“Unser Ziel ist es, stärkste Kraft in einem links-progressiven Bündnis zu werden mit Olaf Scholz als Regierungschef.”

It’s late morning. I slept well, have now had several cups of coffee, no beer yet, and I find Esken’s is a really weird vision.

Zugleich aber sieht sie auch eine Regierungs­beteiligung unter grüner Kanzlerschaft als realistisches Szenario. Dafür sei sie schon oft kritisiert worden, räumte Esken ein. Sie sei aber auch Realistin.

This is funny stuff.

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Picked it up yesterday and have just started it. The frontispiece reads

it's hard to listen while you preach
U2, Every Breaking Wave

This quote from an Irish rock band is in English, and therefore doubly hip. The lyric is printed without capitalization, like e e cummings, and therefore both Humble and triply hip, as some commentators perceive Robert Habeck to be presenting himself.

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Urban, divers, kosmopolitisch, individualistisch – links ist für viele heute vor allem eine Lifestylefrage. Politische Konzepte für sozialen Zusammen­halt bleiben auf der Strecke, genauso wie schlecht verdienende Frauen, arme Zuwanderer­kinder, ausgebeutete Leiharbeiter und große Teile der Mittelschicht. Ob in den USA oder Europa: Wer sich auf Gender­sternchen konzentriert statt auf Chancen­gerechtigkeit und dabei Kultur und Zusammen­gehörigkeits­gefühl der Bevölkerungs­mehrheit vernachlässigt, arbeitet der politischen Rechten in die Hände. Sahra Wagenknecht zeichnet in ihrem Buch eine Alternative zu einem Linksliberalismus, der sich progressiv wähnt, aber die Gesellschaft weiter spaltet, weil er sich nur für das eigene Milieu interessiert und Diskriminierung aufgrund sozialer Herkunft ignoriert. Sie entwickelt ein Programm, mit dem linke Politik wieder mehrheitsfähig werden kann. Gemeinsam statt egoistisch.

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BBC:

Amazon has defeated activists hoping to establish the company’s first unionised warehouse in the US.

Workers at the Bessemer, Alabama warehouse voted 1,798 to 738 against the effort, labour officials said.

If successful, the union drive would have meant that Amazon, the second largest employer in the US, would have had to negotiate a contract with union officials on issues such as work rules and pay.

Jörg Wimalasena, Die Zeit:

Alabama ist einer der Bundesstaaten, in denen Arbeitsverhältnisse at-will abgeschlossen werden. Das heißt: Arbeitnehmer genießen kaum Kündigungsschutz und können jederzeit gefeuert werden, sofern die Gründe für die Entlassung nicht illegal sind (etwa rassistische Diskriminierung). Die Angst, den Job zu verlieren, instrumentalisieren Unternehmen gern, um Arbeitnehmer einzuschüchtern. Man droht etwa, ein Werk zu schließen, wenn die Beschäftigten sich organisieren.

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Stara Gradiška

Ihr Ziel war ein Nebenlager von Jasenovac, Stara Gradiška. Dort gab es ein sogenanntes Kinderspital.

Ω Ω Ω

Doch Diana verzweifelte nicht. Sie wies ihre Begleiterinnen an, die Kinder auf die Füße zu stellen, und wenn das Kind nicht sofort wieder umfiel, erklärte es der Lagerarzt für transportfähig. Diana kümmerte sich nicht um das Urteil des Lagerarztes. Sie nahm auch die anderen Kinder mit.

„Die meisten starben noch während des Tages“, schrieb Diana später in ihr Tagebuch.

Ω Ω Ω

Eine Liste mit hunderten Namen, Geburtsdaten und Orten, eine Rechnung über vier Paar Frauenschuhe und über Kapuzen für die frierenden Kinder im Lager Loborgrad.

Ω Ω Ω

Jedes Kind bekam eine Nummer, die auch auf einem Schild stand, das ihm um den Hals gehängt wurde. Am Anfang waren die Schilder aus Pappe, aber die Kinder waren so ausgehungert, dass sie die Schilder aufaßen, also besorgte Diana welche aus Metall.

—Wilhelm Kuehs, “Die Tiefe des Schweigens”, in Worte bewegen, (Wien: Braumüller GmbH, 2020), 53-54.

