Original manifesto published January 2024,
translated by Simon Heim 13 January 2024
Our country is not in good shape. For years, governments have ignored the wishes of the majority. Instead of rewarding performance, wealth has been redistributed from the hardworking to the top ten percent. Rather than investing in competent governance and well-functioning public utilities, politicians have pandered to the wishes of influential lobbies by emptying the public coffers. Instead of respecting freedom and diversity of opinion, an authoritarian politics is spreading, which seeks to dictate how citizens should live, how to heat their homes, how to think, and how to speak. The government seems directionless, shortsighted and on many issues simply incompetent. Without a political reorientation we risk our industry and prosperity.
Many people have lost their trust in the state and are unable to find representation among existing political parties. They are justifiably of the opinion that they do not live in the same country that the Federal Republic once was. They worry over the future of their children. They desire a responsible politics that can preserve our economic strength, deliver social justice and a fair distribution of wealth, maintain the peaceful cooperation between peoples, and the preservation of our environment.
“Union Sahra Wagenknecht – For Sensibility and Justice” was founded to lay the foundations for a new party that will give voice to the people. We advocate for a return to a sensible politics. Germany needs a strong, innovative economy and social justice, peace and fair trade, respect of individual freedoms of its citizens and an environment for open discussion. It needs dependable politicians who are committed to their goals. The members of our union advocate the following positions and goals, which will also be the standard for our new party.
Our country still maintains a solid industrial basis and a successful, innovative middle class. But the economic conditions have deteriorated dramatically over the last years. Our public infrastructure is, by the standard of a leading industrial nation in a deplorable state. Barely any trains run on time, national health patients spend months waiting for an appointment with a medical specialist, we are short thousands of teachers, childcare facilities and housing opportunities. Dilapidated roads and bridges, lack of cell reception, and an overwhelmed administrative sector with needless regulations make life difficult, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. The German school system with 16 different curricula, oversized classes and early selection, bars the way to education and opportunities for children from less privileged families, and at the same time fails to raise the sorely needed talent for our economy. Since the sanctions against Russia and the punitive climate policy have also led to a sudden increase energy price, we risk losing important industrial sectors and hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs. Many companies are considering relocating their production overseas. Other are in danger of disappearing entirely.
Policy that has been influenced and bought by corporations and the failure of antitrust authorities have created an economy in which many markets are dysfunctional. Markets are now dominated by big businesses, financial enterprises like Blackrock and overreaching digital monopolies like Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, which extract monopoly rent from other actors in the market, undermine competition and destroy democracy. The current period of inflation is in large part a result of the Market failure brought about by big business.
We strive for an innovation driven economy with fair competition, well-paying and secure jobs with a focus on industrial value creation, a just taxation policy, and towards strengthening the middle class. For this purpose, we want to limit market power and decartelize market dominant companies. When monopolies are unavoidable, responsibility should be handed over to public providers. German industry is the backbone of our prosperity and must be preserved. We need to return to next generation technologies that are made in Germany, more hidden champions not fewer.
To prevent the economic decline of our country, massive investment in our education system, public infrastructure and in effective and competent administration is necessary. We need future fonds for innovative domestic enterprises and start-ups, rather than spending billions on subsidizing companies from abroad. Germany, as an export driven and resource poor country must have an economic foreign policy that aims for stable trade relations with as many partners as possible and secures our supply for natural resources and affordable energy, rather than focusing on bloc politics and sanctions.
Global climate change and the destruction of our natural environment are serious challenges, which policy cannot ignore. But a serious climate policy requires honesty: At current technology levels, Germany’s energy needs cannot be sourced using renewable energy alone. Blind activism and poorly thought through policies do not improve the climate situation, instead they endanger our economic foundations, increase people’s costs of living and undermine public acceptance of more sensible climate policies. The most important contribution that a country like Germany can make in the fight against climate change and ecological destruction is the development of innovative key technologies, enabling a climate neutral and sustainable economic future.
For years, inequality has increased in our country. Millions of people work hard to provide a comfortable life for themselves and their families. It is they who keep our society going and pay most of the taxes. Instead of being awarded with the respect and social security they deserve, their lives have become progressively harder and more precarious over the past decades. Despite working a fulltime job, many barely manage to live month to month. The promise of upward social mobility of a social market economy no longer applies, the main factor for individual prosperity is once more the social status of one’s parents. The concentration of wealth in Germany today, is as high as it was at the start of the First World War, back when the emperor ruled from Berlin. Companies are distributing record breaking dividends, even during times of crisis, while the queues at food banks are getting longer and longer.
