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The German section of the IBT has recently been involved in opposition to state attacks against immigrant groups in Duisburg, working in a united-front to build a protest demonstration that took place on 9 January. On page 23 we publish the text of a solidarity declaration for the victimised leftists, initiated by our comrades, and signed by a range of international organisations. The following text is translated from a 22 November 1998 supplement to Bolschewik, published by Gruppe Spartakus, German section of the IBT.

Whether black/yellow [CDU/FDP] or ‘red’/green:

State racism and repression continue

At the beginning of August the then CDU Home Secretary Kanther carried out another attack against left immigrant organisations by banning the DHKP-C, THKP-C and the newspaper Kurtulus. Such actions, however, are not confined to the CDU but are an acceptable procedure for all ‘militant’ bourgeois democrats. For years left Turkish and Kurdish cultural associations in the SPD-governed city of Duisburg have been severely oppressed – with the approval of the ‘red’/green 'Länder' [regional] government. This is particularly aimed at associations supposed to have connections with parties that consider themselves revolutionary and are engaged in an armed struggle against the Turkish regime of terror, which is supported by the German state. In September 1998 the left cultural centre Fabrik and two Turkish associations were raided, the former for its solidarity with immigrant organisations.

Attacks on immigrant organisations are part of the campaign by state institutions and the bourgeois media against immigrants and refugees. It is also the case that ‘the clear aim of these police attacks is to criminalise free political activity and organisation (especially political activity and organisation of immigrants) and to suppress political collaboration among German, Turkish and Kurdish leftists’ (from the solidarity declaration on page 23). The state attacks in Duisburg are an example of how state racism is supplemented by the repression of bourgeois democracy.

An injury to one is an injury to all! It is necessary, despite political differences, to fight back against persecution of left organisations. Down with the ban of PKK, DHKP-C, THKP-C and Kurtulus! Down with clause 129/129a [anti-terrorist legislation]! For the immediate release of all left prisoners! The struggle against state racism must be directed against all immigration legislation and deportations and must demand full citizen rights for all immigrants.

How to stand up against the state?

Protest declarations and demonstrations are one way to show the state our solidarity with oppressed groups and to interest workers, immigrants and youth in the struggle against police repression. However, neither protest alone nor public pressure are enough to really stop state attacks on democratic rights. After a protest demonstration in Duisburg in November 1997 (see our critique in Bolschewik No. 10) there was a temporary decrease in raids, but only a few months later the state attacks were increasing again.

The bourgeois state – even in its parliamentary-democratic form – is an organ of capitalist rule and therefore necessarily repressive and racist. In order to defend and improve the capitalist framework for profit making, and thus to advance the position of ‘Made in Germany’ in international markets, the state combines the method of direct oppression with that of dividing workers along racist and nationalist lines. German workers are supposed to distinguish between ‘Germans and non-Germans’ and thereby identify ‘foreign’ scapegoats for capitalist misery. As long as this state exists this will not change. Only the revolutionary transformation of the capitalist system can end the repression of the left and racism.

Despite this basic understanding, many on the left respond to political and (state) racist attacks on leftists and immigrants by calling for ‘real’ or more democracy. For example, they call for democratisation of the police or call on the state to ban fascist organisations. Alternatively, they try to contrast the ‘undemocratic’ and ‘arbitrary’ acts of the police with ‘democratic’ rights or the constitution. They ‘forget’ that actions by the state against leftists and immigrants are an integral part of bourgeois democracy and that these are sanctioned by the law because the German state is not a ‘democracy in itself’, it is the democratic form of capitalist class rule. In order to confront it successfully we have to engage in consistent class struggle.

Due to its multi-national composition the German working class was internationalised long ago. The working-class must resist both state attacks and daily fascist attacks. Build trade union-based self-defence squads! Immigrants and youth must be integrated into the essential mass mobilisations along the axis of class struggle.

Break with reformism!

