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Berlin events honor left-wing leaders

Special to Workers World

Communists and left social democrats--many of them workers from the former German Democratic Republic--paid tribute here on Jan. 12-13 to two great leaders of the workers' movement murdered by the German capitalist army in 1919: Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

Ten thousand people marched through Berlin's streets. Another 90,000 laid carnations on the graves of the two leaders. The weekend was filled with meetings, discussions and conferences of left-wing forces in Germany.

The big domestic question on everyone's mind was: What does it mean that the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), the successor to the communist party that formerly ruled in East Germany, has joined a coalition government in Berlin with the Social Democrats (SPD)?

The governing SPD has led Germany's participation in both the war against Yugoslavia and the current U.S.-led war drive. Many at the demonstration said they were concerned that the PDS compromised its anti-war position to win acceptance to a coalition with the SPD. This worry grew after the PDS signed a statement apologizing for the Berlin Wall and pledging allegiance to "Western values" as the price for joining the Berlin government.

One demonstrator suggested that, instead, the Social Democrats should apologize for having been in charge of the government in 1919 when Luxemburg and Liebknecht were murdered.

The big international question was what the Sept. 11 attacks would mean to the rest of the world. German troops are poised for use in Afghanistan and perhaps in Africa as part of the U.S.-led "war on terror."

One of the major discussions on these issues took place Jan. 12 at Humboldt University in the center of the city, where 800 people came to the annual Rosa Luxemburg Conference. The daily newspaper Junge Welt, the Cuba Si! organization and the Left List electoral bloc sponsored the event. The topic was "Resistance in the New World War Order."

The day started with talks from international guests. Speaking were Tariq Ali, Pakistani-born anti-war speaker and writer living in London; Faustino Cobarrubia Gomez, from the World Economic Institute in Havana; John Catalinotto of the International Action Center in New York; a message from political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row in Pennsylvania; Boris Kagarlitsky, a political activist and analyst from Moscow; and Alain Krivine, a representative to the European Parliament from Paris and member of the Revolutionary Communist League.

Ali said that the Bush administration had used the 9/11 attacks in an effort to gain support for a long-term war in Central Asia.

Cobarrubia Gomez pointed out that the domination of the imperialist "neoliberal" model of economic development over the past two decades in Latin America had led to economic collapse and social disaster.

Catalinotto described how the anti-war movement within the U.S. had developed despite the heavy propaganda offensive of the Bush regime and the entire U.S. ruling class. His group, the International Action Center, had stood up to this pressure and sparked a new coalition--International ANSWER--that was able to rally anti-war forces.

A number of German anti-war groups had translated and used statements and leaflets originally published by the IAC or ANSWER. This enabled them to win support within the German peace movement for a stronger anti-war stance without appearing insensitive to the victims at the World Trade Center.

Krivine was optimistic about the new anti-globalization movement and the possibility of working-class organizations to influence a new generation of activists.

These presentations were followed by a debate among representatives of the German Communist Party, the left wing of the PDS, the ATTAC anti-globalization group and an independent left union tendency on how to overcome the isolation of the fight-back movement within Germany.

Reprinted from the Jan. 31, 2002, issue of Workers World newspaper

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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