The Diana Kuehs is writing about is Diana Budisavljević. I had been finding Heinrich Böll’s soldier stories in Erzählungen a bit grim, so picked up a collection of stories that made the shortlist for the 1. Österreichischen Literaturpreis für Erzählungen im Rahmen des Literaturfestivals Worte bewegen. The summer of 2018 I was to Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška, to Lobor.

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Von hier an anders

Daniel Cohn-Bendit und Claus Leggewie, Die Zeit:

Wo trägt eine im Grunde richtige Politik (Klimaschutz, Aufnahme von Flüchtlingen, militärischer Gewaltverzicht) ungewollt zur Vertiefung der sozialen Spaltung bei, woran ja ihre Ausführung am Ende scheitern würde?

Reading Danny Cohn-Bendit’s considerations of a potential Grünen Kanzler in Die Zeit is mind-blowing for me. Remembering reading Obsolete Communism 20 years ago, Petra Kelly, Rudi Dutschke.

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»Unerschütterliche Unterstützung«

Spiegel:

US-Präsident Joe Biden hatte seinem ukrainischen Kollegen Wolodymyr Selenskyj am Freitag versichert, er könne auf die »unerschütterliche Unterstützung« Amerikas für die Souveränität und Integrität des Landes zählen.

Several aspects of this sentence strike me as really funny.

The myth of democracy goes hand in hand with the myth of transition as, according to neoliberal orthodoxy, where there are markets, there is democracy and freedom of enterprise and individuals. The feasibility of democratic rule in a polity where private interests come before public ones is one of the more insidious yet resilient myths that allows for authoritarian neoliberalism to survive and spread. The political institutions that emerge as a result of transition are essentially undemocratic as not only is their shape imposed on societies externally but also that shape, that is, the transnational state, itself presupposes the loss of democratic control over its functioning. In such conditions, talking of democracy even hypothetically can be equalled to fictitious speculation.

The ongoing conflicts in Ukraine that may appear ideological, ethnic or linguistic are often ideational/political, effective and manipulated rather than causal, and can be interpreted as structural ruptures necessitated by shifts in the balance of power within and between social blocs, classes and their fractions, which I have documented in the previous section. The true conflicts are class formation and accumulation struggles between foreign and domestic capital, that is, oligarchs, the EU, the USA and Russian business and their indirect engagement in Ukraine’s policy making via various forms of advisory and financial ‘support’ organisations. The Maidan protests, also, were not ideological but counter-ideological, reactionary movements.

—Yuliya Yurchenko, Ukraine and the Empire of Capital: From Marketisation to Armed Conflict, (London: Pluto Press, 2018).

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Tagestour durch den Leipziger Süden

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Beyond Vietnam

Martin Luther King, April 4, 1967:

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America’s soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read: Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be — are — are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

Ω Ω Ω

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the ideologies of the Liberation Front, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1954 — in 1945 rather — after a combined French and Japanese occupation and before the communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony. Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not ready for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination and a government that had been established not by China — for whom the Vietnamese have no great love — but by clearly indigenous forces that included some communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam. Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of their reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva Agreement. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators, our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords, and refused even to discuss reunification with the North. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States’ influence and then by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictators seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America, as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move on or be destroyed by our bombs.

So they go, primarily women and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one Vietcong-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them, mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing — in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force, the unified Buddhist Church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men.

Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon, the only solid — solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call “fortified hamlets.” The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These, too, are our brothers.

Perhaps a more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front, that strangely anonymous group we call “VC” or “communists”? What must they think of the United States of America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem, which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the South? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of “aggression from the North” as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will not have a part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the North, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French Commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which could have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again. When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered.

Also, it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva Agreement concerning foreign troops. They remind us that they did not begin to send troops in large numbers and even supplies into the South until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the North. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor, weak nation more than eight hundred — rather, eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless in Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called “enemy,” I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak of the — for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words, and I quote:

Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom, and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism (unquote).

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways. In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war.

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The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality…and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala — Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

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Dorfidylle um Guben

It was Good Friday, of course. On my hike I reverently listened to Jesus Christ Superstar in its entirety.

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