaciation. The election of Armin Laschet as the new party leader does nothing to change this.

The following article was written at the end of February and the first days of March, just before the world was hit by the crash of the stock markets on the 9 March and the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This sharp change in the situation obviously also changes the plans of the ruling class. But the underlying economic and political tendencies at play are still the same, although the issue of climate change obviously was pushed to the background. In the case of the Green parties, their character as parties of the ruling class is even-further confirmed in these times of crisis.

While the Italian government has closed non-essential factories, production continues unabated in Germany, irrespective of the dangers to workers’ health.

In its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the German ruling class has shown it prioritises the preservation of profits over the wellbeing of working people. Against their hypocritical talk of “national unity”, we say: fight the virus with socialist measures – along with the diseased capitalist system itself!