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Will these men change Germany? The Left Party surges

 
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 02:21 am
Nevertheless, nimh, the PDS, and by extension Die Linke, lies beyond the realm of respectable parties for me. It's not a matter of ideology -- Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinic may well be as far left as Lafontaine and Bisky, and I do consider them respectable. But when a party suppresses a country for 40 years, the least I can do is shun it. I'm sure you would feel the same if there was a successor party to the Nazis. It wouldn't assuage you if it was led by the likes of Albert Speer rather than the likes of Joseph Goebbels.

(That wasn't meant to trigger Godwin's law.)
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 08:36 am
Thomas wrote:
Nevertheless, nimh, the PDS, and by extension Die Linke, lies beyond the realm of respectable parties for me. It's not a matter of ideology -- Bernie Sanders and Dennis Kucinic may well be as far left as Lafontaine and Bisky, and I do consider them respectable. But when a party suppresses a country for 40 years, the least I can do is shun it. I'm sure you would feel the same if there was a successor party to the Nazis. It wouldn't assuage you if it was led by the likes of Albert Speer rather than the likes of Joseph Goebbels.

(That wasn't meant to trigger Godwin's law.)


Not to want to reword what I've replied in the past on this argument, I'll just leave it at this repost of two previous posts:

nimh wrote:
old europe wrote:
Hey nimh, didn't you favor "Die Linke" on that German elections thread, though?

Yep.

I take it that is in reply to my post that I would never vote for a communist? :wink:

Well, I'd go even further: I would pretty much never vote for an ex-communist either.

Thats why I would never have supported the PDS (the ex-communist party of East-Germany).

So I think it was wonderful that last year, finally, Die Linke was formed, in which the PDS merged with the mostly West-German WASG, an initiative of dissatisfied leftwing Social-Democrats, trade union activists and the odd Green dissenter.

Even if, like you (I presume) and me, you dont really accept the word of PDS folks that they are no longer (or even never were) a communist, Die Linke still had plenty of folks that had never been associated with any communist party, ever! For one, its national number 1 candidate, Oskar Lafontaine (ex-Social-Democrat).

In Holland, I am a member of the Green Left. The Green Left, back in the late eighties, was formed as a merger between four parties of what used to be called "the small left". The three main ones were the left-Christian Radicals, the Pacifist Socialists (those of the original "third way") and, yes, the Communists. At one point (back in 1994) they had an ex-communist in the top spot, so I switched. But by now, former Communists are hard to find.

Of course, in Die Linke they are a lot easier to find. But to equate the Linke with the ex-/former-communists is just not right anymore.

I mean, over half of the current parliamentary group of Die Linke are from West-Germany and never had any ties with the East-German regime! That dog wont hunt anymore, as the Americans say.

There's this, for example:

nimh wrote:
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Well, the WSAG isn't - in my opinion - mainly influenced by former SPD-members but mainly ny unionists who were DKP (and other extreme left mini parties) members.

Hhhhmmmmm...

Klaus Ernst seems to have been the most important WASG-leader until Lafontaine came on to the scene.. and he's ex-SPD.

Lafontaine joined the WASG once it became clear that it would join with the PDS in a common list, and of course instantaneously became its most influential member - it was he who gave a last rousing speech exhorting the WASG delegates to vote for merger. And he, obviously, is a former national SPD-leader.

Ulrich Maurer stood as the WASG's #1 in Baden-Wurtemburg in 2005, and was the first ever WASGler in a state parliament - when he switched over from the SPD. And he'd actually been the leader of the SPD in that state for nine years.

Next to Ernst, Axel Troost appears to be one of the two most important WASG-leaders aside from Lafontaine. He's not ex-SPD, but he's not ex-DKP either. Just a union activist. And formerly with the alternative youth movement Attac. Hardly the same cup of tea as the DKP's Leninists.

And obviously, the mass of West-German voters for the WASG/Linkspartei list in 2005 were not DKPlers or Trotskyites either - I mean, they got 5% of the vote in the West. [..]
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 09:06 am
nimh wrote:
Of course, in Die Linke they are a lot easier to find. But to equate the Linke with the ex-/former-communists is just not right anymore.

Well, I'm not sure how much this dog hunts either. Granted, many members of the Linke are now from West Germany. But did they join the party because the PDS is the ex-SED or in spite of it? I dunno. And did those Easterners who remained in the PDS stay because of inertia, or because they wanted to reform the party, or because they wanted to carry on the torch they'd been carrying all the time from 1945 to 1990? I dunno.

Anyway, although the people may be different, the PDS basically kept the property the SED had usurped as a state party. The Linke still owns this property today. My caveat "basically" means that some victims successfully sued to get their confiscated houses back etc., and that the PDS sold some property to pay for damages they were convicted to pay in other lawsuits. But apart from this, the ex-SED has kept its ill-gotten belongings throughout their multiple rebrandings.

