Opportunism in Crisis

How the Left Party wants to use the current crisis as a career springboard through social demagogy.

Tomasz Konicz

If history is still to be written in the coming decades, 2022 is likely to go down in the annals of human history as the year in which the capitalist climate crisis began to turn into a global climate catastrophe. In Europe, the U.S. and China, rivers or freshwater lakes dry up, while deciduous trees that don’t burst into flames turn brown in midsummer.[1] The number of heat deaths is expected to be in the tens of thousands.[2] In Pakistan, a devastating flood has covered about a third of the country, affecting 30 million people. Large parts of the country, including large areas of cultivated land, have been destroyed.[3] In many countries, the power supply can barely be maintained on a permanent basis, and there is a threat of blackouts during hot spells.[4] In many regions of the USA, the water supply is threatening to collapse.[5]

The impact of this year’s heat and fire season – formerly known as “summer” – on food prices in the northern hemisphere is likely to cause existential hardship for many millions of people, not only in the global South. And it is clear that this is a capitalist climate crisis,[6] as capital, in its drive to valorize, is unable to reduce global CO2 emissions – this has only ever been done in the 21st century during a global economic crisis. Global emissions of greenhouse gases, after falling during the pandemic, will reach a new historic high in 2023, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) – and this upward trend shows no sign of slowing down or reversing.[7] The pre-crisis level is expected to be reached as early as this year.

It is thus a simple, obvious truth that the capital relation must be transformed into history as quickly as possible if the climate crisis is not to lead to barbarism and social collapse. The fetishistic momentum of capital as infinitely valorizing value is destroying the world.[8] And this truth is factually obvious. It is not secret knowledge. By now many people understand that endless economic growth in a finite world is insanity. The overwhelming majority of the population at least feels that things cannot go on like this, that late capitalist society is heading for an abyss – except for the Left Party, and the now openly reactionary parts of what calls itself the German Left.

Social Demagogy in the Crisis

So what do we need after this year’s summer of horror? If the Left Party has its way, a “hot autumn” of social protests. According to them we need more capitalism, only it should be social. Of the myriad ways to respond to the manifest systemic crisis, to climate collapse, inflation, pauperization, social erosion, fascism, war, and recession, the stock conservative decision-makers in the Karl Liebknecht House chose the anachronistic and opportunistic route that ultimately amounts to social demagoguery. There is no going back to Rhineland capitalism and the social market economy in the face of the unfolding crisis. The “Left” – eyeing coalition options – wants to enrich the crisis ideology of a “green capitalism,” as successfully popularized by the Greens, with a social component.

Social demagogy means telling people sweet, convenient lies in order to make political capital out of them. This is what the Left Party – across all factions– is doing right now: by marginalizing radical crisis theory and criticism of the system within the Left, it is implicitly giving frightened people the impression that the ecological and economic systemic crisis can still be controlled through redistribution and the welfare state, and they do this in order to get votes and posts in the forthcoming regime of crisis administration through this management of the movement, through the de-radicalization of potential resistance. The Left Party in fact wants to create demand for itself among the functional elites, i.e. for opposition management. It is, so to speak, the last opportunistic chance for the Left Party. This campaign is not about the people threatened by the crash, it is about the Left Party, which is in fact lying to them with the comfortable drivel of social capitalism, while our rivers dry up, driving the system into socio-ecological collapse.

Social protests in the escalating systemic crisis, in which people’s only too justified existential fear is instrumentalized for party political purposes in order to distort the manifest systemic question into a mere question of redistribution – this demagogy is not only a caricature-like prime example of false immediacy,[9] but also the result of a critique of capitalism reduced to class struggle and redistribution. It is a reactionary adherence to the old (which is collapsing) that opens up spaces for the Querfront of the old left and the new right,[10] as is already reality in the East German provinces, for example in Brandenburg an der Havel, where on September 17th the Left Party, Wagenknecht’s “Aufstehen,” the peace movement, contrarians, the AfD and Nazis demonstrated together for peace and Russian natural gas. The Left Party is now competing with the AfD in terms of social demagoguery. They are literally at the same demos.[11] The Querfront – as propagated in organs such as Telepolis,[12] is a reality, and it is an expression of the general crisis-induced brutalization, the regression of the German left, that this hardly triggers an outcry, hardly a scandal.

