This text presupposes several basic theoretical assumptions: that Nations are the artificial creations of the capitalist social system, that is, of the capitalist class historically. As already discussed in several other places in this magazine, both capitalist and working classes have no nationality, borders and the enforced maintainance of socio-cultural barriers are as much a part of the world system of class domination as the States which control the territory within them.
or: How the New Germany is being governed
[The following is a condensed translation of an article in #60 of the German magazine Wildcat, available from: SISINA, Postfach 360 527, D-1000 Berlin 36]
It is difficult to talk, in a general context, about the new wave of humiliation and violence against asylum claimants. The burning ZASt (central office of call for asylum claimants) in Rostock was made a symbol for by the media and the Left. Difficult, because here, so many things are linked together unseparably, and on the other hand so much splits into thousands of "scenes" and "communities" with their respective relative truths. The riots in front of the asylum camps refer to questions like the housing shortage, rising unemployment, restructuring of the factories, state labor market policy, juvenile rebellion and so on. In relation to this, answers from our side (??????????) are remaining partial at best: punitive expeditions that declare whole quarters as "racist", "Autonomen" who decide to categorize their ghetto even more strictly, anti-fascists fixated on a re-run of "1933", "friends of the foreigners" blaming anyone who is only trying to understand, for example, if there possibly had been any molesting of neighbors, as "defending the pogroms"...
At first we only find connections on the side of the state, trying out in these conflicts a form of politics in the BRD until now less known: The strategy of tension.() The riots in front of asylum camps nearly all had a common pattern: a heating up of the situation by the state, letting go of fascist groupings, protection of the riots against interventions of anti-fascists. The thus produced smoke is intended to make us forget, and to legitimate, the cuts in the welfare state, decided in the summer of '92, and the further militarization of the repressive apparatuses. The attacks on foreigners are meant to enable a stronger hierarchization of the labor market and a splintering of the working class.
On the side of the proletariat, however, we only find a fragmentation and struggle against each other. Why do revolting youths work off their anger against defenseless people like that? Why do harrassments against foreigners also meet consent among workers? We have tried to paint a differentiated picture, because revolutionary theory has to find the forces for an overthrow in the daily social struggles.
The destruction of survival possibilities by capitalist development, or non-development, by wars, starvation (as in Africa), the changes in the East, etc, are sparking off migration movements on a world-wide scale. Millions of people are trying to reach regions where they are able to secure their survival (in a better way). Only a low percentage of these people have a chance to reach Europe (large distances, high costs of travelling). Many of them are already caught at the borders. Well aware of this, politicians in Germany are making (domestic) politics with "tens of millions of Russians already sitting on their suitcases".
At the moment, in all Western European countries intensified conflicts are taking place between natives from the lower layers of society (workers, welfare recipients, petty bourgeois) and immigrants searching for survival possibilities: brawls between Greek and Albanian workers, hunts on Africans in Italy and France, arsons on refugees' homes and street riots in Germany. The fact that the "multicultural middle-classes" show up less obviously doesn't mean they're less racist: for them, refugees at first are no competition on the housing and labor market, their kids don't have the problems of overcrowded school classes with a high percentage of foreigners, in their quarters, very rarely an asylum camp and never a ZASt being moved into.
In Germany, there is a demand for cheap labor, only to be met by immigration. Until recently, immigrants pretty rapidly managed to get the same wages as the "inlanders". Capitalists are trying to counteract this by a hierarchization of immigration and to slow down the assimilation process. One way, often used in the last two years, is seasonal contracts, contract work, contracts of manufacturers allowing the exploitation of (contingent) workers from Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Romania, CSFR, Bulgaria, Russia for much lower wages. On the lowest level of this hierarchy are illegal immigrants working here.
An illegal workforce is cheaper for the single entrepreneur, but they pay less or no taxes and social security fees. The German social system can only be financed by the immigration of a (young) workforce, whose education didn't cost (the German state) anything, and who are working here and filling up the cash registers of the health insurances and pension funds, without getting money out of them to the same extent or even without ever receiving payments from them, because they go back to their native countries. Thus, the state has a financial interest in a legal regulation of migrant work.