Feel free to disagree, but that's a big deal for me. If Gysi, Bisky, Heym and company had dissolved the SED, donated the property to some kind of victims' fund, and then started the PDS from scratch, I would feel about them quite differently. I would accord much more substance to the rebrandings, which now seem stale and superficial to me. I would still disagree with them, but I'd respectfully disagree. But given the choices this party has made, I consider it outside the realm of democratic respectability -- on par with the NPD, the DVU, and Germany's Republicans.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 11:39 am
Thomas wrote:
Anyway, although the people may be different, the PDS basically kept the property the SED had usurped as a state party. The Linke still owns this property today. My caveat "basically" means that some victims successfully sued to get their confiscated houses back etc., and that the PDS sold some property to pay for damages they were convicted to pay in other lawsuits. But apart from this, the ex-SED has kept its ill-gotten belongings throughout their multiple rebrandings.

Feel free to disagree, but that's a big deal for me.

I agree, they should have given it up.

Then again, I also feel that the CDU/CSU, back in the day, shouldnt have blithely accepted scores of former Nazis into their ranks, appointing them to government and party positions of major significance. And yet I dont feel that ever put the Christian-Democrats outside the realms of democratic politics the way the neo-nazi NPD is.

Thomas wrote:
I consider it outside the realm of democratic respectability -- on par with the NPD, the DVU, and Germany's Republicans.

Die Linke? You consider the Linke on a par with the neo-nazi NPD? Really? I saw that an FDP politician said the same thing, that people should treat the Linke like they do the NPD, and I thought it sounded somewhat hysterical.

I mean, I can see the historical parallel, of sorts - though even there I have qualms. Equating Stalin with Hitler is fine - Stalin killed more people than Hitler did, and in not much more time too. But to equate the GDR with Hitler's Third Reich? Seems out of whack.

With Franco's regime, perhaps, that would be a closer parallel - and note that the Partido Popular, the Spanish party that integrated many of the Franquistas and currently is loudly agitating against the Socialist government's moves to take Franco statues down, has been in national government and is considered a normal party. In fact, I'm guessing that you might vote for the PP over Zapatero's Socialists, if you'd live in Spain? Or would have voted for the PP in the past, over Gonzales's Socialists, back before the Iraq war?

More importantly, though, there's the whole thing of who and what these parties are today. The NPD consists of unrepentant apologites of the Nazi era, and moreover, still actively propagates fascist policies. The Linke is made up for a great part of people who never had anything to do with the GDR and havent defended it; and moreover, the party now carries politics that, as Walter has pointed out, are nothing more radical than what the SPD's policies were in the 70s or early 80s.

You dont think that the fact that the NPD actually propagates fascist politics, and the Linke argues for nothing much more than old-fashioned SPD politics makes a difference, at all? I mean, apart from the whole personnel question of Die Linke Not Equal PDS?
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 11:43 am
nimh wrote:
I saw that an FDP politician said the same thing, that people should treat the Linke like they do the NPD, and I thought it sounded somewhat hysterical.


Thomas is only following the party doctrine :wink:
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 01:01 pm
nimh wrote:
Then again, I also feel that the CDU/CSU, back in the day, shouldnt have blithely accepted scores of former Nazis into their ranks, appointing them to government and party positions of major significance.

I agree -- but at least they started up their own party with their own money. They didn't continue the NSDAP with some prettier faces at the top and the money of disowned Jews in the safe.
nimh wrote:
In fact, I'm guessing that you might vote for the PP over Zapatero's Socialists, if you'd live in Spain? Or would have voted for the PP in the past, over Gonzales's Socialists, back before the Iraq war?

You guess wrongly. Although I'm not a socialist, I would definitely have voted for the Socialist Party over the Alianza Popular and the Partido Popular, especially after the 1982 coup attempt. I admit it's convenient for my argument that Felipe Gonzalez was both personally competent and politically moderate. And that the Iraq war makes the PP a show-stopper for me today. But I can say confidently that given the persons involved, I would not have voted for the AP or PP in any Spanish election.

nimh wrote:
You dont think that the fact that the NPD actually propagates fascist politics, and the Linke argues for nothing much more than old-fashioned SPD politics makes a difference, at all? I mean, apart from the whole personnel question of Die Linke Not Equal PDS?

Not enough of a difference to change the underlying principle.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 02:08 pm
NPD secretary general Peter Marx is quoted by with Spiegel-online today: "Lafontaine advances in foreign politics unblamished and totally authentic NPD-positions."

