December 15, 2004: Organize, organize, organize - the decisive maxim of the present time!

"Rote-Fahne" Interview with Stefan Engel, Chairman of the MLPD

stefan-engel.jpgStefan Engel is the chairman of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD). The trained fitter, born in 1954, is active today as a free-lance journalist. Since 1974 he has been a trade union member, today in the trade union Ver.di (service sector). He is the author of several books dealing with problems and issues of the class struggle, of the struggle for the liberation of women and of Marxism-Leninism.

The MLPD has experienced an eventful year! For example, one has the impression that never before has it received such widespread media coverage as in the year 2004!

That is true indeed! The MLPD undoubtedly was also in the focal point of events in the significant workers' and people's struggles at Siemens, DaimlerChrysler or in the Monday demonstrations. That was plain to see for everyone. For years, the MLPD was totally ignored by the mass media. This method lost its credibility and proved to be impracticable. It also proved to be unsuitable for maintaining the relative isolation of the MLPD from the standpoint of those in power. Therefore, the media have switched to public reporting.

According to an incomplete survey, the MLPD was mentioned in 182 articles of the nationwide bourgeois press from mid-August to the end of October, that means an average of 18 times per week. The total circulation of the media recorded here reached at least 10 million copies. In addition, there were a few television and radio reports. In contrast to this, the MLPD was mentioned only 13 times in nationwide newspapers during the first half of 2003 and it was not at all presented on television.

However, this was combined with an unprecedented anti-communist smear campaign against the MLPD. It was controlled and coordinated by so-called "task centers", which the government set up at the climax of the movement of the Monday demonstrations after August 23 at a national, as well as at a state level.

These task centers coordinated the work of the police, the secret services and the media against the "threats to the Federal Republic of Germany", which they made out especially in the Monday demonstrations and the Marxist-Leninists who were working there. Up to now, such task centers were set up only in the event of natural disasters and terror attacks. For the first time, they now directed their activities against the protest against the Schroeder/Fischer government and the influence of the MLPD.

The main lie that has been disseminated by the secret services is the allegation that the MLPD is "manipulating" the mass movements and "misusing" them for party political purposes. The alliances in which the MLPD participated for local elections were simply declared to be "camouflage organizations of the MLPD". At the Opel strike in Bochum, "Focus" magazine even reported about the MLPD "ringleaders" who are a danger to the public: "In no other plant could two dozen rabble-rousers radicalize a workforce of 10,000 workers." (October 25, 2004)

The shift to an anti-communist smear campaign aimed at undermining the solidarity between the MLPD and the militant and class conscious core of the industrial workers, as well as the mass movements against the Hartz IV laws. This, however, has failed. But the smear campaign could temporarily lead people who had not yet gotten to know the MLPD personally in word and deed to become insecure. This is one of the main reasons for the momentary decline in the number of participants in the Monday demonstration movement.
This has also had an effect on the local elections in Gelsenkirchen. While in the opinion polls four weeks before the elections the personal electoral alliance AUF Gelsenkirchen reached 6 to 7 per cent of the votes, the actual election results were only 3 per cent.

Modern anti-communism still remains to be a major problem for the development of class consciousness and also of the mass movement?

This is right and this is undoubtedly still often underestimated by our comrades. It will surely take some time until the broad masses of people will cope with the effect of modern anti-communism. We have to put ourselves in people's positions. For generations the anti-communist propaganda has been at the center of the ideological and social dispute. Since the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union, the GDR and in China, there have been no more social models that could counter this anti-communism with a positive outlook of equal weight.

Since the collapse of the COMECON and the fall of the wall in 1989, socialism has been declared to be at its historical end. At our 4th Party Congress in 1991, we therefore made the assessment that it would take years, maybe even decades, until the distorted image of socialism among the masses would be rectified and a new upswing in the struggle for socialism would begin.

But hasnt the negative attitude towards socialism changed? For example, think of the opinion poll that was recently published in the Data Report 2004, in which, for the first time, the majority of people in East and West declared that socialism is an idea worth aspiring to  and that was only badly implemented.

