Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The deadweight of sectarianism

By Frank Brenner

Oct. 21, 2009

I want to follow up a previous blog of mine (“The PSG and the EU elections”[1]) by commenting on a recent article by PSG leader Peter Schwarz called “The PSG and the German Left Party”.[2] While Schwarz’s article is an exchange of letters with a reader, it isn’t hard to see that he is also addressing my earlier posting (though without bothering to mention the latter, a practice all too common in the polemical style of the ICFI leadership).[3]

Without repeating material from the previous blog, it needs to be said that the trends analyzed there became more evident in the Sept. 27 German federal election. The Social Democrats (SPD) had their worst result since the end of the Second World War, losing over 11 percent of their vote. The other ‘natural’ governing party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), also had one of its poorest showings ever. Lesser parties – the Free Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party – all made substantial gains. The German political landscape is being altered by the seismic shifts within global capitalism.

From the standpoint of the working class, the key development is the decline of the SPD and the growth of the Left Party. It is clear that many workers and youth, facing increasingly bleak economic prospects, no longer see the SPD as a party of social reform. They identify it – rightly of course – as a pro-business, establishment party. This represents an important shift in the political consciousness of a significant section of the German working class, and that shift has manifested itself in a turn towards the Left Party.

It is this last point, evident to anyone who has followed the German political scene, which Schwarz and the PSG vehemently deny. They are happy to discuss the political decline of the SPD but see no significance, so far as the development of working class consciousness is concerned, in the growing support for the Left Party. To this end, Schwarz marshals a number of arguments, all of which repeat earlier PSG statements and none of which stand up to critical analysis.

[2] “The PSG and the German Left Party: An exchange of letters,” WSWS, Sept. 28, 2009: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/sep2009/left-s28.shtml. The article was originally posted in German: “Die PSG und die Linkspartei”, WSWS, Sept. 26, 2009: http://www.wsws.org/de/2009/sep2009/link-s26.shtml.
[3] It is worth noting that the letter Schwarz is responding to makes no mention of the Left Party. Schwarz, however, spends six-and-a-half pages discussing little else but the PSG’s attitude to the Left Party, which also happens to be one of the main themes of my article. Moreover, while the letter-writer, F.S., demonstrates political confusion when he calls on the PSG to collaborate with various revisionist outfits, he also criticizes the PSG’s EU election campaign very much along the lines of what I had written, a point I’ll come back to later.