International Conference of the »Free Left« Prague 2022

Report on the Conference from September


Sec­tion I: Glo­bal Ana­ly­sis of Capi­ta­lism and Imperialism

Kees van der Pijl, Ams­ter­dam: Coun­ter­re­vo­lu­ti­on and Revolt

Fla­via, Assem­blea Mili­tan­te, Ita­ly: The Agen­da and Stra­te­gy of Capi­ta­lism: Perma­nent Crisis

Sec­tion II: Agen­da and Stra­te­gy of Capital

Red Kahi­na: The Siege

malcom z: Most-known-unknown: Popcult of Subju­ga­ti­on as Mega-stra­te­gy of World Impe­ria­lism sin­ce 1945, Enligh­te­ned Analy­sis, Resistant Ans­wers. If you Dare

Lel­lo, Assem­blea Mili­tan­te, Ita­li­en: Cen­tra­liz­a­ti­on of the Means of Pro­duc­tion, Social rela­ti­ons, and Sta­te con­trol to Save Capi­tal as the Goal of Pan­de­mic Management

Sec­tion III: Reports on the situa­ti­on in indi­vi­du­al countries

Kees van der Pijl, Ams­ter­dam: The Situa­ti­on in the Netherlands

Wal­ter, Freie Lin­ke Öster­reich (FLOE): The Situa­ti­on in Austria

Jan Mül­ler, Freie Lin­ke Zukunft, Deutsch­land: The Situa­ti­on in Germany

Lud­wig Schuldt, Freie Lin­ke Hal­le: The Situa­ti­on in Eas­tern Germany

Sec­tion IV: Stra­te­gic and tac­ti­cal topics

Jean-Marie Jaco­by, Freie Lin­ke Zukunft Luxem­burg: The Situa­ti­on in Luxem­bourg from the Point of View of Stra­te­gic Ques­ti­ons

San­dra Gabri­el, Freie Lin­ke Hal­le: Stra­te­gies for a Sys­tem Change

Fabio, SOL Cobas, Ita­ly: On the Cur­rent Strug­gles of the Grass­roots Uni­on SOL Cobas

Sec­tion V: Final Discussion

Press and fur­ther Links

Section I: Global Analysis of Capitalism and Imperialism

Kees van der Pijl, Amsterdam: Counterrevolution and Revolt

In the first pre­sen­ta­ti­on, Kees van der Pijl con­t­en­ded that the sta­te of emer­gen­cy jus­ti­fied under the pre­text of the Coro­na­vi­rus must be unders­tood as a pre­ven­ta­ti­ve coun­ter­re­vo­lu­ti­on, ins­ti­ga­ted by Wes­tern Olig­archs and their orga­niz­a­ti­ons in respon­se to the thre­at of world revolt. Sin­ce the 2007-08 finan­cial cri­sis, a num­ber of strong pro­test move­ments have emer­ged which van der Pijl argues have unsett­led the ruling class. This inclu­des the “Arab Spring” of 2011; the pro­tests against EU-impo­sed aus­teri­ty in Greece, Spain, and Por­tu­gal; the Occu­py wal Street Move­ment in the U.S.; the Yel­low Vests in Fran­ce; as well as right-wing popu­lists and Islamists.

With the glo­bal sta­te of emer­gen­cy estab­lis­hed under the pre­text of the Coro­na­vi­rus in March 2020, the­se and other pro­tests could be sup­pres­sed. The wes­tern capi­ta­list class, no lon­ger capa­ble of making even minor con­ces­si­ons to the workers, could only rule through fear-mon­ge­ring. van der Pijl iden­ti­fies an important foun­da­ti­on for this stra­te­gy in the thought of U.S. poli­ti­cal sci­en­tist Phil­lip Zeli­kow, who also ser­ved as the Exe­cu­ti­ve Direc­tor of the 9/11 Com­mis­si­on and as the Coun­selor of the US Sta­te Depart­ment under Geor­ge W. Bush. Zeli­kow argues that poli­tics is built around ‘pubic myths,’ which need not be true, but must be sea­red into the public con­scious­ness through sho­cking, fear-and-panic-indu­cing events.

The capi­ta­list eli­te, assem­bled at the World Eco­no­mic Forum, employ­ed this sta­te of emer­gen­cy along the lines of the “shock doc­tri­ne” stra­te­gy descri­bed by Nao­mi Klein to dri­ve through the ‘Gre­at Reset.’ van der Pijl inter­pre­ted this as a new form of capi­ta­lism which com­bi­nes mas­si­ve­ly inten­si­fied explo­ita­ti­on with total sur­veil­lan­ce, and argues that the only huma­ne alter­na­ti­ve is socia­lism with an impro­ved form of plan­ned eco­no­my. He also argued that bet­ter con­di­ti­ons now exist for such a pro­ject than pre­vai­led under »sta­te socia­lism« due to the pro­gress of com­pu­ter tech­no­lo­gy and the Inter­net. In the ensuing dis­cus­sion, the use of terms such as »sta­te socia­lism« was cri­ti­ci­zed as defa­ma­to­ry. Fur­ther­mo­re, the role of shadow banks like Black­rock, pos­si­ble dif­fe­ren­ces bet­ween US and Ger­man capi­tal, and the his­to­ri­cal mis­si­on of the working class in rela­ti­on to the »class of con­scious­ness« addres­sed by Kees were discussed.