And what is the national-social prominence of the opportunistic imposition called the Left Party doing in this existential crisis? It demands more fossil fuels, of course. Sahra Wagenknecht, the favorite leftist of the German right, who is above all party exclusion proceedings, already demanded in mid-August, together with the FDP right-winger Kubicki, the commissioning of the now sabotaged Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, because this would benefit “people and industry in Germany” more than Putin.[13] The openly reactionary parts of a “left” that is already literally marching with Nazis are thus calling for a solidification of fossil capitalism in reaction to the escalating systemic crisis of capital. But it must be social!

The leadership of the Left Party is actually telling people that in the incipient climate catastrophe, in the manifest agony of capital, all that is needed is a socially just capitalism. This is not a polemical exaggeration. One only has to listen to the current co-chairman, Martin Schirdewan, in his ARD summer interview, who demanded a “fair distribution of the burdens of the expected crisis” and made the goal of the “hot autumn,” “to put the federal government under pressure and to induce it to act” in order to introduce a “gas price cap” and an “windfall profits tax” for extra profits caused by the crisis.[14]

Even if these hypocritical remarks, grotesquely disproportionate to the unfolding of the crisis, were taken seriously and implemented, they would simply be ineffective. Curtailment of profits, state price controls, nationalization – these demands, which show incredible faith in the state, are strikingly reminiscent of the failed crisis measures implemented in the periphery of the world system, for example in Turkey or Venezuela (and this is precisely a consequence of the advance of the crisis process, which eats its way from the periphery into the centers, so that the social devastation in the global South provides a glimpse into the future of the crisis unfolding in the centers). The Left Party, together with its Keynesian appendage, is in fact walking in the footsteps of Erdogan, the interest rates critic, without even realizing it.[15]

Left Opportunism, Querfront and The New Right

Sometimes, in formulating these anachronistic, social-democratic demands, the causality of the crisis is turned on its head (for example, when inflation is reduced to corporations seeking extra profits). The neo-Keynesian real satire known as “Modern Monetary Theory,” which just a few months ago was preaching unlimited money printing,[16] in the face of double digit inflation, flees from intellectual bankruptcy into simplistic conspiracy theories,[17] and attributes this inflation to corporate greed. As if before inflation – fueled by money glut, the pandemic, the climate crisis and the bursting liquidity bubble in financial markets – capital did not seek to make maximum profits.[18] The consequences of the world crisis of capital dying from its internal contradictions, which in its agony devastates ecosystems and society, are transfigured into its cause by the construction of chief villains (such as foreign energy companies), who are supposed to be responsible for it, in order to then offer higher taxes or redistribution as a solution.

The systemic crisis will be personified through the production of scapegoats, which will ultimately benefit the New Right, which will in effect build on the opportunist “groundwork” of the Left Party. All the New Right has to do is replace the bogeyman image of the evil bigwig, currently being constructed by the Left as the cause of the crisis, with the bogeyman image of the foreign conspiracy and the foreign parasite, which is infinitely more effective in the Federal Republic with its terrible authoritarian tradition. Personification of the causes of crisis in a systemic crisis inevitably leads to crisis ideology. The Left Party – and not only Wagenknecht – thus encourages the rise of fascism.

Both – left and right – thus rely on social demagogy in the “hot autumn.” The Left is playing into the hands of the New Right (not only in East Germany).[19] Who is likely to profit from the social protests based on false basic assumptions which are bound to fail in the reality of the crisis? The reactionary, right-wing, national-socialist left, stuck in false immediacy and truncated class-struggle thinking, which has already been involved with the vigils for peace,[20] with Wagenknecht’s campaigns for the AfD during the refugee crisis,[21] with “Stand Up” and with collaboration with the right in the Corona Cross Front [22] fostered the rise of the AfD and Pegida? Or rather the right, which owes its double-digit election results in the FRG to sheer crisis anxiety and the extremist exacerbation of rampant neoliberal ideology (from social Darwinism to economic location nationalism)?[23]

It is thus obvious: what the Left Party is currently doing is opportunistic window-dressing that prepares the ground for the Right. This ultimately misleads the people threatened by the crash, whose emerging fears are only too justified – and this should be quite clear to the people behind the social campaign in the Karl Liebknecht House. Sometimes party members say openly in direct exchanges of views that it is of no use to them “to simply tell people” what is the matter – manipulation is the program here.

