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Thread: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

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    Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    While America is struggling with a controversy about debate culture, Germany has an entirely different, yet strangely familiar problem:

    What happened? Gesine Lötzsch, co-chairwoman of the socialist Left Party (currently 4th strongest out of 5 parties in the parliament with 11.9% of the votes in 2009) said:



    Quote:
    "The path to communism can only be found if we hit the road and try it out, whether in the opposition or in government."

    She did so in an article for the far-left newspaper "Jungle World", where she also honored the communist revolutionaries Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, who attempted to erect a Soviet Republic in Germany in 1918/19.

    Also, she had planned a debate panel together with a former terrorist of the communist terror group RAF ("Red Army Faction") that committed several robberies, kidnappings, murders and even hijacked a plane in 1970s' West Germany, which almost caused the resignation of a government, and with a member of the splinter party DKP (German Communist Party).

    (I've read the article and my personal impression is that her rhetoric is more radical than the actual content, paying a lot of tribute to historic figureheads of far-left wingnuts, but what she says is rather prone to well-meaning interpretations in her favor that suggest she rather was after reconciling the far-left with parliamentarism, than vice versa. But still ...)

    So what's the reaction?

    Apparently, not even her own party is happy with her statements and many prominent members did a lot to distance themselves from her statements.

    Thuringia Left Party party leader Bodo Ramelow said: "Millions of citizens have been killed in the name of communism. This must always be a part of the conversation, and must always be made clear".

    Berlin Left Party member of parliament Stefan Liebich: "If you're going to sit down at a podium with a former RAF terrorist and the leader of the German Communist Party, then the least you should do is say very clearly that a lot of crimes were committed in the name of communism, from which we distance ourselves very explicitly", in an interview for a radio station.

    Of course, the other four parties immediately jumped on Lötzsch and the Left Party and used this huge opportunity Lötzsch's interview has given: "Communism as a national objective clearly reveals the unconstitutional convictions of the leadership of the Left party," said a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), suggesting the Left Party should be observed by the Verfassungsschutz ("Office for Protection of the Constitution", a kind of "German NSA" which also observes neo-Nazis and potential terrorists).

    Across all parties and the mainstream media, Lötzsch's comments were condemned and often used to attack her entire party.

    Lötzsch, facing this mess she had created, backpedaled just a bit: "My political goal is democratic socialism, as I described it in this article: peaceful, democratic and free from exploitation for all people".

    Well.

    http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,14756015,00.html

    Considering the harsh reactions even from within her party, it's safe to say that even within the Left Party, many people are no longer fond of communism -- at any rate not among its voters, their numbers dropped in recent polls (down to 8% from ca. 12%).

    The socialist Left Party was formed in 2007, when the successor of the former communist state party in East Germany, PDS, merged with a West German left-wing split-off from the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). In the last national election, it has won 11.9% of the votes in entire Germany, but regionally up to 30% in former East Germany.
    Last edited by German guy; 01-16-11 at 05:13 AM.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    Jungle World sounds about right.

    Could part of this be because Germany was once divided and that there are bound to be some idiots still taking the party line like it was the straight truth? Looks like it, though experience has disgusted others in her party, if nothing else. Left wing dreams can be shattered by experience, as a drop-off in support for communism during Lenin's first purges proved.

    Could part of it be due to a faulty perception of far-leftiness being equated with a somehow valid youthful rebellion or angst?
    An 'alternative culture'? I've seen scores of kids wearing Che Guevara shirts without being molested, yet young fascists can't enjoy the same freedom with a Musslolini shirt! Such an attitude would doubtless hold over into later life for many leftists.

    Indeed our own Labour Party has been riddled with communists. (Then they talk about the BNP as extremists and fascists!)



    NEW LABOUR'S COMMUNIST HERITAGE AND PRIDE
    (DOCU-SKIT):




    "Millions of citizens have been killed in the name of communism. This must always be a part of the conversation, and must always be made clear".
    Part of the package isn't it, sweetie? Though some commie posters even here, like neo-nazis, can't face what their politics won't let them:

    http://www.debatepolitics.com/europe...-oxymoron.html (Commuists Against Oppression - Anybody else see an oxymoron?!)