More and more people are actually seeking a social alternative and there is a growing openness to a socialist alternative. This poses no problem for those in power as long as this is not combined with the concrete ideas, political alternatives and forms of organizations of the masses. For this reason, they are trying to stigmatize the MLPD in particular by means of the discrediting argument of "Stalinism" in order to build up a wall of reservations, negative feelings and anxiety against our arguments and our comrades. If you ask people about the real meaning of "Stalinism", they usually dont know more to say than that you just have be careful, because the most evil goals and intentions may be concealed behind convincing arguments and sympathetic people.

In reality, "Stalinism" is the invention of bourgeois ideologues, to be precise, of the bourgeois ideologues of Khrushchev, who since 1956 had tried to justify their turning away from Marxism-Leninism and had brought about the restoration of capitalism in the Soviet Union.

The term "Stalinism" maintains that socialism under Lenin and Stalin was a dictatorship deprived of all democratic rights and liberties and that the human dignity of the people living in the socialist countries was treated with contempt. The accusation of "Stalinism" equated the socialist Soviet Union with the fascist system and has so provided anti-communism  an important argument in the working class movement (from firsthand experience, so to speak). These outrageous accusations have nothing to do with reality.

Until the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU in 1956, when the Khrushchev clique seized power, the merits of Stalin and the Soviet Union were undisputed within the working class movement, even far beyond the communist movement. What happened afterwards was a historical misrepresentation and defamation unprecedented in history.

The MLPD will further fight against any anti-communist distortion of socialism and propagate socialism, its achievements and successes. At the same time, the MLPD is a party of a new type that in its entire party building has also dealt critically with the history of the communist and working-class movement. Excesses did actually occur, mistakes were made, even crimes were committed in these socialist countries. To deny this would make no sense and it was one of the mistakes of the old communist movement that problems and mistakes were not spoken about openly and instead, the impression was given that the communists were infallible. This, of course, is presumptuous and has nothing to do with reality.

We have to distinguish precisely between a system that  is criminal and one in which  excesses and crimes were committed under certain circumstances and influences. It is exactly this distinction that is being blurred by anti-communism, which does not want to further develop and implement socialism, but to maintain the system of capitalist exploitation and oppression at all costs.

By the way, the MLPD has never described itself as a "Stalinist" organization, because Stalin, like Mao Zedong, did not develop a comprehensive system of world outlook as e.g. Marx and Lenin had done for the epoch of capitalism and imperialism and the proletarian revolution. Mao and Stalin made important theoretical contributions for the development of Marxism-Leninism and they are appreciated by us correspondingly. But they also made mistakes from which we have to learn.

It is very important that we conduct the dispute with anti-communism in public and I wish that the newspaper "Rote Fahne" would give more space for dealing with this issue.

The fact that this discussion is arising again today actually has actually two aspects. One is the anti-communist smear campaign of those in power, the other one is the great interest of a growing number of people, who are simply searching clarity in this question and who also have the right to have their critical questions be answered by us appropriately. Our most important answer to this question is the theory and practice of the MLPD as a party of a new type and the doctrine of the mode of thinking, by means of which we have drawn conclusions from the degeneration of the former communist movement.

The media are giving the impression that the Monday demonstration movement is passé?

Those in power, supported by the right-wing trade union leadership, the ATTAC and PDS leadership, have been using their comprehensive instruments of power since the end of August to demoralize, disorganize and disorientate the politically independent Monday demonstration movement. With a disinformation campaign using manipulated figures, the alleged advantages of Hartz IV were praised, the number of the participants in the Monday demonstrations were deliberately lowered and, together with the secret services, an anti-communist smear campaign against the Monday demonstration movement was put into action. The protest march against the government on October 3rd in Berlin with its 25,000 people was either totally hushed up or called a mini “MLPD demonstration”.

The Monday demonstration movement is further taking place in 120 to 130 cities in Germany every week in defiance of the prophecies of doom and funeral calls of the bourgeois press, but also of the opportunist trade union leadership, PDS or ATTAC leadership. It has meanwhile stabilized with about 10,000 to 20,000 participants every week. This is, of course, less than one tenth compared with its peak on August 23 with 230,000 people at 230 demonstrations.

