FRIEDRICH EBERT FOUNDATION (FES): SERVANT OF REFORMISM*
(Main picture George Grosz, The first german president Ebert, (Le premier président allemand Ebert), c.1923, Chinese ink on paper [encre de Chine sur papier], 65,2 x 52,2 cm, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.)
The outbreak of the capitalist crisis in 2008 and the Capital’s weakness to easily find new ways of managing and facing it, triggered an attack that the working class and the popular strata had not seen for many decades; this happened with a series of anti-people measures and social conquests’ losses, gained by workers’ own blood, clash and trade union struggles many years ago. Obviously, Latin America couldn’t have been left untouched by this capitalist attack, given its huge wealth and natural resources. The USA and the EU had to keep on its pillage, the looting of its resources in search of new fields of profit as a way out of their crisis at all costs. In order to achieve this goal, they had to slander the class oriented trade union movement, the workers’ struggles and the long lasting heroic tradition of this rebel continent. However, apart from the outright repression they were usually implementing, (whether on a direct way through open interventions, like in the past, or indirectly, through the national bourgeois classes of the capitalist Latin American countries) they also have other weapons-reserves in their ideological and political arsenal. On the same time, their goal is -and has always been- the internal corrosion which, as a Trojan Horse inside the trade union movement, would influence the consciences of the most pioneer, uncompromising workers.
FES : Reformism’s basic tool
Nonetheless, the real question that is raised is who would do the dirty work; who, like a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing, would come “bearing gifts”, trying to transform the trade union movement into a harmless discussion club, into a group of yes men, designed for applauding the anti-labour policies of the capitalist governments? Who would preach to the Latin American workers movement the values of class collaboration and submission? Who would teach them how to “stand at attention” before the north European trade union elites who particularly care for the promotion of the bourgeois interests in their respective countries? This agent couldn’t have been other than the international social-democracy: an old pal with great experience on teaching reformism, social peace and social dialogues round tables. The dirty work could be directly assigned to it for the sake of its huge experience and its excellent services to the workers’ and to the working movement’s betrayal everywhere in the world. And its ideologically armed hand would be, among other Institutes, Foundations, Fora, NGOs and think tanks, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) which had already been counting many years of presence in the American continent as the long arm of the European Union imperialism. It was because of the conditions that FES became even more precious for the imperialists, the monopolies and the bourgeois class. So, let us begin with the narration of Mr. Ebert’s presence in the continent of Jose Marti, Emiliano Zapata, Simon Bolivar, Fidel, Che and thousands of other fighters. Like the politician whose name adopted, FES hasn’t spared any method to intervene inside the labor movement: buying of consciences, interventions in the trade unions internal affairs, rewriting of history, “alliances” with the leaderships of labor aristocracy and the international unions of the yellow trade- unionism. In many cases, they did not even hesitate to welcome in their Headquarters the “falcons” of NATO imperialism and give them the floor. Yet, let us start from the beginning and let us see to whom this Reformism Foundation owes its “renowned” name.
George Grosz, The Demagogue, Germany - 1928
Α. FRIEDRICH EBERT: THE TRADE-UNIONIST WHO BETRAYED WORKERS – MORAL INSTIGATOR OF ROSA LUXEMBOURG AND KARL LIEBKNECHT’S ASSASSINATIONS
Since the first article, first paragraph of its Statute, the German Foundation proudly declares that in “memory of the first President of the German Reich, the association bears the registered name Friedrich Ebert Stiftung”1 And since they keep on reminding us of that loudly, on the Uruguayan FES website is mentioned that “it was founded as a political legacy of the first democratically elected German President, Friedrich Ebert, to whom owes its name and the principles that govern it.”2
Nevertheless, which are these principles that govern the FES action and make the German social-democrats so proud? Continuing on the same website, we learn more about Friedrich Ebert’s political career and background3. Son of a tailor, worker himself, Ebert initially fought for the rights of his class in the ranks of the Social- democrat Party of Germany (SPD). However, his path thereafter is far from being characterized as a class-oriented one. In 1914, with the outbreak of the Imperialist World War I, Friedrich Ebert didn’t hesitate to vote, along with the other reformist leaders of the yellow Second International, for the war credits and budgets of the German Reich, arming this way the German war machine canons4. Despite this, the developments and the turn of the events before WW I’s end were a momentous turnover for the international working class. The 1917 October Revolution and the transmission of its liberating message for the workers of the whole world deeply touched the German proletariat. The German people, who was fed up with seeing its best children being massacred in the battlefields for 4 years in order that German monopolies make a fortune, was profoundly stirred by the Great October Revolution message. The spark of the Revolution reaches Germany where the most developed industrial proletariat was living at that time.
