the fall of the berlin wall

Submitted by meerov21 on January 27, 2020

This text was originally pubished on a private discussion forum. It is followed by some significant critiques of it and responses to these critiques by its author (magid) which were the basis for this discussion. These are not totally in the order in which they appeared. Possible elaborations of this discussion will appear in the comments boxes below this page.

On November 9 2019, German capital celebrated the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. When people talk about this event, they usually either side with the regime of modern Germany, which absorbed the GDR, or with the fallen system of the GDR. I do not think this approach is productive.

The lands of the GDR were integrated into the Federal Republic of Germany and this step led to deep social degradation. Privatizers closed 4 thousand plants. Millions of people lost their jobs. Over time, some moved to the West, others either remained unemployed or retired, or they or their children found work in another sector — in the service sector. The high unemployment rate and the changing nature of employment has borne fruit. Instead of a civilization of stable socially protected skilled labor in large factories and universities, instead of a civilization of skilled workers and specialists, a civilization of non-guaranteed (precarized) labor was built. Labour concentrated in the services sector. This civilization of waiters and supermarket sellers is characterized by de-skilling, unguaranteed employment and unemployment.

I have no intention of defending capitalist productivism, or the social state. But still I think that autonomous councils of workers can be born only as a result of cooperation between different layers of the working class and the high proportion of skilled labor is extremely important, as in Budapest 1956. Falling skills and knowledge about the world leads to bad processes. When we, the inhabitants of the former USSR, bought products of the GDR industry, we usually rejoiced. GDR was one of the centers of high-tech production of the Eastern Bloc. In 1953 and in 1989 hundreds of thousands of Germans, protesting against the regime, fought for serious meaningful goals – from self-government in factories (workers’ councils in 1953, the movement “New Forum” in 1989 during the revolution against the GDR government) to personal freedom. Todey a crowd of five thousand chases a couple of migrants in Chemnitz. There are Eastern lands where a quarter of the population votes for far-right xenophobes and populists. There is a difference between the thinking of a skilled worker\engineer, and the thinking of poorly educated service workers. In this latter case, people are much more likely to have sympathy for idiotic absurd decisions.

Federal Republic of Germany changes an attitude to the past. In the GDR, the following idea was adopted: this country is made by the opponents of the Nazi regime; we build a new country. They were probably just party bonzes and hypocrites. On the other hand, the Federal Republic of Germany has adopted the idea of collective German responsibility for Nazism, a responsibility that supposedly has no Statute of limitations. They explain: Even the present generations of Germans are responsible for the crimes of the Third Reich.

The doctrine of collective responsibility of all people for the crimes of dictatorship is absurd. This doctrine does not take into account the mechanisms of capitalist and bureaucratic alienation. But the idea of universal and eternal responsibility of the Germans “as a people”, as representatives of all social classes, for what is declared the greatest evil of history, is also a poisonous fruit, causing anger because of blatant injustice. It is as a kind of masochistic version of nationalism.

Today If you are trying to force a 20-year-old German worker to pay compensation (from his taxes) for crimes committed 80 years ago by officials and executors of orders of a dictatorial regime — this is a manifestation of extreme absurdity. I’m afraid that’s also the best way to turn this man into a Nazi.

This masochistic version of nationalism (its aim is probably to make the German working class feel eternally weak as “the culprit of tragedies”) is quite capable of developing into a sadistic version. At the same time, the German government turned the fall of the Berlin wall and the unification of the country into a triumph of national unity and strength. These games with different forms of nationalism help to construct nationally oriented picture of the world in the minds of Germans.

The German regime broke the post-war consensus based on the principles of “social market economy”. The authorities of this country have been introducing measures of economic liberalization and precarization, undermining the institutions of the social state. Work becomes temporary and non-guaranteed shit. This also causes irritation.

At the same time, authorities are importing millions of migrants — future cheap labour force (competitors of local workers) and, currently, recipients of some social assistance from the state. This policy causes a painful reaction including the East (“why do you spend money on migrants, and do not create good jobs for us — the citizens of Germany?”).

The international social-revolutionary agenda states that the way out of this situation is the Union (in the spirit of the German revolutionary AAUD–KAPD or AAUD-E unions, which denies trade-unions and the party vanguard) of workers of all nationalities. Yes, I hope the problem can be solved by this international struggle of the Association of workers ’ councils. But if this agenda is absent, then “citizenship” and nationalism put forward counter-arguments against migration, to which the authorities will not be able to respond in the framework of the dominant bourgeois-nationalist “worlds picture”. According to the principles of the state-nation, the ruling regime should take care, first of all, of its own citizens. There is no reason why citizens who pay taxes and share the principles of bourgeois nation should be willing to pay for the lives and training of their competitors coming from other countries. It creates a dangerous tension.

Blend social degradation, de-skilling, anger over unemployment or unguaranteed labor, anger over unfounded accusations, and the theme of migrants. I’m afraid to imagine the stinky cocktail that would come of it.

It is true that racist Rostock riots of August 1992 took place less than 3 years after the fall of the Berlin wall. But the neoliberal privatization, de-qualification, rising precarization of labor and propaganda of the ruling groups led today to a gradual increase in the influence of racists. The racist riot in Rostock was caused by a evolving combination of factors: rising unemployment and a simultaneous increase in the number of refugees in this city.

The ruling regime has done everything to destroy any of workers ’ solidarity. The government was able to strengthen German bourgeois nationalism, using both sadistic and masochistic forms of it. Now it is reaping the fruits of what it has done. Within a mentality based on the recognition of the values of capitalism and the nation-state there is no argument why German workers should agree to accept migrant workers who are recipients of taxpayers ’ money and future competitors in the labor market. The German social revolutionary and social researcher Karl Roth noted that German construction companies fired German workers in order to hire Polish workers whose labor was cheaper.

Regime destroys the post-war consensus associated with the social market economy: Today the government offers precarized labor, causing the wrath. On the other hand, Chancellor Angela Merkel declares that all Germans are guilty of Auschwitz almost a century after the second imperialist war.

This combination of factors can only give rise of nationalist madness.

People can stand up against racism. But they can not and will not do it in the way of left liberalism and anti-fascism. The Сlass war in the spirit of the early IWW, which in 1912 created (during the strikes) Councils consisting of workers of 24 nationalities (from Lithuanians and Jews to Arabs and Irish) can be an answer.


This text was first published in a closed forum of supporters of workers ' councils, enemies of parties and trade unions. Then is was published here:

It caused a lot of discussion, which you can read at the link. I think it's a curious discussion.
If this topic is interesting to you and if you are interested in discussing the way to further development and analysis by those who reject trade unions, parties and all other elements of capitalist reality, you can take part in this discussion or write to me in a personal account.


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