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maandag 4 oktober 2021

#WORLD #WORLDWIDE #GERMAN #ANARCHISM #News #Journal #Update - en) die plattform: Why we build on countervailing power: Commentary on an election call and documentation of a recently given lecture (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

 Recently, the Antifa.nrw portal published the appeal "Why we will vote" , an

appeal to vote for the LINKE in this year's general election, primarily for
reasons of climate policy. Unsurprisingly, as anarchic communists, we have
something to complain about. We have already briefly criticized the call on
Twitter, but want to go into a little more detail here. ---- What is wrong with
the call to vote for DIE LINKE? ---- What it is not about: We have nothing
against concrete improvements in the existing, as long as they also mean an
improvement in the fighting conditions of the wage-dependent class - for this we
put our collective interference No. 5, "Reforms instead of reformism!" to the
heart. We would also like the moralism of the appeal - "This federal election is
a decisive one in a way that it has never been before. If we want to have a
planet in the coming decades that enables human life, significant and drastic
measures are necessary in a timely manner. " - do not oppose anti-election
moralism - we have the text " Go vote! - or let it stay: About abstaining from
voting "Translated and published by a comrade of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation.

Die LINKE is a party that wants to co-govern and is ready to make "compromises".
We can see what that means in the federal states in which the LINKE is part of
the government - Berlin, Brandenburg, Thuringia and Bremen have deported up to
2,000 people every year in recent years. In the same way, LINKE, for example, was
jointly responsible for the privatization of the state-owned real estate company
GSW in Berlin and thus itself contributed to the fatal development on the Berlin
housing market that it is complaining about today. Dietmar Bartsch, co-chairman
of the left-wing parliamentary group in the German Bundestag, explains that even
the left-wing promise of anti-militarism is not worth much in case of doubt: "The
situation will never arise that we exit NATO on the condition of a red-red -green
alliance. " The list is long. Why should the LINKE, if it becomes a junior
partner in a government coalition with two neoliberal parties, deal with the
climate issue of all things?

The call claims that after the election "we as an extra-parliamentary political
force can more easily present our positions to a strengthened left party" - the
question of the relationship between social movements and left parties is old,
the idea that a party could act as the parliamentary arm of a social movement
act, sounds tempting. The initially shared history of the anti-nuclear movement
and the party "The Greens" offers illustrative material here:

"After the Gorleben trek of hundreds of thousands to Hanover in 1979, the
conservative CDU Prime Minister Albrecht declared the project of a WAA for
Gorleben to be" politically unenforceable "; the symbolically significant Wyhl
nuclear power plant, which was fought over by occupying building sites in
1974/75, received its late construction freeze in 1983 by the CDU Prime Minister
Späth. And was the nuclear phase-out law passed by Merkel in June 2011, with the
immediate shutdown of 8 nuclear power plants and the shutdown of the 16 remaining
nuclear power plants by the end of 2022, not much more radical than the first
"atomic consensus" in 2000 by the oh-so-progressive Schröder fishermen
-Government?" (see
https://www.graswurzel.net/gwr/2021/06/fridays-for-future-sackgasse-klimaliste/)
It becomes clear that the meanwhile 30-year presence of the Greens in the
Bundestag has benefited the anti-nuclear movement very little.

In recent years, the climate movement has made a significant contribution to
raising public awareness of the problem of global warming through its
extra-parliamentary mobilization. In doing so, she has put politicians under
pressure to deal with this issue. Now there is a risk that the climate activists,
because of false hopes, will bind themselves to the Greens or the Left, passively
wait for parliament to solve the problems or fall into obedience to a ruling
party. Parts of "Fridays for Future" already show it with their slogan of the
"climate election" and more or less open election recommendations for the Greens.