A video of the pre­sen­ta­ti­on in Ger­man is avail­ab­le: https://​ody​see​.com/​@​f​r​e​i​e​l​i​n​k​e​z​u​k​u​n​f​t​:​4​/​K​e​e​s​-​v​a​n​-​d​e​r​-​P​ijl — Konterrevolution-und-Revolte:c

Flavia, Assemblea Militante, Italy: The Agenda and Strategy of Capitalism: Permanent Crisis

Fla­via began her talk with the pro­po­si­ti­on that there can be no talk of a uni­fied agen­da of world capi­ta­lism. She argued, none­theless, that des­pi­te par­ti­al con­flicts, the­re is a com­mo­na­li­ty and con­ver­gence of inte­rests, espe­cial­ly in the West. In the after­math of the 2008 cri­sis, we have seen a con­sis­tent poli­cy of con­sump­ti­on reduc­tion, social cuts, poli­ti­cal disci­pli­ning and depo­pu­la­ti­on under the gui­se of ever more manu­fac­tu­red cri­ses and emer­gen­ci­es (the mRNA sub­s­tan­ces could, she spe­cu­la­ted, repre­sent an expe­ri­ment in this direc­tion, espe­cial­ly with regard to pos­si­ble mass ste­ri­liz­a­ti­on). We are not dealing with a regu­lar, cycli­cal cri­sis of capi­ta­lism, but with a sys­temic one. The West is reac­ting on mul­ti­ple levels: finan­cial, eco­no­mic, mili­ta­ry, social, sani­ta­ry, envi­ron­men­tal, poli­ti­cal. The con­so­li­da­ti­on of the West’s Mal­thu­si­an poli­cy is car­ri­ed out through an inten­si­fi­ca­ti­on of impe­ria­lism, a world­wi­de pre­d­a­to­ry cam­pai­gn cou­pled with inten­si­fied explo­ita­ti­on both at home and abroad, which simul­ta­ne­ous­ly fur­nis­hes a per­ma­nent cri­sis to be mana­ged des­po­ti­cal­ly. Hence the aut­ho­ri­ta­ri­an turn in the West and the aggres­si­on against Chi­na and Rus­sia. This necessa­ri­ly also leads to inter­nal ten­si­ons, which are to be kept under con­trol with the manu­fac­tu­red sta­tes of emer­gen­cy and sur­veil­lan­ce archi­tec­tures. In this regard, Ita­ly figu­res as a labo­ra­to­ry. Many of the repres­si­ve mea­su­res (»lock­down,« digi­tal ID, ratio­ning, citizen’s money, etc.) were first tried out in Ita­ly befo­re being app­lied elsewhere. 

The fascism ques­ti­on is hot­ly deba­ted wit­hin the oppo­si­tio­nal left. Fla­via argued that an essen­ti­al dif­fe­rence with tra­di­tio­nal fascism and the cur­rent pro­gram lies in the cur­rent stra­te­gy of demo­bi­liz­a­ti­on, i.e., the poli­ti­cal and social pas­si­viz­a­ti­on of the mas­ses, cor­re­sponding to an apo­li­ti­cal, tech­no­cra­tic sta­te. With respect to the (then-upco­m­ing) elec­tions, she saw only shades of one and the same ten­den­cy on the bal­lot, with only the »sov­er­eig­nists« perhaps repre­sen­ting some dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on. She empha­si­zed that the extre­me right were not capa­ble of taking over the resis­tance to the Coro­na mea­su­res in Ita­ly. The Assem­blea Mili­tan­te was foun­ded as an attempt to coor­di­na­te the lef­tist for­ces in the resis­tance and to rai­se awa­reness of the pre­vai­ling con­di­ti­ons. She sees their chief task for the fall to be trans­forming the People’s Com­mit­tees against the Green Pass into tho­se »against sta­tes of emer­gen­cy, vic­timiza­ti­on and warsFinal­ly, she stres­sed the impor­t­ance of the Pra­gue mee­ting, though the dele­ga­tes repre­sent, for the moment, small mino­ri­ties in their respec­ti­ve coun­tries. She hopes that inter­na­tio­nal exch­an­ges will lead to pro­gress in ana­ly­sis and the deve­lo­p­ment of uni­form practices.

The text of the ent­i­re pre­sen­ta­ti­on: Flavia-AM-Capitalism’s agen­da and stra­te­gy-PER­MA­NENT CRISIS

Section II: Agenda and Strategy of Capital

Red Kahina: The Siege

Red Kahi­na argued that the cur­rent pro­gram of the ruling class amounts, essen­ti­al­ly, to a sie­ge of all huma­ni­ty. She out­linedthe tra­jec­to­ry of the glo­bal class war sin­ce 1991 inor­der to cla­ri­fy and con­tex­tua­li­ze the role of the Coro­na ope­ra­ti­on. She ana­ly­zed the stra­te­gies of pseu­do-cri­tique and pseu­do-oppo­si­ti­on used to try to pre­vent a renais­sance of a world­wi­de com­mu­nist move­ment, which she belie­ves is emi­n­ent­ly pos­si­ble right now. She pla­ced the coer­ci­ve mea­su­res, mas­si­ve­ly expan­ded under the cover of the ‘pan­de­mic’, in a broa­der con­text of ruling class prac­ti­ce over the past deca­des. She empha­si­zed the pre­ce­dents for ens­lave­ment and mass impro­versh­ment. Indi­vi­du­al aspects of this were dis­cus­sed from many perspectives.

