Workers Vanguard No. 1017
8 February 2013
Honor Lenin, Luxemburg and Liebknecht!
German Trotskyists Say: No to Stalinophobic Bloc at 3 Ls Demo!
Thousands march to the Memorial to the Socialists in eastern Berlin every January to honor Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, founders of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD). The two great revolutionists were assassinated in 1919 by Freikorps officers at the behest of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) government of Friedrich Ebert, Philipp Scheidemann and Gustav Noske amid the suppression of the Spartakist uprising. After the death of Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin in January 1924, this annual demonstration commemorated the “Three L’s.” Now organized by the Communist Platform of the Left Party along with the former West German Stalinists, it survives the 1990 capitalist counterrevolution in East Germany (DDR) to the consternation of the German ruling class and anti-communists everywhere.
Each year our comrades of the Spartakist Workers Party of Germany (SpAD) organize a contingent in the demo honoring Lenin, Luxemburg and Liebknecht. Reprinted below is an excerpt from a supplement to the SpAD’s newspaper Spartakist that was distributed at this year’s 10,000-strong march. It is a reply in the negative to an Open Letter by the Revolutionary Internationalist Organization (RIO) calling on the SpAD, as well as a coterie of pseudo-Trotskyist organizations, to build a joint contingent in the “Three L’s” demonstration. RIO is a split from the German Workers Power youth group Revolution and is now affiliated with the Argentine-based Trotskyist Faction-Fourth International (FT-CI), peddlers of nationalist “anti-imperialist united-front” politics.
RIO sought to build its bloc after elements of youth organizations connected to the SPD and the Left Party called for an alternative “Rosa & Karl” demonstration in the former West Berlin. The organizers of that event, which drew about 500 people, didn’t want to be associated with flags of the DDR and Soviet Union, portraits of Stalin, Mao and Lenin or symbols of the Kurdish and Palestinian national liberation movements.
Its instigators were the deceptively named “Anti-Germans”: pro-Zionist, pro-imperialist provocateurs who purvey the Big Lie of “collective guilt.” This convenient alibi for the German bourgeoisie that brought the Nazis to power maintains that all Germans, including workers, are responsible for the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes. “Anti-German” thugs have repeatedly physically attacked leftist meetings and individuals defending the rights of the Palestinians. They are virulently hostile to the workers movement and out to destroy it.
Significantly, the call for the “Rosa & Karl” demonstration did meet opposition within the social-democratic youth organizations. Several groups defied the decision of their leaderships and instead took part in the “Three L’s” demonstration. None of the recipients of the open letter opted to bloc with RIO. But marching behind them was a disparate collection of social democrats and organizations with Trotskyist pretensions, including the Workers Power group from which RIO split. Also in tow were some Pabloites intent on building yet another lash-up modeled on the French New Anti-Capitalist Party, who tailed after the anti-communist campaign of the “Anti-Germans” by carrying the banner “Neither Stalin nor Noske.”
The SpAD supplement included the January 1990 call by the Trotskyist League of Germany (TLD) and the Spartakist Groups for the “Three L’s” demonstration in the DDR (reprinted in WV No. 994, 20 January 2012). The TLD and the Spartakist Groups fused soon thereafter to form the SpAD. The 1990 call vehemently condemned the SPD as the Trojan horse of counterrevolution. The SPD used its traditional influence in the working class to push capitalist reunification of East and West Germany. For their part, the Stalinist predecessors of today’s Left Party, who retained great influence among workers of the DDR, fostered illusions in the SPD and sought them out as partners, betraying widespread sentiment among the working class to struggle for a real socialist society. The International Communist League fought tooth and nail against capitalist Anschluss and for revolutionary reunification—proletarian political revolution in the East and workers revolution in the West.
The reply of the SpAD to RIO was snapped up by demonstrators. A youth from Dresden with a Stalinist background was surprised to learn that Trotskyists defended the Soviet Union and still defend China and the other bureaucratically deformed workers states. Others were happy that the SpAD had denounced “Anti-German” maneuvers to wreck the “Three L’s” demonstration. The SpAD explained that Trotskyism is not a left version of anti-revolutionary social democracy but represents the revolutionary continuity of Lenin and the Bolsheviks.
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To the Revolutionary Internationalist Organization:
We received your invitation to join a “commemoration contingent” for the Bolshevik-Leninists [the Trotskyist Left Opposition in the Soviet Union]. We will not participate in your contingent. The call by social-democratic youth organizations for the “Rosa & Karl” demo, which is heavily influenced by the “Anti-Germans,” is an anti-communist provocation poorly disguised as anti-Stalinism. Your call also capitulates to social-democratic anti-communism. The SpAD and Spartakist Youth will take part in the “Three L’s” demo with our own contingent, under our banner “For the Reforging of the Fourth International!”
As revolutionary Trotskyists, we don’t agree with the positions expressed in your Open Letter and various articles. You say not one word about the more-than-dubious character of this “Rosa & Karl” demo, which clearly reflects the politics of the “Anti-Germans,” who have implanted themselves in the social-democratic youth organizations. Already at the “Three L’s” demo in January 2012, a small group of “Anti-Germans” staged a provocation with their banner “No, No—That’s Not Communism!” that was aimed at the contingents of Turkish/Kurdish leftists. Later, they posted photos of these leftists on the Internet, clearly playing into the hands of the repressive state apparatus. It is no accident that the “Rosa & Karl” bloc has made the slogan on this banner their main rallying cry, and the Berlin Jusos [SPD youth group] refer positively to this “action.”