Even those who have worked for years and have paid for social insurance, are treated like supplicants after just one year of unemployment. Because of a lack childcare vacancies, and because our society is anything but family friendly, many single parents and their children live in poverty. This has only been exacerbated by redefining of Hartz IV into “Bürgergeld”. Millions of elderly are unable to enjoy their retirement after a lifetime of work because the pensions pay out humiliatingly little. Housing, hospitals, healthcare facilities, doctor’s practices, and many other important social functions have been sold off by dividend hunters. Since then, the costs have risen, while the quality of service for most people keeps falling.
We want to stop the collapse of society and reorient our politics towards public welfare. Our goal is a fair, achievement-oriented society with genuine equality of opportunity and a high degree of social security. A productive economy requires qualified and motivated workers. The prerequisites for this are performance-based wages, secure employment, and good working conditions. This also applies to workers in the service industry, who are just as important to our society as good engineers and technicians. To prevent depressed wages, collective bargaining power should be restrengthened, and the general applicability of wage contracts facilitated. At the same time, our country needs a reliable welfare state that can alleviate precarity and prevent a social washout in case of illness, unemployment, and old age. The privatization of essential services, such as in the healthcare, homecare and housing sectors must be stopped, suppliers acting in the interest of public welfare should be privileged in these sectors. A just taxation policy that alleviates that burden on low-income earners and prevents big companies and rich individuals from withholding their contribution to the community. Individual prosperity should not be dependent on social background, rather it needs to be the result of hard work and individual effort. Every child has a right to their talents being recognized and nurtured.
Our foreign policy is rooted in the tradition of Chancelor Willy Brandt and Soviet President Michail Gorbachev, who, contrary to the logic of the Cold War, pursued a politics of détente, reconciliation of interests and international cooperation. We are fundamentally opposed to solving conflicts by military means. We oppose the ever-increasing flow of resources into arms and war material instead of investing in the education of our children, the research of environmentally friendly technologies, or maintenance of our healthcare facilities. Nuclear armament and escalation between nuclear superpowers put the continued existence of humanity on the line and must be stopped. We strive for a new era of détente and renewed disarmament treaties and collective security. The Bundeswehr has the responsibility to defend our nation. For this they need to be adequately equipped. We oppose the deployment of German soldiers in international wars, equally we oppose stationing German troops at the borders of Russia or in the South China Sea.
A military alliance whose leading power illegally invaded five different countries in recent years and who in those wars has killed over one million people, foments fear and resentment and therefore contributes to global instability. Instead of an instrument of power for geopolitical gains, we need a defensively oriented union that acts in accordance with the UN charter, strives for disarmament rather than being bound to an arms drive, and which provides a level playing field between member states. Europe needs a stable security architecture, which will have to include Russia in the long term.
Our country deserves an independent policy, which places the wellbeing of its citizens at the center, and which recognizes that that US interests on occasion differ greatly from our own. Our aim is an independent Europe of sovereign democracies in a multipolar world and not new bloc formation in which Europe will be pulverized between the USA and the increasingly self-assured bloc forming around Russia and China.
We want to revive the democratic freedom of opinion, broaden democratic participation and protect individual freedoms. We reject far-right, racist, and violent ideologies of all types. Cancel Culture, pressure to conform and the increasingly narrowing spectrum of opinion are fundamentally incompatible with a free society. The same applies to the new authoritarian political trend that presumes to educate people and to dictate people’s lifestyle and speech. We condemn attempts at wholesale surveillance and manipulation of people through corporations, secret services and governments.
Immigration and the cooperation between cultures can only be a boon. But only if the influx is limited to a degree that the infrastructure of our country is not overwhelmed, and if integration is actively fostered and succeeds. We know that the burden of increased competition for affordable housing, for low wage jobs and the cost of failed integration is not primarily borne by those who lead privileged lives. Those who are being politically persecuted have a right to asylum. But migration is not the solution to world poverty. Instead we require fair economic relations and policies that put in the effort to create more opportunities in their respective countries.
A society in which the powerful are only driven by the desire to increase their wealth leads to increasing inequality, the destruction of our environment and to war. In contrast, we present our principles of public spirit, responsibility and cooperation, which we want to make possible again through changes to the balance of power. Our goal is a society in which the common good is placed above egotistical interests and which rather than rewarding tricksters and players, rewards those who put in the effort, who do good, honest and solid work.
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