Wagenknecht: “Community of values,” data collection, and other “pieces from the madhouse”

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Sahra Wagenknecht

Speech to The Left Party, June 6, 2015

June 9, 2015

Translated from German by Tom Winter

Dear Colleagues, in  politics it’s plain truth: the shabbier the contents, the more emphatic the justifications. And so there will be a meeting tomorrow in Elmau of not only a self-proclaimed government of the world, that nobody needs, but — if we are to believe Mrs Merkel — a meeting, behind high fences, of something much, much more noble, namely a community of values. A community of values, in which only those professing the values of international law are allowed. I do not know if the highly over-esteemed Chancellor noticed that if you would take this principle seriously, the Japanese Prime Minister would be damn lonely in Elmau. Because, except for Japan there is not a single country in the G7 that has not, in recent years, gotten itself involved in international law-breaking war. It is a sad reality, but it is a reality.

And in fact one has to add that Merkel’s community-of-values is not very picky in choosing their friends – if the Ukrainian government is one, that puts Nazis in leadership positions and conducts war with nazi battalions; if Saudi Arabia is one, that has beheaded more people than the barbaric murderers of ISIS. And meanwhile we find out that Washington had its fingers in the game right at the foundation of ISIS, just as before in the case of the Taliban. First plant terror and then fight it with arms supplies and terrorist wars, thereby destabilizing entire regions, with the attendant inhuman suffering and millions of refugees — and all this just to keep expanding their own spheres of influence and to seize lucrative commodities in their talons. Whoever takes this NATO strategy for a value-based policy, and who still believes Germany’s responsibility in the world depends on putting this kind of policy up front, needs their head examined.

And therefore there is in my eyes really no reason why The Left should begin pondering, whether this war is worse, or that war is less bad. Dear colleagues, war is the greatest human rights crime, and therefore there can be no less serious wars and there must be a party in the Bundestag and stay there, that still has the courage to utter this truth. And it does not matter whether the SPD and the Greens like it or not.

And they tell us that we will need the NSA’s high tech sniffers to protect us against terrorist attacks – what kind of nonsense is that? If you don’t want terrorists in your country, stop terrorizing abroad! And it’s a fact and a truth: US drones have wiped out countless innocent families from Yemen to Afghanistan. And these drones would not fly, if Germany via Ramstein were not providing the necessary base. [Ramstein, Germany is HQ for the US Air Force in Europe plus US Air Force Africa, and is also a NATO installation – tr] 

And therefore an end to this cooperation — and this means in consequence an exit from the military structures of NATO — an end to this cooperation would be the most important requirement for protection from terrorist attacks, and far better than the NSA illegally supplying us with all our private data.


Allegedly the days in Elmau are only for the really quite flawless democrats. Even that is also cited as a reason why Putin is not welcome there – What a hypocrisy! How can people call themselves democratic, and at the same time be negotiating on free trade agreements like CETA and TTIP, whose declared aim is to take away the decision-making authority from democratically elected governments and parliaments, to install corporations over government, and basically make all future elections superfluous, because then you can not let any land propose and adopt laws that would bring the big profiteers to heel. 

I have to say once: Those involved in such an agreement, who support such agreements, have to stop calling themselves democratic. These are anti-democrats, and it is anti-democratic agreements that are negotiated there.

And I will add this: I have to say, because it falls a really hard, to see such a man as Mr. Gabriel, who has been these months telling the public lies and taking them for dummies as a possible partner in future governmental social- and policy change. This contradicts itself, it simply doesn’t jibe. 

And of course, dear colleagues, yes, I want us to change this country and we are already doing it. And it is also true: you can change more from the government than from the opposition if – but this “if” is the decisive condition – if you have partners who want to at least go in the same direction as you. That’s what matters. But where have the SPD and the Greens gone in national politics in recent years? Let us just look at the events: As Oxfam has pointed out, extrapolating the current distribution of wealth and power into 2016, the top one percent will have more assets than all other people together, so what then was the debate contribution of the SPD Chairman? The property taxes were no longer appropriate! 

And what was Gabriel’s follow-up on the NSA scandal after he first inflated his cheeks and produced all the hot air? Well he has come out in favor of enforcing the law on data retention. Apparently as a special service to the NSA, so they wouldn’t have so much stress any more evaluating their data. So we are storing the data — Nice, eh? Right! What kind of policy is that? [Sigmar Gabriel is Germany’s Minister of Economic Affairs — tr]

And does Ms Nahles [Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs — tr] like it when workers in Germany fight at last more and more strongly for their rights and against lousy wages? What does she like most? A law restricting the right to strike. And this law then gets tagged with the ironic name: “Act on bargaining unity.” So it hasn’t occurred to Ms. Nahles that this bargaining unity was ruined in Germany and destroyed by Agenda 2010, by the work and loan contracts, and the like. But if she wants to change something with us, she should do it and she can do it.

Where is the criticism of the leading SPD politicians on the disastrous European politics of our Chancellor? Or at the merciless extortion of the SYRIZA government? For five years, Greece has been driven deeper and deeper into crisis by wage cuts, through cuts in social services, privatization, and all the while their debt has gotten higher and higher. And what are now the terms of new loans? Wage cuts, social cuts and privatizations. That’s a piece from the madhouse. 

And dear colleagues, I think we are still in complete agreement: the left was not established to keep on swimming in this murky broth. All the more since this country stands as proof of ability to govern, and for pragmatism.

And further: Mr. Söder is always in grand form showing up on the talk shows as he demands of the Greeks: I want our money back! Well one can only say: “Mr. Söder, Yes please. Have them get their money back. But if you please, from the ones that got it, – and that’s not the Greek nurse, and that is not the Greek pensioners, but it’s the banks and the Greek elite. There lies the money the Greeks need.

And that’s the way it is in all of Europe: it lies with the banks, the conglomerates and the upper class: there lies the money needed for a socially just policy. And it lies with the umpteenth government which again does not dare to approach this money, nor to engage with it, but the Left is not needed for this: what is needed is clear positions to attract the people so that, finally, there is a different policy possible in this country. Therefore we have to fight together, with clear positions. I thank you.

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