From Roter Morgen
December, 1989

Great Chances and Great Dangers for the Working People of the GDR

The majority of the people in the GDR [German Democratic Republic - East Germany] are breathing a sigh of relief. This is no wonder. A great burden has fallen away from them. The somber regime of the SED [Socialist Unity Party - the revisionist leading party in the GDR] is at an end. A regime that in words was "socialist," but in which things always got worse for the working people, while the bosses of the party, the state and the economic leaders always amassed more riches. A regime that in words represented "the power of the workers," while the workers were afraid to express their opinion. A regime that was in words "democratic," while the working people had no real rights. It is good that this regime is at an end.

It is bad, however, that most people took the representatives of this regime to be "communists." The leaders of the SED, however, were no communists, but rather the leading staff of a new capitalist exploiting class. Of course, how should the broad masses of the people know this, while the official propaganda was drummed into them day and night that everything in the GDR was happening in the name of communism. And so, most people today think that the bankruptcy of the SED is the bankruptcy of communism. But this is dangerous, for in this way it comes about that many people are turning their sights with hope toward the West.

But many people also know something about the FRG [Federal Republic of Germany - West Germany], about the wage cutting, rising costs and unemployment, they reject capitalism as a cold elbow society [German expression, like "a society of hard-nosed competition"]. Many people are of the opinion that, in the GDR, socialism should be made a reality. However, they have no clear idea how this should look.

What is Socialism?

Socialism would mean that in reality production would go to meet the needs of the people. It would put an end to the practice in which every enterprise management benefits by filling its own pockets. It must create a genuine economic plan that is binding on the enterprises. That would put an end to the situation in which many necessary things are hardly produced, since they do not bring enough profit. That would put an end to the bad supply situation.

It would also put an end to the formal "plan fulfillment," by which management only claims "production successes" in order to cash in on fat bonuses. The organs of power of the workers and other working people as well as the workers in the enterprises would control the fulfillment of the plan. And the workers would conduct a genuine discussion about the drawing up of the plan for each enterprise, as today in socialist Albania. No pseudo-discussion, in which only the favorites of the enterprise mafia "discuss."

The organs of power must be at all levels the councils of workers and peasants. Their members must at all times be accountable to their voters and also must be able to be recalled at any time. And they must be real organs of power, not talking shops such as the People's Chamber of the GDR which, as is admitted today, is only a puppet of the true power holders of the SED. In which the finance minister can "successfully" conceal the existence of a debt of 130 billion marks.

Certainly, there would have to be a communist party. Without this such relations could neither be won nor defended. This party would consist in the first place of the most conscious, most progressive workers, those most respected by their colleagues. It would have the trust of the working people and would on this foundation be truly the leading force in the country. A party whose "leading role" would not mean that it "leads" in misuse of power, lies, corruption, nepotism, and waste, as the degenerated SED. But one whose leadership consists in the fact that it formulates most clearly and consistently the interests of the working masses, that its members fight most boldly, with the most self-sacrifice and most persistently for these interests.

The path to genuine socialism in the GDR is very long. At the moment, though, there is much ferment, although it will not be possible to use this ferment for the victory of socialism. This is mainly for the reason that a strong party is lacking that would bring clarity about the socialist goal to the masses and would organize the fight for it.

Socialism can only be won against the resistance of powerful enemies; in the GDR, these are not only the bosses of the SED, of the state and the economy, the new exploiting classes of the GDR, but also all those who expect gains and privileges from ties to the West. And finally the imperialists would do everything from outside to prevent the victory of genuine socialism in the GDR. And that means all the imperialists, both the western ones, in particular the Bonn state, as well as the Soviet imperialists. These enemies would eventually use force to prevent the victory of socialism, and the working people of the GDR under the leadership of the working class and its party must meet this counterrevolutionary force with revolutionary force.

The victory of socialism is inevitable, but today in the GDR the subjective conditions are not present to utilize the current precarious balance for the victory of the socialist revolution.

But still the revolutionary forces in the GDR must make use of the current situation, in the first place to spread the socialist goals, even when at first very few people can be won to a clear socialist perspective. At the same time the revolutionary forces have the task of formulating the daily interests of the working people and organizing the struggle for these.