A video of the pre­sen­ta­ti­on in Eng­lish is avail­ab­le:
https://​ody​see​.com/​@​f​r​e​i​e​l​i​n​k​e​z​u​k​u​n​f​t​:​4​/​R​e​d​-​K​a​h​ina — The-Siege:4 https://​ody​see​.com/​@​f​r​e​i​e​l​i​n​k​e​z​u​k​u​n​f​t​:​4​/​R​e​d​-​K​a​h​ina — Summing-up-The-Siege:c

malcom z: Most-known-unknown: Popcult of Subjugation as Mega-strategy of World Imperialism since 1945, Enlightened Analysis, Resistant Answers. If you Dare

Mal­colm Z empha­si­zed that his lec­tu­re was not inten­ded to com­pe­te with the Mar­xist approach, which he noted was an indis­pensable pre­re­qui­si­te for under­stan­ding the Coro­na sta­ging. Ins­tead, he aimed to pro­vi­de an explana­ti­on of how modern pro­pa­gan­da works by ana­ly­zing the means of pro­pa­gan­da, from words to music, from pus­sy shaving to tat­toos. He argued that reco­gni­zing this is a pre­re­qui­si­te, espe­cial­ly for com­mu­nists, in order to be able to see behind the maneu­vers of the rulers at all. Mal­colm con­si­ders blind­ness to the­se ques­ti­ons to be a pos­si­ble explana­ti­on for the fail­u­re of the left on the sub­ject of »Coro­na«. He pre­fa­ced his pre­sen­ta­ti­on with an over­view of his own oeu­vre, which pri­ma­ri­ly revol­ves around the ana­ly­sis and cri­tique of ideo­lo­gy through language.

As a dis­pos­ses­sed citi­zen of the GDR, he is equip­ped with the appro­pria­te edu­ca­ti­on and per­spec­ti­ve to pro­vi­de a cri­tique of Wes­tern pro­pa­gan­da and its tech­ni­ques that can­not be found else­whe­re; name­ly, he iden­ti­fies it as an amal­gam of Nazi youth cul­tu­re and Ame­ri­can com­mer­cial cul­tu­re. He argued that the post-War Federal Repu­blic of Ger­ma­ny was inde­ed fascist, illus­tra­ting his con­ten­ti­on by com­pa­ring the annex­a­ti­on of East Ger­ma­ny (i.e. Ger­man Reuni­fi­ca­ti­on) with the prior annex­a­ti­ons initia­ted under Hit­ler.. Final­ly, in view of the ille­gal annex­a­ti­on of the GDR and the human rights cri­mes com­mit­ted during the annex­a­ti­on, Mal­com Z pro­po­sed estab­li­shing a pro­vi­sio­nal government of the GDR. He argued that this would have the advan­ta­ge, among other things, of spa­ring us all the unde­mo­cra­tic elec­to­ral thea­ter, in which the bour­geoi­sie can hard­ly be bea­ten anyway.

A video of the pre­sen­ta­ti­on in Ger­man is avail­ab­le:‑Z — Der-wei%C3%9Fe-Nigger-aus-Deutsch-Nordost:2

Lello, Assemblea Militante, Italy: Centralization of the Means of Production, Social relations, and State control to Save Capital as the Goal of Pandemic Management

Lel­lo stres­sed that the poli­ci­es imple­men­ted under the gui­se of the pan­de­mic were neit­her a respon­se to a con­tin­gent natu­ral event, nor sprung from a mad con­spi­ra­cy by a des­pot. Rather, they were a tar­ge­ted respon­se to pro­blems which aro­se from capitalism’s his­to­ri­cal cri­sis of accu­mu­la­ti­on. Sin­ce 2008, the world eco­no­my has been threa­tened by the deva­lua­ti­on of finan­cial capi­tal, which no lon­ger suc­ceeds in rea­li­zing its­elf in living labor. He argued that, in order to maneu­ver bet­ween the Scyl­la of a reces­si­on and the Cha­ryb­dis of an infla­ti­on cri­sis, the rulers choo­se to curb pro­duc­tion by means of »lock­downs.” This was flan­ked by sta­bi­liz­a­ti­on of the finan­cial mar­kets through cen­tral bank bor­ro­wing and pre­ven­ti­ve coun­ter­insur­gen­cy through strict popu­la­ti­on con­trol. This had suc­cee­ded in post­po­ning the col­lap­se for the time being, he con­clu­des, but in the cour­se of the next emer­gen­cy, Ukrai­ne, the pro­blem of reces­si­on as well as infla­ti­on must ari­se with even grea­ter virulence.

Lel­lo inter­preted the world­wi­de strug­gles against the disci­pli­na­ry mea­su­res initia­ted under the pre­text of Coro­na as a real rup­tu­re bet­ween the rulers and the explo­i­ted clas­ses. He argued that we should not expect a restart of a nor­mal accu­mu­la­ti­on cycle, but rather a repeat of the cri­sis and ever stron­ger des­po­tic coun­ter­mea­su­res from the side of the capi­tal. Fur­ther inter­nal disci­pli­ning along with aggres­si­ve exter­nal action against Rus­sia and Chi­na are to be expec­ted, he said, in order to secu­re raw mate­ri­als and to gain con­trol of inter­na­tio­nal value chains against emer­ging com­pe­ti­tors. This time, the poli­cy of impo­ve­rish­ment is fue­led by war pro­pa­gan­da. He argues that the class con­scious left must stand by Chi­na and Rus­sia, who­se poli­ci­es are bour­geois, but who­se pro­le­ta­ri­at can exact con­ces­si­ons for its efforts in the cour­se of the­se inter­ca­pi­ta­list dis­pu­tes. Ulti­mate­ly, Lel­lo said, the essen­ti­al insights of Marx, Lenin, and Bor­di­ga remain valid and are indis­pensable for under­stan­ding the pre­sent, espe­cial­ly the incre­a­sing dif­fi­cul­ty of capi­tal to rea­li­ze pro­fits, which will only grow due to auto­ma­ti­on and ever hig­her shares of fixed capi­tal. The­re­fo­re, in post­po­ning the rea­liz­a­ti­on of pro­fits into the future, finan­cial capi­tal grows so clo­se­ly rela­ted to pro­duc­ti­ve capi­tal that a cri­sis of the for­mer necessa­ri­ly cau­ses a cri­sis of the latter.