And what should we do now?
We see a few tasks that are more urgent than writing or criticizing election appeals:

The historical experience that social movements have made in the last few
decades, to contribute to the sometimes quite young climate movement and to
discuss our criticism of capitalism, the state, patriarchy and many other things
- with self-confidence and on an equal footing.
Equally engaging is the experience of which forms of action build pressure and
which means of power a broad social movement has brought into the climate movement.
Get more, get active. We invite people from the Ruhr area to the next open
climate meeting in Dortmund (October 17, 2021, 4 p.m., Black Pigeon Dortmund,
https://offenesklimatreffendortmund.noblogs.org/termine/) .
Recently, at the invitation of the Dortmund anarchist group, a member of the Ruhr
platform gave a lecture that elaborated our criticism of parliamentarism in more
detail. We document this in the following:

Lecture: What do we do with the elections? An anarchist perspective on
parliamentarianism

Election poster of the Greens for the 2021 federal election "Your vote can stop
the rent madness. Your vote counts. This time green. "
I would like to begin my reflections with a well-known caricature by Peter Leger;
it is entitled "The Power of the Voter". It shows the "German Michel" with his
characteristic pointed cap, who is walking to the ballot box for the federal
election. On the days before the election he is small, depressed and disgruntled,
on the other hand he grows to gigantic size on election Sunday and throws his
ballot into the ballot box with his head held high and with a proud expression on
his face. The day after the election, it shrinks back to its original size and
shuffles away with drooping shoulders.

The drawing addresses the contradiction between the promise of "popular
sovereignty", that is, the political power that we as voters should supposedly
have, and our everyday experiences. A particularly impressive example of this
promise is provided by a series of posters by the Greens for this year's federal
election: "Your vote can stop the rent madness.", "Your voice can exclude
exclusion.", "Your voice can stop the climate crisis." everyone who holds the
ballot in their hands seems to know no boundaries. On the other 364 days of the
year, however, little of this is noticeable: In the event of conflicts with
landlords and employers,

This experience is common: the cartoon mentioned above does not come from a
left-wing radical context, it is often used in official civic education materials
and is likely to be immediately understood by most people. So I am by no means
speaking a secret when I point out the discrepancy between the ideal of "popular
sovereignty" and our real powerlessness. The only question is: how can this
discrepancy be explained? In my lecture I would like to try to answer this
question. First of all, I would like to address some common explanatory
approaches, which, although they have correct aspects, ultimately fall short of
the mark. Finally, I would like to sketch a possible way out of the current
misery in a very brief form.

Politicians' selfishness?
A common explanation for our lack of political influence is the bad character of
our political staff: Most politicians did not care about the well-being of the
population, but only strived for personal enrichment and to maintain their power.
This finding is certainly correct in many cases: we only need to look at the
numerous corruption scandals of recent times to make us realize that large parts
of the political class actually have few scruples when it comes to using their
public offices to improve theirs to take advantage of private finances.

The criticism of the poor morality of the ruling politicians consequently gives
rise to a certain idea of how this deficiency could be remedied: We would finally
have to elect representatives of integrity who really do the job we gave them
through our votes take seriously. That has always been the claim of the protest
and opposition parties: from the historical Social Democrats to the Greens, the
Left and the almost forgotten Pirate Party - the promise has always been to
replace the previous, corrupt elites with real representatives of the people,
acting in the interests of the majority of the population. However, as often as
this hope was rewarmed, it was also disappointed! No sooner had the former rebels
entered parliament or even into the government than they began to resemble the
established parties like one egg to the other and there was no longer any talk of
a fundamental reorganization of social conditions. People who are critical of
rule often use a catchphrase to explain this: "Power corrupts." - This means that
anyone who has once tasted the advantages of a management position does not want
to do without it and does everything in their power to stay in this position. The
connection is not implausible, but here, too, the purely individual-psychological
explanation is insufficient - the phenomenon of the alienation of former
"tribunes" from their electoral base is too general, too systematic. So we have
to look out for social mechanisms

Influence of lobbying?
One of these mechanisms is lobbyism. Some people are convinced that it is the
influence of lobby groups that ensures that politics do not really serve the
interests of the population. A prominent proponent of this thesis is Marco Bülow
from Dortmund, author of the book "Lobbyland". He had been a member of the
Bundestag for the SPD since 2002, but fell out with it and is now running for the
satirical party "Die PARTTEI".