The systemic crisis of capital, which is taking place as a blind world process, manifests itself not only in the incipient climate catastrophe, but also in the danger of major war in Europe, in the resource and energy crisis, in the global debt crisis, in the impending recession, in the devaluation of value that is taking place by means of inflation – while the leadership of the Left Party, following Wagenknecht’s right-wing friendly left conservatism,[24] wants to preach an anachronistic return to the “social market economy.” The systemic crisis has reached a level of maturity where the lights are indeed threatening to go out, as value critic Robert Kurz predicted in 2011[25] – and the crisis-blind left only wants to see the “social question,” as if capitalism were facing a new boom phase like in the 50s and 60s, which after all was the economic foundation of the historically short period of the “social market economy.”

The Crisis as A Career Springboard

The crisis ideology of a green transformation of capitalism, of a Green New Deal,[26] which is the reason for the electoral success of the Greens, is in fact simply being expanded by the Left Party to include a social component. It is simplistic coalition thinking that feels compelled to take to the streets for career reasons and to defuse the potential for protest that is emerging as a result of the crisis: The green chimera of eco-capitalism, which allows the public to cling to capitalism despite an advanced climate crisis, has the social-democratic nonsense of “climate justice” added to it. The crisis as a career springboard – that is the strategy of the “Left Party.”

Thus it is evident that the Left Party – as mentioned at the beginning – is primarily concerned with itself in its “hot autumn,” since this group of opportunistic plunderers [Beutegemeinschaften] and racketeers sees in it what is probably their last chance for a career and a post, for fully air-conditioned official cars and offices within the coming crisis administration. But the social campaign is also intended to ensure that the scandals of recent years – from Wagenknecht’s right-wing rhetoric, to Porsche-Klaus in the climate committee of the Bundestag, to the sexual assaults – are forgotten and that the party remains above the five-percent hurdle in the next elections in order to secure coalition options in the upcoming crisis administration. That’s why the Left’s socio-political attacks are focused not on Scholz, or the SPD, but on the FDP, whose place the Left Party wants to inherit – as if Lindner were chancellor.

What the promoters of this party are currently spouting is pseudo-radical class struggle talk, which at the same time shies away from any fundamental conflict in its concern for its own competitiveness and the “cohesion” of society. This becomes obvious whenever, in the face of the systemic crisis, it is a question of the entire system, a question which all the Left Party celebrities do their best to avoid. This bitterly necessary, conflict-prone breakout from the capitalist thought prison, which would be a basic prerequisite for emancipatory practice, is avoided by the party as much as possible, because this would actually lead to serious conflicts, as isolated, timid attempts in this direction have shown.[27] On the contrary: in the apparatus and environment of this party, every effort is made to ensure that the left remains in a false capitalist immediacy even in the manifest systemic crisis.

Regression and Movement Management

It was the SPD as the party of the “little man” which, with Agenda 2010 and Hartz IV, pushed through the biggest program of disenfranchisement of wage earners in the post-war history of the FRG, it was the pacifist-minded party of the Greens, which was able to lead the war of aggression against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in violation of international law – in late capitalism, formally left-wing parties are predestined to implement reactionary policies, since they are particularly well able to paralyze oppositional potential through their close ties with the strata, movements or organizations affected by them. This happens first through the marginalization of radical, categorical critique within the left, which is the usual precondition for government participation. In order to become “fit” for government, the Greens, for example, had to cold-cock their “fundis” in the 90s. A similar process is taking place in the current crisis of the left, since the Left Party can only achieve its desired position as capitalist crisis manager by marginalizing radical crisis theory and critique in the German-speaking left.

In their social campaign, the Left Party is thus simply practicing movement management in order, as already indicated, to increase the demand for itself in the political establishment by intercepting the population’s rising crisis anxiety and willingness to protest and redirecting discontent into a reformist cul-de-sac. The focus on redistribution and class struggle that accompanies muzzling and rhetorical militancy will pursue an ideological personification of the consequences of the crisis, while marginalizing radical critique and crisis theory in order to obscure the fact that overcoming capitalism is necessary for human survival. Opportunism must therefore force theoretical regression within the left, it must push back the previously achieved level of reflection on the crisis in order to be “successful” with its opportunist demagogy of redistribution.