The Revolution in Germany 1918-1919
The workers of Kiel were the first to transmit the liberating message of the Soviet Revolution. On November 4th, 1918, the revolutionary workers, sailors and soldiers rise up and take the whole city under their control.5 On November 9th, the revolutionary torrent in Germany reaches Berlin. The Kaiser, after the Revolutionary’s pressures, resigns. Friedrich Ebert declares, among other things, on the Social Revolution: “If the emperor doesn’t abandon his position, the Social Revolution is inevitable. I certainly don’t want it, I hate it like a sin.”6 Some years later, while the Revolution has already been defeated, Ebert would comment before a court on his “support” to the strikes of that period: “I participated in the leadership of that strike with the concrete intention of extinguishing as fast as possible the strike and preventing our country from the damage”7 Ebert’s close associate, Ph. Scheidemann would add: “Hadn’t we entered the Strike Committee, perhaps it wouldn’t have been possible for this court to assemble and the war, as well as everything else, would have ended in January”.8 In reality, what both F. Ebert and Ph. Scheidemann declare is that they took part in the Strike Committee in order to betray from inside the Revolution.
The German bourgeois class had already chosen social-democracy as the leader of the German State, recognizing its ability to absorb the turbulences against its power. The bourgeois government was therefore presided by its best servant, social- democracy and its leader, Friedrich Ebert was holding the reins of power. Captain of industry Robert Bosch simply said: “in order to avoid the revolution, there must be safety valves”. That is to say that the political recipe of this capitalist was the following: “Even dirty water can be used so that you extinguish the fire from your burning house”9. This dirty water used by the German bourgeois class was the social-democrats trade-unionists who hit German Revolution from the inside.
SPD is soon engaged in a race against the German Revolution represented by the “lifeblood” of the German People and headed by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. The government openly spreads announcements about “Law and Order”10 and Ebert, who had been promoted to the rank of Chancellor and President of the “Revolutionary Government”, assumes the task to support the “Officer Corps for the restitution of order and discipline among German Army and for combating bolshevism.11The bourgeois class servants, Ebert and Scheidemann do their best to “drop sand on the gears of Revolution”, to nip the uprising in the bud, before it converts to a Socialist Revolution that would sweep everything away. With appeals for unity they procrastinate in order to gain time and silence the voice of the Revolution. The German revolutionaries, through Liebknecht and Luxembourg, do everything possible to unmask them in the eyes of the German People: “The Ebert- Scheidemann government is the lethal enemy of the German Proletariat”12. With the tolerance of the SPD government, anti-communist propaganda posters are being spread, openly calling to murder the leaders of the German Proletariat.13 On 11/1/1919 the armed defense of the proletariat revolution is drowned in blood by the reorganized ex imperial troops. After 4 days, deviously and cowardly, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxembourg, wanted for 100.000 marks, are being murdered. The government of SPD has now stained their hands indelibly with the blood of workers. After the assassination, the government released official description: "Karl Liebknecht was fired during his escape. Rosa Luxembourg was killed by the crowd"14. Shortly after that, the revolution was defeated. Social-democracy rescued capitalism. This is how the direct alliance of the imperial commander Hindenburg with Ebert was vindicated, when in December of 1928 the first was writing to the latter: “I address you because I have been told that you too, as a true German, love the Fatherland above everything, suppressing personal opinions and desires just as I had to do because of the plight of the Fatherland. In this spirit I have concluded an alliance with you to save our people from a threatening collapse”15.
The treacherous role of German Social-democracy and its tactic paved the way shortly afterwards for the accession of Adolf Hitler to power. Bearing all these in mind, the opinion of the Marxist historian Wolfgang Ruge is justified: "thanks to their subtle handling (i.e. of Ebert and Scheidemann) during the creation and the recognition of the alleged revolutionary government, the bourgeois class managed to rescue the foundations of its political mechanism of power during the first peak of the popular uprising"16. Elsewhere it is mentioned that the response that includes the tragedy of the German revolution of 1918 is reduced to one word: social-democracy.17 So this is how the German Revolution of 1918 was defeated after having achieved to make the military and workers' councils dominate throughout the country. This is the legacy of betrayal and undermining that FES continues. This is the offer that the German capital acknowledges, supporting FES in various ways for its excellent services.
Let us examine the links of FES with the political and state social-democratic leadership, not only in Germany but also throughout Europe.