The pro-Zionist and pro-imperialist “Anti-Germans” are racists who hate Muslims. They are inspired by the state’s reactionary “war on terror” and have distinguished themselves with past provocations in which they beat up leftists and liberals. They are tolerated by the reformist leaderships of the SPD and Left Party and used as a battering ram against the left. The “Anti-Germans” applaud the imperialists’ work: they enthuse over the imperialist occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, are in the front line of the warmongering against Iran, etc. These cheerleaders for George W. Bush, the butcher of the Balkans [German chancellor Gerhard] Schröder (SPD) and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Zionist state of Israel have no place in the workers movement and on the left.
You concur with the “Anti-German” censorship efforts when you comment in your 17 December Indymedia article “Social Democratic LL Demo” [referring to the traditional march] that pictures of Stalin and Mao at the demo are “against the wishes of the organizers.” By contrast, our solidarity is with the Turkish/Kurdish workers and leftists, who are persecuted by the bourgeois state here and in Turkey. Unlike the “Anti-Germans,” they are a crucial part of the workers movement in this country and often stand in a more militant tradition of class struggle, which is another reason that the “Anti-Germans” target them. We Spartakists oppose censorship in the workers movement! We argue against the reformist Stalinist politics of Turkish and other organizations—such as the notion of building “socialism in one country” and the treacherous popular-front policy. It is through sharp programmatic debate that revolutionary Trotskyism can win out in political struggle.
We also reject your characterization of the Bolshevik-Leninists as a “revolutionary current” “that opposed capitalism and Stalinism, and hence was persecuted by capitalist and Stalinist regimes.” By disappearing Trotsky’s programmatic demand for the unconditional military defense of the Soviet Union, which in spite of its bureaucratic degeneration under Stalin remained a workers state, you implicitly equate the bureaucratically degenerated Soviet workers state—as well as the deformed workers states—with capitalism, spreading reformist confusion. In the “Social Democratic LL Demo” article, you equate capitalist regimes with workers states when writing:
“Their reason for the parallel event with the name ‘Rosa and Karl’ is that the pictures of Stalin and Mao, which are shown every year at the LL demo...supposedly stand ‘for the failure of state socialist projects in the last century.’ What this totally ignores is that the political balance of the Social Democracy in the last century was no less problematic.”
Do we really need to remind you that the SPD leadership around Ebert/Scheidemann/Noske gave the order to assassinate Liebknecht and Luxemburg? They knew exactly what they were doing. As Noske said, “Someone has to be the bloodhound.” The politics of the SPD leadership were not simply “problematic” but were a key element in heading off revolution in 1918-19 and again in 1923 in the service of the bourgeoisie [see “A Trotskyist Critique of Germany 1923 and the Comintern,” Spartacist (English-language edition) No. 56, Spring 2001]. Social Democratic politics bear a central responsibility for the fact that German imperialism was able to resurrect itself, almost entirely annihilating the Jews of Europe and helping drown the world in blood for a second time in the interimperialist Second World War.
Your reformist appetites bring you to a point where you can’t even distinguish between the class character of capitalist rule under a social-democratic government and that of the Soviet degenerated workers state. So what defines your “commemoration contingent?” We think it is its closeness to anti-communist Social Democracy, which ever since the October Revolution has hated the Soviet Union more than its own bloody bourgeoisie. You sell the form of your contingent as a united front, with freedom of propaganda and criticism. But the content of your “commemoration contingent” is totally counterposed to the purpose of the united front, which is to unite the working class in action against the class enemy: class against class. You bow to the anti-communism of Noske’s successors and cannot discern where the fundamental class line is. You have this in common with the other pseudo-Trotskyist organizations that you invited to join your “commemoration contingent.”
When the question was one of proletarian political revolution or capitalist counterrevolution, all these organizations chose the side of counterrevolution—starting with the rise of Solidarność in Poland, followed by the DDR in 1989-90 and the Soviet Union in 1991-92. Thus, in the winter of 1990 the SAV [Socialist Alternative, part of Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers’ International] in the DDR demanded, “SPD, go on the offensive” and in 1991 the international of the GAM/Workers Power, your former mother organization, was literally on Yeltsin’s barricades with the counterrevolutionary rabble. The dubious BSA (today PSG [Party for Social Equality]) could be found in the front lines of the anti-Stasi witchhunters alongside the SPD and the petty-bourgeois Citizens’ Movement, which fused with the Greens. The deeply divided “United Secretariat,” whose members at the time were in the VSP, liquidated into the United Left, which for its part joined a short-lived electoral alliance with the pastors of the SDP (SPD offshoot in the DDR) and, later, a section of the [Christian Democrat] CDU. Only the SpAD and our comrades of the International Communist League fought to defend the Soviet Union and the deformed workers states against the counterrevolutionary machinations of Solidarność, the SPD in the DDR and Yeltsin, and to sweep away the Stalinist bureaucracy through a proletarian political revolution.
Our tradition is that of the then-revolutionary Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party in the U.S., which sent the following telegram to Stalin in 1941, shortly after the attack on the Soviet Union by fascist Germany:
“Trotskyists all over the world, now as always, are solidly for the defense of the Soviet Union. In this hour of grave danger to the achievements of the October revolution, we demand that you release all Trotskyist and other pro-Soviet political prisoners who are now in jails and in concentration camps, to enable them to take their proper place in the front ranks of the defenders of the Soviet Union.”
Likewise, today we Trotskyists of the ICL stand for the military defense of the remaining deformed workers states—Cuba, China, Vietnam, North Korea and Laos, and for proletarian political revolution to bring down the Stalinist bureaucracies, which endanger the defense of these countries with their pursuit of “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism.
In the DDR, the SPD was the Trojan horse of capitalist counterrevolution. It is necessary to break politically with social-democratic reformism, whether it take the form of the SPD or of the Left Party. The pseudo-Trotskyists, including your organization, are a political obstacle to this aim. Reforge the Fourth International!