Germany’s new government led by Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, who replaces Christian Democrat Angela Merkel after 16 years as Federal Chancellor, has declared war on the working population even before coming to power.
When the so-called “traffic light coalition”, made up of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP), presented their government platform on Wednesday, the number of deaths from COVID-19 rose exceeded 100,000, according to the official count. by the Robert Koch Institute. This horrible coincidence had great symbolic power.
Most of these deaths would have been preventable had the government followed the advice of science and pursued the elimination of COVID-19 using all means available – vaccination, mass testing, contact tracing, lockdowns, closure of all factories and schools, quarantine.
But the Merkel government, in consultation with German state governments, has made a conscious decision to sacrifice the health and lives of millions of people for the benefit of business. He only took action against the virus when the situation was about to explode, then lifted public health measures far too soon. Non-essential businesses have never been closed at all. Schools remain open to this day, even though the virus is rampant among children and causing untold long-term damage.
As millions of people have been infected, lost jobs and income, and put superhuman efforts in hospitals and nursing homes, the business elite and the super-rich have gorged themselves during the pandemic. The fortunes of the richest 100 Germans alone grew from € 606 billion to € 722 billion in the first year of the pandemic.
The result is the present catastrophe. The number of new infections each day is increasing exponentially and was 76,000 as of Wednesday, more than twice as many as at the height of the second and third waves. Desperate parents and teachers don’t know how to protect children. Every day, 350 people die from COVID-19. The intensive care units are overcrowded and are preparing for triage. Without drastic countermeasures, the number of deaths will double to 200,000 by the spring, according to expert estimates.
But the new government acts even more inhumanly and criminally than the old one. A week ago, the SPD, Greens and FDP used their majority in parliament to end the COVID-19 emergency, the legal basis for lockdowns and similar measures.
Scholz’s appearance to the press on Wednesday is reminiscent of the famous Emperor Nero, who played the violin while Rome was on fire. Scholz and his coalition partners praised and celebrated each other, but other than a general call for vaccinations and the establishment of a crisis team at the Chancellery, they offered no action against the pandemic.
Even the mainstream media have commented on the government’s indifference to the mass death. “The current decisions are like announcing during a catastrophic flood that more swimming instructors would be hired and a few armbands and bath ducks distributed,” commented the Süddeutsche Zeitung .
Contempt for the life and health of the working class permeates the government agenda, which we analyzed on the WSWS. Every topic and every question is approached from the point of view of maximizing profits, the geopolitical interests of German imperialism and the suppression of popular opposition.
The program aspires to a German policy of great power, advocates nuclear deterrence and joins the American war front against China and Russia. It provides for an accelerated rearmament of the armed forces, the police and the secret services. It maintains the debt brake, which prevents governments from borrowing for public spending, and categorically excludes tax increases for the rich. It is inspired by the famous Agenda 2010 imposed by the red-green government of Gerhard Schröder and further deepens its attacks on wages, social rights and pensions.
After Schröder’s resignation in 2005, the SPD continued this policy as a junior partner of the Christian Democratic Union / Christian Social Union. Scholz himself has been Merkel’s vice-chancellor and finance minister for the past three and a half years. Now the Greens also come back to the federal government.
The Greens were founded in the early 1980s by participants in the 1968 student protests. They brought together former Maoists, anarchists, young socialists, nuclear opponents and peace activists under the banner of protection. of the environment. What they all had in common was their rejection of Marxism and the working class based on the theories of the Frankfurt School and postmodernism.
During the 1998 federal election campaign, the Greens presented themselves as pacifists and “leftists”. But no sooner were they in the federal government than they showed their true colors. Former squatter and street fighter Joschka Fischer, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, organized the German army’s first post-war foreign military intervention in Yugoslavia. The social attacks against workers implemented within the framework of Agenda 2010 also enjoyed the full support of the Greens.
Now the Greens are returning to the federal government as an aggressive party of war and austerity. They also subordinate climate protection, their trademark, to the interests of companies and banks. On closer inspection, their climate protection plans turn out to be a massive subsidy and enrichment program for the economy, well below pressing climate goals. The party is based on the affluent, urban middle class, which has shifted sharply to the right under the impact of growing class tensions and is now allied with the open representatives of finance capital in the FDP.
This has created a situation where open class conflict becomes inevitable. The mood of the masses is far to the left of official policy. Anger at the deadly COVID-19 policy and resistance to wage cuts, increased workloads and layoffs is growing and will continue to rise given an inflation rate of nearly 6% . Major strikes and demonstrations have already taken place in railways, hospitals, the public sector and many steel companies.
These moods no longer find expression in the official parliamentary system. There is no established party that even remotely represents the interests of the workers. In the federal parliament there are three right-wing opposition parties, the CDU, the CSU and Alternative for Germany, but no party is nominally to the left of the traffic light coalition, apart from the rest of the Party of left. The Left Party fully supports the policy of the federal government. He governs in four federal states in alliance with the SPD and the Greens.
This situation is not limited to Germany. All over the world, workers are learning that leftist parties and unions are standing on the other side of barricades and stabbing them in the back. In Greece, the pseudo-left Syriza implemented the drastic austerity program of the Troika. In Spain, the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Podemos are pursuing a deadly policy against COVID-19 and attacking steelworkers in Cadiz with riot police. In Britain, Keir Starmer’s Labor Party is trying to outdo the right-wing conservatives. In the United States, the pseudo-left Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) backs President Biden, who in turn embraces Republicans as they drift into fascism.
As a result of this criminal policy, Europe has become the epicenter of the pandemic. The WHO warned on Tuesday that the number of reported deaths in Europe would rise from the current 1.5 million to 2.2 million by the spring of next year if current trends continue, which means 700,000 deaths additional will take place.
The eruption of the social struggle of the working class is inevitable under these conditions. But these need to be prepared and require a political perspective. To this end, the Sozialistische Gleichheitspartei (Socialist Equality Party, SGP) and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) must be built as the new political leadership of the working class.
The SGP is the only party to oppose the cartel of traditional parties and trade unions, insisting that the pandemic can only be overcome through the independent mobilization of the international working class on the basis of a socialist program.
The ruling elite know and fear the power from a socialist perspective. This is the reason why the German secret services, the Verfassungsschutz, are trying to silence the SGP by denouncing and monitoring the party as an “extreme left” organization, and why the Berlin administrative court has given its approval to this attack on freedom. expression.
On May 1, the ICFI called for the formation of the International Alliance of Workers of Grassroots Committees (IWA-RFC) in order, as its founding statement stated, “to initiate a global class counteroffensive. worker against murderous policies. of the capitalist ruling class and their governments ”and to create a way“ to coordinate their struggles in different workplaces, industries and countries in opposition to the ruling class and the corporatist unions ”.
The ICFI launched the Global Workers’ Survey on the COVID-19 pandemic to examine the disastrous response of governments, businesses and the media to the pandemic, and to uncover the political and economic forces and interests behind the policies that have claimed the lives of millions of people. the world.
We call on all readers of the WSWS to support the IWA-RFC and the Global Workers Inquest, and join the SGP.