But it is still a mass movement with big prospects for the future. The current movement is more united and uncompromising against the government and has, in particular, formed a network and stabilized nationwide. The participants really are made up ueberparteilich, have developed a strong backbone and are on very friendly terms meanwhile. A new upswing of the movement can be expected, especially when the false government reports maintaining that Hartz IV will improve everything will be dashed to pieces in face of reality. Even the government is assuming a critical January 2005 for itself and did not dissolve its ”task center” to be on the safe side. Its current information campaign on Hartz IV, which costs 12 million Euro, also  proves that it must react to the critical consciousness of the masses. The Monday demonstration movement is alive and cannot be destroyed so rapidly.

It is especially  significant that the movement could maintain and strengthen its political independence. The MLPD certainly made an important contribution to this development by promoting the open microphone, democratic votes, delegation systems which point to the future  and the democratic coordination of the work within the Monday demonstration movement and its proletarian culture of debate.

Delegates from 96 cities took part in the nationwide conference of the Monday demonstrations on October 16 in Hanover and elected a nationwide coordinating circle which has the task of coordinating and strengthening the militant activities of thousands of Monday demonstrators in the future. Nationwide forms of direct democracy have been initiated here  which are of decisive importance for a mass movement for a change in society.

According to the government and the bourgeois opposition, Hartz IV is supposed to provide new workplaces. What are we really to expect?

The Berlin politicians are known to make the following naive miscalculation: Through Hartz IV, unemployed people will be forced to accept any work without regard to how poorly paid it might be. Thus ”work” will become ”cheaper” and hundreds of thousands of new workplaces will emerge out of nowhere. This is economic nonsense and a basic ignorance of the bourgeois economy, even if it is repeated in the mass media again and again.

Actually, there is no immediate connection between the price of the commodity labor power and the creation of workplaces. Thus the ”expenses per working hour in industry” in East Germany are about 38 percent lower than those in West Germany. The official average unemployment rate, however, is more than twice as high. Many workforces are blackmailed with the following same argumentation: If they dont ”make sacrifices” concerning wages and working conditions, the big corporations will move their plants abroad.

The main reason for the growing destruction of jobs, however, is the sharp increase of the exploitation offensive. Thus, the turnover per employee of the 500 international super- monopolies rose by 9.7 percent, in the automobile industry even by 12.5 percent in 2003 alone.

The stagnating markets are not able to absorb this surplus at all. That means we will experience a growing transition to open mass redundancies  and increasing underemployment instead of a drop in unemployment in the coming year. A cutback of  505,693 jobs from January to October 2004was already announced publicly. According to the official statistics, the number of unemployed has increased by 367,000 to 4,257,000 from the year 2000 to November 2004, in spite of all manipulation of these statistics. So more and more full-time workplaces are being transformed into part-time jobs which nobody can live from. But whoever has a part-time job is not regarded as being unemployed. The number of employees with low wages and short-term jobs increased by more than one million (1,152,006) to 8,014,594 from June 2003 to June 2004 alone.

Economically seen, it is really absurd that employers are demanding to further extend working hours in this situation. Overwork is increasing for the employees, while more and more people are underemployed or totally out of work. Whoever really wants to do something against mass unemployment has to fight for the distribution of work on more shoulders and strengthen the movement for the 30-hour workweek with full wage compensation.

What effect does the change of the state labor market policy actually have?

Until now, labor market policy was directed towards bringing back unemployed people into the “primary labor market” by means of bridging, further training etc. The structure of Hartz IV shows that today, the state-run unemployment programs no longer assume that the unemployment of the masses of unemployed people is a temporary phenomenon, but rather assume that mass unemployment can no longer be eliminated at all.

Now “cost-curbing”, i.e. mass impoverishment, forced labor and wage dumping are in the focus. As dramatic the impacts of Hartz IV will be if it goes by the monopoly associations, this is merely the beginning of a comprehensive social clear-felling. Employers representatives already demand that Hartz V, VI and VII must come after Hartz IV. Course is being set for radically calling into question all social achievements that have always been used as evidence for the alleged “social market economy” of the FRG to the masses. But this will also bring about increasing instability, as well as a further massive loss of confidence in the capitalist conditions.

At the turn of the year, the governmental parties steer hopes to an economic upswing in 2005.

I cant remember hearing any New Years speech for a long time that did not prophesize an imminent economic upswing as its message. But we havent experienced an upswing for 30 years. We experienced at most a temporary revival which then sank immediately into a stagnation.