How this movement management, including opportunistically motivated regression into truncated, right-wing friendly pseudo-criticism, takes place in concrete terms can be seen, for example, in the Querfront medium Telepolis, which has been hijacked by a red-brown Left Party syndicate [Beutegemeinschaft] from the environment of the Bundestag faction of the “Left”[28] – in order to suppress the previously possible radical critique of the capitalist climate crisis at the request of the publisher, precisely because the crisis is becoming manifest in, for example, the incompatibility of capital and climate protection, which is now clearly evident. The usual thematization of the systemic crisis at Telepolis – despite all the restrictions of the bourgeois media – the insistence on the necessity of system transformation as a matter of survival, has been suppressed by the Left Party; radical critique has given way to mere grumbling about social inequality, right-wing friendly Querfront propaganda and purely descriptive accounts of the crisis. And it is precisely this theoretical regression, this inverted psychoanalysis, that forms the often unconscious foundation of the Left Party’s opportunist program in the crisis – and it too provides ideological ammunition for the New Right.

In this way, the ability to govern the big picture is practiced on a small, greasy scale. Those forces that see the current crisis surge as a career ticket for red-red-green, that are actually already practicing state repression, have to marginalize or domesticate all the “crisis talk,” because it is – in contrast to the distribution debate – simply not compatible with the political establishment in which they want to become something. And this neutralization of radical critique and practice in the systemic crisis is indeed a practical ability that could make a left party open to the right attractive to capitalist functional elites.

Movement Competition

This applies above all to the shaping of the crisis discourse within the left by means of spokespeople. The non-stop talk about tax policy, redistribution, social benefits, and nationalization silences the discussion about alternatives in the manifest systemic crisis, as these are incompatible with talk show rounds and coalition negotiations. The emphasis on “interest politics,” which has become hollow, thus obscures the auto-destructive fetishism of capital in all its aggregate states. This opportunistic fading out of categorical critique, together with the necessary system transformation, also results in the ever more clearly emerging inner-left movement competition in the crisis, which is not coincidentally affecting the climate movement.[29]

The climate crisis, which is hardly supposed to play a role in the “Hot Autumn,” cannot be pressed into the rough grid of class interests, since here the destructive momentum of capital as well as the powerlessness of the capitalist functional elites becomes obvious. Consequently, groups like “The Last Generation,” who are actually disruptive, are criticized by reactionary leftists for their courageous street blockades, because these blockades keep wage-earners from working – i.e., the process of capital’s valorization is interrupted. These are sometimes the same potential crisis administrators who see nothing wrong with the Left Party and Nazis competing in social demagogy, as they did in Leipzig on September 5th. Or when they march together in demos, as in Brandenburg an der Havel.

But the tensions and frictions between different movement approaches on the left only point to the very real social contradictions in late capitalism: This movement competition, in which the class interest of variable capital – readily hallucinated in the swamp of leftist scenes as the “revolutionary subject” – is quite concretely at odds with climate protection, is not just a result of opportunistic calculation on the part of the national-socialist, trade-union and Wagenknecht-affiliated currents of the Left Party, which have also received an internal party offer of reconciliation with the social campaign in order to overcome the trench warfare of the past in cross-currents of demagogy and careerism.

Twofold Opportunism

From the vigils for peace in 2014, to the years of Wagenkencht’s advertising campaigns for the AfD and the New Right, to the lateral-thinker protests during the pandemic: in recent years, a large, right-wing friendly Querfront scene has formed on the left, which is unlikely to have any fear of contact with the right in the upcoming social protests. How far the deadening and the habituation effects have already reached in this respect, was not only shown in Brandenburg an der Havel,[30] but already at the parallel demonstrations in Leipzig at the beginning of September, where newspaper distributors of the junge Welt quite naturally brought their wares to the German man in the Nazi rally and members of the Querfront troupe Freie Linke were quite visibly participating in the rally of the well-behaved social-democratic Left Party.

Of course, there are different currents in the Left Party, but forces critical of capitalism have long ceased to play a role in the party. Rather, they are different approaches to opportunist politics that are currently vying for dominance in the party. The accelerating erosion of the German left after the outbreak of the Ukraine war,[31] into left-liberal and green forces, as well as into the right-wing friendly Querfront, is also effective in the Left Party. This became obvious during the quarrels in the run-up to the first Left Party Monday demonstration in Leipzig at the beginning of September, when the national-social camp around Wagenknecht came into conflict with the left-liberal current.[32]

