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The meltdown of Die Linke 

Bundestag member SEVIM DAGDELEN describes how the Left party’s pro-war stance has created an urgent need for a political force that fights for social justice and peace and pushes back against the catastrophic societal course set by the elites

AT THE press conference announcing the new party project, Sahra Wagenknecht commented on the war in the Middle East. She condemned the terror attacks perpetrated by Hamas. 

At the same time she described the Gaza Strip as an “open-air prison” and spoke of an “unbearable situation” while calling for a political solution with Palestinians having their own state within a two-state solution. 

The chairman of the Die Linke (the Left party) parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, Dietmar Bartsch, criticised this immediately, saying: “I distance myself in the strongest possible terms from the term ‘open-air prison’ used to describe the Gaza Strip at the Wagenknecht press conference.”

Prior to this, the party chairman Martin Schirdewan appeared at a demonstration for solidarity with Israel without mentioning the bombing of the Gaza Strip or raising the call for a ceasefire at all.
 
We’re thus dealing with a complete collapse of anti-war positions within the Left party leadership. It was only after 120 countries voted in favour of a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the United Nations general assembly that the leadership of the Left party could bring itself to join this demand — not particularly credible. 

This full-scale policy meltdown in the Left party was long apparent, but was undoubtedly accelerated by the war in Ukraine, in which support for a self-destructive economic war against Russia raised the prospect of involvement in a Nato proxy war. 

The prime minister of the federal state of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow of the Left party, even called for German tanks to be sent to Ukraine. 

A rose-tinted view of the war-waging pact Nato was taken. In an echo of the German social democratic majority during the first world war, we see war be used as a significant catalyst for watering down a party’s positions. 

What is happening in plain sight in terms of anti-war positions is occurring no less significantly, albeit somewhat less visibly, in the areas of economic and social policy. 

For five years now, the Left party leadership has sailed from one electoral defeat to the next. Closer inspection of the causes reveals that the working classes are increasingly less convinced that the party cares about their specific interests, first and foremost being social security and social justice. 

Green-influenced identity politics are rightly understood by the broad majority of workers as a tacit attack on their class, causing them to vote with their feet. 

At the same time as this loss of the working class is occurring, we see the rise of the political right wing, the so-called Alternative for Germany or AfD, which currently stands at over 20 per cent nationwide in opinion polls, moving far above 30 per cent in the east of the country, and is the strongest political force among the working class. 

Wagenknecht and her allies are united by the conviction that things cannot continue as they have done, with a left-wing party dismantling itself by adopting the dominant opinions and thus fuelling the rise of the political right wing in Germany. 

If the Left party leadership advocates policy that goes against the vast majority of the population, who support limitations, and even denounces this section of society as right-wing, it is doing the right wing’s work for it and downright driving voters into their arms. 

Wagenknecht emphasised the defence for the right of asylum and at the same time the fight against the root causes of people forced to leave their home combined with the insight that global poverty cannot be solved by migration.
 
The decision to leave the Left party and to establish a new political force was not taken easily. Attempts were made for years to stop the party’s change in course and to warn of the ramifications from the devastating electoral losses. This was not possible and, in the end, the only choice left was to leave. 

In Germany and in Europe we face a dramatic situation, one in which agreeing to the status quo would have spelt accompanying the party into political insignificance. Germany and Europe are undergoing extreme negative change. 

As a result of the policies of the green, social-democrat, liberal coalition which supports US proxy wars around the world, has implemented an arms drive and a massive redistribution policy to the benefit of the super-rich, along with swingeing cuts to infrastructure and essential public services, and risks the country’s welfare by capping the import of affordable energy from Russia, monumental societal devastation looms — the result of which is that an increasing number of people in Germany no longer know if they will still be able to pay their energy bills, rent and groceries tomorrow. 

What is needed to stop this organised downfall is a policy of economic reason and social justice, that does not join in with warmongering and sabre-rattling. 

Without an awareness that in Europe we are currently dealing with a comprador bourgeoisie, operating like those in Latin America in the 1970s and representing primarily the interests of the United States and US investment funds, policy-making for working people will no longer be possible. 

However, this also involves turning away from a European policy approach that focuses on a desire to hand over an increasing number of powers to the European Commission and the Council Secretariat, which operate often as transmission belts for US interests in Europe. 

“We do not believe, I can say this now, that an increasing amount of power should be shifted to the European Commission. The commission is close to corporate lobbyists and very far away from the citizens,” Wagenknecht stated at the presentation of the new party project. Europe must be based on co-operation between sovereign states, she continued.

In opinion polls, 27 per cent of those asked in Germany say that they could conceive of voting for a party formed by “Alliance Sahra Wagenknecht — for economic reason and justice” (Buendnis Sahra Wagenknecht — Fuer wirtschaftliche Vernunft und Gerechtigkeit). 

In specific election surveys, the party, which does not yet exist, stands at 12 or 15 per cent nationwide. This is of course just a snapshot, and things could look quite different tomorrow. 

However, what it does show is how great the need is for a political force that fights for social justice and peace and pushes back against the catastrophic societal course set by the elites. 

Just how dangerous the party, which does not yet exist, is already considered by the Establishment can however now be seen in the denunciation campaign already under way. 

The most common ascriptions are that the party is “right-wing” and “pro-Putin.” We’ve already seen such denunciation in war propaganda. Those lobbying for a ceasefire in the Middle East are deemed supporters of the terrorist group Hamas. 

Those who stand against the delivery of ever-greater numbers of increasingly heavy munitions to Ukraine are said to want an alliance with Putin. 

As transparent as this propaganda is, people still repeatedly fall for it. This is also the case for the new party: those who call for the reopening of the pipelines from Russia, to ensure there is no longer any need for Russian energy to be procured more expensively via India and Belgium, as is currently the case, are labelled friends of Putin and excluded from the political dialogue. 

Those who want to make policies for the majority of the population are denounced as right-wing — in order to sideline precisely these policies for the majority of the population. 

It is our deep-held conviction that the incursion of war propaganda into the public discussion narrows this massively and has the sole aim of delegitimising left-wing alternatives focusing on peace and social justice from the outset. Not letting ourselves be taken for fools is thus our primary duty in these times. 

Sevim Dagdelen has been a member of the German federal parliament (Bundestag) since 2005. She has been campaigning for years for the release of journalist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is being held in Belmarsh high-security prison in Britain.

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