It's really not surprising how the NPD tries to jumb on any waggon ... here: because the vice-president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany attacked Die Linke.
(I'll meet most certainly on Sunday a member of that central Council -hoping that I don't forget that, I'll ask her about their position.)
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 02:30 pm
Walter Hinteler wrote:
NPD secretary general Peter Marx is quoted by with Spiegel-online today: "Lafontaine advances in foreign politics unblamished and totally authentic NPD-positions."

Have you ever heard Lafontaine talk about Polish plumbers before a working-class audience? I wouldn't go as far as saying he sounds like an NPDler -- but he definitely sounds a lot like Franz Schönhuber.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 02:41 pm
Lafontaine is a ... well, you said it. (And 'yes', I've heard him personally, "live".)
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 03:27 pm
Thomas wrote:
I agree -- but at least they started up their own party with their own money. They didn't continue the NSDAP with some prettier faces at the top and the money of disowned Jews in the safe.

Allright.. so what about the governing Hungarian ex-communists of Ferenc Gyurcsany, or the Bulgarian ones? Or the previously governing Polish or ex-communists, or Brazauzkas's party in Lithuania?

Are they also beyond the realm of decency? The equivalents of the extreme right?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 03:39 pm
nimh wrote:
Allright.. so what about the governing Hungarian ex-communists of Ferenc Gyurcsany, or the Bulgarian ones? Or the previously governing Polish or ex-communists, or Brazauzkas's party in Lithuania?

Are they also beyond the realm of decency? The equivalents of the extreme right?

I'm not well enough informed about them to know about any redeeming characteristics they might have. But until I see such characteristics, and unless they are very, very impressive, my answer is yes. Yes, they are beyond the realm of decency for me.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 04:41 pm
Thomas wrote:
nimh wrote:
Are they also beyond the realm of decency? The equivalents of the extreme right?

I'm not well enough informed about them to know about any redeeming characteristics they might have. But until I see such characteristics, and unless they are very, very impressive, my answer is yes. Yes, they are beyond the realm of decency for me.

OK. Well, it's certainly true that the Hungarian Socialists, Polish Socialdemocrats, etc are the same as the PDS or now the Linke on the issue you're using as yardstick here: most of them still have the old communist party's properties. The Hungarian ex-communists, for example, still reside in the old communist party offices at the Square of the Republic.

We agree, in fact, on there not being a rational reason to distinguish between the PDS in Germany on the one hand, and the ex-communist parties in the rest of Central Europe on the other hand.

If anything, this is more of a point I'd take up with Walter. After all, he repudiates the PDS and even now the new Left party; but his SPD, at least, has warmly embraced the ex-communist parties of most East-European countries as "sister parties". The SPD has provided such ex-communist parties with funding and training of all sorts.

I mean, to digress a bit, there's no lack of irony here. Way back in the mid-90's, a mere few years after the fall of communism still, the European Socialists faced a dilemma: continue supporting the independent, but tiny social-democratic parties that had formed or had been refounded; or switch to the more powerful, social-democratising ex-communists. The Dutch Labour Party took a principled stance opposing the switch. But the German SPD was the single strongest pusher in Europe for a switch in orientation to the ex-communist parties - which, mind you, were then still led by people like Gyula Horn, who as young militia man had been personally involved in repressing the 1956 revolution.

And yet now we see SPD leaders excoriating the Left Party as 'tainted' because of its Eastern constituent half's past. More than a bit hypocritical, that.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 Jun, 2007 04:46 pm
But.. back to you, Thomas. Couple of questions, then.

First one: do you have an idea of what party you might vote for here in Hungary? I mean, obviously, you're not intimately acquainted with the party system here, but I'm guessing you might know enough to have a suspicion or the like?

Second. You've argued that the PDS, and even the new Left party now, are actually "on par" with the neo-nazi NPD. That goes for Prime Minister Gyurcsany's Socialists and the like elsewhere too, then?

I dont know what your opinion is about how the NPD should be treated, where it is represented in state parliament, like in Sachsen. Are you in favour of a cordon sanitaire like in Belgium, where parties agree not to cooperate or negotiate with the Flemish Block, for example? Should the NPD be isolated?

I'm asking, of course, because your equation of Central Europe's ex-communist parties with neo-nazi groups raises questions here. I mean, how would you propose the EU to handle this then, being confronted with a set of member states governed and represented by what you see as the equivalent of a neo-nazi party?

Third. Since merely adopting a democratic political program; refraining from defending past dictatorships; and having a parliamentary group mostly unconnected with the past dictatorship; all do not, as you say, make enough of a difference to change the underlying principle, what would the Linke have to do, exactly, to become part of the realm of decency?

If it would give away those old SED-inherited properties, for example, would that by itself be enough for the party to be accepted again?
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 22 Jun, 2007 12:48 am
nimh wrote:
But.. back to you, Thomas. Couple of questions, then.