In the course of this year, the worldwide economic crisis has actually been overcome. It lasted from the year 2000 to the year 2003 and it was the deepest one since World War II. In industrial production, the industrial countries of the OECD were able to regain a pre-crisis state in the first quarter of 2004 for the first time. But that does not apply to the most important western industrial countries such as the U.S.A., Germany, Great Britain and France, as well as Japan.

It is notable that stoppages, phases of stagnation and, in certain branches or entire  countries, even set-backs in the economic development are taking place even within the phase of the revival of the worldwide economy, that means, even before the pre-crisis level of production  has been reached.

This is a new phenomenon that we have to observe more closely, because it draws attention to considerable problems in the utilisation of capital to generate maximum profits that must have deeper causes. Since Marx, we know that the process of the accumulation of capital goes along with a general tendency of the profit rate to fall. In the past, this could be temporarily compensated by means of gigantic increases of the mass of profit. That occurred in the era of imperialism mainly by means of more and more intensive epansion of the capitalist production and markets on an international terrain.

With the reorganisation of international production, this way has become almost impossible. That is why the law of the tendency of the profit rate to fall takes effect much more immediately and necessitates a permanent destruction of capital. This is even intensified by the inexorable battle of competition between the international monopolies that, today, forces entire company structures to their knees and leads to dramatic consequences for the workers as we are currently experiencing in the automobile industry.

However, the present slight revival of the world economy is mainly determined by two special factors: Iin the first place, the relatively strong growth of the gross domestic product in the U.S.A., that increased by 3.1 percent in 2003 and by 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2004. However that does not result from a stabile real growth of industrial production, but it is pushed by state-run steering measures at the cost of a galloping national debt.

The second special factor is the economic upswing in China.

In October the Opel-strike moved into the focus of public interest. The MLPD also paid great attention to it. The seven-day independent Opel-strike introduced a turning point in the development of class struggle. It was the interim climax in the development of the political independence of a growing number of workers in the struggle against government and monopolies. This development had started on May 1st, 2003. A qualitative leap occurred at the peak of the Opel-strike that we assess to be an introduction of the transition to the working-class offensive on a broad scale. This became clear in the following essential elements:

  • The Opel-workers combined the independent strike with blockades of the plant gates and an occupation of the plant. That was an important guarantee for its effectiveness in the entire GM-production in Europe. The combination of these three forms of struggle expressed the higher development of the class consciousness of the workers, namely that only rigorous class-struggle against the international monopoly of General Motors can push through their interests.
  • By linking up the Opel-strike with the nationwide Monday demonstration  movement on October 18th and 19th, 2004, the demand to withdraw GMs horror-catalogue combined with the demand “Down with Hartz IV We are the people!” This means that the struggle for daily demands and partial slogans against the monopolies and the government was conducted in an offensive way and that the economic struggle was combined with the political struggle.
  • In the course of the seven days, the independent struggle of the Opel-workers developed into a mass struggle, in which finally a hundred thousand participants joined together and millions showed solidarity in the framework of a Europe-wide day of action. The militant  and class-conscious spirit of Opel Bochum passed over to the masses.
  • The Opel-strike was the present climax of a growing tendency of to break through the framework of the trade-unions. That occurred on the basis of a growing rejection on the part of the workers of the policy of class collaboration of the right-wing trade union leadership with the monopolies and the Schroeder/Fischer-government.
  • The struggle was explicitly conducted in acceptance of the responsibility for the youth. The unity of young and old as the motor of the working-class offensive became characteristic for the strike and for the mass demonstrations on October 18th and 19th, 2004.
  • The strike of the Opel-workers called into question the societally organised system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking. The taboos customary for trade union strikes were broken. Self-confident and resolute action of the fighting workers determined the course of events. The forms of proletarian democracy which the workers developed themselves during the strike, like the open microphone, the ballots over the continuation of the strike organised during the shifts, the responsibility taken over for strike-tasks by the production units etc., were suitable to quickly develop the class-consciousness of those in struggle and to retain the initiative at any point of time.
  • The close relationship based on trust between MLPD and the militant and class-conscious core of the Opel workforce was the decisive guarantee for triggering and consolidating the strike and developing it to a higher level. The perspective of genuine socialism gained attraction.
  • The entire militant opposition with significant forces from the working-class movement, the youth movement, the militant womens movement and the international solidarity and aid movement agreed on actively supporting the struggle. It mobilised all the forces and so was able to contribute decisively to the success of the strike, but also to protect it against attacks from the corporate management or by the state power apparatus.
  • Finally, the style and method of the strike and its objectives gained broad solidarity among the petty-bourgeois intermediate strata, who are themselves coming more and more into contradiction to ruling policy. That was demonstrated especially by the impact that the strike had on journalists and in their press coverage which remains to express sympathy till today. That does not fit into the image of the customary court correspondence in favor of the ruling class at all.

