Comments on Aufstehen – Victor Grossman

This is a translation from this original German text written by Victor Grossman. Many thanks to Lisa Vogel for the translation. You can read more from Victor here.

Surely, the emergence of the movement was not brought about in a particularly refined and delicate manner, especially by the hands of the co-chair of the parliamentary group – and thus was bound to displease others.

Nonetheless, it was and remains urgently necessary to break out of the usual 9-11% margin that Die LINKE usually inhabits, especially considering that this number is threatening to fall even lower, particularly in the east of Germany (in fact, today, the national polls say 8%), while the percentage of the AfD is threatening to get higher. The previous pale appearance of Die LINKE, especially outside of the Bundestag, necessarily had to be counteracted with some kind of activity, or action – and quickly! This is what Aufstehen promised. Additionally, the movement did so with a leading figure who commands acceptance by a larger part of the population than Die Linke itself – and who is altogether a fantastic speaker and conversation partner.

This fostered (and still is fostering) the hope that one could maintain most voters of Die Linke while additionally mobilizing a part of the obviously very dissatisfied voters (and members) of the SPD, as well as a part of the Green party, who still view themselves as progressive opponents of capital and belligerence, and a preferably large amount of voters, especially in the East, who want to protest due to their discontent and worry but find Die LINKE to be too loyal to the establishment for this purpose. This hope moves me to support Aufstehen, as well as hope that the LINKE that I belong to does not see the movement as a rival or even an opponent, but rather, as an allied partner against the right – even as a source of votes – as long as it does not attempt to become its own political party.

I do, however, have some concerns. In the attempt to lure voters away from the AfD, Sahra seems to have moved quite far into their direction – even, at times, with words that resemble those of the AfD (and worse) a little bit. It is important to move the emphasis away from the issue of migration (or refugees) and towards the direction of fighting for improvement for all, all the while emphasizing that the causes of forced migration have to be radically worked against – i.e. the exploitation of the south, the export of arms etc.. But it is possible to go too far – towards the shutting off of Europe. Is this what Sahra, or Aufstehen, is doing? I am not sure yet. The same is the case for the question of the national versus the international workers’ struggle. Is there a turning away from internationalism? I don’t know, and I don’t hope so!

To me, Die LINKE often seemed to lack the fundamental opposition against the capitalist system – not as an immediate goal (as some “wild ones” demand), but nonetheless as a goal, with the necessary education about it and the avoidance of contenting oneself with mere improvements to the current system that end up leading into the wrong direction – namely, to a “repairing” of capitalism.

Now, to reach a broader audience than Die Linke, Aufstehen should avoid possibly scaring off non-socialist antifascists. But especially because Die LINKE itself has often eschewed such positions, is there a danger that Aufstehen could push the political discourse even further towards the social democrat direction than it is the case now? I do not know.

Eventually, the most important thing for a movement such as Aufstehen would be to actually move people – and to “stand up”! So far, I have heard many a beautiful word, but none about actions, struggles, that is, movement! Neither have I heard about any possible meetings in order to plan such things – instead, I have only heard about the possibility for supporters to speak by means of celebrity and media – which, to me, does not seem to be very different from what caused the Piraten party to fail.

In the end, the question remains whether Aufstehen rests too much on Sahra as a personality, which can be easily smashed by the media, if they were to feel a true danger from the left.

These, then, are my worries. It is interesting to see that Die Linke is now announcing rather ambitious plans regarding the struggles with rent prices and other important questions – something I would have wished for a few years sooner. Are they a reaction to the possible rivalry of Aufstehen? This may not hurt – as long as we do not experience a split-up and hostile opposition between Die LINKE and Aufstehen – God prevent this (with the help of Karl M.!)

Despite all of these questions, I have high hopes, which is why I support Aufstehen as well as Die LINKE. I hope that both, mutually complementing each other, will counteract the horrendous threat that we are experiencing and which almost makes me feel as though I am living in October 1931.

Best wishes,

Victor Grossman

This is one of a series of articles we are publishing about Aufstehen. See also Phil Butland’s article here.