The Struggle for the Daily Interests

The new GDR will unfortunately be, as was the old, a capitalist country. But exactly how this will look must be struggled out. And here what is needed is for the progressive and communist forces to loudly proclaim the interests of the workers. For example it is necessary to have the right to strike. And that means a genuine one, not like we have in the FRG, where the workers are almost constantly gagged by the "peace duty," where one can only strike when some bureaucrats very officially call for it, and where political strikes are completely forbidden.

There also exists today the chance to form trade unions which, at least within certain limits, would truly represent the interests of the workers. But be careful! The pro-western forces are prepared to impose on the workers of the GDR trade unions on the model of the German Trade Union League, which always take great care in the first place not to harm the capitalists.

Also the concrete shape of organization of the enterprises, the right to demonstrations and assembly, etc., will have to be fought out.

"Free elections for the GDR," say the Bonn parties, those same parties who defend their parliamentary seats with the 5% clause [which prohibits parties winning less than 5% of the vote from getting seats in parliament] and other such obstacles against small parties, who in 1956 banned the Communist Party of Germany. Certainly today in the GDR there will not be built a socialist system of councils but a bourgeois parliamentary system. However, the democratic forces must demand as a minimum the following:

No restriction on voting freedom with 5% clauses or similar conditions.

All parties except the fascists should be able to run candidates. Particularly also those parties who come out decidedly against the rapprochement of the GDR and the FRG. For there is a danger that there will soon be attempts to push aside and repress these forces.

The Struggle against the Pro-Western Forces

The working people of the GDR must be particularly wary of the open and concealed pro-western forces. The monopoly capitalists of the FRG are offering "generous help," with the explicit condition of the establishment of a "market economy" in the GDR.

The few crumbs that the power holders of the SED left to the workers so that they could sell their decaying regime as socialist are now being taken away. Elimination of the subsidies for basic food stuffs and apartments, the merciless competition between enterprises so that the workers can be better exploited, that is a goal of these gentlemen, the price of this "generous help."

Joint ventures with the FRG, direct agreements and supply relations of GDR enterprises with western ventures, the closing down of important branches of industry of the GDR to promote dependency on the West - in this way will FRG imperialism make their chokehold on the GDR even stronger.

The "Economic Weekly" (47/89, page 21), that paper of West German capital, openly demands that less housing be built in the GDR ("the reduction of new housing construction"), that "unprofitable" enterprises and combines and, as we said, even whole branches of industry will be closed down: "giving up the Stalinist autarchic thinking through the closing down of entire branches of industry, perhaps the carbide chemicals or the Siemens-Martin steel production."

All this is the price of western "help." The working people of the GDR must fight against all these plans.

No reduction of subsidies for food stuffs and housing!
No joint ventures!
A state foreign trade monopoly!
No closing down of enterprises or even entire branches of industry!
No acceptance of foreign credits especially not from the FRG!
Cancellation of the foreign debt!

Also uncontrolled travel activity is a problem. Certainly it is a great victory of the people that the regime can no longer wall the people in. But the uncontrolled flow of millions to visit the West will make the currency of the GDR even weaker. GDR citizens after receiving alms of "greeting money" must exchange their currency at the robbery rate of 1 [West mark] to 10 [East marks. The official rate is 1 to 1.]. Also smuggling, which is already being carried on, threatens to become intensified.

GDR citizens without western currency are threatened ever more with becoming second class citizens in their own country. "I must wait a year for an appointment to have my car inspected," complains a woman from East Berlin. "If I had western currency I would get it the day after tomorrow at the latest." In the SED organ "Neues Deutschland" (New Germany) a woman from Magdeburg complains: "We have earned our money with honest work in the enterprise." Now they should also be able to spend it honestly. She and her colleagues are waiting for "the earliest possible proclamation of measures in defense of our currency."

A just demand, even more so since FRG imperialism has the planned weakening of the GDR currency as a component of its chokehold, with which it wants to throttle the GDR.

The West German monopoly capitalists want to put the GDR politically and economically in their grip. In the end will come annexation, the imperialist reunification. Against this goal the working people of the GDR, the FRG and West Berlin must resolutely fight. The working people of the GDR will be able to gain success in their struggle for social and political rights only to the extent that they unite this struggle with the struggle against the maneuvers of embracing and throttling of FRG imperialism.

At the same time in the struggle for the economic, social and political daily interests of the workers and the people, it will be seen that under capitalism these interests can be attained at all events only in a crippled and fragmented form. But if this struggle is conducted consistently, the perspective of genuine socialism can be convincingly developed.

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