Aufstehen, Hinsetzen: Why the European Left Needs to Rethink its Pragmatism

    • Ghent October 2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Adrian Kreutz, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands


    In her phase of activism, Rosa Luxemburg famously criticized Karl Kautsky and the ruling circles within the SPD for their inactivity towards, and failure to stand up against Germany’s fling with imperialism for the fear of losing elections. The contemporary European left (in particular German Die Linke movement ‘Aufstehen’ (Standing Up) and French ‘La France Insoumise’ (France Unbowed)) challenges open borders and takes right-wing perspectives on issues of migration in order to “re-”gain support from a working-class which has become susceptible to the nouvelle vague of far-right anti-immigrant rhetoric. The reason is pragmatism. On the 4th of September 2019, Aufstehen movement, founded by a handful of Die Linke-turncoats, celebrates its first anniversary. One year after its “drop”, it is time to see if ‘dirty hands’ pay off. The first section of this paper analyses, what I call, the nationalist-argument against migration, put forward by an unsurprisingly astute European right which not only rekindles the old ‘we-they-antagonism’ between migrant workers and domestic workers, but is now also talking about class struggle; pointing to the recent fiascos of globalization, blaming the ruling elites and the ways they profit from open borders. In the second part of the paper, I expose the structural similarities between pragmatic anti-immigration arguments put forward by Aufstehen and the right nationalist-argument: There is no difference in content, only in jargon.