This deep accu­mu­la­ti­on cri­sis of capi­tal is the cau­se of the »tota­li­ta­ri­an« expan­si­on in the search for absorp­ti­on of sur­plus value from all sphe­res of life, and is the real rea­son for the tota­li­ta­ri­an ten­den­cy evi­dent today. This is also the rea­son why today the pro­le­ta­ri­at is not only figh­t­ing for its own libe­ra­ti­on, but for the libe­ra­ti­on of all huma­ni­ty. He con­clu­des that the resis­tance against this inva­si­ve, tota­li­ta­ri­an capi­ta­lism must be equal­ly total: it must fight against the mecha­nisms of modern capi­ta­lism in their ent­i­re­ty. In the end, the con­fron­ta­ti­on remains bet­ween capi­ta­lism and com­mu­nism – there is no lon­ger an in-bet­ween.

The text of the ent­i­re pre­sen­ta­ti­on: Lel­lo, Assem­blea Mili­tan­te, Ita­ly-Cen­tra­liz­a­ti­on of the Means of Pro­duc­tion, Social rela­ti­ons, and Sta­te con­trol to Save Capi­tal as the Goal of Pan­de­mic Management

Section III: Reports on the situation in individual countries

Kees van der Pijl, Amsterdam: The Situation in the Netherlands

Kees van der Pijl reported on the resis­tance against the »lock­down« in the Nether­lands as well as the bru­ta­li­ty of the poli­ce during pro­tests. He noted that the coun­try is cur­r­ent­ly expe­ri­en­cing lar­ge pro­tests by far­mers, who the government wants to ban from using fer­ti­li­zers, espe­cial­ly near natu­re reser­ves, due to an EU regu­la­ti­on. Up to a third of the far­mers could no lon­ger ope­ra­te if the plans were enfor­ced. Their farms could then be snat­ched up chea­ply by big busi­ness, enab­ling the fur­ther imple­men­ta­ti­on of the Gre­at Reset in the agri­cul­tu­ral sec­tor. A sharp decli­ne in food pro­duc­tion in the Nether­lands and all of Euro­pe could be expec­ted if the far­mers lose the batt­les. Howe­ver, Kees is qui­te opti­mistic that the far­mers‹ pro­tests, which are streng­t­he­ned by the sup­port of the pro­test move­ment against the Coro­na poli­cy, and argued that they could even over­turn the neo­li­be­ral regime in The Hague.

Walter, Freie Linke Österreich (FLOE): The Situation in Austria

Wal­ter argued that Aus­tria was also a labo­ra­to­ry for the Gre­at Reset. The NGOs, Social Demo­crats, Greens, and other left-wing groups were in favor of »lock­downs« and com­pul­so­ry vac­ci­na­ti­on. In respon­se, the lar­gest social move­ment sin­ce the gene­ral strike initia­ted by the KPÖ ( Aus­tri­an com­mu­nist par­ty) in 1950 emer­ged. More than 100,000 peop­le demons­tra­ted wee­kly in Vien­na in Novem­ber and Decem­ber of 2021 and Janu­a­ry 2022, and many more took part in very lar­ge pro­tests in other cities. Nevertheless, in com­pa­ri­son to Ger­ma­ny, Fran­ce, or Ita­ly, the­re was hard­ly any repres­si­on of the pro­test move­ment. Wal­ter sug­gested this could be attri­bu­t­ed to the fact that the FPÖ, a strong right-wing popu­list par­lia­men­ta­ry par­ty, acted as the movement’s pro­tec­ti­ve power, and that the gover­ning par­ties were very much preoc­cu­p­ied with themselves.

The Free Left Aus­tria took part in many lar­ge demons­tra­ti­ons in Vien­na and orga­ni­zed its own events with other left-wing alli­an­ce part­ners. In gene­ral, the pro­test move­ment was stron­gly influ­en­ced by right-wing and bour­geois groups, and par­ties such as the FPÖ, or the bour­geois par­ty »Peop­le, Free­dom, Fun­da­men­tal Rights« (MFG), which emer­ged from the move­ment. So far, it has only been pos­si­ble to break through their hege­mo­ny to a minor extent. Wal­ter saw the aboli­ti­on of com­pul­so­ry vac­ci­na­ti­on in June 2022 as the grea­test suc­cess of the pro­tests and as a defeat for the government. In par­ti­cu­lar, he empha­si­zes that the mass pro­tests have poli­ti­ci­zed many citi­zens for the first time, which gives rea­son to hope for deep social oppo­si­ti­on to the advo­ca­tes of the pre­vious poli­cy line in the com­ing years. Fur­ther­mo­re, trust in poli­ti­ci­ans has been deeply dama­ged. This was demons­tra­ted, among other things, by the fact that four non-par­ty can­di­da­tes suc­cee­ded in collec­ting the 6,000 sup­por­ter signa­tures necessa­ry to par­ti­ci­pa­te in the elec­tion of the Federal President.