A lobby represents the interests of a specific social group vis-à-vis politics.
The term comes from English and originally referred to the lobby of the
parliament, in which the representatives of various interest groups traditionally
waited for an opportunity to approach the MPs and submit the wishes and
suggestions of their clients to them. Nowadays lobbyists tend to be more
professional, but the principle remains the same. One thing is clear: Those who
have money and power also have more opportunities to influence politicians. For
example, to take up an example from above, a representative of the Vonovia real
estate company could first invite a member of parliament to dinner in an
expensive luxury restaurant, to then offer a well-paid advisory post or a
generous donation for his party. Of course, we normal citizens do not have such
opportunities. And so it is hardly surprising that "your voice" will not "stop
the rent madness", because politicians from the Greens cannot resist the whispers
of lobbying either.

As a solution to this problem, Marco Bülow and the association he supports,
"Platform.Pro", propose, among other things, a "Political Code": Strict rules
should ensure maximum transparency with regard to lobbying meetings, donations
and sideline activities by politicians. The ideal is the "transparent MP" who,
under the watchful eye of the public, has no choice but to make honest politics
for the common good.

Basically, it would be nice if this vision were actually realized one day - then
we would have a test for the example. However, my suspicion is: Even completely
"transparent" politicians would not act fundamentally differently from the
traditional representatives of the people. To explain this assumption, I would
like to go into the former Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who pushed
through the infamous Hartz reforms in the early 2000s. In an interview at that
time he appealed to the population to show "insight into the necessity" of social
cuts (see
https://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/sozialstaatsdebatte-schroeder-prangert-mitnahme-mentalitaet-an-
1179310.html). Schröder appeared here as a cynic who urged people to see the
necessity of their own impoverishment. But there is also an important truth in
his cynicism: given the capitalist economy and world market, there are actually
objective problems that state action has to deal with. And the solution of these
problems sometimes requires the implementation of certain "necessities" -
regardless of the character and personal preferences of the respective ruling
staff. At the turn of the millennium, Germany was considered the "sick man of
Europe"; corporate profits stagnated, unemployment rose, and national debt
threatened to get out of hand. Politicians had to find a solution for this
situation, if they did not want to bring the German state into serious
difficulties and thereby endanger their own ability to act. Gerhard Schröder did
not need a secret meeting with any lobby representatives to realize this - a look
at the economic framework data was completely sufficient. (Which does not rule
out the fact that there may have been such secret meetings!)

Lobbyism is therefore also not a sufficient explanation for our lack of political
influence - even if the uncovering of concrete interdependencies of political and
economic actors can be quite helpful in understanding the functioning of the
current rule.

Disempowerment of the nation states?
Another attempt to explain the problem is the disempowerment of the nation states
and their parliaments by international corporations and supranational
organizations such as the EU, the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the World
Health Organization (WHO). This is the perspective of the so-called globalization
critics, who exist in both a left and a right variant. The social background of
this criticism is represented by the worldwide neoliberal politics of the last 40
years. In fact, during this period the influence of global corporations has grown
strongly: For example, Amazon in 2020 made a worldwide annual turnover of 386
billion US dollars; that is more than the gross domestic product of countries
like Norway or Egypt
(seehttps://www.laenderdaten.info/groesste-volkswirtschaften.php ). It is obvious
that corporations know how to translate this economic weight into political
power. At the same time, there has been a massive redistribution from bottom to
top almost everywhere in the world since 1980. (on this:
https://www.sueddeutsche.de/wirtschaft/ein income distribution-wo- die-
unleichheit- am-groessten-ist-1.3791583 ) The opponents of globalization are
quite right when they complain that the politics of the last decades Interests of
large corporations and not those of the broad mass of the population.

The mistake of the critique of globalization, however, is that it seeks the
solution - explicitly or implicitly - in the past. She would like to go back to a
more strongly nationally regulated capitalism, as it prevailed in Western
countries in the 1960s and 1970s. Exactly at this time, however, was also the
climax of a worldwide revolt by workers, students and oppressed minorities, who
challenged the ruling powers with a radicalism that in many countries reached to
armed struggle. Without going into too much detail, it can be said in any case:
The world was not THAT okay back then! There were indeed enough reasons to
protest back then, and some of them were the same as those that drive people onto
the streets today: Authoritarian tutelage in the university and factory, poor and
expensive apartments, patriarchal family relationships, racist discrimination,
war in Vietnam ... It can therefore be said that even in nationally regulated
capitalism, the wishes and needs of the masses of the population were not met,
sovereignty was also in place back then not with the people. A return to the
supposedly golden times of the past is therefore undesirable - and probably not
even possible.