Six weeks after the end of the strike, the results of the negotiations between the corporate leadership of GM and the works council leadership were presented. These results schedule a radical cutback of 9,500 jobs as well as a decrease in wages of at least 15 percent and further means of exploitation. Isnt this a slap in the face of the Opel-workers who were fighting so impressively in October?

There is no doubt that with this result of the negotiations, the reformist trade union leadership and the leadership of the corporate works council have completely gone down on their knees in face of the General Motors plans. As a “service in return”, GM has given a vague declaration of intent to maintain all Opel production sites in Germany for the time being and to refrain from “dismissals for operational reasons”. But these are lies and deceptions.

It was already clear that Opel cant close down any production site because that would require a certain restructuring of the production structure in Europe and would take at least two years. It is just grotesque to maintain that they are supposedly not planning to “dismiss for operational reasons”, because this option is tied to the prerequisite that the workers must voluntarily vacate 6,500 jobs until mid-January and enter an employment service company. If the workers do not leave voluntarily, the “arbitration office” will be called, which can then order dismissals for operational reasons.

Furthermore, massive cuts in wages are being planned and other achievements gained in struggle are going to be attacked. A narrow majority of the works council and that makes the scandal perfect agreed to these measures on December 13th, 2004. The cliché of the “avoidance of dismissals for operational reasons” that was taxed more than enough by the reformists in the last years was completely perverted in this foul  compromise. The workers themselves are given the responsibility for the decision whether such dismissals for operational reasons will take place or not.

Is this the defeat of the Opel-strike?

No! These negotiation results were only possible because the strike in October was called off and both sides were assuming that the readiness of the Opel-workers to fight was broken. What failed here is the negotiation strategy of the reformist trade union leadership.

The coming weeks will decide whether there will be a new struggle, when the workers discuss the new facts and become aware of their strength. For the working- class movement it would be very desirable that the Opel-workers reject this foul compromise, take up their struggle for each and every job again and face up to the largest automotive-company GM. But they have to make this decision on their own.

Of course, you have to realize that this struggle will be a very hard one. The threats of reprimands or state repression against the striking workers are surely not only verbal threats, but they are real means of battle that can be used by the ruling class to suppress the strike. What keeps them from doing that is the deep wound that would inflict on the myth of the free and democratic constitutional order, which they built up so carefully, at that moment when the state apparatus is violently implemented against workers fighting for their rights. This wound wouldnt heal so very soon.

There is no doubt that the biggest obstacle for triggering an independent strike is the fact that this struggle would have to be initiated against the resolute will of the leadership of the works council. Many honest trade union members shrink back from doing so out of a misunderstood solidarity. But the leadership of the works council does not deserve any solidarity for going down on their knees. What they  deserve is strict condemnation and unambiguous practical criticism. They clearly disqualified themselves as speakers for the interests of the Opel-workforce. That is the reason why the workers have to take up their struggle independently. That demands a high level of class-consciousness and a high degree of militant resolution, but also self-confidence and deep mutual trust. That is incompatible with scepticism, splits or mistrust among fellow workers.

