The Coronavirus and the Class Character of German Politics

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2131 ... June 24, 2020
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The Coronavirus and the Class Character of German Politics

Thomas Sablowski

The Pope, former UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, Madonna and many others are in agreement: we’re all in the same boat with regard to the ‘Corona crisis’. But as the saying goes, some are rowing while others steer the boat. This article looks at German policies during the crisis from the perspective of how they affect different classes.

On 27 February 2020, Germany’s government established a crisis-management committee and started to take measures to contain the pandemic. Shortly thereafter, a series of economic and fiscal policies followed, designed to offset the economic effects caused by the restrictions placed on gainful employment. The latter are analyzed here as a mere snapshot, since policies during this crisis are constantly evolving and rest upon the always shifting power relations between social classes and class fractions. The crisis policies are a momentum as well as a result of class struggle.

I concentrate on an analysis of the measures decided upon by the German government and the... fractions in the governing coalition beginning with the decisions of the Coalition Committee on 8 March 2020. The Coalition Committee comprises Chancellor Angela Merkel, the party leaders, the leaders of the parliamentary groups and the general secretaries of the governing parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) from Bavaria, and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). It has become the decisive governing body through which conflicts between the governing parties are settled and compromises are forged. I leave out the various measures and policies pursued by the individual federal states, as well as the international dimensions of the federal government’s policies, including its policies regarding the European Union.

Who exactly benefits from the ‘aid packages’ decided upon by the government? Whom do they help and who comes away empty-handed? There are five social classes which can be distinguished in German society: the capitalist class, the middle bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, the wage-earning middle class and the working class.

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