B. FES: A PUPPET OF GERMAN IMPERIALISM
This Foundation that bears the name of the murderer of workers is not ashamed to show publicly its relations with the social-democratic party of Germany. The WFTU General Secretary, George Mavrikos, had timely highlighted the interconnection of FES with this specific bourgeois Party18, whose policy and goals FES adopts. And since the principle "Show me your sponsor and I can guess who you are" is usually valid, let us have a look at FES finances: According to the article 5.2 of its Statute, "the means of its funding will derive from one-off or regular contributions coming from public organizations or donations." And of course which is the best public organization if not the state itself? In 2010 its budget was 137.000.000 Euros mainly coming from the Federal Ministry for Development and from the European Commission19. Apparently, due to the ever-increasing demands for ideological- political intervention triggered by the crisis, the bourgeois class funded FES with 152 million euros in 2014, coming from Federal Sources20. They claim that 9 million euros out of this are given for their work in Latin America and the Caribbean21, according to their Uruguayan website. Then we learn that FES has 18 offices in Latin America, occupying 14 employees from Germany and 100 specialists from the countries where these offices are located. Generally, FES has more than 70 delegations in countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America22. According to the German website, it has 160 partners, 2.600 buildings, 1000 publications - analyses - studies, 2.834 scholars and a lot of archival films23. Of course we can understand that it constitutes a lubricated machine whose cogs are oiled by the German state itself and by SPD: it is an army of fanatics against class struggle.
Let us have a look at the genetic links that FES maintains with this party as well as with the European status quo, based exclusively on their publications. On the Argentinean website of the Foundation we get informed on events that took place in the presence of the representative of the parliamentary group for Drug Policy of SPD, Burkhard Blienert24, and of the mayor of Berlin Michael Müller, (during an event on sustainable management), as well as of the professor Jürgen Kessel,, member of the European Economic and Social Committee which is a consultative body of the EU. As we can imagine, the prominent figures of the European social-democracy could not be absent from the neighboring Uruguay, with Pascal Lamy, French socialist, ex European Commissioner for Trade and Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) 25". In some cases, like in Nicaragua, the ambassadors of the German Imperialist State26, such as Ute König, are mostly welcomed.
FES supports NATO and the EU
Do you think that all these people are anxious about the development of strong trade unions? Do you possibly believe that they welcome mass workers' struggles? They are just the ones to promote "critical thought and international cooperation"27 on the basis of the Statute of this Foundation, named after a workers' murderer; a multitude of supporters of the imperialist unions' policy, of advocates of EU austerity policies; the political descendants of the man who in 1918 slaughtered rebellious workers struggling for a society without exploitation of man by man are those who applaud the EU and NATO. In some cases, the people of FES publish at their own expense the books of the persons that bombarded Yugoslavia, of the perpetrators of the slaughtering of the Iraqi people, like Blair and Schröder28. On the Uruguayan site they set the strategic goal of a "solidarity-based globalization, through the deepening and widening of the EU29 ! Hence, using embellishing phrases they try to deceive the Latin American workers, claiming that globalization, internationalization of markets and imperialist expansion will allegedly be for the benefit of the peoples! They lie and they are exposed in the same sentence, when they talk about widening of the EU; Of the EU of wars, social rights' cuts, dismissals and abolition of long lasting working rights; Of the EU who tells to its peoples to work more and earn less, to bow to its policies, not to go on strike, to promote social peace. They are flesh of their flesh!
At another point on the Uruguayan website we can see that FES wants to act like an economic agent, manager and advertiser of the European economic model, promoting it to Mercosur. 30 In simple terms: they want to assure the presence of European (and especially German) monopolies in Latin America, perpetuating the plundering of the continent.
Their methodological tool was, is and will be the jewel among the positions of Social- democracy: social compromise. Again on the Uruguayan website we can read that "FES tries to contribute to the generation with a social and political compromise on the basic areas of the agenda of the reforms"31. In other words, they want to create a young generation of workers who will accept the directives of the European imperialists, this time of the German conquerors. A generation educated to agree and obey, who will not be familiar to the meaning of struggles and demands.
Besides, according to the aforementioned, FES would form an alliance even with the devil, as it did in Bonn on 17th January 1997, with the GS of NATO giving a speech in FES headquarters. 32
C. FES: THEORY AND STRATEGY IN FAVOR OF THE CAPITAL
To achieve its purposes, the legacy of Ebert has a well-organized plan based on two axes: The theory on the one side and the practice on the other, which is none other than the "education" of the young generation of trade unionists.
