Some remarks beforehand:
This text tries to give an overlook on the political situation and to discuss immigration within the context of rising rents and unemployment, cuts in the social services, restructuring... - which is a difficult task [It does not go into details too much, because we packed the facts altogether into a supplement which is available at the given address. Unfortunately, our translating capacities are too limited to translate it all]. Still we think that our understanding of the situation was correct and is proving to be so ever more: the "fascist threat" as a threat of a taking over of the power in Germany (the "4th Reich") by nazis is a product of the media and some anti-fascists; the "fascism / anti-fascism trap" is working; the evidence for a state strategy of letting go and utilising the extreme right to make the public forget the social and political situation today is clear. Meanwhile, the pendulum has turned the other direction, the majority expresses its rejection of right-wing tendencies, the state tries to use this (high sentences for "violence crimes", "against right and left extremism", new laws that allow tapping of phones and flats(!) in case of "organised crime suspicion"...) and sell it as "democratic", but it is ambivalent: partly it is a grass-roots movement, with a lot of young people politicised, having their first demonstrations (or second, after the Gulf War), but also (not only foreign) workers discussing in the shop-floor. The state organised mass demonstration of Nov. 8, 1992, in Berlin with some hundred thousand participants didn't work too well for the government. Many took part to show their discontent with government politics.
Yet, violence goes on, recently a squatter got stabbed to death in East Berlin by some nazi after a conflict about a right-wing sticker, people responded with demonstrations and small riots. Three women from Turkey got deadly injured in West Germany by a fascist fire bomb attack on their flat. The Turkish state used the opportunity to show its flag, having problems with Kurdistan at home. This time, the German state managed to organise the general consensus "legal foreign workers are o.k. - against extremism" (which obviously excludes asylum claimants! - and which is a position of fascists, too - actually the German economy badly needs new workforce, we're told daily in the media).
There is a lot of material available in German on all that, too, please contact the respective info-shops etc and organise your own translations. Please send around any translations into your languages, so we might pass them on, too!
Take whatever you need from this text, if it is too long for your purposes, in other words: feel free to cut it; but please don't forget to send two copies of whatever you made out of it to the address given below thanks!
or: How the New Germany is being governed
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 the best: Punitive expeditions that declare whole quarters as "racist", `Autonome' who decide to refer to their ghetto even strictlyer, anti-fascists being fixated on a re-run of "33", "friends of the foreigners" blaming everyone who only tries to understand, if there possibly had been any molesting of neighbors, as "desculping the pogromes"...
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 smokes are to make forget, resp. legitimate, the cuts in the welfare state, decided in summer this year, and the further militarisation of the repressive apparatusses. The attacks on foreigners are to enable a stronger hierarchisation of the labour market and a splitting of the class.
On the side of the class, however, we only find a fragmentation and struggle against each other. Why do revolting youngsters work off against defenseless people like that? Why do braggings against foreigners also meet consent amongst workers? We have tried to paint a differentiated picture, because revolutionary politics have to find the forces for an overthrow in the daily social struggles.
Migration into Metropolis
The destruction of reproduction possibilities by capitalist development or non-development, 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 has a chance to reach Europe (large distances, high costs of travelling). Many of them are already caught at the borders. Knowing this, however, 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, petits bourgeoises) and immigrants searching for reproduction 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 labour 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 is being moved to.
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 hierarchisation of immigration and to slow down the assimilation process. One way, often used in the last two years, are seasonal contracts, contract work, contracts of manufactures 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.
Illegal workforce is cheaper for the single entrepreneur, but they pay less or no taxes and social contributions. The German social system can only be financed by the immigration of (young) workforce, whose education didn't cost (the German state) anything, and who are working here and filling up the cashiers of the health insurances and pension funds, without getting money out of them to the same extent or even without ever receiving payments from there 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 to work hasn't changed a lot to that. The barracking has the function to make 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 to start a "normal" job. At the moment, less than 10 % of those caught crossing the border illegally, say they are claiming "asylum", most of them want to "work" here and rather get deported in turn and try again soon than to venture on camp, displacement and bureaucratic control.
The most rational solution for capital (to let the workforce 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 hierarchisation of the "foreign population" in Germany.
But the pogromes are needed, too, to create the necessary "pressure for action" for a change of the Grundgesetz 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.
Crisis of the Political Class Crisis against the Workers
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 for 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 the basis. The relation between the distribution of posts and the building of consensus has broken. They only represent themselves, and everyone knows. 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 are having a political programme anymore.
Compared to this, 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 converting to protest by refusing to vote or by voting for right-wing and populist parties.
All this is all the more true for the former GDR, too. After the civil rights movement having vanished, the building-up of a new political class in the East is full of scandals. The populist rhetoric of the new politicians is very obviously about the distribution of sinecures. With its nationalisation, 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 the joining (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, already the Gulf War had 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 grew, too, the steel strike was cancelled in the last minute by the metal union IGM. The spring strikes in the metal industry could be prevented just in time. Before, the public services union had shown clear signs of wear-out, cancelling strikes in the public sector. Since then, the ruling class have 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 on record figures), the social cuts are deepened, and higher taxes and interest rates are taking a part of the incomes away again.
By the policy of high interest rates and through the European Monetary System, at the same time Germany is exporting its debts and unemployment into the other European countries that is, into national economies already much deeper in crisis, into states, whose indebtment, related to their GNP, is a lot higher than the German one. The struggles in Greece and Italy are showing that, by this, capital is playing with fire.
On this level, too, the Maastricht treaties have shown where the journey's heading: they are driving forth the economic unification of Europe and are delaying the 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 this process the political class has abdicated. The historical experience adds to this, that in the 60s 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 basis, and to workers 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 mean to plan a substantial sharpening of repression in advance. Strategy of tension in this case would mean to drive the party aparatusses into such coalitions and to terrorise and eliminate the social opposition. If things will go that far, though, is another question. The ruling class are not heading towards Europe voluntarily, but because they're unable to survive in a national frame anymore we might help them to an all European funeral instead!