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Ilka Schröder


„It‘s not only about being forced to work, but about being forced to be German“
from: Konkret 05/2001 (Original in german)

Ilka Schröder, born in 1978 in Neukölln, which was then part of Berlin‘s western half, is the enfant terrible of the European Parliament‘s Green Group, she is the nightmare of her faceless male colleagues‘ sleepless nights‘ and an object of hate for her completely unknown female colleagues. Independent from top to bottom and anything but a greenhorn, she has somehow succeeded in what (left-wing Green myths) Ebermann and Ditfurth hav last achieved: She has frozen fwo prominent Greens out to the Social Democrats.
For konkret she comented on German chancellor Gerhard Schröder‘s fight against the unemployed and his project of de-solidarisation.

konkret: „ There is no right to lazyness“, your namesake says. Is the fight against the unemployed a red-green project?

Schröder: Mr Schröder demands direct santions against the unemployed. (German Green Party spokeswoman) Claudia Roth considers the existising repressive measures to be sufficient, which means she refers to the existing rules in a positive way. She accepts to criminalize the unemployed, that is.

konkret: Way back, it often seemed to be this way: Bad Social Democrats, good Greens.

Schröder: Already in 1999 - during the Kosovo War, typically enough - the Green Group in the Bundestag wrote a paper saying „unemployed person‘s rights have to face to be balanced by duties“, which meant and means nothing else than compulsory measures against the unemployed. Especially when it comes to the unemployed, the approaches of the Reds and the Green are similar.

konkret: „Labour for everyone at all costs“, is that the new Credo of the Green centre?

Schröder: Yes. Nobody distinguishes between jobs people deliberately choose and that are valuable for society on the one hand and jobs at all costs on the other. This means: Repression against those not who don‘t follow.

konkret: The Greens want to extend voluntary services. Isn‘t that a chance for young people to find fulfilment, without force, completely self-determined?

Schröder: Voluntary services should be paid like any other job. That isn‘t happening. They are quite literally occupational measures. The payment of those so-called voluntary services is conceivably low. There is the danger that voluntary services prepare the ground for the conversion of armed or unarmed military service which until now are compulsory only for men into a compulsory year for everyone. If Germany‘s Federal Constitutional Court should declare universal conscription to be unconstitutional at the end of this year, voluntary service might become the new thing. On the long run universal conscription and community service are damaging to an intervention army.

konkret: Many members of the Green Party think that obligation to ecologically sensible projects can, at least non-materially, provide people with a perspective again.

Schröder: It is degrading and not a perspective to get paid a few deutschmarks for an hour of work. People will only get a perspective if they are able to decide on their time in a self-determined way. Social engagement should not be decreed from above but coming voluntarily from below.

konkret: In Germany, one right-wing campaign is following the other. Couldn‘t the Greens just define themselves as a left-liberal alternative to national pride, chauvinism and threats against the unemployed?

Schröder: Someone who does not even dare to dissociate from the Nazi slogan „I am proud to be a German“ cannot offer such an alternative.

konkret: The „Young left Greens“ have presented a manifesto entitled „Joschka‘s offspring“, in which they welcome concepts like „citizens‘ work“ and ask „to carry on to fight against armaments enterprises, if they, in an individual case, cause poverty, pollution and destruction in southern countries because of profit-seeking“. Don‘t trust anyone under 30?

Schröder: I don‘t want to comment your last statement... Anyway, I certainly don‘t agree with those who exclusively support more jobs and are for that reason only able to criticize enterprises or the capitalist exploitation in „individual cases“. You can only solve this dilemma by explaining that jobs at all costs are not the point. Technology used in the interests of the people, for example rationalization by the use of computers, means that there is more time available and therefore more opportunities for a self-determined life. If there is social redistribution, less jobs mean a benefit for everybody.

konkret: With his campaign against Paul Lafargue‘s „Right to lazyness“, Schröder takes up the labour movement‘s classical divide and tries to deepen it in a way productive for the „new centre“. Is this, with regard to the elections in 2002, an attempt to mould an anti-socially minded block?

Schröder: Indeed, it is the time of pre-election campaigns already. The Federal Government is however not only interested in de-solidarisation between the employed and the unemployed, but also in other social groups. Especially when it comes to the migration issue, migrants are more and more committed to compulsory language courses or the oath to the “FdGO“, the „free democratic basic order“. So it is not only about being forced to work, but about being forced to be German.

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