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Repressing the Class Struggle

Werner Rene Schwab | 19.02.2005 15:42 | Repression | World

As the employers' president said, capital and labor have long been reconciled among us. He said this while employers forced down wages with the help of politicians, cut pension claims, reduced social benefits and extorted dependent persons by threats of dismissal.


By Werner Rene Schwab

[This article originally published in: Ossietzsky 24/2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

“From their innate optimism and because class struggle is a detestable and dangerous affair, the great American people argue unanimously there is no class struggle. By `American people’, I mean the acknowledged and authoritative voices of the American people, the press, pulpit and university. Journalists, preachers and professors declare more or less unanimously that something like a class struggle has not occurred and will never occur in the future.” If the word German replaces the word American, this newspaper article describes the situation in Germany. This article was not written today but 100 years ago. The name of the author is Jack London.

Jack London is known to us from his adventure stories. Why should his fate be different than Ferdinand Freiligrath and his revolutionary and democratic poems from 1848/1849 (e.g. “Despite Everything”) or Gottfried Semper, the founder of the Dresden opera, who erected barricades to save democracy in 1849? This doesn’t even get a mention any more.

Today’s opinion-makers call every one who describes the class struggle this way as a “stone age socialist”. As the employers’ president Dieter Hundt said, “capital and labor have long been reconciled” among us. He said this while employers forced down wages ever more openly with the help of governing politicians, cut pension claims, reduced social benefits and extorted despondent persons by threats of dismissal. After the collapse of command socialism, the former leftist Schickimicki immediately joined the winners and in the train of the American historian Francis Fukuyama announced that history was “fulfilled” with the “worldwide victory” of the “free market economy” since the triumph of the capitalist social order was irrevocable.

To come back to Jack London, his great socialist novel “The Iron Heel” was hushed up or dismissed as the silly mistake of a dreamer. This 1907 work is still contemporary today because it predicted the events that occurred 85 years later and continue. This novel describes the first attempt to build socialism and its failure – failure because of the strength of capitalists and oligarchs and above all through the failure of its leading representatives, from its own culpability. He describes how the ruling class ruthlessly exercises and enjoys its regained power. I also read these sentences in the novel: “Lost this time but not for ever! We have learned many things. Tomorrow our cause will rise again stronger in knowledge and discipline.”

Quoting this approvingly given the present hierarchy of power seemingly reflects baseless naïve optimism. The “2004 Data Report” was published in August 2004 by the Federal Statistical Office on the basis of socioeconomic studies. In contrast to published opinion, 76 percent of East Germans regard socialism as a good idea that was only carried out miserably. 51% agree in West Germany.

Werner Rene Schwab
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