On Saturday, January 14, the Socialist Equality Party (SGP) held another rally as part of its election campaign. The SGP is contesting the Berlin House of Representatives (Senate) election on the basis of a socialist programme opposing war. It is the only party to articulate the widespread opposition to war and growing social austerity.
The rally took place in Marzahn-Hellersdorf—a suburb of East Berlin which has a history marked by the Stalinist dissolution of former East Germany (GDR) and the subsequent reactionary policies carried out by the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the organisations that emerged from the GDR’s ruling Stalinist party, the PDS and the Left Party. In the run-up to Saturday’s rally SGP members and supporters had carried out an energetic campaign explaining the party’s programme, history and revolutionary heritage, meeting with a very positive response. The SGP’s next rally will take place on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the Berlin suburb of Wedding.
“If we are elected to the House of Representatives, we will use this as a tribune to develop our struggle against war and capitalist exploitation,” explained Ulrich Rippert, founding member and longtime chairman of the SGP. “We will expose the war conspiracy and show how the Senate at a state level implements the war policies of the federal government, and we will mobilise the working class against it.”
In his speech, Christoph Vandreier, the current chair of the Socialist Equality Party, dealt in detail with the reactionary character and vile governing record of the Left Party. At the same time, Vandreier warned of the danger posed by the far-right AfD and the fascist conspiracy existing in the state apparatus. He said that the strengthening of the AfD was a direct consequence of all parties putting their militaristic and anti-working class programme into practice.
Both Rippert and Vandreier recalled the political legacy of the struggle waged by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht against German imperialism and militarism. The two revolutionary socialists had been cowardly and treacherously murdered 104 years ago under a Social Democratic government.
In his closing speech, Vandreier warned that arming the Bundeswehr with a “special fund” of €300 billion—a demand raised vehemently by politicians and the media—would lead to the complete militarisation of society and mark an unprecedented step towards a third world war.
Members of the Socialist Equality Party spoke to participants and audience members during the rally about the party’s programme and policies. SGP members explained that social austerity and wage cuts served to finance the war conducted by the ruling elite. The SGP calls for the establishment of independent action committees and demands: a sliding scale of wages to compensate fully for inflation, the dissolution of the Bundeswehr and a massive expansion of the social infrastructure.
A young worker passing by the rally with his young son expressed his bitterness about all of the bourgeois parties. He said: “They are all crooks—no matter who is in power. Every war is all about profit. You wonder who to vote for. They blow all the money accrued from taxes, and in the meantime nothing changes. Meanwhile, I have to ask myself how I’m going to pay for my child’s upkeep and whether I have enough money to take him to the cinema—at the same time being aware that children are the most important of all.”
On the sidelines of the rally, a young student listening to the contributions declared: “Ukraine is getting weapons from the US, and now everyone is getting involved. It could end up in nuclear war. Money is losing its value, and people can no longer afford to buy many things. I don’t think the arming of the Bundeswehr is any good, people must learn from German history.”
Elisabeth had travelled from the southeast of Berlin to take part in the SGP rally in Marzahn-Hellersdorf. “I read your programme carefully,” she said. “I am very afraid of a third world war. We are not so far away. The coup in 2014 was a thoroughly dishonest affair, but now NATO even wants to train Ukraine’s soldiers directly. People in Russia are also afraid of a nuclear war because they know, then nobody wins.”
“The Greens are as bad as you can get,” Elisabeth said. She undertakes voluntary work in her district and took a stack of election appeals with her to distribute. “The population is already despairing due to the high electricity and food prices,” she continued. “And it’s going to get worse and worse, with no end in sight. The companies owning housing are taking 20 percent more in rent without improving anything in the flats. It is madness what they ask for. The government only does what big business demands. I voted for the Left Party for 30 years, but now you have my vote for sure. I wish you every success.”