    "My political goal is democratic socialism, as I described it in this article: peaceful, democratic and free from exploitation for all people".
    They say that when they want to get in. Then the rules change when they do. Funny how communists don't play the game yet expect everyone else to.

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    Quote Originally Posted by Republic_Of_Public View Post
    Could part of this be because Germany was once divided and that there are bound to be some idiots still taking the party line like it was the straight truth? Looks like it, though experience has disgusted others in her party, if nothing else.
    That's a good point and my impression as well: At least in East Germany, there are still quite a few GDR-nostalgics. Most of them older people, though, people who had their best times in life in times of communist dictatorship. Chances are, this brand of Stalinists will die out over time.

    But I believe their word when the Left Party leadership claims they have accepted our liberal, democratic political system and parliamentarism. Most of the time, they behaved accordingly, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Also, the Left Party is a rather heterogenous bunch: You find moderate union people in there, individualist pacifists, democratic socialists but also radical communists, you find sectist ideologues and pragmatic people, dreamers and realists. Apparently, even within that party, quite a few people were alienated by Lötzsch's article. So the party had no choice but backpedaling, since they didn't want to alienate the more moderate party members and voters.

    Could part of it be due to a faulty perception of far-leftiness being equated with a somehow valid youthful rebellion or angst? [/I]An 'alternative culture'? I've seen scores of kids wearing Che Guevara shirts without being molested, yet young fascists can't enjoy the same freedom with a Musslolini shirt! Such an attitude would doubtless hold over into later life for many leftists.
    You're right, in my impression, questionable leftist symbols and attitudes enjoy more leeway than according right-wing attitudes. Personally, I am not happy this is the case.

    But it's also understandable, if you ask me: Unlike fascism or Nazism, leftism at least has honorable goals. Eliminating poverty is not a bad goal, if you ask me, unlike, for example, establishing racial segregation, genocide or slavery. So it's probably understandable more people fall for it.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    Unlike fascism or Nazism, leftism at least has honorable goals.
    Goals which Che or Castro obviously attained, especially with all that shooting! And to trying and 'abolish poverty' is only relative. If you take the wealth from the rich man, too little to spread and improve the lot of the poor man, everybody's poor and 'equal'. The communist government can then claim 'job done'.

    Communism's for dupes and socialism only seems to lack the true secret state police. And like Nazism and fascism, leftism promotes a bright and happy tomorrow with everybody well catered for, but delivers death and destruction and tension around the world.

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    Quote Originally Posted by Republic_Of_Public View Post
    Goals which Che or Castro obviously attained, especially with all that shooting! And to trying and 'abolish poverty' is only relative. If you take the wealth from the rich man, too little to spread and improve the lot of the poor man, everybody's poor and 'equal'. The communist government can then claim 'job done'.

    Communism's for dupes and socialism only seems to lack the true secret state police. And like Nazism and fascism, leftism promotes a bright and happy tomorrow with everybody well catered for, but delivers death and destruction and tension around the world.
    Sure, you're right about what you say. But still I'd say eliminating poverty is a noble goal, and what made communism so horrible was not that goal, but the means that were taken on the way to reach that goal, which was never actually reached anyway.

    A world without poverty is a nice idea, isn't it? Unlike the idea of a racial pure nation that enslaves all other people and committs genocide on millions (at least for me. I don't know, maybe you find the latter goal more appealing). So it doesn't take me wonder people identify with the goal of eliminating poverty, but are too naive or are lacking history knowledge and/or common sense to realize communism is not a suitable way to achieve that goal.

    When Marx pointed to poverty in the working class, you have to admit he at least posed a valid, important question, even if we disagree with his answer.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    A world without poverty is a nice idea. But we're stuck with it 'til we reach a situation where there's a job for every good person and no politician wants to punish other people for having more than someone else.

    Though one point is that nowhere in Hitler's election leaflets did he mention killing jews and lebensraum. Though he was open in his antisemitism, he promoted Nazism as a power to the people thing too. For example, he promised to curb the powers of big business, give every German a job and some pride, plus to see his country independent from the Versailles Treaty again.

    By and large, the pre-power communists and Nazis behaved the same, insofar as there were riots on the streets, promises of punishments for dissidents as well as an open dislike for democracy. In power we got what we know of.

