Well then, let us dream with wide-awake reason: Imagine, there is socialism and nobody leaves!

Der Aufruf in Englisch übersetzt von Carla Krüger

Christa Wolf on November 4, 1989 on Alexander Square in Berlin. “’Yes’. The language jumps out of the bureaucratic and newspaper jargon in which it was enveloped and remembers its emotional words. One of them is ‘dream’. Well then, let us dream with wide-awake reason: Imagine, there is socialism and nobody leaves! However, we still see the pictures of those still leaving, ask ourselves: What’s to be done? And here as an echo the answer: Do something!”

The year 2007 will begin a new chapter in German politics, in the history of the Left in Germany: Our common new Left Party will be born and baptized. That way, there will end at the same time the 17-year-long successful history of the Party of Democratic Socialism – not however the history of the action of Democratic Socialism. For us it is a programmatic foundation and yet is far more than that. It encompasses the revision of our past, our political culture and the process of social transformation. It is the basis of our political strategy.

We think that the existence of a Party of Democratic Socialism that has become a people’s party in one part of Germany, that for one decade and a half has been a strong parliamentary and extra-parliamentary force, that has gathered oppositional but also governmental experience at the local and also at the regional level and yet does not leave out of sight an alternative to the dominating, capitalist system is a great achievement. There will be no successful Left Party, acting in a responsible way towards the people in the country which will not pick up this inheritance in a positive way.

German social democracy that has coined and pushed through the notion of democratic socialism in confrontation with the totalitarian features of developing real socialism and especially with the rise of Stalinism and has defended it for a long time, has meanwhile in fact abandoned it and replaced it by the idea of social democracy.

Social democracy is not enough to us

We also fight for a social democracy – but we hold on to democratic socialism as a movement, as a goal and as a value system. We want the transformation of existing society – the competition for a more or less social democracy is not sufficient to us. If the unity of the German Left which we approach a little more by way of the founding of the Left Party remained at that, it would just as well fall back behind the requirements of real life.

Some members of the new party, who in part also come from other traditions, do not share this evaluation or fear to commit to it. It was therefore by no means natural to have anchored Democratic Socialism in the basic documents of the new party.

Therefore, we appeal with this call to the future members of our new party “The Left” East and West, independently of whether they are members of the PDS, the WASG[1], other organisations or without party affiliation: We are committed to make democratic socialism capable of a majority in the new Left Party.

We want to win our party friends, we want to inspire confidence in the new party to sympathisers (women and men), voters (women and men) and at the same time reach people whom we did not reach up to now. We know that to that end we have to work yet harder to develop the idea of democratic socialism and especially on its practical political components and still much more intensively than up to now.

That is the first reason, why especially now we must at this stage intensify our discussions, network more intensively and shift more closely to the public limelight.

In the “Programmatic Milestones”, problems and questions are put up for discussion to which our new party “The Left” must still find answers. To the question how the Left must stand in the question of human rights on the relationship between social and individual citizens’ rights, our answer is clear and unalterable: The firm intention to bring together social human rights and individual freedom rights and to enable that way a future society of social justice and individual freedom, has led us together in the Party of Democratic Socialism and has made us choose the way towards a new, larger Left Party in Germany.

Let us respect human rights in their entirety

The division between social human rights on the one hand and individual citizens’ rights on the other, the one-sided stress, the neglect or even the abandonment of one or the other side precisely does not lead to a future-oriented, socially just society. We have experienced this before 1989 just as in the years since than. The great social challenges of today’s world will only be mastered when in that context human rights are respected in their entirety and unfolded. For that reason, we do not want only to conquer the state with the help of the Left Party – we want to change society. The breach with Stalinism and with all its variants is not up for grabs. To be Left Party to us means not to claim a monopoly on the truth. We are not an avant-garde party, because democracy to us is indispensable, and pluralism goes along with it inseparably. The life-blood of a living democracy is criticism – also that of the democratic institutions and its actors.

That holds first and foremost for debates in our own ranks, precisely as a lesson from the “democratic centralism” of our predecessor party. Once achieved democratic standards may not be put up for grabs – here as well it holds: The future is ahead of us, not behind us!

Democratic socialism commits to push through emancipative and solidary interests of society vis à vis all others. It does not unfold in our understanding as a result of an abstract historical plan, but departs from the social realities, the real needs and the interests of the people. Therefore, our political practice East and West is linked with the daily concerns of the people in their local settings.

In order to be able to work for our goals successfully in an open society and in an open historical process, we have – as a result of our experiences in society and politics and after through debates – determined as the general framework for our action a “strategic triangle”: In between protest, claim to shape things and the democratic-socialist alternatives pointing beyond the present realities, there spans thus the political realm in which the Party can move successfully. Political action of a democratic socialist, of a left party must produce a productive balance between these three elements.

We have learnt to take on responsibility

A couple of thousands democratic socialists (women and men) have won mandates in parliamentary organs of representation or occupy electoral offices. We have learnt to accept political responsibility, to offer practical resistance at the same time and to utilise scopes for fashioning things without settling in the existing social relations.

To lead a debate close to reality about the logic, the difficulties and the goals of such a process is the second reason for our initiative. It is natural that not all of the positions conquered by the Party of Democratic Socialism can be a part of the founding consensus of our new party “The Left”. It is just as normal, however, for us to struggle for them.

Therefore, we demand among other things that for the elimination of the disequilibrium between men and women in positions and mandates in our new party as well there should hold at least the standards on which the PDS has agreed and that these become part of political daily life. We commit to our new Left Party favouring European integration and the enlargement of the European Union on an equal, solidary, civilian and democratic basis just as the PDS has done it.

We want to struggle, so that our goals become capable of a majority in the programme, the style of politics and in the actions of our new Left Party. We want to offer a podium and organised support to people who represent theses ideas, who bring them to bear in the organs of the Party and represent and spread them successfully in society.

We strive for a trusting, close and open cooperation with and in the democratically elected leadership organs of our Party.

We are open to everything that helps the new party, but we are opposed critically and offensively to everything that will reduce democratic socialism, ban it into Sunday speeches or is even supposed to ban it out of the Party.

We are democratic socialists (women and men) – that means: we want to change society and woo to that end for stable, permanent majorities.

[1] Electoral Initiative for Work and Social Justice, translator’s note.