Notes on the Political Situation in Germany

The war in Ukraine has put German imperialism under further strain on a strategic and economic level. The crisis (and not least the Covid pandemic) has not left Germany unscathed. In 2020, the share of German goods sold on the world market was only 7.2% (compared to 12% in 1990). Even before the war, extensive job cuts were announced in the automotive industry, a backbone of the German export economy, starting in 2020 (21,000 jobs at Daimler, approx. 13,000 at VW, 7,500 at Audi).

The policy of the US on the European continent repeatedly called the future of the EU into question and set limits to the power of German imperialism. Nevertheless, until 24 February there was at least the strategic option of standing up to the US in tactical alliances with Russia (Schröder's policy of the "German way" during the Iraq war).

The Scholz government was initially opposed to the aggressive course of US imperialism in Ukraine. It was obvious that this fundamentally endangered the interests of German imperialism as the leading power of the EU and its important economic relations with Russia.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine changed this abruptly. In view of the new situation that had arisen on the global level, the German government had no choice but to enter into a bloc with US imperialism. It was no coincidence that Scholz spoke of a "turning point" in this context. It had become obvious that German imperialism was not (yet) able to assert its foreign policy interests alone and independently against the imperialist superpowers that had come into conflict.

In this context, it cannot be repeated often enough that Germany relies on an industry that is 31% based on gas as an energy source, and drew over half of its gas imports from Russia. The export-dependent German economy has received an additional significant damper. In addition to energy prices, the prices of primary industrial goods have also risen by 47% compared to the previous year. In the second quarter of this year, the German economy stagnated completely with growth of 0.0%. It is true that the media are currently frequently claiming that the "looming recession" (which is in fact already here) will not be as bad "as expected" because the supply chains have not yet been completely disrupted. But this amounts to wishful thinking. According to recent reports, a quarter of companies are planning to cut jobs due to rising energy prices. Add to this the legacy of the 2008 crisis and the central banks' attempt to keep productive investment going through low interest rates. There is no reliable data on how many German companies are so-called "zombies" (some estimate it at 14%), but in view of rising energy prices and further interest rate hikes, a drastic wave of company bankruptcies can be assumed.

It cannot be assumed that Germany will subordinate itself to an imperialist bloc led by the US without contradiction in the long run. Rather, we can expect an ambivalent and changeable policy, in which attempts are made to use all kinds of leeway to set its own accents. This is evidenced by the aggressive reactions to Biden's "Inflation Reduction Act", which were even put forward and supported by capital factions friendly to the US. Maintaining trade with China is seen as an existential issue by important capital factions. This is underlined by Scholz's approval of the entry of the Chinese company Cosco into the logistically important Hamburg port terminal, and the high-ranking business delegation on Scholz's trip to China (BASF, BMW, Deutsche Bank, VW and others). Despite the setback, the German bourgeoisie will continue to try to defend its position at the world level. The dilemma is obvious: on the one hand, Germany needs the transatlantic alliance (especially in the military sense); at the same time, turning away from China as a trading partner would be a disaster for core sectors of German industry.

All German capital factions are aware that there is no easy way back to the time before 24 February 2022. In the long term, their strategy is to rearm militarily and gear up their energy policy. In this context, the 100 billion programme for armaments (for which an amendment of the Grundgesetz was necessary) is only the prelude to further armament. The project to replace the Tornado with the US F35 fighter jet, which can be equipped with nuclear missiles, alone shows that German militarism has broken through all the taboos imposed by the past. In terms of energy policy, the German bourgeoisie is counting on the forced expansion of renewable energies (a not inconsiderable economic sector in Germany) to free itself from long-term dependence on US liquid gas.

Domestically, the political climate was and is characterised by massive war propaganda. On all channels, military support is presented as having no alternative. Even harmless liberal critics who merely expressed concerns about a nuclear escalation were massively attacked in the media and literally silenced.