How will the class struggle develop further?
One cannot say that with certainty, because whereas the class struggle is governed by laws which are based on the capitalistic wage system, its concrete development depends on many not foreseeable factors and influences.  At the same time, there is no doubt that in the past ten years a lot has happened in the development of class consciousness.
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.
Already in 1996, the class consciousness of the workers arose on a broad scale in connection with the mass strike of 1.1 million workers against the cancellation of the continuation of wage payments in case of illness planned by the former Kohl government.
In the book „Twilights of the Gods Götterdämmerung over the ‚New World Order“ we have portrayed the awakening class consciousness as a transition from the low of the revolutionary movement to the gradual maturing of a revolutionary crisis.
It is notable that in contrast to the 1980s and early 1990s, the class consciousness arising on a broad scale could not be pushed back in 1996, but instead, by the end of 2004, has developed up to the point that a transition to the working-class offensive on a broad scale has been initiated. Nevertheless, we are still in a process of ferment on the basis of a non-revolutionary situation, but the transition to a revolutionary ferment is being prepared rapidly.
If or when this development toward the workers offensive on a broad scale matures in the further process to the transition to a revolutionary ferment, depends decisively on the question whether the MLPD succeeds in winning over the decisive majority of the working class, i.e. the class-conscious core of the industrial workers, for socialism and integrating a growing number of people in the fight against the government.  This is identical with the process of the MLPD becoming a party of the masses. Of course, this is the process upon which our influence is the greatest but this depends as well on various objective and subjective factors outside of our exertion of influence.

What is to be understood under a revolutionary situation?

An acute revolutionary situation means that the masses do not want to be governed anymore the same way as before and the rulers cannot continue to govern in the same way.  Political and economic mass strikes and demonstrations will prevail and the rulers will implement their state power apparatus against the broad masses and so the struggles will develop more and more into revolutionary mass struggles.  The system of societal manipulation, the system of the petty-bourgeois mode of thinking, which continuously gives rise to the petty bourgeois-reformist and petty-bourgeois revisionist mode of thinking within the masses, will lose its effect more and more.  The broad masses of people will turn to their own class interests in their thoughts, feelings and actions and will more and more see the present capitalist conditions as the main obstacle for enforcing their class interests.
You should not imagine that under the present day conditions such a revolutionary process will develop in one single country alone. The interplay of the class struggle in Germany with the class struggle in other countries, as we are already experiencing today on a low level, will become a decisive feature of this revolutionary ferment in the future. I am certain of this.

Lately one gets the impression that the neo-fascists have increased their activities and influence. How is the fascist threat to be evaluated presently?

It is obvious that the failure of the proceedings to ban the NPD has encouraged the neo-fascists. In the elections in the states of Saxony and Brandenburg, the NPD and DVU have even won seats in the state parliaments. This can mainly be attributed to the fact that the media have built up the neo-fascists as "protest parties against the Hartz IV laws". According to a poll conducted by Infratest, 84 per cent of the voters in Saxony voted for a neo-fascist party out of  a supposed protest against Hartz IV and the government.

The neo-fascists are presenting themselves under the guise of an anti-capitalist image, with which they disguise their extreme hostility towards the working class. Social-fascist demagogy borrowed from Hitler-fascism is at the center of their efforts to win new supporters. Actually, they are driving a wedge into the working class movement with their division between foreign and German people and they are being supported by the monopolies as a spearhead against revolutionary movements and workers' struggles. In my view, this is connected to the attempt to forge a neo-fascist bloc. In view of the next general elections, this merger of NPD, DVU and some smaller neo-fascist terror organizations should not be underestimated.

For this reason, it is necessary that the antifascist struggle becomes a  task of the day for MLPD and mainly for its youth league Rebell, as well as for the youth movement. The antifascist attitude of the people in Germany is still very pronounced on the grounds of their painful experience with the terror of Hitler-fascism. I firmly reckon with the revival of the struggle for implementing the ban of all fascist organizations and their propaganda.

In March, the 7th Party Congress of the MLPD took place and it put forward the motto "Focus on party building". Has there been progress made since then concerning the strengthening of the party?

Compared to the disaster of the bourgeois parties, the MLPD has made remarkable progress. We have an increase in membership of about 7 per cent since the party congress till the beginning of November. This is, within 10 months, about half of the increase which the party had during the four years between the 6th and 7th party congress. This tendency is presently continuing even faster.

In the past we won mainly two kinds of people: either such people who already cooperated intensively with us for years, or - mainly in elections campaigns - people who joined us very spontaneously and without great experience or exact ideas about our party work. Now we are mainly winning members who have known the MLPD for a relatively short period of time, but who often have been politically active for a long time. These are, among others, former long-standing members and officials of the SPD, PDS and DKP .

