Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cynical Attitude to Efforts for Unity in German Left

Cynicism Regarding Efforts for Unity on the German Left
Many veterans of the left admire Monthly Review and to this very day, you will usually find something important and interesting in every issue. However, it appears that there is some sort of retreat regarding MR’s traditional high standards. The recent coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian issue has been, in my humble opinion, one sided and tends to see every unrestrained attack on the Palestinian national strategy as an expression of anti-imperialism. Those articles had, at least, the virtue of identifying with the victims of Israeli-US collusion. However, my present concern is the recent strident attack on the main sections of the German left that Monthly Review saw fit to print.

Disparagement and Ridicule Instead of Analysis
MR (May 2007) published an article by Ingo Schmidt characterized, more than anything else, by cynical disparagement of the Democratic Party of Socialism (PDS) and the West German Electoral Alliance for Jobs and Social Justice (WASG). These two groups which have united to create the new LEFT party have been more than candid in discussing the serious problems involved in building their unity. However, for Schmidt, they “are ill prepared” and the new “self-appointed” party “hardly resonates beyond its own activist and deputy circles.” The PDS is characterized by “theoretical skepticism and practical opportunism.” But why bother to continue quoting the author? It is clear that Schmidt doesn’t think much of either group and is convinced that their efforts are futile. The style is cynical and mocks the cadre of both groups while the text expresses serious reservations regarding the struggle for unity. If Schmidt is not against unity in principle, he certainly leaves the MR reader with a sense that the present efforts are more a joke than anything else.

This week, the united Left party had a tremendous electoral success in Bremen and increased its vote from some 2% to close to 9%. A recent issue of the International Herald Tribune reports growing opposition in Germany to the war in Afghanistan, led by the very same Left party. But even if things were a lot worse, there is no room for the kind of sarcastic derision which characterized Schmidt’s article.