Above all, this requires revolutionary work in and the mobilisation of the trade unions. It can only be realised through a struggle against the (social-democratic) bureaucrats, who, of course, will try to prevent any independent activity of the trade unions against their ‘comrade’ ministers. At best some of them will feel compelled to appeal to the SPD government, only creating the illusion that it is possible to stop the state in its strategic move against left-wing organisations. Trade-union leaders themselves often play the racist card, or, as in Berlin in 1996, stand by while police beat up Kurdish participants in the May Day march.

These ‘comrade’ ministers were voted in with the support of some of the left, such as Linksruck [German affiliates of the SWP who are members of the SPD youth group], Internationale Sozialistische Organisation (ISO), Internationale Sozialisten (IS) [both splits from the German SWP affiliate], and Gruppe Arbeitermacht [German section of the LRCI (Workers Power)]. The activities of the organs of the state in Duisburg show that any ‘critical’ trust in the SPD is wrong. ‘Red’/green Länder governments have shown that they are as repressive against the left and as racist (e.g. deportations) as the CDU/CSU. During his election campaign Schröder advocated a strong state and engaged in a dirty campaign against immigrants.

Not only the SPD and Greens/Alliance 90 but also the PDS [Party of Democratic Socialism] are loyal to the state and its constitution. According to the constitution, however, bourgeois-democratic Germany is the state of the Germans, thus preventing an immediate and complete juridical equality of immigrants. Changes to the laws regarding naturalisation, as demanded by the PDS and Greens and intended by the new government, may be an improvement for some, but do not change the fundamentally nationalist and racist logic of exclusion on which this state as well as any other bourgeois nation state rests!

The PDS is part of the government of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern without making the demand for an end to all deportations a condition for participation in the coalition. This means that the PDS is not only willing to tolerate a government of deportations, as it has done previously in Sachsen-Anhalt, but is trying to belong to it. Reformist nonsense like the demand raised by some tendencies in the PDS to abolish the secret service – of course, within the framework of the bourgeois state, not through revolution – is an illusion. The support by a number of PDS MPs (as recommended by [prominent PDS member] Gysi) for the ‘great bugging attack’ [new legislation allowing the police to tap phones of suspects] is proof of this. Just as a Green head of the police in Münster confronts anti-nuclear power protesters and anti-fascists, so will SPD/PDS governments reliably carry out their ‘democratic mission’ and move against leftists who cannot be influenced by them (so-called left extremists). Therefore the current Länder governments in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Sachsen-Anhalt do not keep the whole governing or supporting PDS under surveillance, only with Gysi's mixed bag of internal party dissidents such as Communist Platform, Marxist Forum and Action Committee of Young Comrades.

Among the parties represented in parliament, it is some of the PDS rank-and-file, such as PDS Duisburg or the Communist Platform Nordrhein-Westfalen, who have come out in solidarity with the affected associations. On principle, we seek joint work with other leftists despite our political differences, and hope that as well as solidarity declarations we will be able to develop practical joint actions, such as for the defence of the associations against police attacks. A consistent and successful fight against state repression would, however, inevitably lead to a conflict with the reformist shackles of the PDS leadership and thus necessitate a break with the reformism of the PDS itself. Instead, sections of the left who did not want to vote SPD gave critical (Sozialistische Aktion/AKP) or uncritical (RSB [German section of the United Secretariat]) support to the PDS.

Left organisations such as Linksruck, Revolutionär-Sozialistischer Bund (RSB), Voran [German section of the Committee for a Workers' International (Socialist Party)], MLPD and others are undertaking the task of using pseudo-revolutionary phrases to catch those moving to the left and gradually lead them back to social-democracy. They are links in a chain to reformism and its stranglehold over the workers movement and the left. This must be broken – the necessary mass mobilisation against repression and racism and for class struggle is only possible if workers learn again in their daily struggles to fight consistently and successfully for their international class interests. In order to do this, a revolutionary leadership has to be built which is capable of linking struggles for the immediate interests of the exploited and oppressed with revolutionary aims. For this reason, it is crucial today to stand for the reforging of a revolutionary party and international based on a Trotskyist programme.