Friday, January 15, 2021

German Communist Party: Capitalist economic crisis and the “Coronavirus” crisis

By the German Communist Party (DKP)

What is often referred to by the ruling media as the “coronavirus crisis” is in fact, regardless of the pandemic, the world’s deepest economic crisis for  at least one hundred years.

It is a cyclical crisis of overproduction combined with structural crises in various economic sectors, with the coronavirus pandemic and related government action adding a special feature to this crisis. 

One peculiarity could be that the pandemic has  led to the fact that the crisis processes worldwide  have become more closely linked in time than it  would have been the case without it, and that they  have therefore taken effect more quickly. In this context, government action or the actions of corporations and banks are designed to use the coronavirus  pandemic to justify measures that benefit the economic and political interests of the ruling class.

This is also reflected in the lockdown measures in Germany. A consistent lockdown of all non-essential processes would have been quite appropriate. But it was not implemented in Germany. With the  exception of a few corporations with direct, major  state influence, such as Deutsche Bahn and Lufthansa, direct influence in the direction of a lockdown was avoided. Orders to close down companies were  only issued when a scandal could not be covered  up, such as in the meat industry. Even there, howev er, operations were not completely shut down. And  the epidemic spread particularly violently there, be cause unbearable working conditions, especially for  migrants, had been existing there for decades. Not much will change in the future, however, and there  are already loopholes in the new legislation, as it  only applies to large companies, which can now be  split into smaller ones in order to escape the new regulations, which is already happening.

Other sec tors, such as the automotive industry, have used and continue to use the extended short-time working  regulations with state funding of wage replacement  benefits to mitigate the consequences of the cri sis and secure their profits. In Germany, short-time work is understood to be a regulation under which  entrepreneurs can, under certain conditions, reduce  the working hours – and thus the wages – of their  workers entirely or partially if, for example, orders  are lacking, in order to avoid dismissals. The work ers then receive a state benefit, the short-time work  allowance. Since this amounts to only 60 % (67 %  for workers with children) of net wages, workers suffer a considerable loss of pay, even though there are  collective bargaining agreements in some areas for  partial top-up payments. Although the short-time work allowance was temporarily increased during the pandemic, this does not compensate for the loss of income in any way.

The German government’s economic stimulus packages on the occasion of the “coronavirus crisis”,  which amount to hundreds of billions of euros, are  measures to secure the profits of large corporations,  including those in the armament industry. By the way, only a minority of wage earners are employed  in these corporations. The working people receive  only a small part of these funds, and pay with loss  of income, loss of employment, or short-time work.  At the same time, the associations of the capital demand a reduction of the minimum wage, cuts in social spending, tax cuts for companies.

The class struggle from above is fought with all its rigor: millions of  people are on short-time work, yet the number of  people officially registered as unemployed has risen to over 6 percent. This means that in Germany,  at present, about a quarter of the salaried employees are on short-time work, about 20 percent are in  precarious employment, and 6 percent are unemployed, the latter figure being the official one; the actual number of unemployed is much higher.

However, the policy of financial support for large  corporations shows that in the Federal Republic of Germany, money is indeed available, but also for  whom it is available and for whom it is not. It is the  task of the Communists to bring this into the consciousness of the working class and all laborers. They  must counter the ideology of an alleged social partnership – all supposedly fighting together against  the virus – and make it clear that “There is no WE in the class state!”

In the rich country of Germany, the health system  was in no way prepared for the situation, although  scenarios of a far-reaching epidemic had long been  considered likely. The rampant privatization and  profit orientation has been at the expense of both  the employees and the patients. Even the money  that flooded into the healthcare system in the face  of the coronavirus epidemic has not been used to  improve the infrastructure, but to secure profits.  

The German communists therefore say: Health must not be a commodity; all health care facilities  must be returned to public ownership. Health is a fundamental right. Also, the education system in Germany was not  prepared for the pandemic situation. The consequences were passed on to the parents, the children, and the teachers. The pandemic aggravates  social exclusion, and the consequences are particularly dramatic for children from poor families who do not have their own IT equipment, and who may not  be able to receive assistance with distance learning. There is no special support for such families at all, the schools are poorly staffed, and all of this is now becoming particularly evident once again.

We demand more money for education, more  staff, smaller classes, one school for all, no privatizations.

But the increasing economic exploitation is only  one part of the class struggle from above. The ruling  class is also concerned with dismantling democrat ic and social rights. The provisions of the Working Hours Act have already been undermined. Capital  associations are demanding the erosion of protection against dismissal, more fixed-term contracts,  the dismantling of the rights of workers’ councils. The right to demonstrate has been restricted with  the justification of health protection. However, its restoration after the pandemic will certainly not be a  matter of course, and tough fights will be necessary

The pandemic situation also demonstrated once  again that the EU is an instrument of imperialist exploitation, especially by German imperialism. Countries such as Italy and Spain received no support  whatsoever. On the contrary, when medical supplies  were urgently needed in Italy, Germany imposed  an export ban. This country, most affected by the  coronavirus epidemic, received support from China,  Cuba, and Russia, but not from the EU. The measures adopted by the EU in the meantime are also  mainly aimed at stabilizing the financial system for the benefit of the strong EU countries.

Increased armament and militarization are also  being pushed forward in the shadow of the pandemic. Further armament programs, the support of  armament companies as part of the economic stimulus packages, but also getting used to the deployment of the German Armed Forces at home under  the pretext of fighting the pandemic are all part of  this. Even if the U.S. large-scale Defender 2020 maneuver, which was supported by other NATO states, including the Federal Republic of Germany, was reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic, this  by no means ends the ongoing policy of encircling  the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of  China. On the contrary, anti-Russian and anti-Chinese propaganda continues to grow. Every opportunity is taken to tighten sanctions.

This year, the DKP has started a collection of signatures for the lifting of all sanctions, including those against Russia, China, Venezuela, Cuba, and Syria. We demand peace with China and Russia – let’s leave NATO!

Internationally, German imperialism is counting  on NATO integration on the one hand, consciously  embracing the role of a junior partner to US imperialism, while supporting the aggressive NATO strategy of military encirclement of the People’s Republic  of China and the Russian Federation. On the other  hand, it is banking on the EU under its leadership,  competing in this respect with French imperialism. The EU serves as a hinterland for its own strengthening and as an economic competitor to US imperialism.

NATO integration, EU leadership, and its own  strengthening also lead to contradictions, including  those between different capital factions in Germany.  As to US imperialism’s economically aggressive policy toward the People’s Republic of China, parts of the capital and its government are divided because  they need economic relations with the People’s Re public of China in their competition with US imperialism for their own strengthening. This also plays a role when it comes to dealing with the Russian Federation, as can be observed in the treatment of the  North Stream 2 pipeline project.

The handling of the pandemic and the global  economic crisis show more than clearly: capitalism is  not able to solve the problems of the working people even in the slightest. It becomes quite obvious  that a planned economy and socialization of the  basic means of production are necessary, in short: a socialist development. The successes of the People’s  Republic of China, Vietnam, and Cuba in combating the pandemic once again demonstrate the superiority of socialist development. To make such a development possible, that is, revolutionary changes toward socialism, a broad alliance against the monopoly capital is necessary. This is not possible with out a strong communist party. In this respect, we still  have a lot of work to do. 

#Special_Edition of the International Bulletin,