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    As far as I know, Hitler did reveal that he wanted German world dominance, colonies, "Lebensraum" in the East and segregating the Jews/expelling them from Germany, in "Mein Kampf", which was published in the 1920s already. He was very open about it. Just nobody took it seriously and thought it's just one more bold book by a shrill politician.

    And he didn't reveal he actually planned to *murder* all Jews. But his plan to make Germany "judenfrei" was well known, IIRC.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    Also, the Left Party is a rather heterogenous bunch: You find moderate union people in there, individualist pacifists, democratic socialists but also radical communists....

    Most of the time, they behaved accordingly, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Over 1 million voters gave the BNP the benefit of the doubt at the last Euro elections and they're a rather hetrogenous bunch too. But that didn't stop the roar of protest and riot against them which is queerly absent from the Communist Party's activities here. Perhaps our political establishment could stop putting Nick Griffin in court and trying to close his party down or the German Establishment should try doing the same with the Left Party.

    Though I will give the Left Party this credit: They seemingly try living up to their name as widely as the remit could stretch!
    Last edited by Republic_Of_Public; 01-16-11 at 08:53 AM.

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    Quote Originally Posted by Republic_Of_Public View Post
    Over 1 million voters gave the BNP the benefit of the doubt at the last Euro elections and they're a rather hetrogenous bunch too. But that didn't stop the roar of protest and riot against them which is queerly absent from the Communist Party's activities here. Perhaps our political establishment could stop putting Nick Griffin in court and trying to close his party down or the German Establishment should try doing the same with the Left Party.
    That I'm giving most leading Left Party politicians the benefit of the doubt doesn't mean I'd vote for them ever. I'd rather vote for the conservatives, than considering voting for the Left Party!

    And don't worry, the Left Party is observed by the Verfassungsschutz (German NSA) in some states, along with neo-Nazi groups or islamists. If there was enough evidence to support the accusation the Left Party is plotting to topple the democratic system or commit violence, it could be banned and their members prosecuted. That this isn't happening is apparently because the Verfassungsschutz believes they are mostly harmless.

    Also, I don't think banning the Left Party is a good idea. They do a good job integrating old GDR nostalgics into the parliamentary, democratic system. Those old Stalinists trust the Left Party leadership, and when these leaders say it's a good thing to play by democratic rules, run in elections and change the country peacefully, many of those nostalgics are likely to go along, they are less likely to revolt and may even reluctantly embrace our free system.

    The same happened with former low-rank Nazis in the 1950s and 60s, when the conservative CDU/CSU integrated them. Many of them soon embraced democratic parliamentarism and the free system.

    That may make the respective party ugly, and I might not be willing to vote for them, but globally, they are doing a valuable job of winning old authoritarians over for our free system.
    "Not learning from mistakes is worse than committing mistakes. When you don't allow yourself to make mistakes, it is hard to be tolerant of others and it does not allow even God to be merciful."

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    Re: Left Party leader sparks communism controversy

    Quote Originally Posted by Republic_Of_Public View Post
    Over 1 million voters gave the BNP the benefit of the doubt at the last Euro elections and they're a rather hetrogenous bunch too. But that didn't stop the roar of protest and riot against them which is queerly absent from the Communist Party's activities here. Perhaps our political establishment could stop putting Nick Griffin in court and trying to close his party down or the German Establishment should try doing the same with the Left Party.

    Though I will give the Left Party this credit: They seemingly try living up to their name as widely as the remit could stretch!
    It is odd that it seems to have escaped your notice that there is a left of centre tradition and history in the UK that goes back to groups such as the Levellers and the Chartists. I suspect that there are few Revolutionary Socialists or Communists left in the UK and my experience is that there is now a broadly democratic socialist tradition that encompasses Socialist and Communist parties.

    When you vote for a Socialist or Communist party in the UK it stands for what it says on the tin. The reason that the BNP gets such a hard time is because no one believes that they say what they mean which reminds me of Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) and "They came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.....". Oppose them now so that they don't come for the Slavs when they have finished with the Muslims, Liberals, Gypsies, Jews, Communists....
    Last edited by William Rea; 01-16-11 at 02:32 PM.
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