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The New Left (June 25-26, 2005)

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Thus far, the Left alliance seems quite nostalgic. If it came to pass, it would undertake to promise to represent those social figures who seem anachronistic: the long-term unemployed, residents of marginal regions, poor retirees. Protecting their interests would mean opposing those who are younger, more affluent, and flexible, who object that it is unjust to live at the expense of others, and who maintain that the welfare state as we know it is unduly limiting freedom. This is an issue that should be debated in parliament, not at SPD party conferences.

Despite Lafontaine’s megalomania, the alliance will not be a party for everyone left of center. The SPD and the Greens have by no means sold themselves out to the ominous neoliberalism. But calling out with exorcistic fervor to disappointed leftists in the West, union officials, and members of works councils, saying they have abandoned reason, is naïve and dangerous. If the country needs to be changed, if the talk of reform is more than just hysteria, then the losers need to be represented in the parliament. A tactical leftward shift of the SPD would only hide the conflicts temporarily and frustrate parts of the new center. An open, differentiated society needs multiple small parties. Anyone who regards the agitated ones as the norm forces them to follow up their gestural politics with honest, clientele-serving politics.

Source: Jens Bisky, “Die Aufgeregten. Die nostalgische Linke passt bestens in die Gegenwart” [“The Agitated Ones. The Nostalgic Left Fits Perfectly into the Present”], Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 25-26, 2005.

Translation: Allison Brown

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