Its theoretical analyses inevitably mean the rewriting of history, the revision of the class struggles experienced by the working class movement.
I. REWRITING OF HISTORY
The fact that the rewriting of history is a profitable trade for the labor aristocracy, is something that the class oriented forces of the WFTU made clear at an early stage, represented by its GS. The whole effort is focused on the falsification, counterfeiting, oblivion and slander of the historical moments - landmarks of class struggle. For its part, FES names this counterfeiting "the preservation of the historical memory of social-democracy"33, as we learn from its Uruguayan branch. Of course their "interest" for the collective memory and history is inseparable from anticommunism: every anticommunist analysis of theirs about the society is garnished with abundant anticommunism, extinguishing in this way entire sections of the historical truth.
Of course, we would add, this should not surprise us, given that the EU is an ideological and political parent and sponsor of FES; the same EU which bans the communist parties and the communist youths in Latvia and in Czech Republic, slanders socialism that humanity has known during the 20th century; the EU that gives its blessings for the persecution of communists and for the acquittal of the Nazi's collaborators.
II. FES: TACTIC IN FAVOR OF THE CAPITAL
Why does the German state give so much money to Foundations?
Does it want strong trade unions or trade unions subservient to its plans?
It should be understood that after its phony ideological analysis and the spending of a huge amount of money on historical revisionism, FES can now continue undisturbed its tactic: activities, interventions, advice (as itself often characterizes it) to the Latin American trade union movements. The following examples of course are indicative and cannot shed light to all the sides of FES interventions.
Based on its "virtuous" intentions for political training, research and opinion that we have already mentioned, they move on to flagrant interference in the internal affairs of trade union movements, preaching to a whole young generation of trade unionists the "values" that they prioritize. Their Uruguayan branch states that they are facing the challenge "of creating modern labor relationships capable of guaranteeing social security and increasing the country's competitiveness levels in the region and all over the world"34. Their terminology is not unfamiliar to us: when they talk about modernizing of labor relations and about competitiveness they mean the reduction of the price of the workforce, i.e. even cheaper workforce, underpaid workers who will promote the super-profits of the capitalists. For them the problem in Nicaragua, for example, lies in the "fragile institutions" and " the lack of dialogue culture".35 In other words, their problem is the lack of political consensus in the proud land of Nicaragua that fought an armed struggle against North American Imperialism and against internal reaction! They locate the problem in the absence in Latin America of those characteristics which subjugated the German working class movement to the commands of German industrialists. They can keep for themselves the dialogue culture they preach! FES hypocritically develops links with the country of Augusto Cesar Sandino and insidiously talks about democratic deficit in Nicaragua: they refer to "closure of free expression spaces for new cadres and civil society organizations first and foremost if they criticize the government management!"36 In other words, FES indirectly accuses Nicaragua that stifles the voice of dissidents. Even if they express their criticism in a sophisticated way (since in Germany they have learned to dress with beautiful words every sly hit below the belt) the latter remains an intervention to the internal affairs of a sovereign state.
In this spirit they proceed to the creation and financing of programs in Nicaragua like "Young people: factors of change". As they themselves state on the Nicaraguan website, they aim to the forming of the new "progressive generation"37 while elsewhere they refer to "contribution to the consolidation and the democratic transformation in Nicaragua"38. Shamelessly, they create programs with the hot money of the German imperialists so as to plant the ideas they want in the minds of the Nicaraguan youth. Ideas approved by and "made in EU". Of course they can keep for themselves this new "democratic society" they are dreaming of as well, if it resembles in any way the environment of Germany and the of EU that is suffocating for the class oriented trade unionists. Let alone if the "ethical principles" 39 that they want to instill into the young generation are the rusty ideas of class collaboration, implemented (admittedly in a successful way) by their ideological forefather Friedrich Ebert! For them the big gamble, not only in Nicaragua but everywhere, is the captivity of young workers away from class oriented analysis of the situation as well as of the history of the labor movement! They want their captivity in a sterilized environment that promotes reformism and yellow trade unionism.
In conclusion of this brief description, apparently we did not in the least succeed in fully exposing all the aspects of FES intervention in Latin America. The methods, ways and interventions of FES are often hidden away from the lights of publicity, in closed rooms and behind the scenes. We just tried to highlight some aspects that serve as indisputable witness of the theory and strategy of this seemingly "innocent" foundation. But obviously we know that we "cannot allow these corrupted mechanisms to operate unhindered within our trade unions, trapping workers in their classless pseudo-theories".40
At the same time, we are aware of the fact that it is not only FES but a plethora of international mechanisms intervening through various methods. The Finnish SASK, the Spanish CC.OO., IndustriALL which is a branch of the ITUC, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation - KAS (also from Germany) and several NGOs daily and quietly apply their plan for the corrosion of class trade union forces and militant conscience in Latin America. The list is long. Their methods do not differ a lot from the ones of FES. We are just committing ourselves to opposing to imperialists no matter the form of their ideological-political intervention, uncovering their "pro-people", "progressive" or "leftish" mask, whichever they choose to put on.