Wagenknecht’s attacks in the social networks against Prime Minister Bodo Ramelow,[33] who is said to have prevented the Left Party’s Querfronttante from appearing in Leipzig, thus give no reason to hope for a minimum level of civilization in the Left Party. Mr. Ramelow is the one German prime minister who in 2020 deliberately chose an AfD politician as vice president of the state parliament in order to allow the AfD “parliamentary participation.”[34] Ultimately, these are just internal frictions between various opportunist currents in the party: between the left-liberal currents, which are betting on red-red-green, and simply reactionary forces, in which class-struggle thinking has degenerated into right-wing populism, in which the “people” and their will, which took the place of the proletariat, serves as code for the half-Nazi who hangs around Querdenkern & Co. – and whose delusions are to be served.[35]

Ignorance and Careerism

But it is not all intention in the crisis opportunism of the Left Party. Also at play here is ideological delusion, plain left-wing stupidity.[36] The most important ally of left opportunism is left ignorance, the unwillingness to say goodbye to anachronistic ideology, mostly coupled with an aimless activism: “Don’t babble, do.” Groups from various Left-wing scenes marched with such banners at the social demo in Leipzig at the beginning of September, in order not to be disturbed by any theory in their blind practice, which persists in false immediacy. Sometimes, in conversations, any criticism of the opportunist practice of the Left Party is rejected if it is not itself accompanied by practice (“What are you doing concretely?”). According to this logic, the social demagogy of the Left Party can only be criticized if one practices social demagogy oneself, whereby even fundamental insights into the function of theory formation fall victim to the general leftist regression.

This blind cult of practice goes hand in hand with an increasing hostility to theory and a downright hatred of intellectuals, as is characteristic of pre-fascism. The right-wing compatible ideologems of “simple truth” and “common sense” celebrate triumphs, texts must be kept simple and written in the main sentence style in order not to force people to think – which is actually only an expression of the commodified expectations of this regressive milieu, who are simply too lazy to think and shy away from the effort of thinking or the intellectual examination of complex topics. The dull half-Nazi who runs with lateral thinkers forms the bar to fall below here, which is already an implicit insult to the great “people” of whom these circles make so much fuss.

The general regression also manifests itself in a conservative desire for a return to the old, revolutionary times, so that in the meantime, in the wake of the Left Party’s social campaign, traditional Marxist adherents are simply reanimating slogans of the Bolsheviks from the revolutionary period, suddenly demonstrating for “heating, bread and peace” and imagining themselves as a little junior Lenin, while in fact they are only water carriers of the Left Party’s opportunism. Rockin’ like it’s 1917 – which is only possible as an ideological by-product of the opportunist distortion of the systemic crisis into a question of class struggle and social justice. Ignorance of the crisis and ideological delusion thus form a good basis for the only inner-left movement that has a real interest in marginalizing crisis theory: opportunism.

A Pinch of Class Analysis: The Middle-Class Left

Another moment that unconsciously prepares the ground for social demagogy is, ironically, the social origin, the class composition, of the post holders and functionaries in foundations, the party apparatus and media in the environment of the Left Party. These are mostly members of the middle class, who are now quite simply afraid for their white, German, middle-class asses, which are going up in smoke in the current crisis. In the party apparatus and among those mixed in with the “Left Party,” and in the entire “left-liberal” spectrum of the “Greens,” this stratum is dominant. The German-speaking left is largely a middle-class left, as is evident from its indestructible cult of the proletariat, which has everything to do with wishful thinking and nothing to do with late capitalist reality.

And, as soon as the German middle-class snob is confronted with a crisis surge that concretely questions his previous way of life, he suddenly discovers how beautiful life can be – in the middle class of the centers of the late capitalist world system. The conservative wish for things to remain as they are manifests itself in “left-compatible” forms: in blindness to the crisis and social nostalgia. The social campaign is thus also a doomed attempt by people from the middle class to maintain their own social position in the midst of the systemic crisis. The struggle of the left-liberal middle class for the welfare state, in its false immediacy, comes close to the struggle to maintain the system, which is collapsing because of its contradictions, and which had produced in the centers a narrow, privileged stratum, seen globally, that wants one thing above all: to remain middle class, as part of the “first world,” of course.

Summary: Left-Wing Crisis Opportunism

There are thus a number of factors that lead to this absurdly statist, anachronistic bandwagon being so successful, even though the crisis has now reached such a degree of maturity that even its former deniers on the left can no longer avoid incorporating fragments of crisis theory into their left-liberal, social-democratic or Leninist ideologies in order to form veritable Frankenstein constructs. The stupidity, narcissism, and ideological delusion of leftist scenes form a good basis for the only inner-left movement that has a real interest in marginalizing crisis theory: opportunism.