For this purpose, the Grundgesetz (provisional constitution of the BRD) article 16 (which guarantees the individual the right to claim asylum and stay in Germany until a court has decided upon the individual case) is dysfunctional: after recruitment stoppage and obligatory visa, it has become the only way to legally come to Germany. It excludes the conditions of the free market and actually prevents the taking up of a job. Even the suspension of the prohibition of the legal right to work hasn't changed a lot to that. The barracking has the function of making the refugees visible as a "problem" and to prevent contacts to other proletarians. Until now, this has worked quite well, preventing common struggles (e.g., for decent housing). But the bureaucratic process hinders people from starting a "normal" job. At the moment, less than 10 % of those caught crossing the border illegally say that they are claiming "asylum". Most of them want to "work" here and would rather get deported and try again soon than to venture into the refugee camps, displacement, and bureaucratic control.
The most rational solution for capital (in order to let these workers in) would be an immigration law. The length of the debate on this is owed to the fact that it would fix egalitarian demands of the immigrants. Regulating possibilities are being searched to provide a stronger hierarchization of the "foreign population" in Germany.
But the pogroms are needed, too, to create the necessary "pressure for action" for a change in the provisional constitution and other measures and to show the immigrants that they are second class people here, that they ought to come here with their heads bent down, that they are only endured.
The scenario of hostility against foreigners, supported by state and media, takes place before the background of the deepest political crisis in BRD history. Characteristic of this crisis is the inner breakdown of all big institutions. The parties are blocked from the inside, they don't function anymore as transmission belts to their rank and file. The relation between the distribution of posts and the building of consensus has broken. They only represent themselves, and everyone knows it. The system of the party-state doesn't function anymore. The heads of the parties are cooperating in a great coalition of crisis management. Neither the Social-Democratic Party (SPD) nor the ruling coalition have a political program anymore.
Compared to this situation, the slogans of the right-wing parties seem simple and understandable: against the islamisation of Germany, against the ECU, the few available flats for Germans... The "people's parties" are losing votes, the voters are beginning to protest by refusing to vote - or by voting for right-wing and populist parties.
This is all the more true for the former GDR (East Germany), too. After the civil rights movement (the peaceful "revolution" which aided the collapse of the GDR in '89) vanished, the building-up of a new political class in the East has been full of scandals. The populist rhetoric of the new politicians is very obviously about the distribution of sinecures. With its nationalization, the church, in GDR times an "oppositional force", finds itself in a deep crisis. Accepting separate wage levels for East and West Germany, the unions also have gambled away previous successes.
The financial crisis of the state was sharpened by the high costs of re-unification (payments for unemployment in the East, the building-up of the infrastructure, subsidies to capitalists willing to invest). The high interest rates are to keep the state budget financable and to slow down the boom. But this crisis is not a specific "German problem". In France and Italy the Gulf War had already been used for a slow-down. The re-unification of Germany first resulted in a separate development. But after the summer of '91, in West German enterprises unrest began to grow. Also, the steel strike was cancelled in the last minute by the metal union IG Metall (Germany's largest union). The spring strikes in the metal industry proved able to be prevented just in time. Previously, the public services union had shown clear signs of wear-out, cancelling strikes in the public sector. Since then, the ruling class has turned to a policy of high interest rates, social pact, great coalition (and, in our context: the deliberate escalation of the "asylum problematics" with the coming into force of the new law on asylum claimants on July 1st). Now, simultaneously there is a slow-down of the boom, the factories are being restructured by lean production (unemployment is in record numbers), the social cuts are being deepened, and higher taxes and interest rates are gouging a piece of people's incomes out again.
At the same time, Germany is exporting its debts and unemployment into the other European countries - by a policy of high interest rates, and through the European Monetary System. That is, into national economies already much deeper in crisis, into states whose indebtedness, related to their GNP, is a lot higher than the German state's. The struggles in Greece and Italy are showing that, in this, capital is playing with fire.()
On this level, too, the Maastricht treaties have shown where this road is heading: they are driving forth the economic unification of Europe, while delaying its political unification - and thus the possibility of parliamentary, "democratic" control - for an indefinite time. The reunification of Germany was put through like that, too, it was no "political" decision in a parliamentary sense. In that process the political class has abdicated. The historical experience adds to this analysis: in the 1960s the great coalition favoured the building-up and radicalisation of an extra-parliamentary opposition, the concerted action and wage freezes led to the unions not being able anymore to tie up their members, and to workers going out on wildcat strikes. So: if an economic imperialism, ruled by anonymous bureaucrats and emergency governments, should be the form of government in the future, this would require planning a substantial sharpening of repression in advance. Strategy of tension in this case would mean driving the party machines into such coalitions, and to terrorize and eliminate the social opposition. Whether things will go that far, however, is another question. The ruling class is not heading towards Europe voluntarily, but because they are no longer able to survive inside a national framework we might help them to an all European funeral instead!