Germany

Fallback pay for all

30 million workers in the USA have applied for unemployment benefit since March. 35 million workers are on government-funded furlough schemes in Europe (10 million in Germany, 11.3 million in France). 1.8 million have applied for Universal Credit in Britain, and 700,000 have got advance payments. Signals are also increasing of a new wave of job cuts as the lockdowns ease and creditors start chasing debts.

Lockdown-easing in Germany

Germany's federal states have been gradually easing their pandemic "lockdowns" since some schools were partially reopened in the second half of April. So far as can be seen, daily confirmed cases, outstanding active case numbers, and daily deaths are still falling gradually. The "lockdown" was always more liberal than in Britain. One-third of workplaces went onto "Kurzarbeit" (a scheme where the government pays wages for temporarily laid-off workers), but travel to work went down by 43% in Germany compared to around 65% in Italy, Spain, France, and the UK. German manufacturing has been running...

Germany: less "Thatcherism", fewer deaths

Despite many years of public service cuts, privatisation (including of hospitals), outsourcing, cuts to social security, and so on, Germany still hasn’t really had full-on Thatcherism. Remnants of the “German model” of so-called “social partnership” still exist. The number of hospital beds is much higher than in Britain, partly for that reason, and partly for another. The private concerns, in some cases multinational, or church organisations, that have taken over many clinics across the country are a strong lobby, and they earn well from patients and their health insurance schemes (and even...

Work or full pay!

As of 1 April, 950,000 new people had applied for Universal Credit in just two weeks. Usually new applications run at about 100,000 a week. Hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people have lost their jobs because they were on casual contracts, and because they worked for businesses which have laid them off or simply shut down. Many small employers have laid off workers, but also big ones, like universities. Many who are self-employed — really self-employed, or formally self-employed while really being wage-workers — are not able to use the government’s scheme for aid to the self-employed, or...

A patronising appeal to the poor

“Why did Labour lose so badly (in the 2019 general election)? Because there was one central issue in the election campaign: Brexit. In that context, a party that could provide only a hesitant and ambiguous answer because of its internal divisions had no chance.” “If Corbyn had been able to counterpose a resolute Left Brexit to Johnson’s plans – that is to say: using the end of the neoliberal EU treaties for the purpose of a social restructuring of British society – then a different result would have been very possible.” “There is nothing irrational about the fact that the upper middle classes...

Marxists and “left governments”

“We are not a government party; we are the party of irreconcilable opposition… Our tasks... we realise not through the medium of bourgeois governments... but exclusively through the education of the masses through agitation, through explaining to the workers what they should defend and what they should overthrow. Such a “defence” cannot give immediate miraculous results. But we do not even pretend to be miracle workers. As things stand, we are a revolutionary minority. Our work must be directed so that the workers on whom we have influence should correctly appraise events, not permit...

Far right and soft left advance in Germany

The 27 October election in the German federal state of Thuringia saw Die Linke (a merger of the post-Stalinist PDS and a breakaway from the SPD) emerge as the biggest party, with 31% of the votes. The far right AfD came second with just over 23%, and the CDU (German Tories) third with just under 22%. The SPD (roughly the German Labour Party) came a poor fourth with just 8% of the vote. The FDP (German Liberal Democrats) managed to just scrape past the 5% hurdle, which parties must achieve to win any seats. It passed the hurdle by just five votes. Compared with the last federal state election,...

Theory-Organisation-Praxis in Berlin

Sascha, an activist and a member of TOP-Berlin, talked to Neil Laker from Solidarity. TOP Berlin was founded in 2006 as part of the counter-mobilisation to the G8 in Heiligendamm. TOP stands for Theorie-Organisation-Praxis. We are part of the ums Ganze-BĂĽndnis, a collective of groups across Germany and Austria. At an international level we are part of a Beyond Europe. We produce a newspaper called StraĂźen aus Zucker [Streets of Sugar]. We are active in various campaigns, anti-fascist work and the student movement. Politically, we are the child a group called Kritik und Praxis, which was part...

Germany’s “left populists” collapse

Sahra Wagenknecht has resigned as a member of the Executive Committee of Germany’s “left-populist” movement Aufstehen (Rise Up) and as co-chair of the parliamentary fraction of Die Linke. Rise Up is the German equivalent of Momentum. Die Linke has its origins in the post-DDR Communist Party, which subsequently merged with a breakaway from the SPD (German equivalent of the Labour Party). Wagenknecht has cited health reasons for her double resignation. But more fundamental political considerations are also in play. Rise Up was launched with great fanfare just six months ago. It would bring...

A backlash book. Or three books?

Bettina Rohl’s “The RAF (Red Army Fraction) Loves You – The German Federal Republic in the Intoxication of 68 – A Family at the Centre of the Movement” is several books for the price of one. Rohl’s mother, Ulrike Meinhof, was one of the leaders of the early 1970s urban-terrorist RAF, otherwise known as the Baader-Meinhof Group (which Rohl insists on calling the Baader-Meinhof Gang, to underline what she sees as its essentially apolitical and criminal character). One of the books within the book provides an insight into the relationship between Rohl and her mother. Clearly, there was no love...

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