By way of conclusion, we would like to say that the only ones who can truly care about the workers of the world is the flesh of their flesh: the international class oriented trade union movement; wherever they moan, struggle, suffer, get imprisoned or executed. We have a rich experience of the sacrifices of our class and we use our history as a "laboratory for the future". The words of Fidel in his inaugural speech at the 10th Congress of the WFTU remain our compass: "We work with all our honesty and faith to build a trade union movement deeply class oriented, revolutionary and democratic, able to think for itself and set high targets "41. And we will implement this legacy. Because we are confident that this young generation of trade unionists, to whom some people want to teach submission, will be the ones that will awe the whole world with their achievements.
At the same time, it is crucial that the class powers of the trade union movement at a national, regional, international and sectoral level develop, strengthen and expand Institutes, trade union training schools, political and ideological schools that will help in the shaping of the conscience of all workers and especially of the conscience of the young generation. We need teachers, trainers, specialists and professors who will believe in the working class strategy. We should take full advantage of new technologies, of the opportunities the scientific and technological revolution offers us, of all kinds of digital and printed documents. We have to use old and new experience, aiming to achieving high-level ideological wealth. Ideology is the great weapon of class oriented trade unions because our ideology places the ordinary people, the poor, the workers, at the center of its attention.
The prosperity of the peoples lies in the heart of our ideology. The ideology of FES is the increase of the German monopolies' profits and the looting of the natural resources of developing countries in general.
*By Christoforos Giakoumelos, Jurist
1.http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/kug/08890.pdf (p. 23)
4.“Federación Sindical Mundial ¿Qué es y qué quiere? , 16 Discursos a cargo del Secretario General, George Mavrikos” (p. 85)
5.W. Ruge, November Revolution, Synchroni Epochi Publications, Athens 2012, p. 38 6.Ibid. 5, p. 50
7.Ibid. 5, p. 23
8.Ibid 5, p. 25
9.Ibid. 5, p. 23
10.Ibid. 5, p. 57
11.Ibid 5, p. 68
12.Ibid. 5, p. 130
13.Ibid. 5, p. 139
14. Ibid. 5, p. 157
15. R. Palme Dutt, Fascism and Social Revolution, Synchroni Epochi Publications, Athens 2014, p. 170
16.Ibid 5. p. 83 17.Ibid. 14, p. 165
18.“Federación Sindical Mundial ¿Qué es y qué quiere? , 16 Discursos a cargo del Secretario General, George Mavrikos” (p. 193)
19.http://www.fes-ethiopia.org/pages/about-fes/facts-and-figures.php as it figures in “Federación Sindical Mundial ¿Qué es y qué quiere? , 16 Discursos a cargo del Secretario General, George Mavrikos” (p. 213)
20.http://www.fes.de/de/stiftung/ueber-die-fes/ (Zahlen & Fakten) 21..http://www.fesur.org.uy/fes-lateinamerica.php 22..http://www.fesur.org.uy/fes-international.php
26.http://www.fesamericacentral.org/files/fes-america- central/actividades/nicaragua/161112_acto_clausura_AdC/Acto Clausura AC 2016 programa.pdf
27.http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/kug/08890.pdf (p. 23) 28.http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/suedafrika/02828.pdf 29.http://www.fesur.org.uy/fes-international.php 30.http://www.fesur.org.uy/fomento mercosur ue.php
38.http://www.fesamericacentral.org/nicaragua/juventud-agentes-de- cambio/details/X.+PROMOCION+de+egresados/as+del+programa+de+formación+social- política+de+Jóvenes+Agentes+de+Cambio+en+Nicaragua.512.html
39.http://www.fesamericacentral.org/nicaragua/juventud-agentes-de- cambio/details/La+FES+continúa+contribuyendo+a+la+formación+de+nuevo+liderazgo+en+ Nicaragua.538.html
40.17th Congress Documents, World Federation of Trade Unions (p. 207)
41. Introductory Speech by Fidel Castro Ruz during the Opening Session of the 10th World Trade Union Congress