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The German Left and the Second Great Crash 1989-2009: 20 years of marking time

Die deutsche Linke und der zweite große Zusammenbruch 1989-2009: zwanzig Jahre einer beeindruckenden Zeit
[working paper]

Thompson, Peter

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Abstract This paper puts the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 into its historical and economic context. It points out that the developments which led to the demise of communism were not restricted to the Soviet Bloc but part of a longer-term crisis of the global economy. Using Kondtratieff’s theory of Long Waves in capitalist developments, this paper shows how the end of the long post-war boom in around 1974 represented the top of the Kondtratieff wave and that the primary recession of 1979-82 and the deflationary policies carried out in order to restore capitalist profitability at that point also laid the ground for the undermining of the Soviet Bloc economies. 1989 is therefore seen as the consequence of the shift to global financialisation of the economy which necessitated a competitive catch-up policy in the form of Perestroika, the corollary of which was a readiness on the part of the Soviet Union to let Eastern Europe go its own way. The period since 1989 in Germany is presented as one in which the major party of the Centre-Left, the SPD, was forced to tack to the neo-liberal wind but which left the space for the PDS/Linke to profile itself as a left alternative. The current crisis, which the author contends will issue into a long Kondtratieff depression lasting until around 2020, means that social and economic priorities will shift away from the market and back towards the re-establishment of the primacy of politics over the market. This will put Die Linke in a strong position to represent the disadvantaged and force the SPD back towards a more leftist position. The end result, the author contends, will be a realignment of the Left into a solid block on the basis of the changed demography of a reunited Germany and a global economic crisis.
Keywords Federal Republic of Germany; political left; PDS; Social Democratic Party of Germany; political development; reunification; economic development (on national level); economic crisis; political crisis; recession; party; historical development; market mechanism
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; National Economy
Method empirical; quantitative empirical
Free Keywords Linke; Crash 2008; 1989; Kondratieff Long Wave
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
City Berlin
Page/Pages 15 p.
Series Working Paper Series of the Research Network 1989, 20
Status Published Version; not reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works