Civil society
The common weakness of the previous explanations is that they always only look
for the error in the political system, while they look at most superficially at
the society that is ruled and organized by this political system. So let's take a
closer look at this community: First of all, it is noticeable that it is torn by
irreconcilable contradictions: There are, for example, the landlords who want to
get the highest possible rent out of their apartments and, on the other hand, the
tenants, who, of course, would prefer to live for free. Then there is the
interest of the companies to let their employees work as long as possible and at
the lowest possible wages, while the wage earners earn as much as possible and
want to work as little as possible. The list goes on. It is obvious that with
such conflicting interests, politics cannot represent the interests of "the
population" as a whole.

The reason for these conflicting interests is that our society, despite all its
changes, is still a bourgeois class society. Two main classes face each other: on
the one hand, the owners of the means of production and, on the other, the large
mass of wage earners who have no means of production. The deeper reason for our
powerlessness in everyday life also lies in this social division: We have to sell
our labor and toil for the profit of others; so we are robbed of the creative
power that is in our work. The world we build every day is not ours. Our
powerlessness corresponds to the power that is concentrated at the other pole of
society - those who control our work.

Civil state
In order for such a society to exist at all, it needs the bourgeois state as a
higher authority, which sets the framework for competition and ensures that it
does not degenerate into unbridled slashing and stabbing. This also means that
the state uses certain laws to ensure that the majority of workers at least do
not starve to death or work their way to death - but even that had to be wrested
from it through hard fighting. Above all, however, the state must ensure that the
companies located on its territory find the most favorable conditions possible
for increasing capital.

This function gives the politicians their framework for action - because the
functioning of the capitalist economy is also the basis of their business.
Without companies that are successful in the market economy, there would be no
tax revenues and without tax revenues there would be no functioning authorities,
no schools, no infrastructure projects, etc. Anyone who wants to run a bourgeois
state must follow this simple logic; Left parties are no exception. When
politicians act against our interests by caring for the corporations, they are
doing their job well, not badly! Our powerlessness is not a failure of democracy,
but precisely its functional principle.

What to do? Countervailing power from below
But what can we do to regain influence in our lives and to counter the
catastrophic course our society is following? - The key seems to me to lie
exactly where the reason for our current powerlessness lies: We sell our labor -
that also means: We keep this world going! None other than us, the wage-earning
class, built the cities we inhabit. We also manufacture all the goods that are
piled up on the shelves of the supermarkets, we ride the subways, care for the
sick, raise the children, etc. pp. But with that we have potentially enormous
power. "If your strong arm wants it, all wheels stand still!" Was the slogan of
the old workers' movement. In principle, this also applies today. But we are
mostly not aware of it in everyday life,

Political choice, in turn, is one of the mechanisms (perhaps not the most
relevant) that maintains this isolation. I am alone in the voting booth, it is
suggested to me that I can make a difference with my individual voice. Real
change, on the other hand, can only be brought about through collective action.
In the fight against high rents, for example, we shouldn't hope for the
elections, but team up with other tenants in our house and our neighborhood and
defend ourselves together and in a self-organized manner. Likewise, in the end,
only the collective action of colleagues, who take their interests into their own
hands, can help against harassment and poor pay in the company. It's about
building countervailing power from below, to wrest concrete improvements for the
wage-dependent class from the state and the corporations. The ultimate goal,
however, must be to overcome the capitalist economic order and the state in favor
of a world without exploitation and oppression.

If I speak out against voting as a political strategy, my aim is not to oppose
the official moralism of election propaganda with an anti-election moralism:
whether you vote or not, in the end it doesn't matter, as a private hobby is
against you Little objection to a Sunday walk to the polling station. I would
therefore like to end with a quote from the American organization "Black Rose
Anarchist Federation", which recently published a statement worth reading on the
question of abstaining from voting: "Go vote or leave it, but give priority to
building countervailing power."

Alfred Masur, September 2021

https://ruhr.dieplattform.org/2021/09/26/warum-wir-auf-gegenmacht-bauen-kommentar-zu-einem-wahlaufruf-und-dokumentation-eines-kuerzlich-gehaltenen-vortrags/
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