Among them are also an above-average number of workers, who have been working in production for many years. It is interesting to notice that these people are often no trade union officials, but ordinary people, who are known mainly as good workers and colleagues with a sense of solidarity. During the last years, most of them were often  in a leading position and in the focal point of new political movements like workers' strikes on a corporation level or the Monday demonstrations. In a situation in which these movements are heavily attacked, they have decided to become politically active in an organized way and to work with the MLPD!

Of course, the recruitment of new members is by far not the only aspect of focusing on  party building. Party building is not an end in itself, but serves to raise the class struggle and mass movement to a higher level. For this reason, there will be no progress in party building without advancing the interrelation between party building and the promotion of the self-organization of the masses and the organized mass movements. This requires the determined efforts of the MLPD for the all-round strengthening of the self-organizations - the trade unions, the women's and youth movement, but also the movement against Hartz IV, the antifascist movement etc.

The most obstructive effect of the worshipping of spontaneity is the underestimation the all-sided organizational work in the interrelation of party building and the promotion of the self-organization of the masses. Organize, organize, organize - this is the most essential and decisive maxim of the next months.

The working-class strikes at Bosch, Siemens, DaimlerChrysler and Opel, as well as the Monday demonstrations and  the March on Berlin on October 3rd were undoubtedly highlights in the work of the MLPD. What conclusions must be drawn out of these for the future?

In all of these struggles we experienced repeatedly that they developed up to a certain point until they matured and acquired a social significance of great importance. However, exactly at this point there was a shift in the balance of power between the class-conscious parts of the working-class and the MLPD on the one hand and the ruling monopolies and their state on the other hand. For the most part, with the help and the support of the reformist trade union bureaucracy, but also in part of  the heads of ATTAC and PDS, the struggles were kept in check or foul compromises were reached.  

This can only lead to the conclusion that there has to be a change in the balance of power in the entire society. I do not relate this only to the strengthening of the MLPD, but in general to the strengthening of militant forms of organization of the masses as a whole, be they against Hartz IV, against the old-age pension policies or the so-called reform of the health service, be it the strengthening of the militant womens movement, the youth movement, the struggle against neofascist tendencies, etc. In the present situation, there is nothing more important than attaching utmost importance to organizing on the various levels in order to attain a lasting development.

As is well-known, spontaneous struggles develop in waves. They experience a certain upswing, reach a certain climax and then they fall back again. To maintain the positive tendency as a whole,  it is necessary to continually organize new forces and gain lasting positions in society. That means that the new struggles must always be based on the assimilation of the former experiences in struggle, on growing clarity and self-confidence and on a higher level of organization. The strengthening of the MLPD aims at enabling ourselves to be of significant help in this process of organizing the mass movements.  

At present, the county and local delegates conferences of the party are being prepared. What are their particular tasks?

This time the county and local delegates' conferences are focusing on a creative interim appraisal of the following questions: what progress has there been made in overcoming the relative isolation of the party, what new elements have developed in this process, what questions and problems have come up, what obstacles must be overcome, etc.

In the past we organized party building on the basis of larger party units in order to have better conditions for learning to work on the basis of the proletarian mode of thinking. The party has been very successful in this. The 7th Party Congress put up the slogan “Focus on Party Building!”. So the most important conclusions that the present delegates conferences must reach are those which state how the entire work must be adjusted to building the party at an accelerated pace.

In building up the MLPD on the county level, we will differentiate in future between the centers of developed party work in the Ruhr area and in the Stuttgart and Berlin areas. They play an important role as pacemakers of the all-sided development of party work. The other county units must work more consciously as counties for party building, which means consciously cutting back on the diversity of the work. In all, we want to allocate three times as many forces to party building work.

The CC has also decided that the MLPD should run for the federal state elections in Saxony-Anhalt in the year 2006. For the municipal elections in Berlin, we propose the participation in an überparteilich (non-party) personal electoral alliance. In Saxony-Anhalt we already began building up voters initiatives four months ago. Some of them already have more than 100 members and more. In connection with this work, we want to establish the first county units in East Germany on the basis of the successful building of local units. We also want to make progress in building the party on a nation-wide level in further regions and at central industrial plants.

