By Karl Weiss
[This open letter published in Berlin online September 29, 2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://karlweiss.twoday.net/stories/2737125/.]
In fact you almost persuaded us. We were nearly convinced of the stories of the alleged welfare state making all of us into a great family, of the constitutional state that enjoins justice for everyone, of the democracy where3 we supposedly join in the conversation and of constitutionality allegedly protecting everyone.
We were almost convinced we really had the same interests as your corporations, banks and politicians.
We almost believed that all our desires could become reality in capitalism: enough money to live, suitable housing, education for the childre4n, child care so women could cooperate, sufficient jobs for everyone who wants to work, a complete and progressive health care, training and places at a unive4rsity, a future worth living for our children, a decent pension after a full working life and perhaps a little extra every now and then.
It would be beautiful if a just state could be created here in capitalism.
But now we must admit shocked that all this was only a sleeping pill with a limited effect for us. You in no way provided all this for us. Tat we wanted this seems bluntly absurd.
The sixties, seventies and even the eighties almost sold all this as possible. We were almost there; not much was lacking. Having a car and taking a vacation was beautiful. We cannot deny this. But now we see already this cannot be afforded any more and will not last long. It was wonderful that some of us could fulfill the dream of a little house. Now we see how those who are unemployed cannot usually afford the payments.
Now you explain to us repeatedly and in detail: whether we have enough to eat, whether we have jobs and whether our children have a future – all this isn’t your problem. You only worry about your profit and we should not criticize.
You shocked us with the health reform and the ten-euro visitation fee for the doctor. Still we thought everything wasn’t so bad. When you cut the pensions again and again, we still hoped other politicians would cancel this. Then when Hartz IV (radically reducing social benefits by combining income support and unemployment money) was introduced, the promise that no one would suffer want if he or she couldn’t find work was broken. Then many were rebellious and the Monday demonstrations began. You trivialized this but have no illusions. The status quo will not last.
That all your parties, the laws, the media and even some social associations have accepted Hartz IV is deeply shocking to us. No constitutional court stopped this. Now we know, the constitutional state, democracy and the constitution are all hollow phrases to deceive us.
Still most of us are paralyzed by horror, unable to do anything and helpless about what must be done. But in the depths of our hearts, we know what we must do. Most of us will not yet admit this and wrestle with ourselves. More and more we realize: capitalism has not changed its face. You could only hide your real grimace for a brief phase in history. Capitalism has no future for our children or us. We will have to make the revolution and send you packing.
You abolish our jobs as you please. You cut our wages, lengthen our working hours, let the pensions fall to nothing and carry out the greatest tax increase (for us) in the history of Germany while your big corporations and banks pay no taxes any more. You cancel the apprenticeships that our children need and ignore those who have not found a stable work situation.
You call us social parasites when we don’t find any work, are sick, need care or are seniors. You defraud us of money that we and our fathers and mothers paid in to social security. You use the money for other things and now shrug your shoulders: there's nothing for you any more.
You have a strong grip on the newspapers, journals, television and radio. They shower us with your ideology that the state doesn’t exist to look after us when we are needy. Earlier it occurred to us that the unanimous ideology comes from the media and the responsible ones never stand on our side. This insight is beginning to spread like that insight that communists did not devour little children. Now we are also be4ginning to find alternative news on the Internet.
For years our real wages have been falling and are cut additionally by lengthened working hours. You want us to continue working to 67. There4 is even talk of pensions at 70.
We have started to reject this. In the elections that you always use as a great excuse (“The majority voted for this”), we have taught your politicians a lesson. In the last Bundestag election, 35% of those entitled to vote voted for your parties. Only 20% of the population has confidence in your politicians.
That the “Club of Rome,” one of your think tanks, proclaimed that only 20% will be needed in the future and the others will be without work is a coincidence. Thanks for the frankness.
The present does not make us worried and furious but the future you have earmarked for us. Nearly every one of us must expect unemployment before retiring. Then one is called work-shy. After paying in the social treasuries for decades, one is placated with alms far below the poverty line, unemployment benefits II or later pensions.
After humiliating petitions to authorities that send inspectors to our living quarters, politicians announce in a choir: social hammocks, social parasites and misuse!
For the rest of life, there are “vouchers” to get something to eat. Health care is so limited that necessary operations cannot be performed any more. One either moves into a tiny dwelling or becomes homeless. That is the future you design for us. Then you drum into our heads that people in developi9ng countries face worse conditions.
Thanks also that one of your politicians made clear to us that food is in no way guaranteed with the “voucher”: “Whoever does not work should not eat.”
Perhaps that already occurred to us – or some of us. People easily fall into resignation, despair or depression. Your plans are mainly directed against our children. While we noticed that class sizes increased more and more when the discussion about student tuition began, we saw when you cancelled more and more apprenticeships that our children were condemned to remain at home with us if they couldn’t find any work and were offered only part-time jobs, mini-jobs, one-euro jobs, contract work, practical assignments and precarious work.
We love our children and will not let you do this to them! This is crucial! We now fight against you even if our struggle was clumsy in the beginning. You don’t have4 the least presentiment how intense is the rage in our bellies and how wild is our determination. You are obviously not very impressed by our struggle. Those union leaders allied with your parties always successfully choked off the battles before they began. Still we learned. Look, the number of union members in the striking factories has doubled.
Yes, we will learn to be combative – and we will learn French. You should begin to tremble.