The FLOE repre­sen­ta­ti­ve went on to dis­cuss the incre­a­sing decli­ne of the tra­di­tio­nal libe­ral-con­ser­va­ti­ve gover­ning par­ty, the Aus­tri­an People’s Par­ty (ÖVP), while noting the cor­re­spon­ding alter­na­ti­ve dan­ger of a red-green government. All the­se par­ties are in favor of sanc­tio­n­ing Rus­sia. Wal­ter con­clu­ded with some remarks about the FLOE and its acti­vi­ties, par­ti­cu­lar­ly their decisi­on to acqui­re par­ty sta­tus. This was initi­al­ly done main­ly for legal and orga­niz­a­tio­nal rea­sons. Par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in elec­tions is not on the agen­da at the moment, he said. They coope­ra­te with the online perio­di­cal Roten Fah­ne and the »Demo­kra­tie und Grund­rech­te“ cam­pai­gn. They main­tain their own event room and use it accord­in­gly. They also have their own organ, the Red Phoe­nix. Their main focus in the future will be figh­t­ing for peace with Russia.

Jan Müller, Freie Linke Zukunft, Deutschland: The Situation in Germany

In his pre­sen­ta­ti­on, Jan Mül­ler sum­ma­ri­zed the most important events of the last two years in Ger­ma­ny, whe­re »lock­downs« las­ted from March 22 to June 15, 2020, and then from Novem­ber 1, 2020 to June 2021, the for­mer being one of the har­s­hest in the world. He iden­ti­fied the begin­nings of the pro­test move­ment with an action on March 28, 2020 in Ber­lin, in which Anselm Lenz, Hen­drik Soden­kamp and Batse­ba N’Diaye dis­tri­bu­t­ed copies of the Basic Law (pro­vi­sio­nal con­sti­tu­ti­on of the FRG) in front of the Volks­büh­ne, and were cha­sed by poli­ce for doing so. The pro­test expan­ded into the spring, most nota­b­ly in Stutt­gart, under the mant­le of Micha­el Ballweg’s “Quer­den­ker” (Late­ral Thin­ker) move­ment. The­se cul­mi­na­ted on the 16th of May with a pro­test of 25,000 par­ti­ci­pants. The events in Stutt­gart, howe­ver, were sus­pen­ded after up to 200,000 euros worth of Ballweg’s event tech­no­lo­gy was mys­te­rious­ly burnt down. Ball­weg resu­med with the lar­ge-sca­le demons­tra­ti­ons on August 1 and 29, 2020 in Ber­lin, with several hund­red thousand par­ti­ci­pants, and noted the bru­tal poli­ce vio­lence used in disper­sing the demons­tra­tors on August 29, effec­tively spel­ling the end of suc­cess­ful lar­ger demons­tra­ti­ons until the fall of 2021. After this point, the government effec­tively ban­ned pro­tests through one­rous and arbi­tra­ry “hygie­ne regu­la­ti­ons” and mas­si­ve poli­ce repres­si­on. Tho­se who still attemp­ted to pro­test under the­se con­di­ti­ons were houn­ded by the poli­ce and fined.

The new approach of the government for the win­ter of 2021 – 22 was cap­tu­red in Chan­cellor Scholz’s decla­ra­ti­on that his regime knew no “red lines” in the strugg­le against the Coro­na­vi­rus. This pivot, par­ti­cu­lar­ly the thre­at of com­pul­so­ry vac­ci­na­ti­on, arou­sed signi­fi­cant indi­gna­ti­on and spur­red mas­si­ve pro­tests. In the peri­od bet­ween Novem­ber 2021 and March 2022, the­re were Mon­day evening demons­tra­ti­ons in almost every Ger­man city. In Decem­ber 2021, as well as in Janu­a­ry and Febru­a­ry 2022, bet­ween 300,000 and 500,000 peop­le took to the streets every Mon­day. In the end, com­pul­so­ry vac­ci­na­ti­on was pre­ven­ted. Final­ly, Mül­ler sum­ma­ri­zed the cur­rent situa­ti­on with a focus on the Rus­si­an sanc­tions and their con­se­quen­ces. He argued that the­se will lead to mas­si­ve impo­ve­rish­ment and a dest­ruc­tion of our live­li­hoods. So far, at least in West Ger­ma­ny, no pro­test move­ment has deve­lo­ped yet com­pa­ra­ble to the one against the Coro­na sanctions.

Accord­ing to Mül­ler, cor­rect deman­ds, espe­cial­ly tho­se made at pro­tests eas­tern Ger­ma­ny, such as the com­mis­sio­ning of Nord­stream 2, would soon fail becau­se Rus­sia is alrea­dy diver­ting its ener­gy resour­ces to the east. He argued that if Ger­ma­ny wants to remain an indus­tria­li­zed coun­try, it must rely on its own resour­ces. He noted that the­re are lar­ge stocks of hard coal and ligni­te, natu­ral gas that can be extrac­ted by fracking, and even ura­ni­um stored here. He con­clu­ded that the­re was no way around the con­struc­tion of new nuclear power plants, posi­tio­ning hims­elf in the ongo­ing ener­gy deba­te wit­hin the Free Left Future. In the dis­cus­sion that fol­lo­wed, the the­sis was put for­ward that a Ger­man che­mi­cal indus­try based on coal che­mi­stry would not be com­pe­ti­ti­ve inter­na­tio­nal­ly. Jan Mül­ler coun­te­red that new reac­tor tech­no­lo­gies such as the dual-flu­id reac­tor could be used as an ener­gy source for the­se pro­ces­ses. Then the ques­ti­on of com­pe­ti­ti­ve­ness would look very dif­fe­rent. It was agreed that this was not a short-term solution.