The Greens, in particular, with their numerous multipliers in civil society, proved to be very effective in this. They know how to relativise Auschwitz and the German crimes of the past and at the same time use anti-fascism as a moral argument for the war.

It is remarkable in this context that the military support for Ukraine was justified primarily with "left-wing rhetoric" ("support for the colonised", "solidarity with the oppressed", "defence against Russian fascism", etc.). In doing so, they reached deep into the bag of tricks of identity politics, which grants "the victim" a privileged speaking position. Consequently, the Ukrainian ambassador Melnyk, an admirer of Stepan Bandera, was able to represent his aggressive nationalist programme unchallenged on all channels as the advocate of the attacked, whereby he could also make openly anti-Semitic statements.

Although they did not succeed in igniting enthusiasm for war, they did succeed in putting rearmament and war on the agenda as the ultimate moral imperative without any alternative. Political taboos hitherto considered irrevocable (arms deliveries to war zones, massive rearmament and more social acceptance for the Bundeswehr) have been broken. This is an important step forward for German militarism.

The political left has completely capitulated in the face of this pressure. While a part went over to the "critical" defence of Ukraine (and NATO) under the banner of anti-fascism, another part distorted the slogan "the main enemy is at home" to support Russia more or less openly. Still others tried to sit out the war, not take a position and save their projects, without success. Against this background, the few protests against the war could only attract a few people and failed because of their own contradictions.

The implications of the Ukraine war have also escalated the contradictions within Die Linke. The split into a classical reformist wing and a new left-nationalist project around Sahra Wagenknecht seems to be only a matter of time. An implosion of Die Linke will further fuel confusion in the left spectrum.

In contrast, the far right has been able to develop some momentum with nationalist and pro-Russian anti-war rhetoric. With approx. 28%, the AfD is the strongest party in the East (although it suffers from internal faction fights). The demonstrations of the right-wing spectrum of Covid deniers, conspiracy ideologues and open fascists were able to unfold a continuity over the autumn, especially in East Germany.

The uncovered attempted coup by the so-called "Reichsbürger" with such outlandish figures as Prince Heinrich von Reuß VIII undoubtedly had something bizarre about it. At the same time, it shows that this spectrum has long since ceased to be just crazy petty bourgeois and harmless nutcases. It has nowhere near the quality of "Propaganda Due" (P2)(1) like in Italy in the 80s. Nevertheless, the connections and contacts of this spectrum with the military, police and judicial apparatus should not be underestimated, especially in the context of the "NSU complex".(2)

The few strikes there were this year remained firmly under the control of the unions (like the dockworkers' actions in the summer). The wage settlement in the metal industry remained below expectations at 8% and in real terms does not even compensate for inflation. It remains to be seen whether the collective bargaining rounds in the public sector and at the postal service in spring next year will bring a new dynamic. At the moment it does not look like it will.

The actions of a "hot autumn" loudly announced by various left spectrums have failed all along the line. This was predictable and was also our assessment. The German government is trying to counter social anger with protectionist measures and some concessions. Even if the government's various "Entlastungsprogramme"(3) are a sham when measured against their promises, they still have a mitigating effect at the moment. Better little than nothing is the attitude of many people in this respect. The German bourgeoisie has successfully bought itself time up to the present period. The question is at what price and what will happen when the real bills for the increased energy prices reach the people next year. In view of the crisis-ridden developments in the world (climate, war, energy prices), the social climate is rather one of widespread fatalism and political apathy. This is compounded by the multiple and complex political confusions that have been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.

Spontaneous eruptions of anger are certainly possible at any time. The only question is what potential they can develop. Given the lack of credible and tangible alternatives, the lack of experience and tradition in struggle, it is more likely that the development of class struggles will take place in a contradictory and protracted process.

Gruppe Internationalistischer KommunistInnen (German affiliate of the ICT)
15 December 2022



(1) A far right pseudo-Masonic organisation, see:

(2) The National Socialist Underground, see:

(3) Sustainability or relief programmes.

Sunday, January 1, 2023