What results from consistent crisis theory? The idea that the overcoming of capital as an autodestructive totality is simply necessary for survival. Left to its own fetishistic dynamics, the automatic subject running amok will complete the world destruction already set in motion. This maxim of leftist crisis practice is therefore non-negotiable. There is no alternative to attempting an emancipatory systemic transformation. But how can one sell this in the late capitalist media or political establishment, in coalition negotiations or on the talk show? With the marginalization of radical crisis consciousness, however, opportunism can still hope to try its hand at being a doctor at the bedside of capital, which in the final analysis amounts to becoming the subject of the coming crisis administration. It is a panicky logic of “save yourself” that gives opportunism its particular brutality in its last great run for posts and positions. Since bunkers or private islands are not up for grabs, people seek refuge in the eroding and feral state apparatuses, which also forms the basis of the increasing faith in the state among parts of the left – preferring to dish it out inside the apparatus rather than having to take it outside.

Left opportunism in the systemic crisis of capital, which in fact degenerates into capitalist crisis management, can thus build on broad ideological and identitarian tendencies that often operate unreflectively in the eroding German left as a result of the crisis. Theoretical regression, the suppression of categorical critique and theoretical insights that have already been achieved, is not only fueled by left opportunism, it is also part of the general brutalization of late capitalist societies in the crisis, which also produces habituation effects and leads to a blunting of critique. Left-wing conservatism, which in its cult of the proletariat clings to the anachronistic parts of Marxian theory and can only confront even the manifest climate crisis with truncated class struggle thinking, also objectively promotes left-wing opportunism, which distorts the systemic crisis into a question of redistribution. And finally, it is the accompanying personification of the crisis, the search for villains behind the scenes who are blamed for inflation or the climate crisis, that also provides ideological ammunition for the New Right – and which manifests itself quite concretely in the Querfront that is now openly marching.[37] The right in Germany already seems to be emerging as a beneficiary of the crisis.

Antidote to Crisis Opportunism: Say What’s What!

But all this does not have to be – even in Germany with its terrible National Socialist tradition. Regression, the rise of fascism, and the fall into barbarism are not inevitable. How about a new practical approach, instead of reeling off the old, brown-tinged tales of past decades one last time? Like trying to tell people what’s what in the face of crisis? It is obvious by now that the capitalist world system is in agony and threatens to break down because of its internal and external, ecological contradictions – even in the German left this has become known by now. The dull feeling, widespread among the population, that “it can’t go on like this” must be taken up and concretized in concrete practice. The ultimate task of the left is to radicalize the growing unease with capitalism, that is, to go to its roots in order to make it clear that overcoming capital within the framework of a system transformation is necessary for survival. The transformation of the capital relation into history is thus the last capitalist necessity.

Either capital is consciously transformed into history by an emancipatory movement, or it destroys the ecological and social foundations of the process of civilization. It is as simple as that. And this can be explained in an understandable way to people who have long since suspected it, for example by pointing to the absurdity of boundless economic growth in a finite world – but it is a career killer for all the left opportunists who still want to become something in the coming crisis administration in politics and the media. That is why the question of the offensive dissemination of a radical crisis consciousness is crucial in leftist practical efforts. On the one hand, it forms the dividing line separating it from opportunism, but above all, a clear understanding of the character of the crisis is the basic prerequisite for an emancipatory transformation movement. Since there is no “revolutionary subject,” since there is no world spirit secretly helping the “cunning of reason” to break through, the question of crisis consciousness is decisive.

That is why the question of systemic transformation must be addressed offensively in all practice – not because one wants it in a radical attitude, but because it is inevitable for all of us. The self-movement of capital ignored by the truncated critique of capitalism, the fetishism driven by the inner contradictions of the capital relation, clearly emerges in the face of the impending socio-ecological collapse, which also disgraces all Leninist logic of interests. Humanity is powerlessly at the mercy of the destructive dynamics of capital, which it unconsciously produces through market mediation, even in its agony. The hope that must be held on to at all costs, despite all evidence, is that during the open-ended transformation process this fetishism can be overcome and transferred from an emancipatory movement into the conscious shaping of social reproduction.