Based on the corporate-wide cooperation of the MLPD, we want to make special efforts for building up further party units in the most important factories, especially in the automotive industry. That is where the most important class conflicts will take place in the coming years for which we must prepare ourselves.

In the end, the higher development of our Marxist-Leninist youth work will decide over whether the party can grow at an accelerated pace. The firmness of the Rebell, that is necessary for this, grows to the extent that the system of patient and systematic work among the youth is put into practice.  This question is at the center of the delegates conference of the youth league Rebell which is also being prepared at present.

Undoubtedly, we have to recognize the deficits that arose in the face of the great strain upon the MLPD in the past months. That includes especially the lack of time for personal study work, for training our comrades and for the theoretical work of the CC. This will be a further important factor for strengthening the MLPD in the coming months.

What are the biggest changes that the MLPD must undergo in the time coming?

I think that we must especially learn to spread Marxism-Leninism and genuine socialism among the masses in a more understandable way. The search for a social alternative, the growing receptiveness to socialism must be met with an understandable and convincing explanation of our  program and goals without becoming superficial. The struggle against modern anticommunism will not be resolved by itself. It must rather be resolved by winning over the decisive majority of the working-class for socialism and involving the broad masses of people in the struggle against the government.

Popular agitation and propaganda for Marxism-Leninism is foremostly a question of the ability to deal with people`s thoughts, feelings and actions and to lead them to our positions in connection with their own experience.

The popular agitation and propaganda I mean is not only a question of our written statements or speeches, but also of the style and manner of the contact of our party members have with the masses. No struggles can develop without uniting different forces which differ in their political views and in their world outlook.  The ability to unite with all of these people on the basis of struggle, to respect their divergent points of view and to discuss with them on an equal basis is, in the end, the question of agitation and propaganda and of propagating genuine socialism. The development of a clearly increased mass influence confronts us even more directly with a great many, still existing sectarian egg shells or tendencies toward opportunist conformity. In the end, these have their common core in the internalization of the relative isolation. The fact that they manifest themselves so clearly exactly now does not mean, of course, that they shape our party work. But it does mean that they are decisive stumbling blocks and obstacles on our way to becoming the Party of the Masses and that they definitely must be removed.

Our “Rote Fahne” is still written in a certain “insider style” and simply does not take up and address the entirety  of the thoughts, feelings and deeds of the masses. New readers have great problems with coming to terms with the “Rote Fahne”, with the language used, but also with the manner in which various topics addressed or left out. The “Rote Fahne” simply takes too little into account what is actually going on among people, what they are interested in, what is important for them and how they learn.

At the same time, this is a question of our abilities, of training and of a scientific style of work. The Party has decided to conduct an Offensive of Training for our members and officials in 2005 and 2006. Great demands are placed upon us today which we cannot simply fulfil with a snap of a finger. The great responsibility that rests on our shoulders today must also be dealt with through a new quality of party work.

It is also important to make progress in alliance work. In particular among the petty-bourgeois left the MLPD is said to be unable to form alliances. Of course, a lot of this is calculated propaganda in order to exclude the MLPD. However, there are also quite a number of grave violations of our principles in alliance preparation. And often there is a lack of feeling in this work. Especially in the alliance preparation work it is important to be reliable. Important is also the ability to practice a proletarian culture of debate with people having  different world outlooks or belonging to other political parties  that must be respected.

Of course, neither this years big working-class struggles nor the Monday demonstration movement would have been possible if we had not learned a considerable amount in this point. However, we have to place special emphasis on this point  in the partys learning process. Especially among the petty-bourgeois intellectuals, we have succeeded far too little up till now in gaining a foothold. The Party Congress was right when it  pointed out that without a lasting influence among the petty-bourgeois intermediate strata there can be no development to the party of the masses nor can a successful revolutionary struggle take place.

At this point I would now like to explicitly thank our members and friends outside of the party again  for the extraordinary and unselfish efforts that they made this year in tackling all these many tasks. All this cannot be taken for granted, because the problems in life are not becoming easier today and sometimes they even devour us. Summoning up the energy and the iron will and, last but not least, the joy to become active at the Monday demonstrations, other demonstrations and strikes all this requires a high level of class consciousness and a great amount of practical idealism.

I wish all readers of the “Rote Fahne” success and good health for a common New Year 2005!

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