Ludwig Schuldt, Freie Linke Halle: The Situation in Eastern Germany

Schuldt began by expres­sing his dis­sa­tis­fac­tion with the »Hal­le Move­ment«, who­se wee­kly Mon­day demons­tra­ti­ons, which began in Novem­ber 2020, have incre­a­singly gra­vi­ta­ted towards eso­te­ri­cism. For this rea­son he has focu­sed on buil­ding up the small FL in Hal­le, which admit­ted­ly could not com­pe­te with the 500 acti­ve mem­bers of the Hal­le Move­ment. He reports that the main topic of inte­rest the­re is still the “Ein­rich­tungs­be­zo­ge­ne Impf­pflicht” (man­da­to­ry vac­ci­ne for workers in health pro­fes­si­ons and care homes, which was pas­sed in Ger­ma­ny, but has been app­lied in a very par­ti­al and frag­men­ted fashion), but incre­a­singly atten­ti­on is paid to the Rus­si­an sanc­tions and their con­se­quen­ces. He notes that in the Free Left, as well as in the demons­tra­ti­ons in gene­ral, the insight that we need a new sys­tem is widespread. Howe­ver, in the eyes of the sta­te, cri­ti­cism of the sys­tem is inter­pre­ted as »dele­gi­ti­miz­a­ti­on of the sta­te that is rele­vant to con­sti­tu­tio­nal pro­tec­tion« (i.e. extre­mists who can be sur­veil­led and poten­ti­al­ly more by the Ger­man intel­li­gence agen­cy BfV).

Most of the par­ti­ci­pants of the demons­tra­ti­ons descri­bed them­sel­ves as apo­li­ti­cal, neit­her left nor right. Accord­ing to Schuldt, they inter­pret left as signi­fy­ing the neo­li­be­ral Anti­fa, right as Nazis like Sven Lie­big. In the rather anar­chist-ori­en­ted Freie Lin­ke Hal­le, widespread calls for a caring sta­te would meet with skep­ti­cism. The view is widespread the­re that neit­her capi­ta­lism nor socia­lism works. Many citi­zens who had been socia­li­zed in the GDR in par­ti­cu­lar now took this belief for gran­ted. In the Freie Lin­ke Hal­le, the sta­te per se is seen as an instru­ment of power, whe­ther of the bour­geoi­sie or the par­ty bureau­cra­cy, and is the­re­fo­re rejec­ted des­pi­te obvious dif­fe­ren­ces. Marx’s dic­tum of the sta­te dying away is often cited.

He addres­sed the ques­ti­on of pro­per­ty rela­ti­ons and a plan­ned eco­no­my, with a leng­thy dig­res­si­on on China’s adap­t­ati­on of inter­de­pen­dence balan­ces. In gene­ral, the spea­ker argued that the lat­ter is dis­credi­ted, but so is capi­ta­lism, and sums up the com­ple­te dis­ori­en­ta­ti­on of the demons­tra­tors on the­se issu­es. He then dis­cus­sed the pro­ble­ma­tic role of right-wing net­works wit­hin the pro­test move­ment in the East. Right-wing net­works have been built up over deca­des and accord­in­gly they can exert their influ­ence. This also works becau­se the frus­tra­ti­on of the citi­zens in the East is so enor­mous that, he obser­ved, they don’t care if the­re is a Nazi or a com­mu­nist on the sta­ge. The main thing is that their pro­test can be articulated.

In view of the gre­at influ­ence of the right, he argues that the FL should not make the mista­ke of brea­king with the bour­geois part of the pro­test move­ment. The goal at the moment could only be to pre­vent the cen­ter from being taken over by the far right.. So far, the FL Hal­le has suc­cee­ded in coun­ter­ac­ting far-right attempts at appro­pria­ti­on through its pre­sence, but this is only a snapshot; the situa­ti­on is gene­ral­ly not easy for small left-wing groups without lar­ge struc­tures. The absence of the left, which sup­por­ted the coro­na nar­ra­ti­ve, had a par­ti­cu­lar­ly nega­ti­ve impact in the east, as was sta­ted later in the discussion.

Section IV: Strategic and tactical topics

Jean-Marie Jacoby, Freie Linke Zukunft Luxemburg: The Situation in Luxembourg from the Point of View of Strategic Questions

Jean-Marie Jaco­by repor­ted on the Luxem­bour­gish resis­tance against the Coro­na dic­ta­tor­s­hip, which ope­ra­tes under the name »Polo­nai­se Solidaire/​Saturday for Liber­ty,” as well as his spe­ci­fic role the­re as a head orga­ni­zer and com­mu­nist. He deli­ber­ate­ly inter­wea­ved the­se descrip­ti­ons with stra­te­gic con­si­de­ra­ti­ons. In Luxem­burg, for examp­le, the paci­fist atti­tu­de of the late­ral thin­kers (i.e. “Quer­den­ker,” the most orga­ni­zed seg­ment of the pro­test move­ment in Ger­ma­ny) was not adop­ted from the out­set; ins­tead, it was signal­ed from the begin­ning that one would react to vio­lence with resis­tance. Con­se­quent­ly, Jaco­by argued, they were able to pre­empt and escape the sort of vio­lent repres­si­on suf­fe­red in Ger­ma­ny. Only at unan­noun­ced demons­tra­ti­ons by other groups did the poli­ce use for­ce, with the sup­port of Bel­gi­an units.