There is thus a very simple means to distinguish the opportunism of the Left Party from clear, radical opposition in the coming crisis chaos. An emancipatory overcoming of capital is only possible with the formation of a radical, critical crisis consciousness within the population, which is currently being sabotaged by the social demagogy of the Left Party. It is the offensive thematization of this simple, all too evident truth that capitalism is at its end, that a system transformation is inevitable and that it is a question of collective survival to steer the inevitable transformation process in a progressive direction. All concrete left politics should be oriented towards this, towards the upcoming struggle for the transformation of the system, instead of frantically clinging to the categories that are currently in the process of dissolution, in order to still get a place in the government bunker in the looming crisis administration.

Strictly speaking, a revolution, which would mean the establishment of the infamous Leninist “dictatorship of the proletariat,” is no longer necessary, nor is it possible, since the proletariat itself is dissolving. What is inevitably at hand, however, is a transformation struggle, that is, a struggle over the course of the inevitable systemic transformation. And here, especially in its initial phase, moments of the old class struggle may well appear. All concrete struggles – from social protests, to climate strikes, to Antifa demonstrations or civil rights movements – would have to be consciously led and offensively propagated as struggles for a post-capitalist future. It is necessary to think in processes, contradictions, in order to identify those forces and constellations that favor an emancipatory course of transformation. And this consciously led struggle for the post-capitalist future would also be the very real common denominator of concrete social movements, which would prevent competition between various movements – for example between the social justice and climate movements.

The question is simply which late capitalist society should enter the inevitable transformation process: an oligarchic, highly armed police state, or a relatively open bourgeois democracy, etc.? However, the struggles against late capitalist crisis tendencies such as pauperization, de-democratization, the rise of fascism, etc., must be waged offensively as partial moments of the transformation struggle, as I said. This radical crisis consciousness can initially also be articulated in slogans and demands: Social protests and redistribution demands, for example, would aim at making the rich pay for the upcoming transformation – as long as money still has value. For in the end, even in concrete social struggle, we must dare to break out of the capitalist thought prison, instead of clinging to eroding categories such as the welfare state, etc.

For this reason, bourgeois derivatives of the class struggle logic, such as the ecologically motivated critique of consumption and its corresponding ideology of renunciation, are counterproductive. It is not a question of restricting the consumption of commodities, which is only a moment in the process of valorization, but of freeing the satisfaction of human needs from the constraining corset of the commodity form. Once again, the crisis will destroy consumption (including the state!) along with the commodity form, as is already the case for many people vegetating on the brink of starvation in the collapsed areas and “failed states” of the periphery. The question is whether a conscious satisfaction of needs beyond the commodity form can still be fought for in the upcoming transformation struggle within the framework of a process of understanding in society as a whole.

Anti-Fascism as A Struggle Against Impending Barbarism

Progressive practice is thus only possible as a partial moment of the struggle for an emancipatory course of transformation – everything else is opportunism, it leads to crisis ideology and ultimately barbarism. The initial front of the transformation struggle also cuts between the political camps that are eroding due to the crisis, between left and right. The right (together with the Querfront that objectively assists it), which forces the extremism of the center by a reactionary adherence to the collapsing existing, drives the transformation struggle into crisis ideology.[38] The remainder of the left could still counteract this as an emancipatory force, should it acquire a radical crisis consciousness, which would become the basis of a consciously led transformation process. In this respect, it is precisely anti-fascism – similar to the last systemic crisis of the 1930s – that seems to be emerging as the first central battlefield of the transformation struggle.

In contrast to the class struggle, where the workforce remains part of the process of valorization as “variable capital,” the transformation struggle in the course of the crisis can quickly be seized by an eliminatory logic, since with the process of valorization the common economic basis of the classes passing into dissolution collapses. The enemy is no longer economically “needed,” he is only a superfluous competitor. The EU’s willingness to turn the Mediterranean into a mass grave for crisis refugees, for example, offers a glimpse of the barbaric potential of the crisis process. Ultimately, the question is whether the subjectless rule of capital can be overcome in the course of the upcoming transformation, or whether the extreme right, which is already dragging its feet in its networks in the deep state, will succeed one last time in making manifest the barbaric potential inherent in the capital relation.

This is also why, for example, protest movements against de-democratization, the police state and authoritarian aspirations are essential as partial moments of the transformation struggle, as this can help to keep the transformation process on a civilized track for as long as possible before military logic takes hold. The remnants of bourgeois democracy are thus to be defended tooth and nail, in full awareness of their inevitable erosion, in order to preserve free spaces for post-capitalist emancipation, in which freedom would be freed from its deformation and perversion by capital.

