August 17, 2004: Mass Protests against "Hartz IV" and the Federal Government All Over Germany

Since August 2nd, fast growing mass protests against the government have been developing in Germany. While on August 2nd, there were only 20,000 demonstrators in a few cities, there were already 117 Monday demonstrations with more than 170,000 participants on August 16th. They are fighting an anti-people governmental package of laws called "Hartz IV."

The Monday demonstrations (same time and same place every Monday) take up the Monday demonstrations at the end of the 1980s in the former GDR which had a part in overthrowing the bureaucratic-capitalist Honecker regime, because those in power there could no longer rule in the old way and the people were no longer willing to live in the old way.

The law is named after Hartz, a leading manager of the Volkswagen corporation and  close adviser to Chancellor Schröder. It means: expropriation of the unemployed and their families, mass poverty especially of women and families with children, degradation and revelation of personal data adverse to data privacy protection, enforced eviction of people from their houses, forcing people to accept any job on any terms. It leads to the undermining of collective agreements with the lengthening of working hours, extension of the low wage sector without trade-union rights, wage cuts and more flexibilization of working hours. As a core of the crisis program of the Berlin government, called "Agenda 2010," the Hartz IV law is an essential step of the government to change the state into a service provider of the international monopolies.

The government and the monopolies want to present it as a law that only affects the unemployed. In reality, however, it is a general attack against the working-class movement. Its core is the division of workers and unemployed people to enforce  general wage reductions, worse working conditions and low wages on a broad level, using the pressure of the army of unemployed. The employers association BDI (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie - Federation of German Industries) already demands further restriction of the protection against dismissals and the establishment of special economic zones in East Germany and in the Ruhr area. All this is to assert a broad low-wage sector in the factories, without trade-union rights, with flexible working hours and lengthening of the weekly labor time.

In the struggle against it, the demand for the 30 hour workweek with full wage compensation is increasingly taken up; with it, mass unemployment can indeed be fought, at the expense of profits. The nationwide movement of the "Monday demonstrations" builds up on the signal which has been set by the struggle of the DaimlerChrysler workers a few weeks ago. They had not given in to blackmail of the DC corporation but declared: "They won't get through!" This is also the general mood at the Monday demonstrations: "We shall not accept this. Hartz IV must fall! And the government, too!"  

Many people who until now have hardly been politically active participate in the rallies and demonstrations. The organizational form of the "open microphone", proposed and tested by the MLPD in the active resistance against the NATO war in Yugoslavia – everybody can speak on an anti-fascist basis – is taken up everywhere. It provides the possibility of a democratic discussion on an equal footing and the struggle over the mode of thinking among the masses. Action committees are forming to organize the Monday demonstrations. It is a nationwide movement that expresses a new quality of working-class unity in East and West.

The MLPD and its members are a recognized and leading force organizing and developing active resistance. In many cities, well-known Marxist-Leninists are leading the rallies and demonstrations. Above all, the MLPD has a crucial share in that the Monday demonstrations could become a nationally coordinated and militant mass movement. The national newspapers and TV report on it. The current Monday demonstrations signal a general change of mood among the masses and constitute a culmination in the development of class consciousness in transition to the working-class offensive and active mass resistance against the government.

The government did not succeed in splitting the workers and the unemployed; increasingly, blue- and white-collar workers as well as trade-union bodies of shop-floor representatives participate. All parties represented in the federal parliament, including the revisionist successor party of the SED, the PDS (Party of Democratic Socalism) try to make the masses comply with some changes of Hartz IV. The plan of the Berlin government to get rid of the anti Hartz IV movement by making minor concessions has been totally frustrated. At the demonstrations, people shout self-consciously: "We shall be demonstrating until Hartz IV is out of the way. If the government is determined to keep it, it will have the same fate as the Honecker regime!" With the slogan "We are the people!," the issue of the system is brought up, and intense discussions about an alternative to capitalism and the perspective of genuine socialism are developing.

For the MLPD, it is crucial that the development of organized mass resistance goes along with accelerated party building of the MLPD and a lasting shift of the relative strength with the revisionist PDS. To that purpose, the MLPD develops the movement "Down with Hartz IV – The country needs new politicians! – Strengthen the MLPD!"

The significance of the struggle against Hartz IV and the Berlin government goes beyond Germany. The Berlin government plays the role of a pioneer in Europe. A successful struggle for the withdrawal of Hartz IV and the fall of the federal government through a mass struggle would be an encouraging signal of an upswing of the workers' and peoples' struggles in Europe and beyond. Every struggle in an individual country is strengthened through international solidarity and cross-border coordination and development of the struggles against the attacks of the international monopolies, their governments and international institutions!

Dear friends, colleagues and comrades,

We request you to spread this information. We know that in other countries, too, similar programs for cuts exist and broad protests emerge against them. Mutual information, learning from each other and practical international solidarity are important. Messages of solidarity in which you share your experiences can be spread at the Monday demonstrations. They are a contribution to deepen proletarian internationalism and the feeling of workers and masses of belonging together internationally in their comparable struggle against the state and the monopolies.

Messages of solidarity to pass on to the Monday demonstrations to:

Daily and, if necessary, hourly latest information at:

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