Jaco­by stres­sed the role of inter­na­tio­nal legal con­ven­ti­ons, such as the Coun­cil of Europe’s Con­ven­ti­on on Human Rights or the Inter­na­tio­nal Covenant on Civil and Poli­ti­cal Rights, and argued that the par­lia­men­ta­ry path – as one among many means to be exhaus­ted – offe­red an important sta­ge for a move­ment with real power on the streets. Regar­ding the com­pa­ra­bi­li­ty of today with the past, he noted that the les­son of World War 2 was not that one must not kill Jews, but that one must not kill human bein­gs. As soon as a group of peop­le has to be held up as a sca­pe­goat for ever­ything, immedia­te resis­tance is necessa­ry. Jaco­by plea­ded for clear­ly iden­ti­fy­ing and naming the oppo­nent, and cal­led for ending the dic­ta­tor­s­hip of capi­tal, spe­ci­fi­cal­ly in its cur­rent form of finan­ce-capi­ta­list dictatorship.

He then repor­ted on the crea­ti­on of the par­ty »Mir d’Vol­lek« (We, the Peop­le) in Luxem­bourg, and on attacks on the demons­tra­ti­ons of Polo­nai­se Soli­dai­re in rela­ti­on to the Ukrai­ne poli­cy. He argued that deman­ds for the end of anti-Rus­sia sanc­tions are the order of the day, becau­se they are the cau­se of the infla­ti­on explo­si­on. He also jus­ti­fied his main slo­gan, »direct demo­cra­cy in poli­tics and the eco­no­my,« arguing that it goes bey­ond the bour­geois for­ces by cal­ling for the demo­cra­tiz­a­ti­on of the eco­no­my as a decisi­on-making cen­ter, but in a fashion that gains more accep­t­ance than were the same idea expres­sed in Mar­xist-Leni­nist voca­bu­la­ry. In agi­ta­ti­on, the pack­a­ging is what counts. He stres­sed that his open iden­ti­ty as a com­mu­nist has not deter­red demons­tra­tors from the pro­tests he co-orga­ni­zes. He con­clu­des by remin­ding the audi­ence that the time has come to bury capi­ta­lism, as it once was the slave-owning socie­ty, and con­clu­des with a reso­lu­te »ven­ce­re­mos«!

A video of the pre­sen­ta­ti­on in Ger­man is avail­ab­le: https://​ody​see​.com/​@​f​r​e​i​e​l​i​n​k​e​z​u​k​u​n​f​t​:​4​/​J​e​a​n​-​M​a​r​i​e​-​J​a​c​oby – Situation-in-Luxemburg:b

Sandra Gabriel, Freie Linke Halle: Strategies for a System Change

Gabri­el began her pre­sen­ta­ti­on with refe­rence to the West Ger­man stu­dent move­ment of 1968, citing the mot­to »Wer dage­gen ist, ist dabei« (rough­ly, whoever is against it, is the­re, i.e. the­re, pre­sent at the pro­tests). San­dra addres­sed the pro­cess of poli­ti­ciz­a­ti­on and radi­ca­liz­a­ti­on through pro­tes­ting its­elf, using the examp­le of Bom­mi Bau­mann and the Viet­nam War. With this, and Rudi Dutschke’s maxim that he wan­ted to chan­ge peop­le, she draws a stark con­trast with today’s left. She argues that the lat­ter col­la­bo­ra­te with the sta­te and capi­tal, and has only con­tempt for all tho­se who are not alrea­dy per­fect peop­le like them­sel­ves. After the fall of com­mu­nism in 1989, accord­ing to San­dra, right-wing struc­tures in the east were deli­ber­ate­ly built up and sup­por­ted with the help of the FRG in order to keep the GDR popu­la­ti­on down.

Sub­se­quent­ly, con­trol­led, pseu­do-left-wing struc­tures were built up and sup­por­ted in order to divi­de and mana­ge the popu­la­ti­on. This basic tac­tic, she argued, has been app­lied in ear­nest sin­ce 2020. Fake left org­niz­a­ti­ons, sup­por­ted by the sta­te, deli­ber­ate­ly sought to dis­credit the pro­tests against the sta­te of emer­gen­cy by means of ‘con­ta­ct guilt con­structs,’ i.e. guilt by asso­cia­ti­on. In order to do so, they would cite the pre­sence at pro­tests of know neo-Nazis who, for their part, had been cul­ti­va­ted by and through sta­te struc­tures. Thus, the sta­te not only prac­ti­ces a tar­ge­ted defa­ma­ti­on cam­pai­gn, but also actively ensu­res that it is under­pin­ned by means of the mecha­nism out­lined abo­ve. San­dar obser­ved that all it took was to loca­te or place a sin­gle Nazi in a demons­tra­ti­on, in order to enab­le the media to eit­her defa­me all par­ti­ci­pants by exten­si­on, or at the very least, exclu­si­ve­ly focus repor­ting on the pre­sence of the Nazi, rather than the con­cerns of the thousands of demonstrators.

San­dra argued that the Left not only fai­led to sup­port the pro­tests, but inde­ed rabidly fought them in order to con­form with the deman­ds thel main­stream media.When the Left with­draw, she argues, the for­ces of aut­ho­ri­ty, unfree­dom, and capi­tal win. To illus­tra­te her point, she cited the 2013 Gezi upri­sing in Tur­key. The left-wing Tur­kish and Kur­dish par­ties did not aban­don the pro­tests just becau­se thousands of natio­na­lists were pre­sent; rather, they fought for and inde­ed won hege­mo­ny over the pro­tests, clai­ming them as their own with the slo­gan “this is our protest.”