I finance my journalistic work largely through donations. If you like my texts, then you are welcome to contribute via Patreon or Substack.


[1] https://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/natur/austrocknende-fluesse-in-europa-wir-sind-erst-am-beginn-dessen-was-wir-an-extremen-sehen-werden-a-c40327e2-9e94-44af-be7c-45d1777ecb47

[2] https://berlinergazette.de/hitzewelle-toedliche-logik-des-kapitals/

[3] https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/politik/pakistan-flut-seuchen-kinder-malaria-100.html

[4] https://www.npr.org/2022/09/07/1121427449/an-intense-heat-wave-in-california-is-stressing-the-states-power-grid

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/sep/10/running-water-returns-in-mississippi-capital-but-its-still-undrinkable

[6] https://www.konicz.info/2018/06/06/kapital-als-klimakiller/

[7] https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/20/co2-emissions-will-hit-record-levels-in-2023-iea-says.html

[8] https://www.konicz.info/2022/10/02/die-subjektlose-herrschaft-des-kapitals-2/

[9] False immediacy is understood here as the tendency of social movements to unconsciously persist in forms of thinking that correspond to the social conditions and contradictions against which they are actually directed.

[10] https://www.konicz.info/2018/01/28/querfront-als-symptom/

[11] https://www.flickr.com/photos/195176309@N02/albums/72177720302173237

[12] https://www.konicz.info/2021/09/20/telepolis-eine-rotbraune-inside-story/

[13] https://twitter.com/SWagenknecht/status/1560591239233253378

[14] https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/innenpolitik/sommerinterview-schirdewan-linkspartei-101.html

[15] https://www.konicz.info/2022/01/31/werteverfall/

[16] https://www.nd-aktuell.de/artikel/1146327.modernen-monetaeren-theorie-gelddrucken-bis-zur-vollbeschaeftigung.html

[17] https://www.konicz.info/2021/08/08/dreierlei-inflation/

[18] https://www.konicz.info/2021/08/08/dreierlei-inflation/

[19] https://www.rbb24.de/politik/beitrag/2022/09/brandenburg-havel-demonstration-linke-rechte-energie-lachmann-kritik.html

[20] https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Gemeinsam-gegen-Rothschild-3365791.html?seite=all

[21] https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Nationalsozial-in-den-Wahlkampf-3580672.html?seite=all

[22] https://www.konicz.info/2022/02/01/wahn-wenn-nicht-jetzt/

[23] https://www.kontextwochenzeitung.de/politik/376/neo-aus-liberal-wird-national-5145.html

[24] https://www.konicz.info/2021/06/29/schreiben-wie-ein-internettroll/

[25] https://www.exit-online.org/textanz1.php?tabelle=aktuelles&index=1&posnr=556

[26] https://www.streifzuege.org/2011/die-oekologischen-grenzen-des-kapitals/

[27] https://twitter.com/b_riexinger/status/1455615222098563072

[28] https://www.konicz.info/2021/09/20/telepolis-eine-rotbraune-inside-story/

[29] https://twitter.com/tkonicz/status/1577331336829870081

[30] https://www.rbb24.de/politik/beitrag/2022/09/brandenburg-havel-demonstration-linke-rechte-energie-lachmann-kritik.html

[31] https://www.konicz.info/2022/04/26/krisenimperialismus-und-krisenideologie/

[32] https://www.spiegel.de/politik/leipzig-sahra-wagenknecht-als-rednerin-bei-linke-montagsdemo-ausgeladen-a-e84ae5ef-89e9-436f-8202-0241fe83175a

[33] https://www.t-online.de/nachrichten/deutschland/parteien/id_100045786/sahra-wagenknecht-beschwert-sich-in-wut-sms-ueber-bodo-ramelow.html

[34] https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/ramelow-afd-thueringen-1.4834648

[35] https://www.heise.de/tp/features/Haben-die-Querdenker-mitgeschossen-6199358.html

[36] https://www.konicz.info/2020/12/09/der-linke-bloedheitskoeffizient/

[37] https://www.rbb24.de/politik/beitrag/2022/09/brandenburg-havel-demonstration-linke-rechte-energie-lachmann-kritik.html

[38] https://www.konicz.info/2021/08/17/von-gruenen-und-braunen-faschisten-2/

Originally published on konicz.info on 10/06/2022.

One thought on “Opportunism in Crisis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s