Why a special party conference on the peace issue should ensure a new beginning for the German Left Party

By Michael Brie
(nd, 24.02.2023)

The executive committee of the Left Party is trying hard to make it clear to citizens that this party is not needed. At a moment when 575,000 people had signed a “Manifesto for Peace” and the first real large-scale demonstration against the course of supporting the war in Ukraine with ever new deliveries of weapons is being prepared, the board was incapable of clear mobilization for this demonstration. The party’s federal executive director explained the refusal to clearly support this demonstration as follows: “Specifically, we lack the clear demarcation to the right in the call, which namely currently leads to the fact that well-known Nazis and right-wing organizations support this call and massively mobilize for the demonstration on 25 February at Berlin”. Instead of contributing to the fact that the broad social and political left dominates this demonstration – with many red flags and with forces of order, which according to the guidelines of the initiators Alice Schwarzer and Sahra Wagenknecht prevent the display of right-wing extremist symbols – abstinence is proclaimed and dispersion into many small, largely ineffective actions is recommended.

While the mood in society is finally tilting, more and more people are realizing that the killing must come to an end through immediate ceasefire, negotiations, compromises based on recognition of the opposing interests that led to this terrible war in the center of Eastern Europe – exactly at this moment, the Left Executive Committee shifts the focus to a side issue: how to prevent even a single right-wing extremist from coming near the Brandenburg Gate on this day. That is simply impossible. In this way, one works into the hands of those who want to destroy the movement against the course of war and rearmament. Up to now, every voice calling for negotiations to take center stage has been branded as “Putin-understanding”; now it is being moved close to the extreme right, and the leadership of the left is going along with it.

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The Left Party itself was not able to mobilize effectively for demonstrations in a “hot autumn. It remained with a few approaches. Its rallies with reference to the policies of the federal government on the war issue remained marginal. The initiators of a real large-scale demonstration, on the other hand, keep demanding new demarcations to the right, while Sahra Wagenknecht had explained from the beginning that it is the right that wants to defame the peace demonstration through its own mobilization: “With the selection of our initial signatories, we have made it clear with whom we are co-operating and from whom we hope for support – and from whom we do not.” With last weekend’s decision, the Left Party executive committee is allowing the agenda to be dictated by the governing parties and the right, instead of resolutely fighting for the emergence of a broad democratic peace movement in which the Left Party is needed.

The latest board decision is the latest point of failure of this party as a political force. It is time for Die Linke to openly discuss whether its majority is still prepared to carry this course. It is time for a special party congress. Twice, in 1989 and 2003, this has made a new beginning possible. It takes only 25 percent of the delegates to the party congress convened in June 2022 to force the convening of such a party congress. Regional (Länder) and local district party branches that together represent a quarter of the membership, or around 15,000, are also sufficient. The struggle for the soul of the Left Party belongs on the open stage, and a decision must be made as to whether it will continue on the road to the sidelines or whether the party will face up to its historical responsibility. There are days of decision. If they are missed, any chance of a new beginning is lost.

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* Philosopher Michael Brie is chairman of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.

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