As the ruling class in Germany forges ahead with its plans for war and rearmament, it can rely above all on the person of Joschka Fischer. Twenty years ago the Green Party leader and former German foreign minister organised the first German combat mission since the Second World War—in Kosovo. Since then he has enthusiastically supported every foreign mission by the Bundeswehr (German armed forces). Now he is leading the campaign for a massive increase in the German defence budget and an aggressive imperialist foreign policy.
In an interview in the current issue of Der Spiegel, Fischer explains: “It's all about us: for years, we have invested too little in our security. I read just in the past week that Bundeswehr pilots are losing their licenses because they cannot complete enough flying hours due to helicopter malfunctions. Submarines cannot operate because of a shortage of spare parts. We have only four operational Eurofighters. What an indictment! If you ask me if we can defend ourselves, then the clear answer is no.”
In response to an observation by Der Spiegel that Germans “did not want to spend more money on armaments,” Fischer replied: “That's a problem, but we have to do it. We must have a minimum defence capability, otherwise Europe will suffer. Do you think I like saying we have to do more for our defence? We are too big and too important to prefer slimming down.”
In terms of its content and choice of words, Fischer’s interview is reminiscent of the speeches of the advocates of German great power politics prior to the two world wars. “Without Germany it does not work,” Fischer explains at one point. “If we are convinced we have to remain in the wake of world history, Europeans will not be able to act.” It is “a historic moment when Europe has to take a leap. Either we act now, or we do nothing. In which case we'll be left behind and will no longer matter.”
Fischer frankly declares that his main concern is the defence of the economic and geo-strategic interests of German imperialism in its rivalry with the other great powers. “In terms of economic policy,” US President Donald Trump “has placed a question mark over the economic model of the federal republic, which was focused from the start on export.” Based on the current “balance of power,” one cannot do much, however, apart from “grinding one’s teeth.”
Fischer clearly wants to change the “balance of power” in favour of Europe and Germany. Everything speaks of a “decline of the West,” and therefore “Europeans should become stronger, much stronger.” They should also be able to enforce their interests against Russia. With Moscow one should aim for “a good relationship,” but “not on one’s knees.” At the heart of the conflict over Ukraine is the question: “Are we ready to accept that Russia achieves power status through zones of influence?”
Fischer's great-power fantasies are insane and monstrous. They shed light on the turn to the right of a social stratum that considered itself left or even revolutionary in the 1968 student movement, but rejected the working class and, based on the anti-Marxist theories of the Frankfurt School and postmodernism, embraced lifestyle and identity politics. Having climbed up the social ladder and become rich, they now support Germany’s imperialist war policy.
The International Committee of the Fourth International has analysed the societal and political processes that have transformed former petty bourgeois radicals and “street fighters” such as Fischer into aggressive advocates of war.
In 1999, David North, the chairperson of the International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site , wrote in the article “After the slaughter: political lessons of the Balkan War”: “Among the most remarkable features of the attack on Yugoslavia has been the leading role played by individuals who once opposed the Vietnam War and participated in anti-imperialist protest movements.”
North explained the social background to this development: “The social structure and class relations of all the major capitalist countries have been deeply affected by the stock market boom that began in the early 1980s. Perpetually rising share values, especially the explosion in market valuations since 1995, have given a significant section of the middle class—especially among the professional elite—access to a degree of wealth they could not have imagined at the outset of their careers.”
Twenty years later, Joschka Fischer is a multi-millionaire, lives in a villa in Berlin's wealthy Dahlem district and, according to media reports, receives fees of up to 30,000 euros for his speeches and contributions at conferences. Under conditions of a collapsing post-war order, fierce conflicts between the major powers and extreme social polarization, he and his ilk are defending their privileges by openly championing militarism and dictatorship in the face of growing opposition from workers and youth.