By con­trast, the Ger­man left has not only given up any strugg­le for a bet­ter socie­ty, but has tried to enfor­ce capi­tu­la­ti­on throughout socie­ty, employ­ing con­ta­ct-guilt con­structs strai­ght from the Minis­try of the Inte­rior. Accord­ing to San­dra, they con­si­der spea­king with peop­le who do not meet their own high moral stan­dards to be repre­hen­si­ble. That is why the left is now con­si­de­red loy­al to the rulers and part of the eli­te all over the coun­try. What ordi­na­ry peop­le have in com­mon is the desi­re for a chan­ge in the sys­tem. Deman­ds to that effect at demons­tra­ti­ons are regu­lar­ly gree­ted with gre­at applau­se. She stres­ses that it is up to us to take the lead and repre­sent the inte­rests of our class the­re. Ernst Thäl­mann, Rosa Luxem­burg and Rudi Dutsch­ke would also demons­tra­te today against the Coro­na regime, San­dra is sure.

The sub­se­quent dis­cus­sion first dealt with the ques­ti­on of whe­ther Rudi Dutsch­ke was in fact a reac­tion­a­ry or not. The natu­re of the Frank­furt School was also dis­cus­sed. The demand to pro­mo­te or spread one’s own posi­ti­ons in bour­geois move­ments was arti­cu­la­ted. The call to go to the head of the move­ment was dis­cus­sed and basi­cal­ly wel­co­med by all.

A video of the pre­sen­ta­ti­on in Ger­man is avail­ab­le: https://​ody​see​.com/​@​f​r​e​i​e​l​i​n​k​e​z​u​k​u​n​f​t​:​4​/​S​a​n​d​r​a​-​G​a​b​r​iel — Strategien‑f%C3%BCr-einen-Systemwechsel:7

Fabio, SOL Cobas, Italy: On the Current Struggles of the Grassroots Union SOL Cobas

Fabio began by describ­ing the for­ma­ti­on of the mili­tant, class-strugg­le-ori­en­ted uni­on SI Cobas in 2008. It emer­ged out of the strugg­le against sta­te racism wit­hin the pre­do­mi­nant­ly migrant pro­le­ta­ri­at in the Ita­li­an logistics sec­tor. Par­ti­cu­lar­ly in the north of Ita­ly, they suc­cee­ded in estab­li­shing a new balan­ce of power vis-a-vis mul­ti­na­tio­nals. They are open­ly revo­lu­tio­na­ry and inde­pen­dent of the pro-government unions.

SOL Cobas emer­ged from 2016 split from Sl. Cobas. For Fabio, the intro­duc­tion of the Green Pass regime in Ita­ly, which most uni­ons and lef­tist groups or par­ties fai­led to con­test, was a “Water­loo moment” for the class-strugg­le-ori­en­ted left. First, indi­vi­du­al SOL Cobas mem­bers par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the mass pro­tests against com­pul­so­ry vac­ci­na­ti­on and the Green Pass. Later, they par­ti­ci­pa­ted as an orga­niz­a­ti­on, par­ti­cu­lar­ly in Lom­bar­dy and Cam­pa­nia, and pro­mo­ted three nati­on­wi­de strikes. Fabio traces the widespread poli­ti­cal neu­tra­li­ty of the working class in Ita­ly to class-col­la­bo­ra­tio­nists of the uni­on lea­ders­hip, as well as a gene­ral lack of poli­ti­cal consciousness.

In the wake of the Ukrai­ni­an war, Fabio obser­ved the poten­ti­al for a serious anti-impe­ria­list move­ment to emer­ge out the glo­bal resis­tance to the Coro­na dic­ta­tor­s­hip. He argued that con­tra­dic­tions and fric­tions will incre­a­se, and that new con­stel­la­ti­ons of class strugg­le and his­to­ri­cal pos­si­bi­li­ties will con­se­quent­ly ari­se. Fabio con­clu­ded that we as revo­lu­tio­na­ry leftists have the hea­vy bur­den of showing the mass pro­test move­ments a per­spec­ti­ve in theo­re­ti­cal and orga­niz­a­tio­nal terms. To this end, first­ly, the poli­ti­cal strugg­le must be intert­wi­ned with the eco­no­mic, and second­ly, the cen­tra­li­ty of a revo­lu­tio­na­ry Mar­xist pro­gram must be empha­si­zed. Third­ly, an inter­na­tio­nal net­work based on the pro­gram­ma­tic ele­ments indi­ca­ted must be built up, for which the con­fe­rence here mar­ked an important first step.

The text of the ent­i­re pre­sen­ta­ti­on: Fabio, SOL Cobas, Ita­ly-On the Cur­rent Strug­gles of the Grass­roots Uni­on SOL Cobas

Section V: Final Discussion

The con­fe­rence con­clu­ded with gene­ral agree­ment that first steps had been taken in Pra­gue towards buil­ding an inter­na­tio­nal net­work of left-wing groups which oppo­sed the Ruling Class’s Coro­na coup, and that this work must be con­ti­nued. To this end, it was deci­ded to fur­ther ela­bo­ra­te upon the pro­spects for broa­der and deeper coor­di­na­ti­on in fol­low-up mee­tings to be held soon. The con­fe­rence was con­clu­ded by the sin­ging of the Internationale.

Press and further Links

RT Deutsch publis­hed two arti­cles about the con­fe­rence in Ger­man (part I and part II).

Assem­blea Mili­tan­te (Ita­ly), Freie Lin­ke, Freie Lin­ke Öster­reich (FLOE), Freie Lin­ke Zukunft, Frai Lénk Zukunft Lët­ze­bue­rg, Freie Lin­ke West Akti­on, SOL Cobas (Ita­ly), Mag­Ma (publi­ca­ti­on of the Net­work Left Resistance)

Report as PDF: Report on the Inter­na­tio­nal Con­fe­rence of the Free Left Prague