First one: do you have an idea of what party you might vote for here in Hungary? I mean, obviously, you're not intimately acquainted with the party system here, but I'm guessing you might know enough to have a suspicion or the like?

No, not really. I don't really find Fidez palatable, given their frequent antisemitic regresses and the corruption scandals. And I'm not familiar enough with Hungarian politics to tell you which small party I'd vote for, if any.

nimh wrote:
Second. You've argued that the PDS, and even the new Left party now, are actually "on par" with the neo-nazi NPD. That goes for Prime Minister Gyurcsany's Socialists and the like elsewhere too, then?

Yes.

nimh wrote:
I dont know what your opinion is about how the NPD should be treated, where it is represented in state parliament, like in Sachsen. Are you in favour of a cordon sanitaire like in Belgium, where parties agree not to cooperate or negotiate with the Flemish Block, for example? Should the NPD be isolated?

In principle, yes.

nimh wrote:
I'm asking, of course, because your equation of Central Europe's ex-communist parties with neo-nazi groups raises questions here. I mean, how would you propose the EU to handle this then, being confronted with a set of member states governed and represented by what you see as the equivalent of a neo-nazi party?
nimh wrote:
Third. Since merely adopting a democratic political program; refraining from defending past dictatorships; and having a parliamentary group mostly unconnected with the past dictatorship; all do not, as you say, make enough of a difference to change the underlying principle, what would the Linke have to do, exactly, to become part of the realm of decency?

I can't give you specifics on this one. I'd know it if I saw it. One important indicator would be that unrepentant communists like Sarah Wagenknecht don't get elected for any important positions anymore. That would tell me that it's the party base that put past dictatorships behind it. That it's not just a tactical move by the leaders.

nimh wrote:
If it would give away those old SED-inherited properties, for example, would that by itself be enough for the party to be accepted again?

Could be. It would certainly be a big step in this direction.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 25 Jun, 2007 10:26 pm
Fascinating.

I know I consistently give you Euro-Trash A2Kers grief, but I do hold in high esteem the extent of your knowledge about the politics of a nation in which you do not reside (not to mention your mastery of, at least, a second language).

Unfortunately all of you (save Thomas- and him only infrequently) are so consistently wrong that it calls into question the underlying foundation of your obvious knowledge.

Never-the-less, I freely admit that as much as I may like to believe I am familiar with European politics, you are very clearly much more aware of the details of American politics, and as such I am humbled ( a rare occurrence).

Thank you for your contributions to this forum.

By the way, the answer to your question Nimh is a resounding "NO!"
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 9 Jul, 2007 09:23 am
Leo Stefan Schmitt, an compagnion of Lafontaine's old times in the Saarland, but he stayed in the SPD (latest position "Fraktionsgeschäftsführer" in the Saxonian state parliament), left the SPD today and joins Die Linke.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jul, 2007 05:55 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Leo Stefan Schmitt, an compagnion of Lafontaine's old times in the Saarland, but he stayed in the SPD (latest position "Fraktionsgeschäftsführer" in the Saxonian state parliament), left the SPD today and joins Die Linke.

And "Fraktionsgeschäftsführer" means he was.. leader of the SPD group in the parliament of Sachsen?

He's not been alone, either. "The SPD keeps on eroding," concludes the Netzeitung.

A few weeks ago five "highranking youth leaders" of the SPD in the state of Niedersachsen left the party as a group to switch over to the Left. The group included Jannine Elaine Hamilton, who had been the state chair of the SPD youth organisation until last year.

And in what the article calls "public mass entries" into the Left party, a group of 60 representatives from trade unions and company worker councils has announced that it was joining the Left party in a common appeal called "Jetzt geht es los!". They called on their still hesitating colleagues to do the same: "only the Left party stands for a peaceful and social politics".

Ulrich Maurer, the former SPD leader in the state of Baden-Wurtemburg who switched over to the Left earlier already, and who is now in charge of building up the party in the West, announced that more "proper Social-democrats" would follow. Explaining his decision, Schmitt said that the SPD is still locked into the [market-oriented] politics of former Chancellor Schroeder: the party is "rigid and inflexible". And with the establishment of the new Left party, an alternative is now available.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jul, 2007 05:58 am
nimh wrote:
And "Fraktionsgeschäftsführer" means he was.. leader of the SPD group in the parliament of Sachsen?


No, that would be the "Fraktionsvorsitzender" - the 'Geschäftsführer' is a kind of Chief Wip, more concerned with the administration of the Fraktion.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Jul, 2007 06:22 am
OK, thanks!
0 Replies
 
stevewonder
 
  1  
Reply Thu 23 Aug, 2007 04:22 pm
Germans are germans sooner or later they will want to start